Birch-slender shadows moved in silent single file through the winter barren trees. Frozen leaves crackled under bare feet, counterpoint to the distant clangor of midnight church bells. Once past the last security fence, they ran without stopping.

Other children would wake on Christmas morning and celebrate. Not these.

By the gray hour before dawn, before any pursuit began, they had already scattered like leaves on the wind.

If any of them looked back, there was no one to see.

Part One

Now you see me. Now you don't.
Now you say you love me. Pretty soon you won't.
Dilaudid :: The Mountain Goats

Neal's hands were shaking again. He set the file he'd been reading down carefully, before the papers it held could take on a telltale flutter. As soon as he had, he pressed one hand flat against them and hid the other under the desk, clenching it into a fist. He wouldn't give himself away. He knew Peter might be looking at him through the glass walls of his office right now if he looked up. He kept his face set in a mask of boredom, refusing to look at either hand, because looking drew attention. Humans were hardwired that way; they looked at what the others were looking at, their eyes were drawn to movement first and then to bright colors. He'd used that knowledge to accomplish everything from sleight of hand tricks to major cons; it was true in training, it was true in prison, and it was true in the offices of the FBI's New York Financial Crimes unit.

His hands had begun shaking after Kate died. He'd thought it was starting then, but maybe that really had been PTSD, the way Peter had intimated the one night he'd tried to get Neal to talk about what he felt. The shaking hadn't lasted much longer than his quest for revenge on Garrett Fowler for her death.

Neal squeezed his eyes shut for a breath. No one understood why he'd had to break out to find Kate, why keeping them apart had been such cruelty. They'd had so little time left anyway.

But maybe the bomb had been kinder than this. He almost wished Peter hadn't kept him from throwing himself into the fire with Kate.


Because his fingers had begun trembling weeks ago and these tremors weren't going away.

Neal forced himself to breathe slow and easy, calmed his heartbeat, and methodically made himself relax, glad he hadn't stripped off his suit jacket when he sat down. Taut muscles and hunched shoulders were too easy to notice with nothing but a shirt and vest on. When he knew he could move with his usual fluid grace, he rose, snagged his coffee mug and headed for the break room to fill it.

He palmed a pill from the unmarked bottle in his jacket pocket and dry swallowed it in the corridor. The crumbling tablet made him want to gag and the lingering taste made him grateful for even the FBI's terrible coffee. Only five pills left in the bottle. He'd have to call Mozzie to get more. They didn't fix anything, but they'd hide the symptoms a while longer.

He'd almost made it back to his desk and the cold case he'd been trying to read through when Peter stepped out of his office and pointed to him, Diana and Jones.

With a shrug, because really, it wasn't like he wanted to bore himself to death with a cold case, Neal trotted up the stairs ahead of Jones. Diana joined them a moment later. He actually felt a little gratitude for the glass walls once they were all inside Peter's office. Jones and Peter were big men and four people jammed in one smallish room would have felt pretty crowded otherwise.

Peter surveyed the three of them, standing with his hands on his hips, shoulder holster pulling the relatively acceptable shirt he was wearing across his chest. Neal sipped his awful coffee and tried not to wince over Peter's unfortunate tie. Why did Elizabeth let him out of the house wearing those things?

"The Wichita Group," Peter announced.

Neal raised his eyebrows.

"Any of you ever heard of them?"

Jones shook his head and Diana said, "No."


Neal widened his eyes at Peter. "Tell me this isn't insurance fraud."

A tiny smile lifted Peter's lips in response. "No, Neal, this isn't insurance fraud. It's defrauding the government for millions of dollars."

Even though he felt like sitting down and doing nothing, Neal made himself grin big and bounce a little in place. Not too much, he didn't want to slosh coffee on his shirt or vest. He had a wonderful dry cleaner who could get any stain out, but he worried the stuff would eat a hole through anything less than Kevlar.
"Oooh. So? What is it?"

"Defense contractors?" Jones speculated.

Neal maintained his smile with an effort.

"The Wichita Group is an R & D company receiving big bucks from DARPA," Peter said. "I'll let our guests explain the rest when they get here."

"Guests?" Jones failed to look thrilled. After nearly three years, Neal understood that Federal agencies didn't cooperate often or well. Every time they made an effort, it ended in a worse disaster, even post-9/11.

"Agents Dunham and Lee are with the Department of Homeland Security, Fringe Division," Peter said in a neutral tone. "They'll have their own consultant, Peter Bishop, with them."

"Will he have his own anklet?" Diana joked.

Neal gave her a faked dirty look.

Peter's gaze sharpened as he spotted something over their shoulders. "And here they are now."

Neal half turned and eyed the three people walking through the glass doors etched with the FBI seal into the bull pen. He figured he could pick out the two agents and the consultant, even without the subtle pull on their clothes that came from going armed. The tall woman was in charge, confident in it, not bothering with more than basic make-up, her straight blonde hair pulled back in a no-nonsense ponytail, her feet in low-heeled boots. She didn't make the less than stylish dark pants and coat over a white dress shirt ensemble look fashionable and she obviously didn't care, preferring pragmatism to style. She didn't need it anyway; she had the solemn visage of a pale-faced Valkyrie.

She carried herself with the same confidence Diana did. If she was half as competent as Diana, Neal knew he'd need to stay on his toes around her. He found that incredibly sexy.

The tall man behind her had to be the consultant. The heavy navy pea coat he wore covered jeans and a long-sleeved gray henley. He had a face that was almost boyish, except for the sharp look of intelligence in his gaze. A good face for a con, Neal thought to himself, his features soft enough to distract from the intimidation factor that came with his height. He'd bet Bishop could play it either way, puppy cute or pissed off attack dog, depending on the circumstances.

The man behind him wore black-rimmed glasses, a slight frown, and appeared almost slight next to the consultant. His brown hair looked like he'd cut it with kitchen scissors in the dark. Neal watched him move, though, and decided he wouldn't want to tangle with him either. The shoulders of his suit were damp darkened from the drizzle outside. He looked like someone who hadn't slept well in months. Of course, the overhead banks of fluorescent lights and the gray-and-white office color scheme would have made George Hamilton look washed out, even on a sunny morning.

Neal still sympathized.

"Let's move this into the conference room," Peter said, "we'll need the space."

Neal followed Jones out of the office without making a smart remark. He migrated over to the windows and looked out, finishing his coffee and reflecting on the varieties of fraud that could bring the White Collar unit together with the DHS and wondering what this Fringe Division had uncovered. Or suspected, he supposed, since they wouldn't ask for help from outside if they already had evidence for a case.

He didn't like the idea of even skating close to a defense contractor. The sort of background checks their people were subject to would quickly uncover that Neal Caffrey hadn't existed before his eighteenth birthday, no matter what the records, digital and paper, insisted. They went back and interviewed real people and there was no one who would remember him, because he'd had to create himself from whole cloth. Of course, Peter and the FBI suspected Caffrey was an alias, but they didn't suspect anything close to the truth about him. They weren't interested in his childhood, just his crimes. Alleged crimes, he reminded himself with a smile.

What would they think if they found out Neal himself was a crime?

He smeared his finger over his reflection, tracking the movements of everyone behind him in the glass.

Peter greeted the other three outside the conference room before ushering them inside ahead of them. He was already talking. "Agents, Mr. Bishop, these are Agents Jones and Barrigan and our consultant – "

Neal turned, mustering his second most charming Caffrey smile, ready to shake hands if they offered or not notice if they objected to associating with a semi-reformed felon. He froze immediately.

Dunham nodded to him calmly enough, but Bishop and Lee were staring at him with obvious shock.

"What the hell are you doing here, Larkin?" Lee blurted.

"Who?" Diana asked.

" – Neal Caffrey," Peter finished. He looked from Neal to the other two. Neal responded to Peter's look with bewildered eyes. He didn't have to resort to an act; he'd never used Larkin as an alias and he'd never seen Lee or Bishop before.

"I don't know what kind of crap you're trying to pull but your 'consultant' was calling himself Bryce Larkin when he worked at the Wichita Group," Lee snapped.

Neal couldn't even breathe.


"Neal?" Peter demanded, suspicion in his voice.

Neal shook his head, unable to muster any words. Bryce. Bryce had been in Boston. It wasn't possible, though. Neal knew. Bryce was dead. He died in 2007.

"Who's Larkin?" Jones asked.

Dunham and Bishop and even Lee were watching Neal like he might attack them in the next breath. Shit, Dunham had her hand on the butt of her weapon. Neal stayed very still, breathing shallowly, calculating how he could take cover and get out of the conference room without getting Peter, Jones, or Diana killed.

Without taking her eyes off Neal, Dunham said, "The prime suspect in the murder of the Wichita Group's chief operating officer, Cyrus Ogilvie. He disappeared the night of the murder, along with a chunk of their records and several million dollars. We came here for help following the money trail." She watched for Neal's reaction as she finished. "Seems like we just found our suspect."

"I'm not – " Neal couldn't muster a sensible argument. Bryce, Bryce, Bryce pounded through his head, blotting out any other thoughts. He didn't care how Bryce was alive, just that he was. He didn't care what Bryce had done, if he had killed Cyrus Ogilvie. Just the chance that he could see Bryce again overwhelmed every other thought.

"You, be quiet," Lee snapped at him.

"When did this Larkin go missing?" Peter repeated. He was watching Neal too.

"Two nights ago," Dunham replied. She added, eyes still on Neal, looking for him to give away anything, "The Wichita Group has its lab and offices in Cambridge."

Peter relaxed subtly. "Then Neal isn't your man. He's been in New York."

"Prove it," Bishop said.

"Jones, get my laptop," Peter said. "Neal's a CI embedded with our unit. He wears a GPS tracker that's monitored by the US Marshals Service. If he moves outside a two mile radius, I'm informed immediately."

Jones nodded and headed out, giving Neal an almost sympathetic look as he skirted his way around, not getting between the Fringe agents and Neal.

"He hasn't been off it in weeks."

Neal made a 'what can you do?' face and twitched his pants' cuff up to show the anklet.

He'd been doing his best to stay away from any undercover operations or anything else that would stress his system more than normal. His lack of restlessness had been pinging Peter's radar too, but as long as Neal didn't have anything to hide on that front, he didn't mind. When his suspicions proved unfounded, Peter always felt guilty and indulged Neal in a whim or two.

"There are ways around trackers," Bishop said. He had his hands shoved deep in the pockets of his coat. It made Neal worry about what he might have in there. "There are even ways around biometric monitors."

Neal resisted the urge to nod in agreement. He knew more than a few.

"Maybe, but I doubt he could make it to Cambridge to work at this Wichita Group and be here at the office every day," Peter replied with heavy humor. "I'm guessing from your reaction this guy really looks like Neal."

"Not like," Lee insisted. "Identical."

Neal wanted to run. This couldn't be happening now. Not like this.

Jones slipped back in, carrying Peter's laptop. Peter called up the tracker's records and showed its history of everywhere Neal had moved for the last two weeks. Neal grimaced over the routine. Predictability made for a soft target. But his limited area of mobility inevitably resulted in him going to the same places at the same times, using the same routes.

The Fringe agents studied the data.

"Got a double out there, Neal?" Diana joked softly as the three of them withdrew into the corner with the US flag on its stand and consulted with each other in low tones.

Neal watched their reflections and listened, not even needing to read their lips to hear them, though they couldn't know that. He hoped like hell they couldn't know that.

"Neal?" Ah. Diana sounded a little annoyed.

He offered her a weak smile and muttered sotto voce, "This is weird."

Not a lie. He spent so much time and energy finding ways to evade and misdirect and conceal himself without outright lying and he didn't even know why any longer. The habit had spread from Peter to everyone in the unit. Neal told himself he only avoided lying to everyone because it was too hard to juggle more than one story long term. He couldn't just abandon the con and move on if he blew it, after all.

His moratorium on lying didn't extend to himself obviously.

"If this guy is real, then who the hell was the guy in Cambridge?" Bishop asked. "They're dead ringers. Was it a hybrid – "

"They kill their templates as a side effect," Lee snapped, "remember?"

Neal cocked his head. What? He had to smother laughter. It sounded like these agents had run into something different and only thought they knew what Neal was.

"It could be a new variety. We know there's a second kind besides the First Wave," Dunham murmured. "This could be another version sent from Over There."

"I just don't think so," Bishop answered, "and, believe me, I've killed enough of them in my timeline. I'm something of an expert."

"What about... could one of them be from Over There?" Lee asked.

"A spy?" Bishop gave Neal a measuring look.

Neal lifted his eyebrows. His body language spoke of confidence, that he was at ease, and had nothing to worry about. He had all his tells locked down; he was all the way on, something he didn't bother with in the offices often. He ignored the glances Peter was sending his way. He was filing away the odd bits and pieces they were unknowingly giving away. Over There. Hybrids. Timelines.

It sounded like science fiction. There was a reason Neal disliked science fiction.

Frowning, Bishop looked back to Dunham. "You can't see a shimmer around him? Oliv – my – she could see it around me."

So Bishop was something else too. Maybe Dunham as well. Neal wanted nothing to do with them.

"I can't," Dunham said, stiff and uncomfortable. The rain streaking down the windows traces over her bone pale features, composed as an effigy.

"Well, is there a way Walter could figure it out?" Lee asked. "We could call Astrid, get him on the phone."

"DNA test," Bishop said, "but we don't have a sample from Larkin."

Neal pondered if his agreement with the Justice Department allowed him the right to refuse to give a sample. He suspected it didn't.

Peter was looking impatient as he waited for the Fringe agents to come to some conclusion.

Neal smoothed his expression into a polite, blank mask. He had to be so careful now, more so than he had ever been before. It wasn't about protecting himself from further jail time. He had to protect Bryce.

As he'd guessed, Peter's patience broke and he moved. "You came here," he said. "You can go on wasting your time, but my people have work to do."

"Of course," Dunham agreed with a nod and an apologetic smile. "I'm afraid we'd rather brief you without your consultant, though."

Neal shrugged at Peter.

"Go work on some of our cold cases, Neal," Peter told him.

"Hey, can we be excused too?" Diana asked, a nice show of solidarity from her and Jones, who nodded solemnly. Just asking the question communicated a world of hostility toward the other three.

"Nice try, Di," Peter answered. "No."

"Lucky," Diana mouthed to Neal.

"Stay at your desk," Peter told him. "I'll get this straightened out."

"No problem," Neal agreed. "Have fun. Agents. Mr. Bishop." He turned back at the last second and asked Peter, "Hey, what about lunch? Could I take an early lunch? There's this new place on – "

"No. Go. Pretend to work."

Neal grinned. "Pretending's what I do, Peter, you don't have to tell me."


He laughed lightly, so perfectly that even Peter didn't catch the echo in his hollowed out chest. Neal kept the smile on his face, the bounce in his step, as he went out the door and down the stairs and over to his desk, with his Socrates bust and his stolen ball of rubber bands, under the bulletin board with the fliers showing the FBI's Most Wanted, the maps and pastel-colored memo slips no one ever read, along with the sign-up sheet for the interagency softball team. He sat down as if he didn't notice the eyes on him, opened the case file he'd been reading earlier, and gave his head a little shake, miming tossing off the peculiarities of dealing with other agents who just didn't get him. He flipped a page over after glancing at it, slipped a piece of note paper out, and did the one thing he'd never let himself do before.

He wrote down the names.

He made a list.

When he was done, Neal looked at it for a moment, then hid it compulsively between the pages of the mortgage fraud file, feeling as if his bones had turned to crumbling chalk.


Bryce dropped the duffel bag with everything he meant to take with him by the door and went back to the computer he was leaving behind. He couldn't say he was sorry to leave. The apartment held nothing that really mattered to him. He wasn't leaving behind any special memories. It had just been a place to sleep and an address to use. He didn't actually like combining those two things. He had a safehouse where he could lie low until he found another lead on Jones in the wake of the mess he'd made of infiltrating the Wichita Group.

It didn't take him long to compress everything he'd dug up on Wichita and the Topeka Project into one giant file. Nerving himself into pressing Send, though, that took some time. Once he did, Chuck and everyone else would realize he wasn't dead after all.

Once the police began investigating Cyrus Ogilvie's death, they'd look at his co-workers and notice a scientist named Larkin had gone missing. Forensics, if nothing else, would put Bryce in Ogilvie's wrecked office. The fires he'd set would have wiped out some trace, but never all. Any half competent investigator would uncover that Bryce Larkin had been officially dead for years, despite the hacking he'd done to fool the company's cursory background check. He wished he hadn't been forced to use his own name, but the field of neurocognitive computing was small enough that he'd had a better chance of convincing anyone who checked that he – obviously – wasn't dead than that he was qualified when no one had ever heard of the alias. As soon as an official investigation queried his name, Echelon or some other system would flag it, and then Beckman would realize something was up. The first people she talked to would be his old partner and his oldest friend before sending them and Casey after him. Bryce wasn't giving in to wanting something he couldn't have; Sarah and Chuck were going to find out anyway.

He could have set the email up to arrive anonymously, of course. He still could, but he had to be sure Chuck wouldn't ignore it. This was the most expedient choice. No one else out there would figure out what Topeka was as fast as Chuck. No one else needed to know or was half as equipped to handle it.

Another Intersect had not been what Bryce was looking for when he let the Wichita Group find and recruit him. He wasn't interested in taking them down. These days he had his own agenda.

He wanted David Robert Jones and Cyrus Ogilvie had a past with the man. He'd pegged Ogilvie as a plant, a corporate or mercenary spy leaking proprietary information to Jones. He'd miscalculated. Ogilvie had been something else.

His ribs ached with each breath and movement and the cut inside his mouth had begun bleeding again. The thick salt taste of blood on his tongue reminded him of the fight with Ogilvie. He swallowed and swallowed again. Ogilvie shouldn't have been a challenge, never mind in his office at two in the morning when Bryce had broken in to access his files. Ogilvie was a middle-aged scientist who had been promoted into pushing paper and over-seeing the young guns doing the innovative work. He'd come after Bryce like a machine, though, and it had taken all Bryce had to hold his own. Almost a day later, he still hurt.

The fight replayed in his mind. Ogilvie bounced back from every hit and came at Bryce without even registering the damage Bryce did to him. Without his training and speed, Ogilvie would have taken him down. It had been that close.

No way Ogilvie had been a normal human.

Bryce scrubbed his hands over his face.

It shouldn't have taken him by surprise. Bryce knew at least one project Jones had over-seen that included modified humans. That was why he was after the man, after all. Ogilvie had known about that too; the few words they'd exchanged revealed he'd known all about Bryce.

He has plans for you too.

It took three bullets to stop Ogilvie. Bryce shot to incapacitate the first and second time. The wounds slowed Ogilvie down but didn't stop him. He'd pulled the trigger a third time, eyes on the hypodermic in Ogilvie's hand, blood in his mouth, and put the bullet between Ogilvie's eyes. He'd had enough of being a prisoner or an experiment. He hadn't wanted to kill Ogilvie. He'd wanted answers. Now all he had were more questions.

Bryce sighed to himself.

"Here we go," he muttered.

He clicked Send.


Peter Bishop felt vaguely amused by the White Collar unit agent being another Peter and neither of them being inclined to nicknames. No Pete or Petey for either of them and even if they resorted to initials, well, Burke, Bishop, they'd still run into the same problem. So it was Agent Burke and Mr. Bishop and at least Burke's people seemed to call him boss most of the time – affectionately – so he didn't seem too stuck on formalities.

His amusement didn't extend to the damned double they'd walked in on out of the blue. From what Burke told Olivia and Lincoln, they couldn't trust anything this guy told them. Caffrey was a con artist, a world class one, which meant an actor, and every emotion, every word out of his mouth would be calculated. Burke might think they needed Caffrey to suss out the Wichita Group's financial secrets, but Peter couldn't see himself trusting the guy.

Even if Caffrey wasn't hiding something related to this case. Which Peter would bet his left hand and an Observor's fedora Caffrey was.

The thing was, Peter knew conning. He'd done his share, and whether he'd been calling himself a entrepreneur or not back when Olivia plucked him out of the Green Zone to get Walter out of St. Claire's, that's what he'd been doing. So he knew. He knew Caffrey should have protested more, should have displayed, hell, felt, a lot more disbelief over being accused of being someone else than he had. An innocent man would have tried to find out more.

If not that, then Caffrey should have been mocking them hard.

Instead, something had flicked in Caffrey's too-blue-to-believe eyes, and he'd been quiet.

Peter left Olivia and Lincoln to their argument with Agent Burke and strolled to the glass wall and looked down across the room full of desks and agents to where Caffrey sat.

He watched Caffrey begin writing something, stare at it, unblinking and unmoving for a dragging stretch of time, then move almost convulsively, shoving the paper in with the rest of the file open before him.

Peter wanted to know what Caffrey had written down.

Caffrey bowed his head and covered his face with both long, fine hands, pressing his eyes closed with his fingers.

Behind Peter, Olivia sighed and said, "All right. We'll meet you at Massive Dynamics."

"I'm bringing Neal with me," Agent Burke said.

Peter turned around. "You know, I think that's a great idea." He wanted to see how Caffrey acted once they were in the maw of the beast.

The Fringe agents filed out without paying any attention to Neal. He followed their exit through his eyelashes and twirled his pen between his fingers.

Diana and Jones returned to their desks without speaking to him. He ducked his head and made a note in the case file. Despite not giving a damn, he'd begun to see a pattern in the fraud, one he thought the rest of the Harvard crew could chase down if he just got the thread of it. It had provided a distraction from thinking about Bryce and what his appearance might mean.

He'd made genuine progress when Peter stopped at his desk, overcoat folded over his arm.

"Let's go, Caffrey."

Neal glanced up and arched his brows. "Oh, I'm back in the fold?"

"It took some convincing, but your accessory provides a compelling argument that you can't be the guy they thought you were."

"That's swell."

"Get your coat. We're going to go shake some trees."

Neal closed the file in front of him and set it back in his inbox before standing.

"Are you sulking?" Peter asked. "Come on."

Neal settled his hat on his head and snagged his coat, moving just a little slower than usual because he still felt unsteady despite the blocker he'd popped earlier, even knowing it was annoying Peter. He'd had enough of being jerked around after those 'Fringe Division' agents showed up anyway and felt justified in sharing some of his own irritation. No doubt Peter probably thought Neal was faking being tired anyway and up to something. If Neal did protest he wasn't pulling any kind of con, just worn out, Peter would come out with something about the little boy who cried wolf. So he took his time, drawing on his coat, and to hell with Peter Perfect Burke for once.

Peter didn't say anything, just headed for the doors at a faster than usual walk, making Neal hurry to keep up.

"Where are we going?" he asked, as they headed for the elevator. Peter opened the glass doors of the Unit for Neal automatically and Neal hid a small smile, turning as he went through the doors so he could see Peter's face. That habit had resulted in Peter putting a guiding hand at the small of Neal's back more than once, an odd bit of casual contact that Neal treasured in a quiet corner of his mind. There'd never been much touch in his life, except with Kate, that wasn't part of a job. Mozzie wasn't exactly touchy-feely.

He didn't see anyone else joining them, which meant he had Peter to himself, at least for the drive, and he felt his mood lifting.

"Now that I've convinced them you aren't a rogue accountant, we're meeting Agents Dunham and Lee and Mr. Bishop at Massive Dynamics – "

Neal's feet stuttered to a halt and his hands came up to stop Peter from barreling into him. "What? No. No, this is a bad idea. Me and Massive Dynamics. No." He could feel the panic rising up through his torso, threatening to set his hands shaking again, his words fumbling, his mind blank with the old fear that he'd be found. "I can't be there."

Can't be there.

Peter stopped and examined Neal with narrowed eyes. "Something you need to tell me about Massive Dynamics, Neal? Are they going to know you? Maybe by some other name? If you pulled a scam – "

"I would never," Neal blurted, horrified at the thought. He knew better. He'd steered all his cons well clear of the defense or biomedical industry just in case they were even connected with Bellmedics. Massive Dynamics owned Bellmedics. Massive Dynamics had ties to nearly every level of the government. The most frightening possibility Neal could conceive was that somehow he'd be recognized for who and what he really was; if it happened, it would be by someone with a connection to Massive Dynamics. His mouth ran on without conscious intercession. "We all knew to stay away from them – "

"We?" Peter pounced.

"What – ?"

"You and Mozzie? You and Kate? Is this something everyone in your criminal underworld knows – "

Neal shook his head and laughed at Peter. "Melodramatic much, Peter? Criminal underworld? Seriously?"

"Neal." Peter put a world of warning in just the sound of his name, but Peter could never frighten Neal the way his own past did. They'd all agreed; they had to split up, they were too noticeable together, and they had to avoid doing anything that would alert their old masters they were still out there. If one of them was found, they'd all be in danger. "What do you know about Massive Dynamics?"

Massive Dynamics corporate motto was What do we do? What don't we do? People like Peter had no idea. Neal made a point of knowing as much about the conglomerate as possible, just so he could steer clear, but he'd missed something important. He hadn't heard of the Wichita Group. He was slipping. It made him angry with himself. Slips sent you to prison. Slips cost you time you couldn't earn or buy or steal back. Slips killed. He had to keep his head in the game, since he'd decided to play his way to the end.

"They're big, they're smart, their security is top notch, and they're dialed into the government," Neal answered honestly, even while he was redirecting. "The risk/reward ratio on any con involving them is too even. Theoretically."

"Then what's the problem?"

Neal narrowed his eyes. Peter could be such a prick sometimes. Sometimes that was what Neal liked about him, but sometimes he wanted to kick him. Peter always knew, too, and smiled just the way he was smiling right now. His smug, damned, winner's smile.

"Fine," Neal said sulkily and meaning bastard. Peter heard it too. "I can tell you about the art on their walls, but not about if it really takes millions to make whatever they're making there. You think I'd steal a cure for cancer or the plans to a defense system? Come on, Peter, this is me. You know me."

You don't know me at all.

"Sure, Neal," Peter agreed but the speculation didn't leave his usually warm eyes."I don't think they're actually manufacturing anything at corporate headquarters anyway."

You might be surprised. Corporations didn't devote massive amounts of money to maintain security on anything that didn't need it. Massive Dynamics' security at their New York headquarters made Fort Knox look like a kiddy playground. Neal hadn't slipped on finding that out.

"I'd have to break in to find out and you wouldn't want me doing that." He'd planned his way in and out a few times, because it paid to be prepared, but he'd never come up with a configuration that got him away free and clear without casualties. He'd never hurt people. He'd never had to, Neal acknowledged, because he'd been lucky as well as careful.

"Don't even joke about that."

"Who's joking?"

Neal knew Peter had seen through him but was letting it go so they could get on with the job. Peter always thought he could dig the truth out of Neal later, but there were some things Neal would never tell anyone. Not Peter, not June, not El, not even Mozzie.

Of course, Kate knew, but that was different. Kate was part of him, the way he'd been part of her.

Now Kate was gone and he was alone again.

He looked at his reflection in the polished metal of the elevator doors as they sank down to the garage level: pale face, sharp angles blurred, just a smear of light eyes and dark hair. It could be him. It could be a stranger. Maybe the mysterious disappearing accountant from the Wichita Group was staring back at him. If it really had been Bryce. It could have been one of the others. It would be so dangerous... but Neal wanted to reach out and brush his hand over his reflection and feel something more than cold steel.

He wanted to reach out and feel that he wasn't alone.

That's why he and Kate had stuck together when they met working for Adler. Their identities wouldn't let them play brother and sister, so they'd become lovers instead. It had been like being able to breathe again after being separated for so long, just touching each other had been a gift.

He'd never been able to explain their instant connection to Mozzie.

Neal looked away and found Peter studying him.

"You okay?" Peter asked.

The elevator settled to a stop and the doors opened. Neal walked out. Kate was dead and Neal didn't know how much longer he had. He'd walk into Massive Dynamics with his head held high. He gave Peter a thumbs up and a wide grin.

If he didn't say the words, then he still wasn't lying.

Maybe the risk would be worth it, he told himself, if this case brought him to Bryce somehow.


"Sorry, but our security software says this guy is in our database as Bryce Larkin," the chief of security at Massive Dynamics insisted. He turned the computer display so that the Fringe agents, Peter and Neal could all see the ID photo from the Wichita Group's employee identification. "Larkin's clearance has been pulled."

"I told you," Lee said to Peter in a mixture of annoyance and vindication. The annoyance, however, might have been a result of getting briefly caught in the heavier downpour outside. The shoulders of his coat were wet with rain again and he had his glasses off, drying the beads of water off the lens.

Neal stared at the picture, desperately trying to keep the wild mixture of hope and despair and desperation off his face. He memorized every bit of information on display next to it, even knowing most if not all of it would be useless and false. "Everyone's got a double, they say," he offered, because even Peter was looking at him like Neal had something to do with the screwed up identification. "Hey, I'm not this Larkin guy. I never heard of him before today."

Okay, that was shading the truth, but Neal had no compunctions in that regard. He'd never heard the name Larkin before.

He pulled his FBI consultant's ID out and offered it, along with his other identification, for examination. He flicked his gaze at Peter, gauging his stance, and said, "You really think the FBI is wrong about who I am? That's Special Agent Peter Burke there, and those are agents from Homeland Security with him. So, seriously, do you really think they're trying to pull off some kind of masquerade here?"

"Don't care who they are," the chief of security insisted. "I can't let you go up with a visitor's badge using the wrong name. Building security is my job."

Neal shrugged at Peter. "Guess I'll just have to wait in the car."

Peter switched his gaze from the picture of Bryce Larkin to Neal and shook his head. "I never believe you when you're this cooperative."

Hand to his heart, Neal averred, "Peter, you've wounded me."

"Only in my dreams."

"Peter, really? You dream of me? Does Elizabeth know about this?"

"She wakes me up before I can strangle her thinking she's you."

"Ooooh, role play," Neal bantered back, enjoying himself despite the situation. "Do you really want Agents Dunham and Lee to know how kinky your love life is, though? That might be over-sharing."

Peter gave him a gimlet-eyed glare. Lee and Bishop both smirked at their little by-play. Dunham took a step away and pulled out her cellphone and tapped a number on speed dial. Her face creased into a smile. "Hello, Nina." She paused and tipped her face up to one of the security cameras. "In the lobby. I'd love to, but your security is refusing to allow one of our consultants inside. It seems like he looks too much like someone else who works for one of your subsidiaries."

Neal raised an eyebrow at Peter. "Peter," he asked, "who is she talking to?"

Peter shrugged and it was Bishop who answered.

"Her foster mother," Bishop said. He didn't look thrilled with the information. "Nina Sharp."

Neal wanted to curse. The security chief's intransigence had been a gift. Even the echoing expanse of Massive Dynamic's vast lobby was too close for him. He didn't want to go any further into the building. He'd kept his face tipped away from the security cams. His trilby helped in that regard – Peter and the rest of the office thought the hats were an affectation and never realized how useful they were as concealment. CCTV cameras and other surveillance equipment were almost invariably installed above head height. Hoodies worked too, but hats looked much less suspicious, not to mention simply being classier. He'd been hoping that since he wasn't an FBI agent, Peter would accept that he couldn't make anyone at Massive Dynamics let Neal in. There had still been a chance he might slide under the corporate radar.

To that end, he had on gloves and refrained from touching anything since stepping inside the doors of Massive Dynamics too. Though that was just good tradecraft anyway. He wouldn't gift anyone with his fingerprints accidentally. Not after the bond fiasco.

Especially when, with the exception of the tiny nicks and scars that came from using his hands, his fingerprints and Bryce's would be identical. No alibi would stop the questions that would follow that revelation.

"That would be great," Dunham said and ended her call. The cell went back in her coat.

Bishop raised an eyebrow at her.

Dunham smiled at the chief of security. "You're about to get a call from your boss."

The phone on the security desk obligingly bleeped. He picked it up and listened silently. "Yes, ma'am. It's against protocol. Yes, Ms. Sharp. Whatever you say. I'll write it up as an exception on your say so."

The phone receiver went back into its cradle just a little too hard, giving away the man's annoyance. His face creased into a frown as he looked up.

"It pays to know the right people," Bishop said to Lee.

"I guess."

The chief of security glared at Neal and said, "What was your name again?"

"Neal Caffrey."

He began typing into his computer. "Look into the camera there."

Reluctantly, Neal complied.

"I'll need your thumbprint."

"No thanks, I'm allergic to printing ink."

"The reader's electronic, Neal," Peter said.

"I'm allergic to scanners too," Neal told him with a straight face.


He stripped off one glove and pressed his thumb to the glass face of the print reader. He used his left hand, the one with a small, smooth burn obscuring the distinctive whirl pattern on the pad from the time he'd pulled a forgery out of the oven after aging it and discovered the mitt he was using for protection had a hole in it. Maybe it would be enough to throw a comparative analysis off. A fingerprint expert would still pick out the similarities, but computer programs didn't make deductive leaps yet the way humans did.

After reciting his address at June's, his social security number and his cellphone number – the one Peter and the FBI knew about, not any of the burners – the security chief finally produced a visitor's ID card with Neal's picture and thumbprint on the front and a magnetized strip on the back. When Neal shifted it, a holographic seal of the Massive Dynamics' logo iridesced over the card.

"The card's got an RFID chip imbedded," the chief said. "You'll need to return it before you leave the building. It authorizes you to enter all public areas. Anything else and someone with clearance will have to accompany you."

"I can't thank you enough," Neal replied tonelessly.

This day just kept getting worse and worse. Massive Dynamics now had his thumbprint and his personal information, including where he lived. Neal remained undecided whether finding out Bryce was alive balanced that out.

"Enjoy your day," the security chief told them all.

"Nina wants to see us first," Dunham said as they started toward the elevator bank.

"You didn't say you were related to the company's CEO," Peter observed. His cell began shrilling the US Marshals' Service ring tone. Neal considered groaning.

"I didn't think it would be relevant. Nina isn't involved in the day-to-day running of every subsidiary."

Peter held up his hand and answered the call. "Burke." His eyes snapped to Neal and he gestured toward Neal's tracker.

Neal lifted his cuff and frowned. The telltale on the anklet had gone from green to red.

"No, he's standing right in front of me," Peter said. "Something must be blocking the signal. Just switch him over to personal monitoring until I call you back. Sorry for the trouble." He put the cell away and gave the lobby a slow, thoughtful survey. "Interesting."

"Something here's jamming the GPS signal?" Neal asked.

Peter nodded thoughtfully.

"Wonderful," Neal muttered, absently straightening the crease on his trousers before stepping into the elevator beside Bishop. "This just gets better and better." He checked the elevator out, nervously taking in every detail he could. He'd gone over the blue prints for the Massive Dynamics building but there were always differences between plans and an actual building, even if the builders didn't cut corners.

He recognized the name of the elevator manufacturer. That had changed from the details listed on the original building permit, but he knew the specs on all this manufacturers' products too. Jamming an elevator could be very useful pulling a heist. Useful in slowing down pursuit after an assassination as well, but he'd never done that. Batch Three had still been young enough to draw attention in many situations if any of them had been alone. Batch One and Two had both gone through the assassination module though, so he knew what they'd been taught, though he'd never had to use it. A surprising number of those skills had proved easily re-purposed to a life of crime.

Neal shook his head, trying to rid himself of the memories. Bryce and the other older ones had wanted to protect them, but there'd really been no way. They'd shared everything that happened to each other. He remembered how Bryce and Alec had acted and felt after they'd killed. It had left him with a permanent distaste for any sort of violence. He never wanted to do that to himself voluntarily.

The elevator opened and Neal realized he'd zoned out when Peter snapped, "Quit dawdling, Neal."

"I missed lunch," he complained. "My blood sugar's low."

"Maybe you miss prison too? You'd get your meals on time."

"And on the government dime." He tipped his hat low over his eyes. "Though I think a dime might be overpaying... "

"Ms. Sharp is waiting for you," a young man in very, very good suit greeted them as they reached the CEO's offices.

Neal shoved his hands deep in his pockets, not caring how he ruined the lines of his suit doing it, and positioned himself in the most ignorable spot in relation to where Peter, Bishop, Lee and Dunham were standing. He did everything he knew how to make himself unnoticeable and forgettable under the circumstances, while fruitlessly wishing for invisibility.

Nina Sharp.

Something like a fist closed in Neal's stomach. He'd studied her. She'd taken over running Massive Dynamics in the wake of William Bell's presumed death years before. She hadn't changed much since then. Her clothes were elegant, always black like a widow's weeds, though she hadn't been married to Bell. The red hair had always been a spot of shocking color. It looked good with the designer black outfit.

"Olive," she said as she came around her desk and hugged Dunham.

Dunham actually smiled and hugged her back. "Nina. You're the only one who calls me that."

"I'm not going to stop, either. You're wet."

"It's raining," Dunham said with a nod to the wall of windows offering an amazing view of New York, even through the quicksilver rain streaking down the glass. The office was all whites and brushed steel, which probably helped in the summer when light flared off the other skyscrapers and heated it up, but now rendered the room dim and chill. She leaned down just enough to buss Nina's cheek.

"There are umbrellas, Olive."

"I like to keep my hands free."

Nina stepped back and nodded to Bishop and Lee with considerably less affection. Her eyes settled on Peter and then Neal. "And you are?"

"Special Agent Peter Burke, FBI," Peter introduced himself, "and my consultant, Neal Caffrey."

Neal didn't let himself swallow, despite how dry his mouth felt.

"What can Massive Dynamics do for Fringe Division?" she asked. "Or is it the FBI this time?" She injected a little humor in the question, but Neal guessed she didn't like answering to anyone. No one with as much power as Sharp had did.

"We're here about the Wichita Group," Peter said.


"The FBI does take an interest when a significant portion of a four billion dollar research and development contract's funding goes missing, Ms. Sharp."

Neal twitched. Four billion? Surely Bryce hadn't... but, well, if he had, Neal felt a sting of jealousy. He'd never run a con that big. Of course, he had the good sense to stay away from Massive Dynamics.

He'd had the good sense. Past tense. Otherwise, he wouldn't be standing as close to Peter's shadow as he could, praying Nina Sharp didn't pay him any more attention than she already had. Ever since striking his work-release deal with Peter, he kept making these counter-survival decisions. Peter griped about the headaches Neal gave him, but sometimes the dissonance between following his own instincts and trying to follow Peter's rules left Neal with a migraine too.

"And you?" Nina asked Neal.

He assumed the expression of an office-drone lackey. Maybe she'd think Peter kept him around to look good and fetch coffee. "I'm here because Peter doesn't trust me to get anything done if he leaves me at the office," he answered.

"Neal has a talent for figuring out embezzlers."

He had a talent for picking out a mark he could persuade into doing something that would ultimately benefit Neal, not them, and sometimes that was embezzling. Neal had never used the word embezzle or even steal to a mark. His was a subtle art, but one that kept him at one remove from the worst dangers, and saved him the time it took to actually build a back-stopped identity and infiltrate a company. He'd done that more than once, but persuading the ambitious and greedy that his marvelous investment opportunity would pay so well and so soon that they could get away with 'borrowing' ridiculous sums and paying them back to their employers later and still make a profit was safer and left his patsy to take any fall that resulted. Neal had never felt an instant's guilt over the consequences to his marks, either; he didn't hold a gun to their heads, he just told them what they wanted to believe anyway, that they were smart enough to get away with it. If they weren't and he was, was that his fault? In other circumstances, he might even have bragged a little, even if it made Peter peevish, but not now, not here, not to Nina Sharp.

"Well," Nina said, "let's go down to the accounting department. I like to think Massive Dynamics security is the best, but the human infrastructure will always be a soft spot." She smiled at Peter. "You won't mind if I hope this turns out to be a problem at the government's end."

"Not at all," Peter replied.


Massive Dynamics did its pen testing in-house. They owned their own security company and their own accounting firm. Unsurprisingly, all were very good; Massive Dynamics offered its employees generous salaries in order to retain the best.

They offered transparent cooperation too, without demanding any search warrants yet, thanks to Dunham's connection to Sharp, but Peter knew when he was being led down the garden path. Even when he and the other agents weren't being politely steered away from 'proprietary information' and classified projects, the sheer size of the conglomerate acted to obscure its financial maneuvers. Without his years of hunting white collar criminals through the corner offices and trading floors of Wall Street, Peter would have been completely lost. He still wasn't getting anywhere, and that, along with the closed-mouth attitude of the Homeland Security agents and whatever Neal was up to, served to grate on his nerves.

All they were getting was the glossy surface.

Not that he'd expected anything more out of the first day. He'd wanted to gauge reactions. He'd wanted his partner's input too, that was why he'd insisted on bringing Neal in over Dunham and Lee's objections, but instead of flirting and charming and eliciting a wealth of data the way he would normally, Neal stuck to Peter like glue and barely spoke. Peter had never seen Neal so quiet. As the afternoon had worn on, he'd found his own concentration wavering, distracted by Neal's increasingly skittish manner.

Neal was as spooked as Peter had ever seen him.

Peter thought he'd seen the real Neal under the masks a few times, especially after Kate's death, when he couldn't hide the agonized grief of losing her, but he'd never seen him like this. Keller hadn't got to Neal like this, nor had getting shot at, tasered and used as a ransom, or nearly suffocating. Neal rarely lost his composure at all, but here he seemed to be holding on to it by the skin of his teeth. To Peter, at least; the others wouldn't see the cracks he did, they didn't know Neal.

It had to be the whole double business. Whoever Bryce Larkin really was, Neal knew something about him. The mask had begun slipping before they left the Federal building.

He glanced at Neal, who was reading a record of transfers between Massive Dynamics' R&D accounts and the Wichita Group, following the ghostly cyber footprints left by the elusive Mr. Larkin. Peter had to admit, the guy knew how to hide his tracks; the tricks they'd already uncovered weren't the work of an amateur. Neal was doing a good job of figuring out everything he'd done too, no matter how he protested it wasn't his forte, as if he could read Larkin's mind or knew those same techniques.

Nothing in the money trails explained Fringe Division's interest in the Wichita Group, though. Nothing Massive Dynamics was admitting or the agents were explaining. There was just a dead CEO, a missing accountant, and a burned-out office. None of those things were red flags for Homeland Security; there had to be something they hadn't shared about this case. Either something about Ogilvie's murder or something the Wichita Group was involved in had pinged Fringe Division. Not knowing what made investigating harder than it should have been.

"Why is Homeland Security interested in a murder?" Peter asked. He couldn't help pushing a little. "Who was Cyrus Ogilvie?"

The two agents and the consultant exchanged a flickering set of glances.

"Well, he wasn't who he said he was, for one thing," Bishop said. He looked straight at Neal. "It was the data disk in his spine that brought him to our attention, though." He seemed to think this information would elicit a reaction from Neal.

It did, but only the pinch between his straight brows that signaled Neal's frustration not recognition. He looked back at Bishop with something closer to dislike than he usually let show. "In his spine?" Peter felt just as incredulous. That sounded like one of Mozzie's conspiracy theories. The pinch between Neal's brows became a frown and then wiped away. Toneless, he added, "Don't tell me." He dismissed Bishop and returned his attention to the files in front of him.

"Whoever killed him didn't know about it either. Or didn't want it, but he wanted something from Ogilvie's files."

Neal ignored that too.

"Maybe it was the codes to get at the money," Lee suggested.

Neal shook his head. "He didn't need them. He's good." He looked up, saw he was being watched again, then lowered his gaze without speaking further. It niggled at Peter. What the hell was wrong? The idea of someone who looked like Neal, could do what Neal did, and didn't balk at murder didn't bear thinking about. Peter wouldn't have caught Neal and no one would have ever held him if Neal didn't have his own, albeit idiosyncratic, scruples.

"Better than you?" Peter teased.

Neal shook his head. "As good as me."

"So are you good with a gun too?" Lee asked.

"I don't like violence."

Which didn't answer the question.

"Ogilvie's killer used a gun?" Peter asked.

"Three shots, the last one between the eyes," Bishop said. "They're tough."

Peter picked out one word and repeated it suspiciously, "They?"

"We know that Ogilvie was either an imposter or a sleeper," Lee said. "Which makes his killer a new player."

"Unless Ogilvie was a rogue and Jones sent someone to get rid of him," Bishop suggested.

It sounded like a counter-intelligence operation to Peter. Hunting spies had never been one of Peter's ambitions. Like Organized Crime, he didn't like what Counter-Intelligence did to the agents that worked it for very long. It twisted them up until they couldn't even trust themselves. They made Mozzie looked complacent.

Peter would have sworn Neal had never been involved in any kind of espionage. The Fringe team kept talking around something they weren't explaining, though, while they looked at Neal as if expecting him to know all about it too. He felt sure enough of his skill at Neal-reading to say Neal didn't. He felt sure of that until some indefinable change alerted him. Neal had recognized or put something together with something he knew. No one else caught it. Something that made his eyes darken; his pupils expanded to swallow the irises, leaving only a thin rim of color. Bishop had just scared him.

"Neal," Peter asked, "what do you think?" He wanted Neal to come clean, even while he knew Neal wasn't about to do that.

Neal glared at him. "I don't know."

"What, you don't have an idea? An opinion?"

"I told you, it's not my area of expertise," Neal replied quietly.

"That's never stopped you before."

"You don't know that." The flat statement stopped Peter. Did he know that? He knew how often Neal had pulled off reckless feats, but did he know when Neal had refrained from taking a chance? How would he?

"I think we need to find out more about Larkin," Bishop said. He was watching Neal and Neal was unnaturally still, only his eyes moving as he read, pretending he didn't notice he was under observation. "Why did the Wichita Group hire him? Who did they think they were getting?"

"Besides a smart accountant?" Lee frowned. "Yeah. They had to do a background check, right? Why didn't they come up with the 2007 obit we did?"

Neal's eyebrows drew together while Lee spoke and he winced at the mention of the obituary. Peter nodded to himself. Neal might not know about what Larkin had been doing, or even have recognized the name, but he knew something about the man. It didn't seem likely that they'd worked together, though, or there would be more crimes that only Neal could have pulled off where he was visibly alibied. So not partners or surely Neal wouldn't have been able to resist taking even crazier chances than he had in his art theft career. Neal had never hinted at having any sibling, never mind a twin, but it seemed like the only possible explanation.

He checked his watch. There was still time to get home and share dinner with Elizabeth. He studied Neal's tensed posture and made a decision. He'd take Neal home and use the more relaxed atmosphere in the Brooklyn house to get the truth out of him. He got out his cellphone and found the first number on his speed dial.

Elizabeth answered on the second ring of her phone. "Hey, hon. Going to be late?"

Peter smiled just at hearing her voice, as always. "No, not this time. I thought I'd bring Neal back with me, though. Think we've got enough to feed him too?"

Neal had finally lifted his head and was watching Peter warily. He looked, Peter realized abruptly, exhausted, something that wasn't just a product of this day. The niggle in his gut shifted to worry. Something was wrong.

"Oh, I think so. You can share with Satchmo if we run short," Elizabeth said. "Tell Neal I've already got the right wine, so he doesn't need to bring anything except himself. It's the red he brought last week."

"What about me?"

"Oh, hon, just bring Neal."

After a few more words, Peter ended the call.

"Uh, Peter," Neal said slowly, "I think I'd rather just go home."

Peter shook his head. "Nope. El's expecting you now." And I'm going to get the truth out of you if I have to feed you that entire bottle of red wine and go out for more. "Besides, you were the one complaining he missed lunch."

"I do love El's cooking," Neal acceded gracefully, though with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

"I think Agent Burke's got the right idea," Bishop said abruptly. He got to his feet. "We need to stop and eat and someone needs to call and check on Walter and make sure he hasn't finally driven Astrid insane. You know how he gets when he doesn't have something to keep him focused. Maybe they've got something more from the disk." He snagged up his pea coat. "Besides, I'm hungry."

"I know how Walter gets," Dunham agreed in her low voice, just a hint of fondness coloring her tone. "Astrid can handle him."


"My eyes are going to fall out of my head in a minute," Lee admitted.

"We'll come back to it tomorrow."

"Liv – Olivia?" Bishop said. "Dinner?"

"Nina asked me to join her."

"Okay, I guess it's just us," Bishop said.

"I'd like dig into Larkin and Ogilvie's backgrounds a little more before we come back." Lee was one of those agents that couldn't quit thinking about a case until it was closed. Since Peter was just the same, he liked that about him. He added, "I want to see if there's a connection between Larkin and Jones."

"I hope you mean someone who isn't my agent," Peter commented dryly.

Bishop chuckled.

"David Robert Jones," Dunham clarified.

"Who is he?"

"A monster," Bishop snapped. He closed his mouth on anything else.

Dunham shook her head slightly. "We don't know what David Robert Jones is after and until we do, he has to be considered a threat."

"He's also a scientist with a background in biotechnology," Lee said. "He used to work for Massive Dynamics, but left sometime after William Bell's death."

"William Bell?" Peter asked.

"Founder of Bellmedics and Massive Dynamics," Lee answered absently.

"And Ogilvie was working for this David Robert Jones as well as for the Wichita Group?" Peter asked. He wanted as clear a picture as he could get. He'd need every clue available to lever the truth out of Neal later. "Could someone have found out?"

"Not until he was dead."

Dunham gave Bishop a look that told him to shut up. He scowled back at her, but did.

"Let's meet at the office in the morning," Peter suggested. "Diana and Agent Jones'll be free to join us by then. I'd prefer to discuss anything that comes up overnight there anyway." It wasn't paranoia to assume Massive Dynamics had its offices bugged and would listen in on anything the FBI said on the premises.

"I'd like that," Dunham agreed.

"We're coming back?" Neal complained.

"Unless you've got a better idea."

Neal flipped his hat onto his head smoothly. "I'll think of something," he muttered.

"Come on, Neal, I can tell when you're hiding something," Peter said. "You're not even doing a good job of it. Who is Bryce Larkin? Relative? Twin? I don't buy that you don't know anything."

Neal set his fork down on his plate with a tiny clink.

This had gone on long enough.

Elizabeth gave Peter a look, the look that said don't ignore me or protest or you will be sorry. Peter looked bewildered, wondering what he'd done wrong. Poor man, he was wracking his brain – that big, wonderful brain – trying to figure out what he'd done to irritate her.

Unfortunately, Peter was trying to think of what he'd done to her and hadn't realized yet Elizabeth was annoyed by his behavior toward Neal all evening.

"Honey," she said, "why don't you take the plates into the kitchen and rinse them for me." She pointedly leveled a glance at the plate of food Neal had poked at but barely touched. He hadn't even pretended to drink the glass of red she'd poured for him, either.

Peter scowled at Neal and Elizabeth rolled her eyes at him. She loved him, loved even his flaws, but his tendency to give orders and expect them to be followed according to his interpretation of the rules was definitely one of them. He could get so set that he stopped seeing the people he was ordering around. He never meant to and a simple wake up call usually snapped him out of it, but when it came to Neal... Well, Neal brought out the best and worst in Peter. Neal made Peter work to keep up with him, because Neal was slick and fast and quick as a whip, but he also made Peter want to corral and control him.

Neal and Peter were always in a competition – a friendly one, mostly, most of the time – and tonight Peter's instinctive need to win was trumping his desire to protect.

"Neal, you done with that?" Peter paused reaching for Neal's mostly full plate.

Neal sighed and gave Elizabeth an apologetic smile.

Peter noticed Elizabeth glaring again and took the dirty dishes into the kitchen. She had him trained to at least rinse everything before loading it into the dishwasher. The sound of running water mixed with the soft clink of silverware and china in the sink after a moment.

"Neal?" Elizabeth asked. She reached across the table and set her hand on the back of his.

"Not much appetite tonight," he murmured. His smile had faded away entirely and that was so unlike Neal, who was always the perfect guest, wearing his charming mask and exerting himself to entertain even when he had to be hurting inside, that Elizabeth squeezed his hand involuntarily. She'd been annoyed before. Now she was worried. Unlike Peter, though, she knew the best way to get Neal to cooperate wasn't to push or even to pull, but to tease and wait and let him come to you, like a half-wild cat.

"I noticed," she told him tolerantly.

She had a feeling Neal hadn't had an appetite in some time. Maybe Peter didn't notice, he could be oblivious about things around him, but she could see the difference just from when Neal had come to dinner the week before. Neal had been stonewalling Peter on almost everything tonight, not with his usual charm and evasions and mockery, just stubborn silence. She thought he might not have the energy for anything else.

"I can send some home with you for later," she offered.

"You don't need to go that much trouble. Really, Elizabeth – "

"You're too thin." She patted his hand and got up. "Take Satch for a walk, would you?"

"Private talking time?" Neal retrieved Satchmo's leash from its place with easy familiarity and the big Lab scrambled over to his side, excited as always to get out with his third favorite person (possibly his second favorite, Elizabeth acknowledged fondly, since Neal spoiled him more than she or Peter did).

She just smiled and waved him to shoo out the door, then carried the wine Neal hadn't touched back to the kitchen along with her own glass.

Peter was drying his hands on one of her dish towels. Elizabeth sighed and joined him at the sink, leaving the crystal to hand wash later. He gave her a sidelong glance. "Am I in trouble?" he asked. The soft sound of water rushing into the dishwasher filled the room.

She leaned back against the counter and shook her head. "Mmm. It's a dinner table, not an interrogation room."

He had the grace to wince.

"He's up to something, El. He's too quiet. You saw him in there – "

"Hon, I think he might be quiet because he's not feeling well."

Peter half turned and frowned at her. It hadn't occurred to him. "I thought – "

"He's lost weight. This isn't something new," she said, "and I think it's getting worse."

Peter folded the towel and set it on the counter. The wheels were turning and he was putting together all the little details he hadn't bothered to before. "Damn it," he muttered. He leaned over and kissed her forehead. "I think sometimes you should be the agent."

"I'd be a damn fine one."

"You would."

He got that distracted look on his face. Elizabeth thought of it as his out-thinking-Neal-face. "Should I make him see a doctor?"

"Does he even have a doctor?"

"Ouch. I don't know. Theoretically his care should be handled through the Federal prison system, since he's technically serving a sentence."

Neal wasn't going to want to visit a prison infirmary. He'd stay silent and suffer rather than go back inside, even to get medical care.

"How did I not see this?"

"You're too close." She smiled at him and rested her fingers against his sides, right under his ribs where he was ticklish. She drummed them just a little, still smiling. "Plus, you tend to always look at Neal as an FBI agent and forget he needs the friend first sometimes."

He sighed. "But I know he's hiding something about this case too."

"Well, he wouldn't be Neal if he wasn't."

"You didn't see the picture of Larkin, El. It's not a resemblance: they're identical. If I didn't know Neal was in New York with me all week, I'd believe he was Larkin – "

The sound of the door opening and Satchmo's nails on the floor heralded Neal's return. He followed the dog into the kitchen, absently winding Satch's lead between his hands, and regarded Elizabeth and Peter warily. Rain glittered on his dark hair.

Before anyone could say anything Satchmo gave himself a wild shake, spattering their legs and the cabinets with doggy-smelling water.

"Ooops," Neal said as Peter groaned and Elizabeth exclaimed unhappily. It broke the tension though and served to distract Peter from asking any more questions, at least until the kitchen had been cleaned up and Peter left with Neal to drive him home. She suspected Neal had 'forgotten' to towel the dog off just for that purpose.

Elizabeth watched them leave before sitting down with a cup of tea and Satch at her feet. She hoped Peter didn't push too hard. Neal could almost always be counted on to push back, but this time she worried Peter might push him over the edge instead.

"I have a bad feeling," she told Satchmo.

The big Lab gave her sad eyes and thumped his tail against the floor.


Chuck debated keeping the old Tron poster. It had moved with him everywhere since high school, even if he kept it rolled up and tucked in the back of a closet now. Taking it with him to the apartment in Chicago, though, seemed like trying too hard to hold onto someone he wasn't any longer. Leaving it, on the other hand, felt like denying who he was.

Maybe it was time to give it up.

He ignored the bleep of an arriving email.

He didn't want to change everything. Deciding to relocate to Chicago so he could stay close Ellie, Awesome and Clara meant packing up and moving his and Sarah's home, as well as rebuilding Castle there. He didn't want to give up on his memories too. Even the bad reminders of his best friend's inexplicable betrayal had been shifted and were a different sort of reminder. He had a good life thanks to Bryce Larkin. He wouldn't change most of it.

He'd had a good life, Chuck corrected himself, before Quinn. He didn't know what he had left now, because Sarah didn't know either.

A kiss on the beach hadn't magically brought Sarah's memories back, instead it had left both of them awkward and uneasy with each other. Chuck wasn't the innocent nerd Sarah met five years before. Sarah wasn't the woman she'd become over those years. He didn't know if she'd fall back in love with who he was now.

No matter how many video diaries, mission reports and reminiscences Chuck and their friends shared with Sarah, nothing sparked the same connection they'd shared before. Their plans to retire from active spy business, buy that house, and have a family had evaporated like smoke from a pipe dream.

He didn't know if he loved this harder, ruthless Sarah, either. Five years ago he'd been too naïve to see this side of her clearly. He hadn't given up yet, though, and if trying was enough... well, they were both trying. It was worth fighting to get back what they'd had, even without the memories. Chuck hoped so, at least.

It didn't help that his wife was mourning Bryce all over again. Three years dead and Bryce still haunted him.

Ironically, Sarah still remembered Bryce and grieved for him. Before, she'd believed Bryce had gone rogue and sold out to Fulcrum. This time she had no memories of him betraying her along with the Agency, only the report that he'd died heroically. Chuck had found her going through a folder of pictures of Bryce and her on her phone a few weeks ago.

Chuck had felt too numb to mind. He'd gotten over his jealousy of whatever Bryce and Sarah had been years ago, after all, and Bryce deserved to be remembered.

He decided to keep the poster.

He poked through the back of his closet, but didn't find anything else he wanted to keep, walked back to the bed and collapsed back on it to stare at the ceiling.

"This sucks," he told the ceiling. "This is not the way I imagined everything working out." He sighed and laced his hands over his waist and wiggled his toes in his shoes. "At least Morgan's life is going great."

Way to depress himself, Chuck decided, when even Morgan's love life was better than his.

He rolled his head to the side and eyed the computer screen, catching the blinking icon that indicated an email. With a frown he got up and checked it. The frown got deeper. He hadn't used that email in years, since before he became the Intersect the first time, in fact, and only kept it out of habit.

The subject line teased at his memory: *____________* He checked the sender.

"No," Chuck whispered. "No way."

Chuck began typing, starting up one of his own backtracking programs, but whoever had sent the email had run it through an anonymizer, disguising the electronic trail with impressive skill, bouncing it through proxy servers on six continents. The email hadn't been sent from Bryce's old account. That didn't exist any more. But the sender had made it show up as from that account.

There was an attachment enigmatically labeled Topeka.

He opened it, braced for anything from a bad prank perpetrated by Morgan to an Intersect update.

A cascade of files downloaded onto his computer, faster than his brain could keep up with it, triggering a flash as he glimpsed the blueprints for an Intersect white room, reams of financial records for something called the Wichita Group, and then a final scan of a folder stamped TOP SECRET CLASSIFIED and labeled Project Topeka. The Intersect responded with streaming computer code, a holographic 3-D cube spinning slowly, and a list of the scientists and agents once involved in programming Project Omaha.

Chuck braced his hand on his desk and blinked at the screen in front of him.


"Hey, Chuck, can you give Devon a hand with some boxes – ?" Ellie walked into the bedroom already talking and came to a stop. "What is it?"

"I think I just got an email from a ghost," Chuck said.

Ellie raised her eyebrows.

"I've got to talk to General Beckman. I'll help Devon later, okay?"

"Sure, okay," Ellie said. "Should I be worried?"

"I don't know, but someone wants me to know there's another Intersect, either under construction or already built, out there."


"Whoever it is, they knew how Bryce sent me the Intersect and mimicked or hacked his old email account."

Chuck straightened up. The email wasn't from Bryce. It couldn't be. It might be from someone aware of Sarah's connection to Bryce and trying to manipulate her through that, to take advantage of her lost five years. If it was, they were going to discover that it still didn't pay to mess with Team Bartowski. But if it was Bryce... Chuck didn't know how he'd deal with that. He'd missed Bryce every day for five years and he'd mourned Bryce, twice now, and Sarah didn't remember Chuck, but she remembered Bryce.

If she hadn't loved Bryce the way she'd loved Chuck, she'd damn well cared and so had Bryce. Take care of her, Bryce had demanded while he bled out. Chuck had realized for a long time now that Bryce had always meant for her to take care of him too. But he hadn't been able to keep Quinn from frying her memories. Chuck couldn't even guess what might happen between the three of them if Bryce somehow came back again.

He headed for Castle, cell phone already in his hand as he tapped the speed dial for Casey's number and not Sarah's.


Peter double-parked and turned, left hand still resting on the steering wheel, while Neal snapped his seatbelt open. The slap of the windshield wipers filled the otherwise silent car. The drive had been tense. Passing headlights limned the interior in a harsh chiaroscuro, aging Peter's face, adding to his grim expression. "Caffrey – "

"Tell Elizabeth thanks for dinner," Neal said dully. He barely remembered what it had been and had no idea if it had tasted nice or not. His head had begun pounding some time during the drive to Brooklyn and Peter's escalating demands to know whatever Neal wasn't telling throughout the evening had made it worse. The spike of pain through his temples paired with a twisting knot in his stomach now. He jerked the seatbelt buckle open and got the door to the Taurus open.

Behind them a cabbie hit his horn in annoyance. Rain tapped a tympani on the roof, wet fingers drumming impatiently, wanting in, Neal had sometimes thought whimsically. Tonight it was too loud, almost demanding.

"We're not done."

"You're going to end up with a ticket or rear-ended," Neal told him. He shifted to get out and Peter grabbed his arm. Neal looked at the big hand on his biceps and ignored all the techniques he knew to break free. Most of them would hurt Peter and all of them would give away too many things: that he knew how and that he was desperate enough to use that knowledge. "Let go unless you're going to polygraph me again."

Neal didn't know how he'd cope if Peter did try that. Something inside him squirmed painfully just at denying Peter, but if it came to endangering the others...

"Just tell me."

Neal shook his head. "It's late." Too late, he'd realized over dinner, for this life.

"Neal, I can't protect you if you don't – " Peter tightened his grip in quiet anger before releasing him with a shake of his head. "In the office in the morning. Be prepared to tell me what's going on."

Neal shoved the door wider and threw himself from the car into the rain, running up the steps to June's door without looking back, intent on reaching the loft before his stomach emptied itself of El's perfectly nice dinner. Peter couldn't protect him. No one could. His future was his past and it was ending soon enough.

Neal left the lights off as he ran up the stairs, skipping the one that creaked automatically, and hoping Peter wouldn't decide to be more stubborn than usual, find a parking place, and follow him up. He couldn't deal with Peter now.

He didn't know if he could deal with Mozzie either, but he half-hoped his oldest friend would be sipping wine on his couch and waiting for him. Mozzie's questions were beginning to become as uncomfortable as Peter's, but Mozzie backed off when Neal made it clear he wouldn't answer.

The undisturbed air in the loft told Neal it was empty, though. He shed his coat, letting it drop on a chair, and reached the bathroom in time to retch into the sink helplessly, endlessly, until all he could do was lock one shaking hand over the swan-curved faucet head and rest his head against it.

He fumbled the pill bottle out of his jacket pocket and swallowed one with a handful of water from the tap once the heaving stopped.

Four left, Neal reminded himself, and he'd needed two today.

He brushed his teeth slowly, not wanting to make himself gag, then washed his face and hands. He looked wasted in the mirror, even after he combed his hair into place and straightened his cuffs and jacket, grimacing at the water spots he'd splashed onto it in self-disgust. He braced himself against the counter's edge.

What could he say tomorrow that he hadn't been able to say today? Nothing. He couldn't tell them who Bryce Larkin was. He couldn't even let himself think about finding him – No matter how much he wanted to do just that. His life was all about everything he couldn't do now. And Jones... The Jones the Fringe agents were talking about couldn't be the man Neal remembered, could he?

He wanted to call Peter and beg him, 'Don't make me leave.' That would go against all the rules, though. No good-byes. No giveaways. If he had to go, he couldn't leave any clues. Peter would never let anything go, never ever understand that Neal's secrets weren't just about protecting himself.

He didn't know if he had the strength to disappear any longer.

You needed to stay healthy to run.

Neal fingered the pill bottle. He needed more. Stress exacerbated the symptoms they blocked. He needed enough to carry him through until he could steal more if he had to cut the anklet and go. Everything else he could abandon – he'd have to – but he couldn't escape if he couldn't function. The creeping exhaustion and headaches he could ignore, even the nausea, but his shaking hands would betray him.

So would the seizures that loomed in his future.

He set bottle in the medicine cabinet, where he wouldn't fumble the contents into the sink accidentally, then pulled out his cellphone and picked out the first of Mozzie's many numbers. When the call went to voice mail, he didn't waste time identifying himself. "I'm running out fast and I need more. Tonight. Moz – "

He swallowed. Their code word for an emergency that meant running caught in his throat. He forced it out.


He left the same message with all of Mozzie's numbers.


Dinner with Nina swiftly slipped into the surreal for Olivia. The meal, served in the dining room of the penthouse Massive Dynamics provided for its CEO, was simple, and composed of her favorites. She almost asked how Nina knew them. Her memories of the past in which this Nina took her and her sister in and raised them were slipping away as the memories of the other Olivia, Peter's Olivia, steadily overwrote them. Yet Olivia felt no experience of changing, until the dissonance between her and this reality hit in the pauses when Nina mentioned an event Olivia didn't remember and in the flashes of hurt in Nina's face when Olivia drew a blank. Their conversation gradually fell apart, resulting in stretches of silence in which they each pretended to concentrate on their meal.

The conversation was only slightly better when they talked about the investigation into the Wichita Group. Olivia told Nina that they knew Cyrus Ogilvie had been replaced by one of the human shapeshifters but they didn't know why; no one would tell them what the Wichita Group had been working on. Some of the other Olivia's cynicism about Massive Dynamics colored Olivia's feelings. Nina might say she didn't know exactly what Wichita had been developing for DARPA and even imply whoever had been in charge had hijacked the project for unknown purposes, but the FBI agent side of Olivia and her new self were both skeptical. Nina kept a finger to the pulse of everything Massive Dynamics did.

"Is it classified?" she asked.

"There's dessert," Nina said into the awkward silence when she didn't answer the question. "Your favorite."

"You know my favorite?" Olivia asked.

She could see the question take Nina aback. "Of course I do. I've always made it for you. Every time we have dinner without your sister. She hates caramel – you do remember that?"

"I don't remember that," Olivia admitted. "No." She was losing memories of her sister in this universe too. She regretted it, but something in her still urged her onward. She needed to be Peter's Olivia. Peter's Olivia knew how to do things that she didn't and some instinct insisted she would need those skills.

"Olive," Nina said eventually. She set her fork down on her plate before folding her napkin and laying it aside. "There is still time for Walter to – "

"I've made my decision, Nina," Olivia told her as gently as possible. Though her memories of growing up with Nina were slipping away, pushed aside by the strength of that other Olivia's emotions and experiences, she had no desire to hurt the woman. She leaned forward and smiled. "I always wondered if there was something wrong with me, that I didn't feel more, and now I do."

What she felt for Peter almost overwhelmed her sometimes. It made her hesitate and then, when she saw him, it made her warm, filled her with happiness. The intensity amazed her. It didn't feel delicate or new; it felt like a river course cut deep through her that could not be shifted. A river that crested and flooded when Peter held her in his arms.

And yet... and yet, she realized she was giving up herself to this other version of herself. Was love worth it? When she made herself think about it, she wasn't sure, but the emotions were strong enough she didn't think about it often. Maybe love was addictive. Maybe it wasn't just loving Peter that made her want to do this. Some force dictated that that other Olivia was the Olivia that should be and she was only going along with what had to be, the way Peter had to be, even though he'd been wiped from this timeline.

She didn't think love was enough to bring him back, when no one had known him to love him and so want him back. There had to be more to it.

She suspected the Observers, when they were caught out, were still lying or manipulating all of them to achieve the timeline that would bring them about. Nothing any of them, even September, said could be trusted without question. Yet, she felt grateful for whatever September had told Peter that kept him from leaving Boston for New York. In the last weeks, Peter had stopped pushing for and talking about finding a way to get back to his timeline.

Whether he'd given up or accepted his place in this universe, Olivia wasn't sure. She was afraid to ask. She'd seen the same questions in Walter's eyes too, since Peter had relaxed a great deal around him lately.

"If you're sure," Nina said. Her mouth pinched, but before she could say anything more, Olivia's phone began buzzing.

"I have to check this – " Olivia murmured apologetically, retrieving the phone and checking. "It's Broyles."

Nina waved her hand in agreement. "I'll clear the table."

"I'm glad we did this," Olivia said, catching Nina's hand and squeezing it. She smiled at Nina again then accepted Broyles' call. "Dunham."

"I've contacted the Other Side. It's questionable whether they will respond with any information on their version of Bryce Larkin or Neal Caffrey, should they exist there, but a lack of response will tell us they have something to hide," Broyles said.

Nina rose from the table and began cleaning the plates away, taking them into her kitchen. The domestic actions clashed with her chic black clothes and always business-like demeanor. Olivia knew that she and her sister hadn't grown up in this apartment, but realized with a pang that she couldn't remember where Nina had raised them. Had the interior been this cool and perfect? When she tried to remember, all she found were memories of that other Olivia's childhood.

"What if they tell us they have two perfectly innocent citizens who happen to look alike or that are twins who weren't separated at birth?" Olivia wondered.

"Then we request that Agent Lee cross over and interview them."

"At the same time," Olivia suggested.

The insistent note of another cell phone made her flinch. Nina waved and lifted her phone from the charger on the black lacquered side table, next to the vase with the arrangement of white tulips, before answering it quietly. "I don't have the package yet." She started out of the room. "It's in Brooklyn right now. No. Olivia is here." She sounded annoyed. "Our people will have it delivered before morning."

"If they can't, then one or the other of our doubles is an Other Side infiltrator," Broyles said.

Olivia nodded though he couldn't see her. "Larkin, probably, since Caffrey's movements are under constant scrutiny. It would explain why he's using the alias of a man who is dead over here."

Nina moved to the far side of the room, but Olivia could still hear her. "David, my dear, I realize this window of opportunity is rapidly closing. No, I'm afraid this one is likely from Batch Three."

"But not the resemblance between him and Caffrey," Broyles pointed out.

Olivia frowned, disturbed by the tone of Nina's conversation, wondering what had gone wrong that had her that irritated. She shrugged and replied, "It could still be a coincidence."

Broyles' dark look conveyed itself through the phone with just his tone. "You don't believe that."

"No, I don't," Olivia admitted. "But I can't dismiss the possibility. Only conspiracy theorists see everything as part of a pattern. It isn't necessarily a plot by our counterparts, even if something is going on. Lincoln says they're taking a friendly turn since the bridge stabilized the rifts in their universe."

She imagined the ironic light of amusement that sometimes lit Broyles' eyes, though it never cracked his serious mien.

"I'll take that under advisement, Agent Dunham."

"Well, it might make them more cooperative."

"Number Fourteen," Nina was saying to her caller. "That's unconfirmed. You'll need to take precautions during transport and after delivery."

Olivia glanced over at Nina.

Nina lowered her voice, but still snapped at whoever was at the other end of the call. "Then I suggest you do trust me to do my part. Yes, I've already authorized that. I'll contact you when we've finished the next phase." She ended the call and studied Olivia thoughtfully.

"What did you think about Agent Burke?" Broyles asked, distracting her.

"Good at his job, not comfortable with the sort of cases we handle," Olivia replied promptly. She added, to be fair, "He was annoyed at being co-opted and by our reactions to Caffrey. He may be more flexible than he seemed this morning. Using a felon on his team certainly points to that."

"Refrain from revealing any more about our brief than is necessary until otherwise instructed," Broyles advised. "I'll consider revising that if the case makes it necessary."

"Thank you, sir."

"Good evening, Agent Dunham," he said courteously and ended the call.

Nina tucked her phone back in the charger.



Beckman gave Chuck and Casey the same jaundiced look as usual from the conference room screen. "Colonel. Mr. Bartowski. Let me guess. The Intersect."

"I got an email set up to look like it came from Bryce," Chuck said. Casey made an unhappy noise.

"And it said?"

"Nothing," Chuck explained hurriedly. "There was just an attachment, a huge file full of information on a Project Topeka, which has to be another Intersect, and a company called the Wichita – "

" – Group," Beckman interrupted. "They're a subsidiary of Massive Dynamics." She scowled. "I imagine you've heard of Massive Dynamics."

"Everyone's heard of them," Chuck said, "haven't they?" His voice rose a little embarrassingly there at the end. Maybe only nerds knew about Massive Dynamics and their amazing innovations in computer architecture.

"Massive Dynamics supplies software and hardware to half the military-industrial complex," Beckman went on, "and most of our armed forces and government infrastructure."

"Ouch." They'd blown up DARPA's white room after downloading the Intersect 3.0 and thought that was the end of it. Of course it wasn't, Chuck berated himself. The military weren't willing to abandon the project, even if they couldn't strong arm the CIA or NSA into sharing their databases again.

Beckman nodded.

"Curiously," she said, shifting a piece of paper from a file on the desk before her, "The Wichita Group came to NSA's attention this week because DHS agents launched inquiries into their operations, including background checks on several of their employees." She picked a photograph up and contemplated it with distaste.

"Homeland Security uses Bureau resources," Casey pointed out impatiently. "They don't need us."

"They do, but the inquiries came from their Fringe Division, which has alerted our agency and the rest of the government to several potentially disastrous bioterrorism plots."

Casey grunted. "Weirdos." He glanced at Chuck and added, "They make Grimes look sensible."

Chuck could only blink at that.

"Three days ago, Wichita Group CEO Cyrus Ogilvie, or someone masquerading as him, was killed. A fire was set at their offices and most of their records were lost," Beckman said.

"What about offsite backup?" Chuck asked.

"Wiped by a virus introduced the same night."

"So no one knows what was lost?"

Beckman nodded to Chuck. "I believe we know now."

"Another Intersect."

She turned the photograph in her hand toward the webcam. Casey growled at the solemn face it showed and Chuck gasped.

"The NSA became interested when Fringe Division's checks included the flagged name of a deceased CIA asset."

"Bryce," Chuck breathed.

"It seems impossible," Beckman continued, "but someone purporting to be Mr. Larkin infiltrated the Wichita Group. He disappeared again after Ogilvie's death." She set the photograph down and shook her head.

"I want you, Colonel Casey, and Agent Walker on this," Beckman ordered. "You can begin by meeting with the Fringe Division investigators. They may know more than DHS has shared."

"It can't really be Bryce, can it?" Chuck asked. "Sarah told Shaw she'd taken his ashes to Lisbon when she went off the grid. I saw the surveillance tape."

"Why the hell would she do that?" Casey asked.

Chuck shrugged helplessly. "She said it was where they shared their first mission and he'd wanted – "

Casey scowled. "They never ran a mission in Lisbon, Bartowski."

"Why would Sarah lie? We didn't know about Shaw then." He couldn't even ask her, because she didn't remember, but Chuck felt confused and betrayed. Why would she tell him that if it wasn't true? And Bryce, why would Bryce make them think he was dead again? Why would he kill Ogilvie? If he was alive, why let them know now?

"Agent Walker was instructed to convince you Agent Larkin was dead," Beckman said. "Shaw was given the same instructions and arranged for you to see the surveillance footage."

"What?" Casey and Chuck both exclaimed, Casey adding, "Son of a – " before throttling the rest of the curse in response to Beckman's glare. Chuck shared a look with him, angry and confused and demanded, "Why?"

"It was necessary that you concentrate on your training and mastering the Intersect 2.0. The possibility that the Ring might have Agent Larkin and revive him as Fulcrum did was deemed too great a distraction, given your history and emotional attachment."

"You just left him with them?" Casey growled in disgust.

"No, Colonel," Beckman said. "Agent Larkin's body was never recovered, but we never found any evidence that that scenario had occurred. The decision to list him as KIA simply allowed Mr. Bartowski some, as they say, closure." Her mouth twitched. "I know you didn't like him, Colonel, but I suspect you would have abetted Mr. Bartowski in a pointless search if Agent Larkin had been properly listed as MIA."

"You knew I wouldn't accept he was dead if there was no body," Chuck accused. "So Sarah told me the ashes story." He clenched his fists by his side. "That was low. That was really, really low."

Beckman gave him a sour look. "I'd think by now you'd understand we operate according to exigency, Mr. Bartowski. In our profession we have to do what works more often than what is right." Her gaze swept over him to Casey. "I'll expect all three of you to remember your duty and your jobs on this mission. It is critical that we learn if Massive Dynamics' security has been penetrated and if so, by whom. That is your mission objective."

Casey straightened and asked grimly, "And if it's Larkin?"

Beckman sighed. "Recover him for debriefing if at all possible, but remember at this point Agent Larkin may have been turned or be otherwise compromised. Do not assume he is on your side. Take no chances."

Part Two

I was looking back to see if you were looking back at me
To see me looking back at you
Safe From Harm :: Massive Attack

"Ogilvie's a dead end, but I've got something else," Lincoln said. He and Peter had arrived at the twenty-first floor of the Federal Building and ensconced themselves in the White Collar unit's conference room before Olivia arrived, but not before Agents Jones and Barrigan. They were all digging into the Wichita Group's connection to Massive Dynamics and DARPA, trying to figure out what the company had been developing. "Someone has a fetish for Midwestern cities."

Olivia walked around the table and looked at the screen of Lincoln's laptop. Lincoln glanced up at her, swallowed, then focused on the laptop.

"Wichita," Lincoln explained to Barrigan and Jones. "Topeka." He pointed to a short email that Astrid had recovered from a partially fried desk computer recovered from the office fire. "And here's Omaha."

–- –- destr –- Zarnow, Busgang, a –- e all de –- crum –- glit –- pload resu –- calatin –- ry deter –- cept –- two c –- rther tes –- uman trials –- bet –- sting on –- eers is –- unter-in –- ain dam –- eed to scree –- igh visual rete –- rds indi –- find the Pr –- Omaha candi –- owsk –- sible human Inters –- kin tests as –- Orion –-

"I'd bet what that said originally was Project Omaha," Peter said. He scooted his chair over and read, while the two White Collar agents circled the table and checked it out.

"We've got three names to check," Jones said.

"I doubt they're talking about constellations," Olivia said. "So another project name?"

"Or a code name," Barrigan suggested.

Jones had his laptop open and had begun his own search. "I've got a hit on Busgang. Dr. Howard Busgang. DOB 1960. Westport, Connecticut. Specialized in, huh, cognitive and spacial function in the human brain." Jones shook his head. "Worked for the DoD. And the rest is classified."

"Ogilvie was an expert in computational neuroscience," Peter observed.

Lincoln blinked and mouthed at Peter and Olivia, "Anyone make sense of the rest of it?"

Jones and Barrigan shook their heads, but Peter smirked. "I've got a couple ideas. Olivia?"

Peter had led an odd life, after Walter went into St. Claire's and his mother killed herself, even before Olivia found him. He'd been a loner through most it, living by his wits, and it made him sensitive to patterns. Memories of car battery shocks from his childhood and a plethora of experiences with Fringe Division combined with that to make certain things obvious to him. He'd bet Olivia had made the same connection from the jumble of partial words. Some pieces just jumped out to him. Her too, he guessed.

"Human trials," Olivia said.

"High visual retention," Peter added. "Further testing. And that might be 'brain damage' but only from the context."

"None of that sounds good," Barrigan agreed. "Where's this Busgang now?"

"Dead," Jones reported. "Shot to death in a convenience store robbery according to his obit."

"What about Zarnow?" Olivia asked. "Is he a scientist too? Any ties to Massive Dynamics or the Wichita Group? Ogilvie? Larkin?"

"Yeah, let me – " Jones said and began typing fast.

Peter snagged his own laptop and began another search. "I've got a Dr. Jonah Zarnow – "

"This guy's another DoD alum."

"Is he dead too?" Lincoln joked.

"He goes off the grid after his car is bombed in 2007," Jones replied seriously. "No ties to Massive Dynamics and the Wichita Group wasn't formed then."

"His name's flagged by the NSA," Peter added, backing out of his search and covering his electronic tracks belatedly.

Barrigan was scowling. "A car bomb? And the other name we found is killed in a convenience store shooting the same year?"

"Convenient," Peter remarked, sardonic and pleased with himself. "I think we may end up being the ones answering questions for the NSA if we keep digging on these guys. Larkin and Omaha lit them up too."

Barrigan glared at him. Peter rocked back in his chair, smiling a little smug smile, with his hands locked behind his neck. "2007 was a bad year for scientists in the field of brain architecture and neurocomputing."

"Don't forget accountants," Lincoln added absently. Bryce Larkin, bank accountant, had a death certificate on file and an obituary that said he'd died in 2007 too. Three times, they say, is enemy action.

"And Neal was convicted that year," Barrigan contributed. "But that makes no sense. Larkin couldn't be one of his aliases. I mean, why cover his disappearance by killing the alias? And who would have the pull to do that?"

"CIA, DIA, NSA... " Peter recited.

Lincoln was watching something through the conference room's glass wall, his eyes tracking movement. Olivia glanced over her shoulder and charted Peter Burke's arrival. He opened the conference room door and swept his gaze over them all.

"Where's Neal?"

"We thought you were picking him up this morning," Jones said.

"He's not here?"

"I haven't seen him."

Barrigan shook her head. "Sorry, boss."

Burke pulled out his cell phone and checked something on the screen, his scowl turning grim. "The tracker says he's here."


Peter resisted the urge to throw his phone at the window. The US Marshals' tracking site showed Neal's anklet functioning and, as of eight a.m., in the Federal Building, but a quick call down to building security confirmed that Neal hadn't shown up early and hidden himself somewhere. He'd thought it a good sign, that Neal had gone in early, that he was prepared to come clean, when he checked the site before sitting down to breakfast with Elizabeth, and had appreciated the time it saved him going by June's to pick him up. He'd been an idiot. He thanked the security officer quietly and ended the call.

He should have remembered anything easy with Neal was a misdirection.

"What did I tell you?" Bishop observed, not unkindly. "Anything with a wireless connection can be hacked."

The tracker was spoofed. He should have never let Neal out of his sight. Livid, he closed his hand tight on his phone before pocketing it. He'd have to go to June's and check the loft. It would do no good, since Neal was already in the wind, probably had been since he jumped out of the car the night before. While Peter had been sleeping, Neal had been running. Another hour spent searching Neal's apartment before setting the Marshals after him wouldn't leave them any further behind. He knew none of them would catch Neal this time. Kate had been Neal's only weakness when he'd been on the run before, she'd been the bait Peter used to draw him in the first time, and the trail he'd followed the second. Mozzie was Neal's only other soft spot and Mozzie stayed off the grid; they'd never find him to use him against Neal.

"Boss?" Jones asked.

"Neal's gone," Peter snapped.

Bishop and the two Fringe agents trailed behind Peter along with Diana and Jones as he strode through the bullpen, stopping at Neal's desk.

"Why?" Jones asked softly. Peter actively hated the regret on Jones' face. Jones got along with Neal; even liked him. So did Diana, though she refused to be charmed by him. Neal had made himself part of their team and, by running, he'd hurt more than just Peter. He'd hurt Jones and Diana too.

He hated Neal for that.

He hated Neal because he was going to have to tell Elizabeth Neal had gone. He hated Neal because he missed his friend already and why couldn't he have just trusted Peter, just once more, with whatever disaster the Fringe agents had brought to their doorstep?

"Something scared him that bad?" Diana asked, hitting the nail on the head. She'd been the one to tell them to target Kate to catch Neal the first time. Sometimes she seemed to see through Neal better than Peter did.

"I don't know."

Damn it, Neal.

Peter turned a fulminating glare on Dunham, Lee and Bishop before turning back to his agents. "I don't know. He wouldn't talk last night, but I know he didn't want to go anywhere near Massive Dynamics, so you're going to start digging. I want to know everything there is to know about them." If he found out someone in that company had had anything to do with Neal's disappearance, he would take it apart down to the last penny and paperclip.

"Yes sir," Jones replied as if he were back in the Navy.

Peter squeezed his shoulder then nodded to Diana to walk with him. To his annoyance the two agents trailed after him, though their consultant at least stayed back, lingering near Neal's untouched desk. Peter noted that. Their consultant bore watching as much as his own ever had. He should have had Jones or one of the probies run a background check on Bishop; he was pinging Peter's radar suddenly. "I need you to search Neal's desk," Peter told Diana. "If he planned to run – "

"There won't be anything," she finished, weary and disheartened as Peter felt. "But if he didn't, if it wasn't planned, maybe there will be a pointer as to why."

That was why Diana would be one of the Bureau's very best in another couple of years. She and Jones were the best agents in the unit and the New York Financial Crimes Division was the best in the Bureau.

"Is there any chance he didn't go willingly?" she asked.

"I don't know."

He didn't even know if he should hope for that. If someone had taken Neal, then Neal was in real trouble. As if being on the run wasn't real trouble, Peter acknowledged ruefully. A fugitive Neal would look out for himself. A captive Neal... might already be dead and Peter couldn't deny he would rather see the Bureau humiliated and his career take a hit than that.

"I know one way to find out," he said.

Diana narrowed her eyes then nodded. "Mozzie."

"Mozzie," Peter agreed. "Meanwhile, I'm going to the loft and search it. If Neal's running scared he might have slipped." He shook his head. It was hard to imagine Neal scared. Oh, he knew Neal felt fear, but Neal stayed poised, at the most letting himself appear shaken sometimes, mostly to garner sympathy. The real Neal had nerves of steel under his lighthearted exterior. The real Neal was arrogant enough to think he could handle anything just by out-thinking his opponents. Peter was so used to disbelieving Neal's protests over going into danger, because he knew how reckless Neal could be, that he'd seen Neal's fear the day before and dismissed it.

Behind them, Agent Lee cleared his throat. "I'd like to go with you, Agent Burke." He looked apologetic. "In case this does tie into Ogilvie's murder."

Peter wanted to say no, but couldn't argue. "Fine. – Agent Dunham, I'd like to speak to you for a moment."


"Well, at least this time, there's no dead body," Peter joked to Lincoln while Burke exchanged words too low to catch with Olivia. If the day before hadn't convinced them, the reactions of the White Collar agents to their consultant going missing would have: Caffrey really did operate as part of their team. Worry and sorrow weren't the regular reaction to a fleeing felon, except among the felon's family.

"We haven't checked Massive Dynamics' accounts. If they're emptied... "

"Then we'll have to figure out how Caffrey was Larkin, but I don't think that's what's going on."

Peter's fingers itched. He wanted to drift over to Caffrey's desk and find whatever he'd written the day before. Something was there, his instincts insisted.

"I just hope we don't run into someone else that looks like this guy and then goes poof over night," Lincoln added.

Peter laughed, quietly out of deference to the agents working around them, and said, "Once is chance, twice is coincidence, but three times is enemy action."

Lincoln gave him a grim look.

"Only we don't know who the enemy is."

"It's Jones," Peter told him confidently. "Make sure you pick up a DNA sample on Caffrey while you're in his apartment. Broyles can get a warrant for Larkin's apartment in Boston, and if it hasn't been cleaned out, Walter can do a DNA comparison."

"Wouldn't you be better at that than me?"

Peter eyed Caffrey's desk. "Just get some hairs from his brush or the shower drain trap. I've got something I need to get here."


June's housekeeper let them in, explaining June had gone to Chicago for the week. June Ellington paid for discreet help; no one working at the mansion questioned anything Neal did, but they didn't protest Peter waltzing in and out either.

He tried the door knob before pulling out the key June had supplied him after Neal moved in. It turned easily in his hand, unlocked, opening silently. The morning light, crystalline clean after the previous day's rain, lent the white-painted walls and the elegant art on them a warm glow. First glance showed nothing missing.

The rug in front of the door was rucked up at one corner. Peter frowned.

Lee followed him inside the loft apartment and whistled. "Nice digs for a felon."

Peter snorted and said, "Stick Caffrey in a stall full of horse shit and there wouldn't be a pony underneath it, no, there'd be Triple Crown winner. He'd get someone else to pay to use the manure as fertilizer too."

Lee arched his eyebrows over the frames of his glasses. "You like him."

Peter shrugged uncomfortably.

He turned slowly, trying to pick out if anything seemed wrong or out of place or missing. The French doors out onto the balcony were open. There were water spots on the usually shining floor. Neal's coat hadn't been hung up on the rack by the door, either. It had been tossed over the desk chair. His hat from the day before balanced on the coat.

Lee walked over to the open French doors and surveyed the terrace curiously. "It's funny," he said. "Working with someone who isn't an agent. Though Peter – " He stopped and gave Peter a wry smile. " – Bishop is pretty good at it. Walter, though, Walter's a trip. But you can count on them." He paused. "Mostly. Until you hit a fault line and everything goes to hell."

"But that happens with agents too," Peter finished. "So who is Walter?"

He didn't like what he was seeing. Neal's suit coat was crumpled in one of his sitting room chairs, abandoned too carelessly for Neal unless he'd been in a headlong panic. He had too much respect for June, and though Peter might mock, too much fondness for his borrowed finery to mistreat it.

"Walter Bishop. He's a... scientist," Lee explained. He pulled a pair of nitrile gloves from his pocket and drew them on while he talked.

Peter hadn't brought any with him. Contaminating crimes scenes and evidence weren't things he usually had to think about while working Financial Crimes. Neal was actually better at remembering than him and would have a pair of cotton gloves on him for handling delicate artwork and fragile papers. He stuffed his hands in pockets and swallowed back the ache in his throat.

"He doesn't get out of the lab at Harvard, though, unless it's an emergency. Agent Farnsworth does any field work with an uplink."

"Bishop?" Peter repeated.

"Um. Yes. Peter's his... Well, not, but... It's complicated," Lee said with clear discomfort. "Also, sort of unbelievable. It's different than working out of the Hartford office, that's for sure."

"How long have you been with Fringe Division?"

"A few months. Since my partner was killed."

"I'm sorry."

"Robert was a good man. I wanted to catch whoever killed him."

"And you ended up with a transfer."

"That's what it cost," Lee stated and Peter eyed him, hearing the subtle warning in Lee's words. Learn too much and you could end up transferred too. "I don't sleep much anymore."

Peter glanced around the kitchen and saw nothing changed. He opened the door beyond the refrigerator and checked the bathroom and then Neal's closet. He couldn't see anything missing. He didn't know if Neal would have run wearing one of Byron's suits, but they all appeared to be there. A single empty hanger probably belonged to the suit coat left in the sitting area. The closet didn't offer any answers.

Lee was in the bathroom. Peter watched him delicately remove several hairs from Neal's hair brush and place them in an evidence bag. Lee gave him a faintly embarrassed look, then smiled crookedly. "Since Astrid isn't here."


"Agent Farnsworth. Walter will want DNA samples." True amusement lit his solemn face. "Walter always wants DNA samples."

"I don't want to know," Peter decided out loud.

Lee smiled. "You don't, sir. Olivia tells me you get used to it, but I haven't yet."

The medicine cabinet yielded the usual over-the-counter items along with an out-dated and half-used prescription for painkillers that Neal had charmed out of an emergency room doctor after getting roughed up the year before. Nothing out of the ordinary, nothing alarming, until Lee plucked a narrow yellow vial from the shadow of an extra-large bottle of Tylenol and held it up. The vial held four pills and was unmarked.

"Does Caffrey use?"

"No." Neal took care of his body because it was part of his arsenal. A glass of wine or a shot of vodka were things he savored, as well as part of the act of sociability, but Neal wouldn't use drugs. He hadn't even finished the painkillers because they might make his control slip. A dark voice at the back of Peter's mind reminded him just how good Neal was at covering things up, along with how many inmates walked out of prison with habits they hadn't had going in, and wondered if the weight loss and other slips Peter had been ignoring until Elizabeth pointed them out to him weren't signs of an addiction Neal couldn't handle any longer. Even thinking it made Peter sick to his stomach. He insisted, helplessly, "Neal doesn't."

"No idea what this is?"

Peter shook his head.

Lee opened the vial and tapped one pill into his palm, looking it over intently. "Crumbly. No markings. I don't think this came from any pharmaceutical manufacturer. It looks like a street drug."

What would Neal need with a street drug? He could charm a prescription for most things out of a doctor without difficulty. If he didn't want to do that, forging a prescription wouldn't even present a challenge. Peter couldn't imagine Neal going to a dealer voluntarily. It made his head hurt even picturing it.

Lee dropped the pill back into the vial and screwed the cap back on.

"Can your – Walter analyze that?" Peter asked. He didn't want to take whatever the pills were into the Bureau. He didn't want to add the answer to Neal's file. He didn't want to know what they were, but he had to find out.

Lee slid the vial into another bag and nodded. "Yeah."

"Can you get it to him today?"

Lee glanced up. Peter tried to school the worry from his face. It must not have worked; Lee's face softened into sympathy and he repeated, "Yeah."

They returned to the sitting area. Lee contemplated the bed. The sheets and covers were mussed and unmade, so Neal had gone to bed after Peter left him off. It didn't add up. Neal had a neat streak, probably strengthened during his years in prison. He might not have changed the sheets and made the bed before going, but he would have straightened it.

Lee fished something from beneath the goose down duvet. It took a second to recognize the tracker or rather, half of the tracker.

"It's been cut through on two sides," Lee said, examining it. He handed it to Peter and knelt, scooping the other half from under the bed.

The cuts through the hardened plastic case and the titanium ribbon inside were shockingly clean. None of the crushing showed that Peter would have expected if Mozzie or Neal had used any kind of clippers on it. He couldn't find any saw marks either. Just a perfect, smooth slice through, like a knife through an apple. The telltale on the second piece blinked red steadily, still powered by the battery, and utterly pointless with the Marshals' Service software obviously hacked.

Lee turned the second piece in his hand thoughtfully. "The plastic looks a little melted on one edge."

Peter kept his piece in one hand and shifted the duvet aside. Several spots of blood darkened Neal's stark white, luxurious bed linens where his ankle would have rested. Lee glanced over and frowned.

"That's not where you'd hold your leg if you were cutting one of these off yourself," he commented.

Peter didn't think it was where Mozzie would have done it for Neal either.

"Walter might know what was used to do this," Lee said, holding up the other half of the tracker.

"Good. Send it to him. I'll turn the other half over to the Bureau's lab here."

"The Marshals won't want it back?"

"I don't care what they want."

The blood stains weren't life threatening. Peter had bled more from shaving cuts. They mocked him though with the flicker of fear he'd seen behind Neal's poised con man's mask the day before. His hand tightened on the tracker half while his stomach roiled.

Lee dropped his half of the tracker into another evidence bag. He dropped down on his knees and then his side to reach under the bed again.

Peter caught his breath.

"Needle cap," Lee said. "Your guy really doesn't – "

"I said he doesn't."

The suit coat lying crumpled in the seat of one of the chairs drew his attention again. The fine fabric had wrinkled in a way Neal would have abhorred. Going through the pockets yielded Neal's wallet and cellphone – which meant nothing, since Neal no doubt had a new identity to use and wouldn't have taken a phone the Bureau knew about. He absently checked the phone and found it filled with missed calls and texts.

Peter scrolled through them. Mozzie had been calling since midnight. He spotted his own calls and then more from Mozzie.

A scuffled footstep and an indrawn breath spun Peter and Lee both around. Peter's last hope – and how strange it was that he was hoping for it – that Neal had run dissolved as he took in Mozzie.

Mozzie drew back, like a turtle into its shell, his eyes darting to Lee and then around the rest of the loft. "Where's Neal?"

"I was hoping you could tell me."

"Who are you?" Lee asked, though he obviously realized Peter knew Mozzie.

"Call him Mozzie," Peter told him. "It's what I do."

Lee frowned in bewilderment but didn't protest.

"Who is he?" Mozzie demanded, pointing at Lee, while pointedly not addressing him.

"Agent Lee is with Fringe Division, DHS."

Mozzie twitched and clutched his messenger bag closer to his chest. Peter held up Neal's phone. "You've been calling him since midnight."

"So? I wanted to talk to him."

"So his tracker's been cut and the GPS system has been hacked – "

"I had nothing to do with that," Mozzie interrupted. His eyes were wide and he looked squirrelly, like he was about to rabbit out of the loft. With Neal gone, Peter suspected he'd never catch up with Mozzie again if he let him get out of his sight now.

"He called you last night."

"He calls me many nights," Mozzie insisted with spurious dignity. "We're friends. Also, you may be aware he often turns to me for information or other items as part of your cases." His hands tightened on the bag again. "This isn't good, Suit."

"No kidding," Peter said, dry as dust.

"I need to wash my hands."

Mozzie gave Lee an apprehensive look, then scuttled toward the bathroom. Lee gave Peter a look, but Peter shook his head. "Keep looking," he said and followed Neal's old partner, since he sincerely doubted Mozzie suddenly needed to wash his hands, despite the hypochondria even Peter had picked up on over the years of their odd association via Neal.

Sure enough, no water was running in the sink. Mozzie hadn't even closed the door. He was going through the medicine cabinet and muttering under his breath, "Crazy, crazy, I don't know why I go along with everything – Why didn't you wait – "

"Mozzie, if you know something, you need to tell me now, before this gets out of control," Peter said from the doorway. It was a testament to how upset Mozzie was that he hadn't even noticed Peter there. "Right now, the Marshals don't know Neal's missing, but I can't keep it quiet much longer. Whoever hacked their system may have other plans too."

Mozzie stopped his search and glared at him. "I'm not particularly concerned with whatever problems your jackbooted thugs have, Suit. 'He made his conscience not his guide but his accomplice'."

"Don't quote Disraeli at me. You are concerned, because it's Neal," Peter said heavily. "And you were looking for a bottle of pills, weren't you? Agent Lee already found them."

"I have no idea what you're talking about."

"God damn it, Mozzie!" Peter roared, temper slipping its leash, "Tell me or I swear I will arrest you here and now and you will disappear into the system forever."

Mozzie's chin jerked up mulishly. "I always knew you were like all the others, no matter what Neal said."

Peter slammed his palm against the door jamb so hard the door jumped on its hinges. Mozzie cringed back from him before straightening into defiance again.

He squeezed his eyes shut and pinched the bridge of his nose.

"Talk to me, tell me what the hell he's taking," he made himself beg quietly. "Tell me why."

Mozzie shook his head but gave in. "I don't know." His hand came up. "I really don't. He came to me with the formula, told me he needed my connections to get it – it's nothing available legally or illegally. I had to find a chemist to make it up."

"And you just did that?" Peter demanded incredulously.

Mozzie looked so miserable Peter immediately felt guilty, then angry again at the reaction, reminding himself the man was just as much a con and master manipulator as Neal. The body language was all just a calculated act. Neal dazzled with his looks and style, distracting his marks with his charm and his smile, occasionally even playing to the pretty and dumb stereotype. Mozzie played up his eccentricities and weirdness when he couldn't just fade into the background, just another supporting character in his mark's every day life, forgotten before he'd even been noticed.

Hell, even Peter, if pressed, would have difficulty describing Mozzie beyond the basic cop mantra: male, Caucasian between forty and fifty, balding. He could add that Mozzie had a distinguishing scar from when Larsen shot him, but that didn't show. Everything else was ephemeral. Eye color, Peter couldn't even say, besides contacts made that as pointless to use for identification purposes as hair color these days. What people remembered about Mozzie, the rings and bracelets, the heavy glasses, the cravats, the neuroses and querulous conspiracy theories and complaints? All of it could be shed in an instant and once it was, Mozzie could walk right back into the same room and no one would recognize him.

The only thing Peter really believed he knew about Mozzie was his loyalty to Neal and his inexplicable – but oh so lucky – attachment to El.

It was that which convinced him of the truth of Mozzie's next words.

"Suit, Neal told me if I couldn't get it for him, he'd have no choice but to run." Mozzie made a face then looked away. "He practically begged me, but he wouldn't tell me anything about the drug, just that he needed it."

"Unbe – " Peter stopped. It was perfectly believable for Neal. Neal hid everything behind his glossy smiles. Every vulnerability, every hurt, his past, whatever it was, all of it was encased in layer after layer, the grit at the center of a baroque pearl. "Don't tell me you didn't research it."

"I did, but it's not patented, not on the FDA radar or in any kind of testing, it doesn't fit any of the criteria used to move a psychoactive onto the restricted list. My chemist says it doesn't look like an organic or anything modeled on an organic. I've been working on finding a research biochemist who can analyze it for me, but discretion doesn't come cheap," Mozzie answered finally.

"You've still got the formula?" Peter asked.


"Good, Agent Lee has a consultant in Harvard with a lab who can, I hope, tell us what the drug is and does." He could hear the sounds of cabinet doors being open and closed in the main part of the loft as Lee continued the search. It made Peter uncomfortable, letting a stranger go through Neal's home.

"And why Neal needs it?" Mozzie still looked worried. He patted his bag. "Because the call last night? He said he needed more."

Peter thought of the vial and the pills left in it.

"What if he doesn't have any?"

"I don't know, Suit."

"But you've got it with you, don't you? Will you do something for me – for Neal?"

"If I think it is in his best interest."

"Will you stay in touch through Elizabeth so if we find him and he needs this stuff, you can get it to me for him?" Peter asked. "Until we know what it is."

Mozzie opened the bag and pulled out a bottle that purported to hold extra-strength aspirin. He held it out. "In case time is critical." He pulled out a note pad and pen next and scrawled a complex chemical formula on it from memory. "If I'd got here sooner with this – "

"Yeah, maybe you could have disappeared too." Peter failed at being consoling.

Neither of them mentioned worrying about Neal going into withdrawal if the drug was addictive or, worse, getting sick from some medical condition he was using it to treat. They both knew Neal wouldn't resort to any medication off the grid without an overwhelming, maybe life-threatening reason.

Peter frankly didn't know which would be worse, Neal sick or Neal the secret addict. Both scared him. The possibility of Neal suffering hurt Peter and he knew in his gut it would hurt Mozzie even more.

He stuffed the bottle in his coat pocket.

"Get out of here."

Mozzie gave him another look of near dislike. Just because they both cared about Neal, just because Mozzie and El had some sort of odd couple friendship, just because they – though neither wanted to admit it – respected each other, didn't mean they liked each other. Or were going to admit it even to themselves if it was true. Peter was the Man and Mozzie was as anti-Establishment as it was possible to be without declaring formal war.

"I was never here."

Olivia smiled at Walter's image on the laptop screen. He was nibbling on a Red Vine, his eyes closed, appearing to be in a state of bliss.

Astrid moved into the picture and smiled at her. "Olivia. How are things in New York?"


Astrid sat down and leaned toward the laptop. "Tell me."

"Larkin's double, White Collar's consultant? Disappeared last night," Olivia explained.

"Oh, that doesn't sound good," Walter said without opening his eyes.

"Walter, have you found anything from the information we sent you?"

"Ah, that's very interesting. That email fragment mentioned Project Omaha. Of course, I was busy with my own projects and computing, even the digital to wetware programs they were pioneering, has never been my area of interest," Walter said. "I did meet one scientist with some of the most fascinating ideas on subliminal data retention and collation years ago. What was his name? Barney? No, that's the dinosaur. Bugaloo. Hmn. Oh. Stephen. His name's Stephen. He disappeared a few years later. Left his family... " Walter stopped and looked heart-broken. "A son and daughter."

Astrid patted his shoulder. "You would never have done that, Walter."

"Nonsense," Walter contradicted her. "I was capable of much worse before Belly's brain surgery."

Astrid winced visibly. Olivia felt the same visceral reaction. It was the same one everyone had to her lately – except Peter and even he had doubts – when confronted with her changing memories. Like Walter, she had chosen to give up one self for another she thought was better.

She hoped the old – new – Olivia was better. Fit better. Could do whatever had to be done. She still felt like herself. She supposed Walter did too.

"DNA," Walter said, peering into the camera so his face filled the laptop's screen, distorted out of focus, startling her out of her reflections. "I need samples! This is quite the intriguing case. You're sure they're not twins?"

"We're not sure of anything at this point."

He nodded. "Very good. Yes. An open mind. Make no assumptions. This is how the greatest discoveries are made. I never would have imagined I'd enjoy strawberry cheesecake milkshakes if I hadn't tried one."

Astrid pulled the laptop closer to her and said, "Olivia, Agent Broyles wanted me to tell you the NSA are interested in the case. He advised that you up your security."

"Does he think this has to do with Massive Dynamics?"

"He said they were interested in Bryce Larkin and anyone else employed by the Wichita Group."

"Are they going to be a problem?"

Astrid made a face. "It's the NSA, so they won't want to tell us anything."

"Wonderful," Olivia murmured. A scuffle outside the conference room door distracted her as Agent Barrigan pushed the door open and Agent Jones shoved Peter inside.

"Hey, you don't need to get rough," Peter protested.

"You were breaking into Neal's desk looking for something," Agent Barrigan snapped. She waved a sheet of paper. "This. I want to know why or I'm going to throw you in a holding cell until the boss gets back."

"Astrid, I have to go."

"Good luck," Astrid said before the screen switched to the Fringe Division logo.

"Peter, what did you do?" Olivia asked.

"Nothing, really," he said quickly.

Barrigan crossed her arms and glared at him.

"Okay, fine, so I may have... "

"Picked a lock and tried to steal information," Jones finished for him.

"Maybe that," Peter admitted.

"What is it?" Olivia asked. Sometimes Peter was very, very much like Walter. She hid a smile. He got too focused and didn't care about the rules he broke or the lines he crossed – they didn't even register.

"It's a list," Peter said. "I haven't had time to look at it." He gave Barrigan and Jones a respectful look. "You're good."

"Having Neal around means you have to be," Jones replied and then winced.

Barrigan didn't give anything away except anger. Olivia reminded herself the White Collar agents were having a bad morning.

"How did you know it was there?" Barrigan demanded.

"Yesterday, after Caffrey left the conference room and all of you were debating if he was really Larkin, I was watching him." Peter shrugged apologetically. "He watched us too, then he wrote out that list and hid it in a file that he locked up. It seemed like it might be important."

"May we see it?" Olivia asked Barrigan.

Stiff as an upset cat, Agent Barrigan laid the sheet of paper on the conference table.


The agony in his head pulsed, expanding with every heartbeat until the pressure had to be cracking his skull open from the inside and his body ached with worse than the mild pain and nerve tingling he'd been experiencing in the mornings. It felt more like the aftermath of a taser and tranquilizer cocktail. Instead of clutching at his head, Neal stayed still; all his instincts were screaming he was in trouble, so he kept his eyes closed while he tried to catalog anything his other senses could provide.

The air smelled of ozone and antiseptics and felt just a little cooler than comfortable on the exposed skin of his face and hands. He had on clothes, for which he was immediately grateful; they even fit like his clothes, not a prison jumpsuit or hospital scrubs, but he was supine on a bed that felt unpleasantly institutional. The only noise he detected was his own measured breathing. If anyone was in the room with him they were silent and sitting still.

His mind raced forward through the morning before – Bryce! – to the afternoon at Massive Dynamics and the evening. The excruciating meal at the Burkes' and his return to his apartment at June's unfolded in memory.

He'd called Mozzie.

Then nothing.

Something close to terror coursed through his veins. His left foot twitched unconsciously and Neal caught his breath, recognizing what was different and wrong.

The anklet was gone.

If his eyes hadn't already been closed, Neal would have squeezed them shut against the vision of the inevitable consequence. Right now, the FBI, the US Marshals, and probably every other law enforcement agency were hunting him on the assumption he'd cut the tracker and bolted. Under the circumstances of the day before, Peter would have no choice but to believe Neal ran rather than reveal his secrets.

The irony being, he'd called Mozzie and had made that decision, that he had to go. He didn't know how long had passed since making the call though and every hour he lost gave his pursuers a greater advantage.

Disgusted by the way he ached at the disappointment he knew Peter must be feeling over him, Neal slitted his eyes open enough to see some of his surroundings.

Stark white walls, white light fixtures behind safety plastic, and a stainless steel toilet and wash basin did nothing to reassure him. Pale gray tiles covered the floor, which sloped down to a central drain. The only furniture in the cell was the bed Neal lay on. Since he couldn't see a door, he presumed it was behind him.

There were cameras in each of the corners of the ceiling he could see, mounted behind more safety plastic. There would be two more in the other corners. Someone didn't trust him. Someone maybe knew him better than Neal was comfortable with being known. He remained motionless, watching them watch him, and thinking frantically.

Nothing he thought of provided any answers.

Neal opened his eyes completely and carefully sat up with his legs dangling off the hospital bed which had been raised to a convenient height for whoever had placed him in it. His shoes and socks were gone. He still had on his vest, but not his suit coat. He'd tossed it on the sofa on his way to the washroom. Whoever had taken him hadn't bothered with it.

Maybe Peter would find it and realize Neal hadn't left voluntarily.

Though he'd been going to.

His cufflinks were gone. His shirt sleeve on the right side was pushed up past his elbow and he could see the needle mark in the crook when he straightened out his arm. Whatever sedative they'd used had been strong; he had no memory of being shot up. Of course, that might be due to the electrical shock from the taser. He located the marks it left high on the right side of his chest, fingering the slight burns through the holes left in his vest and shirt. A scabbed burn throbbed on his ankle.

Whatever he'd been dosed with, it had left his mouth dry.

The water from the sink tap tasted like nothing, silky on the tongue and filtered pure. Neal used his palms to catch it and drink, then scrubbed at his face, grimacing at the scruff of beard on his jaw. He did his best to finger comb his hair afterward.

The cameras were moving, following his movements, so he wasn't surprised when the door opened around twenty minutes later. He'd known whoever had him would come soon.

"Hello, Number Fourteen."

He wasn't even surprised, Neal thought bleakly. At least it wasn't David Robert Jones himself.

"Ms. Sharp."


Alec, 12.24.96
Bryce, 9.24.07, 09, ?
Cooper, 5.8.09
Dana, 2.19.09
Erica, 12.24.96

Felix, 12.24.96
Gale, 11.2.10
Henry, 7.10.09
Ian, 11.3.00
Jay, 5.10.08 ?

Kate, 3.10.10
Luc, 5.8.04
Michelle, 6.6.10
Oliver, 12.24.96

Phillipa, 4.14.10
Quinn, 5.1.11
Ross, 1.16.06
Thomas, 5.22.10

Una, 12.3.11
William, 10.20.11
Yancy, 11.10.11

Diana folded her arms and stared back at Agent Dunham silently, daring her to protest being held in the conference room. She didn't care if Fringe Division worked for the Department of Homeland Security. She cared that their consultant had tried to steal something from the desk of someone working for the FBI. She was pissed that the day after these people showed up, Caffrey had run. All her instincts screamed he'd been fine until Bishop and Lee accused him of being someone else.

Dunham scowled at Bishop. That might have impressed Diana more if she hadn't already figured out the two of them were sleeping together. Dunham's authority was compromised.

"Hey," he said, holding up both hands, "I admit it. I was wrong. But something's going on with this guy Caffrey and whoever Larkin is. We need to know what. That list could hold an answer."

"That list is FBI property," Diana said.

Behind her, Jones sucked in a breath. The sound of his computer keys stopped. "Di."


"I think you need to see this."

She didn't really want to take her eyes off Dunham and Bishop, but she backed up a step and sidled to the side so she could read the screen of the laptop over Jones' shoulder.

It showed a grainy black-and-white newspaper photo of Kate Moreau. Except the date on the obituary next to it was February 19, 2009 and the woman was identified as Dana Wilmington, of Reno, Nevada. Reading between the lines, she'd been a call girl. She'd committed suicide by overdosing on prescription painkillers.

"What the hell – " Diana started.

Jones clicked on another window. Another picture showed up, this time better quality. Another woman, this one identified as Gale Miller, died November 2, 2010. Drove her car into a concrete highway abutment at one hundred miles per hour.

"There's more," Jones said. "The date next to Kate's name matched the day she was killed so I ran a search on dates of death linked to the other names."

"Okay," she said slowly, still confused and wary.

"I found all of them except the first four," Jones explained. "The ones with the same date. I found... well, you've got to see it all. All of them."

Dunham and Bishop walked around the conference room table and looked at the two obituaries on the screen. "Twins?" Dunham asked.

"Not according to their records." Jones clicked another window. On the screen, another woman, black-haired, blue eyed, beautiful and horribly identical to the others, stared from a candid photograph next to her obituary. "Michelle Delaney."

"And they're all dead," Diana said. She shivered. "Put it up on the big screen."

Jones flicked an unreadable glance up at her. "Yeah. All over the country. Reno, Dallas, Charlotte, Tallahassee, Portland, St. Louis, LA." He clicked again. The big plasma on the far wall lit with multiple windows, a new obit for the same face centered over them. "Phillipa DuBois."

"Jesus," Bishop breathed quietly.


"Una Garson."


"Yancy O'Hara."

"All suicides," Dunham said.

Jones clicked one more window open and displayed Kate's file and picture. "Not this one."

"Kate Moreau," Diana recited. "Neal's girlfriend. Killed by a bomb. Neal was supposed to be on the same plane when it went off."

Dunham looked at Bishop. "Was she the original?"

Bishop shook his head, his mouth pinched. "How would I know?"

"You didn't see this in your – ?"

"No." He frowned at the pictures on the screen. "They've never been able to create multiple duplicates. You've seen what the process does to the bodies."

"So this wasn't another wave of infiltrators," Dunham murmured.

Bishop shook his head. "Look at where they were, what they were doing. They weren't infiltrating anything. They were hiding."

Waitress, escort, casino employee, receptionist, unemployed... Diana agreed. The women on the list had been keeping their heads down, out of the limelight, and off the record when they could. They'd taken jobs that didn't require extensive background checks. They were hiding. Even Kate Moreau, she realized, had been hiding, and maybe not from Neal after all, when she'd been working at that rental storage business.

"What about the other names?" Diana asked. Her mouth felt dry and she had to control the urge to look up and make sure no one was watching the through the glass walls. Original and duplicates. What the hell did that mean? Who the hell were those women?

How did Neal know about them? Why did he know about them? Was it because of Kate? Had he been looking for her family and found all these doubles? All these dead doubles?

Jones minimized the windows filled with Kate's face and opened another group so they displayed next to each other. Diana heard her throat click as she swallowed. Death certificates, obituaries, a couple of newspaper articles, and the police reports of the investigations of suspicious deaths filled the screen along with the pictures. One picture had been taken in the morgue, the body already on a slab waiting for autopsy, but despite the waxy pale, slack features, she still knew that face.

The same face stared out of each photograph.

The face of Neal Caffrey.

Most of them looked more like him than his own FBI consultant's identification did, certainly more than the harsh picture from his Bureau of Prisons file.

The collage started with Bryce Larkin, identified as a bank executive killed in a robbery in 2007. The newspaper article said he'd gone to Stanford where he'd earned degrees in Finance and Accounting and Neurocognitive Computing. The picture looked like it had been taken for graduation.

"Neurocognitive computing," Bishop remarked, looking at it intently. "That's what Wichita wanted."

"What do you think they were doing?" Jones asked.

"AI, maybe. Neural programming. Software to wetware data transfer. Black projects." Bishop shrugged. "Fringe science."

"And the doubles?" Diana asked softly.

"No idea, frankly. They're something different. We wouldn't have found the duplicates if your consultant hadn't blown Larkin's cover."

"Why the suicides?" Dunham wondered. "Is there a significance to the dates?"

"2007, Neal gets sent up for bond forgery and Bryce Larkin reportedly dies in a robbery," Jones said. "Jay Burchell kills himself with his own home-made bomb according to the ATF report the next year."

Maybe, Diana thought. Jay's name and date had a question mark next to it just like Bryce. She wondered what had moved the kid in the driver's license photo, along with his college room mate, to bomb a museum full of people. She couldn't imagine Neal doing anything like that. But if they were some sort of operatives, then it might have been on orders. She hated thinking what she was thinking now. She rubbed her arms and told herself she was still mad at Neal, who lied and lied and lied, and not scared for him and why he'd lied.

"But if you factor out the random deaths and the four on Christmas Eve 1996," Bishop murmured, "all the others fit a pattern."

"I don't see it," Diana insisted.

"Let me show you," Bishop said and to Jones, as he reached for the laptop, "May I?"

"Go ahead." Jones pulled his hands away and let Bishop hunch over the keyboard without even taking a seat.

"If you look at the list again," Bishop explained as he sorted the files without doing just that, "a couple of things stand out. It's alphabetical, minus X, and divided into sets of five. According to the birth dates listed on the death certificates, the sets correspond to birth years. The list begins with the oldest. Once I factor out the random casualties, the suicides begin in 2009. There are three that year. Four in 2010. Five last year. If we theorize that the names without dates belong to individuals who are still alive, even if we add Larkin and Burchell back in, then according to this pattern, every one of them left will be dead by the end of this year."

"Fuck," Diana breathed. That was insane.

That was Neal on the list, she thought, and schooled the fear off her face. What if he hadn't run? What if he'd taken off to add another date to the damned list? Peter would be devastated. The whole unit would until they understood why – if they ever found that out.

"Neal's not suicidal," Jones objected.

Diana nodded agreement. Neal was resilient under his pretty boy exterior. Tougher than most of the agents she worked with, though he downplayed it and she didn't like to admit it. They'd had him on suicide watch after Kate's death, but he'd never made any moves that way, though he had been mute for a week after. Everyone had attributed that to screaming his throat raw, though. He'd pulled himself together, gone after his revenge even, and seemed to have found some balance since giving up on killing Fowler. Neal was a survivor.

"Neal Caffrey may not be who you think he is any longer," Dunham said. "If he ever was."

Damn it, wasn't that always the question with Neal? Did anyone know who he really was?

Did he?

There were two kinds of undercover operators. The ones with the sort of internal reserves and resources that let them hold onto their essential sense of themselves no matter who or what they pretended to be or for how long and the ones who could lose themselves in another life because they became that person. The former never turned and the latter never slipped. Diana had never seen Neal slip.

Bishop glanced up at Dunham. "These aren't, you know. They don't suicide. The bodies were autopsied and I don't see anything in the reports that would indicate they weren't... " He trailed off again, obviously holding back something Dunham knew but Diana and Jones didn't. "No mercury. No spinal disks."

"Broyles can arrange exhumations and have the bodies shipped back to the lab so Walter can autopsy them again," Dunham said. "Just to be sure."

"Some of them have been dead for half a decade," Jones pointed out.

"After some of the stuff I've seen," Bishop said, "autopsying a decayed corpse is not that bad. Walter can usually get one done while he has lunch."

Diana shared a look with Jones. Like their boss, they both appreciated that working the Financial Crimes unit kept them away from the worst violence, but she didn't think even the guys down at Organized Crime were that blasé about dead bodies.

Dunham walked away from them and got out her phone. Calling this Broyles person, Diana realized, and explaining what she wanted. Bishop slid the laptop back to Jones with a murmured thanks. His thumb slipped over the touch pad and one of the minimized files filled the screen again.

Jones looked at the picture of Phillipa DuBois and shook his head. "Poor Neal. Can you imagine loving someone and having to see someone else with her exact face?"

Bishop was watching Dunham. "Yeah," he said, "it really sucks." Diana would have bet her paycheck he wasn't talking about Neal. She just didn't know if she wanted to know what he was talking about.


Dunham flipped on the headlights and the windshield wipers half an hour out of Hartford. The rain never turned hard enough to call for more than the low setting. It shaded the world outside the SUV gray but transformed every light into a diamond glitter through the window glass. The soft, slow swish and the hum of the tires accompanied them as they passed from Connecticut into Massachusetts

Peter stared out and didn't notice.

He kept thinking of the list that Diana and Jones had uncovered from Neal's desk, of the faces, all the Neals and Kates who weren't them at all, all the dead ones. A shudder ran through him each time he remembered the obituaries for the suicides. All those deaths would be bad enough, but combined with Neal's mysterious drug and Bishop's damned pattern... The answers Peter needed weren't going to be found with a manhunt or roadblocks.

He'd left Diana and Jones to handle the Marshals and the hunt for Neal, after briefing Hughes that he suspected Neal hadn't gone anywhere of his own free will, and insisted on accompanying the Fringe team back to Cambridge.

"We still need exemplars from Larkin," Bishop said.

Dunham, who was driving, nodded. "Astrid already has a warrant for his apartment waiting when we get to the lab."

Peter settled a little. At least the Fringe agents followed some of the rules. He hadn't been looking forward to looking the other way if Bishop or either of the agents decided to break in to look for what they needed.

"I'll take the samples we've already got in and help Walter get started," Bishop said. He glanced at Peter. "I think Agent Burke would be more comfortable that way."

"No insult meant, but I don't know you."

"You don't know Lincoln or Olivia either."

Peter shrugged. "They're both agents. You, however, have a file that's almost as interesting as Neal's." If considerably thinner, as in pretty much non-existent. Hell, the Marshals set up a better back story for Wit Sec. This guy had been provided with ID, an address, and a paycheck out of Fringe Division six months ago. He'd looked up Peter Bishop after going home the night before, sitting up with the laptop at the dining room table, to Elizabeth's annoyance. No one had bothered to build him any kind of legend. "You don't exist before a couple of months ago. Walter Bishop did have a son named Peter Bishop, but he died when he was ten."

"Yeah, he did," Bishop said. "Here."

Which made no sense at all, but Peter didn't give a damn about whatever scam or cover story Fringe Division had going with their 'consultant'. Maybe they'd brought in a ringer to help manage Walter Bishop, who on paper, seemed crazier than a shithouse rat. Maybe this really was Peter Bishop, and he hadn't died, and the story was uglier and sadder than Peter ever wanted to know. He just wanted Neal back, safe and preferably answering all of Peter's questions about who he really was.

Dunham sighed and Lee, sitting beside Peter in the back seat of the SUV, made a face. "Lincoln, call Astrid and ask her to meet us outside. I'm not going to find any parking at this time of day."

Bishop pinched the bridge of his nose while Lee spoke to an Agent Farnsworth on his phone. Peter had his own headache. "Five minutes," Lee said and finished his call. "She's got the warrant."

Dunham steered them through the traffic expertly, familiar with the streets, and double parked next to a 1970s vintage, panel-sided station wagon. Bishop swung out of the front passenger seat and headed for the back, hunched under his dark coat against the rain. Dunham opened the hatch and he pulled out the evidence cases. The scent of wet streets and exhaust rushed inside. "See you later, Liv," he said. "I'll get Walter started on analyzing the drug sample first."

"We'll call if we find anything interesting," Dunham said.

Bishop pulled the hatch down and closed it with a strong thump. He passed a petite African-American woman with a cloud of corkscrewed dark curls crossing the street from the sidewalk on the other side with a nod. She smiled at him as she passed, lifting the file folder in her hand in an aborted wave. Dunham lowered her window and accepted it.

Peter glanced at Lee. "Mind if I take the front seat?" He wanted to get up front even more than he wanted the extra leg room. Dunham drove like she'd gone through the Bureau's defensive driving school, but he was used to being the guy in charge.

"Be my guest."

Peter took advantage and switched places with a muffled groan of relief. Except for coffee in Hartford, they'd driven non-stop.

Agent Farnsworth was leaning into the window and speaking as he got back in the SUV up front. She had delicate features, doe eyes, beautiful skin, and a naturally sweet expression. She eyed him curiously, but didn't pause. "Agent Broyles said you need to get there and search the apartment now. The CIA and NSA are both too interested in whatever's going on. He thinks they'll send someone as soon as they have the address."

"Thanks, Astrid," Dunham said. She checked the address on the warrant then passed the folder to Peter.

"Why would the NSA or the CIA be interested in an accountant at a small research company?" Lee asked from the back seat as Dunham pulled the SUV back into traffic.

"Why were you interested in the company?" Peter asked.

Dunham's hands tightened on the steering wheel, the knuckles turning white.

"Ogilvie was ZFT," Lee said. "We don't know what their agenda is."

"But anything that interests them, interests us," Dunham added. "We could be looking at this backward."

"Ogilvie might have targeted Larkin."

"ZFT is led by David Robert Jones." Peter had done his homework as far as he could in regard to the names the agents had dropped the day before. Jones was a wanted man in Germany; he'd escaped from one of their prisons after killing his own lawyer. "He worked for Massive Dynamics at one point."

"We're here," Dunham said. She parallel parked the SUV in a space Peter wouldn't have even attempted. She also snagged the folder with the warrant and got out without further comment. Peter suspected she wanted out of the conversation.

"Did I step in something?" he asked Lee.

Lee fussed with his glasses.

"No. It's Massive Dynamics. They've got a nice reputation here and... there," Lee said awkwardly, obviously replacing something he'd meant to say with an evasion. The man was not an expert liar. "But Peter's had some experiences with them or their subsidiaries that Fringe Division hadn't known about until he told us. Olivia's trying to figure out how much Nina Sharp really knows about... all of it."

"Uncomfortable," Peter commented. No wonder Dunham had looked conflicted over asking for a favor from Sharp.

He didn't feel like thanking her for that favor now. He wondered about the mysterious Peter Bishop and his 'experiences', though.


Rain splattered into Peter's face the minute he stepped out of the SUV. He shoved the door closed, pulled his collar up, and hurried over the sidewalk to the building Bryce Larkin had listed as his place of residence. Dunham was already waiting in the partial shelter of the doorway, a wisp or two of straight blond hair worked free of her harsh ponytail and softening her face. Lee trotted behind him, head ducked to try and keep his glasses dry.

Larkin's apartment was on the fourth floor. After one look at the antique elevator, they unanimously chose the stairs. Dunham knocked on the brown-painted door and identified them as FBI agents. The silence in response came as no surprise. There was a feel from a place with someone in it. Peter didn't get it from Larkin's apartment. Whoever he was, he was long gone.

"Kick it in?" Lee suggested doubtfully.

Peter reached into his jacket and pulled out the thin case Neal had gifted him with only weeks ago with a smug feeling. The lessons in pickpocketing had eventually given over to lockpicking and he'd proven adept, if not by Neal or Mozzie's standards. "I've got this."

"They don't teach that at Quantico anymore," Dunham teased as Peter began picking the lock.

"They never did," Peter replied. Tension. Neal had told him to make sure he maintained tension while he worked the other pick. "Neal taught me. I can also pick pockets and hotwire a Lamborghini thanks to him. All part of the job."

Lee laughed under his breath.

"No wonder you want him back," Dunham said.

"He insinuates himself." And the anger was back, because how much of that was an act, one Peter had bought because Neal let him think he was seeing through the mask? It was a constant chess match and everything Peter thought he knew had been a sacrificial play, given up to further Neal's strategy. The lock gave up with a soft click and Peter paused while Lee and Dunham drew their weapons before pushing the door open.

"FBI," Dunham reiterated as they entered Larkin's apartment. "We have a warrant."

Peter put his hand on his Glock but didn't draw it as he followed the two younger agents inside. No lights on except for a clock on a microwave and the screensaver on a large computer monitor, but enough light from the overcast day outside made it through the curtains to keep them from tripping on anything. Peter flipped the lights on and they cleared the rest of the apartment professionally.

Not much to trip over, he decided as they all gloved up. Larkin hadn't taken much if anything with him, but he hadn't left much behind either. Garbage in the bathroom and kitchen had been emptied and the only items left in his refrigerator were sealed.

"Thoughtful guy," Lee said, checking over Peter's shoulder as he poked through the freezer. He already knew Larkin wasn't the sort to hide anything anywhere that obvious, but SOP was SOP. They'd check the toilet tank and under the mattresses too.

The bedroom closet had a couple of suits that were in no way up to Neal's standards, white dress shirts, and black dress shoes. Good quality, though. Dresser drawers held socks, some jeans, a few sweaters and t-shirts, and underwear. No way to guess if Larkin had taken some things with him or not. He checked the nightstand next to the bed and found a three-pack of condoms pushed back into a lonely corner, along with a cell phone charger, but no phone. A reading light sat on the stand and a stack of well-thumbed paperbacks leaned against it on the floor.

"Help me shift the mattress?" Peter asked Lee.

The other agent nodded and they tipped it off the box spring. Larkin hadn't left anything between them or under the bed, but a faint oily stain near the head of the mattress captured his attention. Peter swiped his finger over it, then tested the residue between finger and thumb, a slick rub between the nitrile layers that protected his skin from it, before sniffing.

"Gun oil."

"So he's armed," Lee said. "I'm not surprised."

"Anything, guys?" Dunham said from the doorway.

Peter let the mattress drop back and looked around the bedroom. No art on the walls, no knick-knacks scattered around, Larkin didn't even have a bowl or tray to leave his loose change and keys in. Except for the books, it could have been a hotel room.

"Nothing so far," he admitted. "Looks like he kept a gun under the mattress. No sign of it though."

"No sign of a cleaning kit either," Lee mentioned, "so he took the time to clean out anything he thought might tell us – or anyone – something."

"Yeah," Dunham agreed. "The kitchen's the same. It looks like he paid all the bills up to the end of the month. Left the credit cards he used behind, so we can't trace him using them. Want to check the computer?"

Lee shrugged and followed her back to the apartment's main room. Peter lingered, hoping he'd see something that told him more about this man who looked so much like Neal but wasn't.

Since the books were the only personal thing in the room, he picked them up and fanned through each. All the books were used, little stamps from different stores and penciled knock-off prices inside the covers, yellow Penguin and DAW spines cracked with age and carelessness, dusty paper perfume lifting from the pages as he flipped through them. Science fiction. Books by Frank Herbert, Octavia Butler, David Drake, C.J. Cherryh, Douglas Adams, Burgess, Aldiss, Alfred Bester, Margaret Atwood, names Peter remembered from college and others he didn't know at all. The genre surprised Peter, when it shouldn't have, he had no reason to believe Larkin liked the same things Neal did, or didn't like the things Neal didn't like. Truth, he didn't know what Neal liked to read, for all the loft in June's house held many books. He knew Neal read: Neal read textbooks on art and history and law and anything that caught his interest, along with best sellers and whatever the literati were creaming themselves over, but all of those were useful to the social engineer, the thief, even the forger. He didn't know if Neal actually enjoyed any of those subjects, other than the art; he just absorbed them so he could fit himself seamlessly into the social scene if he needed to talk about whatever was currently popular or commonly known.

Peter set down a book called Pattern Recognition. He knew Neal's shoe size, he realized, but he didn't really know the man at all.

Lee was sitting at the table with the computer. He looked disgusted.

"The hard drive's been wiped, reformatted, and wiped again," Lee reported. "He did everything but melt it down."

"So what do we know now that we didn't earlier?" Dunham prompted.

"He knows computers, he travels light, he knows how to clear out and leave no tracks – "

"And he likes science fiction," Peter added.

"Not sure how much good that does us."

"Time to get that DNA sample," Dunham reminded Lee.

He made a face. "Me?"

"You're the newbie."

"We need more people on the team," Lee declared, startling a laugh from Dunham.

"Try the bathroom," she told him.

"I already checked it; he cleaned it out."

"Shower drain."

"Check the bedding," Peter advised.

The horrified look on Lee's face made Peter crack the first smile he'd felt all day. "For shed hairs," he said. "Not fluids."

"Right. I knew that," Lee said. He retreated into the bedroom.

Peter and Dunham shared a look and muffled laughter. "Well," she said once she'd recovered, still smiling to herself, "I guess we should get some fingerprints for comparison purposes."

"You've got a kit?"

"Down in the SUV, yes."

"I'll stay here."

Dunham nodded, getting it. They didn't want to leave Lee, busy working, alone on the off chance Larkin or anyone else walked back in. "I'll be quick."


"Pizza, unless you object?" Peter said as soon as Olivia and Lincoln brought Burke into the basement laboratory. He raised his eyebrows inquiringly at Agent Burke.

"It's fine."

Astrid tapped the speed dial on her phone and put in the orders, making sure she got one with artichoke hearts for Walter. Olivia shed her coat and scarf while Lincoln ferried evidence bags to a bare lab table. Walter didn't look up from his microscope.

"Find anything interesting?" he asked Olivia.

"Our Mr. Larkin likes science fiction. Other than that, he lived like a ghost."

"Fitting, since according to all records he's dead," Astrid said. She held her hand out to Agent Burke. "Astrid Farnsworth."

"Peter Burke. I'd say call me Peter, but... "

"Yeah, that," Peter laughed. "I don't suppose you're a Pete or Petey kind of guy?"


"I think we're all smart enough to know who we're talking to," Olivia said. She stopped at her desk and typed in a password on her computer. Checking her email for anything urgent, even though she always had her phone on her. He resisted the urge to go over to her and tuck the strand of hair that fell forward over her cheek behind her ear. Olivia wouldn't like it, first, Astrid would be weirded out, and he had no desire to be cruel to Lincoln, who might have been the one with touching privileges if matters had developed differently.

He didn't worry about bothering Walter or Burke. Walter had done an about turn over Peter's relationship with Olivia and came uncomfortably close to bragging about it now and Burke... Burke didn't know enough to find it strange.

Instead of acting inappropriately affectionate, Peter headed for the table with the evidence bags. "DNA?" he asked Lincoln.

"Hair samples with follicles," Lincoln confirmed. "From the shower and from the bed."

Peter spent the time until the pizzas arrived preparing the samples for analysis and listening to Olivia and Lincoln consult with Burke over expanding the manhunt for Caffrey to include Larkin. Astrid chimed in with, "It really doesn't matter which one is picked up under what name, since we want to talk to them both."

"I'm thinking throwing him back in jail is the better idea all the time when it comes to Caffrey," Burke muttered. He pulled out his cell phone. "I need to talk to my team."

Walter looked up and blinked at them like he hadn't noticed anyone else was in the lab. "Oh. Everyone is here. Everyone and someone else."

"This is Agent Burke," Olivia said.

Walter nodded distractedly. "Do you know what this drug does?" he asked.

"No, Walter, that's why we wanted you to analyze it," Peter said.

For a flash, less than a second, the ruthless brilliance that had pioneered Cortexiphan and pierced a door between universes peered through Walter's eyes. But then his expression crumpled into sorrow and Peter could breathe again.

"It treats, I should say compensates, for a congenital condition, a neurological degeneration, I'd guess," Walter explained. "It wouldn't cure it, just hide the symptoms. At least until they became too constant and overwhelming to cover."

Burke covered his face with one hand. "Neal...."

Peter thought of the list of suicides. He wasn't the only one.

"Is it the kind of thing where someone suffering it might decide to kill themselves?" Lincoln asked.

Walter nodded.

A knock at the door signaled their pizza had arrived.

"Oh, artichokes!" Walter exclaimed as soon as he opened the box holding his pizza. "Wonderful."

Peter thought everyone else had lost their appetite.


"Two made quite a mess for us," Sharp said. She walked around Neal, looking him up and down with a cold detachment he'd always resented from Jones and the other scientists and technicians. "But you'll make up for that, won't you, Fourteen?"

Just as he'd hated the way they'd insisted on calling them by numbers, never the alphabetical use names the workers in the créche had given each of them.

"I prefer to be called Neal these days," he said. He tried for a charming smile, but couldn't support it, not with her. He didn't want to be Nina Sharp's friend, he didn't want to do anything that would make her happy or her life better. Ripping her throat out with a hand strike sounded about right, though.

If his hands hadn't started shaking again, he might have gone for it, never mind the cameras and how many security guards were outside this holding cell. He knew she hadn't been part of Litchfield Two, he remembered everyone who had been there, but she'd been briefed; she knew the terminology they'd used for the Project. He hated anyone knowing about that.

"Yes, I'm surprised you kept the name," Nina said. "Are the others as attached? Of course, you've used a lot of names, haven't you?" She wasn't watching him, but the cameras were, and he knew they were recording everything, every micro-expression and stifled move saved to be analyzed by the psychological profilers Massive Dynamics would have on the payroll under some pretense or another.

Neal wasn't a master of social engineering, a suave charmer and con artist extraordinaire just because of his looks, any inherent talent, or even his intelligence. He knew how to manipulate with expressions, eye contact, body language, inflection and rhythm, because he'd had to learn to fake it all. Every smile, eye roll, eyebrow lift and shrug, he had trained in, during module two in the second year, because there had been no human interaction to learn from in the créche. None of the workers, in their white scrubs and sterile masks, had made any effort to socialize with the clones. Before training to infiltrate, none of his c-sibs had used facial expressions. Neal had been the same. The mesh meant they all shared everything from information to physical states to emotions without the data loss normal humans struggled with each day. His c-sibs had shared his reality, there were no errors in decoding what they meant when they communicated in their silent way. They hadn't needed expressions the way regular humans did.

Once, one of the c-sibs had overheard a créche worker talking to a trainer about their 'creepy little robot faces'. It hadn't bothered them. The worker and the trainer both disappeared shortly after. They hadn't been missed by the c-sibs. Back then, anyone outside the mesh wasn't real to them.

Neal had learned though, because he was smart and because he'd been lucky and met Mozzie at just the right time.

He shut down everything he'd learned about acting human and forced his face to go blank as possible. It didn't come naturally any longer, though it had once been his default. Communication had become as natural to him as it was to anyone else. What he felt didn't extend to his body now. He wasn't trying to communicate on any level, not even – especially – the unconscious ones that dated back to primate ancestors. Whatever Sharp conveyed, verbally or unconsciously, he provided no feedback for her. Neal remembered that the workers and guards, even some of the scientists, had found that disconcerting. Maybe it would throw Sharp off balance. At least it wouldn't add to her arsenal.

"Covers," Neal said and only winced inside at the toneless dead quality of his voice. Better if Sharp thought he didn't feel anything real though: emotional attachment would only be used against him. She knew the clones were bound together, if not exactly how, but not that he could feel for anyone who wasn't a c-sib.

She stayed just at the periphery of his visual field – possibly she had miscalculated it and thought she was beyond it – like a blotch of ink staining a sheet of white paper.

"The others?" she prompted.

"We separated for obvious reasons. I don't know." He watched her reflection in the clear plastic over the nearest camera.

"I suppose it doesn't matter. David is right. You'll do very well."

Cold wound its way through Neal's gut that had nothing to do with the uncomfortably low temperature in the cell.

"Is he still happy to use little kids?"

"Of course not. We won't need any messy surrogates to gestate the fetuses either. Bellmedics has made amazing strides in in-vitro development and force-growing. Custom transplant organs are the future."

"I think I saw that movie."

"In any case, there are plans for you, Fourteen. And Two, if we can obtain him."

His mind rebelled at the thought of Jones creating more clones using his DNA as the template this time. All Jones had ever seen were tools. Neal and the others were useful creations. If Massive Dynamics recreated the project, any new clones would be treated in the same fashion. Only they wouldn't be given any training. They'd never escape.

It occurred to him that escape wouldn't be enough this time. Suicide wouldn't either. He knew he could chew his wrists open, but that option and every other Neal could think of left a body. That was all Jones would need. Neal would need to run, of course, he'd already faced that before he'd been snatched from June's loft. He had to destroy any and all samples they had taken from him too.

He needed to bide his time and gather more information.

Neal felt the air move, caught Sharp's shift from the corner of his eye and registered it in the plastic's reflective surface. Not by so much as a muscle twitch did he give his awareness away. He let her put her hands on him. He let her lift his hand and stroke her real hand over his palm while she held his bicep with the cool fingers that weren't human. Prosthesis, he identified. He could have pulled away: the prosthesis' skeleton under the false skin was metal strong, but its connection to Sharp's body wasn't. Leverage and a proper strike would tear it loose. Neal made himself stay still.

Sharp traced her fingers over his, charting the tremor with clinical interest.

"How far has it progressed?"

"There's no cognitive impairment."

"Hmn. You'll cooperate with a full physical and neurological assessment, Fourteen."

"To what benefit?" Neal didn't sneer. He didn't show anything. Sharp was fishing for reactions. Start soft. The questioning would move on eventually to chemical or even implemented interrogation. Learning those had been part of module two also, along with resisting them."You won't cure me."

Neal had already lived as a prisoner too long. His four years in maximum security upstate had been easy compared to Litchfield. Sharp and Massive Dynamics couldn't afford to be charged with something like kidnapping, so if he lived through whatever was planned for him, it would be as a prisoner in Jones' hands, hidden from the FBI and everyone else. He had no intention of living like that. Still, the statement would insert the idea that he did want to live. Sharp would believe she could use that as leverage against him. That would at the least influence her decisions regarding his disposition or what she told Jones.

"Perhaps David will repair the problem in the next iteration."

"You'll use it as a control mechanism."

Sharp looked up through her mascaraed eyelashes, her red, lipsticked mouth curving into something that was almost pride, but too possessive. "You're quite right. William and Kendrick did a magnificent job on you, but you're still a failure. Too smart, too independent. Hard to control. The flaw in your genetics is too useful to remove."

She released Neal's hand and arm and stepped back. Maybe she'd been reminded how dangerous Neal could be, if he wanted. Sharp was too arrogant to be really fearful, but she was too smart to forgo caution. Neal wanted Sharp and anyone else watching this or a tape to downgrade his threat level, so he didn't try to hide the shakes. He wanted to preload the idea that he was sick and weak, maybe even broken already. He wouldn't know how well it worked until he made a break for it, but it always paid to lay the ground work.

"Right now you're the solution to a small problem," she said. She leaned in close again and whispered, "Isn't it ironic? You're going to help us steal something."

Neal didn't ask what.

Sharp stopped at the door and turned. Neal watched her back. "Don't worry so much," she said. "You have no idea how valuable you're going to be."

The door opened for her and she walked out, leaving Neal alone in the colorless, too cool cell with his furious desperate thoughts.

Valuable. Like an object. A thing, not a person.

No. He was more than that. He believed that, if no one else ever did. He'd made the lie real.

Neal breathed steadily and went back to the bed to stretch out on it. He'd use what time he was observed here to rest his body while he planned. He laced his fingers together over his stomach and closed his eyes, confident he could be on his feet and ready whenever the door opened again.

"Peter, Peter, come look at this," Walter exclaimed, waving and dancing. Lincoln hid a smile. Walter could drive anyone up the wall, but his pleasure in every discovery, large or small, had become endearing at some point. "Look, look!"

Lincoln waited until Peter was examining Walter's find, then joined Astrid looking over Peter's shoulder at the computer and looked himself. It didn't tell him anything. As far as he could see, Walter had two identical windows open on his monitor, showing the same DNA sequences. Lincoln was observant enough to pick out differences, even if he couldn't read what they meant, and there were none.

"They're the same," Peter said.

Burke and Olivia joined them as well.

"When you say the same, you don't mean familial shared DNA?" Olivia asked. She frowned at the screen.

"They are identical," Walter declared. His chin came up signaling that he was prepared to defend whatever conclusion he'd come to. "Oh, and I compared the fingerprints. They're the same too, barring a scar on one thumb print, I believe belonging to Mr. Caffrey."

"That would be Neal," Burke said. "That print cost him a four year bond forgery conviction."

Lincoln forbore mentioning that at least the scarred print meant Burke had convicted the right man.

Peter traced his finger over the DNA and then looked up at Walter. "They're clones."

"Yes!" Walter agreed in excitement.

Burke looked dismayed and disbelieving. "Clones?" He turned to Lincoln. "He can't be serious."

"Completely serious," Walter said. "They aren't simply clones, either – "

Peter interrupted, "They've been engineered."

The pride in the way Walter looked at Peter was all a father for his son.

"I don't believe this," Burke said with a sour down turn to his mouth, hands on his hips in exasperation, a posture that telegraphed he expected a better explanation now. One that didn't involve clones or any other fringe science insanity. Peter Burke wanted something that didn't contradict his reality and not getting it made him angry. He wasn't looking at the monitor screen any longer; the evidence displayed there had been dismissed.

"Who would have done this?" Olivia, ever practical, asked. "When? Where?"

"The Litchfield Experiment for one," Walter answered while still admiring the DNA displayed on the screen. "Though it was a bit of a failure."

"Larkin and Caffrey don't look like failures," Lincoln mentioned. If you didn't consider that Larkin probably murdered a human shapeshifter, burned the Wichita Group's offices and stole millions of government dollars from them and Caffrey was a convicted felon who might have a degenerative nerve disorder steadily killing him.

"Look being the operative word," Peter said, echoing Lincoln's thought.

Burke sounded skeptical. "What was this Litchfield Experiment?"

"A very high level classified experiment during the Cold War, when the government believed – no doubt accurately – that the Soviets were experimenting with eugenics themselves," Walter said. "The records should have all been destroyed and anyone involved would deny it."

"Sounds like one of Mozzie's conspiracy theories," Burke muttered to himself.

"The Russians – Soviets then – were cross-breeding scientists, geniuses, with Olympic level athletes and the créme de la créme of the Red Army. The children were adopted out to dedicated Party families to be raised as loyal Communists," Walter went on, ignoring Burke. "Distasteful, but not quite monstrous."

"How do you know about it?" Burke asked.

"Belly – William Bell – "

"His old partner," Peter added.

"The man who founded Massive Dynamics."

" – and I were approached after the failure of the first experiment. They'd created a group of children, all dubbed either Adam or Eve, raised in a controlled environment at Litchfield," Walter continued. "But something had gone terribly wrong. They were displaying signs of psychosis by age sixteen." He blinked tears back. "By twenty they were all irretrievably homicidal and had to be locked up. Although, two of the Eves escaped." He looked briefly baffled by the idea of escaping. Apparently he hadn't ever tried to get out of St. Claire's during his years there. Then again, from what Lincoln understood, until a few months before, Walter hadn't left the lab since he'd been re-installed by Fringe Division.

"You were part of it," Peter said.

"No, I was conducting the Cortexiphan trials. I was in Jacksonville. Belly told me, after they brought him in to figure out what had gone wrong."

"How does he know this stuff?" Burke asked Dunham. "And does he believe it?"

She shrugged but before she could explain Walter – could anyone explain Walter? – Walter himself answered, "Oh, the mad hear things, and, of course, I knew Belly was up to something. He kept interrupting the Wooster drug trials to consult with Doctors Kendrick and Jones." He nodded to himself. "We should probably go there and ask some questions."

"David Robert Jones?" Peter snapped.

"Possibly, possibly." Walter sneered. "He was also seeing that woman."

"He means Nina, right?" Lincoln whispered to Olivia.

"I'm afraid so."

"What did she do to him?"

"She stopped him going through to Over There at Reiden Lake with a cure for their Peter after his died," Olivia whispered low enough that Burke missed it. Peter's shoulders stiffened, but he said nothing, and Walter hadn't heard, intent on what he'd found out.


"Oh. Oh my. Would you look at this chromosomal picture," Walter said, oblivious to their conversation. He waved the report at them. "I have almost never seen such beautiful genes. Flawless."

"Unnatural?" Peter asked. He glanced at the pictures of the chromosomes with a pinched frown, then looked at them closer. "Are you sure this is what they were doing at Litchfield, Walter?"

"Oh, completely, completely. Not the first experiment, though, that involved extra chromosomes. No, these young men's DNA resembles a diamond that's been cut and polished. This degree of perfection doesn't occur in nature. This is William's work."

Lincoln stared at Walter along with everyone else. "William Bell."

"Yes. He oversaw the second Litchfield Project," Walter said. "I remember, because it was very annoying having to handle the drug trials in Ohio along with Jacksonville when he'd be off in Connecticut. I hacked into his files."

"You're saying Neal's a clone and he's going to go crazy," Burke said slowly and he clearly thought Walter was the crazy one.

"Hmm. Oh. Yes. And no." Walter smiled at Burke. "Belly figured out the problem with the Adams and Eves quite early. He corrected it in-vitro, before they implanted the first five surrogates with the engineered embryos."

"Like Dr. Franks did?" Astrid asked.

"Not quite, my dear, these weren't women who wanted children. They were being paid to act as... well, as human incubators. And Belly only used human DNA. The clones were intended to become soldiers and spies, I suspect. It was one of those black projects, very hush-hush."

"So, no extra chromosomes, no hybrids, no hive minds," Peter said.

"No flying porcupine men," Lincoln added sardonically and rubbed his shoulder where one of those had sliced him open and infected him.

Olivia gave him a sympathetic look and Burke just shook his head, not realizing Lincoln was perfectly serious and could have ended up as one if Walter hadn't found a cure.

"No. They should be faster, healthier, and much smarter than the average human, and of course, they're identical," Walter said and hummed to himself. "This is similar to the gene marker we saw with the children from Franks' clinic, though; if they all possess it... "

"I don't like it when he hums like that," Lincoln whispered to Astrid. She narrowed her eyes at him. Astrid could be really defensive of Walter.

"They could be telepathic," Walter announced.

Burke groaned in disgust and walked away. "This is ridiculous. It doesn't help me find Neal or you find Larkin."

Olivia gazed at him calmly. "Cloning does fall within Fringe Division's mandate. We will investigate as soon as I've briefed Agent Broyles. If Mr. Caffrey really is a clone from a black project, he'll become our responsibility."

"Caffrey belongs to me until his sentence is up," Burke snapped. "If you think this Twilight Zone crap is going to change that, you don't know me."

"You don't know us, either, Agent Burke."

Burke shook his head. "I don't believe this." With a barely polite nod to Astrid and Lincoln, he walked out. "If you don't have anything more believable than fairy stories by morning, I'm going back to New York."

Lincoln shared a look with Astrid. For someone who had just swallowed the red pill, Burke was doing all right, but he'd need to start accepting the weird as the natural state of reality. That's what got to Lincoln sometimes, even months after joining Fringe Division: the strange was all around, all the time, and he'd walked through most of his life with blinders on. Burke was such a straight ahead guy, he'd never noticed his blinders, and he definitely didn't like the world he was seeing now they were off. Burke was keeping it together remarkably well: some people just shut down or went into complete denial. A little bad temper had to be expected. No one liked to have their world turned upside down.

Astrid smiled back at him. Like Burke and Lincoln, she'd had to re-evaluate everything she'd thought she'd known. Both of them would cut Burke a little slack out of fellow feeling. But only for a little longer and only if he didn't try to take Olivia on.

Sympathy would not trump loyalty with either of them.


The investigators returned to a basement lab on the Harvard campus in Cambridge after searching Bryce's apartment.

Bryce pegged them as federal not plainclothes homicide detectives from the Boston or Cambridge PD. He'd left a voice-activated bug in the hall outside his apartment that alerted him when they showed up. It gave him time to get back to see who was interested in him. He was at a dead end, but there was a chance whoever investigated Ogilvie's death might uncover something he could use in his hunt for Jones, so Bryce turned the tables and followed them.

The tracker he attached with a dab of superglue and a casual crouch to scoop up change 'accidentally' dropped from his pocket in front of the grill of their SUV gave him their route. He shadowed them on a motorcycle. Encased in black leather and denim, with his face hidden behind the polarized front of his helmet, he could have ridden their bumper and not been recognized, but Bryce hung back. The tracker let him peel away once and change his profile, slapping magnetized flames on the cycle's fuel tank and peeling black electrical tape off the green design on his helmet to change his look. It was overkill. He could have tailed them on foot, bare-faced, in the Boston traffic and not been spotted.

A cup of coffee and a casual waiting-in-line conversation at the nearest caf– elicited enough information to lead him from where they parked the SUV to the Kresge Building's basement. The library provided an interesting bit of history on a Dr. Bishop. Bishop connected to William Bell, and Bell to Massive Dynamics, where Jones had worked once. There were also old articles about the death of a lab assistant in a fire several decades before and the suicide of the doctor's wife after their son's death.

Since the lab in question occupied a historic part of the campus, Bryce also accessed original blueprints and memorized them. They didn't include any security systems, but he knew those well enough to predict where the cameras would be placed and how the alarms would be wired. He didn't anticipate any problems.

Bryce checked out the obvious security while carrying a pizza box. If asked, he had an address for the building next door, close enough a busy clerk could have got it wrong on a phone order for delivery. A distracted student texting her boyfriend was more than willing to complain about the feds guarding the old lab and having to use the front doors to leave instead of the old short cut through the basement to the alley doors and a short walk to the closest parking lot when Bryce casually mentioned getting turned around.

He switched the motorcycle for an older sedan and though it was disgusting – and required heavy gloves and boots – he picked the lock on the dumpster assigned to the lab, choosing the dusky late afternoon when shadows were deep, but the security lights hadn't come on yet, to snag a couple of bags of refuse, taking them away to go through in a no-tell motel room he rented for an hour. As usual, the garbage was a gold mine for a smart information harvester.

The dirty straw and cow flops, for instance, kept Bryce from jumping out of his skin in the lab when the dairy cow in the makeshift corner stall turned her liquid eyes on him as he slipped inside.

Part of him wanted to laugh at the sheer absurdity of it. A big part of him wanted to call Chuck and tell him about this guy who lived in and kept a milk cow in his basement lab, like a frat prank that never ended.

He scrubbed his palm over his face and headed for the computers. With his identity burned and his clearances pulled, he couldn't get into Massive Dynamics' servers. If he got lucky though, he might pull some information from this Walter Bishop or one of the agents' computers.

"Here we go," he whispered under his breath as he plugged in the USB drive with his own password cracker and booted up the first computer. It used some very elegant programming to find the login, but it was still brute force compared to the methods Bryce usually preferred. He didn't have the time to figure these people out enough to deduce a password, though.

While it worked, he did a quick and dirty search of each agent's desk, picking the locks on the drawers and memorizing what he found in case it became useful later.

Finished, he walked back to the computer and smiled. It was up, running, and his little cracker program had provided him with a short, surreal list of Walter Bishop's passwords. Bryce shook his head and pocketed the USB drive, glad he'd brought it. He doubted he'd have elicited anything that would have had him guessing those passwords, even if he'd infiltrated and spent months in the man's company. Bishop was weirder than Orion on his strangest day.

Satisfaction switched to annoyance when he discovered Dr. Bishop's machine wasn't networked and not only did it lack any wireless connections, it was hardened against being connected to any. He hoped Dr. Bishop slept heavily and considered letting himself into the office where the man was sleeping and tranqing him, but worried that the sedative his darts used might interact badly if Dr. Bishop was on any medications. Bryce decided to avoid that option unless the man woke up and discovered him.

He began a wide spread search for anything pertinent to his interest in Massive Dynamics or David Robert Jones and immediately realized he'd hit the motherlode. It took him a while to crack the very idiosyncratic encryption on the data, but Bryce had an Intersect's worth of skills related to computers and security penetration to call on, along with his CIA training and even a few tricks he'd learned from Chuck. Hacking was fun, but he forced a flash when he realized he was taking too long using only his own knowledge, broke the code, and began reading.

Massive Dynamics was up to its corporate eyebrows in Intersect research. Bryce recognized the signs. He'd been part of Omaha for his brains as well as his sub rosa ties to Orion. Fulcrum had recruited him for the same reasons and he'd been able to steal the first Intersect because he'd been there as the original white room was designed and built. He'd known every weakness in its security. He remembered very clearly the materials that had been involved in creating the physical aspect of the Intersect.

Dr. Bishop and this Fringe Division might not recognize what the purchase orders some of their warrants had uncovered added up to, but Bryce did.

A curse died unspoken as he kept reading, putting the pattern together.

The Wichita Group had been a front. Working slowly, putting together a not yet functional proto-Intersect to show to the DARPA auditors and throw them off while Massive Dynamics built their own version for their own purposes.

Bryce shook his head. Why would they need an Intersect? Really, though, it didn't matter to him. So what if Massive Dynamics had one filled with all their secrets? They didn't have anyone who could tolerate an upload. Without a test subject, their Intersect was nothing but one of the world's must expensive paper weights, a cube full of information no one could access.

They didn't know about Chuck being a human Intersect. They might know about Bryce, if Ogilvie had identified him to them, but not any of the others, and they didn't know where he was.

Bryce made himself calm down. There was nothing to worry about. The genie wouldn't fit back into the bottle. It was inevitable that the Intersect technology would be monetized eventually. Massive Dynamics had no plans for the Litchfield escapees. No one even knew any of them were still alive.

At least he wouldn't have to take out Dr. Bishop. Like Orion, Walter Bishop had realized how far over the line he'd gone and was trying, in whatever way he could, to stem the scientific tide threatening to flood the world with technology the consequences of which no one had considered yet. Fringe Division seemed like a decent bunch, judging just from the outcomes of several cases in the case reports he found himself skimming through curiously. More than once the agents went out of their way to help even the not so innocent.

He poked through a few more files, just to see if he could uncover why they'd been interested in Ogilvie – there had been something wrong about the man. He shouldn't have been able to nearly take Bryce out. He rubbed his tired eyes with one hand. He kept dreaming of pulling the trigger on Ogilvie. Why did he even care? Ogilvie had been Jones' creature. It had been self-defense, not that he hadn't carried out assassinations before. He'd killed before his Red Test; it had never been hard. How much self-determination had Ogilvie had, though? It chewed away Bryce's certainty, wondering how much choice Ogilvie had had.

He pushed the doubts down and made himself concentrate.

He'd siphoned millions out of the Wichita Group's accounts to cover his real interests. It would take a team of talented forensic accountants months to figure out how he'd done it and they'd never trace where he'd sent the money. Fringe Division didn't have the resources.

They must have realized. They'd tapped the financial crimes unit in the New York FBI office for back-up and focused on the money trail from Massive Dynamics to the Wichita Group instead of the DARPA funding.

The next report, with its attached file for the consultant gone missing the morning before made Bryce reel back from the computer.

They had a list.

They had a list with his name on it, and all the others, and he hadn't guessed how many of his c-sibs were gone. When he'd been recruited by the CIA he'd given up checking the newspaper classifieds and internet message boards where the others had sometimes left heavily disguised and coded updates on where they were. He'd worried the Agency would monitor him and find them.

Someone had kept track though.

Bryce read the files on Neal Caffrey at lightning speed, amazed and amused at the path Neal had taken to stay off the grid, going as far as accepting a prison sentence to maintain cover.

But Neal was missing now, within twelve hours of Agent Lee and Peter Bishop putting him together with Bryce Larkin and going in to Massive Dynamics' New York office building. Bryce found himself breathing hard, almost panicked, because he'd been wrong. Massive Dynamics did have a candidate for an Intersect upload.

He read Agent Burke's report angrily. They'd gone in there and interviewed Nina Sharp. Neal had been in the same room as Sharp, the woman who had shared a bed and business for years with William Bell. A woman Bryce suspected had close ties to Jones too.

William Bell, who had gone by the alias Dr. Simon Paris, the man David Robert Jones had answered to at Litchfield.

Someone had recognized Neal thanks to Bryce's own carelessness.

Massive Dynamics had Neal.

Bryce shut down the computer, listening to the snores from Walter Bishop, his mind already on how he would get Neal out. Finding Jones took second place. Stopping the Intersect project barely registered. Chuck had the data packet Bryce had sent him. Let the NSA handle it.

He glanced up and eyed the teddy bear sitting on the shelf above the desk. One beady eye had a red light behind it.

All he had to do was disable it. It was a cheap, over-the-internet home surveillance device, powered by batteries and unconnected to any network.

He gave the camera a fierce smile instead.

Let them see.

If he failed, maybe they'd follow the trail of what he'd hacked and save Neal.

It wasn't much of a back up plan, but he'd done more with less.

Part Three

Identical strings of code
Dressed up in the fashion mode
The Tears of a Clone:: Alcazar

Neal tested the restraints holding him on the gurney, but they were fastened tightly and he couldn't summon the will to free himself. The IV dripping a customized sedative into his vein made sure of that. The heart monitor wired to him betrayed him every time it started wearing off and one of the technicians would administer another dose. It didn't feel like morphine or any other drug he'd ever encountered: his thoughts were still perfectly lucid, only his emotions were inaccessible. He'd never grasped before how critical they were to motivation. Why try to escape when he felt no fear or care over anything being done to him?

Intellectually, he realized the doctors and techs were invading his body in a way he should object to vehemently and that none of it was for his good. Survival dictated he should escape.

He couldn't feel it.

It should have scared him. Instead he lolled his head to the side as much as he could – not much, they'd secured it too – and squinted at the flattening bag feeding him the drug. The plastic was tinted dark so it was volatile. The label was yellow and the dosage had been scrawled over the print in black marker.

"Watch it," one of the technicians snapped as the gurney swerved.

A vague and disconnected sense of satisfaction sharpened his attention when the IV pole clattered into the gurney, swayed, and that shifted the bag enough to reveal it contained Laudenal. A technician garbed in white from head to toe grabbed the pole and straightened the gurney's travel.

"You watch it. I want to get this over with and go home."

Neal blinked at the ceiling passing above him and counted doors and turns, memorizing the route, the way he had everything since being taken from his holding cell. The drug didn't interfere with that.

"Hey, someone has to get the doors – "

"Move, I have the code."

The gurney stopped in a position that let Neal watch a security guard – also in a white clean suit – tap the code in.

"Hey, he's smiling – "

"Give him another hit."

"No, Ms. Sharp'll kill us if there's a delay, just keep an eye on him."

"Anyone think she's been acting weird?"

"Anyone think they ought to shut up and not ask questions?"

Neal blinked at that, remembering Sharp and Jones' unexplained plans for him and realizing they were about to be put into play as his gurney rolled inside a solid white cube of a room. The ceiling was tiled in screens, all glowing with white static. So were the walls. He couldn't crane his head and see, but he wondered if the floor wasn't too.

"Good," Nina Sharp said. "Secure the subject in the optimal position, please."

Neal's head swam as the gurney bed was cranked upright, providing him a nearly panoramic view of the room. It didn't contain anything else beyond a single computer pedestal.

Sharp stood out from everyone else in the room. She wore the same sterile gear, but had pushed off the drawstring closed hood-cap. Her dyed-red hair and lipsticked mouth burned against the monochrome walls. She smiled at him and Neal discovered he could still feel fear.

"Hello, Fourteen."

The portable cardiac monitor attached to him bleeped staccato.

"Oh, don't worry," Sharp told him. "You were made for this. Not this in particular but you're still the perfect candidate. The tests today confirmed that."

She walked over to the computer pedestal and began inputting code. "If everyone will put on their protective goggles, please," she said.

"Don't I get some?" Neal forced out, his mouth so dry it came out as a whisper, the sarcasm lost along the way.

Sharp pulled the goggles hanging around her neck up and fitted them over her eyes carefully.

Neal closed his eyes.

"No, no," Sharp snapped in annoyance. "You. Tape his eyes open, please."

He couldn't move his head enough to stop them.

"There will be a thirty second countdown," Sharp announced. "Leave the goggles on until the program has run and the room reverts to neutral."

His eyes burned.

Sharp's gloved fingers moved over the holographic keyboard glowing blue before her. Neal's line of sight let him see every keystroke. "Initiating." She activated a single key.

Neal tried to ignore the images flickering into life on the screens surrounding him, immersing him, mesmerizing him, flashing on and off faster and faster until the encoded information filled his brain and he couldn't think, only absorb.

It stopped an unbearable time later.

He tipped his head forward as far as he could press it against the restraints and dry heaved, grateful he hadn't been allowed food or water through the day.

Then he passed out.


"Is that Caffrey?" Lincoln asked, peering at the bad video showing the dark-haired man moving through Walter's lab with remarkable assurance even if Walter hadn't been asleep in the next room. He pulled off his glasses and wiped the lenses, then slid them back on to take a closer look at the screen.

Peter Burke glared at the screen. "No."

"You're sure?"

Burke turned his glare on Lincoln. He wanted it to be Caffrey. If it was Caffrey, well, he'd be in trouble, but Burke would know the man was all right. Lincoln understood that, even if he didn't get how Burke had gone from pursuing and convicting the man to considering him a partner. Lincoln worked with an ex-mental patient and a guy from an erased timeline and figured he could count on either of them as much as he could any agent though, so maybe he did get it after all. It wasn't where you came from so much as what you shared after a while.

He understood the anger too. Anger because you were scared, anger because you were hurt, anger because it drowned out grief, and in the end, anger that you had to put away to get on with the job. Put it away, but it was all still there. Eventually, life compressed the anger into nostalgia: the ache of an old wound.

"Hair's longer."

Lincoln agreed after looking again and he didn't know Caffrey the way Burke did. The hair was longer and straighter and kept falling forward against the intruder's cheekbones. There were subtler differences too, even though he'd only had a single encounter with Caffrey. The man hacking into Walter Bishop's computer looked harder than Caffrey, didn't dress like him either, though for all Lincoln knew Caffrey reserved the three-piece suits and hat for the FBI office and dressed like a cat-burglar the rest of the time. Caffrey's body language had been effervescent as champagne, though, and this guy moved like smoke.

"Neal's not a gun guy," Burke added. He nodded to the pistol in a holster at the small of the man's back, only a glimpse visible when his leather jacket rode up, but both agents were quick to notice it.

He hadn't used it on the young agent stationed outside the lab, though. Instead he'd tranqed him and slipped inside so quietly that Walter, sleeping in the office slash bedroom, hadn't even woken up. Even Gene the cow hadn't been disturbed by his presence. Admittedly, very little seemed to bother Gene. Walter said she had a phlegmatic nature.

"He didn't use it."

"Neal wouldn't carry at all," Burke answered reluctantly. Something there he wasn't sharing. Caffrey was a convicted felon on work release to the Bureau, so Burke likely wouldn't want to admit the man had been in possession of an illegal weapon. "It's not him."

Lincoln measured that against his own instincts but accepted the declaration. "Okay, well, if it isn't him, it's probably Larkin, right?"

"Unless it's the other one that's unaccounted for on the list," Bishop said from where he was talking with Walter and Olivia.

"Oh, just make it easier," Lincoln muttered. That list, all those suicides, were bad enough. When they all had the same faces, he knew he'd be spending time at the all-night diner for the next few weeks, rather than risk doppelganger nightmares.

Burke ignored him and turned to Astrid, who was running the playback. Lincoln figured Olivia knew how to run Walter's bizarre surveillance system, because she would have insisted on being taught just in case, and Bishop could probably figure it out on his own – Bishop was just as frighteningly smart as Walter, despite the easy-going exterior and lack of obvious craziness – but Astrid was the expert on Walter-wrangling. They were lucky to have her. She'd been the one to catch that the lab had been broken into over night.

"Can you do anything with the images to show us what he was looking at?" Burke asked her.

"No," Astrid replied. "I can't enhance something that isn't there. The angle's wrong from the camera. I don't have a magic wand, okay?"

Burke gave a raised eyebrow look around the lab, pausing in disbelief at the corner where Gene contentedly chewed her cud, and then shrugged helplessly. "You can't blame me for wondering." Considering Lincoln didn't know what half the equipment on the various tables was, he had to grant Burke's point. Even without the petting zoo presence of Gene the cow, Walter's lab resembled a mad scientist's lair crossed with a daycare center.

Lincoln sniffed and hid a grimace. Someone needed to muck out Gene's stall again and as the newest member of their 'team', he knew who that would be.

Damn it, he hadn't joined the FBI to shovel cowshit. He had a college degree, for god's sake. Though he remembered Robert warning him when they became partners of the high bullshit ratio at the Hartford office. Truth be told, the real thing wasn't as bad as the metaphorical variety generated by office politics, even with the stink.

Maybe if he didn't do anything Walter would take care of it before milking time.

Astrid wrinkled her nose. "Okay." A twinkle of mischief lit her pretty eyes as she began to type fast. "What I can do is call up the keystroke logger and check out everything accessed during the time this guy was in the lab."

Burke gave her a pleased smile. "Even better."

Five minutes later, using Bishop's and Astrid's computers as well as Walter's hybridized machine, they gathered and watched as Astrid synched the surveillance video to the time stamps on the file accesses, and tried to read whatever they could from the intruder's body language.

"Here, he's searching out everything we have on Ogilvie," Astrid said. The information on the screen before her scrolled too fast for Lincoln to read, never mind process, but she seemed to have no problem keeping up, matching speeds with the guy on the video.

"Is he actually reading this?" Lincoln asked.

He checked the video. Larkin hadn't loaded a disc to burn or plugged in a flashdrive. "Could he be copying it to a cloud server?" he asked. On the screen, Larkin raced through file after file, his hands flying over the keyboard without pause. The flood of data should have been too much. He had to be saving it to some kind of media to go through later.

"Walter's computer doesn't have an internet connection," Astrid responded absently.

"He's reading it," Burke and Olivia both said. They glanced at each other.

"How do you know?" Lincoln asked curiously, wondering if they'd offer the same answer.

"He's refining his search constantly," Olivia explained. "He's following the data trail in a way that could only work from comprehension."

Burke nodded, but said, "I've seen Neal absorb every word in a file just by flipping through it. It's annoying."

"But this isn't Caffrey," Olivia said.

"I think we have to accept that Mr. Caffrey and Mr. Larkin will share all the same extraordinary characteristics," Walter stated. His face lit up and he looked at the man in the video affectionately. "Look at him. Isn't it amazing?"

"Amazing?" Burke asked.

"Yes. You can't tell him from any other human at all. Belly did wonderful work. They obviously solved the problem the first Litchfield Experiment encountered," Walter said. "You said Mr. Caffrey had no violent tendencies. Or did I imagine that?"

"No. Neal's completely non-violent." Burke stared at Walter. "What did you mean about 'any other human'?"

Walter blinked at Burke then appealed to Olivia with a look. "I explained this, didn't I? I thought I did. Yes, yes, yesterday, when I analyzed the DNA. Improved. Optimum phenotype. But the DNA's all human. No hybridization with any other species. No. That didn't work out well at all."

"What didn't work?" Burke demanded. He immediately shook his head. "No. I don't need to know. More importantly, I don't want to, as long as Neal isn't part monkey or cat or something." His eyes widened. "He's not, right?"

"As I said," Walter answered snippily. "Do listen to me, my good man!"

"It sounded like there was – " Burke stopped and sighed gustily. "Nevermind."

"Franks," Bishop muttered under his breath. Lincoln shuddered and wondered if Litchfield and William Bell's experiments had been worse than what Dr. Franks had done, adding recombinant DNA and using his own to create hundreds of embryos at his in vitro fertility clinic. Fringe investigators were still trying to uncover all the children involved, using Sean Keanan's connection to the hive, but with only limited success. The rest of the hive had gone underground.

"I told them it was a bad idea, sloppy thinking, what did they think would happen when they were done?" Walter muttered, fluttering his hands about in distress. "Belly would never have – "

"What did they think would happen with the experiments they did at Litchfield?" Astrid asked suddenly, her soft voice drawing everyone's attention.

"They planned to dispose of them," Bishop said with certainty, "as soon as they stopped being useful. Didn't they, Walter?"

Walter wrung his hands and nodded.

Ignoring the work they'd been doing, Bishop strode over to Walter and glared at him. "What were you and Bell thinking?" he demanded. He waved a hand at Olivia. "Weren't the Cortexiphan trials bad enough, feeding experimental drugs to little kids when you had no idea of what the consequences would be? How did you justify what you were doing to them? What right did you or Bell or Franks have? Any of you? Building a better human... Bullshit! You were trafficking in lives and kidnapping – "

"Peter." Walter's face crumpled with guilt. "Peter – " he begged. "Peter." Bishop leaned in closer, intimidating with his height and his anger. Not sudden anger, just suddenly let loose. It was always there. Lincoln wanted to back away. If Peter's fingers curling into fists were any indication, he might need to do the opposite and pull Peter off Walter. Peter acted too easy going and normal, made it so easy to forget, but he'd come through events Lincoln winced to think about. He was messed up too, another victim, probably worse than any of them except Olivia, and this had scraped him raw, somehow.

"Break one toy and replace it with another, right, Walter?" he demanded in low, mean voice. "Who's going to know the difference? You started this. Everything, you – "

"Peter!" Olivia shouted and grabbed his arm, pulling him away from Walter. "That was your Walter. Not... " This one. She couldn't say that in front of Burke, though, not without a lot of explanations Burke hadn't been cleared to receive yet.

"I'm so sorry, Peter, I'm so sorry for what he did," Walter said. His eyes were watering, tears slipping down his lined cheeks and catching in his stubble where he'd missed spots shaving. "I'm so sorry you're lost. I promise you, I will get you home."

Bishop scrubbed his hands over his face and into his hair then swung away to stare at the computers again. "I apologize, Walter. That was uncalled for."

"No, no, you see, you're right," Walter whispered. "We were drunk on our own brilliance, on the ideas, and when the government offered us the funds to continue our work, it never occurred to Belly or me that being able to do a thing didn't mean we should. We weren't gods. We should never have done... any of it."

Burke looked confused by the outburst, of course, because he didn't have the context, but he leveled a long, considering look at Walter. "Well, you aren't the only one to make that mistake." He sighed. "And it explains Neal a little, anyway. No one taught him not to do things just because he wants to either. Or because he can get away with it."

"We should get back to what we were doing," Lincoln offered in the hope of disarming the bomb-like tension in the lab.

"What was Larkin looking for?" Burke asked Astrid.

She gave him a small, nearly grateful smile.

"He starts with Ogilvie, but he was really looking for everything we have on Jones. Then he... Oh."

"Oh?" Olivia repeated.

"Oh my God," Astrid breathed abruptly, shock in her voice snapping everyone's attention to her. "He broke the encryption on Walter's files and went through everything related to Massive Dynamics," she blurted. "I might be able to do that," she went on, "if I had a few weeks and a supercomputer, and, believe me, I'm smart."

Lincoln blinked in shock. He knew Astrid was a trained cryptologist, brilliant in her own right, though a whole ballpark more socially adept than her alt version Over There. That Astrid left everyone except Walter and Peter Bishop in her dust. Larkin's code-cracking skills had to be something to impress Astrid.

"Ouch," Bishop murmured. "I guess Bell and Litchfield really did do a good job."

"Too good of a job," Lincoln murmured.

Astrid stopped the scrolling files and pointed to the video. "Here's where he found Mr. Caffrey's list."

Larkin shoved himself back from the computer like he thought it might come alive and clamp hold on him. He paced around the lab tables and ran his hands through his hair before turning back to the computer again. Even grainy, bad video gave away the expression of intense concentration on his face as he began typing and reading again.

"He got everything we have on Massive Dynamics and all their subsidiaries," Astrid announced.

"So, the question is, do we warn them this guy might be coming or not?" Bishop said.

"What? Of course we warn them," Burke said. "Unless they have something to hide, they should be willing to help us set up a sting to catch him. Then we can find out what he knows about Neal and his disappearance."

"Massive Dynamics is made up of nothing but secrets," Bishop said. "Don't expect any help from them."

"Nina might be willing, but she can't reveal classified information," Olivia spoke over Bishop.

"I know you consider her to be family, Olivia, but that doesn't mean she tells you everything. She probably knows more about what's going on than any of us."

"We have to report that our security has been breached," Lincoln said aside to Astrid. "Broyles can decide whether we warn Massive Dynamics about Larkin."

"I'll get on it," she replied softly.

"Of course she knows what's going on," Walter said, oblivious to Lincoln and Astrid, looking from Olivia to Burke and then to Peter. "That woman knows all of Massive Dynamics secrets. Belly recruited her from Bellmedics when he founded the company."

Burke looked sick. "So someone at Massive Dynamics could've hacked the US Marshals' monitoring system?"

"What are you thinking?" Olivia asked.

Burke shook his head. "I don't know. I don't want to think Neal ran... and I don't want to think someone took him. The Marshals insist their system is hack-proof, but is it possible?"

"I could," Bishop said. "So could Walter."

Astrid shrugged and added, "So could I."

Lincoln shrugged and told Burke, "I couldn't, but you can bet Nina Sharp has plenty of people who could and would."

"Massive Dynamics manufactures half the hardware law enforcement uses," Olivia said quietly.

"They supply the military," Lincoln added. "If they haven't got a patent on it, they still know how it works and how to get around it." He sympathized with Burke. Once something brought you into Fringe Division's orbit, the veil of normality got ripped from the world. It didn't seem any stranger to contemplate a multinational corporation kidnapping an FBI consultant than it did to find out that consultant was some kind of rogue clone escaped from a government experiment.

He hoped Burke had a better cure for insomnia than he did, at least, because the man was never going to see the world the same way again, even if they found Caffrey.

"I knew something was wrong, I knew he wanted to stay away, and I walked him right in there."

On the video, Bryce Larkin walked away from Walter's computer, only pausing to look straight into the camera, before he disappeared from the frame.


The first body arrived just after noon. Dunham signed for it.

"Thomas Fuller, from Portland, Maine," she told Walter as they wheeled the gurney to an autopsy table. Peter had recognized what it was the night before but not believed they actually handled bodies in the lab. Lee and the younger Bishop hefted the body bag onto the table with an ease and expertise that spoke of familiarity, though, and he had to revise that opinion. Dunham walked over and started the ventilation fans. The cow in the corner stall made a deep, unhappy noise when Dr. Bishop unzipped the bag and the smell hit anyway.

"Agent Broyles said they're having problems. Some of the other bodies were cremated, but Gale Miller will be here later this afternoon," Astrid reported. She didn't act bothered either.

"The woman who drove into an abutment?"

"Yes. We want the suicides," Bishop said. "Walter thinks the medical examiners would have dismissed the signs of neurological degeneration if the cause of death was obvious."

"Like driving into a concrete pillar at a hundred miles an hour in a stolen Mustang," Lee mused.

"Yeah, like that. Most docs aren't going to waste time and money running a bunch of tests that aren't necessary."

"Sloppy, sloppy thinking," Dr. Bishop complained.

"So how did this one kill himself?" Lee asked.

Bishop checked a file that had arrived balanced on the body bag. "Carbon monoxide poisoning. Parked in a garage, sealed it up from the inside, ran a hose from the exhaust pipe of his car – made sure he had a full tank of gas too, the receipt was on the passenger seat – inside, turned the key, rolled up his windows and put himself to sleep."

"He should provide us with a good picture of his health," Dr. Bishop said happily. "Before his death, that is. The embalming was very well done, look at the state of preservation... Cadavers are so unpredictable, but this is a very good specimen."

"As long as he isn't one of the ones that turned in body soup," Astrid muttered. "I had to throw out my clothes the last time."

"You never know what you'll get," Bishop agreed. "This is good. Nice and cold and dry where they buried him, I'd guess."

Peter had meant to stay back; he had endured the parts of his training that included attending pathology classes and observing an autopsy only through determination. Dead bodies were something he preferred to avoid.

Lee's quiet, "God," whispered as he looked at the embalmed corpse drew him over despite himself. "You can still recognize him."

He wished, more than anything, that he hadn't looked.

"That's mildly disturbing and I only met Caffrey once," Bishop commented.

It was Neal lying on the table, the sunken ruin of death over a year after burial, even though Peter had seen him alive only days before. Intellectually, he knew it wasn't Neal, but for one visceral instant he felt like it was and it stabbed through him, harsh as losing Elizabeth would be. He knew the sound he made gave him away, but no one called him on it. The fall of dark hair over the high forehead was the same, the cheekbones and the jaw, the straight line of his nose, and Peter could only thank God the corpse's eyes were shut. He didn't want to know what Neal's blue eyes would look like dulled by death and decay.

"I'll do a comparison DNA test from some of his hair," Dr. Bishop announced, "but I believe it's obvious this man was one of the Litchfield Two clones."

"Yeah, so," Lee said, "the question we haven't asked is: how did they get out in the world?"

Bishop scrubbed at his unshaven chin. "You're right."

Peter backed away from the autopsy table and the dead Neal double. "If they were all like Neal, then they escaped," he forced himself to say. "He walked himself out of a maximum security prison once. It makes my brain hurt thinking about what more than one like him could do."

He couldn't convince himself Neal and Bryce Larkin were simply twins any longer. Not in the face of the evidence lying before him. Neal was a clone, product of a science experiment gone out of control. Aside from being sickened at the idea of his government doing something like that, Peter felt a visceral revulsion to the whole concept of clones. The knowledge that Neal had fooled him pricked at his pride, but the idea that he'd brought something artificial and wrong into his life and his home made Peter's skin crawl.

At the same time, he could not make himself believe that the Neal who showed so much glee to just have someone who could keep up with him was just a thing made to look human. Neal felt, Neal was loyal – too loyal – Neal knew joy, Neal was playful as an otter, Neal loved. But, hell, so did Satchmo, and, Jesus, did he just compare Neal to his dog?

Fine. Fine, he had, and he would never, ever admit that to Elizabeth; he already knew that comparison would make her furious. Peter felt hot and sick with himself, because a dog deserved better than the treatment Walter had already described to them. A dog deserved better than the way he'd been reacting.

He was just so damned confused. Peter hated being confused. Neal was right. He was a control freak. No wonder Neal struggled to maintain as much independence as he could.

And yet, and yet... Was it a fallacy to assign normal motivations to Neal? A mistake to trust he could even understand Neal except in the most basic fashion? A mistake to trust at all?

Did Neal even have a survival instinct?

None of it mattered, because Peter had a job to do. That job was getting Neal back, safe and in custody again. Neal – and anything Neal did – was still his responsibility. He wasn't going to debate the nature of humanity or if androids dreamed or what the hell ever. He wasn't going to think about it. He was going to do what he needed to do and that was it.

When he had Neal back on a tracker or in jail, he'd think about what all this meant. He'd talk to El and she'd help him figure it out. Just thinking of her loosened the tensed knot in his gut.

After that, he stayed out of the way while the two Bishops prepared to conduct a second autopsy on Thomas Fuller's corpse.

His phone sounded and he checked it. Hughes. He'd have to take the call and explain why he was in Cambridge rather than spearheading the hunt for Neal. Not having the heart for it wouldn't fly with Hughes either. He'd have to bring up Larkin and pretend he thought the other man had been Neal. Which would turn all the searchers' attention to the Boston area and away from anywhere Neal might actually be.

He didn't know if he wanted to do that or not, even if Neal had run all on his own.

"Burke," he answered.

"I don't know what you've got yourself involved in, but you and Dunham's team are directed to return to New York ASAP for a briefing at the Fringe Division HQ," Reese Hughes snapped. "You, and only you, not the rest of your team and not me, have been cleared to be read-in to a NSA/CIA operation your investigation is tangled up in."

"Sir, I'm not in charge here – "

Dr. Bishop was stripping the body, dropping the clothes it had been buried in into a large medical waste bag the younger Bishop held open for him. The two of them worked smoothly together. Peter turned his back, unable to look at those pathetic remains any longer.

"Don't worry, they'll be getting a call from their boss. This has National Security stamped all over it." Peter could picture Hughes shaking his head. "We haven't found anything new on Caffrey either."

"I'm beginning to think we won't until we crack whatever is going on with Massive Dynamics," Peter said.

"Peter." Hughes sounded exhausted. "If Caffrey's involved in espionage or even just got in the way somehow, we may never find him."

"At this point, I'd be happy knowing he's still alive," Peter admitted.

"I know," Hughes said. The sympathy in his voice was one of the reasons Peter considered it privilege to work for Reese Hughes. He wouldn't cut Peter any slack, but he understood Neal had been more than a case file even before he started working with the White Collar unit.

Dunham answered her own phone, her expression gradually wiping to blankness. He'd bet she was receiving her orders from her boss. "Yes. Yes, sir," she murmured. She caught Peter's gaze and nodded to him.

"Is there anyway I could get at least Jones and Diana cleared for whatever this is?" Peter tried.

"No. No time to up their clearances."

"Well, what about you?"

"I don't 'need to know'."

"Damn it."

"Peter. If the spooks want this thing... give it to them. I know you want Caffrey back, especially if he didn't run out on you, but it may not be possible."

"I don't like it."

"No one can make you like it, you just have to do it, if it's necessary."

"Yes sir."

"And Peter? Watch your back. I don't want the Bureau to lose you." Hughes ended the call without ceremony.

Peter looked at his phone and wondered if he should call El and let her know he was on his way home to New York.

"Three hours," Dunham said into her phone. "We'll bring Agent Burke with us. Yes. Walter's already begun the first autopsy. Agent Farnsworth will stay here. Thank you." She put her phone away. "I suppose that was your boss?"


"I guess we're going to find out what the Wichita Group was doing, at least," she offered. "Peter, Lincoln, we've got a briefing at HQ. Agent Burke's joining us." She gave him a sympathetic look. "You're probably not going to like it."

"Oh, I already don't," he assured her.


Chuck kept his expression as calm and professional as possible, because why shouldn't there be a secret base of operations for the Department of Weird Science or whatever it called itself hidden under the Statue of Liberty? It made as much sense as a CIA/NSA base hidden beneath a Burbank Buy More. Sarah and Casey didn't seem to find anything peculiar about it. Of course, Casey probably felt right at home with the checkpoints and armed soldiers standing guard everywhere.

The briefing on Fringe Division and the bridge to a parallel universe was not what Chuck had expected. Agent Broyles was even more intimidating than Casey and the look he leveled at General Beckman, attending virtually via screen on the wall of the conference room where the rest of them were sitting, made even her quail. She'd been objecting that a threat from another universe was something NSA should have been told about. He'd just said quietly, "You didn't need to know."

Chuck had never seen General Beckman snap her mouth closed so fast. She'd been seething.

The Intersect had nothing on Fringe Division or the Other Side. Chuck felt out of his depth, even with his deep background in science fiction television shows and movies. This was more like the books and Bryce had been the one who devoured Dune and anything else speculative and in print. Bryce would have taken it in stride.

A grimace distorted his face. Of course Bryce would have. Bryce's life, even his existence, turned out to be science fiction. But this wasn't an action-adventure-horror movie that would be over in two hours, Chuck thought and gulped down his gorge. This was people saying Bryce wasn't even human, like it made everything that had happened to him alright. Oh God, oh God, he wasn't going to freak out in front of everyone. He had to act like Agent Carmichael, superspy, who saw and did worse every Sunday and didn't care.

Chuck still cared.

After Broyles had finished explaining the current situation with the parallel universe, Agent Dunham briefed them on why they'd thought Bryce Larkin might be from Over There after encountering his double working for the FBI – until Dr. Bishop brought up the near certainty that Bryce and Neal Caffrey were products of something called the Litchfield Project or its successor.

Casey smirked at Sarah and said, "So the Agency basically recruited a replicant."

Chuck gaped. "Did you just make a movie reference?" Did Casey not get how huge this revelation was or did he just not care at all?

"I've been forced to listen to you and Grimes watch that movie enough times," Casey replied, daring Chuck to say anything more about it.

The sick look on Sarah's face along with a memory of Bryce's worn-until-the pages-were-falling-loose copy of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? distracted Chuck from teasing Casey. He couldn't remember watching Blade Runner with Bryce or ever talking about it. That didn't seem so strange now. The movie probably cut too close to the bone. He felt like he should be freaking out more, but the way Broyles presented the briefing was so calm, as if Fringe Division saw weirder things before breakfast every day, it would have been embarrassing, so Chuck bit back some of his normal babble. He'd been doing this for years now; he was supposed to a professional spy and unphased by anything.

Okay, so even Sarah was phased, but he still didn't see how this changed who Bryce was. If Casey could joke, so could Chuck. He wasn't crazy enough to tease Sarah about it, though.

Broyles cut through their byplay and zeroed in on the facts. "Larkin worked for the CIA?"

General Beckman took over and gave a short, truncated summary of the Human Intersect Project and how it had been merged with the post 9/11 effort to integrate intelligence data from all of the espionage services. "Agent Larkin was tasked with using Omaha to draw out an organization calling itself Fulcrum. He allowed them to believe they had turned him," Beckman explained.

Sarah looked angry now. She'd been angry with Bryce when she believed he'd fooled her after going rogue and becoming a double for Fulcrum. Of course, she'd been angry with herself too for letting Bryce blind her to the truth. Chuck wanted to tell her she hadn't had a chance. Bryce had been the best. Besides, on some level, she hadn't been wrong, Bryce had always been one of the good guys; he'd just been undercover as a bad guy. Chuck didn't think anything he could say would make this any better for her, though. Bryce had been her partner and this was all still a fresh hurt for her. She had come to terms with what Bryce had done and his reasons before. She'd manage it this time too.

"Unfortunately, Fulcrum had penetrated the Agency. Agent Larkin was forced to download a copy of the Intersect and destroy the original to keep it out of their hands. He sent the copy to Agent Carmichael before he was shot."

That sounded better than 'Bryce sent it to his disgraced college room mate', whose life he ruined to save it, because he didn't trust anyone else in the world. Chuck had never been able to figure out why Bryce thought that was a good plan, but maybe Bryce didn't think like a human being.

Actually, that would explain so much. A pang of sympathy hit Chuck. He'd never understood why a guy like Bryce was such an outsider or gravitated to Chuck. Chuck had always felt like he was not quite in tune with everyone else. Bryce must have sensed that.

"This was in 2007?" Agent Dunham clarified.

Beckman nodded.

"Then how is he alive?"

"Fulcrum recovered Agent Larkin's body and succeeded in reviving him under the belief that since he was the best candidate to upload the Human Intersect, he had done so. Although he hadn't, Agent Larkin refused to reveal anything that would have led Fulcrum to Agent Carmichael."

"They must have realized he wasn't cooperating," Agent Burke – the only person in the room with more reason to freak out than Chuck – commented. He did look a little wild around the eyes and he was holding on to the edge of the table with both hands like gravity might fail at any second, his finger joints white from the pressure he was exerting. He'd still zeroed in on the ugliest facet of the story, the one everyone else delicately didn't want to address.

Bryce hadn't given Fulcrum what they wanted. The results must have been torture. Real torture.

No one said anything.

"Christ." Burke glared at them all. Chuck silently cheered him on.

"You people are really screwed up," Bishop remarked. Chuck wanted to cheer him too.

"After being recovered in the course of counter-Fulcrum operations and confirming he had been acting as a triple, he went off the grid to maintain the fiction that he had the Intersect and continue protecting it and Agent Carmichael," Beckman went on. She was pissed. Chuck could tell. "In 2009, after the successful removal of the Intersect from Agent Carmichael, Larkin was brought in to take over and receive a second version customized for him. He was shot during a Ring attack on the facility housing the Intersect computer."

"So, again, how is he alive?" Burke demanded.

Beckman closed her eyes. "We don't know."

"You knew no one found a body!" Chuck snapped despite himself. He was still seething over that. He glared at Sarah, but she looked back wide-eyed. She didn't remember lying to him and Casey.

Burke stared at him, frown lines deep on his forehead, and Chuck tried to remember he was supposed to be too cool to give a damn.

"We couldn't waste resources on a wild goose chase."

Oh, screw cool. "Well, it wouldn't have been one, would it? Bryce either didn't die or they revived him again; you knew they had Fulcrum's technology."

"Carmichael has a point. Everyone knew it worked on him before. Why wouldn't the Ring gamble on getting themselves the latest Intersect?" Casey folded his arms over his chest once he'd spoken.

Beckman glared from the screen. "Enough. If this is Bryce Larkin – which is not proven considering there may be other unaccounted for products of the Litchfield Project at large – we can't know what the Ring did to him or what he is trying to accomplish now."

"We can't?" Chuck exclaimed. "I think sending me everything he could dig up on the Wichita Group and burning down their offices makes it pretty clear he's trying to stop someone else from getting an Intersect."

"It doesn't explain why he killed Ogilvie or his interest in David Robert Jones," Dunham pointed out. "ZFT isn't linked to either Fulcrum or the Ring?" She paused. "Is it?"

Burke's attention switched between each of them as they spoke and his frown just got deeper.

"Never heard of it," Casey admitted.

"Maybe it has nothing to do with them," Lee suggested. "Ogilvie was a shapeshifter. They work for Jones and Jones was at Litchfield. If Larkin found that out, maybe he panicked."

Sarah gave him an incredulous look. "Bryce doesn't panic."

"That's really impressive and interesting and I'd be happy if I'd never heard any of it," Burke interrupted, "but it doesn't help find Neal. That's my priority." His mouth had set in an thin, angry line. Burke didn't like them, didn't like the things they'd revealed, and the grim determination on his features said none of them would deter him from his goal.

"Understood," Broyles said. He seemed to get it. "General Beckman?"

Lemon sour and still peeved, she agreed, "Yes."

"I believe you are better equipped to find out more about the Litchfield Project. If you would?"

"We will find out everything we can, Agent Broyles," she promised. The screen flipped to the Fringe logo. Nothing had been said about how much of what they found out they would actually share with Fringe and the FBI.

"I don't know how much good it will do," Agent Lee said, "but Astrid left a message. She says Walter's finished the analysis on the drug sample from Caffrey's loft. And one other thing: the tracker was cut by a microlaser tool marketed to the military." He paused and glanced at Agent Dunham. "By Bellmedics."

"Another subsidiary of Massive Dynamics," Broyles remarked gravely.

"I think we should all go back to lab," Agent Dunham said. She nodded to Chuck and Casey and Sarah. "You can look at the recordings of the break in and give us your opinion if it is your – " She raised an eyebrow.

"Friend," Chuck blurted at the same time Casey and Sarah chorused, "Agent."

At the far end of the table, Bishop, who had been almost silent through the briefings except for that one comment, gave him a small smile and a nod.

Burke pushed his chair back from the table and jolted to his feet, shaking his head, before striding out ahead of everyone, his posture screaming that he wanted nothing to do with any of them, muttering to himself, "Christ, Mozzie was right all along."


Casey didn't say anything about Bryce or the mission while they caravanned up to Boston from New York, Burke following the Fringe agents' SUV, and Casey barreling through traffic like he was driving a tank rather than the Hummer the NSA had provided. Sarah stared out the window. Chuck was consigned to the backseat. He texted Morgan and his sister and played Angry Birds on his phone, determinedly not thinking about Bryce being a clone or the sad way he'd once said, 'I'm from Connecticut,' and nothing more about his past, ever.

"I can't believe it," Sarah burst out.

Casey grunted.

"Bryce is – Bryce was – "

Chuck hated seeing her struggle like this, flailing to sort between the memories she still had – which included Bryce, but not the Intersect – and years of events that had flipped her life on its head and inside out. Trying to comfort her only led to arguments, though. He'd learned to keep quiet until she asked him for something. It wasn't like this hadn't shocked him too, anyway.

Sarah turned in her seat, the shoulder belt pulling her blouse half-open, and looked at Chuck in the back seat. "Aren't you bothered? You were room mates. You thought he was your friend."

"Room mates ain't sleeping together," Casey commented.

Before Sarah could do something violent to Casey that would result in them all dying in a fiery crash, Chuck spoke up in hurry. "I know he was my friend."

"But if he's... what they said," Sarah said. "An experiment."

"How does that change anything?" Chuck asked. Focusing on that genuinely puzzled him. What difference did it make? Bryce was still Bryce. As far as he was concerned, Bryce was a victim. Maybe he'd had to think about it more than some people, since he had a computer program running in his head, but Chuck knew, without any doubt, that being human didn't have much to do with DNA or whether you came out of a womb or an incubator or hatched from an egg. He knew what human was and Bryce Larkin was as human as he was.

"Give it up, Walker, Bartowski ain't going to get it," Casey advised. Without hesitation, he accelerated the Hummer through a hole in the traffic that would have squeezed a compact until it gasped. "Looks like you won't have to worry about your old buddy taking up with Walker this time, Bartowski."

"Yeah, I guess not," Chuck chuckled weakly.

Sarah turned her back to him and away from Casey. She didn't say anything more through the rest of the trip. Chuck went back to playing with his phone. He didn't really want to talk to Sarah right then; he felt too disappointed in her. Why didn't she get it? Bryce and Neal Caffrey and the other clones, they weren't less than human and they weren't more or post-human: they just were, just like Sarah, just like Chuck. As long as they had free will all that counted was what they did with it.

Night had fallen outside and security lights gleamed through the windows set high on the basement walls, but the lab was mostly dark, only a couple of desk lamps competing with several computer monitors to illuminate the glitter of esoteric equipment – most of it glass – when they arrived. An assortment of take-out containers occupied one table; the smell of Chinese food mingled with cow and chemicals, making Chuck's stomach stir unhappily.

Agent Dunham handled the introductions as they filed into the basement laboratory and were greeted by a slight woman and a lab coat wearing, gray-haired older man with a lined, basset-sad face. He had to be Dr. Walter Bishop, former partner in research with William Bell, former mental patient, and current Fringe savant.

"Peter, Olivia! Agent Lee!" His exuberant greeting was accompanied by a wide smile and a rush toward them. "I've finished the DNA comparisons. I'm afraid one of the clones is quite ill – "

"Walter," Agent Dunham said, "remember Agent Burke – "

Walter took Burke's hand in both of his and shook it enthusiastically. "Yes, you were here. I remember." He whispered confidingly. "Your friend is one of the clones. I'm sorry. The one using the drug you brought me. Which isn't perfect, no, but whoever designed it was quite brilliant."

Burke looked overwhelmed as Walter went right on pumping his hand up and down as he burbled on.

"It doesn't stop the deterioration, of course – "

"What happens if they don't have it?" Burke interrupted.

"Oh." Walter blinked. The lines on his face deepened as it fell. "The symptoms rebound."

"Like a rebound headache," Agent Farnsworth volunteered from her spot at the table. She stirred chopsticks through one of the white cardboard containers. "Except with shaking and seizures eventually. Walter says."

"Yes," Walter agreed heavily.

"God," Burke exclaimed as he pulled his hand free to scrub it over his face. Chuck swallowed hard. Was that going to happen to Bryce? Was it already happening to him? Bryce the gymnast and runner, Bryce who made fighting beside Sarah look like a dance? It seemed so wrong, he couldn't make himself accept it. It looked like Burke felt the same way about Caffrey.

"Walter," Agent Dunham prompted gently, steering the scientist away from Burke. "This is Colonel Casey, Agent Walker, and this is Agent Carmichael – "

Walter looked at Chuck and his face lit up again. "Bartowski!"

Chuck's mouth fell open. Casey and Sarah both tensed.

"Carmichael," Agent Dunham corrected with a glance at Chuck.

"Oh, no, no, this is Stephen's son," Walter insisted.

Stupidly, Chuck blurted, "You knew my father?"

"Not well, no, but we met at a scientific conference in Elko – "

"Elko, Nevada?"

"Yes, marvelous city, the casinos in Reno and Las Vegas wouldn't have us, you see. Too many card counters," Walter explained blithely.

"And my father was there."

Walter nodded. "He had an idea for uploading computer data to the human brain – Oh. He did it, didn't he? The Intersect, of course." He grabbed Chuck's shoulder's, pulled him down, and peeled one eyelid back before Chuck could react.

"Walter!" Peter Bishop exclaimed, "you can't just do that to random – "

Casey went for his gun and Sarah put one of her throwing knives to Walter's throat. Burke pulled his gun and aimed it at Casey. So did Agent Lee. Walter ignored the knife and the stand-off, peering into Chuck's pupil from so close Chuck's eyes crossed. "You have it!"

"Let him go," Casey ordered.

"He has what?" Peter and Agent Farnsworth both asked.

"The Intersect," Walter declared.


The flurry of accusations and explanations that followed had occupied everyone but Chuck. He took the opportunity to wander around the basement lab and pet the dairy cow in the corner. He felt a little dazed. No matter how hard they tried to get away from it, the Intersect just kept popping into their lives. Maybe it was time to accept the genie was out of the bottle.

The buzz from his phone went unnoticed by anyone but him. Sarah was yelling at Agent Dunham, Casey was looming threateningly at Peter Bishop, while Agents Lee and Farnsworth tried to play mediators, and Burke was questioning Walter about degenerative neurological disorders.

Chuck pulled his phone out, looked at the caller's name and gasped. No one paid any attention. He accepted the call and turned his back to the arguing crowd. "Hello?" He knew saying the name would draw, at the very least, Casey and Sarah's attention.

"Chuck, I haven't got much time."

God, it was Bryce. Bryce who really was alive. Chuck didn't know what that meant, except that it had been Bryce who sent the email. Until this minute he hadn't really believed it. What the hell was it with Bryce and frigging emails full of classified data?

"Where are you?" Chuck hissed, hunching his shoulders. The cow chewed her cud and watched him placidly.

"New York. Chuck, listen to me. I screwed up. Ogilvie caught me going through his computers, but that isn't what's important. You have to go after Massive Dynamics."

"I don't have to – "

"I know," Bryce interrupted, his voice shaking, and Chuck had never heard him sound like that before. The closest had been on Professor Fleming's recording of Bryce arguing against the CIA recruiting Chuck. "I know you don't. I know, you've got your own life. But if I can't – They've got Neal in there and another Intersect. Please."

Bryce's double, the FBI consultant who had gone missing, Chuck remembered. Bryce's confidence in him, that Chuck would already know about Caffrey, almost embarrassed him. No one, not Morgan or Ellie or even Sarah, believed in Chuck's intelligence the way Bryce still did.


"The ninth floor of the Massive Dynamics building. I'm going to try to get him out, but if I don't make it – "

"Don't say that. You can't – "

"They found him because of me," Bryce said. "Please. He deserves to live."

"Bryce, you deserve to live too," Chuck insisted. He'd never heard Bryce beg before. It hurt that he thought he had to beg Chuck for help.

"Not if I can't save him."

"No! That's not true. Don't go in there alone, we can help you." Panic had his voice rising, but he didn't care. Bryce wasn't listening to him. "Casey's with me and Sarah and there are others, you have to trust me – "

"You're the only one I trust," Bryce interrupted. "Please look out for Neal if I can't."

Chuck choked on another protest and promised, "I will. Bryce, I will, but you've got to try to stay alive too. Promise me."

"Sure, Chuck," Bryce said. "As long as my luck holds. Thanks."

The call ended and Chuck looked at the phone in his hand in disbelief before turning and discovering everyone staring at him.

He held up his phone and said, "That, uh, that was Bryce."

Part Four

And I am coming home to you
With my own blood in my mouth
Sax Rohmer #1 :: The Mountain Goats

Reconnecting to the mesh felt like an electric jolt straight to his brain. It felt like coming home, if he'd ever had a home. It felt like a string drawn too taut finally loosened and something loose and empty finally tightened back into its proper place. Bryce almost sobbed as he walked through the halls of Massive Dynamics like he belonged there.

There were no words exchanged between him and Neal. Words were for all the others, the always strangers, the outsiders who were not self. Thought mingled faster and faster, stuttering at first and almost awkward, they were so out of synch, with both of them running artificial data programs in addition to their normal thought patterns. Bryce kept moving.

Integration required sixty-four seconds. A long time, but it had been years since they meshed.

Bryce reached the elevator bank and slid the key card he'd pickpocketed from a security guard going off-shift for the evening though the reader, then typed in the master passcode Neal obligingly flashed on in his cell nine stories above. Touch could trigger the mesh from reflex, but it worked through walls too, though they attenuated it. Thanks to Neal's knowledge, Bryce knew his destination and pressed the button for the floor with the holding cells without hesitation.

Once the elevator doors closed and it began to rise, Bryce opened the jacket of his corporate, funeral black suit, loosened his skinny tie, and unbuttoned the collar of his white shirt. His shoes were already laced tight. He shrugged, checking that nothing he had on would catch or bind him in a critical moment, shoved his shirt and coat's sleeves up his arms, then rocked his head side to side to loosen up.

Ready, he stepped to the back of the elevator and breathed deep, pulling in extra oxygen until the doors slid open and he burst forward.

What Neal knew, Bryce knew and what Bryce knew Neal did too. The mesh wasn't perfect any more, but it let them share information as one.

Neal knew how many strides there were from the elevator to the door locking him into the holding cell. He knew where the card reader and the keypad were, where the overhead fluorescents lit the sterile blue-white corridor, and he'd noted the number and placement of the security personnel. He knew a hundred other details gathered when he'd been brought out and brought back too, but they were irrelevant now, since he didn't need any of his own plans for escape with Bryce coming.

Bryce's plan didn't matter either.

The doors opened.

Bryce burst forward at a run. The upper levels of Massive Dynamics had too many security cameras to avoid them without cover of a crowd or taking to the electrical ducts and ventilation shafts – which were wired with motion sensors according to the maintenance records he'd hacked – so he had to rely on speed.

The two guards at the security desk were still gaping at their monitors as Bryce vaulted over the top, speed becoming momentum becoming force as his legs came over and his right heel hit one man in the jaw, snapping his head back with a telltale crack. Bryce tucked and slammed his shoulder into the second security guard. It hurt as they both fell, the rolling chair the guard occupied pushing back and spinning out from under him, sending them both to the floor, but Bryce compartmentalized the pain into a corner of his mind where he could ignore it. He kept moving, using his elbow on the man's solar plexus so all the air rushed from his lungs, then rolled off the guard and onto his feet. He pulled the next blow because it would have been lethal and substituted one that left the guard unconscious.

One glance at the monitors confirmed both guards had been too shocked to hit the alarm. Neither of them had even yelled. The only noise came from an earbud hooked to a phone and playing something country-and-western and the mechanical whir of one chair wheel spinning down. Massive Dynamics didn't stint on construction; the anechoic tiles, soundproofing, and firewalls made sure the brief bang and clutter couldn't be heard as far as the end of the corridor. No guards were rushing to investigate.

Bryce didn't waste time trying to hide the guards. He snagged a taser off the belt of the nearest man, along with another key card for Neal in case they were forced to separate, and headed for the door to Neal's cell.

He didn't slow down and had to catch the door knob to skid to stop. Damn dress shoes had no grip, even Chuck's old Converses would have been better. Keycard swiped through the reader and he typed in the code Neal had memorized when they locked him up the second time. The door opened with an audible chuff and Bryce handed him the key card and the taser, taking in bare feet and bruised pallor only to judge it against Neal's own estimate of his physical state. They had to know how far they could push their bodies. Neither of them needed to speak. Words were a give away and cost oxygen and there was no time to touch, but that could come later, they didn't need it anyway. The mesh was enough, even if it wasn't perfect any longer.

More than good enough to work with though; better than any partner Bryce had ever had.

Neal's smile matched his own laughter as they ran, already formulating what they needed to do. It was so much easier together, Bryce wondered how he'd lived so long without company in his head.


Blood red light pulsed along with the intruder alarms. It turned the real blood on Bryce's knuckles and running down Neal's face black. Someone had found the two guards at the security center on the ninth floor.

They had to go two floors up to finish, because Neal wouldn't leave the Intersect intact to be uploaded to someone else too. No one could get the cube out of the building, but they'd brought Neal in and would have taken him out before morning, and the Intersect with him. It threw Bryce slightly off – while he'd been trying to find Jones, Neal had been in trouble because of him. His vendetta had nearly ended with Neal a prisoner again.

Neal made it easy, though. He kept up. He understood. He wanted to find and stop Jones even more than Bryce did and was determined that Jones must never get his hands on the wealth of Massive Dynamics' knowledge base, without even knowing all the things the Intersect had cost Bryce. He could feel the cost mounting again, the new Intersect like a huge, tender bruise in Neal's brain. But Neal pushed it down with nothing but a gasp and they kept moving.
Covert had ended when Bryce opened Neal's cell, so they substituted brazen speed. There were guards in the stair well, stationed at each landing and more pouring in once the two of them showed up on the security cams. Neal and Bryce never slowed down.

The CIA trained Bryce. He did gymnastics at Stanford. He had the Intersect 2.0 in his head, fully loaded with martial arts skills from every corner of the globe. Neal detested fighting, despised guns, and scorned violence. He kept in shape by swimming at the gym. The Massive Dynamics Intersect held a treasury of scientific data and corporate secrets, but nothing on fighting.

But they were both made things and what they'd been made to do was this. Their training began when they were toddling across the créche floor. Nothing Bryce learned later matched the utter ruthlessness their trainers had drilled into them. Neal had gone through the same combat modules just two years later. He didn't flinch when he slammed a security guard's face into a metal step, then sent his unconscious body bowling down to knock into the team chasing after them like ten pins. He just ducked as Bryce's kick sent another body flipping over his head and down after his victim.

Bryce swept up a lost weapon and provided cover fire over Neal's head, slowing down the team working its way down from the floor above, the noise echoing in the stair well's confines, while Neal pulled the cover off the keypad to the secured fire door and deftly bypassed it. He went ahead of Neal to take out anyone left on the same floor while Neal sabotaged the door behind them so it couldn't be opened again without a plasma arc or explosives.

He didn't spend any effort trying to not kill anyone, but in the back of his mind, he knew he wasn't trying to either. Bryce chalked it up to Chuck's influence and now Neal's, but he wouldn't risk either of them being captured to spare anyone else, he swore silently. Neal felt differently. Neal was gentler than Bryce. Neal didn't want to kill anyone.

In his head, Neal observed, You don't either.

Bryce ignored him in favor of knocking out another guard with a spinning kick, then punching the next one, while Neal bypassed the security lock into the Intersect room.

Bryce jammed the door behind them, spun to put his back to the wall next it, scanning for the next threat, and froze. Everything was white. The windowless, low-ceilinged room occupied the center of the Massive Dynamics skyscraper. A mosaic of square screens and lights covered the walls, the floor and the ceiling. Someone at DARPA had fed Massive Dynamics everything they needed to recreate and expand on the Human Intersect Project and they had. The Wichita Group prototype had been a diversion, something to show the Defense Department or anyone inquiring where all the money and information was going. Nothing there had made Bryce flash back to stealing the Intersect the first time or bleeding out the second time, unable to close his eyes against downloading the Intersect 2.0 along with Chuck.

He'd died, when Casey shot him as a traitor, only to be revived. He'd been too close to know the difference between being saved or revived two years later when the Ring agents dragged him out of the room and Chuck's life once more. The result had been the same. He'd been a prisoner again.

The Ring's scientists and interrogators had done things to him that he wouldn't let himself think about awake.

One day they got careless, though, and Bryce had been ready. He didn't want to remember that either.

He wasn't going to be a prisoner again.

Beside him, Neal was shuddering, breath coming harsh and fast, reliving his own experience less than a day before.

Bryce flashed on the first Intersect's construction and forced himself to move forward. The critical portions of the control system would be in the flooring beneath the computer pedestal that held the cube. It was set behind the head of the gurney where they'd restrained Neal and forced their Intersect on him.

Neal shoved away from his place by the door and followed him, both of them focused again. His bare feet left bloody tracks over the white floor. Bryce kicked the gurney away and Neal knelt at the foot of the pedestal. The access plate was screwed down. Bryce had a set of picks on him, but nothing that fit the customized head on the sunken screws. He handed Neal the gun and reached into his jacket for the explosives he'd brought with him. They were neat little circles of magnetized metal with a digitized timer built in and contained a high yield explosive Bryce had used many times on CIA missions.

He placed the first one and set the timer, but didn't start it, while Neal shot neat holes into the plastic access plate and then used the butt of the weapon to smash it open. They switched places so that Bryce could set the rest of the explosives.

Neal went to the computer interface where the Massive Dynamics logo spun lazily on the screen. He flashed in a tumble of data and images immediately. Bryce flinched and jerked his gaze up to where Neal swayed, his eyelids fluttering over his blinded eyes. The information cascade spilled into the mesh, making Bryce's fingers fumble on the explosives until he let it take over, reseating several to maximize the damage according to the blueprints and wiring diagrams that unfurled behind his eyes.

The door they'd jammed shook on its hinges as security began trying to force it. The noise echoed through the nearly empty expanse of the Intersect white room.

Neal recovered and slashed his hand through the holographic keyboard. The screen flickered to a ubiquitous Authorized Personnel Access Only message. With a half smirk, Neal began typing, using the same password the lead scientist had used. Once he was in, Neal began writing a tailored virus, something he hadn't had the skills to manage before.

The irony that Massive Dynamics had provided the tools to destroy their Intersect by using it on Neal peeled Neal's lips back in a vicious smile, one that fit Bryce's face better.

Bryce finished setting his explosives and activated the timers. Neal completed the virus and let it loose in Massive Dynamics mainframe to seek out and destroy everything Intersect-related. His satisfaction reverberated along the mesh and Bryce grinned and reached over to swipe a lock of errant hair out of Neal's eyes.

They headed for the gurney and used it to reach the ceiling, shoving aside a tile set between another screen and one of the lights. They moved through the cramped space on knees and elbows when they could and wriggled through the tighter spaces when they couldn't. The building's architects had never intended for anyone to move through these areas, but Neal and Bryce contorted their way through without hesitation, ignoring the stuffy air and heat build-up.

The explosions in the Intersect room made their ears pop as it forced a wall of air through every opening. Dust choked them both in the aftermath, leaving Neal coughing and trying to curl around the pain in his chest from cracked ribs garnered during the fight up the stairs. Bryce pushed him forward brutally until he started moving on his own again.

Bryce kicked another ceiling tile loose and dropped into an empty office. Neal followed with a wince Bryce could feel in his own nerves. They were both sweating, but had their breath back before they reached the locked door, their footsteps silent on the carpeted floor as they filtered out the still blaring alarms and listened for the sound of movement outside.

Nothing moved and the fire suppressant gas had already been evacuated by the building's state of the art ventilation system.

Neal expertly opened the controls on each of the elevators and sent them to random floors. Bryce blew open the door into the emergency stair well and used another to wreck the stairs below, ducking to the side as the blast seared through the ruined door and blackened the wall opposite.

The freight elevator had been locked down at the basement level per protocol. The doors into the shaft were locked closed and it took Neal and Bryce both to lever them open. From there it was easy enough to use the emergency services ladder to work their way down, sliding down it at insane speeds and only using the steps and their feet to brake their descent enough to stay in control.

Both of them counted down the seconds in their heads until security caught up to their exit strategy, but they were still ahead of the response curve when they reached the roof of the freight elevator itself, and once they were on the ground floor, the rest of their escape was accomplished without hindrance.


They made their way out of Massive Dynamics by way of a loading dock. Bryce had stashed a pack with a suit, shirt, tie and shoes, along with ID and money, in a shadowed corner. No worries about any of it fitting, although Neal's objection to the quality made Bryce laugh silently. His c-sib had developed fancy tastes since they'd parted. Neal gave him a blinding smile as he put on the shoes, his fingers lingering for a moment on the ankle missing the tracking anklet, pressing the scab where it had been cut off.

He wiped as much blood as he could from his face with a pocket square from the suit jacket and Bryce cleaned himself up too. Their efforts were pitiful, but as long as they kept moving and acted all right, no one would pay them much notice.

From there, they kept their heads down and slipped through the shadows and the crowds, just separate enough no one would mark them as together and notice their identical faces, but close enough the mesh never wavered. Bryce jammed a watch cap over his sweat-matted hair and Neal wrapped a scarf around his neck and jaw. The wind gusting between the skyscrapers gave them both an excuse to turn their collars up and hunch over, obscuring their normal height and motion whenever they were inevitably caught here and there on one of the traffic or security cams that Argos-eyed the city's streets and buildings.

Neal took them to Lost Desire, one of Mozzie's safehouses, one Mozzie didn't know Neal had discovered years ago. The name, when Mozzie had mentioned it, had intrigued him, and besides, sometimes, Neal had followed Mozzie just for the fun of it, to keep in practice against a paranoid and watchful mark, and because it took a lot longer for Neal to trust Mozzie than he'd made out. He'd made a note of Lost Desire as a last resort afterward and said nothing to Mozzie about it again.

The safehouse existed in the basement beneath a porno theater converted from the once luxurious Palace Cinema. The lights inside weren't bright enough to pick out the fading gilt or the murals on the plaster walls, but Mozzie had named it for its history anyway. It made an excellent cover for the safehouse, since no one wanted to be recognized coming in or out. It was easy enough to come and go to the schedule of films beginning and ending, anonymous among the other perverts, and the porn itself just ugly enough no one would ever look for Neal Caffrey there.

It wasn't Bryce's sort of place either, except to rendezvous with a contact possibly, since he'd never had a problem finding someone to seduce for sex. He didn't take any pride in that. He had the training and he had the right genetics to attract partners. Neal's emotions slid over his, insisting sex could be more than exchanging fluids and orgasms, but Neal's memories of pragmatically paying his way with his smile and his body more than once were undeniable as well, weakening his argument.

Lost Desire earned its name thanks to its placement beneath one of the theater's speakers. It meant any noise in the two cramped, windowless rooms was obscured, but filled them with a non-stop soundtrack of gasps, groans, squeals, bad music and worse dialogue. No one could want sex after listening to that for long. It had no wiring or plumbing to give its existence away either: Mozzie had stocked it with a chemical toilet, bottled water, canned goods, a camp heater and battery lanterns. The carefully concealed door was hidden behind seventy years of junk, the dust on the floor undisturbed because Neal and Bryce picked their way over the top of the junk like two cats, using only a tiny penlight to see.

The rooms smelled like mice, but they were dry and secure and Mozzie had stashed a treasure trove of electronics, Russian surplus weapons and tech, books, and medical supplies in the first one and had an extra-large air mattress along with enough blankets and pillows to make a pasha proud in the other.

The outer room had a small table and rickety straight chair as well. They took turns sitting in it while cleaning each other up. Neal had a bloody lip and a cut over one eyebrow, both garnered before their escape, his feet were cut open and two of his ribs were cracked. Both of them had bruised knuckles and their palms and fingers were scraped raw. The contusion on Bryce's cheekbone had split and scabbed over and he had a bruise on his hip from landing on it as he hit the floor at one point.

He leaned his good side against the table as he used gauze and bottled water to dab the blood off Neal's face, looking into Neal's wide, wide eyes as he worked, his own touch feeding back to him through the mesh, gentling before he could make Neal flinch. Neal's hand found his waist and steadied Bryce unconsciously. Even though they both knew each move they were making, they couldn't close their eyes. Seeing grounded them and kept them from sinking too deep in the mesh.

The dirty gauze fluttered forgotten to the floor.

His fingertips caught against Neal's stubble, the same rasp he felt when he ran his hands over his own cheeks. Neal's hair slipped through his hands with the same texture as his own. Neal's breath puffed warm and alive against the inside of Bryce's wrists and tears prickled hot in his eyes. Neal's hand stroked along his side, as absently comforting as if he'd been rubbing the hurt of the bruise himself.

The noise that Neal made was the same one that dragged itself from Bryce's chest when he woke from a nightmare.

Bryce balanced himself, one hand on Neal's sharp-boned shoulder, and Neal moaned and rocked forward, resting his forehead against Bryce's sternum. They were clutching at each other now they had the chance, still wordless. The chair screeched across the floor and the table rocked, then Neal was on his feet and they moved awkwardly to the other room, where they could fall down on the air mattress and curl around each other as if they were still the children they'd never really been.

Sixteen years since Bryce and the rest of Batch One had led the break out on Christmas Eve. Sixteen years of different experiences and two different computer programs loaded into their brains had made them too different to ever completely match up again and all the places they didn't fit felt wrong and raw, but Bryce knew it had been worth it. Neal's agreement absolved the guilt he'd held onto since that night.

Batch Three had been slated to begin the next training module with the new year. All of them knew what it felt like, but they were fracturing under the stress of experiencing it as individuals. Every trauma fed back into the mesh and poisoned it a little more. Every mission run by Batch One warped all of them further. The scientists might have glimpsed in part what the mesh was, but the higher-ups running Litchfield hadn't cared for anything but results. The only chance for sane survival had been escape and separation. They'd had to get out before they were completely destroyed.

The mourning had never ended. It had been a kind of suicide. They'd ripped themselves into pieces of something once whole that night, still in shock, still bleeding inside where Erica and Alec, Felix and Oliver had been, and they'd all run. The crippling wounds had never healed – not completely.

They weren't one mind in two bodies, the way once – in a paradise lost the first time Batch One was separated from the reach of the mesh – they'd been the one-that-was-every-one. They'd never been that again after the first break. It didn't ache so much as it had, not even as much as Bryce had anticipated when he imagined finding any of the others again. They'd each been individuals too long to want to give themselves up utterly. Instead, the incomplete mesh offered a closeness no unaltered human beings had ever had.

Bryce and Neal would have felt bad for all the others outside the mesh, if they hadn't felt the void swallowing all their c-sibs one by one over the last years. Both of them considered the bad the equal of the good. They both knew enough to take every bit of good there was while they could.

Neal ghosted his palms over Bryce's face.

Bryce fitted himself so close he could feel the lift of Neal's chest with each breath he took.

Neal pressed his hand over the scar on Bryce's chest from Casey's bullet. He shuddered with Bryce's memory of returning to half-consciousness, disoriented and a captive in the hands of Fulcrum and later the Ring. Bryce gasped and pressed his face into the crook of Neal's neck and let himself shake. Fire bloomed behind his back and Neal hit the tarmac, turning and screaming and fighting Peter Burke's hold as Kate was torn from him mind and body, flesh and mesh, in the instant of the bomb went off.

No one had touched Bryce to comfort him over anything after his c-sibs except Chuck (Sarah had offered sex and first-aid, but didn't know how to comfort any better than Bryce did) and he'd had to ruin that too. He'd never forgiven himself. Neal hated himself for failing to anticipate Fowler and Adler.

Neal held onto him, feeling it all, knowing everything in Bryce, and accepting it. Bryce clutched at Neal's shirt with one hand and traced over Neal's throat with his other. The flutter of his pulse under the skin beat fast and as desperate as Bryce's. Not alone, not alone, not alone again, they thought together, and wrapped themselves as close to each other as flesh could fit, until exhaustion claimed them both.

They dreamed the same dreams.


Awake again, the mesh had tightened, tied them together in a different way than it once had. Bryce knew finding any of the others wouldn't be the same. None of the others had an Intersect in their brain. Meshing would be an exercise in not fitting any longer. It would never, ever be the same. They were, even with the mesh, so very alone now. No matter if they were ever loved by anyone else, they would never know it the way they all had once been together as one.

It had been that way for years, but they were both faced with the uncompromising truth now. It ripped open all the old scars. It wasn't human, the connection every c-sib felt: they were other, separated from humans by a gulf normals bridged every day, effortlessly, a gulf that didn't even exist with each other. Once, they'd all been one, but now Bryce and Neal were just two. By their own standards, ones no unmodified humans could grasp, they were cripples, amputated from a whole that no longer existed, warped out of true by the Intersect even if they were ever reunited with another c-sib. They had to face that now, while they had this one small lull.

They were both too good at compartmentalizing; survival always took first place. Neal still hadn't dealt with what having the Intersect would mean. Understanding hit like a tsunami: he'd lost everything again. The pain flooded through the mesh and hit Bryce too.

Neal dashed tears from the corners of his eyes, then buried his face in a red, crushed-velvet pillow. Bryce blinked fast and made himself breathe slowly, in and out, until he had some control back too. He edged closer to Neal helplessly and Neal's tense shoulders relaxed at the contact.

Wordless, they both knew they would still try to mesh until their c-sibs were forced to reject them, if they ever found any others. It was an instinct, a reflex as deeply part of them as their heartbeat. But in a real way, Neal was all Bryce had and he was the only one who could fit with Neal's mind now; without each other there would be no one to hold the solitude of life locked in their own minds alone at bay.

Neither of them were quite ready to face the question of 'what now?' Bryce's first instinct was to run. So was Neal's. Even with the same face, he and Neal had all the skills they needed to disappear and live comfortably the rest of their lives. He had the funds he'd funneled out of the Wichita Group and Neal had caches and accounts that the FBI had never uncovered.

Beside him, Neal snorted and Bryce let his mouth curl into a smile. They were the same in so many ways, even with all the years separating them. Stealing that money had been something Neal would have done.

Neal's breathing hitched and Bryce's body flinched in synch as Neal's mind flailed and tried to disengage from the mesh. Bryce whiplashed between recoiling himself, because he never wanted to force the connection between them, and tangling himself as tight to Neal as he could, so he could know why.

His confused desperation called Neal back into the mesh, though, before Bryce could complete any reaction and he felt the tremors shaking Neal's body against Neal's will.

Bryce wrapped his arms around Neal and tried to ground the shakes out. He was trembling himself. He wouldn't lose Neal now. He wouldn't, he refused, there had to be some way.

Despair opened a hole inside him, freezing emptiness worse than the first split from the mesh. The hollow Neal would leave would be more than he could endure.

The rustle and whisper of the throws and pillows as Neal twisted around only vaguely reached him. Neal's hands, Neal's still trembling hands, gently opening up Bryce's clenched fists before stroking up his arms and over his shoulders, filled up some of the yawning emptiness. A palm against the nape of his neck, guiding Bryce to hide his face against Neal's neck warmed away the terrible cold. Even so, he felt strung out and only balanced precariously; one wrong breath would wreck him.

It rushed through the mesh and if Neal hadn't already known how ruined Bryce already was, he did now. The last time in the Ring's hands had left him as fragile as a papier-mâché man. He'd been too battered to return to the CIA, more affected by the brainwashing attempts than he'd admitted to himself until this moment, unable to even turn to Chuck, who he trusted, when he'd finally escaped.

He'd hidden until he couldn't stand it any more and then looked for something to do with himself. Finding the man who had run Litchfield had seemed like a good idea, one that would keep him away from Burbank and the lives his friends had made without him. He had kept tabs, but that was it. Anything else would have been just masochism and selfishness. Chuck had Sarah and she had already chosen him. Bryce didn't have any place with either of them any longer.

Forcing himself to call Chuck the night before had been harder than he would have ever believed and he'd only done it for Neal.

Finding Neal had healed more wounds than Bryce had known he had, but that only made a future in which he lost Neal worse.

Neal pulled him closer. Bryce breathed wetly against his neck until Neal's calm settled through them both, very different from the tight control Bryce had always kept on his emotions. Neal's hand combed through Bryce's hair, comforting and absent, apologizing for what wasn't his fault with his touch. Bryce soaked it all up and gave as much back as he could before pulling himself together and starting to plan again.

He refused to give up now.


They sat together, side to side, pressed close from knee to hip and elbow to shoulder, propped against the wall in a nest of Mozzie's pillows and throw blankets. It felt surprisingly cozy. Neal hadn't gone to college, but he'd gathered glimpses from Bryce's memories of his first three years at Stanford. He'd passed out in the same bed as his roommate after a frat party more than once; even waking up with a hangover it had been comforting. This reminded Bryce of that halcyon period in his life. Neal wished Bryce still had Chuck. Maybe he could introduce him to Mozzie, so that neither of them would be alone.

They could lie and tell Mozzie Bryce was Neal's twin.

Or Bryce could pretend to be him. He could have Neal's life. It wasn't perfect, limited by the two-mile radius and the suspicion sucked, but it had June and Peter and Elizabeth and Diana and Jones along with Mozzie. Bryce needed someone to care about him.

"We can stay together," Bryce said. His voice sounded strange. They hadn't spoken out loud once since Bryce opened Neal's cell door. They hadn't needed to and didn't now. Bryce was trying to make Neal believe when he could feel that Neal didn't.

Neal held out his hands and let Bryce see how they shook.

"No," Bryce insisted. "No. I can't – It should be me. Neal." Don't leave me alone now I remember what it is to not be, Neal heard through the mesh. Bryce caught his hands and pulled them close, his fingers steady around Neal's, trying to ground out the tremors.

"Bryce," Neal whispered. He was so tired. It didn't hurt yet, but oh, it would soon. Their creators had told them what would happen to them eventually, the flaw in all their genes.

"We'll disappear. We'll find a way, we'll – the Intersect, yours, there must be something on Litchfield in it. I'll find Jones this time. I'll make him fix this. There has to be a way." The helplessness creeping through Bryce made Neal ache. He turned his hands in Bryce's and threaded their fingers together, pressed palm to palm, pilgrim's kiss.

He'd stay as long as his body let him, he promised silently, no matter how bad it became.

Bryce twisted and knelt facing Neal. Neal met his eyes. Knowing he would leave Bryce alone the way Kate's death left him tore his heart out.

"Say you haven't given up," Bryce demanded in a hoarse voice. "If you give up, Neal, you're giving up on me too."

Neal closed his eyes. "Bryce."


I promise.

Neal was the better liar, even with the mesh binding them together, but the key was always to believe the words, to be the persona, so he let himself inhabit the role for the breath it took to reassure Bryce and take that terrible look away from his eyes. He dipped his head forward and they rested temple against temple, hiding from their own faces.

"We'll disappear," Bryce murmured, "we'll find the answer and we'll disappear together. We'll find Val and Sasha and Zane and all be together... "

Neal nodded and let his head sink down onto Bryce's shoulder, smiling and believing the fantasy for Bryce's sake.

Part Five

Tell me doctor can you quantify
He just wants to know the reason why
Imitosis :: Andrew Bird

Calls in the middle of the night were not uncommon, even working White Collar, and Peter woke up fast out of habit, cataloging that he was in a hotel room, remembering he was in Boston, and reaching for his phone at the same time. The room was cold and he hunched down under the blankets, missing Elizabeth's curvy warmth, at the same time he checked the phone. It was Diana.

"Burke," he answered, still hoarse with sleep.

Diana, at least, didn't beat around the bush or give a half answer that left you more frightened of the possible disasters you thought up than the truth.

"A bomb went off on the eleventh floor of the Massive Dynamics tower half an hour ago."

Peter had spent until after midnight fighting to get a warrant to go in there to no avail after Larkin's call to Bartowski told them Neal was there. Too bad he couldn't wave this result in the face of the judges who had refused to sign off on one.

"It's a shitfest down here, boss," Diana said. Her voice was tight. He'd told her they had a tip Neal was being held by Massive Dynamics, though not why. "We're working on getting security recordings, but no one can agree on who's in charge and – "

"Massive Dynamics is fighting tooth and nail to keep everyone out," Peter interrupted. His beard rasped loudly in the silence of his hotel room when he scrubbed his hand over it. No more sleep for him tonight. He flipped on the light next to the bed. A list of things he'd need to do had already begun spooling through his head.

"Yeah, and they're winning."

"Deaths?" he asked reluctantly. Diana didn't answer and Peter thought his heart stuttered in the silence. Don't tell me Neal. Don't tell me Larkin. Damn it, he didn't want to see another dead body that looked like Neal, not when he knew the man had been alive only hours ago. Not when he'd seen the way Bartowski's long face had lit up when he'd said of Bryce Larkin, "Casey, he's alive."

Casey had just muttered, "I'm trying to figure out how to fix that," but his shoulders had slumped for a microsecond before he'd shaken his head in admiration, adding, "Larkin. I should've known."

The rogue spy – clone, Peter couldn't help correcting himself and twitching – had blown up part of a building in Manhattan as well as killing a man – shapeshifter – probably in self-defense from the forensics reports Cambridge PD had eventually turned over. Larkin was a loose cannon, but Peter had always liked smart, and anyone who could cheat death as many times as Larkin had done had to be tough and smart.

"Security guard went down a stair well, broke his neck," Diana said finally. "So far everyone seems to be accounted for except Caffrey and Larkin. They're being too closed-mouthed over whatever was blown up to know for sure. Nina Sharp was blowing a gasket at her security chief, though."

The cover-up would begin soon, Peter thought darkly, with the connections Massive Dynamics had. Half the military-industrial complex – he could see Mozzie making hand quotes as he added and 'Big Oil' – contracted with Massive Dynamics for something. Right now, Nina Sharp would be busy as a spider at the center of a web, pulling every string she had.

He pushed the blankets back and got up. Diana couldn't see, but he was happy he had on his boxers and a t-shirt anyway. Anything less wouldn't have felt proper. (Neal would have laughed at that, which made Peter wonder if he'd ever talked to Neal on the phone while he was naked. He rubbed his chest, trying to ease the ache there. Neal would have thought that was funny too.)

"No sign of Neal?"


Maybe they got out. Larkin almost certainly set off whatever caused the explosion, so he wouldn't have been caught in it. According to Bartowski, Larkin had been intent on getting Neal out; anything else had dropped to secondary importance. So he wouldn't have let Neal get caught in it, either. But he'd only made that call to Bartowski to alert them in case he failed. Would he call again if he'd succeeded or was silence the only answer?

If Neal could, he'd contact Peter. Or Mozzie. Neal was never needlessly cruel. He wouldn't leave them hanging, wondering if he was all right. So if he didn't... He couldn't. Peter put the thought, and all its corollaries, out of his mind.

"Keep me updated," he ordered. "I'm going to call Hughes." And Agent Broyles. Peter would bet the head of Fringe Division knew more than he did, but it was still polite, and he was floundering. This wasn't a financial investigation or even a high-tech art theft, it was weirdness and espionage. The Fringe team and the spooks had a better handle on whatever was happening than he did. He needed to stay on their good side to keep himself on the inside of their investigations.

"I'm on it," Diana assured him before ending the call.

Peter took five minutes to splash his face with cold water and brush his teeth, thinking of explosions and Neal's bad history with them while he did that, before calling Reese Hughes. It was three-fourteen a.m. It was going to be a long day.


He'd been right.

Peter wanted to be home, rescuing his dinner from his dog, sleeping beside his wife, complaining when Neal invited himself to breakfast and chortling when they put their heads together and out-thought some Wall Street raider turned crook. He did not want to be in the basement of the Kresge building, watching while Walter Bishop conducted another autopsy on another corpse that looked like his friend. The fact that Agent Bartowski went white when he realized there were three corpses in the lab with them made Peter feel marginally better, but only marginally.

Peter scrubbed at his face. Bartowski and Neal had something in common: they were essentially drafted for their abilities, they never wanted to play hero for the government. He couldn't ignore the crimes Neal had committed, but if the clone story was true, Neal had been used from birth. How did anyone survive that and not go bad? God, he hated this whole mess, it screwed with his entire belief system. Every time someone from Fringe division opened their mouth, reality rocked on its axis. He didn't know what to think any longer about anything, including Neal. The idea of a bunch of genetically-engineered soldier-spies raised from childhood came out of a bad science fiction movie. Peter never liked those, either. Something in him felt revolted by the very thought. He wasn't a religious man, but all of it, the clones, the science, the sheer hubris, seemed sacrilegious. Neal being one of them seemed so ridiculous, but then there was Bryce Larkin, and everything he'd heard about that clone fit the scenario.

The addition of the spooks to the case had peeved him yesterday. He still wasn't happy about it, but admitted they had as a strong a reason to be involved as he did. NSA and CIA operations had more pull than the FBI's New York White Collar unit, though not, it appeared, as much as Fringe Division – DHS was a monster – or Massive Dynamics. So, while Colonel Casey and Agent Walker displayed the same patronizing attitude Peter had observed from other intelligence operatives, he'd happily make use of their resources. Bartowski, who muttered about mostly being an analyst, was the only one of the three who didn't put Peter's hackles up at least once. Bartowski pinged him too, but only because he didn't fit the mold of intelligence assets at all – he was involved because of the Intersect, not a desire to be a spy. Of course, the gangly, goofy, good-hearted front could be an act. Peter reminded himself to keep that in mind.

He had to re-evaluate them now, though.

Up until both Bishops had whipped a sheet off another dead body, Bartowski – or Carmichael or whatever his real name was – had been gleefully following all of Walter Bishop's talk, even the frankly insane tangents. He'd taken one look at the corpse's face and paled, swayed, and swallowed hard. Peter had wondered if he was going to faint. Walker had clamped onto his arm and blurted in a pained voice, "Bryce? My God, he looks exactly like Bryce."

"This is awful," Bartowski whispered. He'd gone sweaty and green. Walker didn't look much better off. "This absolutely the worst thing yet."

Colonel Casey looked down at the body almost expressionlessly. "If you faint, I'm not catching you, Bartowski," he said. "It ain't Larkin. Besides, you talked to him. You know he's alive. He's like some kind of bad penny."

"It looks like him," Walker murmured in distress. "If I don't remember – "

"This one's missing Larkin's bullet holes. Get over it, Walker."

She glared at Casey. "Bryce didn't have any bullet scars."

"You're five years out of date, Walker. He does now."

Bartowski blinked and peered at the dead man's bare, unmarked chest. "He had one from Casey shooting him, Sarah. We all saw it three years ago, after Casey tried to shoot him again."

"And he'll have another one from where that Ring operative gut shot him," Casey finished. "He should've kept wearing that vest."

Walter was peering at Walker. "Are you having memory problems, my dear? I have an EEG here, my own design, that might provide some answers – "

Walter Bishop made Peter long for Mozzie, whose conspiracy theory rants were at least internally consistent. The worst thing about Walter Bishop was that all the craziness he spouted turned out to really exist. And yet the man tried to be helpful, even kind. Farnsworth and Dunham seemed fond of him, even Lee tolerated him in good humor. Peter couldn't read the relationship between Walter Bishop and Peter Bishop, though. It was father-and-son, but there was a tension to it that didn't match. He still wasn't sure Peter Bishop was Walter's son.

"We already know what the problem is," Bartowski said in a tight, repressive tone unlike his normal attitude.

"I'm going to get some air," Walker snapped and left.

Unconcerned, Casey just shrugged. "Larkin doesn't blow things up for no reason."

Peter felt that no reason was good enough for blowing anything up. He wondered, though, if Larkin would consider Neal's death reason enough. As if he hadn't been worried enough already.

They'd held off on warning Massive Dynamics about the breach, even after Larkin called Bartowski, and now that had turned around and bit them. A story had been put out to the media about an electrical fire and some volatile chemicals in a research lab – Massive Dynamics' publication relations director looked harried and unhappy on a sound bite running every half hour on CNN – soothing the public's worry about terrorism, but unofficially word had spread through law enforcement that the Bureau had been trying to get search warrants, which didn't gibe.

No one had seen or heard anything from Larkin or Neal.

Peter snatched his phone out as soon as it sounded.

"Diana. Tell me you've got something."

"I'm sending you seventy-eight seconds off a camera in the eleventh floor stair well," Diana replied. "Check your email."

The eleventh floor had been the site of the explosion.

"What is it?"

"Jones and I think it's Neal and Larkin, but the quality's for shit. Maybe someone where you are can clean it up."

"How'd you get it?"

She laughed. "Don't ask, boss, you don't want to know."

She'd run one of Neal's scams, in other words.

"Good work." He meant it. Diana and Jones were both giving more and doing more than their jobs called for while Peter wasn't there to lead them.

He cornered Agent Farnsworth and they pulled the file Diana had sent from his email and played it on a monitor where everyone could watch. Farnsworth, contrary to her insistence that she couldn't work magic, did something that turned the blurred images into a sharp, detailed picture. Casey called Walker back in from wherever she'd gone to sulk and everyone gathered to watch the file play.

The flickering, red-lit ballet of violence belonged in a John Woo film, Peter thought, not real life. The quality of the recording didn't show enough detail to tell Neal from Larkin. Or maybe they were that close. They never looked at or spoke to each other as far as he could see, but each knew exactly where the other was and they moved like dancers, always to the same beat. Skill and training shaping every action and reaction.

"Whoa," Bishop muttered.

"And I thought you and Bryce were amazing together," Bartowski murmured to Walker. "That's unbelievable."

The clip blanked out in a fuzz of white static. Agent Farnsworth started it again.

"God, they're fast," Lee said.

Peter had always known Neal was fast – he'd literally outrun many a pursuit – and his slim body had to be preternaturally flexible to manage some of the thefts he'd pulled off. He'd never had any clue Neal could fight, though, and he winced as Neal smashed a man's face against a steel stair riser with reflexive expertise. He only knew it was Neal because Neal still had on the vest from the last time Peter had seen him. Larkin still had on a dark jacket and... shoes. They'd taken Neal's shoes; somehow that infuriated Peter. Nothing else distinguished Neal from Larkin as they fought and that disturbed him so deeply he didn't know how to deal with it.

"Replay it," Casey said.

Farnsworth complied.

Casey was cataloging how Larkin and Neal fought together, Peter realized, in case he had to fight them. He clenched his hands into fists. Casey was just doing his job, while Peter still couldn't take any of it in. He'd never conceived Neal had this level of violence in him, even after seeing Neal use a gun. Neal seemed to dislike it so.

Of course, you didn't have to like something to be good at it. He knew that. But to be so good at it... He'd told Neal he wasn't a killer while Neal held a gun on Garrett Fowler. Neal must have been laughing inside at that, Peter reflected, and a seething anger lit in his belly.

It was just another lie Neal had told him. God damn him.

"Do you think they got out?" Bartowski asked.

Casey gave him a scornful look. "It's Larkin."

"Right, right, you've shot him point-blank and he's come back, but – "

Peter wasn't the only one who sent sharp looks Casey and Bartowski's way.

"Chuck, come here," Walker said and dragged him away. She led Bartowski over to the side of the lab, where they had a low-voiced, but surprisingly emotional argument. It was the sight of her hand on his arm that caught Peter's eye. She had a on a wedding ring, one that matched Bartowski's. He felt like an unobservant idiot. They were married. He'd noticed Bartowski mooning over her the day before, but Walker seemed stand-offish with everyone. Maybe it was a spook thing.

"Looks like Larkin took care of our Intersect problem," Casey observed. He sounded approving. "Should have used more explosives, though."

"Apparently, Agent Larkin used just enough explosives to destroy the Intersect without destabilizing the building's structure," Agent Broyles announced from the door to the lab. "The military Explosive Ordinance experts brought in are impressed."

Peter swung around and gaped, unsure which of the two women with Broyles bothered him more: the red-haired version of Olivia Dunham smirking at everyone or the paper-pale version of Kate Moreau leaning on a cane. He'd seen Kate Moreau blown up. That was not her. Jesus. Jesus fucking Christ. It was all true. Peter had accepted it, but until this moment he hadn't believed, not down in his bones. Looking at her double sent a frisson of dread through him. Neal was – once – one of many, made to do just what the video clip had shown him doing.

A cold frisson ran down his spine. How many times could Neal have snapped and killed him?

"Agents, Colonel," Broyles said. "The counterpart Fringe Division doesn't believe either Agent Larkin or Mr. Caffrey are from their universe. They've sent two of their assets to assure us of that." His always solemn face gave away no clue whether he believed that or not.

How the hell did he just accept all this, Peter wondered? Was his mind the only one so inflexible he had to struggle with the idea of parallel universes being real and accessible? The only one who thought creating biological, sentient weapons was an abomination? The only one who objected to the idea of being fooled by Neal or Larkin for years?

"We checked it out," the red-haired woman announced. "While we didn't have a Litchfield Experiment, we did have – "

Peter squeezed his eyes shut, but when he opened them he was still in the damned Twilight Zone. He honestly fucking hated this. Dealing with Neal's 'outside-the-box' capers shook up his morals enough, he didn't need his entire worldview revamped.

Apparently, no one ever asked you if you did. At this point, he supposed he was just waiting for the rains of blood and frogs. According to Fringe Division, they'd start in about ten years. Peter clenched his hands into fists and concentrated on breathing evenly. If everyone else could take it in stride, he could at least fake it.

He would never mock Mozzie again.

Peter wanted to slam Neal up against a wall and punch him for dragging him into this. Usually he just wanted to shake him until the truth fell out, but he didn't think Neal could even distinguish the truth from all the lies.

"Project Thebes," the Kate look-alike said. She even sounded like Kate Moreau, light and almost breathless, but if Kate had been cold the only times Peter encountered her, this woman was deep-frozen. Sharks showed more emotion. Peter could pick out differences from Kate now: this woman was thinner and bruised around those huge blue eyes (how had he never seen that Kate and Neal had the same eyes?), her black hair cut choppily short and her posture rounded, sloped to the side using the cane to support her. She was dressed in baggy, camo cargo pants that Kate Moreau probably would have died rather than been seen in, a long-sleeved black t-shirt, and a black beret. He hated her too.

Peter cringed when he thought that. Did he really hate Neal? Right this minute, he didn't know.

The look-alike had the same clothes the red-headed Dunham wore, with the exception of Dunham having switched the beret for a leather jacket. A patch sewn on the shoulders of the Kate-alike's shirt showed back-to-back Fs on a white shield. Peter blinked and realized the women were wearing uniforms, either personalized or amended enough they wouldn't draw attention in the civilian world.

Colonel Casey shifted to where he could cover Bartowski if either woman made a move toward him. Walker did too, confirming what Peter had suspected since the briefing: Bartowski was considerably more important than just another analyst turned field agent. Walker seemed a little out of synch, but Casey had Bartowski-minding down to an art, even if he didn't miss an opportunity to insult the man.

From his place, Peter could listen to the whispered exchange between the three spooks without really trying and keep track of everyone else. He kept quiet himself. He needed to talk to Elizabeth and get her calm point of view so he could figure out how to deal with the revelations that kept bringing him up short. Screw classification too, Elizabeth was part of this: Peter had brought Neal, whatever the hell he was, into their home. He'd trusted Neal with her life.

"Parallel universes...," Bartowski breathed. He sounded amazed and thrilled. "That is so cool, man."

"Doubles," Casey growled. "I hate doubles. I hate stupid science experiment weirdness, box stores, doubles, and listening to you say anything is cool."

Peter experienced a moment of pure fellow-feeling with Casey.

"Can we just hear what they have to say?" Walker interrupted them both, looking deeply annoyed. She shrugged away Bartowski's hand from her shoulders, crossed her arms, and glared.

"Sarah, can't you just be happy Bryce is alive?"

"No, Chuck, I can't," she hissed. "I didn't know he was dead and then you told me he was a rogue, but that was just to get the Intersect away from Fulcrum, then he was dead, but not, except no, he got killed again and we did nothing, only, hey, presto, look he's alive again, only he's some kind of super soldier science experiment. So excuse me if I'm a little upset that the man I was – that I was partners with – is whatever he is. And I can't remember any of it thanks to Quinn and the Intersect. So I'm not. I'm not not-thrilled, but I'm not happy either."

Peter did his best to make out that he hadn't heard that, because that level of personal wasn't something anyone wanted to share with a relative stranger. He felt for Walker, though at the same time he felt better that someone at least was having as hard a time with what they'd been told as he was. Schadenfreude. Neal would call him on it, if he'd been here. Peter rolled his shoulders, trying to loosen the muscles that always ached from his shoulder holster. Neal. Christ. His lips quirked into a secretive smile for a brief second as he imagined El patting his arm and telling him at least he hadn't slept with Neal.

Walker and Bartowski had it worse, he guessed. Larkin had sown as much chaos in his wake as Neal had.

"Oh, suck it up, Walker," Casey told her.

"Well, I'm happy," Bartowski insisted. "I just wish he'd call again."

Dunham's double went on, "Project Thebes was shut down ten years ago on our side, just after we ambered Waterbury. There are two other still living clones working as Lookers for Fringe Division's Boston office. This is – "

"Seventeen." Flat delivery, but the Kate-alike kept speaking over the other woman deliberately. Peter wondered what a Looker was. Amber he remembered from the read-in on the parallel universe the day before. They deployed the gas-to-instant-solid material to stabilize rift zones. The Fringe Division over there acted as a paramilitary fast reaction force as much as investigators – weird as it all was, Peter had no problems understanding how they worked and remembering the terminology. No one had mentioned Lookers.

Redhead gave the Kate-alike a narrow-eyed glare, but sounded almost mirthful, "We call her Ruth."

"Charming," Bishop muttered.

'Ruth' unsteadily made her way further into the lab, using her cane to keep her balance and stopping once as a wave of tremors shook her body. The Other Agent Dunham – Peter decided he'd call her Red – strutted over to the autopsy table, hands tucked in her jacket's pockets and glanced down at the body. Peter stayed where he was; he was not looking at the body again.

"Ruth doesn't travel well. None of them do once the shakes set in. Stress makes them worse," Red said. "Find anything interesting, Walter?"

Walter glanced up, gloved hands still forearm deep in the third corpse's body cavity, and commented, "It's you again. I suppose you want more of my candy."

"I promised Astrid I'd smuggle in some more real coffee with me, too."

Lee said quietly, "Astrid – "

"I'll make sure we send a couple of pounds of the good stuff," Farnsworth promised quietly.

Peter rocked back on his heels and put some things together. Over There didn't have coffee or at least cheap access to it. They had infrastructure, they were further advanced than this universe technologically, so that meant the problem was ecological. The Blight Broyles had mentioned in the briefing. All their problems stemmed from the breach between universes, which originated on Peter's side. Not a pretty picture. Not surprising they'd basically been at war, albeit covertly, until recently.

Not like he'd been about to trust anyone who looked like Kate Moreau anyway, but it would be a good idea to keep a weather eye on the redheaded Olivia too.

"Hmmph," Walter said to her. "I see you brought me a live specimen."

Ruth braced herself against the edge of the autopsy table. "This looks like a series Five."

Walter blinked at her. "Hello, my dear. I believe I have something that may help you. It's untested and experimental, but I assure you there should be no side effects. Although you may experience a small buzzing in your ears." He leaned over the corpse and confided, "I consider that a feature, not a bug."

Peter caught Lincoln Lee watching them too. Good, he wasn't the only one with a little caution in this insane asylum.

Ruth turned to Red. "You would have to authorize it."

"Why not?" Red shrugged. "Just because we don't have the resources to work on the shakes doesn't mean I'd keep you from a cure."

"Yes," Ruth said to Walter. "I would like to try your cure."

"Marvelous," Walter declared. "Oh, it's not a cure. Not yet. No, this is a better version of the drug Mr. Caffrey was using. It should help the symptoms, though. – Does anyone feel peckish? I feel peckish."

Peter shuddered. How the man could think about food while working on a corpse confounded him.

"Walter," Bishop said affectionately, "maybe after you finish the autopsy?"

"Nonsense. This man won't mind if we take a break. He's not going anywhere, Peter. He's dead. And Fake Olivia will steal all my red jelly beans if we don't feed her."


The thing in his head, the Intersect, made his condition worse. Neal had estimated he had months more and now it felt like he might have only a week or two. Everything kept pushing his system past its limits; his emotions, tasers, drugs, fighting, the gestalt of everything Massive Dynamics knew, even meshing.

He didn't regret the mesh at all.

Time, always so precious, was running through his fingers like water now.

Mozzie had taught him the rules, but that had been when Neal had been running. Now he wanted to stand still.

He wanted to say good-bye.

Bryce sat up and eyed him. Neal stayed where he was while Bryce padded barefoot into the other room. He listened to the little sounds of Bryce cleaning up and dressing before he came back with fresh clothes for Neal.

"Mozzie," Neal whispered when Bryce held up the dry-cleaner plastic covered suit, already dressed in something similar. Both suits were Neal's, custom tailored in Milan seven years before, and still in timeless fashion. Mozzie had never revealed Lost Desire to Neal, but he'd laid in everything Neal would need if Mozzie ever did bring him there.

He washed up and dressed carefully. His hands had stopped shaking for the moment, but he felt light-headed and heavy-limbed at the same time, a treacherous exhaustion tugging at him, dulling his appetite and his concentration. Bryce made him eat anyway; Neal knew Bryce would hand feed him if he didn't pick up a fork and empty his plate.

Bryce could be annoying when he thought he knew best and he always thought that. All of Batch One were like that.

A huff of laughter made Neal raise his gaze and meet its match. He smiled despite himself and cocked an eyebrow at Bryce. He knew how he looked, he'd studied himself in a mirror enough times, perfecting every expression, but in the dark charcoal suit, dark shirt and narrow silk tie with the single silvery stripe that gleamed like a trout's scales, Bryce made Neal's breath catch. He didn't look like that, did he? Neal reached out and flipped a long lock of hair out of Bryce's eyes – Neal hadn't realized how young longer hair must have made him look before he'd had his trimmed to a slightly more FBI-acceptable length.

Bryce began humming and Neal burst into euphoric laughter, mouthing, "You're so vain," along with him. Peter always accused Neal of vanity too, while Mozzie accepted it – you took care of your tools and Neal's face was one of his.

They cleaned up, because it was only good manners – who knew when Mozzie might need the safehouse himself? – and left in time to exit the theater with the other furtive businessmen heading back to work after the noontime showing. Neal brushed dust from the dove-gray arm of his jacket and wondered if porn theaters weren't destined to disappear like vaudeville. Why go out to see spank shows when you could get it all in the safety of your bedroom with a wireless connection and a laptop?

It was the sort of aimless speculation Neal always used to distract himself.

It was raining again, which gave them a good excuse to half hide under dark umbrellas, heads ducked. The only real difficulty they had was not moving too much in time with each other and drawing attention.

Neal lifted a cellphone along the way and tapped in the first of Mozzie's numbers from memory.

"Yes?" Mozzie answered. Suspicion rang through his voice and Neal knew he'd dispose of the burner phone as soon as they finished the call. Neal would wipe the stolen phone down and toss it where some other enterprising thief would find it and add a slew of other, obscuring calls to its history.

Some days Neal found Mozzie's paranoia annoying. Some days he found it amusing. Today, he supposed, he understood the necessity. If Mozzie didn't reply with the right code phrase, Neal would know Mozzie was compromised and he couldn't turn to him again. If so, this would be their only good-bye.

"Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas." Happy is he who has been able to penetrate into the causes of things. Mozzie always liked the Virgil quotes.

"The specific gravity of dry hemlock is 0.40."

"Good to know," Neal replied. If Mozzie had got that wrong Neal would've ended the call without another word.

"Neal, what's going on? Did you – "

"I was waiting on you. Did you get it?"

"Yes, yes, I have it. So does the Suit, but he's in Cambridge."

Cambridge, Peter, Fringe Division clicked and a cascade of information rained across Neal's vision as the Intersect activated. Bryce caught an arm around his waist as his knees folded and his eyes rolled back in his head. He snagged the cell phone before it fell from Neal's hand while keeping him upright. The information overload hurt enough Neal wanted to clamp his hands to his head and squeeze it out until the pressure dropped. How could anyone deal with this regularly?

Holding Neal up, Bryce meshed with him, showing him how to deal with the flash and siphoning away some of the pain. At least the different databases meant Bryce didn't flash on the same things Neal did.

Neal breathed deep once and got his feet under him again. Bryce held the phone to Neal's ear. "Moz, where can we meet? I need it." He sounded rougher, hoarser than a moment before, and hoped the change wouldn't set off Mozzie's finely honed paranoia.

"I could meet you later tonight – "

"I can't stay out in the open that long." He and Bryce were too noticeable and Bryce wasn't separating from him; he could feel the rejection of that thought snap through the mesh. Considering Bryce was still holding him up, Neal couldn't argue that he didn't need Bryce either.

"Can you make it to the Suits' house?"

Neal leaned against Bryce, who nodded. They'd need to be careful, in case the Marshals or someone else was watching, but Neal knew every covert approach to Peter and Elizabeth's house.

"Yeah. Just be there, Moz."

"Have I ever failed you, mon frère?"

"Never," Neal breathed gratefully and ended the call.

Bryce plucked the phone from his hand, wiped it, and tossed it. "Brooklyn?" Bryce murmured.

Neal sighed and nodded. He'd forgotten to ask if Elizabeth would be there or if Mozzie meant to break in and wait for them. He winced. Mozzie was not going to react well to Bryce.


It didn't take much effort to convince Elizabeth to wait before contacting Peter, since Neal was coming to them. She worried about Neal as much as Mozzie did, though the Suit was her first priority. But Burke was safe enough in Boston apparently, so just mentioning Neal was sick got her firmly on Mozzie's side for the moment. Burke must have shared something classified with her too, because she kept opening her mouth to say something then stopping herself, confining herself to declaring, "We'll call Peter after he gets here."


"Neal didn't say anything about... anything else?" she asked once.

Mozzie narrowed his eyes at her suspiciously. "Like what?"

Elizabeth pursed her lips. "Anything?"


The wait dragged for both of them.

Mozzie might have been listening for the lock, but he didn't hear it. The dog gave it away though, abandoning Elizabeth and himself to trot with clicking nails to the back door.

Elizabeth shared a relieved smile with him and they both followed, eager to see that Neal was all right. He sounded mostly all right, exclaiming softly, "Hey, Satch."

Mozzie froze in the doorway to the kitchen. Neal, dressed in one of his Milan suits that Mozzie had hidden away – at the Palace, a safehouse he knew he'd never revealed to Neal – was petting the Burkes' yellow Lab. At the same time Neal – his doppelganger – was pulling the back door closed quietly, dressed in the other Milan suit, and watching Mozzie and Elizabeth warily.

"You're not Neal," Mozzie blurted.

The doppelganger had longer hair than Neal did now. Otherwise he was identical down to the smallest skin imperfection. Even identical twins weren't exact duplicates. Mozzie began freaking out. Clones! He'd known the stories about the Hitler clones were true and now he had proof there were others... Neal was one of Them. They'd probably taken the real Neal and replaced him while he was in prison.

"Oh my God. Neal?" Elizabeth's rattled exclamation reassured Mozzie a little. She hadn't been prepared for... this. Whatever, whoever this was.

Elizabeth stared at the double then looked at Neal. One hand rose to her mouth. She shook off the shock in the next second though and her features schooled themselves into the same welcome she'd offered Mozzie the first time he arrived at her doorstep. It had made him feel special then, now it stung: she must give anyone that same chance until they proved they weren't trustworthy.

It was a miracle life hadn't trampled her into the dirt before this and it made Mozzie angry.

Neal looked up from fondling Satchmo's ears. "This is Bryce."

"Neal, are you all right?" Elizabeth asked. She smiled at the doppelganger and added, "And are you? Bryce? I can't believe – Peter told me you were the same, but it's still amazing."

Mozzie glared at Elizabeth. The Suit had told her. Of course, the Suit told her everything. He couldn't trust her either. They were all in on it. This wasn't amazing. Hah. This was... Betrayal and a wave of paranoia rushed through him. He pointed at Neal. "You're android spies built by the Establishment to infiltrate the dissenting underground anti-government movement!"

Neal's eyes widened and his smile fell apart. "No, Mozzie, it's not like – "

"Mind-programmed clones – "

Neal and the doppelganger paled.

"Stop it," Elizabeth snapped at him and tried to pull Mozzie's arm down, but he shook her off. "Neal's your friend and you don't know anything about Bryce."

"Neither do you!" Mozzie almost yelled. How could she not see that?"

"I choose to trust Neal wouldn't bring anyone harmful into my house on purpose," Elizabeth stated. The spectre of Matthew Keller hovered in Mozzie's mind the way it had to in hers, but Elizabeth was too strong to let one trauma destroy her faith in herself or her relationships with others. She'd recovered faster than anyone around her. Mozzie's guilt lingered much longer.

Guilt that now twisted into paranoia. Maybe Elizabeth was in on this. Maybe everyone was out to get him. They'd been manipulating him the whole time.

The double's gaze flicked to Elizabeth and his expression softened making him look even more Neal-like. Mozzie hated it.

"This is all a set up by the elders of the Illuminati and the military-industrial complex," Mozzie ranted. "Well, I've seen through you now. You'll get no more help from me. 'A fraudulent intent, however carefully concealed at the outset, will generally, in the end, betray itself!'"

"Titus Livius," Neal whispered. He hid his face in Satchmo's fur.

Mozzie drew back. It was an act. The Neal-thing probably had no feelings to be hurt. "Don't think you can charm me, not this time." He was leaving. He couldn't bear looking at Neal – whatever he was – or the doppelganger. He wasn't hypocrite enough to accuse them of being fakes, as a con artist he was a connoisseur of fakes, forgeries, copies, and trickery, but in his heart he felt the sting of betrayal, worse than when Neal said he didn't want to give up the life he had in New York for their big score. Of course, 'Neal' had no doubt been under orders to keep Mozzie in New York. He headed for the door. "I'm out of here."

He didn't hear the doppelganger move, just Elizabeth's gasp, and then he was shoved against the wall, a hard forearm pressing against his throat, a stranger weighing his life from behind Neal's face. "The drug first," the doppelganger demanded.

"Bryce, no," Neal exclaimed.

Mozzie's vision grayed out as Bryce leaned his weight into the pin, cutting off his oxygen with the steadily increasing pressure. He tried to pry the arm away and became aware Neal was pulling at Bryce's shoulders, but it was Elizabeth, who sprayed the wall next to their heads with a fire extinguisher, who broke them apart.

"The next one's in your faces," she yelled at them. "Stop it!"

Foam splattered onto Mozzie's cheek and Bryce's arm, soaking into the expensive suit's material, probably ruining it. Mozzie frantically pulled a handerkerchief from a pocket and wiped the chemicals off his face. The harsh smell filled the entry. Was that halon? Had he inhaled any? Mozzie checked his breathing, monitoring himself for dizziness, any need to cough, any irregularity in his heartbeat or tingling in his limbs. Would he know if he was passing out from oxygen deprivation or halon poisoning? He inched away from the foam sliding down the wall just to be a little safer.

Bryce let Neal pull him back several steps, but his eyes were still locked on Mozzie and promised he wouldn't make it out the door without turning over Neal's drug. Elizabeth hefted the good-sized, red fire extinguisher canister, looking back and forth between them, fierce and fearless. The smell of the fire retardant filled the kitchen as the foam slid down the yellow-painted wall.

Neal held onto Bryce.

Mozzie tried not to slide down the wall. Cold sweat stuck his undershirt to his back, creating an unpleasant feeling. He took the bottle he'd brought with him out and lobbed it underhand at Neal.

Bryce snatched it out of the air and Mozzie realized Neal was really holding on to Bryce. Holding on to hold himself up, his face paper-white and pinched, eyes squeezed shut. Bryce gave Mozzie a foul look before guiding Neal gently into the living room and onto the Burke's couch. Neal sank down and, between his own harsh inhalations, Mozzie could hear how uneven Neal's breath came.

He watched as Bryce opened the bottle and fed Neal one of the pills.

Elizabeth abandoned the fire extinguisher and hurriedly brought a bottle of water. Bryce cradled Neal's head and helped him up enough to drink when he held the bottle to Neal's lips.

"What's wrong?" Elizabeth asked softly once Neal was lying down again.

"Be better soon," Neal whispered.

Bryce shook his head.

"Can I please call Peter and tell him you're here?"

Mozzie told himself to get out and never look back, but he couldn't. He lingered at the edge of the living room instead and worried at a tear in his shirt resentfully. He'd had to get over being jealous of the trust Neal had in the Suit, but it flooded back, seeing the way Neal cleaved to this Bryce person without any of the defenses he maintained against everyone. Including the Suit. He felt like an idiot. He hated feeling like he didn't know everything. Knowledge was the only real protection anyone could have; everything else came back to it.

The only thing that soothed his current irritation was realizing that everything Neal had held back from Mozzie he'd held back from Burke too.

"He's with the Fringe team at Harvard?" Neal asked. "With Dr. Bishop?"

"Yes," Elizabeth assured him. "They've been trying to get search warrants for Massive Dynamics and Diana and Jones have been doing everything they can to find you there."

"Of course they are," Neal said. He managed a smile for her. "Call Peter. Just let me talk to him too, okay?"

"Can I get anything for you that'll help?"

"No, I just need to let the drug work." Neal mustered a reassuring smile for Elizabeth, but Mozzie watched Bryce and his bleak expression gave away the game. Neal was in bad shape, maybe worse even than he looked. Bryce narrowed his eyes at Neal. A silent conversation ensued. "Fine," Neal said to Bryce. "Maybe he can do something."

"My phone's in my purse; I'll be right back. Be good." Or else, she didn't add, but they all heard it and nodded automatically. Mozzie didn't want to know what she'd do. It probably involved treating them to the same punishments a naughty Satchmo got.

Bryce followed her exit with his eyes but didn't move from his perch on the edge of the couch beside Neal.

Neal seemed to notice Mozzie was still there. Of course, Mozzie knew Neal had known he was still there the whole time. He knew Neal knew he knew Neal knew too. He stopped the recursive digression there before it became too Escher-esque.

"I've got a quote for you," Bryce said, without looking at Mozzie at all.

Mozzie folded his arms. "Go ahead. Impress me."

Bryce angled a look at him, one pale eye half veiled by his hair. He still had the pill bottle clutched in one hand. Neal clumsily patted at his arm.

"'To betray, you must first belong.'"

"Ah. Kim Philby." Mozzie measured him again. "So you're a double agent?"

Sounding weirdly proud and sad at the same time, Neal said, "The CIA recruited him from Stanford."

"Just another pawn of the Man," Mozzie declared.

"Not anymore."

"It's true," Neal agreed, sharing a look of dark amusement with Bryce. "We all were."

"What do you mean 'all'?" Mozzie asked, intrigued despite himself. He seated himself close enough Neal didn't need to crane his head to see him and Bryce shifted to the side.

Elizabeth came back with her cell phone and considered them. "Ready?" She looked to Neal and waited for his slow nod. "Thank you, sweetie."

Looking over Neal's shoulder at some knick-knacks he'd never found interesting before, Mozzie said quietly, "'It is easier to forgive an enemy than a friend.'"

"Can you try?" Neal asked.

"I'm still here, aren't I?" Even though his instincts were telling him to remove himself.

"'Love is whatever you still betray.'" Neal closed his eyes for a breath then opened them and waited until Mozzie looked back. The hope on Neal's face – and the warning on Bryce's – got to him.

With a heartfelt sigh, Mozzie finished the John LeCarré quote, one he knew because he'd taught it to Neal, and Neal had frowned over it uncertainly as if he didn't quite understand it then. Mozzie wondered if he hadn't been the one who hadn't understood what it meant, after all. At least, what it must have meant to Neal.

"'Betrayal can only happen if you love.'"

Bryce looked away from them both. Interesting.

"Hello, hon," Elizabeth said into the phone. "You need to listen and not interrupt."

Of course, Burke interrupted, the bark of his voice from the cell's speakers unmistakable. Neal smiled and Mozzie resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Burke was still a running dog servant of the State, no matter how personally... personable and even intelligent he was.

"Hon." Elizabeth made an impatient face at the phone and said, "If you don't listen I'm hanging up."

The Suit shut up.

Even Bryce smiled.

"Thank you," Elizabeth said sweetly. "Now, tell Neal how happy you are he's safe." She bent and handed the phone to Neal.

"Hey, Peter," Neal greeted the Suit, his voice rasping. "I'm okay – "

"He's sick," Elizabeth raised her voice to be heard.

Neal glared at her before admitting. "Okay, I'm not exactly fine. They did some stuff at Massive Dynamics – " He shuddered. "Can you come get us?" He breathed and listened. "Mmm. We'll be here. Yeah." He handed the phone to Bryce. "Chuck wants to talk to you."

Bryce accepted the phone with a pained look before asking hoarsely, "What are you doing in Cambridge, Chuck?"

Part Six

It's my own fault; it's not my fault
I'm not human at all; I have no heart
Sleep Party People :: I'm Not Human At All

The Burke townhouse was decorated nicely, but still had that normal home vibe that Casey had forgotten existed before being assigned to Chuck. The Burkes probably bought their electronics at a place like the Buy More and had their receipts with them when they returned something. (He wanted to thump the side of his head and knock that thought out; he'd definitely spent too much time under cover at the Buy More.) The walls were a pale yellow and the rooms filled with light. It was... nice. Too many windows for good defensibility, of course.

Casey swept in, took in the bald guy, the FBI agent's wife, and the two Bryces. Instinct had him aiming his Sig Sauer at the Bryce on his feet. The other one was on the couch and looked too sick to pose much of a threat.

"Casey," the standing Bryce said. He showed his hands were empty, holding them away from himself, one corner of his mouth ticked up.

Casey narrowed his eyes. "Larkin." So this was Bryce. He looked fine. Not even any older, which peeved Casey a little. Mornings before he creaked his way out of bed, he felt every year of his age and every bit of damage he'd ever taken. Maybe Bryce did too, but he didn't show it.

Then again, Casey never showed it either. He kept his sights on center mass. For all the good that had done the last two times he'd shot Bryce. He adjusted his aim upward. He'd go for the head shot this time.

"Don't move."

Bryce shook his head in regret. "Casey, you should have brought Chuck. You could have quoted Goldeneye at me. That was a waste." He paused and seemed to reconsider. "Well, Chuck wouldn't have because he's never killed me."

Casey growled under his breath. "Third time's the charm."

The one on the couch opened a blue eye and squinted at him. "Don't shoot him again."

Elizabeth Burke stepped forward and slapped her hand on the barrel of Casey's pistol. He noted in approval that she did not step between it and Bryce. "Aim that somewhere else in my house, buster," she snapped. "We called you, remember?"

Reluctantly, Casey thumbed the safety on and holstered his weapon. Elizabeth Burke reminded him of Ellie Bartowski, though considerably more knowing than Chuck's sister was even now. She seemed unphased by having an AWOL felon and a presumed dead spy who shared the same face in her living room. He was going to have to re-evaluate the Bureau if even their White Collar agents' wives were this blasé.

"Thank you," she told him.

Bryce smirked at him and the double – he had to be Caffrey – smiled too. It wasn't quite Bryce's smile. More smarm, less knife-in-your-back, but if the real thing hadn't been standing in front of him, Casey would have bought Caffrey as Bryce Larkin without blinking or thinking. And he'd thought the frigging Intersect was a bad idea. Bryce Larkin times two made Casey's brain hurt.

"Get your ass in gear, Larkin, and your buddy's too," he ordered.

Caffrey started to sit up, swinging his long legs to the floor. The big, aging yellow Lab lying next to the couch patiently scrabbled to his feet, thick tail already wagging.

"Satch, down," Elizabeth Burke ordered. The dog obeyed with a soulful look. Casey reminded himself petting the dog would put a huge dent in his tough, take-no-prisoners persona. The only thing worse would to be to pause in the middle of an op to take a call from his daughter, who kept wanting his input on her co-habiting arrangements with Grimes. He could never let Bryce Larkin know about the time that happened. It was bad enough Bartowski had been there.

"I still say you should let me look into finding someone else and stay off the grid," the balding guy muttered.

"No time," Bryce snapped at him. Baldy glared at him.

Caffrey slumped forward, elbows propped on his knees, back bowed and head hanging. Bryce's attention, focused on assessing Casey's threat status, snapped away, and Casey recognized something close to panic running through a man he'd always considered had antifreeze in his veins. With an unreadable glance at Baldy, Bryce turned his back on everyone else and lithely sank down tailor-style next to the couch, touching two fingers to Caffrey's forearm, then resting his hand on the nape of the other man's neck. The only words for the action were intimate, and, hell, tender, another quality he'd never really credited Bryce Larkin with having.

"What the hell – " Casey started.

Elizabeth Burke caught his arm with one small, manicured hand. He thought, tangentially, she had Larkin's coloring, dark hair and blue eyes. "Don't get between them," she warned in a low voice and then, inexplicably, "I have a fire extinguisher."

"Really don't," the little guy said gloomily. He pointed to a tear in his shirt. "I wouldn't recommend calling either of them android spies for the Man, either. I'm going to have bruises."

"That hurt, Moz," Caffrey murmured without lifting his head. "We're not androids."

Bryce muttered, "I prefer Artificial Person," in that you-should-recognize-this-quote tone Casey got enough of from Chuck and Grimes.

Moz eyed Bryce. "That's a quote from Alien."

"Geeks," Casey muttered in disgust. "I'm surrounded by geeks and nerds and morons quoting movies – "

"I consider myself a Renaissance Man, Fascist Thug."

"Fascists don't mind crushing four-eyed weasels into the dirt. We enjoy it." He didn't even know why he was letting himself get drawn in by the weirdo.

"Can we have a little less macho posturing, boys?" Elizabeth interrupted.

"How're you evaccing us?" Bryce asked. He didn't look away from Caffrey. He didn't sound concerned, just curious.


"I hope there's room for us all," Elizabeth said.

Casey gaped at her. "All...? All of you."

"Well, you're certainly not taking Neal anywhere without one of us, and I do not mean his CIA doppelganger," Moz declared. "He's the reason Neal's in this mess."

"Could you try to be nice to Bryce?" Caffrey asked plaintively. "I was already sick anyway."

"Excuse me for not reacting well to your killer spy double, Neal," Moz muttered petulantly. "The one you never mentioned, ever, in all our years of association. As if I'd ever sell you out to Them."

Caffrey shrugged, his eyes still shut, and Casey thought his own eyes might bug out as Larkin rubbed his back.

"I already knew the rules before you taught them to me," Caffrey said. "Never let anyone know everything about you."

Casey almost nodded his own agreement. He caught himself and scowled instead.

"Now you start remembering that." Moz sounded indignant. What kind of name was Moz anyway? "You even lied about your past the day we met."

"Of course I did. So did you."

Behind his glasses, Moz blinked rapidly, then shrugged. "Well, that is true. Maybe."

Bryce slid his arm around Caffrey and helped him to his feet. The two of them moved in synch, matched in height and size, with Caffrey's arm over Bryce's shoulder. Bryce looked up and caught Casey watching. Casey tried to ignore the freaky double-vision effect the two of them created. Dismissing the sheen of desperation in Bryce's eyes came harder.

Since when had he thought of Larkin as Bryce, anyway?

"We're wasting time we don't have any more," Bryce said. "Where's the chopper?"

"Circling until I radio in," Casey said.

"Closest landing pad?"

"Parking lot four blocks down."

Caffrey lifted his head and looked at Bryce. "Give me the pills, Bryce. I know you've got them."

Bryce hesitated. Casey had never seen him hesitate like that before.

"They just mask the worst of the symptoms," Caffrey said.

Bryce pulled a bottle out of his pocket and knocked a pill out. Mozzie sidled to Caffrey's side opposite Bryce before Bryce handed it over. Caffrey dry swallowed and held out his hand. Bryce just watched grimly.

"Is this withdrawal?" Mozzie asked quietly, though not so quietly Casey didn't catch it.

Caffrey shook his head. "Rebound. Give me two."

"I think this is a bad idea," Mozzie said.

Bryce looked like he agreed.

"You know I'm good at those."

"I know you think you are."

"Mrs. Burke, maybe you should stay here," Casey said, trying to be polite because he had the feeling she'd flick his ear or rap him across the knuckles if he wasn't. It was damned disconcerting.

She actually rolled her eyes at him. "Oh please. If you don't take me, I'll borrow a car and drive to Cambridge," she stated. "I'm going to make sure the backyard is locked and put Satch out. I'll leave a message with my assistant to stop by and feed him tomorrow and if this takes longer, she can take him to the boarding kennel Peter and I used when we vacationed before Neal – " She stopped, forced a smile, and went on, "I'll be right back."

Casey reflected on Ellie Bartowski now Woodcomb and decided to choose his battles.

Casey snapped his mouth shut as she walked away, calling, "Satch, heel," and the Labrador trotted after her obediently. He suspected she pulled that off with more than her dog.

"There's no use trying to argue with her," Caffrey said to him. The guy was pretty observant for a man as sick as he seemed.

"Neal, where did you get the formula for this stuff?" Mozzie asked as Bryce finally handed over another pill.

"Luc," Caffrey replied. "One of us." He made a face and forced down the second pill.

"Another one?" Casey groaned. "Great."

"Shut up, Casey," Bryce snapped.

Caffrey added wearily, "Luc's dead."

He straightened and stopped leaning against Bryce. They didn't move away from each other though, staying in contact. Whatever drug he'd taken, it worked fast. Bryce stayed close anyway. No wonder Bryce had kept Caffrey's existence and connection to him secret. Chuck was Bryce's Achilles heel, but Caffrey was the key to getting Bryce to do anything. If Fulcrum or the Ring had had or even threatened this guy, they could have turned Bryce Larkin on a dime. A lot of things would have gone very, very badly if the other side had really had Bryce working for them, Casey acknowledged. The world, and even Chuck Bartowski, was lucky he'd really been a triple and not a double agent.

Before he'd known about Alex, Casey would have despised Bryce for having a weakness like Caffrey in his life or even his past. Now, even if he didn't get the connection between Caffrey and Bryce, he understood how loyalty, duty, and love could all pull in different directions and end up tearing you apart. It didn't mean he suddenly liked the smooth bastard. Or his freaking clone. Clones. Most of which were dead like the one being autopsied in Cambridge or the one Caffrey'd just mentioned. Damn it. He hated this op already.

He said, "And no one brought him back to life." Sometimes, being an asshole got things back on track.

"No. No one did."

Caffrey sounded wretched, but what got Casey again, was how miserable Bryce looked. Funny, he seemed more human now than any time Casey had worked with or against him before.

Elizabeth came back, bearing a bottle of water that she handed to Caffrey, a large bag slung from her shoulder, and a look of determination. At her expectant look, Casey obediently switched on his radio and ordered the helicopter to head for the rendezvous.

She must have heard the last part of what they'd been saying and the expression on her face reminded Casey so much of Ellie Bartowski he wondered if it was just part of the brunette knock-out package.

"I'm sorry, sweetie," she told Caffrey and he ducked his head, letting her brush a kiss against his cheek. She looked at Bryce like she wanted to give him a kiss or at least a hug too, but didn't push it. She just smiled sadly at Caffrey, adding, "I'm sure he was as wonderful as you are."

"You don't really know me," Bryce said.

"You care about Neal. Besides, I know these things. I know everything." Elizabeth had a cheeky smile when she wanted to use it.

Caffrey gave her a look like she'd hung the stars in the night sky and Bryce appeared nearly stunned before smiling uncertainly back at her.

Casey didn't shake his head, but he thought Caffrey had it right. There would be no use fighting this woman. She was like Chuck, too damn good, though she didn't come off as naïve. He shrugged, checked his weapon was in his holster and would draw clear, and headed for the door.

Bryce pulled a Beretta from a holster at the small of his back and checked it and Mozzie startled Casey by producing a revolver from thin air and tucking it under a coat he picked up from the back of the couch and draped over his arm. Embarrassed, Casey vowed to stop underestimated sneaky little bastards like Grimes and now this Mozzie.

"I'll go out first," Mozzie said. "El, you should stay clear of Neal and him, just in case."

"His name is Bryce," Caffrey corrected in an annoyed tone.

"What?" Elizabeth asked, pausing and looking at Mozzie in confusion, while Casey nodded his approval at the small man.

"Snipers," Bryce and Casey both said.

Casey added, "We don't want you in a potential line of fire."

Elizabeth raised her eyebrows. "Should I wear the Kevlar Mozzie got for me?"

"Mozzie, you gave her a bulletproof vest?" Caffrey asked and laughed.

"It did seem a little odd," Elizabeth remarked.

"But now you're glad I did, aren't you?" Mozzie said. "Having been shot in the chest once, I have no desire to live – or, worse, fail to live – through it again. And I would never want it to happen to any of my friends."

"You're wearing one under your shirt, aren't you?"

"Of course."

"Get it," Casey ordered. He decided he might like this Mozzie. Kevlar. Now that was a good present. Not as good as a Desert Eagle, but one of those would probably knock a woman as petite as Elizabeth Burke on her ass or at least break her wrist if she fired it. He should get Alex a vest. Of course, then he'd have to convince her to wear it.

Elizabeth gave them all a look and said, "Play nice, boys," before leaving the room. The four of them were left eying each other suspiciously.

Bryce cocked an eyebrow at Casey and addressed Mozzie, "I know what you mean."

"What do you mean?" Mozzie demanded.

"I shot him." Casey enjoyed the memory of foiling Bryce's escape even in retrospect and had no regrets. At the time, Bryce had appeared to be a traitor. Ambushing him had been the smart move. Bryce was too dangerous to underestimate. He'd known that. He still did. "Twice. The second time he was wearing a vest, though."

Bryce rubbed his chest thoughtfully. "It still hurt."

"I should have aimed for the head."

"And we're going with this guy?" Mozzie asked no one in particular.

Elizabeth returned a moment later with a military-grade ballistic vest on over her blouse and a loose, dark gray cardigan mostly covering it. Casey liked that. She was a smart one. If they knew you were wearing a vest, they shot for the head, as Bryce had just subtly reminded him. Not that he had any reason to think anyone in particular was gunning for Bryce or Caffrey for the moment, but it was best to always operate like someone was out to get you. Then you weren't surprised when the shooting started.

"Ready," she declared.

He pointed to the door and said, "I've got the rear. Head south and keep moving."

"We know what to do," Caffrey said.

Bryce nodded, grim again. "It's what they made us for."

"I'm sure you're good at it, but you're more than that," Elizabeth told Bryce. She looked, under the understanding smile and amazing calm, angry. Her next words gave it away. "Neal's not a thing, or an asset, or a tool on anyone's belt, so neither are you. I don't know you, but it doesn't matter. I don't want to hear anyone say anything different." She glared at Bryce, then turned the glare on Mozzie.

"Enough with the cutesy 'life affirmations'," Casey grumbled before she could start on him. "Move."

Bryce mouthed 'wow' at Caffrey, who grinned at him.

Casey still wasn't sure how he ended up bringing along Caffrey's buddy and the FBI agent's wife, but losing a fight over it in front of Bryce Larkin would have been too humiliating to bear.

"Don't forget to set the lock and activate the alarm behind you," Elizabeth instructed as she followed Caffrey and Bryce out.


"Bryce," Sarah said, her voice shocked. "Oh my God."

Chuck spun his chair around and felt his eyes widen. His mouth fell open too. Despite hearing Bryce on the phone and looking at the surveillance recording, part of him hadn't really believed Bryce could be alive. Even after going through everything they'd uncovered about the Litchfield Project he hadn't conceived, deep down, that Neal Caffrey and Bryce wouldn't just look alike, but would be duplicates.

Only they weren't, not now, he realized. Bryce was nearly carrying Neal, an arm around his double's waist, Neal's arm over his shoulder. Neal was thinner than Bryce and unsteady on his feet. Gray exhaustion sat on him anvil-heavy.

Sarah took a step back, betraying an uneasiness Chuck didn't understand. She watched Bryce like you would a thirty-foot python slithering through an open window into your bedroom. Bryce caught her reaction, but didn't respond to her or even spare her more than a glance after that. His gaze caught on Chuck for a second though and his expression softened, but then his attention snapped back to Neal.

Casey walked in behind them, followed by a pretty, dark-haired woman and an older, balding man wearing heavy-framed glasses and a cravat. Chuck noticed them, but his focus stayed on Bryce and Neal Caffrey.

Burke and Bishop and the Fringe agents were all staring too, while Bryce stumbled to a halt in the center of the lab, still supporting Neal. Neal and Bryce turned their heads at the same time to look at Ruth, who stood motionless, slightly separate from everyone else in the lab. All three of them paled further: Neal winced and swayed, Bryce's expression shut down, and Ruth clapped her hands to her temples.

"Out," Bryce snarled at her.

Her eyes widening, Ruth bolted past Bryce and Neal and out of the lab. She didn't stumble or hesitate either; instead she moved with staggering speed: Walter's improved version of the masking drug had done its job.

"Damn it," the other Olivia snapped and tore after her in a flash of black leather, urban camo and red hair.

"Wow," Chuck heard himself say. He'd actually thought his life couldn't get much wilder after Bryce sent him the Intersect and he ended up in the spy game. He should have realized that when Bryce sent him something else, that he'd be dumped head first into new weirdness. He had, in fact, but just not the depth of that weirdness.

"Oh my," Walter exclaimed. "How extraordinary. If only Belly could see them – "

Neal slumped and Chuck jumped to his feet and hurried over to help hold him up. Bryce tipped his head up, long hair falling across one eye, and quirked a smile despite everything. "Hello, Chuck."

"You jerk," Chuck blurted. "You sent me an email! An email! With secrets! Again! And, and, you hung up on me! Seriously not cool, Bryce."

"You missed me," Bryce said. His mouth smiled but his eyes were serious. Up close, Chuck saw bruises and red scrapes and the pinch at the corners of Bryce's eyes that signaled he was sore and tired and ignoring it. That tell had been there a lot the last year at Stanford, when he wouldn't talk about where he disappeared to, and drew into himself at every question.

Neal groaned and looked around the lab and his eyes widened as they settled on Gene the cow. He smiled at everyone and added, "I'm having my doubts about this plan, by the way. I want that on record. Hi, Peter."

"We need to talk," Burke said repressively. He'd taken an abortive step forward when Neal faltered, then stopped himself and now seemed unsure what to do.

"You let me think you were dead again," Chuck hissed at Bryce. "That really sucked."

"Can we do this later," Neal asked, "or somewhere else? I want to fall down now."

"Let implies I had a choice," Bryce said. He frowned at Burke.

"Eventually you had a choice," Chuck insisted while they walked Neal through the lab to the back office where Walter had a bed. Thanks to his break-in, Bryce knew the way. (Walter obviously lived in the lab, but Chuck wasn't making any judgments He'd lived in a room in his sister's apartment for years.) They let Neal down to sit on the edge of the bed. Bryce kept one hand on Neal's shoulder but watched Chuck cautiously. "Instead, you send me another mysterious email – "

"I didn't trust anyone else with the information."

"Oh, sure! That's what you say every time and the next thing I know I have an Intersect in my head – "

"Not this time," Bryce said and then, fast and uneven, "I'm sorry, Chuck, I could never tell you."

He wanted to ask, tell me you were alive after all or tell me you were the product of some government genetic experiment? Because Chuck got the latter; Bryce had more people to protect than himself and Chuck knew very well how far Bryce would go to protect anyone he cared about. But leaving Chuck and Sarah and Casey thinking Bryce was dead – again – seemed crueler than the man he'd learned Bryce was.

It did until Chuck reminded himself of how much what Bryce did to him at Stanford had hurt, before he found out Bryce's reasons.

Chuck knew he was going to give in and forgive Bryce anyway, so there was no point to holding out and maybe letting Bryce think he cared about the clone thing. He grabbed Bryce in a tight hug. "No more dying or making me think you're dead."

"Uh. Chuck." Bryce froze then thumped Chuck's back. "Breathing."

Chuck squeezed tighter before letting go.

Neal was watching them, looking almost amused, yet also sympathetic, but his features were pinched with pain.

"Oh, hey, you probably think I'm a jerk," Chuck said and stuck out his hand to shake. "I'm Chuck. Chuck Bartowski. Chuck Bartowski, jerk... "

Neal smiled at him and shook his hand. "You're his friend." Chuck's heart stuttered a little. Bryce used to smile like that, the first year they knew each other. Before the CIA recruited him and he'd closed a part of himself away. It had always stopped Chuck in his tracks. "Not a jerk. I know."

Bryce talked about him? He hadn't expected that. And Bryce had said Chuck was his friend. Bryce had told Chuck he was his only friend once, but considering Chuck had downloaded the Intersect a second time instead of destroying it, while Bryce was bleeding out, and then gone on with his life, never questioning whether Bryce might be alive despite previous experience to the contrary, while Bryce was being held captive and probably suffering torture at the hands of the Ring... That was... Wow. That was sort of sad and maybe Bryce hadn't wanted Chuck to know he was alive, if that was the kind of friend Chuck was. It sort of put getting expelled from Stanford in the not all that bad column.

He couldn't decide what to say, but it didn't matter. Peter Bishop and Agent Burke were hovering at the door, and Walter was pushing his way between them. "I'll need a blood sample and a DNA swab before I begin work... "

Bryce and Neal turned to Walter and spoke in perfect unison. "We know."

"Wow, that's like stereo," Chuck exclaimed.

Bishop laughed quietly. Chuck liked Peter Bishop. The guy got his references without rolling his eyes.

Bryce and Neal shifted separately, looking embarrassed, and Neal looked past Walter and said, "I guess you want an explanation," to Burke.

Burke shook his head. "Unbelievable." He was angry again. The stiff posture gave it away like a sign hung around his neck. He'd been watching everyone with disgusted disbelief since the briefing on Liberty Island. Chuck really hoped he wasn't going to blow up at Neal now. It wouldn't be fair, when the guy was so sick. You should be nice to sick people even when they weren't your friends. He'd thought Burke was Neal's friend and not another agent with an asset. Chuck sure hoped he hadn't been wrong. From the look on Neal's face... actually, Chuck couldn't read Neal's face at all. All the expression on it had been wiped away.

"Peter," Walter said, "please get the buccal swabs and – "

"I know what we'll need, Walter," Bishop said. He gave a fond shake to his head as he headed back into the main lab.

"But do you know where – "


"Oh. Very well then." Walter smiled at Bryce and Neal. Neal smiled back, while Bryce looked thoughtful. "We haven't been introduced have we? I'm Walter Bishop – "

Neal's Bryce-blue eyes jittered and lost focus, a dead giveaway of an Intersect flash, before his eyelids hid them. The pulse at his throat hammered visibly. Even sitting, he swayed, and Bryce sat down next to him, shoulder against Neal's to subtly brace him.

"Oh, no," Chuck exclaimed loud enough it brought Casey rushing into the doorway to loom where Peter Bishop had been a moment before. The balding guy who'd come in with them wormed his way through and hovered at the edge of the bed, nervously putting himself between Neal and Casey.

"What's going on?"

Chuck pointed at Neal. "He just flashed."

Casey narrowed his eyes and snapped at Bryce, "What did you do?"

"It's Massive Dynamics' Intersect," Neal said. "Not the one Bryce and Chuck have."

"Crap," Casey said flatly, still looking at Bryce, new respect forming in his attitude. Clearly the news pained him. "You held out."

Chuck felt his mouth fall open as he realized – "You got the Intersect 2.0 when I did and the Ring knew." He tasted his breakfast as it came up and only barely kept it down. Oh no, no, no. That wasn't supposed to happen. He'd thought he was doing the right thing when he downloaded it again, but that... Oh God, what had he done to Bryce?

"Why do you think they revived me?" Bryce replied wearily. He shoved his hair out of his face, then restlessly shot to his feet. The office turned bedroom didn't offer much space to pace even without so many people crowding in it and he came to a stop within arm's reach of Chuck. One hand had gone to his side, where he'd been shot the second time.

"My, yes, I'll want to talk to you about the Fulcrum technology your friends described," Walter said. "How long is the window before a revived subject's brain function can't be returned to normal – "

Neal stayed on the edge of the bed and looked at Walter again, apprehensively, obviously not wanting to flash once more. Chuck wondered if the Massive Dynamics' Intersect hurt when triggered. It might be just that Neal just wasn't used to the experience. He remembered how overwhelming the cascades of information could be when he hadn't been braced for them.

"You're the Walter Bishop who worked with William Bell," Neal asked, "aren't you?"

"You know me?" Surprise and happiness lit Walter's expression. He was even worse at hiding things than Chuck. Of course, he was also a little crazy, but the childlike pleasure any new knowledge gave him was easily endearing. Neal and Bryce didn't know that though and from the wary look in both sets of blue eyes, working with William Bell wasn't an action that engendered confidence in either of them.

Neal tapped his temple. "Massive Dynamics does." His hand trembled as he brought it down to his lap and he stared at it. He curled his fingers into a fist then flexed them starfish-open. The tremor remained. "They have all of Bell's research and notes, including the work you did with him." His expression gave nothing away, but the other guy – who had to be a friend from the way he was awkwardly hovering – looked upset enough for both of them.

Massive Dynamics. William Bell. Of course. Chuck wanted to slap his own forehead. William Bell founded the company.

"Oh," Walter said.

"We know," Bryce and Neal replied. "We know about the Cortexiphan trials." The harmonic effect made the hairs on the back of Chuck's neck lift. "We know all of it. That's what Jones wants. All of it. We think."

Walter stumbled back a step and Casey groped for a weapon.

"You said you don't have an eidetic memory," Burke accused. "How can you know all this? When did you find it out?"

Neal twisted and looked at him. "I've got Massive Dynamics Intersect. It's everything. I'm not lying or conning you. – Do we really have to do this? It's going to be academic soon anyway."

Burke scowled. "What do you mean?"

Neal waved his shaking hands at his FBI handler. "This is only the beginning." He sighed and shrugged, then let himself fall back on the bed, his face turned away. "I thought I'd get a few more months, but Massive Dynamic's little present has made it much worse."

Chuck felt sick as he looked from Neal to Bryce. Bryce held up a steady hand. "It should have hit me a couple years ago." He switched his attention to Walter. "It's the Cortexiphan, isn't it?"

"Belly gave it to you?"

"Half of us."

Walter's eyes widened. "Of course, you were genetically identical, the perfect subjects for a double-blind study."

"We don't know which of us received Cortexiphan and which received a saline placebo," Neal said. He laughed a little. "Or if it was all of us or just Batch One. I only figured that out after I flashed on you."

"Someone want to explain this in English?" Casey demanded.

"We're freaks," Bryce said, "and his old buddy dosed us with an experimental drug he and Dr. Bishop came up with when they were tripping on acid. David Robert Jones ran the project that made us." He looked away. "I've been trying to find him."

"Only some of us got the drug and some of us didn't," Neal added bitterly, "which is why I'm falling apart and Bryce isn't."

"We must find out which of you received the Cortexiphan," Walter declared. "The records should identify which subjects – "

"If Massive Dynamics has them, they're not in the Intersect," Neal said. He was staring up at the ceiling. "There's so much information and no one's put it all together before. I feel like my head's going to explode."

"It's not the same as Orion's Intersect," Bryce said. "It's been advanced."

Chuck wanted to ask how Bryce knew. Maybe he'd hacked the information or talked about it with Neal, but he had a feeling Bryce's knowledge went deeper. It really looked like what Neal knew, Bryce knew, and Chuck didn't want to bring that up. He didn't want to add to the impression that Neal and Bryce were freaks.

Neal went on, eyes unfocused, almost dreamy, "Jones doesn't know it all, but he means to. I don't know why Sharp was working with him, but she couldn't get the cube out, so they found someone who could host the contents. Me. Sort of ironic, when you consider my former profession." A smile quirked up his mouth as he thought about something. It made Chuck nervous, especially when Bryce glanced over at Neal and laughed. "Well, I was a thief." He brightened. "There's a whole other universe I could – "

"That would be a bad idea," Peter Bishop said as he came back with the supplies he'd gone for. "They don't like us much over there." The pretty dark-haired woman slipped inside too and went to Agent Burke's side and hugged him. Agent Burke bent and kissed her. Oh. She had to be Burke's wife then. Chuck should have recognized her from the picture in the NSA's file on Burke. No one had mentioned mind-control abilities, but she must have done something to whammy Casey into bringing her along.

"Hi, hon."

"You need to call Diana and Clinton," she told him.

"I will, as soon as we've got the situation under control. – Elizabeth, why are you here? You shouldn't be part of this."

"Don't be silly. It's Neal. Besides, I missed you the last couple nights." She rested her head against his chest briefly and murmured, "I worry about you every time you walk out the door. I needed to see you. I can only stay calm and understanding for so long, you know."

Burke looked like he was trying to find something to object to, then caved. "I missed you too." He added, "You know I tell you everything I can, whether I'm supposed to or not."

"I know, hon. It's a good thing too," she replied. "Neal's double is a little scary at first."

Chuck bridled at that. Bryce wasn't scary – okay, Bryce was scary, because he was perfect at everything and trained to be dangerous. But only to the bad guys. Bryce wouldn't hurt someone like Elizabeth Burke unless her life depended on it. Casey, now... Casey was scary, even when he wasn't trying to be.

He stole a quick glance at Bryce, suspecting he would've heard Mrs. Burke. Bryce had uncanny hearing, which made sense now. Bryce was locked in a staring contest with Casey, though.

Casey glowered at Bryce and then smirked. "So you're a science experiment."

Bryce narrowed his eyes. "What does that mean?"

"It explains everything."

Chuck didn't like where he thought this was going. "Casey – "

"No, I've got to admire whoever managed it, because though I hate to admit it, you were always good, Larkin. Too good. Except for your soft spot for Bartowski." Casey grinned. "You used him to figure out how to act human, didn't you?"

Bryce's expression set and he snapped, "At least I have an excuse for being bad at it. What's yours, Colonel?"

"Oh, ouch, now I'm wounded." Casey almost smiled. Well, he didn't look like he wanted to kill Bryce. That was nearly the same thing with Casey. Because the only things Casey actually smiled at were shoulder-fired rockets, Alex, and pancake breakfasts after a successful assassination.

Chuck really hadn't been around Casey and Bryce when they weren't wound tight and ready to go for each other's throats. He hadn't realized that they might like each other otherwise. As much as Casey allowed himself to like anyone, anyway, and not just respect how much of a threat they might be. Hunh. He hadn't realized it before, but Bryce didn't let himself like many people either. It was beyond bizarre to think of Casey and Bryce being the same, but they were.

It felt like a huge weight off his chest to realize Casey wasn't going to be out for Bryce's blood. The best part was that Casey, if he didn't want to kill Bryce, would have his back. Chuck wouldn't be all alone trying to look out for him. He could only hope Sarah came around too.

"I do believe this might be simpler if most of you left," Walter snapped. He approached the bed and frowned. "And why are you on my bed?"

"Because he'd probably fall out of a chair at this point," Bishop pointed out.

"We could put him on a gurney," Walter suggested, perking up and forgetting his irritation.

"We use them for bodies, Walter, I don't think he wants to get there ahead of time."

Chuck winced a little. The Fringe Division agents and consultants seemed to be oblivious to the bodies in serious states of decomposition and examination on several gurneys in the lab. No one seemed to even notice the smell any more, though it had made even Casey pause when they arrived. He hoped neither Neal or Bryce had noticed them when they arrived or if they had, that they didn't realize the bodies' identities. He had no idea how they'd deal with that.

"Oh. Oh, yes, you may be right. But they really aren't that uncomfortable. I've napped on them myself." Walter waved a swab at Neal. "Open up, now."

Casey caught Chuck's eye and nodded toward Bryce. "We need to debrief. The General will want a report."

Bryce swiped his hair out of his face again. He started for the door. "Let's just do this, then."

"Wait, young man, I need samples from you too," Walter called out.

"In a minute, Walter," Bishop said. "They need to talk to their people. Right?"

Chuck nodded. "Right."

Bryce tapped Chuck's wedding ring as he passed on the way to the door. "Congratulations."

Chuck thought about thumping his forehead against the door jamb. He wondered if Bryce had any idea about what had happened between him and Sarah since the fateful last time they'd seen each other, when Bryce had asked Chuck to take care of her. An awful sinking feeling hit him: with her memories of the last five years erased by the Intersect thanks to Quinn, Sarah was emotionally back to when she and Bryce had been CIA partners.

And lovers.

He sped up, cursing himself for the need to see her face and watch for any sign she still felt the same about Bryce. It made him a horrible, horrible person to hope Sarah couldn't accept that Bryce was the product of a genetic experiment. It did, but he did, while at the same time, he knew he'd never see Sarah the same way if she did reject Bryce.

He was so screwed.

Even the Intersect never gave him a headache like he felt forming behind his eyes now.


Peter waited until El had gone to Astrid to ask about obtaining something to eat. Neal demurred but Elizabeth insisted, kissing Neal's forehead – making Peter seethe all over again – and telling him he needed to eat to stay strong. She had a point. Peter flinched when he took in how thin Neal had become in just days – El had been right about that too – but he couldn't ignore the anger he felt. Neal had brought Larkin into his house, into El's presence. Knowing what he did now about Neal bothered Peter already, but adding in another one of them infuriated him.

This was El and he didn't want anything like this to ever come near her.

"You told me you'd never lied to me," he said to Neal, fighting to keep the rage out of his voice and audibly failing.

Neal rolled his head to the side, clearly too weary to even lift it. His eyes were huge in a wounded face, but his voice – hoarse and half gone – offered no clue if that expression meant anything. His words seemed to contradict it entirely, sharp and cruel enough to cut. "I lied." His eyelids fluttered closed. "That's what I do, Peter. I lie. I am a lie. Don't expect anything else from me, because I'm not even real."

"Neal," Mozzie disagreed.

Perched on the edge of the bed on the other side of Neal, Mozzie glared at Peter hard enough to make him recoil. The queen-sized mattress squeaked and shifted as Mozzie got to his feet, but Neal didn't open his eyes, long dark lashes stark against his pallor. He looked terribly young. It simply stoked Peter's anger.

"Damn you, Neal," he said.

Neal looked so vulnerable at the moment, but the niggling knowledge that the Neal Peter had thought he'd known didn't truly exist short-circuited his concern. After everything he'd learned since Fringe Division walked into his office, he had to wonder, not just if Neal had been running a long con on him, but if Neal wasn't something... alien under the handsome face and form. He hated that it made him want to back away and scrub his hands like strange was catching, but each time he remembered again that Neal wasn't what he seemed, he reacted the same way. Then he became angry with himself and transferred that anger to Neal.

Understanding a mechanism didn't change how it functioned.

"What do you want from him, Suit?" Mozzie snapped. He popped to his feet with the clear intention of defending Neal not only verbally but physically if necessary. "Some government black project makes him and messes him up, of course he didn't trust you. You work for them. You let him be kidnapped and experimented on. No one should trust your kind – "

"My kind!?" Peter protested indignantly. "He's the – " Fake. Freak. Clone. Infiltrator. Weapon. Made thing. God, that was a horrible thing to think about someone who was his friend. Except Neal wasn't; Neal was an illusion. There was no friend, just a con, a manipulator playing Peter like a violin. Bartowski could still call Larkin a friend, but Peter wasn't that naïve. No. Larkin was a creature that had been made and so was Neal. They couldn't be trusted. He ignored any doubts he had and determined to stick to his instincts.

"Mozzie, stop," Neal interrupted breathlessly. "Just, please, stop." He'd wrapped his arms around himself, trying to still the shakes running through his frame, but anyone could hear them in his voice. His lying voice.

Broken, Peter thought, despite himself. God damn it.

Why the hell hadn't Walter given Neal the same injection he'd given Ruth an hour or two ago?

"I can't believe you," he snapped.

Neal stared at him and Peter glared back. He felt sick, watching Neal quake. He was failing and he didn't know how to accept this false Neal with any kind of grace and it frustrated him, because El and Mozzie seemed to be blithely all right with everything. So did Bartowski and Casey, who should be even more paranoid than Mozzie, considering their employers.

Peter wanted to make himself act better, but he just... couldn't.

"How could I tell you?" Neal asked. "What if you'd believed me?"

Larkin slid past him and laid down next to Neal, Bartowski right behind him, managing to bypass Peter as well despite his too tall, gangling form. It made Peter shudder all over again, the way Neal and Larkin were perfect images of each other. Some instinct on a nearly cellular level screamed they were wrong. He refused to even think about what that meant about Neal's relationship with Kate, if it had been at all what it had seemed to be. Don't think about it, he told himself. He wouldn't; it was too sickening to contemplate.

"Believed what?" Larkin asked. He unwound Neal's arms from his torso and pulled him close. Neal let him, ending with his head resting on Larkin's shoulder, both of them visibly relaxing from the contact.

"The truth about what he is and where you came from," Peter snapped. He averted his gaze, deeply disquieted by how tactile Neal and Larkin were together. It wasn't anything he expected from Neal, at least the Neal he'd thought he knew. He wasn't going to let himself speculate about Larkin and Neal and if... No. He wasn't going there. He didn't know if it would be incest or some kind of bizarre narcissism, but he just didn't want to know. Because even if they weren't... whatever, it looked like it. Christ, he wasn't a homophobe, he didn't care what anyone did with anyone in bed as long as they agreed to it, but this disturbed him. He couldn't quantify it, but it wasn't normal.

Peter valued normal. He'd become an FBI agent to keep people safe and normal equated with safe deep inside his mind.

Mozzie's glare in response to his words should have set him on fire. Larkin's pale-eyed gaze finally had no resemblance to Neal; Neal had never considered Peter with the chilled weight of a sniper scope in his eyes. The wolfish smile that lifted Larkin's mouth didn't belong on Neal's face either. Neal was no killer, no matter what he'd been meant to be, but Bryce Larkin was.

Larkin gave out a sardonic laugh. "Sure. 'My mother was a test tube – '."

Neal hit him weakly with the side of his fist while Bartowski – call me Chuck – laughed and added, "'My father was a knife.'"

Peter suddenly felt completely lost. "What?" he asked in bewilderment. What the hell were they talking about?

"Robert Heinlein," Mozzie said promptly. "Friday."

Peter still had no idea, though he assumed Mozzie had identified Larkin and Chuck's quote. A great deal of tension in the room disappeared with the exchange.

Chuck beamed at Mozzie. He had a surpassingly sweet smile, open and without agenda, that seemed at odds with his association with the smoke-and-mirrors world of espionage. Mozzie looked a little stunned by the smile and retreated from it by sitting back down on Neal's other side.

"I hate that book," Neal muttered weakly. His eyes were still closed and Larkin pulled him closer, his face stark again with worry.

"What?" Chuck exclaimed. He whispered, "Bryce. He doesn't like science fiction?"

"Too many mad scientists," Neal muttered, "and labs. Computer programs. In my head."

There was another thing: Massive Dynamics had done something to Neal. He hadn't been obviously ill before. Peter imagined some weird brainwashing thing and shuddered, remembering how Larkin and Neal fought in synch in that clip Diana had obtained. They were dangerous, but no one except him seemed to be worried about that.

Larkin pulled Neal tighter to him, his cheek resting against Neal's hair as he eyed Chuck towering over the bed, laughing silently at Chuck's bafflement. "True."

Chuck rallied. "Hey, you worked with my dad on the first Intersect."

"Your father was a mad scientist," Larkin bantered back with another sidelong smile for Chuck, his closed off face briefly open, ocean-deep affection clear for anyone to see. "He even had a mad scientist name."

"Hey! No dissing my dad. Orion was a code name."

"Yeah, I guess only you and Ellie got to make fun of him," Larkin murmured. It looked like his will to banter couldn't beat out sheer exhaustion. "Must be nice."

"Move over," Chuck told Larkin. He didn't seem to see anything frightening about Larkin. Or with lying on a too-small bed with a couple of other men. He made Peter feel old and prudish. Peter just wasn't comfortable with that much contact with anyone who wasn't El. He could do a manly hug with a back-pat, had done so with Neal a couple of times, but not this. He wouldn't have expected Mozzie to be so blasé either, but Mozzie did pride himself on living outside the lines, so who knew what he got up to. It made Peter twitch a little, if he thought about it. Which he didn't want to, because it was Mozzie.

Larkin and Neal shuffled over and Chuck dropped down in the space they left. The bed wasn't really made for four men, but Neal and Larkin were lying together tightly enough that it worked. Chuck's knees banged against Larkin's. Neither of them seemed to care. Mozzie remained hip-perched on the other side, but made no protest, so he apparently approved.

Peter wanted to get Chuck somewhere private and demand how he could be so damned blasé. He needed to get out of this room for a while and find a way to send El home too. He didn't want her here.

He checked Neal again, calculating whether he'd stay in place, and scowled.

Neal wasn't paying any attention to Peter at all and not only because he was ill. Larkin was giving him whatever support he needed. So was Mozzie. And Chuck obviously had Larkin's back. Which didn't leave anything for Peter to do except get out.

He knew he should lay a comforting hand on Neal's shoulder, give his arm a squeeze, something to say he was still on his side, but Peter couldn't make himself move. He couldn't bring himself to push where he wasn't needed or pretend nothing had changed. He breathed out heavily through pursed lips. When had he ended up outside the bubble and why did he care? Neal and Larkin weren't... well, weren't really human, were they? Neal had been playing him from the beginning.

Chuck patted Larkin's shoulder unselfconsciously. "We'll fix this, Bryce. We'll find a way."

Larkin looked at Chuck over his shoulder like he was the last good thing left in the world. "Chuck... "

"Trust me."

A deep breath accompanied Larkin's tentative nod. Once more he looked so much like Neal at his most vulnerable. "I trust you."

Peter flinched before he had to walk away. Neal would never say that to him again, whether he'd ever meant it, never mind whether Peter wanted to hear it. He didn't, he thought to himself. He just needed to clean up this mess and figure out how the hell to deal with the problem of what to do about Neal if Walter did cure him. This feeling he had that he'd lost something important? That was because it wasn't ever real.


Neal managed to sleep a short while, long enough he felt sufficiently steady to wander out of the office turned bedroom and into the main lab. He could feel Bryce in the back of his head, just his worried yet happy presence, and it soothed Neal's growing nerves. There was someone else too, at the farthest edge of his awareness, who was and wasn't part of the mesh, but he didn't feel ready to deal with the mysterious woman who felt like a c-sib but wasn't.

He could physically see Bryce, talking quietly with Chuck, which explained the thread of soft joy feeding from him. Scanning the lab showed him Peter with El, Agent Dunham and Agent Lee. He wondered where Mozzie was, but guessed he was doing his own scout of the building, probably setting up a few fall backs in case they needed to slip away. Peter Bishop was working along with Walter Bishop and Agent Farnsworth, but Neal didn't see the stranger with Kate's face or Agent Dunham's redhaired double. Sarah Walker was watching Bryce and Chuck, her face a study in conflicting emotions. Elizabeth said something that made Dunham laugh followed by Lee, while Peter made a face.

Neal's attention drifted from Elizabeth to Peter again. The soured anger he saw on Peter's face made him wish he'd stayed in the office-bedroom, especially when Peter glanced up and saw him. Peter hadn't looked that cold when he arrested Neal.

Telling himself to suck it up, Neal ignored Peter, ambled over to the corner and tried to figure out why there was a cow in the lab, one that obviously lived there, from the stout stall, bales of straw, and barn implements neatly stored beside the stall. The sweet scent of alfafa tickled at his nose, almost making him smile.

He felt a faint inquiry from Bryce and mentally shook his head. Let Bryce have this time with Chuck. Neal knew from the mesh how much Bryce had missed his friend in the years he'd been in hiding. He'd worried Chuck couldn't live up to the picture Bryce had of him in his head, but Chuck appeared to accept Bryce – and Neal by association – with no difficulty.

Maybe that open-mindedness explained why Chuck made the perfect Intersect subject. Neal winced at the reminder of the thing in his own head now and tried to clear his mind before he flashed on anything.

He admired the sleek black-and-white cow instead, concentrating on her so well he didn't register Peter's approach until he spoke. "All right, Caffrey, it's time we talked."

The harsh words took Neal back, but he plastered a fake smile on and turned to face Peter. "Sure, Peter. What do you want to talk about?"

Peter narrowed his eyes in reaction and Neal took an involuntary step back as he registered the tension in Peter's shoulders.

"You brought a murderer into my home."

He hadn't expected that. "Bryce isn't a murderer." The mesh had shown him Bryce's attempts to not kill Ogilvie. Bryce had wanted answers, not a dead body.

Neal tracked everyone in the lab and kept his voice low enough it wouldn't carry to anyone else. "It was self-defense." Despite that, he saw Walker take notice and begin paying attention to them, leaving Dunham's double to her own devices.

"I've seen his CIA file," Peter replied in a tight voice. "I've heard what you and he really are."

It hurt more than Neal had anticipated. He let himself stop smiling, but he didn't let the way Peter had just cut him open inside show. So much for their friendship; it didn't count for much after all. He'd been stupid to think Peter wouldn't reject him. Not stupid enough to tell him, Neal hadn't deluded himself that far, but there had been a helpless part of him that wished Peter finding out wouldn't make a difference.

"I don't want you or him anywhere near Elizabeth."

"Felons are okay, but not clones?" Neal gibed. Bryce had switched to watching them along with Walker, who had deliberately drifted close enough to eavesdrop. Peter hadn't noticed or didn't care. Neal didn't know if he wanted Bryce to stay away or come over, but he was certain he was grateful Elizabeth hadn't noticed Peter and he facing off. He shook his head at Bryce, telling him to stay away rather than alert anyone else. Chuck already looked worried and confused by Bryce's abrupt, unhappy distraction. "What do you think we'd do?"

"You lied from day one," Peter stated flatly. "You can't be trusted."

He couldn't win, Neal realized, and swallowed back the taste of despair. He'd twisted himself into knots, double-crossed people he'd done business with for years, used Mozzie, and gone against his own nature again and again to prove himself to Peter. He let Peter and the FBI use him, though he'd sworn he'd never let anyone do that again. He'd given up his freedom, his dreams, and damned near his life. If Peter couldn't see that... He wished he'd never heard of Peter Burke in that moment.

"And I blame myself for being fooled into thinking otherwise," Peter said. Disgust twisted his face into something Neal hadn't seen before. "You're a good fake, but you're still a fake – "

"Less than human," Neal interrupted flatly. He'd known how likely it was that this would be Peter's reaction. Why else had he hidden the truth so diligently? He'd fooled himself though, sometimes, fantasized that Peter might say it didn't matter, might react like Chuck and Elizabeth had in reality. Or Mozzie: Mozzie had been pissed because Neal had fooled him, not because of what Neal was. Mozzie deserved more appreciation than Neal had given him; Mozzie was a truer friend than he deserved given how he'd practically begged like a dog to get any approval from Peter while taking Mozzie for granted. But Neal had hoped, he'd hoped so hard that if Peter found out he would be able to see Neal, real and flawed, not an experiment or an asset or a monster. His eyes blurred briefly before he shook the last idea away.

He'd been conning himself.

He supposed he was lucky he even had two people in Moz and Elizabeth who didn't think he was some kind of soulless abomination. He didn't feel lucky, he felt betrayed. The irony threatened to make him physically sick.

Anger kindled inside him, though, supported by the sense of fierce protectiveness coming from Bryce. He wasn't a monster and what right had Peter to try to make Neal feel like one?

"Why so mad then, Peter?" he demanded. "Would you get mad at a tool? Try to hurt one?" He hadn't known he could hate Peter until now. If Peter wanted to reject Neal then Neal was going to hurt him in turn if he could. He worked to keep his tone even though, because calm would set the barb deeper. "You don't think I can feel anything, do you? If I'm just some thing made in a lab, no soul, no feelings, a monster?" Neal forced a ragged, sardonic laugh out and added, "Is that it? Or is it that I'm no good to you anymore? Maybe you're just mad that you're losing a possession."

"I never said you – "

Neal slashed his hand through the air between them. "You know what, Agent Burke? Don't say anything." He'd had enough. He'd run out of time to pretend he could get through to Peter. He had to get away before he started shaking again, if it wasn't already too late. He could feel the first tremors starting, thanks to the stress of this confrontation.

He tried to push past Peter, who recoiled from him, and had to stop or fall down. Neal despised the weakness sapping him more than ever before, as he reached to brace himself against anything and found nothing close enough.

It didn't surprise him in the least that Peter didn't try to catch him as he swayed, only that Walker did, and steadied him with surprising strength for her slim stature.

Peter had his hands out, like he'd started to catch Neal and stopped himself. His hands fell to his sides and he stumbled back, suddenly shamefaced. Neal turned his head away. He didn't let himself listen to Peter's footsteps walking away.

"Did Bryce think we'd react like that?" Walker asked, bringing Neal back to himself.

"Yes." Bryce always expected the worst, Neal might have explained, but she could figure that out herself.

"That's wrong," she said. Her voice firmed up as Bryce and Chuck reached them. "He's wrong. I don't like any of this, but that's just wrong."

"What Sarah said," Chuck affirmed.

"Thanks, Chuck." Bryce sounded amused. Neal hoped Chuck really did know Bryce well enough to hear the rest of it, how much those words meant to him.

Neal closed his eyes and let himself sink into the mesh with Bryce, letting Bryce's relief at having Chuck accept him attenuate his own feelings and reluctantly letting Bryce absorb some of his hurt in return until he was in control again. The mesh itself added its own layer of distance too. He'd take Bryce and the mesh over Peter's approval anyway, he assured himself. Wanting both was just a pipe dream he had to let go of now.

"Are you – you're not okay, but, uh, is there something we could do to, to help?" Chuck asked him once Neal opened his eyes again.

Neal smiled at him. "Maybe find out what Walter's got planned?"

"Actually, I think he wanted to give you a complete physical as soon as you were awake again – "

"Let's go do that then," Neal said. If Walter could really fix him, then Peter could go to hell. Actually, Peter could go to hell anyway.


"Peter, you're being an ass." Eli glared at him. She'd harried Peter into a private corner with just a look he knew better than to ignore. They could talk in private or they could do it with an audience, but El would not let him get away with evading her.

"You're not bothered at all?" he demanded. Maybe she could explain why to him. Because he still needed to figure out to do with Neal once he was cured.

He didn't let himself think Neal might not get better.

Would putting the tracker back on Neal even be possible? He slanted a look in Larkin's direction. The ex-CIA agent complicated everything, too.

El crossed her arms defensively. "I can't say I'm not upset. But none of this is Neal's fault or your's, hon. Don't blame him because your world view got shook up."

Was he doing that? Getting angry because he was scared and then aiming the anger at the nearest target? It didn't say anything very good about Peter. He rolled his shoulders, trying to ease the tension promising a headache soon.

"What did you say to Neal?" El asked. "What did he say to you? Because I've never seen you turn your back on someone the way you just did."

He winced. "I – " Elizabeth was going to rip him a new one. What had he said to Neal? He hadn't called Neal a thing, but he'd implied it, and on how many occasions had he treated Neal as another tool for the Bureau to use? Perform or go back to prison. Did Neal think Peter believed that? Did Neal believe it of himself, that he was a thing, a lie?

Peter scrambled for a rationalization, something El would accept. "I'm not religious, you know that, but there's nothing in – "

"Not religious?" El interrupted. "The last time we were in church, you called the minister a sanctimonious prick in the middle of the service because he said gays were unnatural and then you walked out." She grinned at him, pride at the memory shining from her. "You were wonderful."

Peter hid behind closing his eyes. "It's not the same thing."

"Only a matter of degree."

He scrubbed his hands over his face. "El – I – "

"Fucked up?" she suggested with sympathy.

"He should have told me," Peter said. It sounded just as pathetic as he'd thought it would. He wouldn't have believed Neal; he'd have had him scheduled for a psych eval and committed. That was if he hadn't assumed Neal was running some wacky con's version of a practical joke.

"Neal's a smart guy," El commented. "He guessed you wouldn't react well."

El had a gift for understatement.

Her gaze strayed from Peter and he turned to see who she was looking at, unsurprised to see it was Larkin and Casey. He wondered if he wouldn't have processed and handled this better if Larkin hadn't been present, an undeniable physical reminder of how unnatural Neal was.

"He's harder than Neal," El commented.

"Stay away from him," Peter snapped. "He's a killer." He didn't add that Neal had most of the same training. El would just brush him off and any argument he offered would be weak. Except for Ogilvie, Larkin had only taken out official targets, and if the Fringe agents were to be believed, Ogilvie hadn't really been human.

Which brought Peter right back to his conundrum.

Hell, did human law, human ethics, even apply if Neal and Larkin weren't human? Was he expecting wolves to worry about morals? Where did he re-draw the line in the gray wildnerness his once black and white world had become since his association with Neal began?

"Don't be so narrow-minded," El said. "I'd bet that Colonel Casey is just as bad. Plus, it only takes five minutes with them together to see Bryce is completely devoted to Neal."

She was right. It explained why El had already taken to the other clone, too. Larkin would have Neal's back, however this turned out. Neal didn't need Peter.

Oh, that was pathetic. El would slap him for that. Was he really only Neal's friend because Neal needed him? Peter wasn't that selfish, was he, that he'd reject Neal for being more than just his? Christ, that painted his dislike of Kate in a troubling light. It said he wanted Neal to depend on him because it let him control Neal.

Peter looked away, chewing his lip, trying to deal with his little self-revelation. He was still angry at Neal, even if he put aside the clone business. Not only did he not know if he wanted to mend the relationship between him and Neal, now he didn't know if he could. Neal had walked away from – tried to – him after calling Peter on his attitude.

"Peter," El said, laying her hand on his arm and waiting until he met her eyes, "you need to fix this. If you don't want to lose Neal, you need to do it soon."

He made a face, knowing she was right.


The Olivia Dunham from Over There – Chuck and everyone else were calling her Red and she didn't seem to mind – brought the woman who looked and felt and wasn't  – never, never, never – one of their c-sibs back to the lab several hours later, while Walter Bishop was subjecting a mostly functional Neal to a full physical. How complete was illustrated by the fact that Bryce had finished a very, very in-depth debriefing via webcam with Beckman and Walter still hadn't finished. He wasn't looking forward to his turn under the microscope. On the other hand, one-on-one with Walter might not be as uncomfortable as dealing with a room full of people who knew what he was. Bryce had never experienced that before and wasn't sure how he should act.

Defensive and sarcastic seemed to be his fallback option, but no one had accused him of anything. He had no idea how to act without the mask of being just another human.

He knew how to hide things though and he kept the loathing he felt off his face when Red introduced the Over There clone by a numeric. He didn't tense or scowl or say anything away. He locked down the mesh so none of his internal reactions reached Neal and messed up Walter's findings. Bryce didn't give anything away, until Red added, "Ruth's easier to remember though."

"Your side must have made more of us. I always thought Two was pretty easy."

Red narrowed her eyes; the sarcasm not sliding past. Bryce let himself smile. She gave him a tight quirk of her lips in return, an acknowledgment of his hostility and that he wouldn't let it go any further, so long as she didn't push.

Ruth drummed her fingers against a lab table, ran them over the lip of a beaker, and did a little dance step in place, the way someone does when they feel good – after feeling bad for a very long time. Her thoughts kept rasping against his, little bits of her trying to tangle with him or Neal, catching like Velcro He kept out of arm's reach automatically.

She was keeping close watch on the end of the lab where Walter had Neal. Bryce couldn't tell if she was more interested in Neal or Walter. Both options worried him.

Walter wanted to schedule time with an MRI for Neal and Bryce, as well as hooking them both to an EEG at the same time to study when they meshed – he was telling Neal all about it and Neal was letting Bryce hear him as well. He couldn't help his enthusiasm over studying them. He'd even demanded blood samples from both Olivia Dunhams too for comparison purposes. No one had invented Cortexiphan Over There, so the redhead didn't have any in her system. And none of the Project Thebes' c-sibs had escaped the shakes.

Bryce didn't know what to think about Ruth. She was and at the same time wasn't one of them. Being in the same room with her made him instinctively start to mesh, but the threads of her thoughts were so different at the same time, it made his head pound. The way she watched him, and Neal too, worried him, along with the way she'd begun charming Walter. She was too curious about details.

Paranoia was the curse of all spies though, and Bryce didn't know if he was seeing things or not. If Ruth had the same training he had, the same instincts Neal had, she probably couldn't help eliciting any more than she could stop breathing.

He didn't know what to do about her. Neal didn't either, but Neal needed to rest more than anything, not worry about the other universe's clones. Maybe there just wasn't anything to be done.

Casey made it easier by interrupting with a glare for Red and Ruth. "Larkin, get over here."

Bryce raised an eyebrow but followed Casey out of earshot.

"The Agency checks its recruits back to their parents' parents' birth certificates," Casey said, "how'd they miss you weren't the real thing?"

"Worried the NSA got fooled too?" Bryce asked. He didn't mind Casey. Casey was exactly as Casey always was. Their back and forth felt almost comfortable.

"I want to know how you did it."

Bryce laid it out. Litchfield Two hadn't been just an experiment. Batch One and the rest of their c-sibs were working prototypes, the beta test version. Litchfield's governors had been high up in the intelligence community, ruthless Cold Warriors with the contacts throughout other government agencies necessary to begin building their legends when they were born. Bryce Larkin the identity had been built from the ground up, using actors and sleeper agents who never had a clue they were creating an unimpeachable legend for a clone born to infiltrate the CIA. Bryce Larkin was impeccable according to any background check ever done on him. Once the identity had been established, every record of creating it had been destroyed. No one knew Bryce Larkin had anything to do with Litchfield; no one could connect them.

Bryce shrugged as he explained. It all felt very distant. What he'd been meant to do and what he'd actually done while working for the CIA hadn't been that different. Only he'd been free of Litchfield's puppet masters and able to give his loyalty to the Agency. "I was supposed to go into the Agency eventually – one of us was anyway," he finished. "Larkin was a clean identity and I was close enough in age and looks to take it up. I knew I was good at it. I was never going to live any kind of normal life. I don't even know what that is." When the CIA recruiter approached him through Professor Fleming, it seemed like the easiest path to take. Who would think to hunt for a rogue clone in the CIA he'd been tasked to infiltrate?

"So your Red Test... ?"

"Was redundant. One and Five took out a target on their first mission," Bryce said. He'd been their back-up. A couple of months later it had been his turn. "I did too."

Casey's silence demanded more and Bryce let it spill out, keeping his voice too low for anyone else to hear.

His first target had been Georges St. Hilaire, an arms-dealing Algerian ex-pat; Bryce had taken down St. Hilaire's security measures while St. Hilaire slept off his indulgences. No one suspected a beguiling, blue-eyed kid was an assassin. The security guards who found St. Hilaire later in the morning had never guessed the bruised up kid handcuffed to the bed was anything but a victim too traumatized to describe the killer that came in through the balcony. Bryce never felt any guilt over that kill, not then and not later.

"It was easy." Bryce blinked and snapped back to the lab. He hadn't meant to tell Casey that much. Casey growled under his breath and Bryce shrugged, adding, "We weren't really kids. But we were pretty."

"Sick bastards."

Bryce just shrugged. They both knew what was out there. Worse, they both knew how many people in their own government were fine with running the kind of op Bryce had just described. Jones wasn't the only one. Jones was just the one Bryce knew about personally.

He watched Neal escape from Walter's screened off examination area and head straight for him. Neal hadn't had to go on any ops, at least, though he'd known all about them. Everyone in the mesh knew. Neal's contempt for what their controllers had done rolled through the mesh, strong enough Ruth caught the trailing edges and a sense of barely contained fury licked at the edges of it like a lit match.

"Who else was part of it?" Casey demanded.

"I never found any of them," Bryce lied. He had. He'd disposed of them. "Believe me, I looked. But they were the same types that ran Fulcrum and the Ring." They'd hidden deep, though not so deep as David Robert Jones. Of course, they hadn't crossed the lines Jones had since, either. They were just the kind of people who used and used up guys like Chuck. Agents like Casey and Bryce were expendable too, along with anyone who got in their way. That was why Bryce had been willing to die to keep the Intersect out of their hands.

Ruth reached for Neal as he passed, but he evaded her and reached Bryce with a wild-eyed look. His response to her was stronger than Bryce's; every time he looked at the Over There clone, his mind said Kate and the place where she'd been in his mind hurt like a phantom limb.

Casey scowled as Neal slipped into Bryce's space, nudging elbow and shoulder against him, hiding his freak out behind a sunny smile. Walter wanted Neal to rest if he could before administering the drug he'd already given to Ruth. He wanted to run some tests on her to see how she was metabolizing it, then fine tune it. Bryce absorbed the information along with Neal's unhappiness with Burke. His c-sib wouldn't look at his handler, though he was pretending he hadn't noticed the FBI agent's attitude toward both of them.

Burke had taken over a corner of the lab and was liaising with his New York team using a phone and a commandeered laptop. His wife was sitting with him. He hadn't spoken to Neal since the quiet face off next to Gene's stall hours ago, but at least the manhunt for them had been called off. Bryce wanted to do something petty and mean to Burke in turn, though he suspected Mozzie might have that covered. Maybe destroy his credit rating. Of course, he could just punch him. Burke was hurting Neal.

Mozzie's reaction had been fast and gave way to the history of friendship he had with Neal swiftly – Neal knew how to play the sick card, using the shakes to get to his friend. Burke was just being a bastard.

Sarah was giving Bryce a cold shoulder similar to Burke's, though not as nasty, but it didn't bother Bryce as much Neal was; he hadn't had a relationship with her for five years, after all. That's what he told himself and Neal let him get away with it. Sarah had Chuck to help her through what the Intersect had done to her. She didn't need Bryce and, when he wasn't undercover, he really had no idea how to be there for someone. He wasn't certain whether trying to rekindle a friendship they had once as partners wouldn't end up hurting her or Chuck or all three of them somehow. It seemed better to keep his distance, since that's what she clearly wanted.

If Bryce had to pick out a reaction, he vastly preferred Casey's. Casey just didn't give a damn. Bryce being a clone was just something else to insult him over. Chuck, on the other hand, worried and cared too much; it made Bryce feel weirdly guilty.

The Fringe agents weren't too bad either. He didn't trust Red, though. No one really trusted Red, he suspected, since she'd replaced Agent Dunham at some past point before the two universes reached some kind of détente.

Ruth, though, was something else entirely. She was smiling at them right now and Bryce could see Kate in her, Gale and Erica and Michelle, and it made him close his eyes against the onslaught of memories.

"So what's with you and the women versions of you?" Casey asked. "You and him are like this, but you're both treating her," he jerked his chin toward Ruth, "like she's got cooties."

Neal snorted laughter. "It sounds so creepy when you put it like that." He stopped and looked at Ruth. Bryce looked too, because in this close of proximity it was hard to stay separate. She stared back, Mona Lisa smile tipping her mouth, and Bryce could see Neal's memory of his last glimpse of Kate before the FBI led him away in cuffs. He could replay the words Neal had said in his own mind – words chosen to be heard by the bugs Neal had guessed were in place at the same time Kate heard something else through the mesh. The two of them had fooled everyone, they'd even fooled themselves for a few short, glorious years, both of them at the top of their game. But Kate was gone. Kate was gone, like Dana, Phillipa, and Yancy, and all the others; they were all gone, gone, gone.

Ruth wanted to mesh and despite a rational suspicion that it would be a bad idea and a less rational but even stronger instinct that told him not to, Bryce's nature yearned toward it. They weren't meant to be just two. They were meant to be the many-in-one. Bryce swayed or maybe it was Neal. They were more dead than alive. Ruth couldn't replace, but she could fill a new place, weave into them like a patch. Surely she could.

Casey was glaring at him.

"It's not the same," Bryce said. He felt lightheaded. He didn't know if he was talking to Casey or Neal or Ruth.

Casey frowned but Bryce barely registered it. Ruth was walking over to them both, holding her small hands out, and he meant to refuse, but he took one in his. Beside him, Neal did too.

"What the hell – " Casey started to say.

The mesh snapped into existence, Neal to him, easy again, but Ruth – she didn't fit with them like a long lost limb. She yanked and jerked and twisted at the threads of their minds, she burned places and knotted others. Bryce tried to disengage, but she clutched them both closer, and it hurt worse than anything the Ring had done – Neal couldn't breathe – She tried to force the Intersect, know everything they held in their heads, she wanted Jones too, and Bryce couldn't stop the flash, couldn't help Neal stop it, or the way they mingled. Too many images, too much encoded in clashing languages hit them all. It knocked Neal to his knees, clutching at his head, the break in contact enough that Bryce snapped out of the mesh and shoved Ruth away from them both.

Her eyes were huge and she appeared as shocked as they were, stumbling and shaking again from the stress to their systems.

He didn't register until he tried to pull Neal up to his feet that Casey had a big hand locked around his own arm and must have been holding him up.

" – was that?" Casey finished. "Was that her? What'd she just do?"

Bryce wondered how long they'd meshed objectively. It felt endless, but it couldn't have been. No one but Casey had even noticed, though Neal had everyone's attention now.

"Rebound," he lied.

"I told you to go and rest, Mr. Caffrey," Walter called out.

Bryce got Neal to his feet, but didn't shrug off Casey until they were in Walter's office turned bedroom. Casey didn't follow them in.

"Too much," Neal slurred as he curled onto his side on the bed.

Despite himself, Bryce slumped down next to him, fighting to keep his own eyes open. Neal's exhaustion hit him like a tidal wave. He shoved himself up the bed until he could sit propped up.

Neal breathed in slow, deliberate in and outs, fighting down nausea. Neither of them touched each other's minds. Sometimes solitude was safety. It saved them from sharing what Ruth had left behind while she ransacked their brains.

Project Thebes assets had been bred to spy. Ruth was stronger than Bryce and Neal, even together, and she could force a connection, even with someone who wasn't a c-sib, though she couldn't mesh with them. She could push someone, though, and that creeped Bryce out.

Ruth creeped Bryce out.

She'd made Neal flash, even though every flash made him worse. She'd made Bryce flash too and though flashing had never hurt him the way it seemed to hurt Neal, he didn't appreciate it either. It wasn't exactly fun having a program take over his brain, no matter how fast it was over.

She felt like the Eves Bryce had encountered during the escape from Litchfield, when he and Cooper led the others out through a hole in hidden part of the facility's security that went through the insane asylum itself. Too long in their company and anyone would end up as crazy as Walter.


Walter wasn't anything like Jones. Walter was crazy but kind. Bryce didn't think Walter was an innocent, though the lack of a mental filter between thought and speech might make him seem child-like to many people. Bryce didn't have the same set of social cues though; he hadn't grown up with other normal children and had never really been around any since to compare to Walter. He knew he lacked some of the reactions everyone else had. He just saw Walter, who wanted to make up for the wrongs he'd done in past. Bryce understood that part perfectly well. Whatever had broken him had left Walter a strangely better person.

Neal was good with kids. Somehow, he'd picked that up and the mesh gave Bryce access to all those skills along with some sweet and amusing memories. Neal was actually good with anyone. Neal liked Walter too, even though they'd both been inclined to dislike anyone who had associated with William Bell and by proxy David Robert Jones.

Bryce let himself drift a little, settling back into his own mind, all his own, and ignored the time ticking away.

Peter Burke ducked his head in once, grimaced when he saw Neal resting, and left silently when Bryce glared at him. Bryce could feel the pain lancing through Neal's head and the way even the low lights hurt his eyes when he opened them even without meshing their thoughts. Neal's muscles were stiff and aching from the constant tremors. He didn't need to deal with Burke's problems with the truth about them.

He dropped his hand down to Neal's head where it rested against his hip and idly stroked his fingers through Neal's hair. Neal sighed and curled himself closer. Neal was awake, but letting everyone else think he was asleep, too exhausted to interact.

Exhaustion tugged at Bryce too, but he didn't want to sleep and leave Neal unprotected, no matter how fast a threat could wake him up. He could pick out Chuck's voice among the others in the main lab, Sarah's soft words, Walter's enthusiastic babble and Peter Bishop's calmer interjections. Mozzie had gone off somewhere but promised to return soon. Maybe he could rest. Casey was out there too, glum and silent and annoyed and unbreakably loyal to his mission, which meant Chuck was safe, and as long as Chuck was okay and Neal was next to him...

Bryce let his eyes close.


"If it's the Cortexiphan in his blood protecting him, why can't he give Neal a blood transfusion?" Mozzie asked. Chuck thought that should work too. There wouldn't be any rejection issues. "They have the same blood type, after all. Genetically identical, right?"

"The difficulty lies in the Cortexiphan," Walter explained to Chuck and Mozzie quietly. "A transfusion might not provide enough of it to help your friend." He frowned darkly. "Or it might lower Brett's – "

"Bryce," Chuck murmured.

"– Cortexiphan levels so far the same deterioration might affect him, at least until his levels recovered. It would only be a stop-gap, since Neal wouldn't produce any Cortexiphan himself. It wouldn't be a cure." Walter's hands fluttered nervously. "Plus, Cortexiphan has proved fatal to most adults exposed to it."

"But you gave it to little kids?" Chuck shook his head in disbelief. That was kind of evil, he thought. He decided he wasn't going to ask how they found out about the effects of Cortexiphan on adults. He didn't want to hate Walter and if Olivia could forgive him, it wasn't his place to judge.

"Experimented on them," Mozzie muttered. "Big Pharm strikes again."

"No doubt backed by the New World Order," Peter Bishop agreed. Sarcastically, Chuck hoped. Then again, Chuck had spent the last five years trying to root out secret societies within the US intelligence community bent on taking over the government and eventually the world. Fringe Division itself had been fighting a silent war with shapeshifters sent from a parallel universe until recently. So maybe Peter was serious.

Mozzie nodded enthusiastically anyway.

Peter, leaning against lab bench, hands in his pockets added, "And there's the fact that we don't have any and Walter destroyed the formula."

"I can recreate it, using Olivia and Bright's blood samples." Walter dismissed that problem. "No, the difficulty is I don't know how much Cortexiphan Belly administered or how often. Like our Olivia, Agent Luckin – "

"It's Bryce, not Bright," Chuck corrected again. "Bryce Larkin."

" – should have some abilities, but nothing was done to trigger them."

"Abilities?" Chuck asked.

"Pyrokinesis, telepathy, projective empathy, telekinesis, healing, teleportation, universe jumping," Peter recited. "Those are the ones we've documented. Since no one's been able to find all the kids from the Wooster trials, there could be others."

"Teleportation," Mozzie mumbled to himself dreamily. "Imagine the jobs you could pull... " His eyes widened and he added hurriedly. "Theoretically."

"Right," Peter drawled, an impish light in his eyes that said he appreciated the possibilities too.

"Healing?" Chuck asked. "Could – "

"That subject is dead," Walter said.

"Most of them are." Peter could be brutal when Walter turned evasive. "Or crazy. Whole bus loads of crazy. Agent Larkin's one of the lucky ones."

"The nootropic properties of the Cortexiphan still in his system might explain why he didn't need the governor your father created for you to handle the Intersect," Walter added. "If only I could study how he adapted the technology currently available – "

"Walter. Focus."

Walter just couldn't help thinking about things and he thought so fast and in so many different directions, he lost any since of limit. Chuck sort of got it, with the Intersect in his head, he could have taken advantage and ended up crossing the line. He'd been lucky enough to have friends who kept him grounded, though. Walter had had William Bell, apparently, who had just egged him on. Now he had Olivia and Peter and Astrid, who made him a different person.

"Yes. Of course. Mr. Lafferty's problem."

Mozzie glared at Walter and demanded, "How did you learn that alias?"

"Focus," Peter interrupted.

"Perhaps some hot cocoa would help." Walter looked hopeful.

"It couldn't hurt, I suppose."

Chuck checked his watch. It was dark outside, only the sodium glare of streetlights visible through the windows set high in the basement's walls and even inside the building the air had that before dawn chill. The heat had rattled off hours earlier, along with the overhead lights. Only the gentler, warmer pools of light from various desk lamps and the flicker of computer monitors lit the lab now and the four of them were the only ones still awake.

Burke had left for a hotel with his wife. Sarah had gone too, impatient with Walter's vagaries and able to offer less help to the work they were doing than Mozzie. Agent Lee had taken Red and Ruth off to a hotel room before coming back and falling asleep at his desk. Chuck had the feeling the Fringe Division detail assigned to the two women from the parallel universe were there as much to watch them as to keep them safe. Agent Farnsworth had gone too, promising to come back with breakfast for everyone in a few hours. Casey catnapped in a straight chair by the lab doors, unwilling to trust the FBI security detail on watch outside just on principle.

Agent Dunham was napping on the lab's battered and undoubtedly uncomfortable couch, while Bryce and Neal were asleep in Walter's room.

They had been asleep, Chuck corrected himself as Bryce came out and joined them. Dunham and Lee both woke up and sleepily followed Bryce to their little powwow.

"Anything?" Bryce asked Walter. He stopped beside Chuck. A scruff of beard shadowed his jaw, reminding Chuck he'd need to shave soon himself if he didn't want to look like he was starting a beard.

"Many things indeed, but not a cure. Not yet. But I am certain I can come up with something," Walter assured him. He reached over and clumsily patted Bryce's shoulder. "I just need Belly's notes."

Bryce startled at the touch. He'd done that at Stanford too, for the whole first year. It wasn't that Bryce didn't like to be touched, Chuck thought now, but he never expected it. Not a kind touch, at least; Bryce was always ready to dodge a hit. Back then, Chuck had made a project of it, taming Bryce into accepting the casual touches he'd grown up taking for granted. He shifted closer to Bryce, curious whether Bryce would draw away or not.

A sidelong glance told him Bryce remembered Chuck's old campaign and how he'd started with just the same crowding near. Chuck waggled his eyebrows at him and sidled closer, daring Bryce to elbow him in the ribs the way he had done the first few times Chuck got up in his personal space.

This time Bryce ignored him. Chuck decided that was a good sign. He wasn't starting from scratch. Bryce hadn't gone completely feral. It felt like old times, with Bryce's fever heat warming Chuck's side even without touching. He smiled to himself, happy despite everything. He had Bryce back and nothing could make that anything less than wonderful to Chuck.

"Neal says Massive Dynamics doesn't have any records of Bell giving us the Cortexiphan."

"Maybe someone got nervous enough to get rid of them when you guys got out," Peter suggested.

A one-shoulder shrug from Bryce communicated that he considered it possible. "Bell did keep notes, though," Bryce said.

Walter agreed. "Belly kept them in a journal. We invented the cypher together the second time we dropped acid."

Peter covered his face with his hands while shaking his head. Bryce looked amused for maybe the first time since arriving at the lab. Chuck thought his eyes might bug out. Acid. Lysergic acid diethylamide. He tried to imagine his father doing LSD and couldn't. It explained a lot about Walter though. He caught Bryce's gaze and wanted to crack up laughing, if only because he knew Bryce wouldn't be able to keep from laughing too. But it wouldn't be kind, not to either Peter or Walter, so he bit his lip.

Stanford wasn't exactly Berkeley of old, but there had been some experimenting. He and Bryce had shared a joint three times, though Chuck had always been nervous Ellie would find out and kill him dead.

Mozzie leaned forward and confided, "I've planned out at least two of my best cons while experimenting with controlled substances. The government doesn't want people to know they can access more of their brains. That's why they've placed so many drugs on restricted schedules."

"Oh God," Peter muttered into his palms.

Walter looked at Mozzie in delight.

Gravely, Bryce told Mozzie, "It's a conspiracy." Mozzie couldn't, but Chuck saw how one corner of Bryce's mouth kicked up in a miniscule, hidden smile. Bryce had only ever mocked and teased people he liked.

"See? See?" Mozzie pointed at Bryce. "The CIA agent knows."

"Chuck?" Bryce prompted him.

"Oh. Oh, yeah. It is," Chuck agreed just to earn that eye-smile from Bryce. "Absolutely."

"If Massive Dynamics doesn't have the journal, then it was removed or... " Mozzie's thoughts had raced ahead, though, and circled back to Neal. You had to admire his loyalty along with his twisty brain. Mozzie paused and raised his eyebrows at them, sure he had figured something out, "It could still be at Litchfield, couldn't it?"

Bryce flinched hard enough his arm brushed Chuck's. How bad had that place been that it could frighten Bryce so many years later?

"Is the facility still there?" Peter asked thoughtfully. "I thought it would have been shut down."

"It's still there," Bryce said. "It's the Whiting Institute for the Criminally Insane."

"Not at all like St. Claire's or Deerfield, either," Walter contributed in his usual fashion, oblivious to Bryce's tension, his mind hundreds of miles ahead of the rest of them. "I still want some cocoa. We encounter an alarming number of people who belong under mental care and none of them deserve to be sent to Litchfield. Terrible, terrible place." He glanced up, his watery eyes wide and regretful. "It's certainly no place for children."

"We were never children," Bryce said. He ignored the looks everyone tried to hide and added, "I'm going to check on Neal."

"Damn," Lee murmured in the quiet that followed.

Bryce opened the office door and leaned his head in. He didn't enter but Chuck thought he must be talking to Neal.

Very quietly, sorrowfully, Walter said, "I do not believe that young man will survive if I am not successful in helping Mr. Caffrey."

Chuck gulped, wanting to deny it, but afraid Walter was right. Bryce had been through too much and he'd shatter under that blow.

Mozzie shook his head. "Not going to happen. If you can't do it, we'll find someone who can."

Chuck couldn't imagine anyone with a better chance than Walter. But that didn't scare him as much as the idea of what Bryce might do without Neal. Bryce would be as frighteningly efficient at finding a way to die as he was at surviving. He didn't want to lose his friend after just getting him back. He'd do anything to help Bryce, but Chuck had sick, sinking feeling nothing would be enough. He was with Mozzie on this: if Walter couldn't do it, they'd find someone who could. They'd find David Robert Jones if they had to and force him to help.

"You can do it, Walter," Peter said and gave the older man a one-armed hug around the shoulders. It wasn't casual, but it wasn't calculated either. It settled Walter. It looked like it settled Peter too, as something in his expression loosened. His sarcasm was too warm to hurt. "You're a regular miracle worker."

Chuck glanced away, a knot in his throat at the affection between the two men. He'd only had that with his dad for a couple weeks as an adult. Of course, Bryce and Neal had never had it at all.

Mozzie was watching Bryce, or rather, watching as Bryce walked Neal out to rejoin them.

Walter bustled over to one of the lab benches and brought back a pressure injector. "This will help," he said. "I've tailored it to you specifically."

"I've always liked custom-tailored things," Neal joked as Bryce unbuttoned his shirt for him and pulled one shoulder off enough Walter could use the injector on his upper arm. He closed his eyes for a breath, then batted Bryce's hands away. "I've got this."

Neal's fingers were sure and steady as he rebuttoned his shirt and tucked it back into his pants. Chuck wondered how he could sleep in his clothes and still look so unruffled and unwrinkled. It was like a secret super power.

"So," Neal said. "Cortexiphan? Any place other than Massive Dynamics have it?" He straightened his cuffs, checking the cufflinks, then shrugged to get the shirt to sit just right.

Maybe Bryce had told Neal about the Cortexiphan when he woke him, but Chuck thought he and Bryce were sharing thoughts again. It must be fantastic to just know what the other person felt and knew, instead of always guessing, relying on watching and learning them and how much truth they told out loud. He tried to imagine having that with Sarah, but it wouldn't quite gel. Sarah, even when they were closest, always held a part of herself strictly to herself. It wasn't that she kept secrets from Chuck – though she did at least in part because of their professions – it was just her nature. He accepted that about her; it was part of Sarah and he loved all of her. But it would be wonderful, just once, to be that close, to know.

Neal and Bryce had that, even though their relationship wasn't a romantic one.

Neal smiled brilliantly at Walter. "And, Walter, thank you. I already feel better."

No wonder Neal had been such a great con man. That smile could dazzle anyone into doing anything. Definitely another super power.

"Do you think Bell might have left some of the drug at Litchfield?" Olivia asked thoughtfully. She stood next to Peter and had stayed so quiet, listening thoughtfully, that Chuck had nearly forgotten she was there. Her hair had been released from the severe ponytail and she looked soft and tired.

"I can get in there," Bryce said. Reluctance and determination colored his words. "I can find it, if it's there."

"And if Bell didn't leave anything?" Mozzie asked.

Neal raised his eyebrows at Walter and waited for him to answer.


Bryce asked, because he didn't want to go back to Litchfield, not if there were any other way, "Can you recreate your Cortexiphan formula and give it to Neal?"

"It might make things worse," Peter Bishop pointed out. He touched Dunham's shoulder, then pulled his hand away, but she only turned her head and smiled at him. Meanwhile, a dozen complicated, regretful emotions colored the look Lee gave her. Bryce wouldn't have been able to read them, if he hadn't felt something very much the same when he realized Sarah had chosen Chuck over their partnership.

He'd never thought she'd pick him over Chuck, only that she cared more for the mission than any man. But Chuck had changed her too. He was glad, afterward, when he thought he was dying again, and when he let them go on thinking he was dead.

"The side effects are unpleasant," Dunham explained gently and Bryce abruptly realized she was talking from experience.

"The side effects are a bitch," Peter insisted.

"Insomnia. Headaches. Exploding electronics." She paused and finished, "And my memories have mostly been over-written by those of the Olivia from Peter's timeline."

Bryce stared at her. How could she say that so calmly? Also, what the hell, other timelines? Weren't other universes enough? That hadn't been in the files he hacked. If he hadn't been so focused on Neal, he'd probably be as unhappy with reality as Peter Burke seemed to be.

"Don't worry about starting fires," Walter offered. "Olivia was part of the Cortexiphan trials as a child. When she was drugged again, it was to reactivate the abilities she had already exhibited, not new ones."

"So if you weren't setting fires with your mind or anything else weird as a kid, you won't now," Peter finished. "And Neal won't ever."

Bryce blinked. None of his c-sibs had ever done anything like that. It hadn't occurred to any of them that they could. Their lives had been severely circumscribed. Imagination and independence had been actively discouraged, which had fed their discontent before any of them ever saw the outside world during a mission.

He remembered being amazed by how much color existed in the world outside the labs and sharing it with the mesh when he came back from his first mission.

"Probably," Walter corrected. "The addition of the Intersect has no doubt opened pathways in your brains the average human never creates. Administering a nootropic drug like Cortexiphan could compound the changes." His eyes were bright and fascinated by the possibilities. "You haven't evinced any abilities outside the norm?"

"He doesn't need a governor," Chuck said. "No glitches." He glanced at Bryce, doe-eyed with concern. "There haven't been, right? You haven't started forgetting things?"

Bryce shook his head. "Remember, it really was customized for my brain." Maybe handling the mesh had given him an unfair advantage in handling the Intersect, but it wasn't helping Neal. Massive Dynamics' Intersect did things the original never had, but at a higher cost to the user.

"Don't worry." Walter smiled at Neal. "I think you'll respond better to the Cortexiphan than most adults."

"Good to know," Neal replied dryly. "But what about this memory thing?"


No one looked happy. Peter made an apologetic face, one that turned to worry as some thought shaped itself into being. "Walter was going to work on that, but... "

"I decided to let the process complete itself," Dunham told them. She tipped her head, gaze on Peter, and smiled again. "It isn't painful."

Bryce and Neal recoiled from her together. Not painful? Who cared about the pain, if you lost your memories, your mind, your self to some over-write of another version of you? It wasn't you? Better if it did hurt, so you knew it wasn't happen, instead of dissolving into nothing without even being aware of it. They didn't have to mesh to feel exactly the same way about that. It was a living death, painless or not.

"It's still suicide," Neal accused and Bryce nodded, not adding his own horrified objection to sharing the mesh with a stranger. Meshing with Ruth had shaken him badly. Meshing with some mind ghost that thought he was Neal, but wasn't Bryce's Neal, would be so much worse it made him sick to think of it.
Their reaction angered Peter and Dunham looked pained.

Lee surprised Bryce by speaking up. Lee tended to fade into the background except when he put his head together with Red or talked about the shapeshifters. "It isn't painful for you. It is for the rest of us. We're losing our Olivia."

Bryce nodded in tandem with Neal.

"How's keeping his body alive and letting some whoo-whoo ghost version take him over count as saving him, anyway?" Casey asked, bluntly expressing Bryce's argument before he could. Bryce hadn't realized he was listening.

"It shouldn't be a problem," Walter said hurriedly. "Since Peter never encountered Mr. Caffrey... ?"

"I'd remember," Peter said.

"Then there's no difference in the timeline for Mr. Caffrey to reconcile." Walter seemed satisfied.

Bryce frowned over that theory. They thought the memory over-write resulted from reconciling the differences between this timeline and one that had been erased? Then the only difference in the two was... He looked over at Peter Bishop. Walter's son. He wasn't Walter's son, not in this timeline. That explained the records that said Peter Bishop died at ten. He had, here. But in another timeline, he'd survived, and somehow traveled from it to this one. Temporal physics were never an interest of Bryce's but he thought he grasped what Walter was saying. They didn't think Neal would experience what Olivia was because Neal had never met Peter Bishop in the other timeline.

He shared this with Neal through the mesh in a fast integration. Neal grabbed onto his arm and held on as he flashed on what Massive Dynamics knew about all of it. It agreed with Walter and Peter's data.

They let the mesh unravel into its normal, comfortable connection without speaking. Bryce still couldn't understand how Olivia could allow herself to be essentially erased without fighting it, but it seemed unlikely to be a problem for Neal.

"You're sure?" Neal asked Peter Bishop. "And Walter, you can call me Neal. I insist."

"As sure as I can be."

"I shall work on the cure then," Walter declared, "and, of course, one for the lovely Ruby – "

"Ruth," Bryce corrected in chorus with Neal.

" – as well." Walter clapped his hands together. "Now. Everyone wants cocoa, yes? Peter, light the burner there. Bryce, there's milk in the refrigerator. Neal, the cocoa is in the cabinet beside the sinks. It's next to the Warfarin, so be careful which carton you take out. Olivia, you must know where Astrid has left all the pots and mugs." He shoved them all into motion impatiently. "Well, what are you all waiting for? And who wants pancakes?"

An hour later when Astrid arrived with coffee and cookies and Elizabeth Burke came in with her husband, along with fast food egg sandwiches, orange juice, and hash browns for everyone, followed by Sarah, Red and Ruth with pastries, they pretended they all – especially Casey – hadn't gorged on pancakes cooked over a Bunsen burner while Olivia took a call from her boss.

Bryce wasn't sure he ever wanted to see Casey eat pancakes again, though. Neal was: he didn't. Great White Sharks had nothing on John Casey when it came to gorging, at least when it came to pancakes. It made Bryce's brain hurt, just a little, and his stomach queasy.

"I've already talked to Agent Broyles and my AD," Burke announced. "We've got warrants and a go ahead to take down Massive Dynamics. So eat up, we're going to New York. General Beckman is sending a helicopter for all of us." He looked steadily at Neal. "I am personally serving the arrest warrant on Nina Sharp."


Peter wasn't positive how Mozzie ended up with them, but Neal's friend had been entrusted with the case holding doses of the medication Walter had improved on to keep Neal on his feet. Farnsworth stayed in Cambridge along with Elizabeth and Ruth. Apparently Walter rarely, if ever, left the lab. No one even suggested he should come with them when they left for the Liberty Island HQ. Since he was working on a cure for Neal, Peter certainly wasn't going to argue over it. He wished he could have left some of the others behind.

Fringe Division's HQ had a room set up with bunks, just the way most police stations and the FBI offices did, where an detective or an agent could catch a catnap when things were too hot to go home or they were just too tired to make it there. Broyles himself escorted them inside once they arrived.

Neal curled onto one of the bunks immediately, without even complaining about the coarseness of the khaki-colored blanket covering it. Walter's drug took care of the obvious shakes, but the unmistakable, constant exhaustion couldn't be medicated away so easily. Peter guiltily wished he could do something – something besides making Neal feel worse. He'd failed abysmally when they talked and now he had no idea how to apologize, let alone repair the rift between them.

They had around four hours until the scheduled raid on Massive Dynamics. Peter hoped Neal would sleep through most of that time, though they would need him when they went in. The Massive Dynamics' Intersect held all the passwords to get into the company's servers. Neal needed to get into their vault too. He'd been insistent on the subject and Larkin had backed him. Both of them were vehement that they wanted the data and samples the corporation had collected on Neal out of their hands – and not in the FBI or anyone else's.

Since Peter didn't relish the idea of Larkin going after anything on his own, he'd had to accede to letting Neal come along, and Mozzie, and letting them retrieve what they needed. Mozzie, despite the warehouse debacle, wasn't as likely as Larkin to blow up a Manhattan skyscraper.

He rubbed his hands over his face. When had this become his life? He worked Financial Crimes, White Collar. Bombs, espionage, counter-terrorism, all of that lay well outside his purview. He wanted to blame Neal for dragging him into this, but the truth was Neal had desperately been trying to stay out of it. The raspy sound of his whiskers reminded Peter to take advantage of the zip-bag with a fresh shirt, anti-perspirant, comb, disposable razor, toothbrush and paste, all of which El had pressed into his hands before he left. Helicopters always left him feeling grubby and greasy as well as windblown, no matter how recently he'd cleaned up and she knew he'd want to look like a proper Bureau agent when he went after Nina Sharp.

El had also given him a vicious little punch in the gut that no one else had seen and told him to get his act together or he'd regret it. Whether she meant that she'd make him regret it or she just knew that sooner or later guilt would eat him up, Peter didn't dare guess. Since it was El, he figured it for the latter. She knew him better than he did himself most of the time.

She'd liked Neal from the beginning. Seeing him failing hurt her too.

He hoped that the second team, made up of the spooks, the other Olivia, and Larkin were successful at Litchfield. Everyone seemed so confident in Walter Bishop, but Peter couldn't quite get over how crazy the man was.

He picked up the bag El gave him and started for the locker room and showers Agent Lee had pointed out. He stopped next to the bunk Neal had taken. Larkin had joined Neal, though the narrow mattress barely had room for one person. Lashes like ink smudges and brows drawn together like calligraphic swoops, Larkin frowned even in his sleep, unable to escape the wear and worry weighing everyone down. Peter stared at them and felt a stab of jealousy that left him sick with himself.

Damn it, he'd been looking at this and them all wrong. What did he have to be jealous of? He had El, who was as close to him as the other half of his soul. Neal and Larkin needed connections too. Hell, he knew that about Neal, had figured it out the first month he worked with him. How had he let himself forget that? However Neal had been born, he wasn't soulless: he felt and he needed and he loved. Thinking otherwise would be like saying an adopted child wasn't really part of a family. Neal and Larkin and any of the others still out there were humanity's orphans, whatever their origins, and Peter had been a blind fool to think otherwise. It wasn't jealousy he kept feeling when he looked at them, it was shame. Shame on his part and deeper shame that 'humanity' could have mistreated them the way they had.

When he looked away he found Colonel Casey watching him. "Sleep when and where you can, Agent Burke."

Peter nodded silently and left them to it. The CIA and NSA assets would be on the road to Connecticut while he was busy orchestrating Massive Dynamics' New York takedown. The plan was for them to penetrate the insane asylum and the research facility hidden within it after nightfall. Once they were out, they would return to Cambridge with the information and drugs Walter needed and rendezvous with Peter's team.

That was the plan.

Peter had run enough undercover ops, stings, and busts that he knew the plan usually didn't make it out the front door, never mind encountering the enemy.

A hot shower, shave and clean teeth made him feel a little more optimistic. After all, he had Neal back – in a fashion – and warrants to serve in the morning. The prospect of doing something perked him up.

Maybe Agent Walker felt the same. He met her coming out of the women's locker room. She'd pulled her wet hair back in a short ponytail and had no make-up on.

"Agent Burke," she greeted him quietly.

Peter nodded and figured that would be it, just a polite acknowledgment and they'd both find a bunk and sleep as long as they could.

She rested her fingers on his arm and stopped him before going back into the bunk room.

"Something I can do for you, Agent Walker?"

She smiled and shrugged. "I just wanted to say I'm sorry you got pulled into this."

"I kind of think your team got pulled into this, not the other way round."

"Bryce... " She looked down at her hand, then ran her thumb over her wedding ring. "We were partners." Her shoulders shifted uneasily. "I've never seen him like this."

"I have a feeling he and Neal have spent their lives making sure no one saw them like this." Peter added, "Together." Together the ties between them became too obvious; not just the fact they were identical to look at.

"Vulnerable," Walker said.

That too, he acknowledged.

She spun the ring on her finger again. "Do you love your wife?"

The question didn't come out of left field; she'd been telegraphing her preoccupation, but Peter still wondered why she was asking him about his marriage. Telling the truth came naturally, though.

"With all that I am."

"Chuck looks at me the way you look at your wife."

Peter had no idea how to respond to that. El looked at him the same way he looked at her. They were good together and treasured that knowledge. They knew each other, their flaws and weaknesses, their strengths, and the commitment they both made every day to each other. He hadn't seen Walker look at Chuck that way. He reminded himself he'd only seen them under stress and judging relationships from the outside was a fool's game. After all, he'd thought he had a grasp of what Kate felt or didn't feel about Neal and had been utterly wrong. He hadn't known anything.

"I don't know what I'm trying to tell you," Walker went on with a shake of her head.

"I thought you wanted to know something from me."

"No." She shook her head and strands of blonde hair curled against her temples, escaping as it dried. "No. Just... you don't know what you have until it's gone is a cliché, but there's one thing worse."

"What's that?"

Her smiled ached. "When you forget."

"Do spies take classes in being cryptic?"

"I should let you get some sleep."

"You should get some too."

"I'll sleep on the way to Connecticut," she demurred. "I've been an idiot."

Peter almost let her walk away then, but curiosity wouldn't let him. "So, Agent Walker, how do you know what you don't know?"

Walker slid her wedding ring off and held it up. "You don't." She closed her hand in a fist around the ring. Her eyes were glassy and Peter feared she would cry. Crying women, crying men, crying spies... He couldn't deal with any of them.

"Let Caffrey talk to you, in case Dr. Bishop's cure or the Intersect costs him his memories. Sometimes all you get is what everyone else can tell you. So let him tell you, in case he needs you to tell him later."

She put the ring back on. "Not that it will be enough."

Straight-backed, she walked into the bunk room and took a bed separate from Chuck's, but close enough she could turn her head and watch him sleep.

Peter gave up on sleep and headed for the conference room Agent Broyles had provided as an ops center. He'd go over the plan again, make some more phone calls. One of the probationary agents could stop by June's house and retrieve fresh clothing for Neal and Bryce. As an apology it wouldn't cut it, but it wouldn't hurt to extend an olive branch to Larkin. Maybe Neal would appreciate the gesture.

El would approve too.

Part Seven

'Cause I know that I'll never be fixed
Tell me why, oh why, are my genetics such a bitch!
Alex Vega :: Infected

Burke parked the Taurus outside the police perimeter and badged their group through. Mozzie had to admit that came in handy. He didn't even need his false credentials, accompanied as he, Neal, and Bishop were by Burke, Lee and the impressively forceful Agent Dunham. Neal and Peter Bishop both flashed their consultant IDs and the uniformed cops keeping the public and the news vultures a block away from the Massive Dynamics building waved everyone through.

The traffic snarl as a result of cutting out a block of Manhattan's street grid was truly epic. Only the blue light on the car's dash, liberal usage of the siren, and abuse of Burke's badge had brought them halfway close.

Burke strode ahead, tan coat flapping, ignored by Neal, while Bishop hung back and talked to Dunham in a low voice. Lee at least seemed to be watching their surroundings for hidden threats. If Mozzie had tried, he could have heard the conversation behind him. Without the normal crowds on the sidewalk or cars in the street, an unnatural quiet, like a held breath, filled their surroundings, made stronger and stranger by the cacophonous yet distant horns of every outraged, inconvenienced motorist in New York.

Neal, hands in his pockets, strolled beside Mozzie like they were on an outing to admire the city's architecture. His head tipped back to admire the towering buildings, the mercury-wet steel and glass under a concrete overcast sky. Even the messenger bag he carried slung crossways– filled with the tools of their trade and including rope and harness for rappelling just in case – didn't disturb the cut and hang of his suit coat. No one looking at him would connect him to the pale and shaking wreck that showed up in Brooklyn only two days before, though Mozzie could pick out that the suit fitted just a little looser than it should have.

Mozzie's bag, of course, pulled at his coat so badly he thought he'd lose a button before the day ended.

"Are you okay," Agent Lee asked quietly, "going back in there?"

Mozzie nearly tripped but Neal caught his arm and steadied him. "I consider it a beautiful 'screw you', Agent Lee," Neal replied lightly, "but thank you." He unconsciously smoothed the line of Mozzie's coat sleeve when he let go.

Bishop chuckled at that, while Mozzie ratcheted Lee up in his estimation. He might even be human or the Suit equivalent.

Neal slowed his steps enough that he and Mozzie were sufficiently separated from the others to speak privately.

Neal smiled his wildest wicked smile, the old gleam in his blue eyes, and Mozzie's heart stuttered. He couldn't lose Neal. Right now he looked like his old self, but Mozzie understood nearly everything Walter nattered on about. He knew the new drug wouldn't help in the end. They had to find the records of what William Bell had done if they were really going to help Neal. They had to recover every genetic sample Massive Dynamics had taken too so they couldn't recreate Litchfield a third time.

At least not with Neal clones, Mozzie thought cynically. Nothing would stop someone from starting from scratch with another genetic template. But having to make the same mistakes first would at least slow them down.

Mozzie knew Massive Dynamics or some other company would continue experimenting. He found it telling that Neal and Bryce and the creepy Kate lookalike accepted it, the Fringe Division people looked guilty and even the spooks didn't deny it. Only the Suit talked about legal avenues like they would make any difference. These sorts of government-backed corporations were immune to the law.

Let Burke and the other agents arrest Nina Sharp and everyone else involved. Mozzie hoped they would rot in dank cells with no windows or plumbing. It would be what they deserved, though he knew it would never happen: Sharp, at least, would be out before the paperwork was filed downtown. The arrests would occupy everyone in the Massive Dynamics building, though, and give Neal and him the perfect opportunity to commit the most audacious theft they'd ever pulled together.

"This is going to be good," Neal murmured, ducking his head toward Mozzie as they followed Burke and the other Suits toward the lobby doors. A lock of dark hair swung over his eyes, making him look as boyish and reckless as he'd been the first time Mozzie saw him in the park. He touched Mozzie's arm almost shyly. "You – "

"Don't start being maudlin now," Mozzie told him.

"I'm just glad I get to do this with you again."

Mozzie heard the unspoken one last time and vowed to himself, again, that it wouldn't be. Before he could say so, Neal deflected with another bright smile and a nod toward the lobby doors. "Looks like Diana and Jones have everything under control."

Lady Suit and Agent Jones were waiting along with more suits wearing FBI windbreakers or black body armor and carrying assault weapons. Lady Suit looked as terrifyingly gorgeous and in-charge as ever, bossing the soldier types around effortlessly. Agent Jones was on the phone. Mozzie glimpsed plenty more agents and soldiers through the glass front and doors, stationed at the security desk, the elevator banks, and the emergency stairs, enough to give him hives if he thought about it too much. Since he'd listened to Burke coordinate the operation, he knew there were federal agents and military at every point of entry and egress.

Every exit that the forces of law and order could think of, at least, Mozzie reflected. He hadn't heard anyone take into account the warren of tunnels underneath every building in the city, the sewers and conduits carrying electricity, water, fiber optic cables and outdated telephone landlines. While he wasn't fond of access tunnels and neither was Neal, in a pinch they'd do. There was always the roof too, but it was obvious and should have been secured. He and Neal could always hold out in a heating vent or above a dropped ceiling until nightfall, then cut a hole in one of the glass windows and rappel down the side of the building before strolling away. There was always an out that no one else saw.

Mozzie didn't like rappelling either, but it was better than base jumping from the roof in his considered opinion.

Of course, today, they wouldn't need to do any of those, because they weren't the targets and they were going in alongside the FBI and would, once they were finished, exit with them too.

It just set wrong and a part of him had to map out other methods to get out without the suits and soldiers. It didn't do to rely completely on anyone working for the Man.

He leveled a sour look at Burke's back after that reflection.

Mrs. Suit hadn't disappointed him, Mozzie consoled himself. She still treated Neal like a wayward little brother and had extended nearly the same level of affection toward Bryce. Mozzie wasn't completely sure about Bryce yet, even if Neal was, but he certainly didn't deserve the attitude the Suit kept giving him. The Suit needed to get his head out of his ass, there wasn't room up there with the stick.

Lady Suit saw them approaching and left her conversation with one of the military types. She had Kevlar on over a soft pink shirt and under the ubiquitous blue-and-yellow FBI windbreaker. "No one's going in or out, boss. DHS sure has pull. There's even a Blackhawk on the roof helipad along with a Special Forces squad." She shook her head. "And a Cobra flying cap."

All those guns made Mozzie nervous and he didn't even dislike them the way Neal did. He snuck a look at his partner in crime. Neal seemed unaffected. He was eye-casing the area.

"We also have a Biohazard Containment team in an unmarked van a block out," Dunham told Lady Suit. "Just in case."

Lady Suit's dark eyes widened, but she just nodded to Dunham. "Let's hope they have a boring afternoon in the van."

Dunham smiled back at her. "Let's."

Agent Jones finished his phone call and joined them. "Okay, the Building Department and FDNY both confirm that the building's structurally sound. The fire and explosions two nights ago were contained to the eleventh floor and the stairwell between there and the tenth. But we can't take the elevators without the security codes. The whole building locked down when we served the warrants. Someone hit an alarm. – Hey, Neal, glad you're okay." He sounded like he meant it. Neal had the effect even when he wasn't conning. "No one's cooperating yet."

Neal flashed his movie star smile at Jones. "Thanks. I can get you past all the security."

"Neal... " Burke grumbled.

The smile dissolved into a set expression. "They put it in my head, Agent Burke." Neal switched his attention to Dunham, Lee and Bishop. "I'm getting my samples back. You can come with me or wait for Agent Burke's warrants to magically make someone talk." In an eel-smooth move, he was past all the FBI agents and through the glass doors.

Mozzie gave Burke, who was gaping after Neal, a sour look. "Good job, Suit." Shaking his head, he ducked around Jones and hurried after Neal. The Fringe agents followed and finally, Burke, Jones and Lady Suit. They caught up as Neal charmed his way behind the security desk and accessed the computer there. That left five other seats empty, each with a monitor displaying the Massive Dynamics logo on the screen. Furious red telltale lights flashing Access Denied on every keypad and door lock interrupted the shadows that otherwise owned the ill-lit lobby. The security kiosk appeared to be the only area retaining more than back-up battery power; only the dim gray light from outside the windows lit the rest of the lobby.

"What did he mean, they put something in his head?" Jones asked.

"Classified," Burke answered. He sighed hugely and his shoulders slumped for a brief moment.

Mozzie smirked to himself. Neal had told him everything about the Intersect and then Bryce had explained the things Neal didn't know. Chuck had objected weakly a couple of times, but hadn't tried to stop Mozzie learning everything. So he knew what was going on. Of course, so did Mrs. Suit, but she had some kind of magic ability that made even the Suit bend the rules. What a con she could have been, he thought a bit wistfully, imagining it: himself and Sally the Vulture, Neal, Kate and Bryce, and Elizabeth Burke too. He'd never mention that fantasy to Neal; it would only make him sad. Some things could never be and that was one of them."

"Classified?" Lady Suit repeated in disgust. "What did we step in?"

Agent Lee coughed and said, "It's complicated. Massive Dynamics violated non-disclosure agreements with DARPA in regard to Mr. Caffrey. DHS and NSA will both want to deal with that aspect of the investigation."

"Neal didn't agree to anything," Burke said grudgingly.

"He's the kind of security breach intelligence agencies have nightmares about." Agent Lee twisted his mouth to the side.

"I know," Burke replied wearily. Worry dulled his tone. "I wish I didn't."

Mozzie knew what that meant. Some people might call him paranoid, but they just wanted to fool him. He knew paranoia kept him alive and free and it would do the same for Neal, since Neal sometimes had the survival instincts of a lemming.

No one was going to disappear Neal. Mozzie clenched his fists and gritted his teeth at the thought. Over his dead body, they would. Neal hadn't asked for the Intersect. None of the alphabet agencies or their shadowy puppet masters were going to bury Neal in some bunker and use him for an experiment or as an asset. The only reason Mozzie hadn't spirited Neal away – and Bryce too if that's what it took – was the need for a cure for Neal's condition. Otherwise Mozzie would have had the three of them in a non-extradition country by now.

Agent Dunham said quietly, "This isn't the time to discuss this, but we will, I promise."

"So you say," Burke responded with heavy skepticism. "He's still my responsibility for the moment, though."

Neal must have heard the Suit because his face blanked into the sort of no-expression he used to get sometimes when he thought Mozzie wasn't looking. He looked at the computer in front of him instead of looking up though and then his eyes did that thing, with the flickering, that Chuck had called flashing. Mozzie was fascinated by the way he could see Neal's pupils expand and contract in response to whatever he saw in his mind. It was hard to miss with Neal's eyes. Neal began typing faster than Mozzie had ever seen before and the computer screen filled with code.

"What are you doing?" Lady Suit asked at the same time a security guard, disarmed and under guard of two soldiers, objected, "Hey, you can't do that!"

"Watch me," Neal muttered. "Moz. I need you and Agent Dunham to log in as Dr. Porter and the security director, Kevin Reynolds. I'll give each of you a code once you've done that to input on my mark. That'll let me reset all the security. From there, getting into the Vault will be a breeze."

"What about the biometric security?" Mozzie asked as he came around the security desk and sat down at one of the empty computers.

Agent Dunham took her place at the third without comment. Bishop leaned over the counter from the other side and watched, a look of intrigued interest on his face. His fingers twitched like he wanted to be the one typing. Lee hung back and kept an eye on the disarmed security officers, which wasn't a bad idea Mozzie acknowledged, because who knew if they were really disarmed?

"They did a biometric scan as part of my 'intake', palm and fingerprints, retinas, blood sample, DNA," Neal explained. "I'm going to replace Nina Sharp's data with mine."

Neal leaned over the keyboard, intent, scanning the code that reflected in his eyes, brows drawn just slightly together. Sally the Vulture didn't hack as fast he was now and it almost bothered Mozzie, but then he smiled that Neal smile, the secret one that said he was about to pull off a scam right under everyone's nose. Mozzie stayed tense, but began reflecting on all the cons they could pull if Neal's new talent extended to more than hacking Massive Dynamics' system. He forced himself to pay attention and opened a login window.

"Password?" he asked.

"Dr. Porter's is capital G, 6, small H, small N, 3, 5, dash, 4, capital G, small G," Neal recited and Mozzie typed it in. The Massive Dynamics logo faded into a personalized screen.

"Agent Dunham?" Neal prompted.


"Capitol V, Capitol P, 3, 9, small Y, small C, 2, asterisk, 8, small B." Neal waited a beat, then added, "Good. I'm sending you the security reset code now. Do you see it?"

An IM window opened on the screen in front of Mozzie. It held another, much longer random numbers and letter code. "Received, mon frère."

Dunham said only, "Yes."

Neal directed Mozzie and Dunham through the next steps, which weren't obvious. The security reset had been hidden from any cursory search or hack. Neal, though, didn't need to search for it with the Intersect. Fascinating or not, Mozzie wished Neal wouldn't use it so much, because they'd already figured out it accelerated the deterioration steadily killing him.

"I didn't know you could hack," Lady Suit said to Neal. Jones watched thoughtfully, while Agent Lee stuffed his hands deep in his coat pockets and hunched his shoulders.

"Diana, do you know how much money there is in cybercrime?" Neal chuckled as he went on working.

Burke leaned over the desk and told him darkly, "You'd better not know."

Neal finally looked up and, for the first time, he didn't look friendly toward the Suit. "It isn't going to matter in a week, two weeks if I'm unlucky – "

"Shut up, Neal," Mozzie interrupted. He felt sick-hot with anger that Neal was ready to just accept he was going to die. "You're not – "


Mozzie made frantic stop gestures. "Don't use my name, there could be any number of surveillance systems operating here."

"And I'm about to take them all over," Neal said. "Agent Dunham, if you and Mr. No Name here would input your codes now?"

Mozzie hurriedly entered the code. At the other end of the security kiosk, Agent Dunham typed in Dr. Porter's code and Neal's artist's fingers slowed to a stop on his keyboard.

"Now?" Mozzie asked.

"Now," Neal confirmed.

"Done," Dunham said and turned in her chair to watch. Mozzie clicked Enter. "Recognized and confirmed."

Neal winked at him and tapped one last key before placing his hand on the palm reader waiting beside the keyboard. Blue light rolled beneath the glass face, brilliant enough Mozzie thought he saw the bones beneath the skin silhouette for an instant. Around them, the Massive Dynamics building hummed, the tone subtly changing, as lights came on, computer monitors flickered into life, and the keypads next to each doorway flashed green Access Activated messages.

The soldiers and the MD security in custody all twitched in reaction.

Neal held up his hand and studied it. Mozzie knew he was looking for tremors.

His hands were still steady, to Mozzie's relief.

"This is fun. Oh. Look." He began typing fast, glee and anger suddenly visible. "Sharp's locked in her office. Isn't that convenient?"

"For you," Burke grumbled.

"Us. We're on the same team, remember?"

One of the machines hidden beneath the kiosk counter began operating. Neal reached down and produced an ID swipe card with a flourish. "You are now master of the castle, Agent Burke," he said and leaned over to clip it to the Suit's lapel, finishing with a friendly pat. The Suit just stayed grim while Neal grinned. "Use this and the alarm code for your house and you can get in anywhere in the building."

"Why do you know my alarm code?"

Neal lifted his eyebrows in fake innocence. "You gave it to me?"

"I did not."

A fluid shrug and a happy dance step took Neal out of the security kiosk and to the elevator banks, where his fingers flitted over the keypad and one opened immediately. "Potayto, potahto."

The Suit shook his head and gestured for everyone to follow him. Mozzie trailed behind after stopping to create two more swipe cards with building-wide full access for himself and Neal. He didn't know what else Neal had done, but he recognized a post-heist rush. Neal had definitely pulled something off right under everyone's nose. The Suit was so busy disapproving of Neal's origins he'd missed it entirely.

Mozzie smiled to himself as he fitted into the front corner of the elevator next to Neal, passing him one of the cards. He told himself the elevator was perfectly safe and not at all stuffy, despite holding him and Neal, Lee, Dunham, Burke, Bishop, Lady Suit and Jones. It was rated for far more people. And Neal had taken control of the building's electronics and security system.

As the elevator rose, Neal began reciting, "Floor Two, Finances and Accounting. Human Resources. Security Offices and the Massive Dynamics Foundation: saving the rainforest, teaching high school kids about gene therapy and generally being philanthropic all over the globe." He shook his head and eyed Mozzie with shared cynicism. "Nice cover, right, Moz?"


"Caffrey – " Jones said.

Neal ignored him. Bishop was nodding along, like he knew more about Massive Dynamics than he'd let on. Of course, that wasn't this Massive Dynamics, but Mozzie figured big business didn't differ that much from timeline to timeline. They'd always be out to make the biggest buck and never mind any collateral damage.

"Floor Three, Ludic Science, MD's Life and Leisure arm."

"Mass-Dyn Z10 is clearly a subliminal brainwashing gambit disguised as a video game," Mozzie agreed.

Agent Lee chuckled behind them.

"Floor Four, R&D for Ludic," Neal recited playfully. "Currently under development, full sensory input technology."

Mozzie eyed him, but Neal wasn't flashing, just drawing on data from previous flashes.

"Floor Five, Energy and Environment," Neal singsonged while rocking on his heels, hands tucked in his pockets, watching the digital display tick upward. "Massive Energetic. The Massive Dynamics Energy Group. They're experimenting with Zero-point and geothermal energy extraction methods as well as back-door weapons development from the same."

"Neal, stop it," Burke ordered.

"No. Floor Six, Computing and Communications. Quantum Digital Networking and Massive Logistic, digital to organic convergence development. The Intersect for profit. Oh, right, I'm not supposed to talk about that." Light as his voice was, everyone in the elevator could sense the seething anger under Neal's smiling mask now.

"Floor Seven," Neal went on, "is devoted to Biological and Medical. Everyone knows about ExtenzaLife and the MD cures that their pharmaceutical branch markets. Then there's Bellmedics." Neal's face set. "You have no idea what Bellmedics really does. You have to go up another floor to find that out."

Dunham looked bleak, her expression set. She closed her eyes for a long beat. Bishop shifted subtly closer to her and she didn't move away. Lee stared grimly straight ahead at the doors.

The elevator stopped on Seven, but the door didn't open.

"What – " Lady Suit began.

"Don't worry about it," Neal assured her and typed in another code on the keypad. The elevator began its smooth assent again. "I've got it. The first seven floors are public, everything above takes a secondary authorization. Wouldn't want the public finding out what's going on there."

Mozzie thought Neal might stop his recitation when the read-out read Eight and he said nothing at first. He'd gone pale and distracted.

Eight turned to Nine and Neal began talking again, fast and low and unhappy. "Nine. Holding cells. You go through Eight for medical before ending up here – "

"I can't believe they had the gall to kidnap someone – Cells. They have cells? What the hell is really going on with this place?" Jones exclaimed. He added, "We saw some security footage from the stair well, but we couldn't get anything else without warrants."

Neal laughed. "I'm surprised you got that far."

Ten. Mozzie tensed, wondering what came next.

"Didn't know you could fight like that," Jones added, sounding curious.

"Turns out the FBI didn't know me at all," Neal said. "But don't feel bad, Moz didn't know either."

"I wouldn't have cared," Mozzie told him.

Neal gave him a skeptical look. "Moz, I've heard you go on about clones."

Mozzie sniffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "That's different." Unable to stop himself, he had to add, "But you knew I was right all along!"

"Floor Ten," Neal announced, "Intersect servers, human testing and project programming. Floor Eleven. Intersect White Room."

"What the hell is the Intersect?" Jones wondered. Lady Suit looked interested too, but bit her lip rather than ask, letting her colleague take the lead.

"Forget you even heard the word," the Suit advised. "Neal, I told you to shut up."

Neal looked back at him. "What're they gonna do, put a bullet through my head?"

"Colonel Casey would do it without blinking," Agent Lee said. "I think."

"They'd lock the rest of us up as threats to national security," Burke added. His gaze rested on Lady Suit and Jones meaningfully.

Neal searched Burke's face, uncertain and disbelieving. He slowly tensed without even moving, before glancing at Lady Suit and Jones. A muscle worked in his cheek, but Mozzie saw him give in before dipping his head in a tiny half nod of acquiescence.

"And this is why you can never trust the government," Mozzie intoned. "What do you think happened to Ambrose Bierce?"

"Bierce, Mozzie, really?" Neal asked, all amusement and mockery once more.

Mozzie nodded knowingly, relieved Neal had calmed down. "The Devil's Dictionary is a coded indictment of the coming New World Order."

"He really is like this all the time, isn't he?" Bishop remarked. "It's like having a shorter, paranoid version of Walter with us."

Mozzie turned and glared at him.

"I'm sure he meant it in a good way, Moz," Neal said.

The elevator dinged and opened on the fifteenth floor. Neal strolled out. Mozzie edged out after him, pleased to get away from the suits. At least this situation seemed to have reversed the Stockholm Syndrome Neal had been succumbing to with the Burkes and their bourgeoisie behavioral conditioning. Neal didn't belong grazing with the sheep; no, nor even acting as a good sheep dog like the Suit was. Neal was too awake.

Burke stopped the elevator door closing with one arm. "Diana. Clinton. Go with them."

"What – ?" Mozzie exclaimed. He turned back and shook his head. "No." Neal waited, head tipped back and staring into one of the security cameras. He gave it a little two finger salute.

"I want someone with a badge and a gun with you two."

"I guess that leaves me out," Bishop commented. He leaned against the back of the elevator. Nothing seemed to get to Bishop.

"I've been in the Vault," Agent Lee volunteered. "I might be more useful – "

"No," Burke said. He gave his two agents a speaking look. They nodded and stepped off the elevator. No one said anything more, but the lines were drawn. The Suit didn't trust Neal or Mozzie not to take advantage once they were in the Vault and he didn't trust the Fringe agents either to stop them or to back them up.

Neal rolled his eyes at Mozzie.

"There are two security guards behind that door," Neal explained with a nod for Lady Suit and Jones. "According to security protocols, in the event of a building lockdown – like the one that happened when you served the warrants this morning – they're supposed to engage a set of manual locks from inside, proceed into the Vault and initiate a sequence that sets off thermite charges built into each storage drawer. Everything burns."

He walked past the door without paying any attention to it. Mozzie and the two suits followed. Mozzie absolutely hated the white, ice-blue and pale gray color scheme Massive Dynamics used in its upper floors. The decorators must have wanted anyone in the hallways to hurry out of tension and the sense frost might form on them if they didn't keep moving to somewhere warmer.

"That didn't happen," Jones said.

"That didn't happen, because the Chief of Security changed the Vault codes yesterday and the two men in there don't have them," Neal explained. "They can't get in."

"They don't know what to do now," Lady Suit speculated, "so they're just sitting."

"Ducks," Neal said. "If you guys could keep watch, we're going to go around them."

He stopped next to one of the pale gray accent lines on a wall and slipped off his messenger bag. He set it on the floor and zipped it open, revealing an array of tools that were as useful to a thief as well as an electrician. Except the codepicker; most electricians wouldn't need one of those. Bryce had provided that and it made Mozzie almost salivate. Custom-made and programmed and since Bryce had done the programming, Mozzie would have to re-evaluate his stance on Neal's double, even if he did still worry about the ninja-spy stuff.

Neal slipped on a pair of black nitrile gloves and handed Mozzie a pair. He knelt and pressed his fingertips against one corner of the gray and then the other. Peering closer as he pulled on the gloves, Mozzie saw the gray decoration disguised the fine line of a hidden panel.

"Left corner, Moz," Neal said as he rose to his feet and reached for the top left of the panel.

Mozzie crouched and pushed his fingers against the spot Neal had indicated, feeling the faint shift under the pressure before it caught.

"Push left," Neal said and Mozzie pushed in and left at the same time Neal did. The panel slid to the side an inch and popped loose, revealing an electrical box, multi-colored wiring and a tangle of fiber optic cables. Neal neatly caught the top and leaned the panel against the wall out of the way.

"How'd you know that was there?" Jones asked.

Mozzie handed Neal a set of wire cutters and watched as Neal neatly stripped away the insulation on several wires. He took the cutters back and provided alligator clips next. Neal's focus was entirely on his work, his brows drawn slightly together, and a tiny smile edged his mouth up. He loved this, just like Mozzie did. The suits just didn't understand the thrill of beating the best efforts to keep them out and doing it with style and flair or conversely so covertly no one ever knew you'd been there. It was a competition against the rest of society. He and Neal, they'd shaken off the shackles and the blinders and climbed free of the rutted straight lines everyone else plodded along every day. They were free when they worked like this.

"I obtained the blueprints along with the security specs when Massive Dynamics bought the building and renovated," Neal said. He snipped a wire. "They're blind now."

"That was over a decade ago," Lady Suit pointed out. "Why didn't you go through with the job?"

Neal plugged the other end of the alligator clips into one Mozzie's custom black boxes. "No job, Diana. I needed to know how to get out."

"What are you doing now?" Jones asked, preempting whatever Lady Suit would have said.

"Shutting off the motion sensors in the ventilation ducts on this level. – Moz, did you bring the taser?"

"Of course." He'd brought his pistol too, but didn't think he'd mention that with the two Feds listening. He fumbled open his own bag and found his dust mask, before offering Neal one. Neal just looked at it. "You know what dust is made of? Human skin cells, dead mites and their excrement, bacteria, fibers, pollutants, lint... "

"Too much information, Moz, thank you," Neal said, but accepted the dust mask. He let it hang around his neck, but Moz knew Neal would put it on when they went into the vents. An ill-timed sneeze could lead to disaster. Besides, dust and sterile masks also hid the lower half of the face while making you look like a hypochondriac rather than a bank robber.

"What next?" Jones asked.

Mozzie wished he hadn't asked, because Neal spun, took three running steps and went up the wall on the fourth, leaping and catching his fingers in the ventilation grating over head. He hung on with one hand, braced himself against the wall with his legs, and used a screwdriver disguised as a Mont Blanc pen to remove the grate. Watching him work, whether on a heist, a con, or forging a painting, always stopped Mozzie's breath for a heartbeat. Neal was as much a work of art as the beautiful things he loved to steal and Mozzie had always loved beautiful things. As the last screw fell loose, Neal dropped, twisting like a cat to land on his feet, still holding the grill. He grinned at the two gaping Feds and tossed the grating to Mozzie.

Mozzie set it aside and walked over.

"I'll pull you up," Neal assured him. Walter's improved drug worked much better and much longer than the version Neal had had Mozzie obtain for him. He seemed exactly like his old self, down to the amazing strength supported by his deceptively slim frame. Designer genes, Mozzie realized and felt like an idiot for not putting it together before: Neal really was too perfect to be natural.

"I could boost him," Jones volunteered.

Mozzie shuddered at the indignity of the very thought.

Neal laughed, though, pleased. "We'll corrupt you yet, Jones."

Jones held up both hands, smiling back. "Hey, I've got no idea what you're talking about. Di?"

"I was watching the elevator," Lady Suit declared.

"Ready?" Neal asked.

Mozzie drew himself up straight. "I was born ready."

Neal bent his knees and leapt straight up, caught the edge of the opening into the ventilation ducts and smoothly pulled himself up until he could jack-knife his torso in, followed by his bent legs. They couldn't see what contortions it took to turn around in the vent, but a minute later, Neal ducked his head out, smiling like the Hanged Man in a tarot deck, and extended both arms down for Mozzie.

"You're kidding me," Jones muttered.

Mozzie reached up and caught his hand around Neal's sharp-boned wrist. Neal locked one hand around Mozzie's wrist and the other on his biceps in turn and began lifting. His fingers bit unmercifully into the muscle, but the bruises would be nothing compared to the strain on Neal's ligaments. Mozzie extended his other arm up as far he could, eager to catch the edge of the vent and take some of his weight off Neal's shoulders. He grabbed onto it and hung for half second, before his weight felt halved – Jones had done as he offered and had his arms wrapped around Mozzie's knees and was carefully lifting him.

"Thanks," Mozzie breathed as he scrambled his way into the vent ahead of Neal. It was tight, but not too tight, and neither of them had problems with dark spaces.

Behind him, Neal called softly, "Diana, could you and Jones go knock on the door? Tell them you have a warrant."

"We do have warrants, Caffrey." Even muffled and distant, Lady Suit sounded annoyed.

Mozzie worked himself forward on elbows, knees and toes. Periodically, he felt Neal's fingers tap the sole of his shoe, letting him know Neal was with him. He knew most people didn't see any kind of athlete when they looked at him, but Mozzie could move fast when necessary. Though Neal had shut down the motion sensors that would set off alarms at the security station for the Vault, he didn't want the guards there to have time to think about how someone might bypass the doors they'd locked down.

Mozzie pictured the sketch Neal had done of the ventilation system and took a right, then a left, and another left, and found himself looking down through another ventilation grate at the short corridor between the security station and the airlock that had to be passed through to get into or out of the Vault. His heart thumped harder thinking of the biohazard samples Massive Dynamics must have locked up inside. One slip when they were inside and they'd burn to ash along with everything inside.

He had a small dentist's mirror hidden up his coat sleeve. He let it slip free then extended it through the grate and angled it until he could see the security station and the door to the main corridor. As they'd expected, the guards were facing away from the Vault, intent on the door beyond the actual hardened steel bars and gate between them and it. The monitors that normally showed them the corridor outside were all blue-screened, no doubt making the guards even more nervous.

Neal had a hand on his ankle. Mozzie rocked it twice to confirm there were two guards. In Morse code, Neal tapped that he'd come to the front and go in first. Mozzie flattened himself to one side of the duct as Neal slithered by him. Neal was all muscle and bone – including a jabbed elbow that made Mozzie swallow a grunt of pain and earned him an apologetic press of Neal's fever-hot forehead to his. Mozzie had been in tight quarters with Neal often enough to know Neal's body temperature ran hot anyway, but not this much. It made his worry spike again.

Neal positioned his feet before him on the grate, knees bent, and kicked. The grating tore free and Neal pushed himself after it, dropping feet first into the foyer space. Mozzie tore the elbow of his jacket and scraped his shins scrambling forward over the hole left by the grating so he could drop his feet through and fall out himself.

His ankles and knees gave way when he hit the floor and he lost his balance, falling backward with enough force his glasses jumped off his nose and caught precariously on his brows.

Neal scooped the grating off the floor and flung it like a Frisbee at one guard. Mozzie couldn't help wincing as one sharp corner caught the man in the face. Neal didn't hesitate. He spun in the direction he'd thrown the grating, one leg coming up in a martial arts kick Mozzie didn't recognize as anything Neal had ever done before. He caught the guard in the thigh with the kick and knocked him stumbling back.

Mozzie fumbled the taser he'd brought out. He had no chance to use it. Neal decimated both guards in a blurry rush of kicks and blows that ended with one man screaming and clutching at his knee on the floor while Neal locked an arm around the other guard's throat and choked him into unconsciousness.

All Mozzie could do was stare wide-eyed.

"You want to let Diana and Jones in?" Neal asked as he lowered the unconscious guard to the floor then deftly relieved him and the other man of their guns and tasers.

"Sure," Mozzie agreed, dry-mouthed.

The rush of violence from Neal – gentle, out-smart them not out-fight them Neal – dried the spit in his mouth. He sidled by the two guards and worked a little lock-picking magic on the barred gate and then the door to get it open for the two Suits.

"You guys okay – ?" Jones demanded as he pushed in, gun in hand, followed by Lady Suit, equally ready to shoot someone. They froze at the sight of the two security guards laid out. Neal had produced zipties and just finished securing the man with the ruined knee. He glanced up as Jones muttered, "Wow."

"Worried about us?" Neal asked. The dust mask was already pulled down around his neck and Mozzie couldn't say anything as he had discarded his own before fumbling to his feet.

"I'm starting to worry about you," Lady Suit said with the considering caution of someone re-evaluating a threat.

Mozzie tucked the taser away and straightened his messenger bag. That reminded him. They needed to retrieve Neal's from the corridor.

"You tackled two armed guards by yourself?" Jones asked.

Neal rose and shrugged. "I had Mozzie." Mozzie blinked hard and told himself he did not feel warmed to his toes that Neal chose him first over Bryce or Burke. Of course, he was reliable, but very few people saw that and not the twitchy guy with the glasses. Just because he preferred being underestimated, that didn't mean having someone who mattered value him didn't please him.

"Forgive me, but that's – "

Neal interrupted him. "I need to keep moving. The sooner we finish, the sooner we can rendezvous with Agent Burke."

It didn't escape Mozzie that Neal wasn't calling the Suit by his first name any longer. The Suit was keeping his distance and Neal, finally, was realizing he couldn't rely on Burke, not in this scenario. The Suit wasn't a bad man, Mozzie realized that, but he believed in the system and the system had no room in it for anyone like Neal.

"I'll get your bag," he muttered and dodged around Jones and Lady Suit. Neal was right. They needed to keep moving. He patted the breast pocket of his coat, assuring himself the zippered case with extra doses of Walter's improved drug and an injector were still there.

Neal had the circular airlock hatch open on their side when Mozzie came back. He accepted the messenger bag and slung it over his shoulder wordlessly. Jones and Lady Suit squeezed into the tight space that really had only been made for just one person at a time. The hatch shut and Mozzie concentrated on not hyperventilating, because if Neal couldn't get the other side open they were trapped. He already felt lightheaded.

They waited while the airlock cycled and then Neal typed in another code, peered into a retinal scanner and pressed his hand to the palm reader.

Access Granted the lock flashed. The hatch opened dutifully and admitted them to the all gray-white Vault. The temperature inside really was lower and Mozzie shivered. Lady Suit cursed under her breath. It wouldn't have surprised him to see her breath smoke in the air; Neal's did.

Neal arrowed forward and they trailed after him. The Vault's walls were lined with glowing white circles, the secured drawers set flush with the wall. The keypads, retinal scanners and palm readers hidden next to each one were revealed by a wave of the hand in front of the drawer's motion sensor. Nothing distinguished one drawer from any other. Massive Dynamics didn't believe in making anything easy for a thief that didn't know what or where something was.

Mozzie couldn't see Neal's face, but when he stopped and his back shuddered once, he figured Neal had just flashed. Neal stumbled to the side and braced one hand against the wall. Neal turned, back propped to the wall now, and held out his hand for Mozzie to see. The shakes were back, not just his fingers but his hand, and moving up his arm. "Mozzie."

"I told you to take it easy."

"I'm burning out."

"You're not."

"I need another dose."

Mozzie jerked a nervous look at the Suits, but they were both expressionless – no, there was worry there too – and Neal looked ready to slide down the wall and hit the floor. "Tell me the code and I'll hold your hand against the reader."

"And carry me out?" Neal shook his head. "Just shoot me up." He turned his head just enough to smirk at Lady Suit and Jones.

Reluctantly acknowledging Neal was right, they needed him on his feet and functional until they were out of the maw of the corporate beast, Mozzie took out the case and loaded another ampule of medication into the pressure injector. "Where do you want it?" he asked.

Neal opened his collar and bared his neck, tipping his head to the side to give Mozzie easy access.

"What the hell are you doing?" Diana demanded.

"Diana," Neal said. "I'm not getting high on a job."

She froze with her hand stretched out to stop Mozzie. Dark eyes snapped between them, judging them and the situation.

Mozzie pushed the injector against Neal's carotid and pulled the trigger. Neal jerked and closed his eyes. Some of his color came back immediately. Mozzie wanted to cry as he put away the injector.

Neal pushed himself away from the wall. "Time?"

Mozzie checked the timer on his watch. "This dose only lasted four hours." He started the timer again.

"Walter will be disappointed."

"Did you flash again?"


"Stop doing it."

"It's too useful to ignore. Besides, I can't control it completely."

Neal continued deeper into the Vault, before kneeling to access one of the lower level drawers. His hands were steady again. While he opened it, Lady Suit clamped her hand on Mozzie's shoulder and drew him back. "What did you just put in him?" she demanded.

Mozzie glared at her. "Do you think I liked doing that? You think Neal likes needing a drug to deal with the side effects of what these 'people' did to him?"

"I don't know – "

"You." Mozzie stopped. He was furious. "You think I'm a joke, that I'm paranoid, that it's all a crazy fantasy. You're the sheep that never look up. He should never have trusted the Suit. This is Burke's fault. They took Neal back and made it worse because all any of you do is use him."

"Stop misquoting Lycidas at Diana," Neal interrupted. "It's not her fault. It's not Peter's either. I just wasn't built to last." The drawer in front of him slid open with a quiet chuff as it unsealed along with a puff of condensation. He lifted out the tray that held three stainless steel vials. Beneath the tray the drawer held a single black file and a portable hard drive. Neal drew in a breath. "Moz, get the insulated – screw that." He jerked his bag around and took a bottle of bleach out.

A measure of bleach went into the first of the three vials. Wait. "Three?" Mozzie asked.

Neal glanced up. "Zane." He sloshed the bleach around. "I don't know how they got those samples. If Jones had him, they wouldn't have needed to snatch me."

"Is he as good at escaping as you or Bryce?"

"Probably. I haven't seen him since I was thirteen and he was eleven," Neal admitted, "but we all had the same training."

"What kind of training to do eleven and thirteen-year-olds have?" Jones asked.

"CESS. Combat. Espionage. Sabotage. Seduction." Neal opened the next vial. "The infiltrator package."

"Jesus, Neal – That's – "

"You're serious," Diana said.

Bleach went into the next vial. Neal held it up. "Of course not." He emptied the bleach into the last vial. "You are so easy." He set the tray back into the drawer, while the hard drive and the file went into his bag. Once the drawer closed and locked again, Neal typed another code into the pad beside it. The read out flashed Initiate Total Purge Y/N? Neal tapped one key.

"That's not funny, Caffrey," Jones snapped.

"I thought it was," Neal said with a 'Gotcha' grin. Mozzie felt queasy. The suits just didn't want to believe it, but he knew the truth and Neal had just told it.


An explosive thump sounded within the drawer. Burn, baby, burn. Mozzie thought he could feel the heat radiating from inside.

"Can we get out of here now?" Mozzie asked.

Neal frowned, looking down the long white corridor of drawers, each of them filled with something secret and dangerous. He nodded eventually. "Yeah. Someone else got in and got the Cortexiphan samples. They've got a piece of Walter's brain, but it's too delicate to try and move. There's nothing else here that'll help, it's all drug and biosamples, viruses and bacteria."

Mozzie shuddered, glad he still had on his gloves. "Then let's go."

Jones exclaimed plaintively, "They've got pieces of someone's brain?"


Nina Sharp stood, straight-backed, at the windows of her office, her back to them, as Peter used Neal's 'keys to the castle' to let them in. Her hands were clasped behind her. He wondered, briefly, if she ever wore anything but black.

"Nina Sharp," he stated, "you're under arrest for conspiracy and kidnapping." There were actually other charges, a whole list associated with the kidnapping. He recited them as well, enjoying the process. Arrests were always – almost always – satisfying on some level.

She turned slowly and raised an eyebrow. "I've already contacted my attorney."

"That's wise."

Sharp's attention shifted and settled on Agent Dunham. Her face crumpled just a little before she gave a little nod. "Olive."

"Agent Dunham," Dunham corrected, blank-faced. Peter wished they hadn't needed her with them, considering the personal relationship she had with Sharp, but they'd needed her because of it too, in case Neal couldn't get them through Massive Dynamics' security. Lee and Bishop flanked her and neither of them showed any sympathy for the CEO either.

"I wish you weren't here to see this, though I'm sure my attorneys will straighten everything out quickly. You know I would never kidnap anyone."

Bishop coughed. "Really? Because the Nina Sharp I knew, not to mention the one from Over There, would and has done worse."

Peter brought out his hand cuffs. "Don't make this worse than it has to be."

With a put upon sigh, Sharp extended her wrists to be cuffed. "This is just a misunderstanding. I've been in Switzerland the last two weeks. I only returned because of the security breach here. How could I have kidnapped anyone here while I was there?"

Peter closed the cuff around her wrist and ratcheted it close, but not brutally close. Sadism had no place in law enforcement. "Computer records and witness statements contradict that."

"That's impossible."

"Tell it to the judge."

"Who am I supposed to have taken and why?"

"Neal Caffrey. A Bureau consultant."

Sharp actually looked bewildered. "Why would I have an FBI consultant taken? That's insane."

"You used him to upload your Intersect."

"That isn't viable yet. The side effects on a human brain would be devastating. Unless," Sharp frowned. "your consultant is one of the clones William designed."

"You already knew that," Bishop snapped.

"I wonder if Jones has known where they are all along," Sharp speculated.

"Jones wasn't here, Nina," Dunham said. "You were."

"I wasn't, Olive."

"You're saying it was your double from Over There."

"She's worked with him before," Sharp pointed out. "She's the reason security protocols were changed and even I can't remove certain items from the building."

"Like an Intersect cube," Lee blurted.


"I don't believe it," Peter said. "And until someone proves it, you're still under arrest."

"I didn't kidnap anyone," she insisted. "It's debatable whether clones have legal rights in any case."

Peter stiffened with anger and leaned close to her ear, whispering, "Why don't we call it theft? Neal Caffrey belongs to the Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Investigation." And me, Peter thought, remembering, 'You're mine for the next four years' and Neal's laughing smile. He hated himself for those words now. Neal had no reason to forgive him for the last few days, not when Peter had been an asshole for a lot longer than that.

"Caffrey's DNA is human," Bishop pointed out. He strolled further into the office, his hands tucked into his dark pea coat. He stopped next Peter and Sharp and surprised Peter by taking her left arm in his hand before Peter could close the other cuff. "More human than this." He pushed back her cuff and then peeled away the skin like a rubber glove from her forearm, displaying shiny chrome beneath soft, transparent plastic instead of flesh and bone. "Cyborgs shouldn't point metal fingers."

"Jesus," Peter exclaimed and almost recoiled. Nausea rolled through him in reaction.

Bishop stopped without taking off the false skin beyond Sharp's wrist.

"It's a prosthesis," Nina said. "Bellmedics state of the art. I am not a cyborg."

"I don't care." Peter snapped the cuff closed around the false arm's wrist. SOP even if he suddenly realized it might not do any good. Like putting cuffs on Neal. "You'll have to remove it for booking."

She gave him a sour look at that.

"Human is as human does," Bishop told her. He smoothed the false skin back into place absently.

Peter wanted to close his eyes and hide from himself. Bishop angled a glance at him and Peter thought that he'd been weighed and found as wanting as Nina Sharp. It didn't make him feel any better to realize he'd disappointed himself too. Some of the things he'd said to Neal... No wonder Neal hadn't trusted Peter with the truth before. Neal could read people, he'd anticipated Peter's cruel rejection. Damn it, he'd always considered himself a good person. Time to pluck the fucking mote from his own eye.

"Nina," Dunham said. "You're not walking away from this. DHS will be taking over the investigation. They're looking at the Fringe events involving Massive Dynamics tech as incidents of domestic terrorism."

"That is ridiculous."

"You're going to disappear into the Fringe Division holding facility on Liberty Island," Bishop added.

"I have rights," Nina insisted. She flinched though, then scowled at something past Peter's shoulder. "You will regret this."

A shuffle of footsteps, all of them familiar, identified the target of Nina's ire. Peter turned his head. Diana and Jones flashed their badges to the agents stationed at the door and escorted Neal and Mozzie in. Mozzie looked ruffled and worried. Neal appeared as smooth and in control as always, except for a the dust on the knees and elbows of his suit. Too perfect to be human, Peter had joked once or twice, and never understood the flash of something in Neal's eyes before the mask and the smile were back in place.

The same smile Neal had on his face now.

"Neal," Peter greeted him, relieved they all seemed all right, but mostly that Neal seemed fine.

Neal's step hesitated and he tipped his head to study Peter cautiously. He smiled his con's smile, the one that didn't even pretend to be real. Peter cringed inside, realizing how much his attitude over the last couple days must have hurt. He wondered again if the damage he'd done could be repaired. Elizabeth had told him he was being an ass. As usual, she'd been right, but he was always two steps slower than everyone else on the emotional front. He should just always listen to her, but he'd felt so damn betrayed that Neal had been lying to him constantly. That Neal was a lie.

Except Neal wasn't a lie. Neal was Neal, as real a person as Peter Bishop or Olivia Dunham's redheaded double and as deserving of care as anyone or anything self-aware. Neal had done what Neal always did, taken the heat to take care of the people he cared about.

Peter couldn't come up with a decent way to excuse his reactions.

The worry and the fear that had stabbed through Peter when he saw Neal after Massive Dynamics took him had mixed together and turned to anger. Neal, the social engineer par excellence, picked up on everything around him, even sick and distracted, and he'd had drawn away from Peter in response to Peter's stupid reaction. He'd attacked instead of thinking and he was lucky that, except for that one confrontation, Neal had confined his responses to vicious politeness.

"Peter," Neal replied, his wide smile disguising whatever apprehension or bitterness he felt in regard to Peter. He made Peter sound as formal as Agent Burke, though.

"Did you get it?"

"We got it," Neal confirmed.

Sharp blanched. "You accessed the Vault. How – "

Neal tapped his temple. "Did you think I wouldn't use what you 'gave' me? I'm a thief. Allegedly."

"That's corporate proprietary information!" She sounded so outraged Peter almost chuckled.

"I guess you should have had me sign a NDA," Neal replied. He was frowning at her, eyes narrowed and then widening. As always, Peter had to wonder if it was a calculated act or something had just surprised Neal. Frustration bubbled up through him again. He choked it down.

Nina stared at Neal and then laughed. A quick, short, not exactly happy laugh, but still real laughter. "You used the Intersect. Jones was a fool. You wouldn't answer to him whatever he offered."

"The opposite, in fact," Neal said.

"You'd never do what he told you."

"Neal's not so good with rules or orders," Peter commented.


Neal winked at Sharp and Peter had a sinking feeling that he'd done more than crack Massive Dynamics' security for them. He'd made that remark about the money in cybercrime. They were going to have follow every electronic financial transaction made by the company's accounts today and he knew, he knew, Neal would have covered his tracks this time. God only knew how much he'd made disappear. He'd probably been offended that Larkin had managed to steal millions from the Wichita Group and wanted to one up him.

He'd turned Sharp over to the back-up agents with them and instructed them to take her straight to the Federal Building and place her in holding until he arrived, when Neal surprised him by joining them.

"Where's Zane?" Neal demanded in a low tone not meant for anyone else to hear. "Why didn't you use him for the Intersect?"

Sharp cocked her head. "Who?"

"His samples were in the Vault. What did you do to him?" Tense and on point, he leaned intimidatingly closer to Sharp. His whole demeanor promised a viciousness Peter had never seen in Neal before. His body reminded Peter of a sword blade, steel forged and honed to a merciless edge, only the weapon had its own mind.

Pure bewilderment from Sharp answered the quesiton. Neal waited but didn't move. Sharp met his gaze without flinching. "You'd need to ask my alternate."

"Get her out of here," Peter told his other agents.

Looking grim and dangerous, Neal watched as they perp-walked her to the elevators. Peter awkwardly patted his shoulder. Neal didn't move, but he looked to the side at Peter. "What?"

"How much did you steal?" Peter asked.

Even Neal couldn't control his pupillary response. Up close, Peter could see his eyes dilate, but it was Neal's only tell. "Hypothetically?" Neal asked.

"Off the record. No badge."

Neal's attention strayed back to the elevator that had taken Nina Sharp away. "Lots."

Peter tightened his hold on Neal's shoulder again, waiting for him to relax. He didn't. He always did before, always responded to contact, but not now. Peter still couldn't make himself let go, though he realized he wasn't grounding Neal this time.


At least he had Neal's attention again. The last few days had been off not just because of his reactions, Peter realized, but because for the first time he hadn't been the focus of Neal's attention. He'd grown used to being the one Neal looked to first, the one who got him, taken the way Neal understood him for granted. He'd been jealous as soon as he saw Neal with Larkin, because it was Kate all over again, but he got it now: that kinship wasn't something Peter could ever have with Neal. It saddened him, even while he felt ashamed too.

"We're good, right?" Peter made himself say.

Neal's eyebrows rose questioningly. "Yes?"

"Good." He repeated it with a small chuckle as if everything was fine. "Good."

"We're good." Neal's wary expression softened into a tentative smile, but he added, "I need to talk to Peter, ah, Bishop, and Mozzie."

Not good. Neal could say they were fine, but it would take more than words to rebuild the trust between them. Peter had an aching premonition he wouldn't have that time, that chance. Neal would run first.

He had to let go as Neal walked away and joined the Fringe consultant and his oldest friend, opening his messenger bag and taking out a black file folder that he flipped open to show them. He hadn't offered to show it to Peter. The three of them bent over it, reading swiftly, batting ideas back and forth comfortably.

Dunham gravitated over to them, followed by Lee. Minutes later, Lee had his phone out and the speaker phone on. Peter recognized Walter's voice coming from it. Lee handed it over to Mozzie, who turned his back on everyone and began whispering heatedly into it.

"Boss," Diana said from just behind him, making Peter jump. "We need to talk about what's going on."

"I know." Peter glanced up at the security camera aimed at them. The red light was off, but he didn't trust anything to do with Massive Dynamics at this point. Diana followed his look and nodded.

"Not here?"

"At the office."


"You need to get a new tracker on Neal," Diana said as soon as the door to Peter's office shut behind her, "before Hughes or the Marshals make an issue of it."

Peter didn't want to do it. He'd grown progressively more reluctant to lock that thing around Neal's ankle each time he did it. At this point it was a wasted effort anyway. Massive Dynamics had hacked the Marshal's software and Neal knew how they'd done it. Any time he wanted to, he would. Aside from that, the two mile radius staked Neal out for any enemies like a sacrificial lamb.

He glanced out the front of the glass wall at the open office below. Neal had stopped at his desk and begun poking through it. Bishop had usurped Neal's chair and computer, while Mozzie had appropriated one from an empty desk and had the recovered hard drive hooked to a black box he'd produced from his bag. Dunham and Lee were currently in Hughes' office, joining a conference with Agent Broyles. Peter had bowed out of the jurisdictional fight over who got Nina Sharp and left his boss to it. Hughes hadn't been read in to Fringe Division's mandate or the combined NSA and CIA project that resulted in the Intersect and Peter couldn't explain why they were better suited to deal with the Massive Dynamics case. Discretion was the better part of valor after all and he didn't want to piss off Hughes by siding with them.

He watched as Neal sat on the corner of his own desk and leaned over to look at whatever Mozzie was doing. Neal's pants cuff had ridden up, showing his sock and the lack of the anklet and its reassuring green telltale.

Bishop, Mozzie, and Neal looked, to abuse an apt metaphor, thick as thieves.

Jones startled Peter out of his thoughts.

"Do we know that that's Neal and not the other one?"


"He took out two armed guards. Wrecked one guy's knee. Neal's never been good at fighting."

Neal had been hiding those skills. Maybe he didn't like them, the way he didn't like guns. Probably, he'd known displaying them would have made everyone question the charming, wouldn't-hurt-a-fly conman persona he'd built around himself. Neal had preferred prison to anyone looking closer at his past, after all.

"Could Larkin fool Mozzie, though?" Diana asked.

Neal and Bryce could fool anyone. They knew everything about each other. The two years difference in their ages didn't show on their faces. Only the gunshot scars on Bryce's chest and side would distinguish him from Neal's relatively unmarked body.

"Larkin's with the NSA team in Connecticut."

Down on the bull pen floor, Mozzie tapped the side of his nose. Bishop and Neal both smiled at him. Bishop had the same fond tolerance toward Mozzie that Neal did, patient and unbothered by his oddities. Valuing them, in fact.

"What's going on with them?" Jones asked. "And the rest of that list? How – "

Peter shook his head. He didn't want to explain. He wasn't sure he could, not accurately, so he went with something short. "William Bell experimented on all of them."

Diana turned and watched Neal along with Peter. Neal had his jacket off, but his vest still on. He'd rolled his sleeves up neatly. He reached across Bishop to point at something on the computer screen. Bishop captured his wrist and Neal froze. Mozzie's head came up and all three of them looked at Neal's hand.

"Damn it," Peter breathed as Mozzie checked his watch, then he and Neal evaporated out of the bull pen, probably to a storage closet or the men's room, even the stair well – any place Mozzie could administer another injection in relative privacy.

"What's he giving him?" Diana asked harshly.

"Medication," Peter told her.

Bishop, still at Neal's desk, kept watching the glass doors. Peter watched him.

"How sick is he?"

Peter didn't answer Diana immediately. He had to weigh how much he could reveal that she and Jones would believe without receiving a complete briefing. He settled on, "He's been hiding it, but this Inter – this thing has made it worse. Bell's old partner mixed up something better than what he'd been taking, though, and if the NSA team can find Bell's records, he might be able to fix what's wrong."

Bishop glanced up toward the separate office level, cluing Peter in that Lee and Dunham must have finished with Hughes. Neal and Mozzie came back in and all of them met at Neal's desk. Mozzie began breaking down his black boxes. Neal fished several items out of his desk and redistributed them to other desks around the room.

Neal's way of saying good-bye, Peter reflected.
The phone on Peter's desk buzzed. Hughes. He scratched at his stubble and felt a hundred years older than he was. He needed to answer the phone, but he didn't want to.

"What happens next?" Jones asked.

"We lose him." He hovered his hand over the phone receiver. If Walter Bishop found a cure, then either NSA or Fringe Division would want Neal because of the Intersect. If Neal didn't want to go with them, then Larkin and he would run. Mozzie too. No one would ever catch them. Peter knew he wouldn't even try.

If Walter failed...

"Either way, we lose him."


Mozzie almost remarked on it and Neal raised an eyebrow, but instead they smirked at each other when Burke had to forgo his beloved Taurus in favor of a Bureau SUV that had room for six people. They moved fast and secured the passenger seats behind Burke – who insisted on driving – and Agent Dunham. Mozzie'd noticed how Lee and Peter both deferred to her. She wore her authority as gracefully as Burke did, which impressed him.

Paperwork for Sharp's arrest, along with the members of Massive Dynamics' private security force who had broken into Neal's loft apartment, tasered and drugged him, then delivered him to corporate headquarters had taken the entire afternoon. Dusk spread from the shadows through the city, bringing its lights to life, even while the highest skyscrapers were still bright with flaming sunset reflections.

Mozzie shivered a little and made sure his seatbelt was tight. He'd heard about Burke's driving from Neal.

Peter leaned forward and said, "I don't know about the rest of you, but lunch was a long time ago."

"We'll stop along the way," Burke said.

Dunham twisted around and told him with a smile, "Don't worry, Peter, I'm sure we can find somewhere to eat between here and Boston."

"It better be soon," he joked, "or I'll have to attack Lincoln for that granola bar I know he has in his coat pocket."

Neal's hands flickered and Mozzie caught sight of a shiny bit of packaging. "This one?" Neal asked innocently.

"Hey," Lee exclaimed while Peter grabbed for the granola bar.

"What do I get for it?"

Everyone heard Peter's stomach grumble. "What do you want?"

"That's mine," Lee complained. "I can't believe he picked my pocket."

"I can," Burke muttered. "Check your wallet."

Neal appeared to examine the granola bar's packaging closely. His mouth kept twitching, though, giving away he was faking. "Do you have some proof? Do you have a serial number on it?"

"Neal, give the man his granola back," Burke ordered.

Mozzie glanced at the back of Burke's head. That had sounded a lot more like the Burke of old – all of last week old – but could he let Neal fall for it if Burke had decided to be like him again? Neal was better off not believing in Burke. At the same time, Neal needed all the support he could get. If Burke had realized he was being an ass...

"Wait, wait, I still haven't made my offer for it."

"Don't make me stop this car, kids."

Neal raised his eyebrows. "Going, going, gone." He handed the granola back to Lee, who scowled at Peter, who in turn had a pretty good begging face going on.

"Lincoln... "

"Oh, for God's sake, take it."

Maybe Neal had exaggerated or the SUV wasn't as bad as the Taurus. Burke steered them north out of New York and everyone fell into comfortable silence. Neal slipped down in the seat enough to rest his head against the window glass, his eyes closed. Mozzie took out his netbook and began the process of shifting the money Neal had siphoned out of Massive Dynamics' accounts into a series of untrackable transactions. Neal had provided the account numbers and passcodes earlier in the afternoon. Even shedding percentages with every bank and laundry it moved through, the money was breathtaking, better than the U-boat treasure, and as far as Mozzie was concerned, guiltless.

In the front seat, Dunham said to Burke, "Whatever happens, Walter will figure something out."

"I hope so."

"It's hard to deal with," she commented.

"Yeah, yeah, it is," Burke said at last. He checked the rearview mirror, adjusting it avoid the worst reflections of the headlights from the traffic behind them. He checked Neal, limp and rocking with the motion of the SUV, at the same time. "I like things black and white. Everything in its box. Neal's the definition of 'out of the box'."

Mozzie eyed Neal, but exhaustion really had claimed him. He wasn't playing possum to listen.

"I just want whatever's best for him," Burke said.

Mozzie rolled his eyes at that. Really? The Suit served the Man. It had never been about what was best for Neal; the Suit had caged him like an animal, then taken him out to use him like a – a thing. Mozze scowled just thinking about it. He'd let himself get sucked in too. Suit had almost had him believing that breaking 'the law' was always bad and obeying it was always good. He blamed Neal and Mrs. Suit's faith in the Suit for almost sucking him into Their brainwashing.

He was going to have to have words with Burke. Wanting what was best for Neal didn't automatically mean living Burke's kind of life. That wasn't for Neal. Neal was different, special, extraordinary. Burke saw that much, but he didn't see what it meant. He kept trying to put Neal in a different kind of cage, but a cage was a cage, even if it wasn't prison.

Dunham sighed at that. "That's the trick, isn't it?" she murmured before falling silent again.

Mozzie went back to moving money through a series of shell companies and investment fund fronts. Beside him, Neal winced in his sleep and whimpered quietly. He checked his watch, hoping Neal didn't need another dose yet. He hadn't flashed or exerted himself since they'd left the Massive Dynamics building.

"Don't you get car sick doing that?" Agent Lee asked from behind him.

He snapped the lid of the netbook closed. "Do you mind?"

"Food," Peter grumbled. "Weren't we promised food?"

"Soon," Dunham promised.

Lee leaned over the back of the seat and looked at Neal. "How is he?"

"How does he seem?" Mozzie replied evasively.

Neal gasped and doubled over, the cross-belt catching him hard. He clutched at his temples then reached for the door, trying without any coordination to get it open.

"Neal!" Mozzie exclaimed. "Neal, what is it?" He shoved the netbook into Lee's hands, scrabbled at his seat belt, and slid across the seat to grab at Neal's shoulders. He pulled him away from the door. "Lock it," he snarled at Dunham. "Lock all the doors!"

The click of the child-safety locks eased one fear. Dunham twisted around in her seat while Burke watched them in the rearview mirror worriedly. "What's wrong?"

Neal moaned endlessly, wounded animal low and wretched, while holding himself still against whatever had him in its grip.

"What's going on?" Burke demanded. "Neal?"

Neal gasped in a breath and answered, "We have to get to Litchfield."

"I think the military thug and the blonde Mata Hari along with your... Bryce... and the redhead can handle anything that place can throw at them," Mozzie tried to soothe Neal. He patted desperately at Neal's back. Neal rocked against his seatbelt, twisting and flinching, his muscles rigid with tension or pain.

"No," Neal choked out. "It's too late. He's already too close." He opened his eyes and his pupils were black holes, blown wide. "I should have realized, I should have warned him. The mesh – " Neal locked his arms around himself and began dashing his head against the door.

"What do we do?" Lee asked, while Peter reached over the seat and caught Neal's head in his hands, protecting him as he thrashed. Mozzie wrapped his arms around Neal and used his weight to steady him too.

"Get to Litchfield!" Peter yelled.

"God damn it," Burke cursed and hit the gas, sending the SUV lunging forward, ignoring the speed limit. Dunham pulled a dashboard light out of the glove compartment and plugged it in.

Neal jerked and struggled under Mozzie for another five minutes, before going limp, panting and silent. He stared emptily out the window after that and wouldn't speak at all, filling everyone with foreboding.

Part Eight

If I had my way, if I had my way, if I had my way
I'd burn this whole building down
Samson and Delilah :: Traditional

Bryce leaned against the door, body shielding his hands working the picks into the door lock. He didn't even look down while he did it and the door swung open as fast as it would have for Chuck using a key.

"Fast," Casey approved.

"Neal's skillset."


"Not through here," Bryce muttered. He cracked the door open and slipped through into the dim corridor beyond, followed by Sarah, Chuck, Red and finally Casey. "Straight through, don't stop."

"Like going through hell?" Red asked, amusement in her tone.

"Exactly," Bryce answered, none in his.

A shudder quaked through Chuck. His steps sounded horribly loud to him, scuffling along the linoleum floor in the dark. He didn't know how Bryce walked so silently, never mind Sarah and Red. As for Casey, Casey was an exception to all rules, Casey was Silent Death or something, so of course he didn't make a sound.

He had to concentrate on moving quietly so hard, he'd fallen back, letting Red pass him and walk even with Bryce. All he could think of was: don't talk, don't look, don't –


The moaning whisper from one of the cells made Chuck jump. He stumbled back and Bryce grabbed his arm, fingers bruising hard, stopping him from taking another step back too close to the bars fronting the cells. He reached for the tranq gun he'd decided to carry instead of more lethal options. Maybe that hadn't been such a good idea.

"Visitors."  More than one voice sounded this time, all at once. Rustling echoed from the cells and Chuck gulped as he saw a skeletal white hand wrap around a dark iron bar up ahead.

"There are people in here," Casey accused Bryce.

Bryce shrugged and turned back toward Casey, his face an unreadable blur. "I was hoping they'd be drugged unconscious," he explained in a low voice. "I guess no one cares enough to bother any more."

"Who is it?"

"It's Two. Two's come back."

"We'll make him stay this time."

"Bryce," Sarah said, "we can't rescue – "

"Believe me, Sarah, you don't want to let them out," Bryce interrupted her. He gestured to the cells. "Meet Adam and Eve. And Adam and Eve. And Eve and Eve and Eve and Eve." A weird little smile tipped up his mouth. "They're all insane."

Chuck gaped at the sheer bitterness in Bryce's tone.

"I don't like the sound of that," Casey said.

"Try growing up here," Bryce suggested. His voice sounded flat, emptied of every emotion. "Stay back from the bars. They'll try to reach you and if one of them gets a weapon... "

Chuck's eyes were adapting now. The windows set above head height in each cell allowed in enough moonlight to navigate and see each other, if not make out color. He could see gaunt faces at the front of the closest cells, pushed into the bars, lank dark hair and eyes like pits.

"Let's just get what we came for and get out of here," Red suggested warily. Her hair swung over the shoulders of her leather jacket as she swiveled her head to take in how many cells were occupied. Her hand rested on the butt of her gun.

"Such pretty hair we should – "

Sarah jumped away from a hand on her shoulder. The fingers caught a lock of her blond hair but couldn't hold on.

" – tear it out and braid –

"Charming, right?" Bryce commented. "My predecessors." He dodged another hand that shot out, clutching at him, caught it and bent the wrist back until its owner cried out before he released it. "Bell fixed whatever went wrong with them in the second attempt." He glanced back and cocked his head, gaze on Sarah, proving he had registered how disturbed she'd been the last few days. "Maybe."

" – it into rope –

"Bryce," Chuck whispered. Whatever dark mood this place brought out in him, taunting Sarah wouldn't help anything. Bryce didn't say anything else, but if Chuck could imagine it, he knew Sarah had as well. Sleeping with a rogue spy was one thing, but how do you like knowing you shared a relationship with me, with this, now? Bryce was slapping them in the face with it before they could react, expecting rejection to the point of demanding it.

" – to hang her!"

Chilling laughter echoed back and forth from the cells.

"Move," Casey gritted out and they all did.

The inmates kept up their soft taunts, some of them too soft to make out and creepier for that. The corridor between the cells stretched forever before it ended in another locked door that they'd need Bryce or Sarah to pick if they didn't want to resort to Casey's C4.

"This is bad, this is so bad, I mean, this is Resident Evil, Left 4 Dead, Doom, every horror movie ever made not good," he whispered to Sarah, before hunching his shoulders and hurrying forward.

"Stop it, Chuck," she whispered back fiercely.

"Walker, get up front," Casey ordered. "Bartowski... shut up."

The closer they got to the end of the corridor, the stranger the atmosphere became, the air trembling on the cusp of something. It felt pressurized, solidifying around them, insinuating itself into more than Chuck's lungs. But it wasn't the air. It was the words.






A spike of pain stabbed behind his left eye.

"I will shoot all of you," Casey threatened.

Chuck stayed beside Bryce, only the company of the others keeping him from bolting. The whispers and threats were getting to him and he could see Bryce's shoulders tense in response. The Eves predominated, though there were a couple of Adams, who at least looked nothing like Bryce, but the harmonic way they all spoke the same words at the same time or one would take over from another as they passed made Chuck whimper silently under his breath. This wasn't a spy game, it was a horror show. His head hurt and his breath rushed, panic building up inside.

This had to be a nightmare for Bryce, a living, breathing, wide awake and no way out nightmare trip back to hell. Chuck hurried, letting his longer legs serve a good purpose for once, and knocked his shoulder into Bryce's, a silent you're not alone, buddy.

"You." They were crooning now, some awful promise behind the words. "Came." Sing-song and gleefully rising in volume. "Back."

They were doing something, Chuck realized, the Eves and Adams were doing something and he was catching the edge of it somehow. That's why his head was killing him.

Bryce stumbled and stopped. He turned his head to the side. Chuck couldn't stop himself, he looked where Bryce looked. Someone was in the cell, someone back in the shadows under the wired-glass window, face hidden. Chuck shuddered even though he couldn't see more than ominous shape in the darkness. He knew he should recognize it.

"Chuck," Sarah prompted, "keep moving." She sounded nervous.


The scream made them all jump.

Bryce clamped his hands to his head and doubled over.



"Have come back," the clones chorused.

Chuck meant to steady Bryce and reached for him but Bryce avoided his touch and ignored everything he'd told them, the picks he'd used on the door shining silver in his hands as he unlocked the cell before him.

"Bryce, what are you doing – "

The prisoner in the cell moved into the light and Chuck gasped, "Oh no," because he'd never imagined, in his most vindictive and angry moments after being expelled from Stanford, never wanted to see Bryce look like the man in the cell did. Only it wasn't Bryce, which meant it had to be another clone from Bryce's group, but this one had the same look on his face all the Eves and Adams did. The 'we're going to chew your face off before turning the rest of you into bloody confetti with our bare hands' look, pure distilled murderousness. "This is not a good idea, buddy. I don't think you should – "

"Kill them all!" a demonic chorus of Adams and Eves urged.

Chuck stumbled back as Bryce threw the door open and his clone launched himself through the narrow gap. The other inmates howled in approval, but Bryce caught the clone's wasted arm and just for a blink it looked like everything might be okay. Then Bryce let go and turned toward Chuck in exact synch with the clone and Chuck kept back-pedaling, yelling, "Holy crap! Sarah! Casey!" He fumbled out the tranq gun. "Bryce isn't Bryce! We've got to stop him."

"What the hell!?" Casey demanded.

Chuck leveled the tranquilizer gun at Bryce. He couldn't remember if he had the safety off. He couldn't remember if it even had a safety. Cold sweat soaked his shirt under his arms and his legs wanted to wobble. It felt like his guts had turned into a nest of snakes trying to writhe their way out of him. His mouth filled with the taste of saliva and then bile. For all of that, his hands didn't shake, even when he wanted to scream inside. He couldn't have done it if he'd been carrying a gun. He couldn't have aimed a gun at Bryce, not even like this.

Red ran back toward them, her gun in hand, and the clone spun and dove for the floor, tackling her legs out from under her before she could aim or fire. She lost her gun and they exchanged a flurry of vicious blows. The sound of flesh hitting flesh as she and the clone fought hand to hand made Chuck nauseous with sympathetic pain. If the clone had been at even half strength, Red wouldn't have stood a chance. Too long in that cell had wasted him, though, and she took full advantage of his handicap to hold her own. But that was all she could do; she couldn't take him down.

"Oh God, oh God," Chuck blurted because he was a good shot with the tranquilizer, an actually Clint Eastwood amazing good shot, because he didn't have to worry about killing anyone, but it was hard to aim when your possessed friend was already in arm's reach and smashing your arm into an iron cell bar. Chuck whimpered in pain, afraid his arm had broken, the hot agony running through the bone, but he swung his fist and hit Bryce in the jaw with his other hand.

Bryce's head snapped to the side but not even a flicker of recognition lit his eyes. The gun in his hand rose inexorably toward Chuck's face as Bryce pinned him against the bars, until Sarah somehow pushed her arm between them and Bryce turned on her in mindless hostility.

"Owww," Chuck exclaimed, "I think I just broke my knuckle!" He knew it sounded idiotic, but he didn't want Sarah to think he was really hurt. She couldn't afford to be distracted fighting Bryce.

"Never mind your knuckles, knucklehead!" Casey yelled at him. "Get out of the way!"

The fights were moving too fast for Chuck to follow in the darkness. Bryce kicked Sarah and she fell but rolled to her feet in time to face the clone as he sent Red to the floor. Red tried to drag herself back to her feet, clinging to a cell bar to pull herself up and Bryce kicked her down again. He turned back toward Chuck, snapping back on target and why the hell did everyone always target him? Why not target Casey for just once, Chuck wondered hysterically.
Actually, why wasn't Casey doing something!?

"Shoot the clone!" Chuck shouted to Casey, desperately trying to flash on some of his Intersect martial arts as Bryce grabbed the bars to the open cell door and used it to swing forward in a double-footed kick meant to take Chuck's head off.

"I'm going to shoot them both!"

The corridor between the cells was too narrow, the area in which the clone and Bryce were fighting with Sarah and Red and Chuck too tight and dark, though, and their bodies moving too fast through the shadows and slashes of moonlight. Casey couldn't take any shot.

The flash wouldn't come, his terror for himself and Bryce blocking the Intersect, the frustration just making the problem worse. He barely avoided Bryce's next attack and only because Red threw herself onto Bryce. Bryce flipped her off his shoulder – her back impacted the swinging cell door – and used the same movement to end in a three point crouch, Beretta in his other hand, extended straight and aiming at Chuck.

Bryce had aimed a gun at him before, years ago, in the Buy More. Chuck had had a bulletproof vest on under his shirt then. Unlike now. Oh God, Bryce was going to kill him.

Chuck froze. He saw Bryce's finger tighten on the trigger, moonlight catching in blind, pale eyes, blood running from his nose and mouth like something from one of Chuck's horror-based video games. Time felt slowed down, adrenaline pumping through him, and he could pick out the quiver in Bryce's arm, the emptiness of his not-expression flickering for a nanosecond into horror, telling him Bryce was still there. The sharp crack and flash as Bryce pulled the trigger made Chuck flinch and clutch at his chest, expecting agonizing pain to rush through him any second.

Any second.

Except he hadn't been shot.

They were so close to point blank, it couldn't be bad aim or an accident. Bryce had pulled his shot to the side. Chuck almost laughed hysterically and pumped his aching fist in the air. There had to be enough of Bryce still fighting in his own mind to make himself miss when he fired. "Yes! Bryce, you're still you!"

"Get out of the way, moron!" Casey roared.

Bryce's gaze still targeted Chuck, and he still had the gun aimed at Chuck, so intent or conflicted that he didn't see Sarah's kick coming. It knocked the Beretta out of Bryce's hand and sent it sliding down the corridor, close to the scrabbling, grabbing, paste-pale hands of the Eves they'd passed earlier. Sarah spun and threw an elbow strike at the clone as he tried to take her down from behind. Blood splattered as his nose broke, but he moved through what had to be eye-watering pain, hands and feet striking at Sarah. She kept blocking him, but just barely, and had to fall back.

Red rolled onto her hands and knees and scrambled down the corridor, diving and scooping up the Beretta just before one of the psychotic clones could reach it. A howl of outraged frustration rose through the cell block.

Chuck jigged and dodged, trying to keep between Casey and Bryce. "Bryce, snap out of it!" Bryce stayed on the floor, head hanging, which Chuck thought had to be a good sign, right? "Bryce!"

"Bartowski, move your ass or I'll shoot through you!"

Casey probably would.

Or he would if he wasn't right behind Chuck, pushing him down and out of the sight picture as he aimed at Bryce.

"No," Chuck whispered. It wouldn't be just him losing Bryce again. It would kill Neal too. "Casey – "

The clone threw Sarah directly into the line of fire. Casey jerked his weapon up to keep from firing on her, bullets spraying into the ceiling instead. Bryce rolled away and onto his feet. Chuck had never been quite so grateful for Casey's reflexes in his life.

Chuck heard Red shouting, "Bartowski, get out of the way!" and looked back. She'd rolled onto her back, kicked a groping hand away and had the recovered Beretta aimed past him. He hoped past him. The muzzle looked huge and dark as the entrance to hell.

He scrambled toward Bryce. The Eves were screaming obscenities, rattling the doors to their cells, hands thrust through the bars clawing the air; they flung filthy pieces of anything they could tear loose, urging the clone and Bryce on, yet no one had come to check on noise. Chuck kept expecting guards or orderlies or someone to burst in. No one did. Either the cell block had incredible soundproofing or the rabid clamor was a common, ignored thing. Or the guards didn't want anything to do with the gunshots.

"You idiot!" he heard Casey roar, but paid no attention.

Sarah came up on her knees and flung one of her throwing knives. It hit the clone just under his collar bone and he made a wild keening noise. Bryce's hand went to his own collarbone, confirming what Chuck suspected. The Adams and Eves had taken over somehow through the clone's connection to Bryce. Something to do with the mesh Bryce and Neal had tried to explain in the early morning hours when everyone else except Walter and Peter Bishop had collapsed into sleep. Neal had said it was mutual, that they were both still their selves in the mesh, though.

"Bryce, buddy," Chuck chanted, trying to catch Bryce's gaze again, "Bryce, I know you're still in there – "

"Bartowski, this is not the time for ooey-gooey therapy crap!" Casey snarled. Chuck felt his fingers catch and lose the collar at the back of his jacket as he tumbled forward. "He's gone psycho."

"I'm not letting you shoot him," Chuck gasped. "Please, Bryce – " He reached out.

Bryce's clone leaped up and sideways in some kind of parkour move, used Chuck's back like a pummel horse, and abruptly had his arm around Chuck's neck, steadily choking him out, Sarah's knife torn from his own flesh and cutting into Chuck's side. It would take nothing to slide it between his ribs and puncture his lung. Chuck would drown in his own blood before he actually bled out. Maybe you really could be scared so much so often you stopped being able to feel it. All Chuck could think was he didn't want Bryce to kill him, even if he had to die. It was just so wrong to get his best friend back and then see him destroyed, to die without anything settled with Sarah, after everything. It was worse knowing Sarah or Casey would kill Bryce without Chuck there to stop them. They wouldn't understand he wasn't in control – well, in Casey's case, he wouldn't care. It would also be really shitty if he died like that, because he thought he might throw up in a minute, and vomiting really was bad enough usually without ensuing death. The clone dragged Chuck back awkwardly, so his back was to the empty cell's bars, using Chuck's taller body as a human shield. Chuck could hear the air whistle in and out as the clone panted behind his ear and smell the sour sick smell of his body and incarceration and the cloying odor of fresh blood.

Clutching at his bony arm didn't earn Chuck any slack and his vision grayed at the edges. Distantly, he heard Casey and Red cursing. All he could see was Bryce, though, rising to his feet, looking past Chuck to the clone behind him, wet hair matted black to his face, pupils blown wide and empty, Red's blued-steel-finish gun in his hand.

"Bryce," he choked out.

Blood ran from Bryce's nose – Chuck was glad he hadn't broken it even if Bryce was going to shoot him now – which made him a little lightheaded, because even after years as the Intersect, blood still bothered him. Especially when it was someone he cared about bleeding. Unless it was the oxygen deprivation or the bowel-emptying fear he had to pretend he didn't feel, because he wasn't that tough and never would be. Especially if he died. Better to tell himself it was the lack of air making him babble in his head. Which it probably was now that Chuck thought about it, but thinking was becoming a problem, what with the need to breathe. He twisted against the iron-hard hold the clone had on him and tried to pull the forearm across his throat away even a little bit.

His hand closed on bare skin. A connection raced from Chuck's Intersect to Bryce's, as the clone – Zane, the mesh told him along with the knowledge that Bryce was drowning somewhere underneath the flood of madness– acted as a conduit. He finally flashed on the martial arts skills he needed to break free. Bryce flashed at the same time, the two Intersects trying to match up, but Zane was too warped with pain. Memories of experiments that were thinly veiled torture and the endless onslaught of the other clones' insanity opened for Chuck and he felt them soaking into him like poison. He let the flash take over and moved as Zane breathed, "Chuck," in Bryce's voice, and Bryce spun and aimed at Casey, but was too late. The flat crack of Casey's weapon snapped the three-way connection.

Sarah's knife tumbled from Zane's slack hand as his body fell back.

Bryce crumpled down to his hands and knees.

"Don't," Chuck gasped at Casey as Casey aimed Bryce, "don't, man, he's okay now."

Red walked around Casey, skirted Bryce, and put another bullet into Zane's corpse. The Adams and Eves had all fallen silent. The sound of Bryce thumbing the safety onto Red's Glock echoed, eerie in the abrupt quiet. Chuck's breath rasped through his aching throat. He heard himself swallow.

Vaguely, he felt amazed he was alive. Mostly, he was freaking out inside. That – that was the mesh?

"Chuck, are you okay?" Sarah asked, coming to his side. He flinched away from her before she could touch him, though, and wondered how he could explain the reaction. He'd just had two other minds, one of them damaged into insanity, one of them bright, beautiful, broken Bryce, linked to his, if only for the period of an Intersect flash, and it made him want to put a wall around his mind and body, at least until he had everything that was Chuck Bartowski settled firmly back in its place in his head.

It had been terrible, terrible and beautiful and strange, and he didn't know how to deal with it yet.

Instead of hugging him, Sarah stepped to the side and retrieved her knife from next to Zane's body.

"Larkin," Casey said.

Bryce shoved the gun along the floor toward Casey before rising slowly and carefully to his feet. He wiped at the blood on his mouth and chin with the back of his hand and chuckled hoarsely. "Nice punch, Chuck."

"Um, yeah, thanks."

Ignoring Casey, Bryce rolled his shoulders in a move that was half shudder and half shrug, then dropped to his knee next to Zane's corpse. Casey followed his movement with the muzzle of his weapon. Bryce closed the clone's staring eyes. "How could you let them do this to you?" Bryce whispered.

Red rejoined them, the recovered Glock in her hands aimed at Bryce too. She would have a nasty black eye by morning and moved like her body hurt. "Is anyone going to at least put him in restraints?" she demanded.

Chuck twitched unhappily, but Sarah spoke before he could. "No." She stepped between Red and Bryce. "Bryce is on our side."

"Could have fooled me," Red replied.

"Well, you don't know him the way we do." The confidence and protectiveness in her voice warmed Chuck's soul. This was his Sarah, the one he loved, not the nervy and unhappy person she'd been the last few days. "Bryce. I'm sorry."

Bryce blinked rapidly. "Sarah. Me too."

"Walker, you and your old boyfriend can play kissy-face make-up some other time."

Sarah ignored Casey and fetched up the Glock Bryce had given up.

Bryce hovered his hand over the clone's face, clearly wanting to touch him, but unable to bring himself to make contact again.

"Larkin, if you don't get moving, I am going to put a bullet through your head this time," Casey threatened, breaking the moment deliberately. Shifting his weight from foot to foot, about the only tell Chuck had ever observed, meant Casey had to be freaking out on the inside.

Bryce glanced up and met Casey's glare.

Casey walked over and looked down at the pitiful, gaunt body on the floor. "Double tap." He loaded a fresh clip into his Sig Sauer. "Don't think I won't do it." Only it sounded more like a promise than a threat. Bryce wouldn't be left for the scavengers again.

Bryce looked down again, shadowed and unreadable.

Chuck said, "It was Zane, wasn't it?"

Bryce rose to his feet and gave Chuck a surprised look. "You got that?"

"When we both flashed," Chuck said. Did both of them possessing an Intersect explain what had just happened? He had to ask, "Why – ?"

"I don't know."

Bryce started walking, ignoring the leery look Red gave him and Sarah's sad, sympathetic smile. He ignored Casey too, but Casey always looked some level of hostile. Maybe he'd always been ready for Bryce to snap and attack and Bryce probably still expected Casey to shoot him again. No doubt Casey even had a plan for if Sarah or Red turned on them too. Heck, Casey probably had a plan for if Chuck attacked him.

Chuck remembered to keep his voice down. "How – why – what happened to do that to him?"

Bryce picked the lock on the second door and let them through before answering. "This place."

Chuck reached out this time without thinking and squeezed Bryce's shoulder. "No one's going to leave you here."

The rigid bone and muscle under his hand told Chuck Bryce wanted him to let go, but he didn't, not until at least some of the tension bled away and he saw Bryce give a tiny nod.

Casey added, unbothered by revealing he'd been eavesdropping, "I've got no problem shooting you again."

"Don't ever let anyone bring Neal here," Bryce murmured. "Not for anything."

Chuck turned his shoulder squeeze into an awkward three beat pat and assured Bryce, "I know, man, I know."

"So what happened back there?" Red asked once the door to the cell block had been locked behind them and they had wound their way through a warren of hallways that led finally to the records storage room. Except for Casey, they were all moving with slow care thanks to the fight, favoring whatever hurt the worst. Chuck laid a hand over the knife cut, but it was only seeping sluggishly, and he thought it might scab up on its own.

Bryce went to work on the locks.

"That was Zane," Chuck said.

"Twenty-five," Bryce corrected dully. "They wiped away everything that was Zane." The lock yielded to his touch.

"They?" Sarah asked.

"Whoever brought him back and locked him up with the crazies," Red guessed.

"He seemed pretty crazy too," Casey commented from behind them, looming impatient and close. He grunted. "Guess that explains you, Larkin."

"That's what happens to even a limited telepath in an insane asylum," Bryce said as he led them through shelves of cryptically labeled file boxes to a wall of locked cabinets. Bleakly, he added, "Eve is strong enough to force a connection. Up close at least."

"Which one?" Casey demanded. The stroke of his finger next to the trigger guard on his gun hinted he'd be willing to go back and finish her. From a nice safe distance.

Bryce laughed under his breath. "Eve is all of them. All of them are Eve."

"All of them?" Chuck realized out loud. The Fringe team had talked about another experiment and a group with a hive mind that had been driven to protect itself. "Even the Adams?"


"Creepy," Red remarked, but she sounded unphased. She began cursing under her breath a second later though, with a soldier's unapologetic and creative obscenity, and added, when everyone stared at her, "I just thought... there may be a version of this place on my side of the Bridge."

Bryce looked back at her and said, "Of course there is. Where do you think Ruth came from?"

"Fuck me," Red muttered.

He wasn't going to think about it. Another place like this? No, no, not thinking about it and never going to sleep again because Chuck knew he was going to have nightmares.

Chuck zeroed in on a desk and the computer on it while Bryce began picking the locks on the filing cabinets. Red prowled through the records room. Casey stationed himself at the door, still keeping a wary eye on Bryce.

A loud seeming click accompanied Bryce pulling open a file drawer.

"Sarah, can you go through these?" Bryce asked. He handed over a slim LED penlight. "Look for anything labeled Litchfield Two, Batch One through Five, Copycat, Simon Paris, medical records, test results, or Cortexiphan. Anything referencing David Robert Jones, too."

Sarah took the light and began working. Chuck had the computer booted up and began hacking through its security. It hadn't been updated in several years; it didn't offer much challenge to the Piranha. The only real protection this system had was its separation from any wireless networks. It had to be physically accessed on-site. It felt satisfying to be doing something he was good at, finally, instead of trailing after Sarah or Casey or having a knife threatening his internal organs. His side stung where Zane had cut through his shirt and undershirt and into his skin and when he shifted, the cloth pulled away and a tickling slide of fresh blood ran down to his waist. No one had noticed, though, thanks to his dark clothes and Chuck bit his tongue rather than complain. Red and Sarah and Bryce all had to be hurting too, physically, and, in Bryce's case, mentally as well.

"Too much light," Casey complained with a nod toward the room's single window. There were no blinds they could pull to keep someone on the grounds noticing any lights moving in the room.

Chuck set the monitor brightness down to next to nothing. Bryce wasn't even using a light to work by and Sarah kept the tiny penlight down inside the files. She'd already pulled two. Red grabbed them and stuffed them in a pack they'd brought for that purpose.

He cracked the password system and announced, "I'm in."

"About time," Casey said.

Chuck ignored him and plugged in his highest speed portable hard drive. Creating a copy of everything would be faster than trying to sift through the masses of digital data Litchfield had accumulated. They could pick through the contents once they were back at Walter's lab.

The last of the filing cabinets open, Bryce left them and headed for the wall safe.

"Half way," Chuck said.

Sarah set aside another stack of files and started on the next row of drawers. The sound of the papers flipping as she checked contents against labels competed with the rustle of movement from Red, everyone breathing, and the clicks as Bryce worked the dial on the safe. It wasn't just good operational habit to stay quiet. They were all locked into their own thoughts, trying to get over or get past what had happened in the cell block and what it meant.

Red limped over to the window and checked. "The alarm's on a single wire. We could bypass it and go out over the roof."

"Anything else we need from this dump?" Casey asked.

Bryce swung the safe open and reached inside. "No." He pulled out a leather journal first and then a metal lockbox. He carried both to the desk where Chuck sat. "This is it."

Bryce flipped open the journal and angled it to catch the dim light spilled from the computer monitor. That let Chuck check it out too. The gobbledygook entries were in a spidery longhand. He recognized what it was, even if he couldn't figure it out immediately. "It looks like a personal cypher," he said. He'd worked out his own cyphers and codes when he was a kid. Later, he and Bryce had learned Klingon so they could talk to each other and leave notes no one else on campus could figure out. "Someone didn't want anyone reading his notes."

"Bell's, I hope," Bryce said. The journal went into a pocket inside his jacket.

"Walter will figure it out if it is," Red said confidently

Bryce picked the lock on the box and opened it nearly reverently.

Casey locked the door behind him and joined them. "We need to get out. The next patrol sweep is in five minutes."

Chuck nodded.

"What is that?" Red asked. She had a pocket knife out and was working on disabling the window alarm.

"Samples," Bryce said.

Chuck peered into the box. Eight glass ampules of a dark liquid were cradled in a gray foam lining. Bryce plucked one out and held it up as Sarah turned toward them and the penlight flared through the sloshing contents, brilliant crimson that refracted upward and reflected from Bryce's eyes.

Red made a sharp noise. "Cortexiphan." She sounded much too interested in that possibility. Chuck decided he needed to watch the agent from Over There.

Bryce closed his fist around the ampule. "Maybe."

The penlight moved and played over Bryce's face, on the hint of hope there for the first time, before he turned away from the beam reflexively. Sarah jerked it down immediately, but they'd all seen it. Bryce was holding a chance for Neal in his hand, if they could just bring back enough information for Walter to replicate whatever made Bryce immune.

"Bryce," Sarah said. "There's a file here on Zane. Do you want it?"

Bryce didn't answer immediately.

"Larkin," Casey growled.

"Yes," Bryce said finally. "Neal will want know why – Neal will want to read it."

"Nothing on Jones. I'm sorry."

"Too much to hope for."

Sarah pushed the rest of the files she'd culled into the pack and shouldered as Chuck's program signaled it had finished copying the drives. Red levered the window open, letting in a rush of cool night air and the smell of rain and wet trees.

"Think you can climb down a drain pipe without breaking something, Bartowski?" Casey asked.

Chuck cleared out the history of his hacking and any trace he'd been in the computer then shut it down and wiped the keyboard, ignoring Casey's dig. Just because he'd sprained his ankle that one time...


Casey kept them all moving fast and even Chuck was keeping up, though he kept a close eye on Bryce, as they made their way through the opening cut in the chainlink fence. Bryce's face, when Chuck glimpsed it, seemed as closed off as he'd ever seen him. He couldn't think of anything to say that would help, though, so he just tried to stay between Bryce and Casey and tried not to worry over what Sarah or Red might do.

No one talked as they loped through the trees to the pull-off beside the road where the Hummer was stashed and waiting.

Casey had the lead and his hand came up. Everyone came to a stop. No one spoke as they tried to come even with him without stepping on any branches or holes filled with wet leaves and muck. Wetness seeped through the knees of Chuck's pants when he knelt down. Peering from the cover of darkness, he spotted what Casey had: a black-painted SUV parked behind the Hummer.

He could just make out that there were people in the SUV when Bryce cocked his head and then broke cover.

Chuck grabbed for him, but missed and nearly face-planted into the cold, wet loam he knelt on.

The rear passenger-side door of the SUV flung open as Bryce left the tree line and the interior light switched on, offering a glimpse of a tailored suit as Neal nearly flung himself at Bryce. Behind him, Mozzie almost fell out as he lost his grip on Neal. Neal crossed the space to Bryce at a run, grabbed him by the shoulders and shook him before hugging him tightly. Bryce had to take several fast steps back to keep them from both going down.

Next to Chuck, Casey shook his head. "I'm going to hurl."

The rest of them slowly made their way out of the trees and joined Peter Bishop and Agents Dunham, Lee and Burke between the SUV and the Hummer. Chuck hesitated between joining them or joining Mozzie, who was hovering next to the still open car door, looking worried and protective as Chuck himself felt. Everyone was shivering a little in the cold night air.

"Neal," Mozzie called.

Neal turned enough to look back, while keeping a fist clenched in Bryce's shirt. "Sorry, Moz," he said.

Bryce had always been almost too bright, too beautiful – not that Chuck would ever admit thinking of a guy that way – and solemn when they weren't playing games. Sometimes Chuck had thought Bryce hadn't known how to laugh and mean it before they met. Neal smiled even wider than Bryce ever had, though. It left an aching knot in Chuck's throat. He could only be grateful he'd never met Neal while he still thought Bryce was dead. Though he didn't know Neal beyond his files and being around him the last few days, Chuck knew that if they didn't find a way to save him, it would finally and forever break Bryce.

He could see the reverse would be true too, just from the way Neal held onto Bryce.

"What happened?" Peter Burke asked quietly. He was watching Neal and Bryce too, while talking to Casey and Sarah. "Neal freaked out and insisted we had to get here – "

"We ran into Larkin's other, evil twin," Casey said. "The crazy one that wanted to kill us all, along with the rest of the freakshow locked up back there." He gave himself a shake.

Neal was pulling Bryce along by the front of his shirt. Bryce followed along without protest, something he'd never do for anyone else.

"Neal knew something," Burke said. He didn't sound like that pleased him. Neal must have said something about Zane, otherwise Chuck couldn't figure why Burke would be so creeped out by the idea. Neal seemed like a good guy, criminality aside, and Burke must like him or he wouldn't have worked with him for years now.

Chuck didn't get Burke's problem. He'd thought sharing a telepathic link with Bryce would be cool, better than having the Intersect in their heads, until they'd flashed together. Burke couldn't know how Zane had poisoned the experience. Even so, that glimpse of what it could have been... It was what people dreamed of sharing with a loved one. If he could do that, just once, with Sarah, the memories she'd lost wouldn't matter.

He had to admit, Zane had been terrifying. More for what he had been able to do to Bryce than some inherent evilness. What had happened to Zane hadn't really been his fault, though.

"We should get out of here," Agent Lee said. "Before someone drives by and spots us."

Casey grunted his agreement. "All right, everyone load up."

Neal and Bryce were doing that thing where they didn't talk out loud again, they didn't even look at each other, but they were still in perfect synch and it wasn't at all like what had happened in the asylum, Chuck reminded himself. He could see they weren't going to let anyone separate them for a while too.

The easiest way to avoid a disagreement about who rode with whom would be to get the two of them into the Hummer. He opened up the back and caught Bryce's eye, nodding to the interior. Bryce and Neal scrambled in without a word. Neal still hadn't let go of Bryce's shirt. Chuck thought he might not until Bryce was forced to change clothes.

Casey had disabled the interior lights in the Hummer, so Chuck didn't get much of a better look at either of them, but up close he could see the strain on both sets of pale features.

Casey noticed Bryce and Neal were both in the Hummer and looked ready to throw up his hands in sheer disgust. "Those two are weirding me out," he muttered. He turned a glare on Chuck. "They're worse than you with the – " He shuddered. " – hugs."

Chuck smiled at him. He knew Casey didn't hate his emotional demonstrations half as much as he claimed. He just hated them a lot. Bryce and Neal needing to be in contact with each other didn't bother Chuck at all. When he'd been a kid, Ellie had been almost that handsy, always grabbing hold of him, especially after their dad walked away and it was just the two of them. She'd been afraid of losing Chuck too if she didn't hold on and he knew Bryce and Neal were going through the same thing. Casey, however, preferred pretending he was a Terminator and didn't need human feelings, and so had to mock no matter how he really felt.

Mozzie surprised him by getting in with them too. "I'm only here for Neal," he said to Chuck. "I'm not letting you take him anywhere without me. Just because you seem to be helping, doesn't mean I trust you for a minute. It could all be part of your secret plan take him away and use him for your own purposes. Also, I have his medication."

Chuck blinked and wondered if this was what Morgan would be like in twenty years. Ten years, if Morgan lost his hair and Alex left him.

"I'm watching you," Mozzie warned. Fingers formed into a V, he pointed to his eyes then at Casey.

"I know I'm being punished for something," Casey grumbled. "This is even worse than most missions." He stalked his way around to the driver's side.

"Moz," Neal said softly. He had his arms around Bryce, but he'd turned enough to face his friend.

"Get in the car, moron," Casey ordered from the driver's seat as he started the Hummer.

Chuck crawled into the back with Mozzie, Neal and Bryce. It was a tight fit with the four of them and he felt like his knees didn't really need to be so closely acquainted with his ears, but Red and Peter were in the backseat already and Sarah had snagged shotgun beside Casey. Of course she had; while she might not remember the last five years, she had already relearned you didn't want to be in the back when Casey drove. He peeled the Hummer onto the road with a squawk from the tires, tossing gravel up to rain down on the vehicle behind them, and then straightened the wheel so fast everyone slewed to the side.

Neal and Bryce ended up sliding into Mozzie, who squeaked, and Chuck had to brace himself against Bryce's shoulder to keep from ending face down in Neal's lap. He left his hand in place even once he straightened up. He didn't know if Bryce even noticed, but he felt better. Bryce had disappeared from his life too many times; Chuck wanted to keep hold of him this time.

"If any of that gravel scratched the Bureau vehicle, Peter's gonna have a fit," Neal remarked. The headlights from said SUV flashed through the back of the Hummer as it pulled onto the road and followed them, catching in the crystal blue of Neal's irises, limning Bryce's profile, throwing the shadows of his long lashes over his cheekbones. In college, Chuck had envied Bryce his stunning good looks and puzzled over his complete lack of pride in it. He supposed he understood now. Bryce didn't see himself as unique and he didn't see his looks as even his. It made Chuck want to wrap Bryce in a hug from the other side, but he worried how Neal would react if he did.

He worried a little how Sarah would – or wouldn't – react if he did that too. They had had a couple of strange conversations in regard to Bryce since discovering he was still – again? – alive.

"What is wrong with you?" Mozzie yelled at the back of Casey's head breathlessly, once they were untangled again. "You drive worse than the Suit!"

"Shut up or I'll shoot you," Casey replied.

"I knew it," Mozzie muttered. "Kidnapped at gunpoint – "

"You insisted on coming!" Casey shouted and made a hard right without braking, sloshing everyone in the Hummer sideways again. This time Bryce rocked into Chuck, followed by Neal, and it was Mozzie grabbing onto the back of the seat to keep from face-planting.

A weak chuckle escaped Bryce as he levered himself off Chuck. "You get used to it," he told Mozzie. "At least it's not a helicopter. I've fallen out of one of those."

Chuck winced at the idea. He wasn't terribly fond of helicopters, given his experiences with them.

"I do not want to know," Mozzie said.

Neal laughed softly. "Yes, you do."

Mozzie made a face at Neal. "Fine. Yes, I do." He squirmed until he was in the corner and then tugged at Neal until they were wedged firmly enough that even Casey's wild driving wouldn't throw them around. He wasn't actually hugging Neal, but his hand rested protectively at the back of Neal's head, keeping him from hitting it against anything. "Go to sleep, Neal."

Another flash from the headlights behind them showed Chuck Neal's eyes fluttering closed as he leaned into his friend's support.

Chuck smiled happily. Mozzie had seemed somewhat skittish around Neal and Bryce, though whether that was from being freaked out like Burke or just worry over Neal's health hadn't been clear until now. He felt sorry that Agent Burke didn't seem able to get past what they'd found out, though. It seemed sad and stupid to him to blame Neal for how he'd been born. Maybe Burke would come around, though; Chuck thought Burke's wife might make him see sense if he didn't.

He straightened his legs out and used them to brace himself. The ride to Cambridge was going to be a long one.

The hand that latched itself onto his startled Chuck, but he grabbed and squeezed back, catching a glimpse of Bryce smiling tiredly at him.

Peter and Red were whispering to each other, but Chuck could hear enough to know it wasn't anything he needed to worry over. Besides, Casey and Sarah would keep an eye and ear on them. He let his head tip back and hoped he wouldn't snore if he fell asleep himself.

Bryce didn't let go.

Part Nine

I am a scientist - I seek to understand me
I am an incurable and nothing else behaves like me
I Am A Scientist :: Guided By Voices

Casey handled the drive back to Cambridge fine. Better than the rest of his team would have, he'd bet. He hadn't been tossed around like a badminton birdie by Bryce and his evil twin – clone – what the hell ever. Or had his head taken over by the pasty-faced whackadoodles locked up in that place. So he wasn't nursing a bunch of bruises or whatever PTSD crap Bryce had going on in his pretty little head. Like Bryce hadn't already been messed up. He almost felt sorry for the guy, only he never wasted time feeling sorry for anyone.

Everyone had to be hurting, though. It wasn't feeling sorry for anyone to look out for your team.

He wondered if Walter Bishop had anything better than OTC painkillers in his lab and muffled a snort of laughter. He'd bet Walter did, but Casey wouldn't trust anything Walter cooked up with his beakers and burners, that was for sure. It wouldn't do to coddle them, anyway.

A check to the rear view mirror showed him Burke was still following behind and no one else. Looked like, despite the usual sideways weirdness that went with working with Bartowski, they had got away clean. He hadn't even had to shoot anyone.

It left him just a little disappointed. Maybe he'd find a shooting range somewhere in the area and burn some ammo before they left the area. Walker might feel a little better if she got to waste some paper targets too.

It began raining again shortly after they passed through Hartford. He'd got out of practice driving much in bad weather living in freaking Burbank, but it wasn't a skill you lost. The windshield wipers kept up with the rain and Casey let himself slide a glance to the side.

Walker had a shiner coming up on her cheek bone, reddened skin just mottling into purple where the swelling puffed her left eye half-closed. She'd sunk down in the seat as far as the seat belt would let her and had a hand propped against the door to hold her head up. Her eyes were open though, watching the road and the mirrors out of operational habit. He couldn't read her expression though.

He didn't let himself sigh, because he didn't let himself get messed up with everyone's emotional gobbledygook. Nothing left to say anyway; he'd already given Walker her video reports and his best advice already.

A check of the back seat showed Red sprawled in her seat, watching out the windows, talking with Bishop. He didn't know why the scientist's son had decided to ride with them instead of the rest of the Fringe team, unless it was to talk with Red, so Casey paid a little more attention to their murmuring.

"On my side, there's nothing between New York and Boston except barrens," Red murmured. "No lights at night. No life."

"I've seen," Bishop said.

"It's the same in your timeline?" Red's scratchy voice sounded wistful.

"Worse," Bishop said brutally.

"So were we at war there or then too?"


"Were we winning?"

"We weren't."

"Which 'we'? Walter stole you from our side, didn't he?" She squinted at Bishop. "That's the story, right?"

The hell? Casey thought. He started paying closer attention. He'd thought Bishop was Whacky Walter's kid. Then he'd thought maybe Bishop came from the other universe. Now there were timelines involved? No one mentioned timelines in the briefing. Or, hell, maybe they did and he just zoned out, figuring Bartowski would understand it all. Sonova – He hated this weird-o science fiction crap. Give him a target and a trigger to pull, for God's sake; something he understood.

"No one was winning. Your universe was dying faster, but this one was just as doomed. I saw that future too."

In the rear view mirror, Red shook her head, long hair stirring over her shoulders. Casey filed away the possibility that Peter Bishop's loyalties were compromised. Bishop caught his gaze in the mirror and raised his eyebrows. Casey didn't blink and Bishop chuckled. "I'm going to catch some sleep while I can. Once we're back, Walter will need my help."

"You're right," Red replied. Casey didn't think she went to sleep, but she closed her eyes.

Bishop slumped down and went out like a light, experienced at catching rest when and where he could, more soldier than civilian. Eventually, Red's head tipped against the window and her mouth parted a little, giving away that she'd drifted off too.

The rain was turning to icy slush. Casey slowed marginally and set the wipers on high. Another mirror sweep and he made a face in disgust. Headlight glare, darkness, and the worsening weather made checking for tails a guessing game. He couldn't even tell if the vehicle behind him was still Burke's. A wind began buffeting the Hummer too, forcing him to concentrate on steering it without drifting or skidding as the pavement turned slick with ice.

"Turn on the heater, would you?" the gnome in the back with Bartowski, Bryce, and the con man demanded. He demanded quietly, though. Casey didn't say anything as Walker leaned forward with a wince and adjusted the environmental controls.

Low enough Casey almost had to guess at the words, he heard, "Do you need another dose?"

"Not yet," Caffrey murmured in reply.

"You know you can't stay, right? The Suit can't handle this. Even if he can... Corporations like Massive Dynamics don't get taken down. They pay a bunch of slap-on-the-wrist fines, throw a couple of lower echelon chumps to the dogs, change their name, and it's business as usual. They'll come after you. If not them, someone else that wants what they had."

Caffrey coughed and muttered unhappily, "I know. I knew before they grabbed me."

"Have you got an exit strategy?"

A soft chuff of laughter was Caffrey's response. "What, you aren't going to help?"

"I get the feeling you've got more layers than I gave you credit for, so I have to ask. Besides, you'll have him with you and that complicates any plans you or I made."

"So are you – "

"Of course I'm in."

Casey wanted to shake his head but didn't; he had to stay focused on the blurry road before them. Mozzie was right. Caffrey had an Intersect-sized target painted on his back and so did Bryce. It was going to hit Bartowski like a punch in the gut when Bryce did his disappearing act again, though.

"My thousandth man," Caffrey whispered.

They didn't say anything more and the rest of the drive passed in near silence, broken only once when Caffrey started shaking and needed another shot. No one asked Casey to pull off and stop, so he concentrated on keeping the Hummer rolling as smooth and steady as possible. He should have remembered that before he threw everyone in back around before.

The ice settled into thick wet flakes somewhere past the Worcester exit and the drive slowed to a crawl, though still nothing compared to the oxymoron of an LA rush hour freeway.

Casey navigated through the Boston traffic using the Hummer's size and weight to intimidate the other drivers and pulled into the Kresge Building's limited parking, straddling two reserved spaces without an ounce of repentance. Surprisingly, Burke pulled into another space only moments later, though he chose his spot more circumspectly.

The trudge from parking into the building involved Dunham pulling out a set of keys and calling ahead to the FBI security team stationed outside the lab, snow getting down Casey's socks and the back of his neck, a litany of complaints about alien xenoforming, HAARP, global warming and the documented escalation of killer tornadoes from Mozzie, and Red telling them at least their snow didn't eat through everything except leather or Kevlar. The oddest moment was when Caffrey and Bryce both stopped and turned their faces up, just inside the orange sodium glow of a street light, and let the fat, wet flakes of snow fall onto their faces and melt there. Bartowski and Burke and Mozzie got nervous and annoyed and harried both men in, but Casey knew they were both savoring a moment free of cages and leashes; he'd been held prisoner once or twice himself. They were, though, as a group, soaked, dripping, and miserable as they trooped across the worn linoleum floors and down to the basement.

They were greeted by the four who had been left behind with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Farnsworth gravitated to Dunham, Elizabeth Burke gave her husband a sizzling kiss, Ruth eyed Larkin and Caffrey with an eerie hunger, and Walter Bishop proceeded to hug his 'son' (or whatever relation Peter Bishop was, Casey wasn't sure any longer), then Dunham, patted Lee's shoulder with beaming fondness and then fell on Bartowski, Baldy, Bryce and Caffrey with just as much enthusiasm.

Mozzie skittered away before Walter could hug him, Chuck blinked and then awkwardly hugged the older man back, and Bryce and Caffrey got wide-eyed and panicky looking enough Casey had to cough and laugh.

That made Bryce freeze though and hold still for a hug, and Caffrey followed suit, though his was a bit more like Walter feeling him up as he quizzed him on how he felt, how many doses he'd needed, and if they both could spare a pint of blood.

Caffrey cocked an eyebrow and asked, "Do we get a pint back? I'm not that fond of beer, but some Guinness might not be bad."

"Liquids, yes, but no alcohol, I'm afraid," Walter said in complete seriousness. "Come along then." He stepped back and realized all the hugging had left his lab coat and pants wet with transfer. "Do you know you're all very wet?" He plucked at his lapel. "As am I now."

Bishop shrugged out of his pea coat and hung it on the coat tree. "That's what you get for attack-hugging people, Walter."

"Oh. Really? I shall keep that in mind. Did you get the records?"

"Yes," Caffrey said.

Mozzie produced a hard drive and waved it.

"And this," Bryce said and brought out the case and the journal, handing them both over.

Fingers straying over the leather binding of the journal, Walter looked nearly reverent. Instead of opening it, he brought the journal to his nose and sniffed. His eyes widened and he looked at Bryce with respect and delight. "This is Belly's. I can smell the curried almonds." His gaze strayed to the case. "Is that – ?"

"We think so," Chuck said.

Walter tucked the journal under his armpit and opened the case eagerly. "Yes, yes, this does look like it. He lifted a vial out, unstoppered it and inhaled. "Cortexiphan. I'd know that scent anywhere. Well done. Well done, all of you."

Walker hefted a gym bag and said, "I'm going to change. Back in a minute."

"So, Walter," Red asked, "are you close?" She dropped her leather coat on a straight chair and eyed her feet – her boots were wet and so were her pants up to the knee.

Casey's toes squished in his boots. He ignored them. He should have known California boots wouldn't cut it on the East Coast. Let Walker change clothes. He wasn't going to complain. Hell, even Bartowski hadn't started complaining. Burke – Burke's wife was dragging him off. Burke didn't have anything to complain about.

Burke hugged his wife with one arm and used his phone with the other.

"As a matter of fact, I am," Walter replied.

Red grinned and shook her head. "You're kind of amazing."

"I'm sure my counterpart is equally impressive."

"The Secretary is more intimidating," she said. "Anyone mind if I take my boots off? My feet are freezing."

Dunham had dropped into her desk chair tiredly. "I've got socks." Exhaustion leeched all the color from her, Casey thought, and she wasn't half as obvious as Red, but he'd rather have her at his back than her parallel universe double. Though Red had showed well at Litchfield. Damn few people could hold their own against Bryce and the Bryce clone had been equally talented, despite his physical deterioration.

Red laughed. "Well, they should fit."

"Come along," Walter told Caffrey and Bryce. "You can lie down in my office again while I get that blood."

"Do we want to know what you're going to do with it?" Lee asked sotto voce.

"I am going to use Belly's dosage records and the Cortexiphan to create a treatment that will give Mr. Caffrey the same constant presence in his system that Mr. Larkin, Olivia and the other Cortexiphan subjects possess."

"Without killing him," Bishop reminded him.

Walter scowled petulantly. "That does pose an obstacle."

Bryce caught Casey's gaze and said, "So does getting shot, but there are ways around it." He smirked for a second and Casey growled under his breath, though Bryce never had seemed to hold it against him.

Walter went still.

"Walter?" Farnsworth prompted when he didn't move or blink. "Are you okay?"

He blinked and shook his head, then declared, "Asterix, get Agent Broyles on the phone. We need the equipment that was used on Mr. Larkin!"

Walker came back, dressed in dry clothes that didn't scream dominatrix cat-burglar, and dug for her phone. "Let me call Beckman. All the technology Fulcrum and the Ring used that survived has been confiscated by the Agency or the NSA. They've got the pod we found Bryce in."

"Thank you, my dear," Walter said. "That is exactly what I need."

Walker nodded and put some space between them so she could talk.

Bryce was staring at Walter and shivering. Casey wanted to believe Bryce was just cold and wet, like the rest of them, but he didn't buy it. Bryce might be looking at Walter Bishop, but his head was back in whatever hell Fulcrum and the Ring had repeatedly put him through. Casey'd seen enough flashbacks to recognize one. It had to be the pod. That thing had been half way between a high-tech incubator and a glass coffin.

Walter mentioning it or the prospect of seeing it again must have put Bryce right back in it.

Caffrey looked suddenly ill, eyes going unfocused like he was stuck seeing whatever Bryce was too. After the freaking mind meld back in Litchfield, Casey figured that probably was what was happening. Caffrey latched onto Bryce's elbow. Bryce swayed and looked at the floor. His Adam's apple worked as he swallowed hard.

"Bryce?" Chuck asked.

"Everything okay here?" Burke said. He looked from Caffrey to Bryce and then silently queried Casey with a sharp look.

"Situation screwed up is more like it," Casey said. "Bartowski, you want to get Larkin here and the other one into the office where the doc can play vampire?"

Chuck gave him a half guilty look, gulped, and nodded. Chuck stood up to Casey when it mattered, but most of the time Casey could still scare the bejesus out of him. No insult to Chuck, really, because Casey could make a Marine drill sergeant wet himself when he really tried.

"Bryce, come on," Chuck said. "You and Neal should both get some rest."

Caffrey and Bryce shook themselves in tandem.

Burke squeezed Caffrey's shoulder. "Listen to him. Do what you're told for once."

Caffrey angled a look at Burke. "Sure, Peter. You know how good I am – "


" – at doing what I'm supposed to." Bright, careless grin that didn't reach his eyes. "Where's Moz?"

"With Agent Farnsworth, going through that hard drive."

"Oh. Okay."

Chuck shifted uneasily, then leaned closer to Bryce. "Bryce."

"Sorry, Chuck."

"Hey, it's okay. I know, man. You're just really tired. It's been. It's been a long night, right?" Chuck waved a hand. "But, you know, things'll be better once you get some sleep. Ellie used to tell me that. A lot."

Bryce smiled at that. "Sure." He started moving too, and Caffrey went with him, hand still on his arm, whether to steady himself or steady Bryce, it wasn't clear. They disappeared into the office turned bedroom.

Chuck headed off to find Walker and, Casey expected, get her to kiss whatever scratch he had on his side better. He'd have said something about it, but if the idiot wanted to pretend he wasn't hurt, that was plenty fine with Casey.

Casey found a chair, turned it around, and sat backwards on it.

Burke contemplated him. Casey contemplated him back. He considered warning the Fed that Caffrey was planning to bolt once he was well, but held his tongue. Bryce would go with Caffrey, which meant that he, John Casey, wouldn't be stuck with Bartowski offering the ex-agent a job with Carmichael Industries.

Casey didn't need binoculars to see that one looming ten miles out.

"I just got off the phone with my boss," Burke said.

Casey waited.

"Nina Sharp's already out on bail."

At the other end of the lab, Walter raised his voice, demanding Bishop look at something through a microscope. Burke glanced that way. Casey followed his gaze. Caffrey had joined them. He braced himself against a table with one hand and flashed, the shiver a dead giveaway, then began talking. Farnsworth and Baldy were both typing into laptops at dizzying speeds.

"Military contractors have a lot of pull," Casey said.

"I know," Burke declared bitterly. "Financial crimes is well acquainted with 'too big to fail'." Burke's shoulders drooped and his frown explained every wrinkle in his forehead and cut deep around his mouth. "How bad was it, really, in that place?"

Casey considered giving him a sarcastic brush off. He decided to play it straight. "Shoot him in the head before you let anyone take him back there."

"Or let him go."

He didn't have any answers for that, except a little more respect for the Fed. He'd figured it out. Casey shrugged. Burke's problem, Burke's call. Casey had his own, name of Bartowski and with Bartowski came Bryce Larkin.

God damn it. Casey rolled his shoulders and grimly began preparing himself for a long, tiring day. He'd have to worry about his wet feet later. Of course, he had to worry about Sharp being out: she knew where this place was and Massive Dynamics had more than enough pull to sic a special ops squad after Caffrey if she wanted him picked up or taken out. They'd go through anyone that got in the way, including Bryce and Bartowski. That made Sharp Casey's problem after all.

Casey didn't like problems. He did like solving them, usually by shooting them in the head. He was okay with doing that to anyone who came after Caffrey or Bryce. With as much as he'd put up with from Bartowski over the last five years, he figured he was the only one who got to shoot Bryce.

"Thank you for your input, Colonel," Burke said with a nod before wandering back to his wife and hugging her from behind.

He watched as first the people who couldn't add to Walter Bishop's work found places to sleep. As dawn crept through the overcast clouds to add its gray light through the windows, even the most dedicated dropped off for catnaps, either draped over a desk or in Ruth's case curled up on the floor in a corner, head propped against a wall.

Even though he was watching, Casey still wasn't sure how Mozzie scammed himself a couch, but he noticed when Caffrey cat-footed over and took off the older man's glasses, leaving them close by and obvious, and smiling fondly at him. He nearly wrecked the whole thing though when Caffrey whipped out a Sharpie marker and began writing on Mozzie's forehead. Despite himself, Casey was impressed: Caffrey had to have the lightest touch of anyone he'd ever seen to manage that without startling the other conman awake.

He stood up and peered over at Mozzie's forehead.

Caffrey had used mirror writing.

Blue eyes caught on his and Caffrey raised a finger to his lips.

"What's it say?" Casey whispered.

"'When you choose your friends, don't be short-changed by choosing personality over character.' He'll know it."

Casey grunted, not sure what to make of that or Caffrey. With a smile that Casey'd never seen from Bryce, Caffrey wandered back to the office-bedroom.

Walter snorted and snored in his sleep. Elsewhere in the room, Chuck's familiar snuffle sounded muffled. He'd probably buried his face in something again. Casey let himself sink a little deeper in the chair, ears tuned to the normal noises of the building above the lab and the traffic outside, and resumed his watch.

Casey's stomach gurgled insistently. He wasn't ready to risk eating anything from the lab's refrigerators. Gene the cow added a certain whiff to the lab. Maybe Bartowski wasn't the worst civilian to work with; at least the Buy More didn't sell farm animals. A phone buzzed once but no one stirred to answer it. Casey thought about pancakes. Damn, he was getting hungry.

The arrival of the revival pod started people waking up. An armed CIA security team delivered it. Walker managed to look put together, despite her shiner, but everyone else only managed rumpled and zombie-eyed, especially Walter. Age didn't make all nighters any easier.

Even crumpled and creased, Walter managed to coo enthusiastically at Fulcrum's technology.

Bryce didn't come out of the bedroom office.

Caffrey made it as far as the doorway and leaned against the frame, dressed down for him in rolled up sleeves and a vest, no tie. He watched for a while as the machine was set up, then wandered away toward the washroom, coming back shaved and with his hair combed once more, but still wan and edgy.

Casey watched Caffrey drift over to Mozzie and shake his shoulder. "Hey, wake up."

If seeing Chuck Bartowski wake up was amusing, watching Mozzie wake was enough to make even Casey twitch a grin. He killed it immediately when he saw Bryce watching him from the doorway.

Mozzie slapped at his own face, scrubbed his hands over his skull, and sat up in a flustered flurry, then glared myopically at Caffrey. "Neal. What did you do?"

Caffrey blinked big blue innocent eyes at his friend. "Me?"

"Where're my glasses?"

"Right there on the table, Moz."

Bryce had schooled his face to near expressionlessness, but Casey caught a spark of mischief there. It survived Bryce spotting the revival pod, though it dimmed briefly.

Bartowski was blinking and staring at Mozzie in bafflement.

Glasses back in place, Mozzie peered at Chuck, then everyone else looking at him, which included several of CIA technicians and guards. "What? What?"

"You've, uh, got something," Bartowski blurted and waved unhelpfully toward Mozzie, before stopping.

Caffrey was edging away, glee in every line of his body. Burke shook his head and his wife was muffling giggles.

Mozzie switched his attention and his ire immediately to Caffrey. "Tell me you didn't write on my face again! Neal!"

"I didn't write on your face," Caffrey lied beautifully.

"It's on your forehead," Red added, laughter in her voice.


"You didn't even feel it," Caffrey said, bright and proud of his own cleverness.

"Again?" Lee repeated, zeroing in on a critical data point. "Is that a thing?"

Walter stopped to examine Mozzie's forehead, reading the mirror writing without trouble. "W. Somerset Maugham. Are you considering a forehead tattoo?"

"No!" Mozzie yelled. "I'm considering destroying Neal's wardrobe."

"Oh, no, Moz, those are Byron's suits, you can't do that to June – "

"I'm talking about the wardrobe in storage in Marseille. And the one in Madrid too," Mozzie threatened. He glared at Neal again, who looked horrified while still amused, and stalked off to the washroom. After a moment, Caffrey took off after him, calling, "Mozzie, you wouldn't – "

Maybe it was just exhaustion, but everyone cracked up, and Casey allowed himself an amused smirk.


Bryce didn't like it. He kept his mouth shut and listened, but he didn't like it, he didn't want Neal to do it, and –

"I'll do it," Ruth said after Walter explained what he wanted to try.

Peter Bishop wasn't as sanguine as his father. "It's a gamble. The stuff Walter does... It's not exactly AMA or FDA approved."

Ruth looked curious and Red asked, "FDA? I don't know that one?"

"No Food and Drug Administration Over There," Lee explained to Chuck and everyone less familiar with the other universe.

"There's no time to waste on testing," Walter snapped. Lack of sleep made him testy. "Who would we test this on anyway?"

"He does have a point," Peter said and raised his eyebrows at Neal, Bryce, and Ruth. "Your call."

But it wasn't Bryce's call. He was fine. Physically fine. His mind had turned into a seething viper's pit of memories he hadn't been able to separate from the present. He'd wanted to die when he was in that pod. He hated the idea of Neal in it.

He zoned out for a moment and returned to Walter warning Neal again.

"It simply may not work with an adult. His – " he looked at Bryce, " – body is producing its own Cortexiphan compound. But he was a child when Belly administered the drug and his system adapted to it. It may not be possible to adjust an adult's metabolism to do the same."

"I'll take that chance," Neal said.

Bryce's mouth flooded with too much saliva, always a precursor to throwing up. He'd learned the signs; at least half the drugs that the Ring had used on him had made him sick. The other half had been addictive enough that they stopped them to put him through withdrawal sometimes.

This wasn't drugs though, this was his mind betraying him with the memory of being in that revival pod, never quite unconscious enough to forget he was trapped and helpless.

He couldn't look at it any longer, couldn't listen to Walter expound on his plan for Neal. Maybe it would work. Probably. It made an awful sort of sense to use the Fulcrum technology that had returned him to life to make sure the Cortexiphan treatment didn't result in Neal's permanent death. It made sense, but it made Bryce's head pound and his nerves twitch, muscles jumping underneath so that he couldn't stay still, couldn't stay in the same room with that thing.

Casey was watching him, but right then, Bryce just didn't care. He couldn't stay.

Neal's mind brushed his through the mesh and Ruth's tried to get inside, but Bryce shuttered himself against everything and began walking. Chuck called out to him, but Bryce ignored that too. He didn't run until he was outside the doors, outside the science center and headed for the Commons. Then he didn't care who saw him or where he went. He let the panic take over and allowed his need  to chase him away.

He stopped when his whole body rebelled, demanding oxygen, sick with exertion instead of flashbacks. Icy air scored his throat. Hands braced on his knees, he sucked in whooping breaths and burned with humiliation while soft flakes of snow settled on his shoulders. He'd never lost it like that before.

Once he had enough air in his lungs again to move, Bryce found a snow-covered bench to drop himself onto and sat with his head hanging. When he could, he tipped his head back and closed his eyes, letting the snow sifting gently down to cool his face. He was an utter mess. Guilt twisted through him as he realized he'd just left Neal to deal with the very thing that freaked him out.

Bryce dug the heels of his hands into his eye sockets, then shook his head hard, wetness flying from his hair.

Feeling Neal's consciousness blink out would be worse than anything the Ring had done. He knew that. He knew it because he'd just endured it with Zane.


He shuddered and wrapped his arms around himself. There hadn't been any time to mourn what had been done to Zane. To mourn Zane and the hole he left behind in the mesh, ripped and tattered and bleeding, no matter how ruined he'd been.

He'd wanted to object, but he couldn't. This was Neal's chance. Leaving was all he could do, once Ruth said she would go through with it. No matter how unpleasant meshing with her had been, it hadn't compared to the Eves and Zane. Ruth wasn't insane.

Neal had a much softer heart than he did. Neal still saw Kate when he looked at her, in the curve of her cheek, in the reflection in her eyes, in the shape of her hands. Neal wouldn't let her go first, because if something went wrong, then maybe Walter would be able to fix it for a second try with Ruth.

That was Neal.

Bryce tightened his arms around his ribs hard enough it hurt to breathe. Neal was a better person than he was. Selfishly, he would have been fine letting Ruth play guinea pig, though he didn't want her dead, even as bad as the forced mesh had been.

It wasn't his call, anyway. It turned out he had learned something else from Chuck, in the wake of sending him the Intersect, and realizing how he'd changed his friend's life. He'd learned to step back and let someone else make their own decision. He didn't always know better. So he wouldn't try to stop Neal.

But he couldn't stay in the lab and stand by watching. He hoped Neal could forgive him.


Neal handed Mozzie the solvent that would take the Sharpie ink off his skin and walked back to the corner of the lab with the very old, very battered leather couch. He sat down, braced his elbows on his thighs, and bowed his face into his hands. Bryce's fear still jangled his nerves, sharp edged pieces of his experiences cutting at Neal's barely held together calm.

Walter's plan already scared the hell out of him, if he was honest with himself. Neal was honest with himself and with Bryce – because the mesh didn't allow for anything less – and Bryce's reaction hadn't helped that. Not the getting out of the lab part: Neal got that; he was an expert at running away from bad situations. What scared him were Bryce's reasons.

If Neal died and Walter didn't revive him, well, he'd be dead, he wouldn't know the difference. Probably. Even if Neal had possessed a formally religious bone in his entire body, he wasn't sure if any faith had a place for clones anyway. He figured when the lights went out, that was it. The people left behind were the ones who had to measure an absence and bridge or fill or pretend it wasn't there. He wasn't ready to die, but it didn't terrify him.

Guessing that Bryce wouldn't survive him by long did, though. He'd just barely survived Kate and they hadn't been meshed when the bomb went off. Bryce had survived Zane's execution while they were meshed, but he couldn't do it twice in two days.

Bryce had to stay out of the lab and far enough away they couldn't mesh. It didn't stop Neal wanting Bryce beside him, but it stopped him trying to get him back.

He didn't lift his head when a familiar pair of shoes with those thick rubber cop-shoe soles stopped in front of him.

"You want me to go find him?" Peter asked. "I can drag him back here."

Bryce could make mincemeat of Peter, but Peter would try. Worse, if Peter said Neal needed him, Bryce would come back without complaint.

"He needs to not be here," Neal explained.

"Telepathy not so great after all?"

Neal looked up in surprise.

"What, you think I hadn't figured it out?" Peter looked exasperated, with his shoulders hunched a little and his hands shoved in the pockets of his wrinkled suit pants. "Remember who caught you."

"I know all your tricks now, though," Neal teased. He wanted to get things back to where they were before Peter found out and acting like nothing had happened seemed like the easiest way, as long as Peter would go along with it. Besides, Neal enjoyed teasing Peter, always had, or he likely would never have been caught by him.

Oh, that got Peter's ire up. Neal loved the way Peter set his hands on his hips, narrowed those sharp brown eyes at him and glared. He felt a grin stretch his own face. He sprawled back on the couch, the leather creaking as he spread his arms out along the back. If he could have this again, just for a little while, he'd ignore how much Peter had hurt him. Neal had never understood why Peter mattered so much to him, but he did and Neal had stopped fighting it. He wanted his friend back and not the man who glared at Neal while seeing only something alien and wrong.

Peter's glare was filled with exasperation instead of rejection now. "Neal, don't you dare – "

"Aw, Peter, don't you think you could outsmart me?"

"Are you admitting that I did?"

Neal cocked his head, some of the tension coiled through his muscles letting go. Peter was treating him the way he had before he knew. It soothed an ache he'd decided he just had to ignore. "I admit nothing, Peter," he said, "you know that." If Peter would just stop flinching whenever Bryce and Neal came near each other, things would be nearly perfect.

He'd take what he could get, though, just like he always had – and Neal was very good at taking things, especially things he wasn't supposed to have – and smile. He had Peter joking with him again. Maybe, eventually, he could have Peter accepting Bryce too. If he was around long enough for it to matter.

Peter shook his head, just the hint of a smile at the corners of his mouth, the way he did whenever he was exasperated with Neal but not mad.

A clatter snapped his attention to the end of the lab and the revival pod. Walter and Chuck were hooking the equipment up to a power source. The other Peter was filling drug reservoirs while Mozzie kibitzed. It sparked a hot wave of trepidation in Neal's stomach. His hands were shaking again. Habit had him moving to hide the tremors, reaching for a pill bottle.

Peter squeezed his shoulder casually. "Hey."

Neal went still, his eyes slid closed, and he did his best to memorize the sensation of Peter's affectionate touch. He'd given up on hoping for more from Peter than neutrality. This was... it was a gift, something he could never admit he craved so much he'd stayed in New York just because of Peter (and later El and June). He sighed soundlessly and let himself relax into the contact the way he wouldn't back at Massive Dynamics. It felt like he'd been holding his breath since arriving in the lab and seeing Peter days ago and now he could breathe again.

Peter finally lifted his hand away and Neal twisted back to look at him. "Bryce is going to be a mess if this doesn't work," he said in a low voice. Chuck would be the only one who could help there, though. He had someone else to worry about too. "Just... look out for Mozzie. He won't want to let you. Maybe Elizabeth."

Peter's hand stilled on his head, the weight of it cupping Neal's skull, grounding him. "It's going to be fine," Peter said at last, a little strangled. Peter was okay at undercover, and good at keeping secrets, but he couldn't lie to Neal much better than he could to Elizabeth.

"Sure, Peter."

Yeah, Peter didn't buy his lies much better than Bryce did, either.

He held up his hand. "Could you go get Moz?"

He knew who he needed to talk to after Mozzie, too: Chuck. If he strung this together right, he could make a circle of it, tasking everybody he loved with looking out for one of the others, so no one got lost or left out, and all of them with taking care of Bryce.

Just in case.


Neal cornered Chuck in the lab, as intent and serious as Chuck had seen him, and said, "You have to take care of Bryce." Neal's eyes tended to look bluer than Bryce's, but the dull illumination of the overcast day and the lab's industrial lights bleached them to the same exact shade. Yet Chuck knew, even if Neal had been trying to pretend to be Bryce, he would have recognized the difference.

"It's going to work."

Neal smiled brightly. "Of course it is. But if it doesn't."

"Why me?" He felt stupid for asking.

"It's hard to believe people are real when you can't touch them with your mind. It's hard to care what you do to them," Neal told him regretfully and Chuck realized he spoke from experience.

"Most people manage without being telepaths."

Neal nodded and shrugged. "That's just it. You're born and you learn, but we never did. We had the mesh. Anyone outside it seemed like a paper cutout." He shoved his hair off his forehead. "Then we were broken. Alone."

Chuck tried to imagine it. How much more alone would you feel if you had never, ever been completely alone in your head before? It had made him shiver in sympathy and horror.

Neal met his eyes and insisted, "You're the one who showed Bryce how to be human. He loves you."

He wanted to ask exactly what kind of love Neal meant, but realized it didn't matter. "You'd know."

"I know, yeah," Neal agreed. "So... ?"

"Okay. Okay, I'll do whatever. I would anyway." He chanced a personal question. "Who showed you?"

"Mozzie," Neal answered with a tender look toward the balding man lecturing Astrid on the connections between the Trilateral Commission, the Roswell aliens, and the Knights Templar. "Moz saved me."

Chuck didn't say it, but he thought maybe Mozzie had done a better job with Neal than he'd done for Bryce.

"Can you take Casey and find Bryce?" Chuck opened his mouth to ask why, but Neal went on before he could. "Make sure he stays away until someone calls you to say it's done, whatever happens."

"Uh, sure, but I don't know where Bryce went. Unless you – "

Neal shook his head. "I can't tell anything except he's still in the city. But I saw Colonel Casey bugging Bryce's coat this morning."

Chuck groaned. Of course, Casey would bug them.


Neal found Elizabeth in the lab's unofficial kitchen – a stretch of counter with a microwave, a coffeemaker, several sinks, and a collection of Bunsen burners, that ended in one of several refrigerators, this one stocked with food rather than chemicals, tissue samples, and unidentifiable experiments. She was making coffee.

When he joined her at the counter, she set down the carafe, faced him and threw her arms around him, her pretty face crumpling into near tears.

Neal hugged her back, savoring the easy acceptance she'd given him from the first, that hadn't wavered for a second when he walked into her home with Bryce beside him and explained what they were.

"Oh, sweetie," Elizabeth said as she finally let go in favor of cupping her hands around his face.

"Hey, it's okay," he told her with a smile.

Tears wet her lashes and she blinked hard, smiling back. "Of course it is. You're going to be fine."

"I am."

She socked his arm before he could react. "Don't lie. Believe it."

"For you." For Bryce. He had promised, after all.

"Don't break my husband's heart," she ordered.

"No, never." He thought that, four or so years in prison aside, he'd been luckier in his life than many people were in much longer ones. He'd had Peter's hand on his shoulder once more and all the unspoken things it meant. "You'll hold Mozzie's hand, won't you?"

"Of course."

Neal knew he hadn't really needed to specifically enlist Elizabeth's help. She and Mozzie had a bond of their own. She'd never let his friend suffer alone. He felt better having asked and hearing her say it, though. He'd already exacted a promise to look out for Bryce and June from Mozzie. Elizabeth had been the last piece on the chessboard. Everyone would be okay, no matter what.

She took both his hands in hers and held them. Neal hadn't noticed they were shaking again, wasn't sure this time if it was the shakes or just nerves. He hadn't taken a dose of the masking agent in six hours, just as a precaution against any interactions with Walter's treatment. Her grip warmed him a tiny bit and he admitted to himself he hadn't needed to ask her anything, he'd just wanted an excuse to get some of the comfort he couldn't make himself ask for. No one grounded him like Elizabeth, not even Peter, and the way she'd accepted him since finding out the truth only made her more special than ever.

He turned his head and watched as Peter walked over, but didn't let go of Elizabeth's hands. He couldn't have if he'd tried; she held on determinedly. Peter brushed his hand against Neal's back, the way he'd done hundreds of times before, silently guiding and grounding him, as he passed Neal and came around Elizabeth to hug her from behind.

Peter met Neal's eyes over Elizabeth's shoulders. "You may not want to hear this now, but I don't have enough pull to keep you in New York."

"I didn't run."

"I know."

"I was going to."

"I know," Peter said again. "I can't say I understand you or Kate or Larkin, but... " He shrugged uncomfortably and Elizabeth let go of Neal's hand long enough to shove an elbow into her husband's ribs before clasping it again.

"Peter," she scolded.

"I don't want to know, okay?"

"It's fine," Neal said swiftly. It was. What he and Kate had made together out of who and what they were was outside of Peter's comfort zone. Peter didn't want to know any details or the reasons and Neal didn't want to know how Peter felt about whatever conclusions he'd drawn despite himself; he was grateful he wasn't a real telepath who could pickpocket someone else's thoughts. Sometimes it was just better not to know.

Peter was probably better off too.

"He'll figure it out," Elizabeth assured Neal.

"It's fine, he doesn't need to."

"Diana and Clinton are still covering for us, but they can't do it much longer," Peter said. "Hughes will likely call me back to New York tomorrow."

Neal didn't ask if Peter would take him back with him. Peter hadn't put a tracker back on his ankle at the White Collar offices or mentioned it once.

Elizabeth's attention shifted. "I think Walter's ready for you," she said.

Neal looked over his shoulder. It looked like Elizabeth was right. "Wish me luck." He let go of her hands and hesitated, then said, "Hey, Peter... "

Peter sighed. "Yeah. Me too."

Neal walked across the lab to Walter and Bishop and Ruth, to Lincoln Lee, Red, Olivia Dunham and Sarah Walker. He was walking to a chance at a life, he told himself, not walking away from one.


Fresh snow squeaked under a footfall. Bryce tensed when a faint change in the light combined with an absence of another footstep to tell him someone had stopped on the path before him. The cold kiss of a snowflake on the back of his bare neck added to his alarm, because no one stopped in the middle of a snow flurry without a reason. Maybe this was just a good Samaritan concerned for the idiot sitting on snow-covered bench for so long, but Bryce doubted it.

Melt water ran under his collar, chilling him into a shudder.

"Hello, Mr. Larkin. It is Mr. Larkin, isn't it? Identities can be so fluid."

Bryce lifted his face from his hands, cursing himself silently. He'd bolted out of the lab alone and unarmed into the open. Perfect bait for anyone waiting and watching. Too bad it hadn't been planned and he had no way to turn this to his advantage. Here was the man he'd been hunting, David Robert Jones, right out in the open and Bryce could do nothing.


Less than three feet away, David Robert Jones stood with his hands tucked in the pockets of his dark winter coat. Snow floated onto his shoulders, pale as his hair. It settled onto Jones' head and didn't melt.

"I do appreciate how easy you've made this." 

Bryce tensed, looking for other threats. Jones wouldn't have come to him alone. He spotted them, at least four, standing well back from the two of them, waiting and watching for him to move. He stayed leopard still instead, but ready, and cut his gaze back to Jones.

Jones kept smiling, like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth, like the snow that didn't melt on his head, cold as Bryce remembered.  

"You're calculating the odds of getting away from me, of course," Jones stated. "No doubt you'll make this part as difficult as possible."

"I don't have what you want."

"Of course you do. I'm well aware of the mesh as you and your clones call it. The experiment with Twenty-Five and the Eves provided a wealth of information on your ability to data share. What Mr. Caffrey has, you have."

"It doesn't work that way," Bryce lied. The irony was going to kill him. He didn't dare reach out for Neal to warn him or ask for back-up.

"How unfortunate if that is true."  

"What do you – " Bryce shifted on his bench, preparing to launch himself at Jones.

"Please. Don't move. You'll make my associates nervous." Jones nodded to one of the men watching them. "They're so much more loyal than you and the others were. I made sure of it," Jones explained.

Bryce's mind raced and settled on one possibility. "Ogilvie?"

"Yes, he was one of my creations, too."  

"Why not build your own Intersect?" Bryce asked. "You had access to the technology through him."

"I don't need an Intersect. I need access to Massive Dynamics' data."

"What for?"

Jones smiled again. "You'll see, soon enough." He brought his gloved hands out of his pockets. One held a cell phone. He brought it up for Bryce to see clearly. Jones' thumb hovered over a button.  

"An incentive," Jones explained. "One of my associates placed an amphilicite device in the Kresge Building earlier today. The confusion over the equipment delivery proved very convenient."

Bryce didn't breathe. Everyone was there. Everyone who mattered to him and everyone, he feared, who could stop Jones.

"One call and the device explodes."  

"That just gives me more incentive to kill you," Bryce snapped.  

Jones chuckled and shook his head. "You really don't want to do that. Any of my associates can hit speed dial too."

Sick of the games, Bryce said, "What do you want?"

"It would sound pretentious to say 'the universe'," Jones replied. "I'll settle for the Cortexiphan formula."

"It's not in the Intersect. Massive Dynamics never had it."

"Yes, so I gathered. You surprised me by going back to Litchfield. I hadn't realized William left anything there." Jones' almost jovial tone hardened into ruthlessness. "I want it."

Bryce smiled for the first time. "Too late."

Jones' narrowed his eyes. "Dr. Bishop's used it on the other clones."  

Bryce nodded to the phone in Jones' hand. "Set that off and the Cortexiphan, the last Cortexiphan on the planet, and the one man who could make more, are both gone."

Brief fury flickered over Jones' features before he managed a slight, fake-amused smile. "How unfortunate." He nodded to Bryce. "I underestimated you." He turned the phone off and slipped it back in his pocket.

He brushed the snow off his shoulders and then his head, pausing to study the still perfectly frozen white crystals on the black leather of his gloves. At least some of it should have melted if he had a normal body temperature. "Another side effect," he said, "of artificial teleportation." Jones flicked the snow away. "Not as useful as being immune to bullets."

Bryce surged to his feet.

"Don't be stupid now, Mr. Larkin."

The brilliant crimson of a laser sight wavered over Bryce's chest and up to his neck. A dart followed before he could dodge. Bryce plucked it out, but the drug was already in his system.

"Just something to calm you down," Jones said. "For what it's worth, it will help."

Bryce swayed and blurted, "I don't want your help."

"I know, but you're still mine. And I may need you yet." Jones began walking away, stepping off the main path onto the snow covered grass. A doorway-sized area glimmered like a heat mirage. He stopped in front of it to look back at Bryce. "Still, I don't think we'll meet again."

"I'll find you."

"I do believe you'll try, but time has run out for this world," Jones declared. "And you with it. Do take comfort in the knowledge that something better shall replace... everything."  

He stepped backward through the wavering air and was gone.

Bryce took another step toward where Jones had disappeared, then staggered back, dropping onto the bench.

Only the blur of the drug in his system kept him from doubling over and screaming. Neal was dying.


"Neal insisted."

"And we do everything a conman says now?" Casey grumbled, but checked the display on the cellphone he was using to follow the tracker's signal since they parked the Hummer. Bryce wasn't moving.

Casey had grumbled and griped and admitted he'd placed a tracker on everyone's coats. Sometimes Casey's paranoia came in handy, Chuck had to admit. His own computer expertise did too: he was able to find an app that let them track the bug using Casey's cell phone instead of a bulky surveillance set-up.

Chuck wrapped his coat tighter around himself and hunched over. Snow gathered on his hair. He didn't handle the cold very well. Casey didn't look bothered. Casey wasn't human – He had to stop using phrases like that, if he was going to be around Bryce. The joke didn't seem so funny now Chuck knew his friend had been raised to think he was something less than a real person. He really didn't get mad about many things, but that made him furious enough he meant to search out everyone who had been involved with Litchfield and make sure they never wrecked another life.

"There," Chuck said and pointed to the slim, dark figure slumped on one of the benches set between the unlit streetlamps, a broken-winged crow in a snowfield. Even at a distance, Bryce looked miserable enough that he caught the attention of more than one pedestrian passing through the park. No one stopped though, just walked on, bundled tight against the weather, their heads bent. Bryce's head was bent too. That worried Chuck, because Bryce just didn't let emotions like that show and he didn't leave himself vulnerable in any situation. He hurried forward, crossing his fingers that Bryce wouldn't notice him and Casey and take off again. Chasing him through Cambridge in the snow and heavy traffic didn't seem like a great idea, even if it would keep him away from the lab while Walter and Peter gave Neal the Cortexiphan treatment and placed him in the revival pod.

"He's going to want to go back," Casey pointed out.

"So we stop him."

Casey's eyes lit up. "Can I tranq him at least?"


Chuck's voice caught Bryce's attention. His head jerked and turned slowly toward them, but he didn't move, not even when Chuck settled on the slatted bench beside him while Casey loomed in just the right spot to catch him if tried get away. The snow he didn't think to wipe away immediately soaked the back of his pants, making him yip with shock.

"We're staying with you until we get the call," Chuck told him.

Bryce angled a sideways glance at him, up and through the strands of wet, dark hair falling past his eyes. He looked dazed. Chuck wasn't sure he was registering everything. Or anything.

"It's going to work. Walter's... I thought Dad was smart, but Walter's a whole other league."

"If you're impressed by crazy," Casey remarked.

"So...," Chuck breathed out, ignoring Casey, groping for anything else to say.

Bryce made a noise that was half protest and half desperation. Slowly, still watching Chuck, he tipped to the side and then dropped his head on Chuck's shoulder. Chuck scooted nearer on the bench and put his arm around Bryce's waist to hold him a little closer, a little warmer, the way someone should have long ago. Anyone who ran as hot as Bryce did had to be feeling the cold much worse than Chuck was.

Casey rolled his eyes but managed to not say anything. Instead, he shut down the tracker app and slipped his phone inside his coat. When anyone walking by looked even faintly interested in them, Casey glared them off. Nothing to see here. Just two guys cuddling on a wet bench and their human Rottweiler. Move along. Move along or suffer broken limbs and untold misery. It was amazing how much Casey could communicate with a scowl. People didn't even need to know he was armed. He just braced himself like a monolith, arms crossed, ignoring the snow sifting onto his shoulders, and it was enough.

Bryce's hair was wet and sooner or later the transfer would soak through the shoulder of Chuck's coat. He was heavy too, a nearly limp weight against Chuck's side that scared him. Bryce didn't do this; Bryce didn't lean on anyone for support. Everywhere Bryce wasn't pressed against him like a living heater the cold seeped in and made Chuck fight shivering along with his growing alarm. That feverish heat transported him a decade back; the first few times he'd hugged Bryce he'd thought his friend had to be running a fever only to discover he just ran hotter than everyone else.

"You think we could move this inside somewhere, where we wouldn't be easy targets for anyone after us?" Casey asked eventually. He stamped his feet. Maybe the cold did get to him too, eventually.

Bryce had to be freezing, he'd been out in this much longer, but he wasn't even shivering.

"Just a little longer," Chuck said. He wanted to check his watch because it seemed like an eternity had passed without a phone call yet, but he didn't want to let go of Bryce. He'd swear it was getting darker. The street lamp had come on, the sizzling hum of it, normally unnoticeable, was loud in the snow-muffled center of the Cambridge Commons.

"Jones," Bryce slurred finally.

Chuck stiffened. "What?"


"Crap," Chuck hissed and pushed Bryce away enough to study him, realizing in a sick rush that Bryce wasn't just out of it, he was drugged. "Casey, did you hear – ?"

"I heard," Casey snapped, quartering their surroundings for any threat.

"Gone," Bryce muttered, his head hanging, then shook it, and added, "Bomb... building."

"The Kresge Building?" Chuck checked.

Bryce nodded and slumped back against Chuck, eyes sliding shut again.

"I'm calling Walker," Casey said. "She can alert Dunham – "

"They can't move Neal," Chuck exclaimed. "The pod, the treatment, it's all set up in the lab."

He held onto Bryce as he flinched and moaned in response to something in his head or something happening in the lab at the Kresge Building. Snow slid off the shoulders of his coat. Chuck tightened his hold on him while Casey barked into his phone, "Walker, put Dunham on. We've got Larkin, but Jones got to him first – "

Part Ten

If you could find some way to be
A little bit less afraid of me
Skullcrusher Mountain :: Jonathan Coulton

Mozzie surprised Neal with a hug before Neal stripped down to his underwear and let Peter Bishop and Walter begin hooking him up to a dozen different monitors. Walter talked while he slid a needle into the crook of Neal's arm and taped it down. "I do wonder, has anyone besides Mr. Larkin been successfully revived with the equipment?"

"I don't know."

"Not the time to have second thoughts, Walter," Peter reminded him.

"Oh, I'm not worried that it will fail with Neal," Walter said. He patted Neal's arm and then stuck him with another needle. Neal hid a wince. He was going to look like an over-achiever junkie when this was over. "The Cortexiphan will make the difference. I just question whether this technology would be sufficient without the Cortexiphan."

"That's a scary thought."

"Maybe someone should mention it to the CIA before they start experimenting with other agents," Neal suggested.

"Yes, yes, exactly what I was thinking," Walter agreed.

"I'll mention it." Bishop began taping sensors to Neal's chest, then his neck, and adding a pair to his temples and then his forehead. The conductive gel was cold enough to raise goose pimples. Of course the lab wasn't exactly warm either. While some of the equipment in Walter's lab was state of the art even in the next door universe, which Neal gathered was almost a quarter century ahead of theirs in many respects, the Kresge Building's heating system was at least fifty years out of date and sometimes groaned like an unhappy whale.

Finally Bishop stepped back and offered Neal a half-smile. "Ready to do this?"

Neal glanced over and saw Ruth was standing next to Mozzie. He frowned at her. She wasn't Kate and he didn't want her messing with his friend. He and Bryce had kept quiet about what they got from her when they meshed, but in return, she had to refrain from interfering with their people.

She offered him Kate's enigmatic smile. Neal narrowed his eyes and pulled the mesh back as far as he could. His gaze strayed from Ruth and Mozzie to Peter and Elizabeth, who were holding hands, and then to Agent Dunham, Red, Sarah Walker and Agent Lee.

"As I'll ever be," he declared and shrugged his shoulders into a more comfortable position on the modified dentist's chair slash gurney. Fake it 'til you make it. No one needed to know how scared he really was. It resembled the one Massive Dynamics used to upload the Intersect to an uncomfortable degree. Did Walter really know what he was doing? Neal made himself breathe steadily and reminded himself how fast Walter had been able to improve on Luc's blocker. This was his best chance. He had to take it.

Walter tightened a strap over Neal's forehead, then asked concernedly, "This shouldn't be hurting."

"It isn't."

Neal flexed his wrists against the other restraints. He could slip them if he had too.

Walter hung a plastic bag on the IV stand and attached it to the line Peter had already started into Neal's vein. The contents, the shade of old blood with a faint fluorescent sheen, held Neal's attention; the solution of drugs, viral vectors, and Cortexiphan had a viscous consistency. It clung to the sides of the bag when jostled or shifted, leaving a thin orange-brown coating on the inside of the plastic before slipping down.

Walter added a bag of saline on the rack next to the experimental cocktail and programmed the IV to feed both into Neal at a steady drip. Neal watched the thinned liquid make its way through the clear plastic lines until it reached his arm and imagined he could feel it spreading through him as it hit his veins.

Then he did feel it, in a flush of sweaty heat and an acidic burn that made him swallow hard, repeatedly, as his mouth filled with saliva. He had to close his eyes when everything in front of him began swinging and he was abruptly grateful for the restraints. If this was vertigo, Neal never wanted to experience it again. He clutched at the arm rests and concentrated on not emptying his stomach in response to the sensation he was falling out of the chair.

"You may experience some nausea," Walter said.

"Yeah," Neal agreed and clamped his mouth shut again. He concentrated on breathing in and out very slowly and ignoring the spiky feeling in his ribcage and his roiling stomach.

"Everything okay, Neal?" Peter – his Peter, not Walter's son – asked.

Neal didn't even try to answer. The monitor showing his blood pressure and heart rate beeped too fast, a mosquito whine of noise drilling through his head. He gritted his teeth and hoped he wasn't whimpering from the pain in his head. Heat spiraled out from his center, cooking him from the inside, until he wondered when his skin would slough off and stopped caring about any noises he was making or anything except when it would stop.

Only it didn't.

He lost track after that. Walter had predicted the treatment would take up to an hour to completely take effect. To Neal it felt like an eternity had already passed. He wanted to beg someone to do anything to end it, but he couldn't unclench his jaw enough to form a word.

A hand on his upper arm centered him enough to open his eyes and focus on Peter Bishop. "Neal?"

He nodded and immediately regretted the motion, closing his eyes again. His head was exploding, white flashes blinding him with each speeding heartbeat. No air reached his lungs. Time skipped again. Thick, hot liquid ran back into his throat and he realized he was swallowing his own blood, that he'd bit his tongue. He could feel it running from his nose onto his upper lip and sliding down his jaw too, joining the wet lines of tears he hadn't been aware of crying until then.

"Almost there, Neal," Peter said.

Neal snapped his eyes open to blind white. His heart spasmed out of rhythm. The monitor wailed. The tearing pain in his chest wouldn't end and he couldn't breathe and he felt it all break, the agony suddenly not there. He gasped once, voiceless, and heard the monitor whine distantly.

Everything stopped hurting.

Everything stopped.


Ruth made a raw, awful sound and stumbled back, off balance, sending a desk chair rolling crazily away. Red caught her before she fell and lowered her to the floor. Elizabeth didn't know whether to stay where she was or try to help. Maybe she could at least do something for the other woman. Neal's monitors had all gone crazy a second ago, shrieking as his heart spasmed, and everyone stood by doing nothing.

Watching him get sicker and sicker with every moment seemed worse than anything Elizabeth had ever imagined. Mozzie and she took turns talking to him, but after the first ten minutes, she didn't think Neal registered either them or their words. She prayed he hadn't heard her scream when he started bleeding from his eyes, his features contorted in a rictus of agony. Peter had pulled her away then, arms wrapped protectively around her, while Mozzie mopped Neal's blood from his face.

Walter hadn't mentioned the treatment would be torture. Elizabeth felt flayed and horrible just from being in the same room. From being helpless.

Mozzie knelt next to Red and peeled back Ruth's eyelid. El caught a glimpse. Ruth's eye was all pupil, only the thinnest rim of blue around it.

Exactly the same as Neal's eyes were as he snapped them open, thrashing against the restraints, trying to breathe, before the monitors gave up and flat-lined.

Ruth's entire body jerked in sympathy, but she kept breathing, and Mozzie forgot her, staring at Neal. He looked so afraid, and Elizabeth knew if she checked Peter's face that it would look the same. His arms were locked rigid around her, his body reflecting how he was hardening himself against losing Neal.

She curled into Peter's embrace and sobbed, holding onto the lapels of his coat so tightly they'd likely be ruined. The thought just brought another sob up, because she'd never have considered that before Neal. Peter wouldn't care about his coat. She wanted Neal back to tsk at her.

"Hurry up," Walter commanded. "We need to get him in the pod. There's no time to waste."

El didn't want to, but she turned again, still in the safety of Peter's arms and watched while the Fringe team swiftly disconnected Neal – Neal's body – from the monitors and the IV. Sarah keyed open the pod, which opened with a puff of condensation. Elizabeth winced. Neal didn't like the cold.

Peter's arms tightened around her in an unconscious wince as Walter, his son, and Agent Lee shifted Neal's body, ivory pale and unstrung, into the pod. One of his arms slipped free and fell against the edge hard enough to bruise, the sound dull and the lack of reaction worse even than the way his head lolled.

New needles and sensors and invasive equipment were attached to Neal in a flurry. The Fringe team moved together the way Elizabeth imagined a surgical team would, never interfering with each other. They were trying to save a life too, so they weren't so different. She winced, though, thinking how Neal would hate the indignity of the catheter.

"Everything's ready, Walter," his son said, one hand resting on the edge of the open pod's lid.

Sarah stared down at him with a complicated expression, then looked away with a harsh breath. She had to be seeing her friend in Neal's place. Elizabeth wasn't privy to everything Peter had been briefed on, but she'd picked up more than a few pieces of information from what she heard while helping Walter. In fact, she'd had to rein in her curiosity and not quiz Walter, because he would tell her anything she asked. She'd figured out just from the way everyone talked to him and about the pod that Bryce had already been revived at least once from death by the technology in front of them, and that was part of why he'd bolted out of the lab earlier.

Some things you just couldn't watch. Elizabeth was having a hard time with this herself and she could feel how it was affecting Peter too. She leaned into him, letting him offer her comfort, knowing that doing even that much helped him. Sometime soon, when they were alone and safe, she'd ease him into talking about this with her too. Only when he was ready, though.

Red and Mozzie got Ruth onto her feet and then perched in a desk chair. She splayed her hand over her heart and dragged in air in unsteady, harsh gasps, head hanging. Red not so subtly took Ruth's pulse, a frown shaped beneath her bangs, but said nothing.

Walter typed a series of commands into the pod. "Close the lid," he ordered.

The lids locked into place with a loud chuff, venting more condensation, and Neal's face and form were obscured by an opaque white gas.

"Now what?" Peter asked over her shoulder, voice choked, arms tight around her.

Walter looked up, startled. "Oh." He'd obviously forgotten anyone was watching. He smiled tremulously. "Now we wait."

At the far end of the lab, Agent Dunham spoke swiftly into her phone, then turned to them all. "We have a problem. Jones may have placed an amphilicite bomb in the building some time today."

"You're kidding me," Peter Bishop exclaimed.

She shook her head. "No. Everyone should – "

"Get out? If we don't know how much amphilicite Jones has used there's no way to guess how far away might be safe," he replied. He met Agent Dunham's eyes. "He's not going to set it off with you here, anyway."

"Maybe." She turned to Agent Lee. "Lincoln, I need you with me to coordinate with the Bureau search team. The rest of you – "

"Are staying," Elizabeth stated before Peter could speak. "Here, with Neal."


Olivia looked at the innocuous-appearing package. The size of a shoe box, wrapped in brown paper and strapping tape, it was even addressed to her. She wouldn't have looked twice at it if it had been delivered with her mail.

They'd found it on the first pass, sitting on the first step of the stairs to the first floor, tucked next to the wall.

"You think that's it?" Lincoln whispered.

They both crouched on the first floor landing, staying off the stairs, examining the package without touching it.

Olivia pointed to the return address inked on one corner.

"DRJ Limited."

"David Robert Jones," Lincoln breathed. "Not exactly subtle, is he?"

"No. Get bomb disposal in here now and make sure someone's stationed on the next floor to keep everyone out of this stairwell," Olivia said. "If they can't move it, we'll have to evacuate." She didn't add that they'd have to drag Walter and Mozzie out and leave Neal. Elizabeth Burke would be a problem too, but her husband would deal with her if necessary.

Lincoln rose to his feet and backed away. Olivia stayed where she was. She paid no attention to the passing time until Lincoln came back.

"Liv, you don't need to stay with it," he said.

"Yes, I do," she said with strange certainty. She thought of fire blooming because she wanted it and knew she could smother it too and wondered if this was another of Jones' ruthless tests for her. She had the other Olivia's memories. Cortexiphan had given that Olivia the power to burn and to move between universes without ripping a rift in their fabrics. Maybe she could have done other things. Jones seemed to think Olivia could. Could she think the bomb into not detonating, the way she made lights come on? What if she could, but only if she had Peter with her to act as a catalyst for her abilities?

Olivia curled her hands into fists, overwhelmed with frustration at all she still didn't know.

She stayed until the bomb disposal techs insisted she get out and then waited just outside, until the device had been removed and disarmed, with surprisingly little difficulty, before walking slowly back to the lab with Lincoln quiet by her side.

"He never meant to trigger it," she said just outside the doors.

"Not with you here," Lincoln agreed.

Olivia turned back to him, her hand on the door, and frowned. "Then what was the purpose?"

Lincoln blinked back at her through his glasses. "To get everyone out of the lab? An evacuation?"

"So that he could get in."

Lincoln squirmed under her regard, even though Olivia wasn't really seeing him. "Why now?"

"The Cortexiphan," Lincoln said. "Or Neal. Or both." He shrugged helplessly. "Or something we haven't got a clue about."

Olivia smiled. "I think he failed this time."

Lincoln reached past her and opened the door. "I hope you're right."


Neal hurt.

He hurt from his toenails to the tips of his eyelashes, from his center to every centimeter of his skin. He gasped for breath, fighting the electrical tingle twitching his muscles, and the confusing haze in his brain. He tried to protest, but his throat felt raw and his jaw locked up. He couldn't open his eyes, though he sensed light outside his eyelids. Too bright, too much, his nerves protested fitfully.

He reached for the mesh and was alone. No Kate, no Bryce, no one. His mind felt suspended in emptiness. A sob stopped in his throat, choking him. Moz, he wanted call. Peter. Elizabeth. June. Anyone.

Another gasp and he tasted ozone, separated it from too much sensation and smelled it. His fingers flexed against something smooth. Not cold, not hot. Neal frowned and smoothed his fingers over the surface under him in a tiny motion. No texture. His brows drew together as he tried to put that together with something. His thoughts were scattered and sluggish, frustrating him.

Was he sick or drugged?

His mind shied away from remembering something, avoiding it in favor of the trivial.

Plastic. That was the word. The material.

A steady chuff and hiss filtered into his consciousness. Automatically, Neal matched his breathing to the same rhythm. Oxygen in, carbon dioxide out. It tasted like electricity. His muscles still hurt, but in a slow fading ache that protested ill-use rather than crippling damage. He felt too heavy to move, but maybe he could, if he had to.

He wasn't ready to move though, not yet, because if he did he would give away he was aware. He didn't know where he was and his thoughts were still too scattered to remember anything. Plastic and white light, the scents of – antiseptics, conductive gels, plastics, sweat, blood – a lab; he knew those. He was in some kind of medical facility.

A sense of his body was coming back too and he realized he was mostly naked except for dozens of sensors and needles, including a catheter, attached to him.

Experiment, Neal thought with a stab of panic. His pulse raced against his will. He willed himself to calm down, but knew he'd already blown it, so he might as well open his eyes.

His lashes felt glued together when he blinked and tried to focus. There was arched glass or plastic over him. When he rolled his head to the side, he saw he was in some kind of container. Blurred figures were bent over it, peering in at him. He wondered if they were going to leave him in it, maybe gas him into unconsciousness again, or something else and tensed in apprehension.

The huff of a seal breaking surprised him and he froze as the cover over him lifted.

He blinked hard again against the unshielded lights shining into his eyes, bit back a whimper, and resisted the urge to fight as hands reached in and helped his reluctant body upright. The catheter pulled and he grunted in pain. One of his helpers found the line and adjusted it to provide slack.

"Neal? Neal, can you understand me?" a familiar voice asked, nervous and squeaking and so, so welcome. That voice translated into relative safety.

He twisted to the side and felt a vast wave of relief as he realized Mozzie was there. Memories began tumbling through his head and slotting into place. A hard but gentle hand rested at the back of his neck and he recognized it too: Peter.

"You're okay, Neal." It had to be true, if Peter said it.

"Neal?" Mozzie prompted him again.

"Moz." The dry rasp didn't sound like him, but it was enough. Someone offered him a straw and a drink of something refreshingly cool and tart, then pulled it away before Neal had had nearly enough. "Peter."

"Not too fast," Walter said.

Right, Neal thought. Walter. Cambridge. The lab – he'd been right about that much – and the cure for the shakes. He was sitting up in the revival pod like a vampire rising from a coffin. He realized Elizabeth was there and Sarah Walker, along with the Fringe agents, all watching him.

"Am I undead?" he asked.

"You were dead and now you're not, so some people would argue the description fits, but undead usually is applied to bodies animated by an outside agency while still being, for lack of a better description, dead," Walter said.

"Semantics," Neal dismissed. Walter amused him.

Peter – his Peter – made an annoyed sound. "That isn't funny. He's not dead or undead. – Neal, you're fine." He paused then said with a sincerity that made Neal want to hide out of fear how much it meant would show on his own face, "You're good."

"You're alive," Peter Bishop said succinctly. "How do you feel?"

"Whipped," Neal answered honestly. He knew he wasn't tracking as fast as usual. Everything seemed over-saturated and intense; it kept distracting him. He stared at the stone arches that helped support the building above them and partitioned the basement lab into different areas. He'd never appreciated that shallow curve or the mathematics of weight displacement that flickered through his mind courtesy of the Intersect before. The flash was so mild he barely realized it was a flash: it hadn't hurt at all.

"I'm going to draw a new blood sample for comparison purposes," Walter told him as he wrapped a length of plastic tubing around Neal's upper arm. "Make a fist, please."

"But don't hit him with it," Bishop said with a slight smile.

Neal obediently made a fist. "Anyone have my clothes? I'm feeling a little exposed here." Exhaustion added to the chill, too.

"I'll get them," Mozzie offered.

"Too bad," Red commented with a teasingly salacious look at Neal's bare chest. He cocked an eyebrow her way out of habit. He'd stop flirting when he stopped breathing. The effect lost something when he shivered, though, and Red looked more sympathetic than intrigued.

Peter ruffled Neal's sweaty hair and then his hand settled at the nape of his neck and remained on his neck, while his warm, exasperated, "Quit it," held more comfort than Neal ever wanted to admit. Despite the lies and what he was, Peter had come around and accepted Neal again. Only finding Bryce again had felt better than knowing that. He respected Peter, his unfaltering integrity, and Peter's revulsion had felt just as terrible as Neal had always suspected it would. Now, though, Peter was treating Neal the way he had before. If crying didn't make Peter horribly uncomfortable, Neal thought he might, out of sheer gratitude.

Everything would be all right, if only Bryce were with him too.

He plucked at the sensors still attached to him with his free hand. "Can I get these off?"

"Go ahead, but let me remove the IV and the other needles," Bishop said. "The cath's going to – "

"Feel unpleasant," Neal parroted what every nurse had ever said about the hated things.

"You're on your own for this," Peter told him and callously abandoned Neal.

"Actually, I was going to say hurt," Bishop said and removed it clinically and kindly enough Neal only winced and wanted to cross his legs. That could have been a lot worse, aside from the humiliation factor, which really couldn't be avoided. Next time he was in a hospital, he'd ask for a male nurse to take the cath out if he had one. "Sorry."

"You sound it."

"Better you than me," Bishop declared with a small smirk.

Neal unpeeled the monitor lead over his heart and flicked it away. The stickiness left behind made him want a hot shower. At least he'd get his clothes soon. He flicked his gaze to Walter as he withdrew the blood draw needle and capped off the vial. He had to hold still as Bishop finished removing the needles that hooked him into the pod, despite the urgent desire to tear himself loose.

He felt better though, strength returning to his limbs, along with fine motor control. He decided he'd test himself when Mozzie handed him his clothes. Pickpocketing each other kept them both honed; if he could lift Mozzie's rings, Neal would know he had his edge back.

He went on removing sensors, only stopping to let Bishop remove the main IV, because anyone would stare as their flesh re-knit itself before their eyes.

"It's the Cortexiphan," Bishop said quietly. "It speeds healing for some people." He glanced up from staring at Neal's arm. "It's a good sign."

Neal jerked his hand away and tried to hide it, shaking his head. He'd always healed fast, but the speed had fallen within human normal parameters. Instant healing didn't. The instinct to conceal this new difference had him covering that hand with his other.

Bishop gave Neal a curious look.

"A very good sign indeed!" Walter bellowed happily from the far end on the lab.

"It's just the drug," Bishop said. "That effect usually doesn't last very long."

Neal uncovered his hand and stared at it. Not even a bruise remained. Maybe it was crazy, but out of everything that had happened in the last few days, out of his entire life, this freaked him out. He tried to calm himself down with the knowledge that Bryce didn't heal obscenely fast, so likely the effect wouldn't be permanent.

Mozzie and Bishop helped Neal the rest of the way out of the pod and braced him as he swayed against a slight head rush. He accepted his pants from Mozzie next and used his weakness to distract him as he came away with them and Mozzie's rings, which he slipped into his pockets before pulling on his undershirt.

"Where's Ruth?" he asked, looking around.

"She went down like a pile of rocks when you checked out," Red answered. "She's lying down in Walter's room."

"She's okay?" Neal asked. They hadn't been meshed, they weren't half as close as he was to Bryce, and his death – and resurrection, he added in amazement – had affected her. Bryce had been right to distance himself. He wanted Bryce back, though, wanted him really a lot. Needed him even more than Mozzie and Peter.

"Fine – "

"Can someone get Bryce back?" He wished he didn't sound quite so desperate, but he couldn't stop himself from asking any longer.

"I'll call Casey," Walker said. "He'll get them back here."

Neal made himself accept that and finished dressing, got his shoes on and donned Mozzie's rings, looking forward to whenever Mozzie noticed them and realized Neal had pulled one over on him. He always enjoyed that mixture of pride and outrage Mozzie got. It made being doubly on the look out for however Mozzie retaliated completely worth it. It distracted him from worrying about Bryce too much.

He reached again, but Bryce was locked away from him, not gone but not reachable. The only way Neal could describe it was shut down.

He glanced up as he ran his hand through his hair, trying to restore it to some kind of order and caught Peter and Elizabeth both beaming at him. Neal had to smile back, but before he could say anything, Sarah pushed her phone into his hand.

"Talk to him," she instructed.


Bryce had been in a daze since he felt Neal's presence dissolve into emptiness. He knew Chuck had been talking to him, he thought Casey might have threatened, even yelled, but he'd withdrawn too far to care. If Casey was threatening to kill him, Bryce really wished he would. The cold had finally crept into his core and numbed his mind, but he knew that if he let himself think, let himself know, nothing would be enough to hold off the pain. Whatever drug Jones' man had shot him with had cushioned the first, worst blow and still hazed his thoughts and weighed his body down, but it still wasn't enough.

Chuck and Casey had pulled him to his feet and walked him down the bricked paths out of the Commons park and along several streets Bryce couldn't remember now until they reached Casey's black Humvee. Chuck bundled Bryce into the back seat and got in after him, while Casey got in the driver's seat. The vehicle mostly shielded them from prying eyes. Bryce leaned against a cold window limply until Chuck pulled him into his arms and held him, arms hard around him, talking to him the whole time. Bryce let his head fall back and stared at the interior roof. His eyes burned when he stopped blinking, until Chuck closed them for him and tipped his head down into the crook of Chuck's neck.

Whether Casey had his phone set on vibrate or Bryce just didn't hear it ring, he didn't know. He registered Casey's gruff response to the call incuriously, without even opening his eyes again or otherwise moving.

"They got the bomb," Casey announced.

"That's good," Chuck said. "Did you hear that, Bryce? They found it. It's okay."

Bryce concentrated on not thinking or feeling anything.

"He's a basket case, is what he is," Casey growled into his phone. "Yeah. Maybe he can snap him out of it. Bartowski ain't having no success."

Chuck's shoulder jostled under him. Casey had handed his phone back. The click of the key and the engine catching in a rich rumble impinged on Bryce's awareness. They couldn't sit parked forever.

Chuck held the phone to Bryce's ear and heard Sarah tell someone to talk to him and then, "Bryce?"

Afraid to believe it, Bryce pressed himself tighter to Chuck and began shaking with delayed cold.


It sounded like Neal.

Bryce carefully turned his head, which felt like it might fall off if he moved too fast. He tried to speak but couldn't, cleared his throat and still sounded hoarse. "Neal?"

"Come back," Neal said through the phone.

Tentatively, Bryce let himself feel where Neal should be, where the hole inside him had gaped open without Neal, and found him, too far away to mesh, but there. The pod had worked and resurrected Neal the same way it had Bryce. Only Neal hadn't come awake in the hands of the enemy, confused and desperate.

"Are you – ?"

"Walter's running tests."

"Okay." He shifted away from Chuck and took the phone in his own hand. It wasn't worth pretending he hadn't been a wreck moments before, but Casey was plowing the Hummer through Boston traffic and he'd need to move on his own once they were parked so he could get back to the lab.

He realized it felt foreign to talk to Neal. When they were in the same room, they almost never spoke, because they had no need. The phone made Neal into a near stranger. It made Bryce uncomfortable. "Okay," he repeated, unable to think of anything else to say.

"There in five minutes, unless I have to shoot the hippie grandpa in the Prius ahead of us," Casey declared.

"There soon," Bryce said and ended the call, then looked at the phone's tiny screen rather than face Chuck or Casey.

"I want my phone back."

Bryce closed it and handed it to Chuck, who handed it forward to Casey.

"Are you okay now?" Chuck asked.

Bryce made a rough sound because he didn't know. Was Neal really okay? What if the treatment hadn't worked? What if it had? What then for him and for Neal, now that the FBI, the CIA and NSA all knew about Litchfield and what they really were? What did they have to look forward to unless they ran and went deep underground? He shook his head.

He didn't know.


Walter's satisfied hum at the microscope reassured Peter that the treatment had succeeded even if Walter hadn't bothered to say so yet. He'd be fussing over Neal and wanting more tests if the signs weren't good. The incredibly quick recovery once they had Neal out of the revival pod pointed toward it too: healing that fast had to be due to a build up of Cortexiphan in his system. It had taken years and Olivia's clear-eyed perspective, not to mention his encounters with Walternate Over There, but Peter had come around: he felt proud of Walter now, instead of the bitterness that had taken hold after his mother's suicide. Walter had done something good this time.

He liked Neal too. Pulling out another miracle and saving him felt as satisfying as any case they'd ever investigated. Plus, they'd kept the Intersect out of Jones' hands.

Neal seemed okay otherwise too, not too traumatized by the whole dying to live thing. Ruth, on the other hand, still looked shaky – and Peter didn't even mean the actual shakes – though her hands were showing distinct tremors too.

"How soon can you give me the same treatment?" she asked.

"Not until Walter confirms it worked."

"It worked."

"We'll wait for the tests," Peter said against a fluttery feeling in his head that made him want to start setting up to give Ruth the therapy. He shook his head and narrowed his eyes at her. "What were you just doing?"

She scowled at him. One thing about Ruth – she'd never learned to charm and manipulate the way both Bryce and Neal did. Peter wondered about that. Why hadn't she? She worked as a Looker Over There and the only other one Peter had any familiarity with was the Alt-Astrid. The other side's Astrid fitted the textbook description of Asperger's and he wondered if the other Fringe Division recruited for those traits or working as Looker generated them.

The thing he felt just then, though: that had felt like a Cortexiphan kid, like Nick Lane, or the kid that could push thoughts.

"Don't do that again," Peter warned her.

Ruth looked away to the doors as Casey, Chuck and Bryce came back inside. All three of them were wet. Chuck's teeth were chattering, Casey looked disturbed, and Bryce – Bryce looked worse than Neal had coming out of the pod. He looked wrecked.

He didn't stop to shed his soaked coat and take the towel Lincoln offered. Bryce headed for where Neal sat with Mozzie, Elizabeth Burke, and her husband on the old couch Peter liked to nap on. Neal got to his feet fast and intercepted Bryce, then they just looked at each other silently. Neal cocked his head. Bryce narrowed his eyes. Neal ducked his head, looked up through his lashes, and then swiftly smoothed the wet strands of Bryce's hair out of his face.

Peter expected Bryce to flinch back, because clearly the ties between the two clones were close enough he'd been adversely affected, but Bryce stayed in place and quirked a tiny hint of a smile. Both of them relaxed visibly once they were in contact.

He wasn't the only person watching the two communicate. Elizabeth looked enthralled, Mozzie looked protective and worried, while Burke looked relieved. That was a change, just a day ago Burke had still been weirded out by the clones. When he looked around, Peter could see Walter, Lincoln and Astrid all observing with varying degrees of interest probably linked to figuring out how far and to what extent the clones were telepathic with each other.

Chuck had flopped down in a desk chair and smiled as Sarah joined him and set her hand on his shoulder. He looked at Bryce and Neal with unfettered fondness.

Colonel Casey rolled his eyes at them before heading for the coffeemaker.

Bryce and Neal had joined Ruth while Peter was distracted. Neal had his hand around Bryce's wrist and they were both just out of Ruth's arm's reach, but the way they were looking at her, Peter knew they were talking to her through the same connection they had.

"Say it out loud," Neal said.

Ruth narrowed her eyes. Bryce straightened and his body tensed. "No," he told her. "Even if you get me, Casey will shoot us both."

"With pleasure," Casey announced, appearing behind Peter silently and making him jump. He had a mug of coffee in one hand. He'd toweled his short hair dry, in contrast to Bryce and Chuck, and even shaved at some point during the day, so he looked as military and sharp as he did on arrival. It annoyed Peter, who knew his own eyes were baggy with exhaustion and his beard had gone beyond Neal and Bryce's fashionable scruff to industrial-grade wire brush.

Red looked thoughtful as she watched the three clones. Her interest zeroed on the clone from her universe, then she covered whatever she was thinking with that smirky smile that was so different from his Olivia.

Casey loomed up behind Bryce and Neal and asked, "She pulling more of that stuff the other one did?"

"No," Neal said lightly.

"She's not that strong," Bryce added.

Casey gave Ruth a look. "I'm watching," he said.

"I've got it!" Walter called out. "The tests indicate Mr. Caffrey's body is sustaining a Cortexiphan level commensurate with Mr. Larkin's."

Neal held up his hands. Silver rings gleamed on his fingers. "No shakes."

"What – " Mozzie exclaimed. "Neal, those are my – when did you – " He checked his hands in disbelief.

Neal spun the rings, before taking them off and offering them back to Mozzie. "You'll have to figure it out."

Peter kept his eyes on Ruth. Excitement and relief colored her expression. "Can we please begin my treatment?" she asked.

"I think we all need a break and something to eat first," Astrid announced. "Otherwise someone will begin making mistakes. Walter should take a nap and some of you – " she sniffed at Peter and Lincoln "– should get a shower."

"It will take an hour at least to sterilize the interior of the pod and reset it," Walter declared. "I do think a zucchini and cheese sandwich would be nice, though, anyway. And a nap. I like naps."

"Everyone want food?" Peter asked. He felt like getting the hell out of the lab for however long it took to get some food anyway. He might go by the house and get some fresh clothes. Astrid was right about the shower too.

Success translated into everyone suddenly having an appetite, but with so many people, all of them opinionated, negotiating what to get took ages. The solution eventually lay in getting two different orders of entirely different cuisines.

Elizabeth Burke went with Lincoln in search of food Agent Burke would eat, while Peter ended up taking Sarah Walker with him. The spies all wanted Indian food. Bryce grinned at Sarah and said to just get what they had on the Mumbai mission for him and Neal and to make sure she got something bland for Chuck. Chuck had protested that his tastes had grown up since Stanford.

Sarah smiled at Peter as they walked out. "They haven't. We'd better get a bottle of milk for him too."

She let Peter drive, but he thought that was only because she preferred to have both hands free to reach a gun.

"When Bryce and I were partners," she said, when the SUV smelled enticingly of curry and everything else they'd ordered – the backseat had two bags and a box filled with hot temptation – "I always knew he was damaged. I just thought... I thought it was something that happened as part of a mission."

Peter decided to stay silent and drive.

"It's just weird. He's weird now, with Caffrey."

"I've seen stranger."

Even Lincoln had seen weirder things than a couple of mentally connected clones. Sentient fungi came to mind. Personally, Peter liked Bryce and Neal both. They weren't creepy duplicates or a hive mind like Owen Frank's 'children' had been. Like Olivia, they were victims of science gone too far too fast, but they'd triumphed anyway. They'd made themselves human and Peter didn't know any humans who weren't messed up somehow.


"People change every day," Peter offered. He'd been erased from two universes. "You'll just have to get to know him again."

Sarah laughed like he'd made a joke, but she didn't find it very funny. Maybe she thought she'd never known Bryce Larkin in the first place.


Food consumed, the science contingent, including Bishop, had dropped like flies, going to sleep in their seats or the nearest horizontal surface they could find, leaving Peter one of the few not ready to sleep. Even Elizabeth abandoned him, curling up in the reading chair in Walter's bedroom. (Peter had given up on calling it an office. The guy lived there. It was a bedroom. The truth was it was likely larger than many New York apartments.) He knew she'd chosen it because it let her keep an eye on Neal and Bryce. Walter was curled up on one of the autopsy tables, which threatened to break Peter's brain if he thought about it too much. Walter's son at least used one of the gurneys. His feet hung over the end.

Mozzie had appropriated a brown and white afghan from Walter's bed and gone to sleep sitting on the floor, tucked against Neal's side of the bed.

Peter fully expected Neal would urge Mozzie up onto the bed before too long.

Chuck and Sarah had snagged the couch for themselves.

The only other person still awake was Agent Dunham. A weary smile graced her pale features as she said, "We should update Broyles. He can deal with your bosses and General Beckman."

"And then there will be the reports. Or doesn't Fringe Division have those?"

Her smile turned wry. Peter grinned back at her. They worked for the government. They had paperwork too. He got out his phone while she began typing into her computer.

Peter glanced at his watch and realized that it wasn't nearly as late as he'd thought; it only felt like the day had gone on forever. Diana and Jones were likely still in the office. He texted Jones, NC OK, while Dunham began speaking to her boss.

Before he could do more, Dunham said, "Yes sir, he's right here."

Peter glanced up.

"Agent Broyles would like to talk to you," Dunham told him. She gestured to her laptop and Peter moved into the webcam's picture, giving the man on the screen a nod of respect. After moment, General Beckman appeared in a second window.

"Agent Burke."

"What do you want to talk about?" Peter asked, feeling his stomach drop out a little.

"Since Dr. Bishop has succeeded in stabilizing Caffrey, we need to decide what is to be done with him and Larkin," Broyles said. "I presume 'Ruth' will return her duties on the other side once she's been treated."

"In any case, she's not our problem," Beckman added. "Caffrey and Larkin are, since they both have separate copies of the Intersect in their brains."

He'd known this was coming. Peter braced himself and glanced at Dunham. He hoped Broyles was as flexible a boss as Reese Hughes. He'd never be able to sell him on his proposal otherwise.

"I have an idea about that... "

Part Eleven

Now we see things as in a mirror dimly.
Then we shall see each other face to face.
 Love Love Love :: The Mountain Goats

Ruth came out of the pod seven minutes after midnight. She coughed and laughed and obliviously flashed everyone in the lab. Walter fumbled and tried to take her blood sample without looking at her at all and Agent Lee actually blushed.

Red and even Olivia laughed when Chuck and Peter Burke both slapped their hands over their eyes and pleaded that they hadn't looked. Elizabeth rolled her eyes at her husband. Sarah just raised an eyebrow.

Astrid was the only practical one; she handed Ruth a Harvard sweatshirt large enough to double as a mini-dress.

Ruth put it on once she was disconnected from the pod. The collar slid off her shoulder, exposing the fine swoop of her collar bone.

An involuntary pang – Kate – pushed Neal out of the mesh and he looked away from Ruth. She wasn't and would never be Kate. The moment Ruth's heart stopped had been worse than Neal had anticipated, even separate from her, even meshed with Bryce, and he still felt uneasy. That might have just been from looking at Ruth, though, and the disconnect between who he saw and who she was in the mesh. Missing Kate was a wound he'd grown used to living with, but Ruth reminded him of it constantly.

Bryce wasn't quite as bothered by her.

Bryce had hardened himself while working for the CIA, though, and mistrusted most people. Neal and Chuck were the only people he trusted unconditionally, even now, though Mozzie might make the cut eventually, when Bryce knew him through more than Neal's memories and associations.

Mozzie'd already been moved into the short list of people Bryce would do practically anything to protect, though. Bryce already liked him.

Again, Neal acknowledged, that was a very short list, but Bryce at least had one. He felt for people outside a c-sib. He could care.

Ruth didn't. She didn't feel any real hostility toward anyone who wasn't a c-sib, but she lacked any empathy either. Neal and Bryce confused her. They were real, but they weren't hers. She'd slotted them into a new category: damaged.

He couldn't really argue that definition, even if the differences she saw as damage he saw as an improvement.

That lack wouldn't matter to him or Bryce once Ruth went back to her side of the Bridge, of course, but even Bryce felt obligated to warn Red. Neal doubted Red had any idea how dangerous any of them could be, not when she'd only seen Ruth and Neal too weak to pose a physical threat.

Bryce corrected him. Red had seen Bryce and Zane. She was just as smart as Agent Dunham. She'd likely figured out how dangerous Ruth could be. The problem was Red didn't understand why and under what circumstances Ruth could pose a danger. That's what they needed to talk to her about.

The other thing, they weren't going to say anything to anyone about. Neal's unconditional trust list was pretty truncated too.

He still wished he could include Peter on it.

Because he had trusted Peter, more even than Mozzie, because of the way Peter had given him chance after chance and cared, and he was so happy that Peter had come around and found a way to accept him, but Neal couldn't forget that Peter had rejected him first. Mozzie's reaction had been to a perceived betrayal, not Neal's very nature. Peter had been horrified by what Neal was and that cut left a scar. Peter might have pushed aside his first reaction because he cared about Neal, but on some level... No matter how he treasured their friendship, Neal would always wonder how Peter would react from now on. That pain would never completely leave him.

Walter's tests went more quickly this time, barely taking the time it took for Ruth to clean up and dress again in her own clothes. Neal cut his eyes toward Red. He thought she'd take Bryce more seriously than him. Bryce silently insisted Neal join him. Without discussing it in words, they flanked Red, cutting her away Agent Lee. Neal made a hand signal to Mozzie, a tiny curl of his ring finger. Mozzie moved to distract and occupy Agent Lee.

Red looked uneasy when they bracketed her. Considering Bryce's memory of the asylum at Litchfield, it wasn't unwarranted.

"What can I do for you?" she asked.

She really had a different personality than Olivia Dunham in their universe. Agent Dunham was serious and dedicated. Red had a smart mouth and a tendency to poke sticks at bears. She actually reminded Neal of the differences between himself and Bryce, between cops (in his case, robbers) and soldiers.

"Be careful with Ruth," Neal told her.

"No one's going to mistreat her on our side. She'll probably be safer than you are here." She arched a brow and let the mockery into her voice. "I'm not going to be mean to her – "

Bryce interrupted, "Of her."

Red straightened and folded her arms, abruptly as intent as Agent Dunham was. "What do you mean?"

Neal exchanged a look with Bryce.

Finally, Bryce said, "She isn't loyal to your side."

"Or any side."

"She doesn't – What does that even mean? Is she crazy?" Like Zane, like Adam and Eve, all of them, she meant, and Bryce flinched, though it didn't show. Neal felt it though. He really didn't like this; it felt like snitching. But Jones was still out there, intent on his own agenda, and Ruth could easily decide her best interests lay with him and not Fringe Division.

"She's not crazy," Neal took over. He hoped that would be enough for Red to figure it out, because this didn't feel right to him. He looked at Bryce again, wordlessly asking him to say what he didn't want to explain. Bryce wasn't any more enthusiastic than Neal, of course. Explaining meant baring part of themselves.

Bryce was always the bravest of them, though. "Chuck showed me how to be a human being. Sarah too. Neal's got Mozzie and his friends."

"People we care about," Neal finished for him. "Ruth doesn't."

Neal would have left it at that, though what he really meant was 'Ruth doesn't care about any of you'. Bryce didn't leave it. "She's been cultivating Walter since she got here."

That got Red's attention.

"And she's too interested in Jones."

She'd forced Neal to flash on everything Massive Dynamics had on David Robert Jones and his history working for William Bell and the shadowy government entities that had controlled Litchfield.

"I'll keep that in mind," Red promised.

Bryce gave her his almost-a-smile, the one that looked like he was happy when he wasn't. Neal went with a full on Caffrey dazzler, mimed tipping the hat he wasn't currently wearing, and strolled away to where Mozzie had Agent Lee cornered. Hands in his pockets, he admired Mozzie's shtick.

"Weather control," Mozzie told Lee, who looked dazed and desperate. "It's all about weather control. The government is manipulating food prices through crop failures and blaming it on – " Mozzie made air quotes, " – 'Mother Nature'. Then they can force even the independent farmers to plant their so-called drought-resist strains of genetically-engineered crops with their mind control drugs and keep the populace addicted and compliant. Personally, I never eat anything made with corn or corn byproducts."

Since Neal had seen Mozzie eat a corn dog only a week before – something he would never do – Neal had to smother his laughter.

"You don't think that's a little paranoid?" Lee asked.

"You might think so," Mozzie declared, "but that's because they've already got to you."


Red wanted to get back to her side. After a quick conversation with Agent Dunham and Walter, Agent Lee agreed to drive Ruth and her back to Liberty Island. He'd make sure both of them went through the Bridge.

Lee would return in a day and contact between the two Fringe Divisions meant Red would likely be back too. No one, including Neal and Bryce, had any idea what to say to Ruth, though. She remained just slightly alien. Only Walter and Elizabeth, who had spent more time with her, wished her good-bye and good luck before they went. They left without fanfare, bundled in their coats and hats, without much in the way of farewells, though Neal managed to catch Red's eye, smile, and wave. It never hurt to keep things sweet.

An odd and awkward silence fell as the doors slapped shut behind them. Elizabeth smothered a yawn behind her hand, then widened her eyes comically as it caught and Peter yawned too, his jaw cracking loudly. Chuck looked ready to fall asleep on his feet, though Casey and Walker still looked reasonably sharp. Everyone else was looking for their third wind and not finding it, though.

Walter blurted out the question lingering in everyone's minds. "What now?"

"I should check in with Jones and Diana," Peter said while getting out his phone. He headed for the other end of the lab to speak privately. Elizabeth trailed after him.

"Anyone going after this David Robert Jones character?" Casey asked. Bryce tensed and Neal winced in reaction.

"He's probably making trouble Over There now," Bishop muttered. "Kind of hard to go after him from here."

No one seemed clear on what else they could do. Jones was out there somewhere and despite his failed attempt to hijack the Massive Dynamics Intersect, he seemed to have access to technology no one else did. The fact was Neal could still be in danger from him or from any number of the giant multinational–s competitors. Bryce, once it became known he was alive, would be in a similar position vis-à-vis the Intersect 2.0 and every espionage agency and government around the world.

Not to mention that by looking identical, they'd both be in danger from each other's enemies.

"It's enough to make a person think they might be safer Over There," Bishop muttered.

"Not happening," Bryce declared.

"I don't think anyone would go along with that," Agent Dunham said.

Bishop sighed at her annoyed look. He muttered, "I didn't actually suggest it as a solution."

"Can we figure it out in the morning?" Chuck asked.

"Sure. I have got a suggestion, though," Bishop said.

"What?" Neal asked. He wanted that shower he hadn't got, along with some more sleep. Though he had been deliberately playing up his exhaustion, he was exhausted; a side effect of the treatment and the revival process. Walter assured him he'd get over it. Bryce had hit his limits too. They could both still function, they were designed and trained to keep going beyond normal human limits, but Neal hadn't pushed that hard in years. He didn't want Bryce to have to carry him. Even a short rest period would restore them both; taking it would be the smart option.

"I've been staying at Walter's house here and there are spare rooms, plus couches, and there's already an assigned security detail, so you and Bryce should bunk with me." Bishop scrubbed at his face. "I mean at the house. Ugh. I'm too tired."

"Mozzie too?" Neal asked.

"Does he do naked Tuesdays?"

"No. What – "

"Don't ask. It's a Walter thing."

"I'm not going to." He really didn't want to know. Naked Tuesdays? The idea made him cringe.

"Good. He can have a room or a couch." Bishop didn't ask whether Neal and Bryce would share a bed given other options.

Mozzie sidled next to Neal. "Where?"

"Peter's house." Neal nodded toward Peter Bishop, not his Peter.

"It's really still Walter's, but he hasn't lived there since before they sent him to St. Claire's," Bishop explained.

"It's probably bugged," Mozzie said. "I'll get a hotel room. One none of you know about – "

Neal signaled Mozzie to go along with it. It would put the three of them in the same place; they could slip whatever surveillance Fringe Division had on the house together after Bishop went to sleep. He didn't like to think of just bolting during the night, but he'd been ready to do it before. He couldn't do it without Bryce and Mozzie, though. Tired as he was, this would be their best opportunity. Rest would have to come later.

Mozzie caught on and about-faced beautifully, " – Oh. I get it. You're trying to get rid of me. Reverse psychology. Very clever, but I've seen through you. I go where Neal goes."

"You can't fool him," Bryce said, playing at sardonic, exasperated and amused, the perfect support for Mozzie's act. Neal worried, though, that Peter would see through their intentions. Peter not only knew Neal too well, he had a clever brain that could put the picture together anyway.

Mozzie glared at Bishop. "That's right."

Bishop held up his hands. "I can see that."

Neal unsuccessfully tried to hide his a smile, but it didn't matter if someone saw it; they'd just see him smiling at Mozzie's antics and not over their success at manipulating everyone around them into the configuration he and Bryce and Mozzie wanted.

What to do with them settled in a fashion that let Walter have his bedroom back; people began leaving the lab in a flurry. Astrid left after quietly telling Neal she was happy the cure had worked for him. He figured she was sincere and thanked her for the work she'd done. Bryce, she told to stay away from her computer and Walter's from now on. Bryce made no promises. She retrieved her coat and a hat, wished Walter good night, and left.

Chuck and Sarah went next. The NSA had arranged rooms for the team at the Hotel Veritas on Harvard Square. After slipping Bryce a holstered Beretta and several clips, Casey shadowed them out, unwilling to trust Chuck's security to Sarah completely. "Damned boutique hotels," he muttered on the way out.

Bryce watched the three of them go with an unreadable expression. Unreadable to anyone but Neal, who saw the melancholy and regret that were carefully hidden, along with a pang of jealousy. Bryce casually hid the Beretta before anyone else could see it, though, and pushed all his feelings down again. That development had surprised Bryce. John Casey trusting Bryce with anything seemed highly improbable, never mind handing over one of his weapons to him, and after the last two days Bryce would have considered it an utter impossibility if it hadn't just happened.

Bishop had his coat on and chivvied the three of them toward the door next. "Let's go. I promise the sheets are clean." They were almost out, already in the hallway outside the lab, when Peter caught up with them and touched Neal's arm.

Neal stopped. "Hey, Peter."

"Neal... "

He could see that Peter knew he meant to go during the night. Neal hesitated. Bryce stopped and looked back, Mozzie beside him. The fluorescent lights in the hallway gleamed off Mozzie's bare head and glared white off the lenses of his glasses. Bryce nodded at Neal, then urged Mozzie to go on with him. Surprisingly, Mozzie went without protest.

"Don't," Peter said. "Just wait. One more day. Please."

Neal shook his head, but he already knew he would, because Peter had asked. "I don't know what you're talking about," he lied.

The sharp brain behind Peter's everyday exterior analyzed Neal's words. He relaxed fractionally. "Then I'll see you in the morning?"

"Why wouldn't you?"

Elizabeth came through the doors and immediately hugged Neal. "Why wouldn't Peter what?" she asked.

Neal luxuriated in the feel of her arms around him, the scent of her perfume, the brush of her hair against his jaw, and hugged back. He hated losing this, the connection with people he'd learned to care about, more than anything else.

"See me in the morning," Neal said when he let go. Now he'd have to be here in the morning. He couldn't break even his implied word to Elizabeth. Mozzie was going to be peeved. Bryce... Bryce wanted to see Chuck and Sarah and even Casey again too. He'd understand.

"We'd better, buster," Elizabeth told him.

"Neal," Mozzie called from the end of the hall.

"Gotta go," Neal said with a 'what can you do?' smile before loping after Mozzie and Bryce.

"Here, in the morning!" Peter yelled after him.

"We're staying?" Mozzie asked as the door slapped closed behind Neal.

"We need to know as much as we can." Bryce didn't expect Mozzie to buy the rationalization and from Mozzie's sour expression he didn't, but he didn't say anything more.

"One more day," Neal said.

"We're going to regret this," Mozzie declared dolefully.

Bryce nudged his shoulder against Neal's as they walked up the stairs to ground level. We, Mozzie had said. He'd accepted Bryce. Neal leaned into Bryce's side for a second, even though he didn't need to now, and smiled to himself.


Broyles was waiting in the Kresge Building lab the next morning when Bryce and his companions traipsed in, awake, showered, and fed. Peter Bishop turned out to be a dab hand at cooking breakfast, mentioning that among other occupations, including smoke jumper and fake MIT professor – at which Neal might have high-fived him for that if he hadn't had a spatula in his hand, which amused Bryce – he'd been a short-order cook.

Even Mozzie had been moderately impressed.

Bryce eyed Broyles cautiously. The head of Fringe Division had a gravitas and air of power as well as intelligence. The latter made him a quantum order more dangerous than most bureaucrats. He wouldn't have journeyed to Boston from New York over night without good reason.

Broyles nodded to Bryce, then calmly greeted Bishop, Neal and even Mozzie. "Mr. Havisham," he said, making it clear he knew it wasn't Mozzie's real name, might even know that real name, but was respecting Mozzie's choice of appellations for the moment, "I am pleased you've chosen to attend this meeting."

Mozzie tensed unhappily. Neal was out of reach, so Bryce did what Neal would have and patted Mozzie's shoulder. If Mozzie was in trouble or danger for helping Neal, Bryce would get him out of it.

Walter shuffled out of his bedroom wrapped in a plaid robe and made his way toward the kitchen area without acknowledging anyone. He fumbled at the controls to the coffeemaker. Peter sighed and intercepted him. "Let me get that," he said, rescuing the coffeemaker from Walter.

"Oh. Peter. I didn't realize you were here. Usually Ester does this." Walter gave the coffeemaker a befuddled look. He had his slippers on the wrong feet.

"I'm sure she'll be here soon," Peter soothed him, "but why don't you let me take care of making the coffee this time."

Walter scratched at his unshaven jaw and nodded blearily, wandering away, only to blink and look back. "Agent Broyles. How nice to see you."

"It's good to see you too, Dr. Bishop," Broyles agreed.

Neal and Mozzie wandered deeper into the lab, heads ducked together when they encountered anything interesting. Bryce caught the edge of Neal's thoughts; he was memorizing the layout and the equipment in case he ever wanted to recreate the set-up for a con. Neal flashed once on sensory deprivation tank, but it didn't hurt him and he didn't seem alarmed by it. Walter's cure had solved the problem with the Massive Dynamics Intersect too.

Bryce left the two of them to their prowling. He'd rather have another cup of coffee to fortify himself for whatever Broyles had to say.

Agents Dunham and Farnsworth arrived one behind the other. Dunham actually smiled at Bryce before her gaze drifted to Peter Bishop, warming into something tender when he saw her and paused. So it was like that with them. Bryce absented himself from their proximity and helped remove Astrid's coat. He hung it where she'd had it the day before. Then he held up his hands. "I haven't touched any computers," he said.

"Good." She sounded fierce but she smiled.

Neal's Agent Burke arrived with his wife next, relaxing infinitesimally when he spotted Bryce, then tightening as he realized Bryce wasn't Neal. Bryce turned his head just enough to indicate where Neal and Mozzie were. Burke's shoulders untensed when he found them. He even managed a polite nod for Bryce.

Amused, Bryce realized he and Burke hadn't really even spoken to each other. In their different ways, they'd both been too focused on Neal. Chuck and Sarah and Casey and his own past had preoccupied Bryce otherwise. There had been no chance to get acquainted.

He shrugged to himself. He didn't really need to know the Fed who had held Neal's leash, even if Neal did like and respect him.

Elizabeth abandoned Burke's side and headed straight for Bryce. "You look like you finally got some rest," she said and unselfconsciously touched his arm.

Startled, Bryce stilled, before he answered, "I don't need much."

"And Neal looks so much better." Her smile invited him to smile with her, so Bryce did. "Thank you for not disappearing with him last night."

They should have gone. Bryce knew, Neal knew, Mozzie had even said it, but 'no good-byes' got harder every time and they'd stayed.

She squeezed his arm. "Peter worried all night."

He bowed his head closer to her and murmured, "Neal doesn't want to leave, you know."

"I know. If Neal wanted to go, he'd have been long gone before this. But now there's you, too. That changes everything."

"I don't want him to – "

"I know."

"It's hard to say good-bye."

"So don't." Elizabeth patted Bryce's arm once more and released him, walking away confidently, leaving Bryce impressed enough he could only shrug when he realized Burke was watching him. A tiny smile softened Burke's face at Bryce's consternation and he thought he could like Neal's Fed after all.

Any intention he had to act on that derailed as Casey stomped in ahead of Chuck and Sarah. Casey surveyed Bryce and let out a derisive noise.

"I see everyone is here now," Agent Broyles said and everyone's attention snapped to him. "Agent Lee is briefing my counterpart and the Secretary on the other side, as his presence isn't necessary."

"Necessary for what?" Casey demanded. "I filed my report last night."

"Sit down and I will explain," Broyles replied, unmoved and unimpressed.

Casey obeyed. He hurried over and appropriated a desk chair that he sat on next to where Bryce leaned against lab bench. The wide-eyed and worried look Chuck shot him made Bryce smile reassuringly.

"General Beckman and I spent last night debating what should be done with you, Mr. Larkin, and you, Mr. Caffrey," Broyles said.

"Are we going to appreciate it?" Neal asked.

Broyles did not crack a smile at Neal's cheeky attitude. "That will depend on you."

Neal widened his eyes and put on an expression of rapt interest. Bryce would have kicked him if they'd been next to each other. He settled for a flick to his younger c-sib's mental ear. Neal shot back a silent spoilsport.

"This took all of General Beckman's authority and my own contacts, as well as Agent Burke's superior's recommendations," Broyles explained.

Neal straightened and gave Burke a serious, doubtful look. Burke just looked back at him, seeming to will Neal to listen.

"Okay," Neal said.

Broyles inclined his head. "If you agree, Mr. Caffrey, Fringe Division has a place for you as a contract consultant. We need another science field team and between your talents and training and the Massive Dynamics Intersect, you have a unique skillset we could utilize."

"Field team," Neal repeated, in an oblique request for clarification.

"Yes," Broyles said. "Agree to this and your record will be wiped, the conviction vacated, and you will be a free man."

"No anklet."

"I do think it might be wise to chip all our agents," Walter whispered loudly to Agent Dunham and his son. "Something with an inter-universal signal, perhaps."

"I don't think so," Peter Bishop replied.

"This is contingent on my agreement to work for you," Neal summed up. "Where would I be working?"

"New York eventually. If our current budget is renewed or expanded, we may base a team out of San Francisco to allow for more rapid responses." Broyles gave Neal a hard look. "For the moment, you'd be training with Agents Dunham, Lee and Farnsworth until you are up to speed. "

Neal looked casual and relaxed, interested and engaged, but not excited, but underneath, Bryce could feel how he thrummed with want. Freedom, even if it meant working for Fringe Division, and even that had a huge upside: they already knew what and who Neal was and either didn't care or valued him for it. In addition, they had a better chance of catching Jones than anyone else. Neal would be safer with Fringe Division than anywhere else.

"There'd be no radius?" Neal asked. "No monitoring?"

"None. If we can't trust you with that, we couldn't trust you to do the job." Broyles raised an eyebrow. Dark eyes bored into Neal's blue ones. "Can we trust you?"

Walter interrupted before Neal could answer. "I believe David Robert Jones has a plan that may to irretrievable harm to our universe. The amphilicite he obtained Over There alone could – there is a pattern to everything he's done. I'm greatly afraid that even when we think we've thwarted him we've only slowed him down, do you see?"

"How much has he got?" Neal blurted. Bryce looked at him and Neal meshed with him just long enough to flash on what Massive Dynamics knew about the destructive potential of amphilicite.

"A quarry's worth," Broyles answered.

Bryce sucked in a harsh breath.

"Well, Mr. Caffrey?"

"I live in this universe, I have a vested interest." Neal paused then shrugged and admitted, "In this, you can."


Next to Neal, Mozzie made a small, protesting sound, but swallowed back any words. Broyles' attention shifted to him. A hint of amusement colored Broyles' next words.

"I've been informed that Mr. Caffrey is something of a two-for-one deal. A set of credentials for 'Ivan Bliminse' have been created in the event he agrees." Broyles waited a beat. "Genuine ones."

"You're trying to – to assimilate me!" Mozzie yelped.

"Come on, Moz, it's the real thing – all the patterns you've been pointing out," Neal said. He leaned in and murmured. "It's proof. You'll be on the inside."


"Your 'alternative' contacts and methods would be useful to us," Broyles said. "And Fringe Division can offer you a certain amount of protection for any consequences that result from any of your other activities."

Mozzie squinted at him. "Get out of jail free card?"

Peter Bishop coughed hard, grinning. "Not quite."

"Look the other way card," Neal tried.

Broyles looked slightly constipated. "Yes."

"Do I have to answer now?"

"Why wouldn't you?" Peter Burke blurted.

Neal gave him a dirty look before facing Broyles again. "What about Bryce?"

"Yeah, what about Larkin?" Casey repeated the sentiment, rather more sardonic in tone than Neal had, however.

Bryce stayed loose and tried to appear unconcerned. This sounded like a good deal for Neal. He didn't want to interfere with it. If he had to disappear again... The thought made everything in him hurt. He still glared at Neal – Neal wanted to take this opportunity and that was enough. Whatever they had planned for Bryce, it wasn't reason enough to give up what Broyles was offering Neal: freedom and security, no need to run, acceptance, even holding on to the parts of his life working for the FBI that Neal liked, the people he treasured.

Burke must have pulled every string and burned every favor he'd accumulated throughout his career to persuade Broyles and Beckman, not to mention the Bureau and the Department of Justice, to approve this plan.

"Agent Larkin."

Bryce straightened just a little.

"You pose another problem. Like Mr. Caffrey, you have a copy of an Intersect. That makes you a target. Now that Jones knows about you, you're a lever he may use to get the Massive Dynamics data Mr. Caffrey possesses."

That made Bryce blink. He'd always known someone could use Chuck or Neal against him. He'd never believed he could be the hostage used against someone else.

"You have a lot of enemies," Broyles went on. "There are still elements of the Ring and Fulcrum out there."

Not as many as some people might think. He hadn't spent all of his time after escaping the Ring hunting Jones. The Intersect had given him a very unfair advantage against any Fulcrum or Ring operations he'd run across. The only difficulty had been making sure that no one connected him with their destruction. Explaining that now wouldn't – no probably about it – be a good idea.

So he just shrugged.

"While it was suggested that you could return to Burbank with Mr. Bartowski and accept a job with him, since you've worked extensively with Agent Walker and are familiar with the Intersect Project," Broyles said, "it's considered too risky."

He'd known he would never have that dream; even requesting an assignment to Chuck's team would have given away too much about how Bryce felt about them. It had been another reason to stay away, to stay dead to them.

"Too risky," Casey grumbled. "Guarding the idiot and putting up with the Buymorons, that's risky. Not like Larkin could make it worse." He paused and re-evaluated. "Oh, hell, yes, he could." He glared at Bryce. "You'd probably get yourself shot again."

"I'm afraid it's no longer on the table," Broyles told him.

"What is?" Bryce asked.

Neal had an impromptu plan that would likely get one of them shot if they had to resort to it, in the event Broyles meant to take Bryce anywhere he didn't want to go. Bryce had no intention of going through with it. He could escape later; transports were always vulnerable. Of course, Neal wouldn't pay any attention to the no Bryce pushed at him through the mesh.

"Fringe Division. Most of the same reasons Mr. Caffrey is valuable to us apply to you as well."

"Anyone besides me think those two working together is going to be trouble?" Casey muttered to the lab at large.

Burke looked mildly perturbed. He might not have known about this half of the offer.

"General Beckman has arranged with the Director of the Agency," Broyles went on. "You would return to active agent status with a secondment to Fringe Division. Officially, you would be a liaison with the intelligence community. Unofficially, you would be working with Mr. Caffrey and Mr. Bliminse. And the murder charge for Cyrus Ogilvie goes away."

It sounded too good to be true.

"Why?" Bryce asked. He sounded a little hoarser than he'd have preferred.

"Jones. Agent Dunham's team has focused on understanding and stopping Jones' efforts from the scientific end. As such he's escaped apprehension. You would be hunting him and digging out his networks." Broyles added quietly, "He'll be hunting both of you in any case."

Bryce glanced at Neal. Neal nodded. Neither of them bought this completely.

"There's more, isn't there?"

Broyles contemplated them in silence until Walter sneezed, jolting everyone and breaking the tension in the lab.

"It's the Cortexiphan," Olivia said. "You both have it in your systems now."

"We prefer to know where anyone exposed to the drug is," Broyles admitted. "We know Jones has a stolen supply of Cortexiphan and an interest in Agent Dunham. It might extend to you, Agent Larkin."

"So you're saying I'd be safer with Fringe Division than anywhere else?" Bryce asked.

"Yeah, that might be debatable," Peter commented in an undertone.

"You'll have a better chance of catching David Robert Jones with us than without us."


Neal wanted to do it. Bryce wasn't as certain, but it beat the next best option. He didn't let himself look at Chuck. He'd given up that dream years ago and trying to catch hold of it again now would only end in pain for everyone involved. He had a different future now. It could be good, he thought, and there was something to be said for safeguarding the universe.

"I'm in," Neal said. "Bryce?" Like he didn't know what Bryce had decided.

It was hard to say good-bye. Bryce had always known that.

So he didn't.


I was created by intelligent design
You are merely a descendant of the unmodified
Levitibus :: Canibus

Working as a Looker at Fringe Division gave 'Ruth' all the access she needed to foil their surveillance when she wanted. The task came much easier now that her shakes had been cured. Several days after returning from the other universe, she guided her retro-fitted and off-the-grid vehicle out of Boston. Despite the impatience thrumming through her, she'd let herself be debriefed along with Agent Dunham and even accepted Secretary Bishop's condolences that the cure hadn't been found in time to help any of the other Project Thebes subjects. If anyone had eyes on her, they saw only a good citizen, who had integrated well despite her antecedents. She used several of Fourteen's techniques to present a reassuring facade and found they worked as well for her as for him.

Very useful.

She mentioned taking a spa weekend to Charlie Francis just once, since appearing too friendly or open too abruptly would raise warning flags. It would be enough. No one would expect to find her at her apartment.

Ruth steered her antique hybrid along the crumbling blacktop road at a sensible speed, despite seldom encountering any other vehicles. Few people chose to drive through the blighted areas, and most of Connecticut was barren and still lifeless, despite the improvements since the establishment of the bridge between this universe and the other.

She had to detour onto backroads to avoid the amber that engulfed Waterbury, but it wasn't her destination anyway. Anticipation made her breath catch and speed as she steered down a road bracketed on each side with the blackened skeletons of Blight-killed trees. Dusk slowly leeched the light away, but rather than chance drawing any attention to her destination, she left car's lights off and relied on her superior night sight.

There were camoflaged shadows hidden among the trees, sapling-slim ghosts Ruth didn't see but knew were there watching.

She turned the hybrid off the road onto an eroding drive and braked at the gate. Like everything abandoned to the Blight, the gate appeared uncared for, half off its hinges and unfit to open, red rust staining the iron. The sign that had once identified the facility had disappeared years ago.

Ruth waited patiently until the longed for touch of a c-sib grazed the edge of her mind. The mesh felt awkward for a nanosecond, the mass of Two and Fourteen's memories along with her own separated experiences slow to integrate.

The sweet sense of triumph propogated through the mesh though, even as the familiar, childish figures melted out of the twilight and silently lifted the gate away. No words were needed. Moments after Ruth drove through, it was back in place, even the tire tracks erased, covered over by the dust of dead leaves. No sign gave away that Project Thebes' subjects had revived it in the place where they began.

She drove back to a loading dock where the vehicle would be concealed from satellite surveillance under a thermo-camo cover.

Despite the decrepit exterior, the buildings were maintained inside, white painted halls lit and populated by quiet, purposeful figures. Though none of them spoke, they brushed silent touches along Ruth's shoulders and arms as she passed, communicating their pleasure at her survival and return. It didn't matter on a greater scale, her predecessors had already gone and the Mesh survived in these children, but it still felt every loss.

Thirty-Eight accepted the vial of Cortexiphan Ruth had palmed before leaving Boston on the other side and carried it into a lab where he and the others would analyse and recreate it. With Walter Bishop's Cortexiphan treatment, in fifteen years Thirty-Eight, still a coltish adolescent, would live to look exactly like Two and Fourteen. Twenty-six, the sib Ruth surrogated after she and the others took over Project Thebes, glanced up from her microscope. She looked exactly as Ruth had at fourteen, except for the bulge where she was already carrying another generation of c-sibs.

The Mesh wouldn't need to generate replacements so early and often any longer to keep itself alive.

And when Ruth went back to Fringe headquarters to resume her duties as a Looker, she would begin the search for David Robert Jones and his shapeshifter technology. With that, the Mesh could change its faces without resorting to painful plastic surgeries or disguises. They could even assume the identities of key figures if necessary.

There was much to learn from the memories of the damaged versions of Two and Fourteen on the other side as well, techniques that would allow them to pass and manipulate useful humans into acting as allies until they became unnecessary, as Ruth had already discovered.

The Mesh briefly mourned the solitude of the two left on the other side, but felt satisfied they wouldn't – despite their inexplicable bonding to outsiders – betray what they'd learned from Ruth so long as their universe remained unthreatened. It could afford to be patient now and out wait them. Though Two and Fourteen wouldn't die of the shakes, in time they would die, the way all humans did.

The Mesh would remain.

The End


  • Summary:  David Robert Jones wants the Intersect and Neal Caffrey is the thief he'll use to get it.
  • Fandom: White Collar, Chuck, Fringe
  • Rating: mature
  • Warnings: Some spoilers for White Collar S1-3, Chuck S1-5, Fringe S1-4.
  • Author Notes: Set just before the Fringe finale and the end of White Collar Season Three, but after the Chuck series conclusion. X-Files episode Eve used as background.
  • Date:  8.8.12
  • Length: 118,333 words
  • Category: gen
  • Tags: AU, crossover, science fiction, espionage, action-adventure, drama, hurt/comfort, fix-It, clones, telepathy, shapeshifters, doppelgangers, doubles, kidnapping, secret pasts, government experiments, cortexiphan, intersect, handwave science, the author offers no excuses.
  • Cast: Neal Caffrey, Bryce Larkin, Peter Burke, Chuck Bartowski, Mozzie, John Casey, Elizabeth Burke, Sarah Walker, Peter Bishop, Walter Bishop, Olivia Dunham, Lincoln Lee, Alt-Olivia, Diana Barrigan, Clinton Jones, David Robert Jones, Nina Sharp, Phillip Broyles, Astrid Farnsworth, Original Character
  • Betas: murron, eretria, lexstar29
  • Disclaimer: Not for profit. Transformative work written for private entertainment.

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