It goes a little like this. Henry is born, and Lincoln ignores the ache in his heart about who the baby’s father is long enough to save the woman he loves. Not long afterwards, he and Liv and Charlie set aside their differences with their alternates long enough to save the world.
And so goes his life.
It’s stressful, most of the time, but he can’t find much to complain about when all of his friends and family are safe. He did his job and saved the world, and now things can finally get back to normal, whatever normal is supposed to mean for Fringe Division.
At the end of two incredibly long weeks, he goes back to his apartment, feeling strangely empty and bereft at the quiet that greets him when he opens the front door. He’s too exhausted to analyze his feelings any further, and collapses into bed where he dreams about a little boy with blue eyes who calls him ‘Dad’.
A week later, she invites him over for breakfast. He feels giddy and happy for the first time in many months when, upon opening the front door, she practically tackles him in a hug. He laughs when he realizes she’s really only happy to see him this early in the morning because it means he can entertain Henry while she takes a much needed soak in the tub, but he’ll take what he can get. (He also tries not to dwell on the images presented to him in that moment)
It’s a very chaotic morning, to say the least, but he continues to marvel at the little miracle that is Henry Dunham and is in the middle of planning Henry’s career as a Fringe Agent when Olivia walks back into the room, in a large sweater and leggings, her hair damp, and he completely loses his train of thought. Their eyes meet and something passes between them, an understanding that he hasn’t felt with her since the night she gave birth.
It’s emotional and raw and he has to look away before his emotions get the better of him. “DId he behave himself?” She asks finally, and he glances down at the bundle in his arms, smiling.
"He’s a terrible nuisance. I probably shouldn’t ever babysit again." He grins.
"Shut up," she says, trying and failing to hold back a laugh.
He looks up at her again, grin firmly in place and sees her eyes soften and this is what he’s been missing his entire life, he thinks.
She comes back to work after about six weeks and he doesn’t think nearly enough time has passed. They fight about it and she doesn’t speak to him for an entire day, and it’s when she nearly gets herself killed that he realizes falling in love with his partner was probably the worst thing he ever could have done.
Yes, they are in life threatening situations all the time. They’ve been in them before and they’ll be in them again, but it’s never been like this. He’s never been so anxious and on edge during a mission, and he hopes he’ll get over it, because he doesn’t think Broyles would be so keen on him requesting to always be within five feet of Liv while they’re in the field.
He’s constantly hovering near her, and when she finally notices, she snaps, and so does he.
"You don’t have to baby me. I don’t know if you’re aware, but I’m not a rookie." Her arms are crossed over her chest and he doesn’t want to fight, he really, really doesn’t, but sometimes she can just be so reckless and now, now that she’s… well, everything… it makes it that much harder to let her run headfirst into danger.
"I’m hardly babying you. I’m watching your back, the same thing I’ve always done."
"You’re being overprotective," she counters, and he recoils, her words hitting him like a slap. It’s true, of course, but he didn’t think he was being so obvious about it. "I appreciate it, Lincoln, of course I do, but you have to trust me a little bit! I know what I’m doing."
"You’re my partner." The words are true, truer than they’ve ever been, now that they’re… whatever they are since Henry entered the picture. The statement is short, but says a million other things, and when their eyes meet, he sees the recognition there. She understands.
She walks closer for a second before stopping herself, aware that they’ve drawn an audience with their argument. “Just… try to trust me. Please. I’m not going to do anything stupid. I’ve got someone else to think about, now.”
He knows she means the baby, he does. There’s a part of him that also think maybe she might be talking about him, as well, and his heart leaps a little.
Henry is six months old today. Lincoln manages to convince Olivia that they should go to the park, and she reluctantly agrees despite knowing that somehow, all of Henry’s clothes will be covered in grass stains before the day is over.
Lincoln buys Henry a few toys and gives him one that he’d played with when he was younger and the look on Liv’s face when she sees the gifts makes him want to kiss her and never stop. She’s happy, for once, and he fully intends to make sure that’s a permanent state of being.
Charlie stops by with Mona and Liv’s Mom drops by, but they all stay for a few minutes and then leave, making Lincoln immediately suspicious of what they think is going on. Charlie sends him and overdramatized wink and if Lincoln wasn’t in front of a child, he’s sure he would have sent him a lewd gesture in return.
They play in the park for hours, Henry crawling about and managing to get himself completely covered in sand. Lincoln carries him and the diaper bag as they walk back to the car, and barely realizes that he’s holding Olivia’s hand until they reach her apartment and he has to let go in order to put the car in park. She blushes and he tries to hide his smile, he really does, but he’s so in love with her he just can’t contain it, and she laughs a little breathlessly before getting out of the car.
He walks them to her floor and while she’s struggling with the keys for the door, he swoops in and kisses her. It’s not their first kiss, and it’s not that memorable except for the fact that it’s themand she sort of melts into him a little, and he’ll remember it forever. Aside from that, not memorable at all.
After ten dates, two sleepovers and one sleepless night when Henry has his first cold, Lincoln moves into Liv’s apartment. It seems only natural, but his heart races when they slip into bed together. She grasps his hand and kisses him gently, and when he pulls her closer, she fits into his side like he always knew she would.
"I never thought we’d be here," he whispers, the confession lingering between them for a moment before she breaks the silence.
Henry is six and starting kindergarten. He’s the most excitable kid there ever was, and Lincoln is struggling to answer all his questions and get breakfast on the table, all before he and Liv have to leave to take him to school and still manage to make it to work on time.
The redhead in question stumbles into the kitchen, eyes barely open, and Lincoln raises an eyebrow in her direction.
"Caffeine," she says, "please."
"Mom! I start school today! I can’t wait. The other kids are going to be so jealous of my backpack. Lincoln is making pancakes! Are you going to have pancakes with us?" The questions are rapidfire, and Lincoln tries to hide his smirk as Liv struggles with answering all of Henry’s questions while she’s half asleep.
"Why don’t you give her a minute, huh, kiddo? She just woke up."
"I just woke up and I’m wide awake," Henry points out and Lincoln tilts his head to the side.
"You’re right. Why don’t you go double check your backpack and I’ll come get you when breakfast is ready, okay?" The little boy is off the kitchen chair like a rocket, and Olivia collapses into it immediately, gratefully accepting a cup of tea and a plate from Lincoln.
He moves around the kitchen table, stooping to press a kiss to the side of her head, but she moves her head at the last second, catching his lips with hers. He makes a noise of contentment into her mouth and he forces them apart before things can get too heated, his eyes dark as he gazes at her.
"You’re not playing fair, missy."
"Never said I was fair." She says, running a hand through her hair. "He’s excited," she says, glancing in the direction of Henry’s bedroom where he can be heard reciting the list of all the supplies he needs to have for his first day at school.
"Weren’t you at his age?"
"Not this early in the morning. He must get it from his—" She stops her sentence quickly, realizing what she was about to say.
He swallows heavily, returning his attention to the griddle in front of him. He hears her move, feels her arms wrap around his middle, and he shuts his eyes briefly. “Careful, it’s hot.” He says quietly, and she sighs.
"I’m not doing anything." He’s trying not to let the offhand comment get to him; he knows she didn’t mean anything of it, but sometimes it really gets to him. He’s not Henry’s father. He knows that, but at the same time, he knows that he’s the one here, making breakfast on the kid’s first day of school, and he’s the one who tucks him in at night.
He loves Henry like his own child, and he loves Henry’s mother even more, though she doesn’t realize it sometimes. He sighs and turns the griddle off, turning to face Olivia.
"I’m sorry," she says, "I didn’t mean to…" She trails off as he slowly drops to the floor, resting on one knee.
He can hear the moment she realizes what he’s doing; can see her eyes immediately well with tears and can hear her breath hitch. “Olivia,” he starts, needing to pause and catch his breath before he resumes, “I know I’m not Henry’s father. I want that to change. I love him, and…” he sucks in a breath, “and I love you. I love you and I love this life that we have together. I never want this to change.”
He threads their fingers together and she’s crying fully now, looking at him with such adoration that he can barely stand it. “Marry me.” It’s a request, a plea and a question all at once.
She’s nodding frantically, and he’s on his feet in an instance, kissing her as deeply as he can when there’s a nosy six year old a short distance away. They break apart and he wipes away her tears with his thumbs, and suddenly they’re both laughing like idiots.
Henry runs into the room sometime in the middle of the chaos, and the look on his face when he sees them is enough to send them into another fit of giggles. “Mommy! Why are you crying?!”
"It’s okay, it’s happy crying," she says, and the six year old looks utterly befuddled at such a concept.
"You’re crying because you’re happy?" He asks, and she nods, kneeling down to be at his eye level.
"Guess what? I’m getting married," she whispers, and Henry’s eyes grow wide as he looks at Lincoln.
"Did you tell Lincoln?!" He cries, and they burst into more giggles at the distress in Henry’s voice before Lincoln explains that she’s marrying him. It becomes very real very fast, just then, and he can’t stop grinning.
They finally get Henry off to school, and when they arrive at work they’re set to go their separate ways before Lincoln grabs her hand, pulling her back to him. He presses a swift kiss to her lips, and she smiles at him.
"Meet me back here at the end of the day?" She asks, as if she even needs to anymore.
"There’s no place else for me to be," he says, his voice low and full of meaning, and then they’re both late for work as their mouths are suddenly occupied.
She tastes faintly of cinnamon tea, and home.