Title: Sure Thing
Summary: Paige wonders about taking her relationship with Walter a step further.
Author's Note: This one-shot was inspired by yet another conversation on Fan Forum.
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 had to be done… soon. Walter was being incredibly patient and understanding. As if she needed something else to love him for, Paige loved her quirky genius even more for that. But it wasn't just Walter's patience that was being tested. Her own was, as well.
Paige never had to deal with this dilemma before. Once Drew was out of her life, with two jobs and a young son to care for, her social life was dead on arrival. When she joined Scorpion, her fascination with the job, followed by her fascination with her boss, left her with no time or interest in dating.
Then came Tim.
The timing of Tim joining Scorpion was practically diabolical. Paige was frustrated with Walter's stubborn refusal to acknowledge the - - whatever it was - - that lay between them. The job was just as fascinating as ever, but Paige found herself with something she didn't know how to deal with - - free time. Ralph enjoyed taking up some of that time, but he also enjoyed spending his time doing things with the other geniuses. And since their free time and Paige's free time were usually at the same time, that left Paige with not much to do but sit at home.
Paige wasn't the sit at home type.
When Tim came along, he was a nice way to fill in some of those hours with pleasant company. Paige felt bad about that. It soon became apparent that Tim's end game for the relationship was very much different from hers. She tried to develop those sorts of feelings for him. She was flirty and touchy. She kissed him and threw her arms around him, but all to no avail. She liked Tim; she had fun with him; she thought he was a decent enough guy, but that was it. The reason it failed was the one reason she would not allow herself to consider.
The problem should have been obvious to her when she found excuses not to sleep with the man. Paige didn't absolutely need to love a man to sleep with him. But she did need to feel that love might be on the horizon. She never felt that with Tim. So, she never slept with him. Walter was surprised when she told him. He hadn't asked her anything about Tim, but she found she wanted him to know. She would have a problem with a lover who was jealous of her every past relationship, but she didn't mind - - and was a bit gratified - - to detect a touch of relief in his reaction. The thing that impressed her most was that Walter didn't question it. Paige suspected that nearly any other man would have been skeptical, but Walter accepted what she said as pure truth. After months of half-truths and deflections regarding their feelings for each other, their new relationship was sometimes embarrassingly honest.
Which was part of why she was dealing with her current dilemma.
She and Walter took full advantage of Ralph's annual week with Drew. During their weeks stranded on the island, Paige realized that, having fallen in love, her libido was raging to make up for lost time. Their first night spent together had satisfied her need for hot, frenzied sex involving tangled arms and legs and sheets as well as her desire for slow, romantic love-making that confirmed for her that this man was the other part of her soul.
After that first night, however, they found it difficult to find any time alone. Paige watched with envy as Toby and Happy left the garage every night to go to their shared home. She sometimes glanced at Walter and realized he had similar thoughts. But she was not about to compromise her parental duties to satisfy her urges. Which meant that unless there was some other reason for Ralph not to be at home, she and Walter spent their nights apart.
Mama was a little pent up on the island. Now that she knew what she was missing, Mama was way past pent up. At times, she felt like one big hormone on steroids. The week while Ralph was with Drew was bliss. Walter followed her home every night. They both knew the entire team was aware of their nightly liaisons, but agreed it was important to keep up some semblance of separation between their professional and personal lives, so they left separately at night and arrived separately in the morning.
On Wednesday morning, they each found neatly lettered cards on their desks that read, "You're not fooling anyone, stop wasting gas."
On the last night of Ralph's visit, she and Walter lay curled up with each other in her bed. They'd been lying there, enjoying the closeness and talking occasionally, for over an hour. They had not made love. It was if they both knew it would be their last opportunity for a while, and they weren't willing to concede to that… not yet.
"I wish we could do this every night!" She blurted out.
Walter tightened his arm around her, bringing her closer. She was wearing a thin tank top and a pair of loose shorts. They were past the stage when she felt she needed to wear sexy nighties… or one of his shirts… to bed. She had done so the first couple of nights this week, but she quickly went back to her preferred nighttime attire. It certainly made no difference in Walter's response.
"We… could," he replied, hesitatingly. "I… I could move in… if you want me to." He placed a light kiss on her forehead.
Paige sucked in a breath. What she said was true. She wanted Walter with her every night. She wasn't sure she was completely ready for everything that meant. Especially where Ralph was concerned.
Walter cupped her chin with his hand, gently stroking her cheek with his thumb. She turned to kiss his palm, then tipped her head up so she could look in his eyes.
"Ralph… I'm pretty sure he knows… if that's what you're worried about," Walter said.
Paige started. Walter would scoff if she told him he'd read her mind. He would explain to her that after three years, he just knew enough about her that he was sometimes able to anticipate what was uppermost in her thoughts.
"I'm… I'm sure you're right," Paige admitted, rolling onto her back. She needed a little distance to think about this clearly, without the distraction of Walter wrapped around her. "That's not something that takes genius, after all." She laughed nervously. "But I still feel I should talk to him… make sure he's okay with it… before…"
"Before he's exposed to this as a reality instead of just a theory."
"Right," she sighed. "I mean, he's ecstatic that we're together. He talks about us being a family all the time. So, I don't think he'll have a problem with you moving in but… I still think I should talk to him. I need to make sure he understands… understands what it really means."
Walter turned over on his side, pulling his arm out from under her to prop up his head. "Maybe…," he began, then took her hand in his. "Maybe you should tell me… what it really means."
Paige turned to face him, taking a moment to gather her thoughts. "Ralph… he needs to understand that…" She sighed. There was no way to say this without implying things she didn't mean to imply. Walter had asked, though, and it was important that he realize she would protect Ralph, even from things she thought unlikely or even impossible. "Ralph has seen two men come and go in my life. One of those men was his own father. I need him to understand the reality of relationships."
Walter was about to say something, but she put two fingers on his lips to stop him. "Walter, I know this is it for both of us. I know you won't ever leave. I thought the same thing about Drew and I was wrong. I have to think of how this will affect Ralph if I'm wrong again. Do you understand?"
Walter didn't respond for some time. He often got very quiet for a while when he was trying to analyze his emotions. The problem was that his analysis often pointed him in a bad direction; one that resulted in misunderstandings and angry reactions. That's what happened when he'd fired her a few months ago.
He withdrew his hand from hers, then turned over on his back and looked up at the ceiling. Paige glanced up, wondering if he was counting the minute cracks in the paint and determining when the ceiling was last done.
"When we first met, I told you that you were a very good mother… or a very bad one," he said, clasping his hands together across his stomach. "I know now… I've known for some time… that I was right in the first case. You're a very good mother. Which means that nothing I say will make any difference. You need to protect your son from being hurt again like he was hurt by Drew… even if you believe that will never happen… you still have to do it. Just like you have to teach him to be wary of strangers so he won't be kidnapped… even if you want to believe that will never happen. I understand."
Paige sighed again in relief. She should have realized that Walter would understand. She knew there were many things about this new situation that he didn't fully understand; things that confused and even frightened him. But one thing Walter would always understand was the need to keep Ralph safe; and he nearly always understood that Paige knew what was best in that regard.
She smiled when he turned over again and took her hand in his.
"Just… when you do tell him…" Walter grinned, "… I'll need a day or two to pack some things before I move in."
That was twelve long days ago. Ralph returned safely from his visit with Drew. He was back in school and their routine was more or less back to normal. Sometimes, the three of them went to dinner together or they ordered in and ate in the garage while Walter and Ralph worked on something. Other nights, Walter would follow Paige to her place and she would cook a "nutritious" meal. Surprisingly, Walter was a disaster in the kitchen. Paige always thought that cooking had a scientific element to it, but apparently not for Walter. Paige resolved that if he moved in, he would simply have to buckle down and learn, but for now, she was okay with giving him a pass.
Walter never mentioned their discussion. He never indicated, apart from an occasional, prolonged kiss, that he was as frustrated as she was with their enforced celibacy after having enjoyed a week of unlimited intimacy.
The evening before, they were sitting on the couch in the garage, munching popcorn and watching a movie, when Ralph mentioned that Drew had a lady named Monica living with him. They each turned suddenly, exchanging a glance over Ralph's head.
"So, Monica is your dad's… girlfriend?" Paige asked.
"Yeah," Ralph said, popping a fistful of popcorn in his mouth. "They're even worse than Toby and Happy, kissing all the time. Wow! Did you see that, Walter?" Ralph pointed excitedly at the screen. "I bet we could make that car go even faster! We'd win every race!"
Walter ruffled Ralph's hair and smiled, glancing back at Paige and shrugging his shoulders. "We can make the cars go faster, buddy. But there's a lot of things that… that you can't predict. Nothing is ever a sure thing."
Paige smiled back at him and wondered what she was waiting for.
Now she was sitting in her living room, wondering how to start. She needed to talk to her son, and she needed to do it tonight.
Evenings alone with Ralph were unusual. Walter was working late this evening with Cabe and Sly putting the finishing touches on their latest case. It was a simple security review for a local agency that experienced a breach. They could have taken the evening off and finished things in the morning, but Walter wanted to close early tomorrow and give everyone a head start on their weekend. So Paige had Ralph all to herself.
Ralph put the game he was playing on pause and immediately turned his head. "Yeah, Mom?"
"Can you come over here a minute. There's something I'd like to talk to you about."
"Sure," he responded and got up from the floor. He walked over quickly, plopping down on the couch beside her.
Paige briefly wondered if she should ask him about school or if he wanted to go along on their next out-of-town case, anything to avoid the real subject; to put it off for another day. But that wouldn't get her where she wanted to be – which was snuggling with Walter on a nightly basis. Her priority was till Ralph. She needed to be sure he was okay with the change, and that he wouldn't put an unreasonable expectation of permanence on the situation. If she sensed a problem, she would simply tamp down her own desires and tell Walter that the time just wasn't right yet. But she wouldn't get anywhere if she didn't say something.
She looked down at her son, stroking his hair back from his forehead. She still wasn't quite used to the new haircut. She missed the little boy he was, but she was excited to see the young man he was about to become.
"Sweetie," she began, "You know that Walter and I care a lot about each other, right."
Ralph nodded. "You finally figured out you love him. And he loves you. Sometimes he calls you silly names, but I get it. And you like to kiss him. I'm sorta starting to get that, too."
"Really?" Paige's eyebrows shot up. This was news. "You get kissing?"
"Yeah, sort of. I mean, I'm surrounded by it, you know? First Toby and Happy are kissing like… ALL the time. And I saw Cabe kissing Allie once; then you and Walter and Monica and my… and Drew. So, I decided to look it up. There's a whole science about it. When you kiss someone… I mean like lovey-dovey kissing… you exchange like 80 million bacteria. That's not as bad as shaking someone's hand which is 124 million. I figure Sly should probably kiss people when he meets them instead of shaking hands. Anyway, some folks did some tests that show that people can tell if the person they are kissing has a different range of immunity, which means that any children they have would have a broader immune system. But mostly kissing makes your brain produce chemicals that make you feel good. It's all just biology."
Paige sat back and slumped her shoulders. "Wow. You're going to be just like Walter."
"Nah," Ralph countered. "Walter used to think that love doesn't exist because it's just the effect of a lot of brain chemicals. But just because something is caused by chemicals doesn't mean it isn't real. It actually makes it more real. There's a cause and effect. It's simple science."
"Wow." Paige repeated. "Well, in that case, aside from the 80 million bacteria, are you okay with it… I mean with Walter and me?"
"Sure. It… Mom it was kinda dumb that it took you guys so long to figure it out. Everybody else knew. Now you're happier and Walter is happier; and that makes everyone happier - a whole lot happier than when you two were fighting."
"We weren't…" Paige paused. She and Walter were bound to have more fights on occasion. She shouldn't pretend they didn't. She tried to be honest with Ralph and this wasn't the time to stop. "Oh… Okay then." She took a deep breath. "How would you feel if… if Walter came over… and stayed?"
"You mean like spend the night? Sure. That would be okay. It's not very efficient for him to drive back and forth all the time."
"I'm not just talking one night. I… that is we… we're thinking of Walter moving in here. You know that… that Walter would be sleeping in my room, right? Are you okay with that?"
"… and sometimes we might have the door closed. If you're sick or something, you can always come to me, but you might need to knock, okay?"
"…and I know sometimes you stay up late and read in your room after bedtime. I know you're growing up and so I'm okay with that. But if you're up late… you might hear… noises… from my room. I don't want you to worry, okay?"
"MOM! STOP!" Ralph clapped his hands over his ears.
Paige stared at her son, blushing as she realized she was perhaps being a bit too honest.
Ralph slowly removed his hands from his ears. "Mom, I've wanted Walter to be… part of our family… really part of our family… for a long time. Then I thought that would never happen. Now that it's… it might actually happen, I'm… I'm really happy about that. And I'm really happy that you're happy. But there's some things I guy doesn't need to talk about with his mom, okay?"
Paige grinned sheepishly and wrapped her arms around her son, hugging him tightly.
"What?" She asked, loosening her hold and pulling back. "Are you too old for hugs, now?"
Ralph shrugged. "Nah. Just maybe not quite so tight, okay?"
Paige released him and ruffled his hair, quickly finger combing it back in place.
"So, mom? When's Walter moving in?"
"Well, let's see," she answered, reaching for her cellphone. She tapped a few keys and was about to tap the speaker button, then, glancing at Ralph, she brought the phone to her ear. Walter answered on the second ring.
"Hi, Walter," Paige said. "You might want to start packing."
May 28, 2017