Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Walter/Paige, Ralph
Challenge/Prompt: tv_universe: Cancelled (If you join, be sure to tell them Kat Lee of Team Bunny Ears sent YOU!)
Warning(s): Future Fic
Word Count: 1,389
Date Written: 19 May 2018
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to CBS (BOO!), not the author, and are used without permission.
He’s had his fingers hovering over his keyboard for the last five minutes as his best friend inched into the tiny room he made his own after his mom’s last disastrous boyfriend. For most teenagers, having a man twice their age as a best friend would be ridiculous, but for Ralph, having an adult for a best friend has always made perfect sense. Everything about him, except for his age and actual, physical appearance, has always been older than his actual years. He’s often smarter than the adults in the room, even when that one adult is a genius who the rest of the world can only guess at understanding.
Ralph is tense. Part of him wants to see the look on Walter’s face, but the other part is determined not to fall for any more lies. Walter would never lie to him on purpose, but he will lie, even to himself, to save his own emotions. It’s the man’s one failure that Ralph can neither ignore or forgive. He’s watched him hurt his mother, himself, all their friends, and even Walt himself far too many times all to save himself from emotions he claimed not to have. Ralph wonders what his latest lie is going to be as Walter opens his mouth . . . and shuts it again.
On the third time, Walt finally manages to find his voice. “Ralph, I, hum, I need to ask you something.” He glances behind him, making sure the door is shut securely to this room that used to be Tim’s office before he left and Ralph claimed the little hideaway for himself. “Something, huh, rather important.”
“Out with it,” Ralph snaps, not turning away from his computer screen to see Walter -- or let him see his face and his own, true emotions. “I’m kinda busy here, working on my graduation finals.” He’s going to be graduating college in a few days, and his life is still just beginning.
He’s not going to let the guy he once yearned to be his father ruin his future, or his mother’s. The fact that Paige has been dating Walter for years and seems happy is only temporary, Ralph knows. If Walter loved his mother, he would ask her to marry him, but the kid gave up any hope of that happening years ago. His mother may be happy for now, but it’s just a matter of time before Walter breaks her heart yet again. The biggest problem when they fight, however, is that both his mother and he always end up forgiving Walt. To move away from Walter and into their future alone also means moving away from the rest of their family, and that’s another thing -- their little unit with Toby, Happy, Sly, and Cabe -- that they’re not going to let him take away from them ever again.
“You’ve known that material since you were ten years old.”
Ralph blows out a breath in frustration and hits a key on his keyboard, neither noticing nor caring what he puts into his word processor at the moment. He can always delete whatever it is far more easily than he can delete Walter from their lives or the fact that, no matter how often he screws up, they still both love him. Their lives would just be made so much easier if he could only man up, to borrow one of Happy’s favorite phrases, face the truth of his adult emotions, and make Ralph’s mother his bride.
“Will you look at me?” Walter asks quietly, his voice sounding far more like a boy Ralph’s age than his own. “It will . . . Hum, it will make things easier if you’ll face me.”
He wants to tell him he’s faced him since he was a child young and naive enough to believe that he would do the right thing and marry his mother instead of continuing to run from her and his feelings. Yet he doesn’t want to argue. He’s tired of seeing his mother upset because he’s arguing with the man she loves. “Fine,” he mutters instead and swings around to face Walter, folding his arms across his small chest as he does so. His eyes blaze up at him with annoyance and defiance, and he receives a small kick of happy pride as he hears Walter gulp.
“I -- I want to ask you something,” Walter tries again, running a hand nervously through his thick, dark hair.
Ralph shrugs. “Ask.” One thing he’s always noticed, since he was very young, is that adults have a way of making the smallest things seem almost omnipotent. If they would just face whatever it is that’s bothering them, their lives would be made so much easier.
“I want to ask your mother to marry me,” Walter blows out in a single, quick breath.
For a moment, Ralph just gapes, his mouth falling silently open.
“But I, huh, I want your permission to do so first. I won’t ask her if you don’t want me to.”
Slowly, a grin breaks out over Ralph’s face. “I’m not going to stand in your way,” he says, grinning, “of doing what you should have already done.”
“I know I’ve taken too long,” Walter admits, almost apologetically. “I’m slow when it comes to all this . . . all this romance stuff.”
“You’re slow,” Ralph corrects him, “when it comes to admitting your emotions.” And your fears, he thinks but doesn’t say aloud. He’s still not convinced, however, that Walter is on the level. “I want to see the ring when you buy it.”
To his astonishment, Walter reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small, black, velvet box. He pops it open in front of Ralph, and the huge diamond sparkles in the tiny room. Again, Ralph’s mouth drops wordlessly open.
“I want more than your acceptance,” Walter says, surprising him further. “I . . . I want your blessing, if you can and will give it. I know it’s been a long time -- “
Staring at the ring that is soon to be on his cherished mother’s finger, Ralph feels the years fall away. Tears brim in his dark eyes. Walter is finally going to ask his mother to marry him! He’s finally going to be his dad! Before he can overthink his own emotions, Ralph leaps from his chair and hurtles into Walter’s arms. Walter almost falls from the impact, but he catches them both and hugs Ralph to him. “I take it that’s a yes?” he says, grinning through his own tears.
“Hell yeah!! . . . Dad!!” He’s waited so long to be able to call him that. It almost seems like a dream, but that, Ralph realizes, is because it is a dream coming true at last. His family is going to be together at long last, just as he’s always dreamed since he was very young. Maybe he wasn’t so naive to believe in happy endings after all. And maybe Walter has finally grown into a man of whom he, his mother, Walter, and everybody else in their little family can be truly proud at last.
They hug tight for a long time, but then, his mind slowly beginning to turn again, Ralph murmurs, “We have to do this right.”
“Of course! You’ve always been more of a romantic than I am, Ralph. You tell me how your mom deserves to be asked, and I’ll do exactly as you say.”
“Really?” the teen asks, looking up at the man in surprise.
Walter beams. “Yes,” he enthuses in the same voice that Ralph knows means he has zero doubt. “I want to love her as she deserves and be the husband she deserves and the father you deserve. Tell me how to ask her, and I’ll do it.”
Grinning from ear to ear, Ralph begins scheming for the both of them. His final paper stays blinking on the computer behind them, forgotten. His graduation doesn’t matter so much after all. As Walt said, he knows the material; he has since he was a kid far too young for anyone but Team Scorpion and his own mother to believe in. What’s far more important is the union between the man he’s always dreamed of being his father and the mother they’ve both always loved. This is going to be the best, most important occasion in his life after all!