Word Count: 2,801
Olivia Dunham wasn't a quitter. She had never been prone to thoughts of giving up, packing it in, or whatever other phrase fit.
She came home and found that she could handle the other Olivia taking up her space. Living in her apartment, working her cases, and wearing her clothes. Even sleeping in her bed was something she could live with.
She never thought, never dreamt, that no one would know. Astrid she could excuse just as she could Walter.
But Peter? That was one bitter pill to swallow.
How had he spent so much time with the other Olivia, slept with her, kissed her, looked into her eyes, and not known? Not even suspected?
She supposed she should have guessed, figured that it was inevitable after she'd confessed her feelings for him. It was a natural progression of things. She just hadn't anticipated not being the one he'd do the progressing with.
Washing her sheets hadn't been good enough once she found out. She'd replaced them altogether. Her towels, too. Anything that the two of them could have used together went to Goodwill.
It was when she eyed her shower and the towels in her bathroom that for the first time in her life Olivia Dunham contemplated quitting.
Requesting a transfer to Alaska or Hawaii. Or just anywhere that was somewhere other than here. A daily reminder that someone had taken over her life so easily.
And apparently succeeded.
Was there nothing that made her unique? No action or gesture uniquely hers.
She looked away from Phillip's office, wondering just how she'd go about phrasing her request. She'd have to be careful on the wording. He'd suspect, know, if she wasn't outwardly sincere in her desire to go elsewhere. Her eyes drifted across the room at the other agents, wondering who knew what. And just how extensive their knowledge of the what was.
She saw a smirk or two, was certain they were directed at her. For her. People who knew that she'd been taken in by John Scott and now this. How gullible they must think she is.
"Yes, sir," she said, regarding Broyles now instead of the other agents.
A quick glance revealed that no one was watching her, certainly no one was paying her any more attention than anyone else. No smirks, no telling smiles that the agents she had to see every day thought she was a fool.
For not knowing, not suspecting until being told about Peter's relationship with the other one of her.
"Come with me."
She stood then, grateful for the distraction from her thoughts. She followed him to his car, presuming he'd fill her in on the details when they got there. He did no such thing, instead starting the car and driving from the Federal Building without a word.
He drove in silence, leaving her to think. To wonder.
Was Broyles taking her somewhere to drop the news that he was done with her? Was she too late to request a transfer? She wasn't sure she could blame him. She'd always been a risk taker, a rule bender. She never broke the rules, but wasn't afraid to meld them to her needs as necessary.
She took her queue from him, remaining silent until they pulled up in front of a familiar restaurant. It wasn't one she'd been to often, but she knew it was a place people like Broyles went. Important people with bigger salaries than hers. Still not a word as he got out of the car, leaving her quite perplexed.
No response as he held the door open for her. That gesture alone led her to believe that there was no crime scene here.
A hostess seated them at a table, placing menus on the table.
"Sir, I," she started.
"Dunham, just look at the menu and decide what you would like for dinner."
Her stomach was in knots and he wanted her to think about food?
Their waiter came. Broyles ordered a gin and tonic. She wasn't sure she should follow suit so instead went with a Ginger ale. She wanted a clear head if she was going to have to defend herself or something.
Still nothing during their waiter's absence, not that it took him very long to return with their drinks. Broyles was acting as if their having dinner here together wasn't anything out of the ordinary. She looked around at the other diners. No one was looking at them suspiciously or giving them any thought at all. Maybe Phillip Broyles came here with agents all of the time. She didn't think so, though.
And then she had to wonder if he'd come here with her. Had she invaded her relatively comfortable work situation with her boss? She'd worked hard to earn Phillip Broyles' trust and hated to think that something out of her control could undo her progress. She knew what her boss thought of her when he first brought her on. If she'd done anything to undo that, to change the perception of her he had before this whole ordeal she'd be upset.
Perhaps more upset than sleeping with Peter. Men came and went. Careers like this one did not and any slide back down the rungs of the ladder she'd so carefully climbed through no fault of her own would be her complete undoing.
"No," he said simply, as if reading her mind.
"Just order something," he said, gesturing to the waiter. "And then we can talk."
Still not too hungry and not wanting to be in a position to get sick if he was taking this opportunity to cut her loose, she went with a salad. The description in the menu made it sound both filling and tasty.
He took a sip of his drink; she did the same, now wishing she had something stronger than Ginger ale.
"How did you know what I was thinking a few minutes ago?" she asked.
"It wasn't that difficult to tell. I've never taken you to dinner before and here we are doing just that. It wasn't such a huge leap in logic to assume you were wondering if she'd gotten closer to me." He straightened his fork next to his place setting after setting his napkin on his lap. "She didn't. You, on the other hand."
"I trusted him, as I trust you. Nothing more."
"And I'm relieved to hear you say that. That his death wasn't for nothing."
"I don't want to talk about him, though."
"Okay," she said, though she was sure he had questions of his own about his life there. She had to admit she was curious if he was married to the same woman. She'd never seen his ex-wife to know for certain. She didn't think he had a son in their world, but could be wrong on that, too, as she realized getting to know him over there how little she knew about him here.
"Are you sure you're ready for work?"
"You think I'm not?"
"I think that anyone who has gone through a tenth of what you have recently would want some time off."
"No, that's not the answer for me."
"You're off your game. Not entirely, your work isn't suffering, don't get me wrong, but I can tell that your mind isn't always here."
"As you say, I've been through a lot recently."
"And I've never before wondered if there was something wrong, Dunham."
She was silent, not sure what if anything she should tell him. Would he laugh at her? Would she be fodder for dinners he had here with other, more important, people.
"I don't know that I can stay here," she said softly, avoiding looking at him directly.
She realized what he might think she meant and smiled. As if she'd chance going back there. "I meant here in Boston. Working for you. I've been thinking of requesting a transfer."
"And you think I'd let you do that?"
"Why wouldn't you?"
"You're one of my best agents, even off your game. I've just gotten used to you and your methods. Why would I want to break someone else in? Especially knowing they would pale in comparison."
"I didn't know or suspect if that's what you're asking, but knowing now what I do. Yes, there were differences. She covered well, which was why I never suspected. She'd forget what she'd read in a case file and say she'd gotten little sleep or got it confused with another file. She never spoke about your sister or niece, not unusual in itself I suppose. Like I said, knowing what I do now there were little things that pointed to her being an imposter. She wasn't as emotional as you are."
He held up his hand to stop her from continuing.
"I didn't say that was a bad thing, Dunham. I think it's your emotional investment in things that makes you one of the best agents I've had working under me."
"Did you know about her and Peter?"
"Not until he told me, no."
"So no one else knows?"
"Not that I'm aware of, however, what she spoke to other agents about when I wasn't around I don't know."
She shut her eyes, tilting her head just a little so he wouldn't see how much that idea bothered her.
"Is that why you want to leave?"
"I'm just wondering if a fresh start wouldn't be best."
"For whom, Agent Dunham?"
"Meaning you and Peter Bishop?"
She shrugged, glancing at him out of the corner of her eyes as the waiter set their plates on the table in front of them.
"I can assign another agent to the Walter Bishop detail if that's what's got you thinking like this. No one says it has to be you."
"You said it had to be me."
"That was a long time ago, things have changed. I could find someone else to babysit the Bishops if that's what you need."
"I'm not sure what I need," she admitted.
"Well, there's no rush really. Take your time and really think on whether you want a transfer. If you come to me with the idea again and I see you've thought it through logically I'd consider it."
"You don't think I'm being logical?"
"I think you're hurt and a number of other things I cannot even begin to comprehend. Those emotions, the ones you're feeling tonight and probably for the next little while, are not the ones to base career decisions on. What you're feeling is personal in nature and I've stated that I am willing to offer a solution so that your personal and professional lives do not have to cross if you wish it so."
"So you wouldn't accept my request?"
"I would ask you to take some time off first."
She laughed with a shake of her head. "As if I have anywhere to go."
"You could visit your sister. Or if that's not appealing, and I could understand why perhaps it's not right now. Take a cruise or go on a trip that doesn't involve traveling between dimensions."
"I really don't think time to myself is what I need right now."
"All right. How about this. Agent Farnsworth can handle the Bishop's for the time being as far as the day-to-day requests and whatever other basic things are needed. You take the time you need away from that part of your job and see if that sheds a different light on things."
"I don't know."
"Nor do I, which is why I'm making the suggestion. I don't know where openings are, but I can assure you that you would not be investigating the types of cases you do here with Fringe Division."
"I know that, and I don't like that idea."
"As I would expect from you."
"What does that mean?"
"Just that I don't think you could go back to the average run of the mill cases the Bureau investigates and be satisfied."
"I'm not in it for excitement."
"Of course not, but there's a bit of pleasure, exhilaration we all get from working the types of cases we see. Knowing we know things, have seen, heard, and experienced things no one else has and many would be hard-pressed to believe if they were told about them."
She'd give him that. It was not as if she was in it for glory or anything like that, but she wasn't sure if she could go back to investigating kidnapping cases or serial killer cases without the Fringe twist involved.
"They'd know," she said finally. That was the part that bothered her most. That Peter, and Walter, would know she was avoiding them.
"And transferring away would somehow be less obvious, Agent Dunham?"
She smiled a little at that. He had a point there. Once again.
"I don't think Peter would begrudge you some time to get your mind together and wrapped around all that happened."
"It's not a matter of needing time," she admitted.
"It's more complicated than just what happened between them. I mean, that's not all of it."
"You don't have to explain it to me. I just want you to be certain and to know that a transfer is not your only option."
"Thank you," she said, realizing he probably didn't care about her feelings about Peter aside from her ability to work with him as necessary. "But why bring me here?"
"To get you somewhere neutral. I figured I had to eat and as I know you didn't take lunch today, knew you did as well."
"I was distracted."
"I know and I do understand. You don't think seeing myself hacked up to bits hasn't left me feeling a little unsettled? I didn't want you to think I was trying to reprimand or discipline you. Being called into my office would have led you to believe those were my intentions."
"I have been a little paranoid about just how much dropping the ball you'll tolerate."
"Did you want something real to eat now that you realize I haven't brought you here to dress you down?"
"This was real," she said, gesturing with her fork to what was left of the salad. She'd eaten more than she thought she would when they'd initially sat down.
"If you say so."
"Still, if you wanted something else…"
"All right," he said, gesturing for the check then. "Let's get you back to your car then so you can get home."
She gave a thin smile, going home was really the last thing she wanted to do anymore. The only time she didn't have a problem with it were the evenings she came home so exhausted she didn't have time to do anything but crash.
"I take it that idea doesn't strike your fancy."
She shrugged. "It's not as if I have anything else to do."
"You'll readjust, Dunham."
"You're more confident than I am at this point."
"I have faith in you that perhaps you cannot find in yourself right now."
Wasn't that all kinds of accurate. And she got that overwhelming feeling once again to leave. Bolt. Get out of there. Fast.
He must have sensed her agitation, because as soon as the check was paid he stood to leave. He was quiet on the way back to the office.
"Thank you for dinner, Sir. And for listening."
"I didn't really do a whole lot of listening, Dunham."
"You did more than anyone else has done to this point."
"Well, the others have something at stake."
"Some would say you do as well."
"Agents come and go. Just because I admit to the fact I'd be disappointed to see you go does not mean I won't keep to my word if after some time passes you approach me again with the idea of a transfer."
"Try and get some rest, Dunham."
"It's not as easy as it seems."
"I can imagine," he said, though she doubt he really could. Everywhere she looked in her place she wondered if they'd used it, sat on it, enjoyed it together, and various other thoughts along those lines that did nothing but drive her nuts.
She got out then, knowing there was nothing left to say. She was no longer on Bishop detail. She should be happy, relieved she no longer had to face Peter every day. That wasn't the emotion she'd use to describe herself just then, though.
Coward came to mind, but she shrugged it off as she got into her vehicle and followed Broyles out of the lot, parting ways when they got to the point he had to turn one way and she another.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com