Disclaimer: Still not owning anything beside a masochist muse.
Spoilers: All the way up to 4x12 'Welcome to Westfield'
Rating: M for the second part.
A/N: I think you should all know that I just did a very graceful victory dance upon realizing that ffnet was working again. I've been waiting for over four hours to post this. Oh the frustration this website puts me through I swear.
So, you could call this a post 'Welcome to Westfield' story, even though I really wrote most of it after 4x10 'Forced Perspective'. The whole Olivia/Nina situation really got to me, so I started this, needing to write some Olivia!whump and P/O hurt/comfort, and never finished it. The newest episode made me go back to it (and not just because of ze sex XD). It's still completely off canon, though, because I'm ignoring the last scene of 4x12 (despite its awesomeness, feels good to be right!), as well as the promo for 4x13, or I would have had to rewrite the entire thing (again). But reading this, you'll see that I'm really not ignoring the episode either :p
This story is complete, but huge, so I'm posting it in two parts. The rest shall come tomorrow, or Tuesday, because it needs editing. It's also unbetaed, so I apologize about that!
To anyone else witnessing the scene, Olivia indubitably looks like a startling and worrying mess as she enters the interrogation room.
To Peter, standing tense and quiet on the other side of the two-way mirror, she looks like a fallen warrior.
The blood is without a doubt the worst of it. Her shirt, which was still white a few hours ago, is now imbued with dirt, result of all the violent wrestling she's been part of, today, furthermore explaining the two ripped buttons at the bottom of it. Most of its front is also splattered with crimson, the color of a blood that has now almost completely dried up. Even from this distance, he knows that it has formed a thin layer on her skin as well, over her collarbone in particular, where her shirt is never completely buttoned up. Her hair is hardly maintained in what remains of her bun, a few long strands having completely escaped from it to frame her face, adding to her disheveled look.
And of course, there is this ugly gash on her cheekbone, still slowly oozing thick liquid down her cheek, along with the few complimentary bruises and cuts scattered all over the pale skin of her face.
No, the blood isn't the worst of it, Peter corrects himself inwardly. Her eyes, and the look on that wounded face of hers, they are the worst of it. He wishes he could say he hadn't expected her to come into the room, but he knows better.
Some things never change.
Another thing that will never change is his instantaneous desire to join her in there, to try and take her away maybe, in the pointless hope that it might spare her some additional pain. He's not even going to try, though.
She came into that room for a reason, and no one but herself will make her pass that door again.
Peter can tell that the exact same reasoning goes through Broyles's mind, as he stares at his agent from where he sits at the table. A few moments ago, he had been telling Nina Sharp that the fact that they didn't have enough evidence to keep her in the building wouldn't stop him from trying. And up until then, Nina had been as composed as ever, sitting straight on her chair, gloved hands calmly splayed over the table in front of her.
When Peter's eyes briefly dart away from Olivia to scan Broyles' face, then Nina's, he can already tell the difference. The two men had expected present company. Nina, for some reason, had not. And the look of genuine worry and mixed emotions that crosses the old woman's face as she stares at Olivia's sad state only makes Peter angrier.
She has no right to display these signs anymore, these signs that she cares.
Peter breathes in and out slowly, deeply; his arms tightly crossed in front his chest as he stares at the scene, he's doing his best to keep his own emotions under control.
Olivia and Broyles exchange a look full of unspoken words. She doesn't even need to ask him to leave the room; he stands up on his own, throws another glare at Nina, before going for the door. As he passes Olivia, he bows his head down to whisper something close to her ear.
Peter can't hear what he has said, but Olivia nods shortly, almost imperceptibly, answering a low "That's more than I need," leading Peter to think that she was just given no more than five to ten minutes with that woman who wasn't even their prisoner.
When Broyles closes the door behind him, the two women end up alone in the room, entering the most intense staring contest Peter has ever witnessed, the air charged with too many unspeakable words.
Mostly, it's charged with betrayal.
Again, to anyone else, Olivia might have looked almost impassive at that instant, maybe too drained from her obviously rocky day to be able to display any kind of emotion. And again, Peter knows better.
He stares, too, stares at her face, and he sees it all.
He's only faintly surprised when Nina is the first to speak. "Are you badly hurt?" Her voice is soft, quiet.
Olivia blinks, and shakes her head slowly, never taking her eyes away from Nina's face. "Most of this blood isn't mine. I'm pretty sure you've guessed whose it is by now, if one of your minions haven't found a way to inform you yet."
"It is Jones's, I presume," Nina answers, almost conversationally.
Maybe it's the mention of the man she's killed rather gruesomely only a while ago that sets Olivia into motion; because she moves, then, walking toward the table. "Yeah," she says, bluntly, both her hands coming up to grab the back of the chair. "Turns out he's not that invincible after all."
"You should get that cut checked," Nina points out with a tilt of her head, her worry adding more creases to her wrinkly face. "That is definitely your blood."
Olivia shrugs. The gesture is stiff, almost forced, as is this whole conversation. "Nothing but a little souvenir from one his Shapeshifters."
A shapeshifter who had ended up with a bullet in his head only a few seconds later. Peter had made sure of that.
He remembers the sudden and intense surge of adrenaline that had flooded into a blood already overflowing with said hormone, when he had seen the man about to dig his makeshift knife into Olivia's back, who had still been disoriented on the ground; he remembers aiming with a furious focus that had darkened his peripheral vision, and pulling the trigger with a rush of familiar, sinister satisfaction. He also remembers seeing a couple of paramedics attempting to tend Olivia's wound in the aftermath of it all, but he had been too busy trying to calm Walter down at the time to make his way to them so he could force her to stay still while they stitched her up, maybe.
The old man is now back at the lab, heavily sedated for the next twelve hours at least, while Olivia stands here in that interrogation room, painfully battered up and still oozing blood and regrets.
"Olive…" Nina begins, but Olivia's aggressive reaction instantly stops her, as she uses her grip on the chair to lift it up and slam it back down on the ground, the metal scratching the floor in a loud, unnerving sound.
"Don't." Her voice is throaty, now, and her mask of impassibility is crumbling at the seams. "Don't call me that, ever again."
Nina has lost some of her composure, too, having slumped slightly into her chair, and she goes as far as to close her eyes briefly, her hands leaving the table to join over her laps. Olivia uses this moment to sit down in front of her, sitting at the very edge of her seat as she leans forward over the table, both her arms resting on the cold surface. The undersides of her sleeves are soaked with dried blood; she had used her arms to cover her face.
She stares at the woman who had raised her for so many years, a very painful mask of mixed emotions displayed on her face, now, having apparently decided to drop the act at last. Maybe she was simply unable to keep it up.
Peter recognizes that face all too well, her eyes screaming a hundred questions, but in the end, it goes down to: 'How could you?' and 'Why?'
She had given him that same look, once, in another timeline, or perhaps had it been in another life, he isn't sure of anything anymore. He realizes then that who she is giving this look to doesn't matter. Being the direct recipient and the one responsible for so much hurt had been unbearable, but in that instant, watching her pour her soul out through glistening green eyes is just as heartbreaking.
In the end, Olivia settles for neither question. The words she whispers instead are even worse.
"I trusted you."
Nina slowly raises her head again and reopens her eyes to meet her tearful eyes. "I can explain," she says, and Peter had never heard this particular woman sounding so dreary, almost weakened.
"I don't need another one of your excuses," Olivia replies harshly, though her voice is still hardly louder than a whisper, one of her hands leaving the table as she holds it out in front of her, palm up. "I know everything, Nina. Jones told me how most of his plans would never have worked if it hadn't been for your precious help."
"If you would just listen-" Nina attempts again, but Olivia's palm falls back down, forcefully, slamming the metallic surface of the table.
"I won't listen to another word from you," she almost spits out, pushing herself away from the table and falling back into her chair, her hand once again raised in front of her. "You sat there with me. You listened to me talk about migraines you were inflicting me, giving me treatments that were really poisoning me." She's shaking her head hard now. "You drugged me. I loved you, and trusted you. And you stabbed me in the back. Or should I say in the back of the head, with a needle."
"Listen to me Olivia, the only reason I did this is because I love you," Nina says vehemently, leaning over the table. "You were always so…special, extraordinary, truly. I had the chance to see it, first as a young child, and then more than anyone else, having you in my home for so many years. You have a gift. All I did was make it available to you once more, so you could fully shine again."
Olivia's hand is now up to her mouth, her fingers pressed hard against her lips, and she lets out a dark, throaty chuckle. When she drops her hand, she pinches her lips together, briefly closing her eyes, before staring back at Nina again. The raw emotions she was displaying a minute ago haven't gone anywhere, but they have morphed into something much more ominous.
"A gift, uh?" She repeats, in low voice. "Do you want to know how Jones died, today?"
Nina doesn't say anything, but the air is so charged with anticipation that Peter can almost hear it crackle, even through the glass. Olivia moves again, putting both her arms back on the table so that their faces come very close together.
"It worked, you know," she whispers, head tilted, face blank and eyes ablaze. "I'm fully 'active' again. And when I'm placed in a particularly stressful and upsetting situation like today…I react. And it wasn't a fire this time, Nina. And it isn't just Jones' blood all over my clothes; it's his flesh. I made him blow up, like a pack of meat left too long in a microwave. I guess not being completely stable on a molecular level becomes a bit of an unreliability when you mess around with a freak of nature like me."
As Nina stares at her, her shock and horror barely concealed from her face, Olivia pushes herself away from the table again, standing back up this time. "I don't ever want to have anything to do with you again." She says in her darkest tone. "If I hear you've as much as tried to come near Rachel or Ella, I swear I'll make you burn. And since you know me so well, having had me in your home for so many years, you know just how much I mean it."
And on these words, she nothing short of flees the room.
In the wake of witnessing such a scene, it takes Peter a few seconds to shake off the odd numbness that has taken over his body. It takes him a second too long. As soon as he snaps out of it, he makes for the door, knowing that Olivia will not be okay, and everything in him urges him to be there for her, to offer her whatever she needs him to be in that moment.
Indeed, when he goes out into the hall, she's standing farther away in the distance, having obviously tried to walk away from the interrogation room. She's pacing the way she always does, a hand back up to her face, stubbornly trying to keep it together. But she's not alone in hall.
Peter watches as Lincoln Lee approaches her; it is clear that the other man had been waiting for her to come out. He had been waiting to offer her that comfort Peter used to be the one giving her.
Even if he ran, Peter would never reach her first.
And why would he even try, anyway?
A cold that is becoming quite familiar spreads within him, his movements frozen as he watches Lincoln walks towards Olivia. It is a cold that always follows these fleeting instants when Peter forgets, even for a second, where he is and where he's not. At times, it is so easy to lose himself in his heart's pretense, especially when Olivia, this Olivia, resembles his so much.
She looks too much like her, tonight, and because of this, his lapse of judgment has lasted longer than usual. It makes his return to reality that much more painful.
He has no right to feel jealous or resentful towards Lincoln in any way –especially when he has helped the guy gained Olivia's trust in the first place, but he's too tired and shaken tonight, and he misses her too much to be reasonable. That is why he turns around and walk away, averting his eyes from the scene before he can see Lincoln reach the place where Olivia is pacing, deciding he can spare himself the sight.
As soon as he finds himself standing outside in the cold winter air, though, he remembers that he doesn't have a car to get home; Olivia had picked him up what seems to be a lifetime ago. Despite the intensity of the cold, he hardly moves, letting its icy claws sharpen his mind and clear his head, the physical frost almost matching the one still freezing his insides. There is nothing more he could have done, anyway, he keeps telling himself. He has fought the physical battle with her, the way he always will, but the rest does not concern him.
He is just coming to the conclusion that he should call a cab when he feels her. There really is no better way to put it. He instinctively turns around to see her emerge from the building, as she's weakly putting her coat on. He's surprised to see her; he honestly expected her to stay with Lincoln for a while. As he scans her face, though, surprise changes into understanding and aching concern.
She has retreated within herself again, that much is obvious, her eyes almost vacant now. It takes her a few seconds to realize he's standing there, mere feet away from her, and her gaze gains some focus as she wraps her coat tightly around her body. Now seeing her up close, he notices she's shaking, not so faintly.
"I thought you'd gone home a while ago," she says.
Her voice doesn't sound suspicious or wary. If Peter were honest with himself, he would admit that it hadn't been in a while. The truth is, she's been much warmer to him, lately. She has even gone as far as to admit that she liked working with him, and he knows she appreciates his insight on things he has seen before, and that have yet to happen here. She seems to rely on him even more since her Cortexiphan abilities have started to manifest themselves and it has come to light that Peter knows a lot about that, too.
Nothing he has told her about her abilities could have prepared her for what happened today, though. None of them was prepared for this, and that's surely part of the reason why they are both so shaken, and will be for a while.
"I just left the building, too," he admits softly, still studying her quietly. "I was about to call a cab."
The way she's looking at him is a bit odd, even though he cannot tell what exactly is odd in her stare. All he knows is that it's not the first time she's giving him that kind of look, lately.
What he also knows right away is that she has somehow understood that he was in there to witness her 'talk' with Nina. She won't comment on it, though, in the hope that he maybe wasn't. Undoubtedly feeling more exposed than she likes, she averts her eyes, her gaze getting blurry again.
Before he can stop himself, he hears himself asks: "Where's Lincoln?"
He could have slapped himself for uttering these words. Olivia merely shrugs at his question, though, her eyes still down as she hugs herself tighter. "He stayed inside. He offered to take care of…all the paperwork."
The rims of her eyes are red. She looks too small and vulnerable, and in way too much pain. Looking at her standing outside that way, with all these evident signs of her battles and of that brutal betrayal displayed all over face and body language, Peter is filled with another strong feeling of déjà-vu. He never used to get those, before. But ever since he has ended up here, the sensation is almost constant.
At that instant, it suddenly becomes clear why this seems so familiar, why she looks so much like his Olivia.
In his timeline, he has seen her being hurt the same way, has watched as she was being overwhelmed with that sense of inevitability, mere days after meeting her, in the aftermath of John's death. It had been there all over again months later, after she'd had to kill a shapeshifter who had stolen her partner's identity and life.
And of course, it had been there in the wake of his involuntary betrayal, scarring his heart in an indelible way, in a way that still now leads him to think 'never again'.
The fact that she had never been hurt like this before had been part of what had made this Olivia so inexplicably different, in little ways he hadn't really been able to explain before. But he sees it, now, he sees what has gone from her eyes.
Just like his Olivia, she has lost the desire to trust.
Because her trust has just been broken, ruthlessly, and she has been left unbalanced and exposed. It is in moments like this one that his certainty about being in the wrong place weavers, when absolutely everything in her, from the way she remains on her feet despite the pain, to the expressions that crosses her face in subtle ways he knows too well, makes him feel like he's right where he's supposed to be.
Never again, he reminds himself.
But as if she's hearing his thoughts, Olivia looks back at him then, and her eyes remains a bit too intense. A shiver shoots down his spine.
"Why do you need a cab?" She asks him, as if she has just realized what he had said a moment ago.
"You picked me up today," he reminds her with a soft smile. "And I'm a bit too worn out to walk all the way back there." He immediately feels like an idiot for mentioning his exhaustion when she's in such a poor state, both physically and emotionally, but she doesn't seem to care.
She actually keeps on staring at him, before shaking her head a little. "No need for a cab, I'll drive you."
But it's his turn to shake his head. "Nonsense. You need to get home, Olivia, don't worry about me, I'll be fine." Actually, he had really wanted to ask her to let him drive her home, but he knows what kind of answer he would get.
She has averted her eyes again, her face slightly constricted as she admits: "Honestly, I'm not in any hurry to get back to my place. Broyles said he'll send a few people over there tomorrow, to find and get rid of all the bugs and cameras planted in my apartment."
He wants to shake himself hard again, for being so slow right now, having briefly forgotten about that part, about the video Jones had shown them to prove his words about Nina's involvement.
Olivia hasn't forgotten.
To her, it must feel like her entire world has just been turned upside down, and even her home doesn't feel safe anymore, traces of Nina's deception all over the place.
The memory of her voice rings suddenly in his head, and it's not only shivers that break through his body but goose bumps as well, especially when she meets his eyes again and seems to know exactly what is going through his mind.
But it's impossible.
It's impossible. That's what he keeps on telling himself every time she says something she shouldn't know, claiming then upon seeing his confusion that she has simply read it in his debrief, or that he's told her about it at some point during the last few weeks. Dismissing these troubling moments is the best thing to do, especially now that he is so close to get the Machine to work and bring him home. Admittedly, his obsession has calmed down quite dramatically in the past two weeks despite the excellent progress Walter and he had made, but he had told himself that it was because he didn't want to leave until Olivia was able to deal with her abilities on her own, and until Jones was stopped for good.
Jones has just been stopped, quite efficiently and permanently. He should feel eager to get back to work on the Machine, now. But all he thinks about is Walter's grip earlier today, when he had clasped Peter's face in his hands.
And now, he is once more shaken with uncertainty as he holds Olivia's strange gaze, and almost lets himself think what if…
But he shrugs his shoulders a bit stiffly, as if trying to fight the cold winter air, when he's really just trying to shake off these unreasonable thoughts from his mind. Eventually, he nods his head at her.
"Alright, you can take me home," he agrees, before adding: "But at one condition." She gives him a suspicious look, to which he answers with the tiniest smile. "You let me drive."
He makes sure to keep his voice low and quiet, almost informal, as if he was dealing with a wild, scared animal…which in some ways, he is.
Despite his best efforts, her entire body tenses up slightly, and she then obviously tries to hold herself straighter. "I can still drive."
"I know you can," he says softly, not in the least surprised by her reply. "This has nothing to do with you, and everything to do with me. I would just feel much less useless if I was the one driving."
They stare at each other for another endless moment, and he can tell she's fighting hard against her pride and exhaustion. In return, he simply offers her his most honest look of concern. When her shoulders eventually slump and she lets out a defeated sigh, he knows her pride has just lost that round.
"Fine," she agrees weakly, a hand already in her coat's pocket to retrieve her keys.
When she hands them out to him, he instantly notices the strong tremors shaking her fingers, fingers that are still tinted with traces of dried blood. She notices too, and quickly buries her hands back in her pockets, before turning away and starting to walk towards where she has parked her car, holding on to her last bit of dignity by leading the way.
She's asleep barely five minutes after he starts driving.
At first, he tries not to look at her, only throwing furtive glances her way, taking in the way she's positioned herself against the door, using her arm as pillow, her uninjured cheek pressed into the fabric of her coat.
By the time he's nearing his house, he's staring every time he stops at a red light.
His eyes always fall back on the ugly gash on her left cheek; he knows the paramedics have tried to clean it up, but it's clear she hasn't allowed them to do much more than putting some antiseptic on it –letting them stitch the skin back together would have been a good idea, for example. It looks like it's starting to close itself up, the blood no longer oozing out, but enough of it has trickled down her cheek. If she doesn't do anything about it soon, she's likely to get both an infection and bad scar. After studying the cut, his eyes then always move downward. Even though her blood-stained shirt is now hidden beneath her coat, enough of Jones' remains visible on her skin, especially with her neck exposed the way it is now.
He has just taken the wise decision that he should not let her out of his sight until she's let him take care of that wound when a car honks behind him, unhappily, letting him know that the light has turned green a few moments ago.
He gently shakes her awake once he's parked in front of his house, fighting his instinct to spend a few more minutes –hours- watching her sleep. As he expected, the touch of his hand on her shoulder is enough to cause her to jerk awake almost in a panic, looking distressed and alarmed.
"It's okay, Olivia, you fell asleep," he tells her calmly, reluctantly moving his hand away, as well as his eyes, giving her a few moments to compose herself.
Having turned the engine off, silence is thick in the car. When he eventually looks back at her, she's staring at her hands, which are still trembling slightly as they lay on her laps. He's park right next to a street lamp, which allows them both to see more than they want to.
"Are you okay?" he asks her softly, even though it's obvious that she's not.
She shakes her head almost imperceptibly, finally raising her head to look at him, and once again, his insides almost quiver, troubled on so many level by the nature of her gaze, even though he's still unable to explain what confounds him so much.
"I'm…very confused," she admits then, and truth be told, she does sound a bit vague, as if her mind was elsewhere.
He's not exactly sure what kind of confusion she's talking about, but he chooses the most logical explanation. "Given the circumstances, that's understandable." And after pausing, he adds: "You're gonna be fine, Olivia."
She turns her eyes away, briefly bringing a trembling hand up to her face to wipe her nose. Her fingers then tentatively reach out for her injured cheek, as if she was only remembering now that the cut was there, and she takes a sharp intake of air as her fingertips graze the raw flesh.
"Why don't you come inside," he offers, still careful not to offend her. "I could take care of that wound for you. Plus, I've got whiskey, and I know you could definitely use some right about now."
Part of him hopes that she will shut him down, now, something she should have done when they were standing outside the federal building, when she finally remembers who he is, and how they're not supposed to act that way around each other. She should have let him take that cab and driven herself home, and he should have let her be. He should get out of her car now, and let her take the wheel and drive away, instead of inviting her inside his house to drink when he doesn't even feel fully in control of his actions right now.
When their eyes meet again, he's pretty sure something similar is going through her mind. She's going to shut him down any second now, and it will be for the best.
But she smiles instead, the smallest of smile; there is something definitely sad in the tiny curve of her lips, but the look she gives him then as she opens her door is almost knowing. "It's a bit presumptuous of you, but alright. I could definitely use some alcohol."
Leaving Peter once again more than a little confused, Olivia escapes the car.
A/N: The second part is heavy P/O. Heavy as in 'and there shall be smutty' à la Fringe 4x12. And I'm not just saying that because I would love some reviews ;p