Disclaimer: Fringe is way too awesome to be owned by the likes of me.
Author's Note: I'm a bit of a novice here. It's my first time writing for the Fringe fandom, and even though I love these characters dearly, I'm still not sure I've got their "voices" down. Ah well. If at first you don't succeed...
Summary: They had known this day was coming. Known about it for almost four years, in fact. But no amount of foresight or harried contingency plans could have steeled Peter Bishop for the agony of separating from the two most important women in his life. Inspired by the 5x01 "Etta" promo.
"I Promise", by AngelMoon Girl
Peter wasn't sure what alerted him first.
Maybe it was the tickle in the back of his mind that slowly grew until it was like an insatiable itch.
Maybe it was the icy premonition of dread filling his stomach as, almost imperceptibly, the warm atmosphere shifted; became that too-still calm before a too-powerful storm.
Or maybe it was the sudden hitch in Olivia's breathing as her eyes drifted, over his shoulder and to something he could not see. Something, Peter feared, that was in dangerous proximity with where their little daughter was quietly playing in the grass, unawares and unprotected.
Peter stumbled up, feeling Olivia do the same on his left. He spotted Henrietta easily among the other parkgoers, her chubby fingers stuffed with flowers as blithely, she arranged a haphazard looking bouquet. She hadn't noticed, yet, the trickling stream of Observers that was slowly descending on this happy pocket of peace. No one had, except Peter and Olivia. And why should they? To anyone but members of Fringe Division, the sudden appearance of a brigade of blandly dressed businessmen was nothing to fret over. Life as usual, not even the slightest inkling that everyone and everything they ever loved was about be ripped ruthlessly from them...
"...Etta?" Peter called, trying to attract her attention without earning that of the impending Observers. September's forebodings from what seemed a lifetime ago echoed loudly in his mind.
They are coming. I cannot tell you when, but already my comrades are planning The Purge that will wipe the world of all humanity holds dear. It will become... unrecognizable. Please - hide yourselves. Prepare yourselves. Your team possesses knowledge far beyond that of any who seek to control science. You are the rebellion. You are the last hope.
They are coming...
Etta perked up, but not for him. Shaken from her puerile reverie, she appeared to have finally picked up on the fact that something was amiss with these strange visitors, even though the rest of the park was still achingly ignorant. The child's abilities of perception were uncanny - a maternally inherited trait, for sure. But Peter had more on his mind than pride for his daughter's heightened senses of awareness, particularly when she wasn't reacting the way he most needed her to.
"Etta!" He wasn't positive when exactly he started running, only that he was, with Olivia precious feet behind. There was no longer extraneous thought involved; pure instinct was the fire that drove the man forward. Peter waved his hands wildly, but Etta wasn't turning, she was just staring, and Peter was panicking, and Sweetheart why aren't you turning around!? "ETTA!"
It was as if they were yelling down a long tunnel, with he and Olivia stuck on one side, and Henrietta unreachable at the other. Peter had never been so scared in his whole life.
And then... a turn for the worst.
Peter faltered, nearly tripping over himself, as he saw from a distance the Observers raising their otherworldly guns, and he knew with a horrible, gut-wrenching sinking sensation that it was too late, oh God Etta we're too late, then suddenly -
Peter was blown off his feet by the force of the immense energy discharge, slamming painfully into the ground with nary a bone that wasn't protesting upon impact. If it was this bad for him... The man quickly rolled over, groaning, trying to distinguish through the screams those that were familiar. He had to find his family. Find them and hide them. They would be okay as long as they followed September's instructions...
Olivia's voice caught his ears first. "Peter? Peter!"
"Peter! Peter, over here!" she cried, and Peter followed the sound, crawling through dust and debris until he found her and - with surprise - Etta.
"How did you...?"
Olivia was fairly vibrating, Peter could feel it in the air around her, and it wasn't much of a leap to realize the potent combination of terror and love had just activated her Cortexiphan. She pursed her lips at him - he knew she'd never been enamored with her powers - but nodded in confirmation.
"She'll be fine. I think I was able to shield her from the most damaging effects. It's primarily shock keeping her ou-"
"Down!" Peter exclaimed, as another explosion rocked the ground. By now, the place was swarming with Observers, but for some reason - Olivia - the Bishops had yet to be discovered amid all the hysteria and confusion. "Liv, we've got to get out of here. Can you make it into the city?"
"I can try," Olivia grimaced, shifting their unconscious four-year-old to one arm, Etta's small and pigtailed head cuddled against her mother's neck. Peter could tell his wife was now focusing all of her effort into maintaining a sheen of invisibility around the Observers, so it was he that grabbed her hand and began leading the flight from Armageddon.
They finally stopped in a dank but mercifully deserted alleyway, in a section of town that didn't seem to have been ravaged into destruction just yet. Peter knew they were only running on borrowed time, but as Olivia gasped and collapsed - shuddering - behind a trashcan, he knew it was important they rest and re-group.
"You shouldn't tax yourself, Olivia. Save your strength," Peter urged, gently. He tucked a sweaty, stray piece of blonde hair behind her ear, thumb tracing a solicitous and soothing path along the way.
"I am, I am," the woman mumbled. She opened her eyes and gazed pleadingly at Peter. "We don't have to do this, you know. Not when there are other options."
"Olivia, you heard September-"
"Let's stay together. We could do it, I know we could, we're smart enough and strong enough-"
Peter pressed his palm against her cheek. "Olivia-"
"We- we shouldn't separate. Not now. Not when we need each other most! Please, Peter. Please." She was fairly babbling, wide-eyed and desperate, and it broke Peter's heart.
"Liv... Don't do this. I can't... you remember September's most recent warning! He said it was imperative that you and you alone take Etta to Massive Dynamic. She'll be safe with Nina. He said that! And if we ignore him now, if there's even one misstep... I don't... I don't want to even imagine..." Peter swallowed thickly, his grip on Olivia tightening. "The Purge is... it's happening so fast. But we're ready, we've been preparing for four years now, and I know it's hard... But we've overcome harder, right? This is... think of this as any other mission. We do our job, we go home. Happy ending."
"Where will you be?" Olivia whispered, her lips moving to Etta's head, countenance just short of burying itself within the child's soft flaxen locks.
"At the lab, helping Walter - he told me yesterday the concoction for the anti-matter bomb is nearly finished. If we can just perfect the solution, it'll give us a solid lead against these bald-headed bastards."
Olivia choked out a laugh that sounded more like a sob. "I wish you'd stop calling them that. It's so cheesy."
"What? That's what they are," Peter smiled, and he took a deep, tremulous breath. "Hey. We'll drive them out, easy! You'll see. Etta'll be back to us within the week, complaining all about Aunt Nina's horrendous cooking!"
"Oh, Peter," Olivia murmured, her face crinkling in an act of defiance against the tears vying for release. Etta stirred, but didn't awake.
"A week. Just you wait, Olivia Dunham. I'm always right," Peter grinned, trying to coax out the cocky pain-in-the-ass side of himself, because he knew this shadow of his past self amused Olivia.
It was a poor attempt at placating and they were both fully aware of this fact, but for a second it seemed to have done the trick.
Olivia shot forward into Peter's arms, Etta and all, her fingers clinging fiercely to his shirt. Peter hugged back as emotively as he could, kissing every limb and every appendage of his wife and daughter's that he could touch. "I'll be waiting for you. I won't sleep, I will barely breathe, until you're back in my arms. I love you."
He could feel Olivia shaking now, his ever brave and unbreakable partner-turned-wife starting to come apart at the seams. It was torture, a knife twist to the gut, to hear her moan in a voice muffled by fear, "That's the thing. This whole day, I haven't been able to shake the sense that... I'm not going to see you again. That this is our last time together, as a family, and Peter I can't lose you, not again, not-"
"No. We have to have faith that what September tells us is true. We are the ones who'll save our world... we're their hope. This moment, us right here, it's not the end. It's the beginning. We're going to watch Etta grow up and we're gonna give her a brother and a sister and then we'll watch our babies have babies and - our very own tribe of Bishops, remember? I'll be fine. You're not going to lose me any time soon, not when we have a whole bright future laid out ahead of us. I promise, okay? Olivia? I promise."
Olivia emerged from their embrace tear-stained and disheveled, but Peter had never known her to be so beautiful. It was that familiar expression; that persisting courage beaming in her eyes which caused his chest to swell, despite the enormous pain it brought Peter to have to separate from her and from Etta. That's my girl.
"I love you, Peter. I love you so much."
Peter captured her lips between his, but the contact was ephemeral - all too soon, they were forced to part. Peter spent his last seconds with the pair nuzzling his face with Etta's, trying to stamp into his memory the way she laughed; the way she sang in the mornings; the way she said "Daddy"; the way she puckered her nose when she was about to cry. Every minuscule detail, every experience from birth to now, it was important he no longer take anything for granted.
"I'll take care of her. I promise." And as Olivia finally slipped out of his grasp with their beloved offspring in tow, Peter felt a suffocating emptiness take up residence within his heart; his very veins - a loneliness so overpowering that he had to lean against the wall for support.
"I'll be waiting," he said again, and like the dying wisp of an ebbing candle, Olivia's voice floated back to him from the alley's entryway,
Peter knew, with every fiber of his being, that he would uphold that promise until the day he did indeed reunite with his one true love and their perfect young blue-eyed cherub of a daughter.
Even if it meant waiting twenty long years, stuck in a prison of amber as slowly, the world outside became a dark and unrecognizable hell.
Author's Note: So I decided to leave Olivia's fate up in the air, in continuing with what 4x19 did. Maybe she made it to Nina, but had to be ambered separately and not by Walter's hand. Maybe the Observers snatched her and have been holding her captive in an effort to learn her secrets. Or maybe she never went to Massive Dynamic at all - maybe, for a time, Olivia raised Etta on her own. That's up to you :) Either way, poor Peter and poor Etta, having to grow up basically an orphan! Guh, this show!