Category: Lincoln/Michael (Slash, W.I.P.)
Summary: Time runs out on the brothers’ chance to escape.
Author’s Notes: Readers, thank you for your patience in waiting for updates to this series. I know it’s been far too long—the show really put me into a funk after the hiatus, in terms of adding onto this particular story. I think I’m over it now, finally. This chapter contains spoilers for Episodes 12, “End Of The Tunnel,” and Episode 13, “The Rat.”
x-x-x-x-x Chapter 4: Nightmare Made Flesh x-x-x-x-x
It was like a bad dream, all of it. An endless nightmare of everything falling apart piece-by-piece. And no matter how many changes he made, how many last-minute fixes and patches, it continued to spiral toward the same inevitable, devastating conclusion.
It began with Lincoln going into the SHU, trapped there without the pill they needed to put him in the Infirmary at the right time. Michael had regrouped, kicking everything off a day early and working with the unknowing aide of the prison’s kind-hearted chaplain.
It had looked good then, with even the timing right other than being 24 hours earlier than planned. Until the pipe. Michael’s beautifully corroded pipe-- the hatchway between the supply room and the Infirmary drain—had been replaced with a thick and insurmountable barrier.
His whole world crumbled in that moment, anxious cons on the one side and his brother helplessly isolated above. Nothing came to him—no solution, no inspiration. His brain flew in a different directions at once trying to come up with an idea, a piece of leverage, that could turn it around. But after a close call with a pair of guards, he’d had to give in and call a retreat. Michael could barely muster the focus to move under the crowding, sickening panic, but he stuck with his role as the leader. Back they went, threats overlapping grumbles in the fog surrounding him. They’d nearly been caught out again at the break shed, and by then Michael’s nerves were shot. He vaguely remembered that Westmoreland had been compassionate, and that T-Bag was angry in ways he couldn’t even begin to care about.
One thing alone occupied his mind, driving him to last-ditch desperate actions before time finally ran out. And then everything clarified finally into a single, horrible truth. They wouldn’t make it out before the execution date… and Veronica’s miracle was too long in coming.
Michael had been a child the last time he felt that desperate.
The last moments of opportunity had escaped, despite all his planning and adjustments and efforts. This last night and day had seen too many turns on a giddy roller coaster of hope and despair, and none of it had changed the final outcome.
Now, one dead rat and final lost chance later… Michael sat in a visitation room with his brother.
Michael was waiting for him inside the room, his apologies already bubbling up out of him.
I can’t, Lincoln thought. Can’t face what’s coming, can’t talk about hope I don’t have anymore. I just—
Then Michael’s arms were around him, holding down the panic inside them both. They fit together like something separated into two pieces— halves that overlapped but were nothing like the same. They filled in the corners of each other, body and soul. But this together-more-than-the-sum the two of them became would be forever orphaned in just a few short hours.
“I’m so sorry,” Michael began, but Lincoln could not begin to walk that road of regret. Michael had done everything— had done too much—to save him from a fate orchestrated without mercy. The miracle Michael had grasped for had not happened, and part of Lincoln had never given up that sense of resignation.
“Don’t,” he said quietly. “Just—don’t.” And Michael heard him, and just finally… let it go.
The room was crowded with all the emotion of the moment-- of a lifetime-- pushing in and threatening to smother them both. Lincoln could hear Michael’s footsteps through his pacing, and then he was turned around and kissed until his lips were numb. Michael guided him to a chair, pushed him down and straddled his lap. “What--?” Lincoln started, but Michael’s mouth absorbed the rest of that question. Every touch of lips and fingertips tracing Lincoln’s face spoke of feeling and want and memories and shared sorrow. Lincoln remembered and rejected the possibility of the guards watching. With what was coming, and all that would never be again, he just honestly didn’t care. Let them wonder, he thought, as he held and responded in turn.
Michael’s jaw shook momentarily, and Lincoln knew how much effort it cost him to hold it all in. But Michael was doing it for him—like everything else these last few months. This strained composure saved them the burden of hysteria and dread, giving them instead a chance to spend this time in some semblance of themselves.
Michael’s hand strayed down Lincoln’s chest, brushing lower. His eyes asked the question, but Lincoln smiled softly and shook his head. “I just can’t… bring myself to want it,” he said quietly. “It would be, I don’t know, doomed or desperate or something.”
“Morbid?” Michael whispered.
“I guess so,” Lincoln answered. The lack of privacy made it hard enough. But the sense of finality did him in. This wasn’t a vacation he was going on in the middle of a love affair. It was obliteration. And there were some things even he couldn’t manage under those conditions.
“What do you want to do now?” Michael asked. “Play some cards?”
“Why not.” Lincoln spoke calmly, despite the shuddering in his stomach. Then he turned his head to press his lips against those fingertips stroking his jaw, and Michael was right there, kissing him deeply, longingly. Arms tight around each other, they reassured a moment longer before parting.
They’d played several hands, Lincoln busting him wide open for playing to lose, and one somber phone call later Veronica was there. Michael had expected her, but still he gritted his teeth watching her practically paw Lincoln over and over. She’d loved Lincoln too—and probably still did—but that didn’t make it any easier to witness.
Lincoln was withdrawn by then, barely speaking or responding… and that was hard to watch too. Denial could not change where this was headed, but it had been helping up until now.
The guards were there all too soon, and the long march began. Closer and closer they moved in procession, Michael’s feet stepped automatically in the crowded ever-darkening corridor. The air—the light—was leaving this world as Lincoln walked ahead of him. Michael was lightheaded, tears escaping now that it was too late to be brave for Lincoln’s sake.
They stopped. Michael said his goodbyes—far too public, crowded with people and schedules and the unfairness of it all. He could not give Lincoln the farewell he wanted—could not reveal so much of themselves before an audience. He left Lincoln what dignity he could. Veronica was not so inhibited, saying all the words that belonged to him, pushing her demands on Lincoln even now. The bitter taste in Michael’s mouth warred with the desire to throw up.
And then they took Lincoln in, one last backward glance all he had to leave the two of them.