The minute his relief that she's alive subsides from alien shock to manageable surprise, he is nearly unmanned by the wayward thought that follows.
He's thought it before, at different times, especially when he had to deliver the news to his brother that she was dead in the first place.
But right now, it's tied to her in a different in way. Something strangely like jealousy ruptures under his skin as he watches them embrace.
Eventually he and Michael will have to stop. The battle will end, or they will get to a place where they just don't have any drive left in them to fight anymore. He's often thought about what their conversations will be like then. Would they go on from here, different and changed, closer and stronger? Or would they go back to superior and inferior with Lincoln at fault for everything that had happened? It isn’t that Michael wants to blame him, it’s that he can’t help it. Lincoln knows. He remembers everything. Every one.
See, his relief in her being alive is about that. She's alive, so he won't be remembered as the guy who brought the bad news, who had somehow unwittingly caused her dismemberment. He won't be the guy who betrayed a shallow trust that had only started to rebuild itself.
But she's here, now, and she will be the focal point, because how can she not be? He knows what it's like to be so enamored with a woman that he loses sense of the other things—people—in his life.
There is this moment though, when she turns out of Michael's arms and looks at him. She asks LJ's okay? while her brown eyes shimmer with tears, her white skin flushed with color that signifies—happiness? Hope? He’s not sure.
Lincoln nods, finding words damn near impossible, not that that's really strange for him, but his throat is clogged and he feels like he's having an out-of-body experience.
Then, in as uncharacteristic a movement as he can imagine, Sara Tancredi flings herself against his chest, her arms winding around his neck tightly. Lincoln's eyes meet Michael's and the smile on his brother’s face makes his worries seep away.
She remembers, at Fox River, asking a guard to let Michael speak to his brother. She remembers his anguish when the request was denied. She remembers watching him watching his brother as he was led up the hall, back to his cell, away from them.
Away from him.
She remembers then feeling gratitude at having no siblings to lose or mourn after the loss.
In the first two days that pass after she is reunited with them, she sees unspoken disagreements, rare—but shared—laughter, and two specific instances when Lincoln wants to beat up Bellick for his constant bitching or Roland for his constant wise-cracking (or even both at the same time—which she knows he’s entirely capable of), where Michael restrains his brother with just a hand on his shoulder.
The day she learns to love Lincoln Burrows with as little restraint as she does his brother is the day the plan goes awry and Michael nearly gets shot. What saves him is Lincoln body slamming him into the pavement.
In the dusky light of a hotel room that night she watches her lover sleep, the bruises across his torso and arms nothing compared to the idea of bullet holes.
She rolls quietly from the bed and pads over to the door that leads to his brother’s adjoining room. Knocking softly, she lets herself in and finds him watching a football game. Propped up on both pillows, he scoots over so she can sit on the bed next to him.
“Is it football season?” she asks, thinking, not for the first time, that she’s lost all sense of time because of the crazy turns her life has taken.
“Pre-season,” he answers, his eyes steady on the television screen. “Everything okay?” he asks.
Sara sighs. “Yes, he’s sleeping.” She pauses a moment before reaching a hand over to squeeze his wrist. “Thank you,” she says simply.
His eyes move to hers then, and she can see she’s touched him, not his skin, but his heart. The soft vulnerability in his face chases away years of hardship from around his eyes and across his forehead. He looks younger, and remarkably like his brother, who despite everything still looks as baby faced as the first day she met him more than four months previously. “I won’t let anything happen to him,” he says after a long beat of silence.
“I know,” she responds.
Now, she’s grateful for the sibling she’s somehow acquired. Remembering that day in Fox River, and Lincoln’s retreating figure, she feels something in her chest that might be similar to what Michael must have felt in that moment. It’s an emotion she never intends to surrender.