Disclaimer: I do not own Fringe, nor am I associated with JJ Abrams, Anna Torv or Seth Gabel.

A/N: Vague spoilers for "Everything in It's Right Place"

Permission

Olivia crouched barefoot in the shower, water rushing over her clothes and sticking red-dyed hair to her cheeks, her hands clenched into tight fists. It splashed over the edge of the tub and onto the slick tile floor, the curtain pushed back out of the way and the windows flung open so she could breathe in fresh air, as fresh as air could be in New York.

"He told me he'd never seen you cry." Lincoln's soft, gentle voice should have been a shock, should have startled her, but he had been standing silently in the doorway behind her for her at least a full minute and so she only swallowed hard, fists tightening.

"He lied." Even now, though, she wasn't crying, her cheeks only streaked with mascara and the water tumbling from the faucet high above her head. "He did that a lot. Lied."

Slowly, in that methodical way of his, he pulled the jacket from his shoulders and laid it over the closed toilet seat. He removed his tie and his watch, unlaced his shoes, peeled off his socks and loosened the collar of his shirt. Olivia remained still, not acknowledging him or watching him.

Crouching beside the tub in a mirror of her own barefoot position, Lincoln rested one hand on the wet surface, as though extending an olive branch to this woman who so loved a man he could never quite be. She turned her head purposefully, lips pressed together and eyes boring into his, sliding her own hand over his. Fingers curling under, she stared at their twined hands as though the sight were alien, (the small scars and calluses on his knuckles were so different from those she had known that it probably was alien.)

"I try not to." He whispered, seemingly incapable of breaking the moment by raising his voice any higher. Olivia raised an eyebrow without looking up from their joined hands so he clarified softly, "Lie."

She stilled but did not pull away and he took that as permission. License. Whatever it was that his Olivia (the other Olivia? The one that could never be his) had never given him.

"And standing by that, when the time is right, I will tell you I love you." The corners of her mouth twitched into a tiny smile despite her grief and he knew that he was in the right place.