Strawberry Fields

Summary: Regular nightmares are not scary enough for Olivia Dunham.

Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe!

In a normal nightmare, the dreamer is the "chasee," running as fast as his or her little dreamer feet can take them, away from a fearful being whose shape varies depending on the person and is presumably hungry or murderous or angry.

Olivia Dunham is not, nor has she ever been, "normal."

So naturally, regular nightmares are not scary enough for Olivia Dunham; No, in her dreams, she's the chaser.

Back in the beginning, when Walter wore a diaper because he kept peeing himself and Peter always made sure he was within arm's length of an exit, she dreamt of chasing John chasing Robert Steig.

Boots struggling to find traction on the snowy ground, lungs choking down the freezing air, she winds her way through a maze of shipping containers. Out of breath, she manages to scream one "John!" before Steig pushes the button and the world erupts. She is unable to move, only watches, as slivers of light force their way into John's body, while his skin is slowly replaced with layers of petroleum jelly and plastic wrap.

But by the time John has proposed on the pier, Olivia's subconscious has grown bored with dead twins and the loss of her boyfriend. The truth was, there were bigger fish to fry these days. Like Mr. Jones, who had escaped from the hospital by splitting his room in half and scrawling on the wall, the two most chilling words Olivia had seen in her life so far.

So she dreams of chasing Jones through that abandoned warehouse they had found the drawing and the two-dollar bill in, all the while passing by innocent bystanders whose orifices have begun to close up, their own skin growing over the openings. She wants so badly to stop and help, but she had learned, as she kneeled numbly on the dusty floor, watching the skin crawl up the side of Johnson's trach tube, how futile that would be.

Jones is slow, poisoned by the radiation, and he's forced to pause every few feet to hack out a cough and she catches up easily. But as soon as she reaches out ahead to grab him, he takes off, as graceful as an eagle, using those special powers he had stolen from the diz-ray. She takes half a second to glance back and she realizes that those cadavers she's left behind are actually those of her team's: Walter, Astrid, Broyles, and Peter. Her heart beats and she takes a breath. There should be anger, sadness, and crushing depression. And there will be. But for now there is only the chase, the flying lunatic who still needs to be caught, and by God, Olivia will catch him.

Unfortunately, as it turns out, the ability of flight is too much of an advantage and Olivia can only watch as Jones disappears out of a window and into the city.

She returns home after a long day of murder and pseudoscience and avoiding Peter's gaze. Downing three shots, she falls asleep and dreams of Newton, which is surprising since she hasn't thought of him in months.

And she's back in the suburbs, running through backyards and front yards, trampling flowers and sandcastles, but she simply does not care, only focused on Newton and his footsteps and catching up. They reach the van and she shoots all of Newton's lackeys in the head without blinking, doesn't have time to feel relieved when the grey liquid spills out of the bullet holes. Then Newton's the only one left and before she can shoot him too, he begins that familiar speech she dreads, and reveals that this case isn't going to be as open and shut as she wants it to be.

He offers her the choice: me or Walter Bishop? and she thinks back to that decision she made almost ten months ago to let the shapeshifter go and save Walter. If Altivia hadn't had Newton, then maybe she wouldn't have had as much information as she did and maybe she would have slipped up in a more obvious way and maybe Peter would have noticed. Maybe there wouldn't even be a switch. Maybe Peter would never make it over to the other side. Maybe he never even finds out the truth. And wasn't there a one out of six chance that Peter would guess the right sequence of antidotes anyway? Maybe Walter could still be saved.

But it takes a lot of guts to wager the life of one of the most brilliant scientists in the world on a bunch of maybes. And as she peers into the twisted threads that form the potential universes, she understands that there will not be a universe where the Fringe Division is doing alright, where they are saving an acceptable amount of lives, where Peter is happy, after Walter's death.

She doesn't get to choose (not that it actually matters) because as they near the one minute, forty-five seconds mark, she wakes up, to a universe where Walter is still alive, Altivia is still everywhere, Peter is still an ignorant dumbass, and she is still irritated, annoyed, miserable, and confused. She tries to fall asleep again, but soon finds that Newton's face haunts the back of her eyelids, his taunt of "now I know how weak you are," echoing throughout her ears. So she stays up, even though it's three in the morning, and watches a documentary about the (green) Statue of Liberty. At eight exactly, she'll go back to work and it will be another day full of murder and pseudoscience and avoiding Peter's gaze. She'll drink a little more coffee than she usually does and Peter will notice, but he won't bring it up.

AN: If you've made it this far, you should totally review, even if you didn't like it. The button's just over there to the left, I think. Or maybe right underneath this. I can't remember.

BTW I have no idea what the name is of that agent who dies in 1x14 Ability. I just made that up. Also I haven't watched Grey Matters in a really long time so that whole part probably has some errors.

Anyway, thanks for reading!