Spoilers: 1.7, In Which We Meet Mr. Jones

Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or its characters.

Author's Note: Alamo Girl rocks for giving beta advice and support.

A Matter of Choice

Walter had experimented on him.

Of course he had.

Peter grinds his teeth and tries very hard not to clench his fists as he remembers Walter's attempts at ducking a confession, memory no prettier this time than in the previous hundred or so variations of the infinite loop he's stuck on. Given Walter's idea of self-medication is a home-brewed cocktail of psychotics, why would he pass up tinkering with his own flesh and blood? The mad scientist's version of father-son bonding, alive and well in the Bishop household. Walter won't even understand Peter's fury if he tries to articulate it.

Peter isn't sure if he could've gotten words out through the haze of rage, anyway.

Before today he hadn't quite remembered. All he had left of that period of his childhood were fragments of sense impressions rather than concrete memories, and not surprising since he'd been the recipient of Walter's own personal rationalization for electroshock therapy. The equipment, the comment on his electrical tolerance, the familiarity of being Walter's human guinea pig, and suddenly all those fragments rearranged into a picture he'd give good money to forget.

Now, lucky him, he's letting himself be strapped down, ready to play guinea pig again.

Astrid's expression, as she tightens the straps around his wrists, is questioning under her dogged professionalism. Probably debating his sanity, just as he is. He pulls out his best reassuring grin and waits until she turns away to yank at his bonds. The padded nylon doesn't give. Neither does it dig into his wrists or his forehead, though, so the damage will probably be minimal, which is at least one up on the last time he was tied down and wired up. This time, the pain will only be centered on the electrodes crowning his head instead of ricocheting through every cell of his body.

In theory, anyway.

Panic suddenly digs its claws into his chest, and he focuses on his breathing. One breath, then two, then three. Animal instinct screams at him, but he suppresses the almost overwhelming urge to fight free and bolt. The straps don't matter. The electrodes don't matter.

He's spent too many years running. This time he's here to stay.

He doesn't do this for his father, even if respect and affection for the man is starting to sneak under Peter's guard despite Walter's best efforts to derail them. He does this for a woman whose husband has been taken down by a bit player from a bad B movie. He does this for Olivia, who's counting on him to get it right this time. He does this for himself because he'll be damned if he backs down from the stuff of childhood nightmares.

The pain that lightnings through him is more familiar than it should be, as is the alarm when his father injects him with a concoction of drugs of unknown composition and with unknowable effects.

The satisfaction, when he finally pries from the dead guy's brain the answers Olivia demands, becomes more familiar by the day.

And he likes it.

It's not just a byproduct of drugs and electricity, although he wishes he could blame their mind scrambling. He likes the triumph of knowing innocent lives have been saved, the pleasure of forcing another murdering bastard to face his sins. The relief that this time his conscience is clear.

That's part of the many reasons he hasn't left. He's not being coerced into it, not anymore. His chance to walk away expired months ago, and he regrets it less than he expected.

He'll stay and play guinea pig. He'll deflect Walter from choosing other victims to test his theories on, help out Olivia wherever he can with whatever skills are at his disposal. And while he's here, he'll face down his past. Because being here, doing this work with these people, he doesn't have a choice.

He absently rubs at his wrists as he watches the parasite loosen its hold on Mitchell Loeb's heart. Samantha Loeb's face relaxes in relief as her husband's heartbeat steadies and Walter declares the man safe for transport back to the hospital for further care.

Chalk up another win for team Dunham.

Aftershocks of pain still tremor through him, but he realizes he's smiling. The good of staying here not only balances the bad, but makes him look forward to laughing in its face.

In the grand scheme of things, not a bad day. Not a bad day at all.


Concrit always welcome.