Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe, Wal-Mart, Black Friday, or anything herein...
Author's note: This is just a random moment of insanity, bordering on a crack!fic, born of not enough sleep, having my ambulance catch on fire in the middle of the night in downtown Cincinnati, and the ensuing trip to Wal-Mart on Black Friday to replace the jacket that got burned putting out the fire. It probably sucks, but it was fun to write. It in no way is meant to disrespect the two casualties that I know of that were killed in the Black Friday insanity.
2AN: For those who are outside the USA or live in a barrel, Black Friday is what retailers call the day after Thanksgiving when thousands of people camp outside Wal-Mart until 6 a.m. when they pull the packaging from sales products and let people in where they attack like pit bulls after a steak. It's scary as the gates of Hell to be there shopping, but freakin' hilarious to stand back and people-watch.
Olivia Dunham was just returning from the early morning/late night coffee run when she heard Walter's voice from the other side of the lab. "I simply refuse to believe that no one has one! That's outrageous!" Astrid was talking soothingly to the borderline insane genius, while his son, Peter, was trying not to get frustrated.
"Walter, they are a thing of the past. They went the way of 8-track tapes!"
"What?" Olivia said, handing one Styrofoam cup to Astrid and one to Peter, keeping one for herself.
Walter looked at her pleadingly. "These two are trying in vain to convince me that audio tapes are no longer commonly used and that there aren't any here!"
She shook her head, trying to clear it. It was way too early for this. "Audio tapes? But there are many different-"
"He means cassette tapes, Liv," Peter translated.
"Cassette tapes?" She said. "Why are you arguing over cassette tapes at six in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving?"
"Because I need one!" Walter exclaimed. "Didn't I tell you that whatever brainwave patterns I pick up from our killer have to be imprinted on a magnetic recording strip or we will be unable to process it into data that we can-"
Peter forced a smile at Olivia. "Recording it on a cassette is the only way to make it understandable instead of just electrical impulses."
Walter looked at him indignantly. "That's what I just said!"
"Okay," said Olivia, looking over at the corpse on the table. "We're running out of time. How long until you can't get it from him anymore?"
The elder Bishop consulted his watch for a long moment. "Around two and a half hours. Give or take."
Olivia nodded, closing her eyes. She knew that, but had been hoping she had miscounted. "So we need one. Before any electronics stores open."
"Yeah," said Peter.
"Well," she said, "There's only one place to get them at this hour of the morning."
Astrid groaned, then realized that Olivia was looking at her. "No way. Not a chance. I am not going to Wal-Mart this morning! It's Black Friday, and I don't get hazard pay!"
"Uh…no. I avoid that place like the plague on a good day. Definitely not going there one the day when even otherwise sane people misplace all their marbles!"
"But we don't need marbles, we need magnetic recording strips!" Walter insisted.
"'Livia, you're the FBI agent, supposed to be so brave and tough. You go."
She made a face at Peter. "One thing you learn at the FBI is never go into a potentially dangerous situation without back-up.
"This is insane, you realize that, right?" Peter asked her as he drove them to the nearest Wal-Mart Supercenter. "I mean, I went to one of these a few years ago to hide in the crowd. I saw a teenage girl get hit in the head with a board game. It cut her so badly she needed stitches and the ambulance crew had to come in and fight through the crowd. It took them nearly 20 minutes to reach her. The same day, I saw two grown men in a fistfight over the last computer. Liv, this place is more frightening than anything the Pattern has thrown at us so far!"
Olivia nodded. "My mother and I used to go to these when I was younger. Six a.m. on the day after Thanksgiving. It was enough to remind you what you're thankful for." She noticed the time on the dashboard clock. 6:23. "The sale just started."
Peter groaned. "This is such a bad idea."
They pulled into the parking lot and found a spot two from the end in the last row. Peter estimate that there were over a thousand cars in the lot, each car carrying an average of two people, maybe more...Wasn't there some kind f fire code against this or something?
"Okay," she said, suddenly all business. "Do you know the rules for this?"
He looked at her with the expression that said he would have been shocked if anything shocked him anymore. "There are rules for obtaining outdated technology at Wal-Mart on Black Friday. Okay, what are the rules?"
"Number one, DO NOT make eyes contact with someone or engage with them in any way. Number two, DO NOT touch anyone else's buggy. If you are falling and it's between hitting the floor and grabbing a buggy to stay on your feet, hit the floor. Keep one hand on my arm and the other on your wallet."
"Okay, my wallet I get, but your arm?"
Olivia was still looking dead serious. "If we get separated in there, we'll never see each other again."
"Any more rules?"
She shook her head. "No, just stay alert. I wish we had a SWAT team. Or at least riot gear."
They made the marathon trek inside and were greeted with pure pandemonium. There was a sea of people as far as the eye could see. Some people were trying with limited success to push two or even three buggies full of purchases. Some were shouting, laughing, others in noticeably worse moods shoving their way through. About a tenth of them were wearing Santa hats, as if a small amount of holiday cheer would bring something to this chaos. Olivia looked up and saw the sign for electronics at the far end of the store. Of course. Why wouldn't it be?
Peter's eyes were widened at the mess. How were they going to get what they needed? Would they even survive? "Liv, go back to the car. I'll get it and try to get out in one piece. There's no use in risking us both."
"Now you want to be chivalrous? Come on, we're here, and we stand a better chance together."
So they ventured into the crowd. Olivia led them, as her smaller, more lithe form cutting through the living barrier. Only her death-grip on Peter's hand pulling him behind her kept them together. Unfortunately, this left him in the somewhat embarrassing position of shoving his much larger frame through the closing gap Olivia had made. "Excuse me…sorry…I gotta keep up with her…sorry…" Men gave him mildly sympathetic looks, most of them having been dragged along by a woman themselves. Women, however, were shooting death-glares of metaphorical dagger in his direction. How dare he try to get where he was going by any means necessary! Never mind that they were doing the same thing…
Finally, they were just outside the electronics enclosure. The fact that the area was closed off with only a six-foot opening to go through had compounded on the already insane mess. It was wall-to-wall people, packed in like sardines. It had formed a very effective traffic jam and was moving even slower. "We'll never make it…"
Peter looked around, searching for some kind of gap. He could jump the barrier if necessary, but there was nowhere to go once he got in. "Got a plan?" He asked casually.
"None," she replied. "And we're running out of time. Do you-"
Before she could open her mouth, Peter had reached into her coat pocket (letting go of her arm, not his wallet) and pulled out her badge. "FBI!" he yelled at the top of his lungs. "Everybody freeze!"
Olivia dropped her eyes, cheeks turning red, but when she looked up, she realized that no one had paid them the least bit of attention. She smiled. "Plan B?"
He shook his head, and suddenly, someone slammed into him from behind. Having lost his grip on Olivia's hand in favor of her FBI badge, he had nothing to stop his fall. Putting out his hands to grab something, anything to catch himself, his hand hit the floor and he was able to catch himself. Unfortunately, at that moment, a man in heavy work boots stepped directly on his left hand. Letting out a cry of pain, he fell the rest of the way to the floor and hit his head. The room started to spin.
When he opened his eyes again, there was a small clearing around him, and Olivia was right in front of him with a bloody handkerchief. "Peter? Are you okay?"
He winced, shielding his eyes from the bright florescent lights. "Anyone get the license number of that truck?"
"No," she said, then turned her head to address the crowd watching. "But when I do, they're under arrest for assault of a federal agent!" She turned back to Peter. "Where does it hurt?"
He raised his left hand to check his head and a lightning bolt of pain shot all the way up to his elbow. "Uh, we can start with my hand. Someone stepped on it, at least two metacarpals broken. And then my head. I'll be okay."
She pressed the handkerchief into his uninjured hand, placed it on his wound, and helped him to his feet. "Let's get you to a hospital."
He shook his head, instantly regretting it as a starburst of pain shot through it. "Cassettes, remember?" "Let's go ge-" A wave of dizziness shot through him. "I'll sit here, you go get it."
Everyone was watching them by this point, and clearing back away from her, so she left him on the bench and walked into the electronics section. People cleared back from her like she had the plague. Maybe she should have threatened to arrest someone earlier. Before Peter got a concussion and a broken hand…
The cashier met her before she got to the counter. "What do you need? I'll get it. I'm sorry about your boyfriend. Please don't sue!"
She bit back several replies. "Cassette tapes. And hurry."
She left the car running, Peter laying back in the passenger seat. "I'll be right back." She told him. "I'll just run these in to your father and then we'll get you checked out at Boston General."
"Okay," Peter said. The cut on his head had finally stopped bleeding, and he would have insisted that he didn't need a doctor, but his left hand was swelled up the size of a softball and hurt like hell. "I'll be right here."
She handed the Wal-Mart bag to Astrid. "Can you two handle this without us?" She asked.
Astrid nodded. "I'm sure. What's wrong? Where's Peter?"
"In the car. I'm taking him to Boston General."
"Is he okay?"
"His head is going to need some stitches, and his hand is broken."
Astrid's eyes were wide as saucers. "What happened to him?"
Olivia managed a wry smile. "Black Friday."