(A/N: This is a little thing I wrote about how Olivia deals. All we really see is her being strong, so I needed something to make her a little more—I don't know—relatable? Human? Regardless, here it is. Minor, minor Polivia. If you don't like Polivia, it's easy to dismiss. But if you don't, this may not be the best place to be. Because I LOVE POLIVIA.)
Olivia Dunham isn't perfect.
And some days, that's okay. Most of the time, she can accept her little flaws and imperfections; they're what make her human.
But on a day like today, the littlest, most miniscule thing will eat at her, taunting and torturing her.
And, without fail, she'll make her way to the shower.
It doesn't matter if she's already showered that day, it doesn't matter if other things beckon for her attention. This is just her ritual, and without it she may just break down completely.
Or, god forbid, have a meltdown in front of someone else. Like Peter. Or Broyles. Or Walter or Astrid.
With her team, she is strong. She has to be, it's in her job description. But at home, in the privacy of her shower, she's free to self-loathe as long as she's got hot water. On occasion, even past that.
Though today, even with the extra-special brand of ache on her mind, she knows it won't go that far.
She's already made her decision before the key's in the lock. The door swings open, slams shut. She throws her keys haphazardly on the countertop in the kitchen and shuffles to her bedroom.
She undresses, neither fast nor slow.
Then, completely naked in more ways than one, she pads to the bathroom. The routine ingrained in her, she flips the shower on—blistering hot.
She goes to the mirror. Her eyes, dark and hollow, sit atop deep purple rings of exhaustion. Her pallor's gone ghost-white, and her hair falls dull and limp over her shoulders and down her chest and back. Her eyes jump back to her mouth, where she's biting roughly on her lower lip. She lets the swollen flesh go, and with a final sweep of her reflection before the mirror fogs over, she turns and steps into the shower.
Her sickly-pale is quickly wiped out with the bright pink of new skin, the boiling water washing away the day.
She tilts her head back into the spray, soaking through her hair and letting the showerhead assault her scalp. Runoff splashes down her face and into her open eyes and parted mouth.
The water tastes of poison, but it's all in her head.
She stands and lets the water for several minutes, until she's sure her entire body's drenched and soaked. Then, and only then, she backs herself into the corner and sinks to the floor. Her back arches forward slightly, against two walls with an empty space between. The cold tile paired with the breeze on her spine makes her shiver.
She pulls her knees tight against her chest, her breasts pressed flat to her thighs. The spray just reaches her ankles and lower calves, but bounces off of her and the unobstructed floor to fly up and hit her face.
She lays her head down, on the round tops of her kneecaps.
And she cries.
Her tears mostly blend with the shower water; the only time Olivia can tell the difference is when she can taste the saltiness of her weakness.
She doesn't know how long she sits there. Her joints ache from the uncomfortable position, but the water's still lukewarm. But she knows she's done, for now. Unfolding herself and standing up, she flips off the water and is left in the chilly, steam-infused bathroom.
She retrieves her towel from the hook on the wall and wraps it around her torso, pushing back the curtain and stepping out.
She doesn't dwell in the bathroom any longer, its purpose has been served, and escapes back to her bedroom.
She glances at her clock, but doesn't really look at the time. She knows it's late, but not as late as it could be. She's stayed up much later before. Hell, she was up later than this all week.
Her towel drops to the floor, forgotten, and she moves on to the closet. She selects blindly, feeling for something soft and warm. Her hand emerges with a long-sleeve cotton tee, and again with a pair of thick sweatpants. And while she doesn't bother with a bra, she does retrieve a pair of simple black panties.
Dressed, she picks up her discarded clothes from earlier, pulling her gun and her phone from the pile and placing them on the nightstand.
She leaves the bedroom and ventures to the kitchen. She finds her bottle of whiskey in its normal cabinet and pours herself a single glass.
It's gone in a heartbeat, glass abandoned in the sink and bottle returned before heading back to her room. She slips in between the covers and finds a comfortable position.
The one good thing about these days, she'll go to bed early and sleep through the night.
Her eyes have just fallen when her phone rings, but she reaches for it calmly. "Dunham," she answers, throat hoarse and thick.
"Hey," and it's Peter. His voice, even over the phone, tumbles into her head and has her heart pounding a little faster. "You okay?" he asks, obviously hearing the change in her voice.
She smiles, just slightly, falling back onto her pillow. "Yeah," she says, "I'm okay." And, for now, it's true.
(A/N: I know I don't really specify what's bothering her, but it's meant to fit almost anywhere in the storyline of Fringe. And, in my opinion, it may just be the best thing I've ever written.)