A/N: Alright peeps! This is going to be my new pet series that takes place after Jacksonville and I hope you all enjoy it. Feel free to tell me so in a review :D Cos who hates reviews?!
Olivia felt the rush of adrenaline flood through her veins as she ducked and dodged the punches being thrown at her. She turned her mind over to instinct and let it control her actions and reactions as she pivoted around her attacker in a swirl of blonde hair and speed to land an elbow shot on the back of her opponent. He stumbled and chuckled as he whirled around in a blind shot to catch her off guard, but Olivia only dropped her shoulders back arching her body below the wild shot and snapped her body back up once it was clear.
She vaguely heard the door to the gym open and close, but she was too far gone in her focus of defeating her opponent to care. She moved like a cat as she twisted her body, picking and choosing her right moments to strike out to catch him off guard. She'd spent the last month immersing herself into combat practice in an effort to block out everything that had happened on the New York/Jacksonville case. Broyles had given her two months off to prepare for her FBI retest and to get away from all the bizarre cases always presented to them in the Fringe division. It was standard for all agents to take mandatory time off when working on cases involving murder and Broyles was overdue to give her this time off. So Olivia had started visiting the firing range to practice her already perfect shot, started hitting the gym every day and attending both private karate and boxing classes so that she wouldn't have to think of how she had run out on Peter that night that had changed everything.
Her opponent's fist made contact with the side of her head, jarring her back to the now. She needed to focus on winning this fight; not Peter and what might have been. For a minute she was back into the fight, about to win, when she heard her name being half shouted.
Her guard dropped just for a second at hearing his voice echoing through her head and her opponent took that opportunity to get a face shot in. Blood splattered as she stumbled back into the ropes and she put her hands up in defeat to end the match. She had blood in her eyes now and couldn't see a thing.
"I'll beat you tomorrow, Hanigan." She said dully.
"I'm sure you will." And he left for the locker room, leaving just her and Peter in the warehouse turned fighting gym. Olivia was all too aware that she stood before Peter in only a sports bra, tiny shorts, the boxing helmet, and gloves. Removing a glove she pushed the helmet off with her newly free hand and wiped the sweat off her brow with her arm.
She walked over to him looking defeated. "Could you hand me that towel?" She was trying to squint past the blood in her eyes but it wasn't working very well. At least she couldn't see him 'glimmering'. He dropped a towel into her waiting hand and she wiped away at the blood on her face and hissed when it made contact with the wound on her lip. Her bottom lip was already beginning to swell and was still bleeding profusely. "Dammit." She ducked below the top rope and stepped above the one below it and hopped out of the ring. She stalked over to the corner where there was a med kit and ice machine with bags and more towels.
"Here, let me." Peter moved her gently to the side as he began to fill a bag with ice and wrapped it in a towel for her.
She wanted to argue that she didn't need him to help her, but she knew that was a petty excuse to snap at him. Her eyes were sad and defeated when she looked up at him and accepted the ice bag.
"Thanks," she said, replacing the bloody towel she had for the ice pack.
"If I didn't know better, I'd swear you were a masochist." He smiled at his own joke and she grinned back half heartedly. He steered her towards a bench against the wall and they sat down. "So are you going to tell me why you haven't returned or answered any of my phone calls for the last month?"
She couldn't look at him. When she did she just wanted to spill everything out to him and beg him to stay.
"I know what Walter has done to you in the past and present is absolutely unforgivable, but I'd hoped you wouldn't forecast his sins onto me." He said looking across the gym at nothing in particular.
"It's not that, I swear." Olivia bit her lip to herself from continuing on and winced in pain when she made her lip even worse in doing so.
"You did that lip biting thing you do, didn't you." Peter stated and sighed. "So, tell me what it is so I can fix it. Olivia, you've become my best friend, and I don't want to lose that. I think I might go crazy if I didn't have you in my life."
She didn't look at him and just shook her head 'no'.
"You won't even look at me." He said with a hint of anger and hurt in his voice. "Was it – I mean, that moment in the tower?" His voice was hushed, as if saying that out loud had cost him a lot.
She shook her head 'no' and felt tears welling up in her eyes and she fought to keep them at bay. Maybe she should've made more of an effort to sleep at night because it was beginning to affect her emotional state. He gently put his hand on her face and turned it so she had no choice but to look at him and her eyes grew wide in fear for a moment as she saw his form wavering in that gold light and she slammed her eyes shut and squeezed them so hard that some of her tears that she was holding back leaked out of the corners. Peter felt like he had been slapped. How had they been reduced to this? He moved his hand away and started to stand to escape. Maybe it hadn't been very smart to go hunting for her.
"Dunham!" A voice broke their silence. Olivia whipped her head around, glad to not be looking at Peter's pain filled expression and saw her boxing partner. "Broyles is on the landline for you." So much for that extra month off. Her boxing partner disappeared around the corner back into the locker room and the phone just outside of the doorway began to blink letting her know the call had been transferred.
"Peter, you might want to stick around. I have a feeling you'll be needed." She reached out and squeezed his hand, trying her hardest to look him in the eyes. His face still had that pained expression on it and she didn't have time to make it disappear. She snatched up her zip up hoodie and hastily pulled it on to cover up at least some of her bare skin and moved to the phone. "Dunham."
Peter watched as she slipped into agent-mode with ease. He had always thought he could read her so well, but it was times like this that reminded him that she could fool him in a heartbeat. This was what she was trained to do after all. She hung up the phone and came back to where he stood.
"It sounds like we have a case." Her face was neutral, not revealing anything. "Do you think you could drop me off at my place on your way to pick up Walter? I ran here and I'm not sure I could run back as quickly."
"Olivia! That's like ten miles." He stared at her. "I hope what you're running from is worth it. From one runner to another, it must be pretty big."
Olivia's eyes were larger than normal as she fought her immediate reaction to deny it – confess, anything at all so that he wouldn't believe that, but she couldn't lie to him right now and so she raised an eyebrow. "Is that a yes on the ride?"
Peter's shoulders slumped and he nodded. He dug the keys out of his pocket and led the way outside and to the car.
As far as crime scenes go, this one definitely made Olivia's stomach turn in a very non-pleasant way. An SWAT team of twelve members had rushed into a house on a supposed drug bust, but now every one of them lay dead in the house. All of them were burned in various degrees. Some lay blistered and almost unrecognizable and others looked crispy. Olivia closed her eyes briefly, but she still saw their faces. When she opened them again Peter was staring at her like he was trying to past her eyes and into her soul. She couldn't even sum up a smile to reassure him, so she turned back to Walter who was spouting off dialog to himself about what had happened.
She turned to one of the other officers that was on the scene. "Can we get all these bodies bagged and sent to the Harvard lab?"
The agent nodded and began to instruct others on what to do. Meanwhile Olivia stepped outside to get some fresh air. Staring up at the sky she began to let her mind wonder to her newest partner. She needed to pass on an olive branch as soon as possible if they were going to get this case solved, but how? Part of her was convinced it would be easier to make out with him than tell him what was really wrong. Despite herself she smiled at this thought.
"Something funny about twelve people being murdered at once?" Peter came up beside her scowling.
Deciding that the truth would throw him off more than anything else she kept staring at the sky as she quipped back, "no, just thinking about how nice it would be to just make out with you instead of dealing with this tension." She turned just in time to see his jaw drop as he stared at her. Olivia chuckled at him. "You asked." She smiled at him. "So does Walter have any ideas yet?"
Peter shook his head at the change of pace. "He's saving judgment for when he's back at the lab."
Olivia nodded. "I'm going back to the bureau to grab some files, but I'll be by the lab later." She didn't wait for his response, just walked over to her SUV and climbed in.
It was after eight in the evening before Olivia got a chance to visit the lab. When she stepped in the familiar scents of antibacterial cleaning goo, cold stainless steel, and rotting flesh wafted over her. She looked around and saw only Walter hovering over a microscope, jotting notes down.
"Hey Walter, where are Peter and Astrid?" She asked.
He jerked up, just noticing her and got to his feet. "Agent Dunham! So nice to see you!" He beamed with happiness and Olivia had to fight in the impulse to scowl. It was hard to tell when he was being genuine, especially after she discovered a few of the secrets he'd been keeping. "Oh – they left to pick up some dinner. I've been craving an Italian beef all week now. Like they make in Chicago!"
Olivia nodded and stepped more into the lab.
"Walter, I need you to make the glimmering stop." She said trying to keep her voice even. "I can't even look at Peter without getting vertigo and just seeing him –" Her voice broke a bit and she cleared her throat. "I – I just can't do it. Either you tell him as soon as he gets back or fix it so he doesn't glimmer."
Walter visibly swallowed and stared at her. His mind already racing with the options she was giving him. "How desperate are you for him not to glimmer?"
Olivia only had to remember the look of hurt spread across his face when she couldn't look at him to know her answer. "I'd do anything." She whispered and bit her lip to fight back a sob. She needed her Peter back.
Walter nodded as if to himself. "I've got a theory, but it will require a series of injections. Just one a week for a couple months and the glimmering should disappear.
Olivia nodded her head vigorously, fighting back the tears. "Okay, when do we start? Now?"
Walter's eyes widened and he shook his head. "No, I need to make up the appropriate mix for this situation. Give me three days and we'll start."
"Okay." She paused and stared at this man who had brought her so much pain in her life, but also small glimpses of happiness. "Thank you, Walter."
He looked so grave that she almost asked what it was he was worried about, but then he was off and working again. Olivia retreated to her office to settle in for a night of reviewing statements and pictured evidence. Only fifteen minutes had passed before she heard Astrid and Peter entering the lab, food bags crinkling as they set up a makeshift table for dinner. She heard his footsteps approaching her office and she braced herself. He knocked softly on her door before pushing it open and peaking his head in.
"I come baring food gifts, because knowing you; you haven't paused once for more than a cup of coffee today." He smirked.
Olivia wanted to object but his grin was contagious. "Maybe." She blushed and smiled.
Grinning even more, Peter stepped into the office and set down an Italian beef and a much coveted frosty from Wendy's. With cat like speed Olivia dove for the frosty but was thwarted when her hand was thwacked with the back of a spoon.
"Hot food first! Then you can have the frosty." Peter lectured mockingly.
"Aw come on – "
"Am I going to have to take it into the other room with me until you're finished with the sandwich?" Peter raised an eyebrow at her.
"Fine," Olivia groaned and started to unwrap her sandwich. She smiled when she noticed he had gotten mozzarella cheese on it, just how she liked. "Thanks Peter."
"Who else is going to watch out for you?" He smiled cheekily.
"Apparently not me, now out! I need to focus on these files." She playfully waved him out and took a giant bite of her sandwich.
"Whatever you say, boss-lady." He left chuckling and shut the door behind him. Once he was out of the room she got up to turn the radio on and let the soft jazz float through the room as she lost herself to the case and putting the pieces together.
It was two in the morning when Peter finally got Walter to call it a night. He hadn't seen Olivia leave, but just to be sure he peaked into her office to see a much disheveled Olivia. Her hair was mussed from her fingers tweaking and running through it and her glasses were resting a little low on her nose while she worried her lip with her teeth. The jazz music that was still playing obviously hadn't kept her at peace. A rush of warmth filled Peter as he stared at her. This was probably how he would always remember her because in this moment she was just her; no front or shields. He cleared his throat to let her know he was there.
Olivia jumped in her seat and nearly knocked her coffee over when she locked eyes with him and blushed.
"Sorry," Peter said. "I just wanted to let you know you're the last one here. Walter and I are heading out now."
Olivia kept glancing down and away from him and she nodded. "I'll probably be heading out soon too. What time is it?"
She grimaced. "I think I'll be going now actually."
"Good. I can even walk you to your car." He smiled cheerfully at her and Olivia had to force her smile because the glimmer was blaringly bright at that point.
Peter of course saw through it, but didn't want her to see so he left her alone to pack up her things while he helped Walter find his coat. They're only waiting at the door for a few minutes before a pulled together Olivia exits her office and joins them. She still won't raise her eyes to his and he wants to scream at her, but now isn't the time with his father right there.
Together they walk out to their cars that are parked side by side and they all wave goodnight, but never looked at each other.