A/N: So this is it. Thank you for hanging around for the ride, I hope you enjoyed the story and that it kept you entertained. I have been overwhelmed by your kind words and feedback, it has truly been a joy writing this.
Thank you for reviewing the previous chapter: cyn23, ElleThom, Lixie87, babypumpkin, killmotion, hoellenwauwau and smita.
~Every parting is a form of death, as every reunion is a type of heaven ~
Peter sat back at the bench. The teleportation device was calibrated carefully along the latest specifications and was ready. Brandon was clattering and banging at the back of the lab, carrying cages of mice and clearing things away so they would have enough space to scan him without accidentally adding anything. It wouldn't do for him to return with a mouse attached to his chest.
For two weeks they had laboured, but finally the odds for success were good enough in Peter's mind. He was keen to get home, not to get killed so he wasn't quite as mindlessly rash as Brandon seemed to think he was. Brandon had worked relentlessly beside him, to which Peter was grateful as his help had been invaluable. They had worked well together and Peter was already wondering whether he should get to know the Brandon back home.
For two weeks Peter had been preparing himself, getting giddy with excitement the closer the day of his return came. He had had his hair cut and had shaved this morning, although by now his stubble was back. He had let go of the anger and bitterness and had allowed himself to remember Olivia in all her glory. He had started talking about her, Walter and Astrid and Brandon had thankfully listened carefully showing interest in what he had to say. Listening himself talking about the people close to him, had made it easier to revert back to the Peter Bishop these people knew.
Talking about Olivia felt like his brain was physically rewiring itself, making connections that had been severed before. He allowed himself to openly admit that he loved her with his whole being and didn't want to be apart from her again. Spending 18 months in another Universe with no means of communication had been almost too much for him.
He was also feeling scared as what they were about to do finally hit him. Not the fact that he might not materialise in the other end, but how he would be received. He had just taken for granted that they would miss him and wait for his return, but perhaps Olivia had just gotten on with her life, deciding to block his existence from her mind as something too painful to think about. She had never openly shown her feelings, being careful after what had happened to John Scott, but Peter knew that she cared about him. And that made her vulnerable, which she hated.
Maybe Walter had regressed and was back in St. Claire's, causing him to lose his father twice. And maybe the Fringe division had been shut down, especially when the Pattern related cases must have stopped altogether. So many maybes...
Brandon walked behind Peter and rested a hand on his shoulder for a moment startling him from his thoughts.
"You will be fine. They will wait for you," Brandon said reassuring as it was easy to see what was going on in Peter's head. Since he had transformed into this whole new man he said he used to be, it had been easier to read him. And after he had been talking about the people on the Other Side, Brandon could tell that they loved him and were a loyal bunch of people. They would have waited for Peter's return.
Peter smiled at him and nodded. It didn't bother him any more to show his thoughts or feelings as he trusted this Brandon. And he was leaving soon any way so nobody could use them against him. Perhaps it was a good sign that he was worried as that told him that he was back to his old self.
Peter glanced at the computer to his left and saw that the simulation had gone without problems. The calibration had been spot on. It was time.
Brandon had cleared an area, where Peter came to stand. He looked at Brandon, who looked nervous.
"I have no idea how you will feel or if you will feel anything," Brandon said looking up from the computer.
"Just hit it," Peter said nodding, loosening up his shoulders and taking a wide stance.
To his confusion Brandon stepped away from the device and the computer and came towards him. He came to stop in front of Peter and offered his hand. Peter took it shaking it firmly.
"Thank you for everything you have done," Peter said seriously.
"You have been a friend when I needed one," he continued a little hoarsely. Even if he had tried to kept himself aloof, he had begun to like Brandon and felt a little sad that he wouldn't see him again.
"You are welcome," Brandon said shaking his hand.
"You were a great teacher in many ways," he continued, "Take care of yourself."
Peter nodded again and Brandon stepped away walking back to the computers.
"Here we go then," he said and pushed a button.
Peter felt curiously light and heavy at the same time. Rather like in the beginning of general anesthesia. His thought was cut in half when he was taken under.
Olivia was exhausted. She was physically tired because of their latest case, which had taken several weeks of travelling and investigating, was finally solved and she had managed to write her report and hand it in tonight. The tiredness had significantly lowered her defences and she was yearning to get home, so she could just let everything go and drop the pretence that everything was fine.
She parked outside the Bishop's house and wearily climbed out of the car. The lights were on in the living room indicating that at least Walter was home. She could also see Astrid's car and felt relieved as it meant that she wouldn't need to look after Walter. She could go straight into the bedroom, take a long hot bath and go to bed early. She glanced her watched as she ascended the stairs and noted to her surprise that it was only 8.30 pm.
She could also recognise the signs of approaching depression and didn't have the energy to do anything about it. She would just have to live through it and hope that she would emerge from the other side as so many times before. She desperately missed Peter. It hit her again with a physical pain and she just wanted to curl up and hide in his bed.
When she entered into the living room, Astrid was reading on the sofa and based on the noises coming from the kitchen, Walter was experimenting on something. Astrid glanced up when she came in and Olivia knew that she was transparent when she could see Astrid's expression turn into alarmed and sympathetic.
Astrid got up from the sofa and came to her, taking her coat to hang it up in the closet. Olivia didn't protest and Astrid smiled sadly.
"I will make sure that Walter doesn't disturb you. If you need anything, please let me know," Astrid pleaded softly. Olivia could only nod to prevent the tears from falling. She was ready to break.
Walter had heard that Olivia had come in and he appeared from the kitchen showing off his latest milkshake flavour. He was stopped in his tracks by Astrid.
"Not now Walter," she said softly as she hugged Olivia briefly and pushed her gently towards the stairs.
Walter's face became solemn as it dawned on him what Astrid meant. Walter felt Olivia's grief almost as acutely as his own and he padded to her where she was at the foot of the stairs ready to climb up and enveloped her in a gentle hug, without saying a word.
For Olivia this was too much and she started crying as she hugged Walter back, escaping from him quickly and dashing upstairs. She was still reluctant to let anybody see her cry and the others respected that.
Walter stood with a milkshake in his hand, looking like a sad and lost child. Astrid went to him and tugged his hand guiding him back to the kitchen.
"Let's see what kind of a mess you have generated this time. I hope we don't have to wash the ceiling again..." Astrid's voice carried on as they walked causing Walter to start spluttering protests how that time had been a rare occasion as he had forgotten to put the lid on while mixing his milkshake.
Olivia undressed and shuffled to the bathroom, still crying. She didn't have the energy to stop herself and for once she wanted to let it all out. Maybe it would help with the pain.
The warm water that sloshed over her in the bath relaxed her and eased the pain in her muscles, but not in her heart. She welcomed the feeling of numbness and emptiness, but hoped against all hope that Peter would be there to fill that emptiness.
She had tried to resist first, but Peter had managed to wiggle himself under her skin and into her heart. He had become an integral part of her and his absence just made it more strikingly clear.
As she wasn't feeling guilty enough already, the one thing that she regretted with passion was that she had never told Peter how important he had become to her. She had been so afraid that she had never told him she loved him. Now she could only hope that he would find a way back before the feelings burned and consumed her entirely without an outlet.
She got out of the bath and padded back to the bedroom. She went to the chest of drawers pulling Peter's t-shirt and pair of boxers out and dressed in them. She then rummaged around to find Peter's sweater that hadn't been washed since he was gone, thus retaining his unique scent.
Olivia pressed the sweater to her face and inhaled deeply. Peter's scent stabbed her straight through the heart, but she needed him nearby tonight. Oh, how she needed him.
Olivia climbed into the bed settling down under the covers holding onto the sweater, pressing her face against it and fell into a deep, exhausted slumber as her body and mind finally gave up.
Peter became aware of himself standing under a tree, getting his feet wet in the night dew. He looked around and moved his limbs deciding that everything seemed to be in order. He felt the nervousness gripping his stomach twisting it and he stepped out from under the tree to only find himself a block away from home. Or at least what he thought was home.
He was at the same time relieved and nervous as it looked like the teleportation had indeed worked and it had deposited him on a street only few blocks away from his house, if he was in the right Universe, but so far it looked promising.
He walked along the empty streets noting that it was late at night and there were very few people around. Everybody must have been asleep. His steps gathered pace until he was running. He ran like he had never ran and arrived at the house breathless but feeling thrilled.
He noticed Olivia's car outside and felt lucky as it must mean that she was visiting and if she was around at this time, the chances of everybody being awake was good. When he glanced up at the house, the lights were indeed on.
He took the stairs running and knocked on the door as he didn't have keys. He couldn't stay still but fidgeted as he felt increasingly nervous.
The door started to open after a long pause and Astrid's face peered out. Her expression of suspicion turned into a shock and then absolute joy as she jumped on him, hugging him close and laughing.
"You made it! You came back," Astrid was crying now and she wouldn't let go of him.
Peter laughed with her and twirled her around, hugging her fiercely. When he let her down, she took his hand and pulled him inside while wiping her tears away.
The house was exactly like he remembered. Walter's bed was still in the living room as before but the man himself was nowhere to be seen. But based on the noises that were coming from the kitchen, it was easy to guess where he was.
"Walter, come here!" Astrid called out softly.
The noise stopped and Walter came out of the kitchen and stopped in his tracks when he saw smiling Peter. He was in shock as he came slowly forwards and with trembling hands reached out to touch Peter as if making sure that he was indeed real and not a ghost.
When his hand met with a solid chest, his face turned into a huge smile and he enveloped Peter in a bear hug that he happily returned. Peter rested his face on the older man's shoulder, revelling in the feel of Walter, who was quietly clinging on to him.
Peter was openly crying now and when he pulled away from Walter, he could see that he also had tears streaming down on his face.
"You came back, my son. You came back!" he whispered reverently as he gripped Peter's hands.
Peter felt like his heart was bursting, while he hugged and laughed and cried with Walter and Astrid. He was overjoyed that he had returned into the correct Reality and to the correct people.
When things calmed down a bit, Peter gestured towards the front door.
"I saw Olivia's car outside. Is she here?" he asked.
"She's sleeping in your room," Astrid answered to Peter's surprise.
"Please go to her. She needs you," Astrid pleaded making Peter worried for Olivia.
He paused to take in the sight of Walter and Astrid once more, then took off to his room.
When he got upstairs, he saw that the door to his room was closed. He silently and carefully opened the door as he didn't want to alarm Olivia. When he stepped inside, the sight in front of him broke his heart.
In the moonlight streaming from the window he could see Olivia curled up in his bed, wearing his clothes holding his sweater in tight grip next to her face. She looked exhausted even in deep sleep and the tracks of tears on her cheeks were still visible.
Peter felt close to bursting with emotions and he just wanted to run to Olivia to scoop her up and never let go. But he quietly closed the door, shed his jacket and shoes and sat down on the edge of the bed.
He brushed the blonde hair away from her face, full of wonder when the silken strands touched his hand. Olivia didn't stir. He lightly stroked her hair, enjoying the feel of it, enjoying the feel of living, breathing Olivia under his hand. Olivia's eye lashes fluttered a little.
Peter moved his shaking hand to gently stroke Olivia's face, his fingers trembling as he followed the lines in her beautiful face. Olivia stirred and groggily opened her eyes. She looked at him as he beamed a smile at her, but closed her eyes again.
"Why are my dreams so cruel," Peter could hear Olivia mumbling as tears slipped from under her eyelids.
"Not a dream," Peter whispered continuing his caress of Olivia's face and hair. He bent down and placed a warm, tender kiss on her forehead. He just managed to avoid hitting their heads together as Olivia bolted upright on the bed. She looked at him wide eyed while clutching to his sweater.
"Olivia," Peter whispered, his voice breaking as he reached for her.
"Peter?" Olivia asked quietly in a small voice.
"I'm here," Peter answered with a watery smile and was attacked by Olivia who launched herself at him throwing her arms around his neck.
They held each other tightly, their tears mingling together. Neither spoke as time for that would be later. For now they wanted reassurance that what they felt was real, that they had been reunited against all odds.
They were both trembling with the weight of their feelings and shock and Peter slowly lowered Olivia back on the bed while she was clinging to him, not wanting to let go.
Peter laid down next to her and gathered her in his arms holding her very tightly close to his chest. He pressed his face against her hair and inhaled the scent of Olivia, while he could feel her burrowing to him as closely as possible, pressing her nose so closely against his neck that he was unsure whether she could still breathe.
They laid under the covers, holding each other as sleep finally took hold of them. Peter pulled back a little to be able to look down at Olivia, who blinked up at him half asleep. Peter smiled at the adorable sight and gently captured her lips in a tender kiss before lying back down.
"I'm where I belong," Peter's last thought was, before he succumbed to sleep.