Spoilers: Through "Inner Child", episode 1.15

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

Author's Note: Thanks much to Alamo Girl for the beta.

Retribution

Olivia doesn't tell Charlie she recognized the van. As soon as she ID'd the Artist she remembered it from Marlborough Street, but it wasn't until she read the forensics report while finalizing her paperwork that she learned she'd passed by his killing ground without a flicker of recognition. The autopsy report, lying in silent blame next to the forensics report, tells Olivia that Kate Harper was alive, waiting to be saved. Those facts have already worn indelible tracks into her brain, and her gut churns more with every repetition.

Charlie would just tell her, again, there was no way she could have known. He doesn't get it. She should have known, should have been able to sense, somehow, that she'd passed by a slaughterhouse on wheels. If there was any justice in the world that much pain and despair would leave scars visible from miles away.

She doesn't tell Charlie she's glad the Artist ran. She hunted him down like the rabid dog he was and made him feel a shadow of the terror he had inflicted on his victims.

How terrified had Kate been, while Olivia was five feet away and oblivious? Was she conscious? In pain? Did she know that help had been so close? Did she pray for it to come, only to curse her purported rescuer's name when that help had walked on by? Did she try to escape, or was she too overwhelmed to even make the attempt? Did she hold out hope until her last moments, or did she give in to despair before the final cut ended her pain?

There's no way Olivia can know. All that's left is Kate's corpse, the only answer a blank stare of mute reproach that Olivia wasn't good enough to put the pieces together.

She doesn't tell Charlie she could have disarmed the Artist. She didn't need to shove the knife into his chest. She didn't need to kill him.

When he lunged with the knife she listened to the whispers of his victims and turned the blade on him. Obeyed her heart's scream that such a monster couldn't be trusted to the legal system but needed to be put down. A familiar path to follow, one free of guilt. What scared her, as she shook her way free of the adrenaline high, was how easy it was.

She's glad he put himself within her reach, giving her the excuse to break his bones in payment for the agony he had caused, to cut him like he had cut so many women. She can still feel the punch of the knife sliding into flesh. Not a clean kill, not like a gunshot, but messy and intimate. Killer and victim, tied together by blood spilt.

She doesn't tell Charlie she would do it again in a heartbeat. All the paperwork and psych evaluations in the world can't make her regret for a second that there's one less monster terrorizing the world.

It's not justice, but it's the only atonement she can offer up to Kate. The only apology she can give to all the victims she should have saved.

She saved herself. She should have been able to save them.

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