These short stories battered around in my head for a long time, before I could settle my thoughts and put them down into something fathomable for the general public. They mainly started as a series of 'what if's and 'wouldn't it be charming if…'-you know, the kinds of thoughts used to fill a boring hour of menial tasks, such as doing laundry, walking to the bus shop, or performing prefrontal lobotomies. In my opinion, Dashiell Kim was an interesting bit of trivia about Walter, and it would be kind of nice if there was a scene where Peter interrupted his father while he was writing a letter to his old friend.
Idle wants, idle.
*I do not own Fringe, and any weirdness discovered in my useless, time-killing paragraphs can and will be used against me in a court of law.
Story One: Slaughterhouse Manners
Walking to his cell seemed to be more of a crying shame that the walk down the courtroom aisle for his conviction. The sanitation shower had chilled him far more than standing with his lawyer, in a courtroom full of reproachful stares, as they had read his sentence; life, in St. Claire's State mental facility.
He knew he was crazy. Perhaps it was just now sinking in.
They said nothing to him as he reached the tiny room, and they snapped away his hard rubber restraints, moving him inside. He only listened to the jingle of the key ring as they left the room, shutting the door. A grinding squeak as the tumblers of the lock fell into place, and a few moments later, a dull buzz as they exited the ward, leaving him in silence.
They had passed thirteen cells, seven on the right, six on the left. He was cell six, on the left. The room was twelve foot by ten foot, meaning there were 112 tiles on the floor. 1456 tiles in the ward, so far. No, no, that couldn't be right, he'd forgotten to compute the ones in the hallway…Dashiell Kim sat on the side of his steel bed, his gaze unmoving from the floor. He was missing something again. The equation was always missing something. Why was he so stupid? His beautiful wife had died, because he was so stupid…
Dashiell felt his chest heave under his chin in a mute sob. His throat hurt, his eyelids were swollen and achy, and his head pounded. But still, the numbers kept running, in his brain. Three lights, in the room. Half of his cell number. Two separate windowpanes, covered with a fine mesh, to prevent shattering.
Dashiell did not dare allow his thoughts to stray to the equation. No, no, that was far too dangerous, he hated it. He hated anything he couldn't understand. They had tempted him into the abyss, by giving him everything and then taking it all away. So, so, so stupid. He hadn't deserved what they had offered him, he was so stupid.
Dashiell dropped his chin to his chest again, allowing his arms to lay limply across his knees. Time passed, and he timed it with the dull, slow throb of his pulse. 10,817 heartbeats, then an orderly shuffled in with a steel tray of food, and a syringe. Dashiell did not move, as he felt the burning pressure of the needle in his arm, and only slowly blinked when the door banged shut.
Dashiell began to construct an equation to subtract his heartbeats to zero.
Walter Bishop was having a dream. It was strange, because he hadn't had one in a very long time.
"You can hold him, Walt. He's not an explosive," she was laughing.
"Yes, but…" he protested weakly.
She bypassed his indecision with a frown, hefting the baby boy in her arms, then plopping him into his father's lap.
Walter tensed immediately as his son settled in his lap "Peter-it's-I'm not-!" he sighed as she laughed again, leaning in the kiss him and touch his hair.
"Walt," she murmured fondly, "He's your son. He's going to love you, even if you don't know what to do, sometimes."
"You can't know until you at least touch him. It's like you've been allergic, the last five months. Besides, you two are adorable together- he looks just like you." and she left the room.
Walter wondered if he could move or not, with Peter in his lap. He froze, as the sleeping baby twisted around, opening his eyes wide. They were changing, again- from green, like his mother, to blue, like Walters'.
"Um, hello, little one," Walter managed to say.
A wide smile spread across Peter's face, his eyes sparkling. Walter felt heat rush his face immediately, "Yes, daddy's a idiot, isn't he? Look how handsome you are. Look at that." Walter found himself echoing his son's smile, as a bright giggle bubbled back in reply.
Peter wrapped his tiny, soft hand around Walter's thumb. Walter stared, with baited breath, as Peter examined it curiously, then, abruptly, engulfed the thumb in his mouth with a small slurping noise.
Peter only smiled up at him.
Walter paused in his discomfort, then sat back, sighing in fond hopelessness, "Very well, Peter. You must be terribly tired of sucking your own thumb, so we can share mine, okay?" Peter's tiny digits gathered the cloth of Walter's shirt sleeve as his father stooped to kiss his forehead gently.
Walter awoke as the buzzer of the ward sounded, and he hurried to dry the tears from his face before his cell door swung open for inspection.
It was always so cold, in the morning. St. Claires was simply a cold place. Even when the summer outside the chain-link turned green, the halls stayed a chilling shade of cement grey. When Walter was feeling under the weather, his eyes would sometimes match, in the depressing color.
They were simply red and itchy, today.
Walter rolled onto his back with a sigh, sniffing back his runny nose and scratching back his mussed curls, straying his itching behind his ear for a few moments before returning his hand to his chest with a soft cough.
"Dr. Bishop. Up and at 'em." came the voice through the open door. A male nurse stood at the ready, watching him cautiously.
"Okay," Walter answered softly.
Groggily, he sat up and climbed out of bed, gathering his folded, grey jumpsuit and white, featureless sneakers, holding them to his chest as he shuffled out of the room, dressed in his under shorts and white tee-shirt. In a numb daze, he stood beside his door, waiting for the instructions to exit and head for the showers.
Why that dream? Why now? He hadn't dreamt of Peter in six years. All the horrible nightmares had stopped after the first few months, but the other dreams, the memories of when he was happy, they had lingered painfully for what seemed an eternity of sadness.
He would rather wake in a screaming madness than sobbing sanity.
He did not have much time to ponder his melancholy thoughts, before his eye caught something new. It almost frightened him, and he suddenly found himself staring, immersed in wonderment of the man that stood across the hall from him.
He was tiny, firstly. And round. Wide glasses rested on his round face, obscuring his dark, thin, Asian eyes. Short, black hair stood away from his head in spiky parts, and his jumpsuit was wrinkled and disheveled, as if he had slept in it.
He glared at Walters attention, as if daring him to speak.
Walter smiled at him. He had decided immediately that he would like him. The stranger was like an angry Shiba Inu, and he had had a neighbor in Baltimore that had a Shiba Inu that he was quite fond of.
Kind of like an irate little shogun. Or emperor. Or something.
Walter realized that he was still staring. The Shiba Inu, finding that his glare had had no affect on the completely absent Walter, turned his anger down the hall at the barred door. Walter opened his mouth to address him, but was cut off as the instruction came through to continue on to the showers.
The Shiba Inu followed after the other occupants of the ward without another glance at Walter, his chin tipped slightly up in defiance. Walter smiled again. What an adorable new friend.
Idiots. This place was filled with idiots, like cattle, waiting to be drawn to the slaughter. That idiot-looking man with that idiot-looking grin that made Dashiell feel like an idiot.
But at least the showers had been warm, a welcome break from the chill in his chest that had appeared when he had entered this place, and seemed to settle in as a permanent resident.
Dashiell was a bit upset with the sorry, unkempt state of his jumpsuit, when he was informed that he would not be offered a new one until that night, before 'lights out'. But he was quick to realize that there were far worse states that he could be in, as he watched the assisted occupants struggle with their nurses in an attempt to dress themselves.
The catatonics did not do much.
Breakfast. Bland, flavorless. But his sever hunger pangs forced him to consume the nearly colorless food, and not much was left on the tray when he stacked it into the pile with the rest. He couldn't help but notice that that man was still watching him. And, much to Dashiell's agitation, kept smiling.
What are you, in love with me, you freaking weirdo?
Dasheill knew that, economically, asylums seemed to be a drain on the economy. Experts said that the mentally unstable were incapable of adding anything into society, and were therefore considered dead weight. Many times before, Dashiell had wondered to himself why the government did not cut their losses, and eliminate their funding on trivial things such as these, and focus on more important matters of the national budget. Now, he wondered what would have happened to him if people like the one he used to be ran the world.
Maybe something better than this- a permanent, mind-numbing naptime.
Dashiell entered the ward day room to find an assortment of angry, unstable-looking individuals…and the smiling fool from cell thirteen. Frowning with uncomfortable annoyance, Dashiell searched out a place to spend his time…the farthest away from him.
A tall fellow with a jutting jaw seemed to take offense to Dashiells' general presence in the dayroom. His hard, small eyes gazed up at Dashiell with unbased contempt, and the stranger got to his feet as Dashiell took a seat near the window in the corner. He strode over, his tall, lanky frame looming over Dashiell uncomfortably. Slowly, cautiously, Dashiell got to his feet, moving away, wondering perhaps if the aggression he had experienced was territorial. His hypothesis was inconclusive, as the ominous stranger continued to follow him. Three times, Dashiell moved, still shadowed by wordless threat.
Dashiell glanced over to see if the cell thirteen was still watching him. He was. No smile existed, on his face, replaced only by cool, calm calculation, and as Dashiell met his blue-grey gaze, the smiling fool got to his feet. Dashiell's thoughts returned to his own problems.
If he hit the angry stranger… would that establish a certain dominance? Would he be rid of any other troubles that might befall him, simply by striking first, striking hard? But getting into something on his first day… such indecision was like being thrown into the petty bullying of elementary school all over again. Cold sweat, the beginnings of adrenaline, began to start on his brow, as the aggressive stranger neared, and Dashiell turned to face him.
Dashiell exclaimed as he was suddenly gripped by the back of the collar, and pulled backward, a human form stepping between himself and the tall stranger. The smiling fool gazed calmly, yet warningly, up at his opposition, "Patch," he said softly, his voice barely above a whisper, "you're being rude."
They stared at each other a few moments silently. Then, grudgingly, 'Patch' returned to his seat on the sofa.
Dashiell didn't know how to react, as he analyzed the situation. Would he seem weak, now that he had been defended? Would this make matters worse? Would the smiling fool expect something of him, now? His defenses immediately rose as his guardian turned to him.
"'Sorry about Patch," he said, smiling again, "new things tend to put him…off."
"I guess I should thank you," Dashiell replied gruffly, "I didn't really expect manners, in a place like this."
His smile faded, "It's an asylum," he said, "not a preschool." Dashiell did not know if there was understanding in the strangers' voice, or mild offense. Dashiell immediately felt sorry for his uncalculated comment, but made no attempt to voice his remorse.
The stranger diffused the discomfort of the situation with a smile, offering his hand, "I'm Walter, Walter Bishop."
"Good for you," Dashiell replied coldly, turning away, "I don't need friends, and I don't want them."
"Does your nose often bleed, when you're upset?" Walter questioned, and Dashiell snapped his hand to his upper lip with a curse. Walter only smiled again, "I'll bet you get sick, after a confrontation. Some people simply don't take well to adrenaline. Take it easy." he took him by the shoulder, "Come on, let's get a seat for The Price is Right."