FRINGE

Honestly?

No copyright inFRINGEment intended

Note: Chichuri got me thinking that I could play with an unlimited pool of possibilities.

So here you go: What if Olivia had to deal with another mad scientist? With a twist…. no real spoiler but you MUST have watched ALL of season 1 i guess...

-o-

Olivia Dunham purses her mouth and smiles at the young male agent who is facing her. He has been dancing around the subject for quite a while and sprinkling hints of their possible beneficial match. She's not sure that she's quite ready yet to cross the boundaries of her professional life and mix the job with pleasure, -- again. She takes a sip of her tea, tilts her head and stares above the rim of her styrofoam cup, gently blowing on the hot liquid and trying to appear undecipherable.

"Liv, Broyles wants you in his office asap," Charlie Francis interrupts. So much for developing a romance at work, she mentally chuckles.

"Any idea?" she asks, knowing perfectly well that Broyles, being a cold blooded animal, always plays his cards close to his chest. There is no obvious sign of him changing his M.O. anytime soon.

"Like he would tell me," Charlie rasps before turning back to his desk.

With a last smile to Fred, Olivia sits her drink on her desk, in the middle of the agent pool and straightens up. She walks to the Department Chief door and gently raps. She enters without giving him the time to answer the knock and is pleased to be greeted by eyes throwing daggers at her and a contemptuous snare. Broyles hates it when she does that. And that's the reason why she keeps doing it. Broyles' door shouldn't be closed, he shouldn't cut himself off from the rest of them, it was not right. She still feels sorry for Special Agent Sanford's early "retirement". He was a good man, a real leader and an inspiration. The complete opposite of Broyles.

"You wanted to see me… sir?"

"Yes agent Dunham. You're aware that the Department is in touch with the MIT in regard of the Project…"

She nods patiently. There's simply no way someone can ever interrupt Broyles when he's on one of his lectures. Of course I'm aware! It's part of my job to know. And the Project rules their lives for more than three years now and seems unstoppable.

"… and its ramifications. We have still to work on possible connexions and establish the truth about a possible terrorist implication but nonetheless…"

Blah,blah,blah. Her eyes wander to the white board scribbled with notes and theories, to the wall of photographs behind him, to the manila folders neatly piled up on his desk. Then she realises that Broyles eventually stopped talking. He's staring at her.

"Anything you want to share with me, feel free to share, agent Dunham," he spits her name like an insult and she takes a deep breath and raises her chin up. "No sir, sorry sir."

"Very well, so here is your assignment, agent Dunham: meet with Doctor Bishop and persuade him to work with us full time."

"Yes, sir." She turns around and her hand is already on the door knob.

"Dunham, you will probably need his file, unless you developed abilities I haven't been informed of." His voice is icy. She spins, and feels her cheeks going red. And she hates it.

"I have no doubt that you will fail this assignment agent Dunham. You're not fit for this job, and as far as I'm concerned, you will never be. Nevertheless, for the sake of this mission, I have to warn you. Meeting with Dr. Bishop is not going to be a walk in the park. We've tried to approach him repeatedly to no avail. He's the rising star of quantum physics, bio engineering, inorganic chemistry and to put it simply, anything to do with fringe science."

"Fringe science, sir?" She cocks an eyebrow in blind interrogation. "You mean that I have to meet with a pseudo scientist and ask him to work with us? It's a patent waste of our resources and my time, sir, I'd rather like to pursue my investigation with agent Francis."

"I'm not interested in your preferences agent Dunham. This is an order, not a request. You've proven that your investigation skills are minimum and your personal calls antagonistic to your being part of this team. I don't want to go back to agent Scott fiasco unless you want me too. Harris Sanford won't be here this time to have your back. Against my better judgment, I am willing to give you another chance. Play fair, unless you plan to leave us in the near future. Should you prefer to be back to liaise with Homeland Defence, I am ready to sign your transfer right this minute."

"I'll meet with Dr. Bishop, sir." She takes the file he's handing her out. "Thank you sir."

-o-

"Honestly? You've taken a look at his file? What has it got with anything?" She tosses the folder on her desk and it skips inches away from her cold mug. She drops on her chair. "I'm so sick of that bastard playing games with me. He can't resist reminding me I'm still on probation after what happened to John. He could as well sack me and get it over with!"

Charlie glances at her and nods with sympathetic understanding, a I totally know what you mean look of empathy on his face. He grabs the file from across his desk and thumbs through it. "Who's this guy to begin with? Graduated cum laude from college at 14 for the first time? For the first time, what is it supposed to mean? How is that even remotely possible that we never heard of this freak before?" He shrugs and concentrates on his reading.

Olivia shakes her head enthusiastically. "My thought exactly. It's a scam. Broyles has set a pretty trap for me to stumble into. And look, it gets better. Page 11…"

Charlie fans the file before him. "Apparently, --so far, he strolled his way through his various college years in Yale, Harvard, Princeton, you name it, graduated from each and every one of them, even wrote his doctorate dissertation on "The compared benefits of alcohol and cannabis in communist countries between 1945 and 1953" when he was in Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. Wait… He graduates in Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics AND Biomedical Informatics at Columbia University that same year? That can't be. It's certainly a scam and not a very sophisticated one if you ask me. I'm surprised that they didn't throw in NASA as a good measure."

"They did." She taps her finger on a blue page. "He didn't stay. Said the food was terrible and that he'd rather work with aliens."

"Really? You kidding right?"

She shakes her head. He reads on, certain pages eliciting smiles and grins. He points a finger to the last paragraph of the last page. "Listen, if it doesn't crack you up. When he's not busy with his various projects, enjoys playing chess, skydiving, and piloting his private jet. Oh man," he giggles, "this guy is a riot, where are you supposed to meet him?"

"Don't you guess already?" She stands up, rakes her hand through her hair and ties it into a pony tail.

"Nope, I have no idea."

"Well it seems that Dr. Bishop is busy at this time of year, and as he fast-tracked his way to a multidisciplinary chair MIT created especially for him two years ago, I will meet him at his office over there, --which is quite convenient and will spare me some time. Did I tell you that as part of the Union of Concerned Scientists, he's been awarded yet another prize and as such became of late one of the names on a very private list of possible Nobel Prize winners? They're just not sure in what field yet. At this rate, he's probably short of mantelpiece space already."

"Get out of here!"

"Wish me luck."

-o-

She parks her shiny black SUV on a restricted access parking lot in front of Bishop's office, which looked like an entire building to her. She walks up the stairs, notices the wheelchair ramp, and pushes the door open. If she expected a front desk or some kind of secretarial support, there's none, only a blind hallway with dozens of unlabelled doors on either side. She takes the file from under her arm and checks the phone number attached to Bishop's lab and promptly dials it. Somewhere, there's a phone ringing.

"Hello, mad scientist house." It's a male voice and a very young one as it is.

She takes a deep breath. If Broyles is attempting to poke fun at her, he can have spared himself the trouble. "Hello, this special agent Olivia Dunham, I'm with the FBI and I have an appointment with Dr. Bishop…"

"Hello Olivia Dunham, I'm coming to get you," the guy hums pleasantly. "I'm co-ming to get you, I'm co-ming to get you, I'm co-ming to get you."

Her cell pressed to her ear, she attempts to locate the voice when a door is slammed open a mere sixty feet from her and a wheelchair rolls in her direction. "I will hang up now," the young man says and he waves with energy in her direction.

She slides her phone shut and turns around to make sure he's not signalling to someone else.

"I'm sorry I'm late."

"You talkin' to me…" He says in a very odd and twisted manner. Is he slightly deranged or only letting off steam, she can't tell because of the distance. He's rapidly closing in on her and his chair finally stops screeching inches from her feet. She didn't picture Dr. Bishop in a wheelchair, but it's no surprise then that he is one of these brilliant scholars who immerse themselves in their studies and are entirely devoted to their subjects. "I can tell that you're not impressed with my Marlon Brando impersonation. Never watched The Bus Driver? A classic, if you ask me." He holds out his hand. "I wasn't expecting you so soon." He wears golf gloves and a dark vest covered with printed metal pin badges, a grey worn-out turtleneck sweater and his spectacular blue eyes sparkle behind round, white gold Marshwood frame eyeglasses à la Lennon. His body seems fragile and she notes involuntary eye movements and muscle spasms in the legs. On top of his chair is installed a paraphernalia of wires and optical devices and green and red lights flicker. "Welcome to our lab, Olivia Dunham, or should I say special agent Dunham?"

"Agent Dunham will do. Is there a problem? Weren't we supposed to meet today?"

He fails to acknowledge her concern and turns back to where he came from. "Very well, this way agent Dunham."

She walks silently, examining his balding scalp and plaid scarf thrown over his left shoulder. His strong right hand is steady on the chair controls and he hums something as he goes. He wears a wedding ring on his finger. She spots a vein pulsing on his temple and she can't take her eyes away for some reason. She almost trips on the threshold while the wheelchair gently twitched ahead. She enters a large ultra-modern lab, and is immediately overwhelmed by the rasping sound and clatter of machines, computers and appliances she can't even recognize and let-alone name properly. She notes half a dozen technicians working on their individual bench. Everything appears to run smoothly and quietly. The wheelchair glides down a ramp and she follows in its wake, trying to make head or tail of whatever comes into her field of vision.

"Wait, is that a cow?"

"Yes, this is Jean," says a juvenile voice in her back. She can feel the minty breath in her neck and his face brushing her hair. She spins on her heels to face a tall man in his early thirties, brown-light hair, sporting a stubble and a black full-zip sweater. His hands are deep inside his jeans pockets and his eyes are locked on the pied cow. "She was my father's favourite test subject and I thought it was only fair to grant her asylum. You wouldn't want to see your pet end up in your plate, would you agent Dunham?"

She opens her mouth and for the first time in years, she discovers she can't say a word. Oblivious of her trouble, he extends a hand towards the man in the wheelchair. "I believe that you two have met. Let me introduce you to Oliver Twist, my personal assistant and advisor. His name is not really Oliver Twist but Twystfold, proud scion of the Twystfolds of Yorkshire. Olivia, Oliver, I say this is a sign of good fortune." He holds out his hand and shakes hers with vigour. "I am Doctor Peter Bishop by the way. One might have told you that I have a special interest in, say, off the radar research."

"Fringe science?" She finally prompts, relieved to be able to speak again.

"I don't like the term, always found it utterly vulgar and derogatory but essentially, yes. I guess you can reasonably relate what we do here to fringe science. Unfortunately, confidentiality agreements prevent me from gloating about the extent of our expertise. I already told your boss all there is to know and he understands that it will be on a strictly one case at the time basis, so we're clear."

"Of course."

"Okay then. Now that I met you, I look forward to working together with you and your team."

"My team? I'm afraid that won't be possible Dr. Bishop…"

"Peter, please?"

"… Peter. See, I don't have a team."

"Now you have. I'm the one to set the terms here. I will work with your Department provided that you lead their team. I will have a contract established before you leave the premises and I will make sure that your boss understands that it is not negotiable. Coffee? Snacks? I'm experiencing a bout of hypoglycaemia…"

"Thank you. I could use some sugar myself." She smiles.

"You face seems familiar. Have we met before?"

-o-

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