Peter's still a silhouette against the rainy night sky when Lincoln arrives, the shadow by her side become substantial.
Olivia looks away from the space between the ambulances stretching out to the horizon (and him) and at Lincoln Lee instead, who who looks uncomfortable even beyond his normal state. Fat drops of water are running down his glasses, collecting in his lashes; no wonder he's blinking so frequently. "He told me you need Diazepam," he says, and although she hates them both just a little for playing her like this, she does lean in to hear his voice over the sound of the elements, "but beyond that, I'm pretty stumped."
Welcome to Fringe Division, Olivia thinks, and turns her head to wave the EMTs over. It takes some effort of will not to wince, press a hand to her temple, or display in any way that her head is hurting like hell. Lincoln knows, though, all clenched jaw and fierce frown, and she recognises that spark of feeling inside her underneath the pain and anger and frustration as some small measure of comfort.
"What I don't need is a shoulder to cry on," Olivia tells him after accepting a blanket, pills, and a gurney to sit on but refusing to budge for the moment. At her words, Lincoln does something with his face that she can't quite identify, so she adds, "What is it?"
"Nothing; I just --" he breathes in, "I don't want to intrude but I do want to help." Lifts his chin at the last part too.
Olivia stares at him for a moment. What she wants is Peter; what she'd settle for is hitting someone, repeatedly. Not Lincoln, though. He does what he does and he is who he is. He hasn't been trying to navigate through the maze of Peter's emotions (although if she's honest, it's at least partially Peter's thoughts that are the problem here).
Lincoln Lee doesn't come across as particularly pushy, but of course can be and has been -- it's what got him into Fringe Division in the first place. Adages about deceiving looks aside, she knows his mirror-side, and even through the fog of memories that feel so faint, she does know her partner. Maybe she would succeed in sending him away, but that would mean having to take an ambulance to the hospital and only then get a taxicab back to her place. "Fine, take me home."
Sitting in Lincoln's fleet Ford, she alternates between looking resolutely out of the side window and closing her eyes. The latter helps against the fuzzy spots of light just outside her line of vision doing the cha-cha; both help to ward off any further conversation at this point.
Lincoln, to his credit, doesn't make her talk. He does tell her about the status of the investigation, though, and just by the waft of his voice she can tell he keeps glancing at her. When he gets to Nina's arrest, she startles, until he tells her they are already in contact with her attorney; she'll be released in the morning.
Olivia's front steps are a surmountable obstacle, but on a purely objective level it's probably not a bad idea to have Lincoln just a half-step behind her, ready to catch her in case she stumbled. Just in case. Once inside, she's grateful for her couch. The drugs have taken the drum stick away from the drummer in her left lobe, but Olivia feels loose now, too-soft. The lights are gone, but so is all sharpness from the world. She misses that. Lately, Olivia's been able to hear the buzz of a fly three apartments down when the night was quiet.
"Here," Lincoln says, and she looks up to see him handing her a huge jug -- a stein, she realises, full of cold water. Olivia stares at it, but when her fingers touch the handle, of course it's the one Nina brought her from a Munich trip to Bio-M when she was fifteen, telling Olivia with a laugh that she couldn't refuse the hospitality gift although wanting to quite desperately. The liquid coats her parched throat. When Olivia's had enough, she glances at Lincoln and the play of emotions on his face, from worry over relief to hope. "I can get you more."
Doesn't he ever. Olivia swallows, but it's not about water this time. Lincoln is grounding her, but that doesn't mean he's not trying hard to find his own footing. He's shooting for being not a good but the best partner Olivia can have, but this is not where it ends. She remembers, more clearly now this Lincoln Lee so loudly echoing her own entry into this world (and all others they have encountered since). But echoes fade, eventually; what she perceives now is his own voice. It may have started with Robert, and Lincoln still wants justice for his former partner.
But that's not who he longs for any more. Olivia holds his gaze. "Thank you." His mouth opens, but she speaks, faster than him, "Not just for the water."
"You're welcome." He looks down at her, hovering, and she wonders why he doesn't sit down. Doesn't ask her questions she knows no answer to. Then again, in a lot of ways, what she likes about Lincoln is what he doesn't do. "I can leave." His tone gives him away, though. He wants to know what happened -- wants to know everything. She can at least give him tonight's events. Without the hope and the heartbreak: without Peter, except in action.
"Of course; sit." He does, and Olivia tells him the abridged version of her abduction story, her plan to get them to get Peter. Her escape and his too. She doesn't like talking for extended periods of time, and sometimes not at all, but it's easier, for some reason, with Lincoln.
When she's finished, he doesn't look thrilled. But not surprised either. "Jones got away, but at least you're okay." He doesn't add physically. "The false Nina and Jones didn't mention anything about...your memories?"
"They didn't know anything about my memories." Olivia stresses the lats two words just a little. "It's why this worked in the first place."
Lincoln nods. She's noting only now that he's taken off his wet glasses and put them on the den table. Without them -- no, actually, she can tell him apart without any trouble in this or any other universe by now. Against all clichés, she thinks he's actually as cute as Astrid once pointed out with his glasses on. He leans forward just a little and smiles very briefly, as if having listened in on her thoughts. "Right, so it's an element they didn't factor in because they couldn't. Like Peter," he hesitates, searches for terms not even existing, "entering this timeline."
She's read it in Lincoln's mission report, clear and meticulous: Peter Bishop and David Robert Jones on the Other Side. Clearly she and Peter both like throwing the bastard off his game. Or even spoil it for him permanently by killing him. By -- shooting him doesn't feel right. What did Peter do, or possibly, what she do to him when he tried to cross? Jones didn't manage to do so originally, did he?
"Olivia?" Okay, Lincoln spends way too much time fussing over her these days. It's funny because he seemed so much in need of that himself at first, lost and angry at the world but caring for it too.
"Yes." She looks up. Even at this late, late hour, there is only the barest hint of stubble on his face. He's still wearing his coat, and for some reason that's what gets to her. His hair is damp, more wavy than usual, and Olivia forces herself to stop staring. "I should go to bed." When Olivia stands up, the rooms starts spinning almost immediately, but there's a blur of movement not from her migraine, and Lincoln's hands curl around her arm, hold her shoulder. Steady her. His breath is warm on the side of her neck; it's not unpleasant at all. She turns her head just so toward the source, watches his adam's apple jump.
She really needs to sleep. Also pee, again. When she tells Lincoln the former (but not the latter), he nods and carefully lets his hands drop back to his side. There is a slight flush of colour in his cheeks, but he doesn't offer to leave at this point, and Olivia doesn't ask for it. His step slows almost imperceptibly when they walk through the glass doors into her bedroom. Olivia thinks, with a pang dulled by the Diazepam, that this makes no sense at all; her apartment has been invaded and searched. Everybody and sundry have been here by now. Why not Lincoln? And yet.
"Think I can get the rest on my own," she tells him once they are standing in front of her bed.
Lincoln glances at the pillows, then her, and there's something in his eyes flashing like the polished hilt of a blade, before he blinks, looks down. "Right." Already turning away, he murmurs half to himself, "May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest." The delivery is so Lincoln, sarcastic and sweet at once, that in spite of everything she has to smile.
"Quoting Hamlet? You know they all die by the end." Her voice is sandpaper on stone, but some semblance of amusement still comes through.
"Not Horatio," he says, and that actually pierces through the borrowed armour of the drugs. Is that who he thinks he is? The steadfast friend, forever on the side; the narrator? He must've seen her look, because his mouth twists, and he glances away. "I know; you're not a passive, play-acting prince. With you, Claudius wouldn't have made it past the first act."
Olivia thinks of her stepfather, his life spreading in a bright-red pool on the floorboards of the hallway. That was then; what is now is the opposite of final. Once upon a time Jones died (but at whose hands? And how exactly?) but here, he got away again. Her body gets away from her too at that point; Olivia lets out a wide yawn. Through her watering eyes, she can see Lincoln tilt his head at her, shove his hands in his coat pocket.
"I'm sending over a security detail. I'll wait in the living room until it arrives, okay?" Walking backward, Lincoln fishes his cell out and gives her a smile of his own that reminds her of nothing as much as another Olivia's partner.
It's true she's pushing away all thoughts of Peter, but it's still weird that this seems to work. Sleep overtakes her swiftly.
The next morning, Olivia is feeling marginally better. Her migraine is gone, but the hollow ache in her chest region isn't. It's bearable, however -- has to be. Her fingers don't tremble when she puts on foundation covering the dark circles under her eyes; they don't slip when she buttons her jacket. What's her double doing right now? Rolling out of bed with a smirk on her face, probably. Olivia remembers it slipping, though -- that time in the car, on their way to the farm. Recalls it being a façade for her own benefit when she came to pick up the other Astrid.
They are the same person on some level. Olivia too can project a confidence she doesn't possess to this degree. She breathes in, out, and glances at herself in the mirror. There are criminals to catch and a few universes to save. She won't have Broyles take her aside again.
Olivia gives a nod to the agents sitting outside in the purposefully inconspicuous black sedan and drives to Fringe Division. Where Lincoln does not automatically turn around to look at her; it takes stepping up right to his desk until her shadow falls over his files. "Hey," he says, and looks like he doesn't know whether to smile or to frown, "how are you doing?"
"I'm okay, thanks. Have we released Nina?"
Lincoln nods. "As discussed. I'm convinced she knows more than what she's saying, but the legal grounds for holding her were gone."
Olivia thinks that is almost certainly true, but what she feels is still close to consolation. Where Lincoln thinks of cortexiphan, she thinks of soup at once terrible and delicious.
Lincoln keeps staring up at her; there's clearly something at the tip of his tongue. Olivia has to wave her hand until he speaks again. "Uh, Peter was here. He's off to New York; the paperwork for crossing the Bridge has already been signed. He's even allowed to go alone." Lincoln sounds almost resigned to always only knowing fragments of the whole truth. But then, don't they all? She gives him a smile she hopes looks reassuring.
Broyles looks up when she enters his office. "Dunham. You all right?"
"Yes, sir. Has Agent Lee already handed you his report?"
They both know he has, and for a moment Olivia thinks Broyles might even smile. "He has." There's a pause that's not so much pregnant as post-delivery. "Peter Bishop has also been so kind as to give me preliminary information about your abduction. Care to fill me in?"
Olivia does. She stands maybe a little too straight. Outlining how she made them grab Peter too is not a walk in the park, mostly because she was breaking protocol fifteen ways from Sunday by doing so. But then, she figures if unarmed civilians are sent on official Fringe Division business across universes these days, they may also be endangered in a situation she after all got a handle on.
Broyles seems to agree with her sentiment, because while he raises his famed eyebrow, he doesn't interrupt her. After jotting down a few lines in his sharp, precise handwriting, he looks up again. "As you may have heard already, I'm sending Peter Bishop Across. He was very convincing with regard to the need for a live debrief with the Other Side on Jones and everything that happened. It should help our common attempt to connect the dots and find Jones."
Of course he would be very convincing. "Did he mention he'd also try again to talk to Walternate about the Machine?"
"Yes he did. He promised it would be only a secondary item on his agenda." Broyles isn't the type to lean back in his chair, but he does relax just a fraction, his features softening. "Dunham. He doesn't have to tell me every detail, and neither do you. I understand Jones is not the only reason for this trip." This trip away from her -- pretty much as far as possible.
Maybe it is for the better. Olivia nods. "After the paperwork, I better get back to the lab."
Broyles agrees less than reluctantly. Olivia thinks he can't have much of an interest in an agent trapped not so much between worlds but their mere reflections, serendipitous as it was in this case. After finishing up as promised, she calls Astrid, who's having her hands full of a disgruntled Walter, who didn't like Peter there and now doesn't like Peter gone. Really, the FBI cannot possibly be paying Astrid enough.
Olivia recalls telling Astrid so one night after their second Jameson's, recalls the glint in Astrid's eyes. If that were the way the world worked, Astrid told her, she'd be living in a Back Bay villa in with a library with an indoor pool, plus Cabana boy. Possibly boys, plural.
As for Olivia, at this point she's pretty sure one guy is more than enough. She takes a deep breath and the first step over to Lincoln's desk, but this time, the invisible thread connecting them as partners works as flawlessly as advertised in bragging tones in bars full of suits late at night. Lincoln looks up, and his eyes brighten behind the new-ish glasses she never asked about but quite wants to. He gets up and comes over, studying surreptitiously what she considers her flight stance. "What did Broyles say?"
That inter-timeline heartache is a bitch, but Olivia bites her tongue -- literally -- before that answer can slip out. "That it's fine to continue Walter's tests."
"Wise choice," Lincoln says, and this time he doesn't hesitate. "I'd like to come back with you. If Walter is right, and it's been Peter's proximity, maybe reminders of what happened lately will help you recover your real memories."
Reality is just a matter of -- Olivia frowns. Looks at Lincoln then, whose shoulders are squared and whose jaw is too. She thinks Nina would be a better choice, the best without a doubt and without the lies she told Jones's cohorts, but right now, she can't fly to New York, and she doesn't want to talk through this mess on the phone. "I'd like that." That too is not a lie.
Olivia likes to drive; take that any way you want to, but it has the definite disadvantage of not being able to dodge any questions. By the time they're crossing the Charles River Basin, Lincoln clears his throat. "Olivia, I know you're a private person, and I'm -- I get it. But this isn't just about your personal life, or at least that's not all it is in...this timeline."
She glances over, and yes, he's looking straight at her. "Broyles is one thing, and the official record another altogether." This coming from him, and easily, too, is enough to startle Olivia. The man who rode in on righteous anger about public accountability isn't the same as her Lincoln here. "But I keep looking at you being...you, basically, stubborn as anything when it comes to dealing with what drives you --"
"Crazy?" Olivia exhales; she didn't mean for it to come out quite so forcefully. "Because that's what it looks like from the outside, right?"
"No," Lincoln says, resounding in the small space of the car, "what drives you as the kind of person you are, endlessly sharp and empathetic when it comes individual and general justice but always looking after yourself last."
Olivia frowns; it takes her a moment to focus on traffic again. "Lincoln, that's not a bad thing." Because it's not; why can't he see that?
"Actually, when it comes to Peter, it is. Because you finding out the truth about yourself -- it would mean finding out the truth of everything that happened with him, the timeline glitches Peter was experiencing. Him forcing his timeline onto your memories."
"It's not like that."
"Not on purpose, but Olivia, it is."
"What else would you suggest I do beyond letting Walter put me through yet more tests?"
"I don't know, but sharing with your partner what has been going on between Peter and you might just be a start." He's talking faster now, more forcefully, and now Olivia remembers the agent who trailed her from across the Eastern Seaboard into a hidden Harvard lab
She has to consciously ease her grip on the steering wheel. "Peter and I -- we kissed. Right before the abduction, and afterward, yes, I would've taken him home with me. Lincoln, you're taking a personal interest in this."
When she glances over at him, he's looking straight at her, eyebrows raised, and his gaze asks, Oh, are we talking about this now?
She holds it for as long as traffic allows, although she bites her lip and hates it. Yes we are.
"The memory transfer and all that followed is about you and Peter. But what came before involves me too." One has to hand it to Lincoln; he's not backing down when he is invested. "Even the...the statisticians at FBI headquarters know we work well together by now. But beyond that -- I like to think I wasn't imagining things. Between us." She's been staring at the road for at least ten seconds by now; she's afforded another look at Lincoln. His cheeks are flushed, but he soldiers onward, voice low and slow again. "Olivia, was I imagining things?"
Now she does look away. "You weren't. You were --" familiar; promising as a partner; impressive on a personal and professional level. But that's only half of the truth, because it was exactly like he said. She didn't seek him out in a diner late at night, didn't ask him out for nothing, twice. "There was something more." Olivia breathes in, considers her answer. Considers Lincoln, who has proven himself at every turn. He deserves the truth. "There still is."
For a moment, he's silent. In spite of the humid air -- they haven't fogged up the windows, but Olivia thinks they're not far off -- and the confines of the car, Olivia breathes more easily now, and Lincoln exhales audibly. "I know it's not about you and me; this is about finding the shapeshifters and saving the sort of multiverse I only read about when I was a kid. And I do like Peter." There's a note of wonder in his voice. "I actually like him a lot, Olivia. He doesn't just remind me of Robert, it's more that he's --"
"Peter Bishop per se," she says, and Lincoln laughs, almost giddy. Relieved, like her.
"Pretty much." Olivia doesn't have to look at Lincoln to know he's smiling. She lets the feeling wash over her: of being poised at the brink. She doesn't know of what, precisely, but she's half-bracing herself, half-anticipating it.
Walter at Harvard has been plied with red vines and Portuguese pastry, compliments of Astrid, who's been recalled to Fringe Division for some thorough debrief and altogether less caretaker shenanigans; her pastéis de nata carton is three-thirds-empty and therefore Walter's expression almost friendly again. This goodwill doesn't extend to the universe, though: Although they hook Olivia up to every machine known to mankind, not to mention a few that Walter has devised in a drugged haze with impetus only from faraway places such as Betelgeuse, they find no anomaly in her brainwaves or bodily reactions. The only one with diverging ones of the latter sort is, as ever, Walter himself, who at some point during the third test (the one with the little hooks actually penetrating the skin of her head, and why again is she doing this?) excuses himself for what he animatedly describes as a really satisfying dump, the one-in-a-month kind, really.
They both watch Walter toddle -- well, tip-toe -- off, and Olivia thinks Lincoln looks younger like this, an expression of good humour on his face, unstudied and unbidden. The light is forever low in this basement lab, but somehow some runaway rays of sun still catch him in profile. She remembers Walter's mutterings of liking Lincoln better; beyond the obvious peevishness that's not how it works, and hasn't ever worked for her. She feels different now when she thinks of Peter, at once bereft and relieved of something radiant, if blinding too.
"Lincoln," she says, "I don't think Walter will find anything."
He turns around, and maybe it's the afternoon or maybe it's her mood, but his smile still seems softer, easier. "Would it be surprising if this were outside the realm of his instruments?" He adjusts his glasses, stepping closer. "I mean, how do you measure time, beyond the mundane ticking of a clock?" He lifts a curious hand toward the spiky, irritating sensors currently providing a perfect electromagnetic image of her brain on monitors. Monitors turned away so she can't see, which of all terrible habits of Walter's has always secretly bothered her the most.
Lincoln doesn't actually prod the metal, but when he aborts his gesture, his fingers touch the skin of her forearm, bare where her white blouse ends. It's nothing more than that: just a graze, not even one meant to be reassuring. But for just a heartbeat or two (measured out on a machine, no doubt) all known universes tilt, and up is down and forward is backward and blue is yellow.
Olivia shivers, once, and that's what makes Lincoln step closer again, movements quick but not hasty. "Olivia, are you okay? Let me --" He reaches up to pull the hooks out, but she grips his wrist hard enough to make him gasp; it's a weirdly thrilling sound, and she files that away for later.
"Yes, by all means, please do wait -- just like this, in fact, if I may?" Walter's voice, booming off-stage, managing that odd mixture of the brusque and the polite Olivia thinks only eccentric geniuses get to use, and use effectively on others. It sure is working on both Lincoln and her, because they freeze, staring at each other. His eyes are wide, their shifting hues of grey-blue almost swallowed by the black of his pupils, and on Lincoln's curved upper lip there's a row of sweat-drops so small no angel could attempt to sit on one.
"Amazing," Walter says, "truly amazing, this comparison of Olivia's neural oscillations ten minutes ago versus her readings just now."
Time, indeed, to tear herself away and stare across the lab. "Walter, what does it mean?"
"Well, oscillatory amplitudes -- brain waves, as they are not seldom called these days -- generally arise from feedback connections between the neurons that result in the synchronization of their firing patterns." Walter beams at them both as if he'd just given them cake instead of obscure neuroscientific explanations. "Usually, these interactions between neurons can give rise to oscillations at a different frequency than the firing frequency of individual neurons."
"You're saying," Lincoln says, wrapping his mind and possibly tongue around the words, "there was, just now, a new and different stimulus, and Olivia reacted to it?"
Walter looks disappointed, but he's also trying to hide it in light of this extraordinary revelation, Olivia thinks. "That's certainly one way to put these readings, dear boy."
Olivia exhales. Whatever there was of her old life, it has drifted, is drifting into the background, a half-remembered dream to this life and not vice versa. She stares at her fingers digging slightly into his skin, warm under her fingers, and feels the same about Lincoln as she did circa three AM one weeknight after a certain case, jittery when thinking of meeting him so soon in a diner with particularly expressive wall décor.
"I think I have an idea." She releases her hold on Lincoln and asks, "Did the readings change?"
"Now that you -- yes, to a minor degree; they just shifted slightly toward the previous, let's call it 'alpha status'! Fascinating." Walter's ducked back behind the screens; she can only see his grey curls peeking out from above the clean upper line of the left-hand monitor. "What are you doing, Agent Dunham?"
She catches Lincoln's gaze, and she knows that the quality of her smile has changed just a little. "Creating feedback connections. Synchronising firing patterns." Olivia, quite deliberately, slides the pad of her thumb over the back of his hand, and even before Walter's triumphant declaration of a shift back to what he calls omega status, she knows something is working, and working out just fine.
Because Lincoln's half-smile is bright, but it doesn't at all impair her vision and thought. "We're interacting," Lincoln says softly, "on the same frequency."
"So Walter was right," Astrid says, on the phone from headquarters, and there's no question in her voice. "You were sharing Peter's memories."
Olivia shrugs, cellphone pressed to her ear, leaning back against the wall next to Gene's stall. Across the lab, Walter and Lincoln are talking, animated on one side and bemused on the other. Gene is chewing quietly, more quietly than Walter at times. Olivia breathes in the animal-barn smell that has been familiar for years now. This lab is maybe not her home, but it's her home base for all the journeys that have taken her ever closer to the truth. "It was Peter; when he removed himself, it became easier again to remember what had happened in this timeline."
"Every mile a memory?"
She smiles. "It's not quite that simple, Walter says." Ah, his indignation at Lincoln's parallel assumption earlier. "Essentially, yes, but it wasn't just Peter's proximity -- it could have been all of you too. Maybe, if we'd been closer during this time, you and me, Astrid, we might have noticed earlier. Touch helps; something about its intense effect on the limbic system."
Astrid is quiet for a moment, but when she speaks again she sounds almost sad. "I noticed, Olivia, but didn't want to be in the way. Peter is -- well, he's very charming, and smart. Captivating."
Olivia bites her lip. She didn't even realise that she was blowing off Lounge Thursday and their random but at least bi-weekly 4pm stints to Petsi Pies whenever Astrid hadn't gotten to baking herself. "I'm sorry, Astrid. The cortexiphan gave me a heightened empathy, and although Walter is avoiding that word, made it indistinguishable from telepathy. Walter proposed that Peter's entry into our time-line made him an anomaly, overpowering all of your respective impetuses."
"And because our input matched your memories, you didn't notice," Astrid says. "You've always been tuned in to what other people feel, Olivia."
Not Astrid, though, Olivia thinks with a pang: not her friend of three years. And from a certain point onward, not Lincoln any more. Maybe the point here is that she's not always that tuned into what she herself feels. Olivia turns her head, watches Lincoln nod when Walter points at something on the screen, indulgent but interested as well. He is that, feels responsible: for her and for Robert's family and people as such. She likes that.
"Astrid, what about Peter on the Other Side?"
"He's arrived safely, and their Fringe Division welcomed him with arms as open as they come in a semi-militaristic society. He fulfilled his side of the earlier deal, so Walternate has semi-officially promised to move heaven and earth and Liberty Island if need be." A pause. "Olivia, Broyles has not put a limit to his stay Over There. He said that only made sense; since, I quote, ‘that's where Bishop is from in his time-line, after all.'"
Right; he was, with Walter on this side. It was how it all began. But Olivia thinks that maybe her own chapter with Peter Bishop is about to end.
They do end up at the diner.
Olivia laughs a little when Lincoln suggests it, but it is fitting after all that didn't happen. The booth they sat in not so long ago is occupied by a grizzled gentleman hiding behind his New York Times, but when Olivia sees the beginning of a frown on Lincoln's face, she just tugs him along, three tables further down.
"Hey, maybe you could sleep better if you didn't drink this coffee," she says, nudging his cup lightly.
The corner of Lincoln's mouth lifts, just as his gaze drops. "Maybe I don't want to sleep." He looks up again, gaging her reaction, and Olivia has always been terrible at romance. It's time to change that, and only practice makes perfect. She's never been afraid of some effort. She's never been afraid of most things out there. What's in here can't be so bad. Olivia thinks it might be just the opposite.
"Me neither." Yes, she's glancing away and running nervous fingers through her hair, but she smiles too, and at the edge of her vision she can see Lincoln do the same. Very carefully, she puts her hands on the table between them.
Lincoln doesn't say anything, but she can hear his breathing change. He slowly but surely folds his hands over hers, gently sliding them back until Olivia can entwine her fingers with his.
Between the diner and her apartment, Olivia's steps feels light, as if barely touching the pavement. It's a good thing Lincoln's hand is holding hers; she's pretty sure he's thinking exactly the same thing, from his sideways looks and that little half-smile that doesn't seem to want to go away. It can stay, Olivia thinks; she seen him angry and sad and now pretty damn close to happy.
This time, her front-door steps are simple to ascend, and there are no drugs in her system, although she feels more than a little high. Lincoln's free hand brushes her hip in the hallway, and by the time she's unlocking her apartment door, his hand rests in the small of her back, steady-sweet pressure. Once across the threshold, Olivia doesn't want to wait any longer and turns around, finds that his smile against her lips feels better even than it looks. Lincoln kisses her not at all like she expected, softly and reverently; instead he nudges her against the wall by the door, cups her chin and tilts her head and opens her mouth with his lips, his tongue. Olivia gasps, pushing back into his touch before she knows what she is doing. She'll gladly follow his lead here but leads him into the bedroom not long thereafter, and here too Lincoln isn't as shy as she perhaps imagined, shedding his clothes without hesitation and taking hers off with speed and a smile. What, he whispers against her earlobe, nipping at it and making her shiver, and she's smiling back at him, Nothing, keep going, and when he kisses her on the mouth again and tumbles their naked bodies down onto the pillows Olivia knows he will and she will.
They'll just keep going, together.