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chichuri
Fic: Just One More Day (Olivia/Peter) 
2nd-Nov-2009 06:59 pm
mask
Title: Just One More Day
Fandom: Fringe
Author: chichuri
Pairing: Olivia/Peter
Word Count: 1813
Rating: PG
Summary: Olivia finds out that Cortexiphan has unanticipated side effects.
Warnings: Prompt, character death.
Spoilers: Through episode 2.5.
Disclaimer: I don't own Fringe or its characters.
Author's Note: Written for [info - community] death_bingo, prompt: Illness (cancer). 

Just One More Day


An unanticipated side effect. That's what Walter called it, putting a sugar coat of science onto the reality she has to live with. Not of the Cortexiphan, not of itself, but of the body's reaction to the effects brought about by the drug. Unlimiting the possibilities of the mind had a similar effect on her cells. The result? Cancer. Fast moving, inoperable. Eating her alive, day by day. No telling where it originated, because by now it's infested every major system of her body.

Seems the human body wasn't built to shift between realities and trigger unexplainable events, and now she's paying the price. Of course, others have already paid the price for her jumped up abilities, so it's beyond time that she pay as well. She bitterly wishes Bell and Bishop had thought through all the possible repercussions before injecting hundreds of innocent children. Before injecting her.

Peter's expression is inscrutable, the blank mask he put on to hide his reaction marred only by the faint furrow between his brows. He's been silent and still, barely even breathing, since Walter relayed the news.

She breaks the silence. "So how long?"

Walter can't meet her eyes. Where Peter is unreadable, every line of Walter's face shows guilt and grief. "Without intervention, months. Perhaps a year. There are some therapies we can try—"

"No." She hardly recognizes her voice, distant and hollow and hoarse as it is. "Don't prolong the inevitable."

"Olivia." The furrow between Peter's brows deepens. "You have to fight this."

"Why bother?"

Peter comes alive, grabs her shoulders. His blankness shatters into fear and sorrow. She meets his eyes, and his fingers tighten almost painfully. His touch forces her to acknowledge this is real, and not just one of the nightmares that haunt her sleep.

"I've served my purpose in the damned war, Peter. I'm tired." Beyond tired. They won, but too many people she loves were caught in the crossfire. Dead because of her. For her, winning wasn't victory but revenge, and it tastes like ashes.

He pulls her against him, murmuring, "We'll figure it out." She lets his warmth penetrate her perpetual cold, but still feels like ice.

~***~


Peter doesn't let it go, won't permit her to slink off and let what will happen, happen. He tracks her down to where she's holed up in her apartment. She lets him in, can't not let him in. He and Walter are the only tethers she has left in this world, the only friends and family she hasn't managed to destroy.

Besides, Peter Bishop wouldn't let a little thing like a lock stop him if he was set on seeing her.

"You can't just give up," he says as he enters. No lead up, not even waiting until he's through the doorway before making a flat out statement that's practically an order.

She closes the door and leans against it, watching him stalk across her living room. "I can."

"Olivia." He levels a stare at her. "You have to fight this."

"Why is it so important to you?" It comes out too bitter, and she retreats into the kitchen to fiddle with glasses to avoid facing him. Her hands are steady, for the moment, her body mostly pain free. Within weeks that will change. Months, at the most. Soon, in either case.

He stops her with a touch and turns her to face him. Raw agony lines his face, and he cups her jaw in his hands. He's shaking, she notes absently. She's still steady, but he's shaking. His mouth comes down to hers, a gentle kiss that barely brushes across her lips.

Her breath hitches and her eyes close, involuntary responses she couldn't stop if she wanted to. She leans forwards and deepens the kiss, responses which she could stop, should stop. This has been building between them for years, but she thought she'd sacrificed any chance at it along with everything else.

Except they don't have a chance, not really.

She pulls back, but he doesn't let go, sliding his hands along her jaw line and into her hair. "Don't," he says hoarsely.

"I'm dead either way." Somehow he's broken through her numbness, because she's fighting back tears. "It's only a matter of time."

"I'll take what I can get."

She loses her battle against tears; he's not doing any better. She doesn't trust herself to words, just nods and resolves to dredge up the energy for one more fight.

~***~


Her days become injections and medications, weeks of poking and prodding as Walter does his mad science. Peter hovers by her side every step of the way. Her nights are full of Peter, both of them fiercely making the most of every second she has left.

The progression of the cancer slows to a crawl. Weeks turn to months, and the cancer doesn't get any worse.

She wakes up warm and sated one morning three months after the diagnosis, Peter's arms around her and his legs tangled with hers, and realizes that, whether she deserves it or not, she hasn't been this happy for years.

And perhaps never this content.

~***~


"So what is this?"

She blinks up at him, at his furrowed brow and the muscle jumping in his jaw. His arms cage her, and his stare is intense and worried.

"What is what?"

"You and me, being together. Why did you give in? Are you just indulging me because I'm in love with you, or are you here because you want to be?"

"Peter?" She studies his face, trying to figure out where this is coming from. It's not like him to be so uncertain, especially of her. She wishes she knew what was going on in his head to cause him to second guess his nearly infallible ability to read her. And his admission he loves her is a first. Although they've been together for seven months, by unspoken agreement they never talk about love or commitment because it's a reminder of a future they don't have. Even without the words, though, she knows how he feels. She sees his love in his eyes every time he looks at her.

He's still watching her. No matter how she tries, she still can't tell what he's thinking. He repeats the question, softer this time. "Are you indulging me? Simple question."

"Peter." She reaches up to cup his cheek, rubbing her thumb against his stubble. She shakes her head and flips them, putting him on his back and her sprawled on top.

Not as easy as it should have been, she notes. Despite all of Walter's therapies, she's losing strength.

She banishes that thought, leans down to touch her lips to his in a soft kiss that deepens with underlying desperation. "I'm indulging myself," she says when they break for air. "For once I get what I want, for what little time I have left."

"And I'm what you want," he says slowly, caution warring with hope in his eyes.

She barely keeps herself from laughing. She doesn't deserve him. She traces the line of his jaw, runs fingers back into his hairline. "For longer than I could let myself admit. Stupid thing, falling in love with my partner."

His breath catches in his throat, and he frames her face with his hands. "Yeah?"

"Yup." Stupid thing to tell him when it will only bring him more grief, but she couldn't keep the truth from tumbling out, not when he seems to need it so much. Besides, watching that glow of happiness in his eyes makes her want to fight all the harder to live.

~***~


She notices the shaking first, and with it the deep-seated pain that doesn't go away. Peter doesn't miss the signs, either. They look at each other, but neither has words. It's been over three years, three stolen years she hadn't planned. Three happy years she'd never thought to let herself have.

It was always going to end in heartbreak, only this time she's not the one that will end up breaking. And she hates that he helped put her back together and she's repaying him by tearing him apart.

"Don't, 'Livia," he whispers, stroking her hair. "Stop thinking about it. I wouldn't trade one minute."

The sound she gives is equal parts chuckle and sob. "It's annoying when you do that."

"I know you. Martyr complex, I swear."

"Hedonist."

"And proud of it, sweetheart." He says it with a cocky arrogance that makes her grin and a smirk that she can feel against her forehead.

She holds on tight because she knows that soon she'll have no choice but to let go.

~***~


Once the cancer takes hold again, it sweeps through her system like wildfire. In less than two weeks mostly healthy deteriorates into pain racked and bedridden. Walter proscribes a cocktail of drugs that only work to dull the pain, and she knows that no matter how she fights nothing will buy her time.

Olivia and Peter talk for hours, all the little things they never shared but that now seem so important. And the closer she gets to the end, the more she dwells on how it began, those days that, for better or worse, changed the course of her life forever.

The day she met him.

"I thought you were a pain in the ass when I met you," she says softly. Her voice is always soft these days, with all her energy caught up in not spending the time she has left in a drugged daze.

He shifts to his side, watching her. She studies him in turn. He hasn't changed much. A few more wrinkles around his eyes and mouth, a few strands of grey sprinkling through his hair. "Cute," she says, "but still a pain in the ass."

He laughs, brushing hair away from her face, fingers lingering after he secures the strands behind her ear. "And my smooth charm changed your mind?"

"Nope." She grins at him. "I just learned to like you too damned much for it to matter."

"Hmm." He smirks, and his eyes go distant, remembering. "I was smitten by the way you had the balls and the poker face to blackmail me without any hard evidence."

"Were you?" She raises her eyebrows, amused.

"Oh, yeah. Course, it was embarrassing as hell that it was a Fed that conned me, but still."

She laughs and closes her eyes. "We were good together, weren't we?"

"The best. Both as partners and as lovers." He curls around her, a warm and solid shelter against the coming cold. "I love you, Olivia Dunham."

"Love you, too." She cups his chin and pulls him into a kiss. When they separate, she leans her head against his chest with a sigh and, giving in to exhaustion, settles into sleep.

She doesn't wake up. 
 
Comments 
3rd-Nov-2009 02:08 am (UTC)
There's something about a well characterized use of "sweetheart" that just catches my eye in Peter/Olivia fics. First off, brilliant use of the cancer/Cortexiphan connection, it's totally going to infect my plot bunnies now. Second, brilliant progression of Olivia's state of mind from giving up to giving in to falling in love to fighting for her three years to making her peace with her death. And last but not least, I love how you can always come up with new and tender ways to explore that first "I love you" in this relationship. I can think of a couple of your fics where you deal with that moment and you make it fresh and unique in each story. Go you ;)
3rd-Nov-2009 04:47 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm especially glad to hear that Olivia's progression works. Fine tuning that is one of the reasons I was glad for the extension; I was tweaking it right up until posting. I'm not sure if I'm happy or not that I'm infecting your plot bunnies, though. These infected bunnies are going to break my heart, aren't they?

... I never even realized I'd done the "I love you" thing a few different times. Had to think about it a bit, but I guess I have. Probably keep forgetting because I haven't once set out to do so, and it just kinda creeps in there all sneaky-like.
3rd-Nov-2009 05:02 am (UTC)
Oh, there are several bunnies that are set on breaking hearts. But they've all gone quiet on me tonight. I'm preparing for the worse.

I'm not even sure I've done it in mine. I can think of two fics off-hand where I did, one was a stand alone, one was for an EU. It definitely stands out in yours, for me at least, but we all know I'm the fairweather Peter/Olivia shipper ;D
3rd-Nov-2009 05:12 am (UTC)
Going quiet is a bad sign, I take it? Preparing for a sneak attack?

Yes, yes, I know, some people don't obsessively ship. *grins* Fortunately, when I'm writing the story always comes first, even when it breaks my poor little shippy heart.
3rd-Nov-2009 05:23 am (UTC)
Or they're organizing some kind of union strike and I'm going to start an intense labor contract negotiation to get them to go anywhere.

Oh, I appreciate your shippiness! It keeps my Peter/Olivia muses alive ;) And it's natural to the stories so that's a big plus.
3rd-Nov-2009 08:05 am (UTC)
Hmm, what sorts of concessions will you have to make to get the bunnies working again? Increased fodder for inspiration? Work hours on their whims?

I will shamelessly do whatever I need to to coax your Peter/Olivia muses. *grins*
3rd-Nov-2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Better lettuce? I'm not sure!

Well, you could help the smut bunnies via inspiration if you'd like ;D

4th-Nov-2009 02:20 am (UTC)
Damn, you mean I need to write? Don't know if I'll be able to manage that. *grins* Hmm, maybe I could just throw some pieces of things in the "working on eventually" file up on Dreamwidth.
4th-Nov-2009 03:15 am (UTC)
Goodness knows I wouldn't complain if I got to peek at such file clippings ;)
3rd-Nov-2009 02:13 am (UTC)
BWAH. "We were good together, weren't we?"

Oh God, so heartbreaking. And SO GOOD. Please keep writing... this was absolutely fantastic.
3rd-Nov-2009 04:53 am (UTC)
Gah, Adama/Roslin icon! Damn, didn't even occur to me until I saw it how appropriate that is for this story.

Glad you enjoyed the story, though, and thanks so much! No current plans to stop writing in Fringe fandom, as the show has taken over my brain for over a year now.
(Deleted comment)
3rd-Nov-2009 04:56 am (UTC)
Thank you so much! I was worrying a touch on characterization (I'm never as sure on Olivia), so this just made my day.
3rd-Nov-2009 11:22 am (UTC)
This makes me want to both Awww and sob. Well done!
4th-Nov-2009 01:55 am (UTC)
Thank you very much!
(Deleted comment)
10th-Nov-2009 01:06 am (UTC) - Re: :(
I'm glad you enjoyed it, although I'm sorry to make you cry!

No more Death Bingo. No more angst at all, for a bit. I'm writing fluff and getting to all the other things I've been needing to do the last few weeks, but haven't been because of real life and frantically scrambling to finish Death Bingo fics.
9th-Nov-2009 08:04 pm (UTC)
That's gorgeous. ♥

I'm sorry I can't be a lot more coherent, that's just... *heartbroken*
10th-Nov-2009 01:10 am (UTC)
Thank you so much. And don't apologize for lack of coherency, that in and of itself was a huge compliment!
(Deleted comment)
24th-Jan-2010 08:04 am (UTC)
Thank you.

Those are the two lines that get to me, too.
24th-Jan-2010 02:19 pm (UTC)
I'm chasing around BoliviaLJ behind namedone I think. :D This is wonderful. Sad, sweet, beautiful... I love it. And perfectly in character! It's so satisfying to read a well-written story that feels totally real. Excellent work!
24th-Jan-2010 09:48 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I'm delighted to find more people trickling into Fringe fandom. (I'm also, quite selfishly, hoping you'll write more, because I really did love your story.)
24th-Jan-2010 11:12 pm (UTC)
Oh thank you! *blush* I'd love to write more. It's actually easier than I remember... It helps to have great characters in the show, and tonnes of mystery.

And ditto, plz! :D I'll be combing through your journal over the next few days for more excellent stories. :)
24th-Jan-2010 11:23 pm (UTC)
Great source material always helps the writing, and I really think Fringe qualifies.

I'm flattered you like my stuff enough to comb through my journal! More coming today and this week, actually.
24th-Jan-2010 11:24 pm (UTC)
It really does! "Imagine the impossibilities", right?!

Oh hurrah! New fic! *drool*
24th-Jan-2010 11:27 pm (UTC)
And the impossibilities are so much fun to play with.

Er... hope you have a tolerance for smut. I'm doing Porn Battle; I'm posting one non smut today, then it's three or four (I hope) for Porn Battle.
24th-Jan-2010 11:31 pm (UTC)
Right... well, I have no idea what that is... so I suppose we'll find out!

(eh, I know what smut is. 'Porn Battle' sounds a lot more intriguing...)
24th-Jan-2010 11:35 pm (UTC)
Why, let me introduce you to Porn Battle. It's loads of fun, and everyone can play!

http://oxoniensis.dreamwidth.org/25077.html
24th-Jan-2010 11:37 pm (UTC)
Well, thank you very much! XD
But first I must shower. It's nigh on midnight, and I have work tomorrow. I know, I know, I can hardly believe it myself. A whole day on the computer really makes time fly... ;)
7th-Feb-2010 04:00 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness, you are like my new favorite person. I just got into the fandom, and I just am loving your fics!

Gah, this was painful and achingly beautiful to read. Oh, the cancer part just hit me so hard from the very beginning. It makes so much sense too, that the cortexiphan and all would affect her like that. And cancer is such a terrible illness, in that like Olivia said...it's just a matter of time and you really have no idea when the one you love could be taken from you -- a few months or a few years, but in the end...there is the end.

But there were alot of bright and beautiful moments in this despite the angst. Or perhaps because of it. You did a great job of showing how her illness became the catalyst for those two finally kissing and ending up together. Peter is her comfort and her go-to-guy. He's the guy to remind her that she's Olivia Dunham, and that no matter how tired she is, it's not like her to NOT put up a good fight even if the odds are against them. I love how you showed his desperation, and how she noticed that he was shaking while she remained steady. Because as much as she takes comfort in him, he takes comfort in her presence too. They need each other. They're partners, and gosh darn it's about time that they're lovers as well!

She lets his warmth penetrate her perpetual cold, but still feels like ice.

That line above is one of my favorites. I can really see her as the cold, not because she's not a compassionate or affectionate person but just because she's had to learn to steel herself against emotion at times in order to make it through another day -- make it through that war. And I can see Peter as the warmth, always trying to be her safety and anchor and being the guy to say those quips that will make her laugh or reminding her that it's good to have a best friend, someone who you lean on.

I love what you put about how he broke through her numbness. I can just imagine those tears rushing on as she realizes that she does get that chance with him that she'd thought she'd sacrificed away (love how you worded that) -- even if for only a short period of time.

Oh and she is happy! You described her happiness so simply but so powerfully. It made me smile. :)

And GAH, that scene when he was asking her if she was just indulging him just played at my heartstrings. Like Olivia, I too had to wonder at his uncertainty because he can read her so darn well and should know how much she loves him. But then I totally get it too, because even when you can read someone so well and see how they feel in their looks and their actions, sometimes you just need the reassurance. You need to hear the words, to have it put out there as truth. So their first admissions of love were just perfect and beautiful and so right for them as a couple. I thought you had a great insight into Olivia's character in that moment, because I could see her not wanting to say the words since it would make it harder in the end. But of course her need for the truth and her love for Peter wins out, as always. And I loved how seeing his happiness made her want to fight harder, live longer, just so she could continue to see him so happy. Ah, now that is LOVE!

And I just adore how well they know each other and I can bet Olivia finds it annoying at times. The exchange about martyr complex v. hedonist made me giggle. :)
7th-Feb-2010 04:00 am (UTC)
Oh, the ending was painful but beautiful and right and I was satisfied that both of them were as prepared as they ever would be for her death and had accepted it -- strengthened by the fact that they did get those last three years together as lovers and not just partners. I can see them just talking and talking, because that's how their relationship started -- them just telling each other everything.

I like that you went back to their first meeting, only appropriate for them to think back to the beginning and wonder over the coincidence or fate that might've led to them meeting and just being glad that they did meet and see how far they'd come. Gah, you so perfectly articulated their impressions of each other at the beginning because that's really how I see it. Olivia finding him to be a cute pain-in-the-ass and eventually not being taken in by his charm but just liking him for who he was, pain-in-the-assiness and all. And him thinking, this chick with a gun is really tough and hot and being entirely smitten by how she'd played him -- even if it did hurt his pride a bit. :)

Then oh, back to that cold and warm image that I love: He curls around her, a warm and solid shelter against the coming cold

Ah! Thank you so so so much for writing this. I really enjoy your fics so much. This one in particular, I just had to go scene by scene and line by line -- it's that good.
7th-Feb-2010 05:23 am (UTC)
First off, before I totally and utterly flail at the review you just left me (seriously, these reviews have been making my evening!) I should welcome you to the fandom. Glad you've found it! There have been some awesome stories written since Fringe began. I'm delighted you've been enjoying my collection.

Now, thank you so much! I've loved reading your in-depth analysis of my stories; it's been fascinating to see how someone else views them (including a couple things you caught that I didn't even realize I did).

Like Olivia, I too had to wonder at his uncertainty because he can read her so darn well and should know how much she loves him.

That whole scene was actually a late addition to the story because I realized that while I knew Olivia did love him, it's not entirely clear in the previous sections and I wanted to make sure, before the end, that it was clear. Besides, I thought Peter might have that little bit of uncertainty as well, that faint questioning of his motives.

The exchange about martyr complex v. hedonist made me giggle. :)

I'm glad to get a giggle out of such an angsty fic. And I have to admit, I wanted a little bit of humor, of playfulness, buried in that very painful scene.

Again, thank you so much for the reviews, both this one and the others! This really is the fandom that has eaten my brain (fic, meta, episode and character dissections, all of it), so there will probably be more stories in the future.
28th-Oct-2012 07:16 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
One of the cutest fanfictions I have read.
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