Summary: Just because he never outright said it didn't mean that his father's words didn't hurt him, that after seventeen years apart his father could still make him feel smaller than a speck of dirt on the floor.
Author's Note: I've been rewatching this amazing series and ultimately I've decided two things, there is absolutely NOT enough Peter whump fanfiction out there, and there isn't enough Peter Walter stuff out there. So I've decided (more for myself than anything in between writing my novel) to write some. Deals with the aftermath of torture, nightmares and self-esteem issues.
Post Episode: The Arrival S1E4
His morning had started with words like 'waste of the finest education money could buy', and 'such a wasted talent and brain being little more than gypsy'. Peter was the king of emotional repression, he perhaps did it better than most, even Olivia who seemed fairly skilled in it herself. But for all his years of repression and denial about his family situation, at the end of the day there was still a little kid inside him that just wanted to make his dad proud, that just wanted to feel cared about.
Peter could imagine a psychologist taking his comments to Olivia this morning apart piece by piece, 'you don't need me' would translate to I'm unimportant in anyone's life. 'I'm just a babysitter' obviously would become he doesn't even notice I'm here until I've done something wrong.
Considering how Peter's day had ended, with torture, an incredible amount of pain and perhaps almost worst than any of that, his father calling him small minded, like his mother. Peter couldn't lie that it had hurt, that all the words had hurt. The words had played over and over again during his torture, 'when was the last time your father had kissed you' 'think back to a time when you still believed your father loved you.
That was the crux of the matter wasn't it, because, while Peter sat there, letting the doctors and nurses clean him up, take their x-rays and other various images. Sure, he was curious about the man who had answers Peter hadn't even had, the real thing that left him cold, and feeling emptier than he could ever recall was that he really didn't believe that his father loved him, didn't recall a time in over twenty years that his father had even indicated a fondness of him. After all, a father who loved his child didn't say the things he'd said earlier today, did they? It was as visceral as any pain he'd felt earlier, as if someone had dug out his heart with a spoon, scraping him out until there was nothing left to take.
As much as Peter would deny it, he knew he had his fair share of self esteem issues, from mom killing himself, feeling he wasn't enough for either parent, in truth he didn't need to be reminded how much a disappointment he was. He felt it nearly every day. He was quiet on the car ride back to the hotel, staring out the window, his mind churning over the day's events.
"He does need you, you know," Olivia assured him as she pulled up outside the hotel.
He wanted to tell her she was wrong, foolish for thinking this would ever work, but then maybe he'd been foolish too. Years of guilt coupled with self esteem issues and a desire to connect with the only parent he had left, had led him here. "Walter only needs science, everything else is just secondary," he replied as he opened the door and climbed out with all the grace of a century old arthritic man. He didn't need to see Olivia to know there was sadness in her beautiful eyes.
"I think you're wrong," she called as he closed the door.
He snorted, wincing at the pain it caused in his nose and face, "Night Olivia," he replied heading in side. Walter Bishop didn't need him for anything other than to remain out of the nut house. Peter knew his father's brilliance was needed above all else, so he and his bruised ego would just have to deal.
Walter had clearly just finished taking a shower as Peter slowly moved into the hotel and poured himself a drink, describing the entire situation with the two men, no-brows and the torture guy. All the while hoping maybe it would deter his father from talking about what was really on his mind.
They'd lapsed into some silence, Peter wasn't even aware his eyes had closed as he'd sunk into the couch. It wasn't nice or even that comfortable, but damn if he didn't feel like he could sleep for days. Yet, as soon as his eyes slid shut he was back in that room, strapped to that chair. A light touch to his hand caused his eyes to shoot open and his body to wrench away from the touch a groan and hiss of pain instantly escaping as his body reminded him of his day's abuse. He didn't even realize it was a whimper that escaped his sore throat until he saw his father's face floating in front of his, filled with a mixture of concern and fear.
"Peter?" he questioned, clearly hesitant to say whatever was on his mind, "Are you…I'm sorry," the change in conversation was nothing unusual for Peter these days, Walter changed subject mid more often than a hyperactive kid on sugar. But there was a new edge to it for some reason and Peter wasn't sure he could handle that right now, because all the strength and stability he'd felt hours earlier in the face of fear and pain was fading and giving way to the young man underneath who was still strapped to that table.
"Walter," Peter tried to cut him off, closing his eyes and trying to force the lump in his throat down. He couldn't do this right now, he could feel the heat of tears starting in the backs of his eyes, could feel the burn of his throat as he tried to quell the emotion.
"Please let me finish," Walter's voice was etched with something Peter didn't recognize, he'd blame it on the concussion, "I owe you an apology. It's been brought to my attention that the things I say – specifically to you are perhaps crueler than intended."
Peter could remember idolizing his father, desperate for proof of the man's love, "Think back to a time when you still believed your father loved you," Walter had gone silent, even his breathing had stopped and Peter realized the words had practically torn themselves from his throat. Blue eyes fluttered open, eyelashes damp with unshed tears and he looked at Walter's own tear filled eyes.
"What did you say?" Walter's voice was raspy and etched with pain as his eyes swam in tears.
Peter realized this was happening whether he wanted it or not, because suddenly it was all bubbling up from nowhere and he didn't have enough forethought or brain power left over to stop it. "He told me to remember a time when I believed you still loved me," Peter took in a shaky breath as he gave his father a sardonic laugh, "I'm thirty Walter, my daddy issues are old enough to drink," the laughed turned into an embarrassing sob and instantly he tried to cover it up and his eyes.
It was getting hard to breath, he tried to draw air into his tired and aching lungs but it only made it worse, he leaned forward, forcing his head between his legs trying to keep from passing out. Another sob left Peter's mouth, and then another as he covered his face, a grown man shouldn't cry over his father's lack of love.
"Oh my dear boy," Walter whispered, and Peter realized once again he'd spoken out loud. A pathetic mewl parted his lips as he felt his father's hand on his head, shaking as pet his hair, running fingers through the strands. "Peter, my son I never, ever stopped loving you." Walter assured.
Peter clenched and unclenched his jaw, because he wanted to believe him, he really did, but he hurt so badly and he was still so…overwhelmed. He felt, rather than saw, gentle hands help him stand and move over to the bed. "Come my son, let me help you get out of your clothes."
Like the practiced father that he was, as Peter lay there, lamely lying all too aware of the wet spot gathering on the pillow beneath his bruised face, he felt his shoes, socks, pants and shirt removed. He flinched again when he felt the blankets pulled back and up over his shoulders. Peter was further surprised when he felt a weight lie down behind him.
"Little too old to be sleeping in my parents' bed," Peter pointed out, as the heat of his father's body began to warm his back.
Walter smiled, though Peter couldn't see it, "The day you were born I was working on a project with Belly, of course. Your mother called me, frantic and in labor. I thought I'd be late, that I'd miss your birth. We raced over there, Nina, Belly and myself and we arrived with some time left. I was able to see you. I, like many fathers, am not perfect in being open and explaining to my son how deeply I love him. But, I can assure you, Peter the day you were born was the happiest day of my life," Walter's mind supplied the 'and the day you died I wished I'd gone with you'. "I am sorry that you ever thought I stopped loving you," Walter continued to pet his son's hair, as the pain meds, and the day's trauma began to lull him into sleep as his father started singing quietly to him. "Oh Peter," he heard his further murmur before he felt a feather light kiss to the back of his head.