and not to pull your halo down
around your neck and tug you to the ground
but I'm more than just a little curious
how you're planning to go about making your amends
to the dead-
When you wake up in the morning the first thing you notice is the sky is a different hue and the sunlight that filters through the blinds is murky, like permanent cloud cover. The fat blimp-like airships in the sky just solidify the alienness of this world to you, a constant reminder. You grope for your glasses on the nightstand and take in the metallic smell of ozone this universe has. Pulling back the crisp new covers that still smell like plastic and fresh linen, you quietly make your way to the adjoining bathroom, ready to begin your morning ablutions before heading to work.
As you shave you remember that there is no coffee for you to start during your morning routine, just a box of loose tea leaves and a tin of milk sitting on the counter that Olivia provided with a smirk, assuring you that you’d eventually get used to it even though she later admitted she’d sell a kidney on the black market even for just one more cup of your universe’s coffee again.
You still have yet to drink one cup of tea.
(You miss a lot of things, you realize in hindsight. Like coffee, visiting Julie and your godchildren, Robert's grave, playing chess with Walter, the companionable jibing with Peter, Astrid’s warm smile, places you used to haunt now solidly encased in amber, maybe the rainbows even— and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, the definitive things you remember.)
You look back at the rumpled bed and smile, in the diffused morning light you see red hair spilled across a pillowcase. It’s worth it in the end, what you gained infinitely outweighing that which was lost.
A home, an anchor, belonging.
It doesn’t begin slowly. It actually begins far too easily for an outsider living in a dead man’s apartment who looked just like him. You are readily accepted, greeted with handshakes, some junior agents even look at you with awe. The first to pave the way for you is Olivia (who's eyes were still ringed red) soon followed by their Walter Bishop, their blessings making the other agents follow suit, no one daring to question their judgment so soon after the restructuring at Fringe HQ following Broyles’ termination.
You are welcomed into the fold with little in the way of fanfare or resentment, just a bland government order that you’ve been assigned as Olivia Dunham’s replacement partner and that they will get you the rest of the clearances needed to do his job by the end of the day. You admit to Olivia later that you’re not surprised they already have a show-me for you, considering how often you’ve been turning up on cases over here, on it the same photo on your visitor’s pass taken months ago. Staring at the grainy photograph is a habitual reminder of who you are in a world that reminds you so much of who you are not. People make a habit of treating you how you assume they treated him. Like a captain, a leader, a friend even though they don’t actually know you and you haven't really done anything to prove yourself to them or personally deserve it. It definitely rankles a bit for you at first, but soon enough it becomes as easy as being yourself, just a bit more laid back and a bit bolder. You don't crack jokes as often he did, but after a while they learn to anticipate your own wry sense of humour and sarcasm in place instead.
(Olivia sometimes treats you like an old lover, a faraway look in her eyes before she remembers the only reason your glasses are off is because she gently took them away, the only reason your hair is mussed because she’s been absently running her fingers through it. She shortens your name to Linc more often now, something only Peter used to do, and you learn to hide your obvious distaste for the shared nickname after the first crestfallen look from Olivia makes you realize how bad she needs this, maybe even worse than you do. Now when she says it you answer with a gentle smile.)
Again you remember that there still is no coffee to make, just a teakettle slowly coming to a boil on the stove.
Your reflection in the mirror starts changing too. After a while you realize that it’s a hopeless effort trying to tame down hair sticking out seven different ways to Sunday because the atmosphere and humidity are different here and not in your favor either. You still make a habit of shaving off your stubble. You surrender your suits eventually, but not without balking a bit first. Your reflection in the mirror draws your eyes immediately from the glasses Peter gave you to the still foreign weight of the cuff on your ear that replaces the need for cellphones (another not so subtle reminder of the differences of this world), before you exit the bathroom quietly to pick through the heaping pile of new clothing you bought once you knew for sure you were staying. Today you opt for an all-black ensemble and more sensible boots than the uncomfortable dress shoes you initially wore over. Jones' acolytes are still on the loose in this universe and you expect a lot of running will be done today.
His combat boots will have to do for now, and they are a comfortable fit but make you feel uncomfortable all the same, so you make a mental note to buy yourself some new shoes as soon as possible. You try not to use any more of his stuff than absolutely necessary out of a semblance of respect, try not wear any of his clothing though there were copious amounts of it lying around you ended up neatly folding and boxing into the closet. You were unsure what Olivia or his family would want to keep so you didn't throw anything away (the only reason the trash has gone out is because you finally couldn't handle the smell), literally. You figure it’s the least you can do even if you are slowly making that slip-slide down the rabbit hole into becoming what you thought you could have been, what you actually are not, having the guts to go so far as willingly (welcoming, even) letting this world mold you to fill your deceased double's shoes quite literally.
"Liv," you whisper quietly, brushing her auburn bangs to the side to place a gentle kiss on her forehead. "Olivia."
Her green eyes open and she looks at you blearily, tilting her head minutely.
The nickname hangs heavy in the apartment, like the air before a site is ambered, as she sits up and looks at you a bit more focused. Several emotions flit across her face (including one you easily recognize as remorse) before resting on a small smile she only shares with you now.
"Hey," she murmurs, and you don’t give a damn about her morning breath as you kiss her, perhaps more forcefully than necessary before stepping away. Taking in her dilated pupils, you know you’ve left her wanting more. You would have never kissed the other Olivia like this, but something about this Olivia makes you bolder and more possessive of her even though you know she’s every bit as strong and beautiful as the Olivia you first fell in love with. And this Olivia— you’re snapped out of your musings as she stretches her lithe body suggestively your way before donning her trademark grin, tossing it in your direction as you stand in the doorway observing her.
The tea. At least one of them drinks it.
"Already on it," you reply, the whistle of the teakettle proving your point and punctuating your conversation. She blows you an exaggerated kiss before shutting the door to the bathroom.
You’re learning her preferences, rewriting what has been ingrained in you from long days working on cases with another woman in another life in another universe with what you know now. Never having a real home for your heart always meant needing to adapt quicker than most and if there is anything you, Lincoln Lee, are good at it is adapting. You will adapt so you don’t let her or her universe down.
You will become everything this Olivia Dunham needs.