When Paige finished talking, finished reliving one of the hardest nights of her life, Ralph was clearly heartbroken. And her heart, which was already torn to shreds, broke for him. She put a hand on his shoulder and winced when he stiffened.
His eyes glistened, set firmly on the ground in front of them. Sitting on the couch in their living room, his feet were pressed against the floor, knees bent. Last year, when they’d had a similar conversation after Walter fired her, his feet had barely touched. A lot changed in a year.
Ralph, Walter, and her had plenty of family nights here since then. Watching old horror movies Walter and Ralph couldn’t help but point out the flaws in, introducing Walter to their favorite habits, curling up with Kovelsky’s takeout. All of the memories were still fresh in her mind. They pricked her heart like needles.
It was weird to be here now without Walter. Of course she and Ralph had nights to themselves, like after Patty’s rejection, but those were the times reserved for mother and son. The times for their entire little family were different.
But now, knowing they would never have those, Paige felt her heart start to break all over again.
“You didn’t have to leave, Mom.”
She cocked her head. “Ralph-”
His voice hardened. “You didn’t have to leave.”
Paige opened her mouth, ready to argue, but she bit her lip and took a deep breath instead. She never wanted to argue with Ralph, especially not now. She ran her hand up and down his upper arm, softening her tone. “I know it hurts. But-”
Ralph whipped his head towards her. Paige hated the look in his eyes, since she knew it was directed at her. He furrowed his brows and scrunched his forehead. “You remember when I told Patty how I felt? And how bad it hurt?” She nodded. “Well, that’s probably how Walter’s feeling right now. But worse. At least Patty still wanted to be my friend.”
That’s not what Paige wanted to hear. She didn’t like thinking about Walter in pain. She didn’t like Walter being in pain. But when he finally told her the truth, he gave her no choice. “What Walter did to me hurt too , Ralph.”
His eyes narrowed in on her and she suddenly felt like the smaller person in the room. But while Ralph was angry, his intention clearly wasn’t to hurt her. He never would. “He didn’t mean to. I know he didn’t.”
“ Ralph -”
“Walter loves you.”
Paige’s eyes stung. She wet her lips and leaned closer to him, making sure he could hear the softness in her voice. “Sometimes we do things that hurt the people we love. It happens .”
“Like walking out when he needed you?”
She did her best not to yell or argue, but to keep a gentle counteraction. “Walter didn’t need me. What he needed was a slap in the face.”
Ralph swallowed hard. “Mom, didn’t you teach him how to lie?”
Paige frowned. She didn’t like where this was going. “Yeah, but not to-”
“You taught him how to properly use a white lie. Right? Well, that’s exactly what he did. He must’ve known that you didn’t want to go to the lecture, so he used a white lie to spare your feelings.” Ralph’s eyes narrowed and she found herself wanting to look away. But she couldn’t. “He just gave the extra ticket to someone he knew also wanted to go.”
“But he used it on someone he had a kissing dream about, Ralph,” Paige said.
“Patty and I are still friends even though I’ve had a kissing dream about her.”
She wrinkled her nose and shook her head, looking away. “Too much information. I want to be involved in your love life, but not that involved.”
He had none of her jest, his voice completely hard and serious. The sound of his tone forced her eyes to meet his again. Her slight smile faded. “I know how much Walter loves you. It’s obvious. And you love him, too. You guys shouldn’t lose that over something as simple as this.”
Paige scrunched her forehead, incredulous. “It’s more complicated than-”
“No,” Ralph interrupted. “It’s not. I’m smarter than the whole team, and I know what I see. You taught Walter how to lie, but he didn’t use it how you wanted him to, and you got upset. He didn't tell you he went with Flo, which was wrong. But he probably did it because he knew you’d act like this. I’m sorry you’re upset, Mom. I don’t like when something bothers you. But this isn’t fair to Walter. It’s isn’t fair to Scorpion.”
He seemed to have finished, emptying his mind and breaking Paige’s heart. She wiped a tear off her cheek. Ralph’s eyes bored into hers, but they fell to the floor as he stood up a few seconds later. Her hand tumbled from his shoulder. When she tried to reach out to him again, though, he walked away. She called his name brokenly, her breath catching in her throat.
He turned back to her. “You hurt my father,” he accused. And then he disappeared down the hall.