Spoilers: Through the end of S2.
Disclaimer: I don't own the fabulous show of Fringe. No infringement intended.
A/N: Inspired by the prompt "The life of spies is to know, not to be known." - George Herbert for Sam Weiss-Altivia at ineffort's post-finale free-for-all fic meme. I'd love to know what you think, as I found this one challenging to write.
She's not supposed to trust anyone.
She trusts him.
"Agent Dunham Number Two, huh? I have to say I wasn't expecting the red hair."
She smiles, but it's a dangerous smile - anything but friendly - and she knows that he knows that she's trying to figure out how he could tell exactly who she is when she hasn't even spoken a word.
So she keeps her words to a minimum. "Number Two?" she questions, tries to inject an appropriate amount of confusion into her tone. Thinks about furrowing her eyebrows a little, but decides that would be overkill.
But the man just shrugs, looks her straight in the eye, and even before he speaks she knows it'd be useless for her to continue the charade. "Your walk's a little off, you swagger just a little when you think no one's looking."
Olivia doesn't bother getting defensive, just mentally files that away under her list of things she knows about Blondie. She doesn't like to think of her as another Olivia. The other woman seemed entirely too skittish for her tastes (although the bitch had managed to knock her out - a stroke of luck as far as she's concerned), her wardrobe is entirely too bland (seriously, stiff suits and no primary colors?), and if Peter's responses are any indication she hadn't exactly had sex in a long time (she almost pitied Blondie for that before she remembered how much she missed Frank's back rubs and that amazing thing he did with his tongue).
But, for now, she needs to find out more about the man she's speaking to.
"Sam Weiss?" she questions, trying to get a read on him. Her intel hadn't made any mention of his name at all. She hasn't heard Peter or Walter speak his name either. But she needs to find out as much about Blondie's life as possible, and when she'd found a scrap of paper with his name and an address on it she'd been curious. The name is one that she can't seem to place anywhere.
She can't imagine that Blondie and this bearded guy had been involved, but maybe she hasn't been giving the bitch enough credit.
"You can call me Sam," is all he says, and she hates that all she knows is his name, when clearly he knows more about her than he's letting on. "Let me guess," and she waits for him to pick out something else wrong about the way she presents herself, "you've been having these awful headaches."
Like a bitch, she wants to say but just because she knows she can't fool him doesn't mean she's going to trust him with any more information than necessary. But he doesn't say anything else, just waits for her to confirm or deny his statement. The bastard's apparently as patient as he is inscrutable, so finally she gives him one of her own shrugs, offers up a "Maybe."
"Well if you are," he continues as he closes up the cash register, "I might be able to help you with that."
Why help me?, she thinks, because for some reason she doesn't doubt that he can. Instead, she looks around her, makes a point of eyeing the shabby bowling alley with skepticism, and doesn't even bother trying to sound like Blondie, as she says, "This doesn't exactly look like a doctor's office."
"No," and for the first time he laughs, "doctors are too expensive." He's turning around now, reaching for something behind him, and quietly she reaches for her gun. But then he's turning back and she sees that all he has in his hand are bowling shoes, which he places on the counter before him.
If he sees her hand relax at her holster, he doesn't say anything. Just smiles and says, "So, Dunham Number Two, how do you feel about bowling?"
She has a billion unanswered questions but knows better than to ask any of them, simply takes the proffered shoes and tells him, "You can call me Number One."
It's only when she's putting them on that she notices that he'd given her a size eight without her asking. It's not much of an answer, but it's a start.
"You want a beer?" he asks her the next time she sees him.
She crinkles her nose, "Uh, is that supposed to help?"
"Depends on your definition of help. But it seems you don't like alcohol. Guess you're not as badass as you look."
"What's shakin', Bacon?" is the way he greets her when she answers her cuff (here they call it a cell - one of many terms she's had to get used to).
"Oh the usual," she quips, "I'm just curling my hair and planning on taking a trip down the coast."
"You get the flyers?"
Her headaches are gone but she still finds herself coming to the bowling alley.
She tells herself it's because she's trying to get more information, but the fact that she hasn't told any of her superiors about him and her late-night visits says otherwise.
It's only after a particularly close game in which she beats him (she hasn't bowled much before this, but Olivia Dunham is a fast learner), and he waves her off with a "Good job tonight, Number Two" that she can admit to herself why she comes back, why she lets him get away with that nickname.
It's nice to have someone acknowledge who she is, nice to come to a place where she can be seen as just her. Everyone else sees her as Blondie, and the guy at the shop sees her as an infiltrator from the Other Side.
Even when she looks in the mirror and tells herself that she's "Olivia Dunham" she doesn't know whom exactly she's referring to.
But Sam Weiss knows who she is. The fact no longer threatens her. In fact, she thinks it might be the only thing keeping her from blowing her cover. She knows it's the only thing keeping her sane.
"Why are you helping me, if you're from this side?"
She can't help but ask him one night as they're playing Monopoly on the counter. It's something she's gone through over and over in her head, and she still can't figure it out. She knows a lot about this world now, but he's still the biggest mystery of them all.
"Who says I'm from this side?" he responds and she wants to ask him more but knows that he won't tell her anything unless he feels like it. The possibility that he might be from her side has occurred to her before, but besides knowing where she's from he hasn't given her any real clues that tells her he's from her universe.
Five minutes later, as they're counting up the money, he says, "I'm older than I look."
It doesn't exactly answer her question, but it's something, and she just nods in recognition - files it away in her head to add to her very scanty list of things she knows about Sam Weiss.
"Don't you ever worry about her?" she asks him one night. He looks up, surprised, and she can't even savor the fact that she's caught him off guard for once because she's too curious to know his answer.
He knows exactly whom she means by her, even though they never talk about her.
"Do you?" he asks, and she's not mad at him for avoiding the question because she knows his response is the real reason she's brought the topic up in the first place.
Still, she doesn't know what to say to that, even when it's been spoken out loud, so she just shrugs and continues helping him put away the shoes.
But it's after that night that she starts thinking of her as Olivia too.
"Ella knows," she tells him but of course he's not surprised. He just continues counting up the cash in the register, asks, "She gonna tell her mom?"
"I don't think so," Olivia replies, "but she asked me where her Aunt Liv was, wanted to know when she was coming back."
"And what'd you tell her?"
"I told her that I didn't know." Not the complete truth, but she didn't think talk about alternate universes and quarantines made for a good bedtime story. And she doesn't know where exactly the other Olivia is, but imagines that - wherever she is - it probably isn't very pretty.
Monsters in our skin, the Secretary had called their alternate selves. But the longer she stays here, the harder it is for her to reconcile his statement with the people she interacts with on a daily basis and with the Olivia that she's come to know through them.
Still, most days, she hates this Walter for what he had done to her universe. Hates him because otherwise she'd be at home with Frank and her mother and Charlie. But it's hard to deny that he loves Peter, his real son or not. And she's come to love the Rachel here like her own sister - considers every moment she spends with her as precious. And she just knows her mother would love Ella, would love to meet the girl who would've been her grandchild.
Olivia can't help but sigh out loud, "I don't know much of anything anymore." And, as much as she hates to admit this, she has to know what he thinks. "I don't even know if I'm one of the good guys or the bad guys."
"Well, what did Ella say when you told her you didn't know where her aunt was?"
"She asked me to please find her and bring her back."
"And what'd you say to that?"
"I told her that I would."
"And will you?" he asks, and there's no expectation in his voice, nothing challenging or disapproving about his tone.
She thinks about the other Olivia, how much she had wanted to know about her mother, how willingly she'd shared the information about her niece.
But then she remembers all the dead trees and those people trapped forever in amber, the way Lincoln had been burned to a crisp, and all she can do is repeat her earlier words and shake her head, "I don't know."
Later in the night, as she's making her way to the exit, he calls out to her, "Hey, Dunham." She turns around, waits for the usual "Number Two" to come but instead he says, "You're a good person. Definitely one of the few I know. If you told Ella you'd bring her back, I'm sure you'll keep your word."
"Yeah," she replies, but she knows it's a bit much to expect a woman skilled at deception like she is to keep her promises.
She's not supposed to be doing this, but she's sure that he'd approve.
"Peter?" she says when he answers the phone. "We need to talk."