Astrid is always the last to leave the lab. She's just finishing her final walk-through of the night, closing everything up, making sure that everything Walter left on is turned off--in the process averting at least two minor accidents and one small explosion--when she sees that tonight she is not the last to leave.
Olivia is sitting on a chair she's pulled over beside the tank, her jacket thrown across a nearby table, her boots sitting next to her on the floor. Her elbows are resting on her knees and her face is buried in her hands. Astrid had not expected her back tonight. She should have finished up the paperwork at the office and been home at least an hour ago.
"Olivia?" Astrid says softly, mostly to let Olivia know she's here. Olivia has been understandably jumpy since she got back. When Olivia doesn't respond, Astrid pulls another chair over next to her and sits, leaning forward so she can almost look into Olivia's face. Olivia finally looks up but she doesn't really look at Astrid and she doesn't say anything. She's not crying but it looks like she has been recently.
Astrid doesn't know what to say. No one has known what to say to Olivia for days. "It's late," she says inanely. "You should go home."
Olivia smiles wryly. "Home," she repeats with slight bitterness. "I can't go home. It's not mine. None of this," she tugs briefly at her shirt, then brushes back the bangs that have evaded her persistent efforts to keep them off her forehead, "is mine."
Olivia sighs and sits back in her chair, finally meeting Astrid's eyes. "I tried to eat breakfast this morning. She put the plates in the wrong cabinet. She bought cereal I haven't eaten since I was 9." Olivia waves a hand in a dismissive gesture. "She took my apartment, my job, my clothes." She gestures to the boots on the floor. "I can't even wear those anymore because I can't stop thinking..." she makes a face and shrugs, "What if she wore them everyday?" Her eyes water but no tears fall.
Astrid waits, weighs whether what she wants to say will make Olivia feel better or worse. Earlier she had said that whatever Peter, whatever any of them, had felt for the other Olivia, had all been about this Olivia. She had been trying to help but she knows it had been the wrong thing to say.
"She didn't," Astrid finally says. "She never wore those boots. I'm not sure she wore that many of your clothes at all. Or she did, but she wore them differently." Olivia is looking at her intently, brow furrowed. Astrid thinks that the clothes were brighter, but doesn't say so. "A week ago, she wore this short, cropped jacket. It looked good but I remember thinking that it wasn't you." Astrid pauses. "I noticed, but I didn't. I'm so sorry, Olivia. She was different. She wasn't you."
When Astrid finishes speaking, Olivia's brow is still furrowed but her expression is a little softer. "You were over there," she says after a moment. "Not you exactly, but an alternate you."
Astrid is equal parts unsettled and curious. "Was she...like me?"
"In a lot of ways," Olivia says thoughtfully. "Loyal, capable, very smart. But they're at war there. Walternate has made them believe they have to be. She's a soldier. She's more..." Olivia trails off as she searches for the word. "Intense," she finishes, her voice a little distant. "The way you are when you're following a lead and close to solving a case. She's like that all the time. I think fighting a war has made her more intense." Her voice wavers on the last sentence, but just a little and only if you know her well enough to hear it.
Astrid tries to imagine herself as a soldier and finds that it's easier to imagine than she might have thought, and certainly much easier than it would have been a year ago. She knows without having to think about it that if it comes to that, she'll fight; she and Olivia and Broyles and Peter and even Walter, she thinks they'd all fight in whatever way they know how.
She hopes it never comes to that.
"I have a spare room," Astrid says, breaking the long silence.
"Astrid, that's a really nice offer," Olivia starts to refuse, pasting on a smile.
"Olivia," Astrid says more firmly, "You're not fine. I have a spare room. You can stay with me until you figure out what you want to do. You can't fix it all tonight. Okay?"
Olivia's face relaxes into a smile, but a genuine one and not the one she's been using to try to fool them all for two days. "Okay," she says, and nods.
"Put your shoes on," Astrid says, getting up and nudging the boots on the floor towards Olivia with her foot. "And tomorrow," she goes on, grabbing Olivia's jacket off the table, "we'll go shopping. We can buy you some new clothes, if you want them."
Olivia wrinkles her nose as she pulls her boots on. "I hate shopping."
Astrid smiles. "I know. But you've never been with me."
Astrid pulls Olivia up off the chair. Olivia lets her, but she places a hand on Astrid's arm to stop her as she turns to lead them out of the lab.
"Thank you, Astrid," Olivia says seriously, with her smile in her eyes.
Astrid nods. She turns again to go and this time Olivia follows her out. Astrid makes sure to turn off the light as they leave.