Spoilers: Spoilers through episode 3.13, "Immortality".
Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or its characters.
Author's note: This was finished except for edits before "Bloodline" aired, and I'm a little amazed that the episode didn't render it AU. Much thanks to crazylittleelf for betaing and encouragement.
Reassurance and Comfort
Unwilling to wait for the elevator, Lincoln takes the stairs two at a time, but he can't outrun the spikes of adrenaline still jittering through his system or the thoughts racing through his head as he tries to make sense of the situation.
Olivia, pregnant. He can't even picture it.
Her avoidance of the topic borders on legendary. She's been invited to speak at schools a bunch of times, especially after the incident with the bus last year, and has refused every offer. Olivia has this thing about kids, protecting them fiercely but never interacting with them. He knows she's ambivalent at the idea of bringing kids into this fucked up world, and he's pretty sure losing Rachel to childbirth caused most of it.
He slows to a quick walk when he hits the hallway, and hesitates outside her hospital room, one hand on the doorjamb as he peers inside. In a rare show of vulnerability, she's curled on her side, her face creased in misery. But alive. His chest tightens when he thinks of Silva and his fear she might not make it and how far he would have gone to give her a fighting chance. Even now that he knows the truth, he doesn't regret any action he took or any he would have taken.
Silva should have counted himself lucky he'd chosen himself to rebirth a species rather than Olivia.
He sucks in a deep breath full of antiseptic and recycled air, and clears his throat as he taps on the door. "Hey, Liv."
She jerks upright, swiping the back of her hand against her eyes as she straightens. "Lincoln." Her face lights up, then she slumps and drops her eyes, fiddling with the edge of the blanket.
He saunters across the room and settles onto the foot of her bed. He considers and discards the cliche of gently taking her hand; she won't thank him for treating her as fragile, no matter how much she looks like she's about to shatter. That he's even thinking about such a thing says more about his state of mind than hers. Instead, he shifts until he can bump her hip with his knee. "You okay?"
"Fine." She doesn't meet his eyes, not even trying to sell the lie with a smile or a quip.
"So." Her eyes dart up to meet his, narrow as they study him. She bites her lip. "You talked to Frank."
Not only talked to him, but was inches away from getting shoved against the wall of the hospital lobby by him. Probably better not to mention that to Olivia, at least not yet. Especially since Lincoln had been poised to take a swing himself. Giving Olivia's ex a black eye would have been cathartic, but if she wants Frank to suffer, she'll want to do it herself. "He kind of wanted answers."
"And figured since you were so good at keeping secrets, you'd tell him everything?"
"Hey! There are lots of things I know that I haven't told you."
Her smile is half-hearted at best. "Name one."
That she was the last thing he thought about when he got crisped by the pyrokinetic. That after he heard about her breakdown, he was more worried about her recovery than his. That for all the perks of being the boss, the prestigious office gapes empty and he misses like hell being able to look up from his desk in the bullpen and see her, to listen to her banter with Charlie, to be there to trade gibes with them both. That if he loses her, he's seriously not sure how he'll be able to get through the job.
As he would not say any of those things out loud without a gun to his head, he shakes his head and pulls out his most shit-eating smirk. "I never mentioned that getting the big office meant I finally figured out what was up with Kerrik and Shannon. Top secret, though. These lips are sealed."
Her eyebrows shoot up. "But how will Charlie and I know if you won the bet?"
"I'll just have to live with the satisfaction that I know the truth and you don't."
"Oh, look, the power's already going to your head." Her shoulders are relaxing, slowly, and the sparkle is returning to her eyes. "Must be why your hair's gotten so… poofy."
"Hey! Don't dis the hair."
He runs a hand over his head, not quite defensively, and she smirks. "Charlie thinks you're trying to look taller. Unsuccessfully, by the way."
"He's just jealous."
"Nah. Just has better taste."
"Then how do you explain the whole shaved-head phase a while back?"
"Solidarity with his worms."
They hold out for ten seconds before they start laughing.
She reaches out and squeezes his arm, her fingers warm on his skin, and leaves her hand there for longer than he expects. She pulls away with a wry smile and smooths the blanket over her legs.
"You know Frank thinks the baby's mine," he says abruptly. He hates to ruin the moment, but she needs to know. And he has no doubt Frank won't be the only one to come to that conclusion.
She twitches, her shoulders tightening again. "Did you—"
"I didn't disabuse him of the notion. Figured if you wanted him to know the truth, you'd have told him." Whatever that truth is. He doesn't know if it's better or worse for Frank to think she got involved with someone she's been working with for years. Especially after Frank told him about the proposal.
Frank must be feeling like an idiot about now. Almost makes Lincoln want to cave and tell him the truth.
Okay, not really.
"You love Frank, right?" Damn it, that came out of nowhere and he promised himself he wouldn't ask, no matter how much he wants to know. And besides, he also promised himself he wouldn't push and that's definitely pushing. He shrugs and gives her a lopsided grin. "If you want to tell me. Which you don't have to."
"Yeah." She tilts her head, her smile a twist of the lips that's miles from the mocking it's attempting to be. "Would I have agreed to marry him if I didn't?" She licks her lips and looks away, staring out the window as her forehead creases and the attempt at a smile fades. "And I never expected… it's… complicated."
Complicated is the understatement of the century, if Lincoln's any judge; given how well he knows her, he damned well better be, even if he hadn't seen this coming and she hadn't shared any of it with him. Not that he's hurt. Or jealous. Well, maybe a tiny little bit of both. But mostly he's worried. Olivia has always been loyal to those she loves, and Lincoln has no clue why she would cheat on Frank. That sort of betrayal has never been her style.
Frank always made her happy. Or at least seemed to make her happy. What would drive her to chance destroying that?
It's not the only thing her pregnancy could screw up. Lincoln glances sideways at her. "Could get even more complicated. The DoD may try to pull you off of active duty."
Her fingers curl into the mattress. "No. They won't." There's steel in her voice and anger in her eyes.
"Lucky thing you have some pull with the boss."
"You have no idea," she says with grim humor. He looks at her questioningly, but she shakes her head, her shuttered expression saying without words that she's keeping secrets she resents she can't share.
He taps his knee and studies her as she stares at the window again, her expression as close to brooding as he's ever seen. She'd been subtly off kilter for months, only snapping back to herself in the chaos after Broyles went missing. Six weeks along, Frank said. That puts conception about a week before Broyles disappeared. Back when the DoD was still pulling her off duty every couple days to run tests. After Broyles' disappearance, whatever the DoD had wanted her for went on hold. His gut tells him there's a link, and his gut is usually right.
She never told him exactly what the tests were all about, only that they had something to do with the probable abilities of her alternate, and even that is likely more than she was supposed to say. Broyles would have known; he insisted on being kept in the loop on anything to do with Fringe Division personnel. If Lincoln digs deep enough into Broyles' files, he might be able to find the truth. Something to look for when he needs a break from the endless rounds of playing catch-up in his new job.
She turns her head and gives him a look that suggests that whatever he's thinking, he should cut it out, so he sets aside his speculations to chew over later. "You know if you need anything—"
She snorts. "You getting sappy on me?"
"You're the one in the hospital bed for, what, the first time ever?"
She sighs heavily and gives the green walls and utilitarian furniture a contemptuous glance. "Think you can spring me?"
He shakes his head. "Even with my powers of persuasion, they're pretty adamant about keeping you overnight. Besides, you really want to miss out on hot hero-worshiping nurses giving you sponge baths?"
"So that's why you and Charlie end up here so often."
"Nah. Just one of the perks." He grabs the remote off the table beside her and waggles it. "They also have an awesome movie package. Access to pretty much anything, free of charge." He hooks a chair with his foot and pulls it closer to the bed, then shifts seats and props his feet up beside her. "Don't know about you, but I'm watching Raiders of the Lost Ark."
She stills and glances at him. "Don't you have boss stuff to do?"
He gives a studiedly careless shrug. "Member of my team in the hospital. That sort of thing takes priority. Charlie will get a kick out of ordering people around in my absence." Charlie had ordered him here, point of fact, and told him not to come back until he could, as Charlie put it, 'stop snarling at your hapless minions'. Unstated was the order not to come back until Lincoln was positive Olivia was all right, however long that took. They know from experience status updates from the hospital give dry facts, but never tell the whole story.
He feels her eyes on him but focuses on scrolling through the TV menus. After long moments she says, carefully, "You just want an excuse to play hooky."
"Got a problem with that?" He sneaks a look at her; she's turned her attention to the TV, her expression thoughtful but not unhappy.
"Nope," she says, a small smile curving her lips, and then, still without looking at him, snatches the remote. "But we're watching Rocky Horror."
"Aw, come on!"
His feet thump down on the floor as he grabs for the remote, but she holds it out of his reach and flips through the selections. "My hospital room, my TV."
He glowers at her. "I could order you to pick something else?"
"You could try."
"Pretty sure I could give the order."
"It's so cute when you think you can boss people around."
"Fine. Whatever." He waves his hands in defeat as red lips come on screen and she starts humming the opening song, not quite out of tune. "But don't think I won't remember this."
She smiles but doesn't speak.
He slouches back in the chair, kicking off his boots and putting his feet back up on her bed. She rests a companionable hand on his ankles, muttering snarky comments along with the dialogue. Her mouth quirks into a grin. She looks content. Happy, almost. For that, he'll put up with a hell of a lot more than that damned movie.
Lincoln folds his arms across his chest, eyes half closed as he pretends he's not watching Olivia, and, for the first time in hours, relaxes. He knew she was okay, but now, finally, he lets himself believe it. She's safe and everything will be all right.
For that, he'll do almost anything.