Sigh of a Thousand Suns
A/N: Set immediately after 4.17 "Everything in its Right Place". Altlivia must deal with the fallout of losing her partner and constant change in the world around her. Massive spoilers for 4.17 and for the promo for 4.18.
Many thanks to Uroboros75 for the beta work and the excellent polishing of many phrases herewithin.
Music: Given and Denied – Poets of the Fall
Disclaimer: You know the drill by now. I write for fun not profit.
Of every scenario that she's been trained for, every moment that she's been told to anticipate, this was one she did not see coming.
It's raining, droplets falling through the air like pieces of a shattered diamond. Olivia stands beneath the shelter of her umbrella, its shade a black matching the atmosphere. Her hands, wreathed in white gloves, curl tightly into fists, one over the handle of her umbrella, the other at her side.
She watches them carry the casket over from the hearse, draped in the American flag, the staple of everything that they stand for. Their motions are calm, synchronized, and it takes almost everything that Liv has to keep the tears at bay. The man that they carry between them is – was – her partner.
The rainfall is heavier now, drumming against her umbrella to a beat faster than she could say a word to, the silence punctuated only by the beat of raindrops and footsteps on the ground. Liv looks over to a couple holding each other beneath another umbrella. Lincoln's parents. A cold emptiness fills her when she sees them, knowing that this loss will never leave them. Though she knows that it will haunt her as well, it is nothing compared to the loss that the Lees are experiencing.
Loss is no stranger to her; ever since Rachel's death all those years ago, it's been a distant companion, lingering in the background where it thinks she can't hear it. She curses it for reappearing now, when things are finally turning for the better.
She looks over to Lincoln's casket, the flag now folded atop the dark cherry wood, and watches as one officer takes the flag over to Lincoln's mother.
Olivia feels as if the ground disappears beneath her then, with nothing but some alien lightness holding her up. She's met Lincoln's mother; she can still remember the kind smile she had on her face, now forever replaced by a void that can never be filled.
She looks away, her eyes falling on Lincoln's casket as words that only echo in the emptiness around her are said. She can't take her eyes off it, because of what it is and who lies beneath that case.
Amongst the sorrow, the pain and shambles of everything that she knows, a single thought triumphs.
How did it come to this?
Beneath the tears of a darker heaven, she receives no answer save the momentary sigh of their sun and the thousand others that have risen before it.
She wakes the next morning to find her apartment full of ghosts.
They are not the apparitions that haunted Ebenezer in ages past, but rather the images of happier times, projected by objects of moments that she's taken great care not to forget. Her medal, the one she holds in a photo with her arm around him sits on a table; she tries not to look at it, but fails. On her bedside lie the photos that she took from Lincoln's locker. She feels slightly guilty now for taking them, but they are of moments that belong to her and Lincoln; she doesn't see how anyone else can understand their significance.
There's a book on her shelf that carries new meaning now; it was Tolstoy, a piece called Amelia Karenina, that she's never read until last night. Lincoln gave it to her ages ago, and she's skimmed through the pages a few times, but never truly sat down and immersed herself in it. There are words scrawled just inside the front cover in an unmistakable penmanship. Liv takes special care with it, tracing the curves of it with her finger as she swallows the pain down inside her.
Lincoln's handwriting is neat, and the loops and squiggles of it trace out a single message.
Liv, for the days when you need a different world to go to,
She wishes now that such a different world could be real.
She moves her eyes from the book to the window, the sun rising over Manhatan to illuminate the strange mist that hangs over the city, a fleet of spectral zeppelins. It would fade before she has to leave for Fringe Division, she knew, and long before she makes any sort of peace with this new gap in her life.
The world won't wait for her to move on. It expects her to.
She pulls herself out of bed, her limbs stiff as she stretches her hands into the air and tries to work out some of the kinks in her shoulders. Frank was always good at that, giving her a backrub after a long day that left her with more knots in her shoulders than she could count.
He isn't here anymore either.
Her muscles still groan with rigidity as she makes her way to the kitchen and pours herself a glass of water. It's nothing in comparison to the abundant coffee they have on the Other Side, but just as she expects many things to become, it suffices. She feels hunger root itself in her stomach, and she knows that there are strawberries in the fridge, the first in a shipment that came in from fields that were recently restored. Before things started getting better, such rich fruits were a rarity with a price far beyond what her paycheck could afford. Now that they were becoming easier to grow, their price tag was something more manageable.
She was going to share them with Lincoln, before…
She swallows, a bitterness settling on her tongue as she leans against the counter with her glass of water half full in her right hand. She doesn't intend for those strawberries to go to waste; they would expire faster than the rate of an amber cloud's expansion.
They're bright red when she takes them out of the fridge, and she holds them gingerly between her fingers as she takes them over to the counter. A bunch settles between her fingers when she digs her hand in and moves to the sink, running them under cold water. The shower is brief, and when she shakes them afterwards the loose drops fall into the sink like rain. There's a cutting board and knife already set out on the counter when she takes them back and begins chopping the leafy tops away. The knife is efficient, slicing cleanly into the rosy flesh, making pink splatters on the board. She doesn't notice, her mind wandering through a thousand other places than where she is now.
The berries cut, she disposes of the tops and pops one into her mouth; it explodes with flavour on her tongue. The sweetness is balanced by a slight tartness, which she doesn't mind. She swallows and eats another one, her fingers stained a deep pink from the juices.
It's only after she swallows the second berry that she notices the colour of fingers, and it reminds her of something else completely. Her appetite vanishes in an instant as she places the strawberries back into the fridge and stores the sliced ones for an occasion where her appetite would choose to return.
Glancing at the clock, she realizes that she's starting to run low on time, upon which she moves back to gather her things. She changes quickly, and when she looks into the mirror her hair is lit by the sunlight creeping through the windows, aflame with crimson.
She looks out to streets now clear of their misty patrons and walks over to the window. There are people on the streets now, people with hope as news of the restoring world is reaching them. She knows that out there amongst them is Frank, probably making the same sense of this news.
Frank will get to see this new world, but a part of her aches at the fact that Lincoln – her Lincoln – never will.
She wonders if this is what it felt like for him – the Lincoln from the Other Side – after he lost his partner, if the same cold and empty void descended down into his life to remind him that things were forever changed. Some part of her dismisses it immediately; they're two completely different people that surely have next to nothing in common, but another part of her burns with curiosity.
As she straps her gun to her hip, she sees something else in the street between the buildings and the barricades.
It is not the kind that fills her apartment in the wake of loss, but the kind that gives way for some greater force to sneak through uninhibited. Jones is still out there, a fugitive bound by no rules except his own, rules that apparently numbered in the very few, from what she has learned. His long, black hand of influence could reach through these streets with ease and uproot everything that they are trying so hard to salvage. This could not be permitted. She will not allow Jones and his lackeys to run freely through a world that they have no stake in; she will not allow a murderer to walk freely in these streets.
She picks up her keys and her datapad before walking out the door, checking the newsfeeds as they scroll across the holographic interface. On a map of the city, she sees amber sites shrinking as the universe heals; she will not allow such wonders to come undone. This is her home, and she will do everything that she can to protect it, for the sake of everyone that she cares about – both the living and the fallen.
She walks out the door, closing it as sunlight crawls into her room behind her. Resolute, she decides that she will do all of this, because she knows that in her place, he would do the same.
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