Warnings: Torture, mind control, prompt.
Spoilers: Through episode 2.5.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or its characters.
Author's Note: Written for Death Bingo on Dreamwidth, prompt: Execution (hanging). This is set in the Choke Chain 'verse, an AU where Peter, Olivia, and Nick all work for the ZFT, and is a sequel to "Chain You Down".
Old Fashioned Justice
Jones breaks protocol. Rather than getting an anonymous phone call notifying them of a blind drop at an anonymous location, a large envelope containing their assignment is handed off to them by an unassuming young man Nick recognizes as one of Jones' protégés. Olive immediately commandeers it, elbowing Peter when he tries to read over her shoulder. She hands off the pages to Nick when she's finished with them; he hands them to Peter.
The file is thick, containing not only everything needed to do the job, but a wealth of information tracing years of Victor Farley's motives and actions in betraying the organization. As always, the intel is meticulously thorough. The envelope also contains another break in protocol: Jones left them a note. As promised, he wrote, Olive, Nick and Peter were assigned this mission both because they are the best and because they have a personal stake in the matter. The only thing that Jones has dictated is how Farley is to be executed.
"Hanging?" Peter asks, glancing from Jones' note to Olive.
She flips through the file. "Apparently, two decades ago he tried committing suicide by that method. We can make it look like he succeeded this time."
"So we're officially executing him, but they want to keep this one quiet?" His lip curls. "Sure. Whatever."
"He's a traitor, but he's in a key position. We don't want the CIA to know we've infiltrated their ranks; it could get ugly for the other operatives we have in place." Olive is outwardly calm, but her agitation rolls through Nick as if it's his own. She hates that Farley would betray the organization that she so fiercely believes in even more than that he ordered her execution.
She doesn't fool Peter any more than she fools Nick. Peter studies her, and Nick feels him ghosting along the edges of Olive's mind. She pretends to ignore the scrutiny, but Nick can tell she knows exactly what's going on. Peter lets the silence drag on for minutes before asking, "You okay?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"Oh, I don't know. Maybe because this guy tried to have you killed?" Peter's gestures are jerky, his anger strong enough to vibrate through Nick.
She shrugs and buries herself deeper in the file, spreading the contents on the scarred wood of their workroom table.
Peter's still staring at Olive more than the file. He doesn't understand her yet, not really, but he's making progress. She's a puzzle that equally enthralls and annoys him, which is almost exactly the way Olive feels about him. Nick thinks it's cute, they way they circle around each other poking for weaknesses. They're growing comfortable with each other, perfecting a rhythm both at home and in the field that lends stability and strength to all three of them.
Nick shakes his head and continues reading. He doesn't care about the whys and the hows of killing Farley, just wants to eliminate the threat to his partners and move on before it disrupts their peace of mind any more. Granted, he'd rather tear the bastard apart and hoist bloody chunks aloft as warning to every other idiot who'd think to cross them, but he'll bow to the necessity of keeping it quiet. The reasons behind the death will spread to those who need to know.
Olive plans the operation with ruthless detail, going over every part until she's sure every possible contingency has been accounted for. It takes her two weeks to finalize the details, two weeks during which she refuses any input from Nick or Peter. Rising tension fuels her intense focus instead of the calm clarity that is typical of her mission planning.
After his first two attempts at offering suggestions get his head bitten off, Nick leaves her to it. Peter keeps pushing her, only backing off when she completely blows up at him, and even then just for a few hours. Nick monitors them both. Generally, the periodic explosions calm Olive down, but on the odd occasion when her anger starts to spill over into something darker and more dangerous, Nick gives her a break by distracting Peter with humor and video games, and one afternoon even drags him out to the range when Olive's patience wears down to nonexistent.
Peter bypasses the alarms, being careful to leave no trace of tampering. While Olive goes to raid the garage for rope, Nick eases into Farley's head and overrides motor skills, leaving him conscious but unable to move. By the time they reach the study Farley's scared shitless. His agitation only increases on seeing them. Nick gives a toothy grin, Peter smirks, and Olive is deadly serious.
"You know who we are." Olive leans against the desk, hands flat on the wood and leaning forwards. "You know that betraying your associates is a bad idea."
Nick pushes gently against Farley's mind, ramping up his terror to the edge of what his heart can take. Peter recognizes exactly what Nick is doing and smiles at him behind Olive's back. Despite her efforts to keep it from him, Nick dimly feels Olive's exasperation; she may not be protesting Nick's elaboration of the plan but she's eager to finish the job. He's not so eager; he trades glances with Peter and sees the same impulse in his eyes: make Farley suffer for as long as they can. But Olive calls the shots and Olive wants this done quick.
Nick walks Farley into the middle of the room, to where Peter is looping rope around one of the exposed beams. Olive pulls the chair out from behind the desk, rolling it under the rope and adjusting the seat up as high as it will go. It's too much coordination to force Farley to climb up himself, so Nick just holds him docile while Peter and Olive carefully maneuver him up and arrange the loop around his neck. When they're done, she scrambles up on the arm of the chair to finish tying the rope around the beam.
Nick releases Farley's paralysis, all but the arms, and untangles himself from the man's mind. Now the fury and terror are all Farley's own, but just as intense as when Nick was helping them along.
"Freaks," Farley spits. "You never should have been created. Jones should have been shot for insisting we keep and train you."
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever." Peter rolls his eyes, glancing at Olive. "You want to do the honors?"
She doesn't answer for a moment, just stands and watches Farley. She turns Farley's words around in her head, her deeply buried uncertainties giving more weight to them than they deserve. Nick sends a burst of reassurance and Peter snarls at Farley for making her doubt herself.
"It's not over," Farley says as Olive kicks the chair away. Peter's eyes widen and he swears, trying to stop the fall.
There's a crack, and Farley is limp, his neck broken.
"He knew something." Peter stabs a finger towards the swinging body as he turns to Olive, who's staring at him with eyebrows raised. "Damn it, Jones didn't get everything on him."
"Crap," Nick breathes. He should have thought of the possibility. Should have worked with Peter to strip Farley's mind before killing him. Given time, Nick could have teased out the truth, if he knew the questions to ask; he had done it before. A stupid oversight, trusting Jones' people had discovered everything about Farley when his treachery had gone unknown for so long.
Olive cycles through irritation, anger, and guilt, then suppresses them, settling into focused calm. "He could have been playing us, trying to buy time."
As much as Nick hopes she's right, he doesn't dismiss the possibility that Jones had missed something so readily. A prickling between Nick's shoulder blades and a whisper in the back of his skull suggest there's more to this, pieces they're missing that will come back to bite them on the ass.
Peter echoes Nick's misgivings. "No," he says insistently, jaw clenching as he opens his mind and shares what he'd caught from Farley in the seconds before his death, a tantalizing glimpse of hidden agendas that Jones had entirely missed. It only serves to confirm Nick's unease. "This isn't the last of it."
Olive rocks back and forth on her feet, considering, then shrugs. "We did our job. Anything else we'll deal with when it comes." Deal with together, she means, and her faith that the three of them can handle whatever might be coming floods their link. Their minds tangle together briefly, the desire each of them has to keep the others safe building and solidifying into a ruthless commitment to protect each other no matter what.
They strip all trace of themselves from the scene and disappear back into the night.