Orchid – A Fringe/Human Target Crossover. Set midway through season 3 of both shows. Written for the Fringe Big Bang 2011. Thanks to Chance for the Beta Reading.
I own neither Fringe, nor Human Target. Rated T for some scenes of violence.
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PACIFIC GROVE, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA
Ronald Graham sat in his house overlooking the beach. It was a cool late autumn morning and the sun had yet to warm the chill from the air so a thin mist hung suspended, obscuring the view of the end of the garden, and beyond, the Pacific Ocean. Though it felt chilly, the sky was limpid and brilliant blue promising a beautiful, clear day ahead. Graham was sat at his desk, and his wife, Alison, was sat on the couch behind him fidgeting nervously. Next to her, taking notes and examining a number of letters, was Pacific Grove Deputy Sheriff Hank Andrews. Andrews was a large, black, open-faced man with wise eyes and twenty five years of law enforcement experience in California. He looked over the letters with an eye for detail.
"How many of these do you have?"
"Two dozen, at a guess. They started about three months ago, and I'm getting one every few days now." He passed another bundle of letters to Amos. "They've gotten more threatening in the last week or two though."
Andrews nodded sagely. Pacific Grove was a quiet, pretty little 19th century town and crime was largely petty and tourist-related. It was only 50 miles south of the Bay Area, but in crime terms, it might as well have been a million. The quiet life and attractive locale had been the primary attraction for Andrews when he moved down from San Francisco, and it disturbed him when he had to deal with anything other than pickpockets and con-men. These letters? Well, they were pretty explicit and very definitely threatening. Andrews flicked through them as Graham and his wife watched. All of them had been printed rather than hand-written, though each was hand-signed with just the numbers 1 and 9.
"You know who this might be?" Andrews held one of the letters up. "I ask, because these are pretty personal and very angry for a casual aquaintance."
Graham rubbed his hands through his thinning hair. He was a slight man, with expensive, round-rimmed glasses and a high forehead framed by wisps of strawberry blond hair. He was a veterinary surgeon, and had lived in Pacific Grove for four years. He was quiet, well-liked, as vets usually are, and no-one really knew much about his past.
"I've not got a clue. I used to work in research – it's pretty cut-throat. Maybe it's someone who lost out on a research grant...?" Graham looked at his wife, who sat on the couch, hands clasped tightly in her lap. Andrews noticed the glance, but didn't say anything.
The letters were pretty generic and Andrews could really only ascertain from the content, that the author felt that Graham had done him a great personal wrong, and that he or she felt Graham had run off, rather than take any responsibility and done something about it. The earliest letter was more pleading, almost conciliatory, but the most recent was very definitely threatening. The author was coming, he or she promised, and they were going to ensure that Graham complied, by whatever means were necessary. The lack of details though, the allegations hinted at but never described, left the correspondence maddeningly vague. They felt like letters from someone with a fear that too much information would aid in his or her discovery, but who were sure Graham wouldn't contact the police, or if he did, would provide no pertinent information. It troubled Andrews. The big lawman bundled the letters together and handed them back to Graham, who seemed reluctant to take them back, holding them as you might hold a pot full of scalding hot water. Andrews coughed and tried to smile at Mrs Graham, who returned it with even less enthusiasm.
"Dr Graham, these feel like they're written by someone who knows you, or at least knew you pretty well and has a very explicit agenda against you. I suggest you think back and try to figure out who it might be. We can then pay them a visit, as these qualify as threatening behaviour. As it is, all we can do at the moment is send a patrol car past your house in the evening."
Graham stood up.
"Are you serious? This guy is threatening my life. He's threatening my Wife. All you're going to do is send a patrol car down the road once a night?"
Andrews looked at Graham carefully. He was terrified. The letters were unpleasant, and the threats fairly explicit, but Graham's reaction seemed over-the-top given the vagueness of the content. It wasn't as if they contained graphic depictions of what the unknown writer would do to Graham. Still, people dealt with these things differently, but the immediate indignation made Amos suspicious. Just what did the writer of the letters think that Graham had done?
"Well, first of all, we don't know who this is a man, do we?" Graham sat down slowly, looking at his feet guiltily as Andrews continued. "Second, until we have a name, and you claim that you don't know who it is, then what are we supposed to do? Who do we arrest?" He looked from Graham to his wife and back, the feeling growing that there was something here he wasn't being told. "That's the best we can do. If you feel that vulnerable, you could think about re-locating temporarily."
Alison Graham shook her head.
"No Ronald. We're settled here. We both have careers here. We're not moving again." Graham shot her a glance and she immediately looked down at the ground. Andrews noticed it, and the word again, and it underlined his earlier feelings of unease that he was only getting half a story. The Deputy eased his bulk off the couch. He'd had enough of being jerked around.
"Dr Graham, Mrs Graham, I don't know what you're involved in, but Mr or Mrs 1 & 9 seems to think that you owe them something, and they are getting increasingly desperate and angry. My suggestion is that you disappear for a few weeks until your memory returns and you give us a name." He looked at Alison Graham directly and continued. "If that doesn't appeal, then you could always consider private security, if you have the money."
Graham examined Andrews' face, sizing up whether to ask the next question.
"Do you have someone you could recommend, should we decide to do that?"
Andrews fished out his wallet and took out a business card, handing it over to Graham.
"I worked with this guy when I was in the San Francisco PD. He now runs a private security firm. They're good, but they're used to rather higher profile cases, and they're not cheap." Andrews hitched his gun belt and started slowly for the front door as Alison thanked him for his time and escorted him out. Ronald Graham looked at the card and read the details printed on it.
Laverne Winston – Private Security Consultant.
He reached over and picked up the telephone.