Spoilers: Spoilers through 3.22, "The Day We Died".
Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or its characters.
Author's note: Written for Kink Bingo. Prompt: writing on the body. Many thanks to crazylittleelf for the beta.
Sketches of Memory
Olivia shivers as she awakes from her doze. Peter is no longer beside her and she tenses, just for a moment, before the bed dips as he sits down. He lifts her hair to kiss the nape of her neck and she relaxes.
He's still here.
His hand, warm against her cooling skin, skims her back, thumbs tracing her spine, then something tickles her side. With it comes a strong scent, not entirely unpleasant but not what she would expect to smell in her bedroom. Curious, she rises to her elbows and twists to see Peter bending over her, a Sharpie in his hand and more capped in different colors beside him. He scribbles down her side with a messy flourish. She can't tell what he's writing, though she's pretty sure he's turning her body into a canvas for words rather than art. She considers protesting but the marker tip pressing patterns against her skin is soothing, and she lets her mind drift.
Memories surge forward: The delicate touch of a pen on her face, the anticipatory focus of the man who wielded it, a room stark white when it wasn't as dark as the dreams still half-hidden in her mind. Her stomach twists and she swallows. Anxiety gives way to the nearly overwhelming terror and betrayal that surrounded the moment, to remembered determination to survive. Her breath catches, goes ragged. Peter rests a hand between her shoulder blades in silent support as she rides the flashback until its inevitable end.
Her muscles unknot one by one, helped by the gentle kneading of his long fingers against her shoulders. She clears her throat, tilting her elbow toward the markers. "Stealing lab supplies again?"
"Since Walter has, like, a hundred of them, I figured he wouldn't miss a few," Peter says, his voice warm and affectionate.
A hundred could be an underestimate; Walter's collection encompasses every size, shape, and color imaginable. She's found them scattered everywhere in the lab, tucked into hidey holes that make no sense to anyone but the mad scientist who squirreled them away. She smiles fondly, then narrows her eyes as she remembers why Walter considers Sharpies prized possessions. "Those won't wash off, will they."
"No one will see," he says. A small smile tugs at his lips. "Especially if you actually take the next few days off as planned."
"I said I would."
"Mmhmm." The smile turns to a smirk and he presses a kiss against her shoulder.
She settles her head back on her arms with a snort at his amused disbelief. It has taken her a long time to learn to treasure the quiet moments when the breakneck pace of patching up the tears in the universe slows to a crawl, but this time nothing bigger than the end of the world will disrupt their weekend away and they've already faced down that and won. For anything smaller, Fringe Division has expanded enough to cover for them while they're gone. Soon she'll trade Fringe Division for the FBI proper and will have to relearn what passes for normal.
She's looking forward to the challenge.
"Alcohol will get most of it off, if you really want it gone," he says a few minutes and several colors later. His current Sharpie—red, she thinks, but she didn't get a good look when he grabbed it—skims the base of her spine, loops words up her back. "And even if you don't, in a few days all the skin I marked will be rubbed off as the epidermis sheds, replaced by new and unblemished skin." His fingers drift to her side and the still-pink path of the bullet that gouged her, then up to her left shoulder blade, where he lingers. He traces the edges of the palm-wide burn scar, courtesy of the warehouse explosion that nearly killed her when he wasn't there to watch her back. When he wasn't anywhere at all. "Nothing I'm doing this time is permanent."
She wants to catch his hand in hers and remind him that she's fine, that they're fine, but she folds her fingers against her palm, turning her head to the side to watch him. "What are you writing?" she asks, wondering, finally, what words she'll be carrying for the next few days.
He changes fingertips for marker tip and sketches a line that tickles down her shoulder blade and across the middle of her back before murmuring, "Reminders."
"Of who you are. Of what you do." He picks up a purple Sharpie, adds something that sweeps down her flank. "Of what you mean to me and who we are together. Of everything we lost."
This time she reaches out, touching his hip to reassure him—to reassure herself—that he's there, embodied, beside her. Her Cortexiphan-enhanced memory wouldn't let her forget him, and the Machine and his bond to her brought him back. She closes her eyes to feel the strokes sink past her skin and become a part of her, willing those memories to bind so tightly they can never again be lost, willing the ones yet lost to be regained. She hates that she doesn't know how much of her past is still missing, hates more that she doesn't even realize there are holes until the memory slides back into place and the rest of her memories shift and realign in response, creating another layer of memories that don't quite mesh. She has more lives in her head than should fit in any one person.
But Peter's lost so much more than the scattershot of memories he hasn't yet regained. Walter stares at him sometimes, expression warring between wistful and fierce, and Olivia can almost see the lost life gathering beneath Walter's skin before the moment fades into puzzlement and frustration. To the rest, Peter is just a new agent brought in to play partner to Olivia and give Astrid a much needed day off once in a while. The Machine couldn't restore his past without destroying the fragile balance between universes, but gave him that much of a place in their lives. All he can do is rebuild what he can, one day at a time.
She rolls to her back and catches his hands. "I'd find you," she says fiercely. "No matter what happened."
"You're good at that." He interlaces his fingers with hers and kisses her hands, one after the other.
"I've had practice." She tries to tug him closer. Amusement crinkling the corners of his eyes, he puts up token resistance until she hooks her leg around his hip and rolls them. They nearly topple off the bed and half the Sharpies clatter to the floor. She ends up sprawled on top of him, their faces inches apart and their hands trapped between them. She rubs her nose against his and sighs, remembering how many times she's found him again and how many times she's fought through hidden memories to do so. "Too much practice," she murmurs, and he nods.
"Let's not do it again." He kisses her nose. "We'll try something new and stay together, angst free, memories and personalities intact." His eyes darkening, he swallows and nuzzles her cheek, his breath hot against her jaw. "And alive," he rasps. "Alive would be good, too."
"Deal," she says. She frees a hand and gropes blindly for one of the remaining Sharpies, thumbing off the cap when she finds one and lifting herself up enough to write her name and his. She touches the blue words she scribbled across his chest, tracing the letters, then surrounds them with a slightly lopsided heart and writes underneath, more neatly, you belong with me. A promise of home for both of them. The phrase was the first memory that had infiltrated her brain, even before his face started haunting her dreams.
He props himself up on his elbows and surveys her work. A quick grin lights up his face and he snags a Sharpie and adds a + in purple between their names. "You know, this should be carved in a tree," he says thoughtfully. "It would be perfect for the one right outside the Kresge Building. We can revisit it every time we slip off for a few minutes to scandalize the college kids." He raises his eyebrows and she laughs.
"Maybe later." She buries her hands in his hair, closing the space between them to whisper against his lips, "We need practice if we're going to scandalize them effectively." The last word is muffled as she kisses him, a gentle exploration that quickly deepens into urgency; he wraps his arms around her back and pulls her closer still. He's warm and solid against her skin, tastes of wine and of him and, faintly, of her. She scrapes nails against his scalp to hear him hiss in pleasure, undulates against him to feel him shudder under her, and loses herself in making new memories for them both.