For bessemerprocess in the fandom_stocking fest.


Shivering from the frigid Boston night, Olivia claims a barstool, nodding to the dark-haired woman beside her. She nods back, then tosses back her vodka and asks the bartender for another.

Olivia orders whisky. "Cold night," she says, swirling it in the glass.

The other woman smiles a little. "It's not so bad."

"You must be from out of town. This is the coldest Boston's been in sixty years."

She shrugs. "I just"—Olivia gets the impression she's choosing the word very carefully—"got here."

She doesn't elaborate, but she also doesn't seem like she wants her to quit talking, so Olivia asks, "Where from?"

She laughs. It's a strangely bitter sound. "You wouldn't believe me if I told you."

Olivia has seen alternate universes and time machines, chimeras and pyrokinetics, and she can respect that answer. She introduces herself.

"Susan Ivanova," the woman says. Then she changes the subject. "You look like you're drowning your sorrows," she says, pointing to the quickly-diminishing alcohol in her glass.

"Bad day at work," Olivia replies. They're all bad, these days. "You don't exactly look like you're celebrating either."

Susan acknowledges the hit with a snort. "I guess you could say that." She stares at her glass, which is empty again. "I'm a soldier. We're fighting a war nobody back home knows about. And we're losing."

Olivia feels a sudden kinship with this Susan Ivanova. The war with the alternate universe, the one only a few people in the FBI know about, is going badly. Late at night, when she can't sleep, she runs calculations and figures that, at best, they have a few more months before they lose everything. They need a miracle, but Walter has been fresh out for weeks.

"And I'm stuck here waiting for a ride back to the front lines that may or may not ever come," Susan continues.

Olivia considers this, sipping her drink. With the war going the way it is, one more person probably won't help. But it wouldn't hurt either. And as a soldier herself, she knows that it might make a difference for Susan. "While you're waiting, are you interested in fighting another losing battle or two?"

Susan raises an eyebrow. "Are you offering me a job?"

Olivia shrugs. "Yeah."

A long moment passes while Susan stares at her. Then she takes a deep breath and lets it out. "What the hell. I'm in."