"Have the headaches started yet?"
"No," she lies.
It started long before she began working for Fringe Division.
John was never there to witness it; only hours spent in some rundown motel room at a time, he only assumed she liked poring over cases late at night.
But the pounding in her head had nothing to do with whatever criminal they were chasing this week or catching up on paperwork; and then he was gone and he never knew, even when he remained in her head, a ghost making the headaches worse and the nights longer still.
Truth is, she's had them as long as she can remember.
(Months into working with Walter Bishop, she finally understands why.
It should comfort her, but doesn't.)
They tell her the headeaches are a result of the mental breakdown and she believes them. After all, she's never had them before.
But the throbbing ache keeps her up at night, has her tossing and turning in her bed; she misses Frank, his solid warmth next to her.
The nights feel foreign; shadows splaying wide on the walls and ceiling of her bedroom, her pillow rock solid under her head. Her eyes hurt, but the painkiller she's taken an hour ago has no effect.
"You've always had them, Olivia," the man sitting at the foot of her bed tells her in a soothing voice. "She never had." He smiles sadly. "This is not your home."
She squeezes her eyes shut.
The headaches are her companions, the ones that never leave for long and have sleep elude her; she wanders the confines of her apartment aimlessly, swallowing medication she knows won't help.
They've gotten worse since that man appeared out of pure energy; Peter Bishop is of both worlds, yet isn't. He speaks of cases she's worked with familiarity and navigates the lab with disconcerting ease, yet none of them know him.
The longing in his eyes whenever he looks at her betrays him; he tries not to be obvious but she's no fool. She asks him if she - the Olivia from his world - means something to him and he says yes.
She tries to ignore the dreams (his face buried between her breasts and his hands on her); instead she grabs her sweater and steps into the cold night.
Lincoln's smile greets her when she walks into the dinner; he doesn't fill the void, but at least she can pretend for a few hours that her skull doesn't feel like it's splitting in two.
They're still there, but slowly fade into the background after a while, when her stolen memories slide back into their righteous place. Walter mumbles something about the Cortexiphan being one of the causes for her headaches, or at least maybe for the level of intensity she's experienced over the years.
Still, it wakes her up at night sometimes.
It's the one constant that she takes with her whether she's hopping across universes or living through rewritten timelines or restored memories. She's been many iterations of herself, of other people, the broken pieces reshaping her into something not quite the same every time.
Peter finds her in the bathroom when it gets too much one night and she panics, are they doing something to me again? She's had enough of being everyone's guinea pig.
So he does what he's always done and anchors her in his arms; still vibrating at different frequencies, a constant reminder of what has been, they stand together, the exiles of time.
He will bring her back to bed and murmur gently into her hair, his words and hands soothing the pain away, not completely but just enough.
She will sleep.