Cambridge, Massachusetts – March, 1986:
"… And it's no, nay, never," Elizabeth Bishop sang, she and the little boy opposite her punctuating the last line with four rhythmic thumps on the coffee table, "No, nay, never no more… will I play the Wild Rover…"
"No, never, no more!" Eight-year-old Peter Bishop loudly sang with a grin.
Elizabeth returned the smile as she finished wrapping the large loaf of bread on the table in front of her. "There's my Irish lad," she said. "Now be a good boy and put the soda bread away, please, love."
Dr. Walter Bishop strode purposefully through the living room, stopping only briefly to cast a withering glance at his wife. "Rather an inappropriate song to teach an eight-year-old, don't you think?" he said.
"Says the man who treats hashish like an aperitif," she said coldly. "It's St. Patrick's Day, Walter. Peter and I are going to the parade later. Any chance of you joining us?"
"You know I hate those rowdy crowds. I have a lot of work to do." Walter turned to leave, and bumped right into a running whirlwind. "Whoa, slow down, boy!" he said, although his voice was gentle.
"Sorry," Peter said, standing nearly at attention. "Sorry, Dad."
Walter put a hand on his head. "That's all right, son. Well, you're certainly decked out for the occasion," he commented, taking in his son's green turtleneck and Aran sweater. "All you need is a tweed cap, and you'll look straight off the boat."
"Be nice, Walter," Elizabeth warned. "I think he looks very handsome."
Peter blushed. "Mom," he whined. His eyes strayed to the TV, where a reporter was discussing the preparations for Boston's grand parade later that morning.
"Peter?" Elizabeth asked at his look of consternation.
"They painted the street green," he said, staring at the screen.
"No, son, just the median – the line between the different traffic directions," Walter said. "They do it every year."
"No, they don't," Peter said, shaking his head in confusion. "I don't remember that last year."
Elizabeth rose quickly from her chair and went over to where Peter stood. Running her hand rhythmically through her son's curly hair, she said, "You were very sick last year… you just don't remember. Right? You were very, very sick…" She kept stroking Peter's hair as she repeated the words hypnotically.
"Yeah… I was sick… " Peter said dreamily. "Right." Suddenly snapping out of his trance-like state, he said, "I'm gonna be a wild rover when I grow up!"
"Oh, are you now?" Elizabeth said, laughing.
"Yup! And I'll bring back gold in great store, and Dad can quit work and we'll just play together all day long. And I'll take care of you, like you take care of me."
"That's a lovely thought, Peter," Elizabeth said, kissing the top of her son's head. "But I don't want you roving, ya hear? That's a lonely life, and your home is right here, with us. It's right here…"
Inchigeelagh, County Cork, Ireland, 2001:
"I went to an ale-house I used to frequent
And I told the landlady my money was spent.
I asked her for credit, she answered me "nay
Such a custom as yours I could have any day.
And it's no, nay, neverrrrr… "
Twenty-two-year-old Peter Bishop cringed at the corniness of the ragtag band playing in the corner of the pub, but it didn't stop him from thumping the top of the bar four times as the crowd – half locals, and half tourists – called out, "One, two, three, four!"
"No, nay, never no more…"
"Another?" the bartender's voice called to him from his thoughts.
Peter looked down at his nearly-finished pint of Guinness. "Yeah, sure, why not? Thanks. Say, I'm a little surprised at the number of tourists in here."
"Ah, we get a fair number of 'em from the coaches, ya know," the barkeep replied. "The tour companies doin' the loop – startin' in Dublin, headin' southwest, through Cork to the Ring of Kerry, and the Cliffs and all that. The tourists love stoppin' in towns like ours, with their 'quaint' names."
"That's a bit cynical," Peter said dryly. "Those tourists are helping to keep you in business. And if they think your town is 'quaint,' as you say, what of it? Maybe some of them are visiting ancestral homes."
"Oh, and is that what you're doin'?" the bartender asked a bit testily. "You're no local, but I'm guessin' you're a son of the sod."
"My mom was from Dublin," Peter said flatly.
"Ah, a city girl."
"Her mother was from Cahirsiveen, and her dad was from Waterville."
"Oh, all right then. What's your name?"
"Peter. Peter… McKenna," he finished, using his mother's maiden name.
"Good to know ya, Peter McKenna. Eamon." The bartender extended a hand.
Peter shook it. "Cheers."
"So, you visiting the ancestral homes? Reportin' back to Herself?"
"Nope. My ma's dead." Peter picked up the fresh pint and downed half of it in one gulp.
"I'm sorry for your troubles," Eamon said softly. "So, what does bring you here?"
"Just… " Running, he thought. Hiding. Getting as far away as I can… "Just traveling."
"Bit of a Wild Rover yourself, eh? Ah, to be young and handsome, and carefree again," Eamon winked.
"Yeah, carefree. That's me," Peter said into his glass.
"You've got loads of time, but don't forget, even the Rover went home again."
"Yeah, but it helps to actually have a home to go to, Eamon. I haven't exactly gotten the hang of that yet."
"You will, lad," Eamon said. "You have that look about ya."
"Oh, really?" Peter said sarcastically.
"Yes, really. You'll find your home and stop your rovin'. You just need somebody to give you directions."
Brookline, Massachusetts, 2013
Olivia Dunham – or rather, Olivia Dunham-Bishop, as of six months ago – was smiling as her infant daughter wailed in her ear. Most mothers would probably be at their wits' end after five minutes of inconsolable baby screams, but Olivia wasn't concerned in the slightest.
She called these her daughter's "GHD moments" – Gotta Have Daddy – and unlike some insecure, jealous types, who felt that the mother-daughter bond was inviolate and that daddies shouldn't trespass, Olivia was perfectly fine with it. "Peter!" She called out.
He was at the nursery door in a flash. "Yeah, hon?" Taking in the red-faced baby on Olivia's shoulder, he nodded knowingly and padded barefoot across the hardwood floor. "Ohhhh, it's that time, is it?" he said softly, arms already outstretched. "Come here, Princess." He took the shrieking, squirmy bundle from Olivia's arms, grinning as Olivia let out a relieved sigh. "Got your back, Mommy."
"My back's not the problem," Olivia chuckled. "I'll be deaf by summer. Baby Girl's got a set of lungs on her, don't you?" She tickled the bottom of one of the baby's chubby feet.
"Takes after her mommy." At his wife's glare, he smiled cheekily. "Freeze! FBI!" he mock-bellowed.
"Very funny, Consultant," she droned. "Now, about your screaming child?"
"Right," Peter said matter-of-factly. "Henriettaaaaa…. " he said in a soft, sing-song voice as the baby kept screaming. "Whatsamatta, huh?" He settled her against his chest, just over his heart. Henrietta squirmed and continued crying, her tears already making a soaked spot on Peter's gray t-shirt. He bounced her gently, rubbing her back, and looked over at Olivia, rolling his eyes. "Liv, you might want to leave the room. Gonna have to pull out the big guns, and it's not gonna be pretty."
"Oh, no," Olivia said in mock horror, "you're not. Tell me you're not."
"Yup, desperate times call for desperate measures. Henrietta Elizabeth Dunham-Bishop, you leave me no choice," he said sternly.
"Not that. Anything but that… " Olivia continued, trying desperately not to laugh. "You're gonna sing?"
"Sorry," he grinned. Kissing the top of the baby's downy head, he began to softly hum, swaying slightly. Olivia leaned against the doorframe and watched.
"Well, I've been a wild rover for many's the year… " he began. "And I spent all me money on whiskey and beer…"
"Seriously, Peter?" Olivia said, her eyebrow cocked. "An Irish drinking song?" But she noticed that, although she was still crying, Henrietta had stopped wriggling in her father's arms.
"Hey, a guys' gotta do, and all that," Peter said. Turning his attention back to the baby, he continued. "And now I'm returnin', with gold in great store, and I never will play the Wild Rover no more..."
"Better not," Olivia warned him.
He gave her a wide smile as he continued, "And it's no, nay, never…" He gently patted the baby's diapered behind four times. "No, nay, never no more, will I play the Wild Rover, no never, no more."
"Is this song autobiographical, by any chance?" she asked wryly.
"I'm just a time traveler, sweetheart, not The Doctor," Peter replied. "The song's a lot older than I am." While he was speaking, Peter hadn't noticed that Henrietta had fallen happily asleep on his chest, tiny spit bubbles still forming on her lips. "Well, will ya look at that," he whispered.
Olivia walked over and slipped her arm around Peter's waist, both of them looking at their sleeping angel. "Some Wild Rover you are… Daddy."
New York Sector 256, February 2037
It was over. Finally over. Citizens wandered dazed through the streets, wondering exactly what to do with their newfound freedom. Historians rushed to re-open libraries and museums. Spontaneous celebrations were breaking out everywhere.
But in the small corner room in the Massive Dynamic infirmary, no one was celebrating. Philip Broyles had been pronounced dead three hours earlier, and now, the Fringe team were gathered around the bed of the last casualty of the Observers' defeat.
"So, I was thinking we might go back to Brookline, see if we can rebuild on the house's old foundations," Olivia said, holding Peter's bandaged hand in hers.
"Do… " Peter coughed, as Olivia wiped the small trickle of blood from his lips, "Do we even still own it?"
"I don't see why not," Olivia replied. "We didn't sell it. We'll settle back down there, and enjoy our old age. Whaddya say, Bishop?" When Peter's eyes drooped closed, and he didn't respond, she shook his shoulder. "Peter? Don't you go anywhere on me, do you hear me? Don't you leave us."
"I'm right here, Daddy," Etta said, wiping a tear from her cheek before leaning down so he could see her. She felt Simon's hands on her shoulders, and welcomed their warmth.
"He's too old for you," Peter whispered, looking askance at the dark-haired Scot behind his daughter. "But I like him. What are you going to do?"
"I thought we might do a little traveling," Etta said. "Part work, part vacation, ya know? Lots of cities are starting to rebuild, and Mom's already gotten a ton of requests for some of us to pay a visit and help out."
"But… always come home, okay?" Peter said, a pleading look on his pale, bruised face.
"I'll always bring her home, Peter," Simon assured him.
Walter stroked Peter's sweaty hair. "Are you comfortable, son?" he asked in a shaky voice, knowing the answer he should be getting, but also knowing the answer he would.
"Yeah. I'm okay now… I'm okay."
"See? Everybody's fine," Astrid smiled. "We just have to get you better, now."
"You'll come home?" Peter asked Etta again. "We're rebuilding the house."
"Of course I will," Etta said, not hiding her tears now. She kissed her father's forehead, then rested her head on his chest, just above his slowing heart, and softly began to sing:
"I'll go home to my parents, confess what I've done
And I'll ask them to pardon their prodigal son.
And if they caress me as ofttimes before
Sure I never will play the wild rover no more."
She could see Peter's lips moving, although no sound came out, and she joined him:
"And it's no, nay, never…" She patted his hand four times. "No, nay never no more,
Will I play the Wild Rover… no never, no more."