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12 October 2007 @ 07:33 pm
Learning to Let Go (1/1)  
Title: Learning to Let Go
Fandom: Prison Break
Characters: Michael Scofield (mentions of Christina Scofield, Aldo Burrows, Sara Tancredi and LJ Burrows)
Word Count: 2,244
Rating: PG
Spoilers: Vague spoilers for 2.12, "Disconnect" & 3.04, "Good Fences"
Summary: Loss is really all about learning to let go instead of being forced to.
Other: After suppressing the urge to be a part of the fandom-wide meltdown for far too long, I gave in and this is what came of it. There is a lot of talk about what is/has been cathartic for various grieving fangirls. Some have found comfort in rants. Some have salvaged some solace from writing a lot of happy endings. Some have spent a lot of time in kicking, screaming denial. I think I've done a bit of everything and this story is, ironically, my way of learning to let go. Cheesy as that may sound.
Author's Note: Prison Break and its characters have been manipulated here without the knowledge or consent of 20th Century FOX Television. I am not affiliated with the show, its production companies or cast members and no copyright infringement is intended.



When Michael loses Christina, he is disconcerted. He is shaken. He is unable to recollect the multitude of cherished moments that they were given as mother and son through his fog of despair.

He sits at the kitchen table, his legs too short to reach the tiled floor below him even perched at the edge of the chair and thinks, as he watches his dangling feet, that it may be the reason that he feels like this. Like he's unable to touch solid ground.

He scooches further forward and straightens his legs, too-knobby knees straining and his small calf muscles flexing until the tips of his untied sneakers brush the floor. When the sense of uncomfortable suspension doesn't dissipate, he tries harder to flatten the soles of his shoes. When he realizes that he can do no such thing without standing, he grips the edge of the table in front of him with barely contained frustration.

Lincoln has told him to sit down and stay put and that's what he'll do. Lincoln is all he has now that their mother is gone. They've been anticipating it for weeks. Maybe months. Ever since the bleak prognosis by a doctor that Michael has never met. But it doesn't make it any less abrupt or painful.

Michael droops forward and allows his forehead to rest flush with the polished surface of the table. He closes his eyes and relishes the coolness and searches out familiar nicks in the wood with his wandering fingertips to comfort himself. He tries hard not to hear the rattle of a gurney rolling through the house as it takes his mother away forever and instead does his best to remember the good things. The good times before she became frail and pallid and ridden with a strange sterile scent that was not her own.

He tries to remember the way she smelled before she got sick. Like one of the blooms growing in her garden. Or lilac, maybe. Like the flowering tree just behind the house.

He tries to remember the way her voice had sounded before it became husky from a dry tongue and swollen throat. The satiny way she'd sounded when he was just a couple of years younger and couldn't sleep without her singing him a lullaby.

He tries to remember the way she'd felt when she put her arms around him before the disease made her seem so fragile. The way her soft curves seemed to envelop him as he buried his face against her chest and circled the swell of her hips with his arms.

He tries to remember her physical vitality just months ago. The way her dark curls bounced when she played hopscotch with him. The sparkle in her pale eyes when he brought home another upstanding report card. The easy warmth of her smile first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

But all of it feels like an eternity ago and his failure in finding clarity makes him sob until it feels like his bones are rattling.

He's not ready to let her go.

***


When Michael loses Aldo, he is bereaved. He is unprepared. He is unable to remember the insufficient and bittersweet moments they weathered when all he can register is the brevity of knowing his father.

He looks down at the man wrapped in his arms and wars with the decision to see him as a stranger or a long ago severed branch of himself. When the life drains from the older man's body, the onset of death is almost tangible in the stale air of the speeding car and Michael's fingertips grow cold regardless of the New Mexico heat.

Michael feels moisture clinging doggedly to his face; rolling down his temple, puddled in the stubborn furrow of his brow, clinging to his eyelashes, dampening his upper lip. He can't be sure if it's sweat or tears and he can only assume that it's both. He isn't entirely cognizant of the possibility that he might be crying because crying over the loss of Aldo is something that he stopped doing long ago. Back when Lincoln had been able to convince him that it was like crying over spilt milk and that his lamentation wouldn't be enough to bring their estranged father home.

It won't be enough to bring him back to life, either, and though Michael understands this, he can't help but delude himself to think otherwise. Instead of submitting to the notion that his father's absence will be felt all over again with the level head that he knows himself to have, he holds Aldo fiercely and strokes his thick silvered hair and orders his brother to drive more quickly.

It's only as Michael hesitantly lifts one flattened palm away from the plane of his father's stomach and sees his fingers slick with the same gloss of blood and bile that has soaked through Aldo's shirt that he realizes it's over. It's over before it's begun and getting to a hospital isn't going to save anyone now. Not the daddy he never knew and certainly not the wayward souls that he and his brother have become in the pursuit of a final refuge. So he shuts his eyes and purses his lips as he thinks back to the day that Aldo had saved him.

He tries to remember the fragrance that, as a child, he had always thought his father might have. Something heady like peppermint and aftershave and an infusion of wood smoke or gasoline, though Aldo never held him close enough on that fateful day for Michael to know his smell.

He tries to remember the way his rescuer had sounded. He can't remember the voice, though. Only the words. And the flood of relief in knowing that he'd be okay.

He tries to remember the jolt of unexpected solace he'd felt when Aldo - then just a nameless contradiction of hero and villain - had draped an arm around his shoulder. The way he'd guided him back into safety.

He tries to remember the first glimpse of the face of the man who had taken a life in exchange for a life. But Aldo had been thrown into silhouette as the door to the closet opened and the outside light seeped in. All Michael had been able to see was an outstretched hand.

But it feels all too much like it never happened at all and it makes him whimper softly in vain as he registers the crushing sense of loss.

He's not ready to let him go.

***


When Michael loses Sara, he is heartsick. He is inconsolable. He is unable to recall all of the precious moments, as delicate and volatile as their relationship, that they spent together no matter how hard he tries.

He collapses on the sorry excuse for a bed in his cell and stretches out, staring up at the ceiling through the haze of unfathomable grief. He is hardly being afforded any privacy but he has no choice and the din of voices and constant inmate traffic just yards away dissolves into a deafening silence.

He doesn't hear Sona's squalor. He doesn't feel the unyielding rigidity of his cot. He doesn't think that he can blink or move or even breathe and for a few disarming seconds, Michael wonders if maybe he is dead, too. That maybe his heart - so connected to hers - stopped beating the moment hers did. Maybe somewhere along the way, he became unable to go on without her. Maybe justice and righteousness and the need to succeed isn't enough anymore. Freedom has no appeal when he is shackled to the realization that she's gone.

But then he becomes aware of the afternoon sunshine streaming through the adjacent window and is actually disappointed to realize that he's alive. That covetous light and the view of the outside world and the way it had allowed him the important visions of liberty now makes him squint and fold in on himself. The sounds of the prison's poisonous entrails close in on him and he clamps the heels of his hands over his ears as he turns to face the wall, finding himself in fetal position for the first time in years.

He has never wanted to be here any less than he does now and pretending that he's not is the worst struggle he's ever known. He tries to concentrate on steadying the shudder of his shoulders, defeating the insistency of his teeth to chatter together, the exhausting effort to inhale and exhale. He tries to imagine that he's somewhere else. Another place, another time. With Sara.

He tries to remember the earthy essence all her own instead of the fetor that surrounds him now. He never knew her intimately enough to discover the origin of that clean, subtle scent. Shampoo or hand lotion or perfume. He can't be entirely sure.

He tries to remember the heartening sound of her voice before that final phone call. Back when it was calm and steady and a balm to the wounds on his soul and mind and body. He only regrets the fact that he knows it's the only thing that could heal him now.

He tries to remember the way that her embrace surrounded him, no matter how few times he felt it. Tentative or passionate or frantic and full of fear, it had always felt the same. It had always felt right.

He tries to remember the way she looked in the beginning, back when they'd first met. The glossy luster of that chestnut mane of gorgeous hair as it fell around her face. The porcelain doll perfection of her cheeks. The rosy allure of her lips long before he ever tasted them.

But it all feels like nothing but a long ago fantasy now - like a rapidly dissolving dream that he wants to cling to - and it makes him cry an ocean's worth of salty tears until he is heaving.

He's not ready to let her go.

***


When Michael loses Lincoln, he will be prepared. He will be at ease. If his brother's time comes first, he will be able to fondly reminisce about the blessed abundance of moments that they were finally able to share.

He will sit on the California beach that is as much their home now as Chicago once was. He will dig his bare toes into the sand and look up at the sky and continue to relish being alive and well where Lincoln was forced to leave off. He'll be old and grey, he hopes, and more fulfilled than he ever thought possible back when it seemed like the world was unraveling.

He'll think about the days when Panama had seemed like the dream and realize for the millionth time that this was the dream all along. Panama had become nothing but a haunting shadow of a nightmare and Michael will remind himself, as he does every day, that it is thankfully far behind him. Far behind them both.

Far behind them like the days of being orphans struggling to get by. Far behind them like the rift that once lodged itself between them and threatened to shatter their brotherly bond. Far behind them like the cold hard reality of Fox River. Far behind them like the manhunt that America will always talk about. Far behind them like pain and anger and many an insufferable loss.

He'll scatter Lincoln's ashes there on the shoreline like he once asked him to do and watch them drift away and mingle with the powdery white sand until they disappear. He'll be content to know that he has set his brother free for the last time and that he'll never again be confined and kept from the right that he has to eternal liberation. He'll not regret a thing and only be thankful that he has decades worth of beautiful memories to sift through with fondness.

He'll be able to remember the redolence that he came to recognize at being distinctly his brother's. The tang of salt water and sea air burned into his skin by days spent in the sun that he can't seem to get enough of.

He'll be able to remember the rumble of Lincoln's bass vocal chords even when he can no longer hear them. The voice of reason. The voice of pride and hope and love and a thousand other things that his brother brought to his life.

He'll be able to remember the solid wall of muscle that makes up Lincoln's chest. The strong wreath of his arms. The way that as Michael grew up, he never grew out of the need for his brother to hold him.

He'll be able to remember everything about him even in the face of change associated with passing years. But in his mind's eye, Michael will always picture Lincoln as he was on the cusp of their new life. Tall and tanned and somehow glowing resolutely even after all that he'd been through. And he'll be able to see him every time he looks at LJ and reminds himself that somehow everything was worth it so that his nephew could know his father.

It will feel as if Lincoln is still there with him and after shedding tears over the end of their earthly time together, he'll smile and be grateful for it.

He'll be ready to let him go.
 
 
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