The first time she sees him, she thinks, I am not going to like him very much.
The last time she sees him, he kisses her (hello and goodbye); she thinks how will I miss what I never had?
Three days after that her father finds her in the backyard of their family home, and says, “Michael Scofield is on the phone for you.”
She spends the day with them, their first outing as a family in seven years. She feels uncomfortable for a while, but then falls into easy conversation with Michael’s wife, Sara, and forgets that she isn’t actually a part of this. She’d been roped in at some point, but this extends far behind her entrance and far beyond her departure. These brothers and their undying devotion to each other; the woman and her son who are picking up where they never really left off.
Sheba al-Hadi jumps a little when Lincoln Burrows sits himself down at her side, but really the cause of her nerves is the way he curls his body around hers, how she feels protected and enamored at the same time, how she imagines this exact position without any clothing between them, and how the heat of his body communicates to her that he too is waiting for that moment.
She shouldn’t get involved with a white non-Muslim for a multitude of reasons.
She knows this like she knows the rituals of her religion that have been taken and grossly miscalculated by a group of people intent on making sure the feelings she has for Lincoln are not only obliterated, but impossible to ever feel in the first place.
She knew the day he drove a truck like a madman from a safe house and delivered its contents to a grateful family that she had never known someone with the kind of courage (madness?) he displayed. He, like she, fought for something bigger than ideals or mantras. It wasn't the abstract idea of honor, but the very tangible reality of family. It encompassed all that a good fight should: the knowledge that one’s actions would result in the prosperity of life. It was very specific, though. Very specific lives mattered, and would be preserved.
She hears Lincoln’s brother’s voice in her memory: “I just wanted to let you know the danger has passed. All the noble reasons Linc has for not calling you are just excuses to the real one: he’s just not that brave. So I’m doing this for him. If we don’t see you at the park, then he’ll never know I made this call. It’s up to you.”
Sheba had made up her mind before she hung up the phone.
Michael Scofield, Junior, whom everyone called Mike or Mikey, wrestled with his uncle Lincoln on the grassy knoll where they had eaten their picnic lunch. Sara laughed as the growls got louder and Michael Senior, who had been sitting some distance from them, finally came to share the blanket with his wife. He kissed her cheek and asked in a murmur, “Long tradition?”
Sara nodded, not looking away from the very large man who was allowing a very small child to “pin” him to the grassy hillside. “When he heard the legendary stories of your wrestling matches, he promptly challenged Lincoln. Of course, we haven’t seen Linc much in the last few years, so there hasn’t been any of this in a long while.”
When Lincoln huffed out in mock irritation, “Damn, son, you’ve gotten really good since our last match!” Mikey crowed with delight. Looking over at their audience, he called, “Look, Dad!” His hesitation over that word just slight, but noticeable enough to remind Sheba that he had only met his father a few days earlier.
“I see you,” Michael replies. “You did what I never could: beat Linc!”
There was a certain level of everybody-pretending-that-any-of-this-was-possible, but since they were all in on the deception, it was somehow okay. Mikey laughed some more, beat his hands down on his uncle’s chest, and then jumped up and ran around them in a big circle as he broke into “We Are the Champions.”
Lincoln got to his feet, brushing the grass and dirt from his clothing as he did so. Sheba appreciated the sweep of his hands down the backside of his jeans. She had experienced those hands saving her from other, crueler ones, and she’d felt them as they cupped her face in a gesture of goodbye. But now, he walks back towards the blanket and holds a hand out, pulling her to her feet when she reciprocates. “Is this American tradition?” she asks. “To sing this song?”
“Hell, yeah,” Lincoln replies with a firm nod. “We wouldn’t be rubbing it in if we weren’t singing that song.” He tilted his head a bit, gesturing. “Wanna go for a walk around the little pond down there?”
He slides his fingers through hers as though he knows her answer, which he does. She wonders at the choosing of Michael’s word, brave. Lincoln was somehow not brave enough to call her himself, but now that she was here, she saw no lack of bravery in any of his actions. He seemed to consider it a done deal at this point, and Sheba wasn’t opposed to this train of thought.
She had enjoyed this time with his family, but really she wanted all the alone time with him she had believed she would never get.
She looked back at Sara and Michael who nodded their encouragement. “We’ll catch ya later,” Michael says, squinting up into the sun over their heads.
“Thanks, man,” Lincoln says, his deep voice vibrating with something more than a casual ‘thanks for the food.’
He tugs on Sheba’s hand and pulls her down the sloping earth.
She follows him without question. Whatever awaits her on the other side, as foolish as it might be, doesn’t, in this moment, concern her at all.
If Lincoln Burrows was meant to break her heart, she was all signed up.
They walk in silence for a stretch of time. His hand is warm around hers, their fingers interlocked. This is a sign of some sort, she knows. She hasn’t ever dated an American, but she’s known plenty of them. Benjamin had invited her over a few times to eat dinner with his family when they were Stateside. She had noticed the way he held hands with his wife was different than how he held his daughter’s hand, and the difference was the way the fingers laced together.
She likes holding Lincoln’s hand, and the feeling that it gives her, but she also thinks perhaps she’ll need to tug her hand free shortly because her fingers were going a little numb.
Before she had to do that, though, they reach a spot near the pond that with a small fence. As they approach it to stand behind it, Lincoln pulls his hand from hers and wraps his arm around her shoulder, securing her against his body.
“Sheba,” he murmurs, and she glances up at him. He’s not looking down at her, and it doesn’t appear to be a conversation starter, more like he just wanted to roll that around on his tongue for a moment.
So, she returns the favor. “Lincoln,” she says softly.
He hugs her tighter against him, and she turns into him, wrapping both arms around his waist. She can hear his heartbeat, and the security she finds here is more terrifying than the idea that it won’t last.
Suddenly it strikes her: what if this is it? What if all her disputes with former lovers who held to the creed on what mattered to them instead of what benefitted everyone was the pathway to finding someone who didn’t even have that creed?
What if Lincoln Burrows’ creed, whatever it was, matched more closely with who she is as a person anyway?
What if this feeling right here, right now, is everything she fought her way out of Yemen for?
Because she surely wouldn't have escaped without Lincoln’s help.
“I wasn’t plannin’ on this,” he says, the rumble of his voice under her cheek tantalizing in a way she’s never known before.
She thinks she knows what he means, but she questions, “This?” just to make sure.
He gives her another squeeze and a jostle to indicate this.
She leans her head back and he finally tips his chin down to her face. He looks intent, not that he doesn’t always look like that, but it’s different. Not determined, more like pleasantly caught. More like he wants this as much as she does, and there is no pretense.
There is hesitation, however. Like he wants to be sure she wants the next thing he has in mind.
(She does, she does, she does.)
He leans down, his lips barely touching hers, and she lifts herself up on her tiptoes to make it more firm. The arm around her shoulder curls in tighter and she presses herself against him. There’s a deep breath, the shudder of his chest against hers as intoxicating as her name in his mouth. His other hand slides beneath her hair, cups her neck and then he slants his lips over hers without hesitation.
And without restraint.
She opens her mouth because that’s what they both want, and the way everything about him invades her with his tongue is too potent to process. It feels like she has never had this while simultaneously feeling like it’s always been this way. Lincoln Burrows has always had the right to claim her mouth and her body and she has just been waiting for him to do so.
When they part for breath, her hands are around his jaw, cupping either side, and she has no memory of moving them to do that. His eyes meet hers, and they both talk at once.
“Do you wanna…”
“I think we should…”
“I’m staying at Mike and Sara’s right now.”
“I live with my family.”
“I'd like to see your dad again, but maybe not like this.” He almost cracks a smile, and something in Sheba’s chest blossoms until she can hardly breathe.
“Like what?” she asks on a gasp.
“Like this,” he says, picking up exactly what she wanted from him. He rotates his hips into her and she can feel the beginning pressure of something very male and very interesting to her at the moment.
“Shall we get a hotel?” she suggests.
“Not to make this a booty call by any means, but hell yeah,” he replies, and the hand at her neck slides down her back, coming to rest just at the base of her spine. He rotates into her again and his eyes flutter shut as she helps by lifting up against him again. Her toes give a little protest, but she doesn’t give a fuck.
Well, maybe that’s a poor word choice. She remembers Benjamin showing her some Cat Meme on his phone on one of their first rescue missions that read, “Look at all the fucks I don’t give.” He’d had to explain it to her, because English was sometimes difficult to decipher, but ultimately she had agreed with him that it was funny. Particularly because of the look on the cat’s face.
Let’s just say, Sheba gives all the fucks right now. And she wants Lincoln Burrows to have every last one.