A Sincere Apology

Pre-Walstrid if you squint, major spoilers for Snakehead (Season 2, Episode 9), I do not own Fringe.

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Walter's eyes watered, and he blinked absently. It was early, or perhaps late, but Peter slept safely, tucked in bed, and all was right in the world. Only, it wasn't. Walter's eyes fluttered closed, his mouth twisted with misery. Agent Farnsworth (and what was the girl's first name?) had been hurt because of him. She'd been shaken by the ordeal; he'd seen it in her eyes.

A lesser man would have whimpered.

Agent Farnsworth was special; anyone could see it. After all, how many women would remain sweet to (Walter's face contorted into a less miserable and far more dejected appearance) a crazy old man who had to be walked, and consistently brought danger to her doorstep?

And he couldn't even remember her first name properly!

Again, Walter shifted about in his bed, contemplating what his course of action should be. Somehow, he needed to keep Agent Farnsworth from deciding he wasn't worth the effort, wasn't worth the risk, or worse, that he didn't care about her, her safety. Women, Walter knew, were notorious for not realizing how important they were, and leaving because of it.

He wished it could be as simple as getting her first name right, but Walter knew better. This moment, this time now, he was, well, not sane, but at least functional. The events from the previous day were at the forefront of his memory (though, Walter admitted to himself bitterly, it might not have been the previous day, or even the previous week. Time was often a mystery to him), but it might not last.

Tomorrow, he might awake with no idea that anything bad had ever occurred, that his son still respected him, women still flocked to him, and that Belly would be joining him for an experiment or two. Or he might dip into his not-quite-legal pharmacy, and spend the hours caught up in experiencing the universe while Astrid keeps the soundtrack coming as he demands (Walter consciously ignores having gotten her name correct, afraid that too much attention will chase the name away for good).

Clearly, the time for putting together a present to keep Her from leaving, or feeling underappreciated, as well as saying how truly sorry he was that she'd been hurt by goons. Goons he should have spotted, goons that wouldn't have bothered poor dear Agent Farnsworth had Walter kept his fool mouth shut.

Walter wished he could simply tell her all of this. She would probably try to reassure him that he had no formal training as an agent, and that she knew what security measures to update and implement now, but then, at least, his acknowledgement of error would exist in more than just his own faulty mind, and Agent Farnsworth would be given the option of forgiveness (or not). However, Walter knew better.

If he tried to give Agent Farnsworth a heartfelt apology, the words would dry on his tongue, his brain would grow foggy and she would probably be treated to whatever first came to mind.

No, what Walter needed as an object. Perhaps flowers, a card, or something that bespoke effort, time, and a vested interest in the recipient's reaction. Not for the first time, Walter wished Peter hadn't rendered the kitchen nonfunctional. Home cooked meals designed to increase oxytocin levels and a small card expressing his hope for her health, alongside a small, shy smile, and Walter could have been assured that Agent Farnsworth would not begin to despise him for the misfortune he'd brought down upon her.

But the kitchen wasn't functional, and his attention wandered too much for him to try some sort of crafty thing. No, Walter was going to have to go out to a shop, and have something made for her.

And he had an idea.

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Astrid had been offered a few days of medical leave, but had rejected them. She wasn't bedridden, after all, though she still had a slight headache from her head wound. Besides, listening to Walter's tangents about science and his life was far better than frantic phone calls every five minutes from whatever lab jockey temping for her trying to understand Walter's demands.

Besides, after the hug they'd shared, Astrid had a feeling that Walter was holding himself responsible. If she disappeared on him, well, she wouldn't want to be responsible for what Walter would deem an appropriate response to his abandonment.

So when her phone started ringing at six forty in the morning Astrid decided she deserved it. After all, she could have taken the day off. Tomorrow to.

"Agent Farnsworth." She stated as clearly as possible into her phone, trying to sound like the ringing hadn't just woken her up.

"Astrid, it's Peter. Look, Walter's taken off again. I'm heading out to a store that his credit card was used at, but it's from a while ago. Could you head to the lab, and see if he's turned up there?"

"Yes, yes, of course. Call me if you find him first?" Her voice is a little higher than normal, and Astrid feels the slightest stirring of fear. Peter assents, and hangs up, and Astrid leaves her apartment in less than fifteen minutes, speeding all the way to the lab. She looks only slightly disheveled, though she might head back to her apartment for her lunch break if this isn't serious (she hopes that she'll walk into the lab and find Walter acting like a mad scientist dead set on creating a new flavor of lollypop or something equally ridiculous, and that there will be time for breaks today).

Power walking quickly from her parking spot, Astrid finds herself paying close attention to her surroundings, trying to see if anything is out of place. She would never live it down if she were jumped twice in a week.

Nothing seems out of place, so she pushes the door to the lab open, inhaling sharply, smelling the heady scent of flowers. Astrid's eyes narrow when she spots the flowers, red and loud. They're rhododendrons, subtype Astrid.

"Walter?" She calls out, and isn't surprised when the slightly manic looking scientist appears, a broad smile on his face.

"Agent Farnsworth! Right on time. Come, come, sit." She does as he asks, sitting at a lab bench that been cleared of chemicals, and replaced with flasks and beakers overflowing with flowers. She's about to shoot a text off to Peter when the lights dim, and Walter returns, carrying a cake with candles burning on top.

Walter is humming, but Astrid doesn't recognize the tune. However, she's looking at the cake, and realized that it's a birthday cake. It's not her birthday, and she's becoming more and more confused.

"Unfortunately," Walter begins, and Astrid drags her attention away from the cake and back to Walter. "The cake shop does not carry cakes for apologies. Except for a cake about forgetting an anniversary. Wish they'd had those when I was younger." Walter starts to laugh, and then shakes his head, and refocuses on Astrid's face.

"I apologize." He holds up a hand when Astrid opens her mouth to protest his culpability in the events of the day before.

"No, just accept it, and eat my cake." Astrid frowns, but then backs down. She supposes that this is just another one of those self-actualization things Peter has been going on about (Walter too, for that matter). She texts Peter while Walter grabs the two of them forks and plates, and Astrid blows the candles out (eight of them, she wonders if it has any significance).

When Peter arrives a few minutes later, Walter and Astrid are laughing at Walter's description of a cake he once baked. Or at least attempted to bake.

Peter looks at the two of them, and decides he doesn't want to know. Peter supposes he should just be happy that his father finally remembered Astrid's name- at least, Peter is pretty sure that the birthday cake says Astrid on it.

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I dunno, I just wanted something with Walter buying Astrid a cake.

Please read and review, and if there are mistakes please point them out, and I'll fix them. And yes, there really are rhododendrons, subtype Astrid.