FRINGE

Spirit

No copyright inFRiNGEment intended.
Note: no real spoiler. Olivia has planned something special for Walter's birthday. A dash of Charlie –just making a stand here. Hints of Bolivia.

-o-

Agent Olivia Dunham balanced her cell phone against her shoulder and fanned through the manila folders on her desk.

"Sorry Charlie, can't find it," she said with a bit of irritation in her voice. "I'm sure it's in here somewhere but right now, I don't seem to be able to do anything right." She pulled her file drawer with too much force and hurt her hand. She winced and shook it helplessly, blowing on the tip of her fingers at the same time. She finally sat down to thumb through another pile of files, her brow knitted.

"What you need right now, Liv, is a light supper, a good bath and a real night sleep," continued Charlie's rasping voice.

"I know, I know. I guess I'll get to resort to that eventually…" she bit her lower lip and turned to the file cabinet behind her back. She sprung from her chair determined to find what she had been looking for, she checked her wrist watch, --for the tenth time in the past half hour.

"Don't wait until you drop the ball Liv. Go home and get some rest," he insisted. "I can't order you to do it, I understand that I'm not your superior officer but sure you know that I'm your friend. You need the rest."

His voice was even and comforting. She nodded absently. She gave a quick glance around to make sure that nobody could hear her and retrieved a cardboard box from under her desk. She placed it between her feet and leaned across it partially hidden behind her desk, her eyes on the door. "I barely function properly," she confessed, "I already noticed that much but…"

"There's not but," Charlie cut her, "and if you don't want to follow my advice, don't forget that not only can I get Broyles to be on your back 24/7 but ultimately force you out of the case."

"You wouldn't do that, would you?" she yelped.

She sat up on her chair and pressed the cell against her ear with sudden desperation.

"Try me," he said in a matter-of-fact fashion.

"Okay. You win. I'm out of here."

" 'sounds perfect to me. Night Liv, see you tomorrow," were his last words before he hung up.

She exhaled a deep breath and tossed her phone on the desk. It wedged in through the files and a grey envelop flew off the desk.

"I got it Charlie, damn it!" she cursed between her teeth with a revengeful hiss. She crouched down on all fours to pick it up. "I can't believe I wasted so much time looking for you," she said out loud.

She turned upright and comfortably cuddled up under her desk. She cradled her legs, suppressed the urge to rock to calm down and dropped her chin to her knees. Her eyes locked on the plain envelop, she clutched it in her right hand. She finally slipped the tickets out of it and a brief grin of appreciation graced her face.

Of course Noel Coward's Blithe Spirit was an old fashioned play but also great reminder that life is funny, exactly what the doctor ordered. In this classic comedy, Rupert Everett had been said to be a real riot by well-known critics, --not to mention stage legend Angela Lansbury. She regretted the musical version was not on Broadway though because Walter seemed such a fan of musicals but she could have bet that he should be pleased nevertheless to attend a matinee and laugh about ghosts and the vicissitudes of the living compelled to put up with spirits.

She had planned the whole thing and pulled some strings to make a reservation for the four of them at Nobu Fifty Seven near Central Park the same day. It could even be considered a walking distance from the theatre if they felt like strolling along, or they could take a cab. TriBeCa was not her cup of tea really, after everything they've been through together, she simply felt they deserved the treat.

She closed her eyes for a minute and mulled over the perfect timing for her surprise agenda. She had yet to persuade Astrid and Peter to tag along. Not that they needed the chaperones, but Walter loved the company of his assistant --well, of her assistant, she chuckled softly. And she could probably use a witty companion herself. She felt that strain was on the verge of getting the better of her and extended her legs. A minute, just a minute and I'm gone Charlie, I promise.

She heard voices and a breezy tune played on the piano. Someone shouted in a distance. She diverted her attention to the lab and listened to Farnsworth and the Bishop playful exchange. Someone dimmed the light, a door slammed shut and voices faded away. She let silence sink in.

Peter, she moaned, her lips wet and her groin aching in anticipation. She awoke to the shrilling sound of her cell, reality sinking in that she might have dozed off. Peter incoming call she read. Fantastic, first he crashed her dream and now he was intruding inside the boundaries of her free time and glum reality. "Hello?"

She made an effort to sound professional but failed miserably. She smoothed her hair with her hand and tried to get up but her left leg was asleep. She groaned involuntarily and cursed herself for acting so dumb.

"Liv? You okay?" his voice echoed in the receiver. "I found your car on the parking lot. Astrid has no idea where you are. She's taking Walter back to the hotel as we speak."

"Okay. You don't need to worry…"

"Let me be the judge of that."

"… go home."

"Home? Oh, there's home now?"

She chose to ignore his sarcasm and made an umpteenth mental note. Find Peter a new place. "I'm still in my office at the lab."

"No you're not." His voice was muffled and he seemed out of breath. "I'm right in front of the door that we locked a few minutes ago. I just spoke to Charlie and he told me you went back to your place already."

"You didn't call Charlie?" she protested half-heartedly. Damn leg. She massaged her ankle and unwanted pins and needles made it clear she was not going anywhere. "I just told him I was leaving…"

"And?"

"… and I finally found what I was looking for," at this point she heard a key unlocking the lab door and Peter walking inside at a brisk pace, "and I guess I kinda linger."

He barely slowed down to turn on the lights on his way inside and ran to her office at the back of the lab with his cell still pressed to his ear. Gene mooed softly and shuffled in her stall. Olivia jerked back under her desk to shade from the bright light that flooded the place unexpectedly.

"I guess you did," he chuckled. "I'm glad you're here, I was…" he hesitated.

"Worried?" she offered.

"Where are you?" he asked in his phone and swung the door open, "I cannot see you."

She pressed the off key on her phone and waved her hand. "I'm in here. Come on in. I'm…"

"… under your desk?" he prompted, pocketing his phone and squatting down on the ball of his feet. He stooped his head to the sound her voice.

"… stuck," she smiled.

"Look at you," he grinned, "one of the best FBI agent I ever met stuck under her desk."

"Don't patronize me Peter, I feel stupid enough."

"What is it?" he gestured to the envelop she still clasped in her hand. "Your resignation?" he teased her. Set aback at her fierce glance he recoiled. "Wait… You're fired? Is that Harris? That bastard is going to…"

"Calm down for crying out loud. It's just… it-it, it's supposed to be a surprise," she gave up.

"A surprise?" he raised an interrogative eyebrow. "What kind of a surprise?" he pushed, a big crease forming on his forehead. He helped her back on her feet and she dusted her pantsuit with one hand clutching to his sleeve to keep her balance.

She managed to chase away the last shred of sleep at the same time and slumped down in her chair. She pondered the situation. Now was a good time as any to ask him. She closed her eyes and sighed. Wake up Dunham, it's not a date, it's merely Walter's birthday present for heaven's sake!

"I'm trying to put together a little something for Walter. His birthday is coming up and I thought…"

"No way. I'm not going to any birthday party. Not for Walter, not for anyone for that matter, I'm not a birthday guy --so to speak."

"Peter, I'm not good at organizing things like that…"

"Let me differ on that Dunham," he snapped.

"It's just a play…"

"A play?"

"Yes a play. I planned a day on the town, a matinee at the theatre and diner in a nice restaurant. It's only a round-trip to New York…"

"A play?" he said again. "Don't tell me… Not Pippin please!"

"So you're coming? If it's any consolation to you, we're not going to see a musical."

"But a play?" he insisted. "Wait! New York? Do you mean we have to celebrate Walter's birthday in the Big Apple on our only day off?"

She shrugged apologetically.

"Yep."

"Okay," he shrugged.

"Okay?"

"Why not? I actually think that it's a grand idea Dunham." He turned his back on her and took a mug from the shelf. "Coffee?" he tilted his head with an enticing smile.

She shook her head. "Just like that? You're not going to argue and try to get out of this trip?"

"Just like that. And nope."

"Why?"

"Resistance is futile my dear."

"Oh… you knew?" she bit her lip. "When? When did you find out?"

"While Farnsworth was busier than ever with Walter, I had a little project of my own. You've heard of his new infatuation for flies, Drosophila melanogaster to be accurate, and of the electronic maze I built for him? You're aware that about 75% of known human disease genes have a recognizable match in the genetic code of fruit flies, of course," he trailed. "Walter wants to demonstrate that… You're not listening are you?"

She nodded briefly. "You know that you sound exactly like your father? How did you learn?"

"I needed to reorganize the lab wi-fi network and change protocols on your laptop," he took a sip of his coffee and sat across the desk.

"You hacked into my laptop?"

"Although I can enjoy the pranks of your average Salander like the next Joe, there's simply no need Dunham. Your laptop is like an open book to me but certainly you must know that I can find within a ten second notice a bunch of guys who could hack in their sleep into any governmental department networks, even the departments Obama would deny they exist."

She smiled.

"I needed your laptop to give it access to our new secured network gateway. For my friends, piggybacking our network was way too easy so I had to change a few things."

"Okay." She sat back in her chair making it obvious that she believed him.

"I supposed you don't remember you created that cute alert on your desktop," he teased her, "let me think… what was it… booking tickets for "Blithe Spirit" and making a reservation at Nobu most likely? I'm free that day, don't bother to ask Astrid, --she is too."

"You didn't tell Walter…"

"Of course not. But I seriously doubt that he'd remember any of this if you tell him."

"You're probably right," she yawned helplessly.

"Now is the time Dunham."

"Time? Time for what?"

"To go home and sleep. You look like shit and I bet you've been exhausted for quite a while. So let me drive you home."

"Thank you."

"Thank you? You're not going to fight me on this?"

"No. I think that I'll enjoy a nice drive."

"Or if you consider the situation logically, I can stay over. It'd save me the drive to the hotel and back…"

She did not acknowledge his proposition. "You can keep the SUV. I'll take a cab tomorrow."

"Come on Olivia, let's get going. At this rate, once I had tucked you in, every bar downtown will be closed."

She tried to conceal her awkwardness behind a curtain of hair. Tuck me in, she thought, if only I could get myself back in the dream I was having when you woke me up. She closed her office door behind her and followed in his wake back to the parking lot and the real world.

-o-

your input is always appreciated ;)