Well, here it is. Bishop rivalry, because it was just bound to happen eventually, and for all the wrong reasons. With the simple formula of Bolivia and Walstrid, these problems can be avoided, but I simply live to scrape up a little conflict, and I think I've at last managed it.
Choices of this kind aren't simple at all, I'm afraid. Poor Astrid.
*It's only legal, you know, to tell you that I do not own Fringe, nor any of the characters associated with it. Which could be anyone, at this point.
Sunday Morning, 3.18
"So, where is she?" Walter questioned sleepily, his hair flat on one side from his pillow.
"I think she's under the bed, I can hear her moving around," Astrid responded, and he shuffled in, dressed in flannel pajamas and a robe. He carried with him a black bag filled with first aid supplies in case of emergency, "She woke me up around two, acting really strangely. I'm really glad you could come, and I didn't know who else to call…"
"No problem," Peter grumbled, flouncing onto Astrid's sofa and shutting his eyes, "Wake me up when you're done, Dr. Doolittle."
Walter only paused in the hall at the threshold of the door, "This is your bedroom?" he questioned.
"Yeah. Is there a problem?"
"No, no," he murmured, rubbing his eye with his fingertips, "I must ask permission to enter, it's only civil."
"What are you, a vampire? Go," Astrid chuckled, pushing him inside.
Walter slumped this case onto the bed, slowly settling on his knees with a sigh, "Did she display any odd behaviors prior to waking you? Vomiting, unusually frequent urination?"
"No," Astrid answered, "Well… she drank a lot of water- is that bad?"
"Hmm." Walter snapped his bag open, rummaging around to pull out a flashlight, "no, it isn't bad. Did you change her meals?"
"No. I use the same food, just more of it. She could be eating for six," Astrid said as Walter twisted the flashlight on, the bright beam flashing off the ceiling before he muted it with his palm.
Walter rolled his eyes, muttering, "Woman," and crouching down to push aside the comforter and peek under the bed, "Mittens," he called softly, "hey girl, are you there?"
"Is she okay?" Astrid questioned in distress, peeking under with him, "Mittens, ki-ki?"
"Which is it, Mittens or Ki-ki? You call her both," Walter said, allowing a thin beam of light to escape the gap of his fingers over the flashlight in search of the cat.
"Her name is Mittens," Astrid replied flatly, "and 'Ki-ki' is just short for 'kitty-kitty'. You can remember my cat's name, but you can't remember mine."
"I like animals," Walter admitted sheepishly, "ah, there she is," two green irises glinted back at them in the dark, and the tabby face of Mittens came into view, "hello, Mittens. You said she'd been pregnant for how long?"
"I'm not sure, actually. She got out last month, that must have been when she… you know…"
"Got 'knocked up', in laymen's terms," Walter nodded, "the timing does seem correct. I'll just have to have a look," Walter shifted to lay flat on his stomach, pushing shoeboxes aside to crawl slowly under the bed. Astrid echoed the procedure, pulling her oversized tee-shirt back down her thighs as she pushed herself under the bed.
Mittens meowed softly, rising from her curled place on an old sweater to rub against her owner affectionately. Walter took the opportunity to shine the flashlight on two dark wads of fur on the fabric, "Mittens, you're a mama!" Astrid exclaimed happily, kissing the cat.
"They're not breathing," Walter said quietly. Carefully, he reached out to touch one of the forms, and a grave crease formed at the side of his mouth.
"Oh no," Astrid whispered sadly.
"It happens," Walter said, "often the mother will loose the first litter, as they are simply unaccustomed to the complications of birth. Had they survived, you would also have found that Mittens would have had a sort of detachment from them."
"Poor ki-ki," Astrid sighed, hugging Mittens and stroking her fur, "I'm sorry, girl."
Walter furrowed his brows for a few moments, "Miss Allspark, I need you to go into the kit and get my dropper. Then go into the kitchen and heat some milk to a simmer, don't scorch it. I have an idea."
Only a few minutes later, Walter was shuffling his wool-socked feet across the carpet, carefully tending to the lifeless kittens in one of Astrid's numerous shoe boxes, lined with a ratted tee-shirt, as Astrid entered with the sauce pan of hot milk, "A mother's first milk is incredibly rich in proteins, fats, and lactose. It also contains vitamins vital to the survival of the young, starting their systems rolling, so to speak," Mittens meowed as Walter delved into his bag, gathering a mixture of bottles and measuring out selective amounts to add to the milk. He filled the dropper with the concoction and gave it to Astrid to hold as they sat on the floor on either side of the box.
"Wool is a natural conductor of static, and cotton is a natural ground. It should absorb any extra current without harming the kittens," Walter said, raising his hands over the box.
"Wait- you're going to shock my babies?!" Astrid demanded.
Astrid looked away as he gently touched his fingertips to the dead kitten's chest. There was a soft pop of electricity discharging, and no response. Walter shuffled his feet and tried again, messaging just under the ribcage with his thumb delicately.
"Walter, stop," Astrid said at last, sickened and sad, "this is sick; you're not Frankenstein, you can't-"
A high mewing escaped the box as the sightless animal twitched and stretched into life, and Walter gave a small laugh of surprised delight, "Quickly! Warm it and give it the milk!"
Astrid crossed herself and took the kitten from him with trembling hands.
A few hours had passed when Mittens was settled and sleeping with her two boys, Viktor (as in Von Frankenstein) and Magellan (as in Peter's horribly secret middle name) in the shoebox. Walter at last set to packing up his things into his bag, and Astrid looked up at him, "Walter, that was amazing," she admitted.
He smiled, "You're welcome." there came a soft squeak from the box, and Walter chuckled, "and you're welcome too, little one." he gave Mittens a few strokes on the head, "Now, I'm not expecting her to fully accept them for a bit, possibly ever, so you may have to manually feed them until they can fend for themselves. But they should be alright, for now."
Astrid smiled softly, "Thank you," she said, leaning over the shoebox to give him a tight hug, "so much."
Walter did not seem to know what to do with himself as she moved away, "Yes, well. There is just one more thing…"
"What is it?" Astrid asked.
"Do you have a spatula?"
Walter smiled shyly, "Breakfast, please?"
She chuckled, getting to her feet, "Sure thing, Walter," and Astrid headed for the kitchen.
She was cooking to a tune on the radio when Peter entered, stretching and yawning, "What's up?" he asked, his voice hoarse from his sleep.
"Just making breakfast," Astrid replied cheerfully, "bacon or sausage?"
"Bacon. How's Mittens, how many kittens?"
"Two. They died." Peter paused, confused at her pleasant disposition, and he only became more confused as she said, "We named them Viktor and Magellan."
"I'm sorry, did I miss something?" Peter questioned as he sat, and Astrid placed his plate of eggs and bacon before him on the counter.
"Walter did his mumbo-jumbo and revived them," Astrid beamed, "It was really amazing, he did this thing with static electricity and milk and… it was pretty cool."
"What'd you say you named them?" Peter asked around his bite.
Astrid grinned, "Viktor and Magellan."
Peter frowned, reddening slightly, "Damn it, Walter. Where is he now?"
"I think he's still looking after them. I'm going to bring him his pancakes," Astrid said, grabbing up the syrup and heading for the bedroom. She found Walter sleeping on the floor, slumped against the side of the bed with the box in his lap. He woke as Mittens sounded, jumping from her place and waking the kittens, setting them into a high-pitched frenzy, "'Morning," Astrid said as Mittens wound around her ankles, meowing for the pancakes.
"Morning," Walter replied dazedly, sitting up to rub his eyes, and tend to the kittens.
Astrid took them from him and replaced them with pancakes, "I'll do it. You have to eat," she said, and set to filling the eyedropper with milk, now cooled with the passage of time.
"Make sure it's at least body temperature, or it will cause them to shock," Walter yawned, the bite of scrambled dropping from his fork and into his lap.
"They'll be alright," Astrid said softly, stroking Victor and Magellan's tiny forms with her fingertips. Walter had fallen back asleep, the rest of the breakfast slipping from the plate to join its missing piece in his lap.