Title: Be Careful

Summary: Walter envies Toby's easy ability to love.

Author's Note: This is my first attempt, outside of my own head, at /scorpion fic. It's a post-episode for 2.13 White Out.

DISCLAIMER: I do not own /scorpion. This story is for entertainment purposes only. I make no profit and no infringement of copyrights is intended.

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Flying in a military cargo jet for several hours is no fun. Walter was strapped in a jump seat, pinned up against the fuselage. His legs were cramping and he desperately wanted to undo his harness, get up and stretch his legs with a walk around the cavernous cargo hold. However, he'd taken note of the frequency with which the plane suddenly lurched from turbulence and realized that cramping legs were infinitely more desirable than broken ones. He stayed put, praying he wouldn't need to use what passed as a rest room while until they flew out of the patch of bad weather.

He glanced across to where Toby and Happy were seated, similarly strapped in. Walter wasn't surprised to see Toby's arm tightly around the mechanical genius, who was wrapped in multiple blankets in an effort to further raise her core body temperature. Toby was persistently encouraging her to drink the lukewarm tea he poured from one of the four thermoses he'd brought on the trip. He'd called Happy the love of his life, and it was obvious to anyone who observed them for even a minute. Toby wore his feelings like a cloak. They enveloped him and, Walter supposed, they kept him warm in a metaphorical sense.

The genius cocked his head to one side, a sudden realization striking him. He was envious of Toby's easy ability to display his emotions; to communicate his feelings not only to the object of his affection, but to his friends and pretty much anyone who would stand still for long enough. Walter extrapolated from this revelation. If he was envious of Toby's ability to show his emotions, then Walter must, himself, have emotions he desired to show.

He'd known for some time that his lifelong claim of being emotion-free was invalid. He'd always had feelings for his family. He was fond of his mother and even his father. He loved his sister Megan. Yes – he could admit that easily. He loved his sister and he always would.

Extending his review, Walter could admit to himself that he had deep feelings for the other members of his cyclone. His relationships with each individual were complex and varied, but there was an underlying affection – a feeling – he hypothesized that it was friendship. That feeling was common to each of these relationships.

Except for Paige. Initially he'd assumed that what made Paige different – what made him want to treat her differently, to protect her - was the fact that she wasn't a genius and was therefore less able than the others to look after herself. It wasn't long before he realized how ludicrous that assumption was. In spite of knowing that Paige was perfectly capable of taking care of herself – probably more so than many of the other Scorpion team – Walter couldn't let go of the need to protect her and care for her, whenever she would let him.

He'd had another revelation out in that blizzard. Toby had challenged him, asking him if he would go back to the hut if Paige were lost out in the snow. He'd known the answer to that immediately, without hesitation. The greater good be damned, he would have abandoned all thought of saving those trapped soldiers in favor of finding the woman he loved.

The woman he loved. It wasn't the first time that phrase had come to mind. It wasn't even the first time he'd allowed it to dwell; hadn't dismissed it as simply a reflection of common cultural themes he'd been exposed to. He was nearly ready to admit to himself that he was capable of loving a woman; of loving Paige. For possibly the hundredth time he tried to examine the facts in an effort to determine what was so different about Paige that allowed him to love her when he'd never experienced a feeling quite like this before.

As usual, he couldn't pinpoint anything that was so different. He'd met other women as beautiful as Paige. He'd met others who were as intelligent and more. He'd met women who were caring mothers, even some who dealt with children who were challenged in one way or the other. None of them sparked the light that Paige did. None of them were the love of Walter's life.

He glanced back up at the pair seated across from him. Toby had rearranged the blankets so that both were contentedly enveloped in their warmth. Happy was snuggled against the behaviorist, her head resting on his chest, her face half-hidden in his open jacket. Toby rested his chin lightly on her head, stroking her hair. The scene could have been taken from one of the romance movies Paige confessed as one of her guilty pleasures. Again, Walter felt the slightly sour sense of envy creep into his thoughts. He would give anything to hold Paige like that – except he would never want her to go through the sort of life-threatening experience Happy had.

Was Paige, then, the love of Walter's life as Happy was Toby's? Perhaps Happy was right. As arbitrary as the date was, the new year was a good time to make changes. Perhaps it was time for Walter to shed his robotic shell and endeavor not only to be more social, but to accept his feelings and even allow them to show. When they returned to LA, Walter vowed to be more expressive of his feelings – to tell people that he cared about them, even Paige. Especially Paige.

Telling Paige would be a huge step. It would undoubtedly change their lives significantly; change their working relationship certainly. Walter realized, now, that their lives were already changed. Their relationship changed as soon as he began having these feelings, regardless of whether he acknowledged them or admitted them. Allowing them out in the open surely couldn't be any more difficult that trying to suppress them had been. Still, perhaps he should go slow – work his way up to telling Paige.

"Toby?"

"Yea, buddy? What is it?"

"I love you."

Toby raised his head and stared, his eyes as big as saucers.

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January 5, 2016