Spoilers: Through episode 3.9, "Marionette".

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

Reflection

Olivia's nose wrinkles with reflexive distaste as the whiskey burns its way down her throat. Distaste she didn't have two months ago. She leans back to stare at the glass, rubbing the rim with her thumb, then tosses the rest back in defiance and leans forward to grab the bottle for a refill. Alcohol won't help her forget, but enough of it will blur the raw and jagged edges into something that will let her drop into an uneasy doze for a few hours.

Closing her eyes, she drains the glass and drops it to the floor. If she opens them, she will see the couch, the bedroom. The bed. She chokes back a laugh and retreats deeper into the chair, fingers digging into her legs. Olivia's used to being overshadowed by others. There is always someone smarter, stronger, funnier, prettier. Someone better. She's just not used to that person being herself.

The other Olivia has everything. An easy smile and friendly manner that wins people to her side. Partners she trusts, a boyfriend she adores. The respect and admiration of everyone she meets. Not a perfect life, but a good one. A happy one. Her world may be crumbing around her, but she will fight until the end, a hero to her last breath, secure in the knowledge that the people who love her will fight with her. Olivia knows, remembers, and a part of her aches with the loss.

How can Olivia blame her other self for doing what she felt she must when Olivia would do exactly the same?

Ghostly memories of that other life resurface and she presses the heels of her hands against her eyes as if blocking out the world around her will block out the world within her head. But the memories remain, a fragile but stubborn tracery overlaying her real memories. At least she thinks they're her real memories, but how can she tell? Sometimes for seconds, minutes, she loses track of who she started as.

Tears burn her eyes. She lays her head on the arm of the chair and allows herself a moment of weakness to mourn what could have been.

All the things she thought would ground her to this place, this life, have been tainted by the person she might have become. A different set of choices and Olivia could have had that life, been that person. Instead she has a tragic past and a breaking heart, unreliable memories and fear she long ago learned to transmute into anger.

And she has two universes to save. She can't forget that. Now she knows the stakes and exactly how far the players will go to win. She can't—won't—let the Secretary go through with his plans.

She swipes at her cheeks and sits up, collects her glass and pours one more swallow of whiskey. She doesn't have a high tech command center or unlimited government funding, and there are no squadrons of scientists and agents eager to do her bidding. She has Broyles fighting in her corner, Walter desperate for redemption, Astrid willing to fill in the cracks of whatever needs to be done. Peter, who may be the key to it all. And she has herself.

It will have to be enough, because this is a fight she doesn't plan to lose.