(I'm Scared part 10)
No inFRiNGEment intended.
How often Valentine's day is on a Sunday?
Walter stopped pacing and suddenly came to a halt. Olivia froze. He turned back to facing her and glared. "Now that I gave you my full confession agent Dunham, you must do what you have to do."
With that, he dashed to the door and disappeared into the lab. And Olivia simply watched him walk away. She couldn't move. Her body was hurting like under too much stress. She'd been trying to hide her feelings when he was talking, and now she was paying the price. Her back was sore, her joints were aching, and she couldn't feel her eyes after such a long time refraining from bursting into tears in front of him. For the best part of his plea, she managed to keep a distant poise, but she knew she hadn't fooled him. Not for one minute.
And because it was a poignant plea, no one could deny it, she was moved. She was moved beyond Walter's expectations in fact. She wiped her watery eyes, checked her face in a small mirror she kept in her drawer and made a futile attempt at getting herself back together. Now she had to face the new reality. Walter will never tell Peter, she thought. He would never lower himself to involving Peter's mother in all this. She was off limits, untouchable. Peter would unmistakably think that Walter was blaming her to stay clean.
The best part was that she couldn't tell him either, there was too much at stake, the Fringe Division, the Project and Walter wasn't out of the woods yet, with the stigma of Sainte Claire indelible paper trail and a permanent threat from his director, Dr Sumner. She had managed to keep him at bay but she could not erase his request to commit Walter again into the institution. With Peter gone, Walter would be back to the psychiatric ward in a split second since Sumner made it perfectly clear that Walter had no business being out of his hospital.
She almost hissed in frustration. She left her desk to close the door and went back to her chair. She smirked, and sat, feeling beaten and exhausted. They were facing impossible choices. It seemed to her they had merely reached a stalemate. But the more they stalled, the more Peter's reaction will be violent.
Either way, he'll never forgive Walter for keeping this secret for so long or he won't exonerate her since should she choose to keep her mouth shut. If only there was a way to make him guess. He was an intelligent man. Somehow he might have put the pieces back together. Most likely, he hasn't tried to. Improbable causes. No. If he was to guess, it would only make the matter worse. This all snapping another kid from an alternate reality was unforgivable and a dead end.
She put her elbows on the desk and held her head in her hands. Why did she ever meet the Bishops? It would be so easy to pretend that nothing happened. Too easy. She couldn't afford the luxury to run away, sprint to the car and drive as far away as possible and forget everything. Start a new life from scratch. That was Peter's prerogative. Her head was throbbing. She had to find a way to clear her mind. But she was good at finding solutions not at planning schemes. She sat back and took a deep breath. The lab was quiet outside her secluded office but eventually, she'll have to go outside and face the consequences. The worst part was that she actually waited for almost two years before finally sleeping with him, knowing perfectly well that not only it was a big mistake, but also her devious way of saying she would never betray Walter's secret. Suddenly she felt trapped.
Her cell vibrated in her pocket. She grabbed it mechanically and answered, not bothering to check the ID. "Dunham."
"Hey, it's me! Why so serious? Walter acted out again? Or you're having your hands full with fighting killer zombies or something?" Peter's voice was carefree and happy.
"Peter?" Her mind went blank.
"I'm upstate. Walter sent me on one of his crazy errand. Silly me, I thought it would be easier to comply."
"You did?" Her voice sounded hollow. Think, think fast. But she knew she couldn't blurt the truth over the phone.
"Hence he won't get in the way of my being away from home tonight."
"Tonight?" God, she was repeating his words like an idiot.
"Yep. I was thinking that maybe we could have dinner…" he trailed. "We're still… friends, right?" he mused.
"Tonight?" she said again, doing her best at concealing panic in her voice.
"Livia, something's wrong?"
"No, everything's good, just work, you know" she lied. She heard him chuckle. "Peter, I'm babysitting Ella tonight. Rach is in town."
"Oh, it's okay, Ella knows me."
"She knows you as her mother's… friend and my colleague."
"I can come later then," he said, apparently refusing to acknowledge her hesitation, "when she's asleep."
"I don't know. I mean… it's complicated…"
"Isn't it always?"
More complicated, she thought. "… and your lot, you know you and your buddies the super heroes, I know you don't have to sleep but I need my beauty sleep. And last night…"
He chuckled again and she blushed. "You win. I guess I was overly optimistic about my trip to Vermont anyway. It's probably going to take me like forever to find what Walter wants. It gives me time to wrap it up nicely. So, I won't rush back to you, but you have to promise me that I'll see you on Sunday."
"What's so special about Sunday?" Two days. She had only two days left to find a way to tell him the truth.
"Sunday. Check your calendar. Miss you Livia."
Miss you too, she thought when she hang up on him. She called Rachel, packed her things and went back home.
"Hey sis', long time no see," Rachel chirped. She sat Ella's bag near the front door and turned back to her sister. She gave her a big smack on the cheek and hugged her vigorously. "You look good, Liv. Anything I should know?"
"Like what?" Olivia snapped. "Hey Ella, you're so big! When was the last time I saw you?" she cheered, embracing the young girl who beamed in her arms.
"You're okay with that Liv, I'm sure I can find another way if you're busy…"
"Which I'm not."
"Okay, don't bite," Rachel smiled. "See I couldn't stay in Philly, especially this week end," she added in a conspiratorial tone.
What was so special with this week end? Olivia asked herself again for the second time in the past hours, apart from being an exceptionally sunny week end for February and the week end she'll probably lose Peter forever. "I see," she answered casually.
"Says the girl who doesn't see anything. Imagine Liv, being in Philly, couple of block away from… HIM this week end? No way!" she shivered theatrically.
HIM being her new evil incarnate, her soon to be ex-husband Greg, Olivia thought. She shrugged. "You're right. I don't see anything."
"If you had a boyfriend, you would know," Rachel teased her. Olivia went beet red. Rach paused, her face puzzled. "A boyfriend you don't have or are you trying to hide something from me?"
Olivia turned away and took Ella's bag. She shook her head. "I'll put Ella's bag in her room."
"Don't try to change the subject, who's he? Aunt Liv has a boyfriend, aunt Liv has a boyfriend," she began to chant bouncing around like a teenager. Her daughter glanced happily from her mother to her aunt and beamed again. Mimicking her mother, she started to chant along.
"Stop it Rach, I don't have a boyfriend!"
Her too adamant protestation didn't stop her sister. "Leave the bag, look me in the eyes and say it."
"Say that you don't."
"I don't." Olivia could feel her cheeks going hotter by the minute. "I don't have a boyfriend. Where would I find time to have a life for god's sake! Now would you stop already?"
"Do I know him?"
"Rach!" Olivia moaned. "Please…"
"Oh oh. Peter? Is it Peter?" Rachel took a step back to check her sister's reaction. "Liv, I'm so happy for you! You're so meant for each other."
"No we're not…" Olivia said sheepishly. "Now would you stop?"
"Sooo, tell me everything! What are your plans for Sunday?"
"Sunday?" How did she possibly know about her date?
"Because Sunday is Valentine's day, dummy!" Rachel shouted triumphantly.