"July, 1967- death strikes a group of US mercenaries in the rainforest of the remote Motaba river Valley in Zaire. Victims suffer blinding headache, melting fevers, and catastrophic internal bleeding before their lungs literally dissolve away. A brief examination by US army chiefs convinces them that they want nothing more to do with this attack, and they drop a bomb on the valley to eliminate the evidence; they then suppress the entire episode.
"Thirty years later, the virus returns, via the San Francisco dock, carried by an illegally imported monkey. The monkey is released into the pine forests of California, escaping the twenty-four hour quarantine that has been placed on the city. The virus then makes its way to Boston on an infected person traveling by plane. People in a Boston cinema are then infected by a single cough. The infection spreads like wildfire, and is one-hundred percent lethal."
Olivia stared, "Walter- what is this virus?" she whispered, horrified.
"Oh, I have no idea," Walter smiled, "It was just the beginning of a movie I watched last night, 'Outbreak'. Have you seen it? Scary stuff."
"Terrifying," Peter said flatly, "Now get on with it."
"I bet I could cure that one faster than three days," Walter grumbled, moving about to gather his materials, "Yes, so, on to the Handle virus. Developed over thirty years ago, in this very lab. Come to think of it, the very year of that parfait incident…"
"Walter!" Olivia and Peter said together, snapping him back to attention.
"Ah! Anyways, The Handel virus wasn't successful, not by a long shot," he turned to the whiteboard, picking up a pen and beginning to sketch, "Research for said virus was terminated. But I kept my notes, as well as a log of the effect the virus had on the subject, after incinerating the rest of the research. After that… well, the Handel virus slipped to memory, I'm afraid."
"So, Belle would be the only other person with the knowledge of the Handel virus?" Olivia questioned.
"Do you think Massive Dynamic has something to do with this outbreak?" Peter said.
"Why not? They've had something to do with the other cases. It's impossible to rule them out."
"It was Belley's idea to terminate the research," Walter mused, erasing a few of his lines, "logically, it was only costing us time. I'm telling you, the theory was garbage." he capped the pen, turning back to them, "I don't see the benefit to resurrecting a lost cause."
"He's right- why would Belle dig up a project that was well on it's way to nowhere?" Peter said, sitting back and scratching his chin, "Walter, what is that?"
Walter glanced over his shoulder at the whiteboard, grinning, "Oh, that? Do you like it?"
"Never mind, I don't care," Peter shook his head.
"It's a dandelion."
"Is this leading to anywhere relevant?"
"Then we don't care." Peter turned back to Olivia, "Say Massive Dynamic is involved. You said yourself- the killer had a message, that we aren't alone."
Olivia nodded, as Walter flipped the board, beginning to scribble hurriedly, "This case brings up the past, and maybe that's what they wanted to say- that they know our secrets. Everything about us. Scraps of Walter's work. Belle himself would have no use for Walter now- he's already taken the work they'd done and founded Massive Dynamic, what else could he possibly want?"
"It's not a message," Peter said in realization, "It's a threat."
"What do you mean?" Olivia asked, taken aback.
"Think about it- Walter is, well, nutty. And Belle is no where to be found, so who else is left? Someone who knew what both of them knew. Someone who has something to gain from 'the Pattern'." Peter leaned forward, shuffling his fathers notes and Olivia's photographs, "It's a threat to tell us that they know exactly what we know. That they can control us, manipulate us… for all we know, we could be working for them, right now. All of us are vulnerable… all of us, but Walter."
"How do you mean?"
Walter capped the pen again, gazing up bleakly at the mathematical formulae that covered the board with purple writing. Peter got to his feet, "Because of this," he stepped forward, grabbing the whiteboard and spinning it end over end. The mathematics were replaced by the dandelion, then back to numbers, then back to petals, "Walter is nuts, which means he can solve the pattern."
Olivia watched, uncertain of what to reply.
"Who ever this is, they're scared of Walter," Peter said, "So they sent him a little candy gram, to acknowledge that they see him as an equal."
"Candy?" Walter asked hopefully, and sneezed into a napkin.
"No candy, Walter. I have a feeling that we may have received this 'gift' from whoever is directly controlling the pattern."
"And now that we've received it, the killings will stop?" Olivia questioned.
Peter nodded, "I have only to assume. What I do know is that, now that we're on the radar, things can only go down from here. They're expecting a lot from us, now."
Olivia gazed absently out the car window. Traffic rumbled noisily by, but she put it aside, as she had learned to do from many years of working and living in a city, and her thoughts were quiet, in tune with the soft hum of the engine. She'd filed her report days ago, giving her findings to Broyals…but somehow, she felt hollow, and cold. The bright streetlights seemed to force away the dark in her mind.
She did not do well with threats unanswered.
"Hey, Olivia," Peter said softly, nudging her gently as he returned his eyes to the road, "Look," he jabbed his thumb over his shoulder at the back seat.
Olivia glanced back, smiling. Walter had removed his shoes, curling his knees to his chest and hiding his face in his folded arms. A soft snore escaped him, and Olivia chuckled softly.
"He had a long day," Peter explained, "he kicked a swan at the park; like, ninja status. It was freaking hilarious."
Olivia muffled her laugh with her hand, "I take it he has no fear of birds."
"More like no fear of defending his ice cream to the death," Peter smiled, "But it was alright. What about you? How was work?"
Olivia shrugged, and stretched tiredly, "Ah, I'd rather not talk about it. Crap I want to leave at the office door."
"Okay," Peter said, "Sounds reasonable. Work and personal time should be separate."
Olivia smiled at him, "Thanks."
They pulled to a stop at the curb just down the walkway for her front door, and Olivia unbuckled her seatbelt, gathering her things and opening the door, "Goodnight, Peter, thanks for the ride-" she felt his hand on her wrist as she moved away, and she paused, looking back at him.
"Olivia," Peter said seriously, "Don't be scared."
"I'm not scared," She answered.
"I won't let anything happen to you- you know that, right?"
"Thanks, Peter. But I don't need protecting."
He shook his head, "Everyone needs protecting."
"What do you want, Peter?"
"A kiss," he answered with a small smile. It was happening before she could stop herself, and Olivia at last came to her senses as she shut the car door. Blushing slightly, she turned away, hurrying up the walkway.
Inside the car, Peter watched her go, and suddenly became aware of a soft, deep chuckling from the backseat, "Oh, shut the hell up, you old bastard!" he snapped, twisting around to slap at Walter blindly. His father only laughed openly, defending himself.
*To whom it may concern:
'Water Music'; an orchestral suite (1717) by German-born British composer George Frederick Handel.
It consists of three separate suites for strings and wind instruments. The exact circumstances of its composition are not known, but it was first performed to accompany a royal barge trip along the Thames River from Whitehall to Chelsea on July 17, 1717