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Mind The Gap

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Lincoln Lee prides himself on knowing everything there is to know about Olivia Dunham.

When she gets to work: early or on time, never late
(eager and itching for something to do).
How she takes her tea
(a blend for every mood).
When she's in need of feeding
(eyes blaze silently, her mouth twitches as she can't find her usual dry mix of words to reply).
And what to tempt her with because she's stubborn and forgetful with meals, insistent she can do without, running on the drive that fuels every waking moment, to win
(she'd win a hunger strike he thinks but candy on the desk staves off her trying so far).
When her birthday is, how she prefers low-key but won't refuse a surprise, a cake, a present
(whatever he gives, he gives it with a hug and a too quick peck on the cheek – a flash of affection).

He even has a guess as to how she'd take her coffee, if he dared buy her any.
He doesn't.
Coffee is pricey, not out of his league but it's special, it comes with implications.
He doesn't test the theory.

Lincoln Lee prides himself on knowing everything there is to know about Olivia Dunham.

But there are sides of her he doesn't see, reflected only in what little she says about her time with others; Frank, her mother, her father he knows to be dead, her sister who is, too
(she never elaborates).
He can see the traces and scars of others on her, but he can't read the past before him
(or when she is without him).
He tries not to think of what he doesn't know.

What side of the bed she sleeps on
(what she'd look like in his bed – hair splayed out and smile free).
What she sleeps in
(would she sleep with him, curling her limbs around his and possessing him).
What she likes best for breakfast
(what she likes best in bed, a map for him to draw over her body with his).
How long it would take for her to admit to herself she'd like someone else after Frank
(if she'd ever name him that person, not needed, not just there, wanted – like her name is to him).

There are things she doesn't know about him but he doesn't know if she cares to know more.
He imagines she stores away pieces of him every day secretly, but she knows him already,
(well enough to finish half his sentences in a way that makes Charlie roll his eyes each time).

There are sentences he isn't confident she could finish though
(ones he'll never let pass his lips except clipped into, you know how I feel about you, anything for you, and, there's no place else for me to be).
He doesn't test the theory
(he lets the truth lie deep in his heart, the warmth of friendship covering the ache of it bound down).

Lincoln Lee prides himself on knowing everything there is to know about Olivia Dunham.

It doesn't matter that she's Olivia and not their Liv, he wants to know everything
(all the intersections and the possibilities she would deny).
He skims over the other side's first batch of files scanned into their system as light reading in the lulls between events and cases
(the files miss out many things) .
The facts don't help him understand who he sees staring back in the picture.

He dreams of other Olivias, far apart and yet tantalizingly in his reach.
(he wakes up yearning for his).
He meets the other her, sits next to Olivia in her dark suit and tries to put her at ease but she pushes away from him verbally – Liv would push back, whip up a smart reply and a smile to catch him out, but refute the similarities between Olivia Dunham and Olivia Dunham just the same
(their methods differ but the reaction, the recoil at the suggestion, does not).

He lets himself wonder if this Olivia, cool and discerning, would want to know him more
– or if she'd see him coming a mile away and call him on it.
He doesn't know if that would be better, to know for certain
– yes/no, hello or goodbye.
He doesn't know which answer would make him feel better
– if the possibilities of another version of her would inform the choice he keeps deferring
(or send him spinning, his move made or not).

He's polite, he's professional, tries to remember he and the other Olivia are not partners
(not even friends to each other where she comes from).
He isn't sure it's comforting there's a whole other universe where he exists too
(in a world not broken, struggling to breathe and where he's not eternally waiting).
He starts to understand why Liv can't stand her alternate
(it's not a mirror, just an incomplete picture of what you could have been).

Lincoln Lee prides himself on knowing everything there is to know about Olivia Dunham
(privately, needlessly, foolishly striving).
But there are questions he never intends to ask
(to match the words that catch in his throat).
And questions he ought to ask himself about why he is trying so hard
(to prove himself, to know her like she is his when she is not – yet, ever)
– to be there for her, her cornerstone.
For that he has to know where she is from, in order to know where she is at and where she is going.
The only thing he can see is she's standing at a crossroads, waiting for a sign
(for a demand that isn't his to make, to move in a direction he wants so strongly to be toward him).

He can steal words from her lips, knows what she means to say when she barks out orders each day, both of them buzzing on the same frequency and alert to every detail of the world.
But he can never imagine her forming a reply, to the unspoken question of his, that doesn't hurt. Even devoid of Frank, there's a gap between them, the buffer of a friendship as wide as it is deep  
(he's always failing there because he doesn't know her fully,
as he doesn't know himself, his desires forever undisclosed
– their corner closed).