Olivia/ Peter - an angsty set fo refletions post Olivia's return.

My borrowing the characters is just that - they aren't mine and I mean no offense in taking them out for a spin!

Enjoy

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Olivia Dunham has always had a thing for numbers.

Seventeen nights. Most with little or no sleep and all of it taken on the sofa or in the armchair, blanket pulled up tight to her chin. Eleven attempts at dinner revisited only hours later. Six nights where even the idea of pretending to be hungry seemed like too much like hard work.

Eighteen days she's been back. Of them she has found reasons to sit in her uniform, impersonal office in the federal building for nine. Avoided the lab altogether for twelve. She's turned corners and seen conversations between fellow agents stop abruptly on at least thirty two occasions – plus one where she couldn't be sure and so, true to her own moral code, did not count.

She's washed the contents of her wardrobe five times - eleven loads of washing in all. As she's piled each bundle together she has been grimly amused by the lack of colour and how much more simple it makes the exercise. She'd sobbed, big almost hiccoughing sobs for the first time over her favourite shoes – so missed until she'd realised another owner had staked a claim whilst she had been gone. She's opened four new packs of underwear unashamedly, having thrown everything that had been in the dresser drawer away. She's pulled open the drawer where she had folded the faded MIT t-shirt and traced it gently with her finger fourteen times.

She's reached towards a bottle and refilled a too quickly empty glass on sixty two occasions. Looked at the screen of her mobile phone and ignored his call forty seven times. Picked up the phone to call him nineteen times more.

Night eighteen rolls round after a difficult day. One where Broyles cast his thirteenth worried look in her direction and forced her to the lab on what feels like a patronising and futile errand. A day where the minutes moved as if they were hours and the previously warm and familial atmosphere was stilted and frosty. A day where Walter started to speak and then stopped a record fourteen times even his usual childlike enthusiasm failing in the face of the rolling yet never ending tension. As night fell she made her excuses and now here she is again. Wandering almost aimlessly through the space that was once her home. She picks up a glass from the worktop next to the sink and pours shot sixty three. Flicks through the property guide for the ninth time. Feels the now familiar flash of anger that she has to even consider leaving. Feels impotent and irate with herself for the brooding. The phone buzzes on the coffee table and the screen flashes in the now encroaching dark. She reaches for it, knowing what she'll see. Frustrated with herself that even through her anger she is relieved he hasn't given up. She presses cancel. Fifty. As she puts it down she watches in resignation as her hand shakes and the waves of sobs come once more. The thirtieth time.

Olivia Dunham has always had a thing for numbers.

Before... Peter used to enjoy knowing this about her. Enjoyed the memory of her sharing it with him; an almost confession. Enjoyed the hint of trust that the always implied. Knowing it he enjoyed watching her from the corner of his eye, or increasingly more blatantly as they drove and she counted the miles. He enjoyed her flush of quiet pleasure when a case needed her to recall strings of numbers or place a number plate. Enjoyed watching her almost instantaneously count toppings on the pizzas they shared over the desk late at night or tally up the bottles or shots on their all too rare nights out. Now the knowledge burns him.

How many times did he betray her? Too many. But what to count and from when? The sixteen times he tumbled to her bed (and sofa and shower wall) are obvious but hardly the sole count of his transgression. Arguably greater are the multitude of missed signs – the fact She walked away after straight after chasing him down in another universe, the new found love of music but vagueness of Her film history, Her sudden forthrightness when it came to the physical, the quick smile, the times She struggled with numbers, with recollection. Hindsight and self hatred provide a vivid and large screen to replay the memories and as they keep coming as his loathing grows. He can't stop thinking, can't stop trying to come up with a value. Should he count the conversations on the pillows before sleep took them both, the times he thrilled with making Her giggle, the easy intimacy curled up in front of the television? Should he include the times he left Walter alone so he could be with Her? The favours asked of Astrid? With so many failings he is afraid he'll never be able to stop and worries that she will drive herself slowly mad trying to understand them all, to see and to total them all.

Today she appeared in the lab, awkward with an irrelevant task for Broyles. He could see her counting steps, keeping her distance from him. Three times he glanced up and saw her eyes on him. The rawness of her pain shining all too vividly. He needs for it to be better. Needs for her to be better and for it not to feel like this anymore. He just doesn't know what to say or how to make it happen, but knows selfishly in the part that hasn't quite given up hope that he wants to be the one to make it better. To provide comfort. He reaches for the phone and is almost relieved when he hits voicemail so quickly after the third ring that he knows she's blocked his call.

She nurses glass sixty three as the tears slow and then stop and her body ceases shaking. She reaches for the corner light for the eighteenth time and flinches in the harsh light. She puts the glass down and starts her nightly wandering – into the kitchen where she decides tonight will be the seventh without food. Into the bedroom where an all but magnetic pull drags her to the dresser. Her hands reach out and the top drawer slides open revealing the soft grey marl t shirt. She reaches in and rather than tentitively touch the t-shirt she picks it up and hold it close to her chest for what is the second time. She pauses all but expecting the thirty first set of tears. They don't come. She feels strangely empty and clear headed – and moves back to the phone room with purpose. She picks up the phone and makes a snap decision to reset the count.

Not the twentieth but the first. She presses the third speed dial on the phone,

"Peter?"