Notes: not mine, no profit garnered. Title from the national's conversation 16. Thanks A!

Peter was sure his so-called friend actually hated him. Why else would he set up Peter with a US Marine? And an investigator. If Peter didn't need Evan for possible future work, he would just walk out. Instead he sat at the booth by the window and played with his coaster.

Then Evan's friend from college who "needed to get out more and have some fun" came in. She was much more striking than he expected. Evan had said pretty, but it seemed much too simple an adjective, even at first glance. He waved his coaster to get her attention. She looked at him, steadily. She seemed much less impressed with him.

But she was a good soldier. She came over and sat down across from him. She offered her hand. "I'm Olivia. You must be Peter."

"I am Peter," he said. "Nice to meet you. What is Evan holding over your head?"

"Maybe he just said you were nice," Olivia said. She sat back in the booth. It struck him she was the same age as he was. She didn't look young, but Peter could do the math and he knew Evan's age.

"There is no way Evan said I was nice," Peter said. He tried his charming smile. He didn't want to piss her off. She was attractive, definitely, and smart, clearly, but he didn't need to invite a Marine investigator into his life.

"He did say you were nice," Olivia said. He did like watching her face while she thought and evaluated. "He also told me you were shady."

"Shady," Peter said. "That seems fair."

"So you were doing something bad in Iraq?"

"Are you investigating me?" No way Evan would do that to Peter. He thought he sounded casual enough.

"No," she said. She even smiled. "Evan said you were shady, not criminal. I do like a break sometimes, too." She almost looked like she regretted admitting to weakness.

"Oh, good. Everyone needs a break," Peter said. "What else do you do for a break besides get set up with shady friends of your college pals?"

She almost laughed, he was sure of it. He really wanted to make her laugh. She said, "Not much. Why do you think I said yes?"

"I said yes because he said you were pretty," Peter said.

"Oh, ouch, that's not a good line," Olivia said.

"So I shouldn't ask if it hurt when you fell from heaven? I didn't even go to college, so I've had a long time to collect horrible first lines," Peter said.

"I thought you were a genius," Olivia said.

"Sure, but don't overestimate my shadiness," Peter said. He was going to make her laugh. Somehow.

She asked another question about Iraq, he parried that and asked her about her current cases. She kept her steady gaze on his face and answered casually. They somehow managed to have an actual conversation and order food. He still couldn't make her laugh but he was sure he got close a few times. It was a challenge, one he found himself caring about immensely.

She laughed after they had sex. He said, "This is a nice break for you, then."

Olivia laughed again. She stood up and said, "I really never do this."

"Have sex? Well, you're great at it for a first-timer." He stretched his arms out, wiggled his toes. He heard Olivia running water in the bathroom.

She stepped out with a towel in her hand that she threw at Peter. She had great aim. He got up and went into the bathroom.

He thought Olivia would bug out after he showered, but she was still there, watching his TV. "This is a really nice TV, what did you do to be able to afford it?"

"No investigating," Peter said. "Does it look like I spent money on anything else in this apartment?"

"Very true," Olivia said. She pulled the covers up. "Nice cable package."

"Satellite," he said. Highly illegal but so well engineered by the one and only Peter Bishop satellite television. He got in bed next to her. "We should do this again."

"Sure," Olivia said. "But it won't be serious."

"Of course," he said.

He meant it. They continued to have casual sex, mostly on Olivia's schedule. She went out of town, for her investigations. He tried to do something with his time before he had to do something because his money ran out.

Evan recommended him for a straight job. Peter shrugged and took it. He told Olivia all about it when they were out to dinner. It felt like more than casual sex, but he enjoyed it. It was an alien feeling.

Olivia said, "You're really calling it a straight job? To my face?"

"You said I was shady on our first date," Peter said.

Olivia blinked. She said, "Was that a date?"

"No, of course not. Two people having dinner and then sex."

Olivia shook her head. "No, you're right. We are dating, aren't we?"

"You sound very unhappy about that," Peter said. "We don't have to if you don't want to."

"I know," she said. "I do want to. After all, you have a straight job now. You won't impact my security clearance."

"You make it sound so sexy," Peter said. "But you are sexy, so I'll take it."

"You're charming," she said. She nearly laughed.

Peter's straight job was often very dull. He was doing computer repair and tech support for medical equipment. He spent his frequent downtime getting certified online for new types of equipment. He also read weird conspiracy forums, because sometimes Walter's name came up. He was a masochist.

Sometimes he flirted with gambling. But then he thought about Olivia pushing her hair behind her ears, laughing at something he said. It was rare and wonderful. And how important Olivia's job was to her. They'd get upset with her if she was dating someone who got in trouble with the mob. Peter was sure he could get away with it, but he wasn't sure enough. He liked Olivia's laughter more than he wanted a huge score.

He had the keys to Olivia's apartment and she had the keys to his. One night she was out of town he went to her place. The eleven year old living next to Peter had started practicing his clarinet regularly. He wasn't getting good at it. Peter couldn't take it.

He grabbed her mail to be polite, be a good boyfriend. There was a weird card. He just knew it was weird. He opened it. Now he had a vague idea of Olivia's birthday and he confirmed his impression Olivia's stepfather was an asshole.

He put the card in her sink and set it on fire. He watched it burn away. He was sure Olivia's stepfather was a bad man. He was absolutely sure. It made no sense that he was so sure. The sudden certainty felt like a memory. He'd never met Olivia before that night in the bar. She didn't seem familiar, he only knew what she looked like as a child because of the one picture she had up in her apartment.

He looked around her bare apartment. Neither of them were big into decorating or sentimental. Peter was still resisting admitting he wasn't planning to move any time soon. Olivia just didn't seem to need things like that. He paced in her living room.

She needed people, though. She didn't like to act like it, but he was sure she did. That was important to him.

He drank more than he should have and fell asleep in her bed.

She woke him up at some point. She said, "You're a vision." She yawned. "I just got home, move over."

"Happy birthday," he said. He reached out and touched her cheek. "You're beautiful."

"How did you know it was my birthday?" She sounded cranky. She got in next to him.

"I can't look at your driver's license?" He found it fairly easy to lie to her about this.

She sighed against his shoulder. "I hate my birthday. Did you get my mail?"

"I'm a nice guy," Peter said. "I got your mail. Nothing but bills."

He could almost feel her thinking. She finally said, "Okay, good."

He was still a little drunk. "Maybe I could move in. The kid next door to me is learning the clarinet."

"Well, sure, if it's the clarinet," Olivia murmured.

He moved in a week later. He listened to Olivia talk about her job. He liked the way she talked about her job. She was a very thorough investigator. He was happy she never went after him.

He told her funny stories about his work, sometimes he even made her laugh.

They'd been living together for months. It really seemed to be working. Peter thought about how nice it would have been to introduce Olivia to his mother. They would have liked each other. He planned a trip to see if he could find any good pictures of his mother in the old lake house. He was pretty sure Walter maybe still owned the place. Reiden Lake, he thought. He shivered for no reason. The same no reason certainty he'd had about Olivia's stepfather.

There was a knock on the door. He looked and opened the door on two Marines. He braced himself. "Is Olivia okay?" He felt like an idiot asking. There was no way she was okay if these men were at their door.

"She's been injured, sir."

It was a car crash. Possibly intentional. Olivia pissed a lot of people off. He was proud of her, in a way. He went to the hospital and called her sister from the waiting room. That seemed to be the whole list. Peter's was just as short.

They let him sit by her bed, after she was out of surgery. She wouldn't be released for another week. He took his accumulated vacation so he could stay there and then another week when she was home.

She was frustrated being weak. She was very cranky. "You know you could have died," Peter said.

She grumbled. "Hopefully I can get back to work soon."

"In a month," Peter said. "You have physical rehab. And even then you're just returning to desk duty."

"I'll get back in shape," Olivia said.

"I know you will," Peter said. "Have your soup. I made it."

She had a little. "Did you really make this?"

"You saw me in the kitchen, it's not that big of an apartment."

"Where did you ever learn to cook?"

Peter said, "I didn't. I know a few dishes. This soup is actually dear old Dad's recipe."

"The one in the mental institution," Olivia said.

"Oh, of course. You investigated me," Peter said. He wasn't really offended. "Unlike Walter, I only used actual food ingredients. No hidden drugs or mushrooms added."

"Maybe I'd want that," Olivia said. She wasn't even close to smiling.

"It wouldn't help you heal faster. Walter didn't give a shit about making things better. He just wanted to blow things up."

"So you don't want to visit him?" She said it like she wanted the answer.

"Of course not," Peter said. He was a little too vehement. "I'm not protesting too much, I genuinely categorically do not want to see him."

"Got it," Olivia said, sighing. She looked up at him. "Sorry."

He shrugged and said nothing.

Olivia recovered slowly. He came home from work one day and she was staring intently at crime scene photos spread over the coffee table. They'd bought the coffee table on a complete whim one morning while they were walking to a coffee place.

"What's that," he said. He sat down on the floor across from her.

"My accident," Olivia said. She held up two photos of skid marks and her crumpled car. "How did I survive?"

"I'm glad you did," Peter said. "Can I add that?"

Olivia shook her head. She gestured at the skid marks. "They didn't have their breaks on, their car just stopped. Stopped and burst into flames. It should have kept going. It should have plowed right into mine car."

Peter looked at the photo for a second and then back at Olivia. She had barely slept. He said, "The guy got away. He jumped out of his burning car and got away. Is this helping you figure out who he was or where he went?"

"No," Olivia said. "No. I just want to know what happened. I don't remember anything." She slapped the photos on the table.

Peter got up and went into the kitchen. He made coffee using the expensive brand. He poured the coffee into her favorite mug, the one her sister had bought her. He poured himself a cup in his favorite mug which Olivia had bought him. He brought out both mugs and put Olivia's in her hands. He sat back down on the floor and sipped his coffee. Finally, he said, "So what do you think would help? Hypnosis? Another therapy?"

She drank her coffee. She said, "Do you think hypnosis would work?"

"Probably not," Peter said. "If you were consulting with my father, I'm pretty sure he'd say all you need is acid and pot. Maybe a few hundred volts in your brain."

"Your dad sounds so interesting," Olivia said. She did smile a little. "Do you think that would work?"

"No, of course not. The main result of volts in your brain is losing your memory. That's how it worked on me," Peter said. He looked up at her. "Huh. I just remembered. He really did hook me up to jumper cables in the garage. I barely remember anything before that." He made himself stop talking.

"Your dad was awful," Olivia said. She sat back on the couch.

"So you want to try the acid and pot without the electricity chaser?" He drank more of his coffee. He pushed aside his anger about Walter and concentrated on Olivia. He got her to smile a little.

She rubbed her forehead. "I feel like I want to try anything. But no, no illegal drugs. I'd like to keep my job."

"With a spotless record so you can join the FBI," Peter said.

"Yes," Olivia said. "You're right, I should stop obsessing."

"I never said that," Peter said.

"No, you just manipulated me around to your side," Olivia said. She didn't sound angry.

"I don't think anyone can manipulate Olivia Dunham," Peter said. He was smiling.

"You want me to think that," Olivia said. "We should get food."

"The finest delivery meal, on its way," Peter said, getting up.

He loved having sex with her, he loved living with her. He loved her. He was willing to do what he had to make her happy. So he kept his straight job. He went to a conference and took courses so he was very qualified if he needed to move somewhere else for Olivia.

"If I get the FBI position -"

"You will," Peter said. They'd been together over two years and Olivia had finally applied for the FBI.

"First there's Quantico, then there's wherever they send me," Olivia said. "Could be Iowa."

"Nothing wrong with Iowa," Peter said.

"I don't believe that so I know you don't," Olivia said.

"Wherever there is medical equipment run by computers, I will have a job," Peter said. "That's pretty much everywhere. So I'll go with you and wherever you end up, I'll go."

"Okay," Olivia said. "Where's the worst place they could send me?"

"Boston," Peter said. "Keep away from the state where my father is imprisoned. But again, if that's where the FBI sends you, I'll go. I might make us get a dog, though."

"Okay, nothing too big," Olivia said. She kissed him and got up from the table. "Maybe a cat would be better."

"Sure, a cat. A fuzzy little cat in Des Moines, Iowa. I'll do it."

She came back to the kitchen table. "We can name him Evan."

"No, that's the middle name of our first kid," Peter said.

"You're thinking way in the future," Olivia said. She looked mostly amused. "Way in the future."

"We won't be in Iowa forever," Peter said.