Everything is bleached bright and washed out. People speak to her, but it's like listening to the radio with the treble turned all the way down; she hears hints of words, the shapes of vowels and consonants, but the corners have been filed off and blunted. Olivia's soaked to the skin with some compound, probably volatile or contagious, given the way the haz-mat suits are flitting in and out of her field of vision. She feels flushed, hot, and shivery all at the same time.
It's all entirely nauseating.
Ash floats through the air like fluffy snowflakes and sticks to her skin and her clothes. There's a tug on her shoulder, words she can't make out through her pyrokinesis hangover. She feels a hand at the small of her back and knows without question that it's him, Peter, and not another EMT trying to herd her into an ambulance. She wonders who called him to the scene.
"I got her." Peter's voice cuts through the white noise of sensory overstimulation and she clings to its clarity. "Yeah, yeah, I got it. Decontamination's that way. Just back off and give her some air. I'll take care of it." His voice is edging on aggressive, but his hand never leaves her.
'Now he's been exposed too,' she thinks as she lets him lead her through the crowd. 'Damn chivalrous idiot.' Still, she's grateful he's here. If she has to be man-handled by emergency personnel, she usually prefers to be unconscious; she should be on a first name basis with some of them by now. Olivia keeps her head down to block out the hum and press of all the people around her. 'How many techs does it take to clean up a crime scene?' but she doesn't know the punch line to that one. Probably too many.
There's a rustle of thick vinyl, the scratch of the heavy plastic zipper, so loud that it sounds as if it's coming from the back of her head as she's ushered through the airlock, towards the makeshift showers. She just stands there as Peter unclips her badge and her gun and puts them in a big plastic bag. He slips his hands through her coat like a skilled pickpocket and rescues her wallet, her keys, and the drowned carcass of her cell phone, then seals them up as well.
The light in here is dimmer, muted, and the people hurrying by are just quick moving blotches along the outer walls. Peter shucks her coat, her shirt, then kneels down to unlace her boots. She needs to put both hands on his shoulders to steady herself as she steps out of first one, then the other. They join the rest of her clothes in another bag, probably to be sent off to be destroyed. Peter works the clasp on her slacks and slides them off her hips. He doesn't say much more than is needed, and for that she's thankful. The world is just starting to come back into focus and it takes all her concentration at the moment just to stay vertical.
"You going to do this, or am I?"
Olivia looks open her eyes (she doesn't remember closing them) and finds Peter still kneeling before her. He's got his thumb hooked in the waistband of her panties and he's waiting for her permission. It's not the first time he's helped her strip down to her skivvies in public, if one were to count the lab as such, and so far this whole event has just been a matter of familiar process. He keeps his eyes locked on hers, and when she shakes her head, she realizes that she's been dripping mystery compound all over him. He's going to need to strip and wash too.
He doesn't seem bothered by the fact.
Peter's hands are the only thing warm against her chilled skin as he skims her underwear down and off. Her bra follows, and that's when she realizes how very cold she is. If they can set up a small village, complete with running water in the space of an hour, tops, why can't they bring in a little heat too?
She wraps her arms around herself and steps under the lukewarm shower spray. Somewhere nearby, a siren starts up, Doppler shifts away with a warble from three fathoms deep. She's covered in goosebumps and the water hits her skin with heavy dull thuds, like it's being dropped by the tablespoon full.
Peter crowds into the tiny cubicle and she steps back into his arms, and into the heat he's radiating. There's the rustle of plastic and a "Thanks" from Peter, and then he's working the soap into her hair, sudsing from the top down. He exchanges words with whoever's come through the temporary washdown area to collect their contaminated clothes. Their answer is muffled by their suit and respirator.
The zipper grumbles and then they're alone. Well, as alone as can be with a couple dozen cops, paramedics, and CDC personnel milling around on the other side of a three-sheet curtain of cloudy PVC.
Peter works quickly. His hands are firm and slick against her skin as he lathers up and scrubs every inch of her. Olivia has no idea what she was doused with, and he's taking no chances. His fingers dig into her hair, nails scratching at her scalp. Water runs down her cheeks, into her ears and her mouth. It's got that airless flat taste from being sealed in plastic and sitting in the sun. She spits. Even her insides feel dull, hollowed out, everything slowed and distorted.
Everything except the feel of Peter on her skin.
His hands scrub her shoulders, massages the long muscles of her back, hitting knots and bruises she didn't even know she had. She hisses as his fingers probe a particularly tender spot beside her hip. She hears him mutter something dark under his breath. Then he kneels, rubs brisk circles down one thigh, then the other, businesslike right to the tips of her toes.
And god, does he feel good.
It's like all her blood is rushing to her kneecap, then her ankle, swirling to the back of her leg to meet his fingers as they knead and rub and scrub. It leaves her light headed, her heart racing, mouth dry, and she's almost panting as sensation comes racing back un-buffered and unchecked.
It's not until he spins her towards him that she realizes that he's not wearing any clothes. She's looking down at his bare feet when he nudges her chin with a knuckle, and she drags her eyes up to his face with a slight detour midway. She'd though he'd kept his boxers on, at least.
She probably looks as surprised as she feels; she's never been able to keep secrets from Peter very well.
"Hey there you are," he says, softer than she expects. "I was starting to get a little worried that you'd checked out on me here." He brushes wet hair from in front of her eyes and she can't help but shiver. Hard.
The water is cooling off, and despite his hands on her, palms cupping her shoulders, she's cold. She takes a step closer because he's throwing BTU's like a furnace on high and she wants a little piece of that. There's all sorts of noises outside, or at least she's hearing them now; heavy boots shuffling on the asphalt, the hiss and crackle of two-ways, voices shouting orders, asking for reports, but in here, under pat pat pat of the shower, all she can hear is his breathing, even, measured, and precisely controlled.
Olivia reaches a hand out and lets her finger graze the arch of his hip bone, just to see if he'll flinch. He does and let s out a soft grunt that she feels as it rushes past her cheek.
"Still here," she says, and notices how the water is running down his ribs in tiny rivulets. She swipes her thumb across the plane of his stomach and watches as the water is interrupted momentarily, pools and then diverts. His abs tense and she can tell exactly when his breathing stops. "Still very much here."
"Yes you are." And then Peter's lathering up the soap again, very much back to business. As back to business as can be while she's running her fingers up his sides, mapping every last one of his ribs, stepping forward, into him so her hands can learn the difference between the texture of bone and muscle and sinew.
It's like a switch has been flipped in her brain, neurons sparked, and the air between them has become charged. All her senses suddenly electrified. The soap is tangy, industrial, and slippery as she runs her hands around his sides and up, across the angles of his shoulder blades, and then down pearls of his spine. They are face to face now, stomachs to chest, flesh to flesh, and Peter's given up any pretense of control. The shower is almost cold, but he's hot and hard against her belly. There are voices, barely six feet away, and while Olivia can definitely make then out now, their words are lost behind the pounding of her heart, the beat of her pulse in her ears, and Peter's ragged breath against her neck. She lifts up on tip toe and shifts, and then he there, not inside, but close, aching and hot against her.
She watches his throat as he swallows and now her goosebumps have nothing to do with being cold. It's the tiniest of motions, the slightest shift in balance, left to right, back and forth, and he's gripping her hips, trying to pull her closer, deeper, and she can feel it all. The way his fingertips dig into her muscles, the way he's holding his breath, trying to very hard not to give in, the way she's all slick and wet and just gripping him tight with the pressure of her thigh and her weight and his height. She locks her arms at the small of his back because he's trembling against her, into her, but it's all too much and she moves, slides, and curses that she's got nothing to back him into. He steps back, stumbles, but she's got him pulled against her and the flames ignite as he thrusts and she pulls and he bites as he cries out, her name muffled and drowned by a noise, more sirens, off to her right. And for once, she follows him, not the other way around, head buried in his chest and the water beats down.
And they stand for a moment, letting the shower sluice away the last of the suds. "That was… " Peter is for once, at a loss.
"Sure. That works."
Olivia pulls back just a bit. "Do you think there's a towel around here? Maybe some clothes?"
"The bigger question is," Peter wipes the water drops out of his eyes, "how are you going to explain this in your report?"