Disclaimer: I own nothing. Fringe belongs to J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
A/N: These drabbles aren't connected and won't always be in chronological order.
A/N 2: Reviews are Good. This has been a subtle hint from the author - Please return to your regularly scheduled reading.Cortexiphan AU
Astrid is fascinated by every aspect of the drug trial.
Oh – study. Game? They aren’t supposed to call it a drug trial (but Astrid has seen the paper work on the clip boards, the graphs left on the assistants desks while she’s waiting for her Dad to pick her up. She knows what this is). The adults have corrected her on this every time (their eyes getting wide and panicked for a second and their smiles a bit too
big as they talk too quickly and assure her that no, no this isn’t a drug trial. Then utterly seriously - don’t tell anyone that.) but their replacement word keeps changing depending on who she slips up with.
The problem is, she’s always been a kid interested in science and never one to shy away from doctors. She isn’t afraid to ask them almost as many questions as they ask her. Watching the entire time the needle slips under her skin promptly and efficiently secured in place. And then the deep red-bronze translucent liquid swirls down through the tube into her IV and into her
Astrid imagines it traveling up her arm (crawling inside her veins like the little red fire ants outside on the playground) – crawling up, up, up. Up her arm, up her shoulder, up her neck, up her face.
Until it is inside of her brain.
And suddenly she cannot think of those sorts of things anymore.
She knows it is hard to breathe. She is pretty sure she screams sometimes.
Other parts…what happens after her eyes flutter shut (has she been running? She does feel tired afterwards. Swimming…her mind automatically rejects that and jumps to drowning
. But that can't be right because she isn’t wet….and she didn’t leave the chair.) Astrid never clearly remembers.
But she does start to feel different.
Following Dr. Walter’s instruction, standing around in a circle with some others her eyes meet those of another kid - Olive. She knows of
her of course (although since she the other girl is a few years older and is part of the Army Base group and hers’ is usually at the University, they aren’t often mixed. But Astrid was told she would start doing her “activities” here now since her old partner moved away and a new one has yet to be arranged for her), Olive is gossiped about though as the Dr.’s favorite. The one the most test are done on.
And she isn’t hard to pick out - there aren’t that many of them and Olive’s waist length straight-as-pin blonde hair is as easily recognizable as Astrid’s own crazy set of curls.
(There is also another identifiable feature that points to this being the
Olive. Bruises. The blue and purple that currently curl around her wrist like someone grabbed her too hard.)
Astrid’s eyes meet hers and she smiles brightly, her Mom always told her it didn’t hurt to try and be friendly. After a moment of hesitation Olive smiles back.
The low thrumming starts as soon as her dad gets home.
She kept rubbing her eyes trying to get the feeling to ease up in her head.
“You alright, kiddo?” her Daddy asks her putting a hand on her shoulder.
“Dad,” she gasps taking his hand in both of hers, “what happened?”
He gives a sigh but doesn’t try to pull away from her grip, although she knows he could. “Just an accident at work honey. Book case fell over and I tried to catch it,” he shook his head. As he is talking Astrid keeps eye contact and struggles to concentrate over a feeling of sudden warmth in her head, in her hands. Of sudden pain in her own arm. “Don’t worry about it. It’s,” he looks down at his arm, puzzled and Astrid follows his gaze to an arm that looks much different than it did before, “actually it’s feeling much better now. Huh.”
He gently pulled away from her and Astrid lets him, suddenly feeling really sleepy and she can’t help but notice that the thrumming is gone. Her father is staring at his arm flexing his fingers. “That’s really strange,” he said. “I could have sworn it was-”
“Daddy,” Astrid whispered and her Father instantly looked over at her. “I think I should go to bed no-“ she interrupts herself by yawning widely.
Her Father chuckled and kissed her on the head. “Of course, sweety. Don’t forget to brush your teeth n-OW,” he fake yawns, teasing her.
Astrid let out a giggle and smiled at him (always smile) before turning to run upstairs. Once in her own room she pushed up her sleeve to look at what she already knew was there – bruises identical to the ones her father had gotten that day.
The bruises they now shared
, pain halved for both of them.
They would show up though (just like they had on her Father’s arm) if she wore short sleeves…or when she went back to drug trials. She didn’t want questions, something in her wanted to hide and protect this power (ability? she wasn’t sure what it was) until she understood it.
As if reacting to her worry the bruises started to move - startled she quickly pulled off her shirt wanting to keep track of them. When her eyes were on the dark shadows under her skin (oddly warm and painful as they moved, but a tingly sort of pain like she banged her elbow) again they had settled near her rib cage.
Biting her lip Astrid poked them and let out a startled whimper. As unreal as this all seemed, those were
real. And they hurt.
“Can you move them on me too?” was Olive's very first question after she had pulled the other girl behind a tree to tell her what happened and show her. She watched the injuries travel with an intensity Astrid both wanted to and wasn’t sure she wanted to understand. “Can you make sure no one sees,” she whispered pushing up her own sleeve and showing more bruises than Astrid had noticed when she first met her and the thrumming that had started when Olive entered the building today (even before Astrid saw her) racketed up in intensity.
Somehow these looked worse than those that had been on her Father’s arm – even though his had been deeper, harsher bruises. But these were angrier, shaped like a hand, and just looking at them made her want to cry.
And part of that was the fact that Olive didn’t want her to try and help, (like the thrumming in her head was pushing her to do. So, much so it was hard to articulate even her thoughts
). No, Olive just wanted her to move them so that no one would see. No one would ask leading questions about who made those marks.
So she could hide. (And wouldn't hiding them mean hiding for him too?
But, Astrid had practiced moving them on herself a lot and by this point was pretty sure she could
move them on someone else. “No,” she answered solidly. And for some reason (even though it was a lie) it felt like the right answer.
Olive didn’t push her, just bit her lip and nodded as if she already knew the answer.
“But-,” Astrid offered, “I can,” she stumbled as tried to explain over the feeling behind her eyes - reaching out before Olive dropped her arm again. “We could share them?” Astrid offered tentatively. The other girl breathed in harshly through her nose and pulled her arm to her chest but hadn’t covered it yet so Astrid kept talking.
“When I heal,” she stumbled over the word she’d never used in such a way before, “I only take half. So, we’re both
healing. And that way it will go away quicker,” she tried to explain. The other girl was wavering and so Astrid through out her last try, resorting to begging. “Please
, there is this thrumming in my head and it won’t go away until you let me help. Please
“Alright,” Olive gave in placing her arm in Astrid’s hands (oddly mirroring her father). And on instinct, Astrid looked into her green eyes and thought about how much more she wished she could help, how much more she knew was wrong but couldn’t do anything about.
The warmth in her head and hands wasn’t unexpected this time – the wash of fear
that accompanied the pain in her arm this time was.
Without missing a beat she didn’t let it effect her, didn’t let it show on her face, and anyway, Olive was wide-eyed and smiling, fascinated by the oddness of what had happened. She almost giggled when Astrid made the bruises make a circle (like a bizarre circus trick) before settling with the others at her hip before pulling her shirt back down.
(Astrid just kept calm, kept smiling – just like her mother used to tell her to.)
Olive is the favorite, the strong one. But perhaps sometimes
someone else has to be strong for the strong ones.
So, she didn’t let it show that something in her still strummed - wondered if she could half it again.
Pull all of Olive’s pain into her until the thrumming stopped. She can keep it hidden and heal it for her.
She could. She knows
But the problem is, Astrid already knows it won’t really work (at least not for very long) because Olive will just be hurt again (helplessness-fear-stop-please
). And there is only so many times Astrid can do this before her Daddy notices.
Nick suddenly runs around their tree out of breath and surprised to see them.
“Are you hiding too?” he asks whispering as best he can while panting.
“We weren’t,” Astrid says eager to get her brain far away from this subject now, “but I’d like to. Who’s ‘It’?”
“Su-“ he starts to say.
“-san,” the curly haired girl in question finishes, smiling wickedly and everyone squeals and scatters running in all directions.
Astrid is heading towards the daycare building and Olive outpaces her with her longer legs sure to reach the alcove she was aiming for first but with a grin she grabs Astrid’s arm to tow her along quicker. They get there together laughing and breathing hard, leaning against the brick.
Before they can collect their breath, Dr. Walter opens the door causing them to startle and try to straighten up but he is smiling at them in that peculiar way of his.
“No, no it’s quite all right. But after break you'll be doing some testing,” he says.
“Alright,” Olive responds automatically.
This time he chuckles, shaking his head and although she is usually comfortable with him (he is the only one that doesn’t seem startled by her questions most of the time) this time when he looks at her she gets a bad feeling. “No, not just you Olive, dear. The two of you together.”