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your body the trajectory of a swooping bird

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What were you doing on that bridge, anyhow?
I imagine you leaning over the balustrade, reading missives
scrawled there, dark and unread. Here, romanticize.
Each day I cast out of myself whole paragraphs of memory. Last week
it seemed strange how many dead birds were in the streets.

 

When Olivia found Peter, she felt hollowed out. It got worse; she saw the man Peter was there to meet. She knew Russian mafia when she saw them. She was part furious and part devastated but Peter was smiling, cheerfully greeting the thug. Peter patted a messenger bag and then let himself be led to a back room. Olivia gritted her teeth and tried to look casual as she walked towards the back room. By the time she got there, the door was closed. There was a door to the parking lot propped open next to the door she wanted to be on the other side of.

She couldn't just stand there, she would attract attention. She stepped through the propped door and found a kitchen staffer smoking. She smiled and asked if she could bum a smoke. "My boyfriend thinks I quit," she said.

The man handed over a cigarette and lit it for her. She started smoking and glancing back at the propped door. She didn't want to start a conversation and miss the sound of whatever was happening in the back room.

The staffer finished before she did, but he helpfully left the door propped as he went inside. Olivia leaned against the wall so she could see through the slim slice of space left by the opening of the door. Nothing was happening.

She played with the cigarette in case someone else came out.

Olivia inhaled and exhaled, trying to calm herself down. She'd followed Peter for days, researched his movement for the past month and told herself it couldn't be true. Peter could not be selling them out. He couldn't. She couldn't reconcile Peter, Peter who listened to her about her stepfather, Peter who took her out drinking after she met David Robert Jones in Germany; that Peter was not someone who would be trading his father's secrets to the Russian mafia.

But he was. She had pictures, she'd just seen him meet with one of them. She'd checked Walter's records and noticed a file missing that she knew had been there earlier. The file had had a Grateful Dead sticker on it. Now it was probably in Peter's messenger bag.

A shot was fired. Then a second. She stepped back into the corridor. Peter came out of the room, grabbed her arm like he expected her to be there. He said, "Time to go, dear."

Before she could say anything, he quietly said, "You can't yell at me if I'm dead, Dunham."

They were outside and Peter took her keys to open the car door. He got in on the passenger side and slumped back into the seat. She looked over at him, furious. He was bleeding.

"You were shot," Olivia said.

"I also shot back," Peter said. "I've had a gun to my head enough times that I have learned behavior to get out. I'll show you sometime." He turned towards the back seat, wincing.

"The first aid kit is behind my seat," Olivia said. "You've been selling us out. You deserve to be shot."

"Wow," Peter said, putting the kit on his lap. "You feel strongly about this without having all the information."

"Of course, you're going to tell me you've never worked for the Russian mafia," Olivia said. She still glanced over at him as she started the car. "Tell me why I shouldn't take you straight to jail."

"You only have circumstantial evidence," Peter said. He'd pushed off his jacket and taken off his shirt. He'd been winged on the inside of his arm and his right side. Probably the same bullet, she thought.

"You're not denying it," Olivia said.

"You wouldn't believe me," Peter said. "But okay, I deny it. I deny that I'm still a bad guy."

"That's generic," she said.

"You remember Big Eddie, right? He found me, took me, and then informed me that he'd sold my so-called debt to a few people he knew. People who really appreciated my value," Peter said. He'd bandaged both wounds. "My nice new friends said they'd kill Walter."

"And you cared about that," Olivia said.

"Yes, thanks to you," Peter said. "I haven't given anyone anything of value."

She'd driven them to his hotel. She refused to believe him. But he couldn't get far. She hoped he wouldn't go far. He was still insisting he gave a damn about Walter.

He got out of the car and said, "See you tomorrow."

The next morning she drove to Charlie's to pick him up. She told him everything in the car. At least she could trust Charlie, she could absolutely trust Charlie.

"Great," Charlie said. "Do you think by Russian mafia, Peter means ZFT?"

"They could be connected," Olivia said. "They probably are. This feels like John all over again. I hate this."

"I know," Charlie said. "Let's go to organized crime, I know they had a tap on Big Eddie," Charlie said.

"They did? You could have told me that," Olivia said.

"You didn't seem that interested," Charlie said.

"I trusted him," Olivia said.

The agents monitoring Big Eddie confirmed Peter's story about the debt being transferred to the Russian mafia. "To this particular guy," the agent said, showing them her computer screen. "That particular guy is wired by Homeland."

"Homeland," Charlie said, heavily.

So the two of them ended up in Broyles's office. Broyles said, "Yes, I knew about Peter. I was alerted by the agents who were listening and then by Peter when he came in to report it to me."

"So you've known all along," Olivia said.

"And neither of you did," Broyles said. "So anyone observing Peter and his relationship with the team which was absolutely happening, they would see two colleagues who trusted him implicitly."

Olivia stared straight ahead. Broyles said, "As you should have. Peter has kept me informed of everything he's done. Including last night's fiasco."

"That wasn't my fault," Olivia said. "No one told me not to follow him. I had every reason to be suspicious of Peter."

"You weren't the cause of the fiasco," Broyles said. "Someone on the Russian side tried to use some of Dr. Bishop's information and it didn't work. They assumed that Peter had known that."

"They were right," Charlie said.

"Yes," Broyles said. "He gave them failed experiments and other information about our cases that had been carefully edited."

"So where is the operation now?" Olivia knew she sounded bitter. She still felt betrayed. Peter could have told her. She was perfectly capable of acting like she trusted Peter. She would have if he'd told her.

"Peter killed the one man who doubted him --"

"He murdered someone," Olivia said.

"He was shot first, it was self defense," Broyles said, irritation edging into his voice. "The other four took delivery of what Peter dropped off. But we are in trouble, yes."

"Do we think they'll come after Dr. Bishop?" Charlie sounded like it was another everyday operation.

"Probably," Broyles said. "And Peter as well. But we knew this day was coming."

"So there's a plan," Olivia said. "What do me and Charlie do? Sit back and keep pretending we haven't noticed Peter's betrayal?"

"It seems like that would be difficult for you to do, Agent Dunham," Broyles said.

Olivia stared at Broyles and didn't answer. Charlie said, "If anyone spotted you last night, maybe it would make sense for you to be mad at him."

"I can act naturally," Olivia said.

"Not too naturally," Broyles said. "We don't want to get anyone killed."

"Got it," Olivia said. She took a deep breath. "Thank you, Sir."

Broyles's expression made her think he didn't buy her attempt to appear calm.

"Stay seated, Dunham," Broyles said. "I'm going to tell you the rest of the plan."

!!

Peter pulled her outside to the sidewalk by the parking lot. It was plain view and a likely place for people to be watching them. Olivia said, "I trusted you."

"And now you don't," Peter said, his voice even. He held her waist and dipped his head. "Kiss me anyway."

She grasped his neck and kissed him. She said, "This is a silly plan. What's the idea here? Some sort of idiotic romantic comedy courtship?"

He kissed her again, she resisted enjoying it. He said, "Yes, exactly, that's why we're fake making out." His hand drifted down to her butt.

"That doesn't feel fake," she said. She kissed him harshly, her nails digging into his hair. She said, "I'm not the type to fall for someone through mean banter. I don't hate people I make out with."

"But you are the type to fall for forbidden fruit," he said. He kissed her again and she had to admit she liked it, she enjoyed this. He looked her in the eyes very seriously. He said, quietly, "I've never killed someone before. People might have died from things I did, but it wasn't intended. I tried to avoid it."

She couldn't think of a thing to say. Peter said, "I didn't want you to have the wrong impression of me."

"Now I know," she said. She thought, if he was telling the truth. It felt too cruel to say out loud.

He said, "You should slap me now and leave me alone to nurse my pain."

"Do you think they'll try to kill you?" She thought he might be afraid.

He shrugged. "That's the plan."

She slapped him hard. She walked away with her palm stinging. Like a teenager, she touched her lips, thinking of his kiss.

They did try to kill Peter again, but he was barely harmed. The sting operation Peter and Broyles worked out went off without a snag.

Olivia was even home by 7. Peter knocked on her door at 7:30. She held the door open for him and said, "What?"

"I know Ella and Rachel are visiting one of your aunts in New York City," he said. "I brought you food and wine in hopes we could repair this."

"This?" She let him walk past her.

"This, you and me. I know you feel betrayed, specifically by me, but we're sort of stuck together and I like having you as someone who likes me," he said. He pulled out the take out which smelled divine. Some sort of Italian place. He went into her kitchen and came back with silverware and two wine glasses. He poured her a glass and looked up at her. She hated how attractive she frequently found him.

"How do you expect to win back my trust? Did Walter figure out time travel enough that you can go back and not lie to me for months?" She sat down on the couch and grabbed one of the plastic boxes of pasta. Peter had spent a lot on this dinner.

"He probably has, but having seen what happened to Jones I wouldn't want to try it. I thought," Peter said. He sipped his glass of wine. "You started being suspicious a month ago. I thought maybe if I told you how I fooled you the month before, then you would know my tricks. You could go back to trusting me."

"You sound desperate," she said. She was desperate, too.

"Every day we see these insane things and every day I find out something more from Walter or about Walter that has my childhood nightmares back in full force. But you, and Charlie, and Broyles, and Astrid, you make me feel, safe is the wrong word." He frowned.

"Like you're not alone in this horrifying journey?"

"Sure," Peter said. "Let's put it that way."

"You had nightmares when you were a child?"

"Every night, from age 8 to about 19 or so," Peter said.

"I'm sorry," she said. "Okay, tell me how you fooled me."

He listed all his tells. She wondered if it felt like pulling teeth to him. It would to her. She wouldn't be that vulnerable. He was willing to do that for her.

They drank and she listened. She said, "Thank you."

He looked at the ceiling and then looked at her. "You look incredibly tense."

"Thanks," she said.

"I actually studied to be a massage therapist," Peter said. He gestured towards her bedroom.

She considered. She trusted him again, she was so easy. She walked into the bedroom and took off her shirt. "You've seen me in less," she said, smiling. She laid down on her stomach.

Peter hadn't been lying. The massage felt good, really good. She said, "Did you graduate from massage therapy school?"

Peter snorted. "It's a lot of studying. I managed 7 weeks, then I dropped out to work at a massage parlor. No training needed for happy endings."

"You were a prostitute?" She was too relaxed to look up at him.

"Sex worker is the preferred term," Peter said.

She said, "You're lying."

"I was lying," Peter said. "See, you do know me. I dropped out at 7 weeks because I was seeing someone and they wanted to see Portugal so off we went."

"Portugal," she repeated.

"Are you going to fall asleep on me?"

"Maybe," she said.

She did fall asleep. She woke up at 2 am and Peter was gone.

!!

The next day was a long day. She was tense all over again. She had to shoot three people who didn't really resemble people anymore. Walter said he was quite sure that all of three of them had long since lost any sort of conscious thought in their head. It wasn't reassuring.

She drove Peter from the crime site, without thinking she drove to her apartment and not his hotel. She said, "The first person I killed, he was an evil man, a killer. It still kept me up nights."

"Thank you," Peter said. "Do you want another massage? Was I that good?"

"Maybe," she said.

Instead, she closed the door after he came in and pushed him against the door. She kissed him and pulled up his shirt. He said, "You don't like traditional romantic comedy cliches."

"I like forbidden fruit," she said.

He grabbed her ass and half carried her to her bed. He put her down on her back, then roughly opened her blouse. While he reached under her and undid her bra, Olivia shrugged out of her shirt altogether. The weight of him on top of her brought to mind comparisons to John and Lucas and the men before Peter. She tamped it down to concentrate on his mouth on her nipple, the underside of her breast. He unbuttoned her pants and pulled them and her underwear down but only to her thighs. She gasped as his cool hand went between her legs. She couldn't open her thighs more and she wanted to. He used his thumb slow and fast and slow again on her clit. Two fingers circled around until she was achingly wet and then like that he pushed inside her. He had long fingers and she couldn't breathe, she was lifting her hips and her thighs shook as she come.

She clawed at his hair and nearly laughed at his smug smile. He pushed her pants down further and she opened his belt. She said, "I have an IUD, so unless your sex work gave you some diseases, we're good, you know."

"We're good," he said. "I lied about the sex work, remember." With his pants down, she could see his dick. She liked the view. He pushed inside her and she stretched her legs open wider to take him in. He moved back and forth, his eyes barely focused. She smiled, bringing him closer in. She tried not to smile smugly when he came. He nearly fell on her and but instead reached his hand down between her legs again. She came again, softer, quieter. She liked his content expression at her happiness.

"You trusted me enough to fuck you," Peter said. "I feel like we're back on track, right?"

"I forgive you," Olivia said. "Don't do it again."

"They were going to kill Walter, I was terrified," Peter said. He kissed her neck. "I wouldn't have been before you."

"Yes, you would have," Olivia said.

"It's nice you think that," Peter said.

"I know you, though," Olivia said.