characters: Astrid, Walter, Gene the Cow
Summary: Some days, as she watches over a mad scientist, Agent Farnsworth feels an overwhelming urge to transfer. Then her insatiable curiosity takes over ...
Length: 1,100 words
Disclaimer: I own nothing, but will gladly take anything given to me.
A/N: Now's the time to give a shout-out to my favorite friendship on one of the best shows that haven't been canceled -- yet.
“Astrix, would you pass me that brain, please?”
If only, Astrid Farnsworth though, that wasn’t some figure of speech. It was days like this when she wished she’d never heard of the FBI’s Fringe Division.
Astrid – after pulling on a second set of gloves – passed the organ across the dissection table. “Here’s the brain. Walter, are you sure you wouldn’t prefer some sausage and a stack of pancreas?”
Walter’s brow furrowed, creasing his age-worn face even more. “The damage was all to his head.”
“It was a joke, Walter.”
With a noncommittal grunt, Walter Bishop turned to a smaller table, where waited the tiniest of power saws. This was the part she hated, Astrid told herself. And yet she couldn’t help following Walter around like a little puppy, insatiably curious about what mystery he’d uncover next. Not to mention, how he’d go about uncovering it.
The saw whined to life, but instead of going to work Walter looked up, as if he’d just now noticed Astrid’s presence. “Ah – a stack of pancreas!” His face lit up in a wide smile. “Of course. But what I’d really like is tongue.”
“Tongue?” Astrid looked back at the slab. The side of the victim’s head was a bloody mess, but what gave her the creeps was the way the rest of his body looked perfect, as if it could suddenly sit up again at any moment. A distinct possibility, in Walter’s Harvard lab. “Why do you want his tongue?”
“No, not his. Tongue for dinner.” Walter leaned toward her, casting a conspiratorial glance toward the cow that calmly chewed its cud on the other side of the lab. “Beef tongue. Don’t tell. I ate some on a dare while dropping acid – let’s see, my sophomore year of college. I developed a taste for it. The tongue. The acid, too.”
“Don’t cut off your fingers, Walter.” And please, change the subject. Astrid had no desire to taste a food that might be tasting her back.
“Oh. Yes.” Turning, Walter picked up the brain and began cutting it into careful slices, apparently not noticing that his assistant’s dark skin had picked up a shade of green. Strange that a food product would bother her, considering all she’d seen here. Actually, she was considering going vegetarian.
But there she stood, watching Walter poke at wobbling gray slices of human brain. She even wore a white lab coat like his, although not as wrinkled, or stained with blood and purple Popsicle. The situation screamed “transfer!”
“Ah. There it is.” Walter held up a slice of brain, revealing a cavity – a perfect circle. The next slice held a matching space, and the one after that an indentation that indicated the cavity had once been a sphere.
“And here’s the exit wound.” Walter went back to the slice before the one with the circle. It might have also had an indentation, but a hole marred it, and that hole carried on all the way through half the brain.
“Exit wound? So we didn’t find the bullet because there was an exit wound? Where?”
“It was there all along. It even looked like an exit wound, but because we found only one hole we assumed it must be the entrance.”
Astrid stared at him. She imagined a slack jawed expression on her face – who wouldn’t look that way, after spending any time at all around Walter? But her pulse raced along with her thoughts, the way it always did when she struggled to keep up with him. “Wait. Are you telling me the bullet exited, but it never entered?”
“Precisely, my dear!”
“How is that possible?” Boy, if she had a dollar for every time she’d said that in the last few years, she’d be on a beach in Hawaii with the hot movie star of her choice … or maybe with Walter, who seemed perpetually in need of a vacation. A physical one, not the periodic vacations his brain took from real life.
“If they search the scene they’ll locate the bullet, and find that it was fired. There’s no shell casing inside the brain, yet that’s where the bullet originated – and already traveling at full velocity, I might add.” He poked through the brain slices, examining each with a frown.
You couldn’t hurry Walter. You could only stand aside and let the dervish whirl.
“Pocket universe … black hole … dimensional … hm … warped space leading to … but a wormhole would be too unstable …”
The cow gave a plaintive moo. It was almost milking time. Walter needed to wrap this up, because that was one job Astrid hated getting stuck with even more than – well, anything. There was nothing to learn from milking a cow, other than that it was hard on a person’s back.
Finally Walter straightened, and gave Astrid an almost mournful look. “Astrid … the bullet came from the other side.”
Walter only got her name right when he was particularly happy, or exactly the opposite.
“An interdimensional assassination?” Oh, that was bad. Very bad. “How is that possible?” Great, two of that question in one autopsy.
“I can’t say yet, but we do know this man was working with Agent Dunham on identifying spies from the other side. Clearly this was not an accident, or an experiment – he was targeted.”
Astrid peeled off her gloves, then reached for her cell phone. Another big problem. Well, Walter, would find a way to solve it.
For a long moment Walter stood staring at the corpse, until Astrid finished her call and came up to stand beside them. “Walter, are you okay?” Sometimes the old man brooded over his part in causing this conflict between worlds, and other times barely seemed to understand cause and effect.
“Yes, yes. Axial, I’ve changed my mind.”
“Tongue. I’m in the mood for a nice stack of pancakes, thanks to you, with maple syrup.”
“I’ve a feeling we’ll be working late tonight.” He turned toward his rows of instruments, perusing each in turn.
“Sure. I’ll find a pancake place that delivers.” Because leaving Walter alone at a time like this was an invitation for disaster. Besides, she was going to have to milk that damn cow.
“Thank you, Astral.”
“You’re welcome, Walter.” She gazed at the old man for a moment, then got to work. This must be what it’s like to have a beloved old grandfather, who happened to be crazy but told great stories.
By midnight there’d be some new experiment, some digging into things that shouldn’t be dug into, some leap of logic that would take them straight into a new Bizzarro world, and by morning the threat would be dealt with. By the end of the week Astrid would use every skill in her education and training, plus keep Walter from blowing up Harvard, and learn some new job – blowing glass, or milking rattlesnakes, or who knows what.
It was days like these when she was so glad to have heard of Fringe Division.