He thinks relationships are about timing.
If Olivia had met him first, she would have fallen in love with him first; they had so much in common. This is a great theory, one that helps Lincoln sleep at night, except technically, Olivia had met him first, was intrigued if not smitten and in the end, none of it made a lick of difference.
Intrigue doesn’t translate to passion. Her overtures of dates, coffee meet-ups at three am, disappeared the same moment a naked man arrived. And even if she wasn’t overly ‘friendly’ to their new guest (not for those first few weeks), she wasn’t romantically inclined toward Lincoln either.
He tells himself that’s okay: they were too similar to begin with, like kissing your unnaturally beautiful sister. There’s another universe entirely where Peter Bishop didn’t exist, where Olivia Dunham never met him. Except the other version of Lincoln Lee doesn’t have the girl either – and that whole theory about relationships being based on who gets there first, sucks hairy goat balls.
He thinks relationships are about timing. She slips sometimes, calls him Linc. Or she’ll make a reference to the time where the three of them, Charlie included, ran UC ops in Disneyland, where Linc had beaten up and cussed out a suspect while dressed as Donald Duck. She bumps his shoulder, hands Lincoln different foods to try, to taste the morsel from her fingers, unassuming and without intent. Then freeze. Lincoln will see the realisation sink in, how she stutters and turns away, her muscles coiling with grief, and he'll think, guiltily, that he pushed his timing too soon. He's been in Liv's face from the moment her partner died.
She musses his hair first thing in the morning, and after Lincoln’s restored it to its usual part, she’ll muss it again mid-afternoon until he’s dishevelled, rumpled as an electrified cat. Linc, she calls him, and Lincoln doesn’t know how to tell her he hates the abbreviation, that he prefers Lee if he’s going to be addressed in short form.
But he came here to fill a dead man’s shoes – because Linc had no sense of timing and Lee knows an opportunity when he sees one. Because people take notice of him here, they call him sir, offer free drinks at the bar and refuse his money at restaurants. There’s a sense of entitlement that’s sweet as a mermaids lure, filled with riches, a dead mans sunken treasure.
Here, finally, he’s someone important.
Here, dragons await.
Charlie, the third member of their team, is the only one who sneers at him, openly and disdainfully, a hint of malice. “You ain’t done nothing to deserve it.”
He starts to lose his suits, his clothing replaced by the more practical, durable uniform of Fringe - cargos and thigh holsters, funky jackets, hard boots - until he walks past a mirror one day and startles.
“He had scars,” Liv whispers, the first time they sleep together. Her hand traces a lazy pattern across his chest, her voice sleep-soft.
Lincoln examines his torso, points out the chicken-pox scar on his right hip. “Like that one?”
“Acid burns, perfect disks of melted skin.” Lincoln blinks. “Here,” she places her hand on his inner thigh, “and here.”
“I don’t want to know.” His voice sounds harsher than it should.
“I miss them….I miss him…but you’re right here.”
“I’m right here,” he agrees.
“We can fix it.” His heart thumps once. Her eyes are unnaturally bright, her finger tracing burn patterns across his inner thigh. “We can fix it, Linc, until no one knows the dif.”