Relationships: Astrid Farnsworth/Lincoln Lee
Characters: Astrid Farnsworth, Lincoln Lee, Olivia Dunham, Walter Bishop, Peter Bishop
Beta thanks to: Sam Johnsson, who was as ever invaluable in removing those "What are you doing here?" passages, and to Ziparumpazoo, who gave great bird's eye advice.
Summary: It was the way, Astrid thought, that Lincoln looked at the world: with a sense of wonder and dread and determination. Goes slightly AU after Fringe 4x03, "Alone In The World".
[Remix of Beginnings by norgbelulah]
It was the way, Astrid thought, that Lincoln looked at the world: with a sense of wonder and dread and determination.
The first thing she saw was Walter's pigeon, its short-lived flight. It circled the ceiling of the lab before dropping down like the dead thing it was. Only then did she notice the man: stiff suit and stiffer posture, frowning at the bird and Walter alike. He didn't see her at first, but that was how it always went -- how Astrid liked it, in fact. Observation and assessment was easier this way: white guy, FBI agent; it didn't take any skills to realise he was trouble, and that was when Olivia came in and fully, vocally agreed.
Lincoln Lee's image became clearer quickly: bright but shot through with anger and grief. You mean you lie to them? Astrid's hands on the keyboard stilled, then. That night, her fingers hovered over the phone too and didn't pick it up, didn't dial. Her father would have understood the emotion, but she couldn't have shared the reason. Aspects of their work weren't just classified but too complex to put into words -- except, it seemed, by one wide-eyed agent from Hartford, Connecticut. Maybe they did need him, needed to keep him. Just to take a step back, and a closer look at their choices. Astrid caught up with Olivia the next day, bumping into her in the file room by non-accident on Astrid's part. Olivia listened. The line of her jaw was still firm, but her facial expression was not at all. It told Astrid even before Olivia nodded that she'd won. They all had.
Astrid hadn't gotten get her job only by being in the wrong place at the right time. She did have the ability to spot patterns better than most people, and that included potential ones. When she found Lincoln Lee standing next to Walter at 7:58am with the air of someone already under the influence of Walter's rants and raves, gray shadows below his eyes, she thought that if he belonged with them, he would belong with them. When Olivia mentioned being puzzled by Lincoln making it to the lab even earlier than her, Astrid's first thought was, Oh, honey, followed closely by, Maybe that's just the thing you need. The person. But Olivia shrugged off Astrid's suggestion of lovely Agent Lee, every angle of her body sharp, discomfited. Astrid was good at smoothing her edges, bending them. Sometimes, she felt she knew a secret so precious: Olivia Dunham, soft and smiling when it was just the two of them over coffee, over pie. Over scotch. But there was nothing pliable about Olivia when it came to this her new partner, and Astrid didn't pursue.
She didn't pursue the notion via Olivia, that was. Astrid found Lincoln at the lab after Gus had been eradicated, looking more lost than ever. There were dotted bruises across his face and neck, spiralling up where the fungus had clung to its host. Astrid didn't try to hide her stare. Every creature was trying to hold on to something. Someone. At his self-deprecating, I'm fine, really, Astrid smiled but couldn't help but let him see his own deflection. It worked, oddly enough. When she pushed him for some connection of a less destructive sort, he gave in quickly enough to make her think that much as he didn't want company, he needed it right now. Lincoln did try to evade her gentle words, even at their table at Boloco's, glancing away. But she persevered. Patted him on the hand and looked concerned and surreptitiously ordered extra chili for him. That too, he needed. After they'd finished the food, he laughed a little and had to blow his nose and wipe his eyes. Astrid thought that it wasn't just the spice that had made his eyes water.
Muscle memory let Astrid push the buttons with ease. Phone pressed between shoulder and ear while she chopped the basil, Astrid told Lincoln about Cameron James. About how a naked stranger seemed to know Fringe Division well enough to startle people further up the food chain into a high-risk prisoner's transport right the next morning. The hitch in his breath made the distance from Boston to Hartford seem at once insignificant and too-large. I thought you people didn't believe in coincidences, he said softly, and that was true. The so-called ghost that Walter saw out of the corner of his eye had solidified into a man: appearing out of thin air to haunt them. And yet it wasn't Dr. Bishop who pulled him in, Lincoln was most likely shaking his head at the other end of the line here, Maybe Bishop was right when he said Olivia was doing that. Isn't she the one with latent...psychic powers? When he tested out the word carefully, Astrid had to bite her lip not to laugh. Not that Olivia's behaviour these next few days was much cause for cheer. Her unhappiness at the slightest suggestion of Peter Bishop was blatant, belying the darkly-lit mirror of her dreams of him.
Lincoln had nightmares now. His face scrunched up when he told Astrid over their nightly soy smoothie (better than warm milk, Walter had promised). In some ways, this was worse than his earlier insomnia: seeing misshapen creatures in his waking hours as well as during night-time. His eyes were earnest and very blue when he leaned across their booth, and Astrid swallowed the rest of her drink and her first response too -- it's going to be all right, Lincoln. Because no, it would not. He would be going back to his hotel room, to toss and turn and think about Robert and the shapeshifter in Nadine Park's body. Astrid hesitated. What Lincoln needed was comfort, and while she wanted to give that, there was a lot more that she'd grown to want. Beyond just looking at the clean lines of his face. Beyond just listening to the mellow tones of his voice hiding sarcasm and a sharp mind. Beyond his dimples deepening at another of her eye-rolls after Walter's antics. Astrid knew her father wasn't fond of his baby girl's increasingly frequent mentions of one Agent Lee, being who he was, but Astrid was fond of Lincoln. When she caught his gaze again, he smiled, sweeter than anything on the menu here. Maybe, he said, in his slow but precise diction, and didn't look away for even one heartbeat, we can go somewhere else, and we can talk until my mind's full of nice things?
Astrid didn't consider herself vain, but she privately thought she did make a nice picture. Nude in front of her mirror, she could sometimes be critical, but Lincoln wasn't when he'd slipped off her vest, her silk blouse. He went even more wide-eyed instead, mouth opening ever so slightly. Astrid, he murmured when he'd found his voice again, hands skimming over her hips, sliding gently into the back of her jeans to pull her against him. Is this okay? She wanted to laugh, pulled him down with a hand curled into the short hair at the nape of his neck. Astrid told him, Yes, yes, it very much is, and kissed him until he went breathless for real. On her wrought-iron bed, then, she loved how he stared up at her -- as if she was the thread tying him to a world spinning too fast. And there was yet more she could do for him, and he for her. When she showed him the silk scarf, he nodded without a moment's consideration. He shivered under her fingers when she tied the fabric around his eyes: tight but not too much so. Astrid sighed at feeling the fast-faster thud of Lincoln's heart under her palm when she curved across his body and pressed a row of kisses along his jawline, his collarbone, making him arch up into her touch, his movement near-helpless. She shuddered when she moved over and with him, tether and tethered herself with Lincoln deep inside her. He would close his eyes for her, she knew with certainty. But he'd have to concentrate and keep them squeezed shut, with effort; this way he didn't need to. He could let go yet not be let go.
Lincoln wouldn't be alone in the darkness behind his eyelids. He moaned and twined his fingers with hers, pressure just this side of pain, his hips stuttering under hers in an imperfect, perfect rhythm. Astrid gasped, tilted her body forward, feeling her own pleasure roll upward and down into her toes. So she tugged off with shaking hands the cloth covering Lincoln's eyes to see them shift into focus and focus on her: grateful and warm and, right here and right now, impossibly full of light.
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