Oneshot, whoot! And perhaps AU…? Dunno, I guess it could be. I just felt like writing a stand-alone scene like this, regardless of whether or not it makes much sense. Ah, well.
* I do not own Fringe, nor any of its sheer amazing-ness.
A QUIET DAY.
Argh, early. Too damn early. And hot- why the hell was it so hot? Oh, yeah- summer, huh? And California.
"Are you alive, boy?" someone asked, crouching over his body and checking his pulse against his throat. Distantly, Peter could hear the cry of gulls, and the constant rush of the surf. The side of his face that touched the harsh beams of the sun was hot and sticky, while the other side was itchy with dried salt against the sand.
Peter muttered what he thought might have been "Don't touch me."
His father shook his head hopelessly, "It's illegal to sleep here now, did you know that?"
"Not if you can't walk," Peter replied, and Walter smiled.
"I've spent plenty of nights on plenty of nameless beaches with plenty of sangrias, son. Back when it was legal to be in a state such as yours," he pushed a Styrofoam cup of coffee into Peters' lifeless palm.
"And what exactly is my present state, Walter?" Peter muttered, sitting up in the sand and raising the cup to his dry lips to let the coffee scorch his sore tongue.
"Well, it's Sunday. And you look like seaweed," Walter sat beside him, shaking the sand from his flip-flops as he gazed out over the ocean, "so I'd say… bottom of the barrel?"
Peter nodded into the steam of his drink, and looked down at his surf-tanned chest, "Something like that. Did you bring me a shirt from the car?"
"You're running out of them," Walter replied, pulling the article from his back pocket and tossing it against his son's chest, "you live in the water, boy. Or perhaps in the swill, both of which would cause your apparent half-nudity," he continued to squint out at the tiny triangles of sails on the horizon as Peter pulled the tee shirt over his shoulders. Walter sipped his own coffee.
"You haven't been doing much better yourself," Peter answered, "Where did you spend last night, anyway?"
"No place. I just don't care for sand in my hair, call me spoiled. What do you want to get for breakfast?"
"I don't know. What'd we have yesterday?"
"Beer and a nap. You wouldn't remember," Walter scratched at his faint stubble, and took another drink of his coffee, "Sandra drove."
"Who?" Peter questioned groggily, rubbing his eyes with his fingers.
"The poor girl you called 'Olivia'. She left shortly after, actually- no, boy, sit up and drink your coffee," Walter insisted, supporting Peter with an arm around the shoulders, "being hailed after the reason you're rotting away here like a liquor-soaked barnacle, and all."
"You're rotting away here with me, old man," Peter grumbled, feeling a headache setting in, and he inhaled the sea air deeply, "and I don't see you complaining too much."
"I'm quite used to rotting away, myself. I'm good at it. I'm thinking waffles, how about you? Strawberry."
"Why couldn't you get waffles without checking if I was dead?" Peter snapped, his words and thoughts slightly slurred with nausea.
"What was that?"
"You heard me."
"If you can say that again, you won't have needed a sobering." Walter watched him expectantly, and Peter glared.
"…Shut up," he grumbled. A seagull landed near them, plucking at a shellfish in the sand. Peter was starting to feel chilled by the moist air that saturated his clothes, and he rubbed his shoulders and shivered slightly.
"We've been here a while, son. Too long. Truthfully, I don't know exactly how long, but long enough, I think."
"Do you want to go back? Then go back. I'm fine being a barnacle-soaked… ah, screw it." Peter massaged his aching temples.
Walter frowned, "You see what I'm saying. We can't be here forever, boy, even if forever seems to be hidden in the bottom of a tequila bottle someplace."
A smile broke across Peter's face, "We were pretty wasted that time, weren't we?"
Walter smirked, "I won't say that I haven't enjoyed the time together, Peter. But you're missing the point. I'm very bad at making sense, Peter; I need you to make sense. She hurt you, I'm not denying it."
Peter looked bitter, "Shut up. You don't know what-"
"You're less coherent than I am, look at you. And you think I've never jumped on a plane to anywhere for no reason at all? It doesn't matter how smart we are- we're all going to be stupid for some reason or other. We can't be geniuses all the time; hell, look at me."
Peter chuckled softly, "I'd rather not. But I can't go back, Walter. Not after all of that…"
"You've had your grievance, Peter," Walter nodded wisely, "you've done just fine at that. But now it's time to get back to work, and I know it'll be painful. But there are bigger things out there for you than another pitcher of margaritas."
"That does sound good," Peter admitted, taking another drink of his coffee. He licked away a grain of salt on his upper lip, "This is gonna suck, you know."
"Going back. Showing up after I've been an idiot and run away." Peter sighed softly, looking out across the waves. The sun was climbing, now, any trace of the morning overcast mere wisps on the horizon, and the water seemed to sparkle as it moved away from the shore, pulling away from the beach. They were silent for a while.
Walter scratched his stomach under his shirt, "Let's just start with the essentials. The essentials being strawberry waffles, of course."
Peter grimaced, "Ugh. Nah, I'm good. I don't feel like throwing up waffles."
"So you have a vomit preference?"
Peter considered, "…No."
"Then we're getting waffles," Walter smiled.