Category: Lincoln/Michael (Slash)
Rating (this chapter): PG
Summary: Wisdom from Westmoreland and a timeline that’s running out.
x-x-x-x-x Chapter 3: Wisdom x-x-x-x-x
Michael was out in the Yard, playing checkers with Westmoreland. He was up three reds, and the end was in sight.
"You and Lincoln Burrows seem to get along awfully well." Westmoreland moved one of his pieces.
"Yeah," Michael said softly. "We understand each other."
Westmoreland looked up shrewdly. "I'll refrain from stating the obvious things that brings to mind." He watched Michael jump two unguarded chips and snatch them off the board. "How long have you known each other?"
Michael's met Westmoreland's eyes briefly, but there was nothing suspicious there. “Years. From the neighborhood."
"You're risking an awful lot for him, you know." Westmoreland jumped and took a red piece as his final move.
"I know." Michael hopped the last remaining black checker, and then it was over.
"These rounds go by awfully quickly," Michael said, as he set up the board again. "Do you ever play chess? That would last longer."
Westmoreland leaned on the table with both elbows, his manner suddenly serious. "I do, but I usually keep it to my cell."
"Really? Why?" Michael asked. Chess players were hard to find, especially in prison.
"Because knowing how to play... and what that says about a man's abilities... is the kind of thing you have to keep hidden in a place like this." He stood up unexpectedly, clearly done with playing for now.
"You ought to be more careful with what you let other people see. Intelligence is a weapon. Don't let them see you sharpening that knife."
Michael stared at Westmoreland’s back as he moved across the yard, wondering where all that had suddenly come from.
Michael caught Lincoln’s arm as he entered the shed, just to slow him down so he could get a better look at him. Lincoln’s shoulders were slumped and his eyes were preoccupied.
“It’s going to be all right,” Michael said softly. “Really. And I know it’s got to be hard waiting.”
Lincoln spoke without looking at him. “I’ve only got a few days left, Michael. I’m being asked to sign things and define things I don’t want to even think about. Planning your own death is just sick when someone else decides how and when you’ll die.” Lincoln rolled his shoulders, pushing around the anxiety there. “And god knows where LJ is, whether he’s safe. I got word yesterday, but I don’t know if he’s still okay now.”
Michael’s hand stroked up Lincoln’s arm, all the shallow comfort he had left with no time or privacy to spend. “I’m sorry this is happening,” he said, and he felt stupid just saying it but what else could he do? “You know I’m thinking about this all the time, right?”
“I know,” Lincoln said. Michael was suffering right along with him, and he’d already done more than anyone else ever would have. Lincoln took a quick read on the break room, and saw that everyone else was already busy. He kissed Michael softly on the cheek, and squeezed the hand on his arm. He wasn’t relieved and he couldn’t pretend that he was… but at least he could show he understood. He slipped away then to grab a mason’s float, and felt Michael’s sigh behind him.
“What’s on for tonight?” Sucre asked. He was bouncing a rubber ball off the wall while Michael sat on his bunk and tried to think.
“I’ve got a trip to make. I need to lay some more supplies.”
“This won’t be like that other time, right? ‘Cuz I don’t want to sit around and listen to your watch forever, waiting to hear some mysterious ‘special’ noise.”
Michael smiled. “No, it won’t be like that. But I may need a towel this time.”
A bell sounded, and the bars drifted open.
“Time to eat,” Sucre said, dropping the ball on his bunk. He pulled a skull cap on for style, and they lined up outside the cell. “So what am I supposed to say if someone asks me about you and Burrows? We never got down to that part.”
“Why say anything?” Michael asked.
“C’mon, man,” Sucre said. “Just not saying anything is an answer. You gotta decide on what the answer’s gonna be, because you’re saying it one way or the other.”
Michael tried to think. Brothers? Not brothers? What was it going to be? He ran over what he remembered anyone seeing and how explicit it was, and whether it could be explained away. T-Bag had seen them kissing in the break room, and Sucre was there for the main event. But Sucre wasn’t going to tell anyone, and T-Bag would always be seen as a questionable source of information.
“How about this,” Michael murmured as the guards moved down the line. “Eventually everyone’s probably going to know Lincoln and I are brothers. So how about just denying that anything more than that’s going on?” He thought back to what Westmoreland had said earlier about what you let people see, and it seemed that might apply to more than just a man’s skills and capabilities. “But don’t admit what you don’t have to, because I don’t need him being used as blackmail against me. Abruzzi and the others don’t need to know how important he is to me, that he’s my brother.”
More than that, Sucre thought, but he didn’t say it.
“They can think he’s just somebody I used to know from before, that I’d do a favor for.”
“Whatever you want, man,” Sucre said. They joined the procession to the cafeteria, moving with the tide sweeping down the stairs.
“Well if it isn’t Pedro and the Pretty.” T-Bag’s voice was sliding on over their way as they inched closer to the food line, and of course he’d seek out the opportunity to bother them both.
“You boys keeping things nice and friendly in your cell?”
Michael could feel Sucre bristling next to him as T-Bag’s heat moved close enough to feel.
“Oh, wait a minute now,” T-Bag said. “Why, I’m forgetting that Fish already has a playmate. Or is it a brother that he’s got instead? It gets awfully confusing at times. I do believe Fish himself is confused about it.”
“Meatloaf or lasagna?” Michael asked Sucre, like there was no-one there but the two of them.
“I heard meatloaf.” Sucre’s eyes flicked over in time to see Michael wrinkle his nose a bit. Prison meatloaf was nothing to get excited about. At least with lasagna the seasonings could disguise any lesser results.
“Do you know,” T-Bag went on, “I saw Mr. Scofield here, and his brother Mr. Burrows, greeting each other with the most uncommon enthusiasm just the other day. Why, I haven’t seen the likes of men kissing like that outside of illicit romancing in the shower.” T-Bag’s tongue was teasing the top of his lip, his body steeled as he waited for just anything to happen.
Sucre's head barely turned in his direction. “The only kind of kissing you know is the Kiss of Death, so your street cred on that subject just doesn’t cut it with me.”
“Whatever does the boy mean?” T-Bag leaned around to look in Michael’s face. “What have you been telling him?”
Michael fixed him with steely resolve., but Sucre spoke first. “You know the old saying,” he said. “‘Consider the source.’ Well I did. And I’m done.”
Michael bit the inside of cheek. There was too much tension crackling through the air between the three of them, and damn Sucre for making him want to laugh right now.
T-Bag was frowning. Sucre could not possibly be dodging him now, could he? Only the Abruzzis and the Burrows of this world dodged him. The others listened and ulcerated or stammered. They didn’t disregard him.
“Bagwell! In line or out!” the C.O. yelled.
“Later, gentlemen,” T-Bag mouthed as he moved back to his band of followers.
“You’ve got balls, Sucre,” Michael muttered.
“Cojones, man. Cojones.” They bumped shoulders and did the fist-punch of solidarity out of view of any interested eyes.