Peter Bishop’s patience--which has been remarkable, considering his circumstances--finally runs out.
“I’ve got to get home,” he tells Walter, teeth gritted. “You're the only person who can help me do that. I’ve been separated from my family. And you of all people should understand how desperate I am to get back.”
Peter chose a private moment to confront Walter, but Astrid had gone back to the lab to pick up something she’d forgotten, and overheard. It was terrible, Astrid said, relaying the conversation to Olivia later--hearing the desperation in Peter’s voice, seeing the conflict and despair on Walter’s face as he refused to help.
So Olivia is prepared when Peter finds her the next day, cornering her after work hours. “I need a favor. I need you to ask Broyles to get me permission to use the bridge so I can cross over into the alternate universe.”
“Because...?” Olivia thinks she already knows, but she’s still trying to understand his motivations. Every edge she can gain is a necessary one, with this man who looks at her like he knows her too well.
“Because I think the machine is my best chance of getting home. And Walter created it, but clearly he's not gonna help me recalibrate it, so I’m hoping Walternate will.”
Olivia nods slowly, thinking it over. Relationships between the two worlds have reached an even keel, her...affair with Lincoln notwithstanding. Olivia had been the one to champion the arguments for peace, and considering she’d arguably been the one most wronged by the other side’s incursions, the others had followed her lead. The appearance of the new shapeshifters is confusing the issue, but they seem to be equally a mystery to everyone over there.
“What makes you think that he'll help you?” she asks, because Walternate is still an untrustworthy quantity as far as she’s concerned, and she hasn’t forgotten how he casually ordered her memories replaced with those of her alternate. Or her dissection when they were done with her.
Peter’s reply is full of resigned truth. “I really don't have any other choice.”
Maybe it’s the thought of another Olivia Dunham somewhere who loves Peter, who’s missing him, that sways her decision. “Okay. Let me talk to Broyles and Captain Lee, I’m sure we can arrange something.”
“You trust that guy?” Peter’s eyes are piercing, maybe having divined too much. But she has nothing to answer to him for.
“Yes, I do.” Olivia holds his gaze. “He says he doesn’t know anything about these new shapeshifters, and I believe him. What Secretary Bishop knows, though, that’s another question.”
“Maybe we can kill two birds with one stone, then.” He’s silent for a moment. “Thank you, Olivia.”
She’s beginning to see it now: how and why in another world, an Olivia Dunham loves this man. Her dreams have shown her enough to have a sense of him (too much, maybe). If he trusts her as a reflection of his Olivia, she can trust him as someone his Olivia loves.
There aren’t enough words to describe all these entanglements between universes. Olivia gives Peter her best confident smile, and goes to talk to Broyles.
Broyles agrees, surprisingly, following Olivia’s logic about a trip to the other universe under the pretext of seeking help for Peter being an excellent opportunity to ferret out more information on the shapeshifters. “I’m glad to see you have a clear perspective on this,” he tells her, and if she doesn’t blush it’s only because his words are offered with no judgment whatsoever. She’d told him once that bringing emotion to her work made her a better agent. Broyles accepts that, and trusts her opinions despite her thing with Captain Lee. That makes Broyles not only the best boss she’d ever had but the only one, in her opinion, capable of running Fringe Division.
Not that Lincoln isn’t doing his best, over on his side. It takes a little longer to arrange a meeting than Olivia had hoped; his new duties as Colonel Broyles’ successor prevent him from rushing to the bridge room every time she calls.
But finally they receive word that Captain Lee is available for a meeting. Olivia arrives early and waits, impatiently, until the door on the other side opens and Lincoln comes through.
He looks tired, she thinks, and goes to meet him in the middle of the room. “I’m here about Peter Bishop,” she says clearly for the sake of all the recording devices, and immediately wishes she’d opened with a friendlier greeting.
“Olivia,” Lincoln murmurs, and the tone of his voice leaves no room for doubt that they’d be in each other’s arms already if it wasn’t for all the cameras here. He clears his throat and goes on. “You were...concerned about him, the last time we met.”
“Yeah. It seems like he really is Walter’s son, but from another reality. Another universe.” Lincoln blinks and Olivia smiles slightly. “I’d say that sounds crazy, but--” she gestures to the room they’re standing in. “He knows things about all of us, details that aren’t quite like we remember them. Best guess, he’s from a universe another step over. So Peter wants to talk to the Secretary. He thinks your Walter Bishop can help get him home, since ours is...a little too freaked out to help.”
Lincoln nods slowly. “I’ll take the request back. You...want to come through?”
“Wish I could,” Olivia says, her voice a whisper, and then in more normal tones, “It’s probably best if you break the news to him yourself. If he agrees, we can escort Peter over. Me and--” she smiles, unable to help herself. “Agent Lee.”
Lincoln chuckles. “Oh, please bring him along.” He hesitates for a moment and lowers his voice. “Maybe you can help us get some answers, too. Charlie and Liv were called to a scene yesterday, guy climbed up the side of a bus and leapt thirty feet, then got creamed by another bus. Could’ve just been another weird mutation, but as soon as the team got there, I got orders direct from Secretary Bishop to pull them off the case.” Lincoln looks at her, his face full of conflict. “That’s a breach of all kinds of protocol. D.O.D. has oversight, but Fringe Division has jurisdiction over all Fringe cases. There’s no reason the Secretary would pull us off a case, especially one we’ve just caught, unless...”
“Unless he has something to hide?” Olivia suggests softly when Lincoln seems unwilling to follow the thought to its conclusion.
He nods, looking uncomfortable and apprehensive. “Liv and Charlie agree it’s hinky. We don’t have any proof--Astrid wasn’t able to find concrete evidence that he had anything to do with Colonel Broyles’ death, either. But Liv thinks it’s possible the guy who got himself pancaked was a shapeshifter, judging by what she saw before they were booted off the case.”
“So we both have questions that he needs to answer,” Olivia says, and Lincoln nods. “Maybe Peter will throw him off enough to pry something out of him.”
“Worth a shot.” Lincoln takes a long breath, steeling himself. “All right. I’ll talk to the Secretary about Peter, see about getting clearance for you and him and Agent Lee to come through.” Despite his worry, he smiles a little. “That should be entertaining, if nothing else.”
“Remember, you promised to behave around him,” Olivia murmurs, and is rewarded with the cheeky grin she’s missed most. “See you soon?”
“Soon as I can,” Lincoln promises, and turns to head back to his world.
“Lincoln, wait.” She’d been hoping for a private moment but waiting didn’t make any sense, not when the connection between their worlds was too fragile to depend on. The Secretary might forbid a meeting or deny further access to the bridge on his side, and Olivia would never forgive herself if she missed this opportunity. “You said you wanted something, a memento. I found this artist, she makes-- well, here.” She reaches into her satchel and pulls out the frame with its glass enclosure, handing it to him. Suspended inside is a delicate weaving of a butterfly that looks like it’s made out of fine amber thread, but it’s really--
“Olivia, my God. Is this your hair?” Lincoln sounds awed, nearly overwhelmed.
“Yeah. I hope that’s not too, uh, creepy?”
“No. It’s beautiful,” he says, but he’s not looking at the weaving at all.
Olivia’s hand trembles as she reaches out to touch his mouth, to hell with the cameras. “I can’t stay.”
“I know.” His lips shape a kiss against her fingers. “You’d...better go before I can’t let you.”
Lincoln’s hands, she sees, are clenched tightly around the butterfly’s frame. “Be careful,” she tells him, and they go their separate ways.
Her fears prove immaterial. Secretary Bishop approves the request for a meeting, perhaps intrigued by the idea of this new doppelganger of his lost son.
Olivia, Peter, and Lee walk though the other side’s door, escorted by Liv and Charlie. The D.O.D. headquarters is just on the other side of the complex, but Charlie explains that the Secretary had meetings in Washington earlier this morning, so they’re heading to the Fringe Division headquarters in Manhatan for a brief summit until he returns. “Get all of us on the same page,” Charlie says cryptically, and doesn’t elaborate.
As they step outside Lee takes a quick glance up at the bronze-colored Lady, but it’s his first look across the water--and the Twin Towers still standing on the skyline--that brings him to a standstill.
“I know,” Olivia says. “Gets me every time, too.”
“That’s-- seeing that is worth this whole trip,” Lee says, and everyone politely pretends not to see the tears in his eyes.
On the ferry from the island, Liv describes the body she’d seen at the bus station: features that didn’t match, like they’d been pieced together from several different bodies. “But we haven’t heard a damn thing about him since.”
“The whole thing stinks like old fish,” Charlie grumbles. “I’m not happy with the idea of these things running around either, not since I found out what they did to your Charlie.”
In a roundabout way, that reminds Olivia of something she’d been meaning to ask him. “How’d it go with the new serum, by the way?”
Charlie shrugs, so like her old partner it still gives Olivia pause. “Not a full cure, but it put the little fuckers in hibernation, so at least they don’t itch anymore.” Liv elbows him, and he gives Olivia an apologetic glance. “I mean, ‘Much better, and thanks again.’”
“Really, you’re going to start being polite now? To me?” Olivia murmurs, and Charlie stares at her for a moment before letting out a sharp laugh. Because in either world she values Charlie’s honesty, and no matter how short their time here is, Olivia needs that from him.
Peter doesn’t seem fazed at all by the other side, not even when the blimps with their advertisements for moon flights go by. “Seen it before,” he says shortly, his impatience bleeding through.
“In your other timeline?” Liv asks, sounding curious and amused, and Peter’s glance toward her is sharp and laden with something Olivia can’t begin to decipher.
But his voice is pensive. “Yeah. Here, Olivia and Walter and those other Cortexiphan subjects crossed over to try to get some intel on this universe. It was the same in my timeline...except Olivia also came over to find me.” He stops, shakes his head at their inquisitive faces. “Long story. But I’ll do whatever I need to so I can get back to her.”
Olivia doesn’t doubt that one bit. It’s both an emotional plea and a warning: Peter Bishop would break worlds to get back to his Olivia. She and Liv exchange a glance, for this one moment exactly on the same page.
Their own two universes are already at the breaking point. Neither of them will allow this man--no matter how poignant his plight--to disrupt the fragile peace, or interfere with their tenuous balance.
It’s a quiet ride to Fringe Division. Peter seems lost in his thoughts, while Lee looks around at everything and tries to take in all the differences between worlds. Olivia chats softly with Charlie, taking in the latest news. The vortexes and environmental anomalies have noticeably eased on this side, and it seems to be because of the bridge. Some of the previously uninhabitable zones have stabilized, and there’s talk of a worldwide reclamation project, assuming the trend continues. It’s amazing news, and Olivia makes a mental note to fill Walter in when they get back.
Liv leaves them to the discussion, glancing at them occasionally. Her fingers tap out a rhythm on the wheel of the car when she obviously wants to interject, but doesn’t. She seems...quieter than Olivia remembers, almost pensive in moments when she thinks no one’s looking.
They’re given visitor’s passes and escorted through the Fringe Division building, up to what Olivia remembers had been Colonel Broyles’ office. Captain Lee sees them coming through the glass walls and stands up behind his desk as they enter, unable to keep a grin off his face at seeing his double. “Agent Lee, I presume.”
“Oh, my gawd,” Charlie groans before any of them have a chance to react. “Just kiss already, would’ya, so we can get some work done in our lifetimes?”
“Shut it, bug boy,” Lincoln says, and saunters out from behind his desk to shake Lee’s hand with appropriate decorum. “Good to finally meet you. I hope we have the chance to compare life notes, at some point.”
“I’d like that.” Lee’s gaze is piercing. “Just tell me one thing: you really don’t know anything about these new shapeshifters?”
“I honestly don’t.” Lincoln holds his double’s eyes, intent and serious. “Olivia told me that they killed your partner. If we find any answers, you’ll have them, I swear.”
Lee nods once. “Okay.” He turns to Olivia. “So what’s our first move?”
Olivia exhales the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding. “Well, Peter has a meeting scheduled with the Secretary...?”
Lincoln nods. “He’d like to see Peter alone, considering the circumstances.” He belatedly holds out his hand for Peter to shake and Peter does, looking agitated.
“No,” Olivia interjects, “it’s not. We have a lot of questions for him, too.”
“Maybe,” Lee puts in delicately, “it’d be best if I went with Peter. I don’t share Olivia’s...history with the Secretary, he doesn’t know me at all. He might even,” he adds, nodding his chin toward Lincoln, “make assumptions that could prove useful.”
Charlie laughs, saying, “He’s sneakier than you, boss,” which makes both Lincolns turn to him with a wry look. It’s such a startling case of double vision that Olivia can’t help but smile too. And Lee does have a point.
Lincoln shrugs, acceding after he sees Olivia nod. He motions to an agent outside. “Agent Murphy will take you back over. Olivia, we can run you through what we know about the shapeshifters over here--not much, but maybe something will strike a chord.”
Liv points a thumb over her shoulder. “I’ll have Astrid send all the intel to my screen.”
“Great. Guys....” Lincoln looks over at Peter and Lee, forehead creased with concern. “Tread lightly.”
“Sure.” Peter tosses them a smile that Olivia doesn’t trust in the least, preferring to put her faith in Lee’s quiet nod. She watches them go, thoughtful, and then turns back to Charlie and Liv.
“Lincoln said you were pulled off the case, but did you find out anything else about the suspected shapeshifter? What he was doing when he was killed?”
Liv and Charlie glance at each other before Charlie answers. “Funny you should ask. There was a murder at the bus station. We went through the footage and the perp definitely came running out of there, the timeframe fits.” He lets out a long, slow breath. “The victim worked for the State Department.”
“So suddenly,” Lincoln says, sounding grim, “these shapeshifters are pursuing some kind of agenda in this world too, in addition to infiltrating yours. --or maybe not so suddenly,” he adds. “We don’t have any way of knowing.”
Things click into place. “And because you don’t know who might have been compromised, it’s easier to trust someone with the same problem, even from a different universe.”
Charlie touches his finger to his nose and points at her, a gesture so familiar it makes Olivia swallow hard. “You got it. You’ve had a lot more contact with these things--that we know of, anyway--so really, we’re looking to you for some kind of hint that’ll help us find ‘em.”
“We usually only discovered their identities after the fact,” Olivia says slowly, “but I’ll tell you what I can. Including the details not in the files we provided,” she adds wryly.
“Yeah, well, we didn’t tell you everything either,” Liv says in the same tone, and the four of them look at each other with resignation.
“Like we don’t have enough to deal with without this conspiracy crap,” Charlie says in his I’m too old for this shit voice. “Can’t help thinking, though, how far up this goes.”
All three of them look spooked, so it’s up to Olivia to get them back on track. “One thing at a time.”
“Right.” Lincoln claps his hands. “Okay, start going over that data, I’ll catch up when I can.” But even as he’s saying that, one of the young (too young) Fringe agents sticks her head into the office and salutes.
“Captain Lee, sir, there’s a call for you from Captain Scott down in Carolina, he wants a consult on an anomaly they’ve run into.”
Lincoln tosses Olivia a despairing look but answers the aide evenly enough. “Yeah, put him through.”
Olivia takes a fleeting moment to wonder if that would be John Scott, but she just as quickly decides that she doesn’t want to know. “Go save your world. We’ll work on the rest.”
She’d barely begun to look through the scant files when everything goes to hell.
Agent Farnsworth’s voice cuts through the ambient sound of the situation room, and everyone immediately stops mid-sentence to hear her. The interruption, Olivia gathers, is rare.
“The transport with Peter Bishop and the other Agent Lee. It’s diverting from its scheduled route.”
Lincoln pokes his head out of his office and glances down to her station. “Murphy taking a shortcut?”
“No, sir.” Farnsworth’s eyes dart back and forth across her screens. “They’re heading away from the Liberty Island ferry. Agent Murphy and Agent Cole are not answering their comm signals.”
Olivia’s heart rate spikes. “Where are they going?”
“Unknown.” Farnsworth’s hands fly over the panels. “The transport has stopped in an alleyway.”
Lincoln was already calling for agents to converge on the location, but Olivia knew it’d be too late. Whatever was happening was happening without her, and this was the last damn time she’d allow herself to be separated from the others while they were on this side.
Farnsworth’s eyes go wide. “Gunfire reported in the area!” And then she pauses, listening hard. “Captain Lee, unauthorized presence on comms asking for you.”
“On speaker,” Lincoln snaps, glancing toward Olivia with an anxious look. Somewhere in a corner of her mind that wasn’t consumed with apprehension, Olivia thought he’d need to learn how to govern his expressions if he was going to run the division. But then again, the openness of his expressions is part of the reason why she--
“This is Lincoln Lee,” a voice rang out--too loud, like he had the comm close to his mouth, but Olivia is too relieved to hear his voice to criticize. Farnsworth touches a control and the volume diminishes. “Agent Murphy shot Cole, tried to kill me and Peter. What the hell’s going on here?”
“Murphy did what?” Lincoln says, looking stunned, and at the same time Olivia interjects before she can stop herself. “You’re all right? And Peter?”
“We’re okay. Murphy’s down, Cole’s critical.”
“Support team is five blocks out,” Farnsworth reports. “Medical services have been alerted.”
Peter’s voice came over the speaker. “That’s great, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t wait for another assassin to show up.” There’s a crunch and then the connection goes dead.
“What’s he doing?” Lincoln looks to her for an answer, but Olivia doesn’t have one. Though from what little she knows about Peter Bishop....
“He’ll try to find safe ground. Wherever that might be on this side. He wants to get to the Secretary, though, no matter what.” Olivia scans through her memories. “During his debrief he mentioned that the last time he was here, in his timeline, he stayed at his mother’s house. Elizabeth Bishop.”
“Charlie,” Lincoln snaps, and the other man nods.
“On it.” Charlie strides out, commandeering two other agents as he goes.
Liv cocks her head. “Who on our side would want them dead?”
“That’s the ten thousand dollar question.” Lincoln looks grim. “Let’s go find out. Olivia, you’re being deputized, I hope you don’t mind. Martin,” Lincoln calls to the nearest aide, “I need a full field kit for Agent Dunham. Comm, service weapon, the works.”
“Uh, yessir.” The aide tosses Olivia a doubtful look, but bolts off, presumably to collect the gear.
They scramble downstairs to the parking lot, where Lincoln commandeers one of the division’s tricked-out SUVs. The aide--Martin--meets them and hands over the equipment. “Comm’s set to standard frequency, just press--”
“I remember,” Olivia says shortly, and then relents, because he doesn’t know anything about her stint in Liv’s boots. “Thank you.”
Liv swings into the driver’s seat, and after they’re all buckled in (the SUV won’t start otherwise, they take safety seriously on this side), Lincoln turns to look at her in the back seat.
He still seems bewildered. “This doesn’t make any damn sense, Olivia. I've known Murphy since the Academy. He's always been a straight arrow.”
She has a suspicion, but there’s no point in voicing it yet. And there are other possibilities. “Blackmail? A payoff? But I’m more interested in who convinced him to do this.”
“You and me both,” he says, and turns forward to stare out the window as the city races by.
Now that she can listen in on their communications, Olivia hears Astrid’s update in her ear too. “Agent Lee and Peter Bishop have been found, a few blocks from the transport. Bishop appears to have suffered a head injury, but he’s refusing to let any of the agents approach to tend to him. Agent Lee is demanding your presence, Captain Lee.”
“‘Demanding,’ huh. Well, let’s not keep them waiting.” The coordinates appear in the GPS and Liv stomps on the gas without waiting for Lincoln’s word.
They pull up to the scene, tires screeching as Liv stands on the brakes. Olivia’s out of the car before it even shudders to a halt. She sees them, Peter on the ground with a hand to the back of his head, Lee standing protectively over him, interposing himself between Peter and the other agents on scene. She pushes her way to them, aided by Lincoln’s shouted “let her through!” from behind. Lee sees her first, his shoulders slumping in relief. “Olivia, thank God.”
At her nod he relaxes his stance, allowing the other agents to move in. “What happened to Peter?”
Lee looks sideways at her. “He wanted to run, tried to convince me to hand over my gun. I had to...dissuade him.”
Peter has a sour expression on his face as the medic tends to his scalp wound. “Never expected he’d clock me from behind.”
Olivia can’t be anything but pleased by Lee’s quick thinking. “And how did you expect to get anywhere, with no Show-Me?” She doesn’t wait for Peter to answer. “Lincoln, did Murphy say anything?”
“Nothing useful. But someone called Murphy just before he turned the car,” Lee reports.
“We can trace that,” Liv says, and touches her comm. “Astrid, you get that?” She nods. “She’s on it.”
“None of this makes any damn sense.” Lincoln’s staring at Lee and Peter, like they’re somehow responsible for his friend’s actions. “Murphy didn’t have any reason to try to kill either of you.”
Peter snorts. “Sure he did. If he wasn’t himself. Give me a scalpel and I can prove it in about two minutes.”
“Prove what?” Liv asks, looking disgusted.
“If he’s a shapeshifter.” Olivia continues to Peter’s nod and consequent wince. “They have a technological implant at the base of their spines. They...kill the person they’ve replaced,” Olivia says gently toward Lincoln, because she remembers how it was, with Charlie. At least Lincoln hadn’t had to shoot his friend in the head.
Astrid’s voice comes through the comm. “The call did not originate from this command center. Beginning a trace now. It may take some time, as the signal seems to have been sent through several relays.”
Lincoln looks...Lincoln looks furious, and Olivia can’t blame him. “So you’re saying that my friend is probably dead, and these things have infiltrated my division, and there’s no way to tell them from real people aside from cutting them open?”
“We don’t have a way,” Lee puts in, the voice of reason. “But from everything I’ve seen of this side, I bet your scanning tech is better than ours. Peter used one of their devices to track them before, he can do it again.”
“Maybe,” Peter says, waving off the medic’s offered arm and standing up under his own power. His tone isn’t encouraging. “They shut me out of the network pretty fast the last time I tried that trick, no reason to think they haven’t evolved further since then.”
“We don’t know that they have, either,” Olivia argues. “It’s worth a try.”
Peter looks at her, not bothering to hide his exasperation. “To a point. None of this gets me any closer to home.”
Lincoln’s been listening to the back-and-forth. “Peter, if you can determine that Murphy was a shapeshifter,” he winces, perhaps realizing what that will entail, “we can take that to the Secretary. That’ll be physical proof he can’t deny. And you’ll have your chance to ask him about helping you.”
“Sure, assuming that he isn’t behind all of this,” Peter snaps back, and then sighs. “And if he is, he’s not going to be inclined to help me anyway. Dammit. Yeah, okay.”
It’s a silent, tense ride back to the first scene. Liv keeps glancing at Lincoln, biting her lip, and Olivia would be irritated if she hadn’t been doing the exact same thing. She touches Lincoln’s shoulder when they get out of the car, squeezing briefly, and he catches her hand and squeezes back before he moves onto the scene.
In short order the body is laid out behind an impromptu tent and Peter is handed a surgical kit. In even briefer a time he comes back out, stripping off the gloves and holding a round metallic device, sealed in an evidence pouch. “Here you go.” He tosses it toward Lincoln, who catches the thing with revulsion on his face. “Sorry about your friend.”
He sounds like he means it, which is an improvement on his previous tone.
“All right, then,” Lincoln breathes out in a low tone. “Let’s go see Secretary Bishop.”
Charlie meets their group as they wait on the pier for the D.O.D. ferry, recalled from his futile drive to the Bishop home. Lincoln talks to him quietly, bringing him up to speed on Murphy, and Olivia sees the compassion and worry in Charlie’s eyes as he looks at his friend.
It’s funny, she’s never really thought about how her Charlie would have responded to Lee, if he’d lived long enough to meet the younger agent. Charlie would have taken Lee under his wing as a protégé, just like he did for her, she decides. But Lincoln and Charlie over here have an entirely different kind of relationship. Not even considering Olivia’s too-intimate memories of them together.
Liv’s standing with them and for a moment Olivia experiences the strangest kind of déjà vu: She’d been there, discussing a case with the guys, the three of them against the world. Only it hadn’t really been her, but her body with Liv’s memories.
That’s how she and Lincoln first met, true, but by now Olivia knows there’s more between them than stolen moments and borrowed time.
The ferry takes them over and the six of them stalk through the D.O.D. halls until they reach the Secretary’s office. A tall, dark-haired valkyrie with a major’s insignia stands watch at the door. “Linc-- Captain Lee,” she says, holding up a hand, “the Secretary wasn’t expecting you.”
“Angela.” Lincoln’s voice is low and dangerous. “We’re not fucking around here. We need to see him now.”
Olivia remembers her, vaguely, through Liv’s memories. Major Warner hesitates, then nods. “I’ve been hearing...things. A lot of tension in the air. Hope you can cut through it.” She steps out of the way.
Despite the major’s words, Secretary Bishop doesn’t seem surprised to find a crowd invading his office. “Captain Lee, Agents Dunham and Francis,” he says, nodding toward them. Despite her persistent anger toward him Olivia can’t help but be impressed by his smooth manner, so different from Walter’s fragile agitation. “And our visitors from the other side. Agent Dunham and Agent Lee, welcome to our side.”
Olivia wants to remind him that this is hardly the first time she’s been here, but a glance from Lee restrains her tongue. The Secretary isn’t done, looking at Peter with an expression that Olivia can’t decipher. “And Peter Bishop.” He goes on, his voice low, ignoring the rest of them. “I've dreamt about this moment for so many years. And now you're actually here, standing in front of me.”
Peter pauses, seeming shaken. “I know you don't want to hear this right now, Secretary Bishop, but I'm not your son.”
Bishop nods briskly. “I know that. How could you be?” He sighs, and it looks like genuine regret. “I've known about you for some time. I've been monitoring the intelligence feeds from the other universe.”
At another point in time Olivia would have a lot to say about the security breach, never mind the audacity, but things have escalated to the point where mere espionage is trivial. She starts to step forward, but stops when Lee puts his hand on her arm and addresses the Secretary instead.
“Our universe has been infiltrated by shapeshifters from your side. They've killed a lot of people, including a friend of mine for-- for reasons I still don't understand.” Lee’s hand trembles, but his voice is steady. “You probably also know that a shapeshifter tried to kill Peter and me this morning.”
The Secretary’s gaze sharpens. “You have proof of this?”
Lincoln produces the device. “Peter knew what to look for. All due respect, sir,” he says, picking up the thread, “these things are now running rampant on our world as well, and we have no idea where they came from or what their agenda might be. And the order to abandon the case of the suspected shapeshifter at the bus station came from your office.”
The Secretary nods briskly. “Yes, it did.” He touches a finger to his ear cuff. “Major Warner, please have Dr. Fayette escorted to my office.” Bishop glances over the six of them, assessing. “So you suspect me of ordering this...hit, of being behind this latest wave of shapeshifter activity. I assure you, I did no such thing.”
Lincoln stands his ground. “We’re going to need more than your word on that.”
“What does a man have, if not his word?” Bishop asks rhetorically. “But your misgivings are noted, Captain. I wouldn’t expect anything less from someone in your position. Your team was correct, in any case. I’ve been studying the shapeshifter that was killed at the station.”
Liv makes a quiet, almost triumphant sound, but stifles herself when the Secretary glances her way. He nods, acknowledging her conjecture. “It also had a device embedded in its body, similar to that one there.” A knock at the door interrupts further exposition. “Yes, come in.”
Fayette enters the office and Olivia still has to fight off the urge not to go for her gun. The scientist glances dismissively at the group of them, addressing his boss. “Sir, Sergeant Kane said you wanted to see me.”
“Yes. Please tell our visitors about your progress toward identifying the shapeshifters.” Bishop looks down at his desk and opens a drawer as if looking for something.
Fayette hesitates, but obeys. “I’ve identified a signal that we might be able to trace. If I’m right, it should lead us to whoever's responsible for these new shapeshifter prototypes.” He sounds smug, confident in his abilities, just like Olivia remembers...and completely missing the humor and compassion of the Brandon Fayette she’s met at Massive Dynamic. “If I may ask...”
Bishop’s hand comes up out of the desk, holding a cylindrical device with evil-looking prongs on the end, and before anyone can react he’s holding the thing out toward Fayette and sparks leap from it to the other man, who convulses and falls to the floor.
“The hell...!” Charlie shouts, and Secretary Bishop turns to them all with a satisfied expression.
“Not everything is as it seems.”
No one shoots the Secretary in the momentary confusion, which in retrospect seems improbable given that five of them were armed and on edge.
In the wake of their stunned silence Bishop urges them all along to one of his labs, nodding to Sergeant Kane at the door. “Thank you, Sergeant, these people are with me.”
Fayette’s body has been moved to a metal slab, a device removed from the base of his spine. Bishop pontificates over his corpse. “I've suspected for some time that Doctor Fayette had been replaced by a shapeshifter. My men have been following him for some weeks, monitoring all of his communications. Combined with the attack on the State Department employee, it now seems clear that our worst fears have been realized. Elements of our government are being infiltrated.”
“But your weapon can identify them.” Lincoln sounds like he’s still looking for the silver lining in all of this.
“Yes,” Bishop agrees, “though it’s not a test to be used lightly. If I had been wrong about Doctor Fayette, this tech would've also killed a human being.”
Olivia keeps her opinion of Fayette’s humanity or lack thereof to herself. “But now we know these shapeshifters represent a third faction, one that means harm to both universes.”
The Secretary looks unnervingly relieved by her words. “Precisely, Agent Dunham. Despite all the...misunderstandings...of the past, we can and must find common cause in this. Whoever is behind these creatures is a threat to us all.”
Liv clears her throat. “Okay, so, we still don’t have a way to track them, though it sounds like Peter had some luck with that before. And Agent Farnsworth is tracing the call that was sent to Murphy...I mean, the shifter that tried to kill Agent Lee and Peter.” She takes a breath. “Any other leads?”
Bishop hesitates, then nods. “I recognize the work of these devices. They’re based on William Bell’s initial designs, but considerably advanced since then.” He’s silent for a moment before he adds, “I don’t know of anyone in the scientific community who could have improved on his work. Even I find it...challenging.”
“Great. Add ‘mystery rogue evil genius’ to the list,” Charlie gripes.
“But that’s a lead in and of itself, isn’t it?” Lee muses. “If the science is so advanced, there must be some kind of trail. Equipment, or weird chemicals, or...um.” He pauses when he sees everyone staring at him. “What?”
Lincoln smiles grimly. “Follow the...science, in this case. No, you’re absolutely right, it’s a good start. Secretary Bishop, if you can provide a list of the kind of things someone would need to create...” he waves at pseudo-Fayette on the table, “these kind of things, even an extrapolation of the equipment involved, we can start a search. Coordinate with MI6 and Mossad and see if anything strikes a chord.”
“And yeah, I’ll do my part, see if I can pick apart the signal again...but I came here because I needed your help to get home.” Peter’s gaze is a direct challenge, focused on the Secretary, as if they were the only two people in the room. “The Walter on the other side refuses to help me, but you understand the machine. You share his mind. You're the only person who can help me get back to where I belong.”
The Secretary nods gravely. “And I will do everything in my power to help you get home.” He pauses, his jaw working, and then he says, “I was hoping for a far different first encounter. Elizabeth very much wants to meet you.”
Olivia watches Peter blanch at that. Before she can react, Agent Farnsworth’s voice breaks in, speaking into their ears. “I have traced the call to Murphy's cuff back to an industrial park in the Flatiron District. That area has been abandoned since the Amber Riots of 2006.”
Lincoln’s face hardens. “Get a couple of teams over there to secure it. No one goes in before we arrive, clear? And I want compilation of all satellite footage of the area for the last month, stat.”
The Secretary listens to Lincoln’s instructions, nodding satisfaction. “I’m going with you. The helicopter will be fastest.”
It actually takes several ‘copters to accommodate them all, but with the Secretary leading the charge, they reach the district in under half an hour. The signal leads to an unprepossessing warehouse, indistinguishable from the others surrounding it. The Fringe agents who arrived shortly before them are still cordoning off the area and starting to assemble their analysis equipment.
Lincoln eyes Olivia, Lee, and Peter. “Don’t suppose I can convince you to wait out here while we do the initial recon. That’s our job.”
Olivia meets his gaze. “You deputized me, remember?” Next to her, Lee silently shakes his head at the suggestion, while Peter sighs his impatience.
“I said I’d help. Let’s get on with it.”
“And I won’t be left behind, either,” Secretary Bishop declares. “Captain Lee, I believe time is of the essence.”
“All right, then. Stay in sight of each other, no one goes poking in dark corners without backup.” Without glancing in either of their directions, Lincoln adds, “That means you, Olivia.”
Olivia doesn’t feel the need to answer, but she can just about hear her alternate roll her eyes as Liv does. “Yes, mother.”
The seven of them make their way cautiously into the warehouse, and it’s immediately evident that whatever the place had been before, it’s now become a--storehouse? breeding ground?--for shapeshifters. Half-formed creatures float in bio-tanks, some alive judging by the indicator lights on their tanks, some clearly dead.
The Secretary and Peter move to examine the computers monitoring the tanks while the rest of them do a fast sweep of the warehouse. There’s nothing else to find, no mad scientists lurking in the background, not even a dropped gum wrapper or take-out carton to attest to the presence of other people. Liv calls back in disgust, “Nothing here but these...things. They must’ve cleared out when Murphy didn’t report back.”
Lincoln nods. “We can assign the forensics crew in teams of three. They can keep an eye on each other that way.”
It’s a wise precaution given that Fringe Division has been infiltrated, but Olivia can’t seem to give the situation her full attention. There’s something nagging at the edge of her consciousness, something she can almost--
Lincoln’s looking at her with an alarmed expression. He seems like he’s about to ask, but then turns around and motions for all the others to stop talking, to stop making noise so she can listen.
--and yeah, there it is, a slow deliberate tick-tick-tick that’s winding up. “We need to get out of here now!”
Lincoln doesn’t hesitate, just starts shouting for people to run. Liv and Charlie grab the Secretary’s arms and they all hustle for the exit, not stopping as they clear the doors, frantically waving for the other agents to move back past the security tape and duck behind their vehicles.
Everyone’s clear and just starting to turn to question why they’d made a mad dash out of the seemingly quiet warehouse when the first muffled thump comes from inside, and then a louder WHOMP accompanied by the sounds of shattering glass, and then the doors blow off as the interior of the building erupts in a blast of flame and noise.
“...well, okay then,” Charlie says, just close enough that Olivia can hear him over the crackle and fury of the explosion. “That’s it for me today, I’m done.”
Olivia glances over at Lincoln and finds him staring back at her, eyes full of gratitude. He picks himself up from the ground and comes over to crouch next to her where she’d taken cover. “I saw it on your face, just like when we were working the Rose case. Listening to something no one else could hear.” He grimaces, wiping a streak of sweat off his forehead. “You know, I was all revved up to hate your Doctor Bishop for what he did to you, but that’s twice your super-powers have saved my life. All our lives.”
He talks about it like she really should be wearing spandex and a cape. Olivia shakes her head mutely, unable to find appropriate words, and Lincoln just nods and gets to his feet and starts directing the clean-up effort. The warehouse is a total loss, whatever secrets it might have been holding now consumed by the incendiaries left behind.
The Secretary seems...oddly not-displeased by the turn of events. “The sacrifice of these creatures goes to show we’re on the correct trail.”
Peter’s eyes narrow. “It also shows clearly that someone thinks that our being here is a threat.”
“That too, of course.” Secretary Bishop wipes a bit of ash off his shoulder with a frown. “And we will continue to push the issue. But I believe I’ve had enough excitement for one day. Peter, I...would still like to extend an invitation to you, for dinner with Elizabeth and myself. I can guarantee your safety,” his mouth twists wryly, “insofar as I haven’t yet been attacked or replaced.”
Peter glances over her way, and the look on his face is a study in contradiction. Olivia gets the message that he’s not looking forward to what will most likely be an extremely uncomfortable evening...but this might be his only chance to convince the Secretary to help him get home. She’s responsible for him, but only to a point, and it’s not her decision. “Up to you, Peter.”
He nods, turning back to the Secretary, all confidence. “I’m looking forward to it,” he says, and it’s almost believable.
“Clean-up crews have this in hand,” Lincoln says, over Olivia’s shoulder. “The rest of us are heading back to division.”
She glances at him. “Figure out our next move?”
“Yeah.” Lincoln looks exhausted and Olivia’s reminded of what a trying day it’s been, from the assassination attempt to confronting the Secretary to the booby-trapped warehouse. “Long day, gonna be longer still.”
When they return to Fringe Division, Lincoln’s called away by a half-dozen requests that need his immediate attention. Olivia, Lee, Liv, and Charlie all take a few minutes to clean up--there’s ash in her hair, Olivia realizes with disgust, and brushes herself off as best she can.
They gather at Agent Farnsworth’s station. A number of images are cycling across her auxiliary screens.
“I have the satellite footage that Captain Lee requested of the warehouse area,” Astrid informs the four of them. “Analysis programs are working to discern individuals and run them against the public databases.”
Charlie looks like he’s eaten something sour. “If these shapeshifters are taking people’s identities--that means they’re leaving corpses behind, right? And maybe they got sloppy with their, uh, victims. We should run recently deceased through surveillance footage, looking for them walking around after their recorded time of death.”
Agent Farnsworth looks shocked. “Even if the search is limited the metropolitan area, that is an extraordinarily high number of parameters to cover. It would tax the processors and leave very little power for other operations. I most strongly recommend against--”
“But we can refine that search, right?” Liv gestures toward the scrolling satellite images. “Just use the images of people who’ve gone into and out of that building for the last couple of weeks. Can’t be more than a dozen, from what I’ve seen.”
Charlie grumbles at her and Liv shrugs, smirking. “Same idea, just reversed.”
Olivia had been about to suggest exactly the same thing, but she opts for watching with interest as Astrid recalculates the parameters. “Yes, I believe that brings the number of variables down to an acceptable scale.”
“Great. Let it run tonight, maybe we’ll even have something by morning. Right now, I could eat a cow.” Liv grins to their stares. “What? Nearly being blown up makes me hungry.”
Lee glances her way and seems about to second the motion, but then Olivia catches sight of something in the cycling footage and freezes.
“Olivia?” he asks, and then sees it--her--for himself and takes in a deep shocked breath.
“That woman. The redhead. That’s Nina Sharp.”
Charlie obviously doesn’t recognize the name, but after a moment Liv nods. “The Massive Dynamic lady.”
Olivia remembers searching for Massive Dynamic over here, and not finding it; this version of Nina Sharp had obviously taken a very different path. “The this-side version of her, yeah. I wonder if Waltern-- the Secretary worked with her here, too. She’s, uh, brilliant at logistics and planning.”
“The kind of person you want running your secret shapeshifter infiltration program?” Charlie drawls, and Olivia nods reluctantly. “If she’s all that over here, she’ll have gone to ground. But now that we know who to look for, in conjunction with tracing the right kinds of scientific equipment--we’ll find her.”
Agent Farnsworth nods. “Adding her image to the search, highest priority.” She glances briefly up at the group of them. “I suggest you all do as Agent Dunham suggests and...unwind for the night.”
“That’s Astrid-speak for, ‘Get out of here, you’re cramping my style,’” Liv notes, and Astrid doesn’t contradict her. “Lincoln’s got stuff he needs to handle, but the rest of us can go--you two are welcome to join us, if you want.”
But Olivia has hope of other plans. “You’ll be all right?” she murmurs to Lee, and the look in his eyes is understanding as he waves her off.
She makes her way up the stairs to the glass office. Lincoln’s staring at his datapad, a somber expression on his face. “Hey,” she says softly.
“Hey.” Lincoln waves her in. “We really need to come up with a different term than ‘paperwork,’ since it isn’t anymore. Feel like I’m being buried up to my neck in pixels, though.”
“You should-- can you take a break?” Olivia asks, feeling strangely shy. “I thought we might...spend some time together.”
“Nowhere I’d rather be than with you,” Lincoln says, looking doleful. “But I have to go see Murphy’s sister, she’s his only living relative--”
God, she’d forgotten about the supplanted agent. “Oh, no, of course. I should’ve thought.” His obligation is doubled, both as Murphy’s division head and his friend, as if notifications weren’t difficult enough. “I’m so sorry.”
He nods. “It’s not-- we weren’t that close, not drinking buddies or anything, but I’ve known him a long time. So it’s my job for a couple of reasons.” He stares down at the desk. “I’d give nearly anything to have Colonel Broyles back to do this, except he died saving you. And I’m-- I’m glad he did. I know that’s a terrible thing to say.”
Maybe it is, but Olivia’s still alive because of the colonel’s actions, and she can’t regret that either. “I’m okay with you feeling that way,” she says softly, and the small smile Lincoln gives her is both grateful and full of warmth.
But then he sighs, and Olivia knows he’s got an obligation he can’t--and shouldn’t--be distracted from. “I’ll see you tomorrow. Charlie and Liv were going to take Agent Lee out to dinner, maybe I’ll catch up with them.”
“I’m sure that’ll be a riot,” Lincoln murmurs, but he’s distracted and rightfully so. “Yeah. Tomorrow, Olivia.”
She does catch up with Charlie and Liv and Lee, and none of them comment on her late addition. Olivia’s content to let them do most of the talking over food and a well-earned drink or two, still thinking through the events of the day.
They’re halfway through the meal when Liv looks at Lee and says suddenly, “Hey, want to settle a bet?”
Charlie glances at her, then starts to laugh. “Pretty sure that’s cheating, Liv.”
She waves him off and arches an eyebrow at Lee. He looks curious, but amenable. “Sure. If I can.”
“What's your middle name?”
“Tyrone,” he answers immediately.
Liv stares at him. “Seriously?”
Lee shrugs, taking a sip of the single drink he’s been nursing throughout dinner. “Yeah, it was my great-grandfather's name. Why?”
“Oh,” Liv says, going for casual and not fooling anyone, “just curious.”
Lee eyes her but chooses not to push. “Well, speaking of curious,” he starts, and deftly turns the conversation to differences between their worlds, all the little things he’d noticed since they arrived in the morning. It’s an excellent tactic that keeps Charlie and Liv engaged and Olivia from having to actively participate in the discussion; she’ll have to thank him for the thoughtfulness later.
Freedom from the weight of conversation, paradoxically, lets Olivia look beyond her own head. Fringe agents over here don’t wear jewelry on duty, but on their off-hours they’re free to embellish themselves however they wish. With a start, Olivia finally sees what’s missing: the engagement ring on Liv’s right hand, the wedding band on Charlie’s left. Charlie catches her glance and shakes his head, slightly, an admonition not to ask. She’d forgotten how fast things change here, sometimes, most often not for the better.
The rest of the evening passes in a haze, until Olivia and Lee are being dropped off at a hotel. Liv goes in with Lee to give the front desk vouchers for the rooms, while Charlie offers Olivia an unnecessary hand out of the car.
His look at her is full of concern, the same kind of head-tilted regard she remembers from her first days at the FBI. “Hey. You doing okay?”
Charlie sort of looks like he wants to hug her, and doesn’t feel like he has the right. Ironic, considering her memories of him are just as intimate as the ones of Lincoln, but things are complicated enough. “I’m all right. Thanks, Charlie.”
“De nada,” he replies, and settles for tipping his nonexistent cap at her. “And, y’know, thanks to you for saving all our lives today.”
She scrunches her nose at him and he laughs. Olivia realizes, far too late, that she really does care about him in his own right, not just as a doppelganger of her lost friend. Whatever went wrong with his marriage, she hopes it doesn’t keep him from being happy. But as much as she wants to tell him so, other topics are easier. And he’ll know what she means, anyway. “We’ll get these things, Charlie.”
“I know we will.” His hand rises, pats her arm awkwardly before giving her a push toward the hotel doors. “Now go get some sleep. Plenty of time to save the world tomorrow.”
“Yes, mom,” she says, in a deliberate mockery of Liv’s tone to Lincoln earlier, and Charlie snorts and waves her off.
She really is exhausted. In her sterile-yet-somehow-cozy room Olivia lies down to try to rest, feeling unaccountably exasperated that she’s finally in the same universe as Lincoln again, and she’s not with him. There are too many critical events happening right now to waste time and energy being annoyed about the state of her personal life, but right now, all her brain wants to contemplate is Lincoln, and his mouth, and his mouth on her.
And, well. She can think of him, at least, as her fingers stroke between her legs, gently and then less gently. Her own practiced touch might be a poor substitute for his presence, but an orgasm is still an orgasm, and enough release to let Olivia finally drift off to sleep.
The team reassembles at Fringe Division in the morning. Olivia and Lee are greeted like agents on loan from another agency, with polite courtesies...and more than a few sideways glances from those trying to reconcile their appearances with those of their alternates. Peter gets even more of those glances, the Secretary’s famous lost son reappeared like an honest miracle, the good kind this world sees far too little of.
Peter seems pensive, almost shaken, by whatever happened last night with the Secretary and his wife. Olivia tries to imagine being in his shoes, just for a moment: She thinks about his meeting a mother he’d lost, and the fact that people on this side remember him...or maybe an alternate version of him. Either way, it must be a lot to endure, and she resolves to be more patient with him.
The actual Fringe team had already rolled in, bright and early, and Olivia suspects that Astrid never left. She’d be embarrassed about her relative tardiness, if the lack of coffee hadn’t made getting moving this morning so much more difficult.
When she and Lee and Peter go up to Lincoln’s office, they’re met by Lincoln’s emphatic finger pointed directly at his double.
“You!” he barks, although his tone lacks true anger. “Why would you tell her that?”
Lee stares at him for a second before a smile starts to creep across his mouth. “My bad.”
Lincoln shakes his head in mock disgust. “And now it’s all ‘Tyrone’ this and ‘Tyrone’ that and I’m gonna have the whole division calling me by Grandpa Lee’s name. Thanks a lot.”
“Maybe if you hadn’t made it such a big secret, Tyrone,” Liv drawls, “nobody would care.”
“Gonna write you up for insubordination,” Lincoln mutters, but it’s clearly an empty threat. “Okay, anyway, let’s go over where we are this morning.”
Where they are is pretty much the same as yesterday, although Agent Farnsworth’s searches have already identified a number of probable shapeshifters. Peter’s given a station and an assistant to help him try to decrypt the implant signal, and the rest of them spend the morning going over the data, looking for new angles.
Olivia and Lincoln keep sneaking looks in each others’ direction, but there’s too much to process to slip away for anything more than a brief stretch. At one point Lincoln leans over her shoulder, ostensibly to indicate something on her pad. “Things are such a mess, can’t catch a break today. There’s a maintenance closet that isn’t monitored....” he whispers, half joking and half hopeful, and Olivia’s right on the verge of agreeing when they’re interrupted by the overhead screens of the situation room, all lighting up at once with the schematics of a dockside area.
They gather around Agent Farnsworth’s desk for the debrief. “This is Fort Lee, New Jersey. There is a warehouse right on the Hudson that meets all the parameters of the requested search: the presence of Ms. Sharp, significant deliveries of specialized scientific equipment, and a number of individuals who match those in the surveillance footage from the Flatiron District.” Astrid pauses and adds, “I have ascertained the presence of a large number of armed soldiers at the facility as well. It’s practically a military installation.”
“Good thing we can call out a military response, then. I want ‘copters, SWAT teams, everyone we can pull in from other ops. D.O.D. has operational oversight, Charlie will coordinate with other agencies on the ground.” Lincoln glances around, speaking to the agents who will lead the charge. “We hit hard and fast, hopefully catch ‘em before they can set another bomb. We take Sharp alive, if possible.”
Things move fast after that, and Olivia can’t help but feel slightly jealous of how easily and quickly the op comes together. On her side the logistics alone would take a massive effort of coordination, and the interdepartmental squabbling over credit and blame might mire the whole operation in red tape. Here, Fringe Division says “Jump” and everyone replies, “How high?” while the Lookers synchronize the entire maneuver from their screens.
Within two hours they’ve stormed the facility, finding more shapeshifters in tanks...and this world’s Nina Sharp, looking completely put out by this turn of events. But her defiant, imperious smile is familiar and Olivia knows she won’t get a satisfying answer, even as she can’t help asking.
“Why all this? What’s the point?”
“Evolution, my dear.” The doppelganger of Nina Sharp cackles to Olivia’s expression. “You yourself represent a quantum step in human evolution. I was merely trying to...explore another option.”
“And set your pawns in power at the same time,” Liv accuses. “But they can’t be the endgame, or you wouldn’t have blown up the ones in the warehouse. And we’ve gone through your history, you don’t have the skills to have done all this yourself. Who are you working for?”
Sharp’s expression goes stony. “I believe I’ll be wanting my lawyer now.”
“Good luck with that, lady,” Charlie sneers. “With the list of charges against you, the D.O.D. can hold you indefinitely without representation or trial.”
She just glares at him, her expression unchanging. She refuses to say another word, and Olivia’s pretty sure that state is going to continue for the foreseeable future.
They get Sharp packed off into custody, the bomb squad makes a proper search of the building to make sure there’s no more unpleasant surprises left behind, and Fringe teams sweep in to begin cataloging and examining the shapeshifter tanks and other equipment.
Olivia and Lee find themselves sidelined, watching as this world’s experts do their expert work. Lee looks a little stunned. “So-- is that it? We shut them down, case closed?” But then he shakes his head. “No, of course it’s not. There’s whoever Ms. Sharp was working for, and we still don’t understand their agenda. And we don’t know how many of these things are loose on our side.”
He’s looking for closure on Robert’s death and Olivia doesn’t have the heart to tell him that this might be all there is. Eventually you just...learned to live with what you have, like she had with John.
And Lee reminds her so much of herself, when she first started working at Fringe Division. She hadn’t been satisfied with any of their resolutions either, still wasn’t. But she’d learned to appreciate the small victories, and this one wasn’t insignificant. “We’ll deal with it, Lincoln. But we’ve done a huge thing here. Take a moment to enjoy that?”
Lee looks past her, smiling a little. “You’re right. And I can handle the rest back at division, if you...need a minute.”
It’s so tactfully put that it takes Olivia a moment to realize that he’s looking over at Lincoln, who’s staring back their way. And Lee, she knows, wouldn’t have missed any of their frustrated glances. She just nods, throat already tightening, knowing that another goodbye is imminent.
Back at Fringe Division, all the agents are collectively ecstatic about what they’d found at Sharp’s base. Once the Lookers hack the mainframe, the shapeshifters could be identified and tracked by their own implants. “And we can use the same signal on our side,” Lee breathes, sounding like he can’t quite believe that the solution to his quest is in sight.
Olivia leaves him and Peter to coordinate the details with Charlie and Liv, and makes her way up to Lincoln’s office again.
“Alone at last,” Lincoln murmurs, and Olivia has to laugh, because -- well, it’s technically true, but the glass-enclosed office isn’t at all suitable for a tryst.
“I’m so glad we were able to help you,” she says, and it’s such a poor substitute for everything she really wants to say.
“Lincoln, he’s a smart guy,” he says with a wry twist of his mouth.
“Yes, he is.” Both of them are, and he knows it. “I-- have to report back to Broyles. And follow up on whatever shapeshifters are left in my world.”
“Yeah, I know.” Lincoln bites at his lip. “Wish I could manufacture an excuse to keep you here, but....”
But neither of them are that irresponsible. Unfortunately. “Walk me out?”
“Sure.” But as they head down one of the corridors, taking the long way to the front door, Lee glances around and then tugs sharply on her arm. “C’mere.”
She’s pulled into a...supply closet, she sees, before the hall light cuts out. Olivia can’t help but break into helpless laughter. “I get the feeling I’m not the first person you’ve dragged in here.”
“No,” Lincoln says, and his voice in the dark is unsteady. “But maybe the--”
Olivia lunges at him, finding his mouth with her own and cutting him off before he can finish. After the first awkward moment’s clash of lips and teeth he’s kissing her back, his tongue tangling with hers.
And irresponsible or not, worlds ending or not, she’s not letting him out of here before they finish this. Her mouth skates across his cheek to lick at his ear, her hands reach down to cup his ass.
Lincoln groans, pulling her closer. “This isn’t what I wanted, you deserve so much more.”
She grinds against him, the crotch of her panties already feeling soaked through. “It’s what we have,” Olivia pants, and steps back just enough to toe off her shoes and unzip her slacks. And-- despite everything, she can’t be that reckless. “Oh, dammit, condom?”
“Yeah, left leg pocket--” and thank God for cargo pants and well-prepared men.
“Boy scout,” she teases, although there’s nothing boyish about the rasp of stubble against her neck, or his cock as she rolls the condom onto him.
“Full-on Wolf Scout,” he gasps, his hands around her waist. “Olivia-- oh--”
She hums agreement as he slides home, one of her legs wrapped around his hip, the other trembling for balance. Lincoln’s mouth finds hers again, and they breathe into each other’s lungs as they thrust and groan against each other, the shelves pressing into her back and starting bruises she’s going to regret tomorrow. But there are no regrets today, nothing whatsoever to lament in yet another stolen moment, so much more than the sum of its part.