Characters: Michael/Lincoln (Slash)
Summary: Escaping together, if only for awhile.
Author's Notes: For clair_de_lune and a long-ago Fall Free-For-All request. Also for fanfic100 ("Days").
Finding time alone together was always the hardest thing. Sometimes it consisted only of passing moments carved piecemeal out of the larger direction of their lives.
Excuses came easier in the summer months, but winter was a long stretch of desperate longing for anything more than the sound of each other's voices on the phone. Getting away required luck and creativity.
They couldn't claim to be ice-fishing, for no one in his right mind would ever believe Michael would be caught dead ice fishing. Neither Lincoln or Michael skied, and architecture conventions were too easy to check up on.
By February, Lincoln was forced to invent a dead cousin to finally give him and Michael a reason to leave town.
"A funeral, Lincoln? Really?" Michael asked, as they drove up the highway toward Wisconsin.
"Mom's favorite cousin." Lincoln glanced over at him, the beginnings of a smile on his lips. "So both of us need to be there. But Lisa hates funerals, so she didn't even ask to come."
"Ah," Michael said. Lincoln's plan was starting to seem like genius. "How much farther, then?"
"Less than two hours, if the weather holds."
Lincoln's getaway spot turned out to be a cabin outside of Racine, overlooking snow-covered trees. There was a fireplace, a television, and a king-sized bed. Michael started a fire while Lincoln put away the groceries and beer they'd bought on the way up.
"Are you cold?" Lincoln asked. "This place has central heating, too."
"Then what the hell are we doing with all our clothes on?" Michael said. "Crank it up."
Moments later, he and Lincoln were undressing each other and then rolling on the floor in a tangle of ferocious need. They touched each other everywhere—fingers digging in with urgency, mouths devouring each other, both men drunk with the chance to do everything they'd waited for during the last four weeks. It was fast and rough, and then over before the room had even fully heated up. Neither of them noticed.
Afterwards, they ate lunch and watched the last half of a basketball game. Side-by-side at first, they eventually wound up stretched out on the sofa. Michael lay half on top of Lincoln, drowsily taking in the flash of motion and listening to referees' whistles and the screech of tennis shoes while sparks snapped randomly in the fireplace.
Lincoln turned off the TV set when the game ended.
"I don't suppose this place has a hot tub," Michael said.
"No. But the shower's pretty big."
The two of them took their time under the hot water, soaping each other up with strong, slow hands. They always seemed to be rushing, on those rare occasions when they could finesse a couple of hours to meet up at Michael's apartment. Being able to just enjoy the moment and look at each other with more love than guilt or desperation was absolute luxury.
Later, they dried off and moved into the bedroom. The sex was less urgent this time. They kissed, long and soft, and murmured things there never seemed to be time to say. Lincoln stroked into Michael with a solid certainty that made Michael's head swim.
They lay in bed afterwards, listening to each other breathe. The sky outside grew dark so quickly that soon the only remaining light came from the embers glowing in the fireplace.
"Lisa thinks I'm having an affair," Lincoln said suddenly.
Michael turned toward him. "You are."
"Well, yeah. Technically." Lincoln shifted position. "But you know what I mean."
Michael knew. In many ways, the issue of what was and what wasn't had always been one of the problems underlying their relationship. "What are you going to do about it?" he said.
"I don't know. It was never really supposed to be Lisa—"
Michael's temper flared. After all this time, Lincoln apparently still thought of Veronica as his ever-after. Would that ever fucking change?
"—but then there's LJ, so I always think I should keep trying."
"For how long?"
Lincoln let out a slow, resigned breath. "As long as I can…"
Before long, the room was so dark that they were both in danger of falling asleep and losing the rest of the day. "We should get up," Michael murmured.
"We should get dinner," Lincoln replied.
They put together a meal of steak, potatoes, salad, and bottle of red wine. With the fire stoked up and the wind howling outside, they ate at the small kitchen table lit by candlelight and the fire's glow. The curtains were open to let in the view, a dramatic tableau which showed the swirl of winter moving against the night sky.
Afterwards, they retired to the sofa to watch monster movies on TV. "This is nice," Michael said, as the Swamp Thing terrorized a trailer park.
"Sure is," Lincoln agreed
That night, they slept wrapped around each other the way they used to do, before Lisa and before Lincoln's last trip to prison, back in those days with once-in-awhile moments when things almost made some kind of sense.
The two of them woke up the next morning to frost on the window panes and a chill in the air.
"Fire's gone out," Lincoln mumbled.
Neither of them made a move to get up.
"When did you tell Lisa you'd be back?" Michael asked.
"Ah." Michael moved closer, settling lazily into Lincoln's arms. "So, no hurry, then…"
It was nearly nine o'clock when they got out of bed, both of them hungry enough to leave the comfort of warm covers behind. They had breakfast at the table, the steam from their coffee cups twisting up toward the ceiling. Outside, the weather was gray and the sky looked threatening.
"What happens if a storm comes while we're here?" Michael asked. "We'll get trapped."
Lincoln smiled drily. "Tragic."
For the first time since childhood, Michael found himself wishing for bad weather.
The rest of the day passed too quickly. Lincoln wanted to mess around in the snow and Michael didn't, so Michael picked through the living room's collection of old paperbacks while Lincoln walked around the edge of the property and out through the trees beyond. He came back wet and cold, so Michael banked the fire higher. The two of them made their way into the shower, creating their own heat as they slipped and slid around and inside each other one last, slow time before the weekend's spell would be broken.
"How come we never seem to go forward?" Michael asked, after they'd finished. "It's always just around and around."
"Because there is no forward except stopping. Do you really want that?"
Michael thought about how much simpler things would be if they just walked away from this, how much safer and less volatile.
How hopelessly cold and empty his entire world would then become.
"No," Michael whispered.
Lincoln rubbed the back of Michael's head softly. "I don't have the answers either," he said.
After a late lunch, they put the cabin more or less in order and spread the fire out to let it die. Michael looked everything over one last time, as if he could memorize the experience and live in the warmth of those stolen moments forever.
"It's always over too soon," he said.
Lincoln nodded. "I hear you."
It could be another year or too, easily, before they got a chance like this again.
They drove back to the city in near silence, more typical than not after one of their longer rendezvous. The snow was piled high along the curb as Lincoln pulled into a loading zone in front of Michael's apartment.
They sat for a moment. "That was a great place, Lincoln," Michael finally said.
"I thought you'd like it." Lincoln kissed him long and slow, with the darkness of winter hiding all their secrets from the world.
Michael got out and took his suitcase from the trunk, stopping by Lincoln's window one last time.
"Don’t forget to look sad," he said. "Because of the funeral and everything."
Lincoln half-smiled at him, as if his thoughts were already far away.
"That won't be a problem, Michael. Right now, I won't even have to try."
----- fin -----