Summary: It is strange how much one voice can sound like a siren's call, Peter thinks, the moment that voice belongs to someone you love. Maybe sirens were never about the sound of anything, just the emotions of it. Feel like you're being lured, and you are. Feel like it might be true, and... Oh, Olivia. [Olivia/Peter]
Disclaimer: Not my characters, just my words.
Author's Note: Spoilers for 4x14. Will undoubtedly be made AU by 4x15, though perhaps not all of it.
The feeling is often the deeper truth, the opinion the more superficial one.
~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare
She doesn't come to him after he leaves her that night.
No, Olivia goes to Walter, to Lincoln, to Broyles, even to Nina. But she doesn't come to him, and he merely catches glimpses of her as comes or leaves the next few days.
Part of him is glad. It is easier not to remember how much he is hurting her when he doesn't see her. And part of him wants to fall into her arms and just believe.
He is so tired. He just wants to come home, be with Olivia, be certain it is his Olivia, know he hasn't lost her as he has lost his son.
He is so tired and yet he can't quite sleep. He keeps waking in the middle of confusing dreams, trying to drag some sense from them with him to the waking world.
Go home, September kept telling him. Go home. As if he hasn't been trying to since he came here, as if it is as easy as willing it, as if it is the answer to a question he hasn't asked.
It can't be that simple, can it?
It is morning when Olivia walks into the lab to find Peter sleeping across one desk, Walter cooking something quietly in a corner. Father and son, and for a moment she remembers how they had become just that in this other world.
"Agent Dunham," Walter says as he notices her, and she gives an apologetic smile. "How are you?"
"How's Peter?" she asks instead, and Walter looks strangely torn between pity and disapproval.
"He would be better if he kept his memories to himself and wasn't broadcasting them as if he were an open channel."
"They're not his," she says softly. "I remember things that he wasn't there for, that he couldn't know. They're mine."
"You are certain of this?"
Walter seems to consider that, his mind already racing over terrain she knows will always be alien and unfamiliar to her but is practically a well-kept back garden for Walter.
"I always knew there was something I had forgotten," she goes on. "I remembered there was something I had forgotten. I could never quite get the shape of it and thinking about it too hard just gave me a headache. Then Peter came. I think maybe I've had these memories all along. Peter just brought them out again."
"I want to believe that," Peter says, and both her and Walter turn to see him stand up. "You have no idea how much I want to believe that."
"I do," she maintains, meeting his gaze until it is he who looks away, giving just the tiniest of nods.
"You had memories that weren't hers," he says after a moment. "You didn't remember something Olivia – my Olivia – would have."
"Peter, I have two sets of memories in my head. Two lives. I'm still trying to sort them all out."
"I think I will be right here still," Walter cuts in. "My omelette is at a fragile state of development. You two..."
"Right," Peter says, rubbing his forehead slightly. "We shouldn't have this conversation here. I'll go."
"Peter," Walter says gently, for a moment almost seeming like he will put his arms around his son. "There is an explanation for this. We will find it."
Peter nods, but he seems not to believe it. The urge to wrap her arms around him is so strong it almost makes her fingers itch and her muscles strain to keep still. But she does manage, watching Peter walk out.
"If you don't," she says to Walter, who looks up at her expectedly. "If you don't find an explanation, what will you do?"
"Lie and invent one that makes him happy," he simply says, and returns to his omelette.
It is strange how much one voice can sound like a siren's call, Peter thinks, the moment that voice belongs to someone you love. Maybe sirens were never about the sound of anything, just the emotions of it. Feel like you're being lured, and you are. Feel like it might be true, and... Oh, Olivia.
He turns around so sharply Olivia almost runs into him, and the hands he hold out to halt her instead seem to find her. They both draw a breath at the same time, slowly exhaling as he closes his eyes and just feels. It feels like her, but he wants it to, wants it to so badly, so how can he trust it?
"Peter," she says again.
"No," he says, but it's more a plea than a denial. "Olivia, I don't dare. You were always braver than me. How could you not be, with all that fear you were strong enough to carry? Strong enough to cast off in the end? But I am not that brave. I've never been brave."
She is shaking her head slightly when he opens his eyes to look at her. "Peter, you were willing to give your life for others so many times. You lived with Walter, who broke the universe in-between meals. You manage to live in this world where all those you love do not remember you, knowing your love can't be returned. You're courageous. How can you not be?"
"You always did make me feel better about myself."
"As you did."
Her smile is warm and lovely and hers and it makes him ache .
"He told me to go home," he says, unable to keep a slight bitter tone out of his voice. "September. When I was in his mind, he told me to go home. Go home."
"You still think I am not her."
"I don't know," he says honestly.
"And if your fears are right, if there is another Olivia waiting for you, and you find a way back to her, where does that leave me? All of the memories and none of the reality? Where does that leave me, Peter?"
Where my father was, Peter thinks and wonders if time has a sense of humour; a particularly cruel one at that.
"Where does that leave me?" Olivia repeats, and Peter stares at her, pain in his eyes, and she realises he has already thought of that.
"I didn't want this to happen," he says quietly. "I even encouraged Lincoln to pursue you. So that went I went home, you would also be happy. So I wouldn't even consider falling in love with you. So I wouldn't repeat the mistake."
"I remember," she says, and she even feels a distant pang of pain remembering it. Him. Not her. He couldn't tell the difference then. Can he now?
"What do you remember?" he asks intently.
"I remember you," she says. "I remember a world without you too. They seem to almost blend sometimes. Maybe that's why I get confused on some details. But Peter, that doesn't mean one set of memories must be wrong."
"Am I in for a Walter-lecture on the state and flux of time?" he asks, just a touch of humour in his voice.
"Walter would change time and the universe itself to see you happy," she says, memories seeming to flood into him.
"He was also selfish," he says softly. "He kept me. In my reality, he stole and kept me."
"He loved you."
"Love isn't about yourself. It's about loving someone above yourself."
"That's it, isn't it?" she says suddenly, looking at him sharply, as if a missing piece to a puzzle has just been located and she is determined to fit it. "You think love must self-sacrificing, or you'll be just like Walter. Peter. You're allowed to be happy."
"I don't want to be selfish."
"And keeping away, making us both miserable, what is that?"
He looks helplessly at her, leaning into her touch as she puts her hand to his cheek. She can almost feel the struggle and longing in him, or perhaps it is merely her own emotions, always so keen to feel for him too.
"I want..." he says, trailing off, but she already knows, maybe even better than he will ever be able to articulate it. He wants to be sure, have a big giant arrow pointing to the answer, a guarantee that what he wants to believe is true.
"Peter, you looked in my eyes and knew it was me. Why can't you trust that feeling?"
"Because it seems so impossible."
"This is not the strangest thing that has happened to us," she points out, and he chuckles, a noise that seems to reverberate in her.
"You still live in the same house," she says. "Maybe that's what September meant."
"That isn't home. Not without Walter living there, not without you staying over."
She holds out a hand, as she remembers doing once before, and the memory of it seems to come to him too from the look he gives her.
"It can be one," she offers.
"Can it?" he asks, but the question doesn't seem directed at her.
"Let'ss go home, Peter," she says, and he follows her.
He isn't sure exactly when they start kissing. Maybe it was on the doorstep of his house, maybe it was outside, maybe it was in the hallway. All he knows is that at he is now trying to climb the stairs and she is trying to climb him, arms and legs around him, lips pressed against his and it's still not close enough, still not enough of her.
She kisses as he remembers, just a touch more desperately than those last few weeks, when they had slipped into something like normal, domestic and couple-y. She kisses him almost as if she has waited for him as he long as he for her; she kisses him like she loves him, like she wants him, like she knows him.
The other Olivia didn't quite, he remembers. There was this slight strangeness to it, something he ascribed to them getting together for the first time then, and later hadn't been that at all.
But this... This doesn't feel like that. This feel like his Olivia, feels like a part of home, feels like... True.
"It is you," he says fiercely, almost falling over because there is no more steps to the stairway, managing to press her and himself against a wall to catch his balance.
"It is me," she says just as fiercely back, taking his head in her hands and parting his lips with her tongue, kissing him as her hair falls around his face.
Go home. It sounds too simple to be true, and yet... Maybe the truth isn't about the sound of anything, just the emotion of it. As he was Walter's son despite being born to another, as the house they shared became a home because it started to feel like one, as the weird life they shared was normal because it was the only life they had.
Feel like it being true, being home, being Olivia, and it is.
They stumbled into the bedroom, moving towards the bed in something like a dance – step, kiss, step, kiss, step, kiss – but she pauses with her legs pressed against the frame of the bed, looking at him with eyelids slightly lowered.
"I love you," she whispers, her hair caressing the part of her skin he kissed mere moments ago. "Do you love me?"
"Then say it. I want to hear you say it."
"I love you," he says, remembering a strangely similar conversation they had once. Maybe she is too – no, not maybe. She must remember. She must.
When he closes his eyes, Olivia kisses him with all the reassurance she has, and he needs.
When she breaks the kiss to discard her jacket and then pull her shirt off, Peter watches her with dark eyes. She remembers the first time she did this – how he let her lead, let her set the pace, let it be all her until he was sure she really wanted it and that she wasn't afraid.
That was then. She's not afraid now.
She holds out his hand and he steps up to her in the fraction of a second, kissing the skin of her shoulder as his hands unhook her bra. As it falls to the ground, his fingers is drawing a complex pattern across her skin, just slightly repetitive.
"No burrowing into skin tonight," she whispers against his ear and then he is kissing her, as if her having that memory makes him want to her even more. Maybe it does. Maybe every memory she can recall is a reassurance that what he feels is true. What she feels, that he is hers and she is his.
So she keeps whispering, recalling their first night, their second, their first morning in the shower at her place, the first lunch break making out in her car, that night Walter walked in on them and gave advice on technique, the five times after that they went to her place... All the memories she can think of, all the while with him kissing her, shedding clothing, removing her clothing, keeping his eyes on her face while he lowers himself on the bed and she lowers herself on him.
Only then does her voice catch a little, and he lifts himself up to kiss her, holding still for a moment while she adjusts to the size of him. She merely bites down a little on his lower lip, her tongue thrusting into his mouth as he thrusts into her. His fingers dig into the skin of her back, keeping her close as if she still might slip from him.
Skin to skin, lips to lips, bodies linked and it's almost as if even that is not enough for him. As if he needs her even closer.
"Olivia," he mouths against her, and she thinks maybe, just maybe, she does too.
In the morning. Peter wakes to Olivia's arms around him, her head resting slightly on his shoulder. Her eyes are closed so she must still be sleeping, but he knows she won't be for long. Always the early riser, Olivia. He grew used to it, as she did his habits.
"I wondered when you'd wake up," she says, eyes still closed, only opening them as he nuzzles against her.
"What time is it?"
"This is the part where you're supposed to say 'oh, God' or something similar," she points out and he can feels his own lips curve into a small smile.
Olivia. Still feels like her, oh so very her it makes him ache and want to grin at the same time.
"I don't want to wake up yet," he says, and links a hand with hers, feeling the warmth of her palm against his.
"Then don't," she says softly, and he closes his eyes; her breath and heartbeat almost like a lullaby.
"Peter?" she asks
He makes a noise that is more like a snore than an acknowledgement, and his eyelids don't even stir. Still sleeping.
"I forgave you then," she goes on. "If I am not... If there is another Olivia still waiting for you, and I am just being selfish loving you, then she'll forgive you. I would, so she will."
That's the truth, Olivia knows. She can feel it, after all.