Salutations, and thank you for flying FaustAir…erm, wait…
And, at last, my true colors come to light. I'm a Walter fan, and it's shameful, I know. I wrote this fic simply to obsess, but, as I'm sure I don't have to tell you, obsession is a good thing. I'm having a hard time choosing a second favorite character, but I was fond of The Observer…
Forgive the intro to this one, I know it's written a bit precariously. I just had to get the beginning facts out there, however flavorless they may seem. It'll pick up, I swear. I refrain from voicing my concerns, 'cos it may make my writing appear feeble. Regardless of my insecurities, please enjoy/endure.
*Fringe is in no way affiliated to yours truly. Those experiments a few years back do not count.
She paused at the door of room a21. Taking a deep breath, she raised her hand to strike the door three times. The strikes suddenly seemed weak, timid, and echoed with hollowness in the empty hall. What was she doing? She didn't have time for this, it was too soon…
Before her spinning indecision could encompass her and turn her away, the door opened a crack. A single eye looked out at her, and she suddenly felt quite small, on-the-spot, and embarrassed. More unease swept over her as the wrong voice asked softly, "Olivia?"
Gathering her wits, she replied, "Hello, Walter."
"Please, come in," Walter stepped away for the threshold, swinging the door open wide, "You'll have to forgive the mess…"
Olivia stepped into the apartment, glancing around timidly as she took in the sights of her new surroundings. It was not the first time she'd been here, but it was her first time to be at the apartment for something casual, "So… is Peter in?"
Walter paused, then blinked slowly, "Um…no. He's…he's doing something…" he concentrated, then shook his head, "why? Did something happen?"
"No," Olivia answered, "It's just, um-"
Realization suddenly swept over Walters' features, "Oh, yes- your date. I'm sorry, I forgot."
"It's not a date…" Olivia protested weakly, a blush tracing her features.
"He told me to tell you something," Walter said, ignoring her comment as he shuffled into the compact kitchen. Strangeness settled over Olivia, and she suddenly realized the uncharacteristic garb the doctor wore, consisting of loose blue jeans and a black tee-shirt. His bare feet were soundless as he strode across the kitchen tiles to retrieve a highlighter-pink sticky note for the refrigerator.
"Walter, what are you wearing?" Olivia questioned, raising a brow.
"Oh," Walter chuckled, plucking at his garb, "these are some of Peter's things. He's out doing laundry- that was the message I was supposed to give you. They're much too big for me, I think…"
"Wait, Peter's out doing laundry?" Olivia questioned flatly, anger twinging her.
Walter glanced around, and leaned close to her, "No," he whispered, and winked.
Olivia looked confused, "What?"
Walter looked pleased with himself, "Would you like something to drink? Soda, coffee? I like to mix my sodas- but not with my coffee…"
"Where is Peter, Walter?" Olivia asked, her alarm rising as he turned back to the refrigerator and began to poke around inside.
"Doing laundry," Walter said in sing-song, straitening with a bottle of Hawaiian Punch and ginger ale and shutting the door with his knee, "Don't worry, he'll be back. He's just nervous, is all. Don't worry."
Olivia was silent as he poured two glasses of soda mixes, and she processed his words, "Nervous?"
"I'm not at liberty to say much," Walter smiled, handing her a glass, "Straw?"
"No. Walter, I don't understand. Peter's out doing laundry because he's nervous?"
Walter shrugged, leading the way into the living room as he sipped his drink through a straw. He sighed as he flounced onto the sofa, "Ah- that's good. Please, have a seat."
Olivia felt her anger burst, "Unbelievable! The first guy I date in a year, and I get set up with his dad!"
"Olivia," Walter said softly, breaking her rage suddenly. He watched her over the back of the couch, his eyes sparkling distantly, "please, stick around."
Flustered beyond repair, Olivia sighed, looking down into her drink. She shook her head, and moved to take a seat on the sofa.
"You look nice," Walter offered, taking another drink and motioning to her black skirt and blouse "I'm sorry that my own garb is of no complement."
"Thanks. You wouldn't have any vodka to put in this, would you?"
Walter chuckled softly, picking up the videogame controller from the low coffee table, "Have you tried these 'videogames'? I'm afraid Peter's gotten me addicted to them. I am surprised to see that virtual reality seemed to grow stagnant, while I grew stagnant…" he unpaused the game, a cellar scene of a horror game popping onto the screen, "It had such promise…"
"Walter, I still don't understand where Peter is, and what he's doing."
"I really dislike repeating myself, Olivia," Walter warned, his eyes unmoving from the television screen, "Peter is out doing a bit of laundry so I can change out of these ridiculous clothes, and I believe it would be best if you simply waited for him."
"If Peter isn't going to bother to show up, I'm leaving," Olivia said finally, getting to her feet, "Tell him I said thanks."
"Write it down, I'll forget. Oh, I seem to have been promoted to 'slayer'," Walter mused, "lovely."
Biting back her hurt pride and precarious feelings, Olivia started for the door, "Goodnight, Walter."
"Olivia, wait!" Walter exclaimed, and she looked back to see him scrambling over the back of the sofa, "listen," he said, extending a hand in a gesture of ease, "you're being just as nervous and stupid as he was. If I let you leave here before you've both sorted things out, He'll hate himself, you'll hate you, and you'll both hate me."
Olivia felt shocked, and gaped openly at the doctor.
Walter sighed, scratched the back of his neck, and returned to the couch, sipping his drink glumly, "The decadence of youth escapes me," he grumbled, returning to his game.
Realization struck Olivia like a lightning bolt. The year after John had tried to kill her…after the man she loved had died, and she had found she had never known what he truly was…and all this time, she had been holding back her feelings, afraid of what might happen if she opened her heart again. But what she hadn't paused to consider was the fact that she was not alone in her fear. Peter was a certifiable genius; there had to be a reason he had fallen in with bad people, and a reason he kept running away, shutting out the people who cared for him, just as she did…
Olivia found her way back to the couch and took a seat beside Walter, awed at her own blindness. Walter glanced over at her, and pushed her drink toward her as he slaughtered a zombie with a chainsaw. She took the glass and sipped quietly, feeling sheepish, "Thank you, Walter," she said at last, "I was being stupid and scared, and- thank you."
Walter let out a cry of surprise and morbid delight as a zombie plunged its teeth into his characters' throat, essentially ending the game, "Did you see that?! How delightfully morose!"
Olivia laughed softly, "Yeah. Amazing."
There was a rattling and the door of the apartment was bumped open as Peter pushed his way in, a mounded basket of laundry in his arms, "Walter?" He called, "Walter, I got most of the folding done, but these need to be sorted…" he paused as Olivia stood, turning to him, "…Olivia," he exclaimed, taken aback. "I thought you…"
"Hey," she smiled, "Are you ready to go?"
"I-uh, listen, Olivia-" Peter stammered.
"Get dressed and get out, jackass," Walter said loudly, and screams erupted from the television speakers as he let loose with a flamethrower.
"Um, yeah…" he set the laundry on the kitchen counter, "Just give me a minute?" and he fairly sprinted into the bedroom. In moments he emerged, pulling a jacket over a fresh shirt, "So um…shall we?" and he offered his arm.
Olivia smiled again, and took his arm, "Let's go."
Walter glanced up as he heard the door snap shut, "You're welcome," he mumbled, mashing buttons as he leaned forward to take another drink. He yelped again, laughed with glee, and continued.
He awoke to the glint of light flashing in his face, making him squint, and a relentless, high beep sounding in his ears. He could not hear the whispers, not yet. Grunting in annoyance, Walter lifted a hand to block the light as pushed himself up from the sofa. He coughed and rubbed the middle of his sore chest, pushing the mist from his eyelashes with his fingertips. He glanced up at the television, where the words 'YOU ARE DEAD' flashed in red repeatedly. Two empty soda bottles littered the floor under the coffee table.
Walter slid his palm over his own face, feeling the scratch of newly arrived facial hair on his chin, and his fingers moved down to scratch his throat. He frowned slightly when he realized he still wore his son's clothing. His thoughts came to rest on the cell phone buzzing and beeping and flashing on the tabletop in an attempt to gain his attention.
He scooped up the phone and flipped it open with his chin, clearing his throat and asking groggily, "Hello?"
"Peter?" Alarm pricked Walters' senses sharply; Peter did not refer to him as 'dad' or 'father'. It hurt a bit, but something was obviously amiss.
"Dad, I won't be home tonight. See if you can record the Jets game for me, will you? The instructions are on the fridge, 'kay?" His voice was cheery, falsely so. Walter could hear a tense silence behind his son's voice.
"Alright, Peter. I'll do my best. Is Olivia well?" he questioned, sitting up and blinking to clear his head.
"She's with me, she's fine. I've got to go, dad. Remember- instructions on the fridge. Try not to forget."
"Yes, I won't. fridge, got it." He rubbed his forehead, hoping the information would stay in place.
"Okay. I love you, dad." there was a tremor in Peter's voice, and Walter felt himself twitch. If there was any doubt in his mind of an error, it was gone.
"Ouch, Peter," Walter whispered.
Peter chuckled softly, and the line went dead.
Walter got to his feet, switching off the television and stumbling into the kitchen. A single sticky note shown on the shiny steel surface of the refrigerator, where Peter had scrawled, in case of emergency followed by a telephone number. Walter plucked up the note, and carefully dialed the number into his cell phone, followed by the 'send' button. Walter bit his lip with worry as he set the phone to his ear.
The numbing tone sounded three times in his head, his stomach twisting into a knot as the answering machine picked up; "Hi, you've reached Agent Astrid Finesworths' phone. I'm not available right now, so please leave your name and number and I'll get back to you. Bye!" and a beep sounded.
"Um, Aster, uh- it's Walter, Walter Bishop. It- well, something bad has happened, and I think Peter and Olivia may be in trouble. I don't know my own number, I can't seem to get a handle on this cell phone thing…so, um…I don't know what to do." He knew how distressed and helpless his own voice had sounded, at the end, and gave an effort to maintain his composure. He sighed, rubbing his temples, "Perhaps you can get a hold of agent Broyals, or something. I just… I don't know what to do." he paused, wracking his brain for a solution, and finding only vapors of unfathomable thought, "I'm going to the lab," he said at last, and snapped the phone shut.
Walter's senses were electrified with anxiousness as he went about, pulling on his own clothes and shoes. He grabbed his wallet and keys, stuffing them into the pocket of his overcoat with the cell phone. He shut off the lights and locked the door as he hurried outside.
It was raining heavily, and he immediately cursed his non-existent umbrella as he pulled up the collar of his coat around his neck, large, icy raindrops splashing his face. He paused and thought about going back for an umbrella, then decided against it, lest he somehow forget his objective. Truthfully, he didn't know why he was going to the lab- perhaps he felt safe, there…more in control, as if being surrounded by his research equipment would somehow inspire him with a solution to his distress. His son was in danger, and he didn't want to know what to do. He felt slightly sick, and cursed his lack of ability.
Walter stood, staring at the car glumly as yet another problem presented itself. He didn't have a license, he hadn't driven in sixteen years…the damn things were more like driving a spacecraft, now days. No, he knew Boston well enough- he'd walk to the station.
He sludged miserably down the sidewalk, wrapped in his cold thoughts and soaked trench coat. God, Peter… he'd never forgive himself, if he were hurt, or worse…
Walter came to his senses to find himself climbing over the stone wall of a cemetery, dropping onto his feet on the other side. The soles of his shoes squeaked in the wet grass as he strode between the headstones, avoiding each carefully as he made his way to the opposing wall. He jumped to catch a hold and scramble up the wall, heaving himself over to the street on the other side. Panting slightly, he wiped his lips, continuing on down the sidewalk.
The flash of car headlights illuminated the rain, and he looked up as he was hailed, "Walter!" the voice was familiar, and he heard the slam of a car door, "What the hell are you doing out here?!"
Walter felt awkward as he shaded his eyes and Astrid stopped before him, glaring from under her umbrella. "Did you know I haven't taken this route to the University in nearly twenty years? But my feet still remember it…"
She took his elbow, pushing him toward the headlights, "Walter, get into the car," she said flatly, and he did as he was told. Astrid slid into the driver's seat and put the car into drive as they pulled away from the curb, "Here, take this- you're dripping all over my upholstery," She pushed a towel into his hands, "I got your message- what the hell is going on?"
Walter dried his face, pushing his wet bangs from his eyes, "Peter and Olivia are in trouble." he said simply.
"How do you know?" Astrid asked skeptically.
Walter frowned at the resentment in her voice, "I didn't imagine this. Peter called me, and there was something amiss, I could hear it."
"Wait- so, Peter called you? What did he say?"
"Why are we going back to the apartment? I need to go to the lab. Peter asked me to record the Jets game, because he won't be coming home tonight."
Astrid disguised her laugh with a cough, a bad disguise, and Walter furrowed his brows in annoyance, "So, that's it? Just the Jets game?"
"Yes." Walter said stiffly.
"Walter, I think-"
"He also called me 'dad', told me he loved me, and there is no Jets game on tonight, even if Peter liked Football, which he doesn't, because all of you people out here seem to have an unfathomable addiction to baseball, of all sports-"
"Walter, you're rambling," Astrid interrupted, "So, he was acting strangely. Are you sure he hadn't been drinking? Did he sound distressed?"
She let a few moments pass, and he sensed she was allowing him to realize the error in his own reply. Walter sighed, turning his head to look directly at her, his cold, blue gaze unwavering, "I know something is wrong. I know my son. He said he loved me- Peter…" He trailed off, turning his flushed face back to the window, "Peter doesn't love me."
There was silence a little longer in the car, and Astrid then suggested, "Why don't I call him, and if he answers and anything seems wrong, I-"
"What time is it?"
"Two thirty, about."
Walter shook his head, "It's far too late. If he and Olivia were being held, then their captors would know something was amiss. We-we need to get a hold of your boss and locate them- the FBI can do that, right? Something about tracking cell phones, or …something?"
Astrid sighed, and started in a reasoning tone, "Walter-"
"Stop the car," He said suddenly.
"Stop the damn car!" he hissed, and she pulled to a stop. Walter unfastened his seatbelt and kicked the door open, stepping out. He tossed the towel back onto the seat and slammed the door. He jammed his hands into his pockets, storming off into the rain in the direction of the university.
Astrid turned the car around, rolling down the window to call his name as she slowed to stay with his long strides, "Walter, what are you doing?!"
"I don't have time for this! I don't have time for you to be questioning me like an idiot! I know I'm insane- but just once, I know what the hell I'm talking about! My son is in danger, and so help me if anyone thinks they are going to stop me from getting him back!"
"Walter, stop! Get back in the car- I'll call Broyals, alright? Just get back in the car-"
The bark of a pistol report cut through the rain sharply, and Walter stumbled as he felt a burning pain graze his shoulder blade. There was another shot, at the glass of Astrid's window fractured, "Get in the car!" She cried as more shots rang out. Walter clutched his shoulder, hot blood running through his fingers as he stumbled to the other side of the car and scrambled inside, barely taking his foot from the pavement before Astrid put the gas petal to the floor.