This is my entry into the 2008 GAH Valentine's Day "Nobody Ever Gave Me Chocolate" Fanfiction Challenge.
The rules? Simply write a GAH story, of any length or topic, that includes the phrase "Nobody Ever Gave Me Chocolate."
I don't own GAH. I do own stock in Bill Maxwell, but not in a monetary way.
Rated G. Sorry to disappoint.
Thanks to [MelMac for the quick beta.
Bittersweet, But Wrapped in a Lacy Red Box
by Jo Z. Pierce
The bushes in front the Hinkley home rustled as Ralph crashed to the ground. Pam, waiting inside on the couch, shook her head and rolled her eyes as she recognized the sound. She turned around, moved a curtain to one side and took a quick peek outside the window. She wanted to make sure her husband was all right.
As always, he was.
She got up and held the front door open as he hurried in.
"Did your Suit Class Scenario go as planned?" Pam asked in a sarcastic but playful voice. She tried to imitate the voice of some secret agent from an old spy show.
Ralph nodded as he hurried in the door, looking back over his shoulder, hoping the neighbors weren't looking.
As always, they weren't.
"I can't believe you did this, Ralph! What if you got caught?" Pam scolded, although it was a little bit exciting, if she really thought about it.
"Come on, Pam," Ralph replied, as he started to take his suit off for the night. "It's not like I never broke into the Federal Building before... Besides, I was invisible the whole time."
"No fade ins?"
"Nope. You know, I'm really getting good at this!"
"Well..." Pam said, skeptically. "Anyway, it was a very sweet thing you did." She bent over to her husband as he disrobed and gave him a kiss on the cheek. "But are you sure he won't know it's you?"
"How would he know?" Ralph said, as he gathered the suit up in his arms and shoved them into his briefcase, and got into comfortable clothes for the evening.
"Bill Maxwell?" Pam asked, amazed that she had to point out the obvious. "He always has a way of finding out."
"Bill. It's me."
"Hey kid," Bill responded, a bit relieved as he held onto the receiver of the phone. His eyes darted around the room, nervously, as he spoke to his partner.
"Just wondering if you still need me to help you with that, um, thing, you know... tonight..."
"Yeah. Of course! Yeah. I'll swing by your house tonight at 6, and we'll..."
"Cause, Bill, you know, it's Valentine's Day, and I was really hoping to do something special with Pam tonight. It's our first together since we got married."
Ralph could almost hear Bill's eyes roll over the phone. He smiled, just thinking about his partner getting uncomfortable about the whole subject of romantic Valentine's Day dinners.
"Are you trying to tell me," Bill said, slowly and in a hushed voice "that having dinner with the Counsellor is more important than getting these creeps off the street?"
"Well, yeah Bill. It's Valentine's Day. And we want to celebrate."
"Would you give me a break. Valentine's Day..."
"Aw, come on. Don't be that way, Bill."
Normally, Ralph would not even bring up the subject. He knew that Bill was still hurting, even though he couldn't admit it, even to his best friend. He still missed O'Neil, and his heart was still broken over the hard choice he ultimately had to make when he finally testified against her. It couldn't be easy on the old fella, Ralph knew, but he also knew that life had to go on. After all, he'd lived through heartbreak himself; the divorce with Alicia was rough, but he survived, and in the end things turned out better than he ever could have imagined.
"Listen, Ralph. Carlisle wants these Reds found...immediately. No... not immediately... yesterday! This is important!"
"Bill, Pam is important."
There was silence over the line.
"Come on, Bill. Take the night off. Why don't you... I dunno..."
"Whatever you are thinking, kid, just forget about it."
"Oh, come on, Bill. You can..." his voice trailed off, but then returned with great excitement. "Maybe ask one of the girls from he secretary pool out for a drink!"
"Bill, it would be harmless."
"Ask a dame out on Valentine's Day? You call that harmless? Get real!"
"Well, what about the new lab tech down in forensics."
"Ok, what about..."
"Would you cut it out! I ain't gonna. And that's that!" Bill's voice was growing more and more agitated by the moment. Ralph wondered if indeed he had misjudged. Maybe he did make a mistake.
"Sorry, Bill. I just thought, well, maybe there was someone there, down at the Bureau, who, well... maybe you could...maybe..."
"There ain't nobody here, so lay off, kid."
"Then what is that on your desk?"
"What! Ralph! You! You've ... got... the ... suit ... on ... don't you!" Bill said, agitated, but still in a hushed voice.
Ralph cleared his throat, reminding Bill that all calls - both ingoing, and outgoing - were taped. Then he simply said "Yup..." and whistled a few notes.
"I can't believe it... spying on me like this."
"Sorry Bill, I'm just doing like you said, wearing it under my clothes, just in case." Ralph was teasing, but Bill was too nervous to notice.
"So, you didn't answer me. Who are they for, Bi-i-i-i-ll?"
"Um, well..." Bill said, uncertainly, then let out a little giggle. "Um, me!"
"They're for me, Ralph. I came in this morning, and someone left me a big box of chocolates on my desk. Right there." Bill said. He tried not to sound cocky, instead turning the response into sarcasm. " Big red heart. Reeeal pretty. The lace matches my socks."
"Who sent them?"
"I dunno, kid. No card."
"Nope. And everyone from the mail room up to Carlisle is poking fun."
"Bill, they're just jealous!" Ralph said, laughing. "I mean, someone probably has a big crush on you!"
"Probably Johnny the Dancer had them delivered. Razor blades in each one."
"Bill, you're a true romantic."
"I need this from you, too? Come on, Ralph. Lay off."
"Aw, come on, Bill. Don't be like that."
"What are you talking about, kid. This ain't right."
"Nobody ever bought me chocolate. Not in my whole... life..."
"Well, maybe not. But maybe someone did this time. Aren't you curious who it could be?"
Bill shrugged, then gave a non-committed "Well..."
"Well, Bill, maybe ask around..."
"You mean, walk up to some broad in the hall and ask her if she gave me a big box of chocolate?"
Bill snapped back, with a nervous laugh.
"Ok. You're right. You have to be careful," Ralph cautioned. "'Cause if you ask the wrong one, then you may hurt someone's feelings."
"Yeah. Right. Good thinking, kid." Bill seemed relieved, and hopeful that maybe this awkward conversation would end soon.
"I mean, even if you don't find out who it is, you know, in time for today, well, Bill..."
This was it. This was the line he was waiting to say. The reason for the whole set up.
"Bill, maybe you should just start to look around the office a little more. Maybe see who's looking at you..."
"Yeah. Right. Whatever, kid."
"Well, anyway, just keep it in mind. Ok?"
Bill responded with an off handed "Hmph!"
"So, tomorrow, Bill, first thing, we'll go after those Cuban spies?"
"Yeah, kid, ok. What the hell. You take the Counselor out for dinner. I'll sit here and choke on the razor blades."
Ralph could tell that Bill was just a little depressed. Ralph knew that the healing process was long and hard.
As always, it was.
"Bill, just look around. A little. Ok? What will it hurt?"
"Catch you later, Ralph, ok?" Bill said, obviously ready to end the call. "Oh, and thanks, kid."
"Thanks? For what?"
"Like I said. Nobody ever bought me chocolate, before. Not in my whole life."