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beth writing 30 days without

Fic: To Belong Neither Here nor There, (1/1), K+


Title: To Belong Neither Here nor There
Author: maddie_amber
Rating: K+
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 “Over There, Part 2”  “I’m trying to see it your way, Walter.  I can’t.”  With those words Peter walked out into the darkness.
Spoilers: “Over There, Part 2”


To Belong Neither Here Nor There

“I’m trying to see this your way, Walter.  I can’t.  But.  You did cross universes twice to save my life.  So that’s got to count for something right?”


The pounding rain that had poured down endlessly since their return had finally subsided giving way to a heavy mist.  Not enough to soak through a heavy coat, but enough to leave a cloying feeling of dampness.  Puddles of water and rain slick sidewalks reflected the street lights and storefronts, causing the pavement to sparkle with the dancing lights and the night to brighten despite the rain.  But Peter Bishop did not see the dazzle nor did he feel the mist.  He had asked Astrid to take Walter home after politely eating the third piece of pie she placed in his hands.  Sweet Astrid.  What had she done to deserve an assignment like this?  No one should be asked to babysit Walter, yet she did so with infinite patience.  She fussed over the old man in much the same way Walter had been fussing since they re-entered the lab at Harvard.  Walter had spent an hour puttering around struggling to project an air of nothing-out-of-the-ordinary.  The older Bishop had stayed surprisingly straight, putting his nervous energy into his aimless activity.  Perhaps pretending nothing had changed was the only coping mechanism Walter had right now.  If all else fails, mimic normalcy.

But there was no longer a normal for Peter.  No number of pieces of pie would return the comfortable feeling this place and these people had once brought him.  It had taken two years to reach that stage of comfort, but that had been eons ago.  Before.  Before the revelation that would forever end his happiness here.  When he could no longer stand Walter watching him as though he were going to vanish he had excused himself.

He had spent the last two hours wandering aimlessly along the streets of Boston.  He had not seen this city on the other side, but he had seen New York and heard enough from Walter about the conditions in the other Boston on the trip back.  The older man had been surprisingly candid about what he had seen and the devastation that had been wrought in the city.  Peter could not look at a single structure, or pass a stranger on the street without wondering if their double on the other side was permanently encased in ‘quarantine amber’.  One mystery partially solved, he told himself thinking of one of the earliest cases they had investigated as Fringe Division.  It left a bitter taste in his mouth to think of the thousands entombed on the other side. 

Peter could not rid himself of a nagging sense of guilty responsibility.  Yes, all the psychiatrists in the world would assure him that none of this was his fault.  It wasn’t.  The logical part of his overactive brain told him as much.  But it could not convince him.  Indirectly, none of what had happened in two worlds would have happened without him.  His father had tried to place all the blame on Walter.  But much of what had happened on this side had been his father’s doing.  The shapeshifters, the chemical insanity that killed planes full of people or turned them into hedgehogs on hormones, busses full of solid amber had not completely been Walter’s doing.  How many of the horrors he had witnessed in the past two years been caused directly or indirectly by one of his ‘fathers.’

He had barely spoken to his true father, Mr. Secretary, outside of the formal meetings at his office.  The man had seemed genuinely pleased to see him, but there had been an undertone to all he said a hardness in his eyes, and a ruthless drive to achieve retribution.  He had no qualms about using his long lost son to pursue his own agenda.  That more than anything else, galled Peter.  So much heartache, so many lives destroyed for one man’s ruthless quest.  And he had been foolish enough to believe his father wanted his talent to end the madness.  He was just another tool in Mr. Secretary’s arsenal, the ultimate weapon in the war against this side.

The only person he had met over there that really mattered had been his mother.  As he thought of her he stopped momentarily.  A heart wrenching sadness swept over him.  He had been torn from her life a second time without warning much less a goodbye.  Of all the people on the other side who seemed concerned about his safety, only she had been concerned about him.  He would never forget the sound of her sobs as she held him for first time in twenty years.  And while his father pretended to need his help to save the world, she cooked him bacon and served him her precious coffee and asked about the childhood she had missed. 

The sadness etched in her eyes abated only slightly in his presence.  When she placed those damned blueprints in front of him had she known of Walternate’s intent to use him to catalyze a weapon intended to destroy a universe?  Or had she been an innocent pawn too?  Though pawn seemed too shallow a word to describe her, too weak a word.  She was an incredibly strong woman with a heart of steel and yet she seemed so frail.  Peter would never know what her life with his father had been like after he was kidnapped, but she implied it had been hell.  She was, after all, the one who had been duped, the one who had let Walter take him across universes.  A man who could hold a grudge for twenty years, and devote his life to retribution for a wrong, would not be one to forgive such a transgression.

If there had been one reason why he would have stayed over there it would have been to protect her.  To protect the mother he realized he missed with all his heart.  Her quiet encouragement, her guidance, and her steady calm tutelage of his wild, little boy genius had been absent from his life for ten years.  In that respect he sensed that both his mothers had been very much the same.  That made her loss, again, all the more painful.

He continued to walk, his mind cascading from one person to the next, his heart a battleground of confusing and colliding emotions.  Too much had happened.  Too much had been revealed.  Life would have been so much easier had he never learned any of this.  He paid no attention to where his feet were carrying him until he realized he had stopped in front of one of the local bars he and Olivia had frequented.  One of the few places he had seen her guard slip had watched her laugh openly with a sparkle in her eye at one of his stupid slight-of-hand tricks. 

He had no desire to enter, or to cloud his mind with alcohol.  Not his usual reaction, he thought, a wry twist of macabre humor ghosting across his lips in a sardonic smirk.  Though for a rash moment he considered it.  Perhaps the best tactic might be to drink enough to obliterate all thought.  Hell, it seemed to work well enough for Walter.  But right now he needed to understand and process the raw emotional response to all that had happened to him and for that he needed a clear head.  There would be time enough to obliterate his memories later.

Besides if he entered he would have to think about her.  Of all the tumultuous and overwhelming events of the past weeks the most startling revelation had been the one he now knew he had been hoping to hear for a long time.  Despite his insistence after the events in Jacksonville that he liked their little dysfunctional family the way it was and never wanted it to change, he knew that had been a cover up.  Words to hide his growing desire to have more of Olivia Dunham than just friendship.  He had never wanted to be her rebound relationship after the death of John Scott, but that was more than two years ago. 

Still, her admission had caught him completely off guard.  He was already emotionally numb from all that had happened to him, reeling from the realization that his true father saw him as little more than a weapon of mass destruction.  Earlier in the day he had told the alternate Olivia that there was something about his Olivia’s eyes.  ‘Haunted’ had been his description.  If Olivia’s eyes were haunted here, they had been agonized there.  He had never seen her so vulnerable as in those few moments.  The feel of her lips still burned on his, and yet his response had been almost catatonic.  He should have enfolded her in his arms, sworn his undying love and never let her go instead he had barely held her, barely responded to her kiss, little more than a statue in her arms.  But she had succeeded.  He followed her to the opera house.  He followed her back to this side, though the last leg of their journey she had seemed oddly different, distant. 

She had slipped away as soon as she had the chance, claiming exhaustion.  He had said nothing to her about the words or the kiss they had exchanged unsure now of how they had been intended or taken. Her actions over there had probably been a desperate ruse to lure him back to this universe knowing full well that he would follow her.  She was right about one thing.  He belonged with her, because he did not know where else to go. 

* * *

The hotel door closed behind him with a soft swish and a muffled metallic thud.  He slipped the deadbolt in place, knowing full well it would not stop Newton or anyone else from the other side should they choose to follow him.  The blandness of the decor was just like every other hotel room in a long string of rooms he had rented in the past month. Perhaps, he hoped, the very dullness would lull him to sleep. After walking for hours he was exhausted in both mind and body, but he did not want to go back to the house he shared with Walter.  His heart had begged him to go to Olivia.  In the end he had come here. 

Sitting on the edge of the bed he sighed deeply.  Peter set his cell phone on the bedside table.  It was almost three in the morning.  If Walter had stayed out of the drugs, he would be wild with worry about his extended absence.  A simple text message would put Walter’s mind at rest but Peter was not sure he cared enough or was ready to make the effort.  But while Peter was not sure he owed Walter anything any longer, he did owe Astrid.  She had enough to cope with.  Walter, frantic with concern that he would disappear, did not have to be one of those things.

Peter picked up the phone and quickly sent Astrid a message.  “Staying in the city tonight.  Tell Walter.  Good night, Astrid.  Thanks.  Good pie by the way.”

Turning off the phone he returned it to the table then lay back on the bed willing his mind to blankness and his body to relax.  The great aching sorrow that had consumed him might never go away.  For tonight, all he hoped for he hoped for was dreamless sleep.