This story has been in the works for the past couple months, I had just kind of left it sitting on my harddrive due to lack of inspiration. But this awful hiatus has filled me with the need to write Peter/Olivia, because I miss them *wink* And because my friend Nathalie bugged me relentlessly! Haha!
This is completely un-beta'd. I know, I know. Bad writer, me. But I hate sharing my work before "publishing" it. It's embarrassing. So excuse the grammar and possible tense errors. I proof read it a few times just to make sure though.
Disclaimer: I own nothing =( Please don't sue me.
Spoilers: very slight ones for "The Equation" and "Power Hungry"
As always, read and enjoy!! Commenting doesn't hurt either ;)
The halls of Harvard University are strangely empty. The hollow sounds of her heels clicking against the tile are louder than normal. Stopping at the stairwell she kicks off her shoes, not really knowing why but she felt like she was disturbing the stillness that so rarely graced her life. It was nearing sundown, the latest she'd ever been at the lab. Without the unintelligible conversations of students and the lacking sound of Walter humming the place felt almost… foreign. Different.
She had wanted to give Ben's file to Walter, if only just for the sake of keeping him informed, included. A way of thanking him for his bravery today, she supposes. In some strange way she knows that this would interest Walter more than a thank you card or a "job well done". Maybe she should have brought a box of ice cream sandwiches as well. The thought makes her smile.
Pushing through the heavy wooden doors leading to the lab hallway, she pauses as the soft strains of someone playing the piano touches her ears. Slowing her gait, careful not to disturb whoever it was playing, Olivia leans against the door frame, smiling in wonder at Peter's relaxed posture as he studies the keys before him. This isn't the first time she's heard him play, but she's never got a chance to just watch him, unnoticed. It was a rare occasion that he ever got time to himself. No thanks to her. Funny, she thinks. She assumed he would spend his free time sleeping or downing a bottle of gin. Not sitting along alone in his father's lab playing concertos for a silent audience.
The melody is sad, haunting almost, in a way that makes her think of rainy afternoons in the fall, curled up with a good book and a hot cup of chamomile tea. She can't remember the last time she was able to indulge in such niceties. The tempo spesds up, his fingers dancing lightly across the keys, rocking in time with the music. His back is to her, and she's glad for the anonymity. In some way she almost feels embarrassed by her voyeurism on such an intimate moment. At least, it feels intimate to her. Music had a way of doing that to her. Like an unspoken confession or a smile between lovers. A secret.
She doesn't realize the song has come to an end, the final note hanging high in the air, until the sound of Peter's laughter cuts through the silence. The blush comes instantly.
"You can come out now, 'Livia."
Feeling all of 12 years old she pads slowly over to the piano and leans against the instrument. Peter grins up at her from his seat. "Nice footwear." If even possible, she flushes again, cursing him for having such an effect on her. Out of pure habit she balances her weight on her left foot, rubbing the inside of her ankle with her right. Peter leans forward, only slightly, taking in her oddly casual appearance, not even attempting to conceal the once-over he gives her. Nonplused, this time at least, she swats him playfully, pushing him to the side so she can have room on the bench.
"I came over to give Walter a file but…" she trails off, the otherwise empty lab answer enough.
Peter shrugged. "He didn't want to come back to the lab after I grabbed him..." A troubled look passed over his features. For as angry and resentful as Peter might have been towards Walter for leaving him as a child, Olivia knows it bothered him to have to send his father back to St. Claires. Whether Peter admitted to it or not. Recalling the void grey walls - which reminded her far too much of too many Hitchcock movies - and haunted feel of the hospital, Olivia doesn't much blame Walter for never wanting to go near the place again. Much less spend the night. For a moment she feels guilty for having put him through such an ordeal - it had to be bad enough that he didn't want to return to the lab - but when she thinks of Ben, racing to meet his father, she knows they did the right thing.
Besides, she thinks sadly, they all had their ghosts. Regardless of where they were.
Letting out a low laugh, tinged with annoyance and more than a little fatigue, Olivia taps lightly on the ivory keys. The deep chord it strikes rings strangely in her ears. She doesn't like it very much.
Beside her, Peter pushes a hand through already tousled hair. "You're thinking much too hard about something." He props himself up on the frame, watching her. "About the case?"
Olivia just nods, giving him a half smile.
The case. She wants to laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Letting out a shallow breath she turns to face him, watching him carefully, suddenly very aware of their proximity. His hip is pressed solidly against her own. For a moment, she can't help but think of John, and she catches herself before she starts to cry. She's so sick and tired of crying. It isn't going to bring John back, and it sure as hell isn't going to change anything. Isn't going to make the hurt go away or change the fact that he was a traitor.
Peter's no longer looking at her, and for some reason she wishes he would. She wishes he would just look at her and smile, lie to her, tell her that everything is going to be okay. A wiser Olivia would have reminded herself that at the end of it all, she really knows nothing about the man sitting next to her. And yet, she knows he is her friend. Of that much she is sure. No matter how reluctant the circumstances.
"Play something else."
She's tired of thinking about the case. About Walter and John and her warped new sense of reality. Whatever the hell reality was. She isn't quite sure she knows where to draw that particular line anymore.
Peter smiles, nodding once, comically stretching his back and his fingers. Always the performer. She's grateful, more than grateful, for the change of pace.
"What would you like to hear, m'lady?"
Olivia snickers, shaking her head. "Something different. Something you've written."
Peter cocks an eyebrow at the less-than-ordinary request. "You assume I've actually written a piece of music before."
"I'm sure a guy like you, what with your authority issues and all, has something that's completely your own stored somewhere in that genius brain of yours."
Peter makes a face. "And I'm pretty sure there was an insult buried in there somewhere." Olivia can't help but grin.
"Well, go on, Monsieur. Let's hear it."
He mumbles something about being pushy under his breath, nudging her with his hip and causing her to push right back. She's about to open her mouth to tell him to behave when he starts to play.
She watches, almost hypnotically, as his fingers move lightly along the keys. Slow, yet rhythmic. Admittedly, music was far from her forte, or even her pianissimo for that matter, but there was no denying her attraction to talent. And it certainly didn't help matters that said talent came in the form of a 6-foot blue-eyed genius with a penchant for pushing her buttons.
As a child her parents had wanted her to take up an instrument, anything to get her away from the television. Her mom insisted on the piano, her father said the guitar. He even bought her one for Christmas when she was six. A Fender. Six string. Naturally, she grew tired of it when she couldn't even strum out a G chord. Her fingers weren't strong enough, and no where near the length required to do the instrument justice. So like any bored child she put the guitar under her bed and never bothered with it again.
Now she wishes, perhaps, that she had at least given it a chance.
"Here," Peter says, voice nearly a whisper, "You can play the accompaniment."
Stilling for a moment Peter reaches across her lap, startling her from traveling any further down memory lane. He grins at her sudden jump. "Don't worry, it's painless. I promise." He winks, the corners of her mouth mirroring his own and turning up in a smile. Grabbing her left hand he places it on the keys, playing the dutiful part of 'teacher' and pointing out the different keys beneath each individual finger. 'Agent Dunham' would have quickly told him that she already knew the name and secondary name of all the keys, flats, sharps, treble, and bass included. But 'Olivia' decides she much prefers feigning ignorance, both to the unneeded lesson and the way his tongue snakes out between breaths, habitually wetting his lips.
She blushes, hiding it behind a veil of hair.
"Watch me," Peter instructs as he plays out the simple line, slowly at first, then slightly faster. Olivia watches, taking in every note, giving it the same attention she would a profile or a piece of evidence. Categorizing each movement of his hand, the duration and volume of each newly struck key. Perhaps if Peter had been her music teacher she would have given it a greater effort.
"There. Now you."
Olivia bites her lip, uncertain. "I really don't think I should butcher your song with my lacking musical abilities."
"Nonsense. If you can work for the government you can play the piano." He laughs at his own poorly delivered joke, his breath catching a couple strands of her hair.
"Is that how it works now?" He gives her a look of complete conviction, nodding once in agreement as if to say 'of course it is". "Well then by all means," she laughs, flicking her wrist at the instrument, "Teach away."
"All right then, but in order for this to work-" There's a moment of confusion in her posture as Peter rises from the bench and moves to stand behind her. And even though she knows fully well that he's nearby, it doesn't stop her from holding her breath when she finds the solid weight of his body pushing her closer towards the piano, her newly-tailor pants sliding easily against the grained seat. All her good intentions of sprinting for the door leave as Peter wraps one arm about her waist, lifting her effortlessly and settling himself behind her until she's all but sitting in his lap. "-you're gonna have to get a bit closer."
Keehehehe. I'm so evil. I know ;)
But if you hit that pretty green button below I promise I'll give you more ;) | \/