Chapter Title: Alternate Ending!—"But Almost Anything"
Chapter Genre: Humour, ROADTRIP
Chapter Rating: M
Chapter Notes: For the Adorable Fantasy Cat!!!
Takes Place: After 1.20
Song: "Whatever Didi Wants" by NOFX
Disclaimer: I don't own this and never did!
"I wouldn't climb the highest mountain
Could get a blister, but almost anything
I wouldn't throw coins in a fountain
I may be needing to make a phone call
I'd call you collect whenever I could
Cause if there's anything you want
I'll probably get it
Just tell me what you need
I'll try not to forget it
You need someone to blame
I'll say I said it
Whatever Didi wants she's gonna get it"
When Olivia entered the lab that morning, she looked tired and Astrid was about to ask her if she was feeling okay when the blonde handed over a small plastic rectangle.
"Your card arrived," she said wearily and Astrid made a face, taking the object to study.
Olivia nodded. "Company card. You know, the one that Broyles said he'd get for us so we didn't have to keep calling Charlie up to finalise the paper work for something we needed?"
Astrid looked at the card in her hand and when she glanced up, her eyes met Dr. Bishop's. A large grin formed on his face and he started to open his mouth, she gave the slightest shake of her head and he gave the barest of nods.
It wasn't until lunchtime when Olivia had barricaded herself in her office and Peter had run off to pick up their sandwiches that Astrid and Walter had the chance to talk to one another in private. She turned up the Elvis record playing so that they wouldn't be overheard as they whispered to one another.
"I, uh, think I need to get away for the weekend so that I can, um, you know," Walter said feverishly, taking her hands in his, a giddy smile on his face.
"Clear your head?" she asked, grinning just a broadly.
"Exactly! I can't work with in these conditions! I might go crazy!" he looped his finger in a few circles around the side of his head.
"And we can't have that!" she agreed. "Where do we have to go?"
"Um! Um! Um! Atlantic City! We'll go gambling and we'll see topless dancers and we'll—"
She held up her hand to silence him. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves. We can plan the details on the road!"
He hurried over to the coat tree by the door and picked up the black duffle bag she'd become familiar with. "I have a spare set of clothes in my bag—Peter packed them in case I ruin my own."
"I have an overnight bag in the trunk for the nights I have to stay over and finish reports for Olivia," she said, in disbelief that everything was working out so well.
"So we're ready to go then?"
"Completely. We can get drive-through for lunch and be there by evening." Astrid turned her head towards the back office. "Hey Olivia?"
"Yes?" the blonde called out.
"Are these cards already activated?" she asked.
Astrid and Walter gave excited squeals that they muffled with their hands.
"Let me write down a quick note to say we needed to step out of the laboratory and that we'll call them later, please don't worry," she said as she turned to the desk to scribble a note out.
"I had a fruit cocktail once in Atlantic City!" he said giddily, swinging his duffle bag around violently.
"C'mon!" She took him by the hand and they ran out of the lab.
Once in her government plated vehicle, she pulled her cell phone out of her pocket.
"Why are you turning off your phone?" he asked curiously.
"They can track where it pings the towers. And I know that the GPS tracker in the vehicle broke two weeks ago—I reported it but no one's done anything about it, so it serves them right that they won't be able to track us."
"It seems like I'm not the only one who needed a vacation," he grumbled.
"Trudat," she replied as the peeled out of the parking lot.
"And then he says, 'That wasn't my finger'!" Walter concluded with a cackle.
"Walter, that's disgusting," Astrid said about two hours into their trip.
In an effort to keep Walter entertained, she had been listening to him tell her some of the crudest jokes she'd ever heard in her life. As she drove in particularly nasty traffic, she could see that was probably a mistake.
He folded his arms across his chest. "You're laughing. And Peter doesn't allow me to tell jokes anymore."
"I can see why," she mumbled.
After a few minutes of silence Walter piped up again. "I can sing all of Elvis' songs in key! Do you want to hear?"
"Sure. Start with 'Good Luck Charm'," she said, giving the bird to a woman who'd just cut them off.
"Will you sing along? Peter won't sing with me."
She spared a glance at him and grinned. "Of course!"
It was evening and after firmly establishing that Astrid would be holding onto both their hotel room keycards, the two were walking the Atlantic City boardwalk together after dining on some of the greasiest and tastiest fish and chips ever. He'd called her a pervert for requesting a room with two beds, but then she snippily reminded him that he didn't like sleeping in a room alone and that she had to keep an eye on him. He had grudgingly admitted she was right and then called dibs on all the soaps and shampoos in the bathroom.
At one of the brightly lit arcades Walter had managed to win a door prize of five hundred tickets and while he stood at the counter trying to decide what he wanted, Astrid made twenty dollar into quarters and tried her luck at DDR and Area 51. As much as she liked arcade games, she sucked at them and after losing yet another round of shooting aliens in the face, she discovered Walter standing next to her, looking curiously at the 'GAME OVER' screen.
"I can handle a real gun. I think the button was sticky on this trigger," she assured him quickly.
He gave her an amused smile and held out an electric blue t-shirt for her. "I won a shirt for you!"
She held it up and studied the text on the front; it had been designed to look like it originally read 'Let's keep it real,' only with a faux marker addition of the 't' and the ' 's' in bold red.
"Let's keep tit's real," she read aloud. "Wow, that's super classy, Walter."
"Model it for me!" he said, looking happy.
She couldn't help but smile and slipped in on over her camisole. Walter looked pleased and said,
"Such a lovely colour on you, young lady."
They began to walk past a claw machine and Walter grabbed her arm, begging, "Win something for me!"
Astrid fished out the dollar amount of quarters required to play the game and began to move the claw with the joystick. "What one do you want?"
"Hmmm…" Walter pressed his face to the glass and studied the stuffed animals inside. "That kraken!"
She saw what he was pointing to. "The purple octopus?"
"Okay." Astrid hadn't played in years and as with the other arcade games, she had never been good in the first place. As expected, her skills were exceptionally lacking and her cheeks turned red as she missed the octopus toy completely.
"Fuck. I need another dollar," she grumbled as she dug out four more quarters.
She was going to spend as much money as she had to to get the toy, even if it took her all night long night. However, the arcade gods seemed to be smiling and with the second try she managed to catch it.
"Whooooo!" She screamed as the octopus dropped into the dispensing chute.
Walter jumped up and down next to her. "You got it! You got it!"
She pulled the toy out and presented it to him. "One purple octopus!"
"It's beautiful," he whispered, his eyes watering.
He pulled her into a tight embrace and though a little startled, she hugged back.
"This was a wonderful evening, Astro," he said, cuddling with the octopus toy.
"It certainly was," she said, pleased with herself and her new shirt. She felt his hand slip into hers. "Walter—"
"Just so we don't get separated from one another," he assured her.
"Of course." She felt herself blushing. "Shall we head back to the hotel room? It's getting late and you're looking a little tired."
Walter was loudly singing in the showers, a very mangled version of 'De Colores' while Astrid watched the evening news on her bed. She turned on her cellphone and found she had fourteen missed calls from Olivia, three from Charlie, and thirty from Peter. She decided it was probably time to confess what they'd done. She hit his number on the speed dial and he picked up halfway through he first ring.
"Hey, Peter!" she greeted quickly.
"Astrid! Oh, thank god! We were beginning to worry you'd been kidnapped!" he said breathlessly.
"No, I'm fine." She felt guilty. "Walter just wanted to spend some time away and I thought I'd give you the night off."
He gave a relieved sounding laugh. "Astrid, you're a saint. What can I do to pay you back?"
She thought for a moment. "Um, you could go water the fern in my apartment. I know you can pick locks, so…"
"Consider it done. Can I talk to Walter?"
"Yeah, just a minute." She set the phone down on the pillow as she went over to the bathroom and knocked on the door. "Walter, Peter wants to talk to you."
"Be a lamb and tell him I'll be out in a minute," he called out.
"You'd better be dressed," she warned.
True to his word, Walter was in his pyjamas and robe when he came out of the bathroom in exactly sixty seconds. He shook his head violently and water from his hair splattered in her face. He joined her on her bed and picked up the phone.
"Hello, son! Astringent won a kraken for me!"
Astrid smiled, and a little bit exhausted, she decided to rest her eyes and she laid her head back against the headboard.
She was very warm and very relaxed...something she hadn't been in a very long time. She snuggled against the firm but comfortable body next to hers, enjoying the feeling of fingers playing in her hair—
She didn't recall going to bed. She didn't recall going to sleep at all. Was that the TV playing in the background? And who was she so close to?
Her eyes parted slightly and she tilted her head to see Walter's face. He looked down at her and smiled.
"Ah, you're awake. I didn't wake you, did I?" he asked.
She lifted her head off his shoulder and yawned. "No. Why was I…?"
"Against me? I don't know." He shrugged. "You did it last night when I was on the phone and I was afraid to tell you no."
Surprisingly, her neck wasn't sore at all. "Oh. What time is it?"
He glanced at the hotel clock on the nightstand. "I don't know."
"What are you watching?" she asked as the television was quietly depicting an explosion.
"I don't know." He pointed to a black car. "It's about a car that's smart."
"Ugh, it's too early in the morning to watch David Hasslehoff. Find the news or something," she grumbled.
"You talk in your sleep," he said, watching his toes wiggle.
"What did I say?" she asked, a little alarmed.
"Dunno. It was in French. Mine is a bit rusty."
"You could have been talking about spoons. Or octopi."
She yawned again. "Walter, get off my bed."
It was nearly lunchtime and they'd pulled over to a roadside diner to get something to eat. They were headed back to Boston and Walter was busy concluding his order to the waitress.
"And pancakes with chocolate chips in a face. But no eyebrows."
Astrid looked up at the woman. "Could you read that back to me?"
"For you, a beef melt with Ortega chilies and a side of watermelon. For him, an order of boysenberry pie a la mode, a meatloaf sandwich, a side of fries, two scrambled eggs, a side of mashed potatoes, a side of corn, two pieces of wheat toast dry, two sides of bacon and pancakes with chocolate chip faces."
"No eyebrows," Astrid added.
"No eyebrows," the waitress agreed.
As the woman left with the menus, Astrid watched Walter drawing on a placemat with one of the pens from her purse. "Well, we've certainly given this company card a good workout."
He wiggled his eyebrows at her. "Imagine what everyone will say when they see we only rented one hotel room!"
"I paid that in cash," she said smugly.
He stuck his tongue out at her. "You're no fun."
"I'm not starting a scandal for your amusement," she said as she wondered how Peter had spent his day off.
Walter finished drawing Peter's smile with the pen and held the placemat up for her to look at. "He's just kissed Agent Dunham. That's why he's smiling!"
Walter was a pretty good artist and had managed to capture the shy look that both his son and the blond agent had.
"It's nice, Walter."
He handed it over to her. "Put it in your purse so I won't lose it."
"Junior Agent Farnsworth, I understand you made good usage of your new company credit card." Broyles sat across from her in his office, his hands folded neatly on his desk. "Two hundred dollars in a twenty-four hour period."
Astrid was good liar, but there was something about the man that made her fairly certain he was a living lie detector. "Well, you see, Dr. Bishop needed to—"
"Investigate something?" he interjected.
She nodded, her hair bobbing wildly. "Yes!"
He raised an eyebrow. "And you were up all night, which is why there is no charge for two hotel rooms?"
"Yes. Investigating," she repeated. Broyles looked at her blankly and she bit her lower lip. "Am I in trouble?"
He gave a defeated sounding sigh. "If it keeps him working for us, then it's the least we can do." He gave a dismissive flick of his hand as he turned his attention back to his papers. "You're may leave."
She gave a nod as she stood up from the desk and hurried out of his office.
Walter, whom had been waiting patiently at her own desk, looked incredibly concerned. "Are you in trouble, my dear?"
"No." She gave him a mischievous smile. "So where do you want to go next weekend?"
A/N: Just something silly :) I hope you liked this Alternate Ending for TLIA. If you want the albums, head over to my LiveJournal or PM for the links!