A/N Here in the UK for some reason we are due to be stuck at Marionette until Easter. As such I am venting not inconsiderable frustration by revisiting some scenes I had wanted to write about before. Let me know what you think.
Spoilers up to 2 * 01 A New Day in the Old Town.
I don't own Fringe – if I did the nice folks at Sky would be showing the rest of the season in line with the US!
I love my sister. Adore her. I know that there have been times that I have taken advantage of her. Not necessarily pulled my weight or even acknowledged the amount of weight she's taken off me but that doesn't mean that I don't love her. It just means I've never been very good at showing it. And now I don't know if I'll be able to.
After my daughter, she's the most important person in the world to me. In fact if it wasn't for her I probably wouldn't have my daughter. Everyone else thought I was too young, wouldn't cope, was too selfish. Not Liv. She listened. She let me cry then. She's always let me cry. Let me share my worries, my fears until they never seemed so big. And I really don't think she ever judged. I appreciate that and I'm not sure I've ever told her. Not really. And now I'm scared it's all too late.
I never thanked her for any of the little things she's done for me. The days when she's read Ella books when I've been too tired. The meals she's cooked even when she's been working all day. The hours she's sat and listened to me deconstruct my relationships, let me let off steam about Greg, about Dave. About Brett and whoever came before him. The money she's made sure I've had; the payments that pop in my bank account sporadically that let me treat myself. It's not just the little crap I owe her for either. She removed the malignancy that was our step father from our life. Protected me when mum was ill, was there for me when it was just the two of us. A rock. Made sure that no one picked on me in school. Checked that I ate properly, made sure I had a dress for the prom, and encouraged me to strive to be my best. She's been my entire family. And now...well tomorrow. She won't be here.
If I've never said the right things, or at least not said them often enough I don't think I've asked the right questions at all. I have all sorts of vague excuses for not knowing about her jobs. She's always given me the perfect get out clause; after all it would be a felony if she told me. But on the other stuff I don't have any excuse. Not one. What does it say about me that I didn't know about her relationship with her partner? Didn't know she had a ring in her jewellery box? Didn't know there was someone who she might have wanted an 'always' with, had been blithely oblivious to how badly that had gone down. I didn't even know she had a living will until the doctor presented me with that reality an hour ago.
In fact the last few hours have been the worst in my life. The first really bad thing I've had to go through without her in front of me, making it better, easing the pain. I've held her hand, so horrendously pale and suddenly fragile, watched bruises bloom all over her face and tried to figure out what to say. No one is convinced she can hear me, but I've had to try. And somewhere in the unnatural stillness of the room, in between my ramblings, my introspection and my sobs I've figured something out. For the first time in months Peter Bishop isn't around.
Since I've been back he's been an almost permanent fixture in our life. I imagined for a while maybe mine but really it has always been about her. He can often be found at the apartment. Sometimes he hovers in the doorway, much like the first day I met him, never seemingly over bothered if his entrance into the apartment is barred. He'll throw a quick comment her way and trot off again into the night. Other times he's allowed in. On those nights he nearly always brings food. An ice cream, a remarkable milkshake, a home brewed beer. Sometimes wine, once a bottle of scotch – to me transparent excuses but she takes them from him and doesn't call him on it, just smiles her patented half smile. Then they sit and talk and while I'm invited and included I rarely follow their conversation. If this is their work they can keep it. It doesn't mean I don't watch them though. Sometimes he sprawls over my sisters pristine furniture like he belongs there – like he can't imagine being comfortable anywhere else. Other times he leans forward, arms on his thighs daring her to keep eye contact looking like an animal ready to attack. For someone so keen on her space she never seems bothered. Her eyes are alight, her cheeks often slightly flushed. The aliveness of the memory of those times hurts now against the inertia, the lack of anything.
Her limited talk about work, about her days, has been littered with references to the lab or to Harvard or to the field, where once it was an office. The days she doesn't describe are longer than the nine to five of any job I have ever done and occasionally involve pizza or a beer or a jaunt to the latest must go to coffee shop before she comes home. Even when it is time for home she takes longer to get back to me than I'd expect and I can't help but assume it's because she drops him, them off at the hotel they call home. Sometimes I hear the ancient yellow car outside returning the favour. Outside even these times they is rarely a night that goes by when they aren't on the phone. I know he's on the speed dial. Many a meal has been disturbed by Peter ringing with a thought about their work or to share an observation or what she sometimes calls a Walterism. I hear her late at night or early in the morning as she packs a bag to go God only knows where on the phone. Her voice is light, humour filled and as close to flirtatious as I have ever heard her as she promises prizes, free food, excitement, new hobbies. I'd do anything to hear her voice again.
Only a few weeks ago he said something to me about my stepfather. I was astounded that he would know this about us. About her. That somehow this man of less than savoury past has managed to get this story out of my oh so private sister. I wondered then whether I was being usurped, whether she'd prefer to be looking out for him and his strange father instead of me and Ella. It feels churlish now and I just want to see him. For him to be here before it's too late.
When he arrives he looks awful. Distraught. He is pale, as pale as she is. Against the white of his skin his eyes are red rimmed, bloodshot and puffy and his nose looks suspiciously like he's been crying. Even his posture, normally so confident and in your face looks uncertain. He reaches out to me hesitantly as if he might shatter. As he leans closer I can smell the hard liquor on him. Whilst I have been sitting next to my sister's bed, trying to say goodbye and imagining the new Olivia less world, he has been out toasting her. Drowning his sorrows. I think she would approve. I wonder whether this will be the measure for me now; imagining what Olivia would think or do. Almost immediately I throw that idea away. The right thing to do would be to give him some time but I am selfish and the clock is ticking towards a very final ending and I am loathe to miss a moment of it. So I follow, lingering at the doorway. He discounts the chair I've made my own and perches on the end of the bed, invading her space again. I see his hand reach out to her hair and it shakes slightly. His shoulders move all but imperceptibly and I can imagine him biting his lip trying not to cry. He leans forward towards her and speaks, almost under his breath, unintelligible from my spot.
Then suddenly she is upright. Screaming, eyes fearful but most defiantly awake. Most definitely alive. Somehow he has brought her back to me. To us.