Pairing: Lincoln/Michael (Slash, W.I.P.)
Rating: PG-13 (this chapter)
Summary: Recovering the lost pieces of the tattoo.
Spoilers: Ep #17, “J-Cat” and #18, “Bluff”
x-x-x-x-x Chapter 7: Radio Silence x-x-x-x-x
Michael was doing something—something bad from the sound of it. He wouldn’t answer, hadn’t talked since the previous night, and now Lincoln could hear muffled pounding and displaced grunts.
“Michael!” he shouted again, but it made no difference.
Michael was off somewhere inside his own head and getting his attention was like trying to break up a dogfight through a closed door.
Lincoln’s shoulders dropped down, and his hands clenched together as they hung uselessly across the back of his neck.
His brother’s voice was calling, but Michael was not about to give in. He knew his silence worried Lincoln, knew his own part in the history behind that worry. But this was important. It was the only avenue he had left.
Michael continued slamming his fist into the wall, harder, harder. So painful, so red-blind raw and screaming-skin nauseating until he could hardly feel it, his knuckles nearly numb from the beginnings of shock. Finally, the wet stickiness trickling through his fingers caught his attention, and he stopped. The back of his hand was a mess— all pulped and bleeding. He hoped he hadn’t broken anything, wished he’d let up a little bit sooner.
But his hand was only half of it, and would not buy him the right options on its own. He had to tie it into the bigger picture, and not lose this narrow control of their destiny.
Gathering his concentration, he drew back into a corner of his mind and prepared to stay there. Hiding behind the mask of his frozen face, he made himself ready to be found and taken to the Psych Ward. In there, his only hope for answers was waiting.
Now there was no sound whatsoever coming through the wall. That was so much worse than before, and Lincoln’s mind dashed from one possibility to another, none of them good. Michael couldn’t be asleep, that wasn’t it. Unconscious from whatever he was doing earlier? Or awake but non-responsive?
That last part was the one Lincoln was afraid of. Because this was not the time for Michael to bail out on him. There wasn’t much time for anything anymore. If Michael was off in his own head, he might not come back before they took Lincoln away again. And if that happened, if Lincoln got executed then, who would bring Michael out of it? Who would even care whether Michael did come back?
There was a clanging sound outside, and Lincoln jumped up immediately. “My brother! He needs help! He’s in the cell next to me—he needs help!”
Shuffling sounds and muffled yells went on next door, outside Lincoln’s cell, but he couldn’t see what was going on, couldn’t see who was there. He heard a woman’s voice—the Doctor, he thought—but he didn’t hear Michael’s. A procession moved outward from next door, and all he could do was wonder.
What had happened to Michael? Why didn’t he say something? How bad was it this time?
Lincoln paced around the cell, pent-up energy and emotion coursing through him.
What if that was it, earlier? What if that was his last chance to say goodbye to his brother, and he missed it?
Lincoln had never been very good at “I love you.” He felt it, but it was too awkward to force it out. It was like humiliation, or like a trap when he said it, and he was always waiting for it to fall flat, for the other person to stumble through some kind of faked-up response. He didn’t really say it anymore except for when other people said it first.
But he should have told Michael. Just in case, and because, and … what if he never got the chance again?
Lincoln slumped to the floor, suddenly defeated.
His son and Michael were both in trouble, both in places now where he couldn’t reach them, couldn’t help them.
He was so fucking powerless here, and there was no-one to look after the people he loved.
This was never how it was supposed to be. And yet one way or another, he’d spent half his life in exactly this same pathetic, useless state.
What have I become? Michael wondered.
He used to know the answer to that. He was smart—even gifted. He was Lincoln’s brother. He was an orphan who knew the importance of family. He was kind, he was sympathetic… some said he cared too much.
Where did that last part of him go?
He cared about Lincoln—to the exclusion of absolutely everything else. Now he’d begun to compartmentalize, to divide up the things he would approach with fairness and the things he would attack by any means necessary.
Today, he’d bullied a psych patient to get back those missing parts of his tattoo. He’d assaulted Haywire, and he could rationalize it and say that he hadn’t actually hurt the man, not really. But there was no denying the fact that he’d violated him. Grabbing ahold of someone and shoving your fingers down their throat isn’t a minor or forgettable thing.
He had done that—had dredged up Haywire’s pills and forced him on the path toward conscious awareness, whether that was the right thing for Haywire or not. The few days he’d shared Michael’s cell, Haywire had been only slightly strange at the beginning. But he’d stopped taking his pills and his obsession with the tattoo had grown, until one night he’d ripped Michael’s shirt open while Michael slept. That meant Haywire would only get worse, the longer he was off his meds. But Michael would not let that distract him from what he had to do. If he was lucky, in the end he’d get the information he needed. And either way, Haywire would be sent back into zombiedom as soon as he had an outburst and the doctors realized he’d gone off the edge.
Michael’s head hurt and his stomach was queasy. His body was at war with itself over these choices, these immoral compromises.
But his mind was still ticking off the sequence of steps that remained. He needed to see Haywire again and get that map, then maneuver being released from the Psych Ward and returned to Gen Pop. But after that… the picture was fuzzy.
Michael squeezed his eyes shut and tried to will that future to become clear, but still it wavered at the edges of understanding.
How could he make the rest of the pieces fall into place? Would the answers come before it was too late?
(to be continued)