AN:

There's a cast if you care. I don't know what this will be, but I needed to put it up.

Also, it is definitely based on the Pavement song.


Cast

Walter - Charlie Hunnam

Cleo - Haley Bennett

Olive - Jenna Ushkowitz

Kip - Bob Morley


Spit on a Stranger

pages (1) to (8)


He has to tell her.

Walter only seizes when he's sure—and he's never been so sure of anything in his life.

He's spent a whole year gazing at her from his office desk, spilling coffee over himself whenever she walks into a room and burning holes into the back of her head whenever she wasn't looking. He was sure of his feelings, sure of where he stood, unlike any another sure thought he had ever before—well... that's slightly exaggerated and incorrect, probably.

"Walter, Walter!" He hears behind him.

"Wha—" He starts before a hand rests on his shoulder and he stops.

It's Mr. Thatcher, or Thatcher for short, his editor-in-chief, and he can just tell with the way he presses his hands into him that it's him. He's always in a haste, but it's never enough to cause duress. He can handle time like any other kid from the past could handle a yo-yo. It's a skill he still can't exactly hone himself—or well, not enough of, anyway.

"Oh, hey, I was just about to—"

"Yeah, I can see," he stops him, leaning in toward his computer screen, while his hands remain on his shoulders. The pressure is starting to go from light to uncomfortable. "Yeah, yeah," Thatcher mumbles to himself, "it looks good, good."

Walter stifles a small chuckle when he pats him and leaves. Mostly, because he's entirely aware that he can't see anything on the screen, but he's intending to pass it off like he can. Though there are some words on the open document, it's a bunch of rattled sentences and broken, sloppy phrases that he's pouring out barely attentive. He hasn't had any coffee and he's sure Thatcher hasn't had any either.

There were always three things missing here in the main offices of Seattle Post—not the popular, acclaimed one, but the irrelevant, inept one: coffee, ambition, and, probably, self-respect. He's sure none of those things exist at a continuous rate here; he's still trying to find his own self-respect somewhere. However, Cleo—Cleo Gardener is a different story.

There are about two and a half levels to this place—if you count the frightening level below them, though it's hardly a level. Mostly, the first level is the main entrance, a poor excuse for a security desk, and some offices situated in the back where most of the city flies, themselves, were working a nine-to-five job—it's nearly incredible watching them work. Level two—his level—was mainly the slack, yet consistent level. If you cared enough about your bills then you were usually here, writing terrible pieces about conspiracy theories and frantic excuses for editorial columns. He enjoyed it, strangely. It was comforting to sit here and face the reality of his life and how it wasn't going to go anywhere because it never did—no matter how he pushed.

Level three was, well, the most ambitious you could find there—and ambition still wasn't continuous up there. People were pacing back and forth, walking to and fro, and there was a rhythm up there—a formulaic, bleak one, but it was a rhythm at least. People left that level late, always, and some people didn't leave until three or four in the morning.

How does he know? Well...

There's Cleo Gardener.

He doesn't do people—not in the romantic sense. He doesn't stare, he doesn't gawk, and he doesn't dream... well, not even with her, but sort of.

He doesn't do that stuff, and yet, she's just so...different—from anyone else here.

She's ambitious, and kind, and smart, and encouraging, and understanding, and she doesn't take anything from anyone. She doesn't have to push and pull people's teeth out to get respect because she's just nice like that. It's the thing that makes it harder to argue with his feelings, because she isn't mean, even though she deserves to be, and he wishes she was. He wishes he could find one way to argue with himself about her, but he struggles ridiculously with it. He's deduced that she's worth at least trying, or at least asking, after spending a whole year gazing at her from afar like a boring idiot.

"That is some serious garbage in your Word document, man," Kip blurts, leaning in next to his ear.

Walter doesn't necessarily jump, but he does flinch slightly. He's not one to let his guard down, but Kip is ridiculously, irritatingly good at scaring him. In hallways, bathrooms, and sometimes, parking lots. He's the only person that makes the bones in his head jump. It's safe to say he hates him, only slightly.

"Yeah, I know," Walter mumbles, itching the back of his ear. He can't even see a decent article anywhere in this document.

"You really suck at your job, Wally," he continues, patting him on the shoulder before he takes his cue to leave. All freshly disheveled and barely reaching his age, even when his ID card states a bold three beside a two. "By the way, I saw you flinch, man. You should really ease up. There's no one to impress here."

"Yeah, I mean, I would say the same for you, but I feel so bad because you try so hard," Walter bites back, hardly paying attention to his words. "It's a shame really. I don't think anyone cares, especially when you just walk around and inflate your nonexistent reputation all by yourself. No one sees, man."

Kip bites back a grin.

"It's okay. You don't have to fake your linguistic skills. We all know you can't write—"

"Alright, alright," Kip begins, pressing a hand to his chest, "you're messing with my pride. Calm down."

Walter shakes his head and doesn't fight back his smile. He hates him, only as much as you could hate your equal, and he respects whatever thread lies between them. "Is there coffee in the lounge?"

"Yeah," Kip replies, before finally, fortunately, making his way back to his cubicle again. Far, far, far from Walter's cubicle. It's the kindest thing this company has given him since he started working here—aside from occasional, abysmal coffee.


When he enters the lounge, he doesn't expect to see Cleo there.

It's obvious that he doesn't because he doesn't expect to see her at every waking moment, and this isn't her level, but it's nice. It's a nice fleeting feeling when he does see her and it sinks into him like the way a roller-coaster drop would. You're always afraid of the feeling even when you know it's coming—especially because you know it's coming.

"Oh, hey, Walter," Cleo starts, and her blue eyes gleam as warm as usual. "I was looking for you. I had to tell you something about, um," her hands wrap the sole strand of hair, swinging in front of her eyes, behind her ears and away from her face, "the, um, article—the one you're doing, about health misconceptions. It's, um—"

"Boring, dull, unimaginative, and a bit repetitive—but in other words, someone upstairs is doing it," he finishes, hiding his fidgety hands in his pants.

"Well, um, you should probably let me finish actually," Cleo corrects, and her face turns as she looks at the coffee machine.

He flexes his eyebrows for a moment when she says that, but only under the guise of indifference. He definitely doesn't flutter when she cuts off his dismissive assumptions. Walter doesn't enjoy being cut down to size, especially not by Cleo—though the increase of heat in his pockets say different. "Right," he answers, pushing himself back.

Cleo smiles, but he doesn't miss the difference in it. It's a demure, but certain smile—a sure smile. It's as pretty as any other smile she could have.

It's so strange for Walter to have all of these thoughts, and it's not something you could miss either. He beams like a light bulb in the middle of a dark hallway around her; Walter doesn't beam. He settles, sure, he warms to an idea or an individual, yeah, and he's as complacent as anyone would be in a sea of consistency—one he made for himself.

She's just so foreign in that way. She's not different superficially; her hair is blonde, her eyes are blue, and her hands are soft enough for them to be ideal. Plenty of people look like her. Walter doesn't really care for that, even if it helps in just the slightest way. It's everything else about her, and he's said it before, but she's completely foreign to him in a sea of consistency. It should put a person like him off; he's basically allergic to change, but he... well, he likes her. He likes it—those different, distinct, and sharp things about her. It took him forever to settle into that thought, but now that he's here and he's warmed up to the idea... it just feels so refreshing—and he's endangering himself with that prospect.

Walter can hear the coffee machine churn when he regains his focus. The warm, brown liquid pours into her small white cup.

He turns around to still see an empty employee's lounge, which consists of two white tables, a couple chairs, and a vending machine. There's a coffee bar placed right in front of Cleo, and beside him, but it's a pathetic excuse for a lounge. Down here with all the laminate, squeaky floors, and bright white lights, and it's no comparison to the level three lounge. Though speaking of, he doesn't understand why Cleo is down here, in this lounge, instead of upstairs, and she's stopped talking.

"You...wanted to say?" He beckons with an eyebrow lift.

Cleo bites her lip for a moment, squeezing them together before she grimaces in uncomfortable anxiousness. "I...was trying to say that," she barely answers, sighing quite heavily, "the article is..."

Walter lowers his head in mimicry, almost following the way that her own head bows in a sudden reservation and he smiles because he knows that his first dismissive, and negative, assumption was right. Someone upstairs is doing his article, or rather, theirs. However, he stays in silence and waits out for her words to confirm his cynical suspicions. Though he's quite surprised that she's suddenly reserved to tell him the truth, being right is always a pleasant, more prominent feeling.

"...It's just, um, a little," Cleo continues, grimacing in uncertainty again, "lacking, in better terms, it lacks...a lot. You're missing some stuff, some flavor. Someone upstairs could handle it—or has..."

Walter smiles a little too wide for what she's said, quite unnaturally to a natural reaction, and he bites back any pretentious and sardonic quips. Cleo manages to find some of that victory in his smile, but she takes that as a positive sign rather than a negative one. She's not usually like this... sensitive to people's reactions about their written work, but she doesn't enjoy how eager Walter is to find a negative connection between her department and his. It's the fifth time this month that she's told him, and someone else, that her department has had their ideas written ahead of time—that someone upstairs is already writing that. It would help if their boss was up to date with material and trends. Even if Thatcher is...skilled at his position, he's always somehow behind.

"Yeah, Thatcher still hasn't brought his attention back from the early eighties like he has with his shoulder pads," he mumbles under his breath.

Cleo, somehow, catches that and a laughter bubbles up from her throat. Her eyes twinkle as she does.

Should he tell her now? No, Walter thinks, he can't tell her now. It doesn't make any sense to—she'll run off in confusion, in shock—and yet, he wants to tell her. Now, most importantly today, he's so sure of how he feels. He's not certain if he'll feel the same way, as passionate, as invigorated, tomorrow.

Walter stares on, doesn't mumble a word.

Cleo nods, turning her back towards the door as if to reference the end of a conversation. If he wants to keep talking to her, to tell her how he feels, then he should probably bring up another topic. She lingers in the silence for far too long, at least longer than someone who doesn't want to be here.

Talk, you idiot. Talk. Walter tells himself—and yet he doesn't talk. He doesn't utter a word. He looks at her and then at the coffee machine. Pressing his teeth together, Walter, instead, shuts himself away.

Cleo takes that as a cue, sighing so as to imply finality. Kicking her black heels in the air, she stands up just a bit straighter. "Anyway, I, um, have to go," she blurts, turning slightly as she does, "so see you... around."

Walter looks at her and forces a warm smile. His hand is up in the air, just for a second, in a lame wave symbolizing goodbye. "Yeah, see you."

The blonde smiles back, turning away and making her way to the door. Her heels resound just enough for him to hear her walk away rather than see her walk away, which he doesn't when he remembers about his own cup of coffee he's supposed to be making. He lets her leave the room before he looks up and suddenly remembers a prior confusion that was left on his mind. He has a question, but he can already hear her heels down the hall, making a left somewhere—and the question isn't even that important anyway, but...

Why did she come here for coffee?

He supposes it was to tell him about the article while getting a cup of it on the go, but it doesn't make a lot of practical sense getting coffee down here when you can have it upstairs—where you work—and then come downstairs. Coffee is much better at her department than at his, way better actually, but he supposes that it doesn't really matter.

It isn't that deep.


When Walter leaves work, he remembers he has to go back tomorrow and groans just the slightest bit.

He's on the bus when he slinks back in his seat and thinks about the work gathering—or event—that's being set tomorrow. It helps that the sun outside is bright and blinding enough to warm his skin away from bad thoughts, but he's back to his pessimism when he regains sight. It's about five or six in the afternoon, extremely early to be going home, but Walter felt like an idiot for spending so much time on that article, especially when he had a strange feeling about it—just like how he has a strange feeling about that party tomorrow.

Fiddling with the zipper of his blue sweater, Walter debates on skipping out the party. It's not essentially a work day, he thinks.

Then, habitually, realism settles in and he realizes that he's probably going to attend just to see Cleo—and there's a dramatic sigh that follows after that. He can't believe he's falling into that same scenario that every other boring, straight guy goes through: drooling, gazing, and following, but never admitting and never saying anything to anyone. Though, to be fair, Walter doesn't have anyone; he doesn't have friends and he certainly doesn't make them.

Kip is the closest thing he has to a friend—and he hates him.

Some time passes by as he thinks about that, several houses and cars of different colors and shades stream by as he ponders on that as if he really cares—as if he's deciding whether to care—and he knows he doesn't. He can care even less than he does about things like that.

People think ties like that bother him because of fear, or misdirection, or unwillingness, but Walter doesn't hate ties. Walter could care less about them, but he doesn't hate them. He appreciates the faint ones he has already, like Kip, or his neighbor, Irene, or the one with his smelly landlord, Wilhelm. He likes those, maybe because they're distant and far away, but he's not afraid. He's not afraid of having friends or making them.

Could he be afraid of possibly losing them? Walter's not really sure.

By the time, he's debating on whether fear is ultimately a part of his life somehow, the bus stops in front of the car shop—the car shop just a few blocks away from home. Kicking up his brown shoes, he grabs his old, worn satchel and exits the bus.

His ever-winding, spiral introspective thinking ends there.

When he winds up at home, in an exhausted, but warm daze, his phone vibrates and he completely ignores it. He sinks into his threadbare, brown armchair and sighs out in sweet, sweet comfort. There's a very rare smile that hits his cheeks when he rests there—and it's one with a lot of bliss and unmistakable contentedness. He can go to bed here, with his work attire on and his black, sweaty socks on his feet, in this wonderful, supremely bountiful silence. Only, he's not really tired. He's exhausted, but not tired and he figures that can be beneficial for him—

He can muster up a pathetically astounding excuse for a meal. Some barely seasoned pasta and chicken, probably.

His phone rings again, over and over, and he wonders who could be texting, but then again, he doesn't really care. He looks at the phone once, flips it over, and heads over to the kitchen to do his hilariously abysmal attempt at food.

Lucky me, Walter thinks.

It's a small apartment for a person, he knows. It's not exactly a studio, but there's just barely a kitchen and not even nearly a living room. There's walls, crooks, and corners everywhere, while bookcases settle in different areas around the rooms, and his shoes have no places to go so he stacks them into very forgettable, ridiculous places. Walter can remember a time that he found a shoe in the refrigerator, though he was sure it wasn't even him who put it there. He's got a little more self-respect than that, at least, and he's remembered to stock them near shelves instead of lower kitchen cabinets. Even further, he's noticed that he has the decency to make things match just a little—though it's not like brown is a favorable color to stream around an apartment with amber wooden floors.

At the very least, Walter has his ambiance down.

It helps him feel at ease, especially in stressful situations, and he's not exactly glad to hear that he cares about ambiance, but he does. When he's cooking, as he is now, cutting tomatoes, onions, and bell peppers to small, symmetrical bits, he feels at home. He feels like actually making an effort and not shutting down into oblivion.

Or, even sadder, falling asleep at six in the afternoon and waking up at three in the morning with a craving for peanut butter cookies. It's just upsetting to look at.

The only reason he hardly gains weight is that he actually goes to the gym—in deep, desperate regret—and limps his way back to bed in satisfaction. However, he only gets to rest for about five minutes until the alarm goes off and he has to stumble his way to work. Though it helps to kick off his feeling of shame, he never can kick off the strange high he gets off of those cookies. They're so good that he almost winces thinking about it.

After he eats, in his small concave home, and gleefully hums to some old, decade-aged song, he shrouds himself in the corner of his bed and draws.

He listens to the conversations next door, all of the volatile arguments, and draws. Sometimes he draws exaggerated caricatures, other times he draws realistic portrayals of uniquely structured faces that resemble cartoon characters, and lets himself doodle off until his eyes want to close.

"I don't care about what she said," he hears behind him, "I care about what I said! I care about my feelings! The world is my oyster, honey. You better learn..."

Tonight, he draws Irene in all of her dramatic glory. He draws cities and skyscrapers, while she stands quite hilariously like a superhero would. One giant head situated in the middle of the canvas and exaggerated cheeks to match, Walter sketches as meticulously as he can.

It's odd and strange, but he enjoys it. He likes observing people and studying them until he knows—truly knows them—and can capture their identity through a page.

He's got a whole ten to twelve pages of Irene swimming through clouds with her hands soaring in front of her. Her audacious personality makes it quite hard not to see her as a superhero—and he suspects that maybe one day she will be, in a small, integral way. Walter just finds himself waiting.

Sketching quite small in the corner of his canvas page, he mirrors the text to her words...

The world is my oyster, honey.


When he arrives to work the next day, Walter expects to see colorful balloons out on the parking lot.

He does not, in fact, expect to see empty parking spaces and dark windows, with lights that are obviously out, on the second floor. It's a Saturday, a clear, blue Saturday—and he already feels like he's wasted just the smallest bits of it of staring at those dark, empty window sills.

Gripping his satchel tighter in his grasp, Walter steps forward to check the door.

He expects for it to turn in his hand, but it doesn't budge. In fact, he doesn't hear anything from the other side. No movement, no footsteps.

Walter stands there for just a moment in confusion, unable to put the equation together. If no one is here, he thinks, then why didn't anyone tell me they wouldn't be?

For a moment, he tries to deduce whether he had checked his email the other day, or the day before that, and he doesn't think he did. In fact, Walter didn't even check his phone the other day. He let it ring in exhaustion and assumed it was probably his cellular service anyway. He didn't expect it to actually be important to a certain degree.

Holding that thought in his mind for a beat, Walter lifts his old, slightly dated black Blackberry, and then scrolls through it in the irritating, blinding sunlight. He finds four texts and they're all, embarrassingly, about the party.

(6: 58 PM)(Yesterday)

From: (206)-(754)-(5697)

Walter, it's Kip

Walter stiffens just looking at the text. He never knew Kip had his number. Why... did he have his number?

(6: 58 PM)(Yesterday)

From: (206)-(754)-(5697)

If you hvnt heard there isnt a party tmrw. Dont go, dont be an idiot lol

His eyebrows lift in small surprise that Kip is nice enough to warn him. He never knew the egoist had it in him to be so generous.

(6: 59 PM)(Yesterday)

From: (206)-(754)-(5697)

Thatcher kept frking bothring me bout it so here. There u go

Of course, Walter thinks. He stands to be corrected by reality and not by his own ludicrous ideas of people actually being nice.

Grabbing the strap of his satchel, he turns around and resigns to going home. It doesn't bother him that he has to, but there was probably going to be some great, delicious food at the party. Now, or at least, later, he's going to have to make a strange concoction of random grains and poultry to make a proper meal. Though, to be fair, he's the one that can't cook efficiently enough to help himself. However, it's still relatively early; he could get a nice bagel at the store or something.

Taking gradual steps across the parking lot, he scrolls through his phone to find some restaurant or, preferably, diner locations. Some of his blonde hair whips in front of his eyes for a second, and Walter has to tug it back to see his phone since he refuses to cut it after some principal of his. Though he does shave his beard so he doesn't understand where his line stands, but his hair is too long and it currently doesn't make much sense to doubt his principals. Continuing in his tracks across the lot, he scrambles through his satchel for a brown, scruffy beanie of his.

He bumps into someone before he manages to find it.

"Oh, shoot—"

Whoever he collides into has plenty of layers so Walter doesn't actually get hurt. He sees a bit of hair in his eyes and a brief glimpse of their hand, but he doesn't actually stop falling until he looks up.

It's a girl.

He's never seen her before.

"I'm sorry," she blurts, before leaning over to the ground and picking up his beanie for him.

He stares at her for a moment, but not in disrespect. He just hasn't seen her around here. He's got an impressive memory and he can't ever recall seeing her face around here—and clearly, the direction she was taking implies that she's heading into the building, his work department. She could always work downstairs, he thinks. You never see those people.

"Uh," he manages, receiving the beanie once she passes it to him, "it's fine, it's okay."

She forces a quick smile, before walking around him and directing herself to the door. Walter turns around and watches her—the door budge, the glance up, and then the little resignation after realizing you have to go home to nothing but pasta boxes and cold green beans. He doesn't laugh and he never would—it's a tragic novella he lives through every day.

When she notices his eyes, she notices their similarities already. She smiles, whoever she is.

"It's canceled, I've been told," Walter comments, before adding, "yesterday—I was told yesterday."

The girl nods and a small giggle escapes her lips. Walter wants to know her name.

"Do you work here or?"

"Yeah, the first department," she points back at the door, moving a strand of hair from her face.

Walter clicks his teeth in understanding, before smoothly covering his hair with his beanie. "Ah, so that's why I don't know you. I know practically everyone, but I never see the lower department so," he shrugs, putting his hands in his pocket, "that's why I can't remember your face."

"I remember you," she states, and there's a smile somewhere in the edges of her eyes.

She's shorter than him, that's for sure, and slightly stocky. Her hair is pretty long, strictly black, and moves with the wind like they're friends. He doesn't know if he's ever passed by her and, maybe, that's how she saw him. However, he certainly would remember her face. She's got dimples and a very, very bright smile—and her eyes shift to resemble a horizontal crescent when she grins.

She's pretty.

Walter would know if he's seen her around, and yet, he hasn't—he would know.

"If you remember me then I should remember you," he quips, clutching the satchel in his left hand.

She sighs, giving him another smile that makes him tilt his head just a bit, and leans on her other foot. "You didn't look at me. I was passing by and I looked at you, but you didn't look at me."

His eyebrow does a strange dance of disbelief.

"You were going upstairs, on the elevator," the girl continues as if she's pointing out the obvious. "Why would you look at me? I mean, if I were you, would I look at you? No—"

"I get it, yeah," Walter interferes, nodding his head along.

The girl looks at him for a bit, before drifting off her attention to anything else but his eyes. It's not a gesture of anxiousness, rather a gesture of awkwardness, of not really knowing what to say. Walter usually feels the same thing, only in this situation he doesn't. He's a little more focused on heading home and cleaning up his cabinets or something than standing here. She's interesting though; he's never seen her before and her face is as recognizable as something as simple as cotton candy—you just don't forget something that saccharine.

"Anyway, it's nice to meet you...?" The blonde implicitly asks, before extending his hand.

The girl extends her own. "Olive, Olive Yi."

"Walter," he answers, shaking her hand, "Walter Weaver."

Then, Walter looks at her, taking his hand back. He looks at her black jump boots, her faded jeans, and her long, fitted brown coat. He eyes her hair and her maroon beanie with a little poof at the top. Gazing at the lines and the edges of her sculpted face, he finds himself pleased with her name. It fits, he notes. He has a thing for when names fit.

Walter smiles. "We should get out of here."

She nods, just a small bit, in response. Her eyes do a small maneuver from his shoes to his hair and then she grins. "Yeah," Olive says softly, before making her way beside him—and then in front of him. Walking in the direction to the exit of the lot, she makes her own way out. Walter is just a few steps behind.

"Are you taking the bus?" He blurts, his eyes on the back of her head.

Olive turns and smiles big, her dimples show this time. Walter almost stops in his step. "Yeah, yeah, I take the bus near the doughnut shop, the—"

"Yeah, I know the one," he blurts, taking strides to meet her side.

Olive looks at him and smiles—and Walter would act like a fool just to see those dimples again. She's pretty, of course, but he's also not entirely comfortable being this gooey-eyed for some random girl he just met—and yet, he just wants to talk to her for a little longer.

By the time, they've settled into their respective bus seats and the light is reflecting across her hair, Walter doesn't feel as gooey-eyed anymore. She talks... quite a lot. Everything and anything in her head comes into the conversation. He's sure she doesn't think before she speaks in most situations. She's probably the first person to make an unnecessary, inappropriate comment—like him, except he thinks—about something. Even if she's pretty, and he can't help but stare idly, he's not really interested in her, at least not like that—he's interested in the way you are when you see a new classmate arrive in the middle of the year. Though it's not like it matters, Walter would never tell her even if he did.

For a moment, a haze dances around her hair, as she talks, resembling the brightness in her own brown eyes. "Don't you hate it there? The stupid flies and the awful editorial pitches. Sometimes I forcibly hold my own breath to see if I can die for two seconds and not deal with my own reality."

Walter coughs out a violent laugh from the unexpected honesty. Olive turns with a sardonic smile. "I mean, I guess," he mumbles, thinking for just a minute, "I hate a lot of things though; I guess I've just conditioned myself to the way of the world. I can hate things without feeling passionate about it."

The girl smiles in return. "That's a talent. I wish I was talented in that way. I have to kill people in my head to survive."

He tilts his head and mischievously smirks. "I've killed a few people in my head," Walter adds, leaning his head back, "especially those entitled egoists from the third department."

"Entitled egoists," she repeats, with a very wicked grin, "I thought you said you didn't feel passionate about things."

"I said I can hate things without feeling passionate about them," he corrects, facing the elder lady ahead of him, "but if I want to feel passionate about anything then I can—especially people."

Olive quirks her lip, turning away from him, and then to the window. He can't help but stare back at her and the way the light will probably dance on her hair again. "I can't hate people. It's too hard," she admits, crossing her arms, "I can hate things and feelings and stuff, but I can't hate people. I just don't care for them—or maybe I do, I don't know. People are people, but the world is a totally different thing."

"How so?" He slinks in his chair, suddenly comfortable.

"Well, I don't know, the world can be so interesting, when you least expect it, but people are just people—they're just there, stuck just like you," Olive elaborates, her eyes suddenly focused on the cars passing by, "how can you hate something when it's so uninteresting in the first place? The world is so interesting and full of life and color, and like ecosystems of its own."

Walter grunts in agreement, turning away just as she says that. He's never exactly heard those words before—or at least, that idea before. It's something to actually think about, in a way, and it bothers him a little that she's right—that people are uninteresting. It's essentially a waste of time—is what she's saying—to hate on a group of uninteresting creatures that ignorantly annoy each other. He has to applaud the way her mind works.

"I like the world, at least, some parts of it," she says, before adding lastly, "except bugs, I hate bugs—I hate them so much that I lose a sense of sanity every time I see them and my lifespan decreases by at least two years."

Again, Walter coughs ridiculously before he bows himself forward in sudden, ferocious laughter.

He's never met anyone as dramatic as her in his entire life.


"Hey," Kip starts, on a whole new day, practically shouting through office cubicles, "I called you about the party and you didn't answer. Did you end up coming like I knew you would 'cause you're an idiot?"

Walter's shoulder goes stiff, but mostly because he couldn't stand the moron—and because he scared him a little. His fingers were in the middle of a lengthy paragraph with little to no flavor, but they freeze immediately at the sound of Kip's voice. When the blonde lifts his head to catch the lousy employee, Kip already has his himself blocking Walter's exit—or, at least, Walter's way to the horrible coffee machine.

"Am I really the idiot?" His mouth slowly curls upward, and Kip can tell an acidic joke is coming on. Walter doesn't hesitate to push his chair back and stand up, placing himself about four inches away from the unfavorable peer. "Or is the one who takes time out of his day to bother and insert himself into somebody else's life for attention and recognition and notoriety the real idiot?"

Kip doesn't have time to say anything before Walter slides his way out of the small box.

He does, however, chase after the blonde despite the horrible taste the insult left behind. "Wow, ouch! Did you wake up on the wrong side of the bed or something, Wally? That's a little too vicious even for you."

As they walk, little cubicle boxes narrow the hallway before them. Each and every single one filled with a person that's intently focused on their task at hand. Every wall looks as colorful and as individualistic as the other, littered with post-it notes and family photos. Kip is still just a foot behind— it would be a chase sequence if Walter's life wasn't so tragic and novelized.

Walter doesn't say a word as they talk through the cubical hall. Kip just keeps following.

"You even managed to use a lot of big words at seven in the morning," the black-haired thirty-two-year old continues.

Walter turns the corner.

He expects the moronic, yet formidable peer to stop following him, but he feels his shoes walking just a few inches behind. It's not like his morning isn't already terrible because of the lack of caffeine in his bones, but now Kip keeps trailing after him like a lost puppy. Or like a lost puppy in need of his own caffeine or whatever else the irritating human needs. He's too tired to talk to him right now, to talk to people right now, and it's starting to show quite viciously.

By the time, they both hit the coffee room, Walter figures that it's caffeine the dog is after. He's filling his own small white plastic cup with coffee when Kip stills finally and finds himself a chair inside the lounge room. The aroma of the caffeine already begins to effectively shift his mind—and it's like humanity isn't a horror film, played back in his eyelids when he blinks, anymore. He's already starting to function properly.

Once the coffee stops pouring into his cup, Walter grabs it and takes a small slip, exhaling every bit of tension in his bones.

Kip is standing right beside him before he takes another sip, though he doesn't blame him, and inserts his own small cup inside the coffee machine. Walter can feel himself already being able to handle his next words—it's magic, honestly, the way coffee works so fast.

"All the beaver needed was his water," Kip blurts, smirking slightly.

Walter furrows his eyebrows, but mostly in amused confusion; he's not sure the metaphor, or analogy, makes sense. "The beaver?"

"Walter Weaver. Beaver. Beaver drinks water to survive—you drink coffee," the black-haired peer rambles, "it's all connected, just wait for the coffee to hit."

"Right," Walter mumbles, drinking some more out of his cup, before adding, "that's why it doesn't make any sense at all, not because it's a poorly thought-out joke."

Kip is just about to reply to the snark, his mouth opening just a bit before they both hear the door behind them open and close. It's still early enough for people to come shuffling in for their dosage of sanity. Walter is a little surprised that when he walked in the lounge it was empty. He expected to see Maurine and Claudia slouched in some chairs with two separate muffins in front of them and muffin crumbs all over the floor, but he's been blessed enough to, sort of, have the room all to himself before sanity hit— besides the dog that followed.

His blessings turn out to be tremendous when he sees Cleo behind him.

Why is she here? Why is mercy finally being extended his way?

"Hey Cleo," he hears Kip say, in the sudden fog behind his thoughts.

"Hey," she replies, taking enough steps to be beside Walter's shoulder. "Hey, Walter."

Suddenly, the tremendous amount of fog in his mind flushes away and he blinks back to reality. There always seems to be an occasional moment where, as a human, you just stop working for a minute, not because you're gazing or because you're so attentive to another person's words, but because your own mind is in need of a few moments of silence to determine and analyze a situation. It happens to everyone, and there's no need for Walter to explain it, but sometimes... sometimes it's like he can almost hear his mind fall into computer static. It's like he can step out of his body and look at himself and, literally, hear the computer static. In respect to this situation, it almost, kind of happened. If Cleo hadn't walked and stared directly at him, he would hear the computer beeping disruptively and loudly in his head.

To which... Walter might be doing again, now that he thinks about it, and it's not until he hears the computer sounds that he shakes himself and stares back at Cleo. "Oh, hey."

Nice, real nice, he thinks.

Cleo smiles and walks, around the other black-haired peer, towards the coffee machine. "Um, the coffee machine upstairs doesn't work and they're getting it fixed so, yeah, I'm down here."

Kip removes a hand from his beige pockets and takes his cup out of the machine. He only takes a small sip before he talks again. "That sucks; our coffee tastes like anteater fluid mixed with warm water and a packet of old, vintage sugar."

Cleo grimaces but laughs.

Walter just smiles at the honest interpretation.

"He's not wrong," he mumbles, earning a small smirk from Kip. The blonde in the blue office dress shakes her head in response.

"I never doubted it," she replies, inserting her own cup in the coffee machine, "I had some last time, remember?"

He thinks back to when she had some coffee only three to two days ago. He was supposed to tell her how he feels—and that never happened. She left the room without drinking any of her coffee and he never saw an expression of dissatisfaction. It's not like it matters though; he doesn't care for her coffee feelings. He's a little more taken by the fact that the coffee upstairs obviously worked a couple days ago and she still came downstairs for coffee anyway. It's like a small piece isn't fitting into the puzzle right now, he thinks.

Kip looks at Walter with an amused, yet disappointed smirk. "Are you remembering or something, Wally? It's just a yes or no."

Walter blinks out of the fog and turns to his peer. "Uh, no, I—I remember. I'm just out of it," he answers.

Cleo isn't facing him when he says this. She's patiently waiting in front of the machine with her eyes glued to it—not by choice, really; the conversation isn't going anywhere. Walter would be offended, but he isn't self-absorbed. He knows he relaying responses as quickly as a dial-up computer does, but he can't help how intrusive some of his thoughts are suddenly. Just a second ago, Walter was a bitter, vicious wit machine and now he's an old Nokia phone. He's not sure if it's her presence and the sudden realization that he needs to tell her or if the coffee is still settling in.

By the time it even matters, Cleo already has her coffee in hand and is making her way around them again.

"Anyway, see you guys later," she softly says, glancing at Walter just one last time before he hears the door close behind him.

Kip shakes his head in disappointment—a feeling Walter isn't sure he likes from him—and grins. "Are you always this slow or is it the coffee? I mean, that was just tragic," he begins, lifting his cup to his lips, before stopping again, "You do like her, right? That's why you were suddenly tragic?"

Walter passes an annoyed glance. "Yeah, okay, I get it. I was ridiculously pathetic. I wasn't really paying attention though, to be honest. I still haven't finished my coffee and you were still in my face with your desire for approval and notoriety."

Kip's grin gets just a bit bigger. "So you like me? That's why you weren't paying attention. You just admitted you got caught off-guard by me and I'm honestly flattered," the black-haired peer quips with a wink.

Walter sighs, albeit a bit dramatically, and turns away to the door. Before grabbing the knob in his hands, he turns back and offers an annoyed eyebrow furrow. "You should honestly consider hiring yourself a life coach so you can figure out what to do with the rest of your life and the rest of your time before you die with not a single achievement for mankind nor for yourself."

The last he hears of Kip, behind him, just as the door closes, is an annoying, yet satisfying, "Ouch, man!"

Walter smiles the entire way back to his cubicle—and never once stops grinning about it.