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04 February 2006 @ 06:04 pm
Prison Break Gen Fiction: If Only (PG)  
Title: If Only
Author: HalfshellVenus
Category: Lincoln and Michael (Gen)
Rating: PG
Summary: What would life have been like for Michael and his family, if things had been different all those years ago?
Author’s Notes: Written for the prisonbreak100 challenge, where I have the Gen pairing of Lincoln and Michael. This is for prompt #82, “If.”

x-x-x-x-x

On the mornings when Michael wakes up before count, he lazes in his prison bed and thinks. Sometimes he is planning the schemes and inroads that need to happen that day. Other times, his mind is far, far away.

If his mother had lived, all those years ago… he wonders what his childhood would have been like. Would things have stayed the way they did when he was younger, with his mother working too much and then eventually getting behind in the rent so that they had to move again? Or would she have gotten paid more, so they could stay in one place for awhile? She might even have had the time to go on picnics, or to the museum, or even to the movies. And Lincoln might have stuck closer to home then, and kept his mind on high school instead of sex and dope and the wrong kind of friends.

But maybe she would have gone to night school instead, as a means to a better job. That would have left Lincoln taking care of him most of the time, and both of them being too responsible for themselves. Michael knows that he already lived that life. With his mother there, it would have been shorter and so much better, just knowing there was a reason for it. But the color of that life, that possibility that never happened, is barely one shade away from his past.

His mother hadn’t made it, and had been so terribly, painfully sick for the last year before she died. Looking back, Michael remembers how badly he wanted her to stay, just to know that she was still there. But thinking about it now, he couldn’t really wish for her to linger through that misery any longer than she already did. It was so hard for her, so awful, and she hung on as long as she could for the two of them. She was so brave, and finally just so tired… and he still misses her even now.

After his mother died, he and Lincoln were at loose ends for awhile. They struggled to maintain a situation where Lincoln could support them without coming to anyone’s attention. Any sign of Michael slipping at school—his work or his attendance—and Social Services would have gotten wind of the two of them. They would have become wards of the state, dragged off to a Home and then foster care. They probably would have been split up, and Michael knows that Lincoln would have dived right off the deep end much sooner without someone who needed him to be stable and productive. They were careful and sneaky, and somehow they made it until Michael was out of high school. He was with Lincoln and Lisa and baby-LJ that last year, but he stayed with his family. Even now, he thinks he must have used up an awful lot of luck during that time. He knows Lincoln certainly did.

He also knows his brother could have drifted off at any time in those difficult years. Lincoln could easily have left Michael to whatever fate claimed him, and lost himself in the quiet limbo of drugs and muted feelings and the chance to forget. And Michael knows Lincoln was tempted, and that he didn’t entirely stay clean during that time. But he did not leave. Michael will never stop being grateful for that.

It caught up with his brother eventually, the drugs and the aimlessness they produced. One bad piece of luck after another, one more bad decision, and soon Lincoln was in prison for a high-profile murder. Michael couldn’t believe it at the time, couldn’t figure out why his brother—who had a temper, no-one knew that better than he did, but for God’s sake this was murder and it was somebody important—why Lincoln would do something so final and so stupid. It didn’t make sense. Michael struggled with it, tried to get his mind around it even while his brother insisted on his innocence, and he finally settled on the simple and concrete notion that with all these conflicting dilemnas and no real motive… his brother probably was telling the truth.

And look where that had led them—both of them. They are pulled daily toward a fate that will destroy them both, unless… until… if only… This escape plan is crazy. It is dangerous, all of it. And for Michael, it was inevitable as well.

There was always the option not to do it. He could have decided that it would be virtually impossible to rescue his brother or to turn it all around, that the odds and even the rest of the world were against them both. Anyone else—really, any sane or normal person—would have admitted defeat against this impossible situation.

But Michael had not. And he could not. Because it was Lincoln, and that meant everything. And when Lincoln had had the chance, he hadn’t run out on Michael all those years ago.

And it was never a real choice anyway. Michael knows himself well enough to realize that. If he had stood back, had exhausted all the normal channels and then finally let it go, he would have lost his brother within the next few months. And then he would have gone home in a broken daze and thrown himself off the balcony of his high-rise apartment, leaving his accomplished, empty life behind.

Of all the things that have happened, all the heartbreaking twists that have led them to where they are, this is the single area in which Michael’s decisions might possibly change the outcome.

So he plots and plans—and hopes. And he knows all the while that when all is said and done… this is the only choice that makes sense.


----- fin -----


 
 
 
mooyoomooyoo on February 5th, 2006 03:51 am (UTC)
I'm running out of different ways to say "I loved it!" But yeah - loved it, as usual. A little bit of a different take on their lives post-Mom's death than I usually go with, but still liked it, and Michael's tracing where their lives went and whether they might have been different if she hadn't died. And love as usual the connection between the brothers, how Linc has been arguably the most important person in Michael's life, and leaving him to die simply isn't an option because he'd have no life if Linc was gone.

Of all the things that have happened, all the heartbreaking twists that have led them to where they are, this is the single area in which Michael’s decisions might possibly change the outcome.

This stood out to me for some reason, like that take on the whole situation - that so much has happened to Michael in his life that has been out of his control, and this is him taking control of things and not just leaving it completely to fate - he's trying not to let his brother die because of bad luck.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 5th, 2006 05:43 am (UTC)
A little bit of a different take on their lives post-Mom's death than I usually go with, but still liked it,

In fact, sometimes our views are so similar that it's amazing we're not writing the same stories. We're lucky to have these little differences :-)

This stood out to me for some reason,

I'm glad it did-- it was intentional. The two of them have been through a lot of bad things together, some of it just unlucky (like their father leaving, their mother dying), some of it someone else's choice (mainly Lincoln's). This is the first time Michael can make a choice that helps them both, that might save them both. Even though it's unbelievably dangerous and unlikely to succeed.

I'm so happy you enjoyed this :-)
(no subject) - mooyoo on February 5th, 2006 07:16 am (UTC) (Expand)
wentworth801 on February 5th, 2006 06:00 am (UTC)
Wow. This was really good.

And then he would have gone home in a broken daze and thrown himself off the balcony of his high-rise apartment, leaving his accomplished, empty life behind.

Morbid and a bit creepy, but I could so see Michael reacting this way if Linc were to die and there was nothing he could do to stop it.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 5th, 2006 06:20 am (UTC)
Morbid and a bit creepy

It is, I know.

but I could so see Michael reacting this way if Linc were to die and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

Exactly. How could he survive, or want to, with this big gaping hole that is the larger part of himself destroyed with Lincoln's death?

His whole life, since college at least, seems to me as if he's striving for and progressing toward something that has not yet happened. Such as, Lincoln back in his life or (once his brother's on Death Row) simply Lincoln safe and alive. But I don't get the impression that Michael lived much in the now during that part of his life, nor that he appreciated the Now.

What part of himself would still be left if Lincoln were gone? Who would he still be?
(no subject) - thelana on February 5th, 2006 06:32 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mooyoo on February 5th, 2006 07:08 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wentworth801 on February 5th, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on February 6th, 2006 02:52 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - wentworth801 on February 6th, 2006 04:43 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on February 6th, 2006 06:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
The Good, The Bad and The Lanathelana on February 5th, 2006 07:03 am (UTC)
Much love. Again, something with *so much* info in it.

So much love for this:
And Michael knows Lincoln was tempted, and that he didn’t entirely stay clean during that time. But he did not leave. Michael will never stop being grateful for that.

And I also have to mention this:
he would have lost his brother within the next few months. And then he would have gone home in a broken daze and thrown himself off the balcony of his high-rise apartment, leaving his accomplished, empty life behind.

because, quite frankly, I find suicide a very, very touchy thing in fanfic. Not that I object to it, but it's just very, very hard to do in my eyes. To put yourself in the frame of mind of somebody who tries to kill themselves and actually succeeds, I just think it's hard to do without going to over the top or not enough. But this one was really good.
mooyoomooyoo on February 5th, 2006 07:12 am (UTC)
Not that I object to it, but it's just very, very hard to do in my eyes. To put yourself in the frame of mind of somebody who tries to kill themselves ...

And ironically? That's what I'm in the midst of writing at the moment. And it's holding me up a bit because it's proving harder than I thought (though I figured it would be hard). I have no experience with the subject so I'm afraid I'm going to go so over-the-top melodramatic and make it too soapy.
(no subject) - thelana on February 5th, 2006 07:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mooyoo on February 5th, 2006 07:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on February 5th, 2006 07:40 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on February 5th, 2006 08:37 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on February 5th, 2006 08:46 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on February 5th, 2006 08:48 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on February 5th, 2006 07:36 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - thelana on February 5th, 2006 06:15 pm (UTC) (Expand)
jeyhawk: prison break: lickablejeyhawk on February 5th, 2006 04:13 pm (UTC)
Now you made me really sad for no apparent reason, maybe it's just for the fucked-up-ness of it all. I don't mean your fic in particular but rather their whole situation. :0( I need to go read some of your happy fics now. To cheer myself up.

Also, great little ficlet. I really liked your take on their childhood and their whole situation. It's seems to me Michael has always been striving to fulfill something, if not for himself so then for his brother. It takes a hopless kind of love/guilt as well as some insanity to cook up his Plan and make the needed sacrifices. It's like nothing in his life never meant as much to him as his brother, nothing holds any meaning without Lincoln. :0)

Urm... or something. Thanks for sharing.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 5th, 2006 06:11 pm (UTC)
It takes a hopless kind of love/guilt as well as some insanity to cook up his Plan and make the needed sacrifices. It's like nothing in his life never meant as much to him as his brother, nothing holds any meaning without Lincoln. :0)

No, that's pretty much my take on them too. That's a major reason I started writing Michael as in love with Lincoln in my slashy fics.

It's as if some deeper part of himself is, as you say, not yet fulfilled and he keeps trying to fix that. With the childhood he had, and being so emotionally sensitive, that unfortunately also isn't surprising.

It's as if he survived his childhood mainly on the outside. He has all the "trappings" of success. But inside... he's still searching.
Are we back to hos over bros?lissa_bear on February 5th, 2006 04:25 pm (UTC)
This feels very different than a lot of your other stuff. I really enjoyed it.

He also knows his brother could have drifted off at any time in those difficult years. Lincoln could easily have left Michael to whatever fate claimed him, and lost himself in the quiet limbo of drugs and muted feelings and the chance to forget.

This line, particularly, hit me.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Gen PB brothers by _silent_rage_halfshellvenus on February 5th, 2006 06:14 pm (UTC)
This feels very different than a lot of your other stuff. I really enjoyed it.

Thank you :)

I'd say it's more "loose" than most of my other stuff, more run-on and kind of rambling. Not that that is necessarily good. That's why I have trouble knowing if it works.

Lincoln could easily have left Michael to whatever fate claimed him, and lost himself in the quiet limbo of drugs and muted feelings and the chance to forget.

I'm glad you liked this line, too. Given their past and who Lincoln is, the drive to just step out of his life must have been huge during those very hard years. And eventually, that is exactly what he did. :-(
wenty_freak on February 5th, 2006 05:17 pm (UTC)
I love the descriptions of their mother, and Michael's reverance for her is really clear through the words.

I also really enjoyed the basis for Michael's current decisions. It was wonderfully set up that Lincoln didn't run out on Michael, so Michael wouldn't run out on Lincoln now. Really a great fic! Thanks!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 5th, 2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
Hi, wenty! Glad to see you! I enjoy reading your discussions with thelana over on TWoP.

love the descriptions of their mother, and Michael's reverance for her is really clear through the words.

Ah, thank you. I'd hoped to show how much he misses her, and give some feeling that he appreciated her and all she'd done (and would have done if she'd lived)-- that she was worthy of such sorrow.

Glad you liked this fic over all. The prisonbreak100 challenge is getting me to write more (and better, I hope) Michael POVs in my Gen stuff. It is often easier for me to write Lincoln, even though I'm more like Michael in a lot of ways.

Thanks for your comments!

Fish: Micheal Scofieldrhymeswithghoti on February 6th, 2006 01:39 am (UTC)
. . . love. Fabulous as always.

I so love your characterization of Michael in everything.

Of all the things that have happened, all the heartbreaking twists that have led them to where they are, this is the single area in which Michael’s decisions might possibly change the outcome.

I think that's probably the best line I've read of why Michael is doing this for Linc. And love the 'if only' premise as well.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 6th, 2006 04:02 am (UTC)
I so love your characterization of Michael in everything.

I'm kind of in a Michael frame of mind these days, both in the slash and Gen stuff. He's very familiar to me right now, with all of this writing, and I hope I'm doing him justice.

I think that's probably the best line I've read of why Michael is doing this for Linc.

Anyone else would have decided that this was already beyond hope or control. But with the background of the prison layout and reconstruction... Michael sees a glimmer of possibility that he just can't ignore. And this background helps to show why he's compelled to try, just knowing that it might be possible.

I'm glad you liked the premise, too. I've had this idea in mind to write for over a month now, and it finally came together rather quickly yesterday afternoon. It's funny how sometimes it just flows out, even after such a long time.
jamiepbfan on February 6th, 2006 11:39 pm (UTC)
Lol you already know what i am going to say!!!!......Loved this one too. Great story that shows how Lincoln is a major factor in Michael's life. Kudos!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 7th, 2006 12:13 am (UTC)
Hello again, glad you liked it (as usual) :-D Which never stops making me happy *Desk Dance!*

Great story that shows how Lincoln is a major factor in Michael's life.

And not only that but that, of all the things that could have gone differently, having their mother survive would have had the biggest impact for both brothers. Once she dies, a certain number of those bad possibilities were almost foregone conclusions. (such as Lincoln and drugs, which was the beginning of all the other problems that followed) :-(
(no subject) - jamiepbfan on February 7th, 2006 12:15 am (UTC) (Expand)
BEWARE OF JENMAR.: PB - Brotherly Love - Linc & Michaelclex_monkie89 on February 7th, 2006 09:15 pm (UTC)
Love this one too. The glimpse at what could have been was heartbreaking and I loved how you showed us Linc holding on and trying not to slip.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on February 7th, 2006 11:58 pm (UTC)
I loved how you showed us Linc holding on and trying not to slip.

It's even sadder that he finally did, and fell off into the drugs so hard. And in so many ways, it seems that once their mother died that was almost inevitable for him.

But how different things would be now if he hadn't...
(no subject) - clex_monkie89 on February 8th, 2006 12:25 am (UTC) (Expand)
tyrical: AP_aJolietyrical on April 14th, 2006 03:14 am (UTC)
Again what attracts me to Michael is his dedication. Shown so well and illistrated from point to point. The part about what his life could have been , what his life was, how his mother was, how much pain she was in, who Linc pulled it together enough to keep them together, to his life before Linc's arrest and the here and now.

His willing commitment to give his everything his all to this one thing.
That he is their and doing this for life debt that could never be repaid.
He is doing the only thing that feels right for him in his mind the only choice he could make.

For that I know Michael is the man!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2006 05:40 pm (UTC)
He is doing the only thing that feels right for him in his mind the only choice he could make.
Exactly. And this is one time when his making this choice could actually force things to be different-- if anything could.

It's the choice of desperation and dedication both. And if Lincoln matters so much to him (and he clearly does), perhaps it is NOT the most reckless and stupid choice a person could make. Perhaps it's the ONLY choice.