All day the other woman has been looking at her through cat's eyes, amused and wary, and more green than Olivia's own; a trick of makeup and hair color. It had taken longer than Olivia wanted for the dye to fade when she came back to her own world and she'd secretly liked it, appreciated how the red-brown strands framed her face and made her features sharper. But keeping the color would have been admitting that she admired something about her alternate and it was just too much of a reminder of her time on the other side.
But now they're standing in the same room, on what she assertively (perhaps impulsively, since she had no real basis for the statement but her instinct) declared was neutral ground, and if this is going to work at all Olivia has to set the example and manage some kind of peace. It's the last thing she wants to do with the woman who stole her life, but there's no getting around the necessity.
She's never liked looking into mirrors. Olivia takes a long breath and crosses the room to her double.
"Well now," the woman who goes by 'Liv' says, deceptively soft. It's a tactic Olivia knows, an invitation for the other party (suspect, usually) to open up. But this isn't an interrogation and Olivia isn't much interested in sparring.
She opens the...discussion...just like a briefing, like she's instructing another agent. Which is accurate enough, all other considerations notwithstanding. "We're going to have to work together. Since we're the ones who know the most about each other's sides, we'll have to translate for the others."
"Mmm-hmmm." The other woman looks agreeable, almost entertained by the situation. But she doesn't react further, so Olivia goes on.
"Obviously we have our own agendas, but there are larger issues at stake here--"
"C'mon," Liv interrupts. "You know it, I know it. Worlds ending, cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria. Everyone will play nice until we fix it."
The smug tone crawls right under her skin and makes it impossible to keep cool. "It seems," Olivia retorts before she can stop herself, "that we have entirely different definitions of 'playing nice.' I'm told you killed a woman, going back to your universe. Did you leave behind any other corpses I should know about?"
"That's classified." Liv glares back, defiant. "I was on a mission to save my world. Tell me you wouldn't do *anything* you thought was necessary to save yours."
It's more than slightly mortifying to have been the one to snap first, considering that all this time Olivia has been thinking of herself as the one responsible for this meeting of worlds and therefore responsible for making sure that the people involved cooperate with each other. But it makes sense that no one can bate her like this mirror twin, who's lived her life and knows precisely which buttons to push. Liv seems incongruously gratified by Olivia's lack of self-control, and since her comment is incontestable, Olivia puts it aside and tries to get back on track.
"*My point is,*" Olivia manages through slightly gritted teeth, "we have to be able to trust each other."
With an expression of unholy glee, Liv tilts her head and drawls, "You gotta trust me. I'm *you.*"
And oh, her own words thrown back in her face make Olivia want to reenact the fight they'd had when they first met. Liv sees it and her lips peel back in a feral grin. "Any time you want to go again, sweetheart, I'm game."
Sometime in the past, she can't place who or when, someone else had called her "sweetheart" with that mocking tone of voice and she didn't like it any more now than she had then. And civility doesn't seem to be working here, anyway. "You sure about that? Last time, it didn't go so well for you."
"'cause you *cheated.*" Liv's voice drips with contempt and outrage but her body language is relaxing, instinctively knowing--as Olivia does--that this isn't the time or place. "But you go on believing whatever lets you sleep at night."
"I'm sleeping fine, now that I've had all my sheets replaced. And my clothes."
Liv snorts and nods toward Olivia's shirt. "Too bad you didn't take the opportunity to buy something with an actual color in it." She leans in and whispers, "I drew the line at tossing out all the underwear. And the bedroom toys. 'cause I figured, without Frank around, you were needing stress relief. I should've guessed you'd hook up with my boys, though."
This tops the list of things she is not discussing with her alternate. She's never really had a friend to giggle over boys with--even if she was theoretically inclined to giggle--and Olivia is not about to start with this woman, certainly not a friend, who already knows too much about her.
But Liv's on a roll and she goes on, not backing down in the least, "Imagine how surprised I was to get over to your side and find out you didn't have so much as a fuck buddy. I was *lonely.*"
And it's too much, Olivia can't contain the distress that spills out at the thought of what her double might have done, wearing her face--
Liv grins, her triumph complete. "Oh, relax, I was on-mission, didn't hook up with anyone while I was here. Couple of clubs I visited, might know 'you.' But I didn't do anything more than flirt with some pretty boys. You really don't have any kind of life, do you?"
It's really only Liv's presence that triggered the momentary doubt. When she'd returned to her own universe, Olivia had scoured her life for damage her mirror double might have caused. The most telling sign that anything was different was the change in takeout orders; Liv liked her Indian food spicier than Olivia preferred. She still hasn't entirely processed how she feels about being replaced so smoothly, even by another version of herself.
She also doesn't have a satisfactory answer to the question, at least not one that won't invite more mockery, so deflection is the only option here. "Can't jeopardize my secret identity."
Liv stares, then giggles slightly, and--what was she just thinking, about giggling? So strange to see a demonstration on her own face. "Right, right. You're just lacking tights and a mask. But seriously...how can you work with Walter, after what he did to you?"
"How can you work with yours, after what he did to *you*?" Olivia shoots back, and maybe she's retained some of her double's aim after all, because the barb hits home. Gratifying to know her intuition hasn't failed. "And yes, it was awfully convenient for your sake that Frank was out of town, because if he'd been home...."
"Yeah," Liv mutters, and grimaces like she's bitten something sour. "All right, enough of that. So look...I wanted to say, you helped catch the guy who hurt Colonel Broyles' son. Thanks, for that."
It's not at all what she was expecting and it shakes her, the way this distorted mirror image of herself can turn from cruel to sincere on a dime. "I'm...very sorry your Broyles was killed."
"He made his choice to help you. The consequences are on him, not you." Liv blows out a long breath. "And the fact that he did that, risked and gave his life for you, goes a long way with me."
Olivia nods, taking the comment for a worth yet to be determined. And if they're back to polite again, she can play along. "How's Chris doing?"
"Fine. He's fine," Liv says, a little too quickly, and Olivia finds it interesting that she can't lie worth a damn. She obviously hasn't followed up with the boy at all, which seems...insensitive, considering Chris has now lost his father too. Olivia's memories of Liv's typical manner--thankfully muted now, fading with time--suggest the disregard is not at all unusual. The boy was out of sight, and therefore out of mind. "Speaking of kids, I made excuses not to visit Rachel and Ella. Didn't think I could handle seeing them." She stares off into the distance for a second and then adds, "And you know kids, they're little lie detectors. I didn't want to chance having Ella blow my cover. I wish I'd been able to risk it, though."
Olivia wonders if she had, and if Ella had detected the substitution, if this other woman (nothing like her) would have murdered Rachel and Ella to keep her secret. She'd said herself, she'd have done anything necessary to succeed at her mission.
But the admission is clearly an attempt at a peace offering, and Olivia feels obligated to volunteer something in return. "I was...glad for the chance to see mom. It was good getting to know her as an adult, for a little while."
She'd made excuses to visit, arranged a lot of lunch dates when there wasn't a Fringe case immediately pressing. Mom--no, *Marilyn*--had seemed happy that Olivia wanted to spend so much time with her. Her implanted memories told her that Liv usually didn't spend that much time with her mother, so Olivia's subconscious wishes must have been overriding the imposed behavior.
Among the many things Olivia hadn't discussed with her colleagues when she returned from the other universe was the fact that she'd spent a few long nights weeping over having lost her mother, again.
"I hated that they replaced me," Liv says, sharply. "I didn't know they were gonna do that. But I guess...it's better that she had you around, those couple of months. She's been fragile since Rachel died, my Rachel, and it might've been worse if her family had been gone altogether."
They stare at each other for a long moment, neither wanting to give ground, but Olivia feels that they're on the verge of a truce and it's not too much to admit she liked something about the other side, in spite of everything.
"I enjoyed being a dead shot." She hadn't retained that perfection of precision, although she thinks the ability might not be impossible to recapture. It's more about the frame of mind than anything, the absolute purity of focus, and--disconcerting, now that she thinks about it--not dissimilar to the process of accessing her Cortexiphan abilities.
"You-- that's something you got from my memories? That seems weird, doesn't it? Unless 'muscle memory' is transferrable too." Liv chuckles slightly. "Could've saved myself hours on the shooting range, huh."
"I wouldn't recommend the process," Olivia says dryly, and they don't quite smile in tandem.
Liv sounds almost friendly when she says, "You know what I've been missing? Besides the coffee. I wish I'd had time to grab some U2 discs when I left. We don't have them on my side, and I really liked their music."
Olivia has no reason in this world or any other to do favors for this woman, but...in the interest of interplanetary relationships, the request is harmless enough. "I can get those for you."
"That'd be great." Liv slaps her hands down on her thighs, a definitive motion. "Okay. So we're clear, right? No more glaring across the room, no catfight. No matter how much Lincoln and Charlie want to watch."
"We're clear," Olivia says softly, not entirely believing it--no more than Liv does, obviously. But *professional,* they can both do, despite her alternate's more casual demeanor.
"'kay. I think Charlie wants to talk to me, he has that look on his face." They both turn and catch him staring at them; he waves, belatedly, and shifts his attention down to his coffee cup.
"It's good seeing him again, too," Olivia says, and Liv blinks at her, not processing, and then she gets it.
"Yeah. Your team's great and all, but I really missed my guys," Liv says, and strides away toward her partner, hair and hips swinging, apparently content at having had the last word.
Olivia's content to let her. It's not a competition--she's determined that it not become one. She's also pretty sure a psychiatrist would have two worlds' worth of field days with the dynamics here, and how much Olivia finds herself alternately appreciating and loathing this other self. Never mind the entire question of nature-vs.-nurture.
But as long as their two worlds are connected they have no choice but to find accord, somehow. Olivia thinks it's possible as long as she remembers her time on the other side, and how her style of investigation and Liv's weren't so different after all. They both know how to get things done, and will despite all obstacles.
Something nags at the back of her mind and she can't help a smile when she places the floating thought, a song lyric, when she usually doesn't even pay attention to the radio: "We're one, but we're not the same." And of course, it'd be the U2 that Liv had mentioned.
Not the same. But close enough to feel secure that they have the same goals in this, no matter how much their personalities might differ. Olivia Dunham of both worlds is on the case and between them--even if she never says as much to her alternate--she's sure there's nothing they can't accomplish.
The fate of both worlds depends on it.