Disclaimer: I still don't own them. If I were rich enough to own them, I would buy Fringe a season 5. And 6.
Spoilers: Up to 4x15 'A Short Story About Love'
Rating: K+ (I know, don't blame me, blame the muse!)
A/N: What can I say? My beautiful OTP got a gorgeous twirly reunion last Friday, so I got lots of happy feelings. Hence the fluffiness of this. I have no regret, everything is beautiful and nothing hurts, let's enjoy it while it lasts (about 2 episodes, Y/Y?)
This is unbetaed, I apologize for any mistake (EDIT: also, I picked that title last Saturday when I started writing this, so I apologize for the unoriginality of it haha!)
WHERE YOU BELONG
On the first Christmas Eve following her mother's death, Olivia had spent most of the evening outside, wandering through the streets of Boston.
It had been an extremely cold winter night. The temperature had dropped so much that even the air had become too icy for snow. Not that she had wanted snow; having been a military brat most of her life, she had been used to moving around, but somehow, her family had ended up living in warm places most of the time. Since she and her sister had been placed in the foster care system, however, she'd had to get used to the temperate climate of the East Coast.
And on that night of late December, young girl of fifteen walking alone outside when most people were inside celebrating, she had been so cold.
She had been in desperate need of a new coat, too, the one she had on definitely not adequate for the city, nor for the season, its fabric too thin to protect her from the biting cold. But she hadn't had enough money left to buy something warmer; she had just spent most of her meager savings on a new pair of pants.
Olivia had always found this almost intriguing, how she could remember some things in such details, while the first part of her childhood still remained a complete blank slate to her –and that was long before people started mixing several sets of memories in her head, from every direction.
She never liked thinking back to that period of time, about her first few months in foster families before she could get away from the system, thanks to her academic achievements. But tonight, as soon as she walked out of her car, the intensity of the cold instantly brought these memories forwards in her mind.
Back then, her strong and independent personality had made her prone to try and defend the weakest members of their foster family against the bullies, but she had heard the social worker loud and clear; if she wanted to stay with Rachel, she would have to behave no matter what. She had hated the place of course, hated those people, even though they weren't bad people by any mean, but she had known she would have been more than able to take care of herself and her sister if she had been given the chance. But things hadn't worked that way, and she had been forced to live in an unfamiliar place, with unfamiliar people. That was mainly why she had gone out into the cold on Christmas Eve, well decided on staying outside until her curfew.
Her mother may not have been the strongest woman -she had actually been very weak and very sad, as well as very sick most of Olivia's life- Christmas had always been a special time in their household. A time Olivia had come to enjoy even more after her step father had…gone away. This had been her first Christmas without her mother, and so Olivia had walked and walked, ignoring her frozen toes in her ragged shoes, or the fact the she hadn't been able to feel her face after a while. It had been for the best. She hadn't been able to feel the tears rolling down her cheeks either.
Now, if she focused hard enough, she could see a completely different version of her first Christmas Eve after her mother's death.
She remembered warmth, and the delicious smells that had filled the Sharp residence after a few hours of hard work; Nina had spent most of the afternoon cooking with her and Rachel, admitting that it was the first time in over a decade that she was actually home for Christmas, instead of at work. Both girls had been well rested and well fed, Rachel wearing the latest fashionable clothes even though she was barely thirteen, while Olivia still refused to let 'Miss Sharp' buy her anything too expensive that she didn't really need. The thought of her mother had saddened her, of course, but there had been no need for tears, that night; she had even laughed at some point, when Nina had almost burnt the turkey.
This was the kind of memories Olivia was now losing, by choosing to let her other life take over. She was forgetting the feeling of being nurtured, remembering instead the chill of a Christmas Eve spent alone in the streets.
It didn't mean the sadder memories were worth less than the happier ones, though; because it was also on that night that she had been approached by an old man, who had simply handed her a handkerchief without any comment, smiling encouragingly at her wariness. When she had finally accepted the tissue and had asked him why he was even bothering with her, he had simply said:
"No one should be left crying without someone offering them a hankie. My grandkids think I'm old fashioned, but I believe people should be good to people, especially on Christmas Eve."
It was one of these small yet significant moments that had shaped who she was now; on that night, she had started to build a resistance to the cold, all the while remembering that kindness still existed, and that it could come in the most random form. In the form of a handkerchief offered by a complete stranger, for example.
Sometimes, good things happened when you least expected them. And when Olivia eventually spotted Peter standing near her building, she was reminded of that at once.
To say that it was unexpected would be an understatement; she would never even have allowed herself to hope for something like this, not when he had made it so clear a few days ago that he needed to keep his distance from her. His statement had been made official earlier today when Walter had admitted that Peter had been on his way to New York. She couldn't say it hadn't hurt –of course it had hurt. And maybe it would have been easier indeed to go back to that version of herself who hadn't cared much about Peter (though admittedly, she had always cared a bit too much about him, even when he was a complete stranger).
But she simply couldn't give up on this life, on these memories; the fact that Peter didn't want to be part of it anymore, and surely never again, was almost irrelevant. She had always let her intuitions and guts guide her, and this had been no different.
And yet, there stood Peter, almost alike an apparition under the street lamp's glow. A year ago, he might have glimmered for different reasons as he made his way to her and she almost ran to meet him. But there was no fear in her heart tonight, no doubt as he span her around; all she felt was the most intense feeling of relief and gratitude upon understanding that she hadn't lost him, after all.
She hadn't lost him, and he was proving it to her with every kiss he gave her, and every kiss she gave back, with a little more ardor each time. Their hands were roaming and grabbing, in some desperate attempt to get closer to the other despite the fact that they were both dressed in heavy winter coats. Maybe she should be wondering why he was here at all, what had made him change his mind, but in all honesty, the 'whys' and 'hows' didn't matter much right now, not when his grip on her was so firm and assured, as was hers on him.
Olivia had lost track of time a while ago, lost track of where they were, or of the fact that, for all intents and purposes, they were shamelessly making out like two teenagers in the middle of the street, swaying on the spot to the rhythm of their racing hearts. They were even reluctant to put any distance between their faces, only briefly letting go of each other's lips to occasionally breathe, and even then, they never really broke contact, their noses brushing and rubbing, their gazes firmly locked.
No matter how resistant she was, the cold was becoming almost impossible to ignore, now, the chill having invaded her bones in spite of her thick clothes and Peter's embrace. She felt herself starting to shiver, and as soon as she became aware of it in some part of her foggy brain, it wasn't long before she realized that Peter was shaking too, or that the skin of his face felt cold against her own.
"How long were you waiting out there?" She asked him the next time they stopped for oxygen, her voice slightly hoarse after their last few minutes' activities. She could feel the expending grin growing on her lips; she felt ludicrously elated at that instant, her gloved hand cupping his cheek.
He smiled, tenderly nuzzling her nose again, and she felt him shrug, her other hand back on his shoulder. "A couple of hours, maybe?" As if on a cue, his entire body shook against hers then, proof that he was feeling much colder than he would admit. With a grin matching hers, he added: "Who's counting?"
To some people, this might just have been a futile detail, but Olivia knew how much he disliked the cold. The fact that he had just spent the past few hours waiting outside for her to come home just affirmed her conviction that he wouldn't be turning back this time.
She chuckled softly against his lips, shaking her head, feeling more than a little bewildered. "I can't believe this is really happening."
"If my frozen limbs are any indication, this is very much real," he said with a smile, instantly followed by the chattering of his teeth, his face constricting almost painfully.
There really was no point in staying out there anymore, and so she nodded her head towards her building. "C'mon, let's go inside."
"I thought you'd never offer," he breathed out in a small cloud of steam, immediately letting go of her altogether to skip to the entrance door. But a second later, he was turning around, offering her both a goofy smile and a hand that she took without a moment of hesitation.
Unsurprisingly, they remained outside a little longer, as he barely gave her a chance to insert the key in the lock before he started distracting her by claiming her jaw with his lips. Half a breath later, they were back to behaving like two teenagers, or maybe freshmen in college, his body pressing hers hard into the wood of the door, and he kissed her with a fervor that soon made her knees feel very weak, the cold instantly becoming less noticeable.
"Peter…" she eventually sighed against his lips, forcing herself to use the hand pressed upon his chest to slightly push him away. "We're bordering on indecent public display of affection."
Once again, she wasn't surprised when her remark only caused his face to break into an impish smile, his gaze too intense. "Well, you could always arrest me."
This nearly caused her to snort in amused derision; she quickly turned around in his arms before she could get distracted again, finally winning her battle against the lock. Peter actually let her unlock the door of her apartment as well without interrupting.
But she barely had the time to close the door, turn on the lights and start taking off her gloves that he was reaching for her again, and the leather of his own gloves felt almost burning upon her fast warming cheeks. She gave into the kiss without any resistance, sinking her one gloveless hand into his hair to pull him closer and loving the silky sensation between her fingers, one of the many, many things she had missed. Her grip could only tighten when he swiftly pinned her against a hard surface again –the door or a wall, she wasn't so sure- in the renewed desperate attempt to increase their proximity. It was becoming obvious that they wouldn't go far, as long as they kept all these clothes on.
Still, his enthusiastic eagerness combined with her own rush of endorphins caused her to chuckle into his mouth, feeling as frustrated as she felt fervent. But it wasn't just the physical closeness she was craving for, and she knew he felt it too. Her smile quickly faded from her lips when she felt him tremble again, even though it was much warmer in here. When he pulled away slightly so that their eyes could meet, she gave him a soft, reassuring look, her hand sliding from his hair to rest on his cheek.
"Hey," she said softly. "I'm not going to vanish into thin air."
But something almost painful instantly flashed in his eyes at her words.
"No," he agreed then, his voice sounding too raw. "That's more my specialty."
There wasn't much she could say to that. The fact was that, for some reasons, they seemed to be doomed to regularly find themselves separated by some dramatic events, and she couldn't fight the new flow of memories and feeling that invaded her, then, memories of that night.
For better or for worse, she now remembered the smothering fear she had felt as the Machine enclosed its claws around him. She remembered the void that had followed when he had simply vanished indeed. This life in which he had never existed had taken over everything else, though it was becoming clear now that she had never been able to let him go, not completely. How else could she explain her shift of memories? And those were not pleasant memories by any mean, but like everything else, they were part of the package deal she had decided to keep. And right here and now, he was there with her, against all odds, against all hopes.
She only fully realized that her other hand had been gripping the hem of his coat all along when her fist tightened around the fabric to pull him infinitesimally closer until their foreheads and noses were touching again, pressed together as her fingers curled back into his hair.
"Are you here to stay, this time?" She whispered against his lips; even though she already knew the answer, could feel it in her bones, she felt like she had to ask after what had happened mere days ago.
"Yes…" he whispered back, moving slowly, his nose grazing her cheek. "I still don't understand what happened, but I know I'm where I'm supposed to be." He brought his gaze back to hers, and her heart squeezed painfully when she saw the storm growing in there. "I'm sorry, Olivia. I should never have doubted you."
She shook her head almost imperceptibly, offering him a small, painful smile; the last thing she wanted to see in his eyes right now was this guilt. "You should never have doubted yourself," she corrected. "You would never have kissed me in that car if you had doubted me."
But it was his turn to shake his head, as he closed his eyes, swallowing a bit convulsively. "I shouldn't have left you like that, not after what you went through with Jones, it was wrong, I shouldn't-"
"Peter," she stopped him, cupping both of his cheeks now, forcing him to meet her eyes again, and giving him her most resolute look. "It doesn't matter anymore." She shrugged slightly with another sad smile.
Things had happened too fast for her to have any time at all to think about whether or not she should tell him about the decision she took today; truthfully, she never thought she would have the opportunity to discuss this with him, gone as he had been. But he was here, now, and she needed to be honest with him.
"I almost decided to try and get rid of these memories today," she admitted then, "I wanted to get rid of you."
He didn't even look surprised by her revelation; a little more saddened, perhaps. "Why didn't you?" He asked softly.
She shrugged again with another shake of her head. "Things…happened. I realized I wouldn't just be getting rid of you. I would be getting rid of an entire life, a life I think I used to have, a life I had unconsciously been clinging to ever since you disappeared. I couldn't just let go of everything, even if you didn't want to be with me. It's hard to explain but this life just feels more…complete, somehow." Her thumb was unconsciously tracing soft circles upon his cheekbone, not used yet to the almost complete smoothness of his skin there, without his stubble. She offered him an honest smile, then. "So you see. I think we both needed time to…find ourselves, maybe."
Just as she had been left quite speechless by his words a few moments ago, he remained quiet now, taking in what she had said, and she knew he understood. She knew he had needed to hear those words, in the way he was already relaxing against her. The intensity of his gaze never wavered, though; it increased instead.
She instinctively closed her eyes when he brought his face down to hers again; he dismissed her mouth altogether to press a tender kiss upon her cheek, his lips barely grazing her skin, causing her to smile and to let out a small sigh. She had to bite down on her lip when his mouth started moving south, swiftly finding a particular spot somewhere beneath her ear. Her next sigh was much more noticeable, her toes already curling in her shoes.
She had no doubt what this was going to lead to, if she let things run their course -and she absolutely wanted to let them run their course…but there were other basic needs she couldn't keep on ignoring.
"Peter, wait," she stopped him, then, using her grip on his hair to gently pull his head away from the crook of her neck. He gave her a questioning look, and all she could do in return was shake her head apologetically. "You're gonna think I'm kidding, but I actually really need to pee."
His brow furrowed in a beautifully skeptic and amused frown. "You're right, I think you're kidding. I hope you're kidding."
She made a face of her own. "Hey, I'm only human. I had a long night and too many cups of coffee." And she gave him an intent look as she added: "Plus, I get the feeling we're gonna be busy for a while, better get that out of the way now."
His next smile definitely confirmed that they were indeed going to be busy for a while as soon as she gave him the chance, and he nodded. "Point taken," he said, before moving surely a bit reluctantly so she could unpin herself from what turned out to be the door.
She started discarding of her now really unnecessary layers of clothes as she made her way to the bathroom, throwing her scarf and remaining glove on the couch and unbuttoning her coat. Before she could disappear from his view, she turned to look at him again, and wasn't surprised in the least to find him still blatantly staring at her, enjoying the shiver that ran down her spine.
"Make yourself at home," she told him then with a small smile.
She had meant it a bit jokingly, but from the unspoken words they instantly exchanged through locked gazes, they both knew this simple offer held a much deeper significance.
She forced herself to look away and keep on moving before she could change her mind and just walk back to him right away –she really needed to pee. Once in the bathroom, she quickly took care of that. As she washed her hands, she automatically looked at her reflection in the mirror, and wasn't surprised in the least to find herself almost glowing on the spot, her cheeks nicely flushed; the difference between the way she looked now and the way she had looked just this morning was undeniable, and she knew it had everything to do with how her perception was being altered by the way she felt.
Unable not to smile at herself, she brought a hand up to undo her ponytail, freeing her hair. She only played with it for a few seconds before her need to get back to Peter swiftly led her out of the bathroom and back into the living room.
He had made himself at home; he had adjusted the lighting of the room, creating a dimmer atmosphere that felt more intimate, and he was now standing in front of her stereo, having taken off his coats and other accessories. She could have spent the night just staring at his figure; she had missed the sight of his lean body as much as the feel of it.
Before she could say anything or come any closer, he spoke, not even turning around as he played with the buttons.
"I poured you a drink," he told her casually; she reluctantly moved her eyes away from him, finding the glass sitting on the table.
At this point, she would just have to accept the fact that she was going to keep on smiling like an idiot for the rest of the night.
She would lie if she said she was surprised by his sudden attempt at making this romantic, with the lights and the music that would soon come, when fifteen minutes ago they had been ready to get rid of each other's clothes in the middle of the street. Peter could be hopelessly romantic, and she had her moments, too –though admittedly, she would have been just as happy to drag him to her bedroom right now without any kind of preamble. But she was too engrossed in the moment to complain in any way.
As she picked up the glass and brought it to her lips without much hesitation, the music finally started playing, filling the room with warm notes. The next thing to warm up was her throat, as the alcohol traced its way down, her mind already making the connections, the song sounding undeniably familiar. Peter finally turned around and their eyes instantly met, just as the first lyrics of the song ringed in the air.
'I hope this song brings back memories'
Olivia shook her head with a smirk. "Really?" She chuckled, genuinely amused, given their situation. "Why do I get the feeling you didn't pick that song randomly?"
He was smirking too, still standing a few feet away from her, way too far from her, his hands now nonchalantly shoved in the pockets of his pants. Even from this small distance, she felt like he was trying to burn holes in her soul with his very eyes, his gaze unrelenting in its intensity.
"Because I didn't," he admitted, cocking his head suggestively. "It's a good song," he added with a small shrug, but she knew better, remembering perfectly now in which circumstances they had listened to that song.
She held his gaze just as intensely, more than willing to play this unhurried game with him; this was in complete opposition with this deep craving for him she felt, and she had no doubt that this contrast was why she was enjoying it so much.
And so she slowly brought her glass back up again, but before she brought it to her mouth, she said in a purposely lower tone: "We made love on that song."
She took a long sip of her whiskey, then, staring at him over the edge of her glass, still unblinking; she definitely enjoyed watching the effect these few little words had on him, his gaze already darkening as his entire posture tensed ever so slightly. Lowering her glass again, she licked the residual traces of alcohol from her lips, and his Adam 's apple bobbed up and down. She smirked again and tilted her head. "Well, that song and the few others that followed."
He blinked. According to the rules of the silent conversation they were currently having, it pretty much meant that she had won that round, and she thought victory tasted just as sweet as the flavor that remained on her tongue.
"Come here," he said softly, then, one of his hands leaving his pocket, reaching out for her. It wasn't an order in any way; in fact, it sounded more like a plea.
She didn't need to be asked twice; she put her glass back down and walked to him as he moved towards her as well, meeting halfway.
Their pace remained unhurried, though, unconsciously following the slow rhythm of the song. She wrapped her arms loosely around his neck as soon as he was within her reach, and he enclosed her tightly in his arms, bringing their bodies definitely closer. Once again, she couldn't help the new wave of shivers that broke under her skin, not that she minded in the least. She loved the feel of him, and she serenely let herself be drawn into his bottomless gaze, their faces mere inches apart.
"You don't have to court me, you know," she told him with a small smile, as they instinctively started to sway slowly to the music. She had to make sure he understood that she was more than willing to give him every last bit of her tonight, and every night after that. "I've missed you," she added, more softly and in all honesty.
Peter wasn't smiling anymore; he didn't have to say the words back, she knew how much he had been missing her, even though this knowledge was starting to fade, too.
There was something truly beautiful and overwhelming in knowing that she was needed in such ways, just as equally as she needed him.
He leaned his forehead upon hers, then, breathing in slowly, deeply. "I've missed dancing with you," he said softly, and she could only smile.
Dancing was not an activity Peter particularly enjoyed doing, generally speaking, and she knew it. And it wasn't as if she had ever dragged him to a night club, or had gone out with him to a bar to force him onto the dance floor. Even if she had wanted to, their lives had never exactly provided them with that many nights off to go party.
Dancing had been one of these things they had started doing on the spur of the moment, during one of these Friday nights they always tried to spend together at her place, whenever work gave them a break; the music had been on, as it always was, they had been drinking wine with dinner, and somehow, they had gone from cleaning the table to spinning around the room to whatever song had been playing at the time.
She wouldn't say it had become a routine –watching cheesy horror movies while cuddled up on her couch had remained their principal occupation on these nights –among other things, but it had happened a few times; and he was almost always the one who initiated it, even after admitting that he actually didn't like dancing, promptly adding that he didn't mind it much with her, though, not much at all. And what would there be for them to dislike?
There was something truly entrancing in moving like this with him, slowly, almost sensually, especially tonight. She loved how entirely lost into the feel of him she got, lost in his eyes, their bodies in perfect synch with one another, as well as with the music carrying them away.
She fit perfectly there, in his arms. That was all she could think about as she moved her arms, wrapping them around his waist to get a tighter hold on him, and she buried her face into his sweater, feeling his embrace tighten around her in response. It was in moments like this, when she was entirely engulfed in his arms and pressed firmly into his body that she felt almost minuscule, almost breakable, her body so small compared to his. But it was also when she felt the safest, the most at peace, every curve of her limbs fitting perfectly into his, as if she had been made for him, or he had been made for her.
Even his very smell seemed to be the scent she was always supposed to breathe. After what she had learned today during her disturbing investigation, she knew that this scent was partly responsible for how elated she felt at that instant, or that the fact that she found it so addicting, so earthy, masculine and his, was caused by some chemical reactions happening in her brain, sending her hormones into overdrive in return.
With her nose currently pressed into the soft fabric of his sweater and with her lungs filled with him, she couldn't care less about the scientific explanation behind the way she felt. All that she knew was that each intake of breath she took brought more memories to her mind than any familiar song could ever achieve.
If there had been a time not so long ago when what was and what wasn't, or what had been and hadn't been was entangled in her head, things had become so much clearer now. She still had no idea what had caused these memories to take over the others in the first place, but she was at peace with her decision to let things continue their course.
All around them, the timeline had changed, but the memories of that life she once had with him in a different place were so lucid. Right now, she remembered all of these times he had held her against him, long, long before they became lovers.
She remembered his strong arms around her shaking body after she had been pulled out of the Tank; in the aftermath of having spent a few hours in this space especially made to deprive her of all sensory inputs, Peter's body had been a bouquet of sensations, his scent almost assaulting to her olfactory sense, and most definitely intoxicating and enticing. It had always been so easy and tempting for her to get lost in the smell of him, that much she remembered thinking too, at a time long ago when it had been very unwise to let herself think that way. But all of her defenses had been down that day, as she stood sleep-deprived and distressed in that hospital hallway, and Peter had offered her comfort and warmth with his fingers in her hair as she rested her heavy head upon his chest.
Maybe that was the reason why they both enjoyed these embraces so much, and she knew he might love the sheer and innocent intimacy that defined them even more than she did.
They merely sought recognition in one another, and found solace in each other's scent.
Right now, what they were seeking went even deeper than that, sharing an equal need to prove themselves that this was real; she felt it in the strong hold of his arms around her, keeping her pressed tightly upon his chest, with his nose buried deep in her hair.
Soon, they would give in to this other longing, one that was both physical and emotional, this nearly desperate yearning they felt, needing to reconnect as intimately as two beings could reconnect. And she would welcome the exponentially rising warmth when it came; she would welcome the reference in every brush of his hands as they sculpted her flesh, and she would thirst for the scorching passion of their melding bodies.
She would meet his fervor and let herself be raw and vulnerable, malleable, just as he would be to her. She would drown in his eyes, in the whispers of his adoration, words she didn't need to hear, for he was already proving his love with every breath he took right now.
After fighting for so long to get home, to get back to her, he had found his place at last.
He was exactly where he belonged.
And so was she.
A/N: The song used in this was 'Just Memories' by Luther Allison. Reviews make my world twirl. For real! :D