Green Eyed Monster

Touché, Dunham

IT was already ten p.m. when Peter and Olivia finally reached the main sewer entrance. They pulled out their flashlights in unison and gave each other small encouraging smiles.

-What do you carry in your backpack?-Peter inquired.

-Sewer map, two flashlights, spare batteries, a cellphone, baby monster larvae and a weapon-she recited back.

-No vials, no syringes?

-I thought that was your part.

-We can't be too careful, Olivia. I carry a gun you finally gave me-Peter smiled widely-a couple of flashlights, a map and spare batteries. My cell is in my pocket, too. I think you should take two vials and a syringe as well. Let me give them to you. I'll also fill you in on how to extract the creature's blood once we dispatch it. I mean, it's not like something will happen to either of us, but the mission should be the priority.

-Good point-she nodded. Olivia's mind was focused on Charlie and those thoughts were now clouding her judgment. She was also tired, hungry and thirsty and for the umpteenth time she regretted not having heeded Peter's advice and not having put something in her stomach before coming down to the sewers. It was too late.

But, she pondered, I would probably throw everything up anyway, that's how nervous I am.

-We'll enter down here. Based on the sewer map, this will make a fine infiltration point. Let's open this thing.

-Ay, ay, captain-Peter saluted her mockingly.

A teenage girl on a skateboard passed them by and stared, seeing them opening the manhole.

-Nothing to see here, my lady-Peter flashed his charming smile. –Me and my missus happen to be extremely partial to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... We're just going down there to take a quick look at the little buggers... And uh... Their fearsome teacher, Master Splinter.

Olivia groaned impatiently. She couldn't wait forever for Peter to pass his witty remarks on to the rest of the world. She quickly went down the hole first and called him, whispering antsily:

-Peter, get in here, now!

-I'll be with you in a sec-Olivia heard his deep voice resonate from above and she moved to the side to allow him to come down the iron ladder more easily.

-Ugh-Peter covered his nose as soon as he climbed down. –Smells great down here... So what's our plan, chief?

-I think we should find a spot that connects all the three other sewer entrances with this one, pull out the larvae and wait for the monster there. What can you conclude from the map, Peter, where would the best waiting place be?

-Well... Based on the map, there is an intersection about a hundred feet away from the spot on which we're currently standing. It's not too far away from the exit. It will definitely conduct the sound most effectively.

-OK. Let's head out.

They turned on their flashlights and walked through tunnel, treading the ankle-deep stinky mud in silence for a minute or two. Then Peter, already feeling boredom creeping up upon him, waved his flashlight goofily and said, out of the blue, in a cartoonish voice:

-Th-th-th-that's all, folks!

Olivia turned sharply to look at him scornfully for making so much noise, but she had to smile as well, seeing his childish grin.

-Sorry, it just came out uncontrollably-Peter apologized looking at Olivia innocently. -This really reminds me of the ending of Looney Toones cartoon, when Porky Pig comes out of that tunnel stuttering at the children audience. Good old childhood days-he enunciated, beaming.

-Are we there yet?

-Actually, yes-Peter consulted the map. They were standing at the central intersection. Behind them, there was a tunnel they came from, and in front of them, there were three other tunnels. –I think we should sit and wait here for a while. The larvae are creating the vibration, frequencies of sound, detectable by bats... And, hopefully, our guest of honor, a sewer clown, disguised as a Greek chimera.

Olivia opened up her backpack and pulled out the vial containing baby monsters.

-Come on, Peter. Let's get into position.

-Sure thing, boss.

After ten minutes of silence, Peter started humming to himself and fidgeting.

-Peter!-Olivia rebuked him exasperatedly. –I swear, you're just like Walter sometimes. Can't you sit still?

-Aw, come on, don't say that-Peter replied looking at her lovingly. –Do you know what he told me the other day? "Son, I believe you have finally found your true calling. Working with me".

-You probably said something along the lines: I certainly hope not.

-You know your psychoanalysis, agent Dunham. That's exactly what I said-he smirked, marveling at how well Olivia knew him. –Wanna play truth or dare while we are waiting for our adorable pet to surface?-Peter inquired saucily, tilting his head.

-Peter, this is serious. We need to stay focused all the time. Please stop goofing around. I know you're just trying to make me feel better and I really appreciate it but… Maybe even the sound of our voices is blocking the vibrations that need to get to the babies' mother.

-Actually, no. They resonate at different frequencies and Mommy should even be able to discern both at the same time. She most likely already knows that there is just the two of us here guarding her progeny. But, don't worry about it… I'll stop if it irritates you. We can wait to be mauled in silence. No problemo.

-Thank you-she assented courtly. Olivia really needed to concentrate. She craved for the quietness.

Several more minutes passed. It was damp and chilly in the sewers and Olivia shuddered a bit. Her gaze fell on Peter's silhouette. His face was still slightly pale but he looked better. Her eyes caressed his broad shoulders and his torso and she blushed recalling the two of them embracing just an hour ago. Peter felt so warm back then. A part of her wished him to cradle her in his arms so that she could sense that warmth once again. Then Olivia desperately banished those foolish thoughts and glanced at her wristwatch.

-It's been half an hour already and she isn't coming.

-I take it the word "patience" is not in your dictionary.

-Peter, the time is passing by.

-Walter told me the larvae in Charlie's stomach won't be born until two o'clock in the morning.

-That's only three and a half hours away, Peter!

-Calm down… What do you propose we do?

-We know she is not in the tunnel where we came from. But… There are three more.

-Are you really suggesting us to go exploring those tunnels? Olivia, that is insane! We could get lost down here.

-We have a map-she insisted. –We could split up and thus we'll cover more ground.

-Whoa, whoa, whoa? Split up? Forget it! I am not letting you go alone after that thing!

-Peter, I have a weapon. Which I can probably use much better than you, being a trained FBI agent as I am. You also have a gun. Our backpack content is the same. Any of us can kill the monster and extract the blood afterwards. That is the only way in which we'll be able to save time. I'll take the left tunnel. You can take the central one. When we are finished, in an hour or so, we'll meet back here and, in case both of us have been unsuccessful in tracing the monster, we'll explore the right tunnel together.

-I am not leaving you-he growled, grabbing her hand clumsily.

-Peter, do as you're told!-Olivia shouted angrily at him, and shook him away. In a matter of seconds, she was already halfway down the left tunnel.

Peter stood at the left tunnel entrance, staring at Olivia as she was venturing further and further away inside. He was swearing loudly, reluctant to follow her, knowing Olivia would be pissed off if he did so, but Peter was even more hesitant to leave her alone and journey down the central tunnel by himself.

He opted for padding softly after her like a faithful dog, praying she wouldn't hear him coming from behind, maintaining his distance wisely. After couple of minutes, Peter finally saw Olivia some thirty meters ahead and he stopped for a moment, hiding behind a tunnel curve.

However, apparently, Peter must have done something wrong, because Olivia halted unexpectedly and turned around furiously, sighing tiredly.

-Peter. Come out. I know you're there.

He swore under his breath and obediently resurfaced behind the bend, already preparing an apology in his mind and wearing a repentant expression on his face when his blood turned to ice in his veins.

Olivia was looking at him crossly and her back was turned to the tunnel that went winding on and on in front of her. But… Almost right behind Olivia… In the darkness... Peter Bishop could clearly discern the ominous crouching shape of the beast they were looking for. Sheer terror he felt for Olivia froze him in his place.

He swallowed hard and moved his hand slowly, pointing at the monster with his forefinger, not daring to move or to utter a single word in case it would pounce on her all of a sudden. The last thing they needed now was to somehow provoke the creature.

Olivia quickly got the message and nodded. She managed to gradually half-turn towards the monster . Then she saw it clearly in front of her and a gasp escaped her mouth.

It was twice as big as an adult tiger and it had a hard, grey, rhinoceros-like hide. But what mesmerized Olivia the most was its giant, intelligent head that cocked in her direction, as if it were studying her somehow… Bright green liquid was oozing from its mouth, dripping on the mud puddle beneath it and a low menacing growl was coming out of its throat.

Oh God, oh God, oh God please, just… Olivia… Be careful…-Peter was staring at her longingly, aware there was absolutely nothing he could do. It was all up to her now. He was simply standing too far away, he wasn't even sure that the creature had noticed him at all.

As Olivia swiftly moved her hand with the gun upwards, aimed it and pointed it at the beast, it roared so fiercely that Peter thought he was going to go deaf from the hell noise the monster had just made.

The loud sound must have surprised even Olivia, as Peter's horrified eyes saw her drop the gun on the ground. Although she didn't lose her composure and she quickly knelt to recover it, lamentably, she slipped and actually fell into the mud on her stomach.

Peter noticed the creature started running towards her and his brain went blank.

What if she doesn't get up on time? What if it jumps on top of her and…-the images of her mauled and mangled body, of her forever still and extinguished kind light green gaze tortured his vision for a split second. I have to do something, but what? I… Distract it… That's an idea.

Then everything happened so fast.

Peter foolishly ran as swiftly as he could towards Olivia and the abomination that was now preparing to pounce on her, as she was clumsily straightening herself with the gun in her hand…

-Oliviaaa!-he screamed so loudly that the confused animal actually stopped for a second and sized him up next, before deciding to alter its direction and sprint towards a newly discovered threat. Peter didn't even think of pulling out his own gun. Protect her-was the only thing he had on his mind.

The animal got to him in three long blurry jumps… It moved incredibly fast and Olivia couldn't plainly see where exactly it was. She didn't dare to fire yet, in order not to hit Peter. Olivia needed a clear shot.

The monster and Peter practically collided in midair; he lost his balance and fell in the mud on his back, letting out a long howl of pain as the huge beast straddled his body and buried its fangs into his left shoulder.

Just then a single gunshot was heard and mere seconds later the animals head fell limply on top of Peter's body, bleeding copiously. It was dead.

Even though Peter could hardly breathe, crushed under the monster's weight, in spite of feeling a searing pain in his shoulder, he was grinning happily like a joyous fool.

I did it. I saved her-he thought triumphantly. Nothing really matters anymore. I… Atoned for what had transpired that night between her and Big Eddie… For what she had to endure because of me. The opportunity Walter was talking about… The chance for me to show Olivia how much I really care about her… It has finally presented to me.

Peter heard Olivia's soft footsteps as she was racing full speed to reach him. When she saw him sprawled in the mud under the dead abomination's body, Olivia gasped and covered her mouth with both of her hands. She rapidly knelt next to him and rather than pulling Peter from under the monster, Olivia rationally opted for rolling the huge animal from the top of him and pushing it as far away as she could. It took her almost ten minutes to do that. The beast must have weighed nearly four hundred pounds. Peter tried to help her as much as he could, but he was barely able to feel his legs that were squashed beneath the creature, and his left arm was hanging limply and uselessly beside his once again bruised, battered body.

After she had finally managed to free him, Olivia gave a sigh of relief, sweaty and panting.

-Touché, Dunham. We're even now-Peter was dying to finally say those previously invented words to Olivia and he grinned at her in the darkness in spite of the throbbing he was feeling in his upper left limb. –You scratched my back, I scratched yours. It's that simple. Ugh, I've gotta tell you that this scaly woman weighs a ton! I think she must have really liked me since she got right down to business and straddled my hips like there's no tomorrow. She got Charlie knocked up but, apparently, she's insatiable and she needed to sit on two chairs at the same time. I never really dated anyone that fat. It kinda makes it harder when she's on top. She should have let me jump her bones instead of the other way around. Oh well. That's impatience for you. Also, I am irresistible-Peter winked at Olivia and tried to chuckle but even breathing started to hurt and he swallowed in pain.

-Peter, why did you do that?-Olivia was trembling violently and her voice, broken with worry, was not more than a murmur.

-It was going after you, Olivia-he merely stated with such adoration and devotion in his eyes, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world, that she simply had to look away.

-I would have shot it-she gently removed his hair from his forehead, caressing his face timidly.

-Maybe you wouldn't do it on time-he whispered, squeezing her cool little hand and a look of understanding passed between them.

-But hey, it was totally worth it, now I can fully enjoy seeing а pretty girl dote upon me. What more can a man wish for?

She couldn't stand the way he would fool around, let alone flirt in a situation serious as this one. Not now, dammit, when… When maybe his life was on the line. And he has just come out of hospital. He was still weak. This is entirely my fault. I shouldn't have brought him on this assignment. A single tear ran down her cheek.

-Aww… Come on… Sweetheart, didn't your momma tell you little girls don't look pretty when they cry?-he gently wiped it with his thumb.

She frowned, trying to place that familiar sentence and then it hit her. Peter had said the same thing to her when he pulled her out of the tank three months ago… She wouldn't have made it out in the first place if it hadn't been for his voice… Olivia recalled how she followed the light blue ball of light and how she resurfaced from that horrible maze of her most intimate thoughts only to be greeted with his kind azure eyes and his warm secure embrace.

In the end, everything would always begin and finish with Peter. With his calming presence, with his soothing words. He was always around. And I had gotten used to him so much that I hadn't even noticed that I started needing him, how I began depending on him.

-Oh, Peter, how can you even joke about something like this?

Her hands hastily inspected his body and Peter gave her that flirty lopsided grin as he felt Olivia's fingers travel under his sweater and touch his bare flesh. She blushed but continued to touch his torso, his ribs and his abdomen lightly, looking for cracks, swellings and bruises.

-Does this hurt?-she asked sternly.

-Nah. Actually, I find it quite pleasant. Do continue, Miss Dunham.

-Can you stand?

-I guess-Peter stood up insecurely with Olivia's help, but then he swayed dangerously and leaned on Olivia's fragile body, placing his right arm around her shoulder. She couldn't support him like that for long, so he allowed her to slowly lead them towards the nearest wall, on which both could hinge.

-Olivia…-he gasped after a minute or so, feeling a sharp jab intensifying in his shoulder. –I… I need to sit down.

-Something is wrong, Peter, I can feel it, don't lie to me!-Olivia practically yelled at him as she gently lowered their bodies in the mud.

-It's nothing.

-Don't go all macho man on me now! Tell me what it is!

-I'm OK-he repeated stubbornly. Peter didn't want her to see his gash, he didn't wish Olivia to freak out even more; but she sensed he was hiding something anyway and she started stripping him angrily, removing his peacoat and the rucksack he was carrying on his back. His sweater, his shirt and a sweatshirt followed shortly after.

-Agent Dunham-he simpered jovially. –I didn't know you were so… Eager to see me shirtless.

-Shut up. Not another word. Do you hear me, Peter?

-I don't know why but I love it when you go all bossy on me-Peter continued to taunt her but then she saw his shoulder wound and froze. A strange green liquid was dripping out of it.

-It bit you-she gasped incredulously. –The… the venom…-Olivia stuttered.

The first thing she did next was to thoroughly examine his torso, his face and his back, praying she wouldn't find a stinger buried in his skin. Subsequently, seeing how there was no trace of such wound, Olivia let out a sigh of relief. At least he didn't get knocked up as Charlie did.

But there was still a matter of that bite.

-What… What did Walter say about the venom?

Peter's eyelids suddenly felt very heavy and he was struggling to stay awake… His body felt pleasantly numb for some reason…

-We… We didn't discover what it was for… We haven't been fully able to determine how the venom incapacitates the victim. I remember Walter said that… Maybe it slowly kills the prey, maybe it only paralyzes it… Prey in this case being me-Peter managed a feeble smile.

Her eyes bulged so hard at those words Peter was certain they were going to jump out of their sockets.

-Oh, no… Please, no.

Olivia was so afraid for him. She was shaking, she couldn't think coherently. The paramedics… I need to… God, I need to call someone fast because… Oh, Peter…

She forced herself to sound calm.

-Ok, wait right here. Don't move.

-As if I could-he groaned.

-I'm gonna go over and call Walter and the paramedics. They should be here in ten.

-Wait, Olivia. What time is it?

-It's eleven o'clock p.m., why?-she replied, annoyed. Olivia was barely speaking lucidly. He may be dying and he is interested in what time it is?

-Oh, it's nothing, I just wanted to know my estimated time of death-Peter realized that he exaggerated with his jokes the moment tears started rolling uncontrollably down her mud stained pale cheeks.

-The vials… The vials I had in my backpack broke when I hit the ground. Open yours and extract the blood from the creature like I showed you. You see? We did everything on time. Charlie is going to be okay.

Her terrified look was telling him everything he needed to know. Even though she was relieved about Charlie, Olivia was actually mortified at the mere prospect of Peter's death.

Yes, Charlie is going to make it… Thanks to you.-Olivia was thinking while she was filling the vials with the dark red, sticky liquid. And thanks to the discovery Walter and you have made about the creature's blood. But are you going to… Oh, Peter, what is going to happen to you? How can we fight what we don't understand? What is this poison going to do to you?

-Oliv… Olivia-he croaked. She turned around sharply and got to Peter in matter of seconds. Violent, irrepressible tremors shook his body and he felt the cold numbness in his shoulder travel slowly down his arm. His body temperature dropped and he looked a good two shades paler than before.

-What is it?-she inquired anxiously, inspecting his pallid face.

-I… I feel cold.

-OK… OK… Fine…-She nodded several times, gulping heavily. –Let's put these clothes back on you…

-Too bad it's time to get dressed already. And here we were, having so much fun-his voice was so weak now that it was barely discernible. He allowed her to put his sweatshirt, his shirt and his sweater back on. Then Olivia made him put on his peacoat as well and his nose wrinkled in disgust.

-It stinks-he moaned frailly.

-Well you'll just have to put up with it-she chastised him as if he were a small child who doesn't like the taste of his medicine even though it's good for him.

Looking around aimlessly, Olivia opted for taking off her trenchcoat next and wrapping him up in it as well; she was now sitting next to him in nothing but a stained white shirt and his eyes daringly sized up her bosom.

-Peter…-Olivia growled warningly.

-Are you sure I'm warm enough? Maybe… You should take your shirt off too, just in case… You never know…

-Are you still cold? Are you feeling better?-she asked tenderly, caressing his sweaty forehead, choosing to completely ignore his last remark.

-Still North Pole over here, honey -he barely answered, shivering in earnest. What the heck is this thing doing to me?

-Oh Peter… I… I just don't know what to do anymore.-Olivia hugged him tightly, pressing his head on her chest, sharing with him the heat his frozen body craved for. He is right. God… His skin feels like ice. And it seems to become colder each second. No… Please… Not him… He is always so warm…

-I never thought I'd see the day when you'll actually feel warmer than me. It's usually the other way around. You are the one who recklessly jumps out of cold, wet places and then it's normally up to me to warm you up-Peter said jokingly, as if stating her very thoughts out loud, settling his head happily on her soft breasts. He wasn't about to miss the most intimate contact he has ever had with Olivia and he was in a way grateful for the wound he had received.

Unfortunately, she shifted under him and stood up, walking around exasperatedly.

-Peter…I have to call Walter and the paramedics right now… I have already waited for too long-she pulled out her cell phone and surprisingly enough, there was network coverage, although barely. We probably aren't too deep under the city.

After couple of seconds of furiously chewing on her lower lip, she opted for Walter first. Maybe he can tell me something I can do to aid Peter while the help arrives.

-This is Walter Bishop-he replied almost instantly and grumpily. –I am sorry if I sound cranky, but here I am, stuck working in a lab, instead of taking the most gorgeous woman on this planet on a movie night and restaurant dinner date.

-Walter? It's… It's me… Olivia-she croaked.

-Agent Dunham! How nice to hear from you! What have you been up to these days?

-Walter, please… I need you to focus so badly right now… I beg of you.

Walter had never actually heard Olivia speaking in such a tone of voice and he felt afraid for her. Something really bad must have happened.

-What's wrong, Olivia?

-Peter… And I… We are in the sewers… We have killed the genetic hybrid… And… We have the creature's blood.

-That's excellent news!-he rubbed his hands together. –And at such short notice as well? Well, what are you still doing down there? Why aren't you coming back to the lab?

-It… It bit Peter…

Walter clutched his heart but willed himself to calm down. In the last two hours, he had finally discovered the nature of the beast's venom. Much as spider's venom, it was meant to paralyze the victim so that the animal could feed off of it easily, but the effects would wear off in two hours. He calculated the time based on the human body mass and on the size of the beast.

If it's only that… Then… The situation is relatively harmless. Peter might become paralyzed, but still conscious of everything that is going on around him… He will be able to see, hear, sense and smell, but he won't be able to move. At about one o'clock, he would regain his mobility and no harm done.

But he needed to know if Peter was injured in any other way as well.

-What? Agent Dunham, listen to me carefully… I need you to answer this question for me: Did it insert the stinger in him as well?

-No… Thank God… It didn't. I… I have examined him thoroughly-her voice broke timidly at that point and Walter couldn't help but smile and do a little dance on the other end of the line, imagining what joy that inspection must have brought to Peter.

Olivia sounds so worried about my boy… Maybe… I should just give them a gentle nudge… Lightly tip them over the edge… Ah, young love…

-Listen to me, agent Dunham-he started in a serious, scientific tone of voice. I have uncovered some substantial information regarding the venom. It is a paralytic substance… If the bite wound is deep, it's very likely Peter will become cold soon…

-He… He is… He's freezing right now as we're speaking-she started crying into the phone helplessly.

Peter lifted his weary head and gazed at her adoringly, listening to her concerned voice.

-After the prodromal phase, the first stage is going to be the paralytical stage.

Peter's body will become rigid, he won't be able to move, to hear or see anything. All of his senses will be numbed. His body will stiffen. If too much venom was inserted in his bloodstream, he might even experience a cardiac arrest. If that happens before the paramedics arrive… I trust you know how to perform a CPR?

-Yes-she was barely able to talk.

-Let's hope it won't come to that. Afterwards, he should be taken to the hospital and once there, they should not… Listen to me… They should not give him any sedatives or additional medications. The effects of the venom will probably simply wear off after couple of hours pass…

-Probably?

-Well… There is always a minor possibility that… He might not make it…-Walter was now pretending he was upset just as Olivia was…. –In case too much venom has entered his bloodstream already… But hopefully everything will turn out alright… Let's stay positive, agent Dunham… Now… Have you called an ambulance?

-No-Olivia scarcely had the strength to reply. –I was about to…

She felt her whole world crushing around her, and here was Walter, telling her she could do nothing but wait.

-Get to it then! Come on! Chop chop! I'll come to the hospital ward as soon as I can! Oh, and agent Dunham?

-Yes?

-One more thing that is absolutely essential! I almost forgot. Stay close to Peter and keep him warm at all costs… That…-Walter was thinking about the excuse which might justify his advice and he said the first thing that crossed his mind, which he thought Olivia might find plausible and credulous -Will impede the poison from moving faster through his bloodstream-he silently congratulated himself on a job well done.

-I will.

After having finished the conversation with Walter, Olivia slowly turned and stared worryingly at the man she quite possibly loved even more than herself, realizing just how much she cared about Peter, how much she needed him and that frightened her immensely.

-That bad, huh?-he simply stated stoically.

-No… It's…-Olivia wasn't sure how much she should tell him. –Walter says the venom effects will wear off in two or three hours…

-Good, then I'll be warm again relatively soon-he raised his eyebrows having seen that the concerned expression on her face hasn't shifted.

-But…-Peter urged her to go on.

-You might… Become paralyzed during that time.

-Whoa. Paralyzed… How?-he inquired cautiously.

-Well according to your father, you are not going to be able to move, to hear, see or feel anything.

-Lovely. That's fantastic. Oh, what the heck… At least you prepared me for the worst that can hit me.

Olivia kept quiet, not wanting to frighten him with the bad news about the possible cardiac arrest and the doubtful outcome of the wearing off of the venom.

She dialed yet another number, informing coolly the paramedics about the exact location of the main sewer entrance.

-They will be here in ten minutes. Then you'll be taken to the hospital and everything will be fine.

Not that it would do any good. Walter has just told me they would be powerless to do anything… The only reason he even should be at hospital is… To get his scratches, his bruises and his wound cleaned up and to rest… They don't have any antidote against this…

And I'll go to the lab to bring the monster blood to Charlie.

-Will you be able to swing by the hospital later?-Peter asked a little too eagerly, trying to make his voice sound as indifferent and casual as possible.

-I'll come as soon as we administer the antidote to Charlie and after I drop by my apartment to take a quick shower. I promise.

-Thank you. It will mean a lot to me.

-Walter is coming too. Shall I… Shall I tell Rachel and Ella?

-No. I don't want them to worry.

Olivia nodded wordlessly, agreeing with that assessment.

-So…-he motioned cheerfully towards the mud puddle next to him, thus inviting her to sit down. -How about we resume the hugging until the paramedics arrive? You know, just to make sure I'm safe and sound. And warm.

She shook her head exasperatedly, smiling at him and she quickly approached his cold body and resumed holding him in her embrace, heading Walter's advice. Only his head would fit. The rest of Peter's body was… Well… Hopelessly large and clunky.

Peter sighed contently and stretched out his arms in bliss, nesting comfortably in her arms, crookedly half turning towards Olivia's bosom and fully inhaling her scent.

Olivia rolled her eyes at his flirty actions but said nothing. This is just how he is and that's incurable, I guess.

The weight of his head on her chest was somehow… Pleasant and it felt right. Her heart started beating faster.

-You're not gonna slap me again like you did in hospital before, are you? I've had my fair share of slapping these days.

-If you continue being such a smart mouth, I just might-she threatened but his boyish wide grin disarmed her completely and Olivia just sighed, clutching him even tighter.

So this is what paradise feels like-Peter thought. He wore a silly grin plastered all over his face and when he looked up to meet Olivia's gaze, Peter found nothing but a genuine concern for his wellbeing written all over it.

Feeling bold all of a sudden, Peter swallowed hard several times before uncertainly lifting his right arm and caressing her hair timidly and tentatively, like a stray alley cat afraid of being beaten and sent away, not really knowing where to put his hands. His fingers then hesitantly patted her soft cheeks enjoying the feeling of touching her pliable flesh.

Peter's audacious thumb had even wandered at his own accord, in the direction of her slightly parted full lips; but then Peter thought better of it and cautiously withdrew it back to her blonde hair strands matted with dirt.

She is the only one I have ever felt so awkward and insecure around.

Olivia, wondrously, still hadn't snapped at him, she actually hadn't ordered Peter to stop stroking her face and her hair and he took it as a good sign.

-Are you still cold?-Olivia asked worriedly after minute or two, feeling small tremors coming from the direction of Peter's body.

-You're shivering, Peter- her voice broke and he heard Olivia's breath catch in her throat.

-What's wrong, honey? Are you afraid for me?- Peter somehow managed to comfortingly take her face into both of his hands now.

-Yes-Olivia whispered, sincerely, her eyes wide-open and concerned. There was nothing else she could say but to admit the pure truth of it. And what was the point in denying it? She was terrified. He looked so pale. His skin felt like frost. Her heart was thumping fast out of sheer dread.

-Hey, you're not going to get rid of me that easily, boss.

Peter was abusing the situation, knowing she'd allow him to do anything now that his life was apparently in jeopardy.

He leaned forward towards Olivia's face and playfully scratched her cheek with his rough stubble, something he'd never dared to do before. Then he laughed at her annoyed reaction.

-Peter, this is no time for playing games.

-No time like the present. I have to admit, I kinda like this new Olivia Dunham, worried about me.

-Keep your distance, Bishop. Does this man ever miss the opportunity to gold-dig?-Olivia thought shaking her head at him.

-Okay. But do you really want me to freeze to death? You know what they say… A convalescent man on his sick bed should be well treated and pampered…-his voice abruptly faded away.

Peter found out he suddenly wasn't able to move his mouth at all. Nor any other part of his body, for that matter. He couldn't even blink. Fear washed over him and he forced himself to breathe deeply.

The paralytic stage. Aw, man. And the poison is that strong that it even attacks the optical nerve as well. No way, Jose. Whoever made this mutant did a thorough job. Too bad I'm not in the mood for congratulations.

He heard Olivia sigh incredulously at his ramblings.

She hasn't noticed a thing. Yet. And I am stoned. Huh. Stoned. Walter would laugh so hard at this particular joke.

-Well, I am treating you like a king-Olivia stated playfully. –What is your complaint, Mr. Bishop?

Um… Besides being a marble statue? None, Mrs. Dunham-he thought mirthfully.

After several more seconds had passed and Peter hadn't responded, Olivia crookedly decided to give him his own medicine and to tease him with one of the jokes from his repertoire.

-Peter… What is it? Cat got your tongue?

Pff… More like… Poison got my tongue.

-Peter?-her tone of voice was now worried. –Oh, no…-a sudden realization dawned on her face.

Well about time you've noticed, lady. That's what I'm talking about. Well, actually… Thinking about.

-Please… Not now… The paramedics should be here in… In five minutes… Come on, Peter…

His glassy gaze and stiffened body gave her the answer she needed.

-Oh, just don't let this be the poison spreading even further…

Olivia cradled Peter lovingly in her arms, clutching him to her even more desperately than before, and pressing her tiny head onto Peter's chest, listening to his slow but steady heart beat, sighing with relief.

Peter enjoyed the closeness of her soft, warm little body, cursing his impotence inwardly.

Is this for real? Apparently, something happening to me is just what it takes for Olivia to open up like this…

All of his senses numbed as he felt her plump moist lips burying into his unruly hair and kissing his forehead repeatedly.

What the…

Peter's brain exploded temporarily, not being able to process this information and not comprehending this new miraculous turn of events.

Did I just die and go to heaven?

-Peter… Peter…-he simply loved the way his name sounded coming out of her mouth and he subconsciously wished her never to stop saying it.

-Stay with me, Peter… I…-Olivia gulped and her salty tears adorned his face as well, as she desperately pressed her cheek to his. –I know you can't hear me, see me, or sense me because Walter said to me you wouldn't be able to… But I have to tell you nonetheless… How much I care about you…

Well that's a first mistake Walter has ever made. I hear you loud and clear, darling. So what now? I just lay back and enjoy the show? Not much more to do, anyway.

She was whispering frenetically, earnestly, and tentatively laying small, light kisses all over his face simultaneously.

-Peter… I couldn't bear losing you. You have become such an important part of my life. I don't know what I would do without you-she sighed vulnerably.

There was just something about Peter Bishop when he lay so helpless in her arms, at her mercy…

Olivia's curious lips wandered off of his cool forehead, gently touching his cerulean eyes. Then she tenderly nuzzled his nose with hers, not being able to stop herself, searching for some kind of comfort, looking for the familiar radiating heat that would always emanate from his body, though feeling nothing but snowy coldness coming from this still, stiffened stranger she hardly was able to recognize.

-Oh God, Peter… Just… Come back to me… Please let this venom wear off…

Olivia knew deep inside that she got a bit too carried away with her ministrations but her body wasn't exactly obeying her commands this time.

Her tender pouty mouth slipped downwards from Peter's nose and somehow accidentally ended up brushing his lips.

Peter felt his heart leap high up in the air and then fall of a cliff into the abyss almost at the same time. He could sense Olivia's heart fly around her ribcage as a trapped tiny bird.

Olivia… She… She wants me… -he finally comprehended dumbly.

You go, girl… Take what's rightfully yours. Don't change the channel, sweetheart. You're in the right place.

Then, realizing what she was doing, Olivia went rigid and jerked her head upwards for couple of seconds wondering if she was out of her mind. But it was useless to resist a need that overtook her.

It was as if were some invisible force was pulling her towards him again, like an irresistible gravity, or a strong magnet that overwhelmed and overpowered her.

Her mind was telling her one thing, but her body craved for another… She needed to taste him so badly.

And, Olivia told to herself consolingly, it's not like he'll remember any of this. Just… One second of… Happiness. In the middle of all the misery that surrounds me…

Her mouth abandoned all pretenses there and then, and her shy fleshy lips fluttered down to his inviting ones as a timid, inexperienced butterfly unexpectedly wanders into a luscious flower for the first time.

It was a perfect match and Olivia savored him timorously, gently alternating between tenderly suckling his upper and his lower lip, marveling at the minty, cool flavor and… The adventurous taste of salt and the open sea breeze. Her intrigued tongue wished nothing but to dart daringly inside his moist, concealed cave and continue exploring…

Peter's head felt giddy and his thoughts were like incoherent leaves flying around in the strong autumn wind. What he had been waiting for almost a year was actually transpiring and at the worst possible moment.

The only thing he could do was give in to the feeling of the sweetness and the softness of her fiery, sizzling lips melting into his, so innocently and yet so lustily at the same time.

Oh God, don't stop, don't… Don't ever stop, Peter moaned inwardly, cursing the state he was in, desiring nothing else but to be able to at least move his head and his hands, to cup her cheeks adoringly and to show her he felt exactly the same.

But then Peter sensed Olivia stiffen against him and he lamented the return of her brain into the full power, knowing exactly what was going to occur.

She will repent for what she has just done.

And Peter was right. A single thought dashed warningly through her foggy mind and she said it out loud, remind herself of her duty and of her chastity.

-Rachel.

Olivia quickly stood upright, chastising herself for her insane behavior.

Every single nerve in Peter's body protested as she pulled apart.

No, no, no, no… No, Livia. No, honey. Don't do that to us. It felt so right and I know you sensed it too… Why are you fighting so hard against this?

Olivia's conscience was rebuking her.

Peter's life is in danger. He may be even dying; he is your sister's boyfriend-to-be. And here you are, shamelessly kissing him away while both of you are lying in the mud; abusing the situation.

She could now hear the paramedics at the main sewer entrance. They were calling for Peter and her, and she went towards the source of the sound to greet them, to take them to him.

As she was venturing further and further away from Peter, she began to feel better, her head was clearer, she could think straight again and Olivia desperately made an intent to fully discard what had just transpired, to qualify it as a moment of foolish, stupid weakness. But the feeling wouldn't disappear so easily. Instead, it just nestled deeper into her brain as a wonderful and special memory she should always cherish, stubbornly refusing to leave from there.

Simultaneously pissed off and enthralled, lying in a stinky muck and gliding in Heaven at the same time, Peter Bishop incredulously celebrated the small victory in his mind.

It was a huge step forward, finding out that Olivia Dunham actually desired him, at least subconsciously, and, apparently, the only thing that was stopping her was the firm belief that Rachel and Peter liked each other.

You're in for a surprise, sweetheart. As soon as they release me from hospital… Which should be in a day… Or less. I will make my move, Olivia. And I won't let you fly away again so easily.



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