Character: Lincoln(Gen, Angst)
Spoilers: Early S1
Summary: Too much waiting and thinking about the end that is coming...
Author’s Note: This story originated in Chapter 5 of "The Arrangement," but I modified it and expanded to make it a standalone Genfic. Also for my prisonbreak100 claim of the Gen pairing of Lincoln and Michael, this is #31, "Death."
It was night, and they were running. Lungs aching, feet stumbling through the field, they made their way toward a set of tracks, a train whistle sounding nearby. The ground shook and rumbled up through their legs as they put on speed, trying to intercept one of the dangling ladders. Michael surged forward and jumped, catching hold and hauling himself up. Lincoln ran faster and faster, trying desperately to reach Michael’s outstretched hand, as the train seemed to edge farther and farther away and Michael called to him anxiously, “Lincoln! Lincoln!”—
His own groan of despair woke Lincoln up. The Row was dimly lit and quiet in the early hours of the morning. Lincoln put his head down and ran his hands up over the back of his neck, trying to shake off the feelings of doom and loneliness brought on by the dream.
It was harder and harder to sleep, as his execution date drew closer, and what sleep he got was besieged by nightmares. Horrors past, present and future, things that had never happened, things that still might—all of these made appearances night after night. Reliving the trial where he was convicted of murder and sentenced to Death Row. Dreams in which he had shot the Vice President’s brother after all. Michael walking away from visiting hours one day and never coming back, leaving him to rot in isolation. Michael being raped and murdered while he was in prison trying to save Lincoln’s sorry ass. The Chair... His last panicked moments before they threw the switch. The anguish in Michael’s face as he watched Lincoln being led away. L.J.’s tears and bitter disappointment in the father he never was.
God, he thought. The nightmares and the waiting were killing him. He needed it to be over, one way or another. He wanted to believe in Michael’s plan, had to convince him that he did just because he owed Michael that much. But the thoughts of what was coming if that failed were very real. His mistakes, and his fears for how L.J. and Michael would be affected by his leaving them— they were on his mind almost every waking moment, and it sickened him. Their weight threatened to crush him.
Every day was a step closer to the inevitable. Whether that end would be annihilation or salvation, he did not know. He had no ability to choose, no power to affect the outcome. The helplessness was maddening.
He was more aware now than ever of his isolation on Death Row, with its unsettling lack of distraction from the worries and panic that surfaced unpredictably. Although he could not and would not unburden himself to Michael, his optimism and almost daily presence were still very comforting. Lincoln missed him a great deal when he was alone.
His own part in the escape plan consisted of waiting for the other pieces to fall into place. Or alternatively, for them not to-- but he tried not to think about those possibilities. He wished he were more able to help move things along, instead of worrying about where they might go wrong. So much of the plan was complicated, interdependent on the right people, the right access, the right opportunities. It was nowhere near being as much under Michael’s control as Michael liked to think.
Lincoln didn’t mention that to him. But he was all too aware of it.
Even Michael’s own safety over in GenPop was at risk, and it pained Lincoln that he could not be there to protect him. He had always protected Michael, and Michael needed it here more than ever. Lincoln did at least have his reputation to offer, which was something. Although there was little revenge he could enact directly, should anyone harm Michael, no-one could be sure that he wouldn’t arrange to have it done.
“Link the Sink” was a far angrier and more unpredictable man than Lincoln Burrows could ever be. For once, this was to his advantage.
Lincoln sighed. His brain was running in overdrive, and it wasn’t even morning yet.
How long would this day last, and what would it bring? Continued hope? Despair? Danger? Boredom?
Lincoln had never been a religious man, but he found himself seeking answers to the questions he could not hope to understand.
Why had this happened to him—the wrongful conviction and the impending death sentence?
He had not been a saint, certainly, but for so many years he had tried to do the right thing as best he could. He had tried to salvage Michael’s safety and happiness from the ruins of their family life. True, he had gotten waylaid with juvenile infractions and some drug problems, but didn’t any of that earlier effort count for anything? It was true that the burden of responsibility for stabilizing the two of them had eventually pushed Lincoln to rebel and self-destruct for awhile—but didn’t carrying that responsibility for so long at least mitigate those results?
And he’d never meant to get L.J.’s mother pregnant… but he had tried to do the right thing afterwards for his new family, for as long as he could stand it. Even though that also meant letting Michael founder alone while he did. That no-win situation still plagued his conscience to this day.
So if there was a point to Lincoln dying for the one crime he did not commit… what was it? Was his sole purpose in life to be part of a larger lesson in pain for Michael and L.J.? Was he a casualty in someone else’s plan, like Job’s family in the biblical story?
It just made no sense to him. Looking at where he was now -- with Michael right alongside him, all for the sake of his sorry ass-- he wondered what he’d ever had to offer but the chance to hurt those who loved him.
If it came down to it, and he did not escape execution… he hoped Michael and L.J. could forgive him for not being a better man. He had tried, honestly tried for so long before he just gave up. He was trying again now, for their sake, and would continue as long as he could.
But a flawed vessel can only hold so much before it fails. He hoped he could last long enough for all of it to succeed… or at least long enough that it no longer mattered.
Ultimately, he prayed. Disjointedly, inexpertly, sometimes angrily. He pleaded for a miracle, for release, for mercy. And in the darkest hours, when hope had fled, he pleaded for comfort to be given to those who survived him.
He had no expectation that any of his prayers would be answered. They had not been as a child, and there was no reason why they would be now.
But still, he had to work with what he was given. And as always, he tried to do the best he could. It was all he would ever have.
And who was he to want more?
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