Lincoln heard footsteps above his head, and he stirred. "Hello?" he called.
"We're back, Papi!" Sucre called.
"What time is it?" Lincoln asked, getting up off the small mattress where he'd slept. He climbed the steps to the deck.
"It's noon," Maricruz said. She was smiling, her arm hooked around Sucre's waist. "You were still sleeping?"
"Didn't go to sleep until late last night," Lincoln said.
"We brought lunch," Maricruz said, holding out a paper bag. "Where's Sara and Michael?"
"They're asleep," Lincoln said.
Sucre raised an eyebrow. "Asleep, huh?" he asked, smirking.
"I think so," Lincoln said.
"We're awake, actually," Michael's voice came from the doorway to the cabin. He climbed out first, followed by Sara. "We couldn't sleep with the racket you were all making."
Lincoln noticed their clasped hands. So they'd obviously talked things over somehow. They were on solid ground. Something like that. Which was good.
Now Lincoln and Michael had to talk.
Michael's eyes met his cautiously. Lincoln could see worry there. He tried to smile at his brother. "Hey man. It's okay," he said quietly.
"You hungry, Papi?" Sucre asked, pointing at the paper bag Maricruz was clutching. "We brought food."
Michael groaned lightly, and Lincoln swore he turned slightly green. "I'm okay," he said.
"You never eat, Michael!" Maricruz said.
"He drank too much last night," Sara said.
"You drank? I'm sorry I missed it," Sucre said.
"No. You're not." Michael's voice was dry. "Really."
Sucre said something in Spanish, and Michael replied, shaking his head lightly. Sucre laughed.
"Oh, Papi," he said.
"Damn you both and your stupid Spanish," Lincoln said. "Let's eat, huh?"
"I'm up for it," Sara said, taking the bag from Maricruz.
"We'll set it up," Maricruz said. "Have to be a good wife, now." She winked, and squealed as Sucre swatted playfully at her, chasing her away. "Come on, Sara. Help me out!"
He saw Sara squeeze Michael's hand lightly before following Maricruz. He noticed Michael's smile; yes, they were all right.
"Michael?" he asked.
"Yeah?" Michael said. He didn't look at Lincoln.
"Michael…" Lincoln cursed his own inability to use words. "Please. I'm sorry."
"You're sorry?" Michael sounded surprised. "What are you sorry about?" He sounded defensive.
"If I would have known, Michael," he said. "Please. I wouldn't have taken that money. We could have found another way. I wouldn't have let you—"
"Wouldn't have let me?" Michael asked. "It wasn't your choice, Linc!" Now he looked angry. "That was my choice. What did it hurt? It wasn't like I hadn't done it before, more times than I could count."
"But it shouldn't have been! That wasn't your fault, Michael. What those bastards did to you wasn't your fault at all; don't you know that? You were just a kid."
Michael's face was reddening; Lincoln couldn't tell from what.
"Michael, please," Lincoln said. "I just…will you ever forgive me? I'm so sorry." He didn't know what to do with his hands; after a moment, he shoved them into his pockets, watching Michael out of the corner of his eye.
"Forgive you?" Michael echoed. Lincoln's stomach dropped.
"I know it's a lot to ask. Maybe not yet, but one day…" Lincoln stopped talking. He couldn't read Michael's expression, and it frightened him.
"Or not. I don't know, man. It's up to you," Lincoln said awkwardly. "But you should know how sorry I am, Michael."
Michael grabbed his shirt, surprising him. That was a Lincoln move, not a Michael one. "You fucking idiot," Michael said, and then he pulled Lincoln into a hug. "You never get it, do you?"
Lincoln's arms automatically wrapped around his brother. "Huh?" he said, his brain lagging behind.
"You're not the one who needs forgiveness, you moron," Michael said quietly.
"Well, neither are you, Michael," he said. This he knew. He felt Michael's shoulders relax, and he realized for once, he might have said something right.
Lincoln and Michael released each other at the same time. "So…" Lincoln said, not quite sure how to phrase his question. Michael's eyes met his.
"It's the past," Michael said. This time, he didn't sound strained, stressed, or haunted. It was just a statement. And that was good.
"If you need…anything," Lincoln said. Again, with the awkwardness.
"I know," Michael replied. "As always."
Lincoln nodded. "All right," he said. He patted Michael's shoulder. "Let's get some food into you, huh?"
"Uh," Michael said, wrapping his arms protectively around his stomach, "I'm not sure about that…"
"Come on, Michael. Nothing for a hangover like bacon and butter and—" Lincoln teased, enjoying watching Michael's face turn green.
"Shut the fuck up, Lincoln," Michael said through gritted teeth. "I was always nice to you when you had a hangover."
"Whatever. I still remember that breakfast in bed you tried—" Lincoln said.
Michael looked nauseated. "If I would have known—I was only thirteen, Linc. I'd never had a hangover at that age. Anyway, I think cleaning up after you was punishment enough!"
"Probably," Lincoln agreed.
"Hey!" Sara's voice drifted over to them. "Food's ready!"
Michael groaned again, but turned. "Come on, Linc," he said. "If I have to eat it, you have to."
"I want to eat it," Lincoln replied. "I'm hungry." His stomach growled loudly, as if to confirm.
"Don't you have a hangover?" Michael asked.
"You were the only one who did significant drinking last night," Lincoln said. "I stopped at two."
"Everything works for you, doesn't it, Linc?" Michael asked.
Lincoln smiled. "Lately, I guess it has," he said, nudging his brother with his elbow. "It's your fault, though."
"Last time I do something nice for you," Michael grumbled, joking.
"I think I've gotten my fill." And indeed, looking at the happiness all around him; Sara and Michael, Maricruz and Sucre, the Christina Rose and the deep blue waters, he couldn't think of much that would make it nicer.
Well…he'd like to see Vee. But other than that, it was perfect.
"So, what's the plans for today, Papi?" Sucre asked.
Michael grinned. "I think we'll do some sailing," he said.
"Sailing," Sucre echoed. "Are you sure we can do this?"
Michael cocked his head to the side, grabbing Sara's hand. "Have some faith," he said.
Sucre took a deep breath, whispered something under his breath, and crossed himself. "All right, Papi. You crazy motherfucker."
Lincoln laughed first, but everyone else wasn't far behind.
It was going to be okay.