Disclaimer: I only wish that I owned Fringe, so I could have them make another 100 episodes.
When they pulled up to the scene, there were already a half dozen other units there, all keeping back as they'd been told to. Walter was bouncing up and down in the back seat like a kid on his way to Disney World. Olivia threw the car into Park quickly and was about to jump out of the car, almost forgetting that she had two other people there with her.
At the last second she stopped, turning back towards Peter. She knew that she'd been the one who'd asked them to come, but now she was realizing that she was uncomfortable with the arrangement. They were unknown variables, after all – especially Walter. She needed them there, of course, and that in itself made her uncomfortable as well. She disliked the loss of control that came with needing others. She always had.
"I need you two to stay here," she told Peter firmly, then focused an even more serious look on Walter's giddy face for several seconds, attempting to make him see that this wasn't supposed to be fun, as he seemed to think. It was difficult to determine if he was actually listening, however. He looked far too excited to be understanding the seriousness of the situation, which would be exactly what she would expect out of the scientist. She could imagine it now: Peter would look away for a second, Walter would see something he thought was "Splendid," and then he'd slip off to investigate it and end up in harm's way. It was exactly how things could go – if not worse – if she didn't make sure he understood the dangers.
"Walter, did you hear me?"
She continued to fix her intense stare on him until he nervously met her eyes, nodding seriously and uttering the words, "I hear you, Agent Dunham. I'm to remain in the car with Peter and wait until I'm told to get out. For my own safety, of course." Nodding with as much confidence as she could have that someone like Walter would actually hold himself to his promise, she looked back at Peter.
The look he was giving her was a mix of understanding and… amusement? Why would he be looking amused? she wondered. He should understand the seriousness of what we're doing…
Peter watched as her face quickly clouded over with confusion. Does she really not think I understand how to handle myself in this kind of situation? he wondered. She knew about his past – some of it, anyway – and that should have been enough to tell her that he had pretty good judgement around people who could be dangerous. If he hadn't, he wouldn't still be alive, after all.
"I'll keep my eye on Walter, don't worry," he told her before she could say anything.
She nodded slowly at him as well, but he could tell that there was something else she wanted to say. He waited patiently for her to gather her thoughts, knowing that it wouldn't be long. "Peter," she began less than a minute later, "try not to find yourself in the middle of things…"
He raised his eyebrows at her, pretending that he was offended. He was actually touched by her concern for his safety, but he held back a smile. He couldn't help but give her a hard time. It was just too much fun. "Agent Dunham, are you suggesting that I would put myself purposely into danger?"
Looking back at him evenly, she replied slowly, as if she was choosing her words very carefully. There was more than a hint of sarcasm in her voice. "Oh no, of course not. However, while I may not have known you very long, somehow it wouldn't surprise if that kind of thing just tended to… happen to you. But not because you went out of your way looking for danger."
He grinned back at her innocently, as if he had absolutely no idea what she was talking about, as Walter looked back and forth from one of them to the other in confusion. Olivia held eye contact with Peter for a few more seconds, as if she was lost in thought over something that she couldn't quite figure out. Even while she kept eye contact with him, she began pulling on the door handle with her left hand and pushing her door open. There was a rush of cold air, and then suddenly she turned away, getting out of the car.
"Olivia," Peter called just before she pushed her door closed. She bent down and poked her head back through the door frame, snow flurries floating down around her.
"Yeah?" she asked quickly, her skin already turning pink from the cold.
"You be careful, too," he told her, suddenly feeling self-conscious, as if he'd just willingly showed his hand in a card game. Of course, she was an FBI agent and she was more than familiar with dangerous situations. He knew that. She certainly didn't need a reminder to be careful. No, he realized after the words left his mouth, his words reflected more about his worry for her safety than actually doing anything useful.
Wait… I'm worried about her safety? Somehow, the idea surprised him.
Well sure, he rationalized quickly, you're not a monster. You don't wish harm to come to her. She's a good agent and a good person, even if she is kinda a pain in the ass. And she's possibly the most loyal person you've ever met... I mean, look what she's doing to save the guy she loves, to make it right. Even you can't be so cynical that you don't admire that kind of loyalty – even if you've never experienced it.
Somewhere deep inside, his last thought touched a nerve. No, while he understood the concept of loyalty in theory, he'd never really felt it. It made him admire people who were so obviously loyal, like Olivia, that much more. What must that feel like? To feel so connected to a cause or a person that you would do anything for them? He knew that to be one of those "connected people" it generally helped to be settled enough to have a place to call home. Most people did, but not him. Since he'd been old enough to leave Boston, he hadn't had a true home or real connections with people – if he'd ever had those at all - so he supposed it made sense.
Even though he had been raised in Boston, it had never felt like home for whatever reason. Nowhere had ever felt quite right, and after traveling around the world for so many years, he'd eventually just accepted the idea that he didn't need a place to call home, even convinced himself that he didn't want one. It was easier to do what he did if he could go anywhere, which was what he did.
After all, even here in Boston, where he'd been raised, as a child he'd vaguely remembered feeling an intense longing to go home – which didn't make sense, because Boston was supposed to be his home. If he didn't feel at home in the city where he'd grown up, it didn't seem likely that he'd have much luck anywhere else. And so he'd given up on the idea long ago.
She smiled back at him then, blushing slightly that he'd s seen through her words and feeling something that she couldn't quite identify. It surprised her that he'd noticed her round-about way of telling him to be careful, of knowing what she meant beyond just the words that she'd used. Then again, he was a genius. Maybe, just maybe, he isn't so bad… she thought grudgingly. When he isn't being an absolute pain in the ass, at least.
Without another word, her door was closed and she was gone, leaving the Bishops alone in the car, the snow falling gently as they waited.
Staying in the car, especially with Walter, was driving Peter crazy. Sure, he was developing a tolerance to the man who his father had become, but he was still pretty irritating. Peter knew that this wasn't the most dangerous case that Olivia had ever worked, mostly because otherwise she wouldn't have brought them along. Of course, there was always danger in this line of work, and it didn't have to be the "most dangerous" case for something to go wrong and someone to get hurt. That was the nature of the unpredictable situations.
Their jobs (if he could call his work that) had that in common. Peter had also put himself into more direct danger than this many times in the name of his "work," so between his own experience and because he knew how smart he was, he sat in the car itching to be more helpful than just babysitting the crazy scientist who may or may not be their team's interrogator.
It wasn't too much longer, however, before Peter got his chance to make himself useful. As he sat and listened to Walter beg him not to send him back to St. Claire's, he'd also kept a lookout for anything suspicious from their vantage point in the car. Suddenly, Peter saw the man they were there to apprehend and question come out of a back door at the basement level, slipping around the corner of the building. In a few seconds, he would be out of sight, and the FBI agents nearby hadn't seen him. Peter knew that if he didn't act quickly, the man would get away.
"Hey!" Peter yelled several times, jumping out of the car and telling his father, Stay right there, Walter, before closing the door behind him. He kept yelling to get the attention of Olivia or any of the other agents before taking off after the man himself.
Peter didn't stop to ask himself why this was important enough to him to put himself, a civilian, albeit one with very special skills, into a situation that could so easily go wrong. There wasn't time to think about that. He wasn't one to put himself in danger unless there was something in it for him. Hell, he could admit that these days, he didn't do much of anything unless there was something in it for him… or at least that had been the way he operated until now. Until he'd been forced back to Boston.
When he'd been dragged back from Iraq by Agent Olivia Dunham, there'd certainly been something in it for him – not having his cover blown. But since he'd found out that that had been a lie, everything had changed. Because ever since then, nothing he'd done had been because there had been anything in it for him. He'd forgotten what it was like to live that way – to do things just because…
And why was he doing the things he was doing now? Case in point, why had he jumped out of the car to chase after the man that Olivia wanted Walter to question? Peter himselfwouldn't benefit from it in any way. The ones who stood to benefit were John Scott, if catching this guy helped him stay alive, and Olivia, because she obviously cared about him. So why in the world was he doingthis?
There was no time to wonder about that now, as he slipped as quickly as he could through the snow in pursuit of the man they'd come to apprehend. They ran down the sidewalk and across a wide road, with Peter narrowly avoiding oncoming cars as he tried not to lose sight of him.
When Olivia suddenly realized that Peter was in pursuit of the suspect, she was caught off guard. Didn't I just tell him not to end up in the middle of things? She didn't have time to be annoyed or frustrated with him, however, because she was too busy chasing the same man. She caught up to her target by taking the underpass under the same road that Peter had run across, following him into an apartment building, then up the fire escape and all the way up to the roof. She no longer saw Peter, figuring that he must have gone another way around.
Please tell me this guy's not going to jump, she thought. This was happening as he ran full speed toward the edge and then hurled himself toward the building next door, landing on the fire escape. Having no other choice if she wanted to follow him, that's exactly what she did a few seconds later, landing just behind him. It wouldn't be the first time she'd jumped off a building, and probably not the last either.
The suspect took off running again, and Olivia took the more direct way down, jumping over the side of the fire escape railing and landing on the lid of a dumpster below, rolling to the ground with a thud. I'm gonna be a little sore tomorrow, she thought as she pushed herself up as quickly as she should.
She stood up just in time to see Peter tackle the man to the ground, pinning him down and punching him in the face repeatedly. Hurrying over, she pressed her foot against his shoulder and pointed her gun in his face. "We've got some questions for you," she told him.
The two of them held him down until the other agents caught up with them, handcuffing him and forcing him up roughly, despite his protests. It was only then that they took a step back and caught their breath, nodding at each other.
"So, uh, I guess I should apologize for not staying in the car…?" he said without a hint of a smile, though she knew his was his deadpan humor again.
She made a face at him, shaking her head slowly. What was it with this guy? Because he wants to hear you say it, the voice in her head told her. "No, I'm glad you didn't," she replied, looking away uncomfortably.
He wanted to say something smart, but it seemed like this side of her was one she didn't like to show in the first place, so decided not to push his luck. Watching her with interest, he noted that her eyes swept their surroundings before coming to rest on his again, and that when they did, she smiled nervously, looking away for a second.
"We should probably get back and check on Walter," he told her. He could only imagine what kind of trouble his father might have gotten into in the time he'd been left alone.
Nodding in agreement, she started back in that direction without another word. We actually made a pretty good team today, she thought in surprise.
Peter was a few steps behind her, and noticed her limping slightly. "Hey, are you okay?" he asked with concern, catching up with her.
"What?" she asked in confusion.
"You're limping," he said, gesturing vaguely toward her feet. "Are you hurt?"
"Oh, uh, I'm a little sore. It's no big deal," she replied, shaking her head quickly.
Why does she feel like she can't admit even the smallest weakness? he wondered, not for the first time since he'd known her.
"Right… You just jumped off a building, landed on your feet on the fire escape of the building across the alley – though you slammed pretty hard into the side of the building, I have to say… You jumped off of the fire escapeonto a dumpster and then rolled off and fell on the ground," he recounted sarcastically. "You're right, it's no big deal."
She grimaced, blushing slightly. "Oh, you saw that, did you?"
"So let me try this again. Are you okay?" he asked again.
"I'm fine, I promise," Olivia replied, wearing a forced smile.
He could see that the smile didn't reach her eyes. Even if she got hurt a lot in her job, she had to be in some pain. However, he could also see that she wasn't going to admit to being in pain unless she had absolutely no choice. He wasn't sure how someone could be so stubborn and frustrating and yet so fascinating at the same time. You do love a challenge, he reminded himself.
They set off toward the car side by side, Peter glancing at her frequently to try to determine if she really was okay. She continued to limp slightly, despite her obvious but unsuccessful efforts to hide it, and he wondered a few times when she nearly lost her balance if he would need to catch her. He wasn't sure whether doing so was wise, knowing how fiercely independent she was. And after all, she was the one with the gun…
When they reached the throng of FBI and local police cars, Olivia had to wave away the EMTs who wanted to check her for injuries. She told them the same thing that she'd told Peter – "I'm fine, I promise." Even the more persistent ones gave up quickly, seeing that they weren't going to get anywhere.
Walter, unbelievably, had stayed in the car, though he was pale with anxiety when they finally reached him. Between the waiting and hearing the commotion not far away, he was quite worked up, even for Walter. He peppered the two of them with more questions than they could answer before they'd even climbed inside the car. They did their best to answer them, but finally Peter had to beg him to calm down so they could try to catch their breath in peace. Walter stayed quiet for a full three minutes before he began talking again, though when he did it was more his usual style of conversation, in which he picked the most seemingly random topic and held conversations half with himself anyway.
They fell silent except for Walter's mumbles from the back seat on the way to the Federal Building, Peter and Olivia occasionally glancing at each other but not saying anything. She couldn't help but be surprised she was that she wasn't furious at Peter for joining in the chase the way he had. She'd noticed that he generally seemed to have very good instincts, and without any coordination they'd been able to chase down their subject by taking two complimentary paths – hers having been a slightly more punishing one at the end.
That being said, in the end he'd been there to tackle the guy to the ground while she'd been busy bruising herself by falling off the dumpster – possibly not her best decision, she could admit that much… though she would not be admitting to him how much her descent from the roof had actually hurt. What did it matter to him anyway?
Could she have done it without him? Probably…
Except that he was the one who saw the guy make a break for it in the first place, a voice reminded her.
Okay, okay, she conceded. He was helpful.
As she turned off the car's motor in the parking garage, she looked at Peter in the seat beside her. "I'm sure you won't be surprised to know that civilians are not supposed to be chasing down suspects," she told him firmly. He opened his mouth to protest, but she shook her head and continued before he had a chance. "That being said, you… if you hadn't been there, he may have gotten away. I don't want you to make a habit of it, but…" She paused, pursing her lips. I'm terrible at this, she thought. Shaking her head and suddenly chuckling at herself, she looked back at him. "Thank you for your help," she said, finally getting to the point.
He smiled back at her warmly, getting the feeling that her simple "thank you," unlike her "I'm fine," was truly genuine. "You're welcome," he replied. He didn't quite understand what had possessed him to take off running after the guy, except that catching him was important to Olivia, and it had apparently become important to him, too. I never pegged you for a guy who was desperate to do the right thing, Bishop, he told himself.
"And you were right," she said suddenly, as they were releasing their seatbelts and reaching for the door handles. He looked back at her in surprise and confusion, wondering what he'd been right about. "I'm really sore," she admitted.
He smiled broadly then, not because she was sore, but because she'd decided to admit it to him. It was a small thing, insignificant really, and a very strange thing to bring such a wide smile to his face. Still, he knew enough about her already to know that letting her guard down was not something she did easily, and therefore that small admission was actually much bigger than the three words that she'd actually said. The fact that she was willing to say them was the part that was momentous.
She had no reason to assume that he knew what a big step that was for her… except that from the look on his face, somehow she thought that he understood. Feeling like someone understood her was a strange and unfamiliar feeling as far as she was concerned, though not an unpleasant one.
"I'm sorry to hear that," he replied. "Can I find you some painkillers while you start the interrogation?"
She shook her head quickly, seeming to retreat slightly into her usual slightly detached demeanor. But her smile hadn't disappeared completely, only faltered. "Maybe later," she said as she pushed open the car door. "The other agents won't have gotten him back here yet, but it won't be long. Walter and I need to chat about what exactly we need to find out." Walter perked up at the sound of his name, nodding eagerly.
With that, the three of them headed into the Federal Building. As always, there was a great deal of work ahead of them.