Spoilers: Through 1.11

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

Author's Note: Thanks much to Alamo Girl for the beta and the support, especially on the early (and embarrassingly rocky) first draft.

Distorted Perceptions

Olivia fiddles with her pen as she stares at the screen, shifting to find a more comfortable position. The pain from the spinal tap is only a memory, but the pain from the various bumps and bruises she picked up in the last forty-eight hours is achingly real. She misses the analgesic adrenaline high she coasted on while closing down the case.

She closes her left hand into a fist, releases. Holds out her forearm and slowly twists it, wincing as pain spasms above the background discomfort. Maybe a sprain. Maybe just a particularly bad bruise. Possibly a hairline fracture.

She'll favor it until it heals. She has no interest returning to the place where she woke cuffed to a bed, or to anywhere else they might poke and prod her. Besides, exposing weakness will open her to the predators circling around looking for an opportunity to tear her apart. Harris, for instance.

A trip to the hospital would only postpone the inevitable, anyway.

She has forms to fill out, in triplicate, a set for every shot she fired. Add this to endless questions about every decision she's made in the last few months and an appointment for psychological profiling in the morning. Harris is trying to destroy her in the details, missing the bigger picture in the midst of his vendetta. Someone in Internal Affairs has it in for their little unit, to send that man here on his witch hunt.

And if she reads the situation right, the bastard will be happy to destroy her team on the way to discrediting her.

Anger flares through her when she remembers how Harris questioned her choice of team. Although it burns to admit, she can see where Harris is coming from, even understands why those who don't know the Bishops would distrust them. She forgets, sometimes, how the outside world sees them.

Walter Bishop straddles eccentric and insane, but she works with him so often she forgets words like "crazy" and "insane" have negative connotations when applied to him. She forgets little details like "manslaughter" and "deemed incompetent to stand trial". Forgets his past experimentation bordered on unethical when it didn't stride boldly across that line. Forgets these are the only facts anyone else has to judge him by. Others only see the mad scientist and not the man inside. Some days he exasperates her, some days he annoys her, but no matter the problem set in front of him he always comes through for her.

Besides, given their investigations, his brand of lunacy is almost comforting.

And then there's his son, the smart, sarcastic, pain in the ass Peter Bishop. Everyone else—well, those who have access to his records, anyway—sees the con artist. Genius, yes, but a genius with a proclivity for the wrong side of the law, arrested seven times but skating by without a conviction. A man who is, in his own way, just as dangerous as his father.

Certainly no one to rely on.

She's occasionally tempted to slug him—more than occasionally, some days—but she's never doubted him, though John's betrayal should have taught her different. She trusted Peter before she had reason to do so, and in the months since that instinctive trust has only become deeper ingrained. Maybe it's because she walked into this knowing Peter's criminal past, if not all the details. Or maybe it's just because he's Peter, and even if she's never quite sure where his loyalty lies she knows—knows—he has her back.

She doesn't care what the Bishops look like to others, only what they mean to her. They're so much more than those words their critics throw about. They're the people she confides in, leans on. The ones by her side when she faces down horrors the Pattern has spawned. No matter what the job throws at them or how they have to do it, they'll get the job done.

Anyone who attacks her choice of team is wrong. If Harris thinks she'll let him use them against her, he's sorely mistaken. She'll protect them, no matter who she has to take on to do so.

After all, is she perceived as any less suspect? Harris sure as hell doesn't think so, and he's not the only one.

She's weathered numerous accusations over the years. Too cold and too emotional, and she's never figured out how anyone rationalizes those opposites. Hardass bitch, but that one she wears with pride. Emotionally unavailable. Driven, by those being kind; obsessed, by those who don't bother. Argumentative, sometimes even insubordinate. Female—and some consider that the worst accusation of them all.

She twists and pain shoots through her arm again. Crap. No hospital, but maybe she'll talk to Walter and Peter. Between the former's vast stores of knowledge and the latter's more practical experience—including, she's sure, no few bumps and bruises himself—she bets they can cobble together some sort of treatment.

She shuts down the computer and pulls all her files into a pile. Paperwork will be just as annoying at the lab, but at least there she can bug the Bishops for clarifications about the virus they'd dubbed Nasopharyngitis gigantus and how exactly it went from a mild nuisance to a self-propelled menace.

She hits the lights on the way out and doesn't look back.