Author's Note: Hi! Thanks for stopping by! Those returning, nice to see you! Those new to my stories, welcome! I got this idea after watching 'The Day We Died', and decided to take a little different direction. This story is my interpretation with what happened between the gap of when Peter got into the machine and the end of 3x21. A little AU, but stick with me and I think you'll like it. The rest you'll just have to find out for your own!
Onward, my friends!
The Shade of Poison Trees
Fanfiction by: Stephanie
Chapter 1: Aftermath
Every war had its casualties.
They came in all shapes, colors and sizes; of different creeds and beliefs.
Children. Mothers. Brothers. Cousins. Soldiers. Civilians. Lovers. Dreamers. Betrayers.
The spectrum of human loss was immeasurable as the stars, colors skewed from the realm of life with broken streaks of red death and black disaster. There were no more blues, yellows, or greens. Brilliant, life sustaining pastels now drained from existence, washed away by the violent rains of war, leaving behind an empty and blank slate. All that was left was endless dark nights and miles and miles of crimson red rivers. Each loss of life countless and growing as the days continued to tick against all odds. Even the sun burned red, bleeding rays of tinted light through the bellowing, angry clouds above him.
All around him buildings had crumbled and fell like fallen soldiers in the merciless rolling hills, their battlefield whose home ground betrayed them. With each penetrating wave of dismay they fell further, their structures collapsing and falling into one another, beams of concrete for bayonets and metal for bullets, striking and bringing down everything around it with a deafening roar. The ground quaked without pity, angered by the disruption of its peaceful slumber. Pipes burst, mixed with gasses and sent combustible, rushing fires everywhere- hungry, ravenous wolves consuming anything in its reach. Voices screamed in fear as they searched for any dismal speck of safety from the bursts of fiery blue around them, flattening whatever morsel was in its reach, grabbing and tearing, twisting until there was nothing left but a mere memory, scarred against the heated Earth.
In times of war, there was no distinction of human existence. There was no race, no color, and no creed, washed away by a shock wave of atomic destruction. Whites and blacks melted with Orientals and Hispanics, becoming one master race of pure and unaltered chaos and sorrow. There were no more races. No more discrimination. Their faces all burned with the unbelievable loss that caked them in blood and dirt. There was no more religion. Whatever God had existed turned his back on His people as the First Wave washed over, burning and scarring the face of the universe, changing it forever. There was no more fighting among countries or religions. There was no more belief in a higher power.
There was no more.
The only fight they could muster was a fight for survival.
Frank Stanton knew this as he stood and hauled yet another mangled body into the growing pile to be identified and sent to their respective families. It was now the chosen workforce for those who had been strong enough after their world was destroyed. This wasn't just a hunt for those who managed to survive, managed to defy all the odds and find someplace to shelter themselves from whatever came from that bright flash of Liberty Island. It lasted for only a few hours but led into four weeks of sheer terror, afraid to find what had hid behind whatever door they lay behind.
There was no more rescue. It was a mission of recovery and of closure to those who sought peace.
Dirt, grime and ice cold blood made his shirt cling to his body. Numb, wet and sticky, he shifted uncomfortably as he lifted the tiny broken body of a boy onto the truck and completed the last of the pile to be transferred. Gently Frank set the boy down as a tear rolled down his face and his hands shook. He knew this boy. God, he knew this innocent victim of war. He lived onto a few houses down the street from him. Last week Frank watched him happily buy an ice cream cone. Now, this day, he closed the petrified boy's lifeless eyes for the last time and said a small prayer to whatever entity would listen.
"God speed," Frank whispered into the yellowish gray haze and turned away as the truck drove over the potted road and pitched ever so slightly as to make the boy seem like he waved good-bye. 'If there is such a thing anymore…'
He chose to be a part of this mission. He chose to try and make the best of this world they now called home, a broken and cracked word that left no meaning behind. Where it used to mean warmth, safety, family… it now meant death, chaos and terror. His home was not a home. Not anymore. His world was shattered, torn apart at the very fabric that he swore to protect and now rested in sharp, jagged pieces around him.
He swallowed as someone called his name, patting his shoulder to pull him away from the decaying site. Beneath his heels glass and rocked grinded together into a fine, gravely mixture as he patted along, seemingly lifeless. He had seen his own fair share of death in his lifetime, between the incidents at North Texas and even Dakota, but this… this was too real. This life he lived now was not a life.
It was a routine; repetitive, tiring, and mind-numbing routine.
Each morning he would wake, shower and dress with robotic movement that left no emotion in his body. His face, he swore, had frozen to stone the very moment he had awaken after that doomed morning he watched the scattering people, the cries of sorrow and the blast that literally sent a shock wave around the world and destroyed whatever resemblance of existence it touch.
"Frank," called Gabriel as he watched his friend stare at the horizon aimlessly, lost as he gazed across the rapid waters that made up the Hudson, churning and gurgling with such fury it was almost beautiful. "Come on, we've got another section of town to do before noon. They've got one building that they've been able to stabilize, but not for long. We've got to get going."
Frank turned; his hair shaggy and matted clung to his pale cheeks. "I'm coming, just… gimme a second, Gabe."
The Latino man nodded once and turned, leaving Frank to turn back and continue to gaze at the sight before him. The bridge between both sides of New York was completely destroyed, separating Manhattan and the other side. Across the way bellows of smoke and sirens echoed, merging with the gushing waters of the river. On the horizon stood the Twin Towers; they were nothing more than twisted and jagged metal cutting across the skyline as it bled blue. The light dusting of an explosion would grace his ears as a small burst of light shown behind a building. When it first started he'd jump. Now they were ordinary moments in life. If this was just New York, he could only imagine the view from the other side of the world.
In the foreground the shadow of a decapitated and dismembered Statue of Liberty began elongate, a dark blotch designating a time when the human race reigned supreme as it graced the water's edge, turning the already navy blue waters into a black abyss where rusting pieces of copper poked through, the torch sticking out of the waters like a spike in the inky waters.
A once proud marker of freedom and choice rested in rust colored blood, auburn stained pieces; her ideas and representations died with her. Leaving the monument to his back, Frank turned and bowed his head at the fallen monument. There was no more peace. There was no more freedom.
Simply put, there was nothing.
~*~Tarrytown, New York
Rolling smoothly on his heels Lincoln carefully pawed around the creaking wood as gently as he could, careful to not disturb the small, feeding bundle in his arms. Angling the bottle to accommodate those miniature lips, Lincoln couldn't help but smile at the baby boy in his arms, his shining inky pearls gazing curiously into Lincoln's blue oceans. Lately he was fascinated by the small, almost microscopic miracles that happened, baby Henry being one of them. He survived the odds not once, but twice in his first two months of life alone, a feat worthy of recognition. Henry adjusted in his arms, his tiny fingers scratching at the lapels of his jacket. Lincoln's heart swelled as he ran his thumb over the bump of the baby's nose.
"Any word?" came the low-toned question of Marilyn Dunham as she came into the living room and walked over to Lincoln and the baby, smoothing the cap on his forehead. "Have you heard from Olivia?"
Lincoln shook his head, eyes still connected with the protruding orbs of the miracle he held proudly in his arms. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Dunham, nothing." He swallowed hard, his attention averting back to Henry. "It's been almost five weeks since I've even heard from her. Five agonizing and grueling weeks."
She huffed, trying to hide the pain in her voice. "That's all it's been? Five weeks? I can't believe it." Marilyn was silent once again, both afraid to speak aloud what thought was running through their heads. Tears welled in her eyes as she thumbed Henry's tiny brows, her hand shaking with the warmth of his skin. Quietly she asked, her heart breaking in her words. "I heard they're only giving the search for those who were missing another two weeks. Is that true?"
Lincoln didn't answer immediately, wanting to avoid the question completely. He drew in a deep, thick breath, adjusting the bottle again as Henry cooed against his chest. "Two weeks," his voice cracked, "Maybe three, given whatever circumstance arises. I'm not giving up though. Olivia's a fighter; wherever she is I'm sure she's trying to find her way back. There's collapsed bridges and sunken roads all over the state." He did his best to avoid her eyes, "I'm sure she's okay." God, she has to be.
Henry stirred in his arms, pushing the empty bottle away and stretched his tiny fingers. Shifting him again, Lincoln brought him to his shoulder and gently patted his back, cooing to him until a feint, miniscule burp erupted from his mouth, calming the baby once again as he nuzzled against Lincoln's neck, a quick jut of air pressed from his nostrils. He cooed gently before drifting slowly back to sleep.
"Do we know what caused it yet? The wave?" Marilyn asked quietly, wiping her worried tears from her cheeks. "It was nothing I've ever seen before. I mean, sure, there's been cracks, but this… this is something else, Lincoln. People are comparing it to a hydrogen bomb."
Lincoln swallowed. He knew the truth, but even he was forbidden to speak of it. "What we believe," he choked on his lie, "is that it's just like the other Fringe events. Holes tearing, but for whatever reason this one was more destructive. It didn't cave inward, instead it expelled energy. We… don't know what caused it, that's still under investigation."
Marilyn nodded, bringing her hand over her racing heart. "How many dead?"
Again, he shifted his gaze, his eyes cast on the small, downy hairs on the baby's cranium. "From what I hear… in the state alone there are over fifty-thousand deaths. Country wide? Millions. Missing? Even more." Rubbing Henry's back again the baby burped, nuzzling himself against Lincoln's shoulder. Lincoln pressed a gentle kiss to the baby's temple as he felt Henry's breathing increase, signifying he was once again asleep. "But there are miracles."
Olivia's mother smiled a tearful and sorrow-ridden smile. "There are miracles," she echoed, bringing Henry's hat down further onto his head, rubbing the sleeping baby's back. "There are definitely miracles." Silence. "You're very good with him, Lincoln."
Lincoln smiled up at her, placing a soft kiss on the baby's temple. "I guess it's just that natural parent instinct. Besides, he's Olivia's. She'd kill me if I wasn't."
At the mention of her missing daughter's name Marilyn smile faded, clouded by a growing fear of the whereabouts of her daughter. Five weeks had flow by since the day of the… incident. Five terrifying and seemingly countless weeks of not knowing where Olivia was, if she was safe or hurt. There was no way of knowing. The phones were down, roads, bridges and almost any means of transportation were destroyed. She and Henry had barely even managed to get into the old cellar in the backyard before the first wave hit. Three hours she spent clutching her grandson for dear life and simply praying for it to end. When it did, the phenomenon was all too real.
She was one of the lucky ones; her house was at least somewhat habitable. Others, not so much. Entire families, generations worth were gone in the blink of an eye. While the second story of her house was completely gone, she was able to salvage a bedroom, some clothes, and even a few supplies for Henry. When help finally came she was all too grateful.
Taking Henry from Lincoln, Marilyn smiled towards the baby in her arms as he fussed, making faces and rocking him into a deeper sleep. "Thank you, Lincoln, for stopping by and letting me know. If you hear anything-"
Lincoln gave her a subtle kiss on the cheek and stared affectionately at Henry. "You'll be the first to know, Mrs. Dunham, you have my word." Without another word he left, carefully stepping down the cracked concrete steps and headed towards his battered SUV. By some miracle it still worked, one of the few Fringe Division vehicles that survived the wormhole. The drive home was like it normally was. Silent, dark and hauntingly lonely. His apartment was destroyed in the blast, everything he had was gone. By some chance the Fringe Division Headquarters wasn't completely destroyed, giving him the option to bunk up there along with Charlie and a few other Agents who were without homes.
Pulling into the parking lot he exited, not even bothering to lock the door. Had someone wanted to steal the piece of junk he'd let them. Trekking up the stairs he was more than happy to find an office- now his make-shift bedroom still in one piece. That truly was the best news he'd received all day. Kicking off his shoes and changing into a pair of sweat pants, Lincoln closed his light and curled into the lumpy cot that was his bed. With a deep sigh he tried to find a comfortable spot lying on his left.
On the box in front of him sat the shadow of a picture frame. In it was him, Charlie and Olivia, one of the few pictures he was able to save before the fires broke out. His lip trembled as his breath hitched in his chest, simply looking at the picture. Olivia's bright, smiling face stared back at him, that moment frozen in time. With a trembling hand his finger rubbed over the shattered glass, his mouth running dry and silent tears fell. Every day he prayed he'd see her. Every single day was agony in the mystery of if she was alive or buried underneath a pile of rubble. Every night before he went to bed, before leaving his reality and waking into another, he would whisper words of sweet love and hope. He'd fall asleep with her name on his lips, a prayer in his heart and the words in his mind when he'd see her again. It'd take a miracle to find her, he knew. But Lincoln wouldn't give up hope in believing Olivia was still alive.
Miracles, after all, sometimes did come true.
Brighton, MA, June 2011
A warm summer wind blew through the curtains ever so gently, rustling the bottom flairs and pushing them gently into the bedroom. A kiss of morning swept across Peter Bishop's face as he slept soundly, tucked comfortably beneath a light sheet, the pillow molded around his face perfectly. He groaned as the rising sunlight sneaked past the window rail and forced itself onto his closed eyes, illuminating the comfortable night with a piercing white and purple light. He squinted in any effort to stay asleep. It would figure the one weekend he had off he would awake way before his alarm would sound. He rolled over, finding a comfortable spot once again on his stomach and curled his arm around his pillow.
On the brink of his hearing he heard a door on the other side of the wall open, the squishy patting of wet footsteps on wood and the soft pluck of an acoustic guitar just beyond the wall. He rested precariously on the edge of sleep and consciousness, both fighting one another for his focused attention. A swift motion counteracted the breeze that blew across his bare back, followed promptly with a soft scent of strawberries and Dove soap. Opening his eyes he blinked as a pair of wet foot prints tracked towards the dresser that sat opposite the wall of the bed. He stole a quick glance at the clock as it blinked just past eleven in the morning. Rolling onto his side he blinked the sleep from his eyes and placed his hands behind his head, smiling from ear to ear.
The irresistible Olivia Dunham stood before him in nothing more than a deep red towel and her own beautiful skin as she rummaged through her drawers and pulled out her undergarments, laying them on the chair next to the dresser. She moved towards her closet and pulled the doors open and began to task of pulling her clothes out for the day. She chose an unusual pair of tan khakis and an emerald green t-shirt, his favorite in her collection of shirts. It was the one that made her eyes simply glow a beautiful, soft sea green.
Effortlessly she slipped on the black bra and underwear making Peter quietly pout, followed by her pants and socks. Rustling the towel through her hair her phone began to buzz on the opposite side of where Peter lay in her bed.
"Please don't tell me that's Broyles," Peter groaned lazily into his pillow, "It's supposed to be our weekend off. We've got three years of vacation time saved up; it's about time we actually get to use it."
Olivia chuckled and shook her head. "It's Rachel, actually. Ella's been packed for weeks looking forward to tomorrow. Ecstatic sounds more like it," she grinned as the messages kept popping up, making her giggle. "I think letting Ella use Rachel's phone to text message was an adorable mistake." Sitting on her side of the bed Olivia's fingers flew expertly across the keyboard as she caught up on the dozen or so messages that Ella sent and grinned as she pictured Ella's face in her head. Placing her phone on the table she twisted and leaned over, planting a light kiss on Peter's lips, the warm tingle of cinnamon still lingering on her lips.
"Ymm," Peter moaned approvingly as she parted, "Good morning to you too," he said, licking his lips, "New toothpaste?"
She smirked at him. "Sad you know that off hand, you know that?"
Peter grinned. "Well there's a lot that I know off hand," he said as he looped his arm around her bare waist and pulled her down into the sheets, kissing her again and felt her smile against his skin. Pinning her shoulders beneath his Peter adjusted until it was just his bare chest against the miniscule fabric on hers, his hands venturing down her sides as he felt her twitch, "And there's a lot I know on hand," he kissed her again as Olivia's arms wrapped around the strong muscles of his shoulder.
Olivia raised an inquisitive eyebrow, "Like?"
She had to ask and Peter happily obliged to give the answer. "Like," he kissed her again, walking his fingers across the skin of her lower abdomen.
She laughed as he hit one incredibly ticklish spot just below her navel. "I know exactly what makes you…"
She cut him off as she kissed him again, "You're a pervert, Peter."
"I was going to say laugh,Olivia," he muttered against her lips, "So whose mind is in the gutter now?"
Olivia poked an accusing finger into his chest. "I know exactly what you were going to say, Peter Bishop, and if it were any other morning I don't think either us of would be dressed at this point. However…" Peter groaned as she pushed him up off of her and onto his back.
"I hate that word."
She playfully slapped his shoulder, "I have some things I need to take care of before Ella and Rachel get here. You can tag along or spend the afternoon with your father."
Peter propped himself up once again, his rough cheek resting on her leg, "Well Walter and Astrid are finding plenty to entertain themselves with today, so looks like you're stuck with me for the day, sweetheart."
Olivia bit her lip, tossing him a playful glance over her shoulder, "Pity to be me then," At the widening of Peter's eyes she jumped from the bed, running just beyond Peter's fingers as he reached out for her. Glancing back she laughed seeing the fascination on his face. Throwing the sheets over his side followed her into the kitchen, sweeping her back into his arms as she pulled two mugs from the cabinet.
It had been one month since he stepped out of the machine. One month since he had made the decision to save this universe; the universe he was proud to call his,a decision he cherished each and every morning the sun rose above the horizon. Out of everything he had done in his life, this felt right. Walter was alive and well. Astrid was beginning to flourish as an FBI Agent. But most importantly, Olivia, his Olivia was in his arms once again, as bright and beautiful as ever. Having finally overcome the demons of her past, she opened her heart fully. It was easier to enjoy life then to fight it, she decided. That was a decision Peter was content with.
As she turned around in his arms again and cupped his cheeks he felt her smile again as he kissed her, a never-ending drink he could never get enough of. It was just him; just her; just… them standing barely dressed in her kitchen, hands roaming their nearly bare bodies as the coffee percolated in the corner, a delicious morning treat that left Peter with a singular thought roaming his mind.
He could get used to this.
Her lips lingered for a second more, her eyes gazing lovingly into his as he moved- his target one taunting crevice of her neck. "You hungry?"
Peter huffed against the skin of her neck. "I am hungry, but not for breakfast."
Olivia laughed, trying to sound stern, an impossible task against the movement of his lips. "Peter, no."
"Please?" He captured her lips again, feeling her smile again.
She raised an eyebrow, her fingers tracing small circles at the base of his neck. "If you're good, maybe."
"You make me sound like a kid in a supermarket waiting for his surprise at the end of the trip." With one final kiss and a lip at his, he sighed, agreeing. "I'll take a maybe. In fact, changed my mind. Eggs?" Olivia laughed kindheartedly, pressing her forehead to his chest as Peter left her arms and walked over to her refrigerator and pulled out half a carton of eggs and bacon. "Go finish getting dressed, I'll cook."
"Ha!" she exclaimed, her eyes widening, "First you were just begging me to get undressed now you're ushering me towards my closet. Am I the only one who sees the irony in this?" Walking away from Peter she continued to laugh as she pulled a shirt over her head and ran a comb through her hair, making Peter roll his eyes as he heated the skillet, mixing the yolks and grinned.
"Since when are you such a smart ass?" He called, "I thought that was my bid."
Pouring the mixture into the skillet the liquid began to sizzle and congeal into puffy yellow morsels that made Peter's mouth water. The song playing on the radio in the living room changed, sending a soft twang through the living room, the sun rising higher into the sky and illuminating the doors in her kitchen that lead to the small balcony that overlooked the streets. He grabbed two plates and silverware, setting them on the table as he grabbed a cup of coffee, sipping it contently. Bacon began to sizzle and steam deliciously.
"I figured you could use some competition." She responded from across the room, "You're not the only one who can think of smart remarks on the fly."
Peter laughed, pouring another cup of coffee for her. It felt so natural, he thought. Just him, just her in her apartment enjoying a springy summer morning.
He could definitely get used to this…
Thanks for reading, updates coming soon! If you haven't done so, check out "Something to Fight For" as well as the completed chapter of "Crash into You."
Reviews are golden!