*I do not own Fringe. Nor, apparently, a clever way of conveying this.
Check the mail.
Check the phone.
Check the driveway.
Call for pizza, extra olives.
Life was so much more lonely, without Peter.
Walter was finishing smoothing the final sticky note (read: I'm sorry) on the glossy front of the refrigerator, the last of the stainless steel covered over with the yellow bits of paper. He wanted his son to know, in case he came home while he was out, not that he ever went out, he'd been dressed in a robe and pajamas for nearly a week already. There wasn't a second that went by, when he didn't wonder, didn't worry, didn't pace. What luck did he have, to loose his son twice?
The door chimed, and he looked up, his eyes rounding. The sharpie pen scattered somewhere on the kitchen tiles as he leapt upright, racing into the living room, his socked footing slipping as he stumbled against the wall of the entryway, a few of the framed photographs crooked. His hand reached the doorknob before the rest of his body could, and he nearly fell as he wrenched open the door, "Peter?"
A red-vested delivery girl only blinked with surprise, "Uh...?"
Walter's face fell slightly, "Oh." He sighed, "I'm sorry, I thought you were someone else..." he found his wallet on the entryway table beside the car keys. His fingers brushed the dust-colored rabbit's foot, and he swallowed back a painful lump in his throat, "How much do I owe you?"
"Seventeen fifty," the girl replied, pulling open the Velcro envelope and reaching for the white, cardboard box.
Walter picked up the keys, examining them thoughtfully. A prideful smile suddenly settled on his face, "Do you see that Station Wagon, in the driveway?"
"I bought that Vista Cruiser the day my son was born," Walter smiled, nodding to in, and the girl glanced at the off-green vehicle in bewilderment, "I was a family man, that day- I needed a family man car, right? 'Traded in my Camero, Belly was pissed, he used to borrow it for his dates..."
"But here you are, being such a dear and listening to a crazy old man," Walter chuckled, tears beginning to surface in his eyes. He shook his head to clear them, and handed the delivery girl a twenty dollar bill. He gathered the box and shut the door as she stared at him.
Walter brought the pizza to the kitchen counter, pushing aside the messy pile of notes he had compiled the sleepless night before to settle the box, and flip it open. He recoiled slightly as the smell of fish faintly touched his nostrils. Anchovies.
"They gave me the wrong order," Walter announced, hot anger starting in his chest. He flipped the lid shut, "Peter, they gave me the wrong order!"
Walter paused. He sighed, his anger quite suddenly twisting into pain, "But it's fine. Any order is fine..." He reopened the box, beginning to pick away the salty fish meat, "I mean, it's not like it'll kill me, a few little pieces of fish. I'll live, it will be alright... it might even be better..." he lifted away the cold slice, mostly free of the topping, and took a large bite, chewing slowly. His face tightened with distaste as he swallowed, "oh, that's absolutely dreadful..." and he continued to eat.
Peter would have called the pizza people back and demanded that the order be changed...
"It'll be fine," Walter repeated, glaring at his unwanted meal through tears.
Astrid raised her fingertips to tap on the glass of the door, then lowered her eyes to her watch on her wrist, the second hand tipping forward every now and again in the passage of time. It was seven thirty in the morning, and the lights were still on in the house.
Astrid rapped on the door again, calling, "Walter! It's me, Astrid!" she hopped that she hadn't raised his hopes again, she hated the way his face changed, when he thought that she was Peter...
She tried the doorknob- the door was unlocked. She sighed with frustration- he always forgot and it was so dangerous, even if they lived in a relatively peaceful neighborhood. She pushed her way inside and locked the door behind herself, "Walter, you forgot to lock the door again," she continued, and rounded the corner to peek into his room, "are you decent...?"
The room was empty, and Astrid stepped across the threshold, confusion and alarm sharpening her fair features. By the state of the house, she could not tell if there had been a violent struggle or if Walter had slept restlessly in the pile of unfolded laundry on his unmade bed. "Walter...?" she called again, her hand finding the gun at her hip.
She proceeded through the quiet house cautiously, ignoring her messy surroundings and checking each room in turn. Her foot suddenly creaked on the loose floorboards in the hallway, and she froze, the hair on the back of her neck standing on end.
Astrid turned as Walter stumbled down the stairs, rubbing the sleep from his exhausted eyes, "Walter," she sighed, relived as she returned her gun to her holster, "You scared me, I thought something was wrong..." Walter watched her for a few moments, concentrating as if trying to see through her, "What? What is it?"
"Have you found him?"
Astrid blinked, "No, Walter. You'd be the first to know, if we did..."
He descended the rest of the stairs, passing her on his way to the study, "Did you see any mail, on your way in?" he questioned gruffly as he cleared away cluttered bills to reach the answering machine, slamming down the button. Three consecutive beeps revealed no new messages had been received. Astrid doubted very seriously that a phone call would get past the scientist, to reach the answering machine.
"You're certain? Absolutely certain?" Walter was still fumbling through the cluttered desk as if he'd replaced the non-existent postcard himself, among the rubbish, "check again, it could have slipped under the rug or something of that sort-" a tall stack of papers suddenly tipped off of the desk, scattering onto the floor, "God damn it!" he cursed furiously, stooping to begin gathering the papers in fistfuls.
"Walter," Astrid said in her cool, calm manner, a tone of voice she reserved only for him in his distress, "I'll get this. You go look for the mail, just to be sure." She knew it was no use to discourage his delusions; the most she could do was remain impartial to them.
He nodded to her gratefully and abandoned his task, retreating to the hall. Astrid shook her head and set to re-filing the desk.
A few minutes had passed, when she saw him watching her from the doorway, his face half hidden behind the doorframe, "There was nothing there," he rasped, his voice small, "I ate anchovies today and there wasn't a letter from Peter."
"You hate anchovies," Astrid replied, her brows furrowing as she straightened from her chore, settling her hands on her hips.
Walter smoothed his fingers along the doorframe as he nodded vigorously, tears gushing from his eyes, "More than life!" he choked in agreement.
Astrid sighed again, her eyes softening as she crossed the study, gently settling her arms around him comfortingly, "It'll be okay, Walter," she whispered.
"It was awful, it was just so awful-!" indeed, his breath smelled of mouthwash, he must have had to flush the taste out of his mouth. But Astrid knew that it was more than anchovies weighing on Walter's mind, as he buried his face into the top of her shoulder. She ran the tips of her fingers over the shabby fabric of his robe across his back, "Make him come home," Walter whispered.
Astrid wondered if she hated Peter, if only for a few moments.