Title: Sailing That Ship

Rating: T

Setting: Early season two; no particular episode.

Word Count: 626

Summary: Astrid thought letting Walter use her laptop would keep him quiet long enough for her to get some real, honest-to-god, bona fide FBI work done. She was wrong.

AN: Written on a bus at 6.30am. Typed up while procrastinating on an essay. :)

-X-

"This is extraordinary."

Astrid's pen hit the desk. Leaving Walter with free reign over the internet hadn't been her greatest idea to date. She thought giving Walter her laptop to play with would keep him quiet long enough for her to get some real, honest-to-god, bona fide FBI work done. She was wrong. Every few minutes the scientist would adulate over his latest discovery and adulating mad scientist were not conducive to getting work done.

She exhaled. One. Two. Three. Calm. "What now, Walter?"

Walter's eyes clouded over with a mix of fascination and remorse for distracting her. (She mustn't have sounded as calm as she intended. Walter was like the new puppy who piddled on the carpet; Astrid couldn't stay mad at him for long.) "This thing –" he gushed.

"The internet."

"- yes. It has these places – they're like rooms – where people leave message and talk about things to people they've never met before."

"Yes, Walter. They're called forums."

"It's amazing. There are these 'forums' every topic imaginable. Politics. Music. Literature. Art, even."

"That's the beauty of the internet. You can find people who share you interests from all over the world."

"Fascinating. Do you think there's one for scientists?" he asked hopefully.

"Probably."

Walter gave a slight nod, and returned his attention to the computer screen.

Astrid had to take advantage of these brief intervals of silence if she had any hope of making any headway with this Everest of paperwork. When you're busy dealing with the strange, sometimes the routine gets neglected.

"Hey, Astro –"

Onetwothreecalm. "Astrid."

Walter giggled. This was not going to end well. "I just signed up for a television one."

"You did what?" Astrid leapt from her seat to inspect Walter's damage to the internet. "Oh, you did. ?"

Walter was grinning and staring at the screen. "Dear, what's a shipper?"

"A what?" The junior agent's eyes scanned the screen, and with very little certainty she answered, "I think it's a person who wants a certain two characters getting together. So... say you wanted, um, I don't know, Meredith Grey and Derek Shepherd on Grey's Anatomy to get together, you would say you 'ship' them and that you were a 'shipper'. I guess it comes from relationship."

"I see."

The echo of an opening door filled the lab. Finally. Peter was back with coffee.

"What did I miss?" He asked, handing Astrid her much needed (and deserved) caffeine fix.

"Walter was just discovering the internet."

Peter looked down at the screen, before leaning forward for a closer look. "Drbrownbetty49?"

His father bounced in his seat. "That's me!"

"Of course." And there was the trademark eye roll. "I'm gonna take this to Livia."

Peter walked off to Agent Dunham's back office. Astrid returned to her desk.

"Astroid-"

"Astrid."

"-who do you 'ship'?"

"Walter, I haven't had time to watch any television in the last year and a half, let alone enough to care which characters hook up. You watch more TV than I do, Walter. Who do you ship?"

When she received no answer, Astrid looked back at Walter and followed his gaze through Agent Dunham's open office door.

The blonde sat at her desk, case notes sprawled across it. Peter, with his weight against the door, looked down at her. They were both smiling broadly, like for five minutes they weren't in the middle of investigating another grizzly and disgusting demise.

"Oh, I see," murmured Astrid. "Hey, Walter."

"Hm?"

"Me too."

The scientist smiled at her, and nodded. His focus went back to the computer.

It was quiet again, except for the muffled chattering from the office. Great. Another respite in which Astrid could make progress.

And then: "Oh, look, Astrix, there's a video of a kitten playing the piano!"

Fantastic.