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beth writing 30 days without

Fic: Never the Same (1/1) Rating: K+

Venturing into a new fandom, this is my first attempt at "Fringe" Fiction. 

: Never the Same
Author: maddie_amber
Rating: (some language)
Disclaimer: Fringe and all the characters belong to someone else only the plot belongs to me. No in’fringe’ment intended.
Summary: Tag to episode “Jacksonville”
Spoilers: “Jacksonville”

Never The Same

The black SUV whispered into silence as she turned the key in the ignition killing the engine. She sat for a moment collecting her thoughts, somewhat startled by the odd flutter in her middle. She glanced in the rear view mirror, tucking a stray strand of blond hair behind her ear and assessing her appearance one more time.

“Stop preening, Dunham,” she told herself as she took a deep breath. He’s seen you looking about as bad as you can look any given number of times, she thought.

Still the odd nervousness was something she hadn’t felt in a long time. Something she didn’t think she would ever feel again. Not after John. She felt like a school girl on her first date.

Not a date, she reprimanded herself. Just a couple of friends having a couple of drinks. Nothing more.

She glanced towards the house. The glow from the windows was a warm invitation. She saw a figure move across the front window. Walter, she observed, imagining how Peter would explain their ‘not date’ to his father. She had almost forgotten her anger with the older Bishop. When she had realized the true extent of what he had done to her and other children in the guise of scientific experimentation, she had been furious. His actions had amounted to little more than abuse. Yet she found it difficult to maintain her anger. He may have been a callous young man, but that was many years ago. His demeanor now was itself often childlike. Only rarely did the arrogant young man surface. She wondered if he truly understood what he had done so many years before.

Stepping out of the car, she walked to the front door. From the other side she heard a muffled exchange between Peter and Walter and wondered what they might be saying. Raising her hand she rapped sharply on the door, then heard the approach of footsteps.
She tried to keep the giddy schoolgirl grin off her face as the door swung open.

“Hey,” Peter said, a broad grin lighting his face.

“Hey,” she answered as she stepped inside.

Olivia saw Walter peak tentatively at her from the doorway to the kitchen. There was an odd look on the man’s face. Apprehension, or was it terror, sadness, contrition. All battled to control his countenance.

“Come on in,” Peter had continued. “I know a great place. It’s just a couple blocks away. Shall we walk?”

“Agent Dunham,” Walter’s tentative greeting momentarily distracted her. She tore her eyes from Peter for the briefest moment. And when she looked back her heart stopped.

“I’ll go get my coat,” Peter said as he turned and rushed up the stairs.

But not before she saw the ghostly shimmer that momentarily blurred his face turning it into a shattered image, shattering her heart as it did. She froze, hands stuffed in the pockets of her jeans, tears filling her eyes. She stared dumbly at the empty stairs.

“Olivia,” Walter begged in a soft voice. Like an errant child who knew he had done wrong, but was not going to apologize. “Please don’t tell him.”

She turned on the man, not sure what emotion played on her face, but her look forced him to step backward. Walter knew this would happen when he attempted to stimulate her cortexiphan response. He knew. How long had he carried this secret? A secret he’d kept from Peter as well. Had he intentionally done this to her so he didn’t have to bear the burden alone any longer?

Olivia stood with her back pressed to the door breathing hard and fast. Walter knew. The old son of a bitch knew that Peter was from the other side. She felt as though her entire world had been turned upside down in the blink of an eye. Felt as though she’d been punched in the gut and slammed to the ground. Peter was from the other side. The Peter she’d come to trust with her life. Her companion in fighting the danger from the other side was part of that side. The man she’d begun to think, to hope, might someday be something more than simply a friend.

She continued to breathe deeply. Wanting desperately to run and pretend she hadn’t seen that ghostly shimmer. Peter. What was she to do now? Her stunned mind churned through the endless possibilities and what ifs. How could she pretend she didn’t know? Did she have the right or the obligation to tell Peter the truth, or did she play along with Walter? How could she go anywhere with Peter and pretend nothing had changed? How could she sit with him and laugh at his silly card tricks and as though nothing was different? How could she ever look into his dear face again and not reveal what she knew?

“Olivia,” Walter pleaded again gently touching her forearm with the tips of his now shaking fingers. “Please. He doesn’t know. It’s not his fault. Only me. My doing.”

There wasn’t time for him to say more. A sharp rap sounded at the door behind her caused her to jump. At the same time Peter came down the steps. She would have said he bounced he seemed so eager and happy.

“Astrid,” Peter said grinning again. “Here to challenge Walter to a game of Monopoly.”

He reached past Olivia to open the door. She did not look at him her eyes fixed on Walter who squirmed under her steady gaze. She felt Peter brush against her, warm and real and no different. She stood rigid with anger and confusion, afraid to look at him and confirm what she had seen.

Astrid slipped through the door. Her arms filled with board games as though she were prepared for a lengthy siege.

“Thanks again,” Peter said planting a kiss on top of Astrid head.

Walter’s face split in a grin. “Off you two go.” He made pushing motions with his arms. “Off. Off. Have fun.”

How could he pretend nothing had changed? Olivia continued to stare at him not wanting to see that wretched blue schism that had marred Peter’s face.

For a brief second Astrid looked at her quizzically, and had opened her mouth to say something when Walter stepped between them, practically pushing them out the door. She felt Peter slip his arm around her shoulders and guide her outside and down the steps. Glancing over her shoulder she saw Walter framed in the door, his face a muddled mask of contrition, confusion and delight, as though he thought he should be ashamed of something, but didn’t quite remember what. He waved the way a small child would wave to a departing parent, then turned and followed Astrid into the house.

Peter was talking to her, but she had not been listening. “…you’re gonna love this place. Great atmosphere. Fantastic food.”

She was aware that his arm still rested around her shoulders, and that she still had her own hands rammed deep in her pockets. She looked at his feet, keeping pace with her own, matching his stride to hers. They fit so well. And the thought made her heart ache.
Everything had changed.

Staring at his feet she realized that he was still solid. Not a shimmering blue ghost. She glanced up at him through a fall of blonde hair. For that brief instant he still looked like the same Peter. She made her decision then. For this one evening she would say nothing to him. She would keep Walter’s secret for a few hours more. She would pretend that they were just two friends out for drinks after a long day. That maybe they might some day be something more. She would allow herself to dream that dream for this one evening. She would silently bear the crushing sorrow that made her feel like she had lost another loved one, suppress the boiling anger at being so blatantly deceived.

Tonight she would pretend because she knew after this evening, nothing would ever be the same again.