Characters: Michael/Lincoln (Slash)
Summary: Pre-series, Lincoln struggles to end something he never should have let begin.
Author's Notes: Written for 60_minute_fics ("Betrayal), and also written for my fanfic100 challenge, this is "School."
When Michael went to college, it was supposed to stop. That was the plan.
It was a coward's decision, letting distance do the work when Lincoln could have put an end to it on his own. The problem was, he didn't want to.
It started when Michael was sixteen, all long-limbed and gangly. They'd been through so much together by then: foster care, Lincoln in prison, Lincoln getting Lisa pregnant when he still had a brother to raise. But after all of those failings, Michael still looked at Lincoln with wide eyes full of hero-worship and hope.
It unlocked yet another weakness Lincoln never knew he had.
Lincoln liked feeling so important to Michael, so powerful. He couldn't resist the thrill that came from being adored.
When he smiled at Michael, his brother got starstruck and bashful in response. When he pulled Michael over for a hug, Michael melted and laid his head on Lincoln's chest, eyes closed and smiling in pure happiness.
The night Lincoln came home late and found Michael waiting up, worried and hurt with the thought of being forgotten, the line they'd been hovering over dissolved. One minute, Lincoln was leaning his forehead into Michael's and stroking reassurances against his face. The next, Michael was gazing at him with parted lips and such naked need that it drew Lincoln in like the apple calling Eve. One kiss—so simple, so wrong—and the whole world changed. They were on the floor, touching everything, everywhere, the ache of 'almost' driving them closer until their bodies merged and innocence was lost.
Remorse could have saved them afterward, but it found no purchase. Michael kept kissing Lincoln so lovingly, so gratefully, that Lincoln's regrets faded into silence. As hard as he tried for the next few years, he couldn't keep from wanting that part of Michael again and again.
Sometimes he'd find himself wondering if Veronica knew. She was around so often, dropping in after school or hanging out on the sofa with them in the evening. Sometimes she'd sit on one side of Lincoln, like a satellite locked into the gravity of their binary system, but other times she'd wedge herself right in between them. There were days when Lincoln liked having her there to break up the claustrophobia, but Michael wasn't the only one who resented her forcing them apart. Still, how could she possibly know? What he and Michael did together was so incredibly wrong that he couldn't imagine anyone else would even think of it.
At first, Lincoln thought Veronica's presence would end it. He hoped his attraction to her would snap him out of the thing he had with Michael, but though he slept with her off and on, Michael was always waiting with his adoring eyes and his touch that reached to the center of Lincoln's soul.
When Michel graduates became instead a summer of passion that covered every corner of their apartment and nearly every moment of Lincoln's waking thoughts. When Michael goes to college was the answer Lincoln held onto next. He couldn't keep himself from wanting Michael, but the separation would make it harder to do anything about it. If they were lucky, Michael would find someone else at school.
But only three weeks into the term, Michael was begging Lincoln to visit. A couple of subway stops and a train, he said—it'd be easy.
He was right. It was.
The problem was that falling back into everything with Michael was just as easy, starting with the kiss Michael laid on him in the train station men's room and ending with the scatter of clothes across the dormitory floor as soon as Michael shut and locked the door behind them.
Every two to four weeks Lincoln would go see Michael, and the obsession only grew during the days off between. Thanksgiving and Christmas break were spent having nearly nonstop sex, and by the time Michael went back to college Lincoln was exhausted in body and spirit.
"I can't keep seeing you," Veronica announced one night. It was early January, and Lincoln had finally surfaced from being holed-up in the apartment all through Michael's holiday visit.
"What do you mean?" he asked. He'd neglected her lately, but she'd always come back before.
"I mean, either I'm important enough to spend time with or I'm not," Veronica answered. "You can't just ignore me for weeks on end and expect me to wait."
"Michael was here," Lincoln said. "Things got busy."
"That's exactly what I’m talking about, Linc. You have no sense of balance—it's all or nothing with you, and I'm tired of sitting through all the 'nothing' wondering if I'm ever going to see you again."
Lincoln thought for awhile after she left. The problem with Michael had actually gotten worse since college started, making both of them more desperate than they'd ever been before. If summer went the way the holidays had gone, Lincoln wasn't sure he'd manage to survive it.
The deeper issue, apart from the torture and wrongness of it all, was the direction of his future. With Veronica, a real future was possible. With Michael, it would be slow suffocation from a lifetime without change.
I have to end it, Lincoln thought. Just like he'd planned back in August, but he'd have to actually tell Michael this time instead of waiting for it to happen on its own.
In mid-January, Lincoln went to see Michael again. He didn't phone ahead in warning, just showed up at Michael's dorm room Saturday morning. "We have to talk," he said, when Michael opened the door.
"What is it? Is it Veronica? Is she pregnant?" Michael asked.
"No, she's fine," Lincoln answered. He wanted to sit down, but every surface in the room was tainted. Memories of everything he'd done with Michael crowded forward, all the places they'd used again and again and claimed as their own in just a few short months.
"Is it money?" Michael asked, like he'd been waiting for that other shoe to drop from the beginning
Lincoln shook his head as he leaned against Michael's closet, bracing himself to deliver the news. "It's about us."
"Us," Michael echoed blankly.
"This—Michael, this relationship we've had needs to stop. For both our sakes."
"That we can't—" Lincoln paused for a moment, taking a deep breath. "We can't sleep together anymore. We need to stick with just being brothers."
"Just like that," Michael said flatly.
Lincoln flinched under the heat of Michael's anger. "Yes. Like that." He walked over to the window, where the world outside lay covered in white. "It's not good for either one of us, in the long run. We never should have started."
"Kind of late for that now," Michael cut in.
"It's my fault." Lincoln struggled to look at him, laid bare by the truth in Michael's gaze. "I should have known better. For both of us. It's my fault," he said again.
"It wasn't just your choice." Michael stepped close to Lincoln, nearly touching him. "I wanted it too." He reached out tenderly to grasp Lincoln's arms.
"No." Lincoln backed away quickly.
Michael's expression was so hurt that Lincoln could hardly breathe. "Why?"
"You need more than this, something real. You'll never find it if we keep going this way."
"But this is real…"
Lincoln searched for something to focus on other than the pleading in Michael's face. "I never wanted to hurt you, but I did it anyway. Now I'm trying to fix it."
"I mean it, Michael. This is it, we're not going back."
Michael sat down hard on the bed, looking as betrayed as he had back when their mother died and Lincoln broke the news. "You're hurting me now," he said tightly, "more than you ever have before."
"I'm really sorry," Lincoln whispered, "but this is how it has to be." This was for the best, and Michael had always trusted Lincoln to take care of him. Right now, he could only save Michael by pushing him away.
Lincoln hovered near the door, afraid to offer comfort that could easily go wrong. After a moment, Michael turned away and faced the wall, shoulders shaking in misery.
He was still huddled there, a reminder of treachery and anger, as Lincoln closed the door behind him on the way out.
It's for the best, Lincoln told himself again.
Michael would understand some day, Lincoln was sure of it.
He just hoped it would be soon.
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