Seems like it's been forever since I updated anything. It probably has been forever. I apologize. Thank you to those sticking with me.

So the other story I've been working on in the Prison Break genre… It was about their father coming back, with Michael having met him before and enlisted him as part of the plan without knowing who he was…. Now that the father has reappeared with a twist on the show and all that has been said and done, I've kind of dropped that story…

Also not sure where this one is going or how often I'll be updating it. I might take a break from the Prison Break fiction for a little while. I was considering writing another one that takes place just after the mom dies and follow more of the story on the show (foster homes and such) but I don't know if I actually will. We'll see how the hiatus between the fall finale and January 22's new episode treats me. If anyone has suggestions, I'm open to them.

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Chapter 15

Fifteen year old Michael arrived home from school a little bit earlier than normal. He'd cut out of history class, tired since he'd stayed up too late the night before and from the rest of the day of classes, which had just been that tedious.

He wasn't sure whether Lincoln would be home from work yet, but figured he wouldn't notice if he was getting back early anyway. His brother's schedule was so erratic that, if asked, Lincoln would probably need several guesses to figure out what time school actually ended. And Michael figured Lincoln only pretended to really care about when he skipped classes. It was more grades, and Michael knew his grades were good.

When he walked through the door, he saw Lincoln on the couch with a huge grin, looking happier than he'd seen him look in a long time. And there in front of his brother was a mangy looking brown dog, scampering across the carpet after an equally mangy tennis ball.

Michael's eyes followed the dog and then flew back to Lincoln, brow furrowing. "Where'd you get a dog?"

Lincoln looked up at his brother, just noticing him. "Oh, hey, Mike," he greeted good-naturedly, suddenly reminding Michael for no reason at all of years ago. "Come in, man, come in. I don't know yet if she'll run out."

Michael stepped into the apartment, slowly closing the door behind him as though afraid to be in the apartment with Lincoln and the animal.

"Beautiful, isn't she?" Lincoln asked. Then he leaned forward and smiled widely as the dog returned with the tennis ball. "Yeah, girl… Good, girl…" He scratched the dog behind the ears.

"We don't own a dog," Michael said simply, still standing in front of the door with his backpack slung over his shoulder.

Lincoln looked at like he was crazy. "I know."

"So… Whose is it?" Michael's face darkened as possible scenarios raced through his head. "You didn't steal somebody's dog, did you, Linc?"

Lincoln's wide smile was gone and replaced with a scowl. He glanced at the dog as it nudged him with its nose, and then gave Michael a disappointed look. "No, retard. I didn't steal somebody's dog…"

Michael pulled himself away from the door and weirdness of the scene with the help of Lincoln's curt tone. He dropped his bookbag on the floor and walked over to drop into the other by the couch. "Then where's it from?"

"She," Lincoln corrected.

"She," Michael echoed. He watched Lincoln throw the tennis ball again, this time too far, but the dog followed it anyway, sliding into the kitchen, nails clicking against the linoleum. "Where's she from?"

"Not sure," Lincoln admitted. He looked at his frowning little brother, a little saddened that he wasn't more excited. Maybe he didn't understand. "I found her on my way home from work. She's got no tags or anything. So… I just gave her some attention and she just kind of… You know, followed me home."

"All the way back? You brought a stray dog into the apartment?"

"Yeah."

"Oh."

"I thought you'd be excited…" Lincoln muttered, shaking his head. "I remember once you bawled for a week when Mom wouldn't get you a puppy. I thought she'd kill you. And now I'm giving us a dog, and sure she's no puppy, but…"

Michael remembered. "I was six when that happened. What do you mean you're giving us a dog?"

"You're not even excited at all. You're way too serious, Mike, you know that?" The dog came back up to him, wagging its tail expectantly with the tennis ball locked in its jaw. Lincoln pet the dog. "Say hi to Mike, girl. Go on." He pushed the dog towards his brother, but as though sensing the lack of enthusiasm from Michael, the dog stayed by Lincoln's side.

"I don't understand why you'd just bring a stray dog home though," Michael said. "I was six when I asked for one."

"It's not just for you. And what, now that you're older you suddenly don't you want a dog?"

"I didn't say that."

"So what's wrong with her?"

"She's kind of mangy looking. Do you think she has her shots and all that?"

"I don't know. I guess we can take her to the vet." He studied Michael, wishing for a moment that he was still a little boy that wasn't so pragmatic. Michael didn't look excited at all like Lincoln had planned. He looked somewhat skeptical instead, like he once again was watching his brother do something stupid.

"Yeah…" Michael wondered if he should let Lincoln pretend with this for a little while. After all, that initial smile, when he'd first walked into the room, was something he hadn't seen on his brother's face for a long time. And he missed it. "Okay, Lincoln."

"Okay?" Lincoln echoed. "Okay, what?"

Michael wondered if he was being a pessimist or a realist when he considered all the things that came with having a dog. He remembered the week of crying for one and he also remembered every argument his mother had given him. "I mean, okay, if you want the dog. It's cool."

"Tell me what you're thinking, Michael. Don't just give me that submissive bullshit."

"I'm not." Michael remembered his six year old self that Lincoln had referred to, when he had wanted the dog so badly. His best friend, whose house he stayed at each day after school, had gotten a new puppy and he thought it was the greatest thing ever. No reason his mother used, varying from not having time for it, or money for food and vet bills, or even the fact their apartment didn't allow pets, could convince Michael at that age of why she was saying no.

Now the tables seemed turned.

"I just didn't know you wanted a dog now," Michael persisted. "She looks kinda old. How old's she?"

"I don't know. I just found her today, remember? No tags."

Michael stared at its tail, the way it wagged, and then down at its back leg he'd noticed it favoring with a limp when it had gone after the tennis ball. He tried to figure out what else was faulty inside of it. He stiffened as the dog approached him and as its wet nose pressed against his knee.

"Michael, what are you afraid of?" Lincoln asked, watching his brother's rigidness.

"Nothing."

"Then pet the dog. Why do you have that look? She just wants to be pet." Lincoln sighed, watching his brother lift his hand and pat the dog on the head. The dog's tail thumped against the chair happily. "What are you thinking about?"

"Have you fed her?" Michael asked, scratching the dog behind its ear.

"Half my sandwich from lunch. I'll buy her food though..."

Michael pressed his lips together, remembering how Lincoln had yelled at him for spending slightly more than usual on groceries the week before and wondered how much more the dog's food would add to it. And whether Lincoln would yell at Michael for it.

"What?" Lincoln persisted. "What is it?"

Michael got up. "I'm hungry."

"You're mad about the dog," Lincoln said simply. The dog watched them quizzically.

"No," Michael objected, exasperated at Lincoln's eyes on him. He walked into the kitcehn and to the fridge, pulling it open. He eyed a slice of leftover pizza and took it, closing the fridge door with his foot. He walked back into the other room.

Lincoln sighed. "Then what is it, man? Go ahead."

"Nothing."

"Nothing?"

"Yeah." Michael took a big bite of the pizza.

"Something happen at school?"

"No."

"The dog's stupid," Lincoln said, as though reading Michael's mind. "That's it, right? We both know it. Just tell me. I know it."

Michael shrugged. "I just thought they were expensive."

"Well, anything can be expense. But I think we can afford it. Can we give it a try? I saw her, just all lonely, and…"

Michael didn't like Lincoln asking him like he needed permission. He took another bite of pizza and shifted under his brother's look, moving to sit down on the couch. "I don't know. Whatever."

"Dog's are a man's best friend, Michael."

"So they say," Michael agreed. "I guess I just thought we were trying to be more careful with money. I'm just surprised."

"Yeah… You hate surprises."

Michael shrugged. He couldn't disagree with that. "It's okay."

"Sorry then, I guess."

"No," Michael shook his head, hating the disappointment in Lincoln's voice. "There's nothing to be sorry about." He paused. "The dog kind of smells, Lincoln."

Lincoln smirked. "Well… Maybe..." He shrugged.

Michael chewed on the pizza not answering for a minute. He decided it would probably be okay to have this dog. "Maybe you can give it a bath."

"Yeah." Lincoln rolled his eyes. He didn't envision himself giving the dog a bath any time soon.

Besides, the dog didn't seem to smell that bad.

Lincoln sighed, reaching for the remote tucked beside the cushion and flipping on the television. He had just switched stations when he heard Michael's voice.

"Uh, Linc…"

Lincoln was about to ask him what when he followed Michael's line of vision. To the dog in the corner of the room.

"The dog just pissed on the floor."

Lincoln groaned, taking a deep breath and trying to be calm. No big deal, he told himself. It happened. It happened with dogs… He knew that. Of course this would happen.

Michael looked unsure. "Maybe it's not trained."

"She, not it," Lincoln replied.

"I thought only puppies did that."

"Well… Maybe she's nervous. New environment and all that. Maybe she senses your mood."

"I'm not in a mood," Michael replied. "Maybe she lives outside and thinks the world is a toilet."

Lincoln smirked. "Or that." He pushed himself up off the couch. "Do we have paper towels left?"

"I think." Michael watched Lincoln disappear into the kitchen, emerging shortly after with a roll of paper towels and heading towards the now large spot on the carpet. He was slightly surprised at his brother's calmness over the whole thing. He chewed on his pizza with a frown as he watched his brother.

Silence passed between them as Lincoln tried to clean and Michael eyed the TV and at pizza.

"So to change the subject… I have a question. Where were you last night?" Lincoln asked after a couple minutes.

Michael paused, frowning at the question. "Huh?"

"Last night." Lincoln looked up from his crouched position on the floor. "Where were you?"

"Where were you?" Michael answered.

Lincoln smirked despite himself. "Don't do that. Just tell me."

"Here."

"No, you weren't."

"Yeah. I was," Michael insisted.

"Well, fine, then. What time did you get home?"

Michael shrugged. "Uh… Not too late. Where were you?" He wasn't sure what Lincoln was getting at, since whatever time Michael had gotten home didn't excuse the fact that Lincoln hadn't come home at all, even if that hadn't been a surprise.

"I told you I wouldn't be home last night."

That was also true, so Michael nodded. "I know."

"I'm only asking because I called you like three times and you never answered."

Michael frowned. "Called for what?"

"Doesn't matter. Where were you when I called?"

"Can't say since I don't know exactly what time you called."

"Don't be a smartass, alright?" Lincoln tossed the now wet paper towel aside and pulled off another few sheets from the roll. "Just answer."

"I just did."

"It was around eleven."

"Oh… Well, that's not that late."

"Not that late? Then when did you get home?"

Michael gave him a cunning look. "I didn't say I wasn't home then."

"No, you didn't," Lincoln agreed. "And stop making this a game, or I'm gonna come over there and slap that look off your face."

"It's more fun as a game."

"Fine, keep it up and see what happens," Lincoln answered shortly. He tried to dry the carpet as much as possible, made a mental note to buy carpet cleaner, and got up. He disappeared briefly into the kitchen to toss the soiled paper towels into the trash and rinse his hands, then returned. He watched Michael finish the crust of the pizza slice and waited.

"What?" Michael caught his look.

"I asked you a question. Just admit you weren't home."

"What fun is that?"

"There's no fun in any of it. I already know you weren't home… I just want to hear you say it."

"Why?"

"Because you know how I feel about you not telling me where you are. And how I feel about you being out on school nights."

"You weren't here for me to tell you where I was."

"That's the point. You knew that I wouldn't be here."

Michael rolled his eyes. "You really think I make my decisions based on your schedule?"

"Sometimes I wonder." Lincoln walked towards the couch, glancing at the dog now sitting a few feet away. He sat down beside Michael on the couch. "Let's talk."

"Did you wash your hands?" Michael asked.

"No." Lincoln leaned over, reaching over to teasingly wipe his fingers across Michael's cheek. "You can smell the dog pee."

Michael slapped his hand away, scowling. He rubbed his hand across his cheek.

"I'm kidding…" Lincoln assured. "Yes, I washed my hands."

"Good." Michael reached for the controller between them, but Lincoln snatched it first and muted the TV. Michael gave him a quizzical look.

"Answer my question," Lincoln said.

"What question? I slept here last night. Which is more than I can say for you and your new mangy dog," Michael said. "So I don't know really know what you're going for."

"I didn't ask where you slept. I asked where you were. And you're just having fun acting like you have no idea what I'm talking about."

"Evidently I was here."

Lincoln leaned back into the couch, rolling his eyes toward the ceiling and not understanding the pleasure Michael got from circular arguments. "Well, do you want to be straight with me, or you want me to go through every second I wasn't here and specifically ask what you were doing at that moment?"

Michael laughed but then turned his head and caught Lincoln's expression. He realized his brother wasn't joking around and sighed. "What are you so bent out of shape about?"

"You lying to me."

"I'm not lying to you."

"You're not telling me what I want to know either."

"You can't tell me that I'm not allowed to leave the apartment. Don't even say it. When you were fifteen, you did anything you wanted and—"

"No," Lincoln shook his head. "I'm not telling you never to leave the apartment. And I did not do what I wanted."

"What then, Mom was too sick to tell you what to do?"

Lincoln gave him a look but Michael's eyes were locked on the silent TV, a stubborn look on his face. "Just because I did something doesn't mean you have to do it too. In fact you shouldn't. What did you do, anyway?"

"Nothing."

"Michael… Why not just answer?… I just want to know what you were doing…"

"What's there to answer? You don't trust me."

"No, I just don't trust fifteen year old ME." Lincoln frowned.

"Oh, okay. So that's right. You just jarred my memory." Michael gave him an exasperated look. "First I went to a dive bar with my fake ID and got wasted, all on a credit card that I won't be able to pay off for months, and that was because all the cash I had was used to buy the bag of weed I needed after me and my waste of life friends finished yours. Then—"

"Michael—"

"Gosh, I hope I don't still smell like the strip club. I mean, they always say you'll smell like it for a week, but—"

"Michael."

Michael glared at him. "Get over it, Lincoln."

"You think all that is funny?"

"Not really, but now I'll have you try to figure out how much of that is true."

"How about none of it?"

"Oh? But why not?"

"I'm not even going to argue you. I'm just not going to care. You win. How's that?"

"There's nothing to win. Why is none of it true?"

"If I play your game will you not run out and do all those things just to prove me wrong?"

"No one needs to prove you wrong, Linc."

Lincoln's brow furrowed. "What's that mean?"

"Nothing. Let's end this conversation. You getting a dog is far more newsworthy than anything I did last night, that's for sure."

"Maybe." Lincoln paused. "And, I don't have any weed, Michael, like you just said. So don't say that."

Michael suddenly smirked at his brother. "Sure, you don't."

"What's that look?"

"Nothing." Michael smiled smugly.

"That's not nothing," Lincoln objected. "Stop. What's that look mean?"

"Just that you're lying."

"I'm not."

"Oh, so you forgot then? Then is it up for grabs?"

"Michael."

Michael could hear in the way Lincoln said his name that his patience for these kinds of responses was growing thin and wouldn't be accepted rather soon. That was slightly disappointing because Michael loved making people reach for answers, especially Lincoln. "Okay, Linc, you win. How's that?" Michael imitated.

"How's that," Lincoln echoed. "Okay, fine. So you did something that you don't want to talk about last night, and that's fine, but can we just agree you remember to tell me where you are? So I don't worry?"

"You weren't worried or else you would've come back here."

"Who says I didn't?"

Michael looked at him skeptically and then shook his head. "You didn't."

"Fine, I didn't."

"And you weren't here for me to—"

"Michael, you already know that's not the point. I told you I wouldn't be home last night."

"Sure it's the point. Maybe I didn't know before to tell you. And then I left you a note but you weren't here to get it."

"You knew I wasn't going to be here," Lincoln repeated.

"Yup."

"You…" Lincoln trailed off. He shook his head. "You always try to make it out that I'm the one that should feel guilty."

"How about nobody feels guilty?" Michael responded. "You're getting all exasperated for nothing. Besides, I could say a lot of things and you would either believe or not believe me. And either way it would make no difference. You still wouldn't be happy."

Lincoln frowned. "I'm not unhappy."

"You know what I think?"

Sighing, Lincoln looked into Michael's blue eyes. "What do you think?"

"That you should actually wash your hands," Michael replied. "Because you do smell like piss."

Lincoln continued to look at him until Michael blinked. Then he laughed. "Fine. I didn't use soap. How's that?"

Michael rubbed at his cheek where Lincoln had touched him before. "Gross. That's how that is."

oooooooooooooooooooo

Trying to think of happier, although more useful times, Michael found himself at a loss. It had just been a day since the riot. Michael felt like he was still in the middle of it. And unfortunately, at PI that day Lincoln noticed. "What's wrong, Michael?"

"Hm?" Michael looked up, finding Lincoln's eyes locked on him. "Nothing. Nothing at all."

Lincoln frowned. He had been studying Michael's expression for the past few minutes and was pretty sure that it was something. He took a step closer, leaning against the chain link fence beside him and resting the rake he'd been using against it as well. "What is it?" he asked.

Michael's eyes flashed towards the guards and he swallowed. "Lincoln… Bellick has been on my back all day. Don't… I mean, just do your work. We can't talk now."

"Sure we can."

"Lincoln…" Michael sighed. "Just—"

"Just what?" Lincoln picked up the rake. "I can walk and chew gum at the same time." He pulled the rake across some leaves disinterestedly. "See?"

"Well, there's nothing wrong. Everything's on schedule, and in the next day or so you'll see. It'll become much more obvious to you then." Michael glanced at one of the buildings on the prison property on the other side of the yard. "Very obvious."

"It's yesterday, isn't it…?"

"Yesterday?" Michael echoed. He looked back at his brother. "What do you mean?"

"The riot. It's still bugging you."

Michael shook his head, turning back to the yard work. "No, it's done. That's all done."

"All done? It was yesterday, Michael. And look at you. You're transparent. It's all you're thinking about."

"Not quite."

"It's written all over your face. Remember what I told you? It's not your—"

"Lincoln," Michael objected. He paused, looking up again and setting his jaw. "Just drop it, okay? I don't have time to worry about things that already happened."

"Don't have time to talk about you mean. But you might as well, because you're thinking about it anyway, that's for sure."

Michael didn't respond.

"What do you mean no time anyway. You rather stand here in silence?"

Michael gave him a look. "Yes."

Lincoln rolled his eyes at Michael's stubbornness. "Fine. Silence it is. But you better get that look off your face."

Michael shook his head. "There is no look."

"Right."

Michael squinted up at the sky, trying to clear his thoughts and finding himself unable to. It was almost easier to argue with Lincoln about nothing being wrong than be alone in silence with his thoughts. And there was never silence. There was always his nagging conscious, confused even more by the hundreds of little worries and distractions around him.

After a moment, when he kept sensing Lincoln's eyes on him, he gave up on the silence. He looked at the distance between them and the other inmates and then spoke. "T-Bag killed Bob."

Lincoln's hand tightened on the handle of the rake. "What?"

"You heard me."

"How do you know?"

"I saw," Michael replied. "I saw it."

Lincoln studied him.

"It's all these details…" Michael persisted. "You told me I have too many people involved. Well, all these indirect connections. It's… Even more." He shook his head. "I don't even know. I mean, the angles and I know, but—"

"Keep it to yourself."

Michael frowned. "What? You just said you wanted to talk and now—"

"No. I mean what you saw. Don't tell anybody what you saw."

"I haven't."

"I mean, they'll investigate and poke around. You don't want to be on either side of that, Michael."

Michael nodded but looked distracted as his eyes drifted around the year. "Yeah. I know."

"I'm serious. Don't mention it again."

"Fine," Michael answered, a little shortly. "I get it."

Lincoln pressed his lips together, shaking his head. "Bob… Fuck, he was a great guy. A real great guy."

Michael's brow furrowed. "I know he was." A moment later he added. "I'm sorry."

"Shut up, Michael."

"I am."

Lincoln sighed. "Why don't you get it?"

"I caused it," Michael replied. "Refute any of it, if you can. I caused the riot. It was my cell that caught his attention. If I wasn't in the wall, there would've been nothing to see. Nothing at all. And there would be no reason not to let Bob walk."

"Who knows the reasons for what T-Bag does, Michael. He's crazy. Absolutely crazy. And if you don't see that…. Well, you've gotta see that."

"Lincoln, there's only one reason why he did what he did. Crazy yes, but there are motives."

"Yeah, but why should you feel guilty for something you didn't do? You would never kill somebody."

Michael scoffed. "Really. I also would never rob a bank."

"You didn't actually—"

"I'm here, aren't I?"

"Michael, you're pissing me off…" Lincoln shook his head.

"Yeah, good." Michael rubbed the back of his neck. "Good."

"If you're not going to listen to me, fine. But then don't bitch about it either."

"I'm not."

"You are. Incessantly arguing about feeling guilty is doing nothing but giving me a head ache and getting you heated."

"I told you I didn't want to talk about it."

"And I said fine and you couldn't handle a minute of silence." Lincoln gave him a knowing look.

"Well, the sickening feeling sinking inside of me like a dead weight isn't giving me a minute of silence," Michael answered.

Lincoln sighed. "Well, what do I need to say to you for you to get over it?"

"You can't." Michael shook his head. "There's nothing to say until I get over it."

Lincoln nodded. "Yeah."

"It's also the wondering, or worrying, what the ulterior consequences of the rest of the plan are," Michael admitted. "You know?"

"Yeah." Lincoln reached over and squeezed his shoulder. "It'll be fine, Michael. As long as it all gets done."

"That's what I'm supposed to say to you."

Lincoln laughed, slapping his arm. "Whatever. Roles have reversed once again."

"Actually the biggest concern about T-Bag now isn't what he did but what he will do… Now that he knows," Michael continued.

"Well, I'm sure there's something inked on your body somewhere that will tell you what to do."

Michael rolled his eyes yet smirked. "Yeah."

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