Feedback: Yes, please!
Rating: FRT (PG13)
Summary: Radio Shack was always a pain in the neck. So, how come Frohike didn't seem to mind going out there?
Disclaimer: If they were mine, they'd still be on the air.
Radio Shack was a necessary evil.
It was one of the few places that had all the bits and pieces the Lone Gunmen often needed at the warehouse but Radio Shack also had that irritating policy of insisting on taking all your personal information every time you went in there.
Even if all you needed to buy was a twenty-five cent connector, they wanted to know so much about you: name, address, phone number, blood type, any tattoos, the name of your first born child...
Okay, it wasn't that bad but it was still much more than Frohike wanted most people to know about him.
So, he lied.
What were they going to do, refuse to take his money? After a while, it got to be a game, trying to come up with different names and such. For the addresses, he picked really obvious ones like the White House, the British Prime Minister's famous address, Sherlock Holmes' London flat and even Oscar the Grouch's trash can.
Radio Shack did have one advantage though, at least for Frohike.
It had Elaine.
She was one of those women who truly had no idea just how attractive she was. It was one of the things he found most appealing about her.
Sure, she was a looker but in her own way: not all made up with a glamorous hair-do with so much hairspray you didn't even want to touch it. Her hair was short and dark brown and framed her face to show off her brown eyes in which tiny flecks of green could be seen if you looked closely enough.
From the lines at the corners of her eyes, Frohike figured she was about his age, maybe a bit younger. He knew those lines were the product of years of smiling. And it was a smile she gave him every time he came into her store.
He had long ago committed her usual work schedule to memory and would always try to put off going to Radio Shack until he knew she would be there.
It took the other guys quite a while to figure out why he was always willing to endure the third degree at the store when they all dreaded it.
Langly finally put it together one day when he insisted on accompanying Frohike. A trip to the grocery store was also planned and he wanted to pick up some of his favorite munchies.
"Look," said Frohike when they arrived at the strip mall, "why don't you start the grocery shopping and I'll meet you." He held the grocery list out to the younger man.
"Nah," replied Langly, "As long as we're here, I might as well check it out. You might forget something."
Scowling at him, Frohike stuffed the list in the pocket of Langly's t-shirt. "Just go get the food. I've got it covered." He spun on his heel and left Langly standing by the van.
Langly, a bemused expression on his face, watched Frohike walk away. He wondered what he'd done to piss off his friend. Unable to think of anything except his insistence on accompanying Frohike on this little foray, Langly gave up and headed toward the grocery store. He stopped with his foot on the pressure pad that opened the door. The door slid to the right expectantly.
Frohike usually didn't mind having company when shopping, but he almost always went to Radio Shack on his own. Langly backed up allowing the door to close. Why, when Frohike always insisted they share the nasty jobs, was he so willing to do something they all professed to hate.
Turning around, Langly walked past a Hallmark displaying Beanie Babies and other small stuffed critters in their front window and the used-book store with racks of well-worn paperbacks on shelves on the sidewalk out front. He stopped just short of the big windows of the electronics store.
Keeping a hand on one of the shelves of books, Langly leaned forward to peer through the glass of the neighboring store. Around the boxes of inexpensive DVD and CD players, Langly could see Frohike standing at the check out counter. The clerk lady behind the counter was totaling up his items.
Frohike handed her some cash but as she dropped his change into his palm, Frohike took the woman's hand in both of his then brought it to his lips to kiss it.
Langly strangled the urge to whoop in surprise and chose instead to run back to the grocery store. He was moving too fast for the automatic sliding door and caught his shoulder on its retreating edge.
This barely slowed him down as he grabbed a shopping cart and headed for the chip aisle where he could throw some bags of crunchies into it before Frohike came looking for him. This accomplished, he walked quickly over to the beer aisle where he was standing rubbing his shoulder when Frohike found him.
"Chips and beer? That's all you've rounded up?"
"Well, yeah," said Langly. "Go for the staples first, then the nonessentials."
Frohike shook his head. "Give me the shopping list."
Langly handed it over but kept all comments to himself. News like this must be shared to be fully appreciated.
Back at the warehouse, Langly and Frohike brought in most of the groceries sending Jimmy out to get the rest. While Frohike and Jimmy put the food away, Langly sought out the fourth Gunman.
"Byers, you're not going to believe this."
"Believe what?" asked Byers without looking up from his monitor. So many blogs…so little time.
"Frohike's got a girl friend."
Byers paused for a moment, shook his head and continued reading. "Very funny, Langly. He would've told us if he did."
"I saw it. I saw him kiss her."
Byers did look at Langly at that point. "Whom did he kiss?"
"The lady at Radio Shack, the one who works there, the manager lady."
"And you saw them kissing?"
Caught in his exaggeration, Langly glanced away. "Well…not really but I did see him kiss her hand."
"That's nothing," Byers said returning to the blog on his screen. "I've seen him do that dozens of times. It doesn't mean he's got a girl friend."
Disappointed with Byers' reaction to his news, Langly pressed his point by pulling up and chair and parking himself where the other man could see him without taking his full attention away from his monitor. "Think about it, man. How much do you hate going to Radio Shack? He never seems to mind." Byers spared Langly a split second of his attention.
"There's got to be a reason," Langly continued. "I think he's taken a shine to this babe."
"Her name is Elaine." Byers said absently. He pretended to continue reading but his thoughts were now running in the same direction as Langly's. He could see how Frohike would be attracted to the woman. She was intelligent, had a good sense of humor and was pretty easy on the eyes. And although Frohike professed an undying devotion to Agent Scully, they all knew that eventually Mulder would see what was right in front of his nose and would make that relationship more than just a working one.
Langly could sense that Byers was coming over to 'the dark side'. "Come on," said Langly getting his face right down by the monitor. "You know I'm right."
A grin stretched slowly across Byers' face and he began to nod. "I think you just might be."
The noise of Jimmy and Frohike coming down the stairs brought them both to their feet. The watched silently as Frohike sat down at his computer. When neither of them said anything or moved to do something constructive, but continued to stare at him, he asked, "What's eating you two?"
Byers decided to jump right in. "Langly says you've got a girl friend."
"You've got a girl friend!" Jimmy proclaimed. "Hey, that's great!" He clapped Frohike on the back nearly rattling his teeth.
Frohike spun around in his chair. "No, I don't," he said to Jimmy. "And where the hell did you two dimwits get that idea?"
"I saw you kiss that manager lady," Langly declared.
"Elaine," Byers said again.
"You were spying on me?" Frohike accused Langly.
"See! See!" Langly hollered pointing at Frohike. "He admits he kissed her!"
"You did? Man!" Jimmy complained, shaking his head, "I miss all the good stuff!"
Frohike slapped Langly's hand away. "I didn't exactly kiss her," he explained to Jimmy. "I kissed her hand."
"And she let you!" Langly said gleefully. "I knew it! Hikey's got a girl friend!"
"What are you, ten years old?" Frohike asked in disgust. "Put a sock in it!"
Langly pulled up a chair at a nearby computer. He sat chuckling smugly to himself as he woke up the monitor and started typing. "I'm going to Google her…see what I can find."
"You can do that?" Jimmy asked.
"Knock if off, Langly," Frohike said at the same time.
Langly chose to ignore Frohike and answer Jimmy's question. "Sure, you can Google anybody. You'd probably be surprised what comes up."
"You don't even know her last name," Frohike insisted.
Langly shrugged not taking his eyes off his screen. "Simple hack into Radio Shack's employee records to find out."
Hoping to take Frohike's mind off their irritating co-worker, Byers said, "Seriously, Mel." Frohike stopped scowling at Langly to give Byers his attention. "You obviously like Elaine, which is great. She seems like a lovely person. But what does she think about you?"
"I've never been that sure," Frohike admitted. "Today was the first indication that maybe she'd be open to more than just casual flirting."
"Her last name is Robertson," Langly said still typing away. "And just how hot is she?"
"Too hot for you, Punk," Frohike said.
Considering how irritated Frohike was with Langly, it took quite a bit of nerve for Jimmy to inquire, "So, um…you gonna ask her out?"
On the drive home, Frohike had asked himself the same question and given it a great deal of thought. "I'm going to give it a couple days, then find a good reason to go back out there at say…closing time."
It was quite a while, longer than Frohike had hoped, before he had the time and a reason to go back to Radio Shack. In the mean time, he found out what he could about Elaine. Langly had come up with some basic information on her. She was divorced and had two grown sons. One was in college and the other was newly married.
Frohike was a little surprised to discover this part of her history. She must have gotten married very young like right out of high school. It was probably why the marriage didn't last.
Elaine had gone to work at Radio shack shortly after her divorce and had been there since. It was only two years into her time there that she had become assistant manager then, a year later, manager.
None of these facts told Frohike what he really wanted to know about her. What were her likes and dislikes? What kind of books did she read? What were her hobbies? He sure hoped she liked to dance. It had been a long time since he'd had a really good dance partner.
He knew he could probably hack into her home computer. So many people had wireless internet these days and a quick trip past her house with a laptop sporting a WiFi card would do the trick. Langly was all for it, insisting that they needed to know more about Elaine before Frohike committed himself to the woman. Frohike threatened to have Langly committed if he even attempted it.
He finally got Langly to back off by saying that some things are better discovered as a relationship develops and not by what a woman buys on the internet or whether or not Doom was loaded on her desktop computer. And that if the blond hacker had ever taken the time to get to know a woman instead of babbling like an idiot every time he was confronted with one, he would understand this.
And besides, he'd been shopping at that Radio Shack for more than 10 years, flirting shamelessly with Elaine the whole time without really doing anything about it. He could wait just a bit longer.
A week and a half after the day Langly saw him kiss Elaine's hand, Frohike walked into the deserted store. The lack of customers pleased him. It would give him the opportunity to talk to Elaine in private. The only problem was, she was nowhere to be seen. He was about to check if there was anyone in the backroom when he spotted her sitting at a computer behind the high counter. The bright sunlight from the big windows out front shone on her as she sat motionless with her hands resting on her keyboard.
He took a moment to appreciate how the sun glinted off her hair. She must have recently dyed it but the color looked good on her. He also noted that her skirt, which barely reached her knees, nicely showed off her crossed legs.
The sunlight illuminated the fine golden hairs along her arms making him want to touch her skin to see if it was as soft as he remembered when he kissed her hand. Unaware of his presence, she sat unmoving yet breathing deeply as if she were lost in thought or a daydream.
For what was probably the thousandth time in his life, Frohike wished he had not left his camera at home.
As much as he was enjoying looking at Elaine in this portrait pose, he had come for a reason. And with no one else in the store, the moment was right. "Elaine," he said to get her attention.
When there was no response, he tried a little louder. "Elaine… Elaine?"
Still nothing. This worried him. "Elaine? Are you all right?"
"Mel! Hi! Can I help you?" Flustered and red cheeked, Elaine got up from her computer. But she stood up too quickly which caused her to knock over a stack of file folders scattering papers everywhere.
"Seriously, Elaine," Frohike said, "you had me worried there for a minute."
"Oh, it's all right," she said bending down to pick up the folders. "The sun was making me a little sleepy. That's all."
The folders kept sliding out of her grasp as she continued to try to pick up those still scattered about in the pool of sunlight on the floor.
"Can I help you with that?" he asked. He had never seen her so flustered. She was always calm and unaffected by even the most obnoxious customers.
"No, I've got it," she insisted. Contrary to her words, she was just making it worse. Every time she tried to pick a folder up off the floor, she'd drop more until the contents of most of them were spread out around her feet.
Seriously concerned by her behavior, Frohike decided to take matters into his own hands and came around the counter to where she was crouched on the floor. He took the files that she still had in her arms and set them by the computer. Then he swept the loose papers together into a disorganized stack and picked them up. Elaine stood up to straighten the papers that had landed on the counter.
"Here you go," he said handing her what he'd collected. He was further mystified by the fact that she avoided looking him directly in the eye.
"Thank you," she said reaching for them. As she did, her hand touched his. Not immediately breaking the contact, she slowly ran one finger over the exposed skin at his fingertips.
Surprised by the caress, Frohike finally got a good look at her face and saw obvious signs of physical attraction.
He couldn't help but smile at her. Not a big grin but one that was meant to relax and reassure her. She maintained the contact between their hands for another few seconds before finally pulling away to set the papers down.
Frohike watched her, wanting to give her a few more seconds to regain her composure.
"Can I ask you a couple of personal questions?" asked Elaine who seemed to have bounced back faster than Frohike figured she could.
Deciding to see what was on her mind, he chose to play along. "More personal than the ones you always ask me?"
"I'm afraid they are."
"In that case, ask the questions and we'll see what I can do."
"Are you married or in any committed relationship?"
The question brought him up short. He didn't know what he expected her to ask but it wasn't this.
When he didn't answer right away, she backed off. "I'm sorry. That's none of my business. You don't need to answer." She turned back to the papers to begin to sort them into their files.
Frohike put his hand on her shoulder to get her to turn around. "No, I am not in any committed relationship," he said.
"Oh, okay." It was her turn to hesitate.
"What was the other question?" he asked, figuring he knew what was coming next.
She gazed intently at him for a moment. He waited patiently.
"Would you like to go out to dinner with me?"
He smiled at her again. A full smile that was meant to give her his answer before he even spoke.
"Yes, I'd love to go out to dinner with you."