Warnings: Minor swearing
Spoilers: Season 1
Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or its characters.
Author's Note: Thanks go to Alamo Girl for attempting to keep my italics under control.
Peter doesn't break stride as he hits Broyles' office and throws open the doors, interrupting whatever little confab Broyles and Nina Sharp had been engaged in. He stalks to the center of the room, gaze raking over them as he fights the urge to strangle them both. "Charlie called."
Broyles' mouth tightens. "Bishop, I don't think—"
"I'm talking to her." Peter stares him down, teeth clenched and fingernails digging holes into his palms.
Broyles trades a glance with Sharp, then nods. "She's in room 6."
Peter's out the door before Broyles finishes. "At least they had the grace not to stick her in holding," he mutters, raking a hand through his hair.
He pauses in front of the conference room, takes a deep breath and steels himself before opening the door. She slumps at the table, a little worse for wear, eyes focused a million miles away. Defeated. And it pisses him off.
"What the hell, Olivia?"
"Peter?" She turns, and for a moment hope brightens her eyes, then dims and disappears, buried beneath despair.
Whatever happened out there hit her harder than any of the other shit she's dealt with. Or maybe it was just the final blow on top of all the other hits she's taken. Charlie only sketched out the bare bones of the story, but it's enough to tell him she's being stupid and scared.
He grabs the chair next to her because he's not going to stand and tower over her, not if she's like this. "You're letting Broyles and Sharp bully you into signing your life away."
She doesn't look at him, just studies her hands where they sit limply on her lap. Her voice, when she finally speaks, is too soft. "It's my choice."
"Since when is your 'choice' running away?" Not in this universe or any other; she may ignore things she doesn't want to deal with, but she doesn't know how to run. "This is... this is insane."
"You're talking about letting Massive Dynamic turn you into a... a guinea pig." His stomach roils at the thought. "They're gonna lock you in a lab, throw away the key."
"What other choice do I have? Who will I hurt next time? Ella? You?" She buries her face in her hands. "Maybe this is what I deserve."
"No. Never." He shakes his head. She can't believe that. But she does, and he's even more furious at Broyles for letting Sharp talk her into it. Fucking bitch and her agendas, trying to get her claws into Olivia one way or another.
He has to convince Olivia she's wrong. Get her to come to her senses, then they can deal with the rest. And since she refuses to see reason, he'll hit her where it hurts. "You do this, and Walter and me, we're out."
Her head comes up and her spine straightens as she meets his eyes. Finally. "Peter, you can't."
"Fringe Division is more important than—"
"No, it's not." Important in the abstract, maybe, but she's more important in the concrete, here-and-now reality, at least to him. Selfish, but he's never claimed to be anything but. "If you believed that, you wouldn't be throwing away the best chance they have at getting to the roots of the Pattern. So if you're gone, I'm done."
It takes thirty seconds for the implications to take hold, her slow uptake just another indication of how far this has thrown her off her game. "You're blackmailing me?"
Whatever it takes. "Turnabout's fair play, sweetheart."
Her expression flickers between amusement and annoyance before crumpling into guilt. "I burned them, Peter. They were coming after me and I reached out and they exploded into flame."
"They were trying to kill you." And he's viciously glad they're dead, but he doubts that is going to comfort her.
"This isn't turning off lights, or dreaming someone else's actions, or stepping between realities." Eyes wide, she leans towards him, hands clenched in fists on her knees. "I set them on fire. Nearly took out—nearly killed—two of my people in the explosion. And it didn't even register what I'd done, not until the backwash of heat hit."
The frantic break in her voice guts him. He catches her hands, squeezes them tight. "Running away isn't the solution."
"This from you?"
"Learned from your good example."
She swallows and blinks, then her fingers convulsively curl around his. "I can't control this." She's as near tears as he's ever seen her, and he'd give anything to be able to make it okay. "I haven't been able to control any of it."
"We'll figure it out, 'Livia." He pulls her into his arms and she collapses against him, letting go of the last vestiges of her control as he strokes her hair. "That's what we do, remember? We find answers, no matter how difficult the question."
He and she can solve this. Together. There's no way in hell he's going to let Nina Sharp, Massive Dynamic, or any other force in this universe or any other steal her away.
From their station in Broyles' office they watch the interplay, recorded by cameras no one else knows were installed. Phillip is impassive, but Nina allows a small smile to curve her lips. Everything is falling into place.
Broyles breaks the silence. "So the purpose of this little exercise?"
"Agent Dunham has been trying to ignore what she can do." To the point that today was the first real indication Nina has had that Dunham's activation had been successful, when every other active showed blatant manifestation within months. The woman's self-control must be phenomenal. "She had to accept the danger in her gifts, and take responsibly for bringing those abilities under total control."
"I needed to see how far he'd go." Not that this is in any way a true indication, but his immediate defense of Dunham is promising. "He's committed, now. We don't have a chance if he's not."
"You're playing a dangerous game, manipulating those two."
"The game will become more deadly if I don't."
He still looks unconvinced, and she shakes her head at his reluctance to admit the obvious. "You know they're our best chance, Phillip. But only if they can reach their full potential."
His nod is curt and unhappy. "Lying to them is not the way to earn their trust."
"We're lying to everybody."
"And if they find out?"
She smiles grimly. "Well, we'd better make sure they don't. For both our sakes."