Rating: General Audiences
Characters: Nina Sharp, Olivia Dunham
Summary: Nina used to believe there were no coincidences; there was only chance. After the most brilliant theory, the most conducive set-up, outcomes could be neither entirely controlled nor predicted. It was at once what science hinged upon and what it desperately wished to deny.
[Remix Madness piece of Double Exposure by icepixie]
Nina used to believe there were no coincidences; there was only chance. After the most brilliant theory, the most conducive set-up, outcomes could be neither entirely controlled nor predicted. It was at once what science hinged upon and what it desperately wished to deny.
Dr. Post from ExtenzaLive in her report had dubbed it "Live Midas" technology. The glove piqued Nina's interest not because of its potential applications (too numerous too count) or how its patents could be leveraged (to great effect even and especially in this market's oligopoly). The contact person for further intel in the file so purposefully nondescript in its light, warm brown binder did. Fringe Division, Boston, it said. And: Olivia Dunham.
Her fingers paused on the name, bold and underlined. They were sure and firm again a second later on the button, almost a hundred percent steady. "Dr. Fayette, please."
She recalled her resentment, half-hidden but fully-realised, at not having the genial mind of William and Walter -- their boundless beliefs built on a foundation of understanding what held the world together in its inmost folds. But she learned early enough that her talents were perhaps more valuable. They were certainly valued higher in more concrete terms.
It was a marketable skill to set the world into motion.
Her mother still had it, on good days when she cared enough to draw the weapon but, Nina pondered, never blood. Too alarming, its colour and scent. A well-placed word or ten (but never a hundred), a hand on an arm. Later on, a signature or a call would be enough. Not enough to yield the result, of course; chaos theory was far less powerful than the spark of the human mind, just one human mind -- but to tip that first domino in one row. Tip the first one in a second row, crossing over the first. The first one in the third row going below. Et cetera.
Only sometimes, there were no such other things. There were just the things that mattered.
Eloise's words were soft but perfectly smooth through the intercom. "Miss Sharp, it's Olivia Dunham. She asks whether you'd be available in the next hour or so."
Nina had a hologram projector on her desk to underline key points in meetings. It was turned off now, but Nina was almost certain she could still see the faint shadow of the last presentation on the side wall: fat bullet-points and tall graphs, blurring together as to almost appear like human silhouettes.
"Yes," she said, and her voice managed to almost echo Eloise's, who had been chosen for this job after all. "Send her in."
Inside, Olivia seemed larger and smaller at the same time, more nervous. It wasn't unfamiliar; it did however throw Nina back not just weeks since she last saw her daughter but years, almost two decades. The girl delivered to her doorstep had been a coiled spring: power likely to explode in your hands. Olivia quickly learned control, though, and unlike Nina, she focused purely on herself in that endeavor.
She was not there yet, again. Nina did not know whether that was sad or heartening; whether she wanted her daughter back or Olivia back to normal, whatever that was: happy in and with her existence, freely chosen. She rose, rose before she'd considered it.
Olivia gave her a stiff-at-the-edges smile as well as the explanation for her presence Nina was well aware of. Her inquiry about Nina's well-being came out a tad too slow, only of course that was Olivia on the surface; underneath there would be, just had to be that rolling river of love and anger and interest. The intense will to channel them all into action.
Nina leveled her breathing, but not quite fast enough, and it took her space and time of four English words to at least appear calm. To what effect, though? This Olivia knew nothing of her, merely of an alternate-universe counterpart that by all accounts had been first nemesis and then mentor. Nina stilled. She felt cold. Absolute zero was achieved at 459.67°F; it was also achieved at Massive Dynamic.
Her daughter would have raised one eyebrow, suspicion meshed with sweetness in the curve of her lips. Nina, what's wrong? This woman looked like her but didn't act like her older self, glanced to the side as if ready to turn on her comfortable flats. Fight or flee, Nina thought. Only there was nothing to fight here but her own choice, and the fate it had brought to both of them. She felt warmer again; the earlier shiver was back: a faint tremble in the arm that had become an extension of her self. It reached out now to steady her whole body, one fingertip sliding across the bottom of the photo frame from their Colorado River vacation. Metal upon metal. It sent a sharp zing up Nina's arm, galvanized her. Nina thought she might or might not have made a sound; what she definitely did was grip the picture, tilt-and-turn it so it faced this Olivia, who was not her child but, staring at it, looked exactly like her. "Do you remember this?"
Olivia did not look away this time. She wanted to, though, that much was obvious. Before she shook her head, quickly as if to get it out, get it behind her once and for all, Nina knew her answer. "No."
Now Nina did exhale harshly enough that the Olivia blinked, focused more fully on her when she spoke again. "Neither do I." She remembered the moment itself, the steady roar of the water behind them and the scent of Rachel's hair, who had been going through a Professor Brightberry phase at that time and smelled artificial, of synthetic compounds not fashioned at MD but added liberally to cheap merchandise. She remembered Olivia's keen focus on learning to canoe, serious about it even then, barely in her teens. It was true Nina did not recall anything else about that vacation, but even if she had, she wouldn't have told Olivia.
Olivia told her, "Nina. I know neither of us remember much of what happened in the other timeline, but I have a few hours before I have to be back in Boston, and I...do you want to go to lunch or something?"
Of all the visions in her mind's eye, this one had been her favorite: Olivia, remembering enough fragments to hold onto, hold onto while reaching out to Nina again. It hadn't been too saccharine -- like Olivia sighing and sinking into her outstretched arms -- and it hadn't been desolate enough to made her fear she would, as ever, be her own medical department's best customer. But it had been one of a dozen possible outcomes, endlessly mirrored across as many unknown universes. Careful as Nina was in setting up the pieces, here were no guarantees as to how they'd fall or stand.
But the world after finding Olivia, after founding Fringe Division had shown her concepts beyond mere probabilities. A different kind of chance to take, and a different motivation for it. "I'd like that," she said and watched the glimmer in Olivia's eyes grow in perfect proportion to the feeling in her own chest. Nina, across the space of her desk and the room, tipped her body forward. "I'd like that very much."
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