OVERCOMING THE CURVE BALLS
Who Wins This Round?
Charlie impatiently glares at the fire marshal's back. It had taken five minutes for the FDNY to get to the scene, another twenty to completely put out the fire, and an hour later, Fringe Division is still waiting for the fire marshal and her team to get their collective asses sorted out and finish their initial assessment of the site and to make a decision on the need for an actual criminal investigation. Even Col. Broyles could not persuade the woman to let them in, and so he had eventually left a message with the Secretary's office. He is yet to receive a call back.
"Sir, this is taking too long. If they're down there-" Charlie cuts himself off as Broyles coldly glares at him.
"I know this, Agent Francis, believe me. But unless you can find another way in with more secure footing, the marshal isn't going to let our agents in," he shakes his head and sighs resignedly. "She may not, even then."
"Sir, from the city plan, there are sewers right underneath the hotel," a junior agent nervously bites her lip, not sure whether to direct her idea at Broyles or Charlie. "Maybe we can make a hole-"
"Good suggestion, Agent Porter," hands on his hips, Broyles gazes grimly at the still-smoking building. "But, as much as I want to, we're not blowing any holes anywhere right now."
Leaning back against the metal fence of a car park across the street from the boarded-up hotel, Charlie doses himself with his anti-arachnid-growth serum. In his frustration, he pushes the pen onto his skin harder than usual and the needle digs deeper than necessary. He mutters a curse to himself.
Lincoln briefly tears his eyes from an airship passing overhead and nods at the silver pen. "What's that?"
"He doesn't like to mention it, but Charlie's got worms," croaks a tired voice by Lincoln's feet.
Startled, Lincoln jumps to the side before exclaiming, "Olivia!"
"Liv!" Charlie echoes. He drops down to his knees and he and Lincoln help shift the heavy manhole cover. "How'd you- What are you doing down there?"
"Is Olivia with you?" Lincoln quickly asks.
"She's here, she's... Passed out," Liv gestures down to the bottom of the sewer. "And Lincoln was shot, he- they both need to get to a hospital."
"Medic!" Broyles yells down the street to a group of emergency service personnel leaning against their trucks. "We need medics down here, hurry!"
Charlie helps her climb out though she is initially reluctant to leave her two companions. Liv has dirty tear tracks down her cheeks, a cut lip and some facial bruising, her shirt has small burnt holes on the right side and the back, and her trousers and shoes are soaking wet, but otherwise she appears mostly unharmed. Charlie releases a small sigh of relief. "Who took you? Are they still down there?"
"No," she coughs. "Not exactly, but I didn't see, I dunno, she made fi-"
"Enough," Broyles softly stops her, pointedly watching the fire marshal as she walks over. "Debrief later. Agent Lee, get down there."
Lincoln secures his glasses and checks his firearm and flashlight, then with a quick nod to Charlie and Broyles he's hurriedly climbing down the shaft. The other agents crowd around Liv and Charlie, before mobilizing themselves into more practical action - procuring ropes and overhead lights. Some automatically stand guard and another handful prepare for the investigation that's sure to follow.
Rescuing The Rescuer
Lincoln finds them sitting on the damp ground near the entrance to the narrow sewer shaft. His counterpart's right leg is extended awkwardly, but it is the sight of him gently rocking and murmuring incomprehensible words to an unresponsive Olivia that makes Lincoln's heart plummet to his boots.
"Hey!" Lincoln runs up to them. "Hey, what happened? Is she alright? What's wrong?"
Linc looks up, his face wet with tears, "I dunno. She's- She was burning. She burned- She- Now she feels really cold," he sniffs, as he peers back down at Olivia. "She's not waking up. I can't wake her up."
Lincoln starts to reach over to her neck to feel for a pulse, but Linc protectively pulls her closer to himself, "I'm not- I just... She's my partner. I need to know if she's okay. If she's alive," they stare at each other warily until Linc finally loosens his hold on her. Her pulse rate is fast, and she does feel cold and clammy to touch. He squeezes her shoulder, but she doesn't respond at all.
"What should we do?" Linc whispers.
"The paramedics are coming, they'll help her. They'll help you," Linc brushes her hair from her face, and Lincoln sighs, shifting his glasses and looking away. "It's gonna be okay, you'll see. She's gonna pull through this."
Linc nods, grinning tearfully down at Olivia, "Like every other time right?"
"Right," Lincoln agrees, and then hearing voices coming toward them, he smiles too. "Here they come now."
Congratulations, Everyone's A Twin
In that expectant moment between two heart beats, Olivia opens her eyes to find herself staring back at her.
"You are full of tricks," Liv comments wryly. She's standing by Olivia's hospital bed, legs slightly apart and hands clasped pensively behind her. "And to think I once thought your photographic memory was the most interesting thing about you."
"Huh. Really?" Olivia looks around at the now familiar hospital room on the other side - green walls, glass sliding door, plastic chairs in the corner, and monitors and machines blinking and beeping over and by her bed. "You mean other than the fact you have my face?"
"No," Liv smirks. "You have my face."
Olivia rolls her eyes. Then she abruptly sits up, dangerously close to pulling out infusion lines from her arm, "Where's Lincoln?"
"Which one?" as Olivia weakly attempts to get out of bed, Liv pushes her back down, glaring fiercely at her. "Stop it. That's my blood flowing into your arm. Don't even think about wasting a drop of it. As for my partner, he's in recovery after his surgery. Leg's gonna be alright - not even a limp, the doc says. He's probably still asleep more from a hangover than anything else."
"And my partner?" Olivia closes her eyes in relief.
"He's with Charlie, probably still crawling around the sewers under that hotel," Liv grins. "Those two are getting on like a house on fire..."
Olivia's eyes snap open. "Fire..."
"Yes, about that. How'd you do it?" Liv's eyebrows disappear under her red fringe. "And what else can you do?"
"I don't know. I don't remember," Olivia whispers, shaking her head. "I don't know."
"Is it why they want you so bad?" Liv turns and starts pacing at the foot of Olivia's bed, "Because he was asking an awful lot about you."
"No- I'm not sure," Olivia frowns. "Did they ask you about Liberty Island?"
Liv nods, unconsciously waving her hands as she voices her theory out loud. "Yes, he did. He wanted to know what was happening there. When I told him - he was threatening to shoot Lincoln - that they were researching ways to cross over, he was very interested in knowing about it, but he didn't seem surprised. He wanted me to get him on the Island, past security. I think that's what they're really after, a way to crossover."
"A doorway," Olivia clenches her fists, as she recalls someone, in the distant past maybe, referring to her as that. Was it Walter? After a moment, a machine next to her starts alarming. "They asked me about it too. On my side."
"I heard," Liv walks over and peers at the machine. "Best birthday ever, huh?"
"Where's my gun?"
"What?" Liv gives her a genuinely amused smile. "You wanna shoot this thing?"
But Olivia simply points out the door. Liv stiffens when she sees who it is. She yanks a drawer open and hands Olivia her weapon, then she scurries to the wall by the door, easing her own gun from its holster.
Just outside the door and still wearing surgical scrubs, the doctor finishes talking to a nurse who then hurriedly walks away with an armful of files. He strolls into the room, head bent over his tablet. "Agent Dunham," he drawls. "I see you couldn't stay away. What brings you back again this time?"
"Why don't you tell me, you son of a-" Olivia snarls, shakily aiming her gun at his face. Behind him, Liv quietly hits the button that slides the door shut.
"Hey, wait," he automatically raises his hands up by his head in surrender, icy blue eyes flashing in surprise. "What- Okay, I-I can tell you, but there truly is no need for the gun."
"Oh, really?" Liv walks up to him, the barrel of her gun cold against the nape of his neck. She takes the tablet from his upraised hand and briefly glances at Olivia's blood results before tossing it onto the bed. "We beg to differ."
"What the-" he jerks his head to the side, but stops immediately when he sees Liv with her weapon. "What is this? Wait. Twins? I knew it! I knew there was something curious about your previous scans."
The two Dunhams exchange a glance, and then Olivia snaps, "Enough with the games, doctor. Who are you?"
Liv adds, "And who do you work for?"
"Ladies," he protests, and then eyes narrowing, he corrects himself, "Agents? Anyway, look - I don't know what you're talking about. I am a doctor, as you well know, and I work for this hospital. I have treated you - both, I now believe - in the last few weeks."
"Where were you last night?"
"I don't see the significance of that question," he replies coldly, until Liv's free hand curls warningly into a fist and Olivia cocks her gun at him with a steadier arm. "I was here, working. I was in surgery all night, with a number of doctors and nurses, any of whom can verify my whereabouts, and a patient who is alive today because of my efforts."
Liv snorts, but Olivia simply frowns. She leans back against the headboard, absently reaching over to turn the still-alarming machine off, and shakes her head slowly at Liv. "If it's not him, then..."
"It's the other."
"Now, what is this really about? Should I order each of you another scan?"
"Doctor, be so kind as to leave us with the names of those who were with you in surgery last night," Liv gives him one of her best professional smiles. "And be sure not to leave town over the next few days. Fringe Division will be in touch. You may go."
"I may go?" he splutters. "Might I remind you that I am here to check on a patient?"
Outnumbered, he gives in after several long seconds of trying to out-stare two Dunhams. He eventually sighs and with a disapproving scowl collects his tablet. "Nurse Burke at the desk will give you a list of those in surgery with me last night," he says over his shoulder as he walks to the door. Then as it slides open, he sneers, "But do try not to use a gun when you ask. I'm sure she'll be amenable to the request with a simple smile and a 'please'."
"Yes, thank you," Olivia says distractedly, while Liv takes a few threatening steps toward the door. She swings her legs over the side of the bed. "Help me with this, will you. Then show me where Lincoln is. I have to see him before I go."
"You're not waiting for Agent Prince Charming to wake up?"
"I can't. I have to get back to my side. I need to talk to Broyles."
On Home Turf
Reporting to Agent Broyles had taken more than a couple of hours, and then she and Lincoln were finally able to go home for a real and proper rest. Broyles had wanted her to get checked up again, but Olivia had refused, sleep was all she needed, she reassured him. So he let her go with nothing but a sigh and a concerned nod. He contemplated calling Nina Sharp about her ward.
When she got home, Olivia had showered quickly and was in bed asleep despite initially thinking she might not be able to stop worrying about the shapeshifters and their agenda, and Lincoln, and Walter and the man who claims to be his son.
It was no surprise to her that her dream consisted of the three, in a darkened park somewhere with a broken-down swing set. Maybe it was less a dream and more a nightmare as Olivia was quite relieved when Walter woke her up with a phone call in the early hours of the morning.
"Agent Dunham," he'd asked eagerly. "Would you care to come to the lab and join Agent Tim and me in a game of Monopoly?"
"Walter, it's four o'clock in the morning," she'd softly reminded him. "Have you slept yet?"
"My sleep crawls with nightmares, Agent Dunham. So I'd rather not."
"You and me both, Walter," she'd told him gently. "I'll try to come by early."
It is almost five and Olivia is just about to fall back to sleep when her phone rings again. "Dunham," she sleepily answers.
"Agent Dunham," Broyles says. "You're awake?"
"Walter called," she smiles. "What's up?"
"More time slips. Some kids had just been taken to the hospital after the ramp they were skating on disappeared. It reappeared just under an hour later."
"You want me to talk to them?"
"No," Broyles sounds tired, and Olivia can almost imagine him wearily rolling his eyes and shaking his head. "I want you to pick up Bishop - the younger one - and take him to Massive Dynamic. If Dr Bishop won't examine him, they can. These time anomalies have got to have something to do with his appearance, and we need to put a stop to it. Now. Nina Sharp has instructed one of the doctors there to meet you."