You're not sure what prompted you to pick the bullet up from the tray and put in into your pocket. By all means, you should be revolted by it. But as you sit on the bench in the hallway of the hospital, waiting and waiting and waiting for the doctor to clear Olivia, you find your hand in your pocket, turning the small, deformed piece of metal over and over and over again in your fingers.
You take it out of your pocket, letting it lie in the palm of your hand, and stare at it. It seems so... innocuous, like this. Just a lump of misshapen metal. Nothing like the bullet that almost took your entire world from you so short a time ago. Nothing like the slug that left an angry, gaping crimson hole in the middle of the forehead of the woman you love. Reality is a matter of perception, you suppose.
You didn't think it was possible to love anyone more than you love her. But you find out you were wrong when she tells you she's pregnant, and your heart swells.
The bullet that saved the world almost took yours from you... and you didn't even know how big it was.
It startles you, the day that you realize that she's taken the bullet, and put it on a chain, and is wearing it around her neck. Truth be told, you'd forgotten you had kept it... Slipped it back into the pocket of your jacket when the doctor had told you she was ready, and hadn't thought about it again. She must have found it there.
You don't know how she can stand to wear it... you can barely stand to see it that close to her again, as if it's taunting you with its former purpose. You say as much to her, and her response is to smile, and pull you close to her, threading her fingers through your hair comfortingly as she whispers her answer- that it reminds her of how far you've come, of everything you've lost and regained again and again, and that against all odds the two of you have made it this far. And maybe... just maybe that means that it's meant to be.
You can't help but smile at that, pulling her even closer than she already is, and kissing her senseless.
At some point after Etta's born she stops wearing it, the grabby little hands of a toddler making it more of a choking hazard than anything else. But it's stored carefully in her jewelry box, and more than once you find her sitting in your bedroom after Etta's gone to sleep for the night, holding it by the chain and just gazing at it, and you're guilty of the same thing.
You know she meant to put it back on once Etta was bigger, less apt to randomly clench her hands around things. But then the invasion happens, and your little girl disappears, and both of you are too consumed by grief to even think about a small misshapen lump of metal on a chain.
And when you end up separated and ambered, you in the lab and she in New York, the bullet that saved the world sits at the bottom of a jewelry box, all but forgotten.
Your little girl's gone.
There are no words for this pain, this heart-breaking, gut-wrenching agony that has taken you over and is tearing you apart from the inside out. To find her after so long, and then lose her again... What kind of father can't protect his daughter? Not once, but twice?
As you stand there, watching the building that you escaped just a scant few moments ago disappear completely and take your daughter with it, the slight rasp of metal on metal draws your attention, and you glance down to see Olivia's hand tighten around a metal chain- the one you bought so short a time ago, to replace the one that Etta had donated, the one that carried that damned bullet.
Olivia was wrong, you decide, when she said it was a symbol of everything the two of you have overcome. It's nothing more than a curse, the universe's way of taunting both of you with everything that you can't have, no matter how hard you try.
Because the bullet that saved the world couldn't save your little girl.
As you sit there in the pouring rain, hunched over with Olivia's arms wrapped around you, your mind slowly reverting to being human again, your fingers curl around the object that she placed into your palm in place of the Observer tech, though it takes you a few moments to realize what it is.
You hand tightens around it, your brain flooding itself with a wave of emotions as it readjusts itself from the grip that the tech had on you, and in a moment you are bombarded with a flood of memories, memories of your little girl, of the woman you love, of every moment the three of you have spent together, and in that singular moment you know that Olivia was right.
Emotion is a human being's greatest strength.
And so you cling to the woman that you love, and to the bullet that almost took her from you a lifetime ago, and clench your jaw as you become human again.
And the bullet that saved the world saves you.