Olivia kissed the top of Ramsay's head, tugged lightly on one of his tufted ears, and flashed a smile several times more confident than she felt. He twitched his whiskers in feigned annoyance, and muttered something she couldn't quite hear with her ears still ringing from the explosion. Neither of them said goodbye as he hurried after the rest of the team, and she turned toward Dr. Bell, both of them pretending that they weren't scared. That there was no chance this would be the last time they'd see each other.
She squared her shoulders and reached into her pocket to trigger the device Broyles handed off just after he gave her the nod. The air beside her shimmered briefly, and then that shimmer coalesced into the form of a large gray timber wolf, just like the other woman's daemon. It looked absolutely solid, but when she reached out cautiously to touch it, her fingers passed through with only a faint tingle to indicate there was anything there at all.
The wolf looked up at her, forehead creasing with worry. Olivia knew, intellectually, that the projection device would pick up on her emotions, but actually seeing the fake daemon reflecting her anxiety made her shiver a little. It fell into step behind her as she moved to Bell's side, and as she crouched, so did the wolf, so still she could almost forget it was there.
"Dr. Bell. Can you hear me?" She shook his shoulder to wake him, allowing worry and a little fear to slip into her tone — not for his sake, not really, but not feigned either. "Dr. Bell."
His daemon stirred first, and then scrambled to her feet all at once, bristling, at the exact moment Bell opened his eyes. The breath of relief she let out just then was feigned, but she helped him to his feet and hurried him into the theatre, allowing herself just one quick glance back before she followed him inside.
She thought she caught a glimpse of Ramsay, half-hidden behind a still smoldering car as he watched her, but he melted into the smoke a moment later. Olivia sighed and turned away too, before her nerve broke and she ran after him.
When she saw the other Walter Bishop standing on the stage, and the machine on the stage with him, some small, cowardly part of her started wishing she'd run anyway. Another universe. She was going to another universe and Ramsay wasn't with her, and if she survived the trip, and if he survived without her, she still might never come back. Olivia was used to fear — the good kind, adrenaline surge and pounding pulse and something to fight — but this was different. There was nothing she could fight against here, just cold dread and weak knees and a leaden weight in the pit of her stomach as she forced herself up the stairs to the stage.
The eerily silent illusion of a daemon slinking along at her heels probably didn't help, either.
The instant they started to cross over, Olivia knew it — she didn't need to watch Bell as his atoms split apart, Bell's daemon exploding in a bright shower of sparks, because the knowledge of the crossing vibrated through every part of her.
"Oh, no, no no no..." she started to whisper under her breath, though it was already too late to turn back, much too late to run.
The younger Bishop turned toward her, frowning. "Olivia...?"
She'd separated from Ramsay for a week when she joined Fringe Division, like they all did. Magnify that pain a thousand times, and it might have come close to this. Blinding light flashed, maybe in front of her or maybe just behind her eyes, her ears roared, and she clenched her jaw around a strangled scream. It took all she had to cling to consciousness, and she barely noticed when her knees buckled, and Bishop caught her before she hit the ground.
It was over in a couple seconds. Over in the sense that the pain stopped growing, at least — it remained, a ragged-edged hole carved out of her, but steady enough that she could think around it, just a little. When her vision cleared, she found herself on the floor of the same theatre, with Bishop still holding her.
"Ramsay?" she murmured unthinkingly.
Fighting just to make her eyes focus, Olivia followed Peter’s gaze. She knew, logically, what she’d see there — but her heart still sank when it wasn’t the familiar feline smirk she saw, just an illusion of a wolf. The hologram’s ears twitched forward as it met her eyes. The tip of its tail wagged tentatively, reassuringly. It was the perfect imitation of someone’s daemon... but not hers.
They kept the cell just dark enough that Olivia couldn't see more than shadows and vague shapes.
She kept hammering on the door for as long as she could, screaming and pleading and crying to anyone who might listen and no one at all, but at a certain point she ran out of energy to shout. Later — much later — she ran out of tears too, and curled up on the floor in a corner of the cell, knees pulled to her chest, arms wrapped tight around herself.
Her eyes and throat and head all ached terribly. She felt it in a dull, detached way, in her body but nowhere near herself. Her self was elsewhere, somewhere far away, wherever they'd spirited Ramsay off to while she was out. Her self was that raw nerve in the core of her, the part that turned every breath and heartbeat and second into an agonizing, unendurable eternity. He was gone. He was gone, he was gone, he was gone, and beside that no other pain even registered.
Olivia dropped her forehead to her knees, her entire body convulsing with another half-choked sob.
Something bumped against her leg in the dark, and that sob quickly turned into a hoarse scream as she kicked out and sent whatever it was flying to knock against the cot on the other wall. She heard a thump, and a soft wheeze. "Really, Livvy?"
"Ramsay." Her heart leapt at the familiar voice, and she reached out through the dark as the dim shape pulled itself silently to its feet.
Her fingers brushed fur — but short, sleek, nothing like Ramsay's thick coat. Olivia hissed and yanked her hand back hard. Too dark in here for her to see more than dim shapes, maybe... but just bright enough for a cat to find his way without making a sound.
She wasn't sure if the other daemon actually moved toward her again, or if the shifting shadows were just her imagination, but she recoiled anyway, scrambling to her feet with her back still pressed to the padded wall. "You stay away from me," she whispered hoarsely.
"Olivia." The voice came from directly in front of her, soft and worried and a little reproachful, exactly the way her Ramsay would have sounded. She almost kicked him away again, but the idea of touching him a third time — even to get him the hell away from her — just made her feel sick, and that was enough to stop her. "I just want to help."
The whisper rose just loud enough to become a soft-edged snarl. "Then tell them to bring Ramsay back to me."
"You are not my daemon."
The younger Bishop insisted on driving Olivia home. She didn't argue much — it had taken her a good half-hour to convince him and this universe's Broyles that she didn't need to go to the hospital, and even that felt like a victory. Charlie and Lincoln would have simply dragged her to get medical attention over her protests, but Peter Bishop let her go in front of her building with nothing more than a worried frown.
She barely looked at the false daemon as she opened the car door to let it out of the back seat. Looking at it for too long just reminded her of everything it wasn't — solid, actually intelligent and aware, and, most importantly, Ramsay.
It leapt soundlessly out of the car. She would have expected to hear the click and scrabble of claws on the asphalt, but it made no more sound than her elegant feline Ramsay would have, and that sent an unpleasant shiver down her spine.
Bishop didn't seem to notice, but as she looked up, his daemon met her eyes with a frown of... What? Suspicion? Concern? Olivia didn't know how to read the look in those bright amber eyes, but it unsettled her almost as much as the illusory daemon at her side. She smiled, more nervously than she'd have liked, and leaned down to catch Peter's eye instead.
"Hey. I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
He smiled back — the first smile she'd seen from him since they got to this side. It looked tired, and a little bit wry, but something about the way it reached his eyes made her certain her earlier guess about him and the other Olivia hadn't been off. Couple. Another surge of fluttering unease rose in her chest. "I'm not going anywhere. Promise."
"Good. You'd better not." It was what she would have said to Frank, and it came out sounding almost the way it was supposed to. She glanced one more time to the coyote in the backseat, pretended not to notice the way she was looking at her this time, and closed the car door maybe a little too hard. The wolf ghosted along at her heels as she made her way up to the building, and she didn't hear Peter's car start to pull away until she was already stepping inside.
The key was right where her doppelganger had said it would be, exactly where she would have left it. She managed to make it inside and get the door closed before she switched off the daemon projector, but only just — if she had to spend one more minute with that thing following her around, she thought, she couldn't be held responsible for what she might do.
Being alone in a stranger's apartment wasn't much better. Her instinct was to reach for Ramsay and bury her face in his fur until she felt capable of handling all of this again. Her second impulse was to find Frank, just to hear his heartbeat, curl up against his reassuring, solid weight.
But Frank was just as far away as Ramsay, just as impossibly out of reach. Just like Lincoln. Charlie. Her own clothes and her own bed and everything that could possibly make her feel just a little less lost.
She settled for sinking to the floor with her back against the door, hugging her knees to her chest, closing her eyes and letting herself believe Ramsay would come nosing at her hand any second now. As a rule, Olivia didn't cry, but she decided just this once she could make an exception.
"The things I do for you," the strange daemon muttered, irritably cleaning one front paw while Olivia waited for the cab driver to get back with real clothes. Already tense, she actually flinched when he spoke — it had been weeks and she still wasn't used to his voice. It was so much like Ramsay's, but the tones and inflections were all wrong.
"You could have stayed on the island."
"What, because this is stupid?"
"No," she said flatly, still pointedly staring out the window. He hadn't listened the hundred times before when she told him he didn't belong to her, but he had at least heard it enough to know what she meant.
He paused, one paw still raised, claws flexed — and then carried on as if he hadn't heard her at all. "While I do think this will go on record as one of the more idiotic things you've ever done, and there are many, that's all the more reason not to leave you unsupervised. You'll thank me for it later."
Olivia glanced over at him without turning her head, just her eyes flickering toward him. One tufted ear twitched in acknowledgment of her attention, but otherwise he seemed completely absorbed now in cleaning his paws.
She should have left him on Liberty Island, but he'd followed her off the cliff with as little pause as if he had been her daemon, and after that... Well, she couldn't have let him drown, and now if she got rid of him, he'd just find the nearest Fringe agent or cop, and tell them exactly what she was doing, where she was going, who she was with. She was stuck with him.
"I'm going home." It came out before she realized she'd meant to say anything at all, but it was good to hear it out loud. It felt more real when she did, less like some crazy post-traumatic delusion. She glanced out the window again, tracking the movement of a police car as it drove by. "And when I do, you're staying here."
"He's not there either, you know."
He said it so casually that it took Olivia a moment to process the significance of the actual words — and then her head snapped toward him, her heart pounding too fast, chest suddenly tight with fear and hope. "What?"
The front door of the cab opened before he could answer, and Olivia jumped again, her hand tightening reflexively on her gun. It was just Henry, offering her clothes through the open window between front and back seats, but it took her a moment to set the pistol aside and take them. She murmured a terse thanks, told him to start driving again, and began to get dressed, movements jerky with a sudden nervous tension that had almost nothing to do with her escape anymore.
"What did you mean?" she hissed to Ramsay — no, not Ramsay, even if that was his name she wouldn't call him that — as she fought to pull the shirt on without losing the hospital gown yet. "Where's Ramsay? What did they do with him?"
The cat avoided her eyes guiltily, and after a moment turned to stare pointedly out the window. She saw Henry's dark eyes flicker toward her in the mirror, though, and his daemon's eyes wide and fearful as she clung to Henry's shoulder and watched Olivia's every move. They thought she was crazy, and in their position she would have too — and none of that mattered, because her daemon was...
What? Dead? Somewhere in this universe? Trapped back on the island? She couldn't think right over the sound of her own heartbeat thundering in her ears. Her daemon... was...
"Ramsay," she whispered.
He looked surprised as he turned back toward her, but it faded quickly, and he moved quickly to her side of the cab, butting his head up against her hand. "I'm here."
Olivia hesitated. Her hand trembled a little, but she didn't pull it back. For just an instant, the ache in her chest subsided. Ramsay was here, and she wasn't alone. She smiled and lightly tugged one of his tufted ears. "I know."