Days Gone By
First there was the one who challenged
All my dreams and all my balance
She could never be as good as you
You could be my unintended
Choice to live my life extended
~Muse – Unintended
Disclaimer: I do not own Fringe, and I do not own the characters, but I do own this plot for this fan-based story.
A/N: I figured my little come-back to writing fanfiction, even if it's in a limited bases for now, would be with an old flame of mine! Fringe! More specifically Leeham! I'll always miss Alt!Lincoln, and I was very sad by his death... but I'm not the type of person to completely change canon like that. Anyway, "our" Lincoln is still Lincoln, as I mentioned before in an AN in my story "Substitute", so I figured with enough exposure to "over there" and Fringe Division, he'd sort of become like a blend between "our" universe and "over there"!
This is the story of how "our" Lincoln adapted to the "other" side and ended up being the confident person we saw in the season 5 episode called "Liberty". Starts out exactly where the bridge collapse leaves them off. Just so you know, I have classes and work so I don't have a whole lot of time on my hands to update, so expect an update at least twice or three times a week or so, maybe more depending on how fired-up I am.
Rating: T – but that may change in the future. If it does, I'll put a warning at the top of the chapter so you can skip it if you so chose to do so.
Inspired by music: Muse – Unintended
They say the brain processes images to one tenth of a second. They also say the brain is made up of about a hundred billion cells, all interlinked and working together. It is much like they say the universe is split up into interlinked alternates, all woven together like a tapestry. That being said, the vast amount of networked neurons and cells in the brain allow us to process about twenty billion calculations of information at any time.
This was just almost too much to process. First there was just one universe, one thread in the intricately woven pattern of existence. Acknowledging that there are many of us, making different choices, occupying the same space, all happening at once, in itself was a huge leap. But to then accept that one of those universes had been figuratively and then literally linked together by a machine created to destroy or give life – depending on who you asked – to heal the other? Well, it would be enough to make anyone's brain, despite how efficient it was, to fry in a split second!
But at that very moment, the red-headed Olivia Dunham couldn't be bothered by that. To her, all those bits of trivia and facts were useless drabble. To her, staring at her other self, remembering to just "keep looking up" made her smile, and at the same time, gave her a pang of regret, guilt for what she had done to her alternate. It also made her a little sad to see her go. She thought of Walter then, how different he was to the Secretary of Defense that she had met a handful of times now. This Walter was unpredictable, wild, and oddly charming. She regretted fooling him as well, as she had come to enjoy spending time with him. She would miss him. She would miss all of them! Astrid with her care-free, cheerful and optimistic attitude to the world, and even Gene! That cow that Walter kept, that seemed to be able to read minds and moo at just the right moments. She would, she would miss them.
And then there was the Secretary's son. Olivia hadn't met Peter before, she didn't think, but she felt something strange when she was around him. The closest thing she could describe it as was that he felt right and at the same time wrong. She knew he was from a different "timeline", as opposed to a different universe like they had all thought at first, but that wasn't it. He didn't feel right in her universe... which was ironic since a different version of him belonged there, and in that different timeline so did he. At the same time, she felt the oddest sense of guilt when around him as well. She could not recall ever doing anything to him to inspire that sort of feeling though, but at moments it was as though she felt like she knew him at one time. Then again, she was part of Fringe Division. So who knew?
Ah, but that just left one other person. He had just told her that he would stick around, making the excuse that he could "help" them. She could not deny that learning that he would be staying, pulled away from his own realm of existence, his own universe, to help her– to help Fringe Division, was a great source of comfort for her. She had been partners with his alternate for close to a decade it seemed, and had been at his funeral – the thought making her eyes burn for a moment – but she couldn't have imagined that she would have formed a bond with this man, this man standing right by her side. But then, it made complete sense. As different as they seemed, they were essentially the same person, right?
In a brilliant yet oddly fuzzy flash, the other universe, the 'prime' universe as some had called it, vanished. It took Olivia by surprise for a moment, how quickly it had happened. A fear so terrible it made her immobile gripped her heart for a second. Was he next to her still? She could not bring herself to look. How could he have just gone with them instead of disappearing into his rightful universe with the rest? They had parted onto their own "sides" as more of a symbol than anything else. Surely his own universe would have pulled him in, right?
And then she heard a sound she would have never thought she would be so happy to hear. A soft sigh, a soft breath of a man still very much in that universe with her. Turning to look at him, she noticed the reason for his almost weary exhale. He looked lost, troubled. Feeling guilt once again for having such selfish thoughts, Olivia hadn't stopped to consider what he could be feeling at that moment. After all, he had just lost his entire universe with everything he had ever known. Unable to resist the urge, Olivia placed her hand on her friend's shoulder, hoping to comfort him, or at least show him that she was there and would support him.
Lincoln Lee had been so deep in thought, so lost in wondering if he had made a mistake asking Walter to do this for him, that he had forgotten where he was for a second. Feeling the hand on his shoulder made him jump inwardly. He turned slightly to look at the beaming smile of the red-head. Suddenly the words he had told Peter came to mind. His heart had found its home. A wave of relief, of the feeling that he was in the right place, by her side, filled the hole that he hadn't noticed had been in his heart. His old partner had spoken to him about finding what tethered him to the world, well, he now knew he had found his link. Lincoln could see the questions in her eyes, and hoped his reassuring smile would let her know that he planned to share answers soon. Olivia hadn't missed the look he gave her and nodded in acceptance.
Footsteps walking toward them drew them to the attention of Secretary Bishop. In stark contrast to the lively and eccentric Walter they knew, Bishop was somber and serious, his features firm and steps assured. "Secretary." Lincoln and Olivia both acknowledged him with a polite nod, and slightly straighter postures.
"Agents," Bishop greeted back. He turned his attention to Lincoln, his brows meeting in a critical stare. "Agent Lee, I assume my alternate had a hand in your continued stay?"
"Yes, Sir." Lincoln fidgeted slightly under the older man's gaze.
Bishop thought for a moment. If this young man was anything like his previous version, he would develop into an important asset to Fringe Division. It would make sense to allow him to remain. Unfortunately, there was very little known about this Lincoln Lee and he no doubt had had different training. In any case, they would have to deal with processing him soon enough anyway. "I will need a full report on that as soon as possible. Now, since you are a new and permanent fixture to this universe, we will now of course have to decide what to do with you."
"I'm sorry – we?" Lincoln questioned.
"I must inform my superiors, including the president, that there is now another Lincoln Lee. If you are going to continue to serve Fringe Division, steps must be taken to avoid confusion. You have people you report to, and so do I," Bishop explained. "I hope you understand that you can never go back to your universe. I hope you made the right decision, son," Bishop added in a softer tone. It was moments like this that anyone would be able to see there was still a kind man, just like Walter from the other universe, deep inside of him, even though his exterior was always hard and business-like. "We'll be watching you, Agent Lee. I hope you understand that you're still an unknown variable to us. Until you can be tested, you will need to be escorted."
"Am I a prisoner?" Lincoln asked, thankful that his voice didn't waver. He had no illusions that his choice to remain in this universe wouldn't come with consequences. He just hoped they wouldn't immediately dismiss him as just a "copy" or "replacement" for the Lincoln Lee that they had lost.
Bishop's lips quirked into a very fleeting smile. "No, you're not a prisoner. However, as this is sudden and we can not risk you being seen without proper identification. We will have to have you stay at Fringe headquarters for the time being. There are cells with beds that you can use. You are not a prisoner, but for the time being that will have to do, understand?"
"Yes sir, I understand," Lincoln nodded, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose nervously.
Bishop noticed Agent Dunham give the young agent a reassuring smile. "Alright then. I will leave you in Agent Dunham's capable hands. Come Agent Farnsworth, I need your assistance with some calculations. We have a bit of an amber mess to continue cleaning up," Bishop turned and lead the other agents through the gate, leaving agent Dunham to him.
Olivia turned to Lincoln and grinned. "So!" She began, giving him an expectant look.
Lincoln knew what she wanted to know. "How did I stay?" He figured if she was as inquisitive as her alternate, she'd want to know everything. He knew he would.
"Yep!" Olivia answered with a slight eager rock on her heels, just shy of popping the P.
"Do you remember when Walter told us that each universe vibrated at different frequencies?" He began. When Olivia nodded, he continued. "Well, as you know my... my former universe, vibrated at a C, this one at a G... he used the same process David Jones used to change peoples' frequency signatures to change mine. That was the only way I would be able to go with you- I mean to stay in this universe," he amended quickly. He could feel his ears burning and just hoped he wasn't blushing too much.
Olivia studied him for a moment, the smile never having left her face. "Well I'm glad you're here," she told him honestly.
Lincoln relaxed and smiled back, "me too". Despite the troubles that would surely come his way, despite not having anything, despite this being incredibly risky, depending on whether or not who he longed to be with reciprocated the feeling, he truly was happy he made this decision. Back "home", he didn't feel needed or wanted anymore. Sure, Broyles had said that he was needed, but he wasn't really. Lincoln had been an agent, but there were plenty of agents there, he was just an extra warm body to fill the room and do some paperwork – he wouldn't really be needed. Here though... here he felt like he belonged a lot more than in his birth universe. Whether it was because he actually had someone who needed his support, or because he was "filling in" for someone who had "left", it didn't matter to him.
At this very moment, this was right.
After the rather silent ride back to Fringe headquarters, Lincoln was directed to a holding cell. Olivia approached him once more, glancing around the cell in distaste. The walls were a dark color and bare, the 'bed' was a sheet of thick metal, there was a steel table and uncomfortable looking chairs by them, and the place smelled of cleaning fluids trying to mask blood and sweat. "I'll see about getting you some basic comforts," she assured him.
Lincoln glanced around and shrugged. "It's fine... I don't need much," he told her.
"You could at least use a blanket and some pillows," Olivia's nose scrunched at the visage of the cold steel horribly uncomfortable looking excuse for a bed. "You're not a prisoner, so I won't have them treat you like one," she insisted. Just then an armed guard walked over, an apologetic look on his face. "Oh no, no way," she gritted her teeth slightly.
"I'm sorry, but I have orders to watch over Agent Lee," the dark-skinned man said softly. No doubt he had heard the conversation and felt guilty. Not that he'd refuse to obey an order from the Secretary of Defense himself regarding a potential risk.
"Why?" Olivia demanded. She'd be damned if her friend was going to be treated like a common criminal!
"It's fine, Olivia, I get it-" Lincoln began, but was cut off.
"-The hell it's fine!" She snapped at the poor guard, who seemed to shrink a little.
"I'm sorry, ma'am. Secretary Bishop doesn't want to take any chances until he is evaluated..." The guard insisted.
"'Liv..." Lincoln began. This caught Olivia's attention. She glanced at him, her lips quirking into a small smile, momentarily forgetting what she had been angry about. Momentarily. This was the first time she heard this Lincoln call her by her nickname. "It's really okay. I can handle a little supervision for a while. I'll take the 'evaluation' and prove I'm not a threat or anything. Secretary Bishop already told me before that I would be watched, remember?"
Olivia sighed silently and nodded. "Alright, but-" she turned to the guard, "-he is not a prisoner, understand?"
"Yes, ma'am, if he needs something we'll get it for him," the guard agreed hurriedly.
"That's not what- ugh, alright whatever," Olivia threw her hands up. If she continued to argue she would just make a simple situation worse than it was. She turned again to Lincoln and smiled a little less upbeat than what was normal for her. "I'll see you tomorrow, okay? 'Pretty sure you'll have a big day ahead of you... get some rest. I'll be back with some blankets."
"Good night, Oli- ...'Liv," Lincoln smiled back, remembering to call her by her nickname. He hadn't missed her happiness to the friendly name. He just hoped he could become as good a friend to her as his alternate had been... or, possibly... maybe... something more, in the future? He hoped he wasn't holding his breath on that. If the... other Olivia, hadn't seemed to have much interest in him, and this Olivia hadn't seen her Lincoln as more than a "shoulder to cry on", then where did he stand?
As if to answer, Olivia paused from leaving, looking back over to him one last time. The look she gave him was as though she were making sure that he was really there, that he wasn't a figment of her imagination and not about to disappear. It gave him some hope. They smiled once more at each other before she turned again and walked out. Once she had left, Lincoln closed the door to a crack for more privacy and loosened his tie. With another weary sigh, he sat on the frigid, hard steel slab and leaned back against the wall, his forearm covering his face, thoughts racing.
This was going to be a long new life.
End A/N: There you have it, the first chapter to my new story since one of my other ones were stolen. I hope the new security measures FFNET implemented will ward off more thefts. Anywho, I hope you enjoyed this first chapter! I decided to write this after rewatching all of Fringe recently. I'm not the type of person that usually likes to completely change canon, so I'll try to keep things as in character, including universe-wise, as I can. If you notice anything off, including grammar or spelling, please let me know so I can fix it! That being said, please let me know what you thought of this! I value input, good or bad, immensely! Shout-Outs will be at the bottom!