"Peter, I'm scared," she whispers, when the worlds are going to collide and she thinks she can't do anything to stop it.
He reaches for her in response, with hands that do not tremble and eyes that stare straight into her soul and that believe in her.
He tells her not to be afraid.
Suddenly, everything is alright again in her world.
He smiles at her when he comes back, so sweet, so Peter but the glimmer blurs it; twists it until it is only vaguely recognizable and at that she decides she can almost feel her heart break a little bit. Perhaps it shows on her face, or perhaps he is simply that good at reading her (she wishes desperately for the latter, because then he's just Peter, not someone from the world that has taken so much for her lately) as he asks, ever so gently if there's something wrong (there is).
In response she bites her lip so hard she draws blood and she wonders if he'll taste it on her lips when he kisses her later (she already knows she won't be able to say no, not even now), before she shakes her head negatively and pastes a smile on her face that she hopes looks evenly vaguely real as she ignores the wave of relief that she can almost feel coming off of Walter as his brilliantly twisted mind realises that she isn't going to tell his secret (she's not doing it for him, but rather in the hopes that if she never says it out loud, it won't be true).
She knows he has fallen for the look when he offers her his arm, like the perfect gentleman that he occasionally seems to be and after only the tiniest hesitation she threads her arm around his and watches as the glimmer blurs the lines of where his body starts and her body ends, until she can hardly tell them apart. It's a largely silent walk to the bar, not uncomfortable, as she's pretty sure that it should be, but instead it's simply quiet and she wonders if that's actually worse. To keep her mind of that damned glimmer and everything it means she makes of point of not looking at him for too long, rather directs her gaze around the night, taking in everything and nothing under the glow of the moon. Her mind fails her however (the curse of a near perfect memory) as returns to the glimmer and desperately tries to process how she has come to this moment.
Peter is not from this world.
She has to almost physically push down the wave of pain that accompanies that fact, because if she didn't she won't be able to breathe, much less figure this out. She nearly stumbles over but he catches her, as he so often does, and that thought is enough to prompt a real smile (her first since she knocked on Walter's door a few moments -a lifetime- ago), which she offers in response to Peter's quizzical look and the genuineness is enough to pacify his concern. As they resume walking, she takes a few deep, quiet breathes before she starts to lay out the facts, as logically and detachedly as she can (although not even she is fooled into thinking that she can detach her feelings from this).
She spends no time on wondering on the how; she does not have the luxury of the token, 'that's impossible' that the young and plucky heroine often offers up in the stories she used to read as a child. The how is glaringly obvious to her; Walter used his infinitely brilliant and broken mind to create the gateway, and then used it to cross over to that other world; that world of nightmares to take Peter and bring him here. She spends equally as little time on the why; Walter, although crazy and formerly immoral, wouldn't have brought Peter to this universe if he had still had the original (she hates that term, she decides, because the implication that this Peter isn't the original is heart breaking), and so that truly leaves her with one plausible explanation.
Peter, or at least this universe's Peter, is dead.
She doesn't stumble this time, merely breathes deeply (and silently, as not to alert the object of her anguish) and waits out the pain, which is surprisingly less intense than before. Or perhaps, the thinks, it is not all that surprising; it hurts to think of Peter, any Peter as being dead, but although that Peter belonged to this universe, she never met him; he wasn't hers. She can, and does, mourn the loss of the child; the little boy (no older than that or he would have remembered; she imagines that's where the nightmares came from) that Walter loved and lost, but that little boy did not become the man she stands with now. That man is a sum of all his experiences, from both this world and the other (a true nature vs. nurture debate, the little part of her that is still seething at Walter hisses; wonder if he took notes?) and it means that although that little boy died, the Peter she knows is still here, just under that damned glimmer (she's not ready to admit that the glimmer might be part of him yet).
Peter, this Peter, is still her Peter.
She hates that other universe with a passion; with more than a passion, because of what it has taken away from her already. She hates it because she lost Charlie; sweet, dependable Charlie, who told her it would be ok when she needed to believe because of that universe; because one of their soldiers needed his face so that they could spy on her. She hates it because of all of those other people it has killed; names too numerous to list, but she remembers them all the same; innocents who did nothing wrong but still died (in explosions, by guns, in disappearing buildings) because of a war that they did not even know was being waged. She hates that universe because it's the reason that Walter Bishop and William Bell experimented on her (tortured her) as a child; they saw what no one else could and they tried to breed an army to fight back, paving their roads to hell with the best of intentions (she hates them for that too, just a little bit).
She hates that universe because she owes it, as without it she would never have met Peter, and she can't stand having to owe that universe anything. That, she realises, is the true rub, because without that universe, this moment, although bittersweet and not what she dreamed, would not be possible at all. Without that universe, the only Peter that she ever would have met (although even that would have been highly unlikely) would have been a little boy in a grave, dead for so long and an unremarkable person in her memory. It's a bitter trade-off, she acknowledges; without that universe, there would be so many people still alive, but the one that she's realized she doesn't want to (can't) live without would be gone.
She hates herself a little bit, because she thinks the trade is worth it.
Because she hasn't lost her Peter.
The thought is slightly cataclysmic as it brings certain things into perspective for her; it is not freeing, by any means, because the basic facts have not changed, but it allows her to breathe, in a way that she hasn't since they left Walter at the house. She still could lose him, she knows only too well as she looks over at him and watches as his skin glimmers in a way that has nothing to do with the moonlight, but she hasn't yet. He's here with her now, safe and sound and he won't go anywhere as long as he doesn't know about the glimmer that flickers over his skin (now she has a better reason than as a favour to the man who tortured her as a child).
Her musings are interrupted by their arrival at the bar and so she tries to snap back into the moment, taking in the atmosphere of the place. It's nice; warmly decorated and friendly, the lighting dark enough to be intimate but light enough to be comfortable and she turns towards Peter, who is trying to not let her see that he's nervous that she might not like it (and failing) and at her smile his shoulders drop slightly as some of the tension bleeds out of him and he takes her elbow and gently leads her towards the bar.
However, despite her approval of the venue, this is not how she had imagined their first date, she thinks as he pulls out the chair for her, and she had imagined their first date. She'd thought dinner, somewhere simple and elegant; nothing fancy, because she's never been a girl from whom money matters. The conversation would have been light, nothing work related; perhaps funny stories from their childhoods, more card tricks; anything. Then they would have gone back to her apartment and he would have kissed her at her door, slightly shy and gentle at first because that's simply how Peter is around her, and when he would have backed away to leave, because he'd never presume her to be the kind of girl to put out on the first date, she would have simply pulled him inside and spent the rest of the night teaching him just how wrong he was about that.
It would have been a nice, normal date.
Considering that, the bitter irony of the fact that this is their first date; drinks in a bar (not really that bad; she could have worked with that scenario) where he glimmers with an otherworldly glow that only she can see, because his father, who kidnapped an alternative version of his own son and brought him here experimented on her as a child has not escaped her. Now she simply wonders, considering their life, how she had managed to be so naive as to image that they could have a date; hell a relationship that would ever be considered normal. The fact that as she watches him glimmer as he sits down next to her, watches him smile that lovely, slightly hesitant smile of his she can't think of anything normal that she would rather have instead isn't all that surprising either (she's gotten used to it; the chaos of what she sees everyday has become normal, because otherwise she'd go insane, although sometimes she wonders if she already has).
Still, she started off the night with the expectation of enjoying herself and so that's what she going to do, and so she pastes a smile on her face as she orders them drinks, which she keeps on as she clinks their glasses together and then throws her shot back, enjoying the burn and the numbness as it travels down her throat (she's hoping the feeling will migrate to her heart). She smiles at him when she brings the glass back down and then she orders another one and then she asks him to tell her a story about when he was young (but not too young, and she decides not to let herself remember why that is in favour of simply listening to the sound of his voice).
She discovers a fabulous new talent of alcohol around her third shot when she looks up at him and simply sees Peter, not the Peter from the other universe that glimmers, but the Peter who came back to her so that she wouldn't die alone when she was trying to defuse a bomb with her mind (she never told him that it didn't start to work until he'd come back; that she needed him for it to work) and who looks at her like she hung the moon and believes that she can save the world. He's in the middle of saying something, some story that she's sure she would find hilarious and charming on any other day, but she's too ensnared by the sight of his face, no longer tainted by that damn glimmer to hear it and then he looks up, only for a second and his eyes meet hers and time simply stops.
She doesn't think twice, simply throws herself at him and fixes her lips to his own in an attempt to devour him; him, not the man who glimmers and will one day discover where he is from and hate her and Walter from keeping this from him but her Peter, who makes it all better. If the force of her kiss shocks him he doesn't say, instead he responds instantly in kind, his hands flying to tangle in her hair as his lips duel with hers fiercely as the desire that they have been repressing for so long expresses itself in this one moment.
She pulls back for a moment and looks into his eyes, gages his mood in a second and once she's seen what she needs she slaps a bill on the table without turning her eyes from him and, without a sound she extends her hand towards him, an offer that she cannot verbalize, because there are no words that can describe what she wants from him. He seems to understand and he takes her hand silently, and looks at her with such a degree of reverence that her knees go weak and then there is nothing to do but pull him from the bar and herd him into a taxi, mumble out her address to the cab driver and then grab his lapels and pulls his mouth to hers for another taste.
After an intensely pleasurable moment she pulls back for air and then throws a leg over him so that she can straddle him and re-fixes her mouth to his; plunges her tongue into his mouth and grinds her body into his like she's trying to crawl into his skin, driven by a need to be close to him that's so strong that it surprises even her. He offers no protest however, simply presses his body up against hers as his hands come up to cradle her jaw, and his fingertips gently stroke the skin there, the tenderness so heartbreakingly Peter, but almost out of place compared to the fierceness of her desire. There are no words between them as the cab drives towards her apartment, but that does not mean that there is nothing said; their hands, mouths speak to each other, each gesture of his and endearment, each gesture of hers a plea (please don't leave me, please don't hate me, please, please, Peter, please).
The cab comes to a stop, and they pull apart reluctantly, but they never stop touching. She hands the driver a bill without ever taking her eyes off of Peter's and doesn't wait for her change; his eyes, just his eyes have begun to glimmer again, as the alcohol begins to metabolize in her system and although she'd imagined them sober the first time they did this, now she can't decide (she can have him glimmer less while intoxicated by alcohol or sober with the glimmer; another trade-off). In the end, she realises it doesn't really matter, because she's going to have him anyway she can and so she simply grabs his hand and tugs him up the walkway, intent on reaching the door so they can get inside and shed their clothes as fast as possible. Her plan is derailed however when he yanks on her hand and pulls her back to him halfway up the path, spinning her so that he can encircle her in his arms again and fit his mouth over hers again, backing them up slowly towards the door (she decides she's really not all that broken up about her plan failing).
She has him pressed against the door of her apartment, gasping her name as she fits the key into the lock when the thought finally hits her, and it steals her breath in a way that even his kiss cannot. An object of equal mass she remembers and her heart bleeds as the rest of the thought comes to her; Walter took Peter from the other side and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction; eventually, someone will have to go back. It's then that she realizes that Walter and she might be more alike then she wants to admit, because the thought of losing him makes her want to do anything (there are other people of equal mass, after all) to make sure that he stays.
She wonders for a moment what kind of person that makes her and then he kisses her again, like she's water and he's dying of thirst and she realises that she doesn't care (the universe- both of them-owes her after all, and she can't give him back; she needs him in a way that she's never needed anyone). He presses his hips to hers and whispers her name, desire and reverence both present in his voice and she finds that she can't help but think, rather whimsically, how worlds are about to collide, but the thought rapidly becomes sobering when she remembers she can't let him in on the joke (which in truth makes her want to cry rather than laugh) and so she turns her attention to the door instead, in an attempt to regain her ground.
As soon as she manages to get the door open she plunges her tongue back into his mouth with a desperation he will question later (and that she will lie about), and when she does she thinks she can taste the glimmer, light yet cloying over the underlying taste of Peter and after a while the two combine until they simply taste like hers.
At the thought she pulls his sweater off on throws it into the corner and fixes her lips to the junction where his neck and his collar bone meet and sinks her teeth in until she tastes just the faintest hint of blood, and sooths the pain with her tongue until he's gasping her name. She draws her head back to inspect her handwork and when she sees the mark she has left on him she smiles with almost feral satisfaction because now he's branded as hers, for all the world (worlds) to see; now he belongs to her and her alone (not that other goddamn universe but her) and she's going to do everything in her power to make sure it stays that way.
Then she runs her hands down his chest and the glimmer flickers as his flesh quivers, a reminder of how fragile all this is and how easily he could be taken away from her, and she knows she isn't going to have to worry about not feeling fear for a long while.
Peter, I'm scared. She doesn't whisper it this time, but instead traces the words onto his skin with her tongue; brands them onto him as they have been branded into her.
He reaches for her in response, and his fingers glimmer and tremble when they touch her skin.
This time he tells her many things with his gasps and moans, but he does not tell her not to be afraid.
Nothing is alright in her world anymore.