They kidnapped Peter two days after Olivia turned off all the lights with the power of her mind. First, he was hit in the head. He came to in a trunk, hands and feet bound, folded into a space he didn't fit. Sometimes he hated being tall.
Peter didn't even panic. He'd been here before. Probably not this specific trunk. He assessed the situation, wiggled around, testing things. He had enough room to move that he wasn't in a compact. So a larger car than a VW Bug or a Citroen. He was really accomplishing something in his reconnoitering.
He thought about Walter. That was a new development in his life. But even if something happened to Peter, Walter would be fine. Walter would have Astrid. Poor Astrid.
Peter inhaled and winced. His head hurt in a particular pipe kind of way. Walter had insane plans including, apparently, drilling to China. Peter could tell by the pain in his head what had hit him. The Bishops really were geniuses.
Olivia had turned off all the lights with her mind. She may have tried to convince him it didn't happen but Peter knew what he saw. She had done it. Maybe he could try to reach out to her with his mind. He concentrated but instead he kept picturing her half dressed and predictably beautiful. She would be beautiful in anything. This was not a productive line of thought. He cleared his head and thought very very hard.
Olivia didn't show up and the car went over a bump.
When they finally let him out, he recognized one of Big Eddie's guys. This was definitely not going to go well. He decided to play unconscious. His instincts were usually combative and if he wasn't passed out, he would probably antagonize anyone he was talking to. For once, he thought, don't push back. At least for a while.
So they dropped him on the ground, rolled him around in the dirt a few times, kicked him a few more times but mostly they did nothing. They were waiting for Big Eddie.
He was out in the middle of nowhere somewhere outside Boston. Maybe they'd driven north, maybe west. Probably not south or east. Maybe, though. He didn't have enough information to make assumptions.
Peter made plans to bolt. The tape around his ankles was almost completely off already. He could run into the darkness. And wasn't that a metaphor.
He pretended to be slowly waking up, but his timing was off. Headlights shined right in his eyes. It was Big Eddie pulling in.
"Great to see you," he said as Big Eddie got out of the car. "Been a while, huh?"
"Shut the fuck up," Big Eddie said. He was carrying a gun and it was aimed right at Peter.
Peter said, "This is awfully shortsighted of you. I can do things for you. You know that."
Big Eddie snarled. He said, "I've heard enough shit from you, Bishop. First I kill you, then your dad --"
"Hey," Peter said. "Have you noticed all the federal agents around Walter? Fed-er-al cops. Federal. FBI. You really want to fuck with that? Settle for me and be done."
Big Eddie pushed the gun closer. He said, "Your bullshit nobility is the worst kind of crap. I know who you are. I'm still killing you."
"You think that's the best way --" Peter stopped talking as SUVs pulled up and people were shouting.
Big Eddie swore and Peter started rolling away - a shot went off very near him and he felt a burn on his arm or side or both so he scrabbled with his feet and tried to stand. He heard more shouting. It was never a good idea to stop moving when people were shooting at you.
Then he heard Olivia, for sure. He slowed down until he heard more shots. Peter ran. He tripped in the dark and felt another burst of pain, even before his knee and shoulder hit the ground. Pure stupid bad luck to die in a rescue attempt, but Peter had seen it more than once. Peter rolled for a better view and simultaneously tried to fade away.
He blinked against the brightness. Then Olivia was crouching over him. It was ridiculous that her blonde hair looked like a halo. Peter said, "Thanks for being late. I think you shot me."
"I only shot Big Eddie," she said.
Then he passed out. He really hated getting shot.
He woke up in the hospital in mild pain, on narcotics. Things felt a little fuzzy. He said, "Walter? Please don't let Walter prescribe things to me. Walter?"
Olivia came in the room. He thought she'd been awakened to rescue him. Her ponytail wasn't perfectly smooth and she wasn't wearing one of her tailored button downs. He never tried to tell himself he was watching everyone, he was absolutely paying special attention to Olivia.
"Let me guess," Peter said. "Walter doesn't even know I was gone."
"He does now," Olivia said.
"I wouldn't want him to worry," Peter said. "How'm doing?"
"You?" Olivia smiled slightly. "You got winged twice. You'll have some new scars. A few bruises. But you can go home tomorrow."
"Wonderful," Peter said. "How did you find me?"
"You didn't answer your phone. Or the door. Walter was at the lab. Something seemed off." She was almost looking away.
"Did you hear me? I tried to reach out to your magic powers," Peter said.
"You know that isn't real," Olivia said.
Olivia frowned. "It was obvious something was wrong. I knew you wouldn't just leave."
"You really did turn all those lights off. You were treated with that drug," Peter said. "I know you said you weren't but maybe you were." He felt stupidly happy she felt she knew him with certainty.
Olivia kept frowning and tapped his hand. She said goodbye and left. He'd upset her. But he wasn't in the mood to reassure her of her normalcy. She was clearly a freak like Walter or Peter. Charlie and Astrid were the only ones holding down 'normal.'
Peter closed his eyes. He wondered if Walter would visit. His mind wandered. He was so tired. He was so very, very tired.
He'd betrayed his mother, he used to think, by still loving Walter. He tried to purge his affection for the man. He had tried. Now his mother was dead and Peter was fond of his father. It made him sad. Underneath all his anger and his very justified hate of Walter, more justified every day he was in that damn lab, so underneath everything he sometimes genuinely liked Walter.
He needed to get out of this hospital bed and back to somewhere where he barely had time to think.
He'd abandoned the idea of running. He hadn't even run when Olivia was staring at that damn box. He thought they might as well die together.
Peter buzzed the nurse for more painkillers. Many many more.
Astrid picked him up from the hospital. She said, "We don't have a case but everyone else is apparently busy."
"By everyone else, you mean Olivia, right? No way Walter was coming to pick me up," Peter said. "Charlie could have, I guess. He likes me."
"Unlike me?" Astrid had an easy smile. He felt bad she was stuck with them.
She drove him home. The hotel was still dreary and while Peter had lived in worse places in his life, he'd lived in so many better places and didn't have to sleep on the couch while his father farted away in the big bed. Literally farted. He got out of the car gingerly. He said, "I can get up on my own."
"Sure," Astrid said. "I left Walter alone in the lab."
"And you're going back?" Peter laughed a little. "I'm glad to know Walter wasn't worried about me."
Peter slept on the couch as usual. He woke up when Walter came in humming. Loudly. Walter said, "Oh, you're finally home. I heard you got in a spot of trouble with some of your old friends. You should be more careful, Peter."
Peter sighed and considered responding. Then he said, "Yup, Walter. Go to sleep, please."
He was back in the lab the next day. Walter drifted off to putter with something and it was Peter and Astrid like always. It had been a long time. Except it wasn't a long time. It had been barely six months.
Peter had seen the report Olivia did have on him one time. Despite what the FBI had found, Peter had had jobs he stayed with longer than three months. He'd been arrested more than seven times. He always wondered if Olivia had really believed her cursory report. He assumed she'd gone back and looked deeper after he agreed to stay.
Maybe he had inflated his own importance to her.
He watched Astrid watch Walter.
He'd been in love, too, the sort of thing that didn't make any report. His mother had loved Walter. When he was younger, it made him so angry. He couldn't understand how she stayed with Walter. He was stuck with Walter again and he remembered that Walter would make him pancakes in whale shapes for him, Walter would drag him onto the couch to watch Star Trek, Walter had loved Peter's mother. That was awful to know, that someone could be in love with someone they treated so poorly. Not that Peter hadn't seen worse.
The next day, Broyles summoned Walter. Peter was still exhausted from being beat up and shot, so he said, "I bet Astrid can do this today."
Walter started to protest, having in his usual oblivious way missed that Astrid had perked up immediately. Peter said, "Walter, I'm tired. I think you said something about me taking my responsibilities and duties seriously so maybe let me recover one more day, okay? Pretend I'm doing it for you."
Walter literally harumphed. He left with Astrid, much to Peter's relief.
He poked around the lab, examining all of Walter's projects. Some of them he didn't understand, but those were the least frightening. He flipped through Walter's papers and some files Olivia had left. Finally he started looking at his email. He actually took the time to check all of his email addresses which took two hours. He made coffee. It was only okay. He decided to close some of the emails. He didn't need them anymore. His hand hovered over the delete button but then he pressed it, a few times.
Astrid and Walter and Olivia came back. There was a strange boy and a serial killer had returned.
The truly intriguing thing about the empath boy was his instant bond with Olivia. He waited until the boy was safely hidden and the serial killer was caught before he said to Olivia, "It's funny how the boy bonded with you."
"I did offer him candy," she said.
"Or," Peter said. "There's something about you."
"That's not true," she said.
Peter said, "You heard me call you. I bet you woke up in the middle of night thinking of me. Because I called you. And you turned off all those lights. And this boy bonded with you out of all the people he met."
"He read my emotions," Olivia said. "Maybe."
"Maybe," Peter said. "You know, let's drop this."
"You brought it up," Olivia said. "But yes, let's drop this. I can think of something better we can do."
Something better turned out to be fantastic. A number of agents went out drinking to celebrate and Olivia brought Peter and Astrid along. Since Peter made sure Walter had a babysitter outside his door, he could just relax.
He let himself get happily buzzed. It was just a couple of beers. He'd finished his antibiotics and had stopped his painkillers. He also ate half a plate of nachos he shared with Astrid.
Later, he saw Astrid having a definitely flirty conversation with an incredibly hot waitress. He easily won two games of pool before bowing out because beating drunk FBI agents out of their money seemed like a really bad plan. With Big Eddie gone, Peter didn't really have any enemies in Boston. No need to create new ones.
He drifted outside where a few agents were smoking. Olivia was off to one side, not smoking, but talking on the phone. He heard her say, "Rachel, I'll see you later."
He stood next to her outside in the biting cold. He said, "How is your sister?"
"She's great. She said I should stay out very very late and have a good time," Olivia said.
"Sounds like a wonderful idea," Peter said.
The other agents went inside and Peter and Olivia were alone. She walked further down the street, past a closed thrift store. She pointed a lunchbox in the window. "I think I had that one."
"You had a Star Wars one? That might be worth money now," Peter said. "I had Star Trek, Walter loved Star Trek. I think he still has it somewhere stashed away."
"I didn't save anything," Olivia said.
"Me neither," Peter said. "Walter, on the other hand." He smiled and breathed in the cold sharp air. He hated the cold, he hated Boston. He was much more fond of Olivia.
Olivia was actually grinning, like he'd only seen her do to Charlie or talking about her niece. He leaned in and she was still grinning. He kissed her, his hands clasped behind his back. Testing.
She kissed him. She grasped his jacket with her gloved hands and they were even closer. He could feel how warm she was even through all the layers of wool and cotton. He reached out for her waist. It felt, for a moment, like the most dangerous thing he'd ever attempted.
They kissed again. Separate kisses, tiny breaths in between, another kiss. He stood up straight and she was on her tippy toes. He held her waist tighter.
She ducked her head suddenly, settling back on her heels. She said, "I did hear you. And that boy did bond with me. Astrid was nice to him, too. Maybe nicer." He rubbed her back. He took a deep breath.
Peter said, "And you turned off all the lights."
He felt her inhale. She said, "He said it was some drug called cortexiphan. He said I was part of an experiment when I was child. William Bell did it."
"At Kelvin Genetics? So," Peter said. "So it was probably Walter, too. Children experimentation sounds just like Walter. He experimented on me, why not kids he wasn't an abusive parent to?"
She pulled a little away. She said, "Are you making my thing all about you?"
"I was trying to," Peter said. "To make you feel better."
He imagined he could feel her smile since her cheek was against his lapel. He rubbed her back again. She said, "You are right, though. Walter wouldn't hesitate to experiment on children. I'm surprised you don't have worse stories."
"I probably don't remember the really bad ones," Peter said. "I can drive you home."
She stepped out of his arms. She said, "I can't invite you up."
"Don't tempt me," he said. "Your couch would be better than the couch I have."
"I never did get you those new accommodations," Olivia said.
"You definitely did not. I was holding that back for a time when I wanted something from you. Liv, I would say, guess what? You never got me that apartment you promised me."
Olivia walked ahead of him, for once she walked slowly. She said, "That wouldn't have worked. I wouldn't've felt guilty at all."
He drove her home and they had actual companionable silence. He'd never liked that phrase but it suited. She held his wrist for a moment before she got out of the car.
He went home and slept on the same lumpy couch.
The next day, Olivia knocked on the door and said, "Guess what?"
"You brought cherry soda," Walter said, eagerly.
"No, Walter," Olivia said. "I found you a different place to stay. No more hotel."
"I like this place," Walter said. He reached and grasped at air, looking for a cup for the cherry soda, presumably.
"Of course you like this place," Peter said. "I want my own bed, Walter. Maybe even a bathroom I can use where you haven't mixed some kind of heinous chemical sludge in the sink."
Olivia blanched slightly like she could picture the bill the FBI or Homeland would be receiving for damages. She said, "It's the top floor of a duplex. The bottom floor is being used for storage. But on the top floor you have two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a very nice kitchen. I thought you'd like the kitchen, Walter."
Walter frowned. "I expect the place is filled with mold."
"Unlike this hotel," Peter said. "Let's go see our new home, Walter."
None of Walter's hidden stashes had had furniture so it was relatively easy to make him accept the provided furniture in the duplex. Walter sat down on the bed in the larger bedroom, holding his box of things from the hotel tight against his chest. Walter said, "This bed has no sheets."
"I'll take care of it," Peter said. "If you promise not to set anything on fire, I'll get you sheets and blankets and all the ingredients for, I don't know, waffles? How do you feel about waffles?"
"As long as you have whipped cream and chocolate chips," Walter said. "And I might still set something on fire. There is a fireplace in the living room, you know."
"I saw," Peter said. "But there'll be an agent here, Walter. Look, there's already a TV. I bet there's something on you want to watch." He turned the TV on and sat with Walter until they found something that had Walter leaning forward. BBCAmerica had The Next Generation. Then he smiled at Olivia and they were ready to go.
Olivia dropped Peter off at Nordstrom Rack. He shopped efficiently and paid with his own money. He kept the receipt. He stopped by the grocery store closest to their new place and bought all sorts of food and even some pots and pans. And tupperware.
He started the day on the couch and ended it sleeping on a bed that was his, in nice cotton sheets, even. He could smell the cinnamon Walter had used to make their dinner waffles.
He woke up after midnight, staring at the ceiling. The heater gurgled. His heart was pounding. He couldn't escape the thought to run, run, run. He hadn't felt that way in months. Now he had an address and a phone number. He'd put his identification with his real name in a drawer in his new desk. He'd have to add locks to it. He wanted to check the wiring in the kitchen and how it linked up to the storage on the first floor. His heart beat faster.
He was tethered. He'd always been bound to Walter and now it was even more literal with a waffle iron and a rug Walter had stolen from the hotel's lobby. He was stuck with Walter. He was stuck in Boston.
He didn't even have a reason to run away from Boston. Big Eddie was thoroughly dead. Charlie and his FBI friends were making a meal of whomever from that operation was left alive. He clenched his hands and didn't sit up. He didn't get out of bed. He promised himself he was going to give the FBI those receipts and make them pay for everything he'd had to buy. That would feel a little like a con so he could pretend he hadn't changed too much.
He willed himself to sleep.
Then they investigated a Frankenstein's monster monster. They saved Charlie and Walter didn't die. Walter was even, briefly, brave.
Olivia came back with Peter to the duplex. Walter toddled off to his bed. He even closed the door for once. He must have been high from his heroics. "Usually he keeps it open. I think it's comforting for him to keep me awake at night with his snoring or his singing," Peter said. "Or come into my room in the middle of the night to watch me sleep. He does that sometimes."
"But not tonight," Olivia said. She sat on the couch while Peter started a fire in the fireplace. "Were those scorch marks already there?"
"No, of course not. Walter decided to try an experiment. Naturally, it involved something more combustible than he expected. Also weed. I'm sure it involved weed, he was trying to do something with the smoke, like vapor. I was too busy putting out the fire," Peter said. "He sure loves this fireplace, though. Good pick."
"I didn't put you in here for the reasons you think," Olivia said.
"Oh," Peter said. "You weren't sick of me complaining about all the ways living in close quarters with Walter was making me lose my mind. Got it."
"Well, then, yes, the reason you think," Olivia said. She even smiled. "Are you going to make me hot cocoa? I think Walter promised me some."
"I can do that. And I can put something else in there, too," he said. He stabbed at the fire with the poker. "I meant alcohol."
"Then yes, please," Olivia said.
He made them both hot cocoa with a little splash of whisky. They sat on the couch, sipping their drinks and watching the fire. Olivia said, "There's no way you were a boy scout. Where did you learn to make a fire?"
"Walter, of course," Peter said. "A lot of very tedious lectures from when I was very very small. He would show me over and over again to make sure I wouldn't make a mess. And my mother would …" Peter tried to remember. It was very fuzzy. He saw his mother in an expensive dress, putting on earrings. She was saying something to Walter about the fireplace.
Olivia didn't prompt him. She said, "I camped. At boarding school and in college."
"But not a girl scout?"
"No," Olivia said, smiling. "I never liked group activities."
"Really? I love 'em," Peter said. He leaned closer and waited for her to act.
She kissed him again. She pressed against him and then on top of him. Then she was shoving at his hips and moving him around so she was lying on top of him. "This is not a surprising arrangement," he said. He started to ease off her shirt.
She said, "I've been thinking about this too much." She unbuckled his belt and opened his pants. Then she stopped and moved again. She said, "Wait, your bedroom is better for this."
"I agree," he said. "Meet you there, I'm going to put out this fire." He made himself do it thoroughly. He did not want the fire alarm going off in the next few hours.
By the time he got to his room and closed the door behind him, she was beautifully naked on his bed. She pressed her lips together and said, "Is this okay?"
"God, yes," Peter said.
It was pretty good for the first time they had sex. She was unbelievably beautiful and strong and she had all sort of tiny scars and marks. He loved the exploration. He felt like he would get to do this again and explore more. She laughed a lot. Sometimes at him. Sometimes because of what he was doing to her. And what she was doing.
She woke him up a few hours after. "I'm not dealing with Walter," she said. She was already getting dressed.
"I wish I could leave, too," he said.
"You don't," she said.
"Some days," he said.
It was another week before they had sex again. She drove him home and followed him upstairs. He said, "So I broke into the storage underneath us. Guess what it is?"
She pushed him into his room. "I don't care."
"It's really interesting," Peter said.
Olivia was unbuttoning his shirt. She said, "No, it's not."
"It's forty years of --"
"I don't want to know," Olivia said.
She pushed him on the bed. She got on top of him again. She really loved that. It was better the second time.
There was a moment he would have sworn she was in his head, moving his hand. He blinked and stared at her and it was over.
She didn't wake him up when she left this time. He rolled over and reached for his phone. She answered after the first ring. "Hey, Liv."
"I take it this isn't an emergency," she said.
"I just wanted to check in," he said. "You didn't wake me up."
"Maybe I thought what was the point?" She didn't sound exasperated. She sounded like she was trying to be quiet.
"I like to say goodbye," Peter said. "I miss you when you're gone. And I would have told you what's in the storage downstairs."
"Okay, fine, tell me."
"Forty years of of the Harvard Crimson. Each edition bound in scrapbooks," Peter said.
Olivia said, "Well, Harvard owns the place. Homeland is renting the top floor for you two."
"I knew that," he said. "Are you, is everything okay?"
"Of course it is," she said.
She was normal the next day. Aggressively Olivia normal. He didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable so he acted like that as well. He could be whatever she wanted.
Olivia said, "I'm not fixing your parking tickets."
"Sure," Peter said. "I'm not paying them."
Olivia rolled her eyes. "Neither is the FBI. Why not get the car registered? And get your driver's license updated."
"What if I don't want to?" Peter looked down at his fingers. "I really don't want to."
Olivia looked at him steadily. She said, "You should do it."
He shook his head. But he took his orders. He went to the DMV with his birth certificate, he dug up the papers for the station wagon. He even paid the parking tickets. He put the receipt on Olivia's desk at the FBI.
She looked up at him. "We don't have a case. You don't need to be here."
Peter said, "But I want to be here. I like seeing you. I'd like to see you again. I'd also like you to pay for all this. It's your fault. You made me stay in this place."
"I didn't make you," she said. She smiled. "You made yourself. You changed."
"I wish you would stop saying that."
She patted the receipt. "I've never said it before. But I will pay for the tickets since you registered the car and got your driver's license. How bad is the picture?"
"It's fantastic," Peter said. "I'm very photogenic."
"I've seen some of your mugshots," she said. "I'm not sure I agree."
"You can visit," he said. "Whenever you want."
"I know," she said, not looking at him.
"Maybe," he said. "If there's something you want to talk about. I am an excellent listener. When it's you or Astrid. Or Charlie."
"Everyone except Walter?" She looked back up at him. He sat down at the desk next to her.
"I even listen to Walter," Peter said. "But you know I prefer listening to you."
She sighed. "Is this about our relationship?" She said the word like it was a swear word.
"No, actually," Peter said. "It's about you. Though I really like our friendship. And other things that have happened."
"Have happened," she said. "I don't know what you want me to say. I seem to be some sort of, I'm the person Jones I thought was. Special." She practically spat out the word.
"Something happened to you," Peter said. "Was done to you. Just because Jones believes in that stupid manifesto and you, you can do things - none of that is destiny. None of that determines what you do."
"I know that," Olivia said. "Thank you for saying it." She actually looked up at him and looked down again. "I should confront Walter. Get answers."
"You can try," Peter said. "I bet it doesn't work. But he might have some answers."
"I can try," Olivia said. "Probably not today."
She came over to the duplex that night, after checking that Walter had gone to bed.
"He could wake up at any moment," Peter said. "Do you want some food?"
"I already ate," she said.
"You could stay the night and ask Walter in the morning. Ask him whatever you want. He's a bit more lucid in the morning. That just means he'll be more clever in his avoidance, though."
"I don't want to think that much about it right now," Olivia said. She went straight to his bedroom.
He closed the door and she sat down on his bed. She said, "Did you put up that picture?"
He glanced at the one of Peter with his mother when he was fifteen. "I like my haircut."
"Your mother's beautiful," Olivia said. "I didn't think you had things."
"I have things," Peter said. "Walter isn't the only one with secret stashes."
"Fascinating," she said. "Do you want to come over here?"
"Absolutely," he said.
This time there were no moments of weirdness. They had even found a kind of rhythm. He fell asleep easily.
As he expected, when he woke up in the morning to Walter banging on his door Olivia wasn't there. "I'm up now," he said.
"Peter, Olivia is here already," Walter said. "I think she'd like to have you out here."
"And for you to put on pants, Walter," Olivia said.
"We all want that," Peter said. He got dressed quickly and went out to the living room. Walter was coming out of his bedroom dressed in his corduroys and a sweater. Peter wondered what Walter would even wear in the summer. Then he pictured Walter in shorts and a t-shirt and shook his head.
Olivia said, "Walter, sit down. I have a few questions for you."
"And you better answer, Walter," Peter said.