Daunting

No inFRiNGEment intended.

Note: set a few days after "AbilitY". I'm not really sure where this is going but anyway, here it is. Please R&R, your comments are always appreciated ;)

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PROLOGUE

"Well, I guess I'm going to turn in as late as possible and roll and toss till morning."

"Can't sleep, huh?" asked Astrid from her bench.

Peter could feel empathy radiating from her. He shook his head.

"Nope. I thought that finally being on my own would give me plenty of opportunities to go back to enjoying life and its fringe benefits, but sleep doesn't seem to be one of them."

"I told you already Peter," Walter chimed in, "I can help you with that and give you something, --so that you can relax," he added hastily when he read the expression on his son's face. "You're too old now I can't go to your place and tuck you in every night."

He turned around and his mouth twitched. Astrid rolled her eyes.

"God forbid! Thanks Walter, but no thanks. To any proposition."

"As you wish, --but you'll change your mind eventually when time comes that you are so exhausted that you can barely drive yourself to the lab or help Olivia when she needs you."

"I heard you the first time Walter. I'm not moving back in with you."

"But why?" Walter whined. "We got along so perfectly well at the hotel, --like two peas in a pod I might say."

"Isn't he the charming one?" Peter twirled around to invisible witnesses, unconsciously searching for Olivia. He peered to her desk and through the blinds inside her back office but she had probably left the building already. He was so tired, he could not think straight.

"One would have thought it would be nice to have a real home and become a real family again," Walter continued.

"You know what? I don't know what's more shocking in that phrase, real, home or family. Or is it again? Walter, for the last time, I'm glad the Bureau ultimately let me rent this apartment. I'm glad to be alone. Wouldn't change a thing. I'm only pissed it took those darn bureaucrats so long to realize they were wrong in denying me the privilege of exercising my fundamental rights."

"Except that you cannot sleep. And I must tell you, it shows; you were never such a drama queen before," added Walter pointing an adamant finger in his direction. "Not to mention that ascertaining that you're better off… really cuts."

"It's hardly news Walter; let me break it to you, that's life. I'm all grown-up now; don't even begin to think that you can try your usual tricks on me. You'll get used to living in Harvard."

Walter stopped moving and frowned, seemingly in deep thought. He tucked his hands in his lab coat pockets and cleared his throat.

"Though it could have a beneficial side effect," he finally said. "Recent studies show sleep deprivation has some potential in the treatment of depression."

"I don't suffer from depression and I'm more likely to become a depressed maniac if I'm stuck with you 24/7."

"Who's sick?" asked Olivia startling him. She passed them briskly and tossed a bunch of files on her desk. "Did you find what I asked you for, Astrid?"

"I'm still on it. I'm having trouble cross checking information. This Jones, apart from the fact that Jones is pretty much as common as Smith or Clark, seems to know how to cover his tracks."

"Nothing from the lab yet?"

"No, nothing new. Standard material, government quality explosives, no fingerprints, no DNA. And nothing new on the hospital front either. Our bomb squad examined the room with a fine-tooth comb and did not find a trace of explosive of any kind. They don't dismiss the idea of a brand new state of the art substance which could produce a volume of expanding gaz."

"You mean explosives, right?" quipped Peter.

"Yep," Astrid admitted with a faint smile. "But Agent Francis wants to talk to you as soon as you can give him ten minutes and Broyles sent us this," she pointed to a cardboard box.

"More files?" asked Olivia.

"No. I'm not sure what to do with it though. It's a…"

All of a sudden, exactly as if Astrid had given him a signal, Walter preyed on the box and got hold of it. "It's a new coffee machine," he chirped. "Like the ones the doctor advertises on TV."

"He means Clooney," Peter explained.

"But George Clooney isn't a doctor," said Astrid.

"He was when Walter was institutionalized. A paediatrician."

Olivia chuckled.

"You're kidding right?"

"I'm not!" Peter protested. "ER was his favourite program back in the days. He taped it every week. It was like a religion to him. Even now that he has a TIVO system and five hundred programs and counting, ER is still going strong. He will never get over it when it's gone next month."

Walter was oblivious of his son's pun and unpacking the coffee maker with glee. He sat it on the counter and threw the old one in the wastebasket without another hesitation. "They seem to have an impressive range of blends," he read from the box, "I will probably need to taste them all."

"Of course you will. I'll get you a complete assortment of capsules."

"Thank you, son, although you may want to know that they are kind enough to provide the machine with a few samples."

"How thoughtful," said Peter with a yawn.

"I'm going to make that call to Charlie," Olivia chuckled.

Peter watched her disappear in her office and slowly followed in her wake. He stopped in the doorway, rapped gently on the door and leaned against the frame waiting for her to acknowledge his presence. She motioned him inside with a wave of the hand to the chair opposite hers. He literally dropped down on the chair. In a desperate attempt to appear busy and stay awake, he made a show at fanning through a file he had grabbed from her desk. But too weary to sustain his act for long, he soon got drowsily engrossed in gazing at her.

And finally dozed off.

-o-

I know it's merely a filler (again) and not much of anything yet ;)
I'm only hoping I can come up with what happens next!