Spoilers: Season 1

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

Author's Note: I had this mostly done in April, then set it aside. Finally decided it was time to dig it out and polish off the jagged edges. Thanks much to Alamo Girl for the beta.

Sandwich Mooching

He's just started unwrapping the sub when she slips into the chair across the table from him, twitchy and intense and a little too pale, a file clutched in her hand. Her eyes flick down to his lunch, back up then down again, before she pulls them away and resolutely meets his eyes.

He raises an eyebrow. "You're gonna mooch off of me, aren't you?"

She blinks for a moment, mouth open, startled by the interruption of whatever she was about to say. "I—"

"Did you get lunch?"

"Um. This morning's meeting ran long. And I need to get this report done."


She winces slightly and shrugs.

He continues to unwrap the sub and separates the two halves, lifting one half to his mouth and nudging the other just slightly in her direction.

Her eyes narrow. "Well, I wasn't." She grabs the unguarded half, bites down and sighs happily. "S'good. Thanks."

"I suppose you want chips, too?" He tears open the bag of Lays, puts it in the middle of the table within easy reach of them both.

"Since you offered." Her color's better and she's steadied.

"You gotta keep up your strength one way or another."

"Yes, because I'll need it while napping through this afternoon's budget meeting."

"Trying to dance around why the Harvard lab's a financial black hole?"

She chokes while trying to hold back laughter. "Point," she says when she stops coughing. "But right now I need the details on the Patterson case."

He winces and lowers the sub. "While I'm eating? Aww, come on."

Her eyes glitter with cheerful malice. "Report needs to get done. Before this afternoon."

"You're as bad as Walter. And after I shared my lunch with you and everything."

She pops another chip into her mouth and gestures for him to talk, amusement twitching at the corners of her lips.

He gives a put-upon sigh. "Gruesome plague details over lunch it is."

He keeps his answers to her questions brief and to the point, and she jots down his observations with a precise hand while finishing off her half of his lunch. Licking her fingers clean, she retreats to the corner and her computer to mutter over the details. He leans back and watches while finishing his own lunch a little less enthusiastically than he started it. Sans chips. She munched through the last of those while he was talking.

She's oblivious to anything but the glowing screen when he slips out of the office. Walter looks up from dissecting a mutant rat-thing from a case a few weeks ago, the reason Peter had left to eat elsewhere in the first place.

"Did Miss Dunham eat the half of the sub you were going to offer her?"

"Hush, Walter," Peter mutters, glancing back and allowing himself a smirk. Bishop: 1, Dunham: 0. Conning her into eating had been fun, but the woman really did need to stop skipping meals. He couldn't always be there to make sure food got snuck down her gullet.

Walter's watching with an odd little smile. Peter shakes his head and asks, irritably, "What?"

"You've always taken good care of her. Making you two partners was a brilliant move."

Peter rolls his eyes. "Because it was all your doing, micromanaged from the depths of St. Claire's?"

Walter's smile tinges with sorrow, and he whispers, "No, son. Not that time." He wanders off, muttering under his breath as he walks away from the stripped open corpses to tinker with something across the lab.

Peter stares after him, drumming his fingers absently against the top of the lab bench. Something in the tone of his father's voice... Shadows move in Peter's mind, echoes of memories he can almost recall.

The sound of glass crashing to the floor derails his contemplation. "Walter!" he snaps with more amused tolerance than irritation. Leaving the past to the past, he goes to see what mess he gets to put right this time.