Michael has a funny way of freezing when she gets hurt. Serious or not – it can be a mere paper cut – there’s that strange haze of horror that spreads, blue in his eyes, then all over his face, until he’s still as a statue. He’d make a fine one at that, Sara has been brought to notice; how come no one’s ever thought of sculpting a tattooed Greek God over the years?
It’s a source of teasing as good as any. The funniest is, it’s not as if Michael hasn’t come to her with considerably more serious injuries at Fox River: hello, missing toes, third-degree burn, ringing any bells? So he’s not shy at the sight of blood, not his anyway. But a drop of hers and suddenly he’s grave as a graveyard, white as a snow field. The good side of it is, Sara becomes so amused at this it takes her mind off the pain.
But that day in the woods is a little different.
It was Lincoln’s idea to go hiking. Ha. In another life, the idea of going on a hike with Lincoln Burrows and Michael Scofield would have been absurd – and in a persisting part of her brain, it still is. Who would have thought that, when he’s not doing low-scale crimes or simmering on death row, Lincoln is full of spontaneous ideas like: road trip, or let’s have a night out, or let’s go hiking. Probably, he misses the adrenalin, and it’s true that, as all three of them wade their way through the forest – it was a two-hour bus ride getting there – Sara must admit she’s no longer used to such demanding activities.
Let’s face it, hon, she thinks to herself. You got used to the laziness of being in love: breakfast in bed, dinner in bed, and all the in between filled with naked cuddling and hungry love-making.
When she wakes up in Michael’s arms after nine p.m., his front pressed to her back, his hands molded around her breasts, she realizes she still doesn’t have the will to crawl an inch away from him – and sometimes, she pictures their old life on the run, and she thinks she wouldn’t have it in her to do it anymore.
Then, usually she reflects: I’m getting old. And, I really need to get a job.
“Come on, you bunch of slow losers.”
Lincoln’s way ahead of them, leading on: he climbs, crawls, wallows through mud and mire quicker than both of them. In such moments, he looks not ten but twenty years younger: a near teenager, blind to the protests his body gives. Maybe he misses the thrill of being chased after by the government. Hey. If that’s the case, she’s willing to go hiking with him like this every weekend.
Michael isn’t doing too bad. He’s actually doing good enough to shame her: as if those days spent feeding on nothing but each other – and occasionally some ice cream – have had no effect on him, haven’t managed to make him lazier.
Her boyfriend walks, just a couple of steps ahead. It occurs to her he’s probably waiting up for her, which makes her feel grateful and a little humiliated.
“Maybe we should take a break?” Michael offers politely. They’ve packed sandwiches, cookies and apples but haven’t paused long enough to have any.
“What?” Lincoln overreacts, arches both brows. “We’ve barely been at it for an hour.”
Sara remembers the time when she paid him frequent visits in his jail cell and how he kept respectfully silent throughout, and now they’re at the stage of intimacy where he can chide her on her hiking.
Life’s full of surprises, she thinks.
Michael gives her an apologetic look and they go on walking, but no more than five minutes before her foot lands in the wrong place – caught between a rock and a protruding tree root – and she hears a white, painful twist that spreads from her brain to her ankle and back and forth.
She lets out a single shrill shriek of surprise. Michael swivels and faces her with immediate awareness. “What’s wrong?”
“Ouch.” She wants to explain, but for some reason, nothing comes out but, “ouch, ouch.”
“Are you hurt?” Lincoln frowns.
When Sara manages to pull her ankle free, her foot slips from her shoe which remains lodged in the fatal spot, and suddenly she’s tumbling backwards and Michael barely makes it in time to catch her. Thank God he was waiting up.
Pragmatically enough, Michael sits her down on the ground and she feels the mud soaking through her pants. Just great.
Lincoln’s had time to join them and he lets out a chuckle – yes, he actually laughs – when he takes a look at her ankle. “Jeez, Louise.”
“What is it?” Michael’s voice is shrill with concern. When he’s made sure Sara’s stable enough to remain sitting, his hands slither away from her and he walks around her to where Lincoln’s standing. Then, really, just from the look on his face – that familiar look where all color seems to be melting to dewy whiteness – she knows it’s really bad.
“Well,” Lincoln clears his throat. “The good news is, there’s no open fracture –”
“No, it’s not broken,” she says, knows her biology well enough to tell. “Probably just a sprain.”
“Yeah, well, I didn’t get to the bad news yet. It’s tripled size. And – wait – I think it’s still swelling.”
“I get the picture.” She darts a worried look at Michael. “It’s not broken. Ok, honey?”
Suspiciously, Lincoln frowns, looks at Sara then his brother, tries to read what’s going on. Michael has mutated to stone by now, pale, sweating stone, but a vague “Huh-uh” slips past the line of his lips.
“Wait,” Lincoln points a finger at his brother, “you’re the one who needs cajoling?”
“No one’s cajoling anyone,” Sara says firmly, and adds in her mind: in front of you. “We just –” She moistens her lips, realizes the air tastes pungent. She cannot pass out right now. The pain is shooting sickening flashes to her brain, where she swears a second heartbeat has been installed, its deafening drumming willing her to close her eyes.
Though she hasn’t seen him move, Michael’s hands are around her again, propping her up, holding her by the armpits. They’ve known more glamorous moments.
“I’m okay,” she says. “We just need a plan.”
Lincoln shrugs. “The bus won’t be back until the end of the day. And just getting back there is going to be a problem –”
“Lincoln,” she interrupts, might not have talked so freely if the pain hadn’t been cutting through her politeness, “in the past, I’ve had to jump through windows, duck bullets and escape from a hell-hole of sequestration. This is nothing. It’s a bloody sprain.”
He’s laughing again and she wishes she could throw something at him. In her ear, she hears Michael’s ragged breathing, cold with terror. Well, she thinks, it’s really going to be something when he has to watch me go into labor. But one thing at a time.
“Yeah, I hear you,” Lincoln says. “We’ve known worse. We’re just going to have to go back to the bus stop. We’re only two hours in.”
“Maybe I can walk.”
Lincoln arches a brow, looks suddenly and abruptly charming. Lord knows, he and Michael look so little alike – and yet there’re those moments when she swears he’s wearing her boyfriend’s facial expressions. Luckily, her face is red with exertion to stay awake so no one will be able to tell she’s blushing.
“Sara,” he announces, “I’m sorry to break it to you but your ankle looks pregnant, like it’s trying to grow a third foot. No way you’re walking or so much as touching the ground with that thing.”
“Thanks for that,” she hisses through clenched teeth.
“Well, someone’s got to talk and break the ice.” He says, glancing behind her shoulder; she knows he’s looking at Michael. “Hey, Mike, how about looking alive?”
“Leave him alone,” Sara says.
“What, is he always like this?”
She hears Michael clear his throat. His hold around her shoulder tightens. “It’s just…” He utters miserably. “Thinking she’s in pain…”
Lincoln half-sighs half-chuckles, rolls his eyes slightly. The confidence he exhibits reminds her of Michael again – when he’s not frozen in panic at the sight of her injuries, when he’s in control, in the bedroom – or the kitchen, or the shower. They’ve done it just about anywhere in the house.
Probably, these are the wrong thoughts to be having right now.
“All right,” Lincoln exhales, puts his hands on his hips. “Well, then I suppose I’ll do the heavy lifting. Manner of speaking, of course,” he says, as he makes his way to where Sara’s sitting. She doesn’t get any further warning before he sweeps her off the ground, she lets out a vague scream of – protest, surprise? “I mean,” he continues, “you’re what, a hundred and twenty? Mike,” he glances at his brother, “we’re going to get going now. You’re going to stay paralyzed in that corner until nightfall?”
“Be careful with her,” Michael cautions, getting on his feet.
Oddly enough, he’s not telling Lincoln to hand her over – which gets Sara feeling hot in the face. Could he actually be jealous, where Lincoln’s concerned? Once, he told her as brothers they shared everything, toys, food, everything –
“Very careful.” Lincoln agrees, tucking his hand beneath her knees. “Didn’t you know? I’m Mr. Delicate.”
Sara feels she ought to say something but drowsiness steals over her – in anticipation, she blushes one last time for the sort of dreams she’ll have.