Characters: Michael, Lincoln (Gen)
Summary (Pre-Series): Opportunities are not always equal.
Author's Notes: For my prisonbreak100 table ("Have") and writerverse ("The Interview")
The parlor-like front room of the Stevenson Children's Home was a lie. It was semi-fancy and meant to be welcoming, but that was for the outside world to see. The rest of the facility was as institutional as any inner-city orphanage or prison could be.
Michael had been to that room exactly twice.
The first time, he and Lincoln had been brought in by a social worker after their mother died. She'd tried to be reassuring, and the Home's director had been kind, but the reality behind that front room had been large, sterile wards with rows of beds and swarms of other kids who were scared or troubled or just plain mean. Michael hadn't slept much in his first few months there.
Now, he walked into the room wearing his best clothes and hearing the echoes of Stand up straight and Mind your manners ringing in his ears. Michael was on display.
The Kuderkas seemed like nice enough people. The wife was round and soft-looking, the husband solid and not too stern.
"Michael enjoys books and puzzles and math," Mrs. Harper told the couple.
Michael stood there tongue-tied, trying not to look overeager or nervous.
"Mrs. Harper tells us you're ten," Mr. Kurderka said.
"The wife and I have been hoping for a child of our own, maybe one right around your age."
Michael blinked. "Oh," he said. "Just one?"
"We ain't made of money, son," the man said. He traded looks with his wife. "And from what I hear, your brother's a bit of a handful."
That brother was Lincoln, who'd gotten the two of them this far no matter what it took, and who'd had to fight for nearly everything even before their mother got sick.
Lincoln, who if he'd been standing right there would have told Michael to jump at the chance to have a family, any chance. That was just who Lincoln was.
Michael suddenly felt hot all over. His skin prickled under his clothes.
"No!" he shouted. He picked a book up off of the desk and threw it at Mr. Kuderka's feet.
"Michael!" Mrs. Harper said, but Michael was already running off down the hallway.
Lincoln was waiting by their beds. "How did it go?" he asked.
"Bad." Michael threw his arms around Lincoln and held on tight.
"Really?" Lincoln said. "I heard they were nice."
"I didn't like them."
Lincoln rubbed Michael's back. "Maybe next time."
"Maybe." But probably not.
Today had been a warning. Now, Michael knew exactly how careful he would always have to be.
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