Two Rows Up
Two Rows Up
Notes: A Fringe/Hockey RPF story written because I rewatched season 1 and couldn’t shake the notion. Not to mention that Joshua Jackson will always, always be Charlie from The Mighty Ducks to me, so there’s a little of that too. More or less set in the first half of Fringe Season 1 with no explicit spoilers. My beta thanks to samjohnsson; this story is dedicated to you.
On a Saturday when Olivia was mostly counting the odds of getting called into a case versus getting drunk enough to stop seeing John’s memories from floating to the surface of her mind, Peter showed up at her door.
It didn’t bother her–hell, she was considering giving him a spare key for emergencies–but the fact that it didn’t bother her, that she trusted him so much after only a few months, made her wary. She let him in anyway. Olivia let Peter believe she was immune to his charms, but that wasn’t the case; she was just better at hiding her reactions behind professional reserve.
“I didn’t remember hearing you say you had plans for today,” he said, hands tucked into the pockets of his peacoat, “so I thought I might take the liberty of making some for you.”
Olivia cocked a hip, hand wrapped around her coffee mug. If nothing else, her house always had coffee. It was the only thing other than whiskey she remembered to buy. “Oh really?” she asked. “And what might those plans be?”
Peter broke into one of his broad, winning smiles, and brandished a pair of tickets. Olivia stepped closer and took them from him–Boston Bruins, it said, vs. Pittsburgh Penguins, TD Banknorth Garden.
“Hockey?” she asked, surprised, looking up to meet Peter’s pleased look.
“Hockey,” he confirmed, failing to hide his excitement. “I got great seats. I know a guy.”
Olivia smiled. She didn’t really care much about sports–watching a game was mostly a way to connect with her colleagues, something neutral to talk about during long hours of surveillance, but she never really bothered to watch it on her own. There were always files to review, or some book she was trying to get through in those few quiet moments. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d turned on her tv, actually.
“Sure,” she said. “That sounds like fun.”
Peter’s smile got impossibly wider.
The Garden was packed, absolutely mobbed with people. Olivia automatically checked for egress points, for snipers, for available security personnel and whether the LEO vehicles out front were staffed, or if they were walking the perimeter. It wasn’t merely trained wariness–the habits were so deeply ingrained, from her time spent with USMC CID at home and abroad, that it didn’t even occur to her that she was doing a threat assessment until Peter gently tugged her by her elbow through the crowd. His eyes spoke volumes of understanding, and she smiled awkwardly.
“C’mon, we can get a couple of beers before we find our seats,” he said. Before she could protest, he said, “And I already mentioned to Broyles we were probably going to be here, so don’t worry. If you get called in we can take the subway and get out of here pretty quickly. But we’re not going to get called in,” he said, a hint of pleading in his tone.
Olivia smiled for real this time. “We’re probably not going to get called in,” she acknowledged. Even Homeland Security agents and their devoted consultants had to clock some downtime, otherwise OSHA got a little too interested in employee health.
Peter was right–they were excellent seats, from the dirty looks they got when they went to sit down. Olivia chuckled a little. Only two rows up from the ice, right behind the penalty boxes, if she remembered her former CID colleague’s manic interest in the Stanley Cup correctly from that tour in Germany in ’04. Peter looked absolutely thrilled, pointing out the Cup pennants flying from the ceiling and talking about the players flashing on the huge screen in the center of the arena.
“The Pens are good,” he said. “They’ve spent the last couple of years really strengthening their forward line, and a couple of the rookies have become just powerhouse players. But even the best center forward has trouble getting one into the net through the Bruins’ goalie, who’s one of the best in the league.”
“Who would you bet on, if you were still a betting man?” she asked, a little slyly. She did him the courtesy of not tracking his personal choices; he did her the courtesy of pretending like he didn’t know she could.
“The Bruins,” he said, without hesitation. “And not just because they’re my home team, either. They’re just damn strong, and their home games are unreal.” He looked at her sidelong. “That’s why I thought you’d enjoy it,” he said. “A Bruins game in the Garden is an experience worth having.”
She dropped her hand to his shoulder, glove against wool but still somehow warm. “Thank you for bringing me,” she said. “This is going to be fun.”
Peter smiled–he was always smiling. She hid the stutter of her breath in the rise of the crowd to the announcer’s opening remarks.
The first period moved fast, and Olivia could barely keep her eyes on the puck. It seemed like every couple of minutes there was some crash into the boards, thumps that couldn’t be heard over the roar of the crowd. Olivia leapt to her feet with Peter when the Bruins scored their first goal, and booed protest when the Penguins scored in retaliation. Her face hurt, she realized, from smiling. She glanced at Peter, who had a slight flush to his face despite the chill of the arena. He looked so alive.
At first intermission, the two teams still tied 1-1, they filed out with all the other fans and went to the bar. The line was already deep, but they got into the comparatively shortest one anyway.
“Good game?” Olivia asked.
Peter nodded enthusiastically. “The forwards are about evenly matched,” he said. “This is really going to be a game about the goaltender. It almost always is, with the Bruins.”
She made some encouraging noises, and tried to follow his analysis; by the time they got to the bartender, who had a frown of concentration on her face, she thought she might, maybe, understand something about the game.
“Harpoon UFO,” Peter said, winking at Olivia, who couldn’t help but laugh. He checked with her before saying, “make it two.” He dropped a twenty on the bar, left the change there, and they carefully navigated their way back to their seats, dripping plastic cups held delicately. They were just in time to catch the last pass of the Zamboni when they sat down.
The second period was just as fast as the first, but Olivia felt like she was able to keep her eye on the puck a little more this time around. The Penguins and the Bruins each got another goal in, and to the thunderous protests of the crowd, the Penguins’ number 87 managed to sneak one into the net with seventeen seconds left on the clock. The mood in the arena was pretty intense; Olivia wanted another beer.
Back in the beer line, she unbuttoned her wool coat and reached her arms up to stretch towards the ceiling. Peter watched her, amused, and she felt cool air ride the slip of skin exposed between her t-shirt and her jeans.
“A little more relaxed, are we?” he asked, laughter in his voice, pleasure in his smile. She gave it right back to him, and clapped a hand on his shoulder as she brought her arms down.
“Thanks, Peter,” she said sincerely, squeezing his shoulder through his coat. “I needed this.”
“Even super-agents have to take some time off,” he teased, stripping a twenty off the roll in his pocket as he ordered the next round.
The third period was a frenzy, a near-constant rush of noise and passion. The beers were beginning to get to Olivia, because she was laughing, almost giggling, at the furious displays of emotion at every check into the boards, every save the Bruins’ goalie made to the Penguins’ many, many shots. “This is awesome,” she shouted into Peter’s ear, and he grinned back at her. She swiped the remaining half of his beer from him, and he didn’t even protest as she knocked it back.
“Olivia Dunham,” he said in mock indignation, “I bet you have some stories to tell me.”
She grinned at him, joining the chorus of cheers when the Bruins’ guy won a goal, and wondered if she imagined the press of his arm against hers.
In the last five minutes of the game, the Penguins couldn’t set up another shot, but in a breakaway that had the entire area up on their feet with pennants flying everywhere, the Bruins put a shot on the Penguins’ net and scored the winning goal. Olivia hugged the person next to her, and then she hugged Peter, who held her a beat longer than she was expecting.
“C’mon,” he shouted, “I have a surprise for you!”
“Another one?” she said, but it was lost in the noise of the ecstatic fans leaving the arena.
Peter took her hand and threaded them through the crowd, coming up to a uniformed security guy and doing something that let them pass. They went through a corridor, the furor of the crowd still audible, and Peter pulled her into a room where a number of other people were waiting.
“There’s someone I want you to meet,” he said, and Olivia nodded. She asked Peter to explain some of the mechanics of the third period, particularly how that player had been able to score the winning shot, and before she knew it Peter was rising in the middle of a sentence, once of his rare, fully-earnest grins on his face.
“Timmy,” Peter said, drawing the man into a full-body back-slapping hug, “great work out there. Seriously impressive. Helsinki would have loved it.”
“Pete,” the big blond guy said, “when was the last time you got on the ice? You look like a civilian.”
“Hey, we can’t all play in the Show,” Peter said, a little wry. “Tim, this is my friend Olivia. Olivia, this is Tim–he helped out with the tickets.”
“You’re–the goalie, right? Thomas?” she said, unsure.
“Among his other talents,” Peter said, dropping a hand to Tim’s shoulder. Tim shot him a look–one Olivia was pretty sure she’d given Peter before herself–and said, “That’d be me. I hope you enjoyed the game.”
“It was incredible,” she said honestly. “I had no idea it was like that.”
Tim smiled at her, genuine. “I’m glad,” he said. “Everyone deserves to see hockey live.”
“Everyone deserves to see professional hockey live,” Peter amended, earning him a gentle shake from his friend.
“How do you guys know each other?” Olivia asked.
“I used to play a little hockey, when I was a kid,” Peter said.
“He’s being modest. We played together in Finland, for their championship league. Peter was a damn fine center before he gave it up,” Tim said.
Peter shrugged. “I had to do something after dropping out of college.”
Olivia blinked. “You left MIT…to play hockey?”
Peter grinned a little. “MIT didn’t have ice hockey intercollegiate,” he said. “I should have known it wasn’t right for me.”
“I think you have some stories to share, Peter,” she said pointedly, Tim laughing at Peter’s expression.
“So I’ve got to get through the press corps, I got the push from the GM to put in some facetime,” Tim said, running a hand down his shirt and tie to smooth it. “But you want to go to Abe & Louie’s? It’s been awhile.”
Peter looked to Olivia, and she shrugged. Her phone hadn’t buzzed; there was no weird bullshit happening at the moment, and it was her day off. She could use a steak with the boys; it had been too long since she’d had that particular camaraderie. She missed it from CID.
“Sounds like a plan,” Peter said. “Thanks again for the seats, Tim, it was a hell of a game.”
Tim waved and walked off, and Peter led Olivia out through the rabbit warren of doors and hallways.
“Hockey player, huh?” she asked. “I don’t think I would have pegged you for it.”
Peter’s face dropped a little. “Walter never liked it,” he said. “He said I shouldn’t do anything that would damage my brain. It was something my mom and I did together, and after she was gone and Walter went away, it was something that helped me remember her.”
Olivia pressed her lips together in sympathy, and with all the instinct of several pints of beer, she wrapped her hand around the bend of Peter’s elbow. “Maybe we could go skating sometime,” she said. “You could show me if you still have the moves.”
His smile became brilliant again, and he stepped slightly closer as they walked into the Boston night.