It would seriously piss me off if I were to come around and start jacking stuff from myself. Honestly- you couldn't even really get mad, because you'd have done the same thing… and did… all the while knowing how mad it would make yourself… confusing. o.O

*Fringe, while currently escaping my possession, is just begging for AU. Seriously. They even tore open the dimensions for it. Which, as it seems, is not appeased with soap...

Chpt. 1

"You've reached the phone of professor Bishop. I am unable to answer at this time, so please leave your name and number, and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Thank you."

*Beep*

"Hi, professor B. It's me, Astrid- your new assistant? Anyways, I'm getting a little worried, down here. You said you were coming down to the lab today, weren't you? I don't know, maybe I'm just going crazy. Call me back, bye!"

"Are you always this persistent?" Walter asked flatly as Astrid flipped her cell phone shut.

"Oh, hey, professor B.," Astrid said, feeling slightly foolish, "I thought you weren't coming down here."

"So I heard," Walter replied, pulling off his coat and scarf to hang them on the coat rack near the door. Next he donned a newly-starched lab coat, "I'm only a few minutes late, anyways."

Astrid looked down at her wristwatch, "An hour and a half," she corrected.

"Yes, well. Perhaps we can get started, then," Walter shuffled past her and into the basement laboratory, "Have you done the checklist, as I instructed?"

"Yes, professor B.," Astrid answered, pulling on a lab coat of her own and following after him. She pushed the clipboard into his hands for him to inspect, "I've started up the equipment, logged onto the computer- password's 'Pastrami'-, opened the blinds in the office, made coffee, unlocked the specimen storage freezers, and checked the mail."

"You got the mail?"

"No mail today."

"Rats. Speaking of rats, did you feed Jimmy?"

Astrid paused, "…who's Jimmy?"

Walter stilled in his motions of adjusting a microscope in passing, "Oh… yes. Never mind. Good job," he handed her back the clipboard, and continued on his way.

"Thanks," Astrid said, "But you still haven't told me what we're doing down here, professor B."

"It's a laboratory. Naturally we will be doing sciencey things. And don't think this will raise your grade, either," Walter chuckled, and Astrid gave him a small smile.

"I know that. And I don't even take physics. But what are we doing?"

Walter looked at her for a few moments, before quietly replying, "We're trying to find something that was stolen."

"What?" Astrid's eyes widened as the professor's form suddenly hunched with pain, a short grunt escaping him, "Professor B.?!"

Walter straitened, his face draining of color as he panted softly, "Oh, dear," he murmured, and contracted again, his elbow jarring a set of glass flasks to shatter on the cement floor.

Astrid rushed to him as his knees buckled and he collapsed onto all fours, "Professor B., what's wrong?!"

"My arm-!" He gasped, "My chest-!"

Astrid immediately scrambled up the steps, yanking her purse off the pegs near the door and rushing to him, "Here," Astrid said, "lay down on your back, I'm getting you some aspirin…"

"It's not-!" Walter started, before he was cut off by a spasm of pain, thrashing on the floor.

Astrid dumped her purse, her fingers raking through her various pens and cosmetics, and she seized the bottle of medication, popping it open and selecting two of the bitter-tasting white pills, "Here. Calm down and swallow these," and she pressed them into his palm. She set to pulling open his lab coat and yanking out the knot of his tie, the buttons of his shirt flying as she tore it open. Her eyes rounded in shock.

"It's not a stroke!" Walter managed at last, the aspirin becoming crushed powder in his clenched fist.

"What- what are you…?!" Astrid stammered, flabbergasted and horrified.

xXx

He thought it was funny how everyone mimicked the sound of hydraulics to indicate something robotic, when, truthfully, it was much more like a soft purr, when it was working correctly. When it wasn't working so hot… it certainly let him know.

"Bish? Bish, wake up. Wake up."

He opened one eye at a time. First his left eye, the iris its own, grey-blue color. Then his right eye, mechanical, sapphire blue, adjusting much in the same manner that a camera shutter did, as he focused to the light of the hospital room. He blinked a few times, squinting a bit to confirm the false sensory organ as his own.

"'You feeling alright, now?" William Bell stood over his old friend, looking concerned, "tell me what you're feeling, Bish."

Walter took in a deep breath, holding it for a few moments. He had long become accustomed to the heavy, liquid feeling of the carbon fiber casing that cradled his lung, and how much longer it took for him to breathe than it did the average individual. Slowly, listening and feeling the soft clicks of artificial tendons tightening, his flexed the fingers of his right hand, and made a fist, "I think it's working again," he murmured softly.

"Shake," William said, as if to a dog. Walter lifted his hand, offering it to him, and William nodded, "Very good. Does it feel alright? Do you feel alright?"

"Yes. Well, I'm a bit sore."

William chuckled, "You would be. The damn thing had you tazed on the floor, when I got there. You've had quite a voltage through you." Slowly, with the aide of his friend, Walter sat up on the gurney, raising his arm to look at it.

Walter did not have a right arm, and a good portion of the right side of his torso was gone, too. He had lost them a long time ago; seventeen years prior, to be exact. What held his body together were wires and mechanical circuitry, complex and extensive, ranging from the inner reach of his clavicle to the lower points of his ribcage. Looking at the contraption, hearing through his rebuilt ear canal, seeing through an artificial eye, made him realize, time and time again, that he owed his life to William 'Belly' Bell.

A single word, SERENITY, was etched into the carbon fiber plate that comprised his outer forearm.

"What did you do to my masterpiece, Bish-fish?" William joked, crossing his arms across his chest.

"I got it stuck in the garbage disposal again," Walter smiled, amused at the horrified look on his friend's face, "I'm only joshing. I don't know what's wrong with it."

"Nina doesn't have nearly as much trouble with hers than you do," William grumbled, "You've been mistreating it, I know you."

"I'm a prototype, Belly. Things go wrong with the prototype, that's why it's called a prototype," Walter said, "And Nina's isn't nearly as extensive."

William leaned over the gurney to shine the small, bright beam of a flashlight into each of Walter's eyes. His left pupil was slow to react, his right almost too fast, "You haven't been sleeping again," he said quietly.

"No."

"Walt, Serenity uses you like a battery pack, I've told you this. If you run out of energy, it goes on the fritz. You have to take care of yourself, or it will kill you," William looked at him seriously, "And then I've only prolonged the inevitable."

"Don't worry, Belly, I'm not going to die," Walter said, "I've got too much going on."

"The Divider, how is that going?" William asked, beginning to pack up his set of delicate mechanical instruments, sweeping nubs of spent wires onto the floor.

"I ran a few tests recently, but it's the same problem I've had, all these years."

"Not enough power."

"Yes." Walter sighed, raising his steel fingers to run them back through his hair in distress, "I just can't figure it out. All these years, Belly, all of this time, and I still can't figure the damn thing out."

"I met that new assistant of yours," William said, changing the subject after a few moments of depressing silence, "She's a cute one. Cuter than I was, when I was your assistant."

"Yes, well. I suppose she'd be an ex-assistant, since I have to fire her, now."

"Why's that?"

"Because I'm Robo-professor. Robotics like yours aren't exactly out on the market yet, and there's no way in hell I can pass this off as a prosthetic." Walter reached over to grab his undershirt, pulling it over his shoulders and wincing at the sore kinks in his muscles.

"Did it bother her?"

"It bothers everyone. It even bothered…" Walter paused, and shook his head, looking away from the gilded gold band around his finger, "…but it doesn't matter. I'll find another assistant. Besides, a cute girl in a lab means I'm only begging for distractions."

"Walt, have you found the spot yet?" William asked quietly.

Walter looked up at him, then glanced around the empty room, "I'm using the same place, Belly."

"Bish, you can't! you've already tried it time and time again, and look what's it's done to you!" William cried, "I won't be able to save you again, I'm not that good!"

"I'm not counting on you to save me!" Walter snapped, "I'm counting on getting back what that son of a bitch stole from me! And if I can't, then I'm better off dead!"

"Peter," William said, "you want Peter back."

"He stole my son," Walter said, his voice breaking, "He stole my child."

xXx