Constantly Risking Absurdity
"Do you ever think that this will end badly?" says Lincoln Lee to this shadow of himself.
The other man looks at him, and for once his ever-present grin seems to slip a bit, tighten. They are sitting on stools in a lab underneath Harvard, watching an only half-coherent Walter Bishop try to convince one Olivia to forcibly remove another—for some reason Walter, despite warming to the other version of Lincoln, remains vehemently opposed to being around the smirking redheaded woman.
"Hasn't it already?" asks the Other.
Lincoln Lee has become friends with himself. He doesn't understand how it happened—not really—because at first he could barely to look at his alternate: all spiky hair and a curling smirk and cargo pants. There is something dangerous about his other self, like a jungle cat that has decided on its own to be domesticated—or maybe it's not like that all. Maybe Lincoln is just jealous because he's afraid, in some deep secret part himself, that he's not as strong as that smirking, mocking version of himself.
But somehow they become friends—genuine friends, Lincoln thinks. Lincoln tells his—not his, that's not what he means, he means blonde—Olivia that they have a natural camaraderie, and then the two of them—Lincoln and his Other—unintentionally offer the same exact little grin. They trade snarky comments and Lincoln remembers that while he does not actually smirk as much, he possesses that same effortless sarcasm that makes him—both of them—him.
It's not the same way for the two Olivias, although Lincoln can't help but suspect that they have somehow grown perversely fond of each other. You couldn't necessarily know it to look at them—they still drip with hostility every time they speak to one another—but there's a kind of difficult love brimming under all of that dislike and mistrust. Even when they start to remember—and somehow they all start to remember, Walter and Olivia most of all, but then the redheaded woman and the Other Lincoln, who are both mourning for a child that never should have existed, and everyone else, even Lincoln, who remembers a friend he had and an Olivia that wasn't Olivia—there is a twisted tolerance in the way the two women treat one another.
"We're kind of sad, aren't we?" says the Other abruptly, with this wry little grin and a nonchalant tilt of his head.
"Me more than you," points out Lincoln. "Once we get the timeline back—I mean, Frank's going to be gone, the baby will be back, and your Olivia—" Here he cuts himself off, realizing that it's probably the first time he's referred to the redhead by anything other than "Agent Dunham", and also that at this point getting the timeline back is a hypothetical, something that the Other clearly wants more than anything but has no reassurance of.
The Other shrugs. "What? Hopefully remembers me confessing my love for her on the floor of a shop in Chinatown while she was giving birth?" He taps the toe of his boot on the floor. "It doesn't mean anything. Besides, she's almost as hopeless after Peter Bishop as your Liv is. Watch us both get our hearts broken by two echoes of the same woman, over a man who doesn't even exist."
Lincoln doesn't have a reply for this. There is nothing to say, no way to explain away his attraction for this blonde woman who strode into his life and dragged him into this world of weirdness. Love is too strong and lust is too simple; it isn't as pure, as unbreakable and true as what the Other feels for the redheaded Olivia. But it's there, brimming beneath his skin, threaded with confusion and frustration and bewilderment. Lincoln does not understand this world and he does not understand Olivia Dunham, but he wants to be a part of them both. "Maybe we're both making fools of ourselves."
"Are you only just figuring that out?" asks the Other, but it's more of a sad comment on the state of all of this than a question. Lincoln knows that this is not just about Olivia—it's about the baby as well, the one that isn't the Other's but might as well be for all that he loves it.
"What's going to happen when they get him back?" asks Lincoln, all-too-aware that there is no place for him in the story as it was before. "Do I just—what? Go back to the way I was before, not remembering any of this? Not remembering—"
Her. Blonde and intimidating and smart and dryly funny her; the one who belongs entirely to someone else, someone who has been ripped out of very existence but still manages to have her and be hers both. (The redhead knows it, Lincoln thinks—knows that no matter what universe Peter Bishop is from, his soul found some crack between the two to intertwine itself with Olivia's, and he belongs entirely to the blonde woman.)
The Other smirks widely—Lincoln remembers for one brief second that he is an entirely separate person, but somehow his soul was made the same—and says to Lincoln, "That's one lucky nonexistent bastard, you know." Lincoln has some itching awareness that there is some residual attraction for the Other to the blonde Olivia—he knows this because he feels the same way when he's around the redhead. But it's only a ghost of a feeling—an echo—and Lincoln thinks sometimes that he can sympathize with Peter Bishop.
The redheaded Olivia glances over at them, although they've been speaking quietly and she's far enough away that she couldn't have heard them. Despite her rage and frustration at Walter's rabid hatred of her, she manages to flash Lincoln a cursory grin—and for the Other there is a longer look, a smile that seems to radiate into the rest of her.
But maybe, Lincoln thinks, this is just wishful thinking.
A/N: May be kind of bad, I'll admit, because it's been a while since I actually wrote any fanfiction. But I kind of had to, because all of the dynamics between the two Lincolns & the two Olivias & Peter are kind of just fascinating. I will say that, with Peter sure to return, any of our universe Lincoln/Olivia is probably going to be mostly one-sided. Title and inspiration from the poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, even though it is a poem about poetry and not anything actually relevant to this story. I kind of think through tangents.