Title: Reflections of a Lie
Summary: "Simon got it wrong." - "He read your mind, Peter. How can he get that wrong?"
Author's Note: This is a post "Concentrate and Ask Again" fic dealing with the outcome of the note that Simon left Olivia.
The knock she heard coming from her door was the last thing Olivia Dunham needed right now. At eleven at night, this would not be a social call. Just when she had been able to tune out her messed up life for a moment with an empty glass in one hand and a half full bottle of whiskey in the other, a simple knock had yanked her back into reality. At first, she chose to ignore it as she poured herself another whiskey. Placing down the bottle on the kitchen table, she decided that for one night, life could go on without her. She needed a break from this universe, and she was going to get it. Just when she took another sip of alcohol, there was a second knock on the door, followed by a third and the fourth by the time she had almost finished her glass.
Olivia ran her fingers through her hair, pushing back the bangs of blonde hair that kept falling into her face. She could not get a break, could she? With a sigh, she stole a glance through the peephole. Whoever it was, he just needed to go away. Her eyes rolled heavenwards and she inched back from the door when there was yet another knock, this time more forceful.
Peter. The last person she wanted to see right now. She gulped down the last of the whiskey and put the glass down on the table next to her, trying to decide what to do. Ignoring Peter was one option, but just by his insistent knocking she could tell that he wasn't going to give up so easily. There was only one thing that would bring him around at this hour instead of just calling. He wanted to talk about them – but she really didn't.
Since that incident with the coffee, he had been trying to make amends, had been trying so hard to explain to her, to justify himself, to just make things better. While part of her enjoyed the attention he gave her, part of her didn't. A single line in a letter had turned everything to the worse.
He still has feelings for her.
It was moments like these when she wished she hadn't opened the envelope that Simon had given her. She didn't need to know everything. Well, maybe she did. But she didn't want to. Not if it meant knowing about him together with her.
Her eyes fell on the empty glass next to her. Whiskey would be an option. Drown the sorrow in the bottle and forget the world around her, even if it was just for one night. It had worked in the past. It would work tonight, tomorrow, the day after. For a few hours, getting drunk meant forgetting, not having to care. Curling up on the couch, whiskey bottle in hand... it sounded so appealing right now.
If there just wasn't that nagging at the back of her mind that came with every knock from the door, every shout of her name... Peter hadn't come around to her apartment since she'd come back from the other side. She could understand why – the memories of her were keeping him away. So whatever brought him over tonight, it had to be important to him.
Her fingers curled around the doorknob. A twist to the right, and she'd be opening up the door to an inevitable talk that she did not want to have now. A twist to the left, and she'd probably close the door forever. She closed her eyes and rested her forehead against the cold, wooden door when she heard him call her name again.
Who was he calling for? Her or the other her? Who was he seeing when he looked at her day in, day out? Who was he thinking about when Olivia Dunham crossed his mind? Who did his heart really belong to? She had opened Pandora's box by opening Simon's letter, and there was no way putting the knowledge back inside.
"We need to talk about this!"
His voice raced through her mind when she felt something push against her bare feet. Looking down, she noticed a piece of paper that he had slipped under the door. A page from a notepad, and a single line that she knew well, that she had read over and over and over the last few days.
He still has feelings for her.
This had never been intended for his eyes. She should have just thrown it away without even reading it, yet she kept carrying it around with her wherever she went, safely tucked away in the pocket of her jacket. How had he gotten a hold of it? Reaching down, she pulled the paper free of the door. Her fingers slowly but steadily curled around the edges of the page, crumpling it into a small ball of paper.
He was desperately pleading with her from the other side of the door now, his knocking having ceased the moment he had realized that she was listening.
Once again, her eyes fell on the empty whiskey glass. God, how she wanted a sip of that right now. Drink herself into oblivion so he would just go away. But she knew alcohol wasn't the answer. As much as it helped in the past, it had never brought about a solution. So with a sigh, her fingers curled around the doorknob again. She hesitated for a moment, but then she twisted it to the right and opened the door.
"Say what you need to say but do it quickly."
Her voice was cold, and he just shrugged his shoulder, "Can I at least come in?"
She pondered for a moment, but then stepped back and allowed him inside and closed the door behind him. Her eyes fixed on the picture that hung on the wall, not daring to turn around to face him. She couldn't, not right now.
"I'm in love with Olivia Dunham."
His admission hung in the air between them, and Olivia dropped her head. Wasn't this what she had wanted to hear from him for so long? So why did it leave such a sour taste in her mouth? He was in love with Olivia Dunham. She was Olivia Dunham. But then, so was she.
"Simon got it wrong."
She turned around to find him with his back towards her, gazing off towards the kitchen. His hands were stuffed into the pockets of his black coat, his shoulders drawn up at an awkward angle. If this reminded her of something, it reminded her of herself. That was how she usually held herself when she had to face a truth that she didn't want to admit. She had never seen Peter like this... but then, she also had never seen him so deeply hurt as she had seen him the last couple of weeks.
"He read your mind, Peter," she started and he slowly turned to face her, "How can he get that wrong?"
"I fell in love with you, Olivia." He took a step closer to her, "I started falling for you a long time ago. You have this captivating smile that just makes me feel better every time I see it. We used to smile and laugh a lot before all this shit hit the fan, didn't we? I haven't seen you really smile in a long time."
She shrugged her shoulders at him, "I guess there's not a lot to smile or laugh about these days, is there?"
"No, there isn't," he took a deep breath before he continued, "You seem to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. All I ever wanted was for you to get rid of that burden and just be a little bit happier. Smile more. Laugh more. With me. And all of a sudden, there was this Olivia Dunham that was just happy for a change."
"Quicker with a smile, huh?" She reached for the empty whiskey glass and held it up for him to see as she walked past him towards the kitchen. "Want one?"
"I get it, really. She's the happier version of me. Isn't that what you wanted?" Picking up the bottle of whiskey from the kitchen table, she poured herself a drink almost to the rim of the glass and quickly downed half of it. "You sure you don't want one?"
"I don't want the happier version of you. I want you."
"Are you just saying that to convince me or are you trying to convince yourself as well? Because face it, she's in another universe now and I'm the one you're stuck with."
"God, Olivia!" Peter threw his hands up in frustration, "I want you to be happy! You deserve to be happy! That's what I am missing. To see you smile once in a while and be happy. I have feelings for the Olivia Dunham that can laugh with me, smile with me and just be happy."
She stared at him in silence for a long moment before she took another sip of whiskey and told him, "I am not that Olivia Dunham."
"Yes, you are. Look," he took the glass from her hand and placed it on the table behind her, "I don't want her or have feelings for her. I want the Olivia Dunham she was pretending to be. You."
"You should hear yourself talking," she snorted, "I've lived her life, Peter. I know what it's like to be her. She didn't try to play me when she was with you because obviously, I am neither a happy person nor am I carefree. She was herself. That's just the way she is. So don't give me that BS of you not having feelings for her. Because you do. She's that happy, cheerful person you obviously want to have so badly. I am not."
"You should hear yourself talking," he retorted, "I don't even know the real her, so how can I have feelings for her? If at all, I am guilty of having feelings for an illusion."
Silence hung in the air between them. Even though she didn't want to admit it, Olivia knew Peter had a point. He had never met the real Olivia Dunham from the other side, he had just encountered the version of her that she had been playing, the version of Olivia Dunham that he had wanted to see.
"I have feelings for the Olivia Dunham that smiles and is happy once in a while," Peter broke the silence as he closed the gap between them completely, "Once upon a time, you were that Olivia Dunham. You were the Olivia Dunham I fell in love with. Somewhere along the line you lost that smile though. When I saw her smile at me, laugh with me, I was reminded again what was so special about you and why I had fallen for you in the first place."
His hand reached out to cup her face, but she immediately inched backwards and turned away from him. She wasn't going to allow him to touch her because if she did, she wasn't sure if she could hold back the tears anymore that were welling in her eyes. She'd had never been someone who had cried a lot, but the last few weeks, it seemed it was all she did. Every night when she lay in her bed, she would clutch a pillow to her body in comfort and weep herself to sleep.
"You can learn to be happy again, Olivia." His voice was a mere whisper as his fingers touched her chin and gently turned her face towards him. "You deserve to be happy."
His thumb brushed away a tear that had fallen onto her cheek as his hand cupped her face. She turned into his touch, and for a moment, she didn't need the whiskey anymore to block out just how messed up her life was – for feeling Peter's skin tightly pressed against hers, his warm breath tingling against her lips made the world around her disappear.
"I came back for you, 'Livia. And I want to stay for you."
His leaned in, and she closed her eyes when his lips met hers in a sweet and tender kiss. She savored the feeling, and even though it only lasted for a few seconds, it felt like a lifetime to her. When she opened her eyes again, she found him gazing at her in a way she had never noticed before. His eyes were so full of love for her, full of comfort, full of hope, and she couldn't help but curl her lips into a lopsided smile.
"That's the Olivia Dunham I fell in love with," he smiled back at her while resting his forehead against hers, "You're the one and only Olivia Dunham I love."