Disclaimer: I still don't own anything Scorpion but I sure could have a lot of fun with them if I did.
Well here it is – the final chapter to Gauguin. I'll have another short author's note at the end.
Thanks in advance, as always, to everyone for reading and reviewing and following. It makes my heart happy.
Gauguin – Chapter 4
Paige ascended the ladder onto the terrace as water sluiced down her body and formed a puddle on the bamboo. She reached for the towel she'd hung over the back of the lounge chair and ran it over her bikini clad body as the early morning sun beat down on her.
She tried to convince Walter to join her for a swim but, as expected, he declined. Sports of any kind had never been his thing but he knew the benefits of exercise on both the body and brain. While he was not one for regular exercise Cabe had taught him to fight when he was a teenager. And the heavy bag the agent pulled out of storage when Ralph was being bullied, when he was ten, Paige was surprised to learn was Walters. But unlike Toby, who intentionally used it to train for a boxing match, Walter used it for the neurobiological effects on his brain.
Paige had always wondered how Walter, despite his distaste for physical activity of any sort, had such a toned and fit body. He wasn't excessively muscular, by any means, and to someone who only saw him in his clothes, he didn't seem built. But Paige had touched him enough, even before they started dating, to know there was more under those button-down shirts.
When she asked him why he owned a heavy bag, Walter explained the process of neurogenesis, which was the brain's ability to adapt and grow new cells. Exercise, particularly cardiovascular exercise like boxing, not only benefited the heart, it pumped more oxygen to the brain, thus allowing the brain to regenerate cells. It was something Walter could do inside and only a few times a month and still benefit from not only the neurological but the physical results.
Paige, although not particularly athletic herself, enjoyed swimming immensely. She'd been on her high school swim team, what felt like almost a lifetime ago, and she still enjoyed it. In fact, an average of two nights a week, when Ralph and Walter worked on experiments together, Paige took the opportunity to go back to her condo and use the rooftop community pool. It was one of the reasons she held onto it rather than sell it like Walter had suggested to her many times.
As Paige squeezed the excess water out of her long hair she walked back into their bungalow to find Walter sitting on the sofa typing away on his laptop.
"Hey," she said to catch his attention. He immediately slammed his laptop closed and looked up at her, wide eyed, as he squeaked out, "Hi."
She chuckled in response. "Got your hand caught in the cookie jar, huh?"
"Huh?" Confusion filled his eyes. "I don't know what that means."
Affection bloomed in her chest. He had come such a long way in understanding idioms despite his analytical brain's tendency to translate everything literally. But sometimes, even now, the confusion he exhibited at common phrases that he should know at his age still amused her. And it was just one more thing that made her love him.
"It means you are caught doing something that you shouldn't be," she replied with a smile as she approached him. "You kind of reminded me of Ralph just then. Were you watching porn, Walter O'Brien?" she teased knowing it was the last thing he would have been doing.
"Please," he scoffed as he set his laptop on the sofa beside him. "Like I need to watch porn when I have you."
She arched her brow at him as she stopped beside the small glass coffee table in front of him.
"Um," he said as he realized almost instantly what he said. "That didn't come out exactly as intended."
"Ya think?" Paige laughed as she dropped her wet towel onto the glass table.
He shrugged and looked as contrite as he was capable of. "It was meant to be a compliment but-"
"It got lost in translation," she offered as he sat forward and she reached down and slid her fingers gently through his hair over his right ear. He loved it when she did that.
"Ye…yeah," he stuttered as he shuddered, his automatic reaction when she touched just that spot. "Story of my life."
Paige laughed again as she sat down on the towel, across from him, and tucked her knees between his. "You know that idiom but not the cookie jar one?"
"I dislike sweets," he replied as his fingers instinctively reached out and caressed her knee. He didn't even realize he'd done it until her hand covered his and squeezed gently.
"You should have come, swimming, with me. The water is like bath water."
Paige reached up and ran her fingers through her wet hair, to loosen the strands, and her ring caught his eye.
"No thank you," he replied as he watched her smile again. He didn't feel any differently toward her this morning since she'd agreed to marry him. But, if he was honest, he did enjoy the sight of the ring he and Ralph designed for her on her finger. And he knew it made her happy. It meant something to her, and the rest of the world, so that was good enough for him.
"So why did you slam your laptop closed like that?" she asked curiously.
His eyes whipped to hers and she could see the debate swirling in them.
"I, uh, promised you no work this weekend," he replied carefully.
"Walter, I hardly expected you to sit in here twiddling your thumbs when I went swimming."
He seemed to visibly relax. "I know but I gave you my word. This is meant to be a romantic weekend away and-"
"And this has been the most romantic thing anyone has ever done for me," Paige interrupted and gushed as she leaned forward and kissed him softly.
"Is that the truth?" he asked and she could hear the uncertainty in his voice.
"Yes," she cupped his face in her hands and scooted her butt to the edge of the coffee table. She felt his fingers gently grip and press into the flesh of her thighs as she kissed him again, this time deeper and longer.
"Walter," she said as she pulled back and watched his eyes flutter open and look at her intensely. "You are like no man I have ever known." Walter rolled his eyes in agreement and she laughed softly. "I know exactly what you mean when you say 'no work,' and I fully expected you to find a way to squeeze it in, somehow, just like I know you spent the entire flight working."
"How do you know that? You were asleep."
"Because I know you," she replied with a soft caress to his cheek. "And I know, unless it's a dire emergency, I always take priority over work and that's all I need to know."
And it was the truth. While intellectual pursuits once ruled Walter's life, they had been the most important thing besides trying to find a cure for Megan's illness; he found something, or someone, who was more important. He'd told Paige, last night, her presence in his life had changed absolutely everything and it was the unqualified truth. He would never survive without intellectual stimulation but he would never survive without her either.
Despite her intellectual inferiority, she was one of the smartest normals, he'd ever come across, and she managed to stimulate him both intellectually and physically. No other woman had ever been able to do that and never would.
Paige sat back and dropped her hands from his face. "So it's our last day, what's on the agenda?"
"Huh?" he said as the feel of her touch faded.
"I asked what the plan was for today?" she asked, knowing exactly the effect she had on him.
"Oh," he said as he released her thighs and sat back. He glanced down briefly and noticed the imprint of his fingers on her skin as the blood rushed to the surface. He hadn't realized he was gripping her that hard. "I, uh, didn't have anything specific planned. I figured you might want to just relax a little." He reached up and scratched the back of his head. "The resort has a spa that I thought you might want to visit. All you have to do it call Aisake and he'll make the arrangements."
"Mmmm," Paige hummed softly. "A massage sounds incredible actually."
"You should call him then," he encouraged as his eyes dipped down to her breasts encased in her bikini top. She noticed immediately, long used to his obsession with her breasts but, rather than once again call attention to what they both knew, she replied, "They might have a couples massage if you want to join me."
Walter's face scrunched up and she laughed because she'd already known what his reaction was going to be to her suggestion. He still didn't like being touched, in general, but especially, skin on skin, by anyone but her.
"Uh, that would be a no."
"I figured as much. You can finish whatever you were working on while I do that then," Paige said as she stood up and motioned to his long forgotten laptop.
He looked at it and then up at her. "What I have to do won't take me long. I should be done by the time you are."
She nodded her head and walked over to the phone on the desk. After setting a time for a massage she turned around and expected to find him working away on his computer again. But he was just watching her.
"Okay, I have three hours to kill. And I'm starving, how about we get dressed and go get some breakfast," Paige suggested as she put her hands on her hips.
He nodded. "That sounds good."
"Let me just grab a quick shower," she said as she looked pointedly at him in his boxers and t-shirt. "You should too. You could join me if you like," she suggested again, as her lips curved into a sultry smile, this time offering him something she was pretty sure he would agree to. Although it was rare, they did enjoy shared showers from time to time.
His eyes darkened and he stood up. "The, uh, resort has a traditional Polynesian show with a seafood buffet that I thought you might like tonight."
"That sounds like fun," she said chuckling, as he segued into a completely different topic, and she grabbed his hand and led him toward the bathroom.
"You know, historically, you and me and attempts at shower sex have not ended well," he murmured as he followed, referring to the one time not long after they started dating. She had invited him to shower with her and although at first he didn't understand why, he quickly understood her intentions when she wrapped her hand around a certain part of his body and walked backward into the bathroom.
But what had been a valiant attempt at shower sex ended up with the both of them in the emergency room, him with a sprained wrist and broken digitus mi'nimus ma'nus, or pinky finger, and her with a mild concussion.
"Who said anything about sex? I'm hungry, Walter, for food," she emphasized as she turned on the water. "And you've gotten a lot of sex, already, this weekend."
"Is there a maximum amount I'm allowed?" he asked as she removed her bikini and he slipped his boxers down his legs before lifting his t-shirt over his head.
"Well you know what they say about marriage," she teased as she stepped into the large glass and stone enclosure.
"What do they say?" he asked as he followed her in, stepping up behind her and resting his hands on her hips as the water poured down over them from the rain shower heads above.
Paige grabbed her bottle of body wash and her mesh poof sponge. "When a woman gets a ring on her finger the sex stops."
She turned around and started lathering it over his chest as he frowned at her.
"Uh, maybe we should rethink this whole marriage thing," he said, only half kidding, and she laughed and leaned forward to kiss his neck.
"Too late. You're stuck with me now," she murmured against his skin.
He gripped her hips and pulled her closer as his body shuddered softly at her touch. "You're being facetious about the sex thing, right?"
As her hand slid down and wrapped around him, her lips brushed over his the cleft in his chin. "What do you think?"
He groaned softly as her hand slowly stroked him, causing him to thicken and lengthen in her palm as his body shuddered. To distract himself, he took the sponge out of her other hand and started running it over her body.
"We should call Ralph and tell him the news," she said with a soft sigh as he ran the sponge over her shoulder gently.
Walter's hands stilled and he blanched slightly. "Are you really bringing up your son while you have your hand wrapped around my-"
Her laugh interrupted him. "Stop being such a prude, Walter."
But she felt him start to soften in her palm and she looked down then back up into his eyes.
"I can't help it if that ruins the mood for me," he scowled and she pushed up onto her toes and kissed him.
"Okay, we'll put off talking about this until we're out of the shower," she murmured against his lips. "But I do want to call him."
She stepped back and continued to stroke him, gently urging him to respond again. She knew his body as well as he knew hers and there were a handful of times, over the years, he had difficulty getting or maintaining an erection when he couldn't get out of his own head during their foreplay. Once he was inside her, nothing distracted him but sometimes it took her a while to get him there.
"He knows I was planning to ask you this weekend," Walter said as he reached over and added more body wash to the sponge before running it over her breasts.
"But he doesn't know I said yes," she said as she let her lips brush over her collarbone.
"He was quite certain of your response as was I," Walter said as his thumbs deliberately brushed over her nipples causing her to tremble and her hand to falter. He grinned but then his brow furrowed as he remembered the previous night, "Although you did catch me a bit off guard with your initial response."
Paige looked down again because he wasn't getting hard, despite her touch. She sighed and tugged on him, causing him to grunt softly, as she looked back up him.
"I thought you wanted to stop talking about this right now. And for the record, there is no way I would have ever said no to you, Walter. I just wanted to understand why."
"Did I respond to your query adequately?" he asked and in the absence of the topic of Ralph his body began to react to her ministrations once again.
"Yes," she murmured as her lips curved triumphantly and her fingers tightened around him.
"Go…good," he stuttered and now his hand faltered as he slowly swirled the sponge over her stomach and hips. "One of us is bound to crack our heads open on those stones if we try to have sex in this shower," he said and she could hear the regret in his voice.
She sighed and released him again, much to both of their chagrin, and reached up with both hands, sliding her fingers into his hair as she tilted his head back into the stream of water falling from above.
"I know," she agreed, her voice registering the same regret. "If I wasn't so hungry I'd suggest trying out that huge tub over there. It seems like a waste not to use it."
"I haven't taken a bath since I was a child," he scoffed lightly. "There is no way I'm getting in that thing with you."
"You don't think I can persuade you?" she asked as she filled her hands with shampoo and then began lathering his hair.
He loved the feeling of her fingers against his scalp and he wrapped his arms around her, pulling her closer.
"Down," she commanded gently and he did as he was told, tilting his head forward so she could massage his scalp.
"You could persuade me the world was flat if you used the right kinds of persuasive techniques, I imagine," he said as a smirk curved his lips. "But you will still never get me into a bathtub."
She laughed as she tilted his head back again so he could rinse. "We shall see."
She took the sponge from him and he reached up to assist in the removal of the shampoo from his hair. Paige stepped under one of the other shower heads and finished washing herself and then tilted her own head back into the stream of water.
She opened her eyes and found his shampoo covered fingers hovering in the air waiting to wash her hair.
"Have you ever washed a woman's hair before?" she asked with an arched brow.
"You're the only woman I have ever showered with so you tell me," he replied genuinely.
"Are you sure you want to do this? It's very different than washing short hair," she warned as she eyed his hands warily. Her hair was long and tended to be snarly so washing it was a tricky thing.
"I think I can figure it out," he replied drolly and she shrugged and stepped closer to him.
"Wash away then," she encouraged as she wrapped her arms loosely around his waist loving the intimacy they were sharing. It was these kinds of moments with Walter, when he let his guard down and showed her the loving and romantic side of himself, which he would still deny having, that reaffirmed her love for him.
And he didn't disappoint her. He was gentle and thorough and careful as he washed and assisted rinsing her hair. Then she showed him how to apply conditioner and, in his usual Walter way, he asked why they didn't make shampoo and conditioner combined to save a step.
Paige laughed long and low. "They do make it, Walter," she replied as she finished rinsing before he turned off the water. "But your hair never gets properly cleaned that way because the conditioner seals it before you can rinse."
"Seems completely inefficient to have to do two steps when you can do one," he muttered as he handed her a towel and then grabbed one for himself.
"It's a good thing you have short hair then," she chuckled as she stepped out of the glass enclosure and onto the soft rug in front.
"I bet I could formulate one that would work," he said absently as his mind went into overdrive as he pondered a formulation that could work.
"I'm sure you could," she said indulgently as she wrapped the towel around her body. "But you have more important endeavors to occupy your mind."
"Finding a way to make things easier for you is important enough to warrant my attention."
Walter wrapped his towel around his waist as he walked toward the sink and grabbed his toothbrush. Paige stepped up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist as she placed a soft kiss in the center of his back.
"I love you for saying that but the world needs the focus of your mind more than my hair does."
Walter looked at her in the mirror and nodded his head. "Okay. But if you change your mind let me know."
"Will do. Now I'm going to call my son. Hurry up and finish so I can brush my teeth too. I want to go to breakfast." She slapped him gently on the ass as she turned and walked out of the bathroom.
Walter's eyes followed her and he stood still and silent as he strained to listen to her conversation with Ralph. When he heard her just leaving him a voicemail, Walter's body relaxed and he proceeded to brush his teeth, knowing she'd be back quickly and push him out of the way if he wasn't done.
Paige slipped her hand into the crook of Walter's arm as they walked back down the dock to their bungalow. The cream chiffon dress she wore swished around her thighs as a soft tropical breeze blew around them.
They'd enjoyed the Polynesian show and seafood buffet or, at least, she had. Walter had been antsy all evening and she could tell he really didn't want to be there, but as he so often did, he indulged her.
"I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the show, Walter," she said softly as her fingers caressed his forearm just beneath his rolled up sleeve. He was dressed more casually than the night before, wearing his suit pants and a button down but had forgone his suit jacket and tie.
"Why do you think I didn't enjoy myself?" he asked as he looked over at her.
"Because I know you." She said those words to him a lot but they were the truth. She did know him better than anyone. "You wanted to be anywhere else," she finished as she slid her hand down and entwined their fingers.
"That's not true," he replied as his brow furrowed. "I don't want to be anywhere except with you tonight."
"That's not what I meant," she said as she kissed his shoulder. "I just meant that show wasn't quite your taste."
"It actually had its merits," he replied and she laughed softly.
"You're just saying that because most of the female dancers were topless."
"As I said, merits," he smirked and she smacked his arm gently as she clucked her tongue. He squeezed her hand and brought it to his lips before he continued. "Historically, nudity was traditionally a part of most Tahitian dancing, of its very culture, in fact. Why do you think in so many of Gauguin's paintings the women were topless or nude?"
He looked over at her and she was watching him raptly as he led her down the last half of the winding dock. "But once missionaries invaded the islands and insinuated themselves into the culture, it became more taboo. It was considered immodest and was forbidden. It wasn't until the 1950's that it found its place, again, among Polynesian customs."
"I can just imagine what it was like living here at that time, before the missionaries came, I mean."
"Decadent, I imagine," Walter replied as he slid his other hand into his pocket.
"It must have been fabulous. You would have been in heaven," she teased with a laugh, and he narrowed his eyes at her, which only caused her to laugh harder.
"As I was saying," he continued, ignoring her teasing, "The dance that was performed at the show tonight was the tāmūrē. It's one of the most famous Tahitian dances, although it is typically denied by the local purists, and is known to have replaced the 'upa'upa, which was outlawed by the missionaries in 1797. The dance traditionally includes groups of male and female pairs who dance, more or less, in sexually oriented movements."
"That they did," Paige agreed with a grin. "I felt like we were watching a sex show."
"The missionaries felt that the Tahitians should spend their time on more pious occupations, so even when other dances were allowed, the 'upa'upa remained forbidden. But, of course, as is human nature, it was performed in secret."
"Now that must have been decadent," Paige purred against his ear. The soft vibration shot straight through his body. She always knew exactly what to say or do to distract him and she smiled against him before kissing his ear softly.
"In the…in the mid 1800's," Walter stuttered before clearing his throat. "It… it was again allowed, only on public feast days, but without the indecent gestures. Only after tourism took off in the mid 1960's did the sexual elements of it return."
They reached the steps leading up to their bungalow and stopped. Paige looked around to make sure they were alone and then she slid her arms around his waist and pressed her body against his. His hands gripped her hips and held her against him.
"Thank you for that history lesson, Walter," she said as she kissed his chin. He obviously knew they were alone too because he didn't stiffen or flinch. "And thank you, for this weekend," she whispered as she nibbled gently along his jaw. "It has truly been one of the best weekends of my life."
"It's not over yet," he murmured as she tilted her head back and he brushed his lips along the column of her throat.
"Very true," she sighed breathlessly before she gripped his face gently between her hands and pulled it away from her neck so she could look into his eyes. "Now how about we go inside and perform our own private 'upa'upa."
Her suggestion did cause Walter to stiffen, in more ways than one, and a low groan rumbled in the back of his throat. He lowered his face to kiss her but she just pulled away with a sultry smile.
He pursed his lips as she tugged him up the steps to the doors. He started to fidget as he opened the door and stepped back so she could step inside the bungalow ahead of him. As soon as she crossed the threshold Paige could tell something was different. The room was dark but there were Chinese lanterns strewn across the bamboo beams in the ceiling. She gently kicked off her shoes, next to the door, as she looked around curiously.
"Walter, what is this?" she asked as she looked at him. His eyes were watching her intently in that way they did when he was trying to gauge her reaction.
"Why don't you go see," he said as he felt his palms beginning to sweat. That only happened when he thought about the fact that Drew had once put his hands on her and when he was truly nervous about her reaction.
She stepped deeper into the room and then gasped softly as she looked through the French doors leading to the terrace. As if in a trance she walked through the doors and took in the scene in front of her.
The railing was covered with small candles that lined the length of it. More Chinese lanterns hung suspended from the posts at the corners to the roof of the bungalow. Several tropical floral arrangements sat in the center of the two tables that made up the terrace furniture. And to the far right, Paige saw a man who was clearly of Tahitian descent standing unassumingly in front of an archway of hibiscus. Paige, immediately, knew he was a priest and her mouth dropped open in surprise as she watched Walter walk toward him and then turn to look at her.
She stepped closer to him, his eyes full of astonishment. "Walter?" she barely breathed his name as her eyes scanned his face.
"I know I didn't consult you when planning this weekend but it seemed like the most efficient thing to do was plan for all eventualities. We've never discussed marriage before last night and I don't know what kind of wedding you would want, and maybe eloping isn't it, but you have always seemed like a woman who would like simple and romantic. I hope I haven't gotten it wrong."
His face was full of uncertainty and her heart throbbed in her chest as she looked at him. "Walter, this is beautiful."
She could see the relief flood his eyes then and she stepped closer reaching for his hand.
He hoped his sweaty palm didn't gross her out but she entwined their fingers and he sighed and closed his eyes briefly before he spoke again.
"Traditional Tahitian weddings involve flowers and dancing and headdresses, but there was no way that was happening." Walter couldn't hide his disgust and Paige chuckled softly. "Maohinui," Walter said as he motioned to the man standing a few feet away, "is a Tahitian priest but marriages are civil ceremonies here. Normally a visit to city hall is required but I went there today while you were at your spa appointment and got all the paperwork. All you have to do is sign the license and he can marry us and the license can be filed in the morning before we leave."
"Walter," Paige said his name again and he stopped and waited for her to speak. "I'll marry you anytime and anywhere," she said honestly, "But I want my son with us when we get married. And our family too."
Her eyes implored him to understand. He squeezed her hand and his eyes slid to the right before returning to meet her gaze. "They are." She tilted her head and his lips curved upward. "Turn around, love," he said softly, using the endearment he'd decided the night before fit her perfectly.
Confusion swirled in her eyes but she did as he suggested and she gasped for the second time that night. Just inside the French doors stood Ralph, Sylvester, Toby, Happy and Cabe.
They were all grinning at her like loons but all she could see was her son. She could see the happiness in his eyes and she felt a sob clawing its way up her throat as she said his name.
"How," she choked out and looked back at Walter who was watching her with concern in his eyes now. She blinked back the tears that were sudden and unexpected.
"The plane went back to get them," Walter replied. "I thought it would make you happy to have them here. Why are you crying?"
She threw her arms around him and buried her face against his neck. "I'm so incredibly happy right now."
"Then why are you crying?" he asked again as his arms came up around her. "I don't understand."
He looked helplessly at Ralph and the others who were all chuckling.
Paige pulled back and Walter released her. She laughed breathlessly as she reached up and wiped the moisture beneath her eyes. Then she reached up and cupped his face in her hands like she'd done earlier.
"You know, for a man who claims to not have a romantic bone in his body, this weekend is the epitome of romantic."
"Yeah, well don't get used to it," he said with a shrug and she laughed out loud and threw her arms around him again. "Does this mean you'll marry me here, tonight, or do you want to plan something more traditional?" he asked even as he braced himself for her possible answer.
"I can't imagine a more perfect wedding."
"Yes, hand it over," Happy's voice came from behind them and Paige stepped away from Walter and turned around as the mechanic continued. "You owe me five hundred bucks."
She was holding her hand out to Toby who was scowling but only partially. It didn't meet his eyes.
"You bet on whether I'd agree to this?" Paige asked incredulously as the group walked out onto the terrace and toward them.
Happy shrugged unrepentantly. "Toby believed you're just girly enough to want something big and flashy but I knew. The fact that we might have discussed something like this over tequila shots a few years ago was not cheating at all."
"Hey, wait a minute," Toby said as he pulled the money back. "That's completely cheating so the bet is off."
"Will you two stop bickering? You're going to ruin Walter and Paige's wedding," Sylvester scolded the couple beside him and their antics caused Paige to chuckle.
"Oh pipe down, you thought she'd want something more traditional too," Toby accused before Cabe interrupted.
"Both of you pipe down already. I swear to god you're like children."
Paige ignored them as she reached for her son and pulled him into a hug.
"I'm so happy you're here, sweetheart," she murmured and then let him go. "I can't believe the two of you lied to me about your trip to your dad's. Did he know about this too?"
Ralph shook his head. "No. I just told him I needed to come a few days late because we had a surprise for you."
"When did you get here?" she asked as she slid her arm around Walter's waist. He reciprocated and squeezed her hip gently.
"Late last night," Cabe replied as he stepped up to them. He put his hand gently on her shoulder. "Congratulations, sweetheart."
"You were here all day?" she looked back and forth between the three men surrounding her.
"Yeah," Ralph replied as he rocked back and forth on his feet. "I went with Walter to get the marriage license while you were getting your massage."
"Wait a minute," Paige said as she eyed Walter suspiciously. "Is that what you were doing on your computer this morning?"
"Ralph and I might have been IMing back and forth while you were swimming," Walter admitted with an unashamed shrug.
"And we all decorated the bungalow while you and Walter were at dinner," Sylvester added as he walked up smiling.
"How did you keep this a secret Sly?" Paige asked as she laughed happily.
"No one told me until after you left," he replied with an exaggerated sigh. "I knew Walter was going to ask you to marry him but I didn't know he was planning to bring us all here for this. I'm the weakest link," he admitted and everyone murmured their agreement.
"Mr. O'Brien," the priest said politely from behind them. "Would you like to get the ceremony started?"
Walter looked at him and then over at Paige. "I don't know. Do we?" he asked her and the earnest look in his eyes made her fall in love with him all over again. He'd done that to her twice, already, this weekend and she had feeling it wasn't going to be the last.
She nodded her head as her lips curved into a soft smile. "Yes. But I don't have a ring for you. Do you even want to wear one?" she asked curiously.
Walter was the kind of man who wouldn't wear a wedding ring, not because he wasn't committed to her or that he didn't want anyone to know he was married, but his views on the symbolism of marriage were just what they were. He didn't see the need for talismans and tokens, like jewelry, so Paige braced herself for what she thought his answer was going to be.
Ralph pulled a box out of the pocket of his shorts and handed it to Walter.
"We designed a wedding band to match your diamond," he said as he flipped the top of the box open. Inside were nestled two wedding bands. "It has the same Claddagh design carved into it but it's encrusted with the diamond remnants from your engagement ring. For me, I had simple, platinum, one with just the Claddagh design carved into it.
"But do you want to wear a wedding band," she asked him again.
"For you I will," he answered simply but before Paige could say anything else, Toby clapped his hands together.
"Come on let's get this show on the road. I'm not getting any younger over here."
Walter rolled his eyes but he reached for Paige's hand as Ralph, Cabe and Sylvester stepped back near Toby and Happy. He expected his palms to be sweating again but to his surprise they weren't. The priest had both Walter and Paige sign the license and then he signed it before he tucked it into his pocket.
The ceremony was short and simple. There were no religious aspects to it. Just a few words and when it was time for Walter to say his vows he didn't stutter like he feared he would. The people present were their family. They knew how he felt about Paige and although he kept his displays of actual affection for her mostly private, he wasn't uncomfortable showing it in front of them. So he just ignored the priest's presence as he swallowed before speaking.
"I don't know what wedding vows are supposed to include although I suspect people expect them to be sappy and full of frivolous sentiment."
"Oh god, he's going to totally blow this," Toby muttered under his breath and Paige glared at him as Happy elbowed him in the side to and told him to shut the hell up. Walter ignored him and continued when Paige's eyes met his again.
"I'm not that man, Paige," Walter said honestly and he felt her squeeze his fingers, encouraging him to continue. "But as I told you last night I am a man who loves you and even though I rarely say it, I feel it every second of every day. You've given me everything I never knew I even wanted until you came into my life. You gave me your love and you gave me a son." Walter's eyes slid to Ralph where he stood a few feet behind Paige. The teen met his eyes and nodded his agreement silently and when Walter's eyes returned to Paige's he could see tears welling in them again. "You are grá mo shaol, Paige, and you always will be."
"What did he just say?" Sylvester whispered and Walter rolled his eyes as someone slapped him.
"I think it's Gaelic for ball and chain," Toby whispered back and then another slap was heard and Paige couldn't hold back the watery laugh that escaped.
"Did I actually say I wanted them all here?" she asked jokingly, too happy to be upset because they were just being exactly who they were. And she loved all of them exactly as they were.
Walter shook his head, exasperated, but as long as Paige wasn't upset he refrained from scolding either of them. Ignoring them all once again, Walter slipped the wedding band on Paige's finger.
Everyone waited for him to say more but he remained silent until the priest leaned toward him.
"You need to state your intention with the ring."
"I thought I already did," Walter replied confused.
"Most people say something like 'with this ring I thee wed,'" the priest replied encouragingly.
"I'm not saying something like that. It sounds ludicrous," Walter scoffed and simultaneous groans came from the group standing nearby.
"You have to state your intention to marry Paige with the wedding band otherwise the vows are incomplete," the priest said with his own exasperation.
Walter pursed his lips and looked back at Paige who was smiling softly at him. She knew he'd get it eventually and she was letting him find his way. He rubbed his fingers over the rings on her hand before he took a deep breath.
"This ring symbolizes who you are to me and fulfills my intention to make you my wife." He looked at Paige expectantly as he asked, "Is that sufficient?"
"Yes," she said cutting off the priest who was about to say the opposite. She glared at him daring him to contradict her so he just reluctantly nodded his head.
"You gotta love a woman who can silence a priest," Toby snickered and then jumped to the side before anyone could slap him.
"I swear to God, Toby, I am going to murder you if you say one more word," Walter growled, finally fed up, but Paige just lifted her hand to his face to bring his attention back to her.
"Focus on me," she said softly and he took a deep breath and nodded his head as she dropped her hand back to squeeze his.
The priest told her it was her turn. She inhaled a deep shuddering breath as she smiled.
"Walter, you came into my and Ralph's lives at just the exact time we needed you. You gave us stability, a family, and me a way to understand the child I loved but failed to connect with. I can never thank you enough for that. And although I knew you were uniquely special right from that very first day, if someone had told me I would, one day, fall in love with you I would have told them they were out of their minds."
Soft chuckles came from the onlookers as Walter's lips quirked in response as Paige continued.
"But every day I spent with you, the more I got to know and understand you, too, I lost more and more of my heart to you until all of it was yours. You have been more of a father to my son than his biological one and that's nothing against Drew, it's just a fact. I know you often doubt your abilities when it comes to emotions and love but the way you love me leaves me breathless every day of our lives. I love you, Walter O'Brien. You are grá mo shaol," she repeated his words as she stepped closer to him. "And you always will be."
Walter never took his eyes off her the entire time she spoke and the intensity of his stare made her shiver. She took the platinum band from Ralph and slid it onto Walter's ring finger and, once again, repeated his words.
"This ring symbolizes who you are to me and fulfills my intention to make you my husband."
The priest said a few more words and then told Walter he could kiss his bride. The kiss was chaste and brief because Paige didn't want to overwhelm him in front of the others but when she tried to pull away he clutched her closer and took her lips again, this time deeper and longer.
Toby and Cabe whistled and hooted as Happy scolded them. "Now who needs to grow up?"
"That kiss is lasting an awful long time," Sylvester said as Ralph snorted.
"They kiss like that all the time in the loft."
Paige gasped for air when their lips finally parted.
"Wow," she breathed as her eyes fluttered open.
Walter stepped back and cleared his throat surprised at how he'd lost control like that. But the pleased look on Paige's flushed face made him realize he didn't care.
A couple of hours later everyone was still on the terrace, most of them drinking champagne, except Walter and Ralph. Soft music wafted through the French doors as Toby and Happy danced quietly in one corner and Cabe, Ralph and Sylvester sat around one of the tables.
Paige had stepped into the bungalow to use the bathroom and Walter was leaning against the railing waiting for her return as he listened with amusement to Ralph and Sly try to explain the theory of relativity to Cabe.
After Paige had regaled them with the general details of Walter's proposal, she fortunately decided to keep some of it just between them, everyone took turns toasting them. While Toby's was long and elaborate and sarcastic, it was also subtly sweet because, as he pointed out, he was the very first Waige shipper there was.
"What the hell does Waige mean?" Cabe asked and everyone groaned as the behaviorist began a long, drawn out explanation of combining a couple's name into one as a means to refer to them.
But by the time he got to the end of his toast, the sincere side of Toby's personality had come to the surface as he professed his love and admiration for both of them.
Happy stopped him before he could embarrass himself completely, blaming it on the champagne, before she offered her own toast. It was brief and brisk but heartfelt, for Happy anyway.
Cabe's was moving and it drove Paige to hug him as he told them both that he viewed them like they were his own children and he couldn't be happier that they found each other.
Sylvester's overactive emotional quotient came out, but he included Megan in his toast, telling them both that she told him before she died that she knew they were destined for each other. Walter tried not to sigh at the concept of destiny but it slipped out before he could stop it. Paige pinched his side and told him to respect his sister's opinion even if it differed from his own. When he started to argue with her, she just arched her brow at him and he shut up, wondering if that was how it was going to be from now on.
Finally Ralph gave his toast.
He looked at Paige, first, but then his eyes met Walter's. "I'm not really sure what to say in a toast so I'm just going to say thank you, Walter, for loving my mom."
Paige smiled at him and she felt Walter's hand squeeze hers under the table. "And thank you for showing me how to show her too," Ralph continued quietly. "She was right when she said you have been more of a father to me than Drew, so thank you for that too. After my dad left, I never thought I'd trust another man with her but I trust you completely. I know you will love and protect her forever and that's all I'll ever ask of you."
Walter nodded his head in agreement and silent understanding between father and son.
Ralph's eyes then slid to his mom's and his face took on the look of awe he often, unknowingly, gave her. "Mom, I always knew you loved me even when I didn't really understand what it was. I tried to show you what was inside me and the more you struggled with me the more I loved you because you refused to give up on me. And the more I struggled to show you,"
Ralph looked around at the others before he looked back at Paige, "But when we met Walter and you went to work for Scorpion I knew we would be okay. I knew they would help you understand me and help me understand you. I wasn't surprised when you and Walter started dating. I was happy. I knew you would make each other happy if you could just get through to him like you did with me. And I never doubted it would happen, even when Walter started that ridiculous speed dating nonsense."
Toby groaned at the reminder of the disaster that was Walter's speed dating experience. Walter also groaned, only quieter, and Paige chuckled as she nuzzled her nose against his cheek.
"We've been a family for a long time but now it is official. Not that any of us needed it to be, but now I never have to worry about you being alone because Walter loves you as much as I do. And I know I don't tell you a lot but I do love you, mom. More than anyone."
Paige hurled herself out of her chair and toward her son as a sob tore from her throat. She wrapped him in a fierce hug as he stumbled under her momentum, but since he was almost taller than she was, now, he was able to compensate and keep them both standing.
Paige told him everyday how much she loved him but Ralph had only said it to her a handful of times in his life. And every time he did it was the greatest gift she could ever ask for.
"Oh, boy, there go the waterworks," Toby said but his tone betrayed his teasing. He was as moved as they all were by the young genius's words.
"Aw, come on mom, don't cry," Ralph murmured as he wrapped his arms around her and sighed.
Walter looked on, also sighing. He would never understand the way women cried when they were happy. But that didn't mean he, too, wasn't moved by the young boy's words to his mother. He and Ralph loved the currently sobbing woman just the same. Well not exactly the same, but she was the most important person in both their worlds and that, even more than their intellect, would always bind them.
Paige stepped out of the bungalow and walked back over to Walter. She pressed against his side and he kissed her temple softly as his arm slipped around her waist.
"This is all I need," she said quietly as she looked at him. "Everything I want is right on this terrace."
"Me too, love," Walter replied and Paige smiled, also liking the sound of the endearment.
"You've taken to calling me that quite easily," she murmured and he shrugged.
"It's easier to say than I thought it would be."
She reached down and grasped his hand in hers. "Dance with me," she said, her eyes twinkling as she tugged him away from the railing.
Walter pursed his lips and he made a sound in the back of his throat that gave away his aversion for the idea.
"Oh, come on," she snorted indelicately. "I know you hate to dance but you need to dance with your wife at your wedding."
He took her in his arms and sighed as she pressed her soft body against him. He actually loved to dance with her but he knew if he let her know she'd make him do it all the time. And holding her in his arms and dancing with her always had the same effect on him and he doubted their family wanted to see that.
The soft music wafting through the door was just loud enough for him to count the beats and keep time but it was her lips against his ear, humming the tune along with it that kept him in the rhythm.
They didn't speak, they didn't need to, and Walter just enjoyed holding her close. He lost track of the time but the sound of someone clearing his throat behind them invaded their moment.
"Can I cut in and dance with the missus?" Toby asked as Walter turned to look at him.
"No," Walter replied and turned back to Paige. She laughed as Toby scoffed.
"Now that was just rude. You get her forever, the least you can do is share her for a few minutes at your wedding."
"I don't have to share her with anyone," Walter replied bluntly. "In fact I think it might be time for all of you to go."
Toby grinned like a Cheshire cat. "And why is that Mr. O'Brien?"
"Because it's my wedding night. Do I need to say more, Toby?"
"And that's the kid's cue to leave," Ralph said with a horrified look on his face.
Cabe laughed as he stood up. "I think the kid is right. It's time to leave the newlyweds alone. We'll see you in the morning."
"We should meet at the restaurant for breakfast before we head to the airport," Paige said as she stepped out of Walter's arms and the others agreed.
She walked to Ralph and again pulled her son into her arms. "I love you sweetheart."
"Yep," he replied as he pulled away. "Night mom."
She smiled and caressed his cheek. "Night, baby."
The others said their good nights and then departed.
"Was that completely rude of me?" Walter asked her once the door was closed.
"A little," she smiled, "But I was ready for them to leave too."
"Is that so?" he murmured as he grasped her hips and pulled her toward him.
"Mmhmm," she murmured back as he lowered his lips to her throat and inhaled deeply, letting the soft, familiar and well loved scent of her surround him.
Paige wrapped her arms around him and pressed her lips to his ear. "I love you, Walter."
"I know," he said against the hollow of her throat and she trembled at the feel of his lips and warm breath caressing her skin.
"I have the best idea," she said as a sultry smile curved her lips and she nipped his earlobe gently.
He grunted lowly as he pressed his pelvis against her.
"Are you willing to indulge me?" she moaned softly as she felt her body soften and ready for him.
"Anything you want." His words were nothing more than a low growl.
She smiled and pushed away from him before taking his hand and leading him toward the bathroom.
And when Walter found himself chest deep in a bathtub for the first time since he was six, with his new wife astride him, riding him slowly as the moonlight shone through the window, bathing her in muted light, he began to re-evaluate his opinion on baths.
The End….. for now.
Author's Note: Now I know many of you are thinking… wait a minute… you left some very important questions unanswered. Well you're right. This story was originally a one shot that turned into a bit of a 4 chapter beast. But it was originally meant to be the first of three one shots. The questions that were not answered here weren't meant to be because they weren't part of this part of the story. I'll be back in a bit with the second one-shot, which will truly be a one shot this time.
But I have a couple of Ferret Bueller Chronicles one-shots to finish and then Undercover, which is turning into a multi-chapter fic, much to my chagrin, but the characters just take me where they take me sometimes. I also have a long overdue chapter of Breathe Again I have to finish.
Anyway… the point is… there is more to this story and I will be back with it.
Thanks again to everyone who is reading and especially those who take the time to review. This fandom is a bit different than I'm used to. It seems like a lot of people are reading but not many people review. I don't write for the reviews but they sure are nice to get… at least I know people are enjoying it. And if someone is not… well it's always good to get constructive criticism. Thanks for reading nonetheless.
Until next time…