Warnings: Prompt, character death.

Spoilers: Through episode 2.5.

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

Author's Note: Written for Death Bingo on Dreamwidth, prompt: Volcano.

Final Strike

Astrid grabs hold of the lab bench as the second tremor shakes the building, this one much stronger than the first. She rides it out with head down and knuckles white; somewhere behind her glass shatters. When it's over, Walter pokes his head out of Gene's stall and Peter and Olivia come out of the office.

"What the hell's going on?" Olivia warily eyes the ceiling of the lab as she makes her way over to the computers.

Astrid hadn't liked the way the lights had swayed, either, and resolves to be under something if another quake hits. Curious, she pages through news reports on the earthquake. "They're reporting a magnitude of 5.7 for this quake, epicenter somewhere downtown." She looks up, brows furrowed. "I didn't realize the East Coast got such strong earthquakes."

"A common misconception, my dear." Walter absently wanders around the lab, straightening equipment that had fallen. "Although most often not nearly as dramatic as the ones on the West Coast, seismic activity can and does occur in the region. This isn't even the biggest earthquake that has occurred in New England. One in 1638 was estimated to have a magnitude greater than 6.5." Walter sounds excited, which amuses Astrid to no end. At least someone is enjoying himself.

"So, these earthquakes are normal?" Olivia asks.

"Probably," Peter says. "We get something like 30 quakes a year. Mostly we just don't feel them." Out of the corner of her eye Astrid sees him moving closer to Olivia, doing that leaning and smiling thing again while he explained. Olivia is a top investigator; one of these days Astrid hopes the woman will become as astute about her personal life and realize how much Peter likes her.

Astrid refreshes the page and her blood runs cold. "Um, guys? The news is saying there's magma flow on Beacon Street."

"Magma flow— lava?" Olivia sounds shocked. "Like a volcano? There's a volcano in downtown Boston?"

Peter grabs the computer next to Astrid, his fingers flying over the keyboard. His face is white when he finally looks up. "Underneath Boston," he says grimly. "And it's about to erupt."

Olivia has her phone to her ear before he's done speaking. "I've got to see how we can help with the evacuations— Damn it, no signal."

"We can't outrun this, 'Livia," Peter says softly. He's watching her, eyes pained. "The whole region is going to blow, and soon. The distance this is gonna spread, there's no way to clear the area in time."

Astrid's mind goes blank, trying to comprehend. If Peter says there's no way to run... "How?" she asks finally. "How could something like this happen?"

"I think... perhaps..." Walter is pale, and when he speaks again his voice is hushed. "Belly and I, we theorized a, a terrible weapon of sorts, when the threat of the other reality became apparent. One that would target not the people, but the foundation of the planet. It was just a theory, mind you, never something we actually designed. We abandoned the idea, determined there was no way to control the reaction. Once it started..."

Peter swivels and stares at his father. "What are you saying, Walter?"

Astrid's chest tightens as she watches news updates pour in. "Now there are reports of magma in Roxbury and Everett. And in Cambridge."

"Nowhere is safe." Walter turns, hands shaking. "Peter, check for increases in seismic activity across the world."

Peter continues staring at him for a moment, expressionless, then nods. A few keystrokes, and he's looking back up. "Seismic activity everywhere, with Boston at the center of it all."

"It will get worse."

As if in answer to Walter's words, the building shakes again. Astrid holds on for dear life. Peter snags her arm and Olivia's to drag them into the doorway; Walter's already there. They huddle together on the floor as the building shifts and groans.

"So we're dead," Olivia says flatly. "They won."

"To have caused destruction in this manner..." Walter clears his throat. "If this was triggered by the method we theorized, the damage will not be contained just in our reality. Those who started this chain reaction may not realize this, but the soft spots, those pinprick connections between universes, will cause leakage. With the magnitude of the energy that will be released here, those holes will be forced wide open."

"So not just this world—"

"But all the worlds." Walter nods. "Of course, it is of no matter to us, because we'll be dead."

"Little comfort, Walter," Peter says, and Olivia nods in agreement.

The lights flicker and go out, and there's a flurry of grey outside the window. Volcanic ash.

Peter and Olivia lean close to each other. He murmurs something into her ear. She looks up, eyes wide, and their fingers tangle together.

Another shake, and Astrid hears the crack of stone and the hiss of steam. She sees a red glow outside the windows and the glass starts to melt, even as the building starts to shake apart around them.

"Running would only put off the inevitable," Peter murmurs. Olivia almost laughs, and Astrid closes her eyes.

Astrid finds Walter's hand, and Olivia's, and they all huddle together. Together at the end, just like they've been together since the start. She focuses on their skin against hers, on the panting of their breath, and keeps her eyes squeezed closed to block out everything else.

There's a flare of red hot pain and then white, only white.