Spoilers: Through episode 2.18, "The Man from the Other Side".

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

Author's Note: This is completely muselives' fault.

And the truth will set him free

The Fed disintegrates.

Peter doesn't disintegrate, which he's quite happy about, even if it doesn't make any sense. His mind whirls, the pieces of the puzzle rotating through his head while he types frantically and jury-rigs the program into functioning. Peter didn't disintegrate. Neither does the man on the bridge. He looks up, once or twice, to that wavering almost-bridge with its single passenger, and his stomach lurches as the universes shift into one.

It's a familiar feeling. Why is it familiar?

And all the disparate events of today, of the past weeks, fall into place. Everything Peter saw but misinterpreted because he was wrapped up in a giddy fog called family takes on new meaning. Everything they kept from him suddenly becomes horribly clear.

They. Walter and Olivia. The other two points to the triangle that has kept him tethered here. It's his last thought before he's thrown against the car and everything goes black, and his first when his eyes blur open and he sees Olivia's relief at his waking up.

Of course Walter knew; that's a given. But Olivia had to have known, had to have seen the glimmer on their trip out for drinks weeks ago. That trip where Olivia was skittish, then disappeared for days afterwards. Days where Walter was depressed, desperate to get in contact with her but just as desperate to hide it from Peter. Days when Peter, fool that he was, jumped to the conclusions he wanted to believe.

Her smile dims, and he calls on every bit of his skill at deception to force a smile to his lips and humor to his eyes. To force himself to play casual, to keep her off guard. To pretend his trust until he can see Walter and confirm what Peter already knows.

It's not chance that she was here when he woke; she had to have waited nearly as long as Walter. But no matter how many hours she paced outside his door, she had still made herself part of the lie.

Peter lives a lie better than she could ever dream of doing.

He can see the truth spilling from Walter's face within seconds. The man doesn't even bother to deny it, just offers stumbling excuses as justification.

His fury burning him cold, Peter waits for the doctor to clear him. Waits and gives free rein to the part of himself he suppressed for too long, the part that longs to be gone from this place. When he signs his name to the discharge papers, his fingers curling white-knuckled around the pen, he's freeing himself from more than the hospital. There's no blonde shadow for this signature, and with these jagged strokes he strikes off the chains that she choked him with so many months before.

He escapes into the night, once again leaving the wreckage of his life behind.