Olivia had been awake going on seventy-two hours. Three dead kids. At the end of her rope. About to lose any semblance of sanity. About to shoot a unarmed man. And then Peter had laid a hand on her and a wave of calm had swept through her body. She'd managed to pull it together, arrest the right guy, and save a kid.
She's been cataloging every touch since, and she's sure it's him. He's doing something, pushing her emotions in whatever direction he feels is necessary. She just hopes they have the same definition of necessity.
She is in the shower when this epiphany hits. She is compromised. That makes Astrid the only sane, uncompromised person in the lab. Olivia wonders if using her as a sanity check is a step forward or a step backward. Or just a really big tip off that something is rotten in Walter Bishop's laboratory.
"Walter, on that rooftop, Nick seemed to imply that I could calm him down. That I had a significant effect on his emotional state?" Olivia has mastered the art of the leading question, and Walter is her favorite subject. Give him enough lead to ramble and something important might just pop out. Of course, there is an equal chance of getting the chemical formula for root beer.
"Oh, yes. With practice, at least. The children who were partnered with one another would often push the emotional state of the other child to something more productive to the situation."
"Walter," she asks, "can adults bond like the children in your experiments did?"
Walter scrutinizes her. She wonders how much Walter knows about her that she doesn't know about herself.
"No, I don't think so. Why?" Walter asks.
"Nothing," Olivia says, brushing him off. Either she's doing things even Walter thought impossible, or Peter is back there in the unremembered mists of her childhood. Knowing Walter, she's guessing the second.
Except that leads to thoughts of conspiracy. Convoluted, impossible conspiracy at that. She wonders if she's known Peter since childhood, and it's just another thing she can't remember, that he can't remember. Maybe this is all some cosmic joke. Maybe there really is a conspiracy.
Olivia asks questions that lead Walter down an interesting path of speculation. If Olivia has bonded to someone, well, that person is obviously Peter. Even he can tell that. He might be crazy, he might only be half in control of his brain, but he sees the way Peter and Olivia look at each other.
When he'd rescued Peter out of Walt's lab, there had been a girl there. In retrospect, she looked an awful lot like Olivia, and the Olivia of his world had made her way through his lab too.
He considers asking Walt. That's what he calls the invader in his brain: Walt. Alternate Walter. But doing that requires letting down defenses that have taken him years to build and Peter and Olivia seem to be doing well enough. Walter will leave it alone for now.
Olivia has kissed Peter twice now, and she's wondering if either had been fully of her own volition, or if Peter had pushed her emotions towards him, or maybe if it's all the cortexiphan's fault. Hell, maybe it's all her fault. She was the one to go get Peter, she was the one to drag him into this, she was the one who needed him. Maybe she's the one doing the controlling.
She's been avoiding him. It's hard. She craves his touch like heroine, like cocaine, like love. She lasts four days.
She wants to get in the car and drive to Peter and push him down on to a bed. Except, she doesn't know if it's even her that wants that, or if she's picking up on a fantasy of Peter's. Can she even truly consent if she's operating on Peter's emotions?
It's a slow process, tiny bit by tiny bit, she's coming not to trust her own brain. With every touch Peter invades, not just her personal space, but her sense of self. Soon, nothing will be left.
In the end, it's just easier to break down and let him touch her, no matter what it does, than it is to stay away. So she does a little experimentation of her own. Lay a hand on Peter and think happy thoughts. Hold on to his arm and let her anger roll over her. She's pretty sure this isn't a one way thing anymore. She has just as much influence over him as he has over her.
If she's pushing Peter's emotional state too, it's basically impossible to figure out who's feeling what. They're like Siamese twins, but instead of being bodily conjoined, they share an emotional self.
She wonders if this keeps up, if eventually they'll fall so far into each other, that Olivia and Peter will cease to exist, and only the hybrid of their selves will be left, reborn of the ashes of their original personalities.
None of these things tell her which one of them is leading this parade into hell. She doesn't get a chance to find out before a case hits her desk.
They get the file from the BAU. John Usher Banks has killed eleven people. Olivia looks at the crime scene photos while drinking her morning coffee. It took the profilers eleven dead victims to figure out that this was no ordinary serial killer, that this was one of the Fringe division's freaks, but Olivia can see all the clues and she still has half a cup left.
Walter and Astrid have been alone in the lab for much too long. It's getting dark outside and Peter had promised him they'd go by the store and get root beer before they went home.
He's not surprised when Agent Charlie comes to tell them no one has seen Olivia or Peter in hours. Walter is almost positive Peter is not dead, so he doesn't panic. He knows Walt has a connection to Peter that he lacks, and if that connection snaps, well, Walter doesn't think he'll survive much longer. Walt is here out of a sense of revenge after all.
They're trapped in the dark, storm raging outside, psychopath inside when Olivia discovers that they can form their own little feed back loop.
"Think happy thoughts," Peter says, with a Peter Pan grin he clearly doesn't believe. The killer wants them to be afraid, to be terrified. He feeds off it like a vampire, every ounce of their terror making him stronger.
She can feel Peter, remembering some long past childhood happiness, some long ago delight. Peter's emotions rush over her, waves hitting rocky shore. Bare flesh to bare flesh is all it takes and they are holding hands. The unsub took their gloves and shoes before shoving them down here anyway. Just another way to heighten the fear.
She thinks her own happy thoughts, because Peter tells her to or because Peter's happiness is overwhelming, she can't tell.
It takes less than fifteen minutes to work themselves up into a spiral of euphoria.
Euphoria turns to lust and suddenly she's pulling off Peter's shirt. Shots ring out upstairs. They don't stop, she can feel Peter's need, can feel Peter feeling her need.
Charlie is down the stairs first. He takes one look and heads off SWAT at the door. He posts guards and then comes down himself to make sure the room is secure.
"Olivia!" Charlie shouts, holding his gun at the ready. The fear in Charlie's voice is enough to break her out of the feedback loop. She pulls away from Peter, who sits back and looks stunned.
Charlie brings them back to the lab wrapped in blankets and looking bedraggled. Walter assumes they've managed to catch the killer, because Peter looks embarrassed and not furious. Olivia just looks confused.
Charlie tells the whole story to Astrid, like Walter isn't even there. Sometimes it pays to be thought the crazy one. Olivia has retreated to her office and Peter grabs extra clothes he had lying around and disappears, so Walter assumes this is as close to the truth as he's going to get.
Olivia Dunham wakes up naked in Peter Bishop's bed and doesn't bother to wonder if this was her idea. She just curls in closer and holds on.