Author: halfshellvenus. Additional thanks to thelana for pictures, quotes and review, and to clex_monkie89 for several quotes as well.
Pairing: Lincoln Burrows and Michael Scofield
Fandom: Prison Break
Spoilers: Mainly for the Pilot, but assume vague spoilers for background pre-series events.
Though their names say otherwise, Michael Scofield and Lincoln Burrows are brothers. They grew up in Chicago, raised by their mother after their father abandoned the family early on (perhaps just before Michael was born). When Michael came of age, he chose to take his mother’s last name— clearly demonstrating his feelings about the father he never knew.
The brothers have been through many hard times together. They are four years apart in age, and have a clear sense of family loyalty despite being well aware of one another’s imperfections. Their mother died when Michael was 11 and Lincoln 15; what happened to them after that is open to speculation. They could have been passed among foster homes or raised by relatives. Or they might have squeaked by on their own, escaping the notice of Social Services.
We don’t know how those years in between their mother’s death and the beginning of the series went. What we do know is this: Michael, an intelligent and successful young man, thought up and carried out an elaborate plan to get himself put into prison with his brother so that he could break him out before Lincoln’s Death Row execution date.
Michael Scofield is a structural engineer. He is incredibly smart and very pragmatic, a thinker and a planner all in one. He tends to be soft-spoken and he chooses his words deliberately. He occasionally reveals a dry sense of humor.
Michael is very likeable to the viewer, who sees all sides of him. But in practice, his social skills tend to vary. He has strong feelings of compassion and empathy, and he understands human psychology fairly well, but his understanding lies more in the theoretical rather than in being aware of the tone a situation is taking right now. He can be oblivious to social clues, which sometimes makes him come off as detached or arrogant. At times this is a strength—Michael is good at keeping his cool. But on rare occasions, he sets someone off without meaning to.
Most of Michael’s planning involves key events and key people, occurring in sequence in the right place at the right time. There is little room for error (though he adjusts quickly when he must). The biggest variable Michael overlooked in his planning is people-- they do not always do what you expect them too.
Lincoln: I don't care what the evidence says, I didn't kill him.
Michael: Swear to me!
Lincoln: I swear to you, Michael.
Michael is either unaware of or uninterested in the fact that others consider him to be quite attractive. Consequently, the danger he faces because of that is an area he didn’t fully prepare for in his planning. Upon entering prison, he immediately earns attention from the other inmates. One of them goes so far as to nickname him “Pretty.”
A man in Michel’s position—good-looking, non-aggressive, and unskilled in the ways of the street and of the jungle—can expect to be raped, beaten and possibly killed in prison. No matter how careful or clever he is, he will lose his innocence and something of himself in this venture.
Michael put this large tattoo on himself for the escape (it hides a map of the prison’s passageways) Whether he succeeds or fails in rescuing Lincoln, this symbol of his sacrifice will brand him forever.
This leads to the most important question of all: What compels a man like this to leave a well-paying job and a nice apartment, and put himself and his future at risk to save his brother through such dangerous and unlikely means?
The answer in short is that this… is no ordinary love.
Lincoln Burrows is his brother’s polar opposite. A high-school dropout, he has had trouble with juvenile offenses, drug use, fathering a child out-of-wedlock, and at least one prior stretch in jail. He is now on Death Row awaiting execution for the murder of the Vice President’s brother. He swears that he never killed anyone, despite video-camera evidence that shows otherwise.
Lincoln is street-wise and strong, and better able to cope with prison than his brother. He is worn-out and filled with resignation when the show begins—just three weeks away form his execution date. He has the reputation of having been a brawler in his time in GenPop (the prison General Population). Now he alternates between sleep-walking through his remaining days, and diving into quick-tempered and impulsive behavior. He is the stereotypical “strong, silent type,” very stoic about his mistakes and about the hardships he has been through.
Lincoln raised his brother psychologically if not logistically, and has likely sacrificed most of his own few ambitions for Michael’s. He may have resorted to extreme versions of “tough love” at times, but this is not yet clear. We have this quote,
“You two have the most dysfunctional idea of love I’ve ever seen.”
from Lincoln’s former girlfriend, Veronica. What that love is—and what form it takes-- could be anything. But that it IS love is undisputed.
It is obvious that Lincoln doesn’t think much of himself, and probably never has. He urges Michael to forget about him again and again, ready to pay the ultimate price in injustice on his own. Lincoln is willing to die alone, forgotten and wronged.
And yet his only brother will risk his own life in the hopes of saving him.
More Than The Sum Of Two Parts
There is more here than meets the eye.
Lincoln and Michael are so different, and yet they achieve balance between them. They fill in each others’ absent pieces, like Yin and Yang forming a single and complete whole. Michael’s calm offsets Lincoln’s temper, while Lincoln’s patience soothes Michael’s obsessions. One is book-smart, the other street-smart, one understands ideas while the other understands people.
Lincoln sacrificed much of himself to raise Michael, becoming a father-figure even when he still needed one himself. He appears to have supported Michael financially as best he could, though he sometimes cracked under the pressure. Lincoln’s failings include drugs and non-specific crimes, and bringing a son into the world whose father would never fully belong to him. Beginning with those years sometime after their mother’s death, Lincoln’s life has swung from responsibility to “dropping out of life” like a pendulum fleeing from magnetic poles.
This is the brother to whom Michael is devoted beyond all reason or sanity. And Michael is the one Lincoln took care of at the expense of his own future.
Each thinks he knows what is best for the other, and they are locked in a dynamic that makes giving up everything for the other acceptable and taking anything for themselves objectionable.
When does family give way to obsession? When is duty driven so recklessly for love?
Occam’s Razor And Affairs Of The Heart
The notion is paraphrased as this: the simplest and most complete answer is probably correct.
What makes a successful man risk everything—including himself—to attempt the impossible on behalf of someone else?
Altruism is not enough. Blind devotion is not enough.
The most likely reason is simply that he loves him too much.
Michael’s entire being seems wrapped up Lincoln when the show begins. Lincoln was the focus of everything Michael still had while growing up, and he was part of the definition of who Michael was. Not always home when Michael wanted or needed him, his importance could fade… or it could grow.
If losing Lincoln for good means losing himself, how could Michael not fight to keep that from happening? What part of himself is left to survive if his brother is taken from this world?
Veronica asks Michael what he’s doing, why he became a criminal overnight to be sentenced to Lincoln’s prison. She suspects Michael is up to something:
Veronica: I deserve to know-- I loved him as much as you did.
Michael: Past tense for you maybe. Not me.
And that love is the crux of everything, of every desperate choice Michael has made.
Why ‘Ship This Pairing?
The answer for this comes out of Michael’s motivations, his willingness to give up everything for his brother. There is loyalty to be considered, and there is a rather poor psychiatric explanation that the show has tried to offer for this. Neither of them is sufficient. The most obvious interpretation of Michael’s character is one that normally doesn’t occur to us at all.
Michael does not just love Lincoln. Michael is in love with Lincoln.
Always important but never fully enough for him, Michael has been both exalted and put aside by his brother. Lincoln has let other things and other people distract him from how much Michael needed him, though we might wonder if Michael could ever need Lincoln less.
In saving Lincoln this way, Michael is assured that the large part of him that resides in this brother will not be taken away. And in doing so, he binds Lincoln to him with an obligation beyond responsibility—the obligation of love and gratitude.
From the other side, Lincoln’s love for Michael may not go beyond the bounds of the familial. But if Michael loves him that deeply—and Lincoln knows it with no possibility of denial—would he deny his brother the one thing that would bring him lasting happiness?
This is the happily-ever-after notion Michael feeds Lincoln as their future:
Michael: Panama. Darian Gap, south of the canal. No roads, no electricity, no cops. Nothing but white sand beaches and ice-cold beer.
Lincoln: Well, that's nice, but what about our lives?
Michael: We'll open a scuba shop.
Lincoln: Hey, I don't dive.
Michael: (smiles) Neither do I. We'll have plenty of time to learn.
Although Michael is teasing Lincoln, the picture he paints is of the two of them going off into the sunset where the permanence of them being together is what really matters.
Hopelessly Drawn In From The Beginning …
Prison Break is what took me from reading fanfic to writing it— from 0 stories in my LiveJournal account to more than 70 in this fandom alone.
I tuned in for Dominic Purcell (the handsome star of “John Doe”), but was immediately intrigued by the fast-paced action and the overlapping problem behind the story. It is a thrill-ride of a show, with advances and setbacks from week-to-week. And underneath it is the story of a man who risks everything to save his brother.
The subtext of Michael’s feelings for Lincoln was clear to me from the very first episode, and after a few weeks I explored the Internet to see whether anyone was writing them as a slash couple—despite the “brothercest” taboo.
I found nothing, and wondered if I was the only one seeing this angle on the characters. But I was so convinced that this worked for them—that it explained so much that would otherwise be unbelievable—that I wrote my two first-ever fanfiction stories about it. One was “The Arrangement,” which was later added onto and became a 9-part series.
I posted it on LiveJournal and fanfiction.net, and it prompted immediate response from other viewers who saw the slash potential (better yet, the slash as fundamental). Over time, other authors began writing this pairing as well—many of them unaware that there were existing ‘shippers of this couple.
The pairing clearly suggests itself. It has had its own LiveJournal community, michael_lincoln since Fall 2005. View this show with careful eyes, and I believe you may find this relationship calls to you as well.
this journey into darkness that will scar him forever…
speak of the soul of a man who is willing to die for love.
FanFiction For Becoming Acquainted With This Pairing
My LiveJournal homepage contains extensive Gen and Slash fiction for Michael and Lincoln, in addition to other characters. Here are some specific slash stories to consider:
Where It All Began (PG-13) shows Michael as a young man who longs for something he should not.
What Michael Wanted (PG-13) is the reason behind everything Michael does.
The Arrangement (PG-R) (a nine-chapter work built on that original one-shot story) shows the development of the brothers’ more intimate relationship inside Fox River Prison (paralleling canon episodes)
Paradise (NC-17) is a post-escape story that builds on the relationship from "The Arrangement" series.
Like Silk And Satin (NC-17) is post-escape erotica, again continuing from "The Arrangement".
Awakening (PG-13) is a standalone that shows a sharp beginning of Michael’s attraction.
My fanfic100 table for the Lincoln/Michael slash pairing is here.
Lincoln/Michael Slash By Other Authors
Twinge (R) by alazysod is a look at Michael’s feelings for Lincoln with a different outcome.
My Brother's Keeper (R) by jules1013 is a post-Riot story where Lincoln discovers the depths of Michael’s feelings.
One Hundred And Fifty-Four (R) by clex_monkie89 is an established relationship story, post-escape, where Lincoln reviews Michael’s sacrifices in the form of his tattoos.
Cognitive Dissonance (R) by lissa_bear is a reversal of the usual: Lincoln wants Michael, and doesn’t know quite what to do about it.
Firsts (R) by fiddleyoumust is a view of Lincoln and Michael over the course of their lives.
Passing Storm (R/NC-17) by mooyoo is a first-time post-escape story set in the rain.
One More Mile (PG-13) by iscaris reveals unexpected secrets in the hours before Lincoln's execution.
There is a rec50 Lincoln/Michael fic listing, which will have additional stories added over time.
michael_lincoln contains slash devoted to the two brothers. pbslash has this and other pairings as well.
Outside of LiveJournal, www.prisonbreakfic.com has a large archive of stories by many authors, and its search engine can be used for this pairing (whether as Gen or as slash).
Season 1 of Prison Break on DVD can be pre-ordered at Amazon.com