GIRLS WANT MAGICAL
Walter never considered the lack of privacy at the garage to be a problem, at least until approximately 3 minutes into his brand new relationship experiment with Paige. They just reached an agreement that Scorpion probably wouldn't fall apart if they tried out being a couple and they were sealing that bargain with a phenomenally incredible kiss. Walter was so consumed by it that he didn't hear the commotion at the door. In fact, a bomb could have gone off in the garage…again and he wouldn't have noticed.
But Paige did.
She jumped back, releasing his lips with an audible pop. She was breathing hard and trying to straighten her shirt which was slightly askew, smoothing her skirt and finger combing her hair all in a matter of seconds.
Panting, Walter just stared dumbfounded and mouth agape. He briefly lost all upper brain function during their encounter and hadn't quite recovered. Paige had just kissed him brainless and that was quite the accomplishment considering his 197 IQ. However, as he became aware of his surroundings again, he heard Toby and Happy arguing just outside the door.
"You just can't help yourself, can you?!"
"It's not officially a bet if we're playing for pizza!"
"It's semantics! Pizza or money, a bet's a bet!"
"Fine! Pizza is on me, but just because we aren't playing for stakes doesn't mean I'm not in it to win it!"
The door crashed open and an irate Happy stalked in trailed by a grudgingly repentant Toby. They didn't notice Walter and Paige for an instant, but when they did Toby's lips began to curl up at the corners slowly until he was grinning like the Cheshire Cat. He took in Paige's heightened color and the dazed look on Walter's face as well as his mussed hair and shirt.
"Well, well, well…Happy, I believe we may have interrupted something."
"Don't be a douche, Doc. Hey, you guys," said Happy.
But Toby kept on, of course, "What happened to the hot date with totally terrific Tim?"
"Cancelled. Permanently," Walter intoned before Paige had the chance to answer.
"Paige, I've got the time if you'd care to tell me all about it. I'd hate to think I didn't lend a professional ear if you're feeling disappointment or anything due to recent events."
Paige smirked, "No, thanks. I'm really completely at peace with my decision not to see Tim anymore. No professional counseling required."
"Hmm. Wonder what changed your mind? 197 finally made his move? Care to elaborate on that?"
Toby flinched and grimaced as Happy punched his arm. "Butt out, nosy!" she said, "I thought we were here to see who could get the highest score on Proton Arnold tonight, not interrogate these two about their sex life…or are you stalling because you know you're gonna lose."
"Yes, dear," Toby snickered, "Hey, you guys want in on this action? Loser buys the pizza!"
Happy punched him again. "I mean, I'm buying pizza for all participants…"
Walter and Paige looked at each other. He shrugged and she nodded. "We're in," Paige said.
A couple of hours and two large pizzas later, Sylvester called to say a pipe burst at his place and asked if he could stay at the garage until repairs could be made. Since Ralph was with him, they both soon joined the party.
The whole next 43 hours and 42 minutes continued in the same vein with people coming and going and staying and leaving and just walking in. Walter was reduced to occasionally pulling Paige behind stacks of boxes and stealing brief kisses or holding her hand under tables just to convince himself he didn't imagine the whole relationship project in his subconscious. It was frustratingly similar to how high school must feel to the average person. Constantly surrounded, he couldn't even have a private conversation with his new…person of interest? without being afraid of being overheard on the comms or over the office intercom. It didn't help when they caught a complicated case that required all his focus. And when they weren't eyeballs deep in the case, Tim's hulking and sulking presence made Paige feel bad, so they had to be 'sensitive' and not 'flaunt their new status' in front of him. Walter wanted nothing more than to rub Tim's face in it, but Paige had to go and decide to be mature about things. Not wanting to tilt the delicate balance on the fulcrum, Walter complied with her wishes.
Thursday just after noon at the end of a stressful week, Walter and Toby were standing in the kitchen when they saw Tim approach Paige's desk. Tim handed Paige his case summary then leaned toward her at what Walter considered an inappropriate distance and laid his hand on her shoulder. Tim said something that made Paige look up and laugh with him. Walter gritted his teeth to stem the illogical tide of aggression he felt welling up. He had the urge to go up and slap the other man's hand off of HIS girlfriend's shoulder, when Toby grabbed him by the elbow and half dragged him out the back door.
"Down, boy!" Toby said when the door closed behind them, "Paige wouldn't like you going all caveman in there!"
Walter sighed and relaxed his combative stance some.
"That being said," Toby continued, "you really need to step up your game a bit here. Right now the score is Naïve Nerds – 1, Cocky Jocks – 0, but have you given any thought about how you're gonna keep ahead in this game?"
"Do you always have to go with sports analogies? Just come out with what you're trying to say."
Toby leaned in and said, "Tim is a man used to winning in life. He's taken a few days to pout, but it's obvious he hasn't given up yet. Walter, have you thought about how you're gonna keep our beautiful office manager now that you have her?"
Walter paled as he replayed from memory all the things he heard Paige say about men and expectations and his deficiencies in the romance department. Inwardly cringing and filling with self doubt, he asked Toby, "How do you manage with Happy?"
"That's a whole different set of factors in a completely different equation, my friend. Luckily Paige knows you and likes you anyway, so just be yourself…mostly, but I would suggest a nice night out soon. And consider what she would enjoy instead of a lecture on photon engineering or something."
"That sounds reasonable," Walter said nodding. But inside he was suddenly terribly unsure. In the past, he never really cared one way or the other if his relationships lasted. He had never been emotionally invested before. He certainly didn't want to die alone and end up ferret fodder.
Deep in thought, he made his way back to his desk running scenarios in his mind for a successful 'romantic' date with Paige. He really had no frame of reference. It was apparent he would need to do some research on the subject, but first he needed to actually ask her out.
The only way to do this without someone overhearing was via IM or text message. She wasn't working on her computer at that moment, so he decided texting was most efficient. True it was ridiculous to text someone sitting ten feet away, but allowances had to be made for the number of eavesdroppers in the room.
He typed, "Let's go out on Saturday night." But when he read it back, he realized she might think it sounded like he was demanding rather than asking. He deleted those words and replaced them with these, "Do you want to go out Saturday night?" Then he remembered Paige considered it more polite to greet someone first before asking for something. So, he deleted that sentence and typed, "Hi." He was just considering how to phrase the request in a softer tone and thinking this was way more complicated than it should be when he accidentally hit 'send'. Mentally slapping his forehead, he hid behind his monitor pretending to be engrossed in his home screen.
When he chanced a peek with one eye around his computer, he saw Paige was looking at her phone and smiling what he deemed the 'Walter Smile.' It was the one she seemed to reserve just for him and it always did unexplainably odd things to his insides. His phone vibrated, he picked it up and saw her message said, "Hello, yourself." She went back to her invoices, but the 'Walter Smile' was still in place, so he figured he hadn't completely blown it.
Taking courage, he texted his reply trying to stay with vernacular she would find acceptable, "Would you like to go out with me this Saturday night?"
She looked up at him when her phone vibrated and raised an eyebrow. Then glancing at the latest message, her grin widened and she quickly texted back, "Love to. I'll see if I can find a sitter and let you know."
Breathing a sigh of relief, Walter subtly began to run a search on ways to woo a woman. Most of the suggestions ranged from uncomfortable to completely ludicrous or indecent, but he mentally filed away the ones that didn't seem too offensive and soon a plan was taking shape in his mind. He began constructing a mental flow chart and making concessions for any variables and he started to feel marginally more confident. He just had some phone calls and reservations to make.
By day's end, Paige let him know she'd found someone to watch Ralph and they made plans for her to meet Walter at the garage on Saturday at seven. He walked her to her car hoping for a quick kiss goodbye, but Ralph was looking on curiously from the backseat. So, he settled for squeezing her hand and placing a chaste kiss on her cheek. As they drove away, Ralph and Paige waved and she was smiling his special smile.
Friday was a quiet day mostly spent working on individual projects. Paige had to leave in the early afternoon for a parent/teacher conference, so Walter spent much of the rest of his day researching and planning for his first official date with her. By end of business, his plan was solidified. He wrote a workable timeline for the tasks he would need to perform before seven the next night. The genius was quite proud of his plan and had high hopes for success.
You know what they say about best laid plans of mice and men…
AN: I've had this written for a couple of weeks, but I was busy writing and posting chapters for 'The Right Choice.' I needed some light hearted fluffy stuff after living with TRC in my head, and I thought I should post it and see if you guys think I should finish it before it becomes completely AU.
*Is it bad that I just want to rip Linda's lips off right now? Just sayin'. * I know the writers don't want to rush Waige, but there is A LOT of material in Walter trying to navigate his first ever emotional relationship.