The lights in the elevator were one thing; when the monitor shorted out and the keyboard stopped working, Olivia finally conceded that maybe she was going to have to take a more hands-off approach to finding Bell.
The thing was, between Peter’s sharp mind, Nina’s extensive resources, and the finely tuned machine that is Philip Broyles’ growing Fringe Division, there wasn’t much handing off for Olivia to do. Sure, Peter was sympathetic; he knew how much it frustrated her to be sitting front row center on the biggest Fringe event in the history of Fringe events, waiting to be called up for her walk-on spot, but time was also of the essence. He’d smiled up at her from his computer terminal sympathetically, just as the data from the satellites finally started coming in and his attention had been diverted elsewhere.
Besides, Olivia had never needed anyone to hold her hand before. Why start now?
Because after losing one parent, then then other, after Jacksonville and the trials and then living at relatives' houses and boarding schools (or living with Nina Sharp and attending a better class of boarding school, depending which history she chose to believe)… after finding Walter and Peter and a place that felt like home, then losing Peter and finding him all over again, she’d taken a gamble at trying for something like a normal life. It had seemed like decent odds once the Bridge had been closed off and just her luck, this time it might really be the end of the world.
And there isn’t a damn thing Olivia can do to stop it this time.
Around her, people are reporting in, correlating weather data with seismic readings and eye-witness reports, while she sits in front of the dead workstation, worrying the at bandage on her thumb where she’d cut it. They’re getting close to finding Bell, and by proxy, Walter. She should be feeling that heart-pounding rush of adrenaline that comes with knowing that she’s this close to breaking the case, but instead, all she feels is flushed and light-headed.
While everybody else is caught up in the business of pulling together all their leads, checking and double-checking their sources, Olivia slips from the room.
Conference room 3A is unoccupied and blissfully quiet once she shuts the door, insulating herself from the chaos down the hall. Olivia grabs a bottle of water from the fridge and holds it to her temple as she sinks into the nearest chair. She closes her eyes and counts each slow, steady breath until she’s sure these are the plain old running-on-empty shakes, and not the calm before the pyrokinetic storm kind.
Olivia can’t remember the last time she ate; the muffin at the hospital cafeteria (the second time around, when they’d gone to see Astrid, not the first time to get Peter’s shoulder checked) hardly counts, nor do the untold cups of coffee between now and last night. She really should be paying closer attention to that, but averting one disaster after another had kind of taken priority. Peter’d be fussing over her if he knew…
At the moment, it’s probably a good thing he doesn’t. She’s suspected for a couple weeks; has been certain (to a ninety-nine point nine percent accuracy, according to the tiny print on the packaging) for four days now, and had worked up the courage to do more than just float the idea past Peter that morning in bed only yesterday. Or was it the day before?
Doesn’t matter, because this afternoon she’d found out she’s about to become the mother of the apocalypse, that she’s been primed to birth a whole new universe conceived by William Bell. How does that even come close to their everyday ordinary act of creating a single human being?
All she knows is that their timing stinks and the parallels are making her nauseous. She sips the water and lets her arm do the work of propping her head up, even though the surface of the conference room table looks cool and inviting after god knows how many hours without sleep. She absently rubs the nail of her second finger back and forth across the pad of her thumb, catching the bandage with each stroke.
She probably should tell Peter; secrets have never brought them anything but trouble, but she can’t bring herself to set him up for the inevitable disappointment. If the Cortexiphan and everything else Bell’s put her through to activate these powers haven’t already caused enough damage, why get his hopes up just to crush them along with the known universes?
Except she’s had four days and change to get used to the idea of their child. Hers and Peter’s. Four days and a couple weeks to wonder at what normal might just look like. And a little under three hours to realize she’s been cheated out of it. For once she’d like five minutes to cry on somebody’s shoulder.
Olivia blinks back stubborn tears before somebody walks in and catches her wallowing. She swipes at her eyes with the back of her hand and notices she’d worked the bandage loose. At least here’s one thing she can fix, she thinks as she pulls the rest of it free.
Only there’s nothing there to re-bandage.
The cut that had been deep enough to argue with Peter about over whether or not she had time to get it sutured was gone. And not just healed or scabbed over, but gone as if it’d never existed. No tender pink line. Nothing.
This is new. Very new. At least since the headaches had stopped. Since the business with Jones and the alternate Nina and the seizures that should have left her feeling far worse than they did…
Before she can wonder any more, the door opens. Right away Peter knows something’s wrong. When he asks if she’s okay, she shakes her head no, because what she’s considering is so far out there, even for them. And if it doesn’t work and the universes collapse anyhow, then Peter is better off not knowing everything he’s about to lose.
She gives him a tight smile and asks, “Did you find Bell?” instead.