FRINGE

CONFESSION

No inFRiNGEment intended.

Note: WHAT LIES BELOW filler

-o-

There never was any debrief for Walter. That was a total waste of his time and ours. When his work was done, he was ready to embark for the next adventure. I envied him at some point, not the being lost or not taken seriously and getting arrested part, that I could do without, but I was jealous of the fact that he didn't abide by the rules whilst I lived by them. But today, with Peter's possible death in a near foreseeable future, the strain must have been too severe. When he was every single time like a rubber band, the perfect contrary to a shape memory alloy, today, he was unable to return to his normal quirky self.

I watched him gave Peter an adoring look before his face turned to stone, hard lines drawn on his forehead. And I knew with acute certainty that something was off. I was used to his eccentric persona, I could tell without the absence of a doubt that something was indeed very wrong. He should have been dancing, his mind delirious with exotic recipes and potential stops at every coffee shop on his way back to his apartment. Maybe Astrid knew something I didn't. I wouldn't be the first time, they spend so much time together, and Peter. Another thing to be jealous of. I shoved the uncomfortable idea in the back of my head and gave Astrid my best quizzical look. She acknowledged my question and nodded briefly. Yes, she was definitely after something. But now wasn't the time to be chasing ghosts. Later. There'll be time later for that, eventually.

Walter patted Peter's hand, love and guilt exuding from every pore but his son was too weak for the embrace the doctor was craving. He opened his mouth but said nothing, inhaling deeply, another deep crease forming on his face. Then he turned around abruptly and left. Peter was too out of it, still dazed with the potent narcotic we managed to get into the building's ventilation system. I was still a bit fogged too.

Astrid watched him leave, and I could sense she was hesitating. I couldn't help it, and my lips twitched, fighting a smile. It was unlike her to have second thoughts about adopting the right course of action. My understanding of her hesitation was crystal clear. She wanted to stay and make sure that Peter was okay, that we were okay, but she wouldn't leave Walter. She finally shrugged and went to the door in Walter's wake. She seemed so fragile and tiny. She made a quick motion of the hand and nodded seriously. "I'll take care of him", she mouthed silently in my direction, her huge doe eyes intent. It was obvious she was expecting me to do the same for the other Bishop. "I know", I whispered back.

Peter might have dozed off because he winced when Walter rushed out. His hazy eyes followed our silent exchange, he seemed to have no idea what was going on and he looked like he was two hundred years old.

The door bounced back behind her. The sound of grated metal and plastic hissed in my head and I resisted the urge to let go, to just sit right there on the ground and rock myself back and forth to oblivion. I wish I were still a little girl, and that it would only seem normal.

I came closer to his gurney instead, doing my best to be unreadable and poised. I didn't need to see myself in a mirror to feel that I was failing in every possible way. I was everything but composed and cryptic. My face was burning, my cheeks were probably beet red, as far as I could tell from the heat radiating to my ears. I bit my lip and took a deep breath.

I knew he was safe with the medics. Letting him rest would be wise, but I was so upset he had used his exceptional brains to deceive me. Deceit. That was a small price to pay for him being alive after all. I should have known that his intelligence would work both ways, with us or against. I was angry at myself for giving him the opportunity to take my gun, I was trained to react to this. But it was Peter, what could I do? He knew that I couldn't harm him. At least I hoped he did know at the time because it was so fast and with my mind racing through unthinkable options, I knew I couldn't risk to kill him.

There was so much I wanted to tell him. Why couldn't he meet me half way? I was not even sure what to do or say to begin with. Maybe it was too late and I'd missed the moment when I could be honest and confess that I was falling for him. That I had been for quite some time now but doing my best to deny it even to myself.

And unless I was prepared to regret what I was about to say, I'd better go. But for some reason, I wasn't ready to go. Broyles was probably still hovering at the scene, pissing every suit from the CDC till they yield. He wouldn't accept anything less that total surrender. Tonight was not a night for taking prisoners.

I chuckled silently at the thought but I might have placed my hand on his cover and the jolt startled him. He opened his eyes and searched mine but he couldn't focus.

"Livia, I'm so s…"

"Shh…"

"Did… did I hurt you?"

"Nope. Bruises that's all. I'll survive." But he was not amused. "Seriously," I added urgently, "I'm fine. You should rest."

"Even if I don't want to, I'm too stoned to walk away right now," he croaked. He closed his eyes. The eyelids were still reddish and swollen. "What was that you used? Fentanyl? God I hate opioids. I'm gonna be out for the next 24 hours."

His voice was so low that I could barely hear what he was thinking out loud. He exhaled and tried to sit down.

"No, you don't." I pushed him back to the bed with a firm hand. "You look like hell."

"Thanks, it feels like hell," he rasped.

I moved forward, my legs almost touching the railing of the gurney. I leant over the bed to put the blanket back on his bare shoulders. His breathing was easier and even. He was asleep. I reached out to his face but stopped my hand before it touched his jaw. I wouldn't allow it. I wouldn't be weak, not now. I stepped back, tucked a lock of hair behind my left ear, with my eyes riveted to the ground.

Now that he was unconscious and that there was only the two of us in the tent, it was hard to be so close and not touch him. Now that I was sure that he was safe, that he will be okay. My head dropped to my chest and I pirouetted on the ball of my feet, eager for an easy escape. I stopped dead in my tracks.

"I was scared," I whispered, facing the door. "And I should have told you."

I turned around to see his face. But he was really asleep. Something inside me was expecting that he heard me, was expecting an answer. I walked slowly back to the gurney.

"I never even thought of calling Rach. But I should have told you. You're my partner. I should have told you."

Who was I kidding? My partner? I was so close that I could sense his heat radiating against my leg. I watched a tear drop on the grey blanket, and a dark circular spot formed instantly. I didn't move, watching more damp patches expand while I couldn't stop the steady flow coming from my eyes. I touched his hand through the cover, tracing circles with my finger.

"I was scared you were going to die… And then I was scared that I couldn't shoot you. It was unprofessional of me. Even with the virus, you were able to devise an escape strategy. But my mind stopped working as soon as you put that gun in my hands. I couldn't fight against you, I couldn't shoot you… I was scared of losing you," I added in a whisper.

"Dunham!"

The deep voice brought me back to reality. I moved my hand away from his and swiftly wiped my eyes, catching inadvertently a glimpse of Peter's face. His eyes were locked on my face and he was smiling quietly. My heart fluttered.

"Yes sir."

"I need you to liaise with the CDC."

Broyles' voice was soft and understanding. I followed him outside without a look behind me.