They’d sat in silence after Michael’s statement. Lincoln had fallen into another fitful sleep and Alex had a feeling his fever was going up again. Evening was slowly falling, though later than in Chicago, and Michael turned on the only two shady lights in the room.
“I’m going to get us something to eat. What do you guys want?” He heard LJ say. Michael moved to his nephew without much of a sound and whispered something in his ear. Michael had that way about him. He talked without raising his voice at all and now with Lincoln ill, he all but whispered around his brother.
“Alex, pizza, a hamburger or Chinese again?” Michael asked, suddenly quite close to him.
Alex startled, partly turned and shook his head. “I don’t really care. Pick one.”
LJ shrugged like only a teenager could and disappeared after one look at his father. Thinking Lincoln looked more than flushed, Alex leaned over for the first time in an hour to feel his forehead and was shocked by the heat he felt there.
“Shit, Michael,” Alex said, a tremor lightly penetrating his voice. “He’s burning up again.”
Michael rushed to the other side and checked Lincoln’s forehead, neck and pulse with rapid movements. “He was getting better; this isn’t supposed to be happening.”
Alex got up and pulled blankets off Lincoln’s hot body. “Sometimes fever can spike back with a situation like this. I have seen it in Iraq and… we can get him in the tub and cool him off.”
Michael looked at him for about two seconds, clearly rapidly contemplating what Alex had said, before he started to help him. They hoisted Lincoln up by the arms, but he was so unresponsive it felt like carrying over two hundred pounds of sand.
“Hold him, we’ll use the blanket,” Michael said, leaving Lincoln in Alex’s arms as he yanked a sheet from the other, unused, bed and put it on the ground.
Lord, they were going to have to drag Lincoln to the bathroom. Alex didn’t want to hurt him, but it clearly was their only option.
“Here,” Michael hurried as he took Lincoln’s left arm again.
Alex moved to Michael’s side now and positioned himself next to Lincoln’s right as they turned him around on the bed. The fact that the jarring didn’t wake Lincoln at all worried Alex no end. The sheets fell off completely now, revealing Lincoln’s taut belly, his strong legs… he only wore boxers and it made him look vulnerable in this state. Alex felt strangely protective of him.
“If you want to stay outside while-” Alex asked raggedly as he labored with Michael as they pulled and dragging Lincoln to the bathroom. He felt his cheeks redden as he said it. “I mean if you feel uncomfortable with-”
Michael’s breathing sounded harsher now as well, but he still managed to raise one eyebrow. “If I am uncomfortable seeing my brother naked? Trust me, nothing new there.”
Alex thought that statement was somewhat odd and it must have shown on his face because Michael clarified as they propped Lincoln on the cold titles as the bath water was running. “We lived together for some time. Lincoln doesn’t have an ounce of shame. He certainly isn’t embarrassed about his body, not to mention every time I had to clean up after him after he drank too much.”
A subtle shift in Michael’s eyes and mouth gave Alex the notion that it was information he hadn’t wanted to give. It was a sign that Michael was as stressed out with this whole situation as Alex was; he slipped up as well.
The bath was half-full within two minutes and they went back to work, pulling Lincoln up to the edge of the bath. It was no use though; there was no way they could do this without letting him drop. Alex sighed; “I have an idea. Wait and hold on to him.” Alex let Lincoln go the moment he believed Michael had him and pulled off his shirt and then his socks and shoes. Michael didn’t betray an inch of his true feelings, but Alex could imagine. Then Alex stepped into the bathtub, shivering at the cold temperature, and sat behind Lincoln. “Slowly let him fall into my arms.” Alex instructed and Michael obeyed. A minute later, they had Lincoln lying against Alex’s chest, cold water cooling his fevered body.
“You need to get out, Alex,” Michael stated as if Alex didn’t know. Still, it was hard to do it, to leave Lincoln lying in the water again, alone. After a moment’s hesitation, Alex shifted, moving to the side and gently laid Lincoln’s head against the cold bathtub. Michael helped to keep Lincoln upright so Alex could step out, dripping wet.
He grabbed a towel, his eyes only leaving Lincoln’s frame for a few seconds, and dried his chest. His jeans already started to tighten and he regretted that he hadn’t taken them off as well. “Make sure he doesn’t slide under,” he groused, annoyed with himself. Michael made a non-committal sound; probably as irritable as Alex was feeling. Lack of sleep and the constant fear of losing Lincoln weren’t good for their tentative and new understanding. “Is he getting any colder?” Alex asked, throwing the towel in the corner and padding over to Michael’s side.
“I don’t know it’s too soon. I don’t know if this is smart with his pneumonia.” Michael sounded conflicted.
Alex sighed, he didn’t either, but still. “If we don’t the fever could kill him unless we get him to a hospital and then-”
Michael didn’t leave much room for Alex to help with Lincoln, so he didn’t try. “I know; if we get him to a hospital we’ll all be in trouble, wide open for the Company to take revenge and he’ll be back on death row.” Michael’s fingers dug into Lincoln’s shoulders. It looked like it was taking him some effort to hold Lincoln up. “Can you try and change the sheets on his bed?” Michael asked after a while, sounding tired.
Alex nodded and realized Michael couldn’t see him. “I could, but we can put him in the other bed. Clean sheets there. I’ll get the other bed stripped down for the housekeeper to take away.”
Michael mumbled something like ‘thank you’ and Alex went to do as he said. On the way out, he grabbed his socks and an old, but clean motel bathrobe and put them on before he went to work. It wouldn’t exactly help if developed a cough of his own, after all. He pulled off the sheets and worked almost mechanically, feeling oddly numb; he was operating on automatic, hoping against all odds that Lincoln would pull through. He was tough; he just had to, right?
Half an hour later, Lincoln lay in the other bed and his skin felt a little bit cooler. Alex eyed the stripped bed and took a deep breath. “One of us should take that and try to get some sleep.”
“I agree; you go first, I’ll wake you in a couple of hours.”
Alex wanted to protest, but realized he’d walked right into that. He was too tired to argue or think, however, and sat on the bare mattress. He could smell Lincoln on it and somehow it felt comforting. He didn’t remember when his head hit the mattress or when he fell asleep.
Alex awoke when the sunlight was shining on his face. His back hurt, but as he opened his eyes, he looked straight at Lincoln who was still breathing. LJ sat next to him. “Hey,” the boy said drolly.
Alex sat up, feeling a lot less tired than he was before and very peeved. “Why didn’t Michael wake me?” He tried to gauge Lincoln’s condition and felt his forehead after he stood and then sat down again on the other bed. Lincoln felt cooler; thank God.
“Uncle Mike said you needed the rest. I think he was right. He went to sleep about 4 hours ago.” Alex didn’t comment, but studied Lincoln’s features. The lines of suffering were a bit softer and his breathing seemed a bit easier, but maybe he just saw things that weren’t there.
A knock on the door shook him from that reverie and he automatically reached for the gun he didn’t have. LJ opened the door before Alex could say a word. It was the doctor. “How is he?” the man asked without looking at his patient, putting a scruffy looking leather bag on the nightstand.
LJ answered, “I think he’s a bit better. His fever was down yesterday but then it went up again in the evening.”
The doctor nodded. “And what did you do?” He impatiently tapped his bag with his left hand, a big ring making the sound more pronounced.
Alex felt LJ looking at him for help and answered for him. “We gave him a cold bath. It seemed to help,” Alex stated as businesslike as he could. Doctor’s, like feds, needed facts, not emotions.
The doctor harrumphed. “Risky, but then again, that’s your business. Now I am going to need payment in advance just like last time.”
Alex felt the hairs on the back of his neck rise. ‘Whatever happened to helping sick people, you bastard.’ Was what he wanted to say. Instead, he remained silent, hoping LJ knew about this from Michael.
LJ was already digging around in his pocket and took out a crumpled envelope. “My Uncle said you agreed on this amount. He also put in the cash for the other half of antibiotics. I’m going to get him now.”
The doctor took the envelope from LJ, ripped it open and started to count the money. LJ shot Alex a warning look as if Alex was going to beat the man up, but Alex shook his head. He had some restraint left.
“I’ll be right back,” LJ said, more for Alex’s benefit than the doctor’s and raced out, door almost banging, but leaving both Lincoln and the doctor unperturbed. When the doctor was finally done with his money he looked at Lincoln.
He harrumphed again and pulled out his stethoscope. “Has he been awake at all?” the man asked, almost sounding uninterested in the answer he had yet to receive.
Alex gritted his teeth and pushed his temper down, although with difficulty. “He has; three times. The last time was late yesterday afternoon. He was fevered, but had a few bouts of lucidity.”
The doctor didn’t answer that and pulled back the sheets that covered Lincoln. He felt up Lincoln’s chest, front and side, and made some noises in his throat. He then put the device in his ears and listened to what Alex gauged were his heartbeat and lungs. After what seemed like a minute he let up.
He peered at Alex over the brim of his glasses. “Roll him over please; I need to listen to his lungs via his back.”
As if Lincoln was some piece of meat. Alex did it though, not arguing, but rolling Lincoln over to face him as gently as he could. It took another minute or so and then Michael entered with LJ in tow. He looked disheveled, probably because he’d just woken up from sleep and Alex briefly wondered if he’d rented another room.
“Quiet please,” the doctor bit back without looking at the visitors.
They all waited, not wanting to antagonize the one doctor they had. The doctor gave Alex the order to let Lincoln fall back, but Alex didn’t comply. He did it slowly, carefully, softly letting Lincoln roll back. The doctor checked more of Lincoln’s vital signs and Alex bit his tongue to refrain from speaking, forcing himself to let Michael do the talking when the time came. He wondered where the money had come from. It was probably Lincoln’s, what he had gotten from Susan; leftovers. Perhaps he had given part of it to Michael or even all of it. It seemed like something he would do.
“Well, he seems to be hanging on. Just keep him on antibiotics and ride it out. There isn’t much more I can do and my ship’s sailing today. Good day.” The doctor packed up and spoke as he did so.
Alex felt his blood boiling again; he was very happy he hadn’t really heard what the man had said the first time he was here.
Michael took a step closer. “When do we know that he’s going to pull through?”
Another harrumph as the doctor folded his glasses and put them in his breast pocket. “If he’s still breathing in a day or three and the fever doesn’t pitch again he should. Or you could take him to a hospital and be sure. Now if you’ll excuse me.” He shoved a package of pills in Michael’s hands and exited without another word.
“You actually paid that quack for this, this-” Alex started, staring angrily at Michael brimming with the impotence of not being able to do anything about the casual behavior of the medic.
Michael leveled his gaze and walked to Lincoln, pulling the sheets up again, something Alex had forgotten since he was focused on the doctor so much. “It was that or nothing. I’d rather take something and he gave us antibiotics.” Alex exhaled, trying to nod or show that Michael was right, but still. “Go get some air, cool down, Alex.” Michael added. Alex nearly bristled again, but forced himself to calm down. He couldn’t jeopardize anything now; Michael wasn’t the enemy.
“I’ll get some breakfast. I’ll get you some too.” LJ tried to defuse the situation that wasn’t a situation with his innocent remark. It reminded Alex of that moment when Lincoln had collapsed; Alex had been brimming with anger and worry back then as well. He sighed, shot a look at Lincoln, who hadn’t moved a muscled since yesterday, and left.
He sat on the bench outside again, stretching his back, his hands in his pockets. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the morning sun. It was warm despite it being morning and the peaceful sound of the jungle, the birds, was calming. It would be complete if he could hear a waterfall of some sort, or maybe the sea. He could imagine that; swimming with Lincoln, enjoying each other in the surf.
He dug his hands into his pocket some more until his fingers touched a piece of paper. He was reminded of Whistler once more. He pulled it out and finally opened the folded note; it was an email address. He almost put it back, but then looked at it again. What the hell was he supposed to do with an email address?
He shoved the note back into his pocket. He didn’t want to think and he didn’t want to plan, but if Lincoln survived, was he really going to go to the US with that entire family in tow like some trip to Disneyland? What if Whistler knew something? Maybe he could help?
Alex didn’t want to think and tried to stop. It didn’t work.
The next two days were about the same; sleeping, eating and nothing else. They hardly talked except for when they discussed Lincoln and basic necessities. It was strained and highly uncomfortable. Especially since both LJ and Michael seemed to do their best not to leave him alone with Lincoln too long or maybe that was just his imagination.
On the third day, Lincoln’s fever broke. And few hours later he woke up asking for a drink and even some food. Alex couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so elated.
“I could eat a horse,” Lincoln whispered, sounding hoarse and weak, but alive.
Michael smiled, leaning forward from one side, as Alex did the same from the other. LJ stood at the end of the bed almost jumping up and down. “You gave us quite a scare, Linc. You almost died on us,” Michael said gently, hand lying on Lincoln’s right arm. Lincoln kept staring at his brother after shooting quick glances at LJ and Alex.
“I don’t die that easily; ask the governor,” he exclaimed, his lips trying to form a lopsided grin that didn’t completely work. Michael squeezed his brother’s arm and looked at LJ who understood his uncle completely.
“I’ll get you some food, Dad. I found some really cool places around here. Stay awake!” LJ bounced, babbled and left almost as if the relief was too much for him to handle.
Michael reached behind him and pulled the chair closer to the bed. His hand never left Lincoln’s arm, but still Michael sat down with grace as if he did this every day.
“How do you feel, Lincoln?” Alex said, afraid he overstepped his boundaries now that Lincoln was awake. He so wanted to touch him, kiss him softly, hold him...
Lincoln turned his head towards Alex and rumbled a soft cough. “Like shit. You were right, weren’t you, something in that water?”
It was such an innocent question, but Alex felt the heat in his neck rise. It felt intimate discussing anything that had happened in and around the cabin, because it was theirs, their secret world. Something they had for themselves. Nobody had touched it, nobody ever could. Alex felt his lips curve into a small smile and he inclined his head. “If you hadn’t been so stubborn and just listened to me-”
Lincoln tried to shrug and grimaced, Alex shot out his hand to... well, there was nothing he could do, but the reflex made him finally touch Lincoln’s hand. To feel his skin under the palm of his hand. Warm, alive, bare… “I did listen; it just wasn’t … what’s the word?” Lincoln rasped.
Michael cut in, “convenient?”
Lincoln nodded, looking amused even though he still looked sick. Maybe it was the fact that both he and Michael were present, but Alex didn’t really know. His thumb started to move on Lincoln’s arm; he needed to do something, caress him, show how he felt, but he was afraid Lincoln would rebuke him especially with Michael nearby. Why were things always this complicated?
Then, the door flew open and LJ burst in, a radio in his hand, chattering loudly. “Guys, you have to listen to this. Listen!” He put the radio down and turned up the volume. It was some sort of infomercial.
Michael raised an eyebrow. “That’s interesting, LJ-”
LJ waved the comment away, excited, barely restraining himself. “No, listen, wait. The news, they said something before the commercials, listen!”
The news began and then all hell broke loose; Kellerman and Sara alive and working with the UN… Michael, LJ and Lincoln totally exonerated of any crimes… Wyatt, murderer of Pam Mahone, caught and shot down during the chase… some man named Kranz arrested for complicity in extortion, murder, blackmail… It was too amazing to believe, like some fairytale coming true.
When the radio announcer stopped and the rollercoaster was over, Michael and LJ had hugged each other fiercely. Michael looked more in shock about Sara than anything, which Alex could understand; the self-proclaimed pacifist, Michael Scofield, had taken revenge for something that hadn’t happened. Did it mean he would rush off to the States now? To be with his lady? However, through all the cheering, Alex felt numb. He was happy for them, or at least he tried to be, but he, he didn’t...
Lincoln turned his head and found Alex's eyes. They stared at each other and slowly understanding dawned in those green eyes of his. The atmosphere of elation slowly dried up when LJ and Michael stopped talking too. Lincoln cleared his throat. “You’re still wanted. You’re still wanted by the feds.”
Author's Chapter Notes:
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