Author's Note- Gah! Just problems on top of problems! I will spare you guys the long rant about my computer, which lost all of my work, but... Gah!
Disclaimer- I don't own it. Not even close.
Thunder, Lightening, and One Hell of a Storm: Twenty-Two-
Peter was shell-shocked, to be perfectly honest. All right- a hell of a lot- shell-shocked. Who could blame him? As Megan steered the car into the back entrance of the hospital, he could do nothing but sit still and stare at her out of the corner of his eye. He had seen her rake away her tear, like it was somehow evidence of a ugly weakness. He had felt how tense her muscles were when he rubbed the paresthesia from her fingers just by the way she held herself. His only consoling thought was that at least now he knew what he was looking at; the emotion she had been trying to hide. She was and had been, feeling guilty this whole time, just like he was.
He couldn't believe it. That was why she hadn't been to see him? Not because she was angry, but because she was feeling responsible, blaming herself for what happened? After all that he had said, all that he had done? Was she crazy? He thought about that for a second. Yes, she probably was, a little. Did he like her that way? Absolutely. He couldn't imagine her as being anything else. It was one of the things he truly loved about her.
He started a little. Loved as in, friend/partner love. Yes, that was it. This whole thing was just...She just didn't understand. She didn't understand that neither of them would have ended up in that place, that situation, if it weren't for him. He scrubbed at his face as they pulled up into the curve of the hospital driveway where patient loading and unloading signs were posted. As Megan went to get out of the car, he reached out and grabbed her arm, hoping as he held onto it that she couldn't feel him shaking. "I'm the one that's sorry." He was speaking toward the center console, mostly because he could barely get the words to pass through his lips. This was the part that he had been dreading. The part where he had to explain to her why she should hate him.
Megan blinked back at him, surprised by what he had said or by the physical contact, he wasn't sure. She settled back into her seat, but didn't bring her left foot back into the vehicle. "You? For what?"
His eyes burned, and he had to close them. "I wasn't there. When it happened."
A moment of stillness passed over them before Megan frowned. "What? Peter, you saved my life. Of course you were there." She said it adamantly, ducking her head, trying to get him to look her in the eyes.
He stubbornly avoided her. "No. I got there." He scoffed angrily. "Just barely in time. In time to keep him from killing you, yes, but not before he hurt you. Not before he had the chance to torment you. I- I don't know what he said, but it wasn't-" He ran a hand through his hair. How could he make her understand?
"Peter." Her voice came out harsh, though out of the corner of his eye he could tell her expression was still soft. "That wasn't your fault."
Frustration coiled inside of him. "I left you alone!" He shouted out, his hand letting go of hers and hitting the dashboard harder than necessary.
She stared at him for a seemingly endless second and then without another word, climbed out of the car.
He watched her go, part of him hoping she was mad as hell at him and another wanting to call her back.
Before he could do anything, she slammed her door shut and he followed her with his eyes as she stocked around the front of the car quickly. When she reached his door, she jerked it open, crouched down to his level and met his startled eyes. "What are you talking about?"
His heart flashed an angry spark into his veins, giving him an unexpected boost of energy he used to face her head on. "I knew what you had been through. I knew you were terrified for Lacey. I witnessed first hand how much Polly was messing with you, confusing you. But I still let myself get angry. I let myself get angry enough that I lost my senses, my judgment. God, I knew Polly was still at large! I knew you were still in danger and I still left you alone, just because I was upset. Just because you brought up Dani. It was so stupid- an-and juvenile!" He rubbed at his face, trying to rub his anguish away. "If you had died, Megan, because of my stupidity- because of my ego... I never would have been able to forgive myself. Never." He stared down at his knees, breathing hard, trying to ignore the burn in his eyes and the pain in his abdomen.
It seemed to take Megan a minute to realize her mouth was slightly agape, but she closed it slowly. "Peter... Wilson didn't get to me because you were angry. He didn't come to find me because I acted like an ass toward you or because I alienated my friend so soon after you lost someone so close to you. I had no right to jump to conclusions or accuse you of anything. And I know you would only ever try to help Lacey. He couldn't have planned it that way. He couldn't have known any of that. Wilson... God, Peter, he sent a false cell to Canada to throw off the police! He shook the US Marshals. Then he came back here and laid in wait till I was alone. You know that he would have waited as long as it took for me to be on my own- or, he might have just decided to attack the two of us together! In which case he probably would have just killed you outright! Before we could do anything to stop him. So don't ask me to regret that you weren't there when he attacked me!"
He was surprised by her vehemence and looked up into her eyes to see the familiar flash of defiance there.
Seeming just as shocked as he was by her outburst, she snaked her hand around his tightly, resting them both on his leg. "Peter- Sam and Bud are already feeling guilty enough about what happened as it is. You shouldn't be feeling the same. I am not your responsibility, and you're not required to protect me during off hours. And...you were the one that came for me. You saved me, and almost died doing so. I think that officially absolves any mistakes, imagined or otherwise." Megan's mouth curled into a sad smile as she looked down at their joined hands. "I can't begin to tell you-" She made a face and swallowed.
He watched her struggle, loving the way her calm demeanor dropped again to show a rare hint of vulnerability. Something he had never seen her do with anyone else and something he had feared he had lost forever.
"I'm really happy you came back for me, Peter." She said softly. "That you weren't done with me quite yet. I can't imagine never getting to see you, or Lacey, or even my mother, ever again." Another tear slid down her cheek, but she smiled up at him and didn't try to brush it away this time.
It was like a perfect crystal teardrop, sparkling there on her cheek like an ornament. Slowly, Peter reached his hand up toward her face. She closed her eyes as he ghosted over her bruised cheek, gently edging the tear away for her.
Her hand reached up to clasp his other one, squeezed softly, and then she stood. "Peter, I don't blame you for what Polly wanted to do, that would be crazy. And trust me-" She looked down at him with a gentle smile. "-you're not the first person to get mad at me when I act like a jerk."
He answered her with a weak chuckle as she walked away.