Spoilers: Through episode 2.14, "Jacksonville.".

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

Author's note: I wrote most of this during the hiatus, but only just figured out where to go with the last couple of paragraphs. Because of this, the story is a little AU from the episodes after "Jacksonville".

Prelude to Escape

By the time Olivia pulls up in front of the Bishops' house, all the lights are on. She pushes open the unlocked front door, afraid that she has already missed him. That in the half hour since Astrid called to tell her the secret was out of the bag he'd already taken flight. She pauses a moment, listening, and heads in the direction of the soft sounds from upstairs. The door to his bedroom is wide open. The room has been reduced to chaos, Peter in the center of it all packing a dufflebag.

She leans against the doorjamb and watches his quick, economical movements. Jagged movements, more like the Peter she first met than the Peter who's been her partner for the past six months. Sorting through the mess without hesitation, folding and placing items in the bag with the ease of long practice. Paring the clutter of staying in one place back down into portability as he sheds off all the unnecessary burdens of his life in Boston.

She swallows against the lump in her throat. She's lost him. She knew she would, but she'd still hoped that, despite it all, he'd stay.

"Peter—" she starts, but she has no words. Nothing that could convince him, nothing that should convince him. Not when her bitterness at Walter's complicity in her own childhood torture still chokes her even while she tells herself the man isn't the same as the one she can't remember.

"You knew," he says, his rhythm not changing. "You had to know."

At the memory her control wavers and the glimmer flares around him; she forces it back down to barely a flicker. "I gave him three days. Three days to tell you before I did."

He nods, seemingly unsurprised. "I may not have your memory, but I remember you saying, on several occasions, 'he's your father' as an excuse for why I should put up with him. He's not. Whatever point you were trying to make has been invalidated."

And whatever affection Peter had built up in the past year and a half is now gone, shredded to nothing when the lies of his origins had been brought into the open. She drops her eyes, studying the clothing and clutter that had been strewn across the floor. "Where will you go?"

"Away." He pauses, almost smiles. "Someplace warm." His hands still, tighten slightly on the edges of the bag. "Come with me."

Her breath stops, stutters. She stares at him and shakes her head. "I can't."

"Not won't." He turns, eyes boring into hers. "Can't."

She meets his eyes unflinchingly, shrugs.

His voice softens. "This thing. It's going to kill you; you see that, right? Either the cases or the war, you're just going to end up a martyr to a someone else's cause."

"I have to—"

"You don't," he snaps, abandoning gentle persuasion as anger takes over. His eyes narrow, the wrinkle between his brows deepening. "Bell, Walter, they had no right. They tortured you, made you into someone you weren't supposed to be. Gave you a burden that no child, no one should have to bear."

"And that doesn't matter." She shakes her head again. She believes it; she has to believe it. Has to believe there's some purpose to all this pain. "I can help. I need to help."

"Let someone else—"

"Who?" Anger boils up. Anger at him, at his father, at herself. At this whole damned situation that they've been puppets to most of their lives. "Tell me, Peter, if I don't do this, who will? Do you see anyone else stepping up to take my place?"

"How much of that martyr complex is you, Olivia, and how much is what they brainwashed a defenseless kid into believing?" He takes a step closer, reaches out like he wants to touch her, but drops his hands, fisted, to his sides. "You don't know, do you?"

She straightens, raising her chin, refusing to let him see how much sleep she's lost about those very questions. Not because she doesn't trust him with it, but because she does. Because if she gives him the opening he might be able to convince her she's wrong. "Does it change the fact that people are dying? That even more people are going to die? Will my running off stop Newton from trying to open the door between universes? Will it stop the worlds from colliding?"

He just stares at her, anger and grief etched in his face, then closes his eyes and turns away. "I can't stay. Not after this."

Her anger subsides. "I know." She takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, keeping her eyes steady on him no matter how she wants to look away. "You stayed longer than I expected." Long enough to make him a part of her life, long enough that losing him is going to hurt more than she wants to show.

Long enough that she's almost glad he's getting out before she's forced to watch another friend die.

His expression relaxes for a moment, and a smile flickers at the edges of his lips. "I had good reason to stick around." He once again meets her eyes, and the smile widens. "You're the one good thing to come out of this fucked up mess."

She takes the step separating them, breaks her own rules by drawing him into her arms.

"I'm sorry," he murmurs into her hair. "I'm sorry, Olivia."

She tries to find words to vocalize how she feels, but there's nothing, so she just nods and holds him tighter. "Will you come back?" she finally asks. Not nearly words enough, and not even fair to him, not now.

For a long time she thinks he's not going to answer, but when she tries to loosen her grip, to extricate herself from her awkwardness and sorrow, he refuses to let her go. "I don't know," he says, and tears prickle in her eyes at the pain in his voice.

She lets herself drop her guard for a moment, lets herself huddle against his chest as the tears work their way free. Soaks up his warmth in preparation for the cold and lonely days that stretch ahead and imprints into her skin one last memory of comfort.

When his arms finally loosen, she steps back. He studies her, gaze roving up and down before finally meeting her eyes. "Don't do anything stupid like get yourself killed." His voice is hoarse, his eyes bleak. "I swear to God, Olivia, if you—" he stops, shakes his head.

"You, too," she says. She manages a small smile, loses it when he picks up his bag and slings it over his shoulder.

He pauses briefly on his way out the door, cradling her cheek with his hand. His lips barely brush hers in a whisper of a kiss, then he's gone, down the stairs and out the door.

She props herself against the wall, heels of her hands pressed against her eyes, and listens to the rumble of the car fade until all that remains is the quiet of the night.