On the Edge Fandom:
Fringe Author: chichuriCharacters/Pairing:
Peter Bishop, Olivia Dunham, Amy Jessup, Phillip Broyles, Walter Bishop; Peter/Olivia Word Count:
Peter encounters Olivia five months after she bolts. Contents:
) Violence, sexual situations, angst, mind control, knifeplay. Spoilers:
Through the end of Season 2. Disclaimer:
I don't own Fringe
or its characters. Author's Note:
Written for kink_bingo
. Prompt: blades. This was written over the summer; I've only just now finished all my editing. Thanks muchly to crazylittleelf
for the beta.
On the Edge
Three steps into the hotel room and Peter knew he was walking into a trap, but by then it was too late. There was no arms dealer to negotiate with, just four people ringed around him and one fiddling with something mechanical. Something that would jam the wire, he bet, and something that he was pretty sure wasn't from this universe.
Shapeshifters, here to either kidnap or kill him, and the amount of time before his backup realized anything was wrong was time he didn't have.
He pasted on his best smirk, itching to grab the gun hidden under his jacket. "I'm gonna guess you guys aren't here to sell me biological weapons."
"Mr. Bishop." The closest one, a big bruiser of a guy, nodded politely as he flipped the deadbolt on the door. "Your father requests your presence."
"And if I say no?"
"That would be unwise."
"Right." They probably had a way to transport him back, just like when he'd been brought over before. He could run, but his chances of making it out the door he came in were bleak. The door across the room was an even worse option. He considered the window. He'd be stopped before he made it through, but a clever sniper on the building across the road might have a shot at his captors, and that could give Peter time to make his escape. If there were snipers. Doubtful, but no one had bothered to clue him in on the finer points of the operation.
At one time, he would have known.
He was debating the merits of maneuvering the shapeshifters in front of the window—might not help, but it couldn't hurt—when the door behind him exploded, sparks and splinters fanning the room. Olivia. Without even seeing her, he knew.
Leave it to Olivia to show up when everything went fubar. Her timing always was impeccable.
She came in low. Two shots, and the shapeshifters closest to him were down and the others diving for cover behind the couch. He put a chair between himself and the return fire. When he reached for his gun she glanced back and shook her head; remembering the door, he tossed the weapon away. Her brow furrowed in concentration and sparks and a thin line of smoke spluttered from his gun; from the small explosions from around the room, his wasn't the only victim. Although her gun appeared untouched, she holstered it and drew out a knife, something big and mean. She handled it easily, like she'd been using it all her life.
Peter sprang to his feet, ready to run, but Olivia stood steady, watching as the remaining shapeshifters rushed her. When they were within reach she struck in a blur of movement, shoving the knife through the eye and into the brain of one, then whirling and doing the same to the other. The last tried to run out the far door. A throw too accurate and too powerful embedded the knife into the back of his skull.
Peter stared at the knife, sunk a good six inches into bone and brain, and shook his head. Whatever else had happened the last five months, she had reached her full potential.
She yanked the knife out and wiped it down on the nearest shapeshifter's shirt, watching Peter out of the corner of her eye the entire time. He lifted his eyes to hers and circled her warily.
"Olivia," he said softly, coaxingly. "It's good to see you."
She only met his gaze head on for a moment before her eyes skittered away. She made no move to leave, her attention roving throughout the room but always ending up back on him. Any other time he would have been delighted, but not now.
"The Feds are watching all the entrances to this place. Given how long I've been out of radio contact, Jessup will be here pretty damned quick." A minute at most; he heard the echo of her footsteps in the distance as she sprinted down the hall. Probably terrified the brass would blame her for losing what could be this universe's most valuable pawn. Or that reparation for damage to the hotel would come out of her own salary.
Olivia nodded, sheathing the knife. After a glance at each of the doors, she went to the window, knocking out the glass with her elbow and a shower of sparks. As she climbed through he remembered his earlier thoughts of snipers—probably not there, and even if they were the Feds were under orders to bring her back alive—and barely stopped himself from running after her. He was still staring at the window when Jessup burst through the doorway, gun drawn and expression grim.
Her gaze raked the room, missing nothing. "It was a trap," she said into her earpiece. "Shapeshifters, all dead. Four— no, five. No, Bishop's fine." She paused, glancing first at Peter, then at the carnage. "Pretty sure Olivia Dunham was here. No, she's gone." She listened for a moment, then turned her attention to Peter. "Where did she go?"
"Not a clue." He bared his teeth in a grin.
"Damn it, Bishop, why are you protecting her?" She tried a stern glare, but he had been glared at by the best and this was a pale mockery by comparison. "She tried to kill you."
"No. She didn't." He could still feel Olivia's fingers around his throat, could see her blank expression giving way to horror, could hear the low keening as she tried to deny what her hands had done.
Jessup shook her head, pity in her eyes, and turned to give orders to the backup who had finally arrived.
Peter leaned against the wall and stared at the mercury beading on the blood-soaked carpet, replaying Olivia's takedown of the shapeshifters on infinite loop. Programming or training or a combination of both? It didn't matter. She had saved his life. Maybe she was still doing everything she could to keep her family safe. And she was safe, at least for the moment, not dead and rotting in a ditch while they went on with their lives blithely unaware.
Thank God she was still alive.
"We have footage of Olivia Dunham leaving the scene, although she disappeared before anyone could apprehend her." Broyles tossed a pile of photos across his desk and leaned forward, the full force of his glare leveled at Peter. "Apparently she got in without anyone noticing. No one is quite sure how that happened, but they will be explaining what they do know to me. In detail."
Peter leaned back in the chair and folded his arms across his chest, ignoring the photos to meet Broyles stare for stare. "If you say so."
"Bishop—" Broyles stopped and sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. "We have reason to believe she was present at at least a dozen more incidents, all involving the First Wave."
"Yeah, you've mentioned that." Even hiding from her team and losing the backing of Fringe Division hadn't stopped her one-woman war. If nothing else, it reassured Peter that Olivia was still Olivia.
"While there is evidence linking her to the other incidents, this is only the fourth confirmed sighting in five months. The one factor that links each of those sightings is your presence at the scene."
Broyles smiled thinly. "The only reason we've allowed you into the field given the... situation is because we believed you might be able to convince her it is in her best interest to return. Or, barring that, stall her until she could be apprehended. Given today, the question has been raised as to whether the benefit is worth the risk."
"Because you have our best interests at heart."
." Peter narrowed his eyes. He didn't trust the good intentions of the FBI any more than Olivia. They'd take her apart to figure out what went wrong and might not bother to put her back together. What she'd done for them didn't matter in the slightest; all they gave a damn about was what she might do in the future.
Peter turned to the window and glowered down at the high-tech bullpen of the new Fringe Division headquarters. Olivia had never had a chance to see the place up and running; they had been weeks away from putting the finishing touches on the facility when she left. In some ways, working here was easier. At the Harvard lab, he half expected to see her around every corner, and the memories threatened to overwhelm him. But every second he was here was a sharp reminder of what she had lost.
She should have been here to see this, not on the run and hunted for something that was done to her. She'd had no chance with two Walter Bishops scrambling everything she was with their desire to turn her into a weapon against their enemies. Childhood programming and his father's attempts at creating his own personal Manchurian candidate would have pushed anyone past the breaking point.
Peter glanced back at Broyles to find the man's expression had softened into something almost like sympathy. He dropped his eyes to the desk and picked up the stack of photos. Olivia, climbing out the window, climbing down the building. The last picture was a clear shot of her staring at the camera, her expression resolute. He swallowed down the pain that rose to choke him.
Broyles dropped his voice, pitched so low it barely reached across his desk to Peter. "How did she look?"
Haunted and heartsick. Determined. Lost. He returned his attention to the bullpen and the orderly chaos she should have been part of, and, without looking at him, tossed the photos back to Broyles. "You tell me," Peter said, but the words lacked bite.
Broyles just raised an eyebrow.
Peter sighed and shrugged. "Healthy." After a moment he added, pointedly, "Sane, even."
Broyles nodded and said, carefully, "Given the situation, my only option is to continue the search and hope our orders to capture her alive rather than to shoot her on sight remain unchanged. No matter how I might wish otherwise, my
hands are tied."
Peter blinked and froze. There was only the slightest emphasis on the word, but the nod Broyles gave him, barely a tip of the chin, was just enough to convince Peter he hadn't been hearing things.
Peter watched Broyles closely. "So all I can do is sit back and hope some idiot with an itchy trigger finger doesn't fuck up and blow her away."
"Mr. Bishop, trust me when I say that we will all
do everything in our power to make sure this does not end that way."
"Right." Peter smirked, eyebrows raised as he studied Broyles with new interest. "And I'll play my part like the obedient little pawn I am."
"Agent Dunham. You saw her?" Walter asked as soon as Peter opened the front door. He anxiously waited for a response as Peter closed the door and took off his jacket. Someone obviously told him what had happened. Probably Astrid.
"She saved my life in quintessential Olivia Dunham fashion," Peter said, tossing his jacket over the arm of the couch. He didn't have the heart to remind Walter that, technically, 'Agent' no longer applied.
He headed for the kitchen and grabbed a beer from the fridge, forcing himself not to remember all the times Olivia had been the one waiting in the other room while they decompressed from whatever insanity the job had thrown at them that day. When he returned to the living room Walter was muttering under his breath, his hands twisting around each other as he paced from one side of the room to the other. Peter couldn't make much sense of the mutterings, although he could be pretty sure of the subject. At one time, Walter would have been overly concerned with Peter's brush with death. Since Olivia's disappearance, worry for the woman he considered a surrogate daughter had overridden all else.
"Walter?" Peter tugged at the sleeve of Walter's sweater to get his attention. "What's wrong?"
"Peter." Walter turned, his eyes wide and pleading. "Peter, I need to see her. You need to convince her to come back. I know how to remove her programming."
Peter backed up a step, staring blankly at the wall. "You can fix what my father did to her?"
Walter's pause was long, too long. "If my suspicions are correct, what my alter did to her has become fused with what William and I did—not by design, mind you, but by chance, or by her own mind fighting against this new programming, much of which may have run counter to our enhancements and her own wishes. This likely resulted in changes to the parameters of her programming, impelling actions we—and perhaps even he—never would have intended she take."
"Summarize, Walter. Bottom line?"
"It is possible, given these unintended interactions, that what he
did cannot be extracted without also affecting what we did." Walter dropped his chin to his chest, not quite looking Peter in the eye. "We... enhanced her normal inclinations, heightened them to create the guardian that we needed, but I don't know how much of what William and I did changed who she became."
"So you remove the programming and we still might lose her
." Walter was the case study for how removal of pieces of a mind could affect the whole. Better for Walter, in the end, but maybe not for Olivia. Peter sighed and curled his fingers tighter around the bottle, rubbing at the condensation clouding the glass. "Would you go back to what you were before?"
"I made a choice. William and I took her choice away." Walter looked away, his face full of guilt and sorrow.
Peter shook his head and dropped to the couch, staring at the light reflecting off the patch of glass he'd swiped clear. "I can't force her to come back. And I'm not even sure that she should."
No matter how much he wanted her to.
Peter tilted the beer bottle back, letting the dregs roll down his throat. He wanted another, but alcohol wasn't going to make any of this better when he woke up in the morning. He'd tried that route already. Lot more fun in theory than practice.
The living room was full of shadows, lit only by the glow from the streetlights peeking through the windows and the glow from the nightlight in the kitchen. Walter was out for the night, soft snores rumbling through the door. Deep in dreams powered by hallucinogens and sleeping pills, undoubtedly. Peter didn't begrudge him a peaceful night's sleep and hoped he found refuge in his dreams.
Peter didn't expect happy dreams for himself. All he hoped for was a few hours of oblivion.
He grabbed his jacket and headed up the stairs with a sigh, not bothering to turn on the lights as he entered his bedroom. And froze, hand still on the doorknob.
He wasn't alone.
He stayed still as the shadow detached itself from the corner, the light from the window gleaming on pale hair gathered in a familiar ponytail and pale skin rendered ghostly. He breathed out slowly, drinking in the sight of her. Before this afternoon it had been a month since he'd seen her. And she'd never come here, not after she fled into the night.
"Hey, 'Livia." He started to reach for her, to confirm she was real, but thought better of it. She was wire-taut, balanced on the balls of her feet and ready to bolt. One wrong move and she was gone, and it might be months before he saw her again. More.
Every move deliberate, he closed the door and walked to the bed, making sure not to block her escape routes through either door or windows. He didn't sit down, but slung his jacket over the bedpost and leaned against the wall. She raised her head slightly; he could feel the weight of her gaze as she studied him. He wondered if he still glimmered when she stared at him.
"Thank you, by the way," he said. "I didn't have a chance to say that before."
She nodded, a short bob of the head, and he thought her shoulders relaxed. Her gaze stayed steady on him.
He cleared his throat. "Rachel and Ella are good," he tried. When she still didn't move, he added, "They miss you."
She closed her eyes and nodded again.
"I miss you."
Her eyes snapped open. "You shouldn't."
"Walternate plans to use you to destroy this universe." She pivoted and stalked to the window. Her fingers gripped the frame as she leaned forward, staring though the slats of the blinds and down to the backyard below. "Whatever Walter did to me, whatever your father managed to trigger, it's pushing me to eliminate that threat. However I have to."
He stepped closer to her and spread his hands. "I'm not scared of you."
"You should be."
"You won't kill me."
She pushed off the window frame and turned. "How do you know?"
"I know you."
"You don't," she said, striding across the room before he could respond and giving a hard shove to the middle of his chest. He sprawled back on the bed. When he started to sit up she pushed him back and straddled his thighs, holding him down with one hand on his chest. "Not anymore."
"Olivia." Her weight was warm and familiar. He sucked in a breath and blew it out, memories of every time she'd straddled him, of every time she'd been in his bed flooding through him. He reached to touch her face, but she batted his hand away and drew her knife. He watched the blade draw closer and didn't move when she placed the cold metal against his throat. The edge dug in slightly, a pinch that just barely broke the skin.
"I could do it," she whispered, her expression feral and her eyes cold. She leaned in close enough that he could feel her breath against his face. "One twist, and it would be done. It would be easy." He couldn't tell if she was trying to convince herself or him.
"You wouldn't." He lifted his head, ignoring the sting as the edge dug deeper. Olivia jerked the knife back and froze, staring at him with wide eyes. He closed the distance between them slowly, giving her time to withdraw. When their lips touched, the hand on his chest twisted into his shirt like she wanted to draw him close but was afraid to touch him. Her lips were passive against his for seconds, more, then she gave a broken whimper and kissed him with equal fervor. She drew back first, but only far enough to look him in the eye; he still felt the warmth of her skin.
"I trust you, Olivia," he murmured. "I always have."
She tilted her head, and her chin jerked down in a nod.
He let himself fall back on the bed, and her gaze dropped to his neck. Now that the initial rush of endorphins was fading, he felt the sting of the cut, the trickle of blood tracing down his neck. Superficial, but enough to bleed profusely. Her hand unclenched from his shirt and she reached to smooth the blood from his skin, her hand shaking. Her legs tensed, and he could feel her withdraw into herself as prepared to bolt.
"No," he growled, reaching up to cradle her head between his hands. He tilted her chin up until her eyes met his, and stroked her cheeks with his thumbs. If she ran, she might never come back. He shook his head and swallowed, pulling her head down to his to press his lips against hers, just for a moment, then breaking away to whisper against them. "No, 'Livia. Please."
"You shouldn't trust me," she begged. "It's all still there in my head, trying to convince me that eliminating you is the best course of action, and if I relax, if it catches me unprepared—"
"It won't." He reached one hand back to work her ponytail free of its band and buried his fingers in her hair. Her eyes pressed closed and she leaned against his hand, as desperate for touch as he was to touch her. "You wouldn't kill me when you didn't know what was going on, you sure as hell aren't going to now. I know you. I know you, and I trust you." And I love you, he added silently, but didn't dare say the words out loud. He had never admitted them when they were edging their way into a comfortable relationship, but he should have. Should have told her he loved her, told her how much he needed her. Now she might not believe him, and even if she did he refused to use those words as a lure.
Her eyes flickered open, her breath coming fast. She planted her free hand next to his head and pushed herself up, watching him. She took a deep breath, closing her eyes, and shifted her grip on the knife. "You trust me."
He let himself smile, just a little. "I thought I just made that clear."
The furrows in her brow smoothed. She nodded as she came to some internal decision and opened her eyes. Her hand shook as the tip of her knife dipped down, catching his shirt underneath the first button and flicking up to part cloth, but the blade didn't touch his skin. Heat streaked through him, and he shivered before forcing himself still. Her eyes met his, her surprise and just the slightest bit of amusement warring with her fear.
Whatever he'd been expecting, it wasn't this, but if she wanted to test her self control and his trust he wasn't about to deny her. He willed encouragement into her through stroking fingers and a steady gaze. Her eyes stayed on his as she dipped the tip down again and again, until his shirt lay open. Her grip tightened on the knife, and she slowly, deliberately reached over to the bedside table and let the knife fall onto the wood with a clatter.
She was still shaking.
She didn't protest when he flipped them over, just flattened her hand over his heart. Her breathing eased, and she slid one hand up to his shoulder and the other around to his back. "Help me remember," she said. "Help me remember what it was like before."
He took her in his arms and did just that, and when they were done he curved his body around hers, buried his face in the crook of her neck, and slept.
Heart pounding, he woke from another dream of destruction, of Olivia dead and him helpless to stop it. Before he was more than half awake he reached for her, but the space beside him was empty and cold. She was gone, all that remained a trace of her scent.
"You were sleeping peacefully until I got up."
His eyes snapped open. She was there, curled in the chair by the window. Not looking at him, but staring at the backyard through the gap between the blinds and the glass. The morning sun angled through to spotlight her face; indirect light painted the rest of her skin with gold and shadows.
"I thought you'd left," he said.
"I would have. I should have. But you were restless and unhappy and..." she trailed off and shrugged, dipping her head so her hair hid her expression. "I couldn't just go."
"You can't run forever," he said.
Her head tilted, and her lips twisted in what was almost a smile. "Ironic, coming from you."
"And that's why I know." He sat up, twisting the sheet across his lap. "You taught me that. That sometimes you need to stand up and face the past if you want any hope of a future."
"Future." She laughed bitterly, wistfully. "Do I have one? Do any of us?"
"I want a future. With you."
She looked at him, finally, and shook her head. "Before," she whispered, almost to herself, "I thought that maybe, when all this was done, we'd have a stab at normal. A chance to see if we'd actually work. But now?"
"Normal is overrated."
"I always wanted normal, even as a little girl." She sighed. "I didn't have much of a chance of it, did I? Neither of us did."
He couldn't imagine Olivia as her so-called normal, couldn't imagine her as anything other than who she was. But if that was what she wanted, maybe he could give it to her. "Walter thinks he can get at the programming. That he's figured out how to remove it."
Shock paled her skin and widened her eyes. The wonder in her face stripped away the years until she looked impossibly young. "Thinks?" she asked. Hope laced her voice.
"It'll only take care of the programming, not any of your other abilities, but, knowing him, he could probably whip up a way to suppress those if given the motivation. Hell, probably already has, just doesn't remember it." He gave a choked laugh and shrugged. "It's a chance at something approaching normal. Maybe not a good one, but it's a chance."
She nodded, touching a finger to her temple. Her eyes searched his. "You don't believe him."
"He thinks it will work, but..." He looked away, digging his fingers into the mattress. "He doesn't think he can be selective. Right now, he can target all the programming or none of it. Given your age when Walter started tampering? I don't know what it's going to change."
"Still." She unfolded from the chair and paced from one side of the room to the other. "I never thought..." She stopped, her back to him, and stared at the knife still on the bedside table. "After Jacksonville, and especially after my memories betrayed me, my mind
betrayed me, I thought nothing could change. That no matter what I did, I'd stay..." Her voice broke. She waved her hands and shrugged.
"Olivia." His chest hurt looking at her. He wanted to sweep her into his arms and make all her pain go away. Instead he pushed off the bed and stood a few paces away, watching her muscles shift under her skin as she bowed her head and sighed. He moved closer and touched her shoulder. "Whatever you decide."
She was silent for so long he was sure she wasn't going to respond. When she did, her words were measured. "What was done to me, it was for a reason. If Walter takes that away there's no one left to shoulder the responsibility."
Would she stop taking the weight of the world on her shoulders if Walter's programming was removed, or had it always been a part of her? He stared at the point where his fingers met her shoulder and tried to convince himself that no matter what was stripped from her she'd still be Olivia. "Your alternate was pretty damned good at what she did. Without the Cortexiphan-fueled super boost."
She looked over her shoulder, her eyes shadowed. "But she didn't escape the programming."
"And I'm better."
He acknowledged the truth of it with a nod.
"And that may be the edge we need to win the war." She took a deep breath and let it out slowly, turning to face him. "Tell Walter to keep looking into the problem. Tell him to figure out how to remove, or at least deactivate what Walternate did to me. But I can't wait around for him to fix me." She shook her head, setting her shoulders back and her spine straight. "It doesn't matter what the hell Walternate did. I won't let him take this universe while I'm still here to do anything about it."
He tucked a few strands of hair behind her ear and cupped her cheek. "You don't have to do it alone."
She tilted her head, eyebrows quirking up. "You'll be breaking a whole bunch of laws by helping me."
"Wait, is that supposed to encourage or discourage me?" he asked, and was rewarded with her smile. For a moment, seeing her eyes lit up as she tried not to chuckle, it was like the last five months hadn't happened.
Her smile turned fierce, and she pulled him in to a hug. He wrapped his arms around her, pressing a cheek against the top of her head. Closing his eyes, he reveled in the texture and scent of her hair, the smoothness and heat of her skin against his. "You're not going to come home, are you?" he murmured.
"I won't be locked up again, even if it's by my own side. The minute they get ahold of me, that's what they'll do." She shuddered, and he squeezed tighter to ground her in the present.
She pulled back, her hands lingering on his chest, and jerked her head toward the door. "And speaking of."
He brushed his hands along her shoulders and down her arms before he dropped his arms to his sides. She was fully dressed and leaning against the wall watching him in the amount of time it took him to pull on his jeans.
She smiled wryly. "Think you can occasionally dodge the tail Broyles has on you?"
"The day I can't dodge a Federal issue tail..." He smirked. The less Broyles knew about how often he did just that, the better.
"I'll keep in touch."
"You need intel, I'll make it happen. Or if you need backup. Or just a familiar face."
She nodded and ducked her head. "I will," she said, then rocked back on her heels, motioning toward the door. "I've really—"
"Go. While my protection detail is restless and sleep deprived."
He followed her out and down the stairs. Walter, sometimes up and obnoxious at this hour, still snored; Olivia gave a fond glance at his door on her way to the kitchen. At the back door she paused and turned to Peter. "Just... " she shook her head, "just stay safe, Peter."
"You, too." He caught her hand as she opened the door. "'Livia—"
She laced her fingers with his, squeezing lightly. "I'll be careful."
With one last smile, she slipped out the door and into the morning sun. He settled on the back stoop and watched her jump the fence, sun warm on his skin and hope, for the first time in months, lightening his heart.
This entry was originally posted at http://chichuri-fic.dreamwidth.org/23164.html.