Ring of Posies - Olivia/Olivia - shades of peter

Date: 2011-06-13 09:00 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
He awakes at 2:15, the smell of sex and cheap cigarettes rank on his skin. Her body’s stretched out beside him, silk hair obscuring her features; the slope of her spine painted delicate blue with streetlight.

A sixth sense drives him to pull jeans on, stuffing his feet into boots and tying the laces haphazardly. He’s pulling the Henley over his shoulders when the light under the door flickers - shadows interrupting the narrow beam from the hallway – and it’s the only warning Peter needs. One hand on his hoodie the other on his weapon, he takes the fire-escape, both legs swinging over the rusty banister to drop ten feet to the ground. The impact jars his knees together, teeth clacking. From above, a door’s kicked in. “FBI! Freeze!”

Peter doesn’t know about the first. But freezing only implies you’re standing still when the bus hits. He hears Jess scream, startled, half awake. Peter takes a second to memorise them – two women, one blond the other red, similar size, similar shape, standing blurred in front of the bedroom window – then melts into the shadows.

***


It starts like this:

After three months of the Walter’s tearing their hair out and being talked from the brink of ‘self’ suicide they drum out a solution. It’s highly theoretical; it makes Olivia wonder why she never paid attention in science class, makes her curious if her double can actually parse this shit or if Dunham perfected a look of knowing out of self-preservation.

Olivia isn’t a scientist, she’s a soldier, and three months of twiddling her thumbs waiting for someone to find a solution has left her ratty, snide with boredom. To implement the solution they need to separate the worlds again, dismantle the bridge; and while Olivia’s double is a wunderkind - able to manipulate force-fields and catch objects with her mind - the Machine is not and never has been tailored to her particular brand of magic.

It leaves everyone in the bridge-room decidedly irritable.

“Picard!” Walter snaps his fingers, seemingly unaware of how Broyle’s jaw tightens at the moniker. “It’s a repeating DNA sequence, seen here, here, and here. The Machine is designed for a specific individual, it’s a map of the genome if you will.”

“That doesn’t tell us who the individual is,” Broyles says succinctly.

Astrid raises an eyebrow. “Did this individual create the bridge to begin with?”

Walternate’s supposition said the bridge formed when both realities finished assembling the Machine – that it was automated - a theory not as valid as they first assumed. “Good question with no answer, my dear, let’s move on shall we?” Walter rubs his hands together. “Do you suppose we could grow the specimen out of a vat, we have the DNA sequence if not the genetic sample?”

“No,” Dunham says flatly.

“But…” Dunham turns her head to stare at him, buttoned down pea-coat and golden wisps escaping the braid down her back.

Walter vibrates.

Olivia doesn’t think Walter’s afraid of Dunham but there’s a give and take to their relationship she finds hard to define. Olivia’s seen Walter’s arm; the flesh corrugated rough like melted plastic, withered from wrist to forearm. Olivia’s world has the technology to remove the scarring, but the Secretary’s failed to offer it to his double, and Olivia doesn’t think Walter would accept. He wears long sleeves for the most part; writes with his left hand, Olivia’s seen Dunham trail her fingers down his forearm, a soft caress over third degree burns. Walter’s not afraid of Dunham but there are certain boundaries he knows not to test; apparently growing a test-tube baby out of a vat is one of them.

“He’s got to exist *somewhere*,” Walter says.

The Secretary glances over, eyes hooded. “What do you propose to do? Set your infernal contraption up yet again, and tear apart more realities?”

“No,” Walter counters, his hand reaching for Dunham blindly. “Olivia can slip between realities without adverse effects, it’s how the cortexiphan gifted her.”

It’s been three months and Olivia’s not immune to the comparison syndrome.

Olivia comes from a team she loves, a mother she adores, she can hit a moving target from 1500 meters and she’s a qualified sharpshooter. None of these abilities ought to be sniffed at. None of them compare to a woman who can literally reach into her world from another dimension. Everyone on the bridge-team has done the inevitable self-comparison; eyed their double and thought what if? Olivia feels like her skin’s been rubbed raw; it makes her louder, cocky, more impatient. In opposition, Dunham’s locked down tighter than an oil drum. On the few occasions Olivia’s seen her angry or frustrated, the woman’s eyes flare amber green, bright as a forest fire. Walter might not be afraid of her but Olivia *is* and it makes her want to front up. She thinks Walter’s assistant summed it best, quiet, unassuming Astrid.

“It’s like the worst case of anorexia known to mankind, we’re all staring in the mirror and hating ourselves.”

*Dunham* is the one with the super-powers. The one with Walter Bishop’s unwavering belief, she’s the one with the stable world and the sister and niece to match. Olivia has better looking cargo pants and a cheerier disposition; she’s still weighing the pros and cons of this particular argument. Dunham’s eyes fix on the wall and Olivia wonders idly if she got the better deal after all.

***

“It’s like a rolodex of images,” Dunham tries to explain.

Intrigued, Walter asks, “The same image?”

“No.”

“And only when you approach the Machine?”

“From the first step onwards.”

“Always the same man?”

“Yes.”

Walter taps his pen against a pad, a rat-a-tat-tat as he keeps beat with the music. “You’ve never seen him before?”

“No,” Dunham replies evenly.

Olivia watches them, her arms folded. Walter’s desk is buried under snow-globes, the Doors playing so loudly Olivia can feel the bass in her chest. The older man slaps his hands against his knees, eyes bright as a child as he leans forward.

“Alright then. Imagine one of these worlds, Olivia, self-contained in its glass bubble. Now concentrate dear. Imagine what it is you wish to see, try to feel its location…” Dunham’s face washes blank, pale as a statue, kinetic energy replaced by something older, fundamentally still.

Olivia finds herself staring, and wants…

She wants to bring some animation back into those features; she wishes there was someone other than a madman for Dunham to confide in, to watch her back. She wants these things for her double because they’re things Olivia wants for herself and Dunham’s her, the mirror darkly. Olivia steps near, the decision simple, and hooks her finger into Dunham’s coat…

They materialise on a grassy knoll with the sky burnt sierra orange. Dunham stumbles, swinging around sharp and furious.

Olivia jumps back, voice terse, louder than she wants. “You don’t do this alone. It’s what team’s for, you understand?” Her hand rests against her hip, close to her weapon, a form of habit, and Olivia’s already scanning the new environment. “Besides, if you get to jump across universes so do I. Fair’s fair.” It’s competitive, childish, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of what Olivia’s trying to say.

Dunham looks away. “Trust me, being the sole focus of Walter Bishop’s regard isn’t a good thing.”

“And you envisioned a graveyard as the perfect getaway?”

Dunham turns a slow circuit. The place is dishevelled, over-run by weeds. The gravestones run in a jagged line like teeth; it’s eerily quiet, devoid of noise, unattended for years. Olivia leaves Dunham to rummage through the tombstones, hands brushing against masonry, crumbled stone, and walks to the nearest bluff, staring down at a quiet town nestled between mountain hilltops, the leaves turning red and gold and autumn brown.

“Here,” Dunham calls presently, her tone cautious. “Did the Secretary have a nephew or a son?”

Olivia turns away. “No. He’s a state official, the public bio’s pretty extensive and there was no mention of either.” She squats down beside the other woman, touches her fingertip against stone. “Peter Bishop. 1978-1985.”

There’s no further inscription, no sentiment or expulsion of grief. The words look bereft, terribly alone.

“I don’t think we’ll find anything here,” Dunham says quietly.

Olivia glances at her, the other woman’s face gilded by dying light, and wants to place her hand on her cheek, map the unwritten sorrows.

They rematerialise in the bridge-room. Olivia takes a breath, expands her lungs and chest then does it again. It occurs to her belatedly if Dunham actually hated her it was the perfect opportunity, to leave her behind, to abandon her, a less messy form of murder.

Dunham works her neck from side to side; she picks up the snow-globe she was previously studying and drops it in the bin.

***

He’s nearly at the end of the alleyway when the high whine of a bullet catches his forearm. He drops to his knees then scrambles upright, hurtling over the road and down a ditch. He uses his hands to claw up the other side, feet skidding in soft dirt and hears one of the woman yell out.

“No! Don’t!”

The second bullet kicks the dirt into his face and if Peter wasn’t impressed before he’s fucking alarmed now. That’s not a rifle the redhead’s wielding and they’re not exactly close.

He drops to his belly and rolls into the foliage. Know thy exits, Peter takes a second to orient himself and checks the clip in his gun. There’s blood leaking down his forearm, tacky and hot, but the pain won’t register until his body dumps the adrenalin surge. The blonde’s closest to him. Last Peter saw she was sprinting down the alleyway ahead of her partner. He slips through the trees, circling toward the waterways, trying to figure out just who the hell he’s pissed off now and what they want. Two against one, the available evidence suggesting the redhead’s a sharp-shooter – he hopes that makes the blonde the easier m
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