Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. I simply love to create many and varied universes with them.
Author's Note: But Invariant..., you say, ...you've already posted this! You're right!, I respond, but I hadn't read it beforehand and when I'd finally gotten around to doing so, I'd found it hard and quite difficult to digest given the copious spelling/grammatical errors in the original version. Even if it was my very first Fringe Fanfiction, there's no excuse that I'd gotten lazy about making sure it was precise. So very, very sorry for that...*blush*
So, I would very much like to take this moment to apologize for not having realized, at the time this was previously posted, of the benefit of insuring my work is proof-read for mistakes. I decided to re-post this in its much easier flowing form cause, if any of you guys are like me, you like reading the stories you like over and over again. Thought this would be an easier to handle is all. I sure know it is for me.
(((Big Fringe-y hugs to all you guys!))))
There's a larger delight today, in the dark roast of beans between her fingers.
Olivia takes another sip and swallows the full-bodied heat of sugary nectar, chasing the plastic lid with a tiny curve of her lips.
It's been her second cup today, her twelfth this week.
And she nestles the coffee.
In her hands isn't 16 ounces of prime java but a symbolic vessel, an associated object of all the tiny pleasures she once took for granted.
Yellow gold beats against her cheek, her cup and the table, bathing the hospital's cafeteria in organic light.
It's never seemed more beautiful then today, the sunshine, and though age and use have worn them, when Olivia curls her toes in her shoes, they've never felt more new.
Since she's come back, she's been like this, swelled with fresh appreciation for small wonders.
Too bad, to get her here, demoralization had to ride the coat tails of her contentment.
She had the composure of her once life disrupted by another touching, breathing version of herself, leaving behind her faint presence in dirty dishes and damp towels.
Her apartment whispered of a life spent that she never lived. Eight weeks of time lost here to a hell lived in a world different and confusing, void of the personified compass that directed her to reality and brought her back home.
She'd opened her eyes to this world on the figure of Peter, sitting next to her hospital bed, waiting for her to focus and wake.
As she's come to learn, Peter's array of emotion has a way of betraying him, by a beautiful indentation of flesh, a crease of muscle once formed by inner demons to sit forever between his brows. That morning worry and concern had etched the deep line, and it wasn't the pillow's plastic feathers that tickled her neck.
As over there, she felt him, pulsing through her veins, a heated hum searing under her skin to burn her every nerve ending. He was an offense to her independence by cursing through her life-blood,contracting her heart muscle, pumping his name in whispers of pins that pricked her flesh.
They have a way of digging in, numbing her.
She'd stepped this morning from Broyle's car and saw Peter, his welcome back subduing the linger of unease pressurizing her eardrums.
Then he'd been behind her, a walking heat, sensitizing her with needles shot to her fingertips.
He'd become her anticipatory nervousness, a future promise, the vow to an over there plea that he come back for her, be with her, understand the made for him magnetic force that stands her every down-hair on end.
The whispering pull questions logic and reason, to result in only one answer; she belongs to him, and she can feel it.
A phantom numbness digs into her arms and she didn't have to look up to know he was nearing.
Dr. Ross is still in surgery, he announces, and she suggests they wait as he takes a seat. Peter's noticed her coffee profusion and remarks on it. Olivia smiles, explains.
"Well, it's nice to be able to take a cup of coffee for granted."
She turns the cup, spins it's ridges under her fingertip, a tone-arm to the white plastic grooves recording her thoughts.
Other fingers have rummaged through and added to her life's Pandora's Box, marble heavy prolific troubles weighing down her past, daring to crush her if revelation's hand hadn't reached out to save her.
Splendor has a way of burrowing, hiding under all the hard burdens. If she'd realized this sooner, maybe smiles and laughter would've come a little easier; in the way they seem to be now.
"You know when you go on vacation and you get back and some things are a revelation?" she says, "like coffee or my favorite shoes...And then other things are just...I don't know..."
Unimportant? Trivial? Back-burnered in the moments her jacket feels softer?
She can't pinpoint what she wants to say, so she let's the thought go.
"My mail was opened."
She pictures the demolished envelopes, creased papers with her address and information, opened by a stranger with her name.
"It's kind of disconcerting knowing someone else has been living your life."
If acclimating an alternate existence hadn't been a shared role, she'd have trouble grasping the depth. A knife of experience had sliced the unfathomable, bleeding the her of two worlds, and turned the uncustomary routine through crimson lies of pseudo-science.
She remembers at night when she shivers, the ghostly cold of a concrete cell trapping memories she fights to forget.
Olivia wonders how effortlessly, how easily, her alter ego can dream.
When she focuses on Peter, he seems nervous, uneasy, rubs his face without smoothing that beautiful line.
"Hey," she prods, curious. "You okay?"
His eyes are grey-green, lost somewhere she can't find, but he nods.
She'd think him empathizing for her, if she didn't, for some instant, peculiar reason, feel ashamed.
"There's something that I have to talk to you about. About her."
A heavy seriousness now weighs his brow, deepens that crease, and she braces herself.
"I noticed changes." he tells her, "Small changes but they were definitely there. She's..." he grins, when a secret memory flashes across his face,"..she's much quicker with a smile. Less... I don't know, less intense maybe."
His words aren't surprising, and maybe expected, but apprehension begins poking at her ribcage.
"She said that when she was over there, she saw her other life. It made her want to change, to be happier. And I believed her." He says, "Because that made sense."
It's understandable isn't it? And sickly familiar. Hadn't she, after all, reacted the same?
There was no way for him to know she'd been dopple-ganged. It had happened so fast she can still feel the whiplash.
"It's okay, I'm here now."
Her words are weighted with promise, hope, and though she's smiling, he's still anxious.
"When you asked me to come back to this world with you, you said-"
"That you belonged with me."
Olivia ducks her head, blushing, a schoolgirl caught by her shy admission.
"So I came back for you." he tells her. "For us."
For a moment, her smile widens, then there's a betraying awareness, a dull overtaking of hollowness that raps through her body.
"And we started seeing each other." he confirms, and quickly her apprehension has grown heavy, unbearable, it's leaded her bones and threatens to break her.
He explained away the differences, her differences, because their relationship had changed. The words ring, when he tells her this, press against her eardrums with a cranial headache of realization.
Oh god, they'd slept together. Oh god.
She couldn't feel anymore her toes or the cup in her hands.
She was numbed, instantly paralyzed by the invisible fingers gripping her soul.
"I thought she was you, Olivia."
His eyes are pleading, more gray now then blue, maybe sad, urging her to understand and it occurs to her, slowly, that that earlier shame hadn't been hers.
She'd felt what was his.
"Does everyone know?" she questions, her voice quiet.
"I reported everything when I found out who she was."
It was too much, too suffocating, so she blocks the pain with nothingness, a reflex barrier shielding her from incoming emotion.
"Olivia..." he continues, leans on the table. "I'm sorry."
She swallows, hard, and shakes her head.
"You know, she had a very full life. A really sweet boyfriend, and if he hadn't been out of town, then who knows what could've happened."
It's a lie, she knows, but it's sweet to the ears of that barrier to say he could have come second to her, too.
"She had friends, people who loved her. People who risked thier lives to help her."
That nothingness is feeling a little bit bigger, squeezing just a little bit harder. And when she speaks again, her words come a little bit faster.
"They all believed that I was her so, you know, I-I-I can understand how that -"
The nurse cuts off her words, nullifying the excuse. Peter asks the woman to give them a second, but Olivia is thanking God and Buddha and even William fucking Bell for the interruption.
"Peter, it's fine." she says, forcing a smile. "We're good. Let's go."
She get's up, not wasting a second, and though she wants to run far from here, and him and the fizzle of his goddamn electricity, she straightens her back and follows the nurse.
On the table, her coffee sits forgotten, a warm comfort lost in the cold of her wake.
Ink scorches Olivia's nape.
Under her fingers, red and black burn like coals on her neck, a star holding proof of a different existence, a separate life; a prison tattoo from the over there world.
She can't scrub it off or wipe it away. She's marked forever with colors not hers, pigments laced with a contempt that lines her throat with bile, and her tongue with acid.
She stands before her closet, in scratchy dark cotton.
Her wardrobe affixes her stare, taunting her with neutrals of black and white, dull fabrics that hammer on the backside of her madness.
She remembers her closet, the other one's.
Hung were bright colors, analogous shades in blues and reds and she questions if that's what he wants, prefers, colors over darks, laughter over ferocity; the her who's intensity influences not her eyes, but her smile.
She yanks a blouse from it's wooden hanger, wrings the fabric, pictures for a moment that her standing here deciding, wondering of three quarter sleeves or full.
She feels violated, stripped numb, emotionally molested by her mirror image. Her fingerprints stain these clothes, her house, his skin, and Olivia's anger surfaces, hotly raw and intense.
The blouse hits the floor before it's counterparts. Fast and driven she rips her clothes from the closet, tears threaten but she blinks away the wet heat.
Betrayal drives her violence, a sudden rage bent on decimation. All around her are traces of an unwelcome intruder and the disgust was sickeningly painful.
She wants to rid her closet, her room, her life of that woman and her fucking easy laughter and undaunted past. She wants to quiet all the reasons why she's the lesser, inferior version of herself, and knows he's crazy not to prefer that her more, want her more.
Oh god, her fucking bed. Her goddamn fucking bed.
Olivia throws back the comforter, strips the mattress of the sheets hissing with a love that wasn't hers.
She balls the bedding in her arms, nauseas from a lover's rendezvous, a vision scented with soap and sweat; the lie in her bed that holds the truth of his feelings.
She's become inadequate.
When she opens the wash, she sees the clothes in the top-loader, so she throws down the sheets before plucking out a sweater.
It's light brown, not black or white or gray, but mixed dyes of red and yellow, orange and white, colors worn by an undamaged her.
The taunting hoodie meets the hissing sheets before she pulls out a gray T-shirt. This one isn't hers. She doesn't recognize the feel, the wear.
She turns it over, reads the insignia.
The acronym digs at her, the red letter's of Peter's alma-mater dripping with a poison that constricts her chest and chokes her breath.
This is his.
In her hands, caught by the fabric, dance the last traces of friction, atoms electrified by a shared, intense passion.
It's his body heat generated through another woman's touch.
She sees it, that hers fingers, yanking at the threads and pulling it over his head.
Oh god what if she'd worn it? What if she'd thrown on this fucking shirt because he'd surprised her with breakfast?
And then Olivia feels anger again, grotesque and red before she throws down the tee.
They belonged to her, those moments but they'd been violently pillaged, stolen from her by the woman he'd loved in her bed.
A cold, dark hollowness has piggy-backed itself, latched on to her violence to eat away at the whole of her.
When it does, the tears come, they're hot and wet with empty resolve, and she feels herself falling, crumbling to the floor in a cowards defeat. She holds her face in her hands.
Salt water stings her skin, pinches it numb, and through the ache of all she's lost, she can be sure of one thing.
Hurt is a choking, vile offender, a goddamn fucking pair of gloved hands with a grip on her windpipe, effortlessly squeezing her into blackness before leaving her shaken and violently, hopelessly broken.
She recalls her old car, a 1970s dodge she'd loved, worn to the ground until the body, the muffler, scraped against tar. She'd been attached, irrefutably connected to the blue and white scrap metal and when she had to buy new, she was skeptical, unsure she'd feel the same affection for any other car.
She'd been wrong.
So fast, so swiftly she grew fond of power windows, power locks, reclining seats and automatic transmission.
It was a 2009 Dodge.
Same model. Different, more glorious version than the original.
To her surprise, she'd ended up loving it more.
That morning, she'd woke on the floor.
Her chest had still ached, eyes still burned, her skin, sticky from tears, had dried from exhaustion.
She'd felt pain's post-coital afterglow, an all over fatigue weighting her body and soul to her living room carpet.
She'd been anesthetized, wholly defeated, but when she finally got up, she'd black-bagged the fucking bedding.
And the sweater.
And for all intents and purposes, she should have thrown the T-shirt out to, so why she kept it, she doesn't know.
Maybe because it didn't belong to her.
Or maybe she remembered him wearing it, knocking on her hotel room door, speaking in octaves of discovered clues and unburied secrets. Still bound in its threads, hidden under her ravaging, was his faint scent in a time when she'd loved him.
Maybe she still wanted some part of Peter, some rare, far away memory of when he could have had feelings for her too.
Or maybe, for some dark, sick reason, she wanted the pain of it reminding her that happiness is a short-lived hope, a feeling meant for the deserving, not the haunted.
Maybe she truly is too broken to fix.
When she got to work, she'd been late.
Astrid noticed because people do that; notice things, small things, big things, and unusual behaviors are to be questioned not ignored.
Olivia wondered how often he did that to that her, asked why she was smiling, or laughing, or wearing her emotions on the end of different sleeves.
Or had she made him too happy, so fucking satiated that he hadn't even cared?
Laundry, she'd explained to Astrid, she'd had to catch up and it's why she was late.
Not a full lie, not the whole truth.
After parking her car and stepping into the building, she vowed this morning to remain pragmatic and stoic, wouldn't let her system's shook up neurons effect her job.
But that self-promise broke when she'd asked the younger agent what Peter and her other had been like together, if he'd seemed better, happier with her.
Anxiety, the flighty, tiny butterflies under her flesh, urged she leave and walk away, tell Astrid to forget she'd ever asked but fate torments her.
He thought she was you, Astrid had said, and it was the same answer, the same goddamn cryptic, somehow meaningless thing Peter had said to her in that hospital cafeteria.
He'd had that rendition of her, held her, loved her, got her morning smile and her bedroom warmth, and all Olivia could do was remember that damn new car and its euphoric new car feel.
Those monarchs had stung, sliced her inside-out with sharp wings and she needed the pain, the subject, to drop.
Because as Astrid says more, she remembers discovering for the first time of a five star crash rating.
What feelings Peter had, the junior agent said, were meant for you, they still are.
At one time, maybe, she'd have believed that.
She'd loved something original for long enough, too.
Then something better came along.
She was short with him, that afternoon.
They'd been searching for clues, digging through case files to find an UNSUB, and though she knows he was trying, he didn't seem to be grasping the deduction or intuition of a profiler.
At first she'd told herself her impatience, her rising aggravation, stemmed from time lost to a fugitive killer's future victim, not Peter's fucking electric charge and it's static impregnation of every breath she took.
So of course, the rash pounding, the belabor in her chest wall had to know better.
He'd asked her why she was so quick to dismiss him, and she'd told him, curtly, that a profiler weighs the facts, feels the reasons, connections, in the pit of their stomach.
Then he'd asked, when she told him his descriptions weren't good enough, what it was she didn't feel.
A selfish need drove the man wild, a mad inner yearning to have again what he couldn't live without.
He loved her, she'd told Peter simply, a man who was fighting to give life to a girl who ended her own, loves her. Okay? she'd said, quickly, impatiently and that line, that beautiful godamn crease showed his irritation, his mild anger.
Electroception had been spliced, bound with the kind of thick tension discomfort is derived from.
She was angry at him, and he knew it.
She was mad because this was personal, to close to home, and she could no longer read him like a file to emote feelings in her gut.
She couldn't feel that he loved her, felt sorry for maybe, sympathized with, sure, but not that he still wanted her.
All she felt from him was erratic jumbled nerves in her.
He'd grown attached to that fucking new Dodge.
The air is cool outside, not too harsh or cold, but it still nips at her cheeks and seeps through her jacket.
Alone she sits, with her chin in her hands and her breath, stalled, not from the wind or fading adrenaline, but the icy crack of heartache.
I don't know what I'd brought back, their UNSUB had said, when she'd held him at gunpoint on the floor, but it wasn't Amanda. I looked into her eyes and I knew it wasn't her.
The words echo in Olivia's ears, a soundtrack damaging her resolve, happily chipping away at her wall till she feels it start to crumble in her fingers.
A soul is trapped in pupils, corneas, retina, an ocular window to the depth of who and how a person is.
For the past three years, his has been caught between hard decision and compassion, sacrifice and sympathy, humor and pain, and she knows this because she can read it in his eyes, feel it in the gray-green storm of his stare.
Even when she was over there, unsure of who and where she was, it had been his abysmal persuasion, his vision's profound immaterial essence that held her captive.
She'd been left to drown in a terrifying, confusing world, and finding the surface meant holding on to him and his illogical, irrational presence.
She'd trusted him, relied on him, even when he'd been lost to her, she loved him.
She doesn't want to, god, she doesn't fucking want to, but she still feels it, that electro-communication, a stinging, burning impulse that shoots through air, and water and a parallel universe to spark in her chest and charge her fingertips.
He should have known she wasn't her, been able to see past her smiles, wiles and fake fucking laughter. He should have looked into her eyes and seen a stranger, felt the eerie reconditions of her differences.
Instead he'd been swayed by them.
She'd wanted to believe in a deep-seated, bone gnawing connection derived of mutual cognizance, an intimate, joint apprehension of another in every possible way.
But fuck that.
Even when they're fantastical, she operates on facts, not eccentric notions of romance.
Dammit, she knows better.
Twice now, she's fallen in love and twice now, she's been broken by it.
So fuck what the fairy-tale inspired eight year old inside her wanted to believe. There was no such thing as white knights and grand castles or happily ever after.
There was just cold, lonely, bone-chilling reality, so fuck the world. Fuck her and her cheer, and her grimy thieving fingers.
And fuck him and his eyes, and that brow, and his damn suffocating kinetic energy.
She detests every impulse, every skin ripping impact he still has on her, so fuck her life, and this chair, and the gaping hole in her chest, too.
There are footprints, crunching through the frozen grass, and he calls out to her.
She closes her eyes, bites down on anger and metal and his goddamn gravity.
She wants him to go the fuck away.
Instead he reaches out, touches her shoulder and her muscles rebel, clench, burn under his hand.
"You okay?" he asks, and suddenly her jaw is pained from clenching, tightened by the rubber-banding of ire and emptiness squeezing her soul.
She doesn't want to do this now, doesn't want his presence, or concern or that goddamn smoked-honey voice near her, and she squeezes her eyes tighter, willing him to leave.
It doesn't work.
He's not going to jump off a fucking cliff.
Instead he sits, and when he asks her what's wrong, that band snaps, spilling a sick infuriation, a bittersweet grief, out of her every pore.
Fuck her fucking silence.
With the back of her hand, she wipes her mouth, wrestles back tears she doesn't want him to see.
And fuck her fucking fragility and the searing fucking heat running through her bones.
"You know what Barett said?" she asks, when she finally breaks the quiet, "He said that he looked into her eyes, and he knew that it wasn't her."
It's boiling her blood now, that heat, presses into her ribcage, when he swallows, and speaks her name in emerging defense.
He's going to try to explain himself, tune his excuses to sound sweet to her ears, but it doesn't matter.
No matter how much she'd adored it, that new car hadn't been worn down with use and affection, hadn't driven as comfortably or felt nearly as loved.
That new car wasn't her 1980s Dodge.
And he should have known the fucking difference.
"You know, I understand the facts." she says to him when her chest, her skull, her limp arms, began to singe. "I know that she had reams of information about me, about my life, about the people that were close to me." Rage is paining her cranium, makes her fist her hands. "And I understand that if she slipped up, she'd have had a perfectly reasonable explanation for it."
He's aware now of her thoughts, perceptive of the beating she's going to put on him, so he sits back, patient and silent, bracing himself.
"And I guess, to expect you to see past that is perhaps asking a little bit too much. But when I was over there, I thought about you, and you were just a figment of my imagination."
A whisper of his vision's kiss, his calling back to remembrance of her washed-over brain, plays across her lips, tickles their flesh, and it infuriates her, enrages her.
"And I held on to you." She admits. "And it wasn't reasonable and it wasn't logical but I did it so...so why didn't you?"
Inadequacy, a consuming, enveloping loneliness, begins to mix with her anger, a dangerous cocktail concocted of hurt, defeat, and hopelessness.
There's silent embarrassment caught in his brow, a calm, hard shame that turns his eyes downward and she can feel it, his self deprecation, air thinned by his regret, thickened by her indifference.
She didn't care for his apology. She just wanted him to be pained from her hurt, crushed by her anger.
"She wasn't me." She says, her eyes wetting. "She wasn't me. How could you not see that?"
In the same devastating way as she, she wanted him to understand that his ignorance, his obliviousness of who she really is has a price.
It wasn't good enough that he'd simply been intoxicated, enthralled by her thieving tendrils and menacing mouth.
He should have known from the feel of her, the scent, the touch and taste, that that woman was a lie.
A huge, devastating, crushing, painful fucking lie that's implanted her mark, and tainted a life.
So fuck her and her probing, robbing, life-sucking fingers, because she's sucked away what hadn't been hers.
And now she can have it.
And she can have him too, because Olivia fucking hated him.
"She's everywhere." she tells him. "She's in my house, my job, my bed and I don't want to wear my clothes anymore and I don't want live in my apartment and I don't want to be with you."
It's asphyxiating now, the agony, the sheer devastation of hopelessness.
"She's taken everything." she finishes, and she wants to hit something, throw something, take out her gun and shoot him just so he can feel, and bleed, from the same pain, the same bullets, ripping through her body to disintegrate her soul.
Without another word, she gets up, unable to handle anymore the thick hovering of repercussion, and she doesn't care that she's left him suffocated by consequence or numbed by her anger.
She doesn't care that his apology trails her footsteps, follows her leave.
Nothing she knows is certain anymore and she just wants to get away.
She wants to forget that she breathes him, everywhere, constantly. She doesn't want to think, once upon a time, he may loved her too.
Because all of it, everything she thought was true, was a huge fucking lie.