The Tank, Again
Peter Bishop was terrified. Truly terrified for the first time in many years, for the first time after… After his mother died. He was afraid of losing Olivia Dunham. And he was damned if he was going to let that happen, he thought. He was going to protect her even from herself if the need be.
The day started out well enough… Walter discovered the reason for the transformation and managed to create a preliminary antidote as well, all in matter of hours. Peter truly admired his father. Sometimes, in the beginning of their work together, it looked to him as though Walter was adding ingredients randomly and recklessly, and he was afraid they'd all get blown up in the air. After several months had passed, he learned to truly appreciate Walter's mind. He had many flaws but he never displayed a single one of them as a scientist. Peter enjoyed watching him work and learning from him, receiving praises and scorns likewise. It simply felt good to be near his father again.
However, Olivia (or should I say John?, Peter thought exasperatedly) did a humongous piece of work by recognizing the man from an airplane crash and linking him to Conrad and Hicks afterwards. Now, Hicks was chained to an operation table under sedation, and Peter wasn't really feeling optimistic about the situation. He could transform in a jiffy, he thought. And then what would happen to us?
He was wondering how Olivia was doing when she called. And why did she call? To confide in me, to consult with me on the matter? No. Of course not, Bishop. You're but a puppet on this show. Special Agent Olivia fucking Dunham called you only to tell you what needs to be done. Not to listen to you. Not to accept your advice. Not to ask you how you might feel about that.
Prep the tank. Those three words reverberated in his head and he couldn't focus on work. The god damned tank. Her secret place for meeting with her long dead ex-lover. Peter understood. They were in a relationship for a long time. Heck, she would probably marry him if he were still alive. But Olivia held on to him for some reason, she held on to the memories of John Scott and, it seemed to Peter that she would never let go. It seemed as he lived on in her head and she was happy about it. Two in one… Just like in the Bible. Joined together forever. In sickness and in health… Until death do us part. (Which obviously didn't matter for John Scott, he just continued to exist with Olivia even in the afterlife) How romantic, he thought ironically, and I don't fit in anywhere. Misfit… That's who he was in this story.
And she could die in that infernal thing. Her heart could just stop… From shock, from drug overdose… Didn't she understand that her very life was at stake? But then again, she wasn't doing it only to meet John. She was doing it to solve the case, to find out the truth, to discover her personal closure just like the one she said Walter deserved to receive from the lab assistant's mother. Maybe this time she'll get it. I just hope she doesn't die in the process.
-Stop pacing around son, I cannot concentrate.
-Look, Walter, just leave me alone.
-You must help me to prepare the tank. Be useful for once in your life.
-What's that supposed to mean, Walter? You know what, fine! I don't have to listen to your insults about how much I've failed in my life. Tell me what needs to be done. Operation: "Let's kill Olivia Dunham" may begin!
-You are exaggerating as always… Just like your mother, God bless her soul. She was always overemotional, always overreacting… Nothing will happen to agent Dunham, she knows how to look after herself.
-Don't… Talk about… My mother!-Peter spun around venomously. –She did the best she could after you got yourself transported to looney bin. She… She sacrificed for me.
-And I see how you repaid that sacrifice, by becoming a high-school dropout and a low-life, wasting your intelligence and your talent-Walter continued in a leveled, unnerved tone of voice.
Peter could've hit him then and there. He wanted to release all of his negative emotions, fear, betrayal, angst and anger by smashing that old man's face. But he didn't. He just looked at him despisingly and turned around to stand by the window. Astrid looked really uncomfortable and he didn't want to frighten her. She whispered tentatively:
-Guys… Olivia just called. She'll be here in five minutes. Is everything ready, can I do something to help?
Peter decided not to say a word. To keep quiet. He felt that if he started saying something, anything, like, "Yes" or "No", everything else that he kept bottled deep within might burst out and… He didn't want to hurt anyone more than he already did. Walter nodded in his stead, absently.
When she entered the lab, Olivia immediately felt the palpable tension in the air. She decided not to comment on it. Peter didn't' even turn to look at her. She knew he disapproved that she wanted to enter the tank once again, but he didn't understand… There was no other way. She needed to know if she could trust Hicks. And the only one who could tell her that was John. She blushed a little thinking of seeing John again. But she couldn't help glancing toward Peter several times before she entered the tank. He didn't step away from the window, not even for a second. He didn't come to help her get in as he usually did and she was a little frightened. It felt so strange. It wasn't like him. He would normally approach and caress her face and her hands, joke around, tell her that everything was going to be fine. Now Peter seemed completely disinterested and so far away from what was happening. Walter and Astrid were the ones to sedate and prepare her this time and neither of them paid attention to Peter, it was as if he were a ghost. She closed her eyes trying to focus on a task at hand, alone in the darkness, as the numbness wrapped her mind.
When the tank door closed, Peter stepped away from the window and stood next to Walter without looking at him. He was staring only at the computer screen, tracing the line which had "Olivia Dunham" written on it. He was sick with worry. That line was her consciousness, her life, her blood… That line was her. And if that line stopped pulsating she would be no longer. She… She would be gone. He clenched his fists and closed his eyes. He felt like crying. Fear overcame him and he was wondering what kind of a living nightmare he was in. What kind of person would risk her life like that because of one case, one mission? When there were so many cases left, so many other things she needed to do… When there were people who loved her, who cared about her. When there were Rachel and Ella… When there was him.
First scene Olivia witnessed after delving into her subconsciousness was the bedroom scene. She remembered the night she spent with John in that motel, and how the desire that overwhelmed them both commanded their bodies, since they were removing each other's clothes from the very moment they entered the room. She could see the couple lying on the bed, kissing intimately… She was on top of him, controlling his movements and smiling in a teasing, bossy way. That scene brought up so many pleasant memories and Olivia, standing by the door, sighed longingly, repeating John's name several times.
Peter closed his eyes in pain. Each time she would moan: John-it felt like a little part of him died. Olivia Dunham was torturing him. What have I gotten myself into, who have I fallen for? For a mentally disturbed robotic blonde who only cares about her job and has a thing for a guy in her head? Oh, God, just let it stop, just let her stop saying his name, or I won't respond for my actions, I don't know how much longer I can take. Peter knew she deserved his love. She was a perfect, beautiful, selfless human being who put the needs of others before her own. Olivia deserved his affections fully, but despite that, he wanted to offend her in his mind, he wanted to attack her for what she was doing to him, for the devotion she was giving to a ghost while alive, breathing guy like him stood right next to her, ready to give her everything she wanted, ready to offer himself unconditionally, to change for her… To be who she needed him to be. Whatever the cost. He hated that man, he loathed him, he envied the lucky bastard who could make her moan like that. He was jealous of John Scott.
Olivia screamed in terror. John was looking right into her eyes and that was the very least thing she expected. The scene shifted, changed, and they were now walking down the dark alley. It was so moist, foggy and gloomy. It was raining. Distant voices could be heard all around them, and even though John was standing next to her, she felt so lonely and cold, because his face and his eyes were gray as well, he was one with the shadows that surrounded him and she shivered unwillingly, looking for the John she knew in his features, but not being able to find him. Olivia felt helpless and abandoned. She was where she wanted to be, but still, she wasn't happy. She needed to sense the sunlight on her face, the warmth on her skin… And John was merged with the darkness and decay. He whispered her to trust Hicks. And then he too dissipated and she really remained alone without no one and nothing to hold on to. She was calling after him desperately but he wasn't coming back, he left her. Olivia started running down the gray streets, without being able to find her way out, and everything began to look the same. She got lost in the bleak maze of her own subconsciousness and she was terrified, realizing how truly horrible it was to be all by herself.
Her pulse was accelerated, Peter thought. Something was wrong. Walter was trying to reach her but she wasn't responding to his voice. He grabbed his father the moment he heard her thrashing restlessly around the tank.
-Why isn't she answering to you? Why? Why, Walter?
-Calm down, Peter, I don't know… I don't know what is happening, let me think.
-Walter, we gotta get her outta there! Now!
-We can't, it's too soon. She needs to reconnect with us before we pull her out of the tank.
-What happens if she doesn't?
-She might fall in a coma, never to wake up.
-Oh that's just great, Walter! Smashing news!
He ran up to the tank, trembling with fear. He started whispering her name first, pleadingly, but then he couldn't contain himself anymore and he shouted as loud as he could, barely suppressing tears, desperately calling out for her, wanting her to come back to them. To come back to him.
-Olivia! Olivia!-he bellowed, frantically banging on the tank door with his fists, not caring what Astrid or Walter would think of him.
She heard an echo of his voice somewhere on the left and she took that street… In the end of the road, there was a shy, shimmering bluish ball of light and she ran towards it, welcoming its color. The ball of light fit her hand perfectly, and it was warm and tingly. And then she heard Walter's voice and she responded to him.
-She reconnected, Peter!
Peter almost brought the tank door down in a hurry, reaching for her pale body. He pulled her out hastily and cradled her safely in his arms. Her mouth had a bluish tinge and she was shaking uncontrollably.
-She's freezing, Walter!
-I'll go get the blanket-said Walter, while Astrid administered a sedative into her right leg, in order to calm her down and stabilize her blood pressure.
Peter was holding her tightly pressed to his chest, determined never to let go.
-You're OK, you're OK, you're gonna be fine-he whispered, relieved. Her soft damp hair was right under his chin and he kissed her forehead repeatedly, inhaling the smell of her skin. She instinctively put her hands around his neck, shivering with cold, feeling his emanating warmth, longing to be enveloped with the heat he was radiating. Behind his head there was a lonely ray of sun… At that moment Peter looked like a saint with a halo above his head, like her personal savior, and she was so happy to see him, so glad to be able to hide her tired face into his chest, to be engulfed with his musk smell and to be calmed down by his soothing words. She wasn't aware of anything else, he was the whole world to her right now and she clung to him as she would cling to her dear life. His name was on her lips and she murmured it repeatedly to make sure he wasn't leaving her as well, that he wasn't going to go anywhere.
-Peter… Peter… -her soft, weak, mewling voice called out several times, and he was utterly, blissfully happy to hear her say it so sweetly, so needily, rolling it over her tongue…No one else had ever said his name in that way in his entire life. Oblivious to everything else but to the sound of her voice, Peter Bishop grinned like a fool, sensing that there was hope, that there was something to hold on to.
-I'm here-he croaked, clutching her even stronger, not daring to look her in the eyes. –I'm here for you.
-Oh, Peter…-she groaned, and her whisper was barely audible. –It was so strange… And I… I felt cold… And alone… And I couldn't… She started sobbing.
-It's OK now. You're out, you found your way out. I'm here for you. You're back. Look, there's some warm soup Astrid has prepared for you. And Walter is just dragging a moth eaten blanket over here, but it'll have to do.
-Peter, don't leave me. Peter, I'm so afraid-she wasn't able to stop crying.
-You're just in temporary shock but it'll pass. And I'm not going anywhere, I promise. We're gonna stop a lot more bad guys together. Don't cry, honey. Didn't your mum ever tell you little girls don't look pretty when they cry?
She looked up, meeting his mocking, but kind azure eyes and managed a weak smile, stopping her tears. He always had a way with words, she thought.
-That's a good girl. Now, the real reason why I didn't want you to cry, is that you were sobbing on my brand new sweater, but I guess that's a story for another time-he smirked.
He helped her straighten up and Astrid brought her some dry clothes. Peter was eying her warily, half expecting she was going to faint from exhaustion, ready to jump in and help her out. But her damsel in distress persona faded away as quickly as it appeared and now she looked strong and resilient once again. He was wondering how she was managing it. She was also extremely impatient, for what was worth. She was wearing a light blue shirt that was too large for her and she left several buttons undone in haste.
Peter swallowed hard at the sight of the contours of her wet and erect nipples that were showing through the shirt that Olivia obviously put hastily on her moist skin before she had the time to dry it properly with the towel. He managed to avert his gaze just a second later but he wasn't fast enough. The image stayed in his mind and shortly after, he felt an annoying, longing itch in his pants and they tightened uncomfortably. Peter muttered a curse under his breath and tried to breathe deeply, but then Olivia came to sit right next to him and all the pretense of self control he thought he might have simply disappeared. He was a goner. His too imaginative, unstoppable, genius brain had already formed a picture of his shaft burrowing swiftly up and down right between her soft breasts, pressing them hardly and demandingly together with his both hands, while her tongue occasionally leaned forward to taste his salty pre-cum and to lick him daringly…
Peter had to turn his back on Olivia and to pull his sweater down before he was ready to engage in any type of conversation with her. He needed to carefully hide the unwanted effect she had on him.
Olivia glanced at him furtively. His stubble was a bit bigger than yesterday. He probably didn't have time to shave, she thought. The scene from her dream came back into her head for a second and she recalled how that stubble tenderly and teasingly fondled her nipples.Typical, Dunham. You don't have sex for a long time and your partner and friend starts appearing in your dreams. Probably that happened because he was the only man she'd been seeing every day for months, not counting Charlie, Broyles and Walter, of course. She dismissed the thought without paying too much attention to it. She needed to be focused. Her voice was strong and determined when she addressed him:
-Peter, how is the antidote preparation going?
He turned around, looking a little flushed, but he answered immediately, slowly and seriously:
-It won't be ready on time… The only thing we got for sure is the Walter's preliminary version he concocted.
-John told me I can trust Hicks. We have a name already, Conrad, and we have got to stop him from distributing the serum and the antidote as well. In order to do that, I believe I must go undercover, wired, pose as a buyer and unmask Conrad. Once I get his confession, I give the code word and FBI team can storm in and arrest him. That's how he'll pay for his crimes. If something undesirable comes up, Hicks can always jump in and fill me with the details so I won't seem suspicious to Conrad and his men. Now I only need Broyles to agree on this operation and… -she was telling him her plans enthusiastically.
-Whoa, whoa, whoa. Olivia… Are you even listening to yourself? John said… John is dead, he exists only in your mind. How can you be so certain that we can trust Hicks? Imagine the situation, you go undercover, Hicks gives you the wrong info and bang-you're dead. You're doing it again, Dunham, I swear I won't put up with this anymore; you are going from bad to worse. You've just almost died in that sensory deprivation tank and now you're running into another life threatening situation… And another thing… You are willing to actually wake up Hicks, even though he might transform into a not so cuddly 10 feet tall porcupine in front of our very eyes?
-Walter's antidote will delay the transformation.
-And you know that… How?
-I confide in your father.
-Fine. It's your funeral. You confide in my father. But what about John?
-What about him?-she looked surprised when she lifted her wide green eyes towards him innocently.
Now it was Peter's turn not to recognize his own voice while he was speaking about his doubts to Olivia. It was… Sly, somehow, and… Evil-ish? He wanted to be right about this so badly, he wanted John to turn out to be a bad guy, just so that he could say to Olivia: I told you so… Just so that he could turn her against him. And claim her for only for himself and no one else…His jealousy was getting the best of him. But… I might not be entirely wrong. Maybe John really is working with Hicks and Conrad… Maybe he is trying to lead Olivia on a false trail…
Just as he thought she was buying it, just as he started hoping she was going to listen to him at least this one time, Astrid had to speak up and start babbling about the truth being in John's eyes, and so on, and so forth, typical girl stuff. And Olivia went for it, shattering his heart.
-John would've never lied to me like that. He loves me.
-You mean, he loved you?-his lips went dry and he felt anger building deep inside of him.
-No, I meant exactly what I said. He loves me.-she insisted, standing her ground. –I can feel it. And he wouldn't let any harm befall me. So either you can help me or you can step aside, but I will not let you hinder or endanger this operation in any way.
He slammed his fist on the table and left for the bathroom, without looking at her. Astrid at least had the decency to appear guilty and resolute at the same time, while he passed her by and shot her a venomous look, whispering:
Walter shouted after him throughout the whole lab:
-Son, if you are going Number 2 or Number 3, please don't forget to open the bathroom window when you're done.
-Number 3?-Astrid looked at Walter, completely puzzled.
-I like to do Number 2 and Number 3 at the same time-said Walter. I sit on a crapper and read erotic magazines. But after that the bathroom smells bad so I always open the window. Just a precaution.
That was right on the money, Walter. Nice going. Just show Olivia what kind of freak show we really are running down here.
Peter was shaking uncontrollably by the time he entered the bathroom. He slammed the door and unzipped his pants in one quick, nervous movement. The angry, distorted face he could see in the mirror didn't look like his at all. Walter was right about one thing. He was going to do Number 3. It would at least provide some him stress relief. Not that he wasn't about to get stressed again in a matter of minutes, but still. Peter Bishop needed to get this all out of him, and because he didn't want to shout at Olivia or hurt her in his disappointment, he found another way to relieve himself. His sore, swollen member that was tugging on a leash ever since Olivia sat next to him in that moist light blue shirt, now slid out of its linen prison and throbbed yearningly. He grabbed it furiously and started pleasing himself. With his eyelids tightly shut, he vigorously pumped it up and down while he was letting his imagination roam free. He bit his other hand because he didn't want them in the lab to hear him moan.
And she invaded every place in his mind, the image of her sitting on the lab chair, with those undone buttons on her shirt…
His fingers extended hungrily and he grabbed Olivia placing her on the table, widely spreading her legs. Then Peter angrily and possessively thrust his tongue against hers, prodding and invading her beautiful mouth, wanting to silence her, wanting never to hear John's name again from her sweet soft, full lips. He roughly seized her head into both of his big hands, plunging into her golden silken hair, wanting to squeeze her brain out, and with it, to squeeze out all the memories of John Scott she might have. The only name that was going to be heard from her lips had to be his. Their breaths were harsh and their bodies tense, as he ripped her shirt open and stared down at her perfect breasts. Her eyes were expectant and wide open as she lowered her gaze to her hardened nipples, but he didn't touch her breasts. He just held her head in his both hands as before and carried on to kiss her with an agonizing passion, attempting to show Olivia how he felt about her and desperately trying to invoke the same feeling in her, no matter how futile that endeavor might have been. He urgently pressed his pulsating cock against her swollen moist entrance and looked her in the eyes. She thrust forward, wanting to feel him inside, but he wasn't going to give her that satisfaction, not yet. Peter wanted Olivia to say his name; he wanted to hear it from her lips. And in his mind, she repeated it over and over, she was sighing "Peter", sensuously, and countless times, and he replayed it in his memory just as he had heard her say it when he dragged her out of the tank an hour ago. And then he shoved himself into her animalistically, moaning and grunting, and his balls were slapping her ass cheeks every time he drove his beast inside her, punishing her with his full length and width, without giving her time to adjust to him. Olivia held on to him tightly, her hip movements matching his hard and fast rhythm. Her tight core clenched around his dick several times, trembling, and he knew she was close. She was muttering soft, almost inaudible moans of simoultaneous pain and pleasure. He held her to him as she came, and while her glistening juices were rushing over his cock, and spilling onto the lab floor, Peter shouted desperately at her, staring in her emerald irises:
-Can John do this for you? Can John make you feel like this? Can he? Can he, Olivia? Can he wrap his arms around you? Can he protect you? Can he make you explode like I can? Can he sate your craving, Olivia? God dammit Oliviaaa…
He felt close to the brink too, and bucked and ground against her, bellowing her name lovingly, and repeatedly, leaning over to kiss her tenderly, almost apologizing for having taken her so roughly. And then he came inside her, vindictively pumping her narrow tunnel full of his seed… Filling her up to the very end, thus confirming she was his and no one else's…
His snake shook hardly, slithering in his coarse, callous hands for one last time and then it gloriously spat out all the white liquid poison into the toilet. Sweat was glistening on his forehead. His mind was racing. I'm just gonna go crazy like Walter if I keep on doing this… Imagining her as mine sure as hell ain't gonna make it happen. Bishop, you have to stop torturing yourself. Soon you won't be able to discern dreams from reality.
He glanced at his wristwatch. He was in the bathroom for no longer than five minutes. That pleasantly surprised him. While he was washing his face and his hands in the washbasin, Peter pondered on what he was going to do next. The decision was always the same. He always made his decisions with his heart since he had met Special FBI agent Olivia Dunham. And somehow, they all ended up being blind, unconditional support and trust. He resignedly went back to the lab, signing yet another capitulation. My mission: protect her and stand by her. At all cost.
-When do we leave?-he asked Olivia calmly, while she was worriedly questioning the unreadable expression on his face.
Olivia immediately understood what the decision he had taken was.
-Broyles told us to be in the FBI offices in fifteen. Charlie is doing the briefing.
-Thank you, Peter-she nodded in his direction with an expression of gratitude on her tired face.
-Hey, suicide missions have always been my specialty. If I have to go down… I'm gonna go down with a style-he sneered.
Olivia felt so relieved. The plan might just work. She was even more confident now, when Peter accepted to accompany her as an undercover partner. He did know much about shady, suspicious deals and Olivia was positive that he would be of great use to the operation. The only thing she couldn't quite comprehend was the abrupt, sudden alteration in his demeanor, which went from enraged and protesting to dangerously calm, apparently obedient and yielding. She knew Peter that much and she was certain he hadn't changed his mind about John and about where John's allegiance lied. That was why she appreciated his assistance even more, knowing he fully disagreed with what was about to transpire, but still willing to help her, confiding in her judgment, following her wherever she went. He didn't have to come with her after all, but… Peter willingly chose it and she was glad, in a way, being aware that she could always count on him…
After the successfully completed "suicide mission", Peter decided to have a couple of drinks. He wasn't in a mood to go home just yet. On one hand, the operation was a complete success. On the other hand, Olivia was completely right. She would rub that on his face forever and ever, he thought. John Scott wasn't a traitor. And Peter was wrong. The green-eyed monster that roared within his chest made him commit that mistake, and he was ashamed of himself. Moreover, he was ashamed of what he said to Walter today. Another apology is in order, Peter thought leering; two apologies in one day, how bad can this get? Oh well, at least the apologies are going to the people Peter Bishop cherishes most in this whole wide world…
He stepped in the lab. Astrid wasn't there, Walter was standing alone in the dark.
-Hey, Walter. Ready to go home?
-Yes, Peter, I only yet have to wait for Agent Dunham to get out of the tank. She's just stepped in, but she should come out any minute now.
Peter's mind barely registered these words. He was certain he misunderstood his father.
-Walter, have you been taking LSD again? You know what that does to your mind? Agent Dunham was in the tank couple of hours ago, got the info she needed, then she got out, safe and sound, we solved the case today and now she's probably at home.
-No, she isn't, Peter.
The certainty with which elder Bishop was saying those words really unnerved his son, but he decided not to argue. He did come to speak to Walter, but the last thing he wanted to do was to offend him again.
Seeing how Peter wasn't replying, Walter continued in a low tone of voice.
-She came to me just couple of minutes ago. She pleaded to go into the tank one more time… She needed to see agent Scott.
-Walter, what are you… -his eyes froze on the computer screen. It was the truth. His father looked at him apologetically and quickly continued, afraid that Peter's burst of rage was going to interrupt him.
-Now let me assure you, son, it is perfectly safe. She is relaxed, and this is the last time she will be able to see him. Her brain wave patterns are returning to normal. She just wanted to say goodbye.
Olivia was standing on a pier. It was a cold day, but there was no wind. The landscape that surrounded her symbolized the peace and serenity of autumn. The age in one's life when mature and closing decisions are taken. She felt tranquil and composed, and the place she chose for her and John's final meeting inspired calm and confidence.
John stood next to her and wrapped her in his loving gaze. She smiled to him and their lips briefly touched, recognizing each other. Then he pulled out the ring of his pocket and put it on her hand. It was a symbol of what he felt for her and he wanted her to know that before he passed on.
-Olive… You will always be in my heart. But now you must continue with your life and move on.
-I know-she whispered.
-I am glad that I got to spend time with such an excellent person like you. I really wanted to make you happy, God is my witness. But since I can't do that now, you should let someone else return the smile on that pretty face. Goodbye Olive. I love you.
John Scott disappeared, and she was left alone in her mind once again. However, this time, it wasn't a gray, colorless, frightening place; it wasn't a maze full of shadows of the past that haunted her. Olivia Dunham got her closure at the same moment she whispered back: "I love you too…" and concluded that chapter of her past, making amends with her own subconsciousness.
Upon hearing her say those words to agent John Scott in a tender and affectionate tone, Peter just felt strange resignation and reconciliation with his destiny. It simply wasn't meant to be, he said to himself. His mind was numb and torpid. Since the first moment I met her, she was taken.
-Walter…-he swallowed. –Pull Olivia from the tank. I'll be in the office. When she leaves, drop by and I'll take you home.
-But, Peter, don't you want to greet agent Dunham?
-Not just tonight, Walter. I had my fair share of agent Dunham on this glorious day.
Olivia came out of the tank feeling strangely light and rejuvenated. She beamed to Walter while she was hastily putting on her clothes and drying her hair in a hurry. It was midnight again. And Ella isn't sleeping because of me. She sensed a pang of guilt.
-Thank you so much, Walter. It really meant to me a lot.
-You are welcome, agent Dunham.
-Is Peter here?-she asked with a smile on her face. –I thought I heard his voice.
-No, he is… He's at home.
-Oh. Then I must've imagined it. Sometimes, when I'm in the tank, I can hear him in there too, as if he were with me. It probably happened again. Do you want me to drive you home? Or is he coming for you?
-Thank you, agent Dunham, I appreciate it, but Afro is on her way here so…
-I see. Goodnight then, Walter. By the way, good job today. I really hope we won't have another case on our hands anytime soon. We all deserve a good night rest. And… Tell Peter that I said thank you. He really is a true friend.
-I will. Good night, agent Dunham.
Peter could hear every word she uttered. He was sitting in the dark office, holding his head in his hands. Kaboom. Friendzoned for life, like I said. Who would've imagined this could happen to Peter Bishop? A magnet for every girl's eye, pining for a lady who sees him as a friend…
He had three options right now.
A) Grab her, kiss her and tell her what you feel. Um… No. Cheesy. Maybe as a last resort. But he wasn't that desperate. Not yet.
B) Be her friend-she says you are one, so, why not play along? You get to see her every day, bring her a cup of coffee in the morning, be there for her, be her shoulder to cry on and listen to her love problems; bonus feature: in future, you even advise her whether the guy she's banging (who won't be you) is her soul mate or no. Also, watch Casablanca together. He actually didn't want to do any of this, but he felt like he had to. His feelings for her obliged him to do so.
C) Get the hell outta there, Bishop, while there's still time. He wanted to do this. Sooo bad. But he didn't know if he could.
-Are you alright, son?
-No. No, Walter, actually, I am not alright. Thanks for worrying about my well-being.
-Agent Dunham asked for you.
-I heard her.
-Look, Walter. Let me ask you a question. Do you think… Hypothetically speaking… If I were to go back to Iraq and start living and working there… Do you think you'd be able to stay here with Astrid and continue helping the FBI without me?
-Son…-a frightened expression appeared on his father's face. –Are you telling me this because I have offended you this morning? I wanted to tell you that I am very sorry for saying that. You aren't a failure. You are a talented boy and you'll get far in your life. Just because you didn't follow exactly in my footsteps, doesn't mean that…
-Walter, relax. It's not about that. Besides, I also feel bad about what I told you. Actually, I was coming here tonight to apologize as well. We Bishops really are hotheads. It's just… I might need some space, to think about things… And…
-I know! You don't like our hotel room. We could find a bigger house. Preferably near the pastry shop, Peter! And then, every morning…
-Walter, stop. Walter…. What part of "I might need some space" don't you understand?
-You mean… Without me?-Walter's voice cracked. He looked as a child who was going to cry because his parents were leaving him in the kindergarten.
And then a revelation crossed the mad scientist's face.
-This is about agent Dunham, isn't it? But you don't have to leave because of her, Peter, she has nothing against you. In fact, I think she is quite partial to you. She likes you a lot.
-Yes Walter, she likes me like her long lost, recently found younger brother. Who she doesn't confide in. You know, Walter, this case we had today really got me thinking. Olivia is a lot like that Mr. Porcupine we met. She always does things her way. She is really prickly. And she probably used to be a real flesh and blood human being who mutated in an unapproachable hedgehog at some point in her life. A hedgehog who uses every her spare moment to pinch me with her needles just to see if I'll bleed to death… -his voice caught in his throat and he looked at his shoes.
Walter stood above his deeply troubled son and patted him awkwardly on the shoulder.
-But there is an antidote for such transformation, my son.
-Oh?-Peter lifted up his head and looked at his father.
-And it contains three perfectly balanced ingredients: unconditional love, constant support and patience. The last one being the key ingredient, actually.
-Yeah. I know exactly what you mean. But, guess what? I think I'm running out of those ingredients over here, Walter.
-Peter, if you care enough about defeating the virus, as every true devoted scientist does, you will never stop looking for the antidote. And I believe you do care enough, my son. Maybe even too much. The ingredients are already inside you, they will forever form a part of you. You can never run out of them. The thing is, you have mixed them so many times, experimenting with different measures of the ingredients, and you've never obtained the satisfying result. For now. And that has disheartened you. It's quite reasonable. But you have to keep trying, Peter. And have a little faith. You take after me. Peter, my son, you have a good heart. You just got lost along the way but now you have your compass, right?-Walter winked at him. -Besides, you're a handsome young man with a good sense of humor. And you do have a way with women.
-You know, Walter, somehow, the part where you say I take after you and which is supposed to sound comforting is not giving the desired effect-Peter joked. –But… Thank you for this. I appreciate it. A lot of it really makes sense. By the way, I think this is the longest time you sounded sane and reasonable without being high.
-Well-Walter said shyly-just before agent Dunham dropped by, I did smoke some marijuana… But only to unwind myself a bit, mind you…
Peter burst out laughing and hugged him stiffly, but gently. They left the lab together, while Walter was pleasantly humming a tune.
-What's that you're singing, Walter?
-Oh, nothing, my son, it's one of my favorite songs. I used to sing it to your mother. And, it's quite famous, you know.
-Well, let's hear it. It'll keep me awake while I drive us home.
-Oh, can I drive?
-In your dreams, Walter.
Walter actually had a pleasant voice, Peter thought while he was listening to his father singing, trying to focus on the road. He recognized the song since the first word and he smiled inwardly, thinking that Walter had probably chosen it on purpose. It reminded him very much of a certain special agent he knew and loved, and whom he couldn't leave behind. She was rooted too deeply into his heart. "Oh well"-Peter thought-"you know what they say: One day your life will pass by before your eyes: make sure it's worth watching". And… "How long should you try? Until". "Difficult things take a long time. Impossible things take a little longer". "When the world says: give up, hope whispers: try it one more time."
-Game on, Dunham-Peter chuckled in the darkness of his vehicle.
His mind lingered lovingly on the verses that perfectly reflected her personality, and Peter felt as if she was there with them, while Walter was starting to snore loudly in the background…
May be the face I can't forget
The trace of pleasure or regret
May be my treasure or the price I have to pay
She may be the mirror of my dreams
The smile reflected in a stream
She may not be what she may seem
Inside her shell
Who always seems so happy in a crowd
Whose eyes can be so private and so proud
No one's allowed to see them when they cry
May be the love that cannot hope to last
May come to me from shadows of the past
That I'll remember till the day I die