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21 October 2009 @ 02:29 pm
[fanfic] Just Company (Fringe, Olivia/Sam, PG-13)  
probably dooming this to the obscurity pile by posting it midafternoon, but...

Title: Just Company
Author: tiptoe39
Fandom: Fringe
Pairing: Olivia Dunham/Sam Weiss
Words about 2900
Rating: PG-13 for implied sexual activity
Summary: Olivia and Sam spend some time in each other's company.
Author's note: Thank you to speccygeekgrrl for the beta! I'm still an Olivia/Peter fangirl, of course, but this pairing has possibilities. They basically took me for this ride, so apologies if it's kind of pointless.

On a rainy morning, Olivia woke up despondent. She padded out of bed, tiptoed past Ella's room -- it had used to be the living room -- and found a seat near a window in the kitchen. Shivering in her nightgown, she gazed out the window and saw autumn draping the city in fog. The sharp oranges of trees were muted in the mist, and the Boston skyline was obscured entirely, like it was a figment of her imagination all along and had never actually been there. She leaned her chin on one palm and closed her eyes to shut out the ugliness, the inevitable decline of summer.

She'd called Charlie's wife last night to see how she was holding up, and it hadn't been a nice conversation. She's sensed the sort of hidden hostility, the forced politeness in her tone that said I don't know how, but I know you had something to do with this. Beestung by the attitude, Olivia had quickly excused herself and gone to work out, burning the frustration and sadness with each curl of the dumbbell. At least her arms were still a hundred percent.

She had a slight limp, and her legs wobbled occasionally, but she was starting to exercise them, too. She'd managed to jog for the first time since the accident the other day, and it had just felt good and invigorating. Finally, a wall that she'd punched through. She supposed she had Sam Weiss to thank for that, even though his methods were unorthodox, at least.

He was frustrating, too, but there wasn't the malice behind it that Charlie's wife burned into each word. Instead of that heat, there was warmth -- and a sort of mysterious coolness, too, a sense of I know more about how your brain works than you do. She wondered, idly, whether he had a background in a far more prestigious profession than proprietor of a bowling alley. She wouldn't be at all surprised.

And the jumble challenge, such as it was, had remained a mystery to her until several hours after she received its cryptic message. It had something to do with subconsciously choosing the letters of the words she wanted to hear, but how he had known to call right at that moment, when she had enough of them to complete the message -- it spoke to a sixth sense that she was only now beginning to believe in.

It was so strange that he should have such insight and at the same time seem so utterly human. There was nothing mysterious about his manner. His words were those of a sphinx, but his face was that of an old friend. Olivia found herself wishing she could talk to him.

The phone rang, and she jumped. Once the jangling had finished coursing through her nerves, a sense of peace filled her. It was Sam. That was easy enough to tell before she even answered the phone.

"Hi," she breathed into the receiver, feeling at once jittery and relieved.

"It's a lousy morning. How are you holding up?"

"I--" She paused. "I'm doing OK." It was the truth. The fog outside her window had transformed from a pall erasing the town to a blanket enveloping it. The muted oranges of the trees in the rain seemed now the color of ripe pumpkins, and at once she could smell the scent of pumpkin pie, spicy and rich, just by gazing at them.

"I thought you might need my help," Sam said, some regret in his voice. "But you sound fine."

"And you sound disappointed," she said, a smile darting across her face and lighting her tone.

"Yeah, well... sometimes my intuition is off. I just hate getting caught."

"I have a feeling," she said, leaning back, "that you don't like to be wrong."

"And I'm the only one in this conversation who feels that way," he countered, and Olivia bit her lip to keep from laughing aloud.

"If it'd make you feel better," she said, "I could come by anyway. Maybe bowl a frame."

This brought a chuckle from him, and the sound curled through her bones and warmed her from the inside out. "I wouldn't want you to strain yourself," he said.

She paused. "You know," she said carefully, "if you're looking for company..."

"I don't know." His voice dragged with regret. "You're my..."

"...patient?" She cut him off. "You're not exactly a doctor. I don't think we need to stand on ceremony."

"Olivia." It was the first time he'd used her first name. It sounded almost provocative. "We can't be friends."

"I didn't say we had to be friends," she said. "I just said I could be company."

"And you're very good at drawing lines."

Olivia thought about John. She thought about Charlie, and she thought about Peter. "Yeah," she said, a quiet lie. "I'm very good at it."

The Brookline coffee shop where they met was teeming with teenagers. "Maybe I should have found a quieter place," she said as she sauntered up to his table. There was a steaming cup of brown liquid parked in front of the empty chair, indicating he'd chosen a drink for her. Smug son of a bitch.

"It'll be quiet again," he said. "Give it fifteen minutes."

She sat and studied him. Grizzled whiskers, flying every which way. He always looked so rumpled, as though he'd just rolled out of bed. It was a delightfully intimate thing just to look at him.

"I used to be one of them," he went on, nodding at the teenagers, who were falling all over one another trying to get a coffee and donut before those mysterious fifteen minutes were up. "They're coming from the Beth Shalom Hebrew school. It's still run by the same lady as when I was a kid. 11 a.m. is break time. By 11:15, they need to be back in their seats, conjugating verbs and dying of boredom."

She nodded. "Sunday school was a lot like that, too."

"And that's where the similarities end," he said, his eyes twinkling. "Trust me on this."

"Might as well." She sniffed the mug. "Chai."

"Do you like it? Because I can order another--" The second-guessing was rare for him.

"Sure," she said. She lifted the mug to her lips, taking a deeper inhalation of the spices, sipping, and swallowing. The warmth burned in her belly and spread outward.

"I like chai," he said. "It's invigorating and it's soothing. A paradox drink, a puzzle in a cup."

"You like puzzles." A simple observation, and he let it slide by. She watched him sip his coffee, saw the silver gleamings of foamed milk hang from his mustache briefly before he wiped it away. "I suppose," she went on, "that's because you are a puzzle yourself."

"No less than you are, Agent Dunham," he said, his eyebrows lifting.

"I don't think so." She smiled briefly. "You seem able to read me pretty well. Infuriatingly well."

"That doesn't make you any less mysterious," he said. "Just because you have the same general mind-set as most of the population doesn't make you entirely predictable."

"Is that how you do what you do?" she asked from behind her mug of chai. "Work from what you know of the general mind-set of most of the population?"

"Isn't that clear?" he said, smiling. "There's nothing mysterious about what I do, Agent Dunham. It may seem cryptic, but in the end, it's pretty straightforward, don't you think?"

She stared him down. "Asking me to collect business cards."

"It could have been anything. I could have told you to pick up a copy of the newspaper and circle one letter on every front-page article. You would have given yourself the same message. All I do is give you the canvas. You're the one who writes on it."

"Did you do this for Nina Sharp, too?" she asked. "Did you tell her to go around collecting business cards?"

He shrugged. "I'm sure I did something similar. I tend to improvise."

A grin broke across Olivia's face all of a sudden, and he frowned, confused. "What?"

"I'm just thinking," she said, her voice musical, "of Nina sitting there in your bowling alley keeping score. Or you fitting her for shoes." The image -- Nina, not the woman she was today but still a shade of herself, sour-faced and angry at the world that had cost her her arm, dealing with the influx of pint-size bowlers and their incessant questions and shouts -- got funnier the longer she held it, and at last a titter escaped her mouth.

He smiled. "You have a nice laugh," he said.

Olivia found herself blushing. "Thank you."

He rose from the table. "Come on," he said, "let me take you around my old neighborhood."

The neighborhood he showed her included not only the synagogue, with its constant in-and-out flow of pre-teens sporting designer clothes and brightly colored binders, but a local comic shop, several Mideast-style eateries, and the cheapest, brightest zoo of a grocery store she'd ever seen. They dodged shopping carts fitted with tall poles as he picked up pastries, tightly wrapped in plastic, from one of the shelves.

"Smell these," he said. She obeyed. The scent of raspberry tickled her nostrils.

"These smell like my grandparents' house to me," he said. "Rugelach on the table every Sunday after Hebrew school. And the smell of my grandfather's walker, with the tennis balls on the bottom. As a kid I thought they were the greatest thing ever. I wished I could push one around just so I could have tennis balls in front of me everywhere I went."

"And now you spend your time teaching people to walk without assistance," Olivia said with a sage nod.

"What we want most as children is very seldom what we want as adults. Very often, it's just the opposite."

"Be careful what you wish for?" Her eyebrow and the corner of her mouth both rose.

"I'm not sure I'd go that far." He paid for the pastry and wore the blue plastic bag around his wrist like a bright bracelet as they left the store.

They ate them across the street, in a small park just outside what looked to be a community center. The benches were low and ill-kept, and the grass was uneven, but the small green patch had the look of being well-used. Olivia closed her eyes as she tasted the cookies, letting walnut and raspberry melt on her tongue along with the flaky, buttery crust. After the chai's smoky spice, the pastry's sweetness bit at the sides of her mouth.

"I suppose you'll want to wrap this up soon," she said.

He looked at her with some surprise. "I was going to say the same about you."

"Not... necessarily," she said. "I can wait for you to make your point."

"Point?" Sam blinked.

"You know." Olivia laughed. "You've always got some point you're trying to make. Part of your... therapeutic technique. Right?" She counted on her fingers. "You have me go somewhere, or do something, and I don't know what you're up to, and then you give me the final cryptic clue, and then it all makes sense."

And beneath the black brush of whiskers, his face went pink. "Actually," he said, in a mumble almost too low to be heard, "I just wanted some company."

She hesitated. "Oh."

"Now you sound disappointed."

"Maybe I am," she teased. "You've always got something planned."

"Everyone's got to take a day off," he said. "Even you, I'm assuming."

"And do you usually take days off with your patients?"

"You're the one who said I'm not exactly a doctor."

"This is true." Her grin was full and hearty by now. "Then I suppose I'm not a patient."

"Not exactly."

"Just... company."

"Something like that."

"Then," she said, leaning back, "I suppose I can be company a little while longer."

She was company through much of the afternoon, through a vigorous walk down Harvard Street and a side detour halfway to Washington Square and back. Sam was much more human than she'd suspected, and what he told her of his background was almost distressingly pedestrian -- a normal childhood in a Brookline brownstone, school and highschool and an assortment of extremely odd girlfriends. Any prodding about his life thereafter had him evading and redirecting like a pro, though, and eventually she gave up. This understated idyll was too enjoyable to puncture with too pointed a question.

Still, she couldn't help but ask, "Did you walk around all day with Nina Sharp, too?"

"You're very concerned with what I did or didn't do with Nina," he observed.

"Not concerned. Just interested."

"Nina's a good friend," he said.

Olivia caught her breath. "So you could be friends with her."

"I can now."

"But not when she was your patient?"

He stopped, turned around to face her on the pavement. The fall wind had picked up, and she was shivering in her sweater as broadly as she had in her nightgown that morning. His face, severe in its coating of bristles, showed no sympathy.

"Why do you keep comparing yourself to her?" he said.

"I don't know." She looked away. "I suppose I'm just curious how much of this is part of your act."

"I told you, Olivia." Again, her first name. "What I do is pretty straightforward. I've never lied to you about anything. I told you I just wanted some company and that's what I meant. Why is that so hard to believe?"

She stammered. "I don't know. I'm sorry." Then, suddenly and sharply: "Why can't you be friends with me?"

"There are a lot of reasons," he murmured.

"Give me one."

His eyes darkened. "All right." And he stepped forward to brush his lips against hers, the sandpaper slide of hair gone almost before it had begun.

She raised a hand to touch her lips. "Really?" she said.

"Really." His voice was muted and firm.

"And that's why we can't be friends."

Sam grinned. "Friendships get kind of awkward after things like that."

She shook her head, looked down at the pavement, then lifted her face to meet the wind. It had its own kisses, and they stung her cheeks. A laugh escaped her.

The ride out to his place was one long, tense stretch of time, unmarked by speech or surprises. From time to time he glanced at her, and she bit her lip and looked away. Whatever they were, friends or not, it was awkward enough.

Her voice as she walked through his door quavered. "I guess I should call you Sam," she said. "It's funny, but your name is Sam-weiss, all one word, in my head."

"Olivia," he said, and she would have objected, would have told him it was unfair that he'd acclimated to her first name so easily, but by then he was kissing her again.

The grizzle of his whiskers tickled her face. "So we're still not friends," she teased, even as chapped lips and warm wetness pulled kisses from her mouth. "Even if we're on a first-name basis."

"Not friends," he echoed. "Just company." He dipped his head to her neck. She keened and arched her back.

The sting of beard paused at her shoulder. "I never did this with Nina, you know."

She pushed him backward, grabbed him by the hem of his shirt. "Let's not talk about Nina," she said just before she lifted it over his head.

In the morning, she put a pillow over her face to keep out the sunlight and then threw it forward when she felt hands snaking up her thighs. "Letch," she declared. "When I'm sleeping."

"You're not sleeping." He grabbed the pillow and tossed it away, and her vision was full of scraggly hairs and a face silhouetted by sunbeams. She smiled up at it.

Later, awake enough to be sitting up in bed, she leaned on his arm as he threaded his fingers through hers, their skin tones bleached by morning sunlight into one shade. "Are you still going to help me?" she asked.

"If you're admitting you still need help," he said. "Why, is this going to be a problem for you?"

"Let me tell you a secret," she said. "I'm FBI. I've cozied up to people who are now in maximum security. As far as uncomfortable prior knowledge goes, this is hardly the worst I've ever had."

He laughed and kissed the soft pink line just above her breast.

"Is this going to be a problem for you?" she asked, looking down at him and running her fingers through his mop of hair.

"Not a problem. You already told me you're good at drawing lines."

"Oh, yes. About that." She leaned coyly into his embrace. "I may have been bending the truth just a little."

"I'm shocked."

Olivia nudged his shoulder, shoving him sideways. "I know, and after you told me you never lied to me." She leaned forward, and the smile slid from her face. "This is going to be complicated," she said mournfully.

"Not necessarily." She was about to protest, but Sam tilted her jaw up, and the face he gave her was warm and sympathetic.

"Sam," she said, and the sound of his name in her voice was clear and round, like a bell. He smiled, and it was the smile of a good companion. Maybe, even, that of a friend.

She could believe in that for a while, at least.


Paynesgrey: fringepaynesgrey on October 21st, 2009 06:42 pm (UTC)

I was so excited to see someone wrote this pairing, and then after I read it, MY GOD IT'S JUST PERFECT. It's very well-written, characterizations are so fantastic, and just, guh, their interactions are moving and sweet at the end. It's like you took everything I saw from their chemistry on the show and just expanded it to what it could be, and you PROVE they fit so well together.



Tiptoe39: fringetiptoe39 on October 21st, 2009 08:52 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! What wonderful feedback to get!! :D I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees potential in this pairing. :)
Sandrine: hetsandrine on October 23rd, 2009 09:58 am (UTC)
Awesome! I'm really enjoying the chemistry between Olivia and Sam on the show, and I love what you did with it. ♥
Tiptoe39: fringetiptoe39 on October 23rd, 2009 01:59 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm so glad you enjoyed it :D I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees the potential of this pairing!
Purpleyin/Hans: blue2missyvortexdv on April 9th, 2013 10:30 am (UTC)
Interesting pairing and nice to see more Sam fic.
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on April 9th, 2013 12:01 pm (UTC)
Great to get a comment on this after so long, thank you! What brought you to it?
Purpleyin/Hans: ooh errmissyvortexdv on April 9th, 2013 02:14 pm (UTC)
I've been going through the fringefiction archives for fic lately.
Tiptoe39tiptoe39 on April 9th, 2013 05:54 pm (UTC)
Cool, well, I'm glad you found it and glad you enjoyed! <3