Title: End of the Road
Summary: Walter arrives in Lake Tahoe. Nothing is as he expected.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own /scorpion. This story is for entertainment purposes only. I make no profit and no infringement of copyrights is intended.
"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." ~ Ernest Hemingway
During the long drive from Los Angeles, Walter O'Brien had imagined dozens of possibilities on how this would play out. In about half, Paige greeted him at the door smiling, pleased to see him. In about thirty percent her face reflected puzzlement, having no idea why he would drive over four hundred fifty miles to catch up with Tim and her. In the remaining twenty percent she was angry at the disruption of her romantic weekend and slammed the door in his face.
Those last scenarios nearly made him turn around and drive back, but he was through with chickening out. He was determined that this time he would deal with his fears, take the risk and admit to the feelings he'd so long tried to ignore.
In not one of his imagined outcomes did Tim come to the hotel door wearing a bathrobe.
"Walter," the handsome SEAL greeted him, his face reflecting both puzzlement and a tinge of worry. "Is everything okay? Did Toby do something stupid?"
The genius was not able to think of anything to say. All his prepared responses had been intended for Paige, not for this man who had an uncanny and very annoying ability to insinuate himself between Walter and the woman in loved.
There was the voice he'd traveled so far to hear!
"Paige!" he responded. "I need to talk to you. Are….are you…can you come out here a minute?" he asked, hoping that she wouldn't appear wearing the matching robe that resort hotels provided. If that were so, Walter wasn't sure how he would react. It was one thing to think of what these two might do during their trip. It was quite another to be confronted with the fact that they apparently hadn't even taken the time to unpack. They couldn't have arrived more than an hour ahead of Walter. Most likely, it was closer to about thirty minutes. Walter's fists clenched at the thought of Tim's lack of restraint.
Tim smiled pleasantly and opened the door a bit wider, allowing Paige to step in front. Walter sighed with relief to see that she was still clad in the black outfit she left the garage in. It appeared rumpled, as it would be after the long drive, but he could see no indication that she had hastily redressed.
Some part of Walter knew he had no right to be pondering whether Paige had remained fully clothed for the last hour. He'd practically pushed her into Tim's arms, even insisting she go when she – and Toby – had given him a perfect reason to ask her to cancel the trip. Only a real fool could not have predicted the outcome of those actions.
But he'd said it himself – he was a moron – at least when it came to love. He wondered for a moment if the science of love was always so illogical. If that were the case, then he'd have to pray that Paige would help him learn the rules because otherwise he'd be completely lost.
"Walter?" she asked again, a tinge of real concern in her voice. "What are you doing here? Is it Ralph?" She suddenly pushed past Tim and stepped through the doorway, stopping just inches in front of Walter. "Walter! Say something! What's going on?"
"I…I'm…Ralph's fine." Walter suddenly realized what Paige must be thinking about his unexpected appearance and he stumbled to reassure her. "At least as far as I know. I've been driving for hours. But Sly would have called." Walter recalled the fifteen or so times he'd tried Paige's cell number. "But…your phone… you didn't answer your phone."
Suddenly Paige whirled and ran back into the room. Tim gestured for Walter to enter. He hesitated a moment, but decided that he couldn't just stand outside the room and expect his rival to stand holding the door forever. He walked in and stepped to one side so Tim could close the door.
"I know I put my phone in here!" Paige exclaimed as she frantically rummaged through her bag. She yelped as she pulled the item out and dropped the bag on the floor. A few bits of makeup and her wallet bounced out and scattered across the dark green hotel carpet as Paige stepped back and sat on the edge of one of the beds, quickly tapping and swiping on the phone.
"Darn it!" she exclaimed. "This thing goes into Airplane Mode by itself all the time. It's probably been as good as turned off ever since we left the garage. There aren't any messages though, and surely if there was a problem, Sly would have left a message. I'm going to call though, just in case."
She quickly tapped a few times, then held the phone to her ear. "Sly? It's Paige….Yes, I know, it's late. I'm sorry, but my phone's been off and I just needed…."
"Hey buddy," Tim waved a hand to get Walter's attention. "If everything's really all right, I'm going to finish changing." He indicated the robe and gestured towards a door that Walter assumed was the bathroom. "Let Paige know I'm in there when she gets off the phone, ok?"
Walter nodded absently. He'd been staring at the object of his trip, wondering how he could have been so stupid to suggest she come here with another man. She was everything to him. In the nearly two years that they'd worked together, she'd become his best friend, his confidant, the person he'd turned to when the pain of losing Megan had nearly broken him. He'd shared everything with her. Except the truth. It was long past time to correct that.
As he waited for her to finish checking on Ralph, he relaxed enough to look around the room. Two beds. There were two beds, he noted. He briefly wondered if that had been Paige's idea or if Tim was more of a gentleman than Walter gave him credit for, but he actually didn't care.
"Whew!" Paige got up and bent to gather her purse and its contents. Tossing the strewn items and her phone back in, she placed the bag back on the dresser and turned back to where Walter was still standing beside the door.
"Ralph's just fine – sound asleep, Sly says. He also told me that Toby called him after you left and he and Ralph went back to the garage to get him. Toby's sleeping on my couch right now, and Sly is preparing to deal with one very hung over behaviorist tomorrow."
"Oh good," Walter remarked. "That's good. I…. I probably shouldn't have left Toby like that, but I just had to.,. I had to follow you."
"Yeah, about that." Paige sat back down on the edge of the bed and patted the spot beside her. "You want to explain why you followed me here when everyone's fine?"
Walter pushed away from the wall and quickly made his way across the room to sit beside Paige. "I…" he began, but then hesitated. Every one of the fifty or so versions of this speech that he'd come up with on the long drive was gone. He had no idea how to say what he needed to say, but he knew he needed to say it – and preferably before Armstrong finished dressing. He knew he'd never be able to do this with the other man in the room.
"I…I'm…I've been an idiot," he said, "…and a moron. And you deserve someone so much smarter than me…" He'd been staring down at his hands, but looked up now, needing to see her reaction. In all his life Walter O'Brien had never done anything like this. He had no idea what to expect. But somehow, he knew, he'd be able to see the truth in her eyes. "…but I love you and if you still feel anything for me at a…"
Walter threw his hands up in the air as he suddenly found himself with Paige's lips on his, her hands on his face, the fingers of one hand teasing over his ear and into his hair. What was he supposed to do? How should he react? Should he put his hands on her face? Should he put his arms around her? He couldn't think, but he realized that somehow, his hands and arms had figured things out for themselves. One hand was gripping her shoulder and the other arm was wrapping itself around her waist, pulling her closer as he turned his body and tilted his head into a more comfortable position. He felt something wet flick against his lips and he parted them, his own tongue easing out to meet hers.
From somewhere far away, Walter heard a door open. He ignored it. He was busy.
"I um… I guess I must have missed something," said Tim.
April 27, 2016