A/N: Thank you for the reviews guys :)
I apologize for any mistake in this, I am very very tired.
AT THE BREAK OF DAWN
Nina arrives a bit late.
Olivia only becomes aware of her presence when she's standing next to their table, the intruding form in her peripheral vision finally dragging her eyes away from the street, on the other side of the window; she had been staring at the passing people walking up and down the street without really seeing them, once again lost in thoughts that weren't exactly joyful. More out of surprise and habit than anything else, Olivia almost jumps out of her chair, standing back up to offer her a formal greeting, the agent in her well trained to show respect to important figures, no matter who they are or what their history is.
But she keeps forgetting that things are not what they seem, here, and that the bureaucratic gap that once existed between the two women in another place –or time- doesn't belong here. It becomes very clear when Nina, out of habit as well, takes her gesture as an invitation and goes to hug her right away.
It results in an embrace that is quite awkward, to say the least.
Nina swiftly lets go of Olivia when she feels her tensing in her arms, shaking her head apologetically with a forced smile.
"I'm sorry," she says with a wave of her hand. "I shouldn't have…I suppose it's going to take me some time to get used to this new…situation."
She keeps smiling as she speaks, but there is a definite hint of sadness in her voice, as well as in her eyes, which in turns only causes Olivia's uneasiness to worsen. Of all the people who still have to 'get used to this new situation', Olivia has no doubt that she herself is having the worst of it.
"It's alright," she forces herself to say with a smile of her own, sitting back down as Nina does the same on the other side of the table. "I know it's confusing, especially since I'm the one who called you in the first place."
She honestly cannot wrap her head around the genuine look of affection and worry that appears on Nina's face as she takes Olivia in; if she focuses hard enough, she can remember the years she and Rachel have spent living with the older woman, sharing a house, a home even. But these images are blurry, unsubstantial.
There are no actual feelings associated with these memories.
Nina remembers everything, though, that much is obvious, which is why Olivia can understand her concern, her narrowed eyes now roaming over Olivia's face and clothing as if assessing the damage. She understands why Nina's first instinct had been to hug her. She knows what she looks like, even though she's done her best not to look at her reflection, lately.
She quickly averts her eyes, her uneasiness growing under such scrutiny, her fingers playing distractingly with the sleeve of her grey sweater. Broyles has ordered her to take a few days off after the 'Jones incident' as they call it. She hates it, of course, and normally, she would just have shrugged the order off, rolled her eyes and gone to work anyway, but she has found herself in a bit of a situation, this time around. Part of her is actually glad that she can avoid the federal building altogether, because she still hasn't figured out how she's supposed to deal with Lincoln, who is understandably very confused by it all, and his eagerness to be supportive is a bit overwhelming.
And for obvious reasons, she's been even more eager to stay away from the lab, especially from the man who spends most of his waking hours in there –and she's not thinking about Walter.
Therefore, the fact that she hasn't had to dress up in suits and comb her hair every morning has made it that much easier for her to wear nothing but baggy, dreary clothes while moping around her place, wishing she had some ice-cream in the freezer, but feeling too gloomy to actually go out to buy some.
God, she has turned into such a cliché that thinking about her own behavior instantly makes her cringe.
"I have to say, I was surprised by your call," Nina admits then, taking Olivia away from her thoughts. Her voice is soft and low, almost careful. "I thought you wouldn't want to have anything to do with me anymore."
Olivia raises her head to look at her again. Nina's surprise is legitimate, after the way she had spoken to her on their last encounter a few days ago.
Nina had visited her mere hours after her abduction, when she was still being 'held in" for observation at the hospital, even though she kept telling everybody that she felt fine –a lie, obviously. She refused to let herself sleep in spite of her exhaustion, or of the fact that she had fainted twice already since the EMTs had forced her in the ambulance, because every time she closed her eyes, Peter's face and his words echoed in her head, and the constant nausea she felt in the pit of her stomach and way beyond intensified dramatically.
Needless to say that when Nina had come into her room, freshly released from the FBI and worried sick about her, Olivia hadn't been in the best chatty mood. She had told her quite bluntly that she didn't need her here, didn't want her here, that she barely remembered their life together anyway, and that she could go to Walter for details on the matter, because the Bishop men apparently seemed to know way more about this than anybody else, especially her.
"I'm sorry, for what I told you the other day," Olivia apologizes with a small shake of her head, more than a little mortified by the way she had behaved. Her emotions have really been untamable these days. "I was…I wasn't having a good night."
"Oh Olive…" Nina immediately replies, reaching out as if wanting to put a hand over Olivia's, but she stops halfway, frozen. Her hand comes to rest on the table instead, near the vase of flowers, and she shakes her head remorsefully. "I should be the one apologizing, honey. Of course you wouldn't want to have me around after the way this…wicked woman deceived you."
Olivia is slightly taken aback by this, only realizing now that Nina had assumed her rejection had been a results of how her alternate had tried to use their (barely lingering) bond against her. Olivia cannot say that she had enjoyed being deceived yet again, but emotionally speaking, it hadn't been the worst of it at the time, all things considered.
She offers Nina a rather painful smile. "I don't blame you for what she did. I know what it's like to have another version of yourself pretending to be you." Nina offers her a knowing nod, obviously waiting for her to continue, now, and Olivia averts her eyes again. "I called you because…because even if I don't remember much of our past here, I know you are someone I can trust. And in the past I remember, I have actually sought you out a few times to talk about…about Peter."
Even pronouncing his name is challenging these days, but she forces herself to keep a straight face on as she raises her eyes again; she isn't surprised by the polite incredulity now written all over Nina's face.
"Peter…Bishop?" She asks tentatively.
As if on a cue, the waitress chooses that moment to come get their order. Olivia, who has already been served with bitter coffee and still doesn't feel hungry in the least, dismisses the menu card. Nina orders her some food anyway, offering her a disapproving look as she does so, actually managing to get a small smile out of Olivia.
Feeling slightly more comfortable now, she jumps right in as soon as they are alone again.
"I'm in love with Peter," she admits, quite bluntly. As she expected, Nina simply looks even more confused.
"I don't understand," she says, shaking her head with a frown.
Olivia briefly presses her lips together. "No, you wouldn't." She takes in a breath that is a little shaky, before starting explaining herself. "What I've told you, about how I don't remember much of our life together…it's more than that. The Cortexiphan didn't simply blur these memories, it replaced them with other memories, memories from another time. I remember everything from Peter's timeline." Nina remains silent, both her hands now joined near her face, observing her intently; it is clear that she's waiting for her to say more. "In that old timeline, Peter and I have been working together for a few years now," she continues. "And…well, you know how these things go."
"Yes," Nina nods her head understandably. "Working together closely with someone can bring about feelings."
If Olivia is rightly disturbed by the fact that Nina has just repeated word for word something she had already told her in that previous timeline, she can't say she's entirely surprised by the occurrence either. Strangest things have happened. But she's unable to hold her gaze as she speaks again, her eyes falling back on the dying white tulips, hanging miserably over the edge of the vase.
"Yeah, it does…" she eventually agrees with sorrow in her voice. She thinks about what a waste it all is, feeling like one of these withering flowers she's staring at. "The problem is…Peter doesn't want to have anything to do with me anymore, not here. He keeps on saying that he needs to go back to his timeline, to…to his Olivia." She has to pause, then, the words burning the back of her throat like acidic bile.
Generally speaking, she tries her best not to think about how at this rate, Peter will soon leave permanently, to go find someone else, another version of her. He's going to leave her behind, and the only company she will have left will be these feelings already slowly burning her out from the inside.
She wants to keep this thought away, but it's hopeless; it's all over her mind again, digging holes in her heart.
She meets Nina's eyes, and for the first time today, she lets her pain really show, letting it echo in her voice as well. "I don't wanna feel like this anymore."
She doesn't know what she expects by confiding in Nina. She knows the older woman won't have a miracle answer, and she isn't expecting Massive Dynamic to provide her with a magic formula that will fix her problems or make this –him- go away.
She isn't looking for her compassion either, or for that look of sympathy now written all over her face. Truth be told, she wishes Nina wouldn't look at her that way, because if there is one thing Olivia really despises, it's being pitied in any way. But there's no escaping it, not with what she has just told her.
Who is she kidding, really? If she were honest with herself, she would admit that she's simply looking for that motherly support her distressed self desperately needs at that instant.
Eventually, a small, sadden smile appears on Nina's lips. "Do you remember Bobby Hastings?"
Olivia might not have been hoping for a miracle answer, but she definitely hadn't been expecting this question either.
She frowns, trying to refocus her thoughts, digging through the mass of indistinct memories that become harder and harder to remember by the day. "Uhm, vaguely," she says. "He took me to the prom, didn't he?"
Nina nods. "And he broke up with you not even two days after that, because you didn't want to go 'all the way with him', if I recall correctly. You were quite heartbroken, and I remember you saying these exact same words, that you didn't want to feel like this anymore."
Olivia stares at her, almost in confusion. She does remember this happening, but it's hardly relevant at the moment. "This is completely different."
"Of course it is," Nina agrees with another nod. "And yet, is it, really? Patience has never been your strong suit, and it is even less whenever feelings are involved and nothing but time can really do anything about it."
Olivia purses her lips sullenly, feeling slightly irritated now, and she shakes her head shortly. "No, you don't understand, this has nothing to do with some silly, teenage crush. This is…" she stops; one of her hands has come up against her chest, curled up up into a tight fist, and her eyes get blurry as her mind goes elsewhere. "This is the most unrelenting feeling. The pain...it just won't stop."
"I'm sorry you have to experience this," Nina says softly after another stretch silence. "I remember that feeling quite well, unfortunately; of all the kind of painful loves, I don't think there is anything worse than an unrequited love."
But Olivia shakes her head again, her eyes still lost in the distance, as she's looking into herself, into that sea of memories that not so long had made her feel like she had taken some of Walter's strongest drugs. Without warning, she had found herself in love all over again, re-experiencing that wondrous rush as if for the first time.
The way Peter's mere presence had made her body react had been nothing new, though; it seemed like they had always been oddly attuned to each other, from the moment they'd met in Iraq almost four years ago –or so she remembers, and that connection had only strengthened when they had become as close physically as two people can get. Even though the memories of her new life were unclear, she still remembered that she had felt that low, inexplicable hum, as soon as she had met him again, in that hospital room. She hadn't understood it, obviously, and it had troubled enough to lead her to try and stay as far away from him as humanly possible.
But then…but then, she had remembered. The pulsations within her flesh had once again linked themselves with hundreds and hundreds of memories, the smallest as well as the most significant, remembering how she had once stood vulnerable and shaky in front of him, asking him to come back for her, and remembering Friday nights spent cuddled on her couch, watching cheesy movies, while his massaging hand burrowed into her back.
And whenever their eyes had met on that day when she had felt so drawn to him after the return of her memories, she had known he remembered everything just as intensely. She had known her heart hadn't been the only one speeding up, both of them feeling the strong stirs of so many months spent without any contact at all. It had been as if a dormant fever had awakened, increasing the temperature in every inch of her, and the desire to touch him has never been so strong.
This is real, Olivia had thought, when he had briefly given in, his hand enclosed between hers, and his thumb had slowly brushed her skin, almost cautiously. The touch had been so simple, so fleeting, and yet there had been so much affection behind it, as well as a definite yearning that had shown all over his constricted face.
This is real, Olivia had thought again a few hours later, when he had finally blocked out all of his doubts and had chosen to believe in that chance they were given, his kiss as eager and relieved as his words.
'I look into your eyes, and I know it's you'
To think about all of this only causes Olivia pain, now, because barely a day later, his attitude had been quite different.
'When I looked into your eyes, what I saw was what I wanted to see.'
Olivia doesn't know what kind of love there is between her and Peter, but unrequited isn't it.
And that is why a very pained smile appears on her lips when she speaks again, her eyes still unfocused. "This Olivia Peter is trying so hard to get back to…for all intents and purposes, I'm her. I have all the memories, all the feelings...And Peter…He's beyond desperate to leave, to get back home. That's how requited this used to feel to me."
When she meets Nina's eyes again, it is obvious that her distress is affecting her; she looks as equally pained and helpless. "I don't know what to tell you, Olive. This is a rather unique situation."
Olivia lets out a soft, humorless chuckle, shaking her head yet again almost imperceptibly, as her eyes fall back on the tulips. "Peter and Walter…they keep on saying that these memories aren't mine, that it is caused by my natural ability for empathy, which was obviously exacerbated by the Cortexiphan in my brain. They say it's just a projection of Peter's longing, that I'm…'giving him what he wants'…which is all kind of laughable, given the current situation."
"What do you think," Nina asks her, then, gravely. "Do you agree with them?"
Olivia looks at her again, swallowing hard. She shrugs a shoulder, feeling her face constrict, unable to keep her anguish from showing. "I'm scared," she admits, then, quietly, defeated. "Because…without Jones' regular injections, my brain isn't full of Cortexiphan anymore. You would think that whatever effect it had on me when it comes to Peter should be going away, too. But it's not. The opposite is happening. These memories…him…they are what feel most real to me. And this life I'm supposed to have here…everything just feels foreign. It's getting worse, and I'm scared."
When Nina reaches out for her this time, she doesn't stop herself midway. She covers her hand with hers, squeezing gently but comfortingly, offering her a similar look. "Is there any way for Walter to…turn this around?"
Olivia shakes her head. "I don't know," she says, her voice thick with emotions. "I haven't exactly talked to him about it, not since the day it started, anyway, and at the time, I didn't want to reverse it."
At the time, she had been so sure of herself, blinded by the strength of her feelings. At the time, all she had wanted was for Peter to realize that he could stop searching for her, because she was right there in front of him.
And they had found each other…for about two minutes.
The truth is, even now, as heartbroken and nauseatingly miserable as she feels, that certainty hasn't gone away. She feels it, deep in her guts. This cannot possibly be a mere projection, a mirage. What she feels for him is rooted too deep within her to be nothing but a lie. And that might be what scares her the most.
What if it isn't a mirage?
And what if it is?
She doesn't say it out loud, but Nina reads it in her eyes, all over her face. And she finally tells her what Olivia had wanted her to say. Nina tells her what she needs to hear.
"I think you should talk to Peter. I know it hurts, but ultimately, what do you have to lose in doing so?"
Olivia knows she's right.
After all, she's already losing herself.
She's more than halfway gone.
A/N: More angst next. L O L