Lincoln cuts himself on a Thursday night six weeks after his last regeneration treatment. It's a careless slip of the knife while making a damn sandwich at midnight and he can't remember the last time he ate. He really just wants to sleep but he's too wired, too worried so he's trying to get some food before he crashes. The blade slides over the back of his thumb, a deep, diagonal line below his knuckle and he yells in his empty apartment, full of rage more than anything else because it's been a shitty day, shitty week, shitty month. He thinks things have been shitty to one degree or another since they responded that that call in Central Park and everything, lives and universe both, started unraveling. And he's just through, you know — like cutting his thumb is the absolute last thing he can deal with on top of nearly dying from the burns, all the shit with Liv, being put in charge of the whole damn team, and the secretary and the universe and just fucking everything. It's too much. He guesses that's what made him think of it, that he was already thinking about being burned, fighting off one of the panic attacks that still like to creep up on him when he remembers that.
Because here's the thing: even when he's standing in his kitchen shaking with fear and adrenaline, watching blood well out of the slice on his thumb, he's thinking that's the first time he's been hurt, the first time this new skin's been cut. And it's not like he didn't know that — it's pretty goddamn obvious that there's not a lot of original-Lincoln left, at least on the outside, but when he's bleeding onto the cutting board next to an anemic, overpriced tomato after being awake for three days straight, it sort of blows his mind.
It wrecks him, too, because they're all gone, all the little marks he'd collected, like the scar on the inside of his knee from when he was ten and Nick dared him to jump his bike over the creek in the park and that didn't work out so well for him. The remnants of childhood, the scars from boot camp, the deep gouge on his back that Liv had bandaged for him because they were too busy for him to go to medical. All that's gone and he slides to the floor and leans against the cabinets in his cramped kitchen and bleeds all over the damn place.
He picks at the cut when it's healing, keeps pulling the scab off and breaking it open again. Liv catches him a few time and frowns at him and she looks like she wants to ask what happened but she doesn't. Things are still weird between them and it's not just that he thought she was dying and blurted out that he loved her like a dumbass. They're all being so careful with each other, even Charlie, and it's like they're not really sure what to do any more. Not sure how to get back, back to the easy place they were before they knew so many things they thought were right and true were actually lies. Lincoln misses them even through they're right there where they always were. It isn't the same, though. Charlie's gone all quiet and wary like he's reached some threshold of distrust that he can't really deal with. And Liv… Lincoln really can't wrap his head around the idea that she's a mom now and that the kid's father lives in another freaking universe, 'cause come on, really? He thinks the team he's worked with for years, clicked with the first days they were together like they'd been partners forever is broken in ways that can't be fixed and he thinks that they think that, too. They keep looking at him like something's wrong and Lincoln doesn't like to think about how right they are.
He thinks at first that he's going to be happy with that one scar on his thumb — he'll get more in time, you know, it's not like he's got an office job or anything. But he can't stop, like he's trying to replace all the missing scars with new ones, strategically placing fresh cuts where he thinks he can hide them. He spent enough time with shrinks after he was burned that he knows that it's about control and how he doesn't have any over any fucking thing anymore. It's about doing something that makes him feel like this skin is really his. It's about doing something instead of standing by and watching everything fall apart.
He plans it out ahead of time, really thinks about it, that whole production of cleaning the knife and getting the bandage ready. He's shivery with anticipation by the time he actually does it, by the time he carefully presses it blade into his skin and watches blood well up around it. Afterwards he looks at the fresh scars and the unhealed scabs, runs his fingers over them to feel the difference from the smooth new skin. He rubs the little ridge of the scar that's on his ribs, fingers of one hand tracing the shape of it while he jerks off with the other and even that feels wrong because they didn't re-circumcise him. He guesses that he could go to medical and ask, but that's just beyond him — too much, makes him too vulnerable. He thinks that maybe if he talked to someone it'd make things better, but he's not sure if he trusts anyone else to make him better, or if he even wants to get better. He could tell Liv or Charlie but he doesn't want them to worry. They've both got their own shit to deal with. He doesn't need to be adding to it. He thinks that if he can't be who he was, can't have anything back that he lost then at least he can make this new skin his own.
He comes all over his hand and stomach and just lies there, brushing his fingers against the line of the scar until the mess is half-dried and making his skin itch. His mind is blissfully quiet when he showers and towels off and looks at himself in the mirror.