Chpt. 3: Thus.

"Don't touch that."

Astrid looked up at Walter with a small smirk, "Why? Will it electrocute me?"

Walter continued to look down at her hand on his with a suspicious gaze, "…It might."

Astrid laughed, and removed her hand, "Okay. Sorry."

"I liked you better when you thought I was annoying," Walter grumbled, pulling his goggles into place as he began to twist knobs situated on a panel, the alarmingly piercing sound of a Geiger counter sounding as a brilliant blue light began to focus itself within the glass parameters of his contraption.

Astrid pulled on her own goggles, "I still think you're annoying. But now I know you're just doing it for attention."

"Am not," he muttered with a frown, trying to focus on the task at hand.

Astrid smiled, shaking her head as she fell silent.

"Any luck?" Olivia asked as she entered, stripping off her heavy overcoat. Peter followed her in, taking the garment from her and heading for the coat rack.

"I've only just assembled the thing," Walter replied gruffly, squinting down at a foggy gauge and returning to fiddling with the knobs, "A bit of adjustment is in order. And the distractions here are terrible." he frowned over at Astrid, who hung her head with a laugh.

Several trials later, Walter ripped the goggles from his face, throwing them onto the table with a crash and storming away. The office door banged loudly as he slammed it behind himself. "I'll get it," Astrid said quickly, as Peter started forward. He shrugged, and returned to his task of searching through the text messages on his cell phone.

Astrid pushed open the door carefully, "Walter?"

He turned, anger growing on his face, "What did I tell you about distracting me?!" he boomed, furious.

"Sorry."

"And now I've completely disfigured the device because I can't concentrate! Go away!" He flounced into his chair, beginning to shuffle files and send papers flying wildly.

Astrid nodded patiently, "You're blowing up at me again," she said, and readied for the explosion.

"I AM NOT!" he cried, "This is a laboratory, miss! It is not a place for things to be fair or unfair, who gets picked on and who doesn't! It is a place of science, and I simply cannot concentrate with you- you-" he let out an agitated growl, spinning in his chair to rake his fingers back, through his hair.

"Are you finished?" Astrid asked, her hands on her hips patiently.

He was silent for another few moments, glaring up at the ceiling as he continued to spin, "…yes," he replied at last.

"You can concentrate just fine, Walter," Astrid said, stopping the chair from behind to place her hands on either side of his face, looking down at him, "And I know you deal with plenty of distractions. I'm flattered that I'm one of them, actually. But we've talked about this. I'm your assistant, and everything I do is to help you solve these cases. Okay?"

"You're a saboteur," he pouted, "you can't go about doing things like that. I really flusters me."

Astrid smiled, "I know. It's cute. Even your tantrums. But you're brilliant, Walter, and if you really put your best to something, it'll get done. The accelerator is the same way- it'll get done. But you have to work at it, alright?"

"You keep distracting me," Walter insisted, "I can't."

"So ignore me."

"I can't."

"So I'll ignore you," Astrid smiled, pushing around his eyebrows.

"Don't do that. I can't stand it when you do that." he caught her wrists, pulling her hands away from his face.

"Squishing your face or ignoring you?" She asked with a smirk.

"I have a funny face, I can understand that. But don't ignore me. I hate when people ignore me- it drives me crazy."

"And we wouldn't want that," Astrid stooped, giving him a small kiss, "back to work, Frankenstein."

Walter sighed, righting himself in his chair. He rubbed his forehead tiredly, "Damn."

XXx

END.