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I'm Here, Papi

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They did it. Against all odds, they actually did it. Here they are on the Christina Rose, sailing away to freedom. Sailing away from the pain and the fear and the running. Michael breathed in the salty ocean air and took in the vast, night sky. He counted stars while his breathing slowed and wondered what it would be like to float through space, no cares, no responsibilities, just endless room to explore. No guilty thoughts plaguing the mind, no dangerous plans for escape, just peace and quiet.

Lincoln is safe. He’s here and alive, asleep in the safety of their boat, sailed miles away from the people who want him dead. LJ is safely tucked away as well, ready to begin the carefree life his uncle had promised him. Michael prayed he would live up to that promise. LJ had been through too much in his short life, he deserves a good future.

Most importantly, Fernando is here, on this boat, sailing away with Michael like they dreamed about in prison. Everything is perfect, it should be perfect. So why the hell is Michael so uneasy? He found himself waking at all hours of the night, checking Fernando’s pulse, watching him breathe, making sure he’s here and alive.

He jumped at every noise, no matter how small, no matter how innocent. He double checked corners and dark rooms before entering. He was damaged now. Fernando would definitely disagree with that assessment, but Michael knows better.

No one could have guessed that Michael and Sucre would become anything more than friends, but the engineer quickly found himself falling for his handsome cell mate. He knew it was completely one sided, completely unrequited, but his feelings just kept growing anyway.

When they first kissed in their cell, Sucre had claimed it was just prison getting to his brain. “I’m not gay, papi,” he had argued before leaning in for another bruising kiss. “Sure,” Michael had agreed breathlessly, accepting that their relationship would never progress further than friends with benefits. It was more than he had ever hoped he’d get with his gorgeous cell mate, anyway. He wasn’t about to complain.

They kept up this arrangement, having sex nearly every night, but never once discussing what it meant. Michael could only assume that it was meaningless to Fernando (gotta get off somehow when you’re in prison), but for himself it was almost too meaningful. The sex wasn’t just sex for Michael, it was sex with Fernando, who he was rapidly falling in love with, much to his dismay.

Then one night, things were different. Fernando hopped down from the top bunk and nudged Michael over, settling in and resting his head on the engineer’s chest. Michael adjusted, made room for his friend, and assumed they would be having sex. So, Michael waited for Sucre to make a move, but he simply continued to rest his head, leaving a tiny kiss on the bare, tattooed skin.

Michael was pretty sure his brain was malfunctioning; he was completely unable to comprehend what was happening. What did this mean? What did Fernando want from him? “Listen, papi. I know I told you I’m not gay. But, um, when I’m with you, I don’t want to be with anyone else,” Sucre admitted nervously, tracing patterns up and down Michael’s defined chest.

“I-I feel the same,” Michael responded in a voice that was barely a whisper. “I wanna come with you,” Sucre responded, equally as quiet, equally as afraid, “When you break out, I wanna be with you.” Michael sucked in a breath, sure that he was dreaming.

“You really want to be with me?” he asked, totally shocked, never in his wildest dreams expecting their relationship to end up like this. “I think I’m in love with you,” Fernando murmured, staring up at Michael with a mix of emotions: fear, longing, hope.

“You’re in love with me?” he repeated, dumbfounded, unable to form a coherent thought other than ‘please, God, let this be real.’ “Yeah,” Sucre confirmed as he gnawed on his bottom lip, anxious for the often unreadable man’s response, “You know, you ask a lot of questions.”

Michael laughed gently before kissing the top of Sucre’s head. “I’m in love with you too, Fernando,” Michael finally admitted, pure unadulterated joy swelling in his chest for the first time in weeks. Sucre glanced up at him with that winning smile he adored so much and finally pressed his lips against his. It was different this time; it wasn’t hard or fast, but slow, gentle, passionate. Michael melted into the kiss and committed every detail to memory, never ever wanting to forget this moment.

“Sail away with me,” Michael murmured dreamily, “You can come with me and Linc when we get out of here.” “Deal,” Sucre agreed, lips grazing against his neck as he spoke. Michael shuddered at the touch, making Sucre smirk, loving the affect he had on this man. “I’ll follow you anywhere you go, papi.”

Michael smiled a little at the memory as the sea breeze gently caressed his face. He should be in bed with Fernando, allowing him to hold him and kiss away the painful memories. But the dream, the nightmare rather, had felt so real and Michael couldn’t stand to be boxed in when the panic clawed up through his stomach and settled in his throat. He didn’t want to wake Fernando for the third night in a row. Nightmares plagued Michael daily, and even after he had offered to sleep on the couch so as not to disturb his lover, Sucre insisted on staying by his side.

But tonight he couldn’t sit still, couldn’t stand to toss and turn until sunrise. So he made his escape, leaning against the banister of their little boat, taking in the majesty of the ocean. He breathed in deep, wincing when pieces of the nightmare flashed through his mind. “Help me!” Sucre screamed, tears pouring down his cheeks.

Michael shook his head, attempting to rid his brain of the terrible images. Tears pricked painfully at his eyes, but he refused to let them fall. He didn’t have time to cry, didn’t have reason to. Everything was perfect. Every person he loves is here with him. He’s safe. They’re all safe. As if his memories of the past weren’t enough to haunt him, his own brain created horrifying scenarios and played them out every night in his sleep.

A gunshot rang in his ears as his mind conjured up the image of his lover shot dead before his eyes. Michael let out a small sob as his mind plastered the image in place, not allowing him to rid it no matter how tight he shut his eyes. He looked around but couldn’t see anything, his vision was blurry from tears that had yet to fall.

Michael’s body trembled with contained sobs until he finally let go, let the tears pour and his body convulse. He tried his hardest to pull himself together but found he simply couldn’t, he needed Fernando. Needed to feel him, smell him, taste him. Needed the reminder that he’s here and alive, that it was just a nightmare.

As he longed for his lover, he was embraced from behind, strong arms pulling him into a well-defined chest. “Hola, papi,” Fernando whispered sleepily, kissing Michael’s temple gently. Michael let out a breath of relief as he let his head drop back onto Sucre’s shoulder. He wanted to be strong enough to handle his shit alone, but even just being in Fernando’s presence was enough to soothe him.

“You should be asleep,” Michael whispered apologetically as he entwined his fingers with Sucre’s. “Can’t sleep without you anymore,” Fernando admitted, placing another kiss to the back of Michael’s head. “I’m sorry to wake you,” he apologized, words slurring slightly as he began to feel drowsy.

“Ah, no worries, mi amor,” Sucre responded sweetly, stroking his thumb along the back of Michael’s hand, “What’s on your mind?” Michael smiled at the term of endearment; he absolutely loved when Fernando spoke Spanish, especially when his words were sweet pet names and professions of love.

“I love when you speak Spanish,” Michael admitted aloud, turning in his arms to face his lover and gently caressing his cheek. Fernando smiled slightly before taking in Michael’s breath-taking beauty. “Te ves hermosa a la luz de la luna, Michael,” Fernando responded adoringly, the words rolling off his tongue so lyrically.

“What does that mean?” Michael asked breathlessly, resting a hand against Sucre’s chest. “It means,” Fernando explained with a soft smile, taking Michael’s face into his hands, cradling his cheeks tenderly, “you look beautiful in the moonlight.” Michael could have sworn he literally swooned. “How do you say ‘I want to kiss you’ in Spanish?” Michael asked with a smirk.

Fernando grinned and gently stroked Michael’s cheekbone. “Maybe let’s talk first, si?” Sucre suggested, leaning in to kiss his forehead affectionately. Michael sighed his response before leaning into his lover’s chest, burying his face in the crook of his neck.

“Just nightmares again,” Michael murmured, slightly embarrassedly. He didn’t love having to admit aloud that stupid little dreams were having such an affect on him. “I’m sorry,” Fernando responded sadly, stroking the back of his head sweetly.

Michael shrugged, a sad smile lingering on his face, “It’s okay. At least I have you.” Sucre grinned and agreed, “That you do. Always. What kind of a nightmare was it?” Michael deflated before admitting, “The scary kind.” Fernando’s lips quickly turned down as he considered the state of his lover: wild, fearful eyes, shallow breaths, and trembling hands.

“What was it about?” he asked quietly, adding another tender kiss to his temple, knowing how much Michael needed it now. “T-they killed you. The cops chasing us shot you. You died,” he whispered, holding back a sob as he finished the sentence and the image of Sucre’s corpse popped into his brain again.

Fernando sighed, pulling his lover in tight before reassuring, “I’m here, papi. It’s not real.” “Will they ever stop?” Michael asked fearfully, looking up at Sucre with barely masked terror. “I really hope so, baby. But if they don’t, I’m gonna be here every night. I’m going to be holding you and kissing you and making sure you know how much I love you,” Fernando promised lovingly, stroking slow circles on his back.

“Thank you,” Michael responded as he looked into the eyes of this man who truly cared for him. He was in awe of the love Fernando showed him on a daily basis. “Let’s go to bed, mi amor,” Fernando offered, taking Michael’s hand in his own and gently urging him back into the boat.