This is another fic I wrote as a pinch hitter for the fic exchange on AO3. This prompt asked that the team hangs out on a day off, either in small groups or all together at the garage.
"Well team, we did good today," Cabe said. "I think we should all take a break tomorrow."
"You mean, like...a day off?" Sylvester was surprised.
"I mean like a day off," Cabe said. "Providing it's okay with Walter."
"I don't have anything pressing," he replied. "We haven't had a day off in forty seven days. I think it's time we gave our minds a rest. Take advantage of no imminent disasters while we can."
"Awesome," Happy said in a monotone. "I can get some peace and quiet."
"Thousand bucks you'll spend the day with the screeching of machines."
"It's peace and quiet to me. My dad's out of town for the weekend, said I could use his shop."
"You know you can always just work...here...right?" Sylvester asked.
"Yes," Happy said, "but I've seen a lot of you guys lately."
"Alright, well," Toby said, "I need a break myself. And there's a race tomorrow where the five horse is not getting enough attention and that's good for me. If I can get him at those twelve to one odds..." he jumped off the table, grabbing his hat. "See everyone on Monday."
"You ready to go home, Ralph?" Paige asked.
The boy nodded. "I bought a college textbook with my birthday money. I'll study it tomorrow."
"Don't you have fourth grade homework?"
Ralph raised an eyebrow at his mother. "Mom. Come on."
"It's done," Paige said with a nod. "Of course. You think you can teach me a few things from your book?"
Ralph nodded again, and Paige smiled at the rest of the team as she placed a hand on her son's back, between his shoulder blades, and guided him to the door.
It was eight in the morning, but one wouldn't have guessed by the natural light.
Toby looked at his laptop screen in frustration. With this kind of weather, the races would surely be cancelled. Even if they decided to go on, he didn't much care to go out in this. Not even for twelve to one on the five horse.
He had online wagering accounts anyway.
Placing his bets, he stood in front of the window, looking out at the rain.
Paige wasn't expecting a knock at the door, but when she saw who it was, a smile came over her face. "Walter!" She stood aside, letting him in.
"I uh, I found this upstairs this morning," he said, holding out a large book. "Ralph had mentioned that he wanted to look at it today, and..."
"Oh, his textbook." She took it from him. "I can't believe he forgot this. He was so excited about it."
"Hey bud," Walter said, looking around Paige. She turned. Her son was standing in the living room, rubbing his eyes. "Sleeping in today, huh?"
"I track my sleep cycles. My alarm is set to the most efficient point in the cycle to be roused from it."
"It's an app he downloaded," Paige said.
"It's a version of an app I downloaded," Ralph corrected. "It had a few bugs."
There was a cracking sound outside, and the apartment was flooded in light for a brief, simultaneous instant.
"Come sit down with us," Paige said. "I can make more waffles."
"No," Walter said. "I have to get back..."
"Back to what." It wasn't a question. "None of us have anything to do today. And I don't want you driving in this weather."
"Paige," Walter began, an amused smile on his face.
"Nuh – uh," Paige said, holding up a finger. "Don't Paige me. You're staying right here."
There was a beeping noise, and she walked over to the waffle maker. "Ralph, come here and get your breakfast. Walter, what do you like on your waffles? Syrup? Butter? Powdered sugar? Strawberries?"
"What are you doing here, doc?"
"There's a thunderstorm. You shouldn't be using those tools."
"My surge protectors are the best surge protectors in the entire world," Happy said dismissively, waving a hand. "You know that."
Toby shrugged, acknowledging her point. "I know that. But you know that I will always worry about you. That's something I can't help."
"So you're not going to the track today?"
Toby knew she worried about him too. "No." He shoved his hands in his pockets. "It's a mess out there. Plus, I missed you."
She stopped working, raising her eyebrows. "You see me every day."
"I know." He walked up behind her. "How can I help?"
She handed him a wrench. "When I tell you to, put it in my hand. And no dirty jokes."
"I wasn't going to say anything," Toby said. He raised his eyebrows. "Interesting that that's where your mind went, however."
She rolled her eyes, but a tiny smirk was on her face. "You are the worst, doc."
He grinned, smiling at her. "I know."
"Hey. Is this Sly?"
"Yeah..." Sylvester frowned. The voice was familiar. The voice was incredibly familiar. But... "who is this? How do you have my cell number? And who else would this be? It's...it's my cell number..."
"Sly." The word preceded a giggle. "It's me, Megan. You gave me your number, remember?"
"Megan!" A grin came over him. "How are you?"
"I'm well," she said, and he could almost hear the smile on her face. "I heard you guys have a day off today, and I thought hey, I haven't seen Sylvester since Christmas, maybe I'll see how he's doing."
"Well, I don't like thunderstorms," Sylvester said. "I really, really don't like thunderstorms. But oth...other than that, I'm good. You?"
"Bored out of my sk-ull," she said with a laugh.
"I'm glad you called."
"Yeah," Sylvester said. "I-I mean...if you're bored, talking on the phone provides a, uh...there can be entertainment value there, keeping company with someone, even if it's not face to face."
"You can keep me company through my boredom," she said, "and I'll keep you from thinking about the storm. How does that sound?"
"Good. It sounds good."
"My brother would call that a symbiotic relationship, yeah?" She said, her voice soft. "So what have you been up to, Sylvester?"
"Well, actually," he said, "last week the Super Fun Guy newsletter said..." he stopped.
"You're learning fast," Happy said, looking pleased as Toby successfully replicated what she had just done. "Bravo."
"I learn from the best," he said, setting the tiny device down next to hers. "Not quite as pretty. But it will work."
"I don't do pretty machines," she said, "they might have a slight aesthetic appeal to the trained eye because they're put together in a way that maximizes effectiveness."
"Ah," Toby said, "so mine is good, just not as good as yours."
"Yours is very good for someone who doesn't have the natural aptitude for it." She slid more parts toward him. "We need nine more of these. Let's see if you can do four in the time it takes me to do five."
"Challenge accepted," he said.
"Try to make them look like something someone who knows a thing about machines would make, kay?"
He hesitated. "Make it my three to your six."
Paige sat cross legged in the overstuffed chair Cabe had given her from his old apartment, watching Walter and Ralph grade her 'homework'. They'd taught her a unit from the book, and had adjusted the questions at the end of the unit to assign her problems. She'd found she actually had enjoyed working through the problems – astronomy was not her strong suit – and remembered how much she had actually enjoyed school. Her high school diploma was in the desk nearby, and she bit her lip. Her incomplete college degree wasn't a paper that could be stored in a desk or framed on a wall, but it was something that continually hung over her head. The local college was starting some accelerated classes in a week or so...
"Mom, good job," Ralph proclaimed. "Ninety five percent."
"Ninety five?" She asked, jolting out of her thoughts. "Which one did I get wrong?"
"The one on parallax," Walter said, standing up and holding out the book. Paige took it, and Walter crouched next to the chair, pointing at a paragraph. "You can see here..."
There was a knock at the door. "It's Cabe!"
"I invited him for lunch," Paige said. "What?"
Walter was looking at her with raised eyebrows. "I thought it was a day off from each other."
"My recipe feeds four," she said. "And I don't feel like adjusting it down to two adults and a kid."
Sylvester glanced out the window and saw that the rain had stopped and sunlight was peering through the blinds. It couldn't have happened this suddenly. The thunder and lightning had to subside, move away, the rain had to ease up and the clouds had to part before the sun could shine so brightly. But he hadn't noticed that transition. One moment a storm was raging, the next it was peaceful and light. "It's nice out now."
"Oh," Megan said. "You're right. I hadn't noticed the rain stop."
"Well...it is now."
Sylvester looked at the clock. They'd been talking for three hours. He wondered how they'd known each other for over a month and hadn't done this before. "You know, I don't drive, but..." he hesitated. "But I could come see you sometime. It must be lonely, having to stay there more and more."
"They say in a month or so I won't be able to go out anymore," she said. "I'll be too sick."
"So do you want to..." he stopped on the words go out. It sounded nice to him, but he didn't think it was wise word choice, after all, she might make assumptions that would make her uncomfortable. "Do you want to leave the hospital with me sometime? We could hang out...out here. While you still can."
Like earlier, he could tell by her tone of voice that she was smiling. "I'd love that, Sly. I'd really love that. When would you like to?"
"Can you give me a lift back to the garage?" Toby asked. "My car is there."
Happy frowned. "Why didn't you just drive here?"
"My car can go anywhere. The bus that goes by your dad's place doesn't go to the track."
"You were determined not to gamble today."
"I wanted to..." he bit his lip. In all honesty, there was no reason to restrict his access to the races. He had already placed his bets at home. In all honesty, he wanted to see her, spend time with her without a case hanging over their heads, and he'd been afraid that he'd head to the track anyway, letting his gambling interfere with his friendship with Happy. He knew it had in the past...and it probably would happen again in the future, but not today. Today had been nice. "I wanted to spend time with a person today, not with an agenda. And you...you're a person that I really enjoy spending time with."
She smiled. "You too, doc."
She rolled her eyes. "Of course. We've been best friends for years."
"Right." He smiled as she grabbed her keys and headed for the door, and he followed her.
After lunch, Walter watched as Cabe politely insisted that he could do the dishes and Paige shook her head, insisting that he was a guest in her home and that she would handle it. Cabe shook his head, gently pushing her out of the way and stepping in front of the dishwasher.
"Okay, well, at least let me dry," she said, grabbing a towel.
Cabe gave her a smile. "Alright kid, if you insist."
Ralph and Walter were on the couch, locked in an intense video game battle. "You're the only one who can even come close to me at this," Walter remarked.
"Come close?" Ralph said, raising his eyebrows. "I'm beating you."
"But I'm right on your tail," Walter said. "Meaning I'm close to you, ergo you're close to me. Everything I said was absolute truth."
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the smile come over Ralph's face, and he paused the game, turning to face the boy. "You know I enjoy spending time with you and your mom."
Ralph gave a slow nod. "We like spending time with you, too."
Walter looked down at the console he held, and set it down on the coffee table, glancing over at the astronomy text before looking back at the boy. "You left the book at the garage on purpose, didn't you, Ralph?"
Ralph returned Walter's knowing look with one of his own. "And you waited until just before the storm to bring it to us."
The moment of silence that followed as they stared at each other was broken by the sound of Paige and Cabe's cell phones ringing. Cabe wiped his hands on a dish towel and answered. "Hello? Hey Toby, what..."
"Sly, what's going on?" Paige was asking. After several seconds of silence, as they listened, Cabe and Paige slowly turned to look at each other, and then glanced over to Walter and Ralph.
Walter stood. "Is something wrong?"
"No," Paige said with a smile. "Nothing's wrong. We uh...we have an invitation."
Cabe hung up his cell phone and put it back in his pocket. "At your place, Walter."
"Sly took the bus to the hospital and got Megan. They arrived at the garage just as Happy was dropping Toby off, and somehow that turned into barbecue plans on the roof," Paige said. "Later tonight, obviously, it's too soon after lunch, but they're all hanging out there now..."
"Can we go, Mom?" Ralph asked, resting his chin on the back of the couch.
"Of course we can go," Paige said, walking over and ruffling his hair.
"It's funny, isn't it," Cabe said to Walter as Paige and Ralph went to change their clothes. "We get a day off, and everyone's excited to do their own thing. But somehow, we all end up together anyway."
"My sister told me once that some people are just meant to be in each other's lives," Walter said. "I don't really believe in that stuff. Mean to be, and...and all that, but what I do believe – what I do believe as fact – is that when people meet their family – the family they're supposed to have..." he shrugged. "They know. Like, uh...how you and me...have rekindled our relationship after all these years."
"When people are supposed to be in each other's lives," Cabe said, "they usually end up together." He nodded. "I'm glad we've found that, kid. All of us."