will change my life, this life I want
changed. I'm bringing you
some healing for the pain I didn't cause.
New sails for the ship, a trajectory
plotted, a course or a destination
& some devices for arresting
Peter applied for the adjunct position at Brown because he wanted to show off. It was a masterwork of forgeries and email spoofing and changing his voice on the phone. He even used his real name, real social security number, all of it, to make it harder. If he got anywhere, he'd have a perfect example to sell himself, the whole process. He could brag about it and make money off it, which was the best kind of thing to do.
He was offered the position three weeks before the semester started, presumably because someone else said no. Peter had just spent a hot two months in Iraq and he wanted the break. He took the position.
Peter was barely 24 as classes started but all the students, even the ones only 2 or 3 years younger, looked like wet behind the ears babies. He knew nothing about teaching and he was using the syllabus the last adjunct had left behind. So he went with his strengths, he pretended he knew what he was doing. It had worked so far in his short life when he faked it, mostly.
He wrote a paper, sent it off to be peer reviewed and all the other vetting. He was surprised when they published. He was surprised when the Dean patted his arm in the 8 week review and told him his students seemed to like him and better, were learning from him.
"Hey, Peter," the barista said every morning. Instead of packing his bags and erasing his existence, he smiled back.
It was a nice campus, pretty. A regular paycheck, people who smiled when they saw him. He had an apartment and a car. He got a second paper published, just for fun, and deciding to take grading the midterms seriously. He was surprised again that he enjoyed it. Of all the things he'd done in his life, and there had been quite a few jobs so far, this one seemed to be the best.
There was, then, Raisa, an actual Russian ballerina. She mostly taught classes at two exercise studios but she performed in a few community productions. He went to three of them and waited for her after the show. She let him pick her up after she taught classes. She hated her car and called it cheap and shitty. The first Russian he learned was how to say cheap and shitty.
Raisa swore under her breath in Russian all the time. When she brought him home to her apartment the first time, she muttered that he better not insult her housekeeping since his was shit. He told her he was pretty good at keeping his apartment clean and he wasn't judging her place. Her eyes widened and she smiled. "What else have you learned in Russian?"
"Not much," he said. She talked in her sleep when they slept at her apartment, it wasn't the greatest way to learn. He doubted "march to the sea, march to the carrots" would be useful in the future.
She ran her hand down his naked back one night, told him to get a tattoo. "Nope," he said. He turned over and grabbed both her wrists with one hand. She had a feral grin. She struggled and smiled and feigned biting him. She underestimated his strength, consistently. She saw him jog in his carefully aged MIT shirt, she didn't know how long he'd been fighting. He learned to fight when he was a chubby, sickly kid with a crazy dad, he kept hitting as hard as he could until someone pulled him away. He'd gotten a little smarter and more strategic.
He was never really fighting with Raisa. He held her wrists and she pressed herself against him, legs wide. She kissed his neck, freeing her hands to grab at his dick.
She was fun.
She paced around his apartment, muttering in Russian about what kind of professor didn't have his diplomas up. Peter watched her gnaw at the edge of her fingernail and turn back to look at him. He said, "My diplomas are on display at the office, dear."
She shrugged and started stretching. He liked her hair, it was only long enough to be a tight small bun at the base of her neck. They ate Thai food on the floor of her apartment and she told him about her ballet teacher back in Moscow. He wondered if she was making it up. They were interesting stories at least.
He looked young and his students kept coming to his office hours, hitting on him. He grew a beard. Raisa didn't like it, but she kissed him anyway. She said he should let his hair grow out, be a wild man.
One day, he woke up from a nightmare and realized he was worried, genuinely worried that he would get caught. He pressed his fingers against the meat of his palm to the point of pain in his knuckles. He wasn't the type to settle down. It shouldn't have been seductive to go home to the same place, to drive the same route in his car every day, be a regular at the coffee shop. He liked all of it. He was also grinding his teeth in his sleep.
He published another paper and the Dean said he should apply for grants. Peter didn't want to risk being discovered, the feds would be tougher to scam. Foundations might be even harder. He said, "But I do all this for so little money, just making you look good."
The Dean smiled but he said, "Grants make us look better, Peter."
Instead of blowing town, Peter tried to shore up his fakery. He'd done a great job, he needed to do an even better one if he wanted to stay. He apparently wanted to stay.
One day, to scare himself and convince himself to run away, he drove to St. Claire's. He sat in the parking lot and didn't go in. He drove home and started grading his finals. He even got them in early. He looked around his tiny office, where he didn't have any diplomas displayed, and grabbed the framed picture of his mother from off his desk. He should pack it up and run. He didn't know why he wasn't running. He rubbed his jaw, the places where it ached.
Instead he stayed in his apartment and wrote out his own syllabus, picked a different, cheaper textbook. He skimmed a text on teaching methods, browsing at the library.
Two nights before New Year’s, he woke up at 2 am. He watched Raisa pacing in the half light, grabbing things of hers, putting them in a bag. She saw he was awake. She said, "I'm leaving. This was never very serious, you know. My name's not even Raisa."
He said, "Have a good year," as she was closing the door.
The second day of 2003, he went over to her apartment with a bag of her things she'd missed when she was packing to go. He was hoping to get a few things of his from her apartment. But he pushed the unlocked door open at her place and everything was gone. She had the right idea. He should have been doing that. Instead he went home again, put the bag by the door in case she came by, knowing she wouldn't.
He smoked on his porch. He'd stopped going out there once the cold really set in, but stress made him smoke and he wasn't allowed to do it in his apartment. He cared about his deposit. Peter scratched at his palm.
Someone knocked on the door and Peter went to the door. A millisecond after opening the door, Peter knew he was talking to a cop. He intentionally relaxed his jaw and shoulders. The cop said he was FBI agent Charlie Francis. Unfortunately, Francis looked smart. Peter preferred his cops stupid.
"What's going on?" Peter went with confused concern.
Francis held out a picture of Raisa, a recent one. "You knew her, right?"
"Did something happen to Raisa? Is she in trouble?" These were genuine questions, Peter could be genuinely worried.
"Why do you think she would be in trouble?"
"Well," Peter said. "When she broke up with me, she said her name wasn't even Raisa."
"You didn't find that weird?"
"I guess, I thought she was just trying to make it clear how little I knew her. We weren't that serious. I liked her, a lot, but." Peter let that trail off and looked at the picture again. "Is she okay?"
"She seems to have disappeared," Francis said.
"And the FBI is investigating?" Peter picked up the bag by his door. "I tried to return these things to her a few days ago, and her whole apartment was cleaned out. Do you want this? Would it help you find her?"
"Sure," Francis said, taking the bag. "Tell me how you met."
Peter smiled, genuinely, at the memory. He leaned in the doorway, still not letting the FBI man in. He said, "I get coffee at the place on the corner, which is right next to one of the studios where Raisa worked. She's beautiful and not a student or staff at Brown, so I asked her out."
"You work at Brown," Francis said.
"Yeah, I don't like to mix work and other."
"To your knowledge, she worked at the exercise studio --"
"She worked at two," Peter said. He told the agent both places' names and watched him write them down. "I know she did because I picked her up from work at both of them. She danced in a few shows, do you want to know where those were? I saw them." Peter gave the names and watched Francis write those down.
"You two weren't serious but you were together for nearly three months," Francis said.
Peter shrugged. "Yeah. I hope she's okay, do you think she's okay?"
"Not upset she dumped you?"
Peter shrugged again. "I was a little, I guess, but she's pretty, uh, mercurial. I like that sometimes. She got tired of me or whatever happened, it comes with the territory."
Francis nodded, nearly smiled. He said, "Mercurial."
Peter said, "Do you need anything else?" He didn't press it, people with nothing to hide weren't scared of spending time with the FBI.
"No," Francis said. "Just, did she ever ask you about yourself? Your family?"
Peter clenched his jaw. "You mean my father, right?"
"No. I told her my mother was dead and my father was in jail, we didn't talk about again after our first date," Peter said. He let himself show a little anger.
"He's in a institution for the criminally insane," Francis said.
"Yeah," Peter said.
"Thanks for your help," Francis said, as he turned and left.
Peter packed his bag. He started scanning his bookshelves for things to keep. He didn't keep books, he thought. The next day he got up at his normal time, dressed for class, got a coffee and drove to campus. He taught a class and supervised lab time. He stayed in the lab and continued an experiment he'd been working on for another paper.
He went home and ordered take out, then turned on his tv. He didn't want to do anything in particular, he walked around the box on his living room half full of books.
He wanted to stay in Providence.
In a week, he'd filled one box with books. He'd unpacked his bag because he wanted the shoes in there.
Francis was waiting by Peter's car. FBI man wore rather nice sunglasses. Peter said, "What happened?"
"We found her body, I'm sorry." He handed a picture to Peter, Raisa on a coroner's slab. Peter closed his eyes and shoved it at the man.
"What happened to her?"
"Her name was Raisa, actually. Different last name than she gave you. She was working for the Russian Mafia. She was supposed to use you to get to your father, but it looks like she didn't. It seems like she got bored of the assignment, wanted out of the mafia altogether. She did figure out you're just a high school dropout." Francis carefully put away his sunglasses. "She didn't die because of you. She turned down a man who was high up in the organization, he killed her. We managed to catch him, but we're using him as informant."
Peter stared at Agent Francis. He said, "What do you want from me? I haven't done anything you can really prosecute me for."
"Fraud springs to mind," Francis said.
Peter smiled. "Brown University isn't about to ruin its reputation admitting they had a high school dropout teaching their privileged little students and publishing peer reviewed papers. They'd probably just fire me and they'd do that at the end of the semester. Is that what happens here?"
"No," Agent Francis said. "We're going to meet my boss. You'll like him."
Broyles made it clear: "You'll be working for us now, Mr. Bishop."
"What if I don't want to?"
Broyles made no move but somehow communicated his lack of concern. "You obviously enjoy working at Brown, you're right that we probably won't put you in jail, but we can get you fired. Instead of getting fired, we've arranged for you to take a position at MIT, starting this summer."
"I like Brown, I don't like MIT," Peter said.
"We need you in Boston. MIT has agreed to take you as an adjunct. You'll teach, do research and experiments, and take the coursework necessary to get your BS, MA and PhD. Once you've done that, you'll be on tenure track. No worry about being discovered or having to run," Broyles said.
"What if I want to run? I don't like being settled down," Peter said.
"I don't believe you," Broyles said.
"I think he thinks it," Francis said.
"You're just after my father," Peter said.
"No," Broyles said.
"How am I supposed to have time to teach, research and consult with you while I'm taking all these college courses?"
"I understand from our records that you have an IQ of 190. We're not expecting you to do the coursework in a year, my friend at MIT suggested it would take about 5 years."
Peter tasted bile in his mouth. "You're trapping me for five years, at least."
"I'm offering you a job," Broyles said.
Peter could construct a way out, he could run right now. Or, he thought, he could take the job and lull them into a false sense of trust. Build up some savings and disappear one morning in a year or two. He smiled, showing his teeth. "Well, let's do it, then."
Peter sulked for a week. The Dean had been informed Peter was leaving but not why. Something about national security. The Dean looked upset saying he wished Peter could stay. Peter said, "You and me both. But there's still this semester.
"We'll always have the 2002-2003 academic year," Peter muttered.
He wanted to get laid. It was a petty rebellion against the FBI but Peter almost never said no to petty. He took home women and men. He let them answer his phone in the morning or in the evening in case it was his bosses at Homeland. He got lucky a few times. He laid on his back, scratching at his stomach, listening and laughing as Kevin answered the phone, saying, "I think this is Peter's phone, he's the one you want? Good taste, my man, his mouth is very skilled."
Sadly, Broyles didn't take the bait. Neither did Charlie, who got Sally who actually had a real Valley Girl accent and intonation.
Even if Broyles or Charlie never said anything, Peter still liked the sex. He'd been practically celibate for a year before Raisa. Iraq wasn't a place to focus on getting laid, and before that he'd been too preoccupied with his jobs to sleep around.
The cases weren't dull. Broyles said their cases were scientific in nature which Peter pointed out covered every case ever. Peter took samples at weird deaths, looked up research and found the most effective thing was to ask himself if his father was behind it, how would he do it?
He'd had a very pleasant few hours with a guy who had a pierced tongue and the odd name of Branton. Peter was lying on his stomach, looking through final papers and lab write ups. Finals were in a week. Branton came back from the bathroom and sat down between Peter's legs, spreading them wider. "You're really a professor?"
"I am really a professor," Peter said.
"I had a huge crush on my high school chemistry teacher. I was in deep denial about being gay so I told myself I just really really admired him," Branton said.
"You admired his butt, you admired the way he dressed left," Peter said.
"All of those things," Branton said. Then he stopped talking and Peter was reminded how arousing a pierced tongue could be.
Branton left in the morning, and Peter went to his usual coffee place. He'd never had a crush on a single professor or teacher, or authority figure in general. He was a rebel, Peter thought, rolling his eyes at himself.
He got in his car and drove to see his father. He made it past the parking lot this time, all the way into the facility.
Walter was a zombie. He said, "I thought you'd be fatter."
Peter said, "Nice. First words since ‘sorry, son, your mother is dead.’ I'm so glad I came."
Walter looked abashed and then his attention wandered again. And again. Peter didn't want to talk about his life in any way, shape or form. Instead, he brought up the cases Broyles and Charlie forced him to work.
Walter looked up and his eyes almost focused. He offered surprisingly lucid suggestions and then started dithering about pudding.
Peter said, "This has been great, Walter. Good to see you."
"Will you come back? Please come back."
Peter didn't reply until he finally said, "Probably."
Homeland rented Peter a nice hotel room until he found himself an apartment in Boston. It was a very nice room and Peter appreciated the expense. He liked making his employers pay through the nose. He told the two guys and three women he brought back the first 8 days he was there to order any room service they wanted.
Broyles said to him, "Promise me you're actually looking for an apartment, Peter."
"Not only that, but I found one, moving in next week," Peter said. He'd found it his second day in Boston, did the application and signed the lease on his fourth day in Boston. "I wanted a place to study for my classes." MIT was insisting Peter start his undergraduate classes over the summer term. "You know I don't need to take those classes. My year at Brown demonstrated I don't need a degree to do the work of a professor."
"When you earn your PhD, I can call you Dr. Bishop," Broyles said, sounding bored.
"I always thought that was pretentious for non-MDs," Peter said. "I'd still make you do it."
"In approximately five years, I'll do it," Broyles said.
"Because somehow you think I'll still be here and jumping through MIT's hoops in five years."
"I do," Broyles said. "I think you'll be happy working for us and MIT. You are right now, you won't admit it."
Peter realized his jaw was clenched so hard, his molars were aching. He relaxed with a breath and said, "I want to move Walter out of St. Claire's. They have him drugged to the gills and it's ridiculous. He's been in there as long as any sentence he would have served for what was essentially an accident that could have happened to nearly anyone."
"You want him out of the system?"
"I want him in a place that isn't so much like a prison. Lower security, more chance to be lucid at least 60% of the time he's awake," Peter said. "Can you do that for me?"
"I'll see," Broyles said.
Charlie came by Peter's apartment a day after Peter moved in. Charlie said, "You really went all out with the decorating."
"I'm a minimalist," Peter said. He had a couch, a small table with two chairs, a bookcase already full of books, a very large TV, and a king sized bed. He had no rugs or pictures or side tables.
"Is that your way of saying as a wandering con man for the last 8 years, you don't have many possessions you carry from place to place?"
"I was in the same place for 9 months and it would have been a year, maybe more, if not for you," Peter said.
"That was all me, of course," Charlie said. "Are you gonna offer me coffee or am I not pretty enough for you?"
"You're married, it doesn't matter how pretty you are," Peter said. He was frustrated and pacing. "I'm pretty irritable today, sorry. I had the first day of three of my stupid undergraduate classes today. I'm not happy being a forced student, you know?"
"It's tough, being forced to get a degree you were just faking," Charlie said. "Do you have a chair or anything out on that terrace?"
"It's a bench," Peter said. "Why, you need to smoke? I do have an ashtray."
"You're allowed to smoke here?"
"On the terrace, with the door closed," Peter said. He opened the door and followed Charlie out. He pulled out the pack of cigarettes he'd stashed in the metal box under the bench. Charlie took one and suddenly conjured a lighter for himself. Peter lit his and smiled. "I do like an occasional cigarette."
"My wife is gonna kill me," Charlie said. "I quit back when I was working in New York."
"You were a cop, right?"
"Yes, I was," Charlie said. "Are we becoming friends now?"
"Not if you think I'm secretly hitting on you," Peter said.
"I don't think that," Charlie said. "Do you secretly hit on anyone? I got the impression you were very direct."
"Being direct is a virtue, right?"
Charlie actually laughed. "I don't think you're secretly hitting on me. Sometimes, I even enjoy working with you."
"Now you seem very attractive to me," Peter said.
He went to visit Walter again after a particularly thorny and utterly disturbing case. There had been a wormhole, so all the equipment and logical inferences said. A wormhole in East Dennis, Massachusetts.
Walter made as much sense as the closed wormhole. He blithered and stimmed and barely recognized Peter. Peter said, "I need some of your hair, Walter."
"Drug testing," Walter said. Five seconds of lucidity. Walter yanked at his beard, hard, and then the same right behind his ear. "Skin tags might help, too."
Peter put both in a plastic bag he had. He patted Walter on the shoulder and said, "I'm getting you out of here."
Walter stared at him and then whispered, "Please."
Peter took the hair to some friends he'd already made in forensic lab at the FBI. He leaned against the door. "I'm concerned about this patient, he's being wildly over-medicated and I want to prove it. You guys are awesome, thank you."
He went out for dinner, ate alone at the counter of the bar. An attractive dark-skinned man sat down next to him. He said to Peter, "Have you eaten here before?"
Peter smiled. "I have, actually. I like to come here and brood and now you've ruined it by being nice and charming."
"Your definition of charming is very broad," the man said. He had a great smile. "I'm Myat, from Myanmar."
"I'm Peter from Cambridge," Peter said. "Cambridge, Mass."
"Do you have rules about who you sit with or eat with?"
"Actually, are you now or have you ever been a student or employee of MIT?"
"Nope," Myat said. "Actually, I went to Brown."
Myat had lived in the states since he was 2 and was extremely passionate about the NHL. Peter was honestly a little worried about how Myat would ever respond if he were to meet Gary Bettman in person. Myat's hands fluttered when he talked. He didn't like Peter's apartment because he disliked the loft bed. "You can stand up in the room," Peter said.
"I have a fear of running down those twisty steps and tripping on my way to the bathroom," Myat said.
Peter had to explain why he was taking classes at MIT and teaching there. "They hired me, but they don't like my credentials. Don't measure up to their standard," Peter said. Luckily, Myat didn't press.
They were out to dinner when Peter got a text from Broyles. He sighed and said, "I told you I consult for the feds, right?"
"That's why MIT took you, right? Despite your bad schooling," Myat said. "You're paying for dinner. And if you get off in time, come by my apartment."
"Thanks for saying get off," Peter said.
He drove an hour to stand over a corpse slowly being consumed by an orange fungus. "I was on a date," Peter said, bitterly. He squatted down and scooped up a sample.
"So sorry," Charlie said. "This reminds of an X-file involving a fungus and a chupacabra."
Peter refrained from rolling his eyes. "I read that file, too, Charlie. This isn't that."
The next day Peter brought his completed report on the fungus to Broyles. Peter said, "People should not try to engineer hybrid pot."
"Point taken," Broyles said. "You're delivering this in person."
"My father is being over-medicated to the point that he's a drooling zombie. I want him moved," Peter said. "Somewhere else. Keep him locked up, but somewhere that doesn't give him three times the recommended dose of clonazepam." Peter handed over the other report.
"I'll look into it," Broyles said.
Myat liked to be on top and Peter liked to be fucked so it all worked very well. In deference to Myat's fear of a spiral staircase, Peter got a pull out couch for the front room. He skipped the Boston Globe in the morning and instead read ahead on his books for his classes. He'd decided to major in Physics and minor in cognitive sciences.
Myat said, "You should take classes in film criticism and french literature. Why give them the science classes they want? Fight the man."
Peter laughed. "Maybe I like science. Actually, wait, I love science."
Myat liked to watch HGTV and shows about house flipping. "I might do that sometime," he said. Myat worked for a bank, he dealt with processing and moving money. He was never once tempted to take any. Peter never said to Myat he wouldn't have a lasted a day in that job.
It had been a long time since he stole anything. Or even broke a law.
Finally, Broyles told Peter they had permission to move Dr. Bishop. "It's a mental institution with a very small higher security section. That's where Dr. Bishop will be."
"He was already in with murderers, Peter," Broyles said.
Peter went to the institution as Walter was moved to the new place. Naturally, St. Claire's dosed Walter to the point he couldn't even stand as a going away present. Peter came back the next day as they were weaning him off. Walter smiled at him. "Thank you, Peter, I very much appreciate that you have brought me to this far superior place. Will I be going home soon?"
"Nope," Peter said. "But here will be better. More what you deserve."
"I deserve much worse," Walter said. "But I like it here better."
Peter didn't tell Myat about any of it. Peter liked Myat, he didn't want people he liked to know about his father.
In August, Myat invited Peter to a very fancy dinner. "You're dumping me," Peter said.
Myat looked rueful, his fingers drumming on the table. "I got an offer to transfer to Seattle. Which is much nicer than Boston, honestly."
"It's not hard to be nicer than Boston," Peter said. "It gets incredibly cold here. Less so than Seattle."
"I will really miss you," Myat said. "It's not for another two weeks. We have plenty to time to have a good time."
It was a good time. An excellent time. And before Peter knew it, he was single again.
He went back to living down to the stereotypes about promiscuous bisexuals. It was a lot easier since Boston was much bigger and he was only ruling out one of the many universities housed there. His stupid if satisfying acts of defiance.
He went to see Walter in his break between summer classes and the actual beginning of his job. "I like it here, Peter, as much as one can like a prison one will never be released from," Walter said.
"Good to see you, too," Peter said. "You got a haircut."
"They allow that here," Walter said. "I'm on far fewer drugs than I used to be. And I have many questions. Questions for you. Why are you here in Boston? Where are you living? Could you take care of me?"
"Questions not so much about me as about your wish for freedom." Peter sighed. "No, Walter, I can't take care of you. I'm here in Boston because that's where my job is. My main job. I'm working for the FBI and Homeland Security."
"Aren't you more interested in doing things that would get you arrested by FBI and Homeland Security?"
"Because you're such an expert in my interests," Peter said. "I consult. I'm their science expert. It's funny, because I find it very effective when confronted with something disgusting and most likely unethically created, I think, how would Walter do this?"
"I did do a lot of experimenting," Walter said. "I suppose you would argue that I had a very flexible definition of ethics."
To make up for it, Walter told Peter about all his hiding places he could remember and their approximate location.
Peter put off investigating Walter's hordes for another day and went out on a date with a nice young man he'd met online. It was a great date and in the morning Peter sat naked on his couch, reading a book for his next round of classes. Giles was drying his hair when someone knocked on the door.
Giles, bless his perfect butt, opened the door. Peter heard a woman's voice saying, "I'm looking for Peter Bishop."
Giles held the door open and a blonde woman, clearly FBI, walked in. "Charlie sent me," she said.
Giles said, "You're clearly a cop."
"FBI," Peter said. "I told you I consult with the government."
"I didn't know it was the FBI. You know they sent letters to Martin Luther King, Jr telling him to kill himself?" Giles was addressing the pretty blonde.
"I did," she said, calmly.
"I'm out, Peter, don't call me," Giles said. He went upstairs and came down with his clothes which he put on quickly. Thankfully he threw Peter a pair of sweatpants. "Don't want to talk to the man with your dick hanging out." Then Giles left with a slam of the door.
Blonde FBI had an impassive face as she'd watched all of that. Peter smiled at her. "Charlie sent you," he said.
"Yes," she said. "I'm Olivia Dunham. I have a few questions for you."
Olivia sat down on the non-pull out couch. She handed him a file that he could already tell contained gruesome photos. He hated this part. Olivia looked young, maybe only as old as Peter. He appreciated immediately that she was difficult to read, a calm face, few fidgets or tells, sitting impassively on his couch. Olivia said, "My partner and I were assigned a cold case. The press called him the brain surgeon. I mentioned to Charlie that he takes the pituitary gland --"
"In an exceedingly gross way," Peter said. "I'm sure you already know what the pituitary gland does. There's a lot of weird bullshit so-called science theorizes using the pituitary gland for reverse aging." Peter scratched his chin. "Actually, I know someone who has some research on that exact kind of bullshit pseudoscience."
"Do you think that's connected to this killer?"
"Who knows?" Peter flipped through the file and tried to ignore the pictures. "But it's a sort of lead. Give me a week?"
"It's a cold case, I can wait a week." She stood up. "You can come by the FBI office."
"It's not like Giles is coming back," Peter said.
She gave him a quick smile and left. He spent a few minutes wondering if it was genuine or fake.
Peter spent the next two days gathering Walter's compendium of scary science. He bought back Walter's father's books as well. He started hunting for pituitary gland mentions. Of course that brought him 14 papers and two possible mentions in one of Walter's journals. He didn't even want to tackle the tapes and reels.
Peter forced himself to go visit Walter. He even told Walter about the case. "Are you sure I can't see the file? It would be helpful to see the file, Peter."
"No, I gave it back. I'm sure you can imagine the gross pictures. Just give me your thoughts here."
Walter babbled but once Peter waded through it, he had a horrifying lead. Peter stayed another twenty minutes letting Walter to harass him about getting a real job as Walter's reward.
"You're saying that your father worked on an experiment to grow soldiers and you think this killer is one of those children who needs pituitary glands so he doesn't grow old and die," Charlie said. "That makes sense to you."
Olivia said, "Does it give us some idea of where we could find this man?" Olivia's workday wear didn't vary much from her weekend wear. Grey and black and navy, but this time in a blazer and nice pants instead of jeans and a logoless t-shirt.
"I think your best bet is finding the scientist who saved the child who's now a serial killer. Daddy Professor is probably aiding and abetting his little darling. This recurring pattern means after getting his allotted vitamin PG, the kid's good for a few years," Peter said.
"It's not your dad," Charlie said. "Right?"
"Oh yeah, Walter has only one child he loves in his abusive cruel way," Peter said. "The other scientists involved are on that list I wrote for you. I even looked up where they are now."
"How helpful," Olivia said. "Sure you don't want to come on interviews?"
Charlie said, "We don't want him to come."
"Why not?" Peter smiled.
"I don't trust him," Charlie said. "You probably sympathize with the bastard."
"Not this bastard," Peter said.
Olivia smiled at him as she and Charlie left. He was pretty sure it was genuine.
Still, Olivia was waiting for him two days later. "This is the first time I've been to MIT," she said.
"Really," Peter said. "Did you catch the bad guys?"
"No," Olivia said. "Dr. Penrose definitely had a part of it, but he's refused to say anything about his possible child or children."
"Do you need my help?"
"No," Olivia said. "I just wanted to let you know."
Peter smiled. "You like me, you really like me."
"I wanted to say I appreciate your help. We made progress thanks to you," Olivia said. "I thought you'd like to hear that and then pretend you don't care."
"I'm a rebel," Peter said, smiling at her. She got in her car, he got in his.
The next time Charlie called at 3 am, Peter was disappointed to find only Charlie at the horrifying scene. "Not that I don't appreciate the spectacle of a waffle iron floating in the air, dripping blood, but didn't we grow our little team?"
"You want Olivia," Charlie said. "Next time, I'll call her. You wanna get to work?"
"Hey, the more the merrier," Peter said. He put out his gloved finger to check the viscosity of the waffle blood. "This blood is cold."
It took him two hours to figure out an approximation of what was happening. At 5:30 am, he was at Dunkin Donuts, sipping his coffee and waiting for Charlie to tell him to go.
Olivia came in and sat down next to him. She was talking on her phone and he was disappointed. Her eyes, her voice, her smile, she was clearly attracted to whomever she was talking to. "Okay, okay, John," she said and turned to him. She shifted from attracted to amused. He didn't mind amused but he would have rather had the former.
She said, "We're hunting magnetic waves."
"Charlie is hunting some guy who has a machine that generates magnetic waves, but we're not doing anything. I just want to go home. I have to teach my second day of classes in five hours."
"Your first class is 11:00 in the morning? I had friends in college who arranged that schedule," Olivia said.
"Monday, Wednesday, Friday I take a class at 8 and 9 am, teach at noon and 2. Tuesday Thursday, I teach at 11, take a class at 2," Peter said. "I decided to complete my minors in Cognitive Sciences first."
"Studying the brain," Olivia said.
"Basically," Peter said. "Who's John?"
"John Scott is my partner at the FBI," Olivia said. She had better control of herself this time, she spoke like he was just a good agent, a good partner.
Charlie came in a half hour later and handed Peter a machine that looked like a microwave with a handle. "Let us know when you figure out what that does," he said.
"After my classes today," Peter said. "You're not my only paycheck."
The next time Peter saw Charlie, they were both going up in the elevator at the Federal Building. Peter said, "Charlie, if you got divorced and you were my type, could we date? Without breaking any FBI rules?"
"If you were my type," Charlie said. "Sure."
"If you were divorced --"
"I need you to stop saying that. Stop putting that out in the world. I'm not getting divorced, not ever," Charlie said.
"If I were an FBI agent, could I date that John guy, the one partnered with Dunham?"
"He's very pretty," Charlie said. "Technically, yes, but you'd be assigned to different offices."
"I've never seen John, you think he's attractive?"
"He's more my type than you," Charlie said. They both went straight to Broyles's office. On the way out, he saw the back of Olivia's head. She'd braided her hair. She was facing a man who Peter was fairly sure Charlie would describe as pretty.
Peter refused to think of the male model FBI agent as competition. He'd found a renewed interest in longer relationships, but he wasn't going to be dating some FBI agent.
They summoned Peter to Walter's new institution. "Your father was caught having sex with another patient, a woman."
"Should I be worrying about a new sibling?"
The administrator frowned. "She's your father's age."
"Did he drug her?"
"No, they were both consenting, but this is not a retirement home. This is an institution for the mentally ill, many of whom are here in lieu of prosecution. If your father breaks more rules, we will send him back to St. Claire's."
"No, you won't," Peter said. "He doesn't deserve to be there, and I will make sure that Homeland Security keeps him here."
The administrator blanched. Peter felt vaguely satisfied. Then he went to see Walter. He had to live through an extremely painful 30 minutes of Walter recounting how very attractive his new lover was while Peter tried to explain he wasn't supposed to do that again.
He had a tiring week. He had one call from Charlie and a few hours examining a pretty ordinary corpse that happened to glow in the dark. He administered his first quiz to his students, did a paper for one of his classes, worked on another paper to submit to a journal. He laid back on his couch and flipped through channels on his TV late at night. He looked at his phone.
He almost called a few of his old contacts. They weren't exactly shoot the shit friends. Peter never wanted to be a shoot the shit guy. He turned off the TV and went up the stairs to his bed.
Olivia called the next week. "What's the case this time," he said.
She said, "Actually I wanted to take you to lunch and pick your brain."
"Let me tell you, as someone who's taken an entire class in Cognitive Sciences, you don't want to pick at a brain."
"Clever science jokes," Olivia said.
"You sound really thrilled," Peter said.
They had lunch at an exceedingly generic diner. "Next time Thai, please."
"Noted," Olivia said. She wanted to know about forgeries. "I heard you're an ace at fake identities."
Peter sighed. She was very professional. He said, "Ask away." She was an adult and he wasn't much of one.
"You seem embarrassed describing what you've done," Olivia said. "I thought you'd be proud. Charlie said you were proud."
"I'm not embarrassed," Peter said. "But it's been awhile. I've been working for over a year, you know."
"Youthful excess," Olivia said, some kind of mocking in her voice. He didn't mind.
"Aren't we the same age?"
"You're about six weeks older than me," Olivia said. "But I wanted to do this since I was 9. Maybe younger."
"I never wanted to be anything but away from Walter," Peter said. "Doesn't that sound childish?"
Olivia shrugged and didn't answer.
For New Year's Eve, Charlie and Sonia invited him to a small party they were having. Peter had fun and he made sure to kiss Charlie as the ball dropped. Sonia gave her permission. He was driving home (he was 99% sober) and he thought how fucked up it was, going to a Fed's for a party, having a good time, not covering for anything when he was introduced. He resented all of it.
Then he woke up and drove to see Walter. "Walter," Peter said. "We both know, I know, my mother. She caused that accident. She did it on purpose. Why? Do you know why?"
Walter's face fell. Then he said, "No. No, I don't."
"Happy new year, then, let's start it off lying to each other like always."
Peter went back to work. It really would take him another 2 years to get his damned undergrad degree. He'd been recognized more than once by his own students, he always told them he was taking advantage of his workplace to learn new things. He was lying and not lying, he probably would have taken the classes if he was really teaching at MIT.
He had another case with Olivia. She seemed pleased to see him. After they finished wrapping the case of the goat who walked on his back feet and was still not related to the chupacabra, Peter said to Olivia, "How do you feel about music?"
"My feelings about music in general?"
"I'd like to take you on a date, we would go see a band, have some beers," Peter said. "Feel free to say no, seriously."
"I don't feel like I can't say no," Olivia said. "But, yes, okay. Let's do it."
Peter took Olivia to the big bar where the band was playing. She wore jeans, a nice black sweater and a leather jacket. She was wearing the same black boots she usually did. She looked beautiful.
"You really dressed up," she said. "Isn't that what you usually wear to teach?"
"No, this is what I would wear to teach in spring or fall. Vests are for warmer weather," Peter said, hooking his thumbs in his nice pinstripe vest.
"Or dates," Olivia said. "Handsome." She ran her hand down his chest.
"Did I mention you look beautiful?"
"Not until I complimented you," she said, smiling.
They grabbed seats at one of the small tables towards the back. They each had a few beers, talked through the opening band. Thankfully, the main act was more to Olivia's taste. She turned to the stage with a bright smile on her face. She stood up and even moved a little. Peter stood behind her, reached for her hip. She moved back into him, they were swaying to the music. The concert went fast, too fast for Peter. He resented having to let her go.
He drove her home, and she said, "That was great. I didn't think I'd like it that much."
"Your idea of a first date is more like bowling?"
She nearly laughed. "Movies, I like movies."
"Next time, you pick a movie."
"I will," she said. He'd reached her apartment. She got out and then leaned back in, kissing him. She smelled like the bar but underneath everything she smelled like Olivia. He watched her walk back to her apartment and had to shake himself out of his reverie.
Sunday he went for his rapidly becoming regular visit to see Walter. He told himself he got far fewer calls from the administrators when he visited Walter. Walter was beaming and Peter groaned out loud. "What now, Walter?"
"I have permission from the people in charge for you to take me to lunch. I want a cheeseburger and a milkshake and do you think there's a place that might have pie? I love pie," Walter said, already standing up.
"Did you tell them I wanted to do this?" Peter didn't move from his place in the doorway.
"Yes, of course, because I know you want to."
"I don't want you to take you out of here. I have no interest in taking you out of here," Peter said.
"It's just for lunch, Peter, you don't have to take me in permanently," Walter said.
"I'm sure you'll be asking for that soon enough," Peter said.
"No," Walter said, clearly lying. "Peter, I want a milkshake."
Peter rubbed his forehead and gave in. They went to a generic diner, as generic as the place Olivia had taken him. Walter was beyond thrilled. He practically trilled.
Peter wasn't amused. He tried not to be amused. He hated that he had good memories of Walter, that he had to reconcile those with everything else. He hated when Walter was pleasant and funny and just a loopy old man and Peter forgot about everything he'd read in Walter's papers.
He let Walter hug him when he brought him back to the institution.
Peter called Olivia. "Is there any chance you want to do that horror movie marathon tonight?"
"I hadn't planned to," she said. "But we can."
He brought expensive take out to make up for calling her before she could call him. "Hey," he said as she opened the door. "Sorry, I visited Walter and I wanted a nicer ending to the day."
"I forgive you," she said. "Why is visiting Walter depressing?"
"He's an abusive son of a bitch, and sometime he isn't," he said. "I dislike reconciling all of that. It's easier to just not deal with him."
Olivia nodded. She put out plates and poured them each a glass of wine. She said, "I only have one horror movie picked out, but trust me, one is enough."
They were ten minutes in when Peter said, "Wow, how did you even find this?"
"I'll never tell," Olivia said.
They were both laughing at the end, Peter almost crying. She looked over at him, beautiful and glorious and kissed him again. He pulled her close and he felt overwhelmed with something primal. Something great.
She pulled him back to her bedroom and then got his sweater and shirt off him. He was on top of her, practically dry humping her and he would swear he could feel her rapid heartbeat through her jeans and his jeans. He sat back through herculean force of will and said, "I didn't bring any condoms or anything so that seems like something maybe we should --"
She reached into a drawer at her bedside table, and came up with a condom in her hand. "Get back on top of me."
"God, you're amazing," he said. It took forever for both of them to get naked so he could feel her skin and then everything slowed down. It was the perfect time for everything to be drawn out and intense. She moved so she was on top, every time he thrust up and she was so tight around him, he felt like a storm was building, a crackle of something between. When he came, there were sparks and pops behind his eyes, all over his body.
She got off him carefully and grinned at him as she curled on her side. He went to the bathroom to get rid of the condom.
"Fuck, fuck," he said. "The condom broke, I'm sorry."
She frowned. "I don't suppose you can just whip up some Plan B in your lab?"
"No," he said. "But I do know the number for MIT's student health services. And I am a student, sort of."
He made a call and then another. Then he got back in his car and drove to the place the nice lady from MIT sent him. He was back at Olivia's within the hour. "I also got you a milkshake," he said. "Sorry again." He handed over the Plan B and the drink. "Do you like milkshakes? Walter was in ecstasy over his this afternoon, so I just assumed."
Olivia took the pills and sipped her milkshake. "I'm touched." She smiled at him. "You don't have to keep apologizing. I liked the part where you implied that sex with me was so good, you came so hard from the awesomeness."
"The truth as I experienced it," he said, laying down next to her. "Do you want me to go home?"
"No, but my alarm is set for 5 am," she said.
"I can take it," he said.
They started sleeping together nearly every other night. Peter purchased his preferred brand and size of condom and pretty much carried them everywhere, just in case. There was a lot of just in case, to his deep and abiding happiness.
He still mostly only saw Charlie when he got called to cases. "Now that you're dating Olivia, I'm even less inclined to drag her into these messes."
"It's been two weeks, is that dating?"
"With you, I feel it's accurate," Charlie said.
"I think I'm insulted," Peter said. It was just a gruesome corpse this time. Peter wasn't a fan of autopsies but Walter had given him some excellent advice, what to look for. It was the kind of conversation Peter had with his father.
"Olivia's a good person," Charlie said.
"I'm almost a good person," Peter said.
"You're clearly a good person," Charlie said.
He'd always thought Olivia was beautiful, but time spent with her made him see her more. He wouldn't say it to her, but he thought she was transcendent.
"So we've been dating for nearly a month, am I allowed to ask why you picked me over your handsome partner?" He asked her after they'd had sex, hoping she'd be in a good mood and not kick him out for asking.
"I wasn't --," she said. "We slept together once. But I've made a lot of bad choices in my life. I decided not to do it again. And helpfully, you asked me out a month later."
"I'm glad I could be there for you," he said. He kissed the inside of her thigh to feel her pulse jump.
He convinced her to move in with him five weeks later. "We should move in together," he said. "And I have the better apartment, so therefore you should move in with me."
"You're so romantic," she said. "Why should we move in together?"
"Because," he said. "I'm selfish, I like waking up next to you."
"Why should I do it?"
"I think you like me," he said.
"I do," she said. "I'm not that attached to my apartment, true. And I love the view from your bed."
He was surprised when she agreed to move in. He wasn't surprised that he loved having her around. He built her shelving and a ladder so she could access it.
She said, "You have all this shelves already and drawers, what's in them?"
"Walter's shit. His files, his notes, his books he wrote all over. Reels of film and betamax tapes. His record albums that he left notes in the sleeves. I am slowly tackling and filing all of them. The ones here are the ones I haven't gotten to yet. Once I've catalogued it, I put it in storage closet I've commandeered at MIT as a second office. Hopefully, I can sift through his work and find the things worth continuing to work on and the things that no one should ever know," Peter said.
"But you'll know them, and he'll know them," she said. She sat on her couch, which had replaced his non-pullout couch.
"And Walter Bell and Nina Sharp," Peter said, frowning. "The more of Walter's files I look at, the more I'm convinced Walter Bell knows more than he or Nina Sharp have ever admitted to Broyles."
"You think Massive Dynamic is hiding something? Of course they are," Olivia said. "But you think they're hiding something specific."
"I think William Bell and Walter did some awful things when they worked together and Bell is reaping the profits of it while Walter is, is crazy. He was crazy before, though, I don't remember him ever being not crazy."
Even with Olivia next to him in bed, Charlie still called her almost never. He loved working cases with her. She was so quick, so intuitive. He told her about each one and she always had good suggestions. Sometimes she only had a witty remark.
Broyles offered his congratulations in his own way. "Agent Dunham is a fine agent."
"I absolutely agree," Peter said. "Are you giving some sort of approval for our relationship?"
"That's far outside the scope of my job or my supervision of either of you," Broyles said, frowning.
He loved her. He loved that the longer he knew her, the more he could see her feelings and fears and joys on her face and the set of her hands. He loved that she trusted him. He wasn't usually someone people trusted, or he hadn't been. One night, she said to him, "I had a stepfather." She told him a horrible true story.
He said, "I think I've already seen a few things in Walter's papers where we could kill him and no one would know."
"Aren't you sweet," she said, her hand in his hair.
He loved that she challenged him but more, he loved that she always acted like she just expected him to be a decent person. It was an odd thing to love, but Peter wasn't very experienced with this kind of serious relationship.
"I've had two serious relationships so I'm pretty sure that puts me ahead of you," Olivia said. They were having coffee and brunch at the same diner she'd taken him to lunch that first time.
"Are you including me in there?"
"Three," she said.
"I've had relationships," he said.
"What did they say to you about your nightmares?" She just sprang that one on him though they'd been together nearly seven months so it wasn't like she didn't know.
"Raisa made fun of me, Myat was always very nice but he didn't push," Peter said. "I used to have them every night, from when I was eight to about 19. Walter gave me a mantra so I wouldn't remember them, but that just meant I'd wake up and couldn't tell you what was bothering me."
"Do you remember them now?"
Peter was balancing his knife on his fork on his spoon for fun. To avoid this conversation. He said, "Sometimes I remember. It's all the usual. Drowning, dying, my mother dying, everyone I know is replaced by bee people, Walter is … Walter."
"Bee people," Olivia said.
"Charlie let me read some of the actual X-files, I think that's where the bee fear came from. Or a movie, I guess," Peter said. He reached for her hand. "It's fine, you know. I'm fine."
"Of course," she said, meaning she would let him say that and not push too much.
She was very serious about her work, she cared so much about the victims. She absolutely freaked out when her sister got pregnant. "I trust Rachel, you understand, but Greg, I don't like Greg at all."
They flew out to Chicago at least once a month for every month of Rachel's pregnancy. Peter wasn't too taken with Greg either though he recognized the guy for what he was; a scared lazy boy. He liked Rachel. Mostly, when they were in Chicago, he did whatever he thought Olivia wanted him to do.
Olivia took off immediately when Rachel went into labor, Peter had two classes to teach and two classes he had to attend. By the time he got to Chicago, Ella had been born. He said, "I brought presents, though."
"Sure, sure," Greg said, looking utterly overwhelmed.
Rachel loved the MIT and FBI onesies. "I made you a mobile," Peter said. "I can set it up for back at the apartment."
"Is it clouds and stars?" Rachel smiled. "I like clouds and stars."
"You tell me that now," Peter said. "I went human organs."
"I saw him make it, it's not human organs," Olivia said. She was holding Ella, she looked amazingly beautiful. More than usual.
Peter and Olivia's apartment was quickly taken over with pictures of Ella.
They did absolutely nothing for their one year anniversary. Peter remembered and assumed Olivia knew and didn't care much for arbitrary dates since her birthday had been so spoiled. She did remember, though, she got Thai take out and said, "I never thought we'd last a year."
"Me neither," he said. "Let's fuck and celebrate."
He loved having sex with her. He said, "Thanks for going out with me even though you knew I was bi. Sometimes that's a negative for people."
She shrugged. They were both naked, lying on their sides, facing each other. She said, "I've dated women."
"That's hot," he said, smiling.
She rubbed her stomach and rolled onto her back. She said, looking at the ceiling, "Do you ever think about having children?"
He considered. "Yes," he said. "Mostly since Ella was born. I have this great example of what not to do, and my mom did her best. I would like kids. With you. Only you. But if you don't, I'm good with just the two of us. I wouldn't feel like I was robbed."
She grunted. "You're covering all your bases."
"What do you think?"
"I think," she said. "Maybe. I'd like to try. Like, get my IUD taken out and we could try. If nothing happens, then nothing happens. But if something happens, I'd be happy."
"We should do that, then," he said. He got on top of her. "I'm not going to make a joke about practicing because it's still our anniversary and I just want to have sex with you again."
He was driving somewhere with Charlie to look at something that maybe was the product of someone's idea of transgenic species breeding. He said, "Do you and Sonia ever think about kids?"
"That's not intrusive," Charlie said.
"I know, but I was wondering," Peter said.
"You got Olivia pregnant, didn't you?"
Peter said, "We're trying. I just wondered, sorry."
"I'm your only married friend," Charlie said. "Why don't you make friends with your colleagues at MIT?"
"I have friends at MIT," Peter said. He tapped his fingers on the car window. "I don't get trapped on long car trips with them usually."
"Sonia wants to wait. She says when she's 34," Charlie said. "Which is next year."
"You'd be a good dad," Peter said.
"You don't know anything about good dads," Charlie said, a little mean.
"Broyles is a father figure to me, sort of, he's a good dad."
Three months later he came home to a beaming Olivia. "The doctor says I'm pregnant," she said, so joyful.
"I can't believe you're not giving me a stick with your pee on it," Peter said, hugging her much too tightly.
"I went to the doctor to confirm and threw out the test," Olivia said. "I peed on it, it was gross."
Peter couldn't stop himself from letting it slip to Walter. Naturally, it made Walter freak out and clutch at him. "You," Walter said. "You had a disease when you were a child. It was genetic. It killed you, it very nearly killed you. You have to test the baby. I can tell you how to make the antidote. But when you were seven, you died from it. You nearly died before I could save you."
"Okay," Peter said. "But you have the cure. You can just tell me now. Or anytime in the next seven months."
"I have to tell you now, you have to be ready," Walter said. "You can't let your baby die, Peter. It's unimaginable, the grief of losing a child."
"But I didn't die," Peter said.
"No," Walter said. "I saved you. But it was very close."
Peter told Olivia. She said, "Well, did he give you the cure?"
"Yes," Peter said.
"So you better have that ready," she said.
The baby tested negative, though. Watching Olivia give birth was harrowing. "We don't have to do this again," he said.
Olivia just nodded. Their little baby girl was already at her breast.
They named her Charlotte Elizabeth Bishop. "You named her after me," Charlie said. He was almost tearing up.
"We're not calling her Charlie," Olivia said. "I think we decided we're calling her Lottie, sorry."
"I like it better for her," Charlie said. "She's prettier than me."
"She looks like a Shar Pei," Peter said. "I'm sure she will be prettier than you, but let's be real, right now, she's a very pink Winston Churchill."
"A proud papa," Charlie said. "Does she get to meet grandpa in the looney bin?"
"Not yet," Peter said.
They had to move. Three weeks with a newborn made it clear that they had moved beyond or outgrown a spiral staircase to the bedroom. Olivia gave up on their bedroom on day 2 home from the hospital and was just living on the pull out couch bed. "I'm not going down those steps to go to the bathroom," she said, an edge in her voice.
"Apartment hunting being done," Peter said.
The first thing he needed was more income. He contemplated and tossed aside a number of illegal or semi-legal plans. He went with old fashioned American excellence - threatening to sue. He did have to illegally break into a few databases at Massive Dynamic, but that was such a tiny infraction.
It was his third time meeting Nina Sharp. She loved to tell him how well she knew him when he was a child. He nodded and handed her the four files. "These are four patents Massive Dynamic are using today that I can demonstrate were first conceived by Walter Bishop and then brought to William Bell. You owe him hundreds of millions of dollars. I'll take simple millions. Four checks to catch us up from decades of theft, and then a steady income after that. Naturally, I'll be administering it."
"Will you," Nina said.
"Yes," Peter said. "I've already picked out a very special retirement community slash institution where Walter can have the supervision he needs and nearly all the freedom he wants. And I've talked to Walter, he wants nothing more than to make sure his grandchild has a nice place to live and can afford to go to any college she wants."
Nina reviewed the files. She bargained, of course. She ended up higher than his lowest number when it came to compensation, so he frowned and accepted it. In return for not identifying the hundreds of other patents Walter should have had a piece, Peter had to give Massive Dynamic first look at any future designs he and Walter might have. But Lottie might want to get a master's, so he signed on the line.
With that taken care of and Olivia informed of it -- she said, "Do you expect to create new designs or patents?" He told her he might and mentioned the master's dream. -- He started looking for a new place for them.
"What do you think of a condo on Beacon Hill for $14,000 a month?"
"How many bathrooms?"
"Two and a half," he said. "Two bedrooms. Insanely nice kitchen set up."
"I don't care about the kitchen right now," Olivia said. "I think I have puke in my hair."
"You do," he said. He took Lottie and let Olivia shower. Luckily Lottie could occasionally be distracted by a finger to suck on for at least 3 minutes.
He felt like an impostor when the realtor cooed over him, "Professor at MIT, married to an FBI agent!" He had to remind himself it was actually true.
He said, "I also consult for the federal government, Homeland Security." She looked even more thrilled.
Peter found something he liked better than the $14,000 a month condo, though it was still wildly overpriced to his mind. He brought Olivia to see. "Two bedrooms, each with their own full bath, our master bath has the best shower, and just for you, it's a kind of a dingy kitchen."
Olivia looked at him with mild amusement. "Is it really a dingy kitchen?"
"It's not as nice at the condo," Peter said. "It's still pretty nice. But no island."
"I'm going to use the bathroom," she said. She plopped Lottie in his arms.
She had grown from Winston Churchill, now she resembled no one except for maybe Walter, in the nose. "Can't wait for your mother's looks to show up, sweetheart," he said.
Lottie's fingers waved and clutched. She had green eyes, which Walter had told Peter was just like him. Walter had rattled off some statistic about newborns and blue eyes. Peter was pretty sure he could see the blue creeping in. "Like me and your granddad," he said. Lottie pressed her gums together and grunted.
He loved her completely. It was even more insane than loving Olivia, even more alien to his experience. He would let himself be killed for Olivia or Charlotte, he would lay waste to the world if Lottie asked him. He realized, given who his father was, he might actually be able to lay waste to the world. Hopefully Lottie would be a benevolent daughter.
He gave in to Walter's begging and made sure Walter had a day pass for Peter's very quiet graduation from MIT, getting his BS in Physics with a minor in Cognitive Sciences. He didn't walk across a stage, his boss at MIT handed him the diploma and told him not to display it at the college. Lottie spit up a little on his best suit and Olivia said, "I'm so proud," in a very mocking tone of voice.
"I'm proud," Walter said. "Can I hold my granddaughter?"
"Yes," Olivia said so Peter would hand the girl over.
"She doesn't look like you at all," Walter said. "Not like you as a baby. Well, taking after Olivia is a good thing."
"Thanks, Walter," Peter said.
Lottie stared at Walter and Walter nodded his head like she was talking to him.