Green Eyed Monster

A Single Bed

OLIVIA was standing in the sewer tunnel, covered in sweat and grime. She was painfully aware of her horrible smell and of her awful appearance. The paramedics eyed her awkwardly, and she could only imagine what they were thinking. She had managed to somehow at least partially cover up the beast's body with her coat and stand right in front of it while they were hauling Peter away on the stretcher. The last I need is for someone else to see the hybrid.

She rubbed her temples despairingly and climbed out of the sewers, holding the vial with the creature's blood carefully in her hand. It was midnight already. The fresh night air greeted her open armed, and she welcomed it, breathing deeply. It dissipated the stench but it also positively affected her blurry, shameful thoughts related to what she had just done to her partner.

To was the correct preposition, not with, since Peter was completely passive and unaware that something was happening. Olivia had never done anything like that before and she was wondering if she was going mad.

It's OK, though-she nodded vigorously, consoling herself. No one knows, no one saw it. And I'll make sure that it doesn't transpire again. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. In my case, what happens in the sewers stays in the sewers.

She drove Peter's car back to the Harvard Institute laboratory, wondering if Walter was going to be angry with her because she entered his vehicle being so smelly and dirty.

I couldn't leave the car there, could I?

Olivia was barely able to walk. She was so tired and numb. Her body craved for sleep and food. Her lips were tingling pleasantly reminding her mischievously of Peter's taste and scent.

She willed herself to open the lab door and enter. Walter and Astrid were towering worriedly above sleeping Charlie and they both beamed after having seen her. Astrid's happy face became confused and Walter's disgusted when the sewer stench reached them.

-Not one step forward, agent Dunham, do you hear me? You will not contaminate my lab with that pungent odor. Back, I say!

-OK, Walter. It's fine. Just take the vial-Olivia whispered from the doorstep, accepting her banishment, gripping the doorframe and trying to stand upright.

-Agent Farnsworth, administrate the creature's blood into Agent Francis's bloodstream-Walter instructed Astrid seriously and formally and then he went over to talk to Olivia, clutching his nose with his thumb and his forefinger.

-Well done, agent Dunham!

She nodded in a wordless "thank you".

-Peter and you have been most effective-his voice dropped several octaves lower. –Is he at hospital?

-Yes.

-The paramedics took him?

-I… I called them.

-You did well. You should go home and get some rest now.

Walter is right, she thought. But I promised Peter.

Olivia could barely stand on her feet. She got up early that morning, as usual, and she came to the lab at seven o'clock to help with Peter's "surprise" welcome home party. She hardly had any food while the party lasted.

Then there was the case, out of the blue, and she spent the entire afternoon running around, arguing with the lab owner, interrogating the MIT students on campus about the victims who were their roommates…

It was simply such type of case where time was of an utmost importance so Olivia wouldn't allow herself not even a moment of rest.

Afterwards, in the evening, she almost had a nervous breakdown because of what happened to Charlie. And now this with Peter… It has additionally thrown her off balance. But she couldn't go to bed, not yet.

-Walter… I am going to go to the hospital now. When were you planning on going?

-Oh, I will not go just yet. I must tend to Agent Francis over here.

-Did your plan function as you predicted it would?

-Afro! The ultrasound?

Astrid responded excitedly:

-Walter, the larvae inside Charlie's stomach are loosening their grip! It's working!

Walter nodded self-contently.

-There's your answer, agent Dunham. But I would still like to stay in the lab for couple of hours more and to help stabilize Agent Francis's state. Are you going to hospital immediately?

-No. First, I'm gonna go home and… Change.

-Have a long, hot shower too, I suppose?-the scientist sighed almost erotically.

Olivia frowned at his inquiry.

-Walter! I hope you are not going to tell me that you have just gotten an erection.

-No. Although I do need to urinate, thank you for reminding me. Can you come by the lab on your way to the hospital?

-Sure, why?

-I want to give you the clean clothes I have prepared for Peter. Judging by your aspect, I can only imagine how my son must look like.

-Worse-Olivia stated seriously. –Walter… What you said about the venom… What are we going to do if it doesn't wear off?

-We must think positive, agent Dunham. That is another reason why I wish to stay in the lab. I want to investigate the effects of the poison some more.

Not really. I just want to give you and Peter some privacy while you go hold my boy's hand.

-I suppose that's a good starting point. I'll leave you to it. I'll come back in… Three quarters of an hour. Approximately. See you then.

WHEN she entered her apartment, it was already half past twelve, but neither Rachel nor Ella were asleep. They both gasped in unison when they took in her matted, dirty hair, her muddy face and her wrinkled, tattered clothes.

-My gosh, Olivia!-Rachel exclaimed incredulously.

-I've just completed the case.

-The case from this morning?

-Yes…

-Are you alright?

-I'm fine… Just tired. And I really need a bath.

-That you do. You stink like crap!

-Aunt Liv smells like doodoo-Ella giggled and clapped her hands.

-Yes, I do, El-Olivia confirmed beaming widely.

-Into the bathroom! Now! And then, you simply must go to bed, asap! Those black circles under your eyes look awful-Rachel ordered her, grinning. Olivia returned the smile. Her younger sister sounded as if she were talking to Ella.

-Uh… The bathroom part… Sure. But after that… I have to…

God, if I told her what happened to Peter, she would freak out. And maybe he'll get better soon… I won't frighten her for no reason. I have to make up a story… That I… I am working late tonight…

Go to my office and browse through some files… Write a report for my boss.

-Can't that wait until tomorrow? Just look at you!

-I'm afraid it can't. You two go to bed. Don't wait up, because I'll come back late. And we'll see each other tomorrow morning.

-Aunt Liv… Will you have breakfast with me tomorrow? Mommy is making Wicked Bishop Omelet.

That sounded vaguely familiar but Olivia's memory needed to be jogged nonetheless.

-I forgot what that was, sweetie.

-It's an omelet made of fresh eggs and human ears. Remember, the one that Uncle Peter made with Mom for dinner one night.

Rachel whispered in Olivia's ear:

-I am actually making it with ham but she likes to call it like that. She adores Peter.

Olivia felt a pang of guilt looking at her sister and her niece.

The bond the three of them share… And what I have just done. It is unforgivable. I am never telling this to anyone for as long as I live.

-Yes, dear, I am definitely going to have breakfast with you tomorrow.

-Promise?-Ella pouted her lips.

-I promise. Cross my heart and hope to die.

-OK. See you tomorrow, Aunt Liv! I can't kiss you goodnight because you're all smelly but I'll kiss you twice in the morning.

-It's a deal. Good night, Els. Good night, Rach.

-Good night, Liv. And… Take it down a notch, will you? That work is killing you.

IN the shower, she remembered Peter again. Thinking of him was the only thing that kept her going lately.

It had been one of those days. Those exhausting days where the brain felt numb, and thinking about anything else was impossible. The only cure for days like those was a hot steamy shower.

Olivia peeled off her dirty, ruined clothes which got scattered in no particular direction, all over the bathroom. All this while the shower heated up and the steam started welling up from the cubicle. Naked, she stepped inside and immediately submersed her entire self under the torrent. With her hands up against the wall, the water flowed over her hair and down her milky skin. All she heard was the water in her ears as it bubbled and splashed, and massaged her tired body.

-I know you think you're alone in this. Because… That's just who you are. Strong, independent, admirable young woman. But this isn't just your fight. I am here too. And I am not going anywhere.-his voice resonated in her head.

He always knows just the thing to say to lift me up, to help me keep going… To aid me endure the daily tortures.

She replayed the sewer scene in her mind as blurry images flashed in front of her eyes…

Peter screaming her name, distracting the creature, running to the rescue… Falling onto the ground, under the monster…

Shirtless Peter…

-Agent Dunham… I didn't know you were so eager to see me shirtless…

With those slightly but just enough defined taut abdominal muscles and scarce chest hair. Leaning his broad shoulders against the sewer wall… His soft hands caressing her cheek, cupping her face. Entangling in her hair. His head accommodating on her chest. His stubble playfully rasping her chin. Those sky-blue piercing eyes resting on her face, and daringly sizing up her cleavage…

Oh, I'm just grasping at straws here… I don't mean anything to Peter, not in that way. He is always flirty. He's a player.

Or… Rachel would say aka: his boner doth never die.

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

-How about we resume the hugging until the paramedics arrive?

As she was rinsing her hair, suddenly, his image blazed into her mind's eye. Olivia closed her eyes and pictured Peter, naked and hard. Just for her.

While Olivia soaped her neck and shoulders, fantasies of Peter whirled in her head. What would his hands feel like on her, in her? Where would Peter touch her first?

Olivia imagined the contact of their naked bodies, Peter's hard and long, and hers soft and petite… The water making their flesh slick and slippery. Peter's arms wrapped around her, holding her so tightly and close to him that for Olivia to even draw a breath was a struggle...

She reveled in the sensation, caressing her breasts with one palm and cupping her face with another, the way Peter did with his fingers just an hour ago…

Olivia recalled how almost her entire head fit perfectly into that immense, rough, protective hand, as hot droplets stroked her tense body.

Returning to reality, she shook her head vigorously and finally abandoned the confinement of the shower cabin.

I've been in here for at least half an hour. I have to go to the lab.

Olivia quickly half-dried her hair in a hurry, running around the room; then she fumbled through her wardrobe grabbing the first clean shirt and the first pair of black pants she could find; she pulled out a dark brown leather jacket, the only overcoat that wasn't dirty at the moment.

In the kitchen, she showed a tuna fish and tomato sandwich into her mouth, and then she gulped down a glass of orange juice which she found in the fridge.

Back in her bedroom, Olivia glanced at her bedside table and at the big old seashell box she got from Peter that morning. She reluctantly pulled it open and took out one hair tie from the "One hundred and one hair ties compilation", but seconds later, she returned it inside, and stood in front of the mirror, carefully combing her hair until it resembled a sleek and obedient golden waterfall on her shoulders.

- You know how I always tell you I like it when you wear your hair down while you like it up, so we constantly argue? And how you had to endure me stealing hair ties from your hair and then making them magically disappear? So I was thinking and I decided to let the lady choose…

Olivia chose to wear it down for him that night.

Sheer dread engulfed Olivia as she recalled Walter's words that Peter might not make it…

I'll stay at the hospital as long as he wants me to… If that's what it takes to make Peter feel better.

THE lab door creaked and Walter dropped a big green bag on the floor, yelping; oranges started rolling around and under the tables laden with various lab equipment. It was already half past one in the morning.

-Agent Dunham! Don't creep up on me like that! Oh. Agent Dunham…-Walter approvingly sized up her curvaceous figure and tall, lean body. –Aren't you a sight for sore eyes? I see you no longer reek of human excrements. And you certainly look a lot better than that last time I saw you.

-Thank you, Walter-Olivia said insecurely, unsure if that was supposed to be a compliment, seeing how it was coming from Walter, but she appreciated it anyway.

-So!-he cried out ardently. –This is the hospital bag… Now, let me show you what…

-Walter. Where is Astrid? Where is Charlie?

-Oh, Afro is on her way home. We were done here anyway. Agent Francis has immediately reacted to the treatment we have given him… His overall state improved and he headed home as well. He said, and I quote "I don't want my wife to worry about my whereabouts longer than necessary". The larvae have died in his stomach, and now he only needs to crap 'em out.

Olivia made a mental note to call Charlie first thing tomorrow morning and to see how he was doing. For now, she was just grateful he was alive and well.

-What about you? Are you coming with me to the hospital ward?

-Oh, no need for that, Olivia. I have called Gertrude half an hour ago.

-Gertrude?

-The nurse. My date, remember?

-Oh, right.

-She was quite comprehensive about tonight… I told her to take special care of my boy. She is still at the hospital as we're speaking, but she'll come and join me in the lab! We were supposed to go to the cinema and to the restaurant… But the tickets and the reservations cannot be used anymore… So I made some brownies right here in the lab, in the easy bake oven, Asterix brought me couple of differently flavoured milk shakes and she was so kind as to rent a movie for the two of us. So there is still hope, my dear-he concluded gleefully.

-Walter… I am happy for you, but… I'm afraid I don't quite follow you. How exactly does all that relate to you not coming to the hospital? What could be more important to you than Peter's welfare?-Walter could feel a reprimanding tone in Olivia's voice.

-Oh yes… I am sorry, I got carried away… She told me… When I called her, I mean…

Olivia nodded patiently, waiting for him to continue.

-That the venom has worn off-Walter clapped his hands as some sort of enthusiastic child. –Peter was bitten approximately around eleven p.m.… So it seems that effects of the poison have disappeared at exactly one o' clock sharp! And there were no further complications, thank God… No cardiac arrest, no nothing! His pulse has slowly returned to normal… His bodily temperature is gradually rising now… Peter is exhausted at the moment, of course, that is perfectly understandable, but… Otherwise, he's just fine. He'll sleep over and he'll be home tomorrow at lunch time, good as new, as soon as he signs those… Release papers… The hospitals and their unnecessary bureaucracy….-Walter mumbled disapprovingly, but Olivia actually stopped listening to his ranting somewhere around the line "the venom has worn off" and all of her facial muscles relaxed in a blissful relief.

He's going to be fine.

-I see that this news brings you joy, Agent Dunham. Now, I know that, after having heard that Peter is alright, you might change your mind and not even go to visit him tonight. Or shall I say this morning, since it's morning already. But… I have to ask this favor of you, because I would really like to dedicate myself to Gertrude and our rendezvous… Would you please take these to Peter in my stead?

-Walter… I was going to go to the hospital anyway. I promised Peter I'd come.

-You promised that to him way back when he was injured by that mafia boss as well, and then you never set your foot in his convalescence room during two weeks. A fine friend you were.-Walter accused her bluntly, sulking.

-You're right. I didn't. And I am sorry. I want to make it up to him now.

-Hmpf.

-So what am I bringing him?-Olivia inquired mirthfully, not really being able to be angry with Walter, partly because he was like a big sulking child, and to a certain extent because he was actually right when he said that particular remark about her avoiding Peter in the last fifteen days.

-Oh… Yes!-Walter was now kneeling, crawling on all fours, scavenging for plump big oranges all around the dusty lab floor. –Well, you don't need to take him much, since he's coming out tomorrow at midday… So in ten hours, really… But he could eat these oranges for breakfast…. If you can… Make sure he does…

-Oh, I don't know if I am going to stay for that long… I was planning only for half an hour or so…

-Nonsense… He will be alone in the room… There will probably be a spare bed right next to his… You can sleep in it and then the two of you can have breakfast together…

-I don't think so, Walter-she replied courtly.

-Why not?-he was genuinely appalled, but after having seen her resolute, stern facial expression, Walter decided not to comment on the situation any further. After all, it wasn't wise to push it too far…

-Suit yourself-he glowered.

-Anything else?

-Of course! The most important thing! His clothes… Let me show you what I've packed…

-Um.. You really don't have to, Walter…

-Don't be such a prude, agent Dunham! You know how male undies look like, don't you, Olivia?

She blushed severely but simply assented in response, not wishing to enter in a debate with Walter.

-Of course, he will get that god-awful grey pajamas in the hospital once again, and they'll probably give him some horrible quality itchy underwear… But I prepared only the best for my boy! Calvin Clein Pro Stretch Reflex Boxer Briefs! Ha! How's that?-Walter waved the light blue undergarment in front of Olivia's nose. -90 percent nylon/10 percent spandex fabric means an ultra soft fit, and the contour pouch means lift and support for the boys all day long. Designed to prevent the legs from rolling up and sculpt to the body for maximum comfort! And blue IS Peter's color, wouldn't you agree with me, agent Dunham?

Olivia averted her gaze bashfully, not knowing where to look. It was so awkward to talk to Walter about Peter in this particular way, especially when he was mentioning things like "contour pouch".

-So… Undies, socks, jeans… A T-shirt… And his favorite grey sweatshirt!
-MIT?-Olivia couldn't help but chuckle. –He didn't even graduate there.

-Peter says it's one of the most comfortable things he had ever worn. So who am I to argue? He has had it for almost a decade. Oooh… And this dark blue jacket, as well… I almost forgot. Tomorrow might get a bit chilly; I don't want him to catch a cold. Peter certainly looks best in that peacoat of his, but… It's probably filthy, just as the rest of his clothes are. Sometimes a man must choose a common sense over the fashion.

-Is that all, Walter?

-Why yes, I believe so. Tell Peter I wish him a speedy recovery and tell him to get some rest… And I'll see him tomorrow at lunchtime! He could pick up Chinese food on his way to the lab!

-I will, Walter-she waved at the mad scientist, already at the door.

Sitting in her car, Olivia carefully rearranged the fruit and the clothes she was supposed to take to Peter. Her gaze fell upon the MIT sweatshirt and instinctively, without thinking, she lifted it up and brought it to her nostrils. It had that musky, smell that was uniquely Peter's; intertwined with the pleasant, fresh, sea breeze odor of the liquid fabric softener. Olivia sighed into the textile, inhaling its distinctive aroma, and then, before heading to the hospital, she made a stop at Damiano's restaurant.

PETER moaned, slowly opened his bleary eyes and reluctantly tried to sit upright in the hospital bed. His abdomen hurt just a bit, but not overtly so… What was actually causing him discomfort was the searing pain in his left shoulder, which was now carefully bandaged. He didn't really remember how he got there.

I probably fell asleep in the ambulance car. Ugh… What time is it?

He half hoped Olivia would already be there and just as he was turning his head expectantly towards the door, a deep, loud, rasping voice roared in his ear:

-Rise and shine, pretty boy!

Peter yelped as he found himself face to face with Gertrude's mustaches.

-Um… Hi, Gertrude-he smiled tentatively.

-It was about time that you woke up! That venom you had in you had worn off half an hour ago! How do you feel?-she growled worriedly.

-Much better, thanks. A bit tired, that's all, but… It'll pass.-Peter nodded in gratitude.

-I don't know what that thing was that attacked you, but I'll tell you one thing: that spider venom was an incredibly potent paralytic substance. You have been very lucky, young man. But, it has worn off now, so you get some rest and you can go home tomorrow at noon.

Peter cautiously firstly moved his arms, then his legs and he eventually rubbed his stiff jaw. Everything seemed to be functional.

Then his gaze fell upon the grey hospital pajamas and white cotton underwear.

-I…-he started warily. –I wasn't exactly wearing this when I got here, was I?

-No. When they brought you in here, you were stinking like a polecat! I got you out of those smelly clothes of yours, stuck them in the washing machine here at the ward. Then I scrubbed you good and put the hospital clothes on you!

Peter turned puce, embarrassed.

God. She actually bathed me. I won't be able to look at her in the same way for as long as I live.

-Don't stare like that, boy! You ain't got nothing I haven't seen! I've already told you, I've got four of my own sons just like you, at home! Or you've forgotten that?

-No. I remember-he mumbled, looking shamefully at the floor.

-There now!-she slapped him hard on the back and Peter swayed forward from the sheer force of the impact. –Lie back down. Close your eyes for a moment. Relax. It'll do you good.

-Um… Gertrude? Can I ask you something?

-What is it?-she growled, irritated.

-Has… Has someone come here to visit me while I was out?

-Hell, yeah! And a pretty blonde girl at that! She's waiting just outside the room as we speak!

-Olivia?-Peter swiftly lifted himself up on wobbly arms, his face lightening up.

-Dunno what her name is, she some kind of Special Agent… Douglas, or something like that.

-Dunham-Peter corrected her, saying Olivia's last name with tenderness.

-Yeah, that would be her. Now, normally visits aren't allowed this late at night, but since she's FBI and all that, we had to make an exception. I'll tell her to come in.

And, sure enough, Olivia entered Peter's convalescence room merely seconds after that, with a warm beatific smile on her face.

-Hi-she said, shyly.

-You came-Olivia could see Peter was positively glowing with happiness, his clear cobalt irises widening, as he took in her soft long hair and a tight brown leather jacket she wore.

Her hair is down.

She cleared her throat.

-I promised, didn't I?

A grin wouldn't abandon Peter's face. I must look pretty stupid right now.

-Well…-Gertrude said gruffly. –I must be going. I have a date with your father.

-What, at this time of night?-Peter was astonished, realizing just now she was wearing a bright red lipstick. –What time is it, anyway?

-It's two a.m.

-Where are you going to go?

-We'll stay in some kind of a laboratory he has. He gave me an address. Said he'd take care of food and drink. Rented a good movie, too.

-OK-Peter nodded, still not being able to hide his surprise. –I guess.

-Why? You have anything against me dating your father?-her gigantic form towered over him menacingly.

-No. No, no, no. I was just saying-Peter immediately stated defensively.

-Fine. Then I'm off. You two kids have fun.

-Bye-Peter replied and, as soon as she went out the door, he doubled over and burst out laughing. –Walter is out of his mind, I swear to God. But you gotta hand it to him. He hasn't lost his charm.

-So that's Gertrude-Olivia inquired playfully.

-Yep.

-Now I understand why Astrid and you were cracking up so much yesterday. But, Peter… I don't think it was very nice of you to call her "bonobo lady".

-I was just joking but… You're right. It wasn't. She's hilarious. She should really learn the meaning of the word "depilation" though, like I said.

Then he turned his full attention back to Olivia, staring at her so adoringly that she had to avert her gaze. Peter noticed he was making her uncomfortable and tried to compose himself.

I should've guessed she's going to be in denial over what had happened in the sewers. Maybe it really isn't the best time to talk about that just now. We're at hospital. In order to confront her about the kiss… I should wait for the privacy of her apartment.

Peter tapped impatiently on his hospital bed and Olivia instantly came over and sat on its edge. He took her hand in both of his and started stroking it absently.

-Thank you for coming.

-It was the least I could do-she was now eying him worryingly. –How are you?

-I'm fine, Olivia, I promise… Perhaps a bit exhausted, that's all. What a crazy day we've had, huh?

She blushed heavily.

-Yeah. I couldn't agree more.

-Too bad the venom has already worn off.

-Don't say that-Olivia said, stressed.

-I mean, I was bitten by something that is million times bigger than a radioactive spider. I could've become Spiderman, and change my last name to Parker. Get it? Peter Parker, instead of Peter Bishop. Then you wouldn't be the only one around here with superpowers-seeing how Olivia was giving him an unsympathetic look, Peter hurriedly opted for changing the subject of their conversation to get on her good side.

-How's Charlie? Did he crap the dead larvae out like Walter had predicted?

-He's feeling much better. I don't know about the defecating part, though. I'll ask him tomorrow-Olivia smiled happily, thinking of her best friend.

-I'm better as well. Everything's more bearable than that cold stinky mud I had my head buried in for an hour. I have to tell you, I've never thought I'm gonna say this, but I am actually experiencing a déjà vu for the first time in my life. Same old, same old. Hospital walls… Agatha Trunchbull… Gray prisoner pajamas… Itchy underwear… Sorry. I got carried away. You really didn't need to hear that.

-I already have.

Peter frowned, puzzled.

-Walter has told me all about itchy hospital underwear. He… Um… He gave me these clothes to bring them to you… There's this dark blue jacket, underwear, socks, T-shirt, and… Your MIT sweatshirt-she chuckled.

-Hey! Don't hate on the sweatshirt. It's…

-"The most comfortable thing you have ever worn"?

-Yeah… You know, I am starting to see a pattern here. Walter is really good at spilling the beans, apparently. What else did he tell you?

-Well… Among other things… I've had to agree that blue is your color, and…

- Please tell me he didn't give you that contour pouch talk.

-He did.

Peter mockingly hid his face in his palms, inwardly dying of humiliation.

-I'll kill him. That'll be the first thing I'll do when I'm out of here.

-Walter has also sent you some fruit for tomorrow's breakfast. Oh, and, before I forget, he told me to tell you to pick up Chinese food for lunch tomorrow, when you're outta here.

-I was going to do that anyway. Which fruit?-Peter asked warily.

-You have six guesses, and the first five don't count.

-Aw, come on! No way! Did he really send me oranges again? The nerve of the man. They'll make me sick, I swear to God! I am not eating those.

-"They are healthy for you, Peter, and full of vitamin C"-Olivia stated in what sounded like an incredible iimitation of his father's voice.

-You're good-Peter acknowledged, pleasantly surprised.

-How come you don't like oranges, seriously?

-I used to like them. And then I came here two weeks ago and got an orange overload. There's your answer.

-Why, did you want something else?

He looked at her crookedly and whispered jokingly, albeit huskily and seductively.

-You know what I want, baby.

-Four cheese Damiano's Pizza?

-Well, yeah, that too-Peter sighed, disappointed that she hadn't picked up on his flirty tone.

-Here you go.

He stared incredulously as she pulled it out of the bag; the next thing Peter did was to rip open the cardboard and to literally hungrily dive his head inside.

-Olivia…-she could hardly comprehend what Peter was saying since his mouth was full of food. –Have I ever told you how much I love you?

-No-her cheeks reddened. –I think you failed to mention that.

-Want some?

-No, I'm OK.-she beamed at him, watching him devour his meal. Peter looked so adorkable with those cheese stains that were dripping from his chin and encircling his mouth. –I ate at home.

-What did you eat? A pea and a drop of water?

-Actually, I had a sandwich and a glass of orange juice, if you must know.

-I bet that was the first thing you put in your mouth in the last twenty four hours. Oh, well, suit yourself. There'll be more left for me. This will make tomorrow morning's orange breakfast much more bearable.

When he had finished, Peter rubbed his stomach contently and wiped his mouth and his chin.

-Now that's what I call a proper meal. Thank you.

-Don't mention it.

He leaned on his pillow and closed his eyelids for a second. His body surprised him with a wide yawn.

-You should probably get some sleep-she stood up and his eyes opened abruptly.

-Olivia.

-Yes?

Peter took her hand in his once more and started planting light, small kisses on her fingers. His stubble tickled her, but it was also causing her an immeasurable pleasure.

-Don't go-his pleading sapphire stare bore into her leaf green one. You… You didn't stay that much last time you were here either. Probably, no, most definitely because of the way I behaved towards you-he was now grazing her hand oldfashionedly with the tip of his lips, as a true gentleman, and Olivia trembled a little, feeling the familiar warmth of his soft skin.

-Liv-Peter hoarsely whispered the endearment he had never dared to use before tonight. –Stay with me for a while longer. At least until… Until I fall asleep. Sometimes I have nightmares… And… Maybe they'll stay away if you are here with me.

-Okay-she said softly and she gently caressed his face with her other free hand.

-You're not gonna go away right now?

-I won't.

-Promise?

-Cross my heart and hope to die-she playfully repeated the same sentence she had already said to her niece an hour prior to that.

He smiled through already half closed eyelids and sighed happily, wrapping himself up in the blankets, never letting go of Olivia's hand.

When Peter's breathing became even, Olivia carefully pulled her hand out of his. He stirred in bed, letting out a tiny disappointed moan of protest, sensing her withdrawal, but he didn't fully wake up, overpowered by tiredness.

Olivia was immensely content that Peter was fine, that he was going to be OK. She observed his chest as it steadily lifted and dropped with his every intake of breath. Soon after that, the rhythm of Peter's breathing and a soft, quiet snoring sound lulled her into a half-slumber and her head inadvertently bobbed forward.

Maybe I'll just rest my eyes for a moment and then I can go home… He is already sleeping.

Olivia cautiously got up from his bed so as not to wake him with creaking, and settled on a nearby chair, leaning her head against the hospital wall. The fatigue quickly overtook her as well as she too drifted in a deep sleep. Her muscles relaxed and her body could no longer maintain the upright position. Olivia's head slid downwards and fell on Peter's pillow, so that now she was unawarely lying rather awkwardly, half seated on the chair, half leaning on his bed.

An hour or so later Peter stirred in his sleep, feeling disturbingly hot. His mouth was dry. His body temperature was back to normal, and three blankets were simply too much. He opened his eyes and surprisedly stared at Olivia's beautiful face lying just inches of his. Peter quickly glanced at his wristwatch. It was around half past three in the morning.

My angel. She must have fallen asleep like this. No wonder. After everything she's been through. Poor thing. She has to be very uncomfortable like that.

Peter carefully stood up and took her in his arms. She was light as a feather, and her skin felt cold. Olivia didn't even stir as she lay limply in Peter's embrace. He gently placed her on the bed and took off her shoes.

Too bad I'm not in the room 419 again. At least there were two beds. Here, it's just mine. We'll barely fit.

Then he covered Olivia with one of the blankets and lay next to her, turning on his side and moving all over to the edge of the bed, almost falling in the process, just to make more room for Olivia, but still facing her, wishing to secretly observe her while she was snoozing, unsuspecting and oblivious to what was going on in her surroundings. Peter was drinking in the soft contours of her heart shaped face, the full lips whose taste he remembered oh so well, and for a minute or so he amused himself by counting her freckles.

Not long after that, she stirred too. Olivia was cold. She was dreaming that she was a little girl again, playing on an icy winter's day, making a snowman with Rach. It was very chilly and her fingers were numb and frozen… Somewhere, not so far away from where she stood, there was a bright, burning fire, and she moved towards the heat, welcoming its closeness…

Peter froze, not daring to move, as Olivia fumbled through the small, cramped bed space, approaching unconsciously to his body, searching for his closeness. She was attracted to the warmth Peter was emanating as a moth was drawn to flame and her hands blindly, disorientedly, groped towards the source of heat. At that precise moment, her actions resembled those of newborn puppy.

When both her palms finally found what they were looking for, she rested them on his hot skin and placed her head on his chest, just under his chin and her breathing became deep and uniform once again.

Peter's heart was doing a somersault after somersault. He didn't know what to do with his hands, so he opted for putting one of them behind his back, and then he clumsily, lightly patted her hair with the other. Still unsure how to proceed and whether to hug her as well, Peter was overthinking the situation.

On the other hand, his body did something completely opposite and irrational. His gaze fell on Olivia's cleavage next and on the pert nipples that were now clearly visible under her white shirt; as he felt his erection building between his legs and pressing into her soft thigh. Peter immediately blushed and inched himself backwards, ashamed, hoping that she wouldn't notice, that she wouldn't wake up.

The last thing he needed now was to start something here at hospital. It was neither time nor the place. He willed himself to breathe deeply, to calm down, to try to fall asleep again…

The image of still, sleeping Olivia in his arms, resting on his chest was now carved into his mind and Peter found out it was soothing to him, like a long forgotten lullaby from the days of old.

He carefully pecked her pale forehead with his cool lips several times, cherishing her closeness, and sighed deeply; his nose got lost in the labyrinth of Olivia's hair strands, basking in the glory of her unique aroma.

Olivia was a sweet, and yet terrible enigma; a multifaceted puzzle Peter couldn't possibly hope to solve; the only thing he had left was to simply admire her complexity and the effect she had on him.

Peter forced him self to close his eyes. He emptied his mind, and the sleep he longed for somehow came, in spite of his pulsating manhood that asked for his immediate attention.

As he was drifting off to la la land, and while his mind was gradually losing control over his body, his lustful hands grabbed Olivia hungrily on their own accord, and pulled her closer into his embrace, holding her tightly, yearning to feel her near him, pressing her forehead onto his. One of his fuzzy muscular legs sneaked between her delicate thighs as if it had always belonged right there.

Olivia woke up at half past seven sharp, when a stray yellowish ray of morning sun started dancing around the hospital room, and jumping impishly all over her freckled cheeks.

Her eyes flew open and she surprisedly stared at sleeping Peter Bishop's well proportioned torso, mere inches from her face. She tried to recollect her thoughts. Olivia didn't remember how she ended up lying in the bed with him in the first place. They were both fully clothed. His strong arms were cradling her lovingly and their legs were intertwined. She felt a steady pulsating pressure on her thigh and embarrassingly discovered that her friend and partner was, as all men, by no means a stranger to morning wood.

Without being able to stop herself, Olivia eyed his throbbing member that seemed to be threatening to rip through Peter's pajamas and blushed at its size.

She didn't move just yet, strangely happy to simply be lying in that position, contemplating his tussled hair and his chubby stubbled cheeks. She noticed her shoes were on the floor and her jacket was hung on the chair.

I probably fell asleep on the chair. Peter woke up, saw me in an uncomfortable position and placed me in the bed.

That still wasn't explaining why he was clinging on to her like that, as for dear life, but honestly, she didn't mind.

Maybe he was having a nightmare.

Having made sure Peter was still in deep sleep, she briefly entertained herself tracing the imaginary line from his cheek, down his neck and his chest, all the way to his abdomen, exploring him leisurely with her forefinger.

Then Olivia took a deep sigh, reminding herself that Peter didn't belong to her and that he never will, focusing on the images of Rachel and Ella in her mind. She carefully wriggled herself out of his bearlike rapturous embrace. Her skin angrily protested for being torn apart from Peter's warmness. She quietly put on her shoes so as not to wake him and headed for the women's restroom to comb her hair and wash her face.

Peter's arms immediately felt the emptiness that had befallen them and they thrashed around his bed disappointedly, searching for the solution of his life conundrum, craving for wholeness…

Something was missing but… What?

His confused eyes opened and an overwhelming aroma of Olivia's skin and her hair that emanated from the sheets and from the pillow on which she was lying just moments ago hit him fully in the nostrils. But she, his better half, was nowhere to be found.

Peter firstly groaned disappointedly assuming she was gone. Then he let out a sigh of relief after having noticed her jacket. She will be back.

Shit-he swore, glaring disapprovingly at his erect stiffness that protruded from the flat surface of the blanket.

God, Olivia, how is it possible you turn me on so much? One look at you, a mere touch, a simple hug and I'm all stirred up.

Peter embarrassingly lay on the side, thus somehow managing to hide his obvious misfortune, while he was waiting for Olivia to return.

Couple of minutes later, indeed, she entered the room, refreshed and surprised to see him fully awake.

-Hey. You woke up.

-Yeah, um… The sun was pestering my eyes, guess that was what made me stir in my sleep. It's almost seven a.m. anyway.

-Listen… Thanks for putting me in bed and covering me last night-Olivia was forcing herself to speak calmly and rationally, as if it were completely normal that the two of them decided to solidarily share a sleeping place.

-It wasn't my intention to stay, I actually wanted to head back to my apartment as soon as you fell asleep but my body apparently tricked me.

-It was nothing. You looked pretty uncomfortable on that chair so I was thinking…

-I have no idea how I've fallen asleep on it in the first place. Gosh, I must have been so exhausted.

They smiled at each other awkwardly and Olivia thought how hopelessly cute and disoriented he looked just after having woken up.

-I can share an orange breakfast with you and then I really have to go home. I promised Ella I'll have a special breakfast with her.

-Two breakfasts in one day! That is really unbelievable knowing we're talking about a Special Agent Olivia Starveham. Take two or three oranges, if you wish, I don't really mind-Peter joked.

-You won't be eating them at all, then?

-Uh-uh. I prefer to wait for my Chinese food lunch, thank you very much. And seeing how I ate that delicious pizza only five hours ago… My stomach really wants to remember that meal.

She carefully peeled one medium sized orange and started eating it slowly, never removing her kind, watchful eyes from his boyish face.

-What?

-I am just glad you're alive, Peter. I was so worried about you last night. You seemed so…-Olivia gulped. –Cold and… rigid… I don't know what would I do if… If something had actually happened to you.

The flood of memories of her tears and of the kiss they shared returned to him in glorious technicolor, overflowing his mind and he smiled tiredly.

-Well, nothing happened, Olivia. Don't torture yourself with hypotheticals.

-That was really reckless, Peter. You shouldn't have started running towards the beast the way you did.

-I wanted to save you. To repay you the kindness you did for me by dispatching Big Eddie. And I did. For some time, I thought we're even, but now I remembered that you actually saved me as well, since you shot the creature! So you are in the lead again, two to one.

-I hope you'll never have to even that score.

-I hope so too.

-What you did last night… Was very courageous of you, but at the same time, incredibly foolish.

-Hey, what can I say? I guess the Sorting Hat would put me into Gryffindor, where dwell the brave of heart.

Olivia briefly smirked, stood up, putting on her jacket and preparing to leave.

-I had a nice time here with you, Peter. I missed this. Just the two us… Chatting for a while… Talking about this, and that... I really should have visited you in the last two weeks while you were here in Boston General.

-You had your reasons and I respect them. And you're here now, so I am not complaining.

-That is not all I wished to say, Peter… I was wrong… Yesterday… At my office. I… I am very sorry .When I told you that you wouldn't be capable of looking after the people you love. I know now that… That is one of the things you are actually really, really good at. I think…-Peter could see her swallowing hard, looking for the right words that were escaping her. –You would be a wonderful husband and a loving father. Rachel will be lucky to have you.

His facial expression was unreadable, but he didn't elaborate on what she'd just said; instead, Peter Bishop merely uttered a quiet "thank you".

-I should get going. After I eat with Ella, I have to start writing a report about the last night's case for Broyles.

-Bummer, huh?

-Yeah, but someone has to do that as well.

Olivia was already at the door when she turned around and playfully said.

-Do you think the Sorting Hat would place me in Ravenclaw? You know: "where those of wit and learning, will always find their kind".

Peter's jaw dropped in surprise.

-You've read it? I can't believe you've actually read it.

-A week ago. And mind you, only the first book. Just out of curiosity. I wished to find the part where the Deluminator is mentioned. Seeing how that was my nickname for the past two months, I felt like I needed to find out everything about that device that can turn the lights on and off.

-Hey Bishop! Olivia Dunham has read a children's book only because she was interested in the origin of a nickname you gave her-a gleeful voice screamed in his head. -That's a sign, man! She liiiikes ya.

-Thanks. I think I've pretty much figured that out myself last night in the sewers.

Peter beamed in earnest, glad that Olivia had read Harry Potter even though she had some negative prejudice against it before actually opening the book that had magical potions and flying brooms written all over it.

-I was just curious... Did other colleagues ever give you strange nicknames? I mean, I know Charlie calls you Liv, Livvy, Olive… Anything else?

-Yes, whenever I managed to complete an especially bad ass assignment, they would normally call me Dunhamnator.

-As in Terminator and Sarah Connor Dunhamnator?

-The very same.

-That's actually very hot.

-I wouldn't really choose that particular adjective to describe it, but I see your point-Olivia smiled at him for one last time before saying goodbye and leaving his hospital room.

Peter remained to lie pensively in his bed, with a wide grin on his face. He decided to get some more sleep before checking himself out of the hospital and going to grab lunch with his inane father.

Tonight-he thought-I will tell her how I truly feel about her.



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