OLIVIA'S cell phone rang loudly with the "Imperial March" tone and she jumped up in bed instantly alerted, drenched in sweat. It was still pitch dark outside and Olivia unwillingly shivered with cold as she was grabbing her mobile from her nightstand.
-It's Broyles. I know you have had quite a week but a dire event has occurred that requires our immediate attention.
-OK. Where?-she inquired levelly.
-Pick up the others and meet me in thirty minutes in front of the Boston Medical Center. There's something you all need to see.
-Yes sir, I'm on my way, sir-Olivia hung up and started rubbing her tired eyes.
It was half past four in the morning. For the third night in the row, she had been having nightmares about the abduction. The spinal tap she had been given. The electrodes they put on her head... She knew now who they were. Well, at least one of them. But she still had no idea what they wanted from her. Was Mitchell Loeb really on her side all along? Olivia recalled the way she had shot his wife and her heart ached unpleasantly for a moment. If they were both innocent... And I... Killed her...
Deciding it was not the time to ponder on those thoughts, Olivia got dressed quickly, opting for black suit and a light blue shirt. She pulled her hair up in a ponytail next, and ran out of the apartment, mindful not to wake up Rach and Ella. Olivia was still getting accustomed to their presence at her place, since they came to visit only a week ago, but she was very glad they were staying with her. She hadn't seen her niece for years, and Rachel certainly needed all the support she could get after what had apparently happened with that bastard Greg.
Olivia stopped at Starbucks to buy her obligatory morning caffeine intake, black-one sugar, in order to clear her mind. Then she drove on to the hotel where Walter and Peter lived for the time being. She was both angry and nervous, seeing how Peter wasn't picking up the phone. Olivia hoped she would find both Bishop boys ready to collaborate, and in a good mood. She flashed a little smile recalling how Peter would always open the door to her without his shirt on when she came to their room this early in the morning. His drowsiness and his state of semi-undress amused Olivia more than she wanted to admit to herself.
WHEN she knocked on the door of the room 141, no one answered at first. Olivia could clearly hear raised voices coming from inside and she sighed, realizing father and son were having an argument.
Not again. Oh, well, at least waking them up won't be a problem.
She knocked on the door again, harder, more insistent this time, and then Peter suddenly swung them wide open, fully dressed, with a furious expression on his face and the anger gleaming in his bloodshot eyes. He was massaging his temples, visibly tired.
-What idiot would bang on people's doors as if he wanted to bring them down at half past four in the morning... Oh-his expression softened a little after having seen Olivia standing in front of him. –It's you.
She simply nodded, looking at him expectantly, and Peter sighed deeply, rolling his eyes but eventually letting her come inside.
The room was a mess. Clothes were everywhere, and there was a distinct unpleasant smell coming from the direction of the bathroom. The room window was wide open and Olivia hugged herself subconsciously, shaking with cold.
-I called you four times-she said crossly.
Peter slapped himself across the forehead.
-Sorry. I left my cell phone in the jacket pocket. I must have forgotten the jacket in the car. I just… I had a lot on my mind, trust me.
-Where is Walter?
-He's in the bathroom. Apparently, before we went to bed, four hours ago, Walter had a sudden craving for beans. I told him to wait until tomorrow, and promised him he'd have beans for lunch, but to no avail. He became so difficult that I had to drive in his old car to the 24 hour Shaw's Supermarket, which is, by the way, on the other side of the town, just to buy him a damned bag of beans and some spices, at midnight!
Olivia shook her head and tried to say something but Peter had this on his mind for a while and he couldn't let her speak until it all came out.
-Now here comes the best part. The man eats the beans and then, decides to have a glass of warm milk afterwards. I tell him it's not a good idea, but he doesn't listen. OK. Whatever. Fine by me. We go to bed. Or… To sofa, in my case. An hour later, and Walter moans, tosses, turns… Then he starts farting, and the goddamn fifteen square meters room becomes a gas chamber. I opened the window hours ago and I swear you can still smell it.
-Okay, that's enough.
-No, listen to this. From one o' clock up till now, he has been in the bathroom for seven times already. Half an hour ago, the eight rolls of toilet paper we had bought yesterday were already gone. Just like that. So I went to the supermarket, again, to buy some more. I've only come back ten minutes ago. I'm tired, hungry, cold, and extremely pissed off. Now you are here which can only mean more bad news. Don't tell me. We were supposed to be somewhere, to see something, like an hour ago. And we're already late.
-No, actually…-Olivia looked at him with compassion and spoke softly. –Broyles told me we should be in front of Boston Medical Center around five a.m. So we still have time. Fifteen minutes, to be precise.
-So there is a new case.
-Yes, there is.
-Excellent-Peter retorted sardonically.
-And Walter needs to get out of the bathroom.
-I'll see what I can do.
Peter knocked hard on the bathroom door and yelled:
-Walter! Olivia is here. We gotta move! There's a new case for us to solve.
-A healthy digestive system is packed with billions of bacteria of several different species, some of which produce waste gases by metabolizing undigested food. Also in the digestive system are bacteria which absorb and metabolize these gases, and produce other types of waste. The balance of bacteria present in the digestive system has quite a profound influence on the amount of gas the body expels, and an upset in this balance often leads to excess. Both diet and digestive health play a role in determining the balance of bacteria in the gut-Walter could be heard from inside and Olivia stomped her foot in desperation. Peter tried to reason with his father.
-Stop rattling off about the gasses and get outta there now! This is urgent.
-Many people experience bloating and flatulence after eating dairy foods. People who are lactose-intolerant cannot easily digest milk sugar, which means that large quantities of lactose pass from the stomach into the colon. The bacteria there metabolize it and produce gas. For similar reasons, a diet that is high in fructose can cause the same issue for some people, and starchy foods, such as potatoes and corn, may cause a gassy stomach. Beans are one of the most common causes of intestinal gas. But some of the worst offenders are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and cabbage. This excess occurs because dietary fiber is not digested in the stomach, instead passing into the colon, where much of it is metabolized by gas-producing bacteria.
-Oh for crying out loud! Walter, did you even acknowledge what I've just said?
-I was listening to you, son. But I have such a terrible tummy ache that reciting this actually helps me alleviate the pain.
-Glad to hear it. Just for the record, don't you think maybe you should have recited that before you ate your midnight meal of beans and drank milk afterwards? That might have reminded you not to do such thing. Now, get up. It's time to go!
-Don't you see what I am doing here? I am sitting on a crapper, Peter. I am about to unload my intestinal burden.
-Very nice of you to inform us, Walter. While we're here, is there anything else you'd like to share with Olivia and me?
-Agent Dunham is here? Why didn't you tell me so, boy?
-I'm pretty sure I did.
-I can't go while you two are standing in front of the door listening to me.
Peter sighed exasperatedly and swore incredulously, while Olivia tried a different, gentler approach.
-Walter… We really need you to come out.
-Well move away from the damned door then, will you? Let me do my business first.
They eventually obeyed and went to sit together on the sofa in an uncomfortable silence for about five minutes, waiting for Walter to emerge from the bathroom. Finally, the sound of a flushing toilet was heard and he appeared, humming an "It's a jolly holiday" tune from "Mary Poppins" cartoon.
-It was about time-Peter snapped at him. –Let's move.
-Oh, but what if I have to go again?
-I'll buy you a diaper.
BROYLES nodded contently having seen the trio emerging from the car.
-Twenty five minutes. Nicely done.
-We got here as fast as we could.
-What is that smell?-Broyles inquired suspiciously, wrinkling his nose. Olivia fidgeted uncomfortably, looking everywhere but in her boss's eyes.
-I have eaten…-Walter started explaining but his son quite literally put his hand across his mouth.
-Let's just… Focus on the case, shall we?-Peter smiled amicably.
-What do we have?-Olivia got down to business.
-I must inform you that what you are about to see is strictly confidential. The medical staff was warned as well not to divulge any information.
-Of course, sir. It goes without saying.
-Okay, listen to this. Brother and sister, Paul and Mary Green, in their thirties, were found around three o'clock this morning on a derelict road outside of Boston. Their parents reported them missing four days ago. Their car was found abandoned within the twenty mile radius. His right leg and her left arm were severed with a surgical precision. When stumbled upon, these two young people were both alive. Unfortunately, Paul Green bled out on his way to hospital and passed away. His sister, Mary, still lives. For now. She is in the convalescence room at the moment, stressed out and under a severe duress. Her mother is in there with her. The father is in the morgue identifying the son's body. Doctors say her condition is stable for now, but it is not yet certain whether she will survive. I want you to question her cautiously about what exactly had transpired during the four days they were gone. We have a reason to suspect these people were abducted.
-Okay-Peter started warily, interrupting Broyles. –It's five a.m.; I haven't slept all night so I'm a little foggy. I apologize in advance if my comment seems untoward. But… How exactly is this Fringe case? Fine, two people were abducted. I get it. Their limbs were severed. So? Nothing else happened. When little guy… What was his name… Ben Stockton? When he was taken three months ago, his father was hypnotized in a weird way, with flashing combination of green and red lights. That's why we were called to investigate. But this… No offense, but I simply don't see anything special about this kidnapping. Shouldn't this case actually be passed on to the police, for example, I dunno?
-Oh, they only had their arm and leg cut off by someone, and a man died, no big deal-Olivia shouted at him without being able to control herself.
She recalled some of the abduction cases she worked on with John, before she even formed a part of Fringe division. Every human life mattered to her a lot, and sometimes Olivia would wonder how many people serial killers and abductors murdered, how Charlie was doing and if he was making progress on those unfinished cases. Occasionally, she would miss her old job and wonder whether some of those assassins would have been captured faster if she still had been doing it instead getting caught up with the pattern and the strange happenings related to it.
-Dunham-Peter raised his hands to calm her down. –Fine, I get it. You're still a bit sensitive because you yourself were bound and kidnapped last week, but you've got to admit I have a point here.
-For the record, Bishop, I wasn't thinking about myself at all-she snapped back at him. –If you are incredibly self-centered, don't make suppositions that other people are like that as well.
-Well aren't you a little ray of sunshine on this particular morning?-Peter growled at her sarcastically.
They ultimately faced each other, with murderous glitters in their eyes, ready to continue their argument. Walter just stood there helplessly, watching them, confused.
-Enough bickering, you two-Broyles interrupted the unpleasant scene. –There's work to be done.
-You still haven't answered my question-Peter replied coolly, shoving his hands in his pockets and earning himself a furious glare from Olivia who muttered unbelievable under her breath.
Broyles stared at him long and hard for several seconds but he nodded, eventually.
-I was going to continue anyway, Mr. Bishop, and I would have done so, if you hadn't actually interrupted me rather rudely.
Peter at least has the decency to look guilty, Olivia thought, fuming. The nerve of the man. He behaves as if he knows everything in this world.
-Prior to the abduction, Paul Green was 6 feet and 6 inches tall. His sister, Mary, was 6 feet tall. When they were found, Paul was 3 feet and 3 inches tall, while she was only 3 feet tall. The police was able to identify them based on their ID cards they had on themselves, and, of course, Mary Green confirmed her and her brother's identity as well.
-What?-both Peter and Olivia exclaimed at the same time and then looked at each other uncomfortably.
-Wait a sec…-Peter inquired, flabbergasted. –Are you actually suggesting that these people were found twice shorter than they were before they were taken?
-How is that even possible?-Olivia asked, surprised as much as Peter was. –It doesn't make any sense…
-That's what we need to find out. And that is why we are here-Broyles gave a last long look in Peter's direction and he squirmed repentantly under that penetrative, scrutinizing gaze. -I need Mr. Walter Bishop with the two of you in the interrogation room, to visit the young woman personally and to see what he can make of her misfortune.
Walter nodded and added:
-I am also going to require her brother's body to be transported to my lab for the further study.
-Of course, Mr. Bishop. I will have to ask for the father's consent, but he will probably grant it to me, seeing how the information you obtain from their sons' corpse might help you to reverse their daughter's current condition-said Broyles.
-Let's go inside-he finished, motioning towards Peter and Olivia who stood stock-still next to one another, each immersed in their own thoughts, with puzzled looks on their faces.
-Son?-Walter whispered feebly, timidly.
-Yes, Walter, what is it?
-The diaper you promised you'd buy me… Now it would be a really good time to do it.