So this is it. My final chapter. Thanks for sticking with me these past few months :)
The fourth time happens when Peter needs it the most.
Peter ignores her completely for the next few days, after checking if she is indeed pregnant the morning after. After the silence fades away, he remains blunt at all times, rarely leaves the lab if he can help it, and he allows Walter to deal with Olivia for the most part, interjecting only when strictly necessary. He's making it painfully obvious that something happened between them, but aside from some knowing looks from Astrid, and the odd mention of a lover's tiff from Walter, it is ignored.
And then, a mere week and a half after the break up, it happens. She's finishing up some paperwork at home when the call comes from Peter's cell. She blinks at it in surprise for a few seconds, but answers quickly, hoping at last this could be the end of all this unpleasantness between them.
"Dunham?" she answers cautiously
"It's Peter. Can you come meet me?" his voice sounds strange, gruff but without anger. Almost as if he's been crying
"I'll explain when you get here. Please." His voice cracks on the final word, and it frightens her, because even after everything that has happened, she's never once seen him as upset as he sounds now.
"Okay, sure" and so she abandons her paper work and takes the hour and a half journey to the address he's given her, just because she knows he would do the same for her, despite everything that they've ever said and done to each other.
There is one solitary vehicle in the car park of the address he's given her, and as she pulls up beside it, she recognises it at once as the old beat up station wagon that Peter drives. Although she sees him, sitting alone in the driver's side of his car she pauses for a moment, taking a moment to look outside. For some reason he's brought her to a cemetery- and an old, abandoned one at that. The weather outside reflects her mood perfectly- great drops of water pour from the heavens as thunder and lightening battle above their cars, and she is reluctant to step into the downpour.
However after a few seconds of waiting, she decides that she didn't drive all this way to simply watch Peter from a separate car, and so she quickly steps outside and walks briskly to Peter's passenger door. She tries the handle, and when the door doesn't open she taps impatiently on the window. With a start, Peter looks up, clearly noticing her for the first time. He immediately unlocks the door, but turns away from her, running a hurried hand over his eyes. Any vague annoyance she had ever felt at being dragged all the way out here fades instantly as she looks on him. He seems to be absolutely devastated, his eyes red, and an almost shell-shocked expression on his face.
"Are you okay?" she asks gently, once she has sat down beside him and shut the door firmly behind her.
"Not really" He offers no other explanation at first, and so she doesn't ask for more. If all he wants is someone to sit next to him while he works out whatever the hell is wrong, then she knows she owes it to him to do that. Slowly, giving him time to pull away if he wishes, she rests her hand on top of his, where it is clenched on the gear stick, mimicking his actions towards her on that bench so very long ago. Beneath hers, his hand slowly relaxes, and then turns so he's holding her hand properly. He runs an affectionate thumb over her knuckles before, finally be speaks.
"Tell me you love me." Again she can't help but hesitate, but this time, he doesn't even give her the time to summon up the courage to answer before he continues, "Even if it's just as a friend, or a brother, or whatever. Please, just tell me you love me." He sounds like a condemned man, and it's this that finally makes her feel free enough to answer.
"I love you, Peter." His eyes flick shut for a moment and he swallows once, before pulling his hand back almost roughly
"There's something I want you to see." He steps out into the heavy rain and moves around to the passenger side to open the door for her. Before she can protest, he pulls off his thick coat and pulls it around her shoulders, simply because she didn't think to bring one of her own.
They walk in silence for a few minutes, until eventually, Peter stops in front of a non-descript tombstone. She glances at him questioningly, before reading the name, carved into the stone
"Peter Bishop. An ancestor of yours?"
"Look at the dates" his voice is hollow, and one real look at the grave at once tells her why he's been acting so traumatised, if not the reason behind this grave's existence.
"That's you" she says, stupidly
"No, that's Walter's son" he replies, as if the two hadn't always been one and the same
"Then who are you?" she whispers, trying very hard to remember that this man, whoever he may be is still the one who has helped her these past years. Still the man who loves her.
"A different version of him" he nods at the stone
"From the other universe?" she finally catches up with his train of thought
"As far as I can tell." He swallows heavily again, before whispering, "I had to show someone who'd understand. I had to make sure I wasn't just losing my mind." She smiles sympathetically and takes his hand again; unsure if the water running down his cheeks is rainwater, tears, or a mixture of the two. Suddenly, she snaps back to the real world as she realises she is still wrapped tightly in his coat and now his navy pullover and jeans are soaked through
"You're really wet" what she says is so obvious, it brings a faint smile to his lips
"It doesn't matter."
"Yes it does, come on." She practically trails him back to her car, hoping that somehow putting some distance between them and the cemetery will snap him out of this state of mind. When they climb in, Peter sits silently as she turns up the heating and points the majority of it in his direction.
"Let's go somewhere else" she prompts, and almost winces as she recalls she last time she said that to him, out in an alleyway in the dead of night. However, if he recalls he doesn't mention it
"I don't want to see him. Not tonight." He says, and although he names no one in particular, she understands exactly who he's speaking of.
"You don't have to." She promises, already looking up nearby hotels in her GPS system.
She finds one within a ten minute drive, and together they check into a single room, with one double bed. Part of her wonders after everything that's happened if this is a bad idea. Common sense tells her that she could easily get a separate room- that he's not going to disappear if she leaves him alone for the night. Another part of her, the dominating part is terrified that he'll do just that if she lets him out of her sight for more than a minute. Clearly Peter has no problems with sharing a bed, as not a protest is uttered as they climb the stairs together. But then he hasn't exactly said much since they left the tombstone.
Once inside, she warns him there'll be trouble if the word couch is so much as uttered. After using the complimentary toothbrush and toothpaste, and procrastinating as long as possible, she strips to her underwear, and after a second's hesitation, he follows suit. Shivering, she flicks off the light and slips under the covers, but when Peter's leg accidentally brushes against hers, she realises he's still far colder than she. She makes her decision quickly
"You're freezing" she remarks by way of explanation and rolls over so that her back is pressed tight against his front. He hesitates far too long for her liking, so she gently but firmly pulls his arms around her so that he's spooning her. Disliking just how cold he has become, she rubs her hands up and down his forearms in the hope of warming him quicker. She says nothing aloud, but it frightens her just how catatonic he has become, simply reacting, going along with whatever she does. A pre-Rachel Peter would have had plenty to say about her methods of heating him up. But still, she knows how much he must have on his mind, tonight of all nights and so she allows him to just think, despite how much it is unnerving her.
They lie in silence for a long time, until finally Olivia deems him warm enough to cease the assault on his forearms, but she doesn't pull away from his embrace. Instead she snuggles further against him and finally responding to her, Peter tightens his grip around her waist. A sign she hopes, that he has stopped over thinking, at least for now
"I'm sorry" he whispers in the dark. Surprised, she asks
"I don't know... Everything?" He tries. Olivia remains quiet for a moment, wondering what has gotten into him now. A fool could see that everything that's happened between them has been totally and entirely her fault. Thus far at least, everything bad that's happened between then has been down to her old scars; her fears of commitment.
"You have nothing to be sorry for." she replies with as much genuine sincerity she can muster, "And I'm sorry too. For hurting you, I mean."
"You drove fifty miles in the dark just because I asked you to. I'd say we're even" and even though she still feels bad, she says nothing more about it. They lapse into silence again, but now instead of lying completely still, Peter's fingers trail patterns over her naked stomach. A few moments later and he begins to press light kisses against the hollow of her neck. She shuts her eyes and simply enjoys him for a few moments, until she firmly tells herself that she's done being selfish, for tonight at least. Rolling over to face him, she avoids his next kiss and mumbles as firmly as she can
"Stop it, Peter" The look he gives her is one of such utter confusion that it brings a smile to her lips. She knows she's giving him nothing but mixed signals but she's been down this road with Peter before and kissing him nearly always leads to more. And right now, although she's sure he would love nothing more than to be screwed senseless, he'd asked her to meet him for a different reason.
"You called me because you wanted to talk, not have sex." she points out reluctantly
"We could do both" he tries, more of the old Peter sparkle in his eyes
"Let's start with talking then we'll see what happens after" she props her head up with one hand, and moves back a little, out of his personal space. "So are you feeling any better now?"
"A bit" he admits, regarding her solemnly "I think just showing someone else helped. We both know I can't just ignore this, but right now I have no idea what to do." He pauses for a moment, but she remains silent, knowing that sometimes Peter works better when he talks things out with himself. Often, she just feels like an onlooker to his mental process
"I mean I can stay here and keep working with Walter and Astrid. And you" his mouth twitches into a half smile at that final word, "Or I can go back." Although she has seen this coming ever since that pensive car journey to the hotel, her heart quickens at the thought of losing him. Whatever she'd expected when she'd answered that call tonight, it hadn't been this. And honestly, she doesn't want him to leave town, never mind the universe. But still, she reminds herself, she'd promised herself to stop being self involved. At the end of it all, this couldn't be her choice. Still as he remains silent, she realises that he's waiting for her remark. To say something, anything. And so she asks
"What would you do? Over there, I mean. You wouldn't have any money, qualifications, ID…"
"I know plenty of ways of making money and none of them require qualifications. ID can always be found if you know who to talk to."
"Which you wouldn't" she points out
"I'd find a way" he says in a final tone, before his voice softens again, "As for what I'd do? Isn't it obvious? I'd go track down their version of Broyles. The way I see it, I know too much for him to do anything other than offer me a job. Who knows, I might even end up working for an Olivia Dunham." This new life seems entirely too well thought out for Olivia's taste, and desperately she searches for some sort of hole in it
"Except that Olivia Dunham might not like you as much as I do."
"Like? It was love two hours ago" he teases, but not without a certain vulnerability dancing behind those brown eyes. Even now that they're laying practically naked in bed together, he obviously still doesn't know what to believe. And after everything she's put him through, she can't really blame him.
"Fine, love" she corrects, but is quick to add, "But honestly, I wouldn't want any Peter Bishop other than you." His smile fades quickly and seemingly very tired of these games, he speaks plainly
"I'll stay if you ask me to." She so very much wants to do that, but her conscience won't quite allow it
"This isn't my decision."
"But…" he prompts, and finally she gives in, and does the selfish thing, knowing she can punish herself in the morning for it
"But I couldn't imagine the Fringe Division without you." His expression tells her he had hoped for more, but she genuinely wouldn't feel right saying anything else. They stare at each other for a moment, in a stalemate of sorts, before finally Peter looks away
"Okay then." He moves closer to her again, his head inches from hers on the pillow, "Now about us..."
"What about us?" she half smiles, finding fun in torturing him now that she's long since made her decision.
"I'm not very good at this sort of thing, Liv so I'm just gonna say it. I want to be with you, and at this point if that just means seeing you every day at work, then that's going to have to be enough, but we both know I want more. And sometimes I think you do too. And then there's other times I get the impression you'd rather do anything else in the world than date me. I'm not going to ask you if you love me again, because quite frankly that was pathetic enough the first time, but this is it Liv. Your choice." She had planned on drawing it out longer, but he looks so vulnerable now that she can't do anything but put him out of his misery. Very deliberately, she runs a finger down his cheek and slowly nudges his chin up until his lips meet hers.
"That's the first time you've kissed me first, you know that?" he asks when they finally break apart, and although she denies it quickly, a moment's thought reminds her that indeed while she was always the one who got them into these situations, until now she'd always waited for him to make the first move. Another thing, she supposes she'll have to make up for eventually. They're quick to resume the kissing, but when Peter's hands begin to wander, Olivia decides to call it a night
"Not tonight, Peter" she mumbles in between breathless kisses
"You're really killing me here, Liv" he grumbles, but after one last lingering kiss, he allows her to roll back into their spooning position. Just as she feels her eyes growing heavy, his breath tickles her ear
"Thank you for coming out here tonight." Although she mumbles a 'you're welcome' back, it somehow doesn't seem like enough, but still it takes her a good quarter of an hour to build up the courage to speak
"Hmm?" he sounds barely conscious, but she believes that can only be a good thing
"I really do love you, you know." It takes him so long to respond that she starts to think he actually has fallen asleep, until at last he mumbles
"Love you too."
This morning after is something else entirely. This time, there are a lot fewer embarrassing silences and a lot more genuine smiles and little touches. They still rush breakfast, because they sleep through the alarms, and inevitably that leads to the walk of shame of two colleagues, arriving late together in the same clothes they were wearing the night before.
They don't openly announce the relationship, but Olivia resolves not to hide it if anyone is to ask, and makes it a point to call and tell Rachel as soon as possible. This time, they're going to do this right, Olivia decides, with no secrets and no lies.
And so the fourth time was a long time after the third.
But it was followed by a lifetime of shared beds.
One last review?