Characters: Lincoln Burrows, LJ Burrows, Michael Scofield, Sara Tancredi
Rating: PG-13, Gen
Length: 1239 words
Author's Notes: I’m here from another fandom, so if I mispronounce a shibboleth, please forgive me. The usual disclaimers apply. Mild spoiler for “Bolshoi Booze.”
Summary: Set post series thus far, some of the characters have trouble adjusting to “normal life.”
Considering everything that had happened, you wouldn't be surprised that they each had their troubles with the regular world. After all the hullabaloo, the endless 'Conspiracy Exposed' television programs, the negotiations with the cops and the Feds and the Department of Corrections, the hours spent talking to attorneys and avoiding autograph hounds, you'd expect that they'd have a few quirks to work out. When all was said and done, it was astonishing, really, that they were only a little bit damaged.
Sara just rolls her eyes whenever they get to the part in the questionnaire about hydrophobia. Managing her insomnia is an ongoing problem, especially since she won't use medication, so it's been a long process of relaxation exercises, self-hypnosis, and the incessant talk-talk-talk of therapy. You might think that Paul, or Lance, or whatever his name was, would have left her with a healthy fear of water alongside the miscellaneous scars, but it really wasn't an issue. She took a bath most every night, went ocean swimming every afternoon the months they spent hiding in Panama, she even tried one of those sensory deprivation tanks that the behavior modification guy thought was so great -- floating in salty water in the dark was certainly relaxing, but it didn't help her get to sleep, and that was the whole idea. As it was, she only managed to get a decent sleep one night in three, which made practicing medicine dicey on the days when she was working on the couple of hours she'd managed to patch together while dozing on the couch. She's grateful to have her license back though, grateful to the clinic that they're willing to have her on staff, -- she figures that laying in bed counting sheep, counting backwards from 1,000, counting her blessings is a small price for it all.
LJ, on the other hand, could sleep the day away if they would only let him. Part of it is just being a teenager -- sleeping till afternoon going hand in hand with a voracious appetite and a volatile temper. He doesn't yell at Sara, mostly because she treats him like an adult, but the usual frustrations of adolescence and restrictions of school and home were more difficult coming after a couple years of life on the run. He'd grown up in a hurry, but now he had to stuff himself back into the kind of world that didn't understand why he flinched whenever he heard an ambulance siren, or ducked when he saw the twinkle of police lights in the rear-view mirror. And it was so much better now than it was when they first came back to the States -- he damn near broke his neck diving under the table at the diner where they'd stopped for breakfast after the red-eye flight from Panama City. The month they all spent living in that apartment on Cranford was hell -- they didn't realize till after they'd moved in that it was on an arterial for two major trauma centers. Sara was usually awake anyway, so she could help talk him down, but they were happy to lose the deposit just to get out of there and away from nights filled with emergency vehicles. It was improving, slowly, and someday they hoped that he might just have the same mildly guilty reactions that most people do when they hear a cop car and check their speedometer. In the meantime, he slept with earplugs in, and tried to avoid the main streets when he was driving.
They could have predicted Lincoln's depression if they'd only had the time to think about it -- the most deadbeat student who'd skipped all the lectures and done none of the reading for Psych 100 would know that Lincoln was heading for disaster just as soon as he could get there. When life finally slowed down enough that he could spend more than five minutes at a time sitting in one place he started sorting through the chaos of the escape and adding up the body count. All those lives -- people he'd loved, and people he didn't even know -- sacrificed so he could live. Michael was the brains, the one who put the plans together and set everything in motion, but it was all for him, all of that sacrifice was for him, and he knew in his guts that he wasn't anywhere near worth it. Even if he'd been Ghandi and Elvis combined his life couldn't balance out all that loss. He'd learned stoicism early, after their mother had died and he had to hustle into adulthood he taught himself how to stand there and take whatever abuse came their way. But having a high tolerance for pain wasn't the same thing as being strong, and shielding your brother wasn't the same thing as protecting yourself. Whatever skills he had coming into this weren't enough to keep him from feeling like a worthless shit. They kept cutting him slack, telling each other that he was working through it, until Sara found him sitting on the roof of the apartment building, with his feet dangling over the edge, leaning back on his hands like he was going to scoot himself forward and off into nothing. She wouldn't tell anyone what they'd said while they argued for two hours, just that she threatened to have LJ be the one to make the identification at the morgue if he really killed himself. Lincoln told her she was the coldest bitch that ever walked the face of the earth, but he stood up and walked away from the edge of the roof while he was saying it, so she really didn't mind.
Michael had the hardest time of them all, but that was to be expected -- he was always exceptional, and why should this be any different. He'd spent years organizing his life -- when he was a kid sorting his Lego blocks, in college lining up his textbooks and pens, on his first job immersed in blueprints. The Plan was just a bigger version of all that sorting and shaping, putting myriad little pieces into place to make the really big picture, seeing three-dimensional possibilities in two-dimensional images. But now that they were done with the plotting and conniving and manipulating and running and dodging and negotiating, it was hard to find a clear pathway. After using his body as a road map, he had come to the end of the trail, the edge of the page. When the old cartographers ran out of information, they used to fill the paper with mystery -- “Here be dragons.” Michael had navigated as far as his map could take him, and he didn't have any idea what to do next. It took Odysseus ten years to return from the Trojan War, a voyage filled with danger and mystery. When he got back to Ithaca, slew the pretenders to his throne, reclaiming his wife and son, he thought, perhaps, he was finished with travelling, but the gods had other plans. He found himself on a long journey across arid land, hauling an oar from his great ship over the sands until he came upon a man who looked it over and asked, “What is that used for?” Michael was going to have to make that journey, to find somewhere that his tattoo was just so much ink in his flesh.