Rating: PG-13 (subject matter)
Summary: (Pre-series to Season One) Michael doesn't realize what he wants from Lincoln until his chance for it is gone.
Author's Notes: A little belated birthday gift for tuesdaeschild, which I hope she likes!
Written for 60_minute_fics (a prompt of "Hurt") and for my fanfic100 table (this is "Red.")
The first time Michael remembered it happening was when he was five.
He'd gone down the stairs ahead of Lincoln and stumbled over the last third of them, striking his chin on the concrete so hard it bled. Lincoln, who'd told him to hang onto the railing but hadn't watched to make sure he did it, had gathered Michael into his arms and held him, murmuring desperate reassurances before helping him back to the apartment and cleaning him up. Michael could still feel the warmth of Lincoln's arms around him, the soothing kiss to his forehead when all of it was over. He'd never understood why Lincoln blamed himself so much for what had happened, but he accepted it. That was Lincoln, and always had been.
The second time, Michael was eight and had fallen out of a tree. He'd sprained his wrist (lucky he didn't break it, Lincoln had said) and scraped a path along the back of his knee that had soaked right through his jeans. His surprised yelp had brought Lincoln over from the basketball court to blame and comfort him in turns, probing the injured arm with care and tenderness before half-pulling and half-carrying Michael home and calling their mother.
At ten, when Michael had crashed his skateboard into the apartment house wall and gotten a cut on his head that made Lincoln panic, he'd felt like an idiot. Standing there while Lincoln sifted hurriedly through his hair and asked questions about the President and what day of the week it was, Michael had leaned into his brother and let Lincoln's strength slow down the spinning inside his head.
"I don't know how it happened, Linc—it's a wall. It never moves," Michael had mumbled in embarrassment.
"You were probably thinking about Mom instead of looking where you were going." Lincoln had answered quietly, and Michael had known then that Lincoln understood.
"Will she ever get better? Why doesn't she get better?" he'd asked.
Lincoln had just held him more tightly and rocked him for a moment. "I don't know…"
Both boys were at the Childrens' Home a year and a half later, when a kid named Rodney had hit Michael in the mouth so hard that Michael had almost bitten a chunk out of the inside of his lip. Lincoln had broken Rodney's nose and pulled Michael in close where no-one else could touch him, and Michael had realized there were a lot of ways he'd be willing to hurt himself just for that kind of attention and devotion from his brother.
Lincoln had wound up being taken to Juvie before Michael had gotten a chance to test that out. It hadn't stopped Michael from thinking about—dreaming about—all the ways he wanted those scenarios to play out.
Later, Michael could see that Juvie had changed Lincoln. It had hardened his heart. He'd become distant, no longer driven to be the big brother, focused instead on money and then eventually on scoring his next high.
Michael had been sent to a family that took care of him by then, but it hadn't stopped him from wanting Lincoln and the way things had been for them before. It couldn't stop him from wanting more.
The day at Fox River when Michael sat across the glass from Lincoln and asked him to swear his innocence, it all came back. The pull from the past of that need for comfort and reassurance was so strong it nearly choked him.
It didn't help that he'd be the one providing all those things to Lincoln instead of receiving them. There was no-one to help Michael through all the challenges to come.
Michael's blood had brought them closer together in the past, and his blood—being prepared to sacrifice it if he had to—was what would save his brother now.
With his hand on the glass, Michael couldn't touch Lincoln, but he could feel him. Lincoln was all he'd ever wanted, all he'd ever hoped for.
If he managed to save Lincoln, things might finally be different. Michael might finally have a chance at the love he'd been chasing for so long.
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