What if all the horror in your life was just a bad dream? In a separate universe Peter and Olivia have lived much happier lives. No childhood trauma or kidnapping. No fringe science messing with their world. No reason for them to have ever met. Now echoes of our universe seem to bleed into their dreams, interfering with their lives and causing them to search out each other, even though they are strangers. But fate is a fickle thing. In a world in which they were never meant to meet, deviating from that plan could have grave consequences for their universe.
Haven't written a fanfic in years, but I had this story kicking around in my head. Got to love alternative universes.
A/N [Update]: I thought it would be fun to put glyphs at the ends of the sections. I tried to use *'s and _'s to indicate the side and level of the lights (would have used pictures, but apparently doesn't like it if you include websites). If you're into codes, enjoy.
Chapter 1 - Childhood Dreams
Peter Bishop has a memory that isn't his. In fact, he has hundreds of them. For you see, Peter has always been abnormal in one way: he doesn't dream. Well, he does, but not like everyone else. He's never dreamed of monsters, or sexual fantasies, or even embarrassing moments of public nudity. His dreams are never random collections of his thoughts or subconscious desires. In his dreams he simply lives a life, a life very similar to his own. In it he is Peter Bishop, his father is Walter, his mother is Elizabeth, his world, and the people in it are familiar, but some things are different. When he was a kid his life and this dream life were almost parallel, with only minor differences; slightly different decisions made. But the chasm between these two worlds has opened up over the years and now each night, it's as though Peter lives a strangers life.
Very occasionally Peter's dreams reoccur. He's never figured out why. Perhaps it has to do with his mood (or maybe the mood of his counter part). In times of high stress and fear his brain echoes moments of terror or pain in the other Peter's life (of which there seem to be too many for his twenty-one years). In moments of peace and serenity Peter has his favourite dream. His favourite memory in fact, even including his own. In his dream he's about seven or eight, it's the middle of the night and he's standing in a clearing in the forest filled with white flowers. The only other person present in a little girl with blond hair and shockingly green eyes. He's come to find her; somehow he knew that she would be here, and in this strange sanctuary they sit together and talk. Peter doesn't know who the girl is. That's the only time he's ever seen her in his dreams and he has never found her in real life, but the memory of her and that peaceful night has lingered in his mind over the years. And even though he's lived a happy life-loving parents, devoted friends-it is this memory that always seems to come to mind when he thinks of calm, or peaceful, or home. He can't explain it. In fact he doesn't want to. By the time he had reached college he had long since rationalized himself out of believing in his dream world, but the field of flowers was precious, and was perhaps the only thing he wouldn't discuss with sarcasm or cynicism.
To say that Peter had gotten the better end of the stick was understating it. In his dream world, the other Peter Bishop was a mess. His father had been institutionalized when Peter was a child, his mother committed suicide soon after he left home, and although he was in every way as smart as the real Peter was, he never seemed to make smart decisions. He took to conning, gambling, wandering the world nomadically, moving on just in time to escape whatever misfortune was coming his way.
By contrast, Peter's real life was surprisingly stationary. He divided his time as a child between Cambridge and a summer home on Reiden Lake. He had received early acceptance to MIT and had spent the last three years within its wall. If he shared anything in common with his changeable dream self, it was in his academics. For while he was successful at virtually every course he tried, he couldn't decided what it was he wanted to do. In three years at college he had already changed major fours times and he wasn't yet convinced that his newest endeavor (engineering) would hold his interest either. He needed a break and so when some friends at Northwestern invited him up for the weekend he jumped at the chance of scenery.
Peter was to meet everyone at The Deuce. His friends were notoriously late and so when he scanned the room for them, he was not surprised that they had yet to arrive. On a second take something caught his attention. Before his mind had time to process it his feet were already moving toward the bar, and suddenly he was standing beside a young woman, about his age, with long blond hair and shockingly green eyes. The woman was drinking whiskey on the rocks and pleasantly chatting with the bar tender. As if sensing Peter's proximity she looked up at him, green eyes meeting blue, and waited for him to say something.
"Excuse me, do I know you? I swear this isn't a line, you are just really familiar somehow."
Her smile was unreadable. "I don't know. Maybe you've just seen me here before."
"No, I'm just visiting for the weekend. Where did you grow up?" Another questioning look from her.
"I'm not hitting on you, okay. I've got a girl friend, so your safe." As soon as he said it, Peter wished he could take it back. He couldn't put his finger on it but there was something about this girl. He felt... drawn to her, and not necessarily out of lust. She was attractive to be sure, but there was something deeper pulling at him. Some old memory trying to make its way to the surface. Regardless, his statement did seem to relax her and her words had less of an edge when she answered.
"Jacksonville, Florida. I was an army brat, grew up mostly on military bases. Did anyone in your family serve?"
"Not even remotely."
"Ever visit Florida on vacation?"
"No. Ever come to Boston as a kid?"
"No. We didn't travel much. It's a mystery."
"But you feel it too, right? I mean, do I seem familiar to you?"
Her eyes traced his features, practically memorizing his face. Peter couldn't help it, he held his breath. "Yes" she said at last. "But I don't see how."
Peter couldn't shake the feeling. He searched her face for any clue of how he knew her, "It's like I know you from a dream."
She made a face, but was still smiling, "Oh, now that is definitely a line."
"No, you don't understand. My dreams are really weird."
"Mine aren't. They're about as ordinary as they can get. I just dream about life."
Peter's ears perked up at this, "Your own life?"
"Kind of. It's like my life, but different."
"You're you, but in a slightly different world. One where different choices are made and events play out in a slightly different way, or sometimes a very different way?"
The smile faded from her face, "How did you know that?"
"That's how I dream. I just watch this other version of my life, this other me, but by this point are lives are so divergent."
"Yeah, exactly. I've never met anyone that had dreams like mine."
"Me neither." Peter pauses a moment, lost in thought. He's told a few other people about his dreams, but the conversations never take him very far. His friends were always supportive, but having no experience they could offer no perspective. There's so much he wanted to ask her, so much he wanted to know, that he didn't have any clue where to begin. His shameful indecision always getting the better of him. All those wandering instincts from his dream never letting him settle down, not even on a simple question. "Can I ask you a strange question? Does her life ever influences you?"
She gave him a long, sideways look before answering, "Yeah actually. In my dreams, I, well the other me, had a step father. And when he drank he's accuse her mother of seeing other men and then he'd hit her. He use to beat my dream self too. I'd never been hit in my life, but suddenly I was closed off and unapproachable, showing all the classic signs of abuse. One day at school the teacher touched my arm and I started screaming. So of course they called social services on my mother and I had to explain that no one was hurting me, that I was just having bad dreams. The weird thing is, she doesn't remember it. Not completely. She remembers what he did to her mother, but doesn't seem to know that he ever hurt her. Maybe that's because he stopped when she was younger. Her memories of childhood are pretty sketchy at best.
"You know what's strange? I mean she had a really messed up childhood. Her father died young, she lost her mother to cancer as a teenager, and I can't begin to explain some really weird shit that happened to her at her daycare, but for all of the things that should make us completely different people, we've ended up at the same place in life. Same school, same program, even the same future goal."
"I want to be a detective. FBI maybe. I think I've known what I wanted to be since I was nine."
"When I was nine years old, I think I wanted to be a brontosaurus. Must be nice, to know your place in the world, to know who you are. I'm still trying to figure that one out." He didn't dare say it then, but in that moment he was beginning to figure out exactly where he belonged. As crazy as it sounded, even to him, Peter was sure that he belonged with her.
Olivia, on the other hand, was already moving on to another question, "Do your memories ever repeat? Like, do you have reoccurring dreams?"
"Sometimes. Do you?"
"Yeah. What do you think that is?"
"I have no idea."
"I think it happens when the other me is asleep."
"But it's not real-"
"You don't think so?"
"How could it be?"
"I don't know. But if it's really all coming from me, if I'm somehow making it all up, I think I need help. Her life is just so dark. Except..."
"I have this memory, it's actually one of the reoccurring dreams, and it's probably the most peaceful moment in her whole childhood, at least after her dad died, and the sad part is, she doesn't even remember it. I think she's suppressed a lot of that period, but it's such a nice moment. It's the middle of the night and she's sitting with a boy in a field of white flowers-"
"Yeah. They're just sitting there and she feels so safe and this is a kid, a person really, that never feels safe or at peace in the world, not even in her own skin."
"So they just sit there and after a while it starts to snow?"
"Yeah. How did you know that?"
"That's my dream. The field of tulips, the snow, the little blond girl that run away. I've been dreaming about that moment since I was a kid."
"Yeah. And your Olivia." They both fell silent as they waited for that to sink it.
"What are the chances we would meet in the same bar? There just isn't a point where this could get any weirder."
"I never wanted to believe in fate before, but I think we might have just proved its existence."
"You think that's what this is?"
"Yeah, when the woman of my dreams materializes in front of me, I'm going to go with fate."
"Then fates rather fickle, considering you have a girl friend."
"Well yeah, but you've got to look at the extenuating circumstances-" before Peter could invent some passable circumstances he was interrupted by this phone.
"And that would be her now."
"No, I've only been gone a day. She's not clingy. It's probably my dad. He is clingy," Peter looked between the ringing phone and his dreamy companion. "Don't go anywhere. I'll be right back, I promise."
And with that he hurried out the front door where he would have some hope of hearing.
"Hello Peter, it's Walter Bishop, your father."
"I know Dad. Can I call you back later. I'm just in the middle of something"
"I new project, Son?"
"Dad, I just met the woman I'm going to marry. She is literally the woman of my dreams."
"Well that's actually the reason I'm calling."
"To tell you about my strange dream. I was walking with a very bald man in an old fashioned suit out by our lake house. He said that you were in trouble and were being led off of your life path. He wanted me to tell you that: 'some things were meant to stay dreams'. Isn't that marvelous?"
"Yeah dad. Listen. I've got to go. Give my love to mom."
Peter practically ran back into the bar and made a bee-line for where they had been sitting, but he found their bar stools empty. She was no where in sight.
Olivia had every intention to waiting for him. She didn't wear her heart on her sleeve quite like he did, but if she was honest with herself she had to admit that she was feeling the same way. Feeling a connection to this stranger. She wanted to keep talking to him. To learn more about him. She wanted to keep talking about her dreams. What a rare privilege it was to have someone who could relate. She sat on her stool, nursing her drink, and willing him to come back. She heard footsteps behind her and was surprised by her own disappointment when she turned around and saw it wasn't him. Instead she saw a man, far too old to be a student, and so completely hairless he didn't even have eye brows. There was something strange in his manner that she couldn't quite put her finger on, but that gave him an impression that wasn't entirely human. When he spoke even the cadence of his voice set him apart, "Do you know first aid?"
"Yes?" she said it more as a question, wondering what he was getting at.
"There is a man outside behind the bar who has been injured. You must go to him. He requires immediate assistance."
Olivia glanced up at the front doors regrettably, but followed the bald man to the back emergency exit. She was relieved when he didn't follow her through, and sure enough, upon leaving the building she immediately saw a man face down on the ground. Olivia rushed to his side and, after insuring that he didn't have a neck or spinal injury, very delicately rolled him on to his back. The man responded slightly at her touch. He seemed to be regaining consciousness. "Hi there. How are you feeling?"
The man was drifting back into reality, but Olivia could tell he was having a hard time focusing on her. "Hi?
"There you are. Looks like you've had an eventful night. What happened to you?"
"Someone hit me in the head from behind. I think I was mugged." Olivia had moved him into a sitting position and leaned him up against the wall to get a better look at his condition.
"Okay, what's your name?"
"Frank. Frank Stanton."
"Well Frank. I'm Olivia. I'm here to help you. I just need you to keep looking at me. Can you do that? Just stay focused on my eyes."
"You'd like me to gaze into your eyes?"
"Yeah something like that. So what are you doing out here Frank?"
"Nothing exciting, just coming home from the library."
"Oh yeah. What are you studying?"
"I'm in virology. I study viruses."
"Anything new in viruses lately?"
"Yeah actually. Always. That's what's so fascinating. In other fields you're stuck confirming the theories of men long since dead, but viruses are always changing. Always adapting. They've got personality. And they're fickle. You never know what they'll do next. That probably sounds pretty corny."
"Not at all. Besides, I figure, by saving you tonight I might just have saved hundreds, maybe thousands of lives." His pupils were dilated and Olivia was pretty sure he had a concussion. She tried to keep him talking as she took a look at his head wound, "What do you specialize in?"
"Well that's not very new. Wasn't the last case of small pox decades ago?"
"Well then you should be looking into something more current. Something we still need to solve. What about the Ebola virus?"
"The Ebola virus? That's interesting. Why did you suggest that one?"
"The truth? It's the only virus I could think of off the top of my head."
He laughed at that and then winced, "Well you chose an interesting virus anyways."
"Good. Frank, I think you're going to be okay, but I'd like to take you to the hospital."
For the first time Frank tensed and tried to pull away from her, "No, no. I'm fine thanks."
"It looks like you're going to need a few stitches and at best you have a mild concussion."
"The trouble is I don't really have any insurance to speak of and I also have nothing in my bank account, so if there was a way to avoid that hospital I'd gladly take it."
"If I take you home, do you have someone that could stay with you over night."
"Sadly no. You could always stay with me. That's not a line, I swear."
"Yeah there's been a lot of non-line lines tonight. Do you have a girl friend?"
"Okay. But this isn't some slutty nurse fantasy. I'm just there to insure you don't end up in a coma."
"You could always wake me with a kiss." Olivia gave him a stern look. "Sorry, that was an attempt at a line. Remember that I have head trauma."
"I'll let it slide this once." Olivia stood up, gently raised Frank onto his feet, and threw his arm over her shoulder. "Lead on. Where's home for you?"
As the two figures walked away into the night, three bald heads gazed after them.
"She almost didn't come."
"There was a complication. It has been resolved," said the man who had sought her out in the first place.
"She was in contact with the boy. The one September saved in the other world."
"How is that possible? They were never meant to meet in this world."
"I do not know, but I have set them back on course."
"Those two are problematic, regardless of their universe. You must watch them closely. They cannot meet again. Many lives depend on it."