Disclaimer: How I wish I owned them all. We would have blue!scenes in every episode.
Spoilers: All the way up to 4x14 'The End of All Things'
Rating: T to be safe. We never know with me.
Summary: Peter is desperate to get back home, and a clue left by September might help him find his way at last. Meanwhile, Olivia decides to use an old method to try and get rid of these memories everybody claims aren't hers...
A/N: Not much to say, really. The hiatus is killing me slowly, and we still have two weeks to go, so I'm keeping busy. This should have about 4 or 5 parts I think, featuring post 4x14 P/O angst, tank explorations and other kinds of mind trips. I've based some things in this story on a few glimpses from the 4x15 promo, but I won't put any big spoiler from the episode in there, I promise; just the promo. I'll do my best to complete it by March 23rd.
AT THE BREAK OF DAWN
Olivia once told Peter about her fondness for sunrises.
It was a bit unusual of her. Both the fondness itself and the admission. Despite everything she has seen, everything she has been through, Olivia does manage to see some beauty in the world surrounding her on occasions; it's rare, but it happens. Generally speaking, though, she tends to see the glass half empty rather than half full, that is a fact.
But she has always loved sunrises, and that is a fact, too. And it has nothing to do with some cheesy or romantic notions. She has come to love that time of day when she was very young.
When you spend the night terrified of the darkness that has swallowed your room, a fear only exacerbated by experiments that are being conducted on you on a daily basis, there is something deeply reassuring in seeing the sun rise, in feeling its rays warm up the space around you, brushing away the shadows of the night to replace them with light. At a later age, she also comes to associate nights with drunken screams and weeping pleas, with bloody noses and broken bones, the darkness having taken the shape of a man she eventually shoots twice, only to spend the rest of her life wishing she had shot thrice.
Even as an adult, having long ago stopped being scared of the dark –or scared of anything else for that matter, nights remain difficult for Olivia, and mostly sleepless. Time stretches during the night; the darkness feels thick and smothering, filled with the victims' voices, and that is when her doubts are the most deafening.
But no matter what, the sun always rises, and she breathes better in the dim light of dawn. For a few moments there, she allows herself to hope that this new day will be a good one.
Olivia has always loved sunrises, and she definitely loves them even more since she has started experiencing them with Peter –though he sleeps through most of them, oblivious to the quiet beauty surrounding them.
He's just as oblivious to the way she usually uses that time to stare at him relentlessly without risking getting caught up in his gaze. And he's beautiful, truly, and it has nothing to do with the fact that her perception is altered by her feelings for him. She remembers meeting him in Iraq and thinking he was handsome, even back then. He had been a real pain in the ass, that's for sure, but a handsome pain in the ass nonetheless.
Now, she simply has months and months of memories, of moments spent with him, getting to know him inside and out just as well as he knows her. Those moments and memories, the knowledge that his kind soul has found hers somehow, they make him that much more beautiful to her, in intricate ways she cannot even begin to explain; all that she knows is that it creates this constant ache inside of her, one that she craves as much as she despises.
And so she stares at him as he sleeps, her eyes roaming over his face, his cheeks almost always completely shaved off these days; it's different. He has been different, lately, with his homesickness hanging so heavily over his head, weighting down on his shoulders and hurting him from deep within. Even now in his sleep, he looks strained, stressed, burdened. But with half of his face buried in his pillow, he still looks more relaxed than he ever does while awake…not around her, anyway. One little thing that never goes away, no matter what, is that crease between his eyes, and she has tried everything to try and make these muscles relax, from a brush of her thumb to the caress of her lips.
Peter doesn't easily show how much he hurts, but Olivia has come to believe that it all lies there, between his eyes, as if his heavy pain was pressing down, down, down, bending the skin all the way to the bones…
Unable to stop herself, she brings one of her hands up. She doesn't touch the crease, though, choosing to run her fingers through his hair instead, slowly, tenderly.
He opens his eyes, and blinks. Once, twice. Unsurprisingly, she is instantly caught up in his gaze, and she doesn't mind. This feels good. Even though there is a small but very real space between them, their body warmth has pooled beneath the sheets, and the light is soft and comforting around them, as it always is.
Something is off, though. Something is continually off these days. She knows why they aren't closer, why she only feels the heat that is coming off his skin, instead of feeling it seep directly from his flesh into hers, her limbs entangled tightly with his, like they used to be, before; a painful lump forms in her throat.
"I love you…" she whispers, her thumbs still tracing slow circles in his hair. He doesn't say anything, doesn't even move, half of his face still hidden in his pillow. "I wish you would trust me," she continues, a note of despair in her murmur now. "Trust me, Peter, if you can't trust yourself."
He finally moves. One of his hands comes up to grab hers, gently but decisively, moving it away from his face, before letting it go without ceremony. It falls between them, in that space keeping them apart, a space that is quickly losing all its warmth, and she starts to feel so cold as he shakes his head, his eyes empty.
"I can't trust you", he says then, his voice as adamant as his eyes. "You're not her. You're not my Olivia."
As Olivia wakes up with a jolt, the last of his words echo in her head.
"I have to go home..."
She's a bit confused for a second or two, finding herself lying in bed exactly the way she had been a moment ago in what she knows now had been a dream, despite how real it had felt. Her dreams always feel too real.
The light in her room isn't soft and comforting; it's grey and bleak. Another rainy day.
Her eyes stare at the empty space next to her, still trying to get a grip on her ragged breathing; the lump she's felt in her dream is already getting worse, spreading quickly to constrict her entire chest. Instinctively, she brings her hand up again, spreading it over the cold linen of a pillow that used to be his, a timeline ago.
Her fingers slowly clench, digging into the soft fabric as her legs come higher, closer to her chest, and she curls up, turning her face into her own pillow; for what seems to be the thousandth time this week, she's begging the stinging sensation in her eyes to disappear, just like she's begging the pain in her chest to let her be. Instead, it worsens with every passing second.
There is not much she can do about it, sadly, no matter how much she hates feeling like she has no control over her emotions, or how they seem to be controlling her, which is even worse. It doesn't matter how much she would give anything right now to make this stop, to go back to that blurry point in time, not so long ago, when Peter had been nothing more than an intriguing and troubling stranger.
What is even more appalling is how, despite the fact that he is responsible for her distress, she still wants nothing but the best for him. That's one of those annoying and frustrating things about loving someone so much; you tend to care about their happiness more than you care about your own. She knows his pain is just as real as hers, that the strain she sees on his face even within her dreams is eating him alive.
And ironically, this is exactly why it hurts her so much. Her pain lies in the nature of his longing, in the reason behind his rejection. It is what causes her to fight for air every morning, curled up in a ball as she tries to erase his words from her mind and inexorably fails.
Peter wants to go home.
And she still hasn't figured out how she is supposed to make sense of it all so it could ease her pain, when even now, as she hides her grief in her pillow, every inch of her being remains convinced that she is the home he's longing for.
Or at least, she used to be.
Olivia doesn't love sunrises much these days.
Peter watches her from the doorway.
She's sitting at her desk, which is mostly buried under piles and piles of documents, like it always seems to be. Olivia has never been the neatest person, and unsurprisingly, what she uses as an office here in this back room of the lab is no exception to her untidiness. She tends to spread out particularly widely when she's trying to have a breakthrough, which is why she's currently going through this huge pile of files, one by one, as thoroughly as ever, because she rarely does things any other way.
She has used a pen to entrap her hair in a messy bun, and every two minutes or so, she pushes her glasses back up her nose, just as distractingly as she taps her other pen against the edge of the table. She's focused and intent, and obviously tired and frustrated, but she keeps on going.
A small smile eventually tugs at the corner of her lips after a while, and she speaks without moving her eyes up from the paper she's reading. "You know, you could always take a seat and help me go through these."
Peter can't help a smile of his own. "Ah, but I like the view from here," he says, teasingly.
She finally looks at him over the edge of her glasses, and he purposefully keeps his gaze lower than her face; her eyes dart down to her shirt, its first two buttons opened, as they usually are. When she meets his eyes again, she offers him a crooked smile, shaking her head slightly. "You're such a man."
"And you're such a tease," he replies with a small, cocky grin, walking to the desk at last and taking the seat opposite her. She takes her glasses off with a sigh, then, rubbing the bridge of her nose, running a distracted thumb over the small red line now marking the skin there.
"What are you working on, anyway," he finally asks, still staring at her, nothing short of mesmerize by her –as he often is, all the while trying to ignore the faint pulsing ache he feels behind his eye. He's been aware of the pain all along, but it's getting quite annoying, now.
She reopens her eyes to look at him, then, and her eyes are so incredibly green in the dim light of her office. Suddenly, she's looking almost eerily serious, her gaze darkening as she stares at him. "You know what I'm working on, Peter. And honestly, you're not really helping out, when you know that the faster I finish this, the faster we'll go home." She is now offering him her most disapproving look. "I thought you wanted to go home."
That low, pulsing pain behind his left eye unexpectedly peaks after hearing her words. He shakes his head with a groan, as if he could shake the sensation away, pressing the heel of his palm upon his closed eye, but it doesn't have any effect whatsoever. Looking back at her with his good eye, he's not surprised to find her still staring at him just as darkly and intently.
"I'm trying, Olivia," he almost groans, then, the pain becoming unbearable.
She looks almost angry, now, her face a stony mask, with the exception of her eyes, ablaze in their sockets. "You're not trying hard enough," she retorts, gravely. "You have to stop ignoring what's right in front of you. You have to pay attention. The answers are right there."
The pain is excruciating, his palm pressed so hard upon his burning eye that red dots start to erupt in his mind; bent over in half, he is convinced that his head is about to split in two. "I don't know what to do!" he almost shouts.
"Wake up and look," she orders him. "Stop ignoring the clues, Peter. Wake up!"
When Peter wakes up, his entire body gives an upward jump, as if he had been shocked. His sharp intake of breath is immediately followed by a loud grunt of pain, his hand already up to his face. The pain isn't nearly as bad as it had been in his dream, but it's definitely there, and real.
More than a little confused, it takes him a few moments to realize that he isn't in his bedroom at all, but in the living room. He isn't on the couch either; he is sprawled on the ground in the middle of the room. After another few seconds of troubled perplexity, it starts coming back to him. He remembers the pain that had suddenly exploded in his head, right behind his eye, causing him to black out almost instantly. By the feel of it, his fall has resulted in a brand new bump on the back of his head.
With another grunt, he sits up, trying to relax is stiff muscles, his entire body aching from having spent too many hours lying there on the hard wood. It is clearly early morning now, the room filled with the grayish light of a dawn that predicts another rainy day. He's not really able to focus his thoughts on anything but the unrelenting throbbing in his optic nerve. Stumbling a little as he gets back up on his feet -and grimacing exceedingly and a bit dramatically as he does so, he makes his way to the closest mirror, paying close attention to his reflection for once.
He looks like hell, but he can't say he's surprised. He hasn't exactly been sleeping well, and restless sleep tends to be even less invigorating when you decide to take a prolonged nap on the floor. He ignores his pale complexion and his stubble, as well as his untidy hair or the dark shadows under his eyes; he chooses to focus on the eye itself, almost expecting it to be completely bloodshot, considering the amount of pain he's been feeling.
Instead, his left eye appears completely normal, identical to the right one. Both look worn out and a bit crazed, but again, it's nothing unusual these days. His first instinct is to dismiss the pain, to define it as some sort of raging headache, a leftover from the trip into September's mind he took only a few days ago.
But soon, his mind finally starts focusing back on the dream itself. He's not surprised at all by the fact that he had once more dreamed of Olivia. When doesn't he dream of Olivia?
The memory of her voice is just as painful as the ache pulsing in his head.
"You have to stop ignoring what's right in front of you. You have to pay attention. The answers are right there. Stop ignoring the clues, Peter."
Stop ignoring the clues.
He knows he should listen, whatever his subconscious is trying to tell him; his dreams were right about getting Walter to work with him on the Machine after all. Right now, however, his thoughts aren't on Walter. They remain on Olivia.
His mind is most definitely set on going back home, back to Olivia, to Walter -to his son, maybe. He is more than ready to follow any clue that might be given to him, like a mysterious pain in his eye, for example...but once again, he cannot stop himself from quickly thinking about this other Olivia. The Olivia he quite abruptly left standing in the rain, not even a day after proclaiming that he knew she was his Olivia, kissing her with an eagerness that merely reflected how much he had longed for her.
But the truth is, Peter isn't sure of anything anymore.
As he stares at himself, his jaw clenched rigidly, to the point of being painfully, a reaction to the image of Olivia's face from that night rather than to the ache in his eye, Peter wonders what he is supposed to see, exactly.
Because he is looking, he is looking so hard. But everything's a blur.
One thing's for sure: he is going to need Walter's help again.
A/N: I'm writing this mostly for my own sanity, but I know you guys are reading :p Reviews would definitely keep me from getting too lazy.