A/N- Sorry for the wait, I needed to clear my head before I wrote this. I wanted it to be sweet but not sappy. There's an obvious references to all the nice folks who reviewed in there. LOL

Stage Five- Acceptance

Olivia had been staring at the door for nearly a quarter of an hour…just staring. She knew that if she wanted to talk to Peter, she was probably going to have to actually open her mouth and speak something that resembled English in the next few minutes. Words would be nice but sounds and grunts might do as well. Generally any vocalization at all was going to be acceptable at this point.

But before she tried to speak, maybe it would be better to try and tackle knocking first. Maybe it would be a better idea to actually raise her hand to the door and tap away.

She waited as she sent the signal along her nervous system to the muscles in her arm. Knock on the door, the nerves seemed to say, but the arm didn't listen and she was stuck standing in the hallway staring at the door.

'Get it over with.' That was what the voices said, no snark, no sarcasm, just flat honesty. She raised one trembling hand to the center of the door…

Her knuckles never even touched the heavy particle wood of the door before the knob turned and the door was thrown wide open. It was Peter, standing there in his boxers and squinting into the brightly lit hallway.

"Peter…we need to talk."

He slammed the door in her face.

If had happened to anyone else, Olivia would've laughed. It was like a skit on a 70s variety hour 'Hi Olivia, bye Olivia. Wakka-wakka.'

But it wasn't funny; Peter was so hurt that he couldn't even look at her anymore. There had been so much pain in his eyes when he opened that door and the sight of him almost broke her heart. Olivia knew she had to make this right; she had to tell him how she felt.

"Peter, open the door."

More deafening quiet. More terrible anticipation. Olivia's breath caught in her throat and she started to wonder if this door was going to be closed forever…in every sense of the word.

"Peter-"

"It's unlocked." He said finally and she could almost feel the anguish through the door.

'Go inside.' Said the little voices, 'Go inside and put it to an end.' But she still couldn't do it. Her legs were just as tied up as her arm had been. It was torturous. "I don't think it would be appropriate for me to be in there, Peter." She said with a heavy sigh, "Please just come out here."

More silence. This was ridiculous, if she couldn't go inside and he couldn't come out, what was she supposed to do now? Talk through the door? For a brief moment the fire of determination spread in the pit of Olivia's stomach as she forced the right words to leave her throat.

"Peter, I know you're upset with me, I know you're feeling hurt but I just…" 'No, don't start like that, that's stupid. Do it again.' "…Peter…I want things to be normal between us-"

The door opened and on the other side she saw Peter's bloodshot eyes. "Didn't you hear a word I said in the car?" He sounded so weak and defeated and the guilt twisted in Olivia's stomach. "Didn't you listen to me? I don't want things to be normal again; I don't want to be your fucking friend." She raised a hand to pat him on the shoulder but he backed away as if burned by her touch.

"Peter, please."

" No! No! Listen to me; I'm in love with you Olivia." He enunciated the words as if speaking to a small child, "I. Love. You! No one else, you!"

And suddenly she remembered what had put her in this place. Years of surviving alone, meeting John, getting hurt, meeting Peter, Rinse and repeat from step one. But was that all it would ever be to her? An endless cycle of disappointment? 'Take a leap.' The voices said and she felt just a piece of her armor crack. 'Break the cycle.'

But Olivia's version of 'leaping' wasn't very romantic, she laid out carefully chosen words with military precision, wincing as she realized how stupid it all must've sounded. "I've accepted that you care for me, Peter." And he met that with an ugly scoff.

An ugly sneer crossed his face. "You've 'accepted' that I care for you? Jesus Christ."

"This isn't easy for me Peter, I've had to adjust-"

He scowled and she could hear bile and pain between horse whispers. "Is that what you're calling it? Adjust?" Peter's scowl was like a stab in the heart and she felt herself almost sink to the floor. "I can't…I don't want to get hurt again. Just go away"

The sound of the door closing almost felt like a gunshot but she pressed on.

"Open the door, Peter."

Again it was just ugly silence on the other side. Olivia wanted to run, to walk away from this growing hurt but the voices were screaming at her now, begging and pleading to bring this to some sort of satisfying ending. She reached out and turned the doorknob.

The apartment smelled of day old microwave popcorn and booze, dirty laundry was spread across the floor as Olivia lightly step inside Peter's dimly lit living space. "Peter?"

He was on the couch, drinking heavily doing his best to ignore her.

"Peter, look at me." He kept his eye on the television where Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer were busy facing down the Clantons at the O.K. Corral, "Fine. If you won't talk and won't look at me then you're going to listen."

She needed a deep breath before letting her hear pour open, a quick intake of air before the plunge. Suddenly she was up and running, speaking like never before. "This is scary for me, you have to understand that. Most of the relationships in my life were with a very different kind of man and I'm sorry if I didn't recognize how much I hurt you." The more she spoke the easier it was and soon Olivia was sitting on the couch beside him, getting very close to him, "You love me Peter and that's a good feeling, I want to feel that way too but I'm afraid of what would happen. I'm afraid that things were going to turn out just like John."

His shoulders tightened and she knew that she was hitting on some very tough points. This wasn't helping. "Peter, I don't know what happened between us but I also don't want to be scared anymore. I'd like us to be…"Peter still wasn't looking at her. She was pouring out her heart and it wasn't doing a thing. Maybe it was too late? Maybe the ship had sailed?

With nothing left to say, Olivia Dunham got off the couch and started walking towards the door, wordlessly pulling herself out of his life forever. When the door shuts, she thought, you should just leave him alone.

"I know a place to get the world's best cheese steaks." He said and Olivia stopped walking, "Maybe…"

"I'd like that." Olivia turned back to him, smiling, "But I'm not really a cheesesteak person."

"Olivia…" His voice was thick with desire, and she wondered if that was normal? Was it right for two people to go from hating each other, hating themselves, and then wanting one other in the course a few minutes?

She raised her hand to quiet him. "Let's just stick to cheesesteaks this time, and maybe see where it goes." And he laughed in a horse but pleasing sound, "and no bets this time." Olivia whispered.

He crossed his heart, "No bets."

"I'll meet you downstairs in a few minutes."

Peter's brow furrowed in confusion, "A few minutes?"

Olivia flashed just the ghost of a smile before turning around. "Peter…you need a shower."

Then she was out the door and down the hallway. As the car's heater warmed up and the engine revved to life, she found herself relieved that there were no more little voices, no more quiet urgings. Just the sweet safety of her own conscious mind.

But five minutes later when Peter rushed across the parking lot with damp air and a hastily thrown together outfit, Olivia heard just the tiniest parting shot as the voices faded into the background:

'That's a missed opportunity, Liv. You could've saved so much water if you just showered with him.'

The End