FRINGE

Because I Have To

No inFRiNGEment intended. I'm playing with the characters and I promise I will put them back in their box when I'm finished.

Note: snippet / Novation (4.05)

-o-

Lincoln stared at something behind her right shoulder. His face was bland and he kept his demeanour seemingly guarded on purpose. "You have this uncanny ability to put me off guard," in said in a monotone contrasting with the sparkles dancing in his eyes. "Will you ever tone it down for me, all this stuff," he added.

"Tone it down? What do you mean?" Now, it was Olivia's turn to be caught off guard.

"I mean 'tone it down'. I'm new to this game. A month ago, I had no idea that one could go to another universe on a whim to fight against translucent shapeshifters."

"You're obsessed with these things!" she exclaimed. She closed her eyes, took a deep breath, raised her head, and brought her hand to her nape. "A month ago… " she said, "you're right, it's only been a month," more to herself than to her partner. "Oh god, I feel like I've known you my whole life… at the Bureau," she smiled. She looked down and her hair covered her face.

How convenient, he thought, not ready to let go. "What is it that you're so adamant to conceal from me?" he pushed.

She shook her head and walked away from the crime scene. "Very little. You know everything that's relevant to this case, and the previous cases for that matter."

"Hey, I work here, with you, I 'm guessing there's more to it that this subdued version I've been fed with." A wisp of icy wind took his breath away. Bracing himself against the wind, he secured his glasses on the bridge of his nose and turned up is collar over his ears. He turned around to have his back to the wind and stopped, facing Olivia. "There's more," he said again, "why don't you tell?"

"Because there's nothing else to tell." She hesitated, her eyes finally locking on his. "Really." She sighed and made a face. "Okay. You know, this guy…" For a brief instant, he caught a glimpse of Olivia Dunham yielding to her inner fears.

"Aquaman? The one who claims to be Walter's son?" His finger pointed to his temple.

"Yep. This guy." Her foot traced a circle on the ground. She looked away.

"I'm listening."

"Would you agree to listen in a warmer place?"

"Absolutely, I didn't think you'd agree so willingly!"

"Don't you dare make fun of me. This guy, yeah, he's been in my head for the best part of the last couple of weeks."

"What do you mean in your head? You know him?" Lincoln pushed the door and they got engulfed in a world of aromas. "Mmmm, coffee," he smiled, rubbing his hands. "White, no sugar?"

She nodded absently. "That's the thing, I don't. Why would he be in my head then? I never met him, I never heard of him, except that he's supposed to be totally dead. I can't… Why me?"

He took the two brown cups from the counter and his eyes fanned the room. Deciding on a table in the corner near the window, he walked casually to the table, sat the cups and dropped on the seat. "I wouldn't know, but you'll figure it out, eventually," he smiled. "I heard that Walter was terrible?"

"Don't even get me started."

"I won't. I want to know everything about the shapeshifters."

"Not again," she whined, "you know as much as I do already and unless our mysterious traveller knows more, we're at a dead end."

"You think he does?"

"Why not? He seems to know everything and more."

"Hold that thought," he said. He sipped on his cup and stayed silent for a while. "Do you think Broyles will go for it?"

"Not in your lifetime," she giggled.

"That's good enough," he said, "shall we?" Not waiting for her, he stood up abruptly and walked away. She followed reluctantly. Peter Bishop was the last person in the world she wanted to see right now.

In any world, she thought.

Her hand brushed the blue file and she glanced at the door where the man has been locked for the best part of the day. Flipping through the data, she let her thoughts unravel. Dismissing the butterflies in her stomach, she slammed the file on her desk, oblivious of her colleagues in the bullpen, eliciting curious looks, and walked briskly to the detention cell. Without slowing down, she turned the knob and rushed inside.

"Do I know you?" she blurted out.

He slowly sat on the bed. "No."

"But you know me…" she insisted.

Taking in her desperation, he sighed, "no, not technically."

"Who is she?"

"It's not relevant."

"I see."

"No, you don't."

The silence lingered between them.

"How is she?" she finally asked.

"Different, she's different. More… damaged?"

"I see," she said again.

"Do you?"

"I will help you," she continued, without skipping a bit, "I will help you get to Walter."

"Why?"

"I don't know." She nibbled on her lower lip, absorbing the situation. "Because I have to," she added.

He watched her dart away, and he watched the door for a long time after that. Then he lied back down, his head resting on his hands. When he closed his eyes, he was smiling.