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28 October 2008 @ 02:34 pm
[fanfic] Maybe Wonderland (PG, Fringe: Olivia/Peter)  
Title: Maybe Wonderland
Author: tiptoe39
Rating: PG
Summary: A sequel to No Alice.

Coffeehouses smelled like college memories.

Walter had said it, perhaps. Or maybe it was just the sort of thing he might say.

Still, when she thought about the concept she heard it in his voice. "Certain memories," he said, "psychological events, brain stimuli, things that make us tick, if you will -- will attach themselves to material stimuli. Like... barnacles, on a ship's prow. You know, I haven't been sailing in seventeen years. Do they still have barnacles?"

In any case, it was demonstrably true. Coffeehouses smelled to her like college.

It was hard to believe that she'd once been an undergraduate at an urban university very much like the few that lay along this sprawling street. That once upon a time, she'd carried textbooks under her arm and pulled her hair back into a long ponytail and sat late at night listening to bad poetry and blinking through owl-shaped glasses.

It had only been for two years. Then she'd realized the hardness in her wouldn't be tempered by liberal arts, and she refocused herself on the things that mattered. Crime and punishment and facts and techniques for bringing people down who very much needed it. Her heart was an onyx crystal. It did not absorb light, and it could not bleed.

Still, sitting in the coffeehouse surrounded by kids studying and laughing and mooning at one another shamelessly made her feel like just one more gawky, gangly nineteen-year-old freshman trying to find her way around in the world without bursting into a puddle of tears.

The cappuccino was warm, and the steam softened her view of Peter's eyes, upturned toward her from behind his own cup. She knew they were staring at each other, but the hour was so late and the atmosphere so suffused with nostalgia that she couldn't quite muscle up the strength to break the trance.

He could, though. "You're staring." His voice was rich, thick like the foam on his coffee cup and amused.

She pulled back a curl of hair from her face. "I was just thinking," she said, managing to avert her eyes. "You're reminding me of my first boyfriend in college. We fell madly in love over coffee and calculus late at night. He would always stare at me just like that." She gestured at his eyes, which had not left her face, and laughed shortly. "I was a sucker for being stared at."

His lips curved. "Construction workers must have loved you."

"Not like that," she scoffed with a laugh. "Into my eyes, I mean."

"So did you kick him to the curb or vice versa?" Peter leaned back in the too-soft sofa seat, putting a hand behind his head and drinking deeply. Olivia noticed a few girls in a booth toward the back of the place look him over approvingly.

"Neither," she said, turning her head so she didn't have to see the giggling inanity. "We wanted different things. We were going different places in life. He was an intellectual, and I was a..." She faltered.

"A woman of action. I'm sure." She was constantly surprised how rich Peter's voice sounded, how... knowing. He resembled his father more than he knew, or would ever admit, she thought with a touch of amusement, and he sat forward suspiciously as her lips quirked. "What's that about?"


"You're lying."

"Nothing!" But it was pretty much hopeless. She had worked many an undercover sting, but she couldn't lie to him and she knew it. She'd never been able to lie to people she cared about.

Even though they'd very often been able to lie to her.

She swallowed hard to hide the sudden rush of tears.

"Hey." He set down the mug and took her hand. "What now?"

"Nothing." She bit her tongue, trying to stay focused.

"Olivia, you just went from smiling to crying in two seconds. I ought to give you a speeding ticket."

"I'm not crying," she said as tears came to her eyes.

He threw a twenty on the table. "Come on, let's go for a walk."

She barely remembered him guiding her out of there, just knew that he'd put his coat around her and held it to her with both hands the whole way back to her car. They didn't talk, didn't interact at all. They just walked. Two strangers joined by the fleece of a warm jacket. She guided him around the corner to the car, where she finally shrugged away from his grasp. The night closed cold jaws around her, and she shivered.

"Are you sure you're all right?" Peter asked.

She looked at her feet, nearly invisible on the dark concrete. "I'd like to say yes."

"You'd like to, but...?"

Were her feet even on the ground? Was she falling into a dark hole? Vertigo swept over her and was gone.

"But I don't think I am."

The words were demanding to be heard; Olivia had no control over them. They were marching on her mouth like an army of persistent toy soldiers. "I'm just so full of memories all the time these days, and nothing is what it looks like. I feel as though I've dropped into another universe, and I have to keep looking around to see what's coming next, or I'll end up somewhere even worse--"

She stopped.

She stopped because Peter had a strange look on his face.

Because Peter was touching her, tracing the outline of her jaw with his index finger, murmuring with a small smile, "You're just like Alice."

She tried to laugh, tried to pretend she didn't know what he meant. "Alice?"

But just like earlier, she'd failed spectacularly at lying to him. "You know what I mean. Alice. Who followed the White Rab--"

"I know." She cut him off. "I know. But I hate that. I can't stand it." Her hands had turned to frozen fists. "I have to make sense of all this. I can't just be lost in it, letting it all happen to me. I've got to take control."

"Olivia." She looked up and through a curtain of eyelashes she saw his face, light and near. "Normally I'd be right there with you. I know how that feels, to want to have control of your life. But look at me. I should be in Iraq making millions. Instead, I'm here with you. You think that's what I wanted? To spend every day and every night with Walter, listening to him babble on and getting turned into a guinea pig for his weird experiments?" He took her shoulders in two strong hands and she felt again like that bookish college student, overwhelmed by just how big the feeling of two hands could be. "We're both in over our head. We can fight it, or we can accept it and try to deal with it somehow."

She realized in a dizzy, sick moment of clarity that his eyes had never left hers.

"Hey, look on the bright side," he said, shrugging. He smiled, not the callous, amused-to-exasperated grin she was used to but the smile of a friend trying to help. His face was bright because it was the only light he knew how to bring her right now. A half-laugh echoed on the quiet pavement. "At least you're in Wonderland."

"No." She shook her head, and the tears came. His face turned into a kaleidoscope's mosaic of dull color. "It's not Wonderland. It's just too many memories and..." She blinked and felt the tension break as the tears found her cheeks. "I just wish I could forget. Just for a moment, forget everything that's happened and..."

For the second time in as many minutes, Olivia stopped short.

This time it was because Peter had pressed a small bellflower of a kiss to her lips.

A kiss like a son laying a lily on his mother's grave. Small and inadequate and already penitent.

He pulled back and frowned. Opened his mouth. Couldn't think of what to say, Olivia could tell. Whereas she herself could only think of one thing.

"Well, maybe it's a little like Wonderland."

She smiled at him.

"Sometimes," she added.

"So I'd invite you up," Peter said, "but my roommate's a pain."

Olivia laughed. "That's all right. I do have to get to work tomorrow."

"The consulting lifestyle, I'm telling you. The only way to go."

She'd put the car in park, leaving it idling as he fumbled in his coat pocket with one hand for his keys. And with the other hand he'd taken hers. It was a comforting touch, and she felt a little cold to let it go.

He cleared his throat. "Olivia, I... uh. I don't want you to think..."

"Shh." She put a finger on his lips and leaned in, unsmiling. Beads of sweat prickled at his hairline. "I know. And to tell you the truth, there may be a time when I need more than that. I'm thinking..." She paused and frowned, then went on. "I'm hoping that I can come to you. But if I can't, I need to know."

His look told her the answer. She straightened up.

He dusted a kiss across her knuckles and got out of the car. A wave, a smile, and he was gone. Olivia shifted into drive and pulled the car leftward out of the parking space.

It wasn't Wonderland, this weird world she'd dropped into. Not by a long shot.

But there were times when she thought that maybe it was.
Lisa: Peter Bishopfailegaidin on October 28th, 2008 07:10 pm (UTC)
That was beautiful. You certainly have a way with words, and you create such wonderful images, that I was completely sucked into the story. You've got the characters down exactly right. Wonderful job.
Tiptoe39: pridetiptoe39 on October 28th, 2008 08:11 pm (UTC)
thank you so much. i really appreciate it. :D
alamo_girl80: Fringe - Peter Poke!alamo_girl80 on October 28th, 2008 07:50 pm (UTC)
Alright. I'm jealous. Here I am struggling like a demented lawnmower, choking out a Fringe story - and you whip out this piece of beautiful.

Her heart was an onyx crystal. It did not absorb light, and it could not bleed.

Good god, that was brilliant! And your ending was open and wonderfully angsty, and left me wanting more. Which is like candy before Halloween to me.

Please keep up the great Fringe work!
Tiptoe39: squeetiptoe39 on October 28th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
i'm thinking of maybe doing a third - this one prolly rated mature... when she comes back to him for 'more'.... comments like this will go a long way toward persuading me to do so! LOVE!
The Soul says: - alamo_girl80 on October 28th, 2008 08:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Soul says: - tiptoe39 on October 28th, 2008 09:01 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Soul says: - alamo_girl80 on October 29th, 2008 02:56 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Soul says: - tiptoe39 on October 29th, 2008 03:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Soul says: - alamo_girl80 on October 29th, 2008 04:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Soul says: - tiptoe39 on October 29th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Soul says: - alamo_girl80 on October 29th, 2008 05:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
The Soul says: - greyslostwho on November 1st, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Anonymous) on October 28th, 2008 08:06 pm (UTC)
you seem to have an excellent grasp on pacing and characterization...
write more. please :)
Tiptoe39: thank youtiptoe39 on October 28th, 2008 08:39 pm (UTC)
Why thank you! Please feel free to peruse my master list if you'd like... not that I'm a shameless attention hoar or anything :-)
JHD: Fringe Olivia Peterjhd91 on October 28th, 2008 08:25 pm (UTC)
Here through fringefiction.

Love the story and your imagery - "dusted a kiss across her knuckles" is my favorite.

Tiptoe39: pridetiptoe39 on October 28th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I am a sucker for imagery too so if I can pull it off, I'm a happy girl. Thanks again!
Fish Hook Felixidoucious Sunshine Rossblown_seed on October 28th, 2008 08:32 pm (UTC)
"Peter had pressed a small bellflower of a kiss to her lips."

If I was a theif (or wrote fiction) I'd steal this.
Tiptoe39: thank youtiptoe39 on October 28th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)
oh noes! maybe i should put a copyright notice on it :D

Thank you!
saavikam77: Destinysaavikam77 on October 28th, 2008 09:42 pm (UTC)
Awwwwww... this was wonderfully sweet! I love the idea of her being a bookish college student, trying to figure herself out and not quite fitting in. :p And I so love Peter for being that strong presence to keep her grounded. ^_^
Tiptoe39: fringetiptoe39 on October 29th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
thank you saavi!! yes, their characters are so compatible it just gives me the squee. Can you imagine, say, in seasons 3 or 4, when they're a kick-ass tag-team and then they fall back behind the cow for a little nookie? :snerk:
(Deleted comment)
Tiptoe39: tamakitiptoe39 on October 29th, 2008 03:19 pm (UTC)
thank you :-) so, so much.
Rosemerry: fringe - not alone by nikka-88rosemerry on October 29th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
lovely :)
Tiptoe39: lovetiptoe39 on October 29th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
why thank you! :D
mbeancntr: Fringe - Olivia research modembeancntr on October 29th, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
Wonderfully written and great imagery.
Tiptoe39: samustiptoe39 on October 29th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
why thank you so much for commenting! and awesome icon :D I answer your kick-ass female with my kick-ass female :D
then all the chimichangos went crazy loco: fringe: handorange_yarn on October 29th, 2008 05:25 am (UTC)
A kiss like a son laying a lily on his mother's grave. Small and inadequate and already penitent.

This piece was beautiful, but that line was my favorite. Kudos!
Tiptoe39: pridetiptoe39 on October 29th, 2008 03:21 pm (UTC)
thank you so much!!! that means the world to me.
don't try to fix me; i'm not broken: fangirl adjective into verbeffie214 on October 29th, 2008 08:21 pm (UTC)
Here via alamo_girl80 (I'm the one that came up with the cursing-in-lieu-of-flowers thing.)

I'm honestly speechless at just how beautiful and poignant this piece is. (And trust me, that NEVER happens.) You've captured two very complex characters exceptionally well, and gave us tremendous insight. Your prose is lyrical...and, yeah, this is where I start yelling at you. :)

Awesome, awesome job.
Tiptoe39: thank youtiptoe39 on October 29th, 2008 08:23 pm (UTC)
I've never been so happy to be yelled at before. <3 Thank you.
a.k.a. Belkaprimus_sile on October 30th, 2008 10:31 am (UTC)
Thank you so much for these two little stories! I absolutely adore them!
And, yes, looking forward for the third part (you promised!);)
Anyway, good luck with all your fics!
speccygeekgrrl on July 1st, 2009 06:07 pm (UTC)
Dude. I wasn't into Fringe when you posted this which is the ONLY explanation for how I didn't read it. This is absolutely gorgeous. ♥ I love the subtle tension underlying their friendship, Peter's unexpected sweetness, the little bits of humor slipped in so organically.

You're one of my favorite writers for a reason, and this story hits many of those reasons very well. ♥
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on July 1st, 2009 06:23 pm (UTC)
Daw, thank you honey!!! you've been too good to me lately :D