Title: Son of Men
Summary: When a message comes through the typewriter, it's going to turn everyone's life upside down.
Author's Note: I'm seriously behind updating the fic on my LJ. My apologies for that! But guess what... instead of just one chapter, you'll get six! I hope that makes up for my lack of posting at least a little :) Huge, huge, huge, HUGE big bear hugs to my lovely beta raspberry_splat.
Peter sat crouched down against the wall in front of Nina Sharp's office. His head was resting between his knees, his breathing shallow and labored. He had a son on the other side. A son with the other Olivia Dunham. A son that resulted out of the biggest mistake of his life. A son that should never have existed.
What the Observer had told him suddenly made sense. It must be very difficult being a father. Peter had pondered a lot about why he would say this to him. After all, he was no father. And he needed no reminding about what Walter had done or why he had done it. The outcome of a decision a father had made was still changing universes, and not for the better. But the Observer had not meant Walter, or even Walternate. He had talked about him. Peter Bishop. A father.
There, on the other side, was a little boy who needed help. His little boy. He was a father. And whatever had prompted not only one but three messages within twelve hours, it had to be grave. What had just happened was so surreal, he couldn't quite comprehend if he was really at Massive Dynamic or if he was sleeping in bed next to Olivia, having a nightmare. Because a nightmare this really was, dreaming or not.
He looked up when he felt a hand on his shoulder, only to see Olivia standing next to him. From the look on her face, the sadness, hurt and desperation that he could see in her eyes, he knew that she knew. She crouched down next to him, her hand immediately reaching out for his. Her touch was warm and comforting as they sat in silence in the empty hallway. She wasn't turning away from him, wasn't screaming at him, wasn't accusing him. She was just there, sitting next to him on the cold floor, and holding his hand.
"They're waiting for a response," she finally said, waiting for any kind of reaction from him to her words.
Peter just shook his head silently and turned away from her. He didn't know what to say or what to feel, let alone feel himself fit to think at that moment. The ground had just caved in around him and while he was desperately holding on to Olivia's hand, he felt like falling, deeper and deeper and deeper. Just when he had thought he had found his one true place where he belonged, the world around him was spinning out of control once again.
"Hey," he felt her fingers brushing against his jaw as she gently turned his face towards her, "don't pull away from me now."
"There's a kid in the other universe that's mine," his admission was a mere whisper against the cold air in the hallway, "and I have no clue in hell what to do about it."
"Me neither," she took a deep breath, "I do know though that whoever sent those messages sent them for a reason. We have to figure out who sent them and why they sent them."
Once again, Peter shook his head, "It doesn't matter."
"Of course it matters."
"No," his voice had turned bitter and cold, "it doesn't."
He sprung to his feet and had vanished down the corridor and around a corner before Olivia could even react. He was doing the only thing he knew to do when things got too rough for him to deal with... he ran. Just get away from everything as far as possible. Why was it that every time he had found just a little bit of happiness in his life, something, or someone, from the other side had to come and screw it all up. Nothing had affected him so deeply since he had found out he was from the other side, not even the machine. Because with that doomsday device, he at least was able to learn and to fight. But with this... there was not one freaking thing he could do. Except run. So he did.
He got as far as the almost empty street outside of Massive Dynamic Headquarters when Olivia caught up with him. She was just walking next to him, matching his fast pace, not saying a word. Her hand had slipped into his sometime after they had turned onto 10th Avenue, and he held onto her closely, as if he was asking her to keep him steady, to keep him from falling. But he knew that just as much as he was holding onto her, she was holding onto him as well. It wasn't just his world that had come tumbling down only minutes before... hers was crashing as well.
Desperation slowly turned into anger. He was furious at her, furious about what she had done to him. He was furious at Walternate, for sending her over here with his pretty little agenda, but even more furious at him for what he had intended to do with Olivia. Most of all, he was furious at himself though... that he had fallen for her ploy, had not seen through her, and had been stupid enough to let it come this far.
"I think Walternate's only intention seems to be to make my life miserable," he said while his thumb absentmindedly brushed over the back of Olivia's hand, "He wants to stick me into this machine to destroy this universe which most probably is gonna kill me in the process. And because he couldn't just have me, he tortured you, sent her to manipulate me and now he's using a child to blackmail me into coming back."
"Is that what you think?"
He shrugged, "What else should I think?"
"What if she sent the message?"
It was the only answer he was going to give her.
"Don't you think we should at least find out?"
"And how do you think we should do that other than crossing over?"
"Send something back that only she will know how to respond to," Olivia slowed down her pace and finally stopped, forcing him to come to a halt as well when she didn't let go of his hand, "There's a child in the other universe that's yours. Don't you even care a little?"
He hung his head, looking down at the gray asphalt beneath his feet. Of course he cared. He cared so much it made his head spin and his heart ache. He had made a mistake... a mistake that had not almost ruined Olivia's life, but also his. They had finally found a way to move on from that just to have everything smashed to pieces. Yes, he did care about that little boy in the other universe, but also cared about the woman who stood only a step behind him and whose hand was tightly holding onto his. He had seen what his betrayal had done to her and he didn't want to see her like that again. Not ever. So what was he supposed to do?
"I know you care."
He turned around to face her, but what he saw wasn't what he had expected. Her eyes were shining with so much love and devotion, and her lips were curved into a small, but reassuring smile. It was her way of telling him that she was strong, that she wasn't going to break. But most importantly it also told him that no matter what, she would stand by his side and be there for him.
"I have so fucked up, Olivia. How can I fix this?"
She just shrugged her shoulders at him, "Find out what they want for a start? Then we can decide what else we want to do."
With a weak smile on his face, he leaned in to rest his forehead against hers, "Do you have any idea how much it means to me that you just said we?"
Peter sat crouched down in the corner of the Massive Dynamic lab, his eyes fixed on the typewriter that sat on the table at the other end of the room. Two hours ago, Olivia had sent a message to the other side, asking a question that only the other Olivia Dunham could answer.
At first, Peter had paced the floor impatiently while Olivia had sat in the chair at the table the Selectric sat on, watching his every move. After she had told him that he was making her dizzy, he had sat down in one of the other desk chairs in the room but had soon found that doing nothing other than impatiently tapping his finger on the table's smooth surface was driving him crazy.
His mind was going berserk. While he was pacing the lab floor, it at least had helped distract him from thinking why it was that they were stuck in a lab at almost 3 in the morning. Now, all that was going through his mind was the thought of a child in the other universe that was supposed to be his, but as much as he tried to calculate, the timeline was always wrong. Eight weeks he had had with the other Olivia Dunham, out of which they had spent six really together. If there was a little boy on the other side that was his, just as the message had said and the Observer had implied, he couldn't be more than a few days old.
It just reinforced his suspicion that this was nothing more than a ploy from Walternate to get him to come to the other side. The math was all wrong. It had to be. It was the only thing he could believe in... the only thing he wanted to believe in. Because everything else would mean that his life had collapsed completely.
His eyes remained glued on the typewriter even as he heard the door to the lab opening somewhere to his right and footsteps approaching. He didn't want to talk, he hadn't felt like it since they'd sent the message over the wire, so he just sat there, crouched in the corner of the lab while the footsteps stopped right next to him. Olivia came into his line of view when she slid down against the cold white wall and held a cup of steaming coffee in front of his face.
Silently, he took it from her, his fingers curling tightly around the warm plastic container. It was eerie how she always knew what he needed when he himself wasn't really sure. She hadn't pressured him to talk, she had just let him be, allowing him to sort through his thoughts and feelings. And just when he thought that he wasn't able to go on any longer, when he felt drained and empty, she'd appeared with a cup of coffee. He let out a light chuckle at the thought of this and turned his eyes away from the typewriter, gazing at the woman who sat crouched down beside him.
She had pulled her knees up to her chest and had tightly wrapped her arms around her legs while she was looking off into the distance. Long strands of blond hair were falling loosely over her shoulders, cascading down her body like a beautiful waterfall in the still of the night.
"Where's your coffee?" he asked, and she moved to face him with a shrug of her shoulders, "Didn't feel like having one."
She gave him a weak smile before she glanced back at the Selectric that was as still as it had been for the last couple hours. The silence, the waiting, it was dreadful. But there was nothing else for either of them to do, nothing but wait.
"I never wanted to be a father."
Peter's voice was nothing more than a whisper that hung in the air between them. He didn't dare look at the woman next to him, didn't dare take his eyes away from the typewriter, afraid that once he did, he would miss the movement of the keys that would tell him once and for all that this was nothing more than another desperate attempt from his father to bring him back to the other side. That none of this was true, that he still was just Peter Bishop. Not a father.
He heard the shifting of feet on the tile floor, and even without looking, he knew that Olivia had tightened the grip around her own legs, had pulled them even closer to her body, had wrapped herself even tighter into her own little cocoon. What he said had caught her off-guard, he was sure of that. But the truth was that yes, he never wanted to be a father.
"My father," he gave a sarcastic snort, "Walter, he was never around. My mother raised me. By the time I was eighteen, I was off cruising the world. I was alone. I had nowhere to go, no place where I belonged. But you know all that."
His fingers fidgeted with the coffee cup in his hands, and he took a big gulp. The hot liquid slipped down his throat, filling his body with a strange, but comforting warmness. For just a moment, it took off the edge as the heat rose inside him, relaxing his muscles, relaxing him. Coffee always had that effect on him.
He stole a quick glance over his shoulder, just to see Olivia sit motionless next to him. Her fingers were rubbing lightly over the coarse fabric of her dark jeans, her eyes no longer fixed on the Selectric but on her knees. How much he wanted to reach out for her, put his arms around her and hold her close to him... but he couldn't. He'd caused her so much pain already, and no matter how hard he tried not to, he still hurt her even more.
He dropped his shoulders, "A child had no place in my fucked up world."
Until that one day that had changed it all. The one day when his life had suddenly found a purpose. The day he finally discovered the one place in the world where he belonged.
"And then," he picked up his monologue after taking another sip of his coffee, "this one day, in a hotel in Baghdad, in the middle of a war zone, this feisty, beautiful, sexy, FBI agent walks up to me. And guess what, she conned me, the conman."
"I guess she had a pretty good poker face," came the reply from beside him, and he chuckled, "I never thought that anybody would be able to con me. I made a living by scamming people. I was a pro, the best at what I did. And yet... she still conned me."
When he turned, he found her looking at him, a faint smile playing across her face.
"You remember what you said to me when I was getting ready to take Walter back to St. Claire's?" He paused for a moment to watch her nod at him silently, "You looked so lost, so vulnerable... and then suddenly, there was this smile on your face. That was the moment when I knew I'd found the one place where I wanted to be, where I wanted to belong. That day... it changed my life. It changed me. You changed me."
His gaze dropped to his hand that was still holding on tightly to the coffee cup as if he was holding on for dear life. He'd never been one to talk openly about himself, about his life, about his feelings. With Olivia, that all had changed, and he had to admit that it felt good, that it made him feel better even at the worst times. They'd build a trust and understanding that he'd never experienced before and that, for nothing in his life, he would want to miss.
Even though he'd never told her in words directly, she knew that she was the one for him, that she was the one he wanted to spend the rest of his life with. She was the part of him that had been missing, the part of him that kept him grounded, that made him feel like he belonged. He didn't know how long he'd kept his head bowed, he just knew that the moment he looked back up, she was still there, still looking at him, still the same smile on her face.
"I've been thinking a lot lately about me, about you, about us. What I want for my life, what I want for our life. This... this baby thing... I wanna be a father one day, Olivia. Just not like this."
That was the moment when the keys of the Selectric came to life, and with loud, clacking sounds, the typewriter started to spit out its message.
"We're gonna cross over."
Olivia's words still rang in his ears as he held the single sheet of paper in his hands that he had taken from the typewriter last night. At first, the Selectric had spat out two single words.
One point for the other side, he had thought when he had seen the reply. Just like this side's counterpart, the Rachel Dunham on the other side had had a craving for the colorful breakfast cereal as a child. They intentionally had decided to ask a question that could not have been answered by knowing Olivia Dunham or simply reading about her life in a file.
When the Selectric had rattled to spit out another line of words on the paper, Olivia had just nodded at him silently, letting him know that even the second part of the question had been answered right.
Not the green ones. They reminded her of veggies. She hated veggies.
On the other side, Olivia Dunham had truthfully answered the questions. Whether she had done it of her own volition or had been forced to, they didn't know. Or if this was one of Walternate's ploys that she could be involved in. All they knew for sure was that the Olivia Dunham of the other side was somehow connected to the messages.
But the Selectric had spat out one more line of text that neither Peter nor Olivia were prepared for.
He needs help. 10PM. Forest Park. Meet us at the Carousel.
This was the line he had been staring at for well over an hour, the line that had prompted Olivia to tell him that they were going to cross over. She had thrown all caution to the wind and had just decided. It was just what he had expected from her. If there was someone who needed saving, Olivia Dunham would rise to the rescue. And if that someone was a child, she'd ignore all dangers to go and save him.
She was the optimist – go and help the kid. Just like always. And he was the pessimist, the cautious one asking all the questions that she had chosen to ignore. What if this is a trap? What if there is no child that needs saving? Walter says crossing over is safe but what if it isn't? What if you're gonna get hurt?
"We'll go prepared."
That's all she had told him before she had headed out, leaving him behind alone to think. Something about Olivia's insistence to cross to the other side, to go and rescue a child that he had had with her alternate left him feeling unsettled. It was just like it had been when he had told her about her. First, she was calm about it, accepting, understanding – just like she was now. And then the blow came, the moment when she had told him that she'd taken everything from her and that she didn't want to be with him. And once again, she was threatening to take everything. From him, from her, from them. It never seemed to stop, no matter how hard they tried.
Still, he knew she was right. If they wanted to find out the truth behind those messages, they had to cross over. There was the possibility that this wasn't Walternate pulling another stunt to get him, that, indeed, this was real. And that, he couldn't just ignore. It wasn't just about him, about Olivia, about her, anymore. There was a child involved. A baby. And innocent little boy that was his.
He folded the paper twice in half and stuffed it into the back pocket of his jeans, then headed out in search for Olivia. He rang her twice while he waited for the elevator, but the calls always went to voicemail. With a ping, the elevator doors opened and he stepped inside while leaving a message for Olivia that he was looking for her and that she should call him back. He was about to tell her that he was sorry when the elevator doors closed and his cell reception was cut off.
The hallways were still empty in the huge building when he exited on the eleventh floor, but he knew that that would change within the hour when the first Massive Dynamic employees started to appear for their daily work routine. Even up here, people would soon be scurrying around like busy bees, most of them oblivious to what was really happening around them at this company.
He finally reached his destination, a light gray door at the end of the hallway that wasn't any different from the rest of the doors in the buildings... except that behind that door lay the provisional office of one Walter Bishop, owner of Massive Dynamic. If he'd find Olivia anywhere in the building, it would be here.
The sight that lay before him when he opened the door and stepped into the large office caused him to smile. While most of Massive Dynamic's interior was colored in any possible shade of gray between white and black, there was not a single spec of black or gray to be found here. The office was decked out in the three primary colors and almost every possible shade that resulted from a combination of either these colors. This office was definitely something else.
But it wasn't the extravagant interior design that had made him smile. The first rays of sunlight that crept through the windows fell on the sleeping figure that lay curled up on the bright purple couch that sat against the wall on the far side of the vast room. Long strands of blond hair had fallen into Olivia's face, moving rhythmically with her every breath.
For a moment, Peter just stood there, in the middle of the room, and watched her sleep. She looked so peaceful sleeping, and he never grew tired of seeing her like that. Her guard down, vulnerable, and at peace with the world. Silently, he stepped closer and crouched down in front of it.
He gently pushed a lock of her hair behind her ear which caused her to move slightly. Cupping her cheek with the palm of his hand, she moved closer into his touch as a soft, low moan escaped from her lips. He chuckled, then bent down and placed a short but tender kiss on her forehead. Her eyelids fluttered for a moment, but remained shut.
Peter could tell though that she had woken. Her breathing quickened, and after a while, her sleep laden eyes opened.
"I didn't want to wake you," he whispered as he sat down on the floor, leaning against the couch next to her.
"It's okay," she replied, her hand reaching out to caress the back of his neck, "What time is it?"
"Shortly after seven."
Olivia took a deep breath, then rolled onto her back and sat up. She ran her hand through her hair, disentangling a few knots that had formed during her short nap before reaching for her cell phone that she had stuffed under the pillow her head had been resting on.
"I called Astrid earlier. She and Walter are taking the first flight down here. They should be getting into JFK shortly."
She started to rise from the couch, but Peter reached for her wrist and held her back.
"I'm sorry," he said out of the blue, startling her completely.
"No, it's not okay. It's all just so fucking confusing," he took a deep breath before he continued, "I didn't want to sound as if I didn't care. Because I do."
"I know you do," Olivia replied, "You always do."
"I just don't know what to do. What to feel. But what has my mind reeling is that I don't know what she wants me to do. I mean, if she wants me to cross over and stay to help protect the kid..."
His voice trailed off and he turned away from her. He finally had said out loud what had been on his mind from the moment that he had learned that there was a child on the other side that was his. To cross over and stay to help raise the kid or not – that was what really was eating at him. He knew what it was like to grow up without a father. As far back as he could remember, it had always left him empty, a part of him missing. It was a feeling he didn't want to wish on anyone, especially not his own child.
"You don't want to leave your son behind."
He just nodded, then turned back to face her. There was this smile on her, that reassuring smile that always told him that nothing was as bad as it looked. That everything was going to be all right. Olivia Dunham, ever the optimist.
"I can't stay on the other side. This side needs me," he took a deep breath before he added, "I need to be here."
"It isn't an easy decision to make, I know. But you have to figure out for yourself what is more important to you and make a decision that you can truly live with for the rest of your life. Because whatever is going to happen, whatever you decide, you can't go back. You will have to choose. And whatever the outcome, you know I'll support you all the way."
His hand reached out towards her, his fingers twisting a strand of her long blonde hair around his fingers, "You are the most important to me."
She shook her head at him, "You shouldn't choose between me or your son. I could never live with that. Choose between this world or theirs, but don't make me a factor in any of this. I'm not important."
"Self-sacrificing doesn't suit you one bit, Olivia," he uttered with a bitter laugh, "You are as an important piece in all this as is that baby on the other side."
"I shouldn't be."
"But you are." There was a long pause between them before Peter spoke up again, "I just have to know that when we cross over, you won't make a decision on your own and leave me stranded over there."
"I promise I won't."
He flashed her a weak smile as he held out his hand for her, "Then let's get ready for the big crossing over. We need a plan."
Walter was aimlessly pacing the floor of the big basement lab while chewing on a red vine. He was oblivious to everything that was going on around him as he was deep in thought. Olivia had asked him to run a complete check on her to make sure that there would not be any nasty side effects from crossing over. What had caused her seizure after her crossing over from the other side the last time still remained unsolved, and she didn't want a repeat of that. The last thing they needed was her passing out on the other side, leaving them stranded and trapped in Walternate's hostile world. Being locked up twice in his underground laboratory on Liberty Island was enough. She never wanted to go back there. Ever.
The Cortexiphan levels in her system were still high which Walter had attributed to her overdosing on the drug during her last, and successful, attempt to escape from the other side. He had also claimed the drug overdose to be responsible for her seizure, rambling on about the first unsuccessful test on adult subjects and how three out of four of those tests had always resulted in massive seizures as well.
But Olivia wasn't satisfied – and neither was Peter. He had left the lab earlier, not being able to just sit around and wait for Walter to have a sudden epiphany about whether it was safe for Olivia to cross them over or not. Part of him just wanted Walter to say that it wasn't safe, that they shouldn't cross over and just remain over here. Then he wouldn't have to make a decision. The decision would have been made for him. But it never would be so easy, would it? Even if Walter would say that it was risky, he knew that Olivia would insist that they still needed to do it. She was no quitter. And that was why he loved her.
"So you say that as long as I don't take more Cortexiphan, I should be fine. No more seizures. Right, Walter?"
"It's my theory," he responded to Olivia's question, still nibbling on the last bit of his red vine, "Your levels are high, much higher than any adult should be able to tolerate. I assume you injected yourself with an even higher dose which, combined with the stress of crossing over, caused the seizure. But that's only my speculation."
Olivia stuffed her hands into her pockets and raised her shoulders, "So we're back to square one."
"If I had a bit more time..."
"We don't have more time, Walter. Peter and I need to cross over today. And I need to make sure that I am able to get us over there and back in one piece."
"Maybe if I..." Walter's voice trailed off in the middle of the sentence as he raced across the room towards one of the machines. He frantically tapped on the keys on the keyboard attached to it, causing it to beep rapidly as the monitor flashed in all different colors at him.
But Olivia knew that whatever Walter was doing, it would produce no answer to the question that was nagging at her the most. Was crossing over safe for her and was she able to cross them back over without any harm done? In the end, it would be like it always was – she would just have to take her chances and hope for the best.
She knew that if Walter had told her that she would risk another seizure when crossing over, she still would have taken her chances. Because saving that little child on the other side also meant saving the world, she had come to accept that. If her alternate version was so desperate to ask Peter and her for help, there was immediate danger for the boy. And that danger could only come from Walternate.
The only thing Olivia hadn't figure out yet though was just how exactly she'd cross them over. They'd found a weak spot which would come to her advantage but she still couldn't say how exactly she had managed to cross over in the past. All she had done was concentrate and think, but if it had been that easy, Walternate wouldn't have been able to pull her back three times. Whatever was different when she crossed over to find Peter and when she finally came back, she had to figure it out. Fast. As they were running out of time.
It was shortly after noon when Olivia heard the door to the lab open behind her and Peter stepped in. She just shook her head at him, letting him know that Walter had not come up with anything new. Crooking his head to his side, Peter answered her with a shrug of his shoulders. He hadn't expected a miracle.
The 2PM deadline they had set themselves for crossing over was rapidly approaching. Their plan wasn't fool proof and they had no backup, but that wasn't really anything new. They had no idea what to expect on the other side, what exactly it was that they would find there. They were wringing it, just as they always were.
"We could still call this all off," he said as he stopped next to Olivia and looked over to Walter at the other end of the lab, still frantically hitting keys and causing the machine to make all kinds of erratic beeping noises.
"That was never an option," she replied without even looking at him.
He stuffed his hands into his pockets, mimicking her as he stood inside the lab just as lost as she was. For awhile, they just remained where they were, silently watching Walter tinker with machines until Peter removed his hand from his pocket and reached for Olivia's arm. She looked over her shoulder and found him looking back at her with that certain expression that said they needed to talk. In private. She tipped her head, indicating for him to follow her to the small observation room that lay adjacent to the big lab.
"You've made a decision," she said as she closed the door behind them, not daring to look at him.
"There's something we haven't talked about yet," came his reply as he placed a hand on her shoulder. Slowly, he turned her around, forcing her to look at him. Olivia's gaze was poised at her feet, so he placed a finger under her chin and gently tilted her face up to look at him.
"I've been thinking. If this is not a ruse, if I really do have a son on the other side and if he is in danger from Walternate, what could I possibly do to help? Talk to Walternate? As if he would listen to me. Stay and protect my son? Anyone could do that, he wouldn't need me for that. So I've been thinking what I would do."
"Send him away as far as possible, where no one could get to him," Olivia replied, her voice a mere whisper.
"Yeah," there was a small pause before he continued, "Would you do that?"
"Bring him back here?"
"If this is what the other you wants, if she wants me to take him... It would change everything."
"One step at a time?" she offered him, a weak smile crossing her lips that looked anything but convincing, "If that's what she wants from you, to take the baby, then we'll bring him back with us. And then we'll see where to go from there."
"Olivia, whatever's going to happen, I want you to know that nothing is ever going to change what I feel for you." His hand cupped her face, his thumb tenderly caressing the smooth skin of her face. "I love you. I always will."
The summer sun was searing when they arrived at the weak spot. Part of Peter was still hoping that Olivia's attempt to cross them over would fail, but part of him also wanted to cross over and find out for once and for all if he really did have a son or if everything just had been one of Walternate's desperate attempts to bring him back.
They had agreed on a weak spot in Manhattan, far away from their meeting point in Queens though why Olivia had insisted on a particular spot on the Southwest side of downtown, he couldn't quite understand. There had been two spots close to the Queensboro Bridge which would have given them easy access to Queens and made their track to Forest Park a long but walkable distance. He wasn't going to question her decision though. She knew the other side better than he did and whatever her reasoning was for choosing that particular spot, he would accept it.
Their hands were locked, fingers tightly intertwined, as they walked into a small, deserted street just off Battery Place. Cars were parked at the dead end ahead, trees lining up behind them while the blue water of the Hudson River glistened in the sun off in the distance. This was their destination, their weak spot. The place where they would cross over to the other side.
Neither of them wanted to be there, but they both knew that they had to. Olivia took a deep breath, then stopped in the shade of one of the low buildings surrounding them. She squeezed Peter's hand, letting him know that she was ready. She felt him move in closer to her, wrap his arm around her waist while she closed her eyes and lowered her head towards the ground.
Concentrate and think. That was what Walter had pounded into her head. Concentrate and think. Concentrate and think. Her whole body started to tingle. Concentrate and think. Concentrate and think. She was shivering slightly. Concentrate and think. Concentrate and think. And then she felt the cool shade ripped away from around her and the hot sun burning down on her.
Her eyes snapped open immediately. The cars that had been parked in front of them were gone. As were the trees. What lay in front of them was a concrete desert which came to an abrupt end only a few yards away where the greenish water of the Hudson River splashed against the quay. They had arrived at their destination.
It took Olivia a moment to adjust to her new surroundings, to comprehend that she had really done it, that she had crossed them over. Her body was still shaking lightly, nausea creeping up as she swayed on her feet. Closing her eyes, she tried to steady herself and fight the nauseating feeling. This was new, it had never felt like this before. Not the first time, not the second.
She felt Peter's arm tightening around her waist, pulling her even closer to him which steadied her immediately. Her head dipped to one side and she rested it against his shoulder for a moment, trying to force her body to return to normal. First, the nausea vanished, along with the light-headedness, and then her body stopped shaking. All these new sensations had gone as fast and unexpected as they had washed over her.
When she opened her eyes and turned to her side, she found Peter looking directly around her. He had that intense expression on his face that he always donned when he was in a place where he didn't want to be, doing something he didn't really want to do. They were back in his home world, the place where all had this had started – the place they both had vowed they would never return to.
And then there was concern in Peter's eyes, the concern Olivia had seen so often before. Concern for her and her well-being. His arm was still tightly draped around her waist, holding her close to him, clinging to her as if he was holding on for dear life.
"C'mon," Olivia said softly, a faint smile on her face as entangled herself from his embrace, "We've got to get going."
She turned around and started to walk down the street. When Peter turned, he was startled by what he saw. What was the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in their world was stretching before them as the Brooklyn Battery Bridge. A three lane highway cast a shadow over Battery Park which lay fenced in right in front of them. For a moment, he just stood there, then jogged down the street to catch up with Olivia. In silence, he followed her around a few corners until they found themselves under the bridge and right in front of a yellow cab.
He didn't notice the sigh of relief that escaped Olivia, neither the small smile that played across her face when she headed directly for the cab.
"Olivia," his voice was a whisper when he walked up next to her just when she was pulling open the back door of the cab. She answered him with a "trust me" just before she slipped onto the back seat and indicated for him the follow suit. The cab door closed with a loud 'clunk' which didn't even cause the driver to look up at them.
"I'm not accepting fares at the moment," he spat at them without even looking up from the news he was reading on the electronic pad that was perched on the steering wheel in front of him.
"Hello Henry. Long time no see."
Olivia's warm voice caused the driver's head to pop up and turn around. He was startled at first, but then a wide grin appeared on his face.
"Indeed. I didn't expect you to see you again."
"I didn't exactly plan to come back here either. But things have changed."
Henry tilted his head to one side, "Who's he?"
Peter reached out his hand, "Peter Bishop."
"Oh, Peter," Henry chuckled as they shook hands, "You're the sort-of I assume. Henry Higgins."
"Long story," Olivia told Peter before she turned back to Henry, "He's the definite now. And we need your help."
"Ah, yeah, come to Henry when you need help," there was no mistaking the sarcastic tone in Henry's voice, "Last time I helped you, I had Fringe Division on my tail."
Olivia grimaced, "Sorry. I hope they didn't cause you too much trouble."
"You have no idea, lady," he paused shortly, "So, what can I help you with this time?"
"We need some info. And we need a ride."
"The latter I can help you with. The first I'm not so sure. Depends on what you need to know."
"I need info about me."
Silence filled the room while Henry started to fidget in his seat. He was a clever man, so it didn't take him long to figure out why exactly Olivia Dunham had come back to this side after everything she had gone through. He answered her with a nod, "Let's take a drive while we talk."
He turned towards the passenger seat and reached right under the glove box, fidgeting with a small box that was attached to the underside of the dashboard before he sat back in his seat and started the engine.
"Last time it cost me 300 bucks to replace the tracker."
"Now you come prepared."
"Hey, you never know when someone like Olivia Dunham stumbles into your cab. You better be prepared."
Olivia laughed and leaned forward towards the front seat, "You've been keeping tabs on me, haven't you?"
"Oh, c'mon, when a woman jumps off your boat in the middle of the East River, telling you she's about to go home to a different universe, you gotta check that out, right? You gotta make sure she's not pulling your leg."
"She didn't recognize me. So I knew she wasn't you. I still didn't quite believe the whole alternate universe angle though."
"But you do now."
Peter's interjection caused Henry to look up at the rearview mirror and lock eyes with him. The cab driver quickly shrugged his shoulders before he turned his attention back on traffic in front of him.
"You're here because of her, aren't you?"
Olivia leaned back against the seat as Henry turned the car North onto Broadway, "What makes you think that?"
"I think she got herself into a little bit of trouble."
"And just how little is that trouble?" Peter cut in again.
"I've been checking in on her now and then to make sure she was doing okay, all right? So last week, while driving down her street, I notice these guys in a car parked outside her house. Didn't think much of it until when I pass by her house again a couple hours later, the guys are still there. Sitting in that black car in the summer heat. Made me kinda suspicious. With her being kidnapped before and all."
"They're still trailing her?"
"No," came Henry's short reply.
"Henry," Olivia pressed, "What are you not telling us?"
He raised one hand in defense, "Okay, okay. So I turn the corner and there I see her running out of the back alley, her baby in her arms. When she sees me, she jumps into the backseat and tells me to drive her to this address in Queens."
"And what? Dropped her off at the corner of Broadway and 45th. That was the last time I saw her and the boy."
Olivia turned to look at Peter. No ruse, no ploy. The message had been real. Somewhere in this city, there was a little boy who needed help. Peter's son.
Peter shook his head at her silently before he turned to his side, staring out the window. He really did have a son with Olivia Dunham. Just with the wrong Olivia Dunham. And with the urgency that the messages had been sent through the typewriter, he had to assume that his son was in danger from his own grandfather. How much more fucked up could his life get?
He felt Olivia's fingers curl around his hand and squeeze it lightly, but he didn't turn to look at her. He couldn't. Instead he leaned forward and rested his forehead against the cool window and closed his eyes.
"He okay?" Henry asked from the front, observing the couple in the backseat through the rearview mirror.
"We've got to get to Queens, " Olivia answered him, deliberately ignoring his question, "Can you take us there?"
"45th and Broadway?"
"She's not going to be there anymore," she took a deep breath, "Just drive for now."
It was moments like these that reminded Olivia that it had not been a good idea to split up in a city like New York. On the one hand, it had given them the advantage of going unnoticed from the authorities, most importantly Fringe Division and the Secretary. On the other, it made keeping in touch all the more difficult. The phone lines were monitored, they both knew that. Using them was out of question. So they had decided to do it like people had done it for centuries. Leave paper messages.
They had certain spots all throughout the city, public, crowded places where they knew they would be unnoticed while hiding and retrieving short paper notes. They would always follow the same pattern. If one had left a message at one spot, move on to the next one and leave an answer. They would never show up any place twice, and never together. She had arrived at number eleven, expecting to find a note – but there wasn't one. She had checked the whole place three times, all while not drawing too much attention from the public and keeping out of reach of video surveillance. She couldn't stay much longer, knew that she had to move on to spot number twelve, but a part of her couldn't shake the feeling that something was not right. That at number twelve, there wouldn't be a message waiting for her either. That something had gone terribly wrong.
She felt a short tug on her long hair, causing her to stop observing her surroundings for just a moment. Tiny fingers were wrapped around a strand of her red hair, a pair of big blue eyes shining up at her while short giggles filled the air around her. The baby strapped to her body was bouncing happily in his carrier, unimpressed by all the commotion that was going on.
Olivia had never seen her son so bubbly and bouncy as she had seen him since they were on the run. She had always seen Henry as the silent observer, laying in his stroller or crib or sitting in his carrier and observing his surroundings with a pair of big, round eyes. Whenever she was around other mothers with their babies, her son was the most quiet, but also the most immobile baby of all. He wouldn't reach for things, he wouldn't even look at things... he would just sit and stare and not move.
Suddenly, there was that nagging feeling again that she should have noticed sooner that something had been so terribly wrong. From the day he had been born, Henry had slept a lot, had hardly ever cried or whined. While she had thought it to be odd - after all she had only ever heard from colleagues how much screaming and wailing their babies would do – everyone had told her that she was blessed to have such an easy baby boy. Even her mother had assured her numerous times that there was nothing wrong with Henry, that he was just that cute, little miracle baby.
The first few times she had picked him up from Liberty Island after a visit with the Secretary, all Henry had done was sleep. Sometimes, he would sleep not only through one feeding, but two. Trying to wake up him up was almost impossible, and if he did wake up to suck at his bottle, he would fall back to sleep after only a few minutes. She had taken him to his pediatrician several times, but the answer had always been the same: he was healthy, he was in his percentile, there was nothing to worry about. If he was hungry, he would make himself known.
Then she had noticed that glassy look. She knew well that at his age, Henry wasn't able to really focus on her or anything around him, that his surroundings were nothing but a blur of colors and lights. But the way he had kept looking at her had started to scare her. It had been as if he was looking right through her. He would react to noise, would turn in her direction when she spoke to him, but he had just kept on looking at her with that empty stare. Again, after numerous tests done at the pediatrician, she had been assured that her son was perfectly healthy, that there was nothing physically wrong with him.
It was when she began noticing the circular rashes on Henry's wrists and ankles after every visit with his grandfather at Liberty Island, that she had decided to take her son to a different pediatrician outside the city without the Secretary's knowledge. He had been diagnosed with contact dermatitis, probably caused by electrodes being stuck to his body. Nothing that some lotion couldn't cure, she had been told. But she still didn't know what had been done to her son at Liberty Island. After two weeks, she had found the courage to bluntly ask Walter Bishop about the rashes. His answer had been just what she had expected: it was nothing to worry about, probably just some allergic reaction due to a change in the detergent she used. He would have Henry checked out by a specialist.
From that day on, the rashes had stopped. But small, red pricks had started to appear on the soles of his feet. First just one on the left, then a couple on the right. They had been so tiny they could have easily been missed, but Olivia had known what to look for. The pediatrician in Upstate New York hadn't quite been able to explain the marks. They had been too small for a regular hypodermic needle, oddly shaped and in all the wrong places, too, but when Henry's blood work had come back showing an unknown substance in his bloodstream, there was no explanation needed any longer. That had been the moment when Olivia had finally been reassured that her intuition had been right all along – her baby son was the Secretary's newest pet project.
Trying to limit Henry's visits with his grandfather had not been an option. She had tried that once – only to be reminded ever so gently that it would take just a phone call to have Henry taken away from her forever. Olivia knew the Secretary wasn't bluffing. But if she wanted to keep her son safe, she needed to keep him away from Liberty Island. And the only way she could make sure of that was if she sent him away, to a place where even the Secretary would not be able to get to him.
Lincoln had called her insane when she had told him about her plan to send Henry to the other side. There was no way she would be able to pull that off without the Secretary ever finding out, especially since the only way to cross Henry over was by using technology available only within the secret, underground lab at Liberty Island. She had told him that she wasn't going to rely on a piece of junk that had pulled her back from the other side so violently, she had had to spend a whole day in the nano tank to recover.
Lincoln had called her even more insane when she had told him that she needed his help to get the Selectric out of secured storage to send a message to the other side. She was going to ask Henry's father for help. Because she knew that there was only one person who could help her take her son to safety – her alternate self.
For the last eight weeks, they had sent messages over the Selectric, trying to establish a connection with the other side. They had never received a reply. While Lincoln had been the pessimist, trying to talk Olivia out of her plan to send Henry over to the alternate universe, she had been ever the optimist, clinging to the hope that once they were ready to ask Peter for help, he would come. After all, hope was all she had.
Olivia was pulled out of her revery rather violently when a hand grabbed her by her upper arm and yanked her around the corner into the shadows of an old redbrick. One arm immediately wrapped around Henry's tiny body for protection while her hand reached for the gun strapped to her leg. Within a second, her fingers were closing around the cold metal, pointing the gun at the face of the man who had pulled her into the back alley.
"Whoa, Liv!" Lincoln called, raising his hands up in defense while Henry let out a startled wail.
"Fuck, Linc, you know better than to scare me like that!" She pushed the gun back into her holster, then placed a quick kiss on top of her son's head to soothe him, "You're not supposed to be here. What happened?"
"Got a message from Charlie. Class one event down at Battery Park. Same strange readings as the Opera House last year."
Olivia took in a deep breath, "They're here."
"It would seem so," Lincoln reached out and gently cupped the back of Henry's head with his hand, "Look, Liv, we can still call this off."
"No," she answered him rather quickly, "I'm not letting the Secretary use my son as a guinea pig for God knows what."
Lincoln just shrugged his shoulders at her, "We're way past the point of no return anyway."
Olivia undid the top buckles of Henry's carrier, removing the straps completely. The sling fell to her feet a moment later, and Henry was now freely cradled in his mother's arms. It seemed like an eternity to her that she held the baby protectively against her chest, trying to shield him from all the wrong in the world outside. From the day he was born, it was all she had ever wanted – protect her baby boy from all the evil around them. Change the world into a better place, just for him. In reality, she knew that all it had ever been was wishful thinking. It only lasted a few seconds before Lincoln's hands closed around the small body and took Henry from her arms.
"9PM Trinity Cemetery. In case you change your mind," he told her, but she just waved her hand at him, "Please just go."
"9PM, Liv," he reminded her but Olivia seemed not to notice. She placed one last kiss on the top of her son's head and whispered a short "I love you, nugget" before she turned and walked away, leaving Lincoln and Henry behind.