Warnings: Angst, smut

Spoilers: Season 1

Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or its characters.

Author's Note: Prequel to "Another Stop Along the Road". Originally written for Porn Battle VIII on Dreamwidth. Prompts used: memory, loss.

Need Versus Nature

It's need that drives them together.

One fall evening, when the warmth of the day bleeds into chill and a particularly brutal case has stripped them both of their defenses, Olivia reaches for him, touches her lips to his in a kiss both hesitant and desperate. Peter catches her in his arms and deepens the kiss before she can think better of it and shy away. He steals this moment for both of their sakes. She needs to forget her world has shifted, that in her childhood is buried a forgotten history that winds around her to disrupt her life at erratic intervals. He needs to remember there is a reason not to run, that there is more in Boston than a twenty-four year old headstone engraved with his name and the sour taste of his father's betrayal.

He tells himself it was inevitable, anyway, that all they've been waiting for is the right excuse.

She leads him to her apartment, to her bed. Unbuttons his shirt with grave determination that lightens to a grin as he teases her, even startles to a snicker after a particularly outrageous claim. He skims her shirt over her head and settles his mouth over hers before the grin has left her lips, fingertips grazing over her skin and drawing forth a moan. Her hands settle on his shoulders and pull him closer, and she shifts the kiss from gentle to demanding.

She works the button of his jeans open, slips a hand inside to palm him, pushes him down on the bed while his eyes are practically rolled back in his head. Then she sinks down on him, around him, and all that matters is here and now. And it's all he expects.

But one night turns into three. A week into months. Whether he's tracing the curve of her breast or driving them both up and over the edge, she doesn't speak of the future. He doesn't ask. Neither do they speak of what brought her into his arms. When she's intent on losing herself in the taste of his skin and sating herself in his embrace, he's as committed to forgetting the past as she.

When he's willing to think, to consider the implications of this fling—he hesitates to call it a relationship, because it's so much more and so much less—he knows it's a mistake. Of course it's a mistake, one that can only end badly. They've done too much, too soon, and they're in too deep to go back. He isn't yet ready to trust her, not completely, and she hasn't mastered her fear of betrayal. But he's not ready to give her up, even if he's damned sure he'll be kicked to the curb whenever she's done with him.

If he closes his eyes when he kisses her he can forget that the heat in her eyes doesn't hide her anxiety that she's making the same mistake as with John, and he can set aside the bitter fear that she's right.

In the end, it's nature that drives them apart.

On the coldest day of the year, drifts from the snowstorm days ago still edging into the streets, an old friend and a scheme Peter spent years trying to bury come around to bite him on the ass. If Peter was just friends with Olivia he would have chanced it, told her and dealt with the consequences, but now he has too much to lose. She may be willing to twist ethics into knots in the name of justice, but she clings to her FBI badge with all her might. No matter how he might play consultant, he's still a criminal through and through with the sordid past to back it up.

The scheme ends up a case, Olivia ends up in the hospital, and the old friend—very deservedly—ends up dead at Peter's hands. And Peter's involvement in it all is exposed, as is the fact he tried to hide it.

She still needs him—to manage his father, to translate gibberish into useful information—but she's reclassified him from friend and almost something more to consultant and barely tolerated. The heat in her eyes chills to hate, wary suspicion the insurmountable wall she's wrapped around herself.

It's too late to run, so he stays, as grounded by her hate as he was by her touch. And every time he looks at her, he knows this was inevitable, too: that it would all come crashing down around him.

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