Characters: Astrid Farnsworth, Peter Bishop, (Walter Bishop)
Spoilers: Through Season 3, Episode 4 (and may not be compliant with episodes beyond S3 E8)
Notes: Written for the trope_bingo prompt "doppelganger + chosen family". Because how could I not write about Fringe for that? I don't think I've ever written fic for a finished show that I haven't watched all of before, but this story, really more of a vignette, was demanding to be written. And so here it is.
Also on AO3.
"Good morning." Astrid let the door to the Harvard lab close behind her. "Where's Walter?"
Peter looked up from his sound board, where he was fussing yet again with the connections for the machine from the other side. "Hi, Astrid. Walter's in his office, going through his records. Again. I think he expects to dig up some lost Hendrix album or something." He nodded at the pink box she was carrying under her arm. "But as soon as he finds out you brought donuts, I'm sure he'll emerge."
"I'll take him one." Astrid held up the box, flipped the top up, and presented it to Peter, who took the one with rainbow sprinkles. Then she set the box down on the corner of the table, folding her hands over the edge. "Peter? You can tell me to back off if you want, but I was wondering. Did the two of you ever--" She glanced toward the closed door of the office, then back at Peter, her voice dropping. "You know, talk. About everything that happened?"
Peter set the donut down on the table. "I don't think that's really any of your business," he said, voice hardening.
"It's not." Astrid hopped up on a stool across the table from him. "Except, it kind of is. I care about Walter, you know? And I work with him pretty well -- I can't keep him focused like you can, but I do better than anyone else. So I feel responsible for him. And when you were gone..." she shook her head. "He was falling apart." Peter pushed his chair back from the table, frowning, and Astrid held up a hand. "That's not your fault. And if you don't want to deal, I can't blame you. What Walter did to you and to your family on the other side was wrong. But I noticed--"
Her voice trailed off, and Peter looked up, brow furrowed. "What?"
"The other night, at Massive Dynamic. When Walter disappeared and you thought he might be in trouble." Peter looked away, but Astrid persisted. "You still care what happens to him."
"Yeah, well." Peter shrugged. "I guess it's become a habit." He leaned forward in his seat, resting folded arms on the table. "It's weird, you know? I spent so much of my life distancing myself from Walter, trying to pretend I didn't even have a father. Now I have two." He chuckled, but it was a hard sound, no humor in it. "One is a lunatic who kidnapped me when I was seven. The other is a stranger who wants to use me to end the world. And these are my options?" He shook his head and leaned back to look at the ceiling, his next words almost a sigh. "Yeah. I don't know."
For a long moment, he was silent, Astrid watching the struggle pass across his face. Then he lowered his chin to look at her, eyes wide and clear. "I know one thing, though. If Walter, our Walter, thought sacrificing me was the only way to save the world?" He stared over her shoulder, at the door to Walter's office, with such intensity that she almost couldn't breathe. "He'd find another way."
Astrid could only nod. The truth of that was inescapable.
Peter let out a breath, shoulders shuddering. "Anyway. I've made my choice, and Walter knows it. That'll have to be enough for now."
"Fair enough," Astrid said with a gentle smile. "In the meantime, if you ever need to talk..."
"Thanks." Peter returned her smile, then leaned back over his work, and Astrid hopped off the stool, donut box in hand.
She was halfway to Walter's office when Peter spoke again. "Hey, Astrid." She stopped, turned around to look at him. "The other you, over on the other side. Do you ever wonder about her?"
Astrid shifted the box into both arms. "Of course I do," she said. "It's human nature to be curious. But after everything you've said about Walternate, and the other Olivia?" She shook her head. "I don't think I really want to know."
Peter looked at her for a second, then chuckled. "Yeah. You're probably right."
She smiled back at him, then continued on to Walter's office. She couldn't fix everything for Walter, or for Peter either. But at least she could give them donuts to start their day, and maybe that could help them all pretend that things were back to normal.
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