Summary: Dr. Jack Shephard gives Lincoln Burrows his final exam
Spoilers: Episode 1.05 of Prison Break
Note: My first Prison Break fic! Also first (finished) crossover fic, non-Lost fic and first fic without Sawyer. For my LJ partner in crime, foxxcub.
This wing was so much quieter than gen pop. Nothing but the rattle of the keys on the belt of the guard walking with him echoing off the walls and the measured sound of their steps.
His could count his previous visits with Lincoln Burrows on one hand, but his eye always went to him, pacing alone in his cage in the yard. He was surprised that he stood so upright, that he still looked around, looking beyond the fence. Like there was something to look forward to.
Jack tried to imagine what he would do, how he would act, living under a death sentence. He’d delivered the equivalent to many men, telling them how long they had left, approximately, to live. He’d seen them crumble, seen them fade into themselves, seen his words fall like blows.
But that wasn’t certainty. There was always hope. Or doubt. Even the rare miracle. None of those applied here.
The day had come too quickly, but nothing compared to the speed with which the next two weeks would fly by. Jack wondered if maybe he’d come back too soon after the funeral, but he was here now. It was good to be back at work, keep busy.
They stopped outside Burrows’s cell. Through the the glass pane, he saw a guard doublecheck his restraints. Burrows didn’t react to the tug on the chain that bound the cuffs on his wrists and ankles. He was used to being handled and herded like an animal by now, Jack figured, as used as any man could get to it.
The guard inside the cell opened the door and let him in. Jack nodded that he could go and then he was alone with Burrows.
“Hi, Doc.” Burrows looked up at him, that odd half-smile looking out of place.
“I’m supposed to give you a physical this evening,” Jack said, pulling out the blood pressure cuff. “Let me apologize in advance for the heavy dose of irony. Letting the state know that you’re healthy enough to execute is not why I went to medical school.”
Burrows shrugged. “It’s your job.” His eyes followed Jack’s hands as they rolled up his sleeve and wrapped the cuff around his forearm. Jack didn’t know whether to make small talk, try to draw him out, or just go about his job as quickly as possible.
“Blood pressure’s normal,” Jack noted, undoing the velcro. “Let me check your heart.” He stepped in closer and drew up Burrow’s shirt and pressed his stethoscope to his chest. Burrows jumped a little, looking at him in surprise.
“Cold?” Jack asked with a smile. “Sorry about that.”
He raised an eyebrow and then he was smiling, broader this time. “Yeah, a little,” he said, his voice rumbling low in his throat.
Today, this routine task felt strangely intimate. It could be that they were alone, which Jack so rarely was with a patient. Or it was the whole situation they were both trying not to talk about. Just touching him, feeling the warmth of his skin -- there was something surreal about it.
“OK, deep breaths,” Jack instructed, listening closely to Lincoln’s chest. His heart rate seemed a little fast now. “Any anxiety?” he asked, even as he realized what a ridiculous question it was.
Burrows let out a choked laugh but just shook his head.
“Are you sleeping at all?” Jack asked, lowering his voice for some reason.
He shrugged. When he looked up at Jack, the intensity of his gaze startled him. “No.” He held Jack’s eyes for a second, as if debating how much to say. “Not really.” He looked away again.
“I could give you something...” Jack offered.
“No,” Burrows shook his head, that ghost of a smile returning. “It’s coming up soon enough, isn’t it?”
“Yeah,” Jack said softly. The heart rate was speeding up again. “I’m sorry.” He meant it. He felt an almost dizzying sense of regret. This heart beating under his hand now would be forcibly stopped. He knew the time, he knew the hour, the minute.
He felt tears stinging his eyes. He’d come back too soon. He should have waited, at least until after this.
“Didn’t know you cared so much,” Burrows said, voice rasping. Now it was Jack who looked away.
“It’s just ... I’m sorry. I just lost my father. It was kind of sudden.”
Now he felt like an ass for mentioning it. “Listen, I ...”
“It’s OK,” Lincoln said gruffly but without any anger. He let his head fall back against the wall and he looked up at the ceiling. “You’re the only one who’s had any kind of reaction around me. Even my own kid... You have kids?”
Jack shook his head, lips pressed tight together.
“Ah. Well, at first he didn’t care about his old man at all. I wasn’t around much. But then he finally came to see me and...” Burrows stopped to swallow hard. “He said he’d be there for me. You know, at the end.”
Jack nodded, leaning back against the wall, his arms crossed. His own throat was tight. He had the overwhelming urge to flee but he fought it.
“It’s just all the things I didn’t get to do. That’s what I keep thinking about. All the things I’ll never make right.” His voice was trailing off.
“At least you can say goodbye to your son,” Jack said, and instantly hated the way it sounded, like he thought Burrows was luckier than he was, but Burrows didn’t seem to take offense. Maybe he hadn’t even heard him.
“There were so many things ... I didn’t realize that I’d already done them for the last time,” Burrows was saying. He dropped his head and instinctively Jack crouched down, putting a hand on his shoulder. He looked up into Lincoln’s downturned face and when he raised his chin at his touch, his expression changed and broke.
He leaned forward as Jack was leaning up and their mouths met hard, Jack’s opening in surprise as Lincoln’s tongue pushed against his lips, his breath hot and ragged. If he hadn’t had his hand on his shoulder, Jack would have fallen over. Lincoln knocked him completely off balance, channeling all the fury and desperation he'd always known was just underneath the surface into one bruising kiss.
It probably only lasted a minute or two before Jack pulled back. Lincoln was smiling at him, a smile that hurt. “Last time I’ll do that,” he said and then he looked away quickly again, settling back against the wall.
“Lincoln.” Jack wished to God he knew what to say now. His face felt hot and he was keenly aware of his own racing heart.
Movement at the door caught his eye. The guard was looking in, an impatient expression on his face as he rapped on the door.
Jack pushed up to his feet, making a show of gathering up his equipment. He’d finished the exam. This visit was just a formality, after all.
“See you, Doc,” Lincoln said with that same quiet intensity.
“OK,” Jack nodded, hating that he was going to just leave now. “OK then.” He was at the door when Lincoln spoke again.
“Sorry about your Dad.”
Jack looked back, but Lincoln was just staring up the ceiling in that same pose, utterly still. As if Jack hadn’t been there at all.