Not a Date
Olivia had spent most of her time looking down, pushing food around on her plate. What she really wanted was to be home, in bed, pretending this whole day hadn't happened. Even the bit where he had almost kissed her. Where they almost kissed, because, if she was being honest with herself, she'd been leaning in too. She pushed the memory out of her head. Maybe if that hadn't almost happened, this would be easier. She steals a glance at him, as he looks down to stab something with his fork. He's telling her some kind of funny story involving Walter, but she hasn't been listening. Between avoiding eye contact, zoning out and staring at him with a frown on her face, she was sure she was being a pretty crappy date.
Not a date, she reminded herself.
She could tell that he'd noticed that something was off with her, and had even asked her a few times if she was ok, if she wanted to leave, if she liked her food. Yes, no, it's fine. He gave up after realizing that was all he was gonna get from her, and attempted to lift the mood with light jokes and funny anecdotes. Sometimes, she played along, smiling or chuckling on cue. At least twice, she'd uttered a full sentence. Mostly, she stared at walls or his face.
She couldn't help it. Her brain was finding it hard to even begin to make sense of the situation, deciding instead to waver between avoidance and curiosity. But the harder she tried to see it, the more it faded. And when she was trying her hardest to avoid it, she'd catch glimpses of it, from the corner of her eye. She didn't want to see it. But she needed to know it was real, and that she hadn't just imagined it.
She felt him touch her hand lightly. She had become distracted again. He waves his ringing phone in the air, and excuses himself. She watches his back as he walks away. It looked perfectly normal. He laughs briefly and then nods, before hanging up and returning to the table.
'That...was Walter. He said he made us desert. Wanna risk it?'
She nods, looking everywhere but his face. 'Sure.' She didn't really feel like facing Walter, but she didn't want to stay here in this perpetual awkward moment with Peter. Walter's desert was probably the old man's way of buttering her up. Or of cutting this date short, in case Olivia decided to spill the beans on their secret.
Not a date. His secret.
'Really? You wanna brave a Walter Original?' He asks her with an amused grin. 'I mean...the man baked without adult supervision. Who knows what illegal substances we'll be ingesting... ?'
This time, Olivia chuckles. 'He seems to like it...'
'Cooking...'she looks up at his face involuntarily, and then shifts her gaze to a vase of flowers just beyond his left shoulder. She'd caught an amused frown, but no shimmer.
'Well...God save us all if he decides to open a restaurant...or a bakery. Bishop and Son.' He says, framing it in the air. 'Come on in for some really gooooood pie...' She chuckles a little louder this time, in what could almost pass for a polite laugh. Funny, how a year ago, 'and Son' wouldn't have even been a possibility. They were getting closer, Walter and Peter, and whatever good humor she had left drained away completely at the realization of what her secret would do to their relationship. Not Her secret, dammit. It was Walter's.
She stood up as he pulled a few bills from his wallet and dropped them on the table. She should have stopped him, of course, because this was not a date, but by the time she'd realized it, the waiter was already picking up the money. She finished shrugging into her coat and then made her way to the exit, Peter close behind.
As they walked, he put his hand lightly on her back. Nothing more than a friendly gesture. It warmed her, and she felt herself slip back into their easy going familiarity. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe, eventually, she'd be able to look him right in the eye again, without her stomach flip flopping.
But then he leans over, ever the gentleman, to open the door for her. It's gone in less than a second. But she saw it, the shimmer, strong as it had been the first time. And even though she knew –how she knew she had no idea – but she knew that she'd never see it again. At least not unless she went looking for it. And she knew that it didn't matter. Because nothing would ever be the same with Peter.