"Easy for you say, your heart has never been broken. Your pride has never been stolen. Not Yet. Not Yet. One of these days, I bet your heart will be broken. I bet your pride will be stolen. I bet. I bet. One of these days…"
Peter Bishop sang along to the ironically named Foo Fighters as he paced outside of the Kresge Building at Harvard, his eyes on his watch. His movements were a minimally successful attempt to keep warm in the harsh, mid-November wind. Boston was heaven on Earth to him, and he loved his second home in New York, but sometimes winter made him reevaluate his affection for the two places. On a day like this, he preferred to be at home, with his beloved wife and new baby girl, all of them snuggled up next to a roaring fire. But as usual, the universe had other ways to ruin… occupy… his day.
An urgent phone call from Broyles, none-the-less, told him that he, his father, and Astrid would be meeting a veteran FBI agent, who was assigned to Fringe Division, about an urgent matter of global security. One does not simply tell Phillip Broyles, "Fuck off. I am sick of saving the world, and would rather change diapers," even though Peter had once told the man that if he saved two universes, to officially consider him to be retired… He should have got that in writing…
Technically, Peter was more involved with Massive Dynamic. He was also taking a few courses to earn duel Master's degrees in mechanical and electrical engineering; the few he needed after testing out of everything for a bachelor's and most of the master's. But… what Nina Sharp wants, she gets, and Broyles had a lot of pull with her. Rather than evoke her ire, Peter just accepted that he was getting dragged into whatever this was. Besides, if Nina didn't get him, Olivia would, and he didn't want to go that far up the chain-of-command…
So there Peter was, freezing his balls off, as he tried not to think about what might be metaphorically dropped into his lap to warm them up, or worse, set them, and his entire ass on fire. He just knew that he was in for it when he heard the new agent's name.
Finally, a black GMC pulled up, and the driver climbed out and approached him.
An older, taller, clean shaven, lanky man, wearing a heavy overcoat offered his hand to the scruffy, younger man adorned in a pea coat.
"You must be Peter Bishop?"
"The one and only," Peter chuckled as he firmly took his visitor's hand. "If you know what's good for you, you'd turn around and get right back into that car now, he joked. "You're here to see my father, correct?"
"All of you, actually. General Broyles was very adamant about it."
"Well, it is so nice to be so highly regarded. We were once the underfunded, under-the-boot-heel, red-headed-stepchild of the FBI."
"Ha, Mr. Bishop. I know a thing or two about being the FBI's most unwanted," Mulder mused as the two men made their way into the building. Peter led him to a narrow, dimly-lit stairwell, and they climbed down them.
"So we should get along smashingly, eh? Anyway..." Peter shoved the lab doors apart, and opened his arms in a welcoming gesture. "Welcome to Fringe Division, Agent Mulder. As you know, truth is stranger than fiction, and all those cheesy mad-scientist movies get their stereotypes from some form of reality. So, naturally, all of the important stuff always takes place in some basement somewhere. Just watch your step, and um… I'd advise not to look too hard. And just for the record, if you see any illegal substances, they are not mine."
"I am quite familiar with the utility of basements, too, Mr. Bishop," Mulder slyly grinned. "The underbelly of the outdated—er, I mean venerable—J. Edgar Hoover Building was the home of the FBI's most unwanted for many years; that being me, and the X-Files. Somehow I managed to fit a desk in that basement rat warren I called an office, for someone who willingly signed up for my crusade. Scully and I went through Hell together; so much happened there."
The veteran agent looked around the lab, and he felt like he had stepped back in time. He could hear Aerosmith's Toys in the Attic playing in the distance, most likely from the office.
Leaving the things that are real behind
Leaving the things that you love from mind
All of the things that you learned from fears
Nothin' is left for the years
Real's the dream
"And Goodnight, Mr. Tyler," Peter inflected as he took the needle off of the record. "Only Boston's finest here, Agent Mulder."
Sensing his concern Peter interjected, "The REAL Fringe Division headquarters is located in the Federal building. I also maintain my own research facility at Massive Dynamic in New York. I'm often there, or at MIT; sometimes here when Dad needs me, or when Agent Farnsworth needs to escape. Anyway, my father prefers his lab here, and once Walter Bishop makes up his mind… it's difficult to alter."
"So I've heard," Mulder muttered as he gawked at the place where so much of great importance was said to have happened. "Like father like son, too, I gather."
Peter scowled for a second.
"I understand that they called you, 'Spooky' when you were first an FBI Agent, Mr. Mulder."
The agent countered, "I was warned that you are Mr. Sarcasm."
Peter feigned indignence. "Oh, that is so wounding. I only speak the truth and get labeled as a troublemaker."
Mulder flashed one of his trademark mile high grins, and chuckled, "Bishop, I think that you and I understand each other completely then. People don't like the truth. It makes them uncomfortable, and once the cat is let out of the bag, most of the masses yearn to be ignorant. But there is no undoing what was seen or heard. No putting the genie back into the bottle. I, too, sometimes wish I had not stuck my nose where it didn't belong. I thought I had wanted to know the truth. The truth would set me free; would absolve me of my guilt. When in the end, the quest consumed me and just about everyone I loved."
Peter nodded his head understandably, having nearly been undone by his own relentless drive to seek answers. "As they say, Agent Mulder: "Be careful what you wish for.'"
"I have a file on you, Bishop."
"Oh, really? Like that line wasn't what was used to drag me back here years ago, and now I am married to the woman who used it, we have a child, and we just might be working on baby number two. So, I'd be careful how you try to blackmail me, Agent Mulder. You might get more than you bargained for." Peter blinked his eyes rapidly and displayed a daring smirk.
"Who said anything about blackmail? It's a psychological analysis, and that is far more telling to me. It's an especially good story for a conman to marry the law. Instead of handcuffs, he's bound by a simple band of silver on his finger. Just how does that happen, Peter? I know how it did. I know lots of things about you," Mulder stood up as tall as he could, which allowed him to look slightly down at the cocky man before him.
Peter snorted a short laugh. "Now I am scared. You have a reputation for being a mind reader. A gift for understanding what makes a criminal mind tick. My wife—Agent Dunham—mentioned how she admires your work. You've personally caught some of the most demented minds, and consulted on countless famous cases. So, in all seriousness; why did the great 'Spooky' Mulder compile a profile for me? I've never been too much of a threat; a low man on the totem pole."
"Maybe Olivia wasn't lying to you after all, my friend. Your name was tossed onto my desk around 2000 for some serious mob connections. But you were mainly being watched simply for being Walter Bishop's genius son. There was concern that you would go rogue and the government was not sure what you knew about your father's genetic, disease, and parallel universes research. Given your intellectual capability and connections, there seemed to be some fear that you'd sell your services to the highest bidder."
"Which turned out to be absolutely for nothing. I bought my father's toothpaste formula cover story hook, line and sinker. And services? Well… if you call conducting shady deals with shady folks in shady places, and giving the occasional fuck in exchange for information, 'selling services,' that's all there was to it. So… what do you know about yours truly, since Olivia wasn't willing to divulge that information when I asked her many years ago. Tried my darndest to charm it out of her, as I smiled and batted my eyes while talking with her over coffee. But she convinced me that she had conned me with a nonexistent file."
Leave it to Olivia to use a real threat, only to make it seem like it was a ruse in order to avoid uncomfortable conversation. God, I love her.
"Let's just say when I first started it, it wasn't exactly flattering. For one thing, most people without such intimate knowledge about your life would be of the opinion that if you were really living up to your intelligence, you would have done just as the government had feared. Something prevented you from doing that, Mr. Bishop. A small, inner voice of integrity; you weren't willing to cross that line."
Be a better man than your father.
"I recently updated the profile, and it paints a pretty amazing progression. You were far from evil genius. Deeply wounded by your father's commitment to an asylum, and your mother's suicide, you were a man set adrift—a rebel—who relished the power of small-time crime, and the thrill of the many women that you could bed with your roguish charm and fat wallet. It was like a drug, and you increasingly needed more outlandish things to get your high. But then you got in over your head, and that wasn't fun. You wanted more than the girls you'd screw and never see again. You wanted to do something memorable. But you hated to hurt innocent people, and you would not betray your country. This is what I saw when I put the pieces of Peter Bishop's mind together at that time."
"Most humans need an anchor, something to hold onto. Or as I like to call it, a constant, or 'touchstone.' We need roots, a place to regroup in this harsh world. Having learned fully about you, and your origin, this file is way different. One would almost say you are not the same person. And that's true. You are not the same man that you were, Bishop. There was a stretch of your life where you were what anyone else needed you to be. You are now the man that you were meant to be. Hence, why I feel that you, Olivia, Walter, and Astrid are the only people that we can rely on to help us. Win me over, and I'll give you access to your coveted file. You won't even have to flirt with me to get it. But… I would take my own advice about what I wished for..."
Mulder decided at this point that it would be best to cut through shooting the breeze and get straight to the chase. He asked the younger man a question that he asked many people over the years—with varying degrees of responses—much in a tone that he had used with Scully many years ago when they had first met.
"Do you believe in the existence of extraterrestrials?" His left eyebrow arched as he posed a curious glance.
Peter knew about Mulder's other work, and far more than was published under 'M.F. Luder's' account of the X-Files called, I Want to Believe. His friend, Sheriff Mathis in Noyo County, Oregon had recommended the book to him. She was serious student of alien visitation and abduction. Many central events in Mulder's account took place in Oregon, a central hub for UFO activity and alien abductions. Peter made a mental note to get Agent Mulder's autograph for her later. Markham would likely offer Peter the keys to his store if he got to meet Mulder… and especially Agent Scully. He figured he'd spare Scully the trouble.
"Nothing is impossible Mr. Mulder. I've seen things that no human being should know, and experienced other realities. My wife has done amazing things that no one else can do. Hell, I am from a parallel universe, and made a bridge between this one and the other. So, the existence of intelligent life on other planets makes a hell of a lot more sense than not."
However, with that being said, I am of the opinion of Stephen Hawking. If there is intelligent life out there, that can get here, then I sure as hell don't want to know. If you've ever been a serious student of history—you've read Howard Zinn, maybe—you know that the technologically superior view less advanced peoples as merely creatures to be subdued and subjugated. We'd simply be nothing more than an ant colony to them, and those bigger, stronger, smarter ants would wipe us out and take our colony."
"It's funny that you chose that analogy, Bishop, because the threat of colonization is very real. It's been in place since first contact at Roswell. Cowardly men-in-high-places bought us more time, but in doing so, they also sold us down the river. All in an attempt to save their own sorry asses."
"If we don't stop what's coming, every man, woman, and child on the planet will be slave ants or dead ants. We need your help."
"Did you say that your name was Mulder, Sir?" Walter asked the tall agent as he came from the bathroom and sat down next to his son, which derailed the serious conversation. "Sorry, it took so long. When you get old, you get constipated."
Peter shot a mean glare at Walter because of the offhand remark, and Walter responded with one of his own, as he saw nothing wrong with sharing the reason for his delay.
"Yeah, it's Mulder. Fox Mulder," as he extended his hand out to the older Bishop. I am pleased to meet you Dr. Bishop. My wif… partner… thinks highly of you. And it's OK. Bathroom time is a good time to read."
"Yes, I always keep a copy of Hump handy. It has very interesting articles," Walter stated with a smile.
Peter wanted to crawl under a rock...
"Excellent choice, Dr. Bishop. One of my favorites as well," Mulder chuckled.
"Hmm… I think that I once worked on a project for a man named Mulder… William was his name, just like my friend Belly. Is he a relation, Mr. Mulder?"
Mulder paused for a moment before answering. "Not quite. I inherited his name, he raised me, I called him Dad, and I loved him. But I found out that I was not his biological son."
Both Peter and Walter exchanged knowing glances with one another. Peter, knowing all too well what it was like to learn that you had been deceived all of your life about your heritage, a fast flash of, "I am NOT your son," in his mind. But genetically, Walter was his father, and as far as Peter was concerned, the fact that he was his DAD was all that mattered.
"Since it's full disclosure, Agent Mulder, it's safe to say I have you beat in the Daddy issues department. Walter is my father, but isn't."
Mulder interrupted him. "Yeah… you are the other Earth version of his son… I heavily researched you all. The Fringe files had security clearances one wouldn't believe, certainly higher than anything in the X-Files. To be honest, I was a bit awed about some of the things I had read. I thought I had seen it all: flukemen, crazy diseases, mind control, time loops, werewolves, vampires, little green men…"
"Peter laughed and said, "Whoa. Stop. Did you just say 'werewolves' and 'vampires?' Really?"
"What? Are humanoid characters of the fantastic—which have been written off as delusional manifestations of the human mind—where you draw the line, Bishop? Yes, we humans have this long ingrained mental need to assign understandable meaning to things that we do not understand, but I assure you that these boogeymen are very real."
"I inserted a bit of my trademark sarcasm there, Spooky," Peter smirked. "I once watched a subpar Wes Craven werewolf flick called Cursed, which oddly enough had some actor—named Jackman, or Yackson, or something—that made me question if he was an alternate version of me. To be honest, he was the only redeeming factor about the film. Anyway, the whole time, I was laughing because it was NOT anything like real werewolf accounts."
"I am under the impression that maybe they could have just called you Mr. Smartass instead."
"Olivia has been known to call me her 'massive, pain-in-the-ass,' and I have dubbed myself 'dumbass' probably every day of my life. If she's anything like me, my daughter will probably often call me 'asshole' when she's a teenager, so what's one more ass moniker?"
Mulder laughed, and then Walter coughed to gain some attention.
"Would you like a Red Vine, Agent Mulder?" A little bit of sugar might be a good thing to tide us over until we go for dinner," Walter offered as he extended a wavy, red, twirly confection to Mulder.
Peter's eyes grew wide as he kept a personal rule about eating any food found in the lab, after one too many ear omelets and seizure-inducing milk surprises. "Walter. Just be sure those are the ones that you didn't spritz with that 'extra additive.'"
Mulder's eyebrow arched. "Extra additive?"
"Ah, Mr. Mulder. My father is a conosuier of the finer things in life. You have managed to catch him on a day where he has not yet imbibed. He is a great fan of Lysergic Acid diethylamide or as he says, "ripping open his consciousness."
"Umm… that's OK, I'm good. Thank you Dr. Bishop." Mulder shook a bag of SPITZ sunflower seeds in his hand. "I brought my own vice. I'm not a fan of recreational drugs. Also, I despise cigarettes with an abnormal passion."
"Suit yourself, Agent Mulder. I know that tripping isn't for everyone."
"Speaking of consciousness, Dr. Bishop, I suspect that there is a lot about your work with William Mulder, and another man, that you cannot remember. I understand that you suffer serious memory lapses, to the point of missing years. I can't even use hypnosis to retrieve those lost memories, but there may be some suppressed memories that we can unlock."
Just then, a moo echoed across the lab, which made Mulder stiffen, then shoot his head up to find the source. "Ethical test subject, I presume?"
Walter beamed, "Yes, that's my Gene."
"Hmm," Mulder grinned. "The aliens thought cows were ethical for tests. Then they moved on to humans."
"Sadly, Mr. Mulder—and I am not proud of this—but I moved from humans to cows…"
"Hence, why we need to unlock your mind, Dr. Bishop."
Astrid entered the office and set down some bags. As she took off her coat she nervously spoke, "Sorry for being late, everyone. The pie took longer than expected."
"Pie?" Mulder's interest was piqued.
Astrid looked at the older man and felt like a shy school-girl who had just met her favorite boy-band member.
Fox Mulder is talking to me. Pinch me.
"Asston?" Walter asked, eager for news about the pie.
"Oh, yeah. Sweet potato. We're gearing up the recipe for Thanksgiving."
"Fresh-baked sweet potato pie? My favorite." Oh, Agent Farnsworth, can I keep you?" Mulder flirted.
Astrid fainted into Peter's lap.