No copyright inFRiNGEment intended.
Note : For the FRINGE Halloween FanFic Challenge (great idea wjobsessed)
(Loosely) based on Dream Logic
Olivia paused and glared at the files spread out in front of her on the coffee table. She had to calm down. Methodically, she began to stack the files into two neat piles. The already-done (well, sort of, because come to that Nayak doctor, she was certain that not everything was like it seemed, the guy was kind of weird, but in the weird department Walter could still teach him some things, I bet, she finally smiled) and the what-next.
She was left with another pile, and this third appeared much larger. She wavered over the proper label. The impossible-but-yet? Or being the optimist, the to-be-examined-later pile?
She needed a drink.
She was painfully aware that it was not a good idea. Not to mention a habit she probably would be better off. She shrugged. What the hell. She got up, and raided the hotel room mini-fridge for something more potent that her now tepid beer. Basking in the yellow light, she rummaged through the miniature bottles in search of scotch, or even bourbon but couldn't find any. Maintenance probably skipped her fridge when they made her room this morning and didn't replace the ones she had had the previous night. She picked a random handful, shoved them in her sweatpants, grabbed a glass on the dresser, and went to the bathroom to rinse it. When she turned off the tap, she observed her reflection thoroughly in the mirror. When was the last time she had a facial, or a manicure or a nice afternoon at the spa before having her hair done?
That was easy. Never. And now with that ongoing streak of crazy homicides and their even weirder routine in Boston, she'd be over 200 before she got the chance. She sighed, switched off the light and went back to her room. Glancing through the window, she spotted the first groups of overexcited children flanked by middle age Princesses Leias, overweight Supermen and parents who had to make do on improvised costumes pouring out in the streets. A motorcade in front of the hotel already hooted their horn to celebrate Halloween a few minutes before, cars filled with one night witches and unlikely Jack Sparrows.
She slouched back on the couch, got the bottles out of her pocket, lined them up neatly on the table, the label facing her, and leant back. She wasn't a gin person and she was short of one lemon. Vodka used to give her headaches when she was in the military, but she could probably blame it on the quantity she used to drink at the time to keep up with the boys. Tequila, on the other hand, was quite another matter.
She scratched the label with a pensive nail, chewing at her lip absently. Tequila generally didn't agree with her, or quite the contrary, it agreed pretty well. Last time she tried, she ended up in a bar feeling amorous. She was playing with the bottle, turning it in her hands, it was cold and tempting and… No, it was a bad idea. Not to mention that it would probably be too risky to get drunk with Peter being in the same hotel, in the next room, and it was not a road she was willing to take... now.
It was no big deal, it was not their first time out of town together, they had been alone in Iraq, and they both had plenty of opportunities they simply chose not to act upon, but for some reason, tonight it was different. Why? Without Walter hovering like a hawk, obligingly filling the blanks with relevant innuendos and liberally peppering their days with ingenuous considerations on their assumed relationship, she felt exposed. Was it out of guilt after killing Charlie? The thing she had killed wasn't Charlie, not any more.
She discarded two bottles, and carefully proceeded to pour tequila in her glass. One… two, three… four bottles? Why not? She wasn't going anywhere and Peter wasn't going to come pounding on her door tonight or any night soon for that matter. And no, she shook her head, she won't be the one to make the first move, not this time. She had learnt her lesson the hard way, with Lukas and then John. Never again.
She swallowed the transparent liquid in one large gulp, winced from the sudden heat that burned her inside and made her stomach growl in protest, reminding her she had nothing to eat but a pack of M&Ms from a vending machine at the clinic. She checked her watch. She should order in or she'd be a mess tomorrow. A bigger mess that is.
She got up instead, went back to the fridge, and with a sweep of her arm, slid the remaining bottles on the college t-shirt she was holding as an improvised hammock with her other hand. She shivered when the icy bottles touched her skin through the fabric. Not bothering to close the door, she turned around, carefully dropped the bottles on the table, stopping the ones rolling with a wall of files and lined them in pristine order in front of her. She was out of breath but eager to complete this foolish mission. She jumped to the lobby to retrieve a bucket of ice, closing her eyes to prevent her head from exploding when the machine clattered and delivered the cubes. She went back to her room, her naked feet silent and swift on the wall-to-wall carpet. Slowing down before Peter's door, she stopped, clinging to her bucket like a life buoy, almost knocked then decided against it and scurried back to her room. She started emptying the bottles in her glass, regardless of the brand. After her third glass, she felt that tension was finally receding and started to loosen up.
Good. She'll be hangovered tomorrow, but it was a fair price to pay for some peace of mind and a dreamless night. She closed her eyes and slumped back on the couch, and grabbing a pillow for comfort, rolled into a ball. An unexpected surge of graphic images of her and Peter in a very different setting of satin sheets and discarded lace lingerie flowed to the surface of her mind and she indulged herself willingly in the erotic reverie.
A nervous rap on the door snapped her back to reality.
"'Livia? You decent?"
She sat up, feeling nauseous and dehydrated. She sprang from the couch, stubbing her toes on the table, suppressed a groan and hopped to the door. She leaned to the panel.
"Of course it's me," said his impatient voice on the other side. "Were you expecting Prince Charming or Fred Astaire?" he said with a smile, barging in as soon as she cracked the door. "You ready?"
"Ready for what?" she said checking his long frock, shiny boots and fake moustache.
"You got to be kidding me, right? Halloween, remember?" he stated seriously, stretching his arms and pirouetting in the room to show his costume. "Not bad for a last minute thing, what do you think?"
"Aren't you a tad old for treat-or-tricking Peter?" she couldn't help but smile.
"Well, actually I was thinking we could do our own treat-or-tricking and have a nice meal for once," he hesitated, "… --or kill time in a bar. That's what we do, huh?" he quipped in a seductive tone contradicting his boyish attitude. "Oh, oh… I see that you're way ahead of me," he added with a quick glance. After panning the room, he paused to squint toward the empty bottles and walls of files and back to her. She could feel he was worried. He came closer, stroked her cheek, and ducked to take a closer look at her face.
She wobbled on her feet and tucked her hands deep inside her pockets. To fantasize about her partner was one thing, but she wasn't ready to make a fool of herself and throw herself at him on account of some temporary intoxication. Even if his pirate or whatever disguise he had chosen made him look quite dashing and… sexy, to say the least. She swallowed hard and did her best to avoid his inquisitive stare.
"Or we could join our forces, stay in and get hammered, your call."
She shrugged. "I'm already in my pyjamas and…"
"You can't see straight. Okay, don't move. I'll be right back. I haven't touched my mini bar yet, I've got plenty to spare."
Before she could say anything, he dashed out. She stared blankly at the half-opened door and blinked. How could she allow that happen? Feeling trapped, she waited helplessly for him to return. And just as he had left, he was back already, carrying in his arms a few bags of chips and a gigantic brown bag.
She couldn't help but chuckle. "Did you rob a 7-Eleven when I wasn't looking?"
"Everything for night owls with the munchies. And you know the best part Dunham? We're actually getting paid for that!" Putting the files on the floor, he laid out his finds on the table and quickly threw away a bunch of empty bottles that clang happily in the wastebasket. "Look, we've got ham, beef jerky, bread, tomatoes, some cool fruits I've never seen before and couldn't resist buying, a few bags of chips, energy bars, chocolate for the soul and even those gross doughnuts you love to hate so much. And apples." He gave her his best blank stare and shrugged. "I get hungry at night when I can't sleep."
She frowned, a smile reaching her face. "I'm not hungry Peter, I was half asleep already."
"Don't you want to have a last drink with some crisps and a good talk about the case? Come on? You're still on the job, no? Or is it Seattle?"
She squinted and rubbed her eyes, fighting another wave of erotic flashes of Peter in his absence of night wear opening the door at 3 in the morning.
"Okay," she nodded, "but just one."
He grinned. Just one? How could she be so dumb, she thought, feeling the effects of tequila building up. She sat on the couch and tried to relax. He sat on the armchair and handed her a glass of whisky. She didn't have to be afraid. It was just another night with Peter, discussing a case, nothing more. He was still Peter, he was his friend. Maybe she could get out of it without jeopardizing their partnership. She wasn't that wasted… yet. She squeezed her glass.
"Livia, are you okay?" he said breaking the silence.
She nodded bravely, curtaining behind her hair, fighting tears that were streaming down her cheeks. In an instant, he was squatting at her feet, his hands light on her thighs, trying to read her face. She stooped and started to sob softly, unable to stop the flow of unwanted tears.
"Come on," he sat beside her and held her tight, "it's gonna be all right." He cradled her for a while, feeling her resistance receding until she finally let go and leaned against him. He placed his chin on her head, gently stroking her back, his free hand untangled in her hair. "Is it Charlie? Livia you know it wasn't him, that thing, you had to do it. It would have killed you…"
"I… I, --I know. But…"
"Shushhh. Cry all you want, I'm not going anywhere," he kissed her hair and she froze. Worried, he pushed her away to get a better look at her face. Her eyes were glassy with tears and her mouth quivering.
"Oh Peter," she sighed. Her eyes moved to his mouth and before she knew it she was raising up her chin towards his face. She felt his hand on the nape of her neck and a frisson of surprise shot through him. She parted her lips and leaned in. He met her half way, his mouth tasted like toothpaste.
She woke up with a shudder, grasping her toothbrush. She was on the couch, facing her files. No glimmer from the open fridge, no empty bottles, no picnic, no Peter but an insistent rap on her door. She flinched and leaped up, checking her image in the mirror on her way to the door.
"Hey…" He was in his MIT t-shirt and waving Leiter's sleep journal oblivious they just kissed.
"Hey," she said softly fighting the urge to hold on to him and kiss him again.
"I didn't wake you, did I?"
She couldn't answer that. She shook her head instead and let him in, punctuating her silence with her toothbrush.
God, he looked good in that MIT t-shirt…