It wouldn't be correct to describe your job as the most exciting thing about you. Though, it most certainly knows how to keep a roof over your head and food on the table. Even more so considering there is no presence of a spouse or significant other. With some excess money and the convenience of only 40 hours in a given workweek, you did not seem to mind your position as a secretary working at TF Industries.
It was like any other office job. You could wear any type of business casual clothing as long as it had some shade of gray hinted in the attire. Plus, you got to do an array of "exciting" jobs: answering and redirecting phone calls to various managers within the branch, filing paper documents, scheduling meetings, the whole shebang. What made the job a little more tolerable was the people you worked with. Since your arrival to TF, your coworkers have welcomed you with open arms and have accepted you as if you have worked there your whole life.
Over the years the industry grew larger and larger, but you did not mind. For it felt like nothing has changed. There are more workers to interact with on a given workday and a few more visits to the copying machine, that's all. Being with the company for over five years has made you accept that maybe, just maybe, this was your calling. This desk job wasn't too bad, and maybe at some point, you would find someone to settle down with and start a family. Receiving small raises as you rank higher in seniority, you could live a pretty peaceful and modest life.
It was then on that unusually warm spring day, things were going to completely change.
"(L/N)," A voice buzzed through the speaker on your desk. It was your head manager. "Come to my office. Someone from corporate is here to see you." The speaker buzzed once again to indicate the connection was cut off. You raised a brow.
"Corporate...?" You mumbled to yourself. Why do they want to see you? That was the main question that danced in your head.
Nevermind, you shook the thought off and got up from your seat. Individuals from "higher-up" are normally on tight schedules, you shouldn't keep them waiting.
You walked across the building to the other side where your manager's room was located. The blinds on the glass windows were pulled down so nobody could peak in. You approach the sturdy wooden door and knocked on it just loud enough for them to hear you from the other side.
"Come in," A deep male voice called out from behind it as you twisted the knob to enter.
Your manager stood up from his chair as you entered. He had a small side smirk plastered on his face as a fat cigar made itself prominent in his mouth. On the opposite side of the desk stood a woman with a small figure. She wore a modest purple dress and her hair was back in a low bun. Her glasses hung somewhat low on her face as she gave you a friendly smile. She was holding a few manilla file folders to her chest with papers that poked out.
"You wanted to see me?" You questioned, looking at the two.
"Yes, Miss Pauling here wanted to speak with you in private." Your manager began to stroll in your direction towards the door.
Pauling, that name sounded familiar to you. You just couldn't figure out where.
"Take as much time as you need, I will be in the break room getting coffee." He concluded as he walked passed you and out of the room. You shut the door behind you gently.
"Come, have a seat." The woman gestured to the seat next to her warmly. You sat down and observed her face some more. She definitely looks familiar. "It is nice to see you, Miss (L/N). I believe this isn't the first time we have met. Let's see..." She trailed off and tapped a side of her chin trying to recollect the time. She snapped her fingers and her eyes sparkled, "Oh yes! TF Expo last year wasn't it? You went with the same manager we were just talking to, right? You were one of the nice ones the Administrator and I worked with."
Just as she finished talking it suddenly clicked in your head. Now you remembered her! How could you forget? "That's right...! I remember you! We worked at the same booth for a little while, didn't we? It's nice to see you again. And please, you can call me (Y/N)." Miss Pauling flashed another smile at you.
"Well (Y/N), I came here today to give you an offer." She jumped right into it. Miss Pauling put down the manilla folders on the table. She opened one of them to reveal a few photographs. Some of them consisted of a few images of a small town, but the rest showed large facilities based in various locations. Most of which seemed to be in a desert-like area. What caught your attention the most was that the large buildings had a bold, yet still rustic, red shade to them.
"What you're looking at is a subsidiary company of ours called Reliable Excavation Demolition, or RED for short. Like the name alludes to, they operate "demolition" operations. Breaking down buildings and such, as you obviously know...." Her words almost... drabbled. As if what she was explaining was not very important information to take in. There was a small pause as Pauling hummed to herself before continuing, "Aaaand, there's a little bit more than that... We can just leave it at a lot of confidential building operations for now. More will come on that later. Since this company is rapidly growing, it is difficult for me, one of the only assistants from a higher level, to travel back and forth to every location on time to give orders. We are looking for an assistant to help facilitate some guidance from the 'higher-ups' back to its employees." You were caught by surprise; disbelief was only beginning to describe it.
"You're offering me to take that position?" You asked starstruck.
"Of course! Out of the list of recommendations, you were the one who was tested most suitable for the job. You were single-handedly picked by the Administrator herself. She sent me here to meet you since she could not do it in person herself. You will have to abide by a contract, much similar to the one you signed entering this company. There is a mandatory contract time that needs to be served before you choose to back out. You will be living within RED's headquarters during that time."
"Where would I be moved to?"
"Near a place infamously known as the 'Badlands'. It is located in New Mexico, so it's quite some distance from here." You bit your bottom lip a little, starting to have some doubts. That was some distance from where you are. "I should also mention," She continued while pulling out a small packet of paper held together by a paper clip. A pen hung from the folder. She took the bottom part of the pen and began pointing at some regions of the papers that correlated with what she was talking about, "You would be under contract for a little more than half a decade-- about six or seven years. During your time working there, you are guaranteed to be paid quite bountifully." Her pen drifted towards the salary range. The tight feeling in your jaw was let loose. You could not believe your eyes.
"You will start your job by making around 350 thousand annually. For each given year passes an additional 50k is added to your salary. By the end of your contract, you will be making around 650 thousand. Combine that from whatever else you have made in past years, and you have yourself a good pocket of cash! The job also comes with only the best health insurance around." It was almost too good to be true. A smile began to spread on your face. A small laugh escaped your lips. "Oh, did I mention that you will be traveling all across the world? RED has industries on almost every continent. Wait- scratch that, every continent in the world." This is insane, all for a demolition company? There's no way. You couldn't believe it; you just couldn't.
"So, what do you think?" Miss Pauling breathed out. It was quite the mouthful she ran through, so she must be nearly out of breath. The excitement on your face was worth it, though.
"Are you sure you've got the right person? This is like- a major upgrade from what I'm doing now... Am I really competent for the job?" You needed to be reassured; this isn't some show or book. It HAD to be too good to be true.
"Well, you are (Y/N) (L/N). It says right here on the page... You'll never know until you try, right?" Miss Pauling tucked a lock of hair that fell astray from behind her ear. You began to buzz with joy. This was freaking awesome!
"Where do I sign? When do I begin??" A flurry of questions is all you had for the young woman. Miss Pauling let you ramble on and collect yourself before she continued. She pulled out another stack of papers fixed together by a paperclip.
"This is what you will be signing. Take your time to skim through it if you'd like; there's a lot of detail in there I will ensure to tell you on our way to headquarters when we meet next." You only lightly brushed over the paperwork. Taking the pen from the woman, you began to sign and date in the areas it requested you to do so (with a little extra guidance from Pauling). Once you were finished, you put the papers in a neat stack and handed them back to the girl. She secured them with the paperclip and slid into a folder. Pauling stood up and extended an arm out for a handshake. You slowly accepted the gesture.
"Welcome to the team, Miss (L/N). It was a wise decision you chose, very very wise." You felt her grip tighten a little on your hand. It was quite peculiar, but you tried to ignore it.
"What should I do to get ready?" You rephrased the question from earlier. Miss Pauling let go of your hand and quickly glanced at her watch. Her eyes grew, she must have been running behind schedule.
"Let's see, it's Tuesday, isn't it? We need you up and ready to work by next Monday morning. We have a flight scheduled for you on Saturday at noon. I will be waiting for you at the airport. Please, arrive two hours prior to our flight... I will give you more details from there." She began to grow fidgety as she collected the other files sprawled out on the table. "It was nice seeing you again, (Y/N). I see a lot of potential in you. I need to get going, tell your manager I said thank you for letting me speak to you." Her pace became swift as she reached the door. You began to wave farewell even though she had her back turned.
"It was nice seeing you again too, Miss Pauling." You added. She began to open the door before she froze.
"Oh, and (Y/N)?" She called.
"Please do not speak about your association with RED to your other coworkers. This is a very classified job. We will have to go to great measures of punishment if we find out that information is floating around."
A small pit sat in your stomach. Her tone came off as terrifyingly unnerving.
"I... promise." You trailed.
"Good! Seeya Saturday!" Miss Pauling returned to her peppy manner as she left you to stand in your manager's office alone; speechless.
Just what exactly are you getting yourself into?
REVISED 9/9/2020: Hey cuties ;) just fixing nooby/baby Pop's grammar and sentence structure mistakes. NO plot additions were made to the beginning. Hopefully, this should flow a little bit better!
Chapter 2: The Teufort Expedition
A continuation after the offer given to you by Miss Pauling. It's time to take a trip! :)
"It was great working with you, (Y/N)." One of your coworkers gently placed his hand on your back. A small box on your desk was filled with all kinds of at-work trinkets. You finishing collecting the last of your things when a group of your closest colleagues came by to say one last goodbye.
"We are going to miss you greatly, dear." Another one spoke. She was more towards on the elderly side; always such a sweetheart. You smiled from ear to ear. I was Friday, and your adrenaline was pumping looking towards starting a new chapter in your life, a fresh beginning, a new calling! The possible opportunities that came with this job ran wild in your mind.
"I'm going to miss you guys, too. But the time has come. Family calls, y'know?" You responded with a simple shrug. Your coworkers were surprised to find out about your sudden job change as much as you were that same day. Following what Miss Pauling advised, you decided to come up with an excuse that you were moving back near your mother to help run the family business.
It was oddly peculiar to the group, for they did not know that your family owned a business. Or let alone, if you even had family in general. You never had brought them up in conversation. They did not question it further, though. They trusted you; they have since the day they met you.
"Make sure to send a letter at some point if you can! We'll want to hear from you." A girl around your age spoke. She was always a wonderful person to chat with during your lunch break. You giggled.
"I'll make sure to find some time to write to you guys," It was then you checked your watch. Jeez! Your landlord will be coming to make final configurations about vacating the space soon. You had to get a move on, "I hate to cut it short, but I need to get going. Take care, everyone!" You picked up your stuff and scurried towards the entrance of the building. All the while hearing the distant goodbyes of once-considered close work pals.
It was 7 o'clock on Saturday morning. Today was the big day. You grudgingly rolled out off the couch, for you had already gotten rid of your mattress, and dragged yourself to the bathroom. As you got ready and became more awake, you once again grew more excited. You called a cab and loaded up whatever minimal stuff you were bringing with you. Finally, you placed your apartment room and mailbox key in the landlord's inbox, just as he instructed.
It was almost a two-hour drive to the airport in Seattle. You held a small slip of paper which contained your plane ticket that seemed to "mysteriously" slip into your mailbox the night of your job offer. It also read that you were to meet Miss Pauling at gate D42.
Your luggage was loaded, and you brought your carry-on bag with you while floating around the large airport for the correct gate. It took a few minutes, but you eventually found it. It was only around 9:30. Miss Pauling was not there yet. So, you sat patiently and read a book waiting for the other young woman to show up.
It was around five before 10 when you saw her purple dress float closer towards you. A friendly rested on her face.
"Ah, it seems you made sure to get here extra early. I like your thinking." She complimented. The only thing she had with her was a small briefcase.
"As I mentioned before, I was going to give you more details on what you will exactly be doing on the job," Her attention was drawn away from you for a split second before returning, "There's a small built-in diner not too far from here. Want to get a bite to eat and I can explain there?" You nodded your head and grabbed your belongings as the two made your way towards the restaurant.
After receiving your dishes, Miss Pauling once again was quick to talk business. "As you know already you will be working as an assistant of some sort... uhh, maybe more of a manager now thinking about it...?" She took a sip of coffee from her mug, uncertainty lingered in her voice. "You will be working with a group of nine mercenaries."
This fact shocked you. Wasn’t this supposed to be a demolition company? "Wait, wait, mercenaries, as in like, private soldiers?" You asked the girl. She nodded her head.
"That's right. You don't need to worry, though. This isn't some sort of boot camp training. You won't be out on field fighting personally. You will have other duties to attend before, during, and after combat. Prepping supplies before departures; stuff like health kits are supplies and ammunition, observation to see if important artifacts and documents are safe, making sure the mercs are keeping their base clean, ensuring people like the Administrator and myself still have a strong connection with base, and a whole list of other jobs."
Your head was swimming, there was so much to take in. This made you thankful that she didn't lay it all on you just as she was pitching the position a few days ago. You just nodded slowly.
Mercenaries, huh? This part caught you off guard the most. You were expecting to be working more in an office-style as you did in the past; helping other corporate employees instructing demolition workers on their projects. Was that just a coverup? This left room for confusion. You bit down on your tongue. Do you dare ask? You weren't disappointed... just extremely surprised.
"We already have a list in the making for you of some tasks you will do starting Monday. Once you get used to your position, you will probably find more things to add along to it as well. The easiest way to put it; you'll be a very busy woman." Miss Pauling had this minuscule smirk on her face. Her tone as she spoke was very factual too; this definitely was not her first time giving background on a job like this. "Oh, I should also ask you," her head cocked to the side, "do you know how to shoot a gun?"
Where you grew up there wasn't much need for guns. It was a very safe community, plus, your family also weren't big-time hunters. The only time you remember shooting a gun is at a range with your dad and some of his buddies when you were very, very young. "Uhm... Not really." You answered quietly. Your attention shifted towards the meal in front of you.
"You don't need to worry about it. We will make sure some of the guys teach you. It's not a skill that is required, but it may help you greatly in the long run." Miss Pauling checked the time.
She turned back to your attention, "The base you will stay at is named '2Fort'-- I almost forgot to mention that part. Other than that... That’s really all I have for you. Some other details may come up as we get closer to headquarters. Otherwise, you should be set."
The two of you ended up sitting and chatting for another 15 to 20 minutes. It was then when you realized, outside of talking about work, Miss Pauling seemed to come off as a little more reserved or slightly uncomfortable with more casual conversation. You didn't mind, she was nothing but respectful as you spoke. In part, you returned the favor as she talked. After some time the two of you paid and returned to the gate for your flight.
It was about a three-hour flight. You ended up landing at a small regional airport in Santa Fe. Miss Pauling had a cab already waiting for the two of you after you got your luggage. It drove you out of the city and what seemed to be located southwest.
The drive was long; it seemed much longer than the flight. It was roughly around three hours of nothing but small talk between the driver and Miss Pauling and staring out the window at the dry desert scenery. You were once wearing a gray cardigan, but by this time it was off as you sat in your white short-sleeved dress shirt sweating your tail off. The A/C was running, but it was overwhelmed by the sweltering heat from outside. Everyone was uncomfortable by the intensity.
"Next time I'll have to find another cab..." Miss Pauling mumbled towards you, which sparked a small smile from you. She held a clasped hand towards her chin. Her eyes looked out the window and a sudden look of relief washed over her, "Nevermind that, we're here."
You peered out the window. The cab passed a small sign that seemed to be barely holding on from the brink of collapsing that read Welcome to Teufort: America's Gravel Basket. It was a medium-sized town; bigger than what you expected to be out in the middle of nowhere. Was this the place you were going to be staying in? It sounded similar to the place Miss Pauling described at the airport. By no time upon entering, the cab stopped towards the corner of the town square.
"We're here, ladies. Do you want me to wait here until your ride comes around?" The cab driver offered. The clock on the dashboard read six o'clock right on the dot. Miss Pauling shook her head.
"That shouldn't be necessary. Our ride will arrive at any minute."
"Well, then you two take care. Keep hydrated, it gets really dry around here this time of year." He advised.
The two of you thanked him briefly and got your things from the back. When the cab drove off the two of you sat at a bench nearby. About five minutes passed before Miss Pauling let out a quick sigh. "What is taking them so long? When I say six o'clock sharp. I mean six o'clock sharp." She crossed her arms in a disapproving manner. You observed the scenery around you some more.
At the center of town square stood a large statue of a horse with a small lengthy man crouched near it. Heaping piles of junk enclosed the center. It stunk horribly. The large wooden sign read Teufort Town Square City Dump. Certainly, an odd place to put it. Your attention twisted behind the bench. A little store named Mann Market had a light shining through the shop window and onto the bench. You got an idea.
"Well, while we wait, I can run in and get us some water or something." You offered, but Miss Pauling shook her head.
"You can get something, I'm fine. Just make sure the water you buy is big-brand bottled water. The town's water system has been contaminated with large amounts of lead for quite some time now." That explains a lot about town's... architecture choices. You went in and bought yourself a drink. Just as you returned to the bench, a white beaten up truck came chugging towards your direction. On the outside, the logo read RED Bread.
"It's about time!" Pauling shot up from her seat with her hands to her hips. A sour look hung on her face as the truck grew closer. The two passengers in the window seemed displeased as they caught a glimpse of the woman's expression. A young man with a cap and headset sat in the driver's seat. He looked the most troubled out of the two.
The truck slowed to a halt. The passenger side door struggled to slide open. A man in goggles and a hardhat sat beside the boy, who had a small frown on his face. There was a moment of tension held in the air. The thick silence that sat with the looks the three exchanged with each other. It was then the one in the driver seat spoke up in an awkward tone,
"Uh-... heyyy... Miss Pauling..."
REVISED 9/9/2020: Hi again! Just fixing old mistakes! Teehee ;)
"Fifteen minutes," Miss Pauling hissed. "I told you guys to be here right at six, Scout. And what do you do?" She left the question for him to answer. The young guy, seemingly named Scout, rubbed the back on his neck nervously.
"Uh... We showed up fifteen minutes fashionably late?" His voice crescendoed higher as he answered the question with uncertainty. It had a thick Bostonian accent to it. Miss Pauling lifted her glasses and squeezed the bridge of her nose.
"If it makes it any better, we ran into those bastards on the way here." Scout tried to relieve the pressure of the situation. The man in the hardhat sighed.
"What he means by 'those bastards' is we accidentally crossed paths with a BLU truck." The man had a calm southern accent. It was like listening to a kind relative who you never see. "Though, his unnecessarily bad driving skills almost got us killed." He batted a hand into the boy's shoulder. Scout shot him a look from behind.
That must explain why the truck looked so bent out of shape. Since the truck was up closer now, you noticed there were a few punctures on the side of the truck; bullet holes.
The sound of two metal doors slammed open from the back of the vehicle. "Hello, Miss Pauling! I am here also!" A raspy voice boomed out. He turned the corner and gave a salute with a goofy grin. A military helmet layered over his eyes. Everyone's attention then was quickly drawn to you.
"So, 'this the new merc, huh?" Scout questioned.
"She isn't a mercenary, she's your supervisor. Her name is (Y/N)." Miss Pauling introduced you to the men, you felt a little relieved she did so for you. To be frank, you were pretty nervous. You couldn't pinpoint why, but it was just the feeling you get in your stomach when you are anticipating something to happen. The pressure isn't relieved until that event happens.
The man in the hardhat gave you a friendly smile, "It's nice to meetcha, darlin'. You can call me Engineer or 'Engie' for short if ya'd like." He took his thumb and forefinger and lightly tipped his hat to you. You let out a friend laugh. He seems like a nice person. Engineer then pointed a gloved thumb behind him. "This here's Scout, as you may have figured out."
"Yo, what's up?" The boy replied with a cunning smirk on his face.
"Aaand this is Soldier." His hand pointed at the man in the military helmet. In exchange, Solider turned in Miss Pauling with a straight face.
"Miss Pauling, you promised you would bring us an American. Not a woman!" He exclaimed. His statement confused you.
"But, I am American..." You trailed off.
"Eh, don't take anything that chucklehead says too seriously. He's like this all the time." Scout chimed in.
"That sounds like something a traitor would say! Who are you working for?" Soldier snarled. He tried to move up to talk right into your face, but Miss Pauling obstructed his path.
"Now, now. We can all get comfy and know each other in the truck. We're on a tight schedule here!" The woman announced.
"And I'm driving this time." Engineer stated distastefully.
Scout slid open his door side grumbling, "Jeez, yeah, fine. Whatever." After everyone was situated, the five of you were well on your way. The truck departed from the opposite side of the town. As soon as you knew it, you were driving into the desert setting sun.
This ride went by a lot quicker than the previous trips. It felt a lot shorter than the alleged 45 minutes that Miss Pauling calculated. It must have had to do with getting to know the other three along the way. Just as you expected with first impressions, Engineer was a kind man. He told you a little bit about 2Fort along with some of the buildings and projects he enjoys to make. Soldier intimidated you at first, after some time you got used to his behavior. Some of the stuff he said seemed outrageous at times, but it was somewhat comedic. As for Scout, a good majority of the time was allocated towards smooth-talking you and Miss Pauling. You both promptly disregarded his action. He was a very talkative individual, but he didn't seem like a horrible guy. None of them seemed that bad.
"Ladies and gents, we have arrived back to 2Fort. Say hello to RED's headquarters." Engineer announced. You looked through the front windshield from the back of the truck. A huge facility stood prominently in the desert dusk. It had that red shade you saw in the pictures you were shown. The structure fits to a tee, but you weren't expecting it to be this big.
The truck pulled into a large garage unit, the five of you spilled out of the vehicle.
"Come along now, (Y/N). Everyone else is inside waiting to meet you." Engineer said. The other three lead the way as you follow suit. That nervous feeling grew in your stomach again. You didn't know what you were expecting about the others. You didn't want to ask out of fear, and willingness on your part to get to know them personally.
Your group entered into a large joint dining room-kitchen space. Scattered between the two areas were six other men who either conversed with one another or sat by themselves. All of them glanced in your group's direction upon your arrival.
"Everybody, we are back! And we found Miss Pauling along the way!" Soldier announced to them. None of which responded. There was a pause before the woman in the purple dress cleared her throat and stepped forward.
"Guys, this is the new member of your team. Why don't you introduce yourself?" Her hands gestured toward you. She looked back at you waiting for a response. You put one hand up and waved gently to the other six in the room.
"Hello, I'm (Y/N) (L/N)." You said just loud enough for everyone to hear you. There was a pause that hung in the air. Your eyes scanned the room in anxiousness. Were you supposed to say anything else? Oh God, it's been silent for too long! Maybe you should elaborate, "I... I'm your team's intern?" You spoke as if it were a question.
Oh no, and you said intern! It made it sound you were their underling rather than their supervisor!
You felt the heat from your mistake radiate off your face and you were about to correct yourself, but it was too late. The other men who sat all gave light chuckles at your response.
Miss Pauling flashed you a reassuring smile. Her head returned to the other men and she spoke once more, "Actually, she is more like your guy's manager. Yes, while she takes on more assistant-like roles, in the end, she holds a higher status within the corporation."
"Aye, I think I prefer that lass as an intern more than a manager!" A man with a Scottish accent exclaimed. He held a giant jug of... something... in his hands. It looked like an alcoholic beverage, but you could not make out what kind. After his response, the other men erupted into a louder fit of laugher. You chuckled awkwardly along with them.
Your nerves were on overdrive. You were afraid something like this would happen. Although, you don't want to come off as too sensitive in front of these guys. They're the ones you will have to work with for quite some time. In a way, you were going to have to adapt in some form or another. So to simply laugh it off was the smartest decision.
The only one who didn't chime in on laughter was a man that wore a red balaclava. He took an inhale on his cigarette. His attention was fixed on a tiny book in his other hand. "If I were you, I would watch your mouth. Keep in mind she will have contact with the Administrator." His reply was clearly directed at the Scottish man. His voice was quite satisfying to listen to. A heavy French accent mixed with fluent English, which made it all the better to hear. The noise from the other men died down. You felt your anxiousness fall after he spoke. His tone did not seem to be as if he was exactly advocating for you, but it helped suppress some of the worries you felt from the other guys laughing.
"I have already given you all the basic rundown of her reason for being here. She knows her responsibilities as well. I'll keep this quick in that case," Miss Pauling began. "You all are expected to treat Miss (L/N) with respect. Each of you are colleagues, and the only way you are going to succeed as a team is to cooperate like one. Since (Y/N) is under a similar code of conduct, she is allowed to give as much personal information about herself to you all as she pleases. She respects your privacy, you can respect her's. Especially in these first few days, help her out if she asks for it and try not to put her down. We were all beginners at some point. Finally, the biggest rule with no exception; never EVER converse with the enemy." Her words were bold and you took it all very seriously. The other men kept quiet and some nodded as a response.
Converse with the enemy...? You had slight curiosity, but you didn't want to ruin the moment. Maybe you can ask one of the other mercenaries later. The woman brushed off her dress after the moment passed. "If there aren't any questions, then I will be off." She scanned the room one last time. Pauling began to pivot on one foot to leave when Scout suddenly jumped in her way.
"Uhh, Miss Pauling-! We know that you guys-- err ladies-- had a long day of travelin' an' such. Would you want to join us for (Y/N)'s welcoming dinner?" A look of surprise rode on your face. A welcoming dinner? The only thing you had to eat that day was what you had at the airport. Now that you thought about it, you were starving.
Miss Pauling looked at her watch while making a humming noise. Her shoulders slouched as she gave a large exhale. "Well... I don't need to be ready to leave in Teufort until nine-thirty... Why not."
"Engineer and I will finish getting everything prepared!" A man with a thick German accent piped up. All the guys began to rejoice at his response, and the conversation among them all grew louder. You stood in the middle of the room watching everyone. They all seemed to be split up into sub-groups, multiple conversations being tossed around. You didn't know where to go, so you gravitated back towards Miss Pauling's group.
Before long it was dinner time. You sat between two men, you got to know they were referred to the names of Sniper and Heavy. You didn't make many conversations, in the beginning, you just enjoyed the moment of being there with the new people you were going to work with. About halfway through dinner Engineer stood up from his seat and tapped a fork against his glass to get the table's attention. The room hushed down to silence and he smiled as he spoke.
"Ladies and gentlefolk, y'all know why we're here. Tonight we welcome Miss (Y/N) (L/N) to not only what we consider our team, but our family. With our brawn on the battlefield, and her brain on the sidelines, may she help us lead RED on a more successful path than ever!" Everyone at the table began to clap as Engineer gestured you to stand up. You did so holding your glass and smiling.
"As you all know, upon entering our team you are honored with a name. Not just any name, a code name that becomes your alias, a... symbol if you'd like. It keeps your identity safe on the field and within some records. So (Y/N), what would you like to be referred to as?" Everyone's attention panned from Engineer to you. Your mind shot a blank. It was such a sudden question. You swished the drink in your glass in thought.
"Oh, well... I'm not sure. I didn't give much thought to a nickname. .. Do any of you have suggestions?"
One by one the room shot off with different answers from different people.
"That one is taken, you idiot!"
"Who are you callin' an idiot ya moron?!"
The volume in the room grew greater as you watched in utter shock. For what was supposed to be a well-knit a team, they seemed to argue over the smallest things. A wave of guilt washed over you thinking it was your fault for starting it. Miss Pauling and a few others were yelling for others to calm down. Some of the guys were shouting for the sake of shouting. You even witnessed two of them wanting to start a fight in a drunken-manner.
It was at that point you have had enough. You picked up your fork from your plate and began to ring it as quickly as possible against your glass. The loud and frantic clinging pierced throughout the room. Slowly, but surely, those who were arguing began to pipe down and turn their attention back to you. You stood up with a solid posture facing the men. "If I may interrupt, while you all were arguing I have decided to come up with a name on my own."
They all looked at you blankly waiting for you to finish.
"Well? What is it?!" Scout yelled from the other side of the table.
"I was thinking about the name... Backer." More silence came from the men. Some glanced at one another.
"Well... I quite like it alright." The lengthy man with an Australian accent was first to comment.
"Me too." The one in a gas mask mumbled soon after.
"Es ist sehr gut!" The German one spoke out. The room then grew into a cluster of noises of approval. Engineer cleared his voice to speak.
"You made a good choice," He nodded towards you, which you returned with a bright grin, "If y'all could raise your glasses; I would like to propose a toast." Everyone took a moment to raise their drinks. You kept your glass up. Engineer's rose the highest out of them all.
"With the entrance of our newest member, may countless victories come our way, and we all get to get to know her as a part of our family as well. To Backer!"
"To Backer!" Everyone cheered as they all clinked their drinks together. A rush of joy filled you in almost and instant. It lasted throughout the rest of the meal. You got to know everyone's names that they went by. It took some time, but their uniqueness in style helped make their alias memorable. They then continued to ask you some questions about yourself. Before you knew it, the second part of the meal was done.
Miss Pauling looked down at her watch. "It's almost 8:45, I need to get going, guys." Most of the mercenaries and you all made groaning and mumbling noises to her comment, which was acknowledged with a smile from her, "Thanks for letting me stick around to see Backer's initiation. I have a really good feeling about you guys as a team." The men all cheered loudly, you could tell a good majority of them may have had too much to drink with dinner, but you didn't mind the energy. "Backer, I wish you luck."
You gave her an encouraging smile. "I won't let you down."
She simply nodded her head cooly for she was already halfway out the door. "I'll keep in touch. See you guys around!"
A mixture of partings came from you and the others as she left the scene. Once she was gone you turned to find the rest of the mercs kept looking at you. An array of smiles were planted on their faces. The one in the balaclava which got to know as Spy split from the crowd and walked towards you. He held what looked like clothing in his hands.
"You simply cannot be apart of our team in dull gray clothing such as that; have these instead." He gently handed you the neatly folded clothing. It consisted of skinny black cargo pants and a somewhat baggy red zip-up pullover. A yellow tie-on armband with a patch of a large megaphone sat with eminence on the top of the clothing. You looked up at him with great gratitude, then gave the look to the rest of your team.
"Welcome to RED, Backer."
REVISION 9/10/2020: You know the drill. :] Just fixing as many errors I could find!
Chapter 4: Meet The Backer
Your first day on the job ;)
With this chapter, I thought it would only be appropriate to make a title card! Here's the link to the clip!
Your first official full day at your new job location happened to be on the guys' day off; ceasefire day. During that time, Scout and Spy volunteered to teach you how to properly use a weapon. The only consequence of this process was there was more bickering between the two teammates rather than them helping you learn how to defend yourself. In the end, you talked some sense into the two to put aside their differences and finally taught you how to proficiently use those tools.
Today marked the very first official day of you on the job, and it was welcomed by Soldier yelling at you at the crack of dawn to 'GET UP MAGGOT!' and 'There's a battle to fight and you're just waltzing around!'. Observing the rest of the mercenaries, this was nothing new to them. They walked around with the same tired expression that you did.
Late on Sunday night, you received a call from Miss Pauling. It stated she wanted to have a video conference with you that morning. So when everyone was prepping in their own ways for work, you got on the line with her in your office by the intelligence room. It had a padlock to it with a code you were given last night. You and whoever you decide to bring into the office as well are only allowed in.
"Ah, good morning Backer! Were you able to find the checklist I left for you?" She asked.
"Yep. I have it right here." You explained scanning through it.
"Good, now everything you will need to do and will be doing is on there. I called you for one specific reason. Do you see that large text at the bottom of the page?" You peered down towards the bottom, in gruesome large text, it stated DO NOT GET CAUGHT!!!
"The one that says 'do not get caught'?" You repeated back to her
"Yes, exactly! Do you understand what that means?"
"Well, don't get caught by the enemy. What else would it mean?"
"Precisely. That's why it is very important to tell the other mercenaries to not address you by name- a title given or not- when on the field. RED and BLU have a very tight competition with one another. One is not afraid to exploit the other no matter the cause. Even more so if RED begins to have reoccurring victories. Stay hidden. Don't let them see, hear, or even have an idea of your existence. Got it?" Her orders were strict. Though she wasn't rude when giving them out. A lot of what she said was pretty obvious, but you just went along with it and shook your head.
"You got it, Miss Pauling." You responded. She grinned back at you.
"Good, also do not be alarmed if you hear the Administrators voice announcing during battle. She loves to do that. If she isn't announcing to the mercenaries, she may give you instructions or announcements individually." Miss Pauling went on. A few moments after she bid her best wishes and ended the call. You got up from your desk and back with your team.
"Mission begins in ten minutes..." The voice of an older woman boomed throughout the facility. It had a sense of dread in her voice that you just couldn't put your finger on, though it did seem recognizable. That must of had to be the Administrator. You held a red and white megaphone in one hand. Assembling into the biggest area of the facility out of earshot of the exit you put the device to your lips and began to speak.
"Attention RED mercenaries, please assemble in the training room arena for an important announcement." As some time passed the mercenaries made their way towards where you instructed. After about 3 minutes all of them stood before you.
"Ready for your first day, Backer?" Engineer asked with a friendly smile. You nodded towards him and gave the rest of the men a positive look.
"Well, we're here. Big first day." You said in a simplistic manner.
"Allllllright! Lassie's first day!" Demoman cheered out from the crowd. You put your hands behind your back and stood with the greatest posture as you could when speaking.
"Before you guys get out there to do your thing I was instructed to give you some announcements. The primary goal of today's mission is to obtain the intelligence located at the enemy team's base. All the while defending our own."
"We already know that! This isn't the first time we have done this mission!" Soldier responded. You continued to speak.
"I thought that much already. Some other things you guys will need from here on out are these," You walked over to a nearby tool bench and picked up nine small devices. All the men picked one up from your hands one-by-one. "Put these in your ear of preference. This is how I will be able to talk to you while you're out on the field. You can communicate something by tapping the small piece from your ear." They all adjust them into their ears as you spoke. After they all had them in you went through a quick hearing test with each individual's piece.
"I will be watching over cameras scattered across the area. Do keep in mind it is only within our boundaries. If I see anything of importance I will make sure to call it out. Also as a request from Miss Pauling, she says for you all to be crafty when addressing me during battle. I'm not even supposed to exist to the other team... So I will also try to hide my best within the intelligence room and around the area. Okay, does anyone have questions." You scanned the room, they all just looked at you blankly. You let out a sigh, "Alright. Well, good luck today guys... I bet you're all going to do fantastic."
"Und so vill you, Fräulein," Medic responded. The other mercs rejoiced in their own way. This made you break out into a gigantic grin.
"What are we waiting for?! Let's give 'em hell, boys!!" Soldier rallied to the men who all began to cheer even louder. You took this time as they hyped one another up to slip away back towards the intelligence room. You had yourself situated back at your desk (behind a securely locked door not too obvious for enemies to locate).
"Mission begins in 30 seconds." The Administrator moped. The chunky computer that spilled off of your desk contained a bunch of small panels with the camera numbers labeled and what seemed to be live. You toyed with it to find out that you could focus on one main camera and move from one to the next with a click of a key on the keyboard. The excitement began to rush over you as the Administrator began to count down.
You switched over to the main entrance camera pointing out towards the bridge that seemed to connect the two facilities.
You quickly adjusted your papers on your desk to make sure your list was in visible view with a writing utensil.
Your heartbeat grew slightly quicker. From some distance, you could hear a loud wailing siren go off and the doors to the fort began to open.
"LEEEETS DO IIIIIIIT!!!" Demoman cried leading the pack out as the other men began to cheer.
In almost an instant a large shell of some sort of rocket came streaming right at the Scot. It impacted him square in the chest as a pool of blood and body parts were littered all around in mere milliseconds.
Your blood ran cold. The color was drained from your face as you witnessed the sight. The worst part about it was nobody else on the team acknowledged it, they kept pushing forward. Two extremely shaky arms propelled you back from the computer as you covered your mouth in disbelief. What did you just witness? How could something so awful happen to one person? Tears began to weld in your eyes when something strange caught your attention.
Just about 20 seconds after the situation, right out of the same gate ran Demoman. He was alive and well. You were then just left shocked and confused. Confronting your computer again you pressed down on a key and began to speak.
"Wait, Demo, you're okay?" You asked in disbelief.
"Aye, o' course I am! Why wouldn't I be?" He quickly responded as he continued to fight his way towards the bridge. A sudden blood-curdling scream came from Heavy as he collapsed down near the water edge. You examined carefully now. In just about the same window of time, maybe a bit longer, there was Heavy carrying his minigun back into battle as if nothing ever happened. You were just flabbergasted at this point. You pressed another key with one hand and tapped your earpiece with another.
"How are you guys not dead?"
"We gots a spawner in our supply room!" Scout replied.
"It'z all tanks to mein idea, ov course!" Medic chimed in.
A spawn room? That made absolutely no sense to you. It was just amazing that it was enough to bring your teammates back to life, even after some of the most horrific deaths one could ever witness of a human being.
It took some time to get used to, but as the battle raged on you got more and more comfortable with the idea of witnessing the mercenaries die. It was often very violent and gory, but you couldn't mourn every time someone died and just came back. Besides, you had bigger fish to fry in terms of work.
On one of the cameras, you caught Engineer and Heavy with a dispenser by the corner of the fort's structure. It looked like the Engineer was trying to craft some sort of turret as Heavy was regaining health. Just winding behind and out of their field of sight you saw a Soldier in a BLU uniform prancing towards them with a rocket launcher. The BLU member had a snarky look on his face as he was about to launch himself into the air and perform some sort of surprise attack on the two. Immediately, you tapped on your headset and shouted, "Heavy, Engie, BLU Soldier coming in hot!" The BLU Soldier was in mid-flight, as he was trying to reload a rocket Heavy and Engineer took that time to shoot him down with their weapons.
"Thanks a ton, Backer!" Engineer cheered through the earpiece giving a thumbs up in every direction in hopes you could see.
"Back-uh, we need more supplies for our battlement closet!" Sniper called out using his ear set. You looked around your office in a hurry for the kits, then you proceeded to the back of your office which contained a small series of doorways that led to the confines of the spawn room. In no time the closet was tidied up and resupplied. A group of the mercs stood around patiently as you finished up and they thanked you.
"Yo Backer heads up! Needing more Bonk here!" Scout called out.
"On it." You replied briefly and made your way back to the shipment area of the fortress. Just as you began to fill the fridge with the cans individually white noise once again came from your earpiece.
"Heavy needs more sandviches!" The voice growled from the other side.
"On the way, Heavy!" You exchanged your arms full of refreshments with the deli items and began to trot back to the spawn area to drop off the goods. It took you a while to back track to the Heavy weapons man because there were an additional two pitstops you needed to make, but you finally made it to him in a heavy breathing frenzy. "Sorry for the wait, here you are." You breathed out. He looked down at your gratefully.
"Tsank you, little woman." He simply picked up his supplies and ran out.
With all the hustling around you have been doing, sweat began to form around your brow. You took a minute to catch your breath just as the team's Spy respawned. He looked over at you with a small chuckle and a smirk.
"Working hard, I presume?" He asked, cooly raising a brow.
"Yeah... This is very different from my old playing field." You responded winded as he nodded his head and continued out.
This constant movement went on for quite some time. Just as the sun began to set on the horizon was when you heard that oh so sweet announcement.
"Success! We have secured the enemy intelligence." There was a small pause then the Administrator finally announced in a snake-like tone, "Victory." The mercs that were near the intel room by your office you could hear celebrating.
In your arm was tucked a new bone saw for Medic. You once neatly styled hair was now in a frenzy from the constant movement and tide shifts of battle. Tiresomely, you put one small fist into the air and let out a small "woo-hoo".
That night at dinner all of the mercs were in a cheerful mood. They all light-heartedly interacted with one another with high spirits.
"We freaking DOMINATED them!" Scout exclaimed to the team.
"Zat was the first victory ve had in a vhile!" Medic turned to you. A big smile was planted on your face.
"We couldn't have done it without your assistance, Backer. Nice hustle out there for a first day." Engineer added on. The mercenaries included their own mumble of agreements along with it.
Your face began to heat up a little as you spoke,"Thanks for being as patient as possible with me, everyone. It must have been difficult with any delay of supplies, but you all looked pretty good out there as far as what I saw."
"That speed of her's you saw out there? All my training for yestuhday. Yeah, you're welcome. She'll be getting stuffs to you guys at my speed in no time." Scout attempted to brag, but it got negative feedback from the group.
"Hopefully it's only the speed she adopts." Demo whispered over to Soldier.
"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?" Scout burst out at the one-eyed merc. As a small grumble of chuckles came from the men and yourself. At that moment small white noise was signaled in your earpiece.
"Hey Backer. Pauling here. Nice job on your victory today. Don't forget your post-clean-up duties." She made it swift and the noise suddenly stopped. You got up from your seat, left the area, and came back with a wheelbarrow and shovel. The men looked at you in confusion.
You could hear Pyro mumble, 'what are you doing?' through their mask. You still had a smile plastered on your face as you explained, "One of my jobs after battles is to clean up your old body parts from off the field. Since both teams are supposed to be at their forts it runs no risk for me to be out. Their looks of confusion turned to concern.
"Well sheila, you'd better get to work. 'Cuz you've got a loooong night ahead of you." Sniper commented as he opened a large sliding door open that faced out into the battlefield.
Hundreds upon hundreds of RED corpses and other remains were scattered out in the display in front of you. Your smile turned into more of a look of shock, then dismay. The men looked out at the mess then back to you. You had nothing to say but only a small statement,
Chapter 5: Caught RED Handed
Things begin to take a turn... :)
It did not take long for you to become custom to your new lifestyle. With plenty of conditioning on or off duty, you were quickly able to keep a smooth flow of requests and demands shot at you. You even began to think this job was better for you physically. As you were getting older being on your toes and active may be a healthier alternative rather than just sitting at an office desk all day.
You also learned about all kinds of special missions the mercenaries had to take part in. Some of them did include capturing intelligence, but there are other kinds like capturing certain points of an area, fighting to defend one main point or even trying to stop the BLU team from delivering a "payload" to your side of the area. You have been to multiple parts of the Badlands. You even have been to some alpine areas just around it as well. Though, you have yet to travel the world as mentioned by Miss Pauling.
During this time you also got to know your team better as well. You quickly became the norm amongst the men, they weren't afraid to joke around with you as if you were one of the other mercs, but they (for the most part if they weren't drinking) kept it to a respectful manner. As you did have a higher role in the corporate chain to them, they also did their best to treat you like a manager of sorts as well. There were some members on the team that you certainly were closer to than others.
As speculated, for quite some time RED had a winning streak going. Each victory was praised every evening filled with food and drinks galore. This kept up for a solid two weeks or so... Until there was a sudden change.
What may be in part with a cocky attitude from the classes, or a nasty hangover from the victories of past battles finally came the day of your first loss with the team. It came as a slight surprise to the men, but there was no concern. Everyone loses once and a while. Then came another, and another, and another, ... and another.
At this point, the team who was once keeping a tally of wins was now marking each rotten loss. Day by day, defeat by defeat, each member of RED started to grow more irritable and frustrated to not only the other team but to each other as well including you. They all pointed the finger at those who couldn't keep up with the slack, which has pitted debates forming sides on who to defend between the men. On occasion, you were accused of 'You're not being quick enough', 'You're not watching the cameras closely', or 'You're not listening to when I say I need assistance'. You always tried to keep calm when you were accused. Though it did weigh your heart down to your stomach when you truly believed you weren't doing your part to help the team. Though most of the group came to your side to assure you that truly it wasn't your fault. Or after some time the teammate who accused you would confront you and apologize.
This marked the seventeenth day in a row of a loss. Everyone was on edge, especially today. The weather at Gorge that day was somewhat off, it was more humid and stuffy than normal. It made the day worth fighting perhaps feel sluggish and uncomfortable. You even felt the difference in your normal funk, you were a lot slower to attend everyone's needs. This lack of speed was evident based on some nasty or disapproving looks the men gave as you finally were able to reach them. After the defeat, you tried to avoid interacting with most of them until dinner.
The meal that night felt more tense than normal. You all sat around the table in silence, everyone barely touching their food. Everyone knew what the problem was, but nobody seemed to want to bring it up. Or in fact, anything up really. Some time passed before Engie cleared his throat to break the dreadful silence.
"Well, the best we can say is that we gave it our all out there." He stated simply to the group.
"Are you freaking kidding me?! We SUCKED out there!" Scout burst out. "We MIGHT have had a fighting chance if it weren't for Soldier shooting that stupid rocket in the way of the point!"
"Well! If it weren't for this maggot Pyro here picking up the pace, and scaring them off with that stupid fire gun we wouldn't have that problem, would we?" A muffled but shocked 'What?!' came from Pyro's mask. They began to speak frantically, the only thing was you could not pick up what they were saying. At some point in Pyro's argument, you heard 'Backer' mentioned. Soon after, all their heads turned towards you waiting for a response.
"Well, I..." You attempted to start but genuinely did not know where to go with the statement. You couldn't just blame someone else for your actions, especially if you do not know what you're being accused of.
"That's some shabby work there, sheila," Sniper commented quietly from where you trailed off.
"Aye, Lass you got to get yer sheit together! We lost time ter 'each the point because yerrr twig legs couldn' move fast enouf-" Demo was able to slur out, he had his scrumpy sliding around the table in one hand.
"Yeah, what the hell Backer?! Not cool!" Scout commented once more. You looked around the table helplessly at the others. All made no effort this time to come to your aid, you could tell that all of them may have been slightly bothered by your efficiency from the day. This look of helplessness turned into more frustration. It built up more and more as some around the table began to list off some examples from today and past battles when you weren't exactly on the ball. It came to the point where you were completely fed up.
"Look, I'm trying my best okay?! I cannot be at more than one place at a time. Do you ever think about that maybe JUST maybe I have to help more than one class at a time? There's one of me and nine of you. I'm tired of us losing, too. We have had this conversation a million times at this point, arguing with one another isn't going to make us win. So how about everyone gets off their god damn high horse and think about others for once!" You stood up from the table. Nobody responded, some just kept looking at you while others had their heads tipped slightly down at their plates. The silence was thick in the room again. You marched off towards where you stored the wheelbarrow, burlap sacks, hacksaws, and shovels to begin your post-battle-cleanup.
It was about an hour into the duty, once again the mercenaries had countless RED bodies sprawled all over their side of the map. A bloodier day than normal. It was pitch black outside, all you had was a small strap-on flashlight to guide you through the darkness. You were still pressed about what went down at dinner. The comments made by your team played back in your head, which built up your rage even more.
You mumbled tiny rants to yourself. About your team, about your losing streak, about your inefficient skills to make them happy, everything under the sun that could be linked with some sort of negativity. One of Scout's bats sat on the ground in a pool of blood. You picked it up to examine it. That was then you thought of the snide comment he made to you. Your eyebrows knit down and you dropped the shovel you held in the other hand. With both arms and with full force you chucked the bat itself as far as you could. With it, the rage that you contained.
What came next made your heart stop. From the direction you threw the bat a loud and painfully obvious crash could be heard. You remembered then about the ginormous water tanks in the area. The thunk carried in the air what felt like miles. You froze for a moment in the dark. Your anger turned to fear. With small steady breaths, you collected your items from cleaning up bodies and moved to a different area.
Twenty minutes or so later you picked up the final RED body that you could find and loaded it into the wheelbarrow. It should be the last of the load you had to take to the incinerator to dispose of. Though you took a minute to sit in the grass against the wheelbarrow, turning off your light, you look up at the night sky above you. The stars twinkled in the dark to form whimsical patterns and streaks of light from the galaxy to leave you in wonder.
You took this time to think to yourself, maybe you were a little too hard on the guys. They were being sore themselves, but it may as well of been rubbed off onto you. You exhaled deeply, but that's when something strange caught your ear.
It almost sounded like a gust of wind, but louder. There were some trees in the area, but there was no breeze that you felt the entire evening. The noise seemed much closer to you than it did in the trees in the outline of the area. You wanted to ignore it, and you did. What was the tipping point is when you heard a sudden crunch of leaves on the ground and what sounded like a stick breaking between one's footsteps.
Something didn't feel right.
You scanned around the area in the darkness. You did not dare to breathe, let alone speak. Getting up from where you sat, you grabbed one of the fallen butterfly knives from the wheelbarrow in one hand, turned on your light, and took out the pistol from the holster on your leg. You laid your hand that contained the pistol out and over the one that held the knife. It made a slight cross in front of your chest to provide a slight barrier.
Your footsteps were small, and your head moved slowly to scan whatever part of the area was lit up by the light. Your heart pounded at a million miles per hour. After a minute or so of scanning with the light, you built up the bravery to call out into the night.
"Hello? Is someone there...?" You asked hesitantly. You wanted to cover the fear in your voice, but it was no use. This horrified you, part of you prayed it was just an animal, or maybe your mind playing tricks on you. You focused on the direction in front of you shining your light in one direction, no noise hung in the air beside the sound of your pumping heart. It was then you heard the wind sound even closer now. Right behind you.
You swiftly did a 180 and your eyes widened and every muscle in your body went stiff. There stood only a few yards away was a man. He looked similar to your team's Spy, the only difference being his suit and balaclava was different shades of blue. He had a small look of surprise on his face as the light shined onto him.
Your mouth felt dry, and your hands began to shake. In an attempt to raise the pistol you had up for a better level of his chest, you ended up dropping it from the constant jittering of your hand. His eyes and yours darted down at the ground now where the pistol sat. Then they quickly came back to staring at one other.
A strange smile slowly grew on the Spy's face. You couldn't describe it, but how it was projected towards you was haunting. You just looked back in shock. Right before your eyes, he slowly began to deteriorate with the same wind sound and faded into the night. Even after he suddenly disappeared, you did not dare to move. It was what felt like a century before your blood finally ran cold and your senses came back.
In a shaky panicked state, you began to collect your things and tossed them into the wheelbarrow. Without trying to make it tip over you hightailed it out of the area and back to your base. A million thoughts flooded into your brain all of which caused more fear and confusion. All these assumptions were trumped by one major unavoidable fact:
You were finally discovered and caught red-handed by the enemy.
Sometime Earlier That Evening...
"I don't even think those RED boneheads saw what was comin' their way!" A Scout in blue commented while stretching back in a metal chair, it tipped back on two legs as he slammed his feet on top of the cheap wooden table in front of him. He had a self-satisfied grin and laughter came from his lips. Along with him in the coldly-lit room was an Engineer and Spy dressed in similar blue style.
The Engineer had some sort of gadget propped up on the table. Both he and the trinket jumped up in response to Scout's sudden action. "It's quite a pitiful sight, really. 'Does seem like RED has begun to accept the fact they ain't as good as us. ... Or they've hit the trough just as we had prior." He commented alongside what the blue Scout had said. Then a look of displeasure formed on his mouth observing the young man's posture. "And get yer nasty feet off the table, boy! This here is a new machine I've been working on. I don't want it ruined from the likes of you!"
The Scout and Engineer began to argue. Spy sat at the final side of the table reading a book and smoking a small cigar. He tried not to acknowledge the noise the two were making, but after a bit, it became too unbearable for him. He leaned his head back and rolled his eyes. Closing his book and placing it on the table he said, "While you two imbeciles continue to bicker, I'm stepping outside for some air." He got up from his seat and began to walk towards the exit of the facility.
Scout bounced out from the argument and shook his head facing Spy's back. "Wait- Spy! You know how the Administrator feels about us snoopin' around the grounds after fightin' hours." The man in the blue mask stopped in his tracks, without completely rotating his body, his neck turned in the direction towards the boy.
"I zhink you forget who you're talking to."
He left it at that and continued to walk leaving behind Scout and Engie in silence.
With only the small embers from the end of his cigar to give off light, the Spy walked around the open area full of admiration. It was a beautiful night for such a scorching day. He admired the stars above and how the light pollution from the buildings didn't seem to affect how they radiated from above.
He came to halt when he picked up a peculiar noise from a distance. It sounded like metal scratching across the concrete. Along with it were small mumbles that hung in the air. Spy activated his invis watch just as a safety measure, and quietly began to approach closer to where the sound came from. While standing next to one of the water tanks his face filled with surprise at the sight a short distance in front of him.
There stood a woman wearing a red pullover with a dinky little strap-on light around her head. She grumbled to herself as the shovel she held clinked against the concrete to scoop up remains to what looked like mercenaries from earlier that day. All of this interested Spy, he has never seen this person in his entire time here, or even in his life. He was only under the impression the nine mercenaries from RED and his team were in this area. ... Unless...
His thoughts were cut short by a loud slam of an object onto the water tank just inches away from his head. On instinct, he jumped back and held with all his might not trying to make a noise from the sudden action. He looked down at the object to make the sudden noise. A Scout's bat? He turned his attention back towards the girl, who at this point now has a horrified look on her face from the noise of the bat. After a brief moment of stiffness, she collected her things and began to move in a different direction. Spy let her get some distance before he pursued her path.
From there on Spy pondered in curiosity about the presence of the girl as he observed her clean up the corpses and their pieces. He concluded that she was more than likely working with the RED team based on her outfit. Though there was so much more he wanted to know.
She had finally finished her duty and rested on the side of the wheelbarrow when his watch buzzed. He looked to see the battery to his invis watch had drained. He let out a quiet groan as he decloaked somewhat loudly. He shifted towards another part in the area, but in the process crunched over some noisy leaves and stepped on a twig. That caught the girl's attention as she slowly began to scan the area he was near using the light. Luckily, he slipped away before it could be caught shining on him. It was then Spy got a mischievous idea.
As she moved forward in the direction she heard him, he disguised the noise of the little charge he got on the invis watch and formed a large loop to now end up behind her. He stood patiently a few yards behind her with his hands behind his back as she called out into the night.
He uncloaked himself still with his hands behind his back and held a blank expression as the girl thrust around and shined the dim light right onto him. He raised two brows noticing the gun she held in one hand and the knife in the other. He didn't even notice her carrying them at any point. What amused him the most was the frantic shaking of the girl from head to toe. She tried not to look frightened, but it was no use. She ended up dropping the gun from fear and looked back up at him helplessly.
Spy got the greatest idea of them all. To put a final impression on her, he gave her a smile and began to cloak right in front of her. He stood there for a moment, then began to slowly walk off back towards his base. Leaving her there in the dark.
He tried to conceal his laughter as he heard her frantically collecting her things and trying to book it from the scene. Now that his fun was over, it just left him with that curiosity again. In some way, he needed to get to know who this girl is. More importantly, why was she even here in the first place?
Chapter 6: His Overture
Things are negotiated :)
The horrors from that night consumed your mind from then on. You finished your traditional cleaning duty, of course, with all fearful thoughts on your mind. As soon as you entered back into the base there sat Pyro and Scout at the table. Pyro's head was down, and Scout seemed to have a guilty look on his face. The two of them apologized about what they said at dinner towards you. At that point, you almost had completely forgotten about it since there were new things to worry about.
"Uh... It's fine. I'm sorry for blowing up at you guys. And everyone for that matter." You were able to jumble out. You just wanted to be left alone in your room to think things over. Scout picked up on the sense something seemed off.
"Backer, you alright? You look like you've just seen a ghost." It was damn close near to one, you thought. He pointed a finger at your face. "Like, you're all pale and shit." You let out a nervous laugh in response.
"It's probably nothing. Just not feeling well. I'm gonna go lie down for the night. But, seriously though, you guys are fine. I think we've all gotten tired of losing. We'll give it time, things will probably get better." The two nodded to you and bid you goodnight.
You could not fall asleep. Your brain has been traveling at hyperspeed and screaming at you since the encounter. What's going to happen next? What if he tells his team? What if the Administrator finds out? What will happen to you? Cycles of stress would fade then come back in one ferocious heap which made you toss and turn in bed even more. The only reason why you were able to get a little shut-eye that night was due to passing out from exhaustion from worrying so much.
A week has passed since the encounter. Since that night you have been extra cautious both when running supplies during battle, but also with post-mission duties as well. One strange thing is since that night you had not encountered that team's Spy or any of the BLU members for that matter. Neither has Miss Pauling or the Administrator have a conversation with you even remotely close to the topic. They must not have known. This brought you a little relief, but that underlying fear that something is wrong was still there.
During these last few days, you have noticed you began to have a somewhat closer friendship with Scout. It seemed like at first after he apologized he still wanted to make it up to you, even though you were very much over what had happened as mentioned before. Starting off it was more you being patient as Scout followed you around and talked your ear off if you weren't working, but after a while, you opened up to him a bit more. You ended up having a little bit in common with him. Even if he was a little arrogant or talked out of term every once and a while, he really wasn't a bad person. Besides, he was someone you could consider your first legitimate friend since you began working with RED.
By the middle of the following week, the team had to be up bright and early (thanks to Soldier) for a movement to a new location to complete some missions. The place you were taken to was named "Mountain Lab" according to Miss Pauling, so all of you were shoved into a small shipment truck disguised as a beer brand to travel from point A to point B. Once you arrived, you felt more free being outdoors. Even just for those few minutes before you were shoved right back into hiding within the facilities that covered RED's side of the arena.
During the training session before the first mission, Scout accepted your offer to reteach you how to be a better shot with your handgun. You never know when you're going to need it... especially now. You still weren't the best aim, but you saw improvement since the last time your Spy and Scout taught you.
The mission was dragged out and bloody as normal, but your team was able to finally pull off a win to break the streak of losses. That night, of course, was celebrated as one big booze fest for all the mercenaries. Their spirits were rekindled once again, which gave you a warmer feeling you haven't felt in quite some time. As usual, your fun had to be cut short to do your final duty for the evening. It left a pit in your stomach every single time now.
You felt a small shred of hope. It was a new area, right? Maybe it might be more difficult for someone to catch you since you have no routine here yet. Or maybe you or they will get lost and will be unable to find where you were. Just as another safety measure, you always made sure you had your handgun on you, and you started carrying around one of your team's Spy's knives you picked up while cleaning. He's got a million of them. It wouldn't kill him for you to have one he dropped.
You began to develop an underlying fear that always left you curious; what would happen if YOU were to die here? You knew the mercenaries were able to respawn, they've been through some of the most horrific ways to go one could ever witness yet they would respawn unscathed. Would you be able to do the same thing? That was a risk you weren't ready to test yet. It was better to play on the safe side for now.
You got your gear and went out to work. It was another beautiful evening. The sounds of the forest filled the night sky as you navigated your way around the area with the small headlight and wheelbarrow. By now, you have gotten completely used to picking up any sort of body part or remain of a person. As much as it sounds insane or ridiculous, once you've done it countless times it becomes just like any other job. Obtaining the skill of the fast clean-up has made you feel more productive overall while doing other tasks and obligations as well.
You were in the middle of picking up the remains of a Demoman when something caught your ear. It sounded like footsteps on the loose gravel trails from a distance away. The noise was distinctive from the normal sounds you've heard all evening. It took no delay for you to drop your cleaning tools and begin wielding the gun and knife. You have been preparing yourself in the case of the worst happening, but you couldn't help but get that nervous feeling again.
You didn't call out, and you didn't move your head. It was as if you barely breathed. Once again you hoped and prayed it was an animal just passing by. Refusing to let your guard down, you stood like that for a solid three or four minutes. A little bit afterward, there were only the noises of the evening from before. So slowly, you eased up. You began to turn to pick up your shovel again until you heard a voice cut clearly through the dark.
"You certainly don't look like Miss Pauling."
With a quiet surprised gasp, you turned straight where the voice came from and aimed your handgun. Nobody stood in front of you. Your arms felt like jelly, but you refused to move. Every nerve in your body sparked like crazy, just waiting for something to magically appear in front of you.
Suddenly, the knife you now had in your back pocket was slipped right out with ease. You heard that strange wind noise coming from right behind you. You could physically feel someone's presence mere inches from your back; they were that close.
"I wonder where you got this from, mon amie?" That voice was so familiar. Too uncomfortably familiar.
You quickly turned around with your eyes closed and pressed the barrel of the handgun right into his chest. You refused to look at him, and you hesitated to pull the trigger. No action was taken from the two of you.
"What do you want?" You asked still with your eyes closed.
"You're not going to look at me when you speak? And you're going to point a gun at me too? Zat's an interesting greeting to someone you don't know." He replied calmly. It seemed like he wasn't alarmed in any case about what was happening. You had a freaking gun! You could shoot his brains out any second if you wanted to.
"I said what do you want." You repeated, you opened your eyes but still had your head turned away so you couldn't see his masked face. In all honesty, you were afraid to look at him.
A chuckle escaped his lips. It made your skin crawl, you just wanted to get out of there. "Let's talk." He responded. "I didn't come out here to hurt you. Rather, I'm just... curious." The tension you put on the barrel of the gun to his torso lightened up, more in shock than anything. He took the moment to slip off to the side and place a small cigar into his mouth, taking a moment to himself to take in a slow breath in of the product. His eyes floated towards you again, a smirk resting on his face. "Just who are you anyway?"
You didn't answer, still trying to avoid making eye contact with any part of his body. Taking the shovel off from its place from the ground you continued to clean up in silence. The Spy watched you for a few moments, then he slowly approached you and effortlessly took the tool from your grip. All still keeping calm and gentle composure.
"I said, who are you?" He asked again in a thicker tone. Your stomach did backflips every time he spoke. He wasn't going to leave you alone, or worse he could possibly hurt you until you said what he wanted to hear. You sighed and looked down at the ground in front of you.
"Backer." You mumbled.
"Can you repeat that, please?" He moved closer to you to hear you better.
"They call me Backer." Your tone grew more irked than before. There was no way you were telling him your real name. You hated everything about this scenario. You wanted him to go away, and you wanted to disappear from it as well.
"Oh, come on now. I know that's not your real name, ma chérie." He replied in a playful manner which you immediately disregarded. You walked over to the wheelbarrow and began to push it along. The Spy walked beside you as you looked straight ahead as if he wasn't there. "Did I scare you? My apologies, I was just trying to have a little fun." He added on still wearing that disgustingly charming smile.
You came to a grinding halt and set the wheelbarrow down. With one simple pivot on the heel, you turned to him, a desperate look on your face and a glint in your eyes. "Can you just go away, please? The fact that you even know that I'm here has me in a lot of trouble."
A confused look rang on his face. "What do you mean?" He inquired.
The stress of it all was about to burst, so you let it all flood out. Right to the enemy. "You know that I'm here and working for RED, right? You probably already told your team about me who probably told the Administrator. It's just a matter of time before she tells me she figured out my mistake and she gets rid of me in some way." The more and more you ranted on confusion and fright was written all over your face.
The confused look left his expression, and it returned back to a calm stature. "I did not tell anyone about our interaction." He stated.
"What?" Disbelief left your voice.
"Seeing you? I kept that to myself. And I am guessing you did not tell anyone, non?"
"Of course not. I don't want to find out what will happen to me if someone else found out." Chills ran down your spine as you thought about the Administrator's voice and it's coldness that came with it. Yeah, you definitely did not want to know.
"Hmm," The Spy tapped his chin with one gloved hand in thought for a moment. During his brainstorming session, a small smile grew on his thin lips. "Perhaps we can have an overture of sorts."
"An overture? About what?" You raised a brow.
"Yes, we can settle a deal. If I am being honest, it is just as high risk for me to be out here at this hour as well. But I do enjoy getting away from those imbeciles on my team every once and awhile." He paused a moment to take a drag off his cigar. "I will keep your identity safe from my team, and the Administrator or anyone else who may ask. In return, you allow me to walk around the map az freely az I want without risk of you informing anybody."
You could not believe this, but you complied. You nodded your head to his proposal. "That works fine. But, it can only be you that can come and go. If I catch any other BLU members wandering around just know our agreement is done." Small laughter was muffled from his closed mouth.
"I think that's fair enough. Then we are in agreement. Let's shake on it." He lifted his right hand up towards you. Your whole upper half moved back a bit as his hand extended. You were hesitant, this was a Spy for goodness sake! You couldn't think of the thousands of outcomes that could come with this acceptance, but the thought was aggravating.
"I don't bite, you know." He said in a light yet cheerful manner, amused by your reaction. He wanted you to trust him about keeping this promise. Or so that's how it looked on the outside. There wasn't much you could do now. You have already agreed to his compromise. Slowly, you extended your right hand and shook his gently, still unsure how to take in the situation.
"Good, now we have that settled. I will be off." He turned on one heel and began to walk off. He lifted his right hand in the air, cigar between his index and middle finger. "This will not be the last time you see me." He called out to you. His voice shrunk as he disappeared into the dark. You stood there with a complete dumbfounded look on your face looking into what was nothingness.
"What the hell just happened?" You mumbled to yourself. All around you, the noise of the forest at night slowly began to come back. His demeanor was quite puzzling to you, but it left you with mixed emotions. One hoping he never bothers you again so you can do your job in peace. The other is that he comes back so that you can figure out what his deal is.
Even after the deal was made, it still left you with an uneasy stomach. This was completely outrageous, having to negotiate with the enemy just so you can finish work and get some sleep that night. There was some trust that he would follow through with it just being him. Your Spy wasn't the most social either, so perhaps he is no different?
You shook your head to yourself. Without making another noise that entire shift, you finished completing clean-up.
In the original published version of this chapter, I included Spy with an accent within his dialogue (ex: "zis" instead of "this"). It got annoying to me as a writer, and I assumed it gets irritating to read as well. From here on I will just let you all use your imagination to hear the accent, I hope that isn't too big of a let down for you all!
Chapter 7: Passing The Barricade
"Vous voulez la paix: créez l'amour."
(You want peace; create love.)
All French words/phrases/etc. will be translated at the end of the chapter!
(EDIT: I came back in to revise this chapter. I noticed a lot of grammatical errors and parts of sentences that seemed awkward and/or difficult to read. MENTAL NOTE: Do not revise and post at 2:30 in the morning!)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The butt of a cigar was extinguished by the rotating of a gloved hand against an ashtray. There sat a BLU Spy in his poorly lit smoking room, his mind lost in thought as his eyes fell in line with the fireplace as its comforting heat consumed the area. He had a hand on his chin supporting his head while the popping of the fire was merely background noise.
“Backer...” He mumbled to himself. Once the little chat between you and the Spy ended, he immediately retreated to the room. If he wanted time to be in deep thought, this was the time to do it and the place to be. The thought of you brought great curiosity to him. Your hesitation to trust, your instinct to react at the unusual, the darting of your eyes as you observe your surroundings made this feeling even stronger. There were so many unanswered questions, and he wanted to know them all.
His mind kept reanalyzing the agreement the two of you made. For now, he was at a truce with you. Though, it was nothing more. “There has to be a way to…” He whispered to himself before trailing off into silence. His eyes lit up a little. He quickly got up from his seat and walked over to a desk that was across the room. He picked up his Spytron 3000 that sat on top of the table and flicked it open. On the screen portrayed the mercenaries on the opposing team all in their own individual box, then at the very bottom corner of the screen was a blank box. A grin grew on his face as he looked down at it.
“This may just be it.” He closed the device and placed it back down on the table. He returned to his chair and lit another cigar. The Spy laughed to himself a little, “Oh, mon amie… it will work quite well. A small... swap-in... shouldn’t hurt.” He paused again and began to think once more. “But, how do I not raise any suspicion?” His eyes scanned the room in search of an answer. His gaze stops and locks on a book with a somewhat excessively decorative cover that sat on a nearby shelf. Along the spine of the book it read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
The Spy did not say a single word. He kept his focus on the book as he took a slow drag on the cigar. A devious smile followed along with the exhale of the gray smoke into the room. It seems that he has made up his mind.
You sat on the floor of your room only partially dressed and ready for the day. You were going through some items that you brought along with you to the new location once you made the map switch. One of the items you included was a box you intended to open, but never got around to it due to you not having the time or forgetting all about it.
Tearing away the tape that sealed the treasures inside, you began to scavenge what items awaited. A lot of what the box contained was only trinkets that you packed from your apartment. There were desk items from your old job, some magazines, a fake little plant, and a whole lot of other unimportant artifacts. Once you believed you reached the bottom of the box, you sighed in disappointment for not finding anything of importance. It was then as you moved the box to the side where you felt there was still stuff on the bottom of the box. There was an old black cardigan at that at the bottom, but the item you noticed felt was more sturdy and heavy. Moving the cloth to the side your face glowed up in disbelief.
At the bottom of the box sat a book that was barely keeping itself intact, in prominent gold labeling read the title Les Misérables in large cursive font. Tenderly, you took the book out from the box and into your loving embrace. Just holding the piece of literature brought back so many wonderful memories. You could picture yourself as a young girl sitting outside on a beautiful spring day on the porch, wasting away the afternoon totally absorbed in the book as the sun shined down on you. You let out a dreamy sigh, only good memories to you were associated with such a tragic tale.
A loud pounding was heard from the door that jumped you out of your trance. Your head shot towards the door in utter surprise.
“Come in.” You called out.
The door swung open to present a disgruntled Scout. He had a sour look on his face as he stomped into the room. His fists were clenched tight, so tight that they were shaking. It didn’t take much to indicate something was wrong.
“Hey, Scout. What’s the matter?” You looked up towards him. His line of view slowly turned down towards you. He didn’t say anything for some time, which surprised you quite a bit. Scout never stops talking. Whatever happened truly was bothering him.
He let out a loud frustrated groan and collapsed onto the floor next to you. His arms were tightly crossed against his chest. “He freaking pisses me off!” He brought one fist down and slammed it against the wooden floor. You shifted away slightly out of instinct as you looked at him with a perplexed expression.
“What happened?” You asked again. “Did you get into another fight with Spy?”
“That snobbish no good suit-wearing snake!” He exclaimed. Whatever happened, it had Scout so upset that it caused him to shake as he spoke. Taking both of his hands he slid them down his face to try and relieve some of the stress. “He-,” Scout began before pausing because he bumped the back of his capped head against your bed frame. He brought one hand to massage the area to soothe the pain.
“I’m just sick an’ tired of how he treats me! He goes around acting like he’s my dad or something, telling me what I can and can’t do. Then he’s gots the nerves to remind me how much of a disappointment I am acting like he’s sooooo much better than me.” His hands waved around as he talked to emphasize the point he was trying to make. You listened carefully with concern. This has not been the first time Scout has come to you to rant about these types of things. Usually when he is upset with something or someone, mainly your team’s Spy, he vents to you. Part of it is that the two of you are friends, but the other part might be because Scout wants to hear a voice of reason now and then.
“I’m so sorry, Scout…” You sighed. “It isn’t fair that he treats you like that. You’re your own person, and you have the liberty to do whatever you want.”
“Backer, there’s some advice I wanna give ya.” He brought a pointed finger up towards your face. “Spies are just dime-a-dozen backstabbing scumbags. They can’t be trusted with anything.” His voice was as sharp as knives and they sent a chill down your spine. Your mind immediately went back to when the BLU Spy made his overture. Is what Scout is saying possibly true?
You sat in silence before you put a hand on his shoulder and shook it a bit in a friendly manner. “But I should ask, did you in any way try to provoke him beforehand?” You raised a brow at the young man.
“Pssh! No way!” He stopped again to think after he spoke. “Well- not necessarily… I just told him to take his chain-smoking baguette ass back to London or sometin’-” You rolled your eyes and playfully slapped where your hand originally was on his shoulder.
“Of course you did.” You remarked flatly. Maybe what he was just saying was just common Scout talk. This causes Scout to let out a small chuckle realizing the ridiculousness of the whole situation and your reaction.
“Yeah, I can kinda now see why he would’ve gotten mad.” His eyes wandered down to your hands that held the ancient book. He read the title labeled on the cover. “Huh, less miss marbles. An’ it’s got the fancy lookin’ "e" on it and everything.” He commented pointing to the accent above the letter. You let out a pitiful chuckle.
“It’s pronounced Les Misérables . It’s my favorite book.” You hugged it even tighter now with a big grin on your face.
“Whateva, I don’t read books ‘cause I’m not a nerd.” He stretched his arms out in front of him.
“Do you want to know what it’s about?” You asked eagerly, excited to hopefully have a conversation on the story.
“Mm, maybe late-uh. Y’know, when I care.”
“What are you cupcakes doing just sitting around??” Soldier now stood at the door frame leaning half of his body into the room. Scout and you looked at him in surprise by his sudden appearance.
“We have a mission in THIRTY MINUTES! You should be up and getting your energy juices FLOWING by training and preparing!” The two of you shot up from where you sat on your floor. You put on your uniform’s pull-over to be prepared for the day’s tasks.
“Get moving, MAGGOTS!!” Soldier pointed down the hall as the two of you left the room swiftly.
The following nights have brought you many mixed emotions. First and foremost was dread. In all honesty, post-clean-up was your least favorite job. It would be anybody’s least favorite if they were in your position. You would have asked your teammates to help out to make the task go faster (since it’s THEIR bodies after all), but now that wasn’t an option anymore because of the BLU Spy roaming around. Oh, speaking of him...
The next emotions were irritation and fear. The Spy seemed to not have a specific schedule when he would wander around the map. Sometimes he came multiple days in a row. Then there were days that there were breaks where you would not see him at all. Though the days he was present he would not. Leave. You. ALONE. You would be busy hauling a torso of a dismembered Heavy to the incinerator as the Spy stood off to the side talking about only god-knows-what. It always seemed to be something about work. You never were really listening.
You would tell him to fuck off, especially considering he didn’t help you either. Though that’s when the sense of fear would kick in. If you did so, there was always that underlying threat that he could come back at any time and seek vengeance. Again, that was a game you did not want to play at the moment. So instead, you just never gave full responses to anything he said. There were only the occasional head nods and ‘mhmm’s’. He was never mean or snide to you as you have seen with your Spy to your teammates, but he just gave off a vibe that did not feel normal. It wasn’t rude if you weren’t supposed to be talking to him in the first place, right? To avoid any deeper trouble you just tried to not talk to him and give him information.
On the other hand, Spy found joy in his attempts. So far they were all blunders, his curiosity still lingered and worked as motivation. He thought of the whole situation as a game of sorts. While it is a timely process, the prize at the end is quite rewarding. Besides, he thought you were at least somewhat attractive appearance-wise anyways. As a result, he was patient with you.
The final emotion that was brought to you was joy. After your pain-staking task was done and the Spy finally decided to call it quits for the night; you would sit up against a tree looking off into the forest and reread the book you loved so deeply. It didn’t matter that you only had a small petty headlight to read with, it was like you knew every line of text by heart. Each turn of a page absorbed you deeper and deeper into Victor Hugo’s fictitious yet so realistic world and far away from the real one. This world was filled full of despair, but so much opportunity all at the same time. It was quite an emotional journey.
It was on that one night after you finished cleaning as quickly as possible, and once you believed Spy had left for the night you retreated to the usual tree to continue the story. Being so immersed in the book, you had failed to notice that Spy had returned to where you were to retrieve something he must have left behind. He noticed your cleaning supplies were still out and turned his head more so to see you against the tree with the book. He was at a close enough distance to be able to read the title, but far enough to not disturb you. He did not approach you, but rather, an idea sparked in his head. With a smirk, he quietly slipped back to the base and left you to read in peace.
The next night seemed to play out just how it was stated. Dread to begin with, and now you were just about to get through the irritation/fear process. The BLU Spy observed you doing your job and getting the final remains disposed of.
“It seems as if you finish faster and faster each day.” He commented.
“Uh-huh.” You replied in a half-assed manner.
“With that, I am assuming you are heading in for the night, non?”
“Yep.” You confirmed while tossing some tools into the wheelbarrow. Your hand rested on a burlap sack that contained the book inside for a brief moment before swiping back over to the wheelbarrow's wooden handles. You pushed the gear towards your reading area but made it seem like you were heading back to base.
“Well in that case I will be off then.”
He turned his back to you and grinned as he tilted his head up a little. “You know… ‘The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown…’”
“‘... but for the valiant; it is ideal... ‘“ You stood there in disbelief for a second. You turned around so then you faced his back. “Why did you say that?”
He caught your attention. Spy turned his neck some without turning his entire body to face you. “It was something I saw in a book some time ago. It has stuck with me ever since. I just don’t seem to remember where it’s from…”
“It’s from the book Les Misérables. Have you read it?” You tilted your head in curiosity.
“But, of course. It is one of my favorite stories.”
A rush of excitement filled you. “Really?! I mean-- Oh, really?” You tried to compose yourself to not seem too overjoyed. “That’s one of my favorites, too.” You couldn’t help but have a small smile form on your face.
He turned back around slowly to see your smiling face. It surprised him, for this was the first time he has seen you with a happy expression. You were suited a lot better with a smile. “No wonder you could finish the quote. Have you read it more than once?” He asked you cooly.
“I can’t keep count of all the times I’ve read it. And if I did, I would be embarrassed to say the amount.”
This made the Spy laugh a little. “I could not blame you. If it is something you genuinely do care about, then to hell about what other people think.”
“I guess you’ve got a point there. There are so many memorable quotes from Victor Hugo’s writing! ‘A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in--what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars’.“ You quoted with pride.
Spy nodded his head approvingly. “Very nice. A little fun fact about myself is that I have read the original French version of the book when I was younger. I did read it again in English though. There are a few lines I do remember in the French edition that stuck out to me.”
“That’s actually pretty interesting.” You admitted.
“‘Si je parle, je suis condamné. Si je grarde le silence, je suis damné!'"
“Which quote is that?” You asked in anticipation.
“The wise words of realization spoken by Jean Valjean himself, mon amie. ‘If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!’”
The two of you continued then to have a deep conversation on the story. Admiring the storyline, the characters and their relationships with one another, and your favorite and least favorite parts that happened in the book. You left that night on a high note. You felt glad to talk to someone about one of your most prized interests.
For those days following, you tried to be a bit kinder towards the Spy. You two continued to talk about Les Mis, but you also discussed different kinds of stories and movies as well. The conversation usually followed along in recommending a personal favorite to the other to read or watch. Those mixed emotions all became to blur into one; joy. You did not seem to mind if the Spy wanted to make a small conversation that did not involve anything work-related as you finished for the day.
The sun was setting, and you just had gotten started to clean. A few minutes passed when you heard the familiar sound of Spy’s decloak as he began to approach you.
“Ah, mademoiselle Backer. It is good to see you again. If you could stop what you are doing for a moment, I have something for ‘ou.” He held a rectangular item wrapped in cloth in his hands.
You put down your shovel and wiped your hands clean with a clean cloth you had. Your head turned towards him and raised a brow. “What is it?” A surprised, but somewhat pleased smile rested on your lips.
“It is something I hope you will enjoy.” He gently handed the cloth-covered item to you. It was heavier than you expected. “Go ahead, open it.” He urged.
You flipped the item around and unwrapped it from its casing. Your eyes grew three sizes bigger and your mouth gaped open slightly. It was an edition of Les Mis, but it seemed different. Immensely different.
“I did some searching around my base and I came across this version of the book. See, if you open it up,” He guided you through the book towards the middle of the story. He pointed out how there were little marks and symbols written around the text. “There are annotations and footnotes left by Hugo himself.” He looked down towards you waiting for a reaction.
You were in total shock. Pages upon pages filled to the brim with the citations, notes, and thoughts of the author mesmerized you. “Left by Hugo himself…” You echoed back. “It’s… It’s amazing. I… I can’t accept this! It’s too important to just give away.” In a flurry you tried to hand the book back to Spy. He gently pushed the book back towards you.
“Trust me, I believe you will make better use of that book now than anyone from that base has since it was brought there.” You opened back up to another page and skimmed through it. Your face glowed brighter than ever before.
“I don’t know what to say... Thank you.”
“It is never a problem, ma chérie.” He replied tapping your shoulder softly.
You never felt more grateful in your entire life. Flipping through the pages, you began to notice something somewhat odd. “The only issue is a lot of these notes look like they’re written in French.”
The Spy peered over your shoulder and down at the book as you pointed at some of the writings. “It seems you are right,” He nodded. “My apologies, I should have checked it more carefully.”
You shook your head. “No, it’s perfectly alright,” You looked up at him. “Maybe you can stick around after I’m done cleaning up and help translate some of these? If you don’t mind that is. It’s your choice.”
His face brightened up a little bit more as well. “I would love to.”
You felt a wave of energy escape your body. Your expression clearly stated how ecstatic you were. You broke out into a bright smile at the masked man.
Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.
mon amie - my friend (feminine)
Les Misérables - The Miserable
Si je parle, je suis condamné. Si je grarde le silence, je suis damné! - If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!
ma chérie- my dear (feminine)
Chapter 8: Rule Breaker
New location, new places to explore :)
Translations of words/phrases will be at the end of the chapter!
I also left a question for you all!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The time spent at Mountain Lab was some of the best you have had so far in your life with RED. The weather always seemed to be nice up there, the feeling of nature was refreshing; it almost gave you a sense that you were at home. It made for perfect conditions to accommodate with the mercenaries and their fighting and your job as well.
The battles between RED and BLU began to balance out once again. It left a stink of an attitude with the men when they lost, but it was satisfactory for you for they were never like that for long once they claimed another victory. It also lead you to do more bonding activities with the team as well. For example, on the night leading into a ceasefire day, the team had a campfire meal near the perimeter of the base (just so the mercenaries would not get into trouble). Nothing but drunken bliss, roasted weenies, and s' mores. Then all of you attempted to play a game of tipsy 5v5 baseball with rocks and a 2x4 wooden plank. A long story short; it was for the better that nobody won.
The time came and went. It was not long before your team was notified by Miss Pauling that you will be moving bases once again. You were sad to leave Mountain Lab-- friendships grew greater and things were looking up. But it could not be helped. You always were curious about where you were going to go. Part of you was expecting another alpine or badlands area, but to your surprise, it was far from both.
"Austria," Miss Pauling buzzed through the video speaker. "You guys are heading to the castle village of Hazyfort."
The thought excited you. You have never been to Austria before. It was an exciting first experience. Within a few days, you were flown over and stationed there. The architecture of the buildings amazed you. But you were curious as to why you were fighting in a place where there should be people living. It seems as if the town the teams were set up in was completely abandoned by civilians.
"There are people who live in the village. It is just the place we are designated, they intentionally have closed off so there is a battlefield to fight on and no civilians are harmed." The BLU Spy explained to you one night. You had just put all of your tools away and now was sitting with him at a picnic table going through the notes in the book he gave you. The question was recurring to you all day, so it was the one thing about your jobs you allowed to discuss on.
"I think the other thing that shocks me is how on earth does TF Industries have land all the way over here? Let alone, anywhere outside of the United States?" You inquired.
"You would be surprised, Choupette." He always seemed to refer to you by different nicknames at this point when the two of you talked. There were some that he used often, one common one was "mon amie". You knew what it meant, and you don't mind that he called you that. It was just some of the more uncommon ones he used you always wanted to ask what they meant, but did not want to sound foolish.
There was a dim flicker that came from your headlight, in an instant, it was consumed by the darkness of the night. The only light present was the ones from lamposts a distance away. And the fading embers of Spy's cigar.
"Oh, great..." You mumbled. You took the light off from your forehead and examined it. "It looks like the old thing finally decided to give out. Not like it had much to give in the first place."
The BLU Spy chuckled. "I suppose so. You'll have to get a new one for another night now so we can continue."
"Yeah..." You slowly closed the book and looked at the time on a small wristwatch you were given some time back by your team. "It's getting late anyway. Should we call it a night?" You stood up from where you were seated and tucked the book between your hand and your side. It was then when you felt Spy gently grab onto your wrist with a gloved hand to make you pause. A puzzled look came over your expression.
"Let's meet again tomorrow night," He started. "There's somewhere just outside the boundaries we can go and get a drink."
"Spy, we'll get in trouble." Some surprise escaped from your voice. "It's one thing for you to come out here, but it's a whole other if we just leave!" Spy didn't look fazed at all. He looked up at you blankly. "It would be a mess of trouble if someone from our teams caught us. Or even worse, if the Administrator found out."
"I can guarantee to make sure we won't get caught during that time." He took out the cigar that hung in his mouth.
"I have my ways." He smirked as he tapped the ash that sat at the butt. "Besides, it should give us a change of pace in something to do. Friends commonly go and get drinks together, yes?"
"I... I suppose so." You tucked some hair behind your ear. Your eyes kept flickering behind you.
"Then you should not worry about it. I will handle everything." He said in an assuring manner. You nodded your head slowly with uncertainty.
"... Alright, if you have that much confidence..." You looked back towards your base for some time before turning back to him. "I guess it should be fun."
"Excellent!" He said cheerfully. You gave him a timid smile.
"Great. I'll see you then." You were about to conclude. Your attention was already towards RED's base once more.
"Oh, and Backer..." The grasp that was once on your wrist slid into the pad of your hand. The pressure which he held it increased, but not by a lot to make it uncomfortable. It sent a jolt up your spine. "The place we are going to is of.. higher-grade. If you can, please bring some nicer formal clothing to dress into after cleaning."
Astonishment overrode your expression, "Okay..." You managed to squeak out. You could feel yourself begin to heat up. Spy slowly let go of your hand and stood up from where he sat.
"Perfect. Then it is settled. Until tomorrow night, Backer." With a wave of his hand, he was off in the direction of his base. You returned the gesture as his back was facing you.
"See ya." You jumbled out as you had already begun to walk back towards base. With the book between your armpit and side, you brought a hand up to gently grab onto the part of your hand that Spy held.
It gave you a strange feeling. One that you could not describe. He was so... delicate with his touch. You tried to shake the thought from your head. Nevermind it, there was probably no meaning to it. The two of you were post-battle friends. There's nothing inherently wrong with that from anyone's eyes besides your teams and the Administrator's more than likely. It's not like it was a date or anything, right? You didn't conceive it as one... Maybe it was best not to think too much of it. There was just anticipation for tomorrow night. Only Heaven knows what may happen.
Dusk was upon the horizon the next day. You paced back and forth in your room in an inquisitive manner. Just exactly how high-grade was this place you were going to? If you knew anything about either Spies, they were both ones for class. It would not surprise you at all if he just wore his casual suit because it was already high-grade enough (or so you heard from the rants your team's Spy had over his outfit getting ruined).
You did not want to enter the place looking like you did not care that you were just digging shallow graves and throwing bodies into a pit of fire, but you also did not want to walk in overdressed looking like the next Marylin Monroe compared to everybody else who wore only richer modish attire.
Should you do your hair? Your makeup? Should you leave it as is? Should you wait until you were done cleaning? What if the other guys caught you all dolled up wondering why you looked like that just to go clean corpses? Your brain was on overload. Plopping onto your bed you sat in thought for a minute. Then it hit you.
Digging through a wardrobe you found a medium-sized purse in your belongings. You placed some hair products of your choice, some makeup supplies, cleaning wipes, and a pocket mirror into the bag. Next, you put on your choice of gray semi-formal night-out clothing that you deemed would be "fancy enough". After scouting around your room you eventually were able to find an oversized rain poncho. You draped it over yourself to prevent your clothes from getting ruined by any mess from your work and put on your choice of shoes to compliment your outfit. With haste, you left the base. Luckily, nobody acknowledged you on the way out.
Observing your surroundings you felt like you had just hit a stroke of good fortune. The mess in the battlefield seemed to be minimal. You saw the BLU Spy when you reached about the halfway point of the map.
To your surprise, he changed up his outfit for once! He wore a suit vest complimented nicely with a fedora. All of which had blue representation, of course. You tried to suppress your laughter. It was strange to see the Spy look so different.
"Hey, won't you look at that. I didn't know Spies were allowed to own more than one suit." You teased. He chuckled at your response.
"And, I did not know you considered rain ponchos as formal wear." He remarked back.
You rolled your eyes. "I'll try to get done as quickly and cleanly as possible. There aren't as many to pick up today anyways. I'll just have to be careful not to ruin my shoes."
"In that case, I shall help you. It will make the process go faster. So you don't 'ave to worry so much about your footwear." And he did as he promised. The process went two times faster with the two of you cleaning up together. But you did notice he was pickier about the bodies he helped dispose of, probably so he would not stain his clothing either. He probably wished he had a rain poncho now, huh?
Once finished and the tools (and poncho) were put back, you two were crafty on your execution of leaving the area. There was a small wedge that you had to squeeze through and had to keep close to a stone wall. Spy was not kidding, not even a quarter-mile from where the bases were sat a large building with the common old-village timber lining. Soft yellow light poured out onto the cobblestone road through the small glass windows.
The two of you entered. The interior was smaller than it was perceived on the outside, but it was far more elegant on the interior. Mahogany wood, dark quartz, and deep yellow lighting decorated the place. Quiet jazz hummed in the background. A large variety of liquor selections stacked high against the side wall where an old bartender in nice clothing attended. There were quite a couple of people who sat at the booths and tables spread across the floor, all not too overly dressed to your relief.
Spy guided you to the bartop, where he pulled out a stool for you to sit on and one for himself. The bartender hovered over to the two of you immediately. A joyful look came across his face upon seeing Spy.
"Ah, freut mich, Sie wiederzusehen, mein blauer Freund!" He greeted him. With a charming smile, Spy greeted him back in the same tongue. You didn't know exactly what they were saying, but it sounded like German. You were in Austria.
You had a humble smile sit on your lips as the two made their exchange. Quickly, Spy broke the conversation and turned to you. "Feel free to order whatever you would like, mon amie. I will have it covered."
You felt a pang of guilt. You hated getting into disagreements like this, "No, Spy... I have my wallet on me. I can pay for my own drinks." He shook his head.
"Non, this was my idea. So at the very least, I can pay for it. Just tell me whatever you want to have and I will make sure you get it."
You did not want to drag the argument out any longer than it should of, so you complied with disapproval. You told him the choice of drink you wanted, and in turn, he told the bartender. With a sunny nod, the barman left your area leaving the two of you alone. Your eyes wandered the scene around you once more.
"This place sure is something." You whispered. Spy held his head up with a hand and watched your expression of amazement with a mirthful gaze.
"It really is. I happened to stumble upon it once before when I snuck out for a walk. It has been my favorite place to go every time we come here." He lit a cigar for himself. He offered one to you, but you declined politely.
The bartender returned with your drinks. Thanking him with a small "Danke" you brought the drink to your lips. with only a few sips it was probably one of the best drinks you've ever had. You drank slowly to savor it, the cheer was read clearly in your eyes.
"This is amazing," Your narration was quiet. "This entire place is wonderful."
"Not as wonderful as you are, chérie." Spy cooed. A tint of red appeared on your cheeks. "Did I ever mention that you look lovely this evening?"
You could feel yourself getting a little more flustered by the second, "Thank you... you look really nice yourself." You managed to peep out while bringing a hand to your cheek to feel its warmth. Your smile brightened, "But... I think the poncho added just the right flare that the outfit needed." You both laughed quietly.
The peaceful atmosphere of the environment was interrupted when there was a loud shatter of a glass hitting the floor. Immediately, your eyes averted to where the noise came from. Two burly men in chic trench coats sat across from each other. One looked shocked at the sudden attention he was given from him accidentally bumping over the glass. A waitress rushed over to him. It sounded like she was reassuring him that it was alright and began to clean up the mess. The two men looked up at each other and nodded. They slowly stood up at the exact same time and exited the facility.
You stared at the door in which the two men left. Your eyes were transfixed on it. It seemed like all noise around you was a blur. It was when your daze was interrupted by Spy lightly bringing a hand to your knee. "Backer, is everything alright?" He asked you in a concerned yet calm voice.
It took you another moment to check back into reality. "Uh- ...yeah. Everything's fine. I just got distracted for a moment." You could not explain why you were so fixated, it just happened every now and then. The bartender returned to the two of you.
"Es tut mir Leid, Sie unterbrechen zu müssen, Blau, doch sprecht deine Freundin Deutsch?" He inquired to Spy with a tilt of his head. He smiled and shook his head.
"Nein, sie spricht Englisch." A look of surprise came over the bartender's face as he turned to you.
"I apologize! I should have asked you sooner what language you spoke." His English was a bit broken, but it was enough for you to still understand.
"No, it's perfectly alright! He was doing a fantastic job translating." Reassuring the barkeep, you pointed to Spy. He gave you a sweet look in return.
Continuing from there, Spy, the bartender, and you conversed with each other. You got to know many details of the old tapster, his hobbies outside of work, his family, and even some information about the village. You and Spy did not disclose much information about yourselves, you just listened in interest to what he had to say.
Some time passed, and you felt like freshening yourself up a little. "I'm sorry to cut in, but where is the restroom?" You asked sheepishly to the old man.
"Down that hall and to your left, dear." He pointed to the very back of the building, just from the crook side of the back wall you could see it expanded more so behind a wall on the right side. You thanked him and quickly got up from your seat with your purse.
Upon entering the hall. At the very end of it was a staircase leading upwards. The building did seem like it had multiple floors from the looks of the outside. On the left was the women's washroom and to the right was the men's. The restroom was smaller than you expected, for it only could have one person in it at a time. It did not matter much to you, though. You would just be in and out anyways.
After doing what you needed to, you washed your hands. You looked into the mirror at your appearance and smiled. You did look really nice tonight. Thinking back at Spy's compliment brought color to your cheeks again.
Over the sound of the running water, you began to hear muffled voices. Each sentence after the other grew louder in volume and greater in intensity. Quickly turning the faucet off, you listened more closely. It seemed to be coming from above you. It sounded like a man, or maybe multiple men. Their tones grew more aggressive, but then they died down.
You exited the washroom, and your eyes peered towards the staircase that led up. A few bumps of footsteps could be heard from the ceiling of the washroom behind you. Then there was silence for a brief moment. Though the mumbles and some yells continued soon after.
A gnawing thought traveled through your brain. You contemplated, should you go up? Those voices seemed frustrated for whatever reason. Part of you screamed yes! Maybe you could found out if there was something wrong. The other more sensible side of you chanted no. It may be a private matter, besides that the second floor might be living quarters. So it may just be a family.
The sensible part of you won that argument. You slowly began to turn back in the direction towards the dining area. It was then a clearly audible DINK was heard from inside the women's bathroom. Your head peaked back inside to examine where the noise may have come from. There was no physical evidence of any change in the room. Although the sound of a pipe that lined against the wall began to hiss quietly. The only thing you knew for sure was that it was the sound of something in specific hitting metal.
A bullet hitting metal.
Your attention was back on the stairs again. The pounding of your heartbeat grew louder, and you must have been holding your breath because you took in a large gasp of air. And with dainty, quiet footsteps, you slowly began to move towards the steps.
I have noticed the last few chapters have been significantly longer compared to its beginning ones (reaching around 3,000+ words or six pages approximately). I know once it gets over a certain amount of words it can become difficult to keep focus and read. Should I cut chapters down more? There will still be the same amount of story, just spread out into even more mini-chapters! Feel free to give me your feedback! :)
Choupette- sweetie (feminine) [French]
Ah, freut mich, Sie wiederzusehen, mein blauer Freund!- Ah, glad to see you again, my blue friend! [German]
Mon amie- my friend (feminine) [French]
Non- No [French]
Danke- Thank you [German]
Chérie- dear (feminine) [French]
Es tut mir Leid, Sie unterbrechen zu müssen, Blau, doch spricht deine Freundin Deutsch?-
I am sorry to interrupt you, Blue (referring to Spy), but does your girlfriend speak German? [German]
Nein, sie spricht Englisch- No, she speaks English [German]
(Finally, five years of German class has some purpose!!! This is the most German I have used since quarantine started.)
Chapter 9: Midnight Mishap
You investigate what the ruckus is all about :)
Translations are at the end of the chapter!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You have never felt yourself move so slowly in your entire life. With such a sluggish movement, you were able to conceal the sound of your footsteps. The only issue was the age of the building. Your foot hovered over the dark wooden step. Pressing your weight on it made it creak slightly. It was not loud enough to gain any attention, so you pressed forward.
It took a solid two to three minutes before you could make it up the flight of stairs. Upon reaching the top you were met with a somewhat narrow yet long hallway. Three doors sat on both sides of the hall, and one door sat face-to-face with you at the end of the passage. The door at the very end had a sign hung next to the door frame. Diligently, you glided towards it.
As you grew closer the sign read what seemed to be the facility’s name then the words “Reinhold Pisani - Geschäftsführer” beneath it. You could hear the voices once again from behind the door. A hazy gray smoke seeped between the crack of the door and into the area around you. The door seemed somewhat aged, and near the handle was a keyhole. You looked down towards it for a moment, then with cautious actions; you leveled your eye to it to see what was inside.
There were seven men in the room. Some wore hefty coats accompanied by a homburg hat, others wore all black suits with a fedora. Large cigars protrude from a few of the men’s mouths as well. Their twisted looks did not seem pleased. Six of the men surrounded a large wooden desk as they peered down at an old gentleman who sat in a lofty chair behind the table. The man in the chair leaned onto the desk with his elbows. He had a great look of distress on his face. A large cigar came from his mouth, too.
“I said this to you gentlemen a million times before and I will say it again; I don’t know where it went!” The old man spoke in a harsh tone to the group. To your surprise, he was speaking English. A young man in a suit who stood at the corner of the desk slammed his hands down on it aggressively. His back faced you so you could not catch a glimpse of his face.
“Cut the bullshit, Pisani! You know GODDAMN well where my money is!” The young one spoke out. He spoke English as well, his voice was somewhat nasally and had a mixture between a New Jersey and Italian accent. He stuck his index finger right into the man’s face. The one behind the desk must be the manager or someone of similar status, you thought.
Pisani did not flinch from where he sat. He looked right at the man’s finger in pure disgust. “You just need to give me a little more time. I cannot give back what you loaned out to me yet. That money is gone, Cavallo. I do not have control over where it is now. Just give me-”
The young one put his hand up to stop the man from speaking. He snapped his fingers and a man wearing an oversized coat lifted a briefcase from his side and handed it to the suited one. He held it up as he opened it to reveal its contents to the manager. Pisani's mouth dropped open and you could his skin turn ghostly pale.
You could not see what it was from your angle. The young man held no expression but anger as he lifted a pair of two severed hands that clutched onto a few pieces of paper. “That money is gone? THAT MONEY IS GONE?! THEN WHAT THE HELL ARE THESE?!” He pried the papers from the hands and threw them at Pisani with boiling rage.
“BANK STATEMENTS, TRANSFER PAYMENTS, PASSPORT FUNDS, RECEIPTS; ALL of which issues about the movements of MY money that traces back to YOU just for YOU to sit there to tell MY ass that it’s GONE?!” He fell silent for a moment. Dropping the briefcase without a care on the desk he clutched onto his Gordo cigar and took a moment to calm himself down. His once tense shoulders shrunk back down to fit his small structure.
“We talked to your guys, Pisani. Every. Single. One. The ones that refused to talks; we refuses ‘em to have the abilities to hide what we wanted. This is nothin’ but your fault. None-a this had to happen if yous waz justs more competent enough.” He drew a large pistol from a holster that latched to his side and aimed it right at the old man’s head. A look of alarm overcame Pisani’s face, he brought his hands together as if he was praying and looked up at the man.
“No, please! Just give me a little bit more time!! I will get your money back-- I swear! You can have the lounge! The Inn! My car! I’m just begging you, it doesn’t need to be like this!” He cried out. Tears began to weld in his eyes hoping, no-- praying for mercy.
The young one who held the pistol kept his arm up and barrel pointed at him. He began to slowly walk behind the desk to where he sat. You could now see the entirety of his face; bruised up and scarred. He held the gun tightly to the man’s head, so tight his fist quivered.
“You’re gonna listen here and you’re gonna listen closely,” His teeth were clenched as he spoke. “I's gots guys who will be here any minute. We are tearing this fuckin’ place apart and anyone who’s in it. Then you’re gonna come wit' us, and we’s gonna visit the Big Guy. Alright? … ALRIGHT?!”
An almost inaudible gasp left your lips. Your eye intensely kept peeking through the hole, but you began to feel your hand shake that was supported on the door frame. Pisani didn’t answer with words, he just quietly wept to himself with jumbled words while slowly nodding his head up and down.
Your purse began to sag down off of your shoulder. It hit the ground with a somewhat loud slumping noise. From the door next to you came a loud sound of furious barks from a dog. You could hear it put its front legs up on the door to try and push the door to enter the hall. The sound caught you so off guard you fell onto your bottom from where you crouched.
The dog’s barking caught the attention of the men in the room as well. They all turned the door almost simultaneously. “Someone’s up here!” Another man from the room spoke. You heard footsteps approaching the door.
In a frenzy, you scrambled onto your feet and collected your purse. Without a care of making noise, you dashed down the hall and fled to the stairs. The door swung open and other than only getting a slight view from your back you were gone. The young man now stood at the door frame looking down the hall to where you escaped. His eyes wandered down to the ground in front of him as a wicked smile spread across his face.
He bent down and picked up a torn gray part from your clothing. He turned back into the room and with a loud voice he announced, “Tie that poor bastard up! And make sure those men get here NOW!!” Two of the men went behind Pisani and began to tie his arms together with a thick rope. The young man turned back to the hall and twirled the fabric in his fingers.
“It looks likes we’s gots ourselves a snoop.”
The BLU Spy sat at the bar with his hands folded looking down at the counter. It did not take him long to realize you have been gone for a concerning amount of time. Is she aware of his intentions? Did she run off? Maybe he should go check on her? Whatever thought came in it never really carried any anxiousness within him, just inquiry.
Those thoughts were pushed to the side as you came speed walking towards him-- almost breaking into a sprint. A look of horror was written all over your face. You immediately grabbed onto his forearm of his rolled-up dress shirt which caused him to stand from where he sat. He got back into character showing a face of similar worry.
“Backer? Are you okay? You were gone for quite a long-”
“I need to talk to you.” Your voice remained quiet, but it was deadly serious.
You pulled him off to the corner of the bar where there was not as much noise. Your eyes kept darting to the hallway where you just came from. “What’s the matter, mon amie?” He whispered.
“Spy, we need to get these people out of here now. These people in suits they-- they had the manager at gunpoint asking for money and-- it was some money laundering scheme. They’re gonna be here soon, Spy, these people are in danger they had guns and--” You could barely keep your words straight as you spoke in hushed tones. He held the sides of your arms at this point.
“Backer, you need to slow down. You’re not making any sense.” He whispered in response. “What happened after you left?” You were about to open your mouth to speak once more when a horrified shriek came from the opposite side of the floor.
Turning your attention to the noise a woman stood pointing at the entrance. A group of men began to rush into the building. Armed with Tommy guns, they began to shoot them up into the air which erupted a storm of horrified screams and cries from everyone else in the building.
“GET ON THE GROUND!!!” A few of them began to shout over the gunfire. People were quick to obey, they began to crumble to their knees in a panicked and hysteric state. The old bartender stood behind the counter with his hands raised high in the air looking just as petrified as everyone else.
Two men in trenchcoats aimed their weapons at you and Spy. “GET YOUR ASS ON THE GROUND NOW!!” One screamed at the two of you. Both Spy and yourself held your hands in the air and slowly moved to your knees. You looked up at the men, they looked so familiar. Then you remembered:
They were the ones that left earlier that night.
A group of you now sat in the center of the lounge on your knees or your bottoms with your hands tied behind your backs. A group of three men circled you all while scanning the area. The young man in the suit you saw earlier now stood in the front of the facility.
“Boss, we tapped the phone wires. Someone in the area called the cops.” Another man in a suit and shades approached to inform him. The young man took the fat cigar out of his mouth and waved his hand towards the door.
“Then yous better do a good job not letting ‘em get in here!” He yelled. “Get outta my sight! Are you almost done looting those shelves? C’mon people... I don’t got all night!”
His orders were nagging and almost painful to listen to. You tensed up as he yelled. Spy was next to you. His face showed nothing but apathy. He almost looked… bored. You tapped his side with your elbow to get his attention. “What do we do?” You whispered to him.
“HEY! I DON’T WANNA HEAR A PEEP OUT OF ANY OF YA! YA HEAR ME?” He pointed his pistol in your direction. You jolted back up and sat still for a bit so you wouldn’t get scolded at again. Spy now tapped your side.
Without saying a word, he directed his eyes down to his hands so your view would follow. A sharp blade came from his gloves and was slowly cutting away at the rope. He made a very quiet shushing sound so you wouldn’t say a word. His eyes kept scanning the room, but you could not catch on to what he was trying to do. A loud crash was heard from the bar shelves. While everyone turned to face the noise, and over the Boss’s yelling, Spy took the chance to finish cutting the rope and cloak himself to disappear from the scene.
You sat there anxiously. You hoped that Spy had a good plan to get everyone out of here. The young boss finally noticed something was different. He glared right at you. “Hey, you!” He scolded in your direction.
“Me?” You questioned.
“Yeah, you! Where the hell did that blue guy go?”
“What blue guy?” You inquired once more.
“Don’t play stupid with me! The masked guy you were JUST whisperin’ to?”
You turned your head and pretended to act surprised by his disappearance. “Oh, my-- yeah! Where did he go? He was here and now he’s gone.”
Loud barking from the dogs upstairs echoed down onto the main floor. The young man rolled his eyes in an extremely irritated manner. He turned to one of the men and jabbed a finger into his chest. He ordered him to watch you all closely as he went upstairs to investigate.
Just as the young leader left the scene. A muffled cry then forced silence was heard behind you. It sounded like someone tried to cry in pain and was cut off. You turned your head to the left and watched the next guy who kept guard. His torso thrust forward as he made an “O” with his mouth to scream, but that sound was muffled as well. The man violently collapsed to the floor.
The guy who was ordered to keep watch noticed this and was just as confused as most of the other hostages were. He held his gun up from where the guard used to stand. Though he met the exact same fate-- falling to the floor onto his side. The people who remained tied up began to exchange looks of confusion. You waited with patience. It was then you felt a light hand touch yours which made you perk up in surprise.
“It’s just me, Chochotte.” You heard Spy whisper into your ear. You could feel a cutting motion between your hands and the rope. Faster than when Spy got himself out, he cut you loose as well. You felt him drop something into your palms. “Use this.”
Bringing them in front of you it was revealed to be a golden watch. It had almost a full teal circle in the middle of it. You quickly strapped it onto your wrist and tapped the button on the side. In an instant, you looked down to see your arms were semi-transparent. “Just go through the entrance when that guard moves.” You could feel Spy’s hand hover over your shoulder to point towards the opening of the lounge.
The two of you waited patiently. After a few minutes, the guard repositioned himself and walked off to the side of the room to talk to the guy behind the bar since the boss wasn’t there. Both of you got up from where you were and crept your way out of the facility. Just to be safe, you rounded to the back of the area and walked down a few buildings away to be out of earshot. You could hear the sound of wailing police sirens in the distance. The men from the building began to shout and ready their weapons.
Both of you uncloaked. “We should get back to our bases.” Spy suggested, but you still looked at him with a face of disturbance.
“What about everyone else in the building?” Your hand gestured back to the lounge. “Aren’t we going to help them?”
“It sounds like the police are on their way. They can handle it from here.” That was true. But something just didn’t sit right with you.
“Spy, if we have the capability to help them I think we should. What if people get hurt? Or killed?” You pushed once more. His face held longing as he gazed down at you.
“It is the same question that should apply to yourself, Backer. What will happen if you get killed?” You looked down at the ground in front of you. The Spy took out another one of his cigars and lit it. “I only say this for your own safety. It would be the smarter choice for us to leave while we still can.”
You kept silent for a bit in thought. You knew exactly what you wanted to say, but you just couldn’t choke it out. Spy took hold of your hand gently. “Let’s get going, mon amie.” He tried to usher you along with him, but you slipped your hand out from his grasp.
“If you want to go back to base, then leave if you want. It’s your decision,” You looked back to the facility. “But I’m not going to allow a bunch of innocent people to get hurt. I know I’m not a mercenary like you or the other guys on my team…” You began to unclip the watch from your wrist.
"... But I will figure out a way to help.” You placed the watch back into his hand. Your mind was conflicted, why was it only now you felt the inclination to risk it all? Were you curious about death? Wanting to be a hero? Were you a little bit tipsy? You didn't know, and to be quite frank; you didn't care either. You turned back in the direction of the building, shifting slightly to face the man in the blue mask. “I’ll see you around.” With that, you began to rush back towards the direction of the chaos.
“Backer, wait!” He exclaimed attempting to extend his hand to catch you, but it was too late. He stood in disbelief. What were you thinking? You had just escaped from the danger, and now you were about to nosedive back into it just for a few hostages? Spy couldn’t understand the reasoning behind it. Though, he did know what he had to do now.
“Oh, merde.” He grumbled to himself, sighing.
He whipped out his Spytron. On one of his shoulders sat an extremely short strand of hair. He placed it onto the device and an image of one of the guards popped up. He selected it and a paper mask with the man’s face appeared on his head. He looked back towards your direction. Putting his Spytron away and taking out his balisong; Spy began to follow your trail.
Geschäftsführer- General Manager [German]
Gordo cigar- A large/fat type of cigar [Spanish]
Mon amie- My friend (feminine) [French]
Chochotte- A term of endearment for your friend (feminine) [French]
Oh, merde.- Oh, shit. [French]
Balisong- Butterfly knife [Tagalog/Filipino]
Chapter 10: Half-Time Heroine
BACKER TO THE RESCUE!! :)
All translations are at the end of the chapter!
Not gonna lie.... this was a difficult chapter to write. While revising I found a lot of parts I was on the fence to include, exclude, and change. This is the final product that made me the most satisfied for the time being
Hope you enjoy ;)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
From the furthest corner of the lounge, you could already see the strobing red and blue lights from the squad cars approaching. Some were already parked on the opposite side of the road to cause a buffering zone between them and gunmen-infested establishment. None dared to enter the no man's land created by the two forces for it was too risky.
You thought it was more clever to keep to the back of the building. Maybe there was a doorway from behind you could enter? Your side was kept close to the wood frame of the structure as you slid across the back wall. Just as you reached the opposite side, you found an indent within the wall which revealed to be a back emergency door. Placing your hand carefully on the door, you entered into the danger zone.
It led right into the kitchen. A man in a coat occupied the room, armed and ready to attack. His back was turned to face into the opposite side of the hall that revealed a flight of stairs separate from the ones you went up earlier. No rooms accompanied on the sides leading up to them. You ducked down quickly behind the giant metal island that stood between the two of you and crawled to the edge of the side closest to the door to get a better glimpse of the scene. Besides the two doorways of the room, there was no other area to escape to.
You sat on all fours brainstorming to yourself upon what to do next. When you picked your head up you noticed the handle to a small frying pan poked out just above your head. Sliding it off the countertop quietly, you observed the stainless-steel item, then the man at the door. Bringing your arm up over your shoulder, you threw the piece of metal across the room into a kitchenware hanger that held up items of a similar nature just so it was outside of sight of the door. The crash caught the man's attention, he turned around and on instinct fired a few shots from where the sound came from. A thick smother of silence filled the air before your heard footsteps wearily approach the pan. Getting up onto your feet with as much grace as possible, you rushed your way out of the kitchen and towards the stairs. This left the man behind in the room to investigate every square centimeter to find what would have caused the noise.
The hall at the top of the steps was very dim due to no light brightening the small space. It boxed off on all sides except for one that opened up to a skywalk that only slightly hovered over the main dining area. The dark wooden guardrail and balusters of the walkway had a large girth to them. Little light poked out from the metal hanging chandelier onto the floor. Keeping low, you crawled your way onto the platform and peeked through the small spaces of the rails to peer down at the main floor.
The hostages still sat there. Their heads were turned away so you could not read their expressions, but the young boss stood in front of all of them once again. One man tied up stuck out closer to the young one compared to the others. Based on his blazer he wore and his hairline, you could assume who he may be.
The general manager, Reinhold Pisani.
"See 'dis, Pisani? None 'ov dis would've happened if you would of used that incy-wincy tiny brain 'ov yours!" The Boss taunted. His face got close and personal to the old man who backed his neck away as far as possible.
"Cavallo... You didn't have to do this. Any of this. No matter what you do... they're going to arrest both of us at the end of the day!" He blurted out.
The young man seemingly named Cavallo socked the man square in the mouth. The old man dropped his head down and let out a groan in pain. You could see blood drip from his face on to the floor. Cavallo shook his knuckle out as he got on one knee to level with the man.
"I don't like those shit lips of yours. You're one lucky sonuvah bitch, Pisani. Normally guys like you I kill on the spot. But you... You've got value. Dah Big Guy's reeeeally gonna like you." A twisted chuckle came from his thin pale lips.
"...What are you going to do with everyone else here...?" Pisani's voice carried hatred and fear all at the same time. You could visualize the expression that his face made from where you sat.
Cavallo put a hand to his chin and stroked it. A loud 'hmm' buzzed from his closed mouth. "That's easy. We's just gonna deal wit' 'em like I said. We can sell de men off for organs or forced labor... And maybe we can takes the women somewhere and give them a nice new ho--" Cavallo cut himself short. Pisani had sprayed blood right onto his face that came from his mouth in repugnance.
The glare from Cavallo was horrifying. He stood back up on his feet and wiped the blood off his face with one hand. He shot his hand towards a guard who was closest to another hostage. "START PICKING 'EM OFF!"
"NO!!!" You heard yourself scream out from the balcony. You whipped up a loose piece of your clothing to reveal a concealed holster that carried your pistol. With adrenaline pulsing through your body you only gave a slight effort to aim at Cavallo. You fired at him only to miss horribly.
Heavy shooting from firearms was immediate. You backed down to the floor and crammed yourself tightly against the wall.
"GET TO THE BALCONY!"
Multiple screams rang in the room as the shooting carried on. Your eyes were sealed tight. What have you done?
Footsteps stomped up the stairs. Soon you were faced with a group of men who had weapons of their own. Your pistol sat beside you; just in arm's reach. There was a moment of static between you and them, none moved. Both parties just glared at each other. In one jerk, you attempted to reach for your gun.
They shot at the pistol and your hand which caused it to propel backward and for your hand to retreat close to your body.
A big man who stood in the middle of the men approached you. With no effort in being gentle, he grabbed onto the back of your top which forced you to stand back up. He forcefully rushed your front right into the railing of the skywalk to reveal your presence to the entire floor.
"Let me go!!" You demanded. You tried squirming your lower half, but it seared in pain.
Cavallo gazed up at you with a slight surprise. You definitely were not what he was expecting. He held a hand up to the others who had their weapons aimed up towards you. "Hold your fire boys. Bring 'er down here." He gestured to the gang upstairs. With the same brute force, the man dragged you down the stairs and towards the young man. You kicked and squirmed the entire way.
Then there you hung; face-to-face with that weasel of a man. His hands were behind his back as he observed you once more. "So, that's where you went." He walked from side to side to see you at all angles. "You've been causin' me reeeeal trouble, little lady." Your scowl at him was dark.
He took one hand from behind his back and forcefully placed it onto your chin and squeezed your cheeks. His gaze right into your eyes was fierce. If eyes could recede further into the skull-- you would have let yours do so.
"But 'ey... You're quite the looker. The Boss Man 'ould just die to have a doll like you in his posse of sluts." You were beyond revolted. Easily one of the biggest slimeballs you have ever encountered in your entire life.
"Go to hell." You growled.
This caused him to smirk. "Feisty, aren't we's?" He dropped his hand off your face and back onto his. He looked at you with demented admiration.
"Uhh... Boss?" One of the men spoke up. He walked towards him holding a tattered piece of cloth. He handed it to Cavallo as he looked at it in confusion.
Then something clicked in his mind.
"Wait a minute..." He paced back up to you and forcefully stretched up the loose part of your clothing. He compared the cloth in his hand to the one on your body.
They were the exact same.
"You're the one who's been eavesdroppin' on our conversation!" He grabbed hold of your shoulders and began to squeeze them harshly. The big man who once held you now let go to have the boss handle you. Pisani was at your side and looked up at you astounded.
"YOU BITCH!" Cavallo screeched. He let go of your shoulders and swiped you right across the face. Its impact was so extreme it made you fall back onto the floor. The intense sting of the slap left tears welled up in your eyes. You brought a hand up to cover it as your blurred vision returned to the bastard. He took his handgun out from his side and pointed it down right at you.
"I'LL SHOW YOU WHAT WE DO TO SLEUTHS-"
Cavallo's chest jerked awkwardly to the side. The sound of a dinky gunshot rang in the air. Then another one. It caused the man to jerk strangely once again as he fell onto his side with a groan.
The next part was a haze to you. You felt the impact of someone rush right into you. Slightly lifting you into the air, you were up and over the bar counter in one smooth action. Guns were alive and blazing in the room in your direction.
You rubbed the remaining tears from your eyes. You didn't care if you ruined your makeup at this point. Your head was also pressed closely against someone's chest. It was tight, but not forceful. There was a familiar fragrance of aromatic cologne and a hint of cigarettes. You looked up at what seemed to be your savior.
Upon their reveal, you instantly moved from their grip with terror.
It was one of the suited men!
His body was in a squatting position trying to get a view from over the counter without getting shot. He turned to you and saw your frightened face. A dawning look came across him; almost like he had forgotten about something.
Blue smoke came from around the man. It quickly consumed his body only to leave a lumpy shape of his body position. Within a few seconds, it revealed him once again.
"Spy!!" You cried. You didn't know what to feel more of; surprise or relief. It didn't matter, he came to help you! A small smirk curled onto his lips.
"You didn't think I was going to let 'ou do this on your own, did you?" He questioned. A bottle from the shelf above you shattered. Before a storm of glass could rain down on you, you felt Spy press himself on top of yours for cover.
"Alright, mademoiselle?" Spy looked down at you to examine for any cuts or scrapes.
He was so close...
... But now wasn't the time to think about that!
He lifted himself back up and turned his head towards you and in a loud voice to reach over the gunfire he shouted. "Do you have a weapon?"
"No! They pushed it away from me when I was on the balcony!" You pointed up to where you were on the walkway. Spy looked up in that direction with determination. The revolver that once stuck up in his hand now sat in yours.
"We need to get up there!" He exclaimed back to you.
"Look!" He pointed to the large metal chandelier. It hung right over where the majority of the gang members stood... But also the hostages. "You need to get up there and shoot down that chandelier! I'll move the hostages and give you cover!" He called out. Butterfly knife in one hand, and another strange-looking pistol in the other; he got up and began to shoot back at the crowd. "Now, Backer! Go!!"
You scrambled to your feet. Laying low, you exited from where the bartop served as a barricade to behind a flipped over wooden table. It made the experience all the more nerve-racking. You peaked out from behind the table and fired at anyone who blocked your way. You weren't the best aim, but good enough to incapacitate them.
The sounds of cries of help came from your right. Thrusting your head you witnessed a man in a coat grabbing hold to the bartender with a gun to his chest. You aimed Spy's revolver at them and tried to shoot only for it to not fully click.
Damn, the trigger was stuck.
In a state of panic, you threw the entirety of the pistol right at the coated man. He turned to you confused as you approached to wrestle his weapon out of his grip. Having a physical advantage over you, he shoved you down to the ground and aimed right at your head.
The man suddenly fell forward right next to you just barely catching himself. A leg of a wooden chair was within your reach; you picked it up and hit the man right on the back of the noggin. He fell to the ground unconscious. Pisani stood wobbling on his feet to keep balance for he tried to rush your attacker. He looked down at you and gave a nod.
Pulling both the bartender and Pisani to behind the table, you helped unite their ropes with shaky hands. Your heart was racing. They both looked at you with great gratitude.
"Thank you, young lady!" The bartender managed a smile amidst the craziness. You nodded and began eying the stairs.
"No problem. When it's safe; help everyone out through the exit!" Your index finger pointed to the kitchen. They looked at it and both shook their heads approvingly. The barkeep handed you back the revolver you threw. You were about to rush for the door when a large hand grabbed your wrist that stopped you.
"Miss, can I get your name? Please?" It was Pisani. He had a look of wonder and fear in his eyes. Your head turned with a smile.
"I'm afraid not. That doesn't matter now. There are more people to save." His hand slid off your arm as you gunned it to the steps.
Right at the entrance, you were greeted with a "warm welcome". One man who was on the stairs came barging down towards you with a pocketknife in hand. Swiftly, you move to the side of the stairs and push him down the rest of the way and using your leg to trip him. He was a mangled mess at the bottom as you continued your path upwards.
You reached the top of the stairs and rushed in towards the frame.
But you paused; way too abruptly.
Falling awkwardly onto your ankle; you barely caught yourself on the railing as another guy met you at the top and took no hesitation to fire at what was your past elevation for your head. Your other hand wielding the gun rose up on instinct from falling and you prayed for the best.
The man's head jerked back as his body immediately plopped face down onto the platform in front of you. A pool of blood formulated from his cranium.
You regained your posture and tried running up the stairs again. The pain in your right ankle was unbearable almost immediately. You cried out in agony as you looked down at it. It looked way more swollen and red than normal.
Please only be a sprain.
Please only be a sprain.
You limped the rest of the way up and watched the scene below. The people tied up were now all moved to the same corner of the floor by the kitchen. The men you set loose looked like they were slowly directing the others out of the building from the exit as you ordered. Cavallo sat with his boys. Even as he bled out from his chest he was still barking orders. His chest rose and fell deeply as a pale finger pointed around the room in confusion. He was truly a leader by choice. Not a good one, but a leader.
Only a few of the bigger guys remained. The rest were seen to have fallen either dead or injured. You looked everywhere, but you couldn't see Spy. Hobbling to the other side of the skywalk you picked up your fallen gun and placed it back into your hands. You tried to make yourself useful by hiding behind the rail and shooting down at the men below you.
You noticed something strange. A small glisten of a rainbow dripped down seemingly out of nowhere and in front of the main doors.
It looked like gasoline.
You eventually ran out of ammo in your gun. You placed it back in your concealed holster. You hoped that he would give you a sign of some sort to tell you it's clear to shoot with the other one.
It caught your attention that a chain with plenty of slack was lazily spread out at the end of the platform. You picked it up to tug it out more. It looked like a connecting chain that wasn't used to hang the chandelier. It hung in the same area as the other chains did to support the ceiling fixture.
Rushing motions came from the stairs. You lifted your gun to the entrance bracing for the moment if you had to shoot. Spy revealed himself at the top and leaned himself onto the skywalk. His outfit seemed ramshackle with blood and other stains. He also sported a black eye as well. He took notice of the dead man on the platform but didn't comment on it. Walking past him, he crouched towards you. The gunfire came back to where you were located. Cavallo's orders were white noise at this point.
Spy saw the chain in your hand and followed it to its source. He then peered down at the mobsters below. He sat in thought for a moment, but then his head turned back towards you. "You have good aim, correct?"
"No, not really." Your voice was nervous.
"Well, you need to have it now. Shoot the chain as I said before. But now, I need you to do something else as well," Spy dug into his pocket to revealed a chunky metal object. With a flick of his wrist and thumb the top part of the square popped open and a flame flickered between the two of you, "This is a windproof lighter. We need to use this and drop it in front of entrance. It should not extinguish unless the top is closed" He took your open hand and placed the lit lighter into it carefully.
You nodded your head and began to move back up, but Spy stopped you.
"On my mark. I have a plan. Can I have that chain?"
You handed it to him as the both of you stood up with caution to make sure you wouldn't get shot. Spy brought an arm out and brought you close to him. You could feel your face heat up as he did so. The two of you began to back up towards the wall.
"Hold on tightly, ma Lolotte..." He told you with caution. You positioned so you were comfortable in his grip.
What was he doing?
Spy lifted you up. He made sure there was no slack between you guys and the chain. "... Because here... we. GO!!"
With a sudden burst of speed, Spy rushed up and over the skywalk's guardrail. A gust of wind flew around the two of you.
Over your cries of fear, you heard Spy exclaim "BACKER! DROP THE LIGHTER! DROP THE LIGHTER!!" The lighter that was once sticking out in front of you was now gone with one simple drop. It took a moment, but the entire floor in front of it burst into flames. Spy and yourself were just barely above where it rose.
Your projected hitting point was the wall. Spy began to shift around on the chain while holding you up with all his might. He managed to flip you guys in the opposite direction to face the skywalk. Using the backs of his feet, Spy kicked off the wall to give that extra boost.
Now facing you once more was the metal chandelier. "SHOOT THE CHAIN NOW!" Spy called out. Out of fear, you shut your eyes, but you pulled the trigger.
A sudden loose feeling came from the shackles that you swung on. The clanking sound of metal and moving chains all happened in the blink of an eye.
Brief sounds of surprised yells came below before being overshadowed by the sound of a large crash from the crown's collapse. You opened your eyes up again. You were still swinging.
AND HEADING RIGHT FOR THE WINDOW.
"OH MY GOD SPY-!"
He brought his feet up and kicked at the glass panes. Shattering glass surrounded you as Spy brought his now free hand and wrapping you two into a tight embrace. Both of you were screaming waiting for an impact.
The sound of rustling bushes came next. You didn't want to look. You just kept your grip tight and head buried against Spy's waist and chest. Your arms shook. Your heart was racing.
Spy's grip around you loosened up. Which made you more willing to pick your head up to observe the scene.
"Spy...?" You asked slowly. The impact seemed a lot more... soft then you were expecting. You shifted a little in his grip.
"Putain! Ow.." He groaned to your movement which startled you.
"Sorry!! I'm trying to get off of you but-" You rustled in the bush a bit. You couldn't get yourself free. "I- can't-- move!!"
Your body rolled to just the right angle. It caused you to somersault backward and land on your back onto the grass. You got up to gently help Spy out of the bush to the best of your ability without hurting him more.
"Are you okay?" You asked with concern.
"I'm fine, mon amie... And you?"
"I think I'm okay, too." A smile resurfaced on his face. The two of you were completely bedraggled. Bloodstains, some loose or stretched clothing, and your hair was a mess. Now, you both had cuts from the glass window. Hopefully, none was stuck in your skin.
You could hear that the people were conversing with some officers on the side of the building. The small bits of conversation included "Grau Frau" and "Blau Mann". Spy must have heard it, too.
"I think now is the time for us to get going." He stated. You gave him a small nod in return.
"I couldn't agree more."
You two of you began to walk when you curled up to grab your ankle. You winced in pain as Spy looked down at it with worry.
"That looks really bad, chérie..." Effortlessly, he scooped you off your feet and carried you as if you were a princess in distress. "...Simply not good enough to walk on."
Your face flared up with red by his sudden action. To keep balance you quickly wrapped your arms around his neck. You were really starting to hate heights of any sort. But you truly did appreciate the gesture, though. It was really sweet of him.
"When did that happen?" He asked you as he began to walk back towards the map's boundaries.
"I was on the stairs. The guy at the top surprised me and I must've fallen back on it funny." You explained.
"Well for falling backwards, you got a pretty good shot to the head."
"Thanks?" You didn't know if you should take that as a compliment. "You did a nice job helping everyone out."
"It is not a problem. And thank you, but I only moved some of them. It looked like you untied the manager, and he and the bartender helped everyone out." You nodded your head.
You looked forward to the trail in front of you two before turning your head back to him, "Spy?"
"Yes, mademoiselle?" He answered.
"Thanks for coming back for me. I wouldn't have been able to do it without you. Or-- make it out alive for that matter." A look of peace was in his eyes.
"There's no need to thank me. It was the right thing to do. Just like how you helped those people. That's what friends are for, are they not?" You felt your heart warm up at what he said.
You gave a him shy grin and a small giggle.
His expression seemed to approve. There was a moment of silence between the two of you before he spoke up again. "Did you see how we swung on that chandelier? Good lord-- I thought I was going to let go and fall." The adrenaline of the situation seemed to kick in. You lifted yourself a little from against his chest with wide eyes.
"YOU were going to fall?! I clung on for dear life! Not to mention we jumped out of a freaking WINDOW!" Your reaction made him laugh.
"It wasn't that bad. I've been through worse." His bragging made your cheeks puff out.
"You suck, Spy." You mumbled in a huffy tone. He still kept smiling.
"I know, chérie. I know."
It was awkward for you to enter Medic's medical room and explain why your ankle was all messed up. Spy advised you to go to him right away as soon as he dropped you off at the base, you ended up cleaning and patching your cuts. You didn't want to bother the doctor so late so you managed to painfully sleep on it.
You knew it was a horrible decision from the beginning, but you did it out of fear.
Luckily, it was only a sprain. Though it was in really bad condition because you waited so long to attend to it. When Medic asked how it happened you used the story you formulated in your head from the night before; something about tripping over a raised part in the concrete and falling strangely.
The good news is Medic gave it a splint to recover on. He told you it would begin to feel better in about a week- and fully heal in about two to three. The bad news was that you still had to complete clean-up, only you needed one other member of the team to help you to make sure you didn't get hurt again.
Damn, it may be a while before you saw your Spy friend again.
... Maybe there was another way to get in contact with him?
A day has passed and now Medic and yourself sat in the kitchen. You finished a small bowl of oatmeal, and Medic sat across the table reading the local newspaper with a cup of coffee. The two of you didn't make many conversations during that time, and Engie, Demoman, and Pyro came from their rooms and greeted you two good morning. It was when you turned your attention to Medic's paper again that you noticed something.
The side of the paper that faced you showed a large picture of the lounge from the other night. In the front were some of the hostages that were previously tied up now sitting by an ambulance talking with some officers and paramedics. You couldn't read the headline because it was in German. So with hesitance, you spoke out, "Hey, Medic? What does that headline say?"
Doc peaked his head from the paper. "What was that, Fräulein? Oh! The paper? Ja, uh..." He turned the cover towards him and scanned over it. "Unknown Heroes Save Hostages and Deface Crime. Or something of that nature. It's actually really interesting-- I'm reading it right now. Care to hear what it's about?"
You nodded your head eagerly as you pulled out a chair next to him to look at the contents inside of the article. It was decorated with familiar faces from that night. One was the bartender, another a saddened Pisani in the back of a squad car, and one of a demolished lounge.
Medic swiped his finger across the first few sentences. "I'm not the best translator, but I'll do my best." He cleared his throat and began.
"'Last night a local bar enacts events of adversity. Those of which include, a fire, rendezvous of an infamous oversea mafia, and a shootout on the main bar floor. Reinhold Pisani, general manager of Hazyfort's local watering hole met with Joseph Cavallo. Cavallo revealed to be a Caporegime to the disreputable Italian-American "Newark Crime Family". It is unknown who exactly he is an underling of at the moment. Pisani met Cavallo as an associate -to-capo over a money-laundering scandal that has been happening between different lounges and inns across the world for years...'" The article then went into detail about the organizations and the schemes they tend to pull. The next page showed more images of what happened that night.
"'... Bar goers that night were tied and held against their will and threatened by gunpoint. According to the victims, two previously tied up bar attendees managed to escape from the facility. None could catch their names-- nor no photographic evidence was taken to lead to their appearance, but they were described as a man in blue and a woman in gray. With some time they managed to create tension with Cavallo and his gang of soldiers and start a wide-spread shootout in the building. The duo managed to reduce the enemies in the area, and helped the barman and Pisani lead the victims to escape the building...'"
Your throat felt dry. Man in blue and woman in gray. It sounded so eerie to you. It didn't seem to give away much about you, but it was still strange to hear.
"... Upon investigating the building after the incident it was left in shambles. Tables and chairs flipped, glass everywhere, and even the interior's large metal chandelier came crashing down on some of the gang members; crushing them to death. Cavallo was discovered in the building with gunshot wounds, yelling that he saw 'two schmucks' crush the gasolier onto his men and escape through the window." Medic adjusted his glasses. "Then there are some quotes from some of the witnesses. The bartender said 'I spoke with the two earlier that night. A lovely couple whom I shall forever hold debt to.'"
'Lovely couple'?? A misconception, but one that didn't surprise you. You couldn't help but blush a little at the statement. To conceal it, you brought your hands up to your cheeks.
"The manager said, 'Whatever outcome came was a losing battle for me. I was lucky to face this one. If the woman in gray sees this; thank you for listening in on our conversation. I would be a dead man by now if it wasn't for you. Both of you were definitely our heroes for the night.' ... Pisani and Cavallo shall face criminal charges once they recover from any injuries inflicted upon them. The results of the crisis were a miracle, for there only being minor injuries to those held captive. It is unknown if these heroes choose to remain anonymous or are not made aware of their bravery. For the time being, upon waiting for their identities, it is safe to say that Hazyfort was made a safer place for all.'"
Your attention was drawn away to look at the room around you. At some point, the rest of the team made it into the dining hall as well. They seemed to listen in on Medic's narration. Most of them seemed somewhat bored by the article.
"Isn't that exciting?" Medic asked the crowd enthusiastically.
"You kiddin' me, Doc? We literally do cooler stuff than that every day." Scout slumped over your chair's backing.
"You've got to admit though... It's pretty impressive for a couple of civilians." Engineer tried to bargain with the group. He only got a few grumbles from the guys in response.
"THERE IS NOTHING INTERESTING ABOUT CIVILIANS--" Soldier made sure to include.
"It's good story; just not good as us." Heavy had his arms crossed looking at the article's images.
"Hey, hey! I gotta theory now! WHAT IF-- what if one of dose 'unknown heroes' was one of us, huh? Who here owns blue??" Scout piped up again and looked around at the other men.
"... We cannot wear blue, Scout. The Administrator told us that." Spy commented.
"Well? What about Backer? She could 'ov been the woman in gray!" This made your heart stop. You didn't know how to respond. What do you do?
"Yah kiddin' me, right mate?" Sniper muttered. "Back-uh's the only one who listens to the rules around here. Unlike you blokes, she'd couldn't pull somethin' like that off."
Ouch. Seriously? Now you kind of wanted to brag.
"I mean good for 'em... Just kinda lame." Demoman concluded as the group began to disperse from the table. Medic got up and left to do his own tasks as well. This left you alone at the table to lean on with a long sigh.
"Yeah... how lame.."
WHOOO-Y DOGGY THAT WAS A MARATHON
I once again apologize if not giving an accent to Medic/Spy takes away from the story... It's just one of those things I struggle to write in :(
But I thank you all for sticking with the story this far! You guys rock!!
Mademoiselle- Miss [French]
Ma Lolotte- A name to describe a free-willed & kind friend [French]
Putain!- Fuck! [French]
Mon amie- My friend (feminine) [French]
Grau Frau- Gray Woman [German]
Blau Mann- Blue Man [German]
Chérie- Dear (feminine) [French]
Chapter 11: "B" Stands For Benchwarmer
Being injured isn't easy :)
A new challenge was offered to your job since you began wearing a splint. Some were due to the object itself; while it was annoying to wear around as your injury recovered, you were able to manage fine. The other was all the unnecessary assistance you were receiving because of it.
The first few days Medic made you use crutches to get around and emphasized that you should not put ANY weight on it since it was such a severe sprain. That's when you were most grateful for the other mercenaries' assistance. There were times it served as a challenge to carry specific items while also trying to support your balance on the sticks. Though after a few days you were able to gradually put more weight on your foot as it healed.
Assistance remained the same as it did since the first day of your injury even though you felt more capable to move around by yourself. You could understand the concern expressed behind it; having everyone in tip-top shape to work as quickly and efficiently as possible was vital to the team. You just didn't like the fact it restrained you from doing things independently. Having to rely on someone "holding your hand" so you could get your work done was an inconvenience to both your colleagues and yourself. As a consequence, you saw more failures to win battles during those first few days.
These were the times you wondered why Medic couldn't just use his medigun on your foot as he would with everybody else with far worse injuries? If it was such an issue to remain hurt, why not just heal it back to good health like you have seen a million times over on the others? You never asked these questions to Medic. More than likely, he would give you roundabout answers, as normal, if you asked anything close to a question involving battle technology.
Between Scout's teasing of calling you "Captain Iron Ankles", "Twigs", or whatever other impudent names under the sun, the constant check-ins with Medic, and having to rest for longer periods of time than you wished; post-clean-up was the most bittersweet of them all. For the worst days of the injury, the BLU Spy was nowhere to be seen as you cleaned with the one other mercenary (as they got permission from the Administrator to do so). Perhaps he took notice that you weren't alone so he did not interact? Maybe he was busy so could not roam? Who knows. Whatever the case was, you kind of began to miss his company in specific. It was interesting to talk to someone outside of RED. Plus, Spy was always such a charming person to chat with. You didn't bring your book out during these nights because you knew the other men on your team wouldn't be as interested going through it with you as the BLU Spy was.
When you got your diagnosis, you thought about maybe there was a way for you to get in contact with Spy in some other form. The thought gnawed at your mind for a few days, especially when cleaning. Before the third night, you got an idea. You were sitting in your room. Grabbing a pen and paper you wrote a small note:
If you get this please meet here five minutes before my normal clean-up time tomorrow. I have something for you.
You folded the paper in half and stuffed it in a free pocket in your cargo pants. That night you were doing clean-up rounds with Pyro. When they weren't around, you casually placed the paper down at the normal picnic table that you and Spy would sit at and read during your time at Hazyfort. You took a small piece of duct-tape and secured the paper to the tabletop. There wasn't a guarantee he'll get the note, let alone be outside for all you know. But it was worth a shot.
Pyro's technique certainly made the job go a lot... quicker... Instead of taking the remains to the incinerator, they brought the incinerator to the remains. There were countless times where you thought the fire from the flame torch was going to catch you on fire as they maniacally waved it around in the air. A method you did not question, but most certainly did not want to try again.
It was late, and by this time Pyro and you have departed ways for the evening. You stalled near the living room area and listened to the area around you closely. It was dead quiet between there and the hall that led to the mercs' rooms. Once the silence made you feel at ease, you took a small satchel bag from out of the closet that was off to the side. Then, you began to travel down the opposite hall in the area towards Engineer's workshop.
A metal door separated the inside of the facility into his workspace. A small metal window decorated its frame, and it was pitch black on the opposite side. Engie must have gone to bed. With great vigilance, you limped towards the door and slowly began to pull down on the handle.
It was unlocked. And with the same care, you entered the room.
The darkness soaked the room, and you did not dare to switch the lights on. Your hand dove into one of your pockets and took out your replacement flashlight you were given for cleaning while you made sure to bring it with you on this excursion. You knew what exactly you were looking for. Flicking on the switch, you then wrapped it around your head and scanned the zone.
The workshop for Engineer was big, but not as big as the one at 2Fort. Every place you guys have traveled seemed to be like that. They have every room and most items prepped, besides the ones you decide to bring along on the journey of course. It did not take you long to discover what you were looking for. On a workbench of to the side near the wall sat multiple little metal cubes. Each cube had the same design on them accompanied by a small red button on the side. With reluctance, you lifted one up with two hands while supporting your crutches between your armpits. The box was somewhat heavy; just as you were expecting. After briefly observing it, you slid it into the bag on your shoulder. You then continued to pick another one up and place it into the bag as well.
Having two in one bag was really starting to weigh down on your arm. You tried to move with your crutches and the bag on one side, but it served as a difficult process. So, you shifted the bag so it slung across your body. Still a challenge, but not as bad as before. Trying to maintain the same sneakiness; you slipped out from the workshop, closed the door quietly, and began to lurch towards your room.
Once in the safety of your own room, you placed the bag onto your bed. You put your crutches off to the side and sat at your bedside as you revealed one of the metal boxes once more. You gently placed it onto your floor and pressed the button.
The box sprung open to life. It made a quiet buzzing noise as the contents within slowly began to reveal itself as the all too similar tool you commonly saw on the battlefield with the men; the teleporter. This one was about a quarter of the size as the ones you have commonly seen, plus it did not begin to spin.
You took out the second one and placed it onto the floor next to the first one. You pressed the button and it continued the same process. Once both were fully set up, you waited in anticipation.
A few seconds later, both ends of the tiny teleporters began to slowly spin. The motion grew faster, and a small spark of red light began to glow from the middle. Soon enough, the two boxes revealed to be tiny functioning teleporters. A cheerful grin grew on your face. Your plan was officially in action. What all depends on it now is if Spy even sees your note. Only time could tell until later.
The evening couldn't have come any sooner. That night you were scheduled to clean with Heavy. You told him to take his time to finish eating dinner while you went and got "everything ready to clean". That should buy you just enough time. Plus, Heavy was a slow walker so it bought a little extra on the side.
Before heading to where your supplies were, you made sure to stop by your room and bring along one of the mini-teleporters from last night. You stuffed it into the satchel bag from the night before. Leaving the wheelbarrow and gear out further into the streets from spawn, you dashed out towards the rendezvous point as fast as your crutches and the weight of the bag could carry you.
Just as you turned the corner your heart jumped up in your chest. There he was!
Spy stood at the bench with a small smile as you approached him. You couldn't help but have a joyful look on your face as you grew closer.
Spy held up a piece of paper that was neatly folded between his index, middle, and thumb. "I assumed that this was you?" He questioned, a small lace of awareness in his voice.
You sat down on the bench, you were about to place your crutches on the ground when Spy took them and neatly set them on the opposite side of the table. "Yeah, I just had an idea the other day. I remembered Engie was telling us he was working on these as a fun project!" You showcased the mini box to Spy. He raised a brow at the contraption.
"What is it?" He asked.
"It's a mini-teleporter. I thought I could give you one and we could be pen pals!" You exclaimed. Your keenness made Spy chuckle.
"Oh, Backer. Of course it was you who came up with that idea." He teased.
You laughed a tiny bit yourself before continuing, "It's going to be a while before my ankle fully heals. So Medic told me some of the guys on my team have to help me out with some tasks that involve a lot of labor until it's back to normal." You explained to him.
Your eyes scanned his face. It looked like his black eye, bruises, and all his other cuts and marks had completely gone away. It didn't surprise you, his wounds could be treated because of respawning or with Medic's healing gun more than likely. He solemnly shook his head.
"It must not be easy. I apologize, but is there no way your Medic cannot heal you with his equipment?" He asked. The conversation was going into more work-sensitive areas. He may not have intended for it to, though.
You shrugged your shoulders. "I'm not sure." It was the truth, just the very vague edition of it. Just as extra security by not exposing too much information. You turned around to look behind you. You could hear Heavy calling out for you back by your fort. Your head turned back to Spy as he handed you back your crutches and he picked up the teleporter. "I gotta get going. The red button on the side turns it on. You know it works when you see the glowing thingy in the middle. Also, I think it's only linked to mine so you shouldn't worry about something going to another teleporter."
You hoisted yourself up to your stable foot while still looking at Spy. "I hope we can speak to each other soon." The phrase sounded strange to you. It left you with some sadness, but anticipation for the future as well.
Spy kept his sweet demeanor. "As do I, Backer. Now get going before I get you into trouble."
You obeyed his orders and met up with Heavy. A look of strange surprise rode on his face. "Little woman, I thought you disappeared?" He questioned in shock. You beamed at his surprise.
"No, Heavy. I was just scoping out the area. Just to see how much we're dealing with." The man didn't comment anything else, he just nodded his head and the two of you immediately got to work.
The nice part about cleaning up with your teammates was that you got the opportunity to speak to those you commonly don't have as much of a close relationship with. Especially the more quiet ones like Sniper or Spy. Heavy was a lot similar to them, as he did not exchange many conversations with you unless he asked a question involving the task at hand.
Everything about Heavy was very stolid, but you didn't mind. You felt that sometimes the guys were a little tough on him. Usually calling him dumb because of his speed physically and mentally as well. He was always very stoic when he wasn't on the battlefield. You didn't know much about him because of how reserved he was.
"It's nice that you get to be out here to help me. I don't really talk to you all that much outside of missions." You tried to spark some conversation. Maybe you could get to know him a bit more now.
"'Is nice. Backer is very busy woman." His statement was very matter-the-fact and short.
"I guess so... Usually, once you get into a schedule you stick to what you know, right? I feel it's the same way with the people you normally talk to as well." You kept a kind and quiet voice.
"Is this your way of saying you're getting tired of Scout yet?" He questioned, a small smirk rested on the side of his face as an eyebrow arched up. This made you laugh.
"Not necessarily. I mean it more in a general way. Like talking to some of the guys I don't have as much leisure time with." You paused to put some parts into the wheelbarrow, but Heavy picked them up for you. "Thanks... So, what are some of your hobbies? I hate to sound dry, but I just don't know that much about you."
The two of you walked your loads to the incinerator as Heavy hummed to himself to think. "Heavy likes taking care of Sasha-- and eating sandviches." He nodded assuringly.
"I think we all know that already, Heavy. I mean outside of that. Do you like to draw? Sing? I like to read books if that helps."
"What do you enjoy reading?" Now he was asking you the questions.
An awkward mix of a sigh and laugh came from behind your closed lips. "I like to read classic literature. Some of the others back at base tease me about it being dorky, but you just can't beat the originals! I hope by the end of my life I can write a story of my own." You caught yourself going on a spiel; classic for when you get into topics you were really passionate about.
"Funny you mention writing. Long ago, I earn Ph.D. in Russian Literature." He was so casual mentioning it, but it left you somewhat dumbstruck. It made you happy for the Russian man.
"That's so neat! My guess is that you had to read a lot of the greats' works then?"
"I also assume you've read some of Leo Tolstoy's works?"
Heavy nodded his head.
"Have you ever read Anna Karenina?" The excitement in your voice began to build up. Please say yes, please say yes!!
"I have happened to so yes."
Your mind broke into a happy dance of euphoria. Your body perked up a from your crutches. "Oh my gosh, I love that story!! Did you like it? What did you think about Konstantin Levin's character? The beginning notes that came with the story were correlating his character with Tolstoy himself and in all honesty, I think he could have suited just as good a protagonist role as Anna..."
You went on another spiel again. Heavy didn't comment. He just continued to help clean while looking down at you and occasionally nodding. It seemed as though you were talking too fast for him to follow, but he didn't want to interrupt you. He did implement an occasional verbal agreement as well. You were officially in the zone.
After some time you calmed yourself down. Your speech slowed down realizing you may have gotten a little too into it. This was exciting for you, though! It turned out Heavy was more familiar with classic Russian literature, of course. So you tried to discuss more of those titles that you may have known. Truly, it felt like you bonded with him for some time.
You were able to split a few small laughs and somewhat deeper analysis of some stories, but it was limited to Heavy's English vocabulary at times. You haven't had this close of a tie of interest with someone besides the BLU Spy. You would argue Scout as well, but really, you weren't sure if you had anything in common with him or not. You two just kinda clicked over some time. It was just nice to get to know someone else a little closer. Clean-up finished a lot quicker than you expected (especially once after you started talking). With satisfied looks with your work and discussion, you and Heavy concluded for the night.
The metal box you gave to him still sat in his grip.
The translucent figure that stood a safe distance away had a view for kings.
Right on them.
Right on you.
The Spy's cigar that hung from his lips was also concealed by the cloak. His eyes had cat-like ambition as he observed your every action. His ears listened to your every saying. He witnessed the whole scene shrouded in the safety that his watch provided him.
He felt indifference and a hint of vexation. If one could see him; his body language expressed it as well. Not to the one he observed, but only himself. To be quite frank, he wasn't surprised to not praise his abilities so far.
The pace he took with the scenario was beginning to drag out a little too long for his liking. Perhaps the beginning of your friendship with him wasn't as personal as he thought based on what he just witnessed. As of now, it was safe for him to assume he has gained your trust.
... as a distant friend.
Spy couldn't help but grin to himself a little.
Perhaps there was some satisfaction he possessed.
His eyes slid back down to the metal box in his hands. He just thought about how eagerly your actions and voice were willing to give it over to him. ... But your eyes. Oh, God those eyes
They told a completely different story.
Take the quote "eyes are a window to the soul". Now instead of a window make it a mirror that distorts one's shape. It renders them in ways that make the viewer unsure if that is their real physical appearance.
That's the feeling he got from them.
They spoke a thousand different messages. You attempt to give him attention as if you did contain trust, but break away at that last moment to observe the scene around you and just the right moment to leave him still questioning. So cautious-- for reasons Spy could never guess. There was rarely a certain emotion that he could read from them.
He looked at your lips, your hands, and anything below the bridge of your nose.
But he always saved the eyes for last. When he did see them, it left him in a strange trance of sorts.
The spy had every reason to be consumed by those pairs. The constant feeling of discontent and suspicion that gazed upon him had to keep him on his toes. Your voice speaks as if he's had your trust for weeks, but your vision says otherwise.
This is what makes the game fun for Spy, though. What's a game without a challenge? Just as the first day they met, it is what keeps him interested in his mission.
All events so far have led him to conclude his next course of action:
He knew exactly how he would carry out the deed. Spy took out his Spytron and examined it in silence. The bottom corner box still remained empty. Just waiting-- dying to be unveiled.
He brought a gloved hand up and the pads of his fingers gently tapped across his lips. The air hung mute as he pondered. He brought the cigar out from his mouth and let out a low chuckle.
It was time to tame those eyes.
Nothing needs to be translated for this chapter!
I did have an idea that's been going through my mind as of late though:
Would any of you be interested in starting a TF2 AO3 discord server? Readers, writers, all alike can join! Feel free to express your thoughts below :D
EDIT: I did such a bad job revising this chapter. there’s so many grammatical errors :/. I should seriously start doing this during the day instead of at night.
Chapter 12: No Questions Asked
It turns out Engineer, Medic, and yourself don't like being asked questions... :)
All translations are at the end of the chapter!
Hey! Are you interested in getting to know people within the TF2 writing community? Lucky for you, there's a Discord server just for that! Readers and writers alike are free to join (plus, I'm looking for some staff members!) We'd love to have you, here's the link:
Hope to see you soon! <3
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Like all places you have traveled; your team's stay in Austria came to a close. You couldn't decide whether to feel grateful or disappointed. For sure one thing that was made up in your mind was that it was certainly more eventful compared to your last locations. You liked Hazyfort, and perhaps one day you may wish to visit again on your own time...
When everyone forgets about the bar mishap.
The great news was that you all were informed that you will be stationed at 2Fort once again for some time. Everyone was overjoyed, for them it seemed to be a place they could call home. You certainly did not mind to go back; your space for an office was a lot more spacious. Plus, the back areas you can maneuver through were a lot shorter due to the battlefield being of a smaller scale.
It was like a trip down memory lane from your first experiences with RED!
Within about two days you all were back in the sweltering heat of the New Mexican desert. Perhaps it was one thing you could have cared less to ditch, but everything else seemed to have its perks.
Driving through the town of Teufort couldn't help but make you smile. It reminded you of the beaten up RED Bread truck pulling up in front of Miss Pauling and yourself where you first met Engie, Scout, and Soldier. Driving towards the old wooden red building flashbacked to the astonishment the building gave off when you first saw it in person. Finally, you couldn't help but remember the welcoming dinner the team threw for you as you all ate at the table with glee that evening. Even your room's bed that night felt like you were somewhere right at home.
It was strange to have the same sense of yearning to come back as some of the other mercenaries may have felt. Even if this was only your second time having to stay at this particular base, it was a nice feeling. You couldn't help but feel optimistic about the days to come.
Of course, your ankle was still an issue. It was making terrific progress with healing according to Medic. He said that if it kept up at the rate it was healing you could be back and walking like normal in about a week and a half. The thought filled you with delight; you wouldn't have to have constant help anymore! Even if you did have the ability to work alone, you were unsure if that meant you could meet with Spy again. It didn't bother you that much anyway. If you felt like communicating with him, you could just send a note anytime through the teleporter you gave him.
You were curious as to how that form of contact would work. Since the night you took the teleporters from the workshop you have yet to open yours back up. Hopefully, you weren't keeping your Spy friend waiting, but being caught up between base switches served you no time to sit down and write him a note.
On the first ceasefire back at 2Fort you came to realize; your office was pretty barebones. Besides the large computer that sat on the desk and whatever shelves and paper items the company included within the room. The stuff inside has probably been sitting there for years. Dust, poor lighting, and a strange smell riddled the space. So, you brought the decision on yourself that you wanted to spruce the place up to your liking. You might as well since you're contracted to stay here for a long while, and this may not be the last time you revisit the base.
You proposed your weekend's task to some of the other mercs. Pleasantly, Engineer opt to help you out by moving bigger objects using teleporters. He explained how he wanted to make some repairs to some of the gear in the intel room anyways. Medic volunteered as well solely to make sure you didn't reverse the healing on your ankle. Soon enough, everyone volunteered to help you out in some shape or form. Perhaps they wanted to only cure the weekend's boredom, but you did not mind.
"Hey Soldier, can you hand me that wrench? There's a wobbly part of the chair's structure I want to fix." You pointed to the socket wrench that was sprawled out on the floor of the intel room along with an assortment of other tools. You and the warm-blooded American sat on the floor going through a blueprint that laid out in front of the two of you. For the fun of it, Engie gave you and a few of the other mercenaries simple instructions to assemble some furniture kits he made himself.
"I want you to ask again, and I want you to ask like an AMERICAN!" The man in the helmet squawked. He held the wrench you pointed towards you as if it was a magic wand.
"Soldier, can I have the wrench? Uhh... GO AMERICA!! U.S.A! U.S.A!" You repeated the question raising your hands in the air at the 'go America' portion. Soldier let out a goofy chuckle and tossed the tool to you.
You tightened the part you wanted and rose to your feet looking down at your creation approvingly. Soldier got up and immediately hopped into the chair and began to spin in it. Your body turned to Engineer who was across the room tinkering on one of the panels on the wall.
"Wow, these kits turned out pretty nice. You did a nice job writing the instructions for them too." You complimented.
"Why that's very kind of you, pumpkin! 'Happy you enjoy them!" He turned to you and gave a friendly smile.
From the propped open door of your office, you heard the teleporter give off a buzzing sound as Scout grunted and almost flew forward onto his face holding a large open crate. He caught himself just before he could fall and stumbled back up to face the opening.
"Yo, Backie! Where does Engie want this scrap metal crap? I almost sliced my face fallin' into it!" He called to you, trying to peak his head from behind the box to look at your face.
"Just bring it in here, Scout!" Engineer called from the side of the room. His response was met with a bitter look from the young man.
"Uh- I was askin' the lady! Whateves." He stumbled towards the door frame with the crate. To his shock, the box didn't fit in the door frame. "Oh, great! It doesn't fit!" He complained as he tried to force the box through the door a few more times to no avail.
A long drawn out sigh came from the Texan as he strolled up to the door to meet you and Scout. "Now boy, why didn't you come through the teleporters that are out here in the intel room? There's THREE of them, for Pete's sake!"
"I got confused! I jus' went through a random one and it happened to be the one that's in here!" Scout blurted out.
"The only one that goes to the office? That happens to be the ONLY teleporter in Backer's bedroom?" The man in the hardhat raised a brow at the boy. Scout was immediately flustered by his accusation.
"I-It's nothin' like that! God, you guys suck!" His cheeks flared into a red tint. You rolled your eyes and couldn't help but laugh a little along with Engie.
Scout groaned and marched back towards the teleporter with the crate. The device made its all too familiar whirring and beeping. Within a few moments, he disappeared once more.
That gave you a queue to walk into the office. A few other mercenaries were scattered around the room. Heavy and Pyro were placing down a new desk to replace the old rickety one that supported the computer, Demoman was on a ladder replacing some of the burnt-out lightbulbs in the ceiling, Sniper was dusting off some of the shelves, Medic was reorganizing some of the file cabinets, and Spy was observing a new painting hung up on the wall while smoking a cigarette.
You first approached Pyro and Heavy. "Do you guys need help? I can carry something if you want." The two men turned to you. Pyro began to mumble something you weren't able to interpret. Heavy slowly shook his head.
"Backer's little foot needs rest. Heavy has it." He concluded as the two continued to readjust. You then approached Medic with the same positivity.
"Need any help, Medic?" You volunteered, slightly hovering over the open cabinet. In return, he gave you a goofy beam.
"Alles gut here, Backer." He assured you. You nodded your head and asked if Demo needed any assistance.
"I've got it, lass. Thanks for the offer!" He made sure to include. You repeated the same offer of help to Sniper.
"I'm almost done here, cobber. 'Appreciate it though." He nodded. This string of responses left you a little surprised.
"Trying to make yourself useful, I see?" The red Spy turned to you with his arms crossed, a smirk stretched on his face. You approached him putting a hand behind your neck.
"Yeah, it's just weird because I'm so used to having to give everyone a helping hand with something. I can't help but feel bad thinking you guys are doing the work for me. It was my idea that wasn't meant to burden anyone with."
"Do not fret. Think of this as a thank you for all your hard work for us. Besides, I do not think any of us had anything better to do today." His head glanced back at the painting and your line of sight followed.
The creation in front of you was beyond gorgeous. The acrylic paint and tones blended together nicely with the atmosphere. Your head turned to the Frenchman out of curiosity, "Did you paint this?"
"Yes, I did." He confirmed.
"It's really beautiful. You did a wonderful job! I didn't know you could paint."
A look of pride surfaced on Spy's face, "Why, thank you, Backer. You're too kind. And painting is merely only a hobby to me. It helps pass the time."
You nodded your head. It seemed ridiculous while thinking about it for a long period of time, but perhaps the BLU Spy had a similar interest? Your team's Spy and he carried the same kind of tastes when comparing the two beings. Maybe it was just a coincidence? You made sure to mentally note it for later and looked back at the artwork.
"That's great to hear..." Your eyes settled on the painting. Something intriguing caught your eye about such a work of art. "... Yeah, the painting fits the atmosphere very well... almost too well." You had a hand to support your chin as your eyes traced back to the suited man. A smug smirk rested on your lips.
"What may you be implying, mademoiselle?" His eyes drifted towards yours with a somewhat stumped expression.
"Oh, nothing. I just notice that the painting just seems to fit perfectly with the room's theme. Right to the subject of the work. From what I know, this is your first time ever coming in here and seeing the room. Maybe we've been snooping around here before?" You kept the same complacent look.
This made the Spy give his French sounding chuckle and mimicked your body language. It seemed like he admired the humor you carried with your keen eye, "We may never know." He made sure to include.
Despite his open-ended comment it still mentally made you irked. You've heard about Spy going around and gathering bits and pieces of everyone's information. You were no exception to the rule. From what it seems, he may not know too much as of now.
"Alright, that should do it. Y'all ready to pack up?" Engie called out from the door into the room. Most heads turned towards him and signaled some sort of verbal agreement.
The next few minutes were of the mercenaries collecting their goods and leaving the area. Some of them left through the front door, but others who held objects of greater size hopped on the teleporter and vanished to the other side where your room was. You watched in fascination.
You have never attempted to use the teleporter before. Truthfully, you've never had too much contact with it besides when Engineer was doing a demonstration for an invention to the entire group. Sniper was just done using it to return to the living quarters. You waited for a moment.
When the light returned to the machine. You enthusiastically stepped onto it. Your heart began to race with excitement as the teleporter began to make an array of different noises and started to spin around your feet quickly. The glow of the teleporter grew brighter and brighter, for a mere second, you closed your eyes.
The heat of the moment came to a halting stop.
A pair of hands shoved you off the device with urgency.
You stumbled back catching your balance just before you could fall onto the floor in front of you. Your eyes traveled back to where the source of the sudden force came from.
"Fräulein! Was ist los mit dir?!" A panicked Medic called out from the opposite side of the teleporter. You didn't know how to respond. Your mouth hung agape staring at the Doctor in a confused manner.
Engineer's head popped back into the office from the Intel room. He looked just as puzzled as you did. "What's all the commotion in here?" He asked the two of you.
Medic brought up a gloved finger and pointed it in your direction. "Backer just attempted to go through the teleporter!" His voice still quivered with alarm.
"Oh, sweet mother of Joseph!" Engineer pranced up to you. He gently took your arm and began to examine it like a concerned parent. His line of sight also kept traveling down to examine your chestal area which took you aback a little."You're not injured, are ya?" Medic's worry seemed to transfer to the man's southern drawl.
You gently pulled your arm away from the hardhat's grip, "I'm fine..." You mumbled with some disturbance. What the heck was going on?
"I was able to push her out of the way before the teleporter could be taken into effect." Medic made sure to include.
This made Engineer wipe his brow with his forearm and let out a sigh of relief. "Thank goodness." He commented along the side.
"I don't understand. I've seen you and all the other guys use the teleporter all the time! What's the big problem behind me using it?" Your inquiry caused Engie and Medic to exchange a few glances. You couldn't read exactly what they meant, but it left you with a hint of suspicion.
Engie walked to Medic's side so they stood shoulder-to-shoulder facing you. Their faces held the exact same strange look. Your eyes squinted in their direction demanding for answers.
Medic was first to break the silence and began by clearing his throat, "Well, fräulein... The teleporter is a very special tool for our work. You probably know that already, ja?"
You nodded your head with hesitation, but you were still unable to interpret where he was going with the explanation.
"And it provides us a lot of useful opportunities. Like moving bigger items, and even people!" Medic included as well. Though, it seems as if he ran out of ideas. He looked down at Engineer as if he were begging for help.
The western man focused down to the ground and shook his head. It then slowly raised back up so he could look at you through his goggled vision. "Well... it's just that we tell the fellas how to uhh... step on it correctly before using it." His voice was soft as he spoke.
How to step on it correctly? That sounded like a bunch of hooey. It seemed there was only one way to properly stand on the device anyways. You thought back to the agitated exchange between the two men. "You asked me if I was injured. Was the teleporter supposed to hurt me when using it?"
Medic's lips folded in to become pursed. You could also tell that Engineer bit on the side of his cheek and brought a hand to cover his mouth. Both just gazed at you for they did not seem to know how to respond. Medic then approached your side and put an arm on your shoulder. He managed to form a grin, "There's no need to worry about that now! To put it simply, the technology we use here is just extremely advanced!" His pointer finger of his free hand shot up into the air next to him. "Truly, someone of only common knowledge would not be able to comprehend!"
No look of surprise was found on your face. Your brows furrowed as you could feel yourself slumping down. His beating-around-the-bush attitude was nothing new, but it irritated you to no end. His last statement rubbed you the wrong way especially. It was as if they were treating you like a child.
Engineer nodded his head quickly to the doctor's response. "It's just important to know it's not a good idea to use the teleporter, B." He came to your other side and patted your free shoulder. "We ain't tryin' to baby ya; you're just as responsible with your own duties as we are. I hope you know that. We are just looking out for your well-being."
At least Engie was a little more conscious of his word choice. You turned to him and was able to break a smile. You gave the same face to Medic as well. By this point you just wanted the conversation to end. "I understand," you forced out. The words felt heavy leaving your mouth, but you continued, "If there's for whatever a reason why you can't tell me, it must be important." You gave yourself brownie points for sprinkling in a hint of passive-aggressiveness to your statement.
The men seemed to just brush over it and nod. Engie's head dropped down to look at the three pairs of feet that now stood before the teleporter. It hung down for a few moments before he quickly picked it back up. He let go of your shoulder and turned to you so now you stood across from him. He brought a pointed hand up and waved it in the air slightly.
"That reminds me. I have a question for you, Backer."
You tilted your head a little waiting to hear what he had to say. His glance went back down to the teleporter before looking at you once more.
"You remember how I showed y'all those mini teleporters I've been working on? You remember what they look like, right? A small box with the lil' button on the side? Anyways-- well, I noticed as we were packing up to leave Hazyfort-- two of 'em seem to of gone missing. I don't know if I'm going crazy, but I could have sworn I made eight. But we left with six... I'm just wonderin' if you may have happened to of seen them around at any point? Either before we left Austria or around here somewhere?"
Your face held no expression, but you could feel your chest tighten up. You should have expected this; taking something without someone's knowledge that they were recently working on without being questioned? To some degree you did. You took in a small breath, "That's strange... Maybe one of the other mercs took them to toy around with?" You suggested. Good thinking! Trying to divert it away from you was the best option. Just in case you slipped up when being caught in a lie.
"I asked around already. No one knows what happened to them. Usually, my workshop is pretty tidy, too. It ain't often that something goes missing that I'm not able to find within a short time." His glance kept going to the teleporter and back to your eyes. His entire body shifted around quite a bit.
"I'm really sorry, Engie. I wouldn't have any idea where they went." A jolt went rushing up your spine. Huh, how strange... there was a layer of guilt you felt lying, but you pressed on. "I know you were pretty enthusiastic to show them off to us. Maybe you'll get lucky and they'll turn up somewhere?"
His gloved hand rested on one hip as he shook his head off to the side. "I hope so... I think this is just me bein' paranoid, but I just can't help but worry about what would happen if they got into the wrong hands. I guess my biggest spook is if one of those dastardly BLUs got a hold of them."
You could feel a little heat radiate off your forehead. Remain calm. Just-- remain calm.
A sad laugh escaped from the laborer's toothy grin. "I know, that's just me being a little ridiculous. The worst-case scenario seems to be impossible. Maybe you're right, I'll take a peek around my workshop once more to see if they turn up." He took a step towards the teleporter and got down on one knee. He tapped a side of it which made the glow of the center fade away and for its edges to come to a slow halt. "Well, that's all I had to ask. Y'all did a nice job with the decorating in here."
"Thanks, Engie." You could feel your entire being shake as you grinned down at him.
"Never a problem, 'darlin. Just ask me any time if you want to fix-up a room like this. I'd be happy to help and give you the supplies. Run along now, I'll come and get the teleporter out of your room in a while." He waved his hand for you and Medic to leave. You turned to Doc who looked just as cheerful as ever.
"Let's leave the Engineer to finish up his work. I wanted to check on your ankle once more! Let's see how the healing is going!" His head kept nodding at you in smaller and more repetitive mannerisms. It made you a little ill at ease.
"Yeah, sure... Let's do that..." Your voice held an unsettled tone. Both of you began to exit the office. Though, you couldn't help but turn your head back to face the engineer. He still kept knelt in front of the teleporter. His body remained rigid.
Waves of stress and delinquency since he brought up the mini teleporters kept hitting you. Was this enough to question and re-evaluate your practices of morality? You didn't know. It was painful to think about at the moment. There was only one reason why you were forced to turn away from the kind-hearted man; you turned the corner of the doorframe so he was no longer in sight.
Alles gut- All is good [German]
Cobber- Slang for a good friend [Australian]
Mademoiselle- Miss (feminine) [French]
Fräulein- Young lady (feminine) [German]
Was ist los mit dir?!- What's wrong with you?! [German]
Chapter 13: Makeshift Mailroom
You've got mail! :)
All translations are at the end of the chapter!
Also!!! HUGE shoutout to big_scrunch for going in and beta-reading the chapter! I cannot thank you enough for going through the craziness that is my writing. Go check her work out! She's got a fantastic story she's working on as well <3
Feel free to join our TF2 Writing Community Discord: https://discord.gg/bc2psNy
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The check-up in the medical bay took way longer than you anticipated. Normally, you would be in and out within about five to ten minutes max. This time it seemed as if Medic took things a lot more casually than what you were used to. Maybe he was still concerned over any injury you may have obtained from your teleporter attempt (especially when he pushed you), but he confirmed that everything was still on track.
You took no time to retreat to your room. Engie must have entered while you were with Medic because the teleporter was no longer on your floor. You flopped onto the bed and stretched out your arms.
You studied the grooves in the ceiling's drywall as you felt your chest slowly rise and fall. It was nice to have a moment to collect your thoughts. The lingering suspicion behind Engineer and Medic's behavior still danced in your mind. Engie's words echoed in your ears. His voice started as soft as he originally spoke to you,
"... I don't know if I'm going crazy, but I could have sworn I made eight. But we left with six... I'm just wonderin' if you may have happened to of seen them around at any point...?"
... but it seemed to become more aggressive and distressed.
"... I just can't help but worry about what would happen if they got into the wrong hands. I guess my biggest spook is if one of those dastardly BLUs got a hold of them..."
... Why did you give it to him, Backer?
You're assigned to be a RED for a reason! Why did you give it to him??
What are ya, some kinda back-stabbin' traitor?!
Quickly, you brought fingers to your temples and began to massage them in a circular motion. "I'm not a traitor..." you whispered to yourself. His voice didn't want to listen.
Do you not care about our team??
Answer me, Backer! Why would you give it to an enemy Spy!?
Your once steady heartbeat grew faster. Lord, just make it stop!
The southern accent had vanished. Now, a voice deeper within you surfaced.
How inconsiderate can you get?
They ought to throw you into the furnace!
You're a backstabber! A liar! And a TRAITOR!
"I SAID I'M NOT A TRAITOR!"
You immediately shot up from the bed. Your eyes were plastered wide open as you took in deep quiet breaths. You knew you cried out but were unsure how loud you truly were. It didn't matter, and you didn't care. The important thing now was bringing yourself back together.
Beads of sweat formed on your forehead. You slowly opened your eyes again.
The door remained on its hinges, the floor was wooden like always, and the drawers of the nightstand were still shut. All observations that things were normal came as a relief to you; this was always a good exercise to reassure yourself that everything was okay. You cooled down as the shaky sensation from your limbs faded. Your lips were dry and your hands were clammy.
You wiped the sweat from your palms with the thin blanket. What on earth was going on? For a moment, it felt like those thoughts weren't your own. The guilt came down on you like a pile of bricks.
God, words could not even begin to describe how much that sucked.
You covered your eyes as you slowly fell on your back and exhaled sullenly. There you were again. You turned to your nightstand and gazed at the card-style alarm clock that sat upon it. It wasn't even four in the afternoon yet...
Then you looked at your wardrobe. Knowing what was inside, a lump in your throat formed, and your ears rang a little from the depths of their canals.
You slowly approached its wooden doors. You weren't going to sit around and have another episode by looking at a wooden box. Nope, not happening.
Swiftly, you opened it. Under one of your shirts peaked out the metal box. That damn little box.
You scooped it up and rotated it to study it. Why should you go through all this emotional stress just over a small stupid teleporter? It's not that big of a deal... right?
Your grip tightened on it.
... Maybe you should just destroy it.
It wouldn't expose either Spy or yourself. Engie could just accept the fact that it was left behind in Austria and everyone can move on.
You quickly turned around to go back to your bed. You already started to plan the device's demise. It shouldn't be hard, you've got plenty of tools that could do the job.
That was until a solid thud hit the ground.
In front of the wardrobe lay one of your holsters, but the grip of the gun inside didn't look like any of yours
You set the teleporter aside and picked up the holster. Your eyes widened upon removing the weapon.
It was Spy's revolver.
How did this end up here? You stopped keeping the mercs' weapons once you made your truce with the BLU Spy. Plus, you already had your own firearm. The sudden realization hit you like a freight train:
"Do you have a weapon?"
"No! They pushed it away from me when I was on the balcony!"
...The revolver that once stuck up in his hand now sat in yours...
You forgot to give it back.
You face palmed yourself and let out a frustrated groan. Of course, it was only NOW that you rediscovered it. Your eyes hopped between the two objects: the revolver and the mini teleporter. Your fingers tapped around the edges of the handle of his gun. With a grimace, You tucked them in a baggy part of your uniform as you made your way to your newly renovated office.
You roughly plopped the items you concealed on the wooden desk.
You rummaged around in the room's large shelves until you dug up a fancy-looking ballpoint pen and a large yellow notepad.
Placing the writing materials off to the side your focus was hooked to the teleportation device. You pressed the button and watched it sluggishly unfold to life, leaving you to wait there achingly. As you tapped your foot impatiently, you silently prayed that his was on too.
While you swam in your thoughts the teleporter finished constructing itself. A weight pressed on your throat as you quietly waited. For a while, the teleporter sat idle. For each moment passed you could feel your heart sink. You flopped onto your new office chair, brow furrowed in worry.
This was to be expected, but you still couldn't help but feel disappointed. Having to wait delayed your plans of destroying the teleporter. The longer you waited, the guiltier you felt.
Ten minutes passed, and you kept yourself entertained by taking the pen and drawing random little patterns on a piece of paper, ripping them out, crumpling them up, trying to toss them into a wastebasket across the room like a basketball star (only to miss more times than you would admit to anyone), and spinning around in some circles in your chair. While you were fiddling around with your pen to balance on your furrowed lips, a strange humming noise filled the room. You lost your concentration and dropped the pen on the floor. Your head back towards the device.
The teleporter was beginning to spin.
Scrambling to retrieve your pen, you shot up in your seat and had a piece of paper ready. Your heart skipped in anticipation. After a few more seconds the bright red glow of the teleporter was present. He was trying to communicate with you, too. You stared down at your paper dumbstruck. What should you say? Should you write it like a letter? No, that would take too long and is probably overly formal. You tapped the end of the pen against the paper for a moment, but you finally made up your mind.
You began to write:
Folding the paper in half, you gently laid it on the teleporter. It took a few seconds, but the whirring of the tool grew louder and louder. The bright light in the center expanded. In an instant, the paper was nowhere in sight. Now you played the waiting game once again.
It only took about a minute or two before the sound of the teleporter began to hum once again. The flash of light flickered for only a split second before what looked like the same folded notepad paper sat in the center. You picked it up and opened it.
His handwriting was so graceful and clean. You couldn't help but sit there mesmerized by each stroke. It even made you a little bit insecure of your own. ... Well, there wasn't much that you could do about that now. You began to write once more:
You sent it through and got a response within only a couple of minutes.
Even though he said he understood, you couldn't help but have a splash of guilt overcome you. But a smile soon spread across your face as you reread the last part a few times. He kept the teleporter on to wait to hear from you? That was kind of adorable if you were being honest with yourself. You wrote back quickly.
This time around, it took a little longer than normal for a response. You sat patiently and giddily waited.
About five minutes passed when the light shone brightly again:
Your face began to heat up upon finishing the note. You looked up and forwards at seemingly nothing for a moment in disbelief while pressing the piece of paper close to your chest. Were you getting flustered by some handwriting?
Yes, yes you were.
You couldn't help but giggle to yourself a tiny bit. Enthusiastically, you placed the paper back down on the table and began to develop a response. With each given letter, you tried your absolute damnedest to craft your best penmanship.
For quite some time Spy and yourself exchanged notes. When the paper ran out of space, either you or Spy would include another sheet. Though each old piece of paper was held together by a paperclip (which Spy supplied). On the side when he first included it, he wrote to keep all the papers together and either burn, shred, or keep them in a secret place where nobody but yourself would find them. That was probably a smart idea, you didn't want to raise questions from any of the other guys if they were to discover any of these notes in the trash.
You picked up your head and glanced over at the clock that hung above the door on the wall. Holy crap! Two hours have already passed? It was already almost six, which is usually the time when Engie started calling everyone to dinner. ... Maybe it was time for you to wrap things up and head back to the living quarters. You didn't want anybody to ask where you've been for the last few hours-- that is if they haven't already noticed that you've been gone.
While starting to pack everything up to get ready to leave, let out a surprised gasp as you stared at the corner of your desk.
You completely forgot to give him the gun back!
Shaking your head you picked it up and brought it closer to you. Ripping another yellow sheet from the notepad you added a note explaining how you accidentally forgot to give it back after the bar situation. You folded the piece of paper, took a piece of tape from the tape dispenser, attached it to the gun's barrel, and sent it through.
Then you finally began to put everything away. The paper, pen, and reorganized your desk. There was also the question you pondered about keeping the teleporter here in the office or bringing it back to your room.
... Perhaps it was smarter to keep it with you just in case.
You couldn't help but be in way better spirits than earlier. Once you began writing with him, you felt all the worries and anxiousness from before wash away. Plus, look at how fast time flew by!
Giving him the teleporter wasn't such a bad idea after all.
Finally, you walked over to the device to finally shut it down for the evening. Though just as you went for the button something began to materialize on the platform, and it wasn't just a note. You waited for it to finish coming through. It was a white box. On the top was yet another folded piece of paper that was taped onto it as well. Also, right underneath it was the papers the two of you were writing on prior. Before you were going to tear through the little container, you took the note and read it.
A grin spread across your face as your eyes looked back at the box. Spy must have shut off his teleporter, for the light from the middle was no longer present. Placing the separate note and the rest of the papers off to the side, you slowly grabbed for the box. The top seemed like you could easily lift open, so you took hold of the little flap to reveal the item inside.
It was a wooden Newton's cradle!
You've been wanting one of these for a while. They were released around four years ago, but you just never got around to getting one.
Cheerfully, you placed the little desk toy down on the table. Bringing one marble on the end up, you pulled it back and released. You listened to the rhythmical bounce of the marbles hitting one another. Your eyes followed as each marble on the end flew up to take the place of the opposite ball's height.
You felt like a child again. Being so caught up in trying to do different ball tricks made you completely forget about getting back to your room. If you could, you would sit there forever and watch the motion that applied Newton's laws. Just like how you heard them constantly advertise the cradle over the radio and television.
It was then when you were going to finish up by doing one final trick. You lifted the ball on the far left back so it was away from the others. Then, with your free hand, you began to swing the other four marbles into motion. The group swung about two or three times in harmony without any interruption.
Then, with a little bit of force, you pushed the ball that was held into your hand to impact the other four hard. The ball on the opposite end began to fly up high, almost reaching level with the cradle's structure. That's when the unthinkable happened.
The ball swung up a few times, then in an instant, you saw the marble travel a lot further than it was supposed to. Your eyes darted back to the cradle. Oh no! One of the marbles became loose from the string. The sound of a tiny piece of steel clattered to the ground and was rolling away.
"Shoot— no!" You hissed to yourself. The marble was bouncing straight towards the large shelves that lined the wall. Jumping out of your seat, you chased the metal down as if a cat was pursuing a mouse. Of course, keeping in mind about the state of your foot.
The marble bumped into one of the shelves. You knelt down on one knee and picked up the ball.
A small huff left your chest. Observing the top of the marble, it seemed to have a small indent where the string was supposed to go. It stunk that it was already a flimsy model upon getting as a gift, but it wasn't Spy's fault. You were being a little rough. There was probably a way to fix it, right?
Your hand hovered just above the ball preparing to pick it up, but you paused.
Something strange caught your eye.
An odd figure was being reflected onto the marble's surface. The color was what grabbed your attention. It had a bright golden flare; it almost looked like it was glowing.
Compared to the other items that surrounded it, it stuck out like a sore thumb. It looks like it sat on the bottom shelf. Now on all fours, you scanned the section to find an item that matched what you saw.
Paper clutter and dust bunnies sat around a box. Just out of the corner of the cardboard structure poked out the same strange object. A skinny rectangular surface faced you. The same golden tint reflected what little light the deep shelf absorbed.
"What the hell is that?"
Chérie- dear (feminine) [French]
Ça t'a fait mal quand tu es tombée du ciel?- Did it hurt when you fell from heaven? [French]
Mon amie- my friend (feminine) [French]
Chapter 14: So, It Begins
All translations are at the end of the chapter!
I'd like to give a gigantic thanks to imlonelyalready for beta-reading this chapter for me!! If you haven't already, go check out her Sniper x Reader she's working on called Heatwave, and her Engineer x Reader oneshot Coldfront Cookies!
I'd also like to thank Gretschdoll for providing me some templates for the notes! It adds a little more variety to the story!! :)
Hey! Have I mentioned that Gretsch along with a few other AO3 creators have been working on a ~~TF2 PULP MAGAZINE~~?? It's true! Once it's posted you can check it out here! Writers like imlonelyalready, Jack of all Trades's Writer, myself, and many more have contributed to it! Feel free to contact Gretsch if you'd like any TF2 fanart submitted along with its release!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
You did not grab the object right away. Still hunched over, you allowed the silence to weigh down on your shoulders. Various thoughts popped in and out of your head as you kept re-analyzing the strange golden object. Finally, you reached into the depths of the shelf to pull out the box that it sat in.
It required moving some of the other various items that were piled on top of its bar shape. You grabbed the object only to be surprised at how heavy it was. It now rested in your palms, and its surface mirrored back a distorted figure of your face.
A dash of astonishment came across you while gazing down at the bar. “Is this some type of gold…?” You mumbled to yourself. The tips of your fingers grazed on its bottom, but something rigid and bumpy replaced the smooth slick feeling you’ve observed so far.
Slowly, you flipped to reveal its bottom. Writing was elegantly engraved into it. Though, it seems that you were holding it upside down. You corrected the quick error. The typography was extremely curly and decorated, so it took a few scans of the word before you could comprehend what it read. Your body went stiff.
It was your last name.
Over and over, you kept rereading the fancy lettering. It left you frightened, but somewhat excited as well. What does this mean? This was an odd discovery to unearth. It only made sense to leave you in a mixed emotion of joy and fear.
Perhaps you were a few hundred dollars richer? It seemed like a fairly heavy ingot. Or it was just a crazy coincidence that it had your surname? Maybe your last name was more common than you thought. Sure, you’ve seen golden bars in the movies, but nothing ever like this in real life.
After putting the remaining junk on the shelf you rose to your feet. Holding the bar close to your body, you collected what items that still sat on the desk from writing. With one more glance at the clock (it was far later than you wished it was), you juggled your things back to your room.
That night at dinner you enthusiastically explained your discovery with your team. Your constant use of the term “gold” seemed to puzzle them. There were times that you noticed that some of the men would exchange various looks with one another. The only one who seemed just as energized about your discovery was Scout. But only out of jealousy because you found a “fancy-schmancy metal”.
The golden bar didn’t leave your mind all meal. What made you the most excited was revealing your treasure to Spy at some point. He seems like the type of person to know what to do with valuables like that. So maybe he could give you some tips on how to cash it out once you get the chance.
Conversations passed around the dinner table returned to normal soon after. Every now and then you would pick up your head to scan the dining room. On multiple occasions you caught Sniper giving you a rather odd look. Once your eyes would settle on him, he would slowly turn his head back down towards his plate or to one of the mercenaries next to him. It was quite peculiar, as it was never brought to your attention that the bushman has looked at you like that in the past.
Once the meal ended and everything was almost cleaned up, you were about to head to your room for the evening. You stood at the sink drying the last few dishes when you felt a few gentle taps on your shoulder.
It turned out to be Sniper.
He took a few steps back to give some distance between you, the sink, and himself.
“Oh, hey ‘Snipe! What’s up?” You greeted with a friendly smile.
“Heya, Back-- ya know the gold bar thing you were talkin’ about at the table?” His voice spoke in his common deep mumble. If it weren’t only the two of you in the kitchen, you probably wouldn’t have heard what he had said.
“Yeah, what about it?”
The man brought his hand to the back of his neck as his eyes glazed over the room. He spoke in an even quieter tone now, “Can… Can I take a look at it? I promise I won’t steal it from ya... ‘Just curious is all.”
Your cheerfulness still shined, “Of course, it’s in my room. You can come and check it out if you want.”
Sniper shook his head in response. He took a step closer, probably so you could hear him a bit more clearly, “Bring it to my van. There’s something I might wanna show ya.”
Something in your brain clicked and a sudden boost of energy shot through your veins. Mystery was lingering right in front of you, and you wanted to take the bait. Eagerly, you nodded your head, “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
Without further conversation, Sniper spun on his heel and walked out of the room. You felt yourself pick up the pace of putting the last of the silverware away and headed to your room to get the ingot. With quick speed, you jogged towards his van.
The only exception the Administrator had made in regards to going out of the facility after hours for the mercs was the front (as opposed to the back where most of the fighting and cleaning happens). Here is where Engie’s workshop garage doors opened up to, and just a few yards ahead sat Sniper’s van. There was a room for the huntsman within the building, but he always insisted on being put separate from the rest of the group. He valued his alone time.
A small light peaked through the closed shutters; he must already be inside. After lightly knocking on the door, you waited while rocking on the balls of your feet. It took a moment, but eventually, Sniper opened the door and ushered you in to take a seat.
You retreated to the little table that sat in the corner of the cramped space. Sniper placed a warm mug of… something... down on the table before sitting across from you. His hands were folded as they supported his chin, he eyed your hands which covered the bar that sat in your lap.
“Let’s take a look at it now, yeah?” He questioned. The hum in his voice didn’t show any sign of rudeness, he was just as much on the edge of his seat as you were to figure out what this thing was.
Slowly, you lifted the golden object to present to him. The shine of it reflected onto the vehicle’s rooftop when revealed under the light. Sniper’s mouth hung agape slightly. He did not take it right away from your hands; his awe left him immobile for a few moments.
“Where did ya find this again?” His hand finally reached for the bar, taking it out of your grasp tenderly.
“I was in my office putting a few things away before dinner. It was sitting in a box on the bottom shelf.” Bravely, you decided to take a sip of the mysterious liquid in the mug to clear your throat. To your relief, it was only green tea.
Sniper must have felt the ridges on the bottom because he flipped it over to reveal the text in the light. It took him some time to scan over the word as you both sat in silence. His eyes squinted before raising back up to look at you. “Isn’t this your last name?”
“Yeah! It’s weird, isn’t it? Maybe my last name is more common than I thought? Still, I wouldn’t understand why it’s on there.” There was another pause as he looked at you blankly not knowing how to respond. You let out a small sigh, “I just don’t get it, why would anybody have a piece of gold with my name on it just laying around?”
Pushing his aviators up with his hand, Sniper rubbed his eyes sleepily. “I don’t think that’s gold, sheila.”
You raised a brow, “What is it then?” From what knowledge you had about gold, most of the traits of the bar seemed accurate in your book.
He placed the bar on the table and rose from his seat. Near the front entrance of the van, there was a small knob that poked out of the wall. He grabbed onto and slid to open a wide cupboard. A long black case was held between the space. Sniper took one of the ends of the case and brought the entirety of the container down onto the van’s floor. Unlocking the latches of the case, he opened to reveal a bright golden reflection, only this one was much, much larger than the one your ingot mirrored.
What looked like a sniper rifle made out of a golden material now sat on the table. Sniper picked up the bar and placed it side-by-side with the long barrel of the gun. “See? It’s the exact same material.” He waved his hand down at the two items.
You were left in awe. It was difficult for you to come up with a response, but finally, you managed to croak out, “What is it?”
“This here is what they call Australium. Have ya ever heard of it before?”
You shook your head. “It doesn’t even sound real.”
“That seems to be the way they wanna keep it, bloody mongrels,” His hand pointed down at the ingot, “Your bar looks a lot different from normal blocks of Australium I’ve ever seen. If it weren’t for the shine, your last name, an’ placin’ it next to my weapon I’d mistake it for gold, too.”
“What does a normal block of Australium look like?” You leaned in to look at the bar once again.
“Normally they’d have some bogan fighting a ‘roo on the top. Yours seems to be missing that.”
“Huh? Who’s fighting a what?”
“It’s not important right now-- what is is that you’ve got a ‘real high valuable item on ya. Be careful who ya show it off to. People are real bloody life-sucking greed pots nowadays. I’d even suggest keepin’ it as much of a secret from the other blokes as much as possible.” Sniper grabbed onto the rifle and carefully placed it back into its box.
“I don’t mean to sound rude when I say this, but then why are you helping me? Wouldn’t that mean you would want to take it too?” You cocked an eyebrow at the man. He had just finished putting away the case and sat back down.
“Ya don’t have to worry about me, it seems like I couldn’t get away from this bloody dosh even if I tried…” A grumble followed after his words.
“What makes this stuff so valuable? I was never told about something like this growing up. Is it just super rare?” You slid the bar closer to your side of the table, but your attention never left Sniper. He sat in his thoughts for a few moments.
“... There isn’t much more I can tell ya… Just know to watch your back. We can’t have anything nice around here it seems. I wouldn’t know if they’d give ya the fair suck of the sav and leave yer stuff alone. It doesn't matter if it has your last name on it or not.”
He almost sounded unsure of his choice of words. His line of view refused to look in your direction now as well. All his concentration was on his hands that were once mindlessly tapping against the table’s surface. Once he finished talking there was more silence held amongst the two of you.
To alleviate the awkwardness you took one final sip from your mug and stood up. “Well, thanks for the insight... And tea. I’ll try to remember what you told me and keep it safe.” You lifted the ingot to show him one final time with a weak smile. Sniper bobbed his head.
“Yep. G’night Back-uh. See ya in the morning.”
You quickly waved and departed from the RV. Before entering back into the compounds of the facility, you faced out into the open desert and loose gravel road that was paved nearby. The night sky had settled in on the rocky horizon, and only the distance sounds of chirping crickets filled the air.
It was a moment of concentration for you. Sniper’s advice played back in your head. This gold…
This Australium bar seems to be important. At least important enough to draw a rather reserved person like Sniper’s attention. Tucking it tight between your arm, you made your way back to your room.
Upon arriving you immediately hopped onto your bed. You couldn’t help but flip the ingot over to reveal where your name was engraved. It was surreal, but mesmerizing all the while. After some time you broke eye contact with it and looked back over to the mini teleporter that sat on your dresser across the room.
Since you already told Spy that you were going to be done writing for the night, you were hesitant about your next action:
Should you turn it back on to write to him again tonight?
This newfound material made you antsy to show off to him. Perhaps he might know a thing or two about Australium.
An idea popped into your head.
You rummaged through your room until you eventually found an old notebook and a pen. You began to write,
The teleporter bloomed itself to life in all its mechanical glory. You waited for some time, but no glow came from the box. First, you placed the note down on the platform of the teleporter. Then, taking the Australium block from your bed, you placed the bar on top to work as a paperweight.
At some point, he was bound to turn it back on. So what if you just left something on the teleporter to send when it’s activated next? It was at least worth a shot. Once satisfied with your idea, you got yourself situated for the evening. You tried to sit yourself down and read from Les Misérables, but you found that it just wasn’t nearly as enjoyable without Spy around. So instead, you ended up picking up another book you packed and reading that until you fell asleep.
That entire night left you tossing and turning. It was like how a little kid is waiting for Santa Claus to arrive on Christmas day; you were desperate to find potential answers in the morning. Your dreams kept gnawing at what the metal might be, all to only leave you stranded in the fog of mystery it evokes.
The alarm clock on your bedside began to ring its cry. Immediately, you shot up from your bed and slammed down a hand to silence it. Your first instinct was to glance in the direction where the teleporter sat. Still, no light came from the machine, but you did notice something different about the Australium’s position.
A piece of paper sat on top of the bar.
You hopped out of bed and immediately observed the changes made. The note was now in your hands as you read,
His note made you smile. It was pretty comedic, as you began to notice he spoke just as formally as he wrote. You let a small snicker escape your lips.
Observing the note once again, a sudden form of shock overcame you. There was a Teufort library? You wanted to kick yourself for not knowing earlier, or at least asking. Nonetheless, it was an exciting piece of news to discover.
Speaking of asking, maybe he was right. There’s bound to be some kind of book about Australium. Who’s better to ask about resources to send to base other than Miss Pauling? She gave you that as an offer to your team to make fortress life a little more bearable. It was the beginning of a new week, so the team had to have a video briefing before any missions with her anyways.
You could hear loud footsteps marching down the hall. It was Soldier, you already knew that as a fact. He was preparing to wake everyone up in his militia-like manner. Immediately, you plucked the ingot and teleporter off the stand, shoved it into your wardrobe, and closed the doors. The sound of rampant knocking and fiddling of your locked doorknob signified it was another day’s worth of missions.
“That should be all. Good luck today, guys.” Pauling concluded by giving a smile to the group. The men who were all once congregated around the monitor in your office dispersed while giving their own cheer or howl as a farewell. You sat patiently as each man filed out of the room. Once everyone left and the door was closed behind them you spoke up,
“Hey, Miss Pauling?”
“Oh, you’re still here Backer! What’s up?”
“I had a question regarding getting something sent here to the base.”
“Sure thing! What is it you’re wanting?” Her voice seemed interested, but she wasn’t looking at you on her screen. From her side, she was scurrying around the room trying to collect some papers to put into a briefcase.
“I was interested in renting a book from the library. Is it possible to get anything about Australium?”
She went completely still. Not one muscle moved out of position from the last action she was about to take. Her head slowly began to turn in the direction of the camera. A look of disbelief rested on her face.
“Australium…?” She repeated back.
“Yeah! I just found out about it yesterday. I asked around to some of the other guys and they don’t really seem to know much about it. So I thought it would be interesting to learn more.” You grinned at the purple woman. She visibly seemed to get more uncomfortable by the second.
“Uhh… I…” She trailed off. Her eyes returned to the room around her, “I… Don’t think the local library carries any books about the thing you’re wanting.”
“Are you sure? Have you tried to get a book about it before too?”
“Maybe books have been added since last time you looked! Could we at least check, please?”
Even more silence.
“... Miss Pauling?”
“I gotta get going, Backer. I’ll check up on you guys later.” With that, the monitor flipped off to a black screen. You were just left to sit there completely bewildered.
That… was strangely out of character for Miss Pauling. It was like she wasn’t even willing to try and look it up for you. An unsettling pit sat in your stomach. Bringing a finger up to the side of the monitor, you switched it so it would then show some of the cameras that hung around the facility and outside. The bridge between the two buildings sat dead quiet. It was only a matter of time until whatever chaos would ensue in that exact place.
Walking over to the bookshelf, you picked up your large red megaphone. You took a second to tighten the armband with the Backer symbol on it. After you rearranged your appearance as to how you wanted to present yourself, you opened the back door hidden on the side of the wall to give the team their pep talk.
Whatever the day brought…
“Mission begins in ten minutes.”
… you hoped it would go by quickly.
There was a lot you needed to tell Spy.
The missions given by the Administrator went by rather fast. Your team was crowned victorious for all three objectives fought. For the large mess made that needed to be cleaned after, the boys managed to pull off an almost flawless performance. The thought couldn’t help but make you laugh, the BLU team must have had an off day. It was even more hilarious to think about how Spy reacted to their defeat.
It wasn’t even eight in the evening before you finished cleaning (along with Scout’s help-- if it was even considered helping), ate dinner, and were getting ready to settle down. With glee, you went back over to your wardrobe and pulled out the teleporter. You set it on your nightstand and began to come up with a note for your blue friend.
It took some time, but eventually the whizzing and glows of the teleporter became known. Spy had his on as well. Now, you were able to exchange notes in real-time and give him some information as to what was going on. You wrote to him first greeting him, and he responded with a few personal questions like how your day was and such.
The small talk was nice for an introduction, but now you wanted to get down to business. You put aside a note that he just sent as a reply. Taking out a new piece of paper, you debriefed the situation,
Something came through a few minutes later.
You felt shaky by this point. Whether it be from frustration or anxiousness, it still made you think back to all the strange occurrences that have happened within the last few days. As you wrote your response, you found it more and more difficult to maintain your best handwriting. After a few minutes of painstaking concentration, you sent your response to him.
You could feel your heart race thinking back. The mini-teleporters, the odd behavior from Medic and Engie, Sniper’s strange interest in your Australium but apparently not knowing much about it, and Miss Pauling's sudden panic. It was taking Spy a long time to get back to you. Once an answer arrived all that sat on the teleporter’s platform was a tiny slip of paper.
“What…?” You mumbled out loud while raising a brow. You looked at your alarm clock. It read 8:21 p.m.
Now your curiosity was starting to boil over. It was such an odd and out of the blue question to ask. Your eyes never left the teleporter since you sent the paper. In the shortest amount of time ever this evening, another small slip of paper appeared.
Without even a second thought, you shot up from your bed and quickly began to put on your uniform. Then it dawned on you; what if someone were to come in and check on you?
Your fingers snapped when you came up with something.
At your bedside, you took a pillow and flipped it on its side vertically. The blankets were then tucked up as high as they could go, and you took a step back to look at your masterpiece. Oh yeah, it looks like you were sleeping alright.
Turning off the teleporter and the lights in your room, you made sure that everything else seemed to be in place. Once satisfied you tip-toed to the door (without trying to put too much weight on your ankle). With the same delicacy, you opened and shut it behind you.
Dusk was still on the horizon in the desert of the Badlands.
And it was calling your name.
Bogan- An uncouth/unsophisticated person [Australian]
Dosh- Money/High valuables [Australian]
The fair suck of the sav- A reasonable opportunity to participate is given [Australian]
Bonne journée- Have a good day [French]
Ma chérie- My dear (feminine) [French]
Chapter 15: Bookworm's Tag Team
did somebody say authorized individual? :)
The sun-baked rock and sand left a satisfying crunch each step you took. You were now at the front of the building and your tracks became mute. Eagerly, you eyed the exit. Multiple small sentries sat on the boulders that towered up to form an arch towards the road’s opening. Sniper’s RV was stationed in its usual spot. There was a sudden dryness that overcame your throat.
Was this really a good idea?
No, of course it wasn’t.
For a few moments, you stood there in a half-daze staring at the scene in front of you. After snapping out of it you then eyed the van. Nobody sat in the front seats, nor could you tell if the lights were on since it was still light out. You bit the inside of your cheek and took a deep breath. Finally, crouching down a little, you began to inch towards the nearest wall of rock.
You took extra precaution to make sure your steps were quiet; just in case Sniper or any of the other mercenaries happened to be out. The closer you got to the exit almost meant you were getting closer to the RV. Before moving by you paused to take one last listen to your surroundings.
A shudder shot through you while exhaling quietly; you must have been holding your breath. It was then decided that you were going to pick up the pace while still trying to be as sneaky as possible. Every few feet sparked more hope in you.
At the narrow mouth of the entrance, you sprinted those final yards. You rounded the corner so you were out of sight from the rest of the base. Once in the clear, you took a moment to observe the landscape.
It was all desert (as to be expected). Part of the sun’s rim sat on the skyline. The light always seemed to shine brighter in those few hours before it got dark. What was left of the long road stretched out both directions for quite some distance, long enough until it was out of your visual perception.
Spy said to just start walking down the road, but you were unsure which way to go. Your head kept bobbing left to right until you decided to keep following along the road where you rounded the exit. You couldn’t help but look behind you every few steps.
The further you walked, the more anxious you became. Surely a few minutes have passed, and the last time you turned around the opening of the base was no longer in sight. It was then when you finally decided to stop pressing forward and stand off to the side.
You weren’t paying attention to the time, but finally, you lifted your arm to reveal your wristwatch.
Forget it, you were going to head back.
You could just write to him apologizing and come up with an excuse as to why you couldn’t make it. A little lie wouldn’t hurt.
… But then there was a low rumble that echoed from the opposite way you came.
The sound seemed to grow closer and closer in each passing second. You threw your head in its direction and clutched onto the sleeve of your shirt. An odd figure was then in sight.
A sports car with a dark blue paint job cruised down the road. As it approached you it began to progressively roll to a stop. The windows of the vehicle were tinted, so you weren’t able to see through them. You gawked at your reflection.
The passenger window of the car slowly began to roll down. Spy sat in the driver’s seat looking at you with a smile. His eyes were covered with a pair of sunglasses. Your look of surprise lifted into a grin immediately as you saw him.
“There isn’t much time to waste, hop in.” His tone was welcoming, and it was only now when you realized how much you truly missed his voice.
You did as he said and got into the car. The interior of the vehicle blew you away. Your lack of words and the astounded expression made Spy chuckle,
“You look impressed.”
“... Oh! Yeah, sorry, it’s just--” You stopped for a brief moment to look around the car one more time. “It’s just that I’ve never been in a car this nice before.”
“Then it is an honor for this one to be your first.” The car began to accelerate forward. The rev of the engine was quite loud, but you tried to ignore the noise. You looked back at your friend. He still held his charming smile.
“Where did you get this car? Where are you keeping it?” Curiosity overcame you again.
“I bought it a few months ago. I can keep it in a storage garage near our base.”
“I was just wondering because of the whole ‘not leaving the base’ rule, y’know? I didn’t think you were allowed to buy--let alone access--nice cars or other vehicles while still under contract.” You tried to laugh a little as you spoke. The jitters of getting further and further from the base were starting to get to you.
“There is no need to explain yourself, mon amie. I understand,” The setting sun’s blazing color seeped through the dark panes. “If you are new to the contract, around one or two years, then yes you are unable to purchase such items. It is a… loyalty perk of sorts. More than likely put in place to prevent newly hired individuals from being paid then fleeing.”
“That makes sense, I guess. I’m just surprised you were even able to sneak this car out. Didn’t anybody notice or hear you leaving?”
“I have my secrets.” He lifted his shades so his eyes were visible and gave you a small wink.
Your face grew warm. You brought a hand up to your cheek to feel the burn and looked down at it as if it would rub off. Something as small as that… Why were you getting so flustered?
He placed his shades back down onto his eyes and stared out to the stretch of road. You tapped your fingers together in silence for a short while. Finally, you decided to speak up again, “Where exactly are we going?”
The question just dawned on you. Now that you thought about it, you felt like kicking yourself for not asking sooner. It was the heat of the moment when he told you to leave the base, and you didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity.
“To a place that may hold answers for you after all; the Teufort Public Library.”
“Isn’t that almost an hour away? It’s getting late, wouldn’t the library be closed?”
“I made sure to check for us. Teufort’s library hours extend until ten o’clock. We should have plenty of time to find what you need.”
“.... So you think Miss Pauling was being dishonest, too?” You slumped into the seat a little.
“I do not think that it was her being dishonest. Rather, I believe that she is just suppressing as much information as she can. With whatever reasoning there is behind it.”
“Right,” You nodded your head in agreement.
“Since you are here it should be a lot easier for you to explain; how did you find this Australium again?”
You gave him the full story. The Newton’s Cradle, talking with Sniper, your interaction with Miss Pauling, and up until he wrote to you that night. The primary part you left out was the engraving of your last name. Once you finished your explanation Spy took a moment to take in all the information.
“I see… Something interesting was brought to my attention when you sent me the Australium bar. … You noticed the word at the bottom, did you not?”
“Yeah, the one in that beautiful curly font?” You played along with his curiosity.
He then said it.
He said your last name.
Not only did he just say it, but he said it in a way that sounded comforting to your ears.
For whatever reason it made you feel breathless. Something strange you were not anticipating, but it left you in a hypnotic state, leaving you to stare at him in shock.
“... It’s something I have never seen on Australium before,” Spy turned his head quickly to meet the look you gave him. He seemed surprised, “Backer? Is everything alright?”
Immediately you snapped yourself out of it. A weight of embarrassment overcame you, “Huh? Wait-- yeah! Sorry, uhm… I think it’s strange, too. It makes me wonder what it means.”
“You seem more off-beat than normal today.”
“There’s... just been a lot to think about recently, that’s all.”
The rest of the ride continued with more conversation on the Australium bar. Though it then quickly transitioned into a discussion about the newspaper that was written about the both of you in Austria. Time must have flown by quickly since you were already parked in front of the town’s familiar string of buildings.
When the car came to a stop Spy got out almost immediately. You raised a brow but suddenly turned to see his smiling face opening your car door. He offered you a hand, which you took gratefully.
To your surprise, the library was quite large! Based on how many windows there were it seemed to be more than one floor. You felt yourself grow excited; you couldn’t remember the last time you were able to go into a library since working with RED. Spy picked up on your pep.
“I take you enjoy going to the library, non?”
“Of course! I know we’re here just to get something in specific, but it’s still nice to be in that atmosphere again.”
“That should have been an obvious answer. My apologies, I should have known that already-- given that you enjoy reading already... Perhaps…” One of his hands slipped around your waist. His grasp was elegant but still strong.
You stiffened up, but you didn’t resist. It was just very unexpected. He brought you closer to him, “... If we can find what we are looking for right away, we can stay a little bit longer. Just for you, Petit Sucre rose.”
His soft voice lingered next to your ear. Each word left a delicate warmth on your concha. It was difficult for you to not begin spazzing out.
“Okay--” You managed to squeak out.
He held as you both walked to the entrance. The glass door slowly swung open, and you were left to stare in awe. Not only was the outside of the library large, but the inside as well. There were old wooden shelves that easily stood over seven feet tall, and were packed to the brim with books with all different kinds of spines. Both yours and Spy’s shoes echoed against the tile and traveled to the ceiling.
Now standing in the center of the main floor, both of you faced the large desk with a small old lady on the other side. From the looks of it, she was on the verge of dozing off to sleep, she hasn’t even picked her head up to acknowledge that you both were standing there. Spy began to scan the area and gave your side a small press to get your attention. “This way,”
He ushered you towards the back portion of the library. The section that Spy decided to stop at seemed to stretch on for what felt like an eternity. You turned your head up towards him, “This is the nonfiction section, right?” You asked.
“Yes, it should be.”
“Then I’m assuming Australium would be under earth science...” You broke free from his hold. Oddly enough, it was strange because you could almost still feel the tingle from where his hand was. It made your heart skip a beat, but you tried to shake it off by examining the books on the shelves. The number on the spines were in the 300’s, “... Which means we need to go further this way.” You pointed down a few rows, “Science is between the numbers five-hundred and five ninety-nine.”
A small laugh escaped from Spy’s lips, “Oh Backer, what would this world do without your knowledge?” It was in a teasing tone, but he meant it in all good fun.
Soon after he began to follow behind you, but what he couldn’t see was the fact that you were trying to hold back a large smile. You brought a small part from the collar of your zip-up to cover your mouth.
Once you arrived at the section you immediately began to scan the shelves. “Since it’s an ‘A’ it shouldn’t be too far into the aisle.” You started skimming the books on the lower shelves as Spy searched on the higher ones. Over and over the two of you looked in the same places in the ‘A’ section before it began to merge into the ‘B’s’. After a few minutes, you both looked at each other displeased.
“It seems we are not having a lot of luck searching here.” Spy commented.
“Let’s go ask the front.” You pointed back over to the center of the hall. Spy only nodded and began to follow you once again.
The old lady was fast asleep at the table now. You walked up to the desk and gently leaned in towards her, “Excuse me?” You asked in a quiet voice.
The woman jerked up in a groggy state. You jumped surprised by her sudden movement. “Yes, huh--?” She called out, but not looking in any particular direction.
“... We’re looking for books about Australium. Do you happen to know where we could find them?” You still spoke quietly, just so the atmosphere was still calm for the newly awoken elder.
“Books about Australia?” She asked.
“No, Australium,” You repeated, “It’s a type of metal?”
Her face twisted into a look of confusion. But her eyes weren’t focused on you, rather, they were on Spy, “Why is that man wearing a mask?” She asked out loud.
You turned to look at Spy who was just standing around idly, he was just as confused as you were. With a sigh, he walked up to the desk as well, “Please, madame, it is getting quite late. Are there any books available about Australium? The faster we can find it, the faster we can all go home and rest.”
She squinted up at the two of you. Her fists went to rub her eyes behind her large glasses before she pointed a small finger at Spy, “Wait a second… Yes, yes, I recognize you now. You’re one of the lads that killed Santa last Smissmas.” A dopey grin grew on her lips.
Spy put his face in his hand and shook his head groaning. You gave him a look of total bewilderment. The old woman gave a small cackle, “Oh, yes Australium. That name sounds familiar now… I’m sorry, but I’m afraid books on that topic aren’t available to the public.”
“But, you’re saying that they’re here?” You questioned.
“Yes, dear.” She confirmed.
“... At the public library.”
“Only authorized individuals can access the library’s archives.”
The three of you just exchanged a blank look with one another. You couldn’t believe this! Your fist tightened as it sat on the table. You began to open your mouth to say something, but you felt Spy’s hand cover yours and guide it off the desk. “It seems that it cannot be helped. Thank you for your assistance. Come along, Backer. Let’s get going.”
While still holding your hand he began to head for the doors. You tried to resist, but inevitably you were forced to catch up to him. “Spy, we can’t just leave now! The information we want is just sitting right in front of us. We have to do som--” You whispered to him, but he cut you off.
“We are not leaving, mademoiselle. I have an idea,” You felt his thumb rub across the top of your hand,
Your face could turn red at any moment. For it to cool down you had to look away from him for a second. “It just doesn’t make sense. Why have books at a public library if they’re not readily available to the public?”
“I question the same thing. It would not be held in the archives if it was information they weren’t trying to hold back.” The doors were pressed open and you were greeted by the night’s starry sky. You finally looked back towards him,
“... And what’s this about you killing Santa?”
He didn’t respond.
“That’s a story for another day.”
“There’s no way this is gonna work.” You responded while looking into the mirror of the car’s sun visor. You brushed a finger across the felt mustache that sat on your upper lip. It was only a sticker, of course. In the end, it just made you look like you were getting ready to wear a Halloween costume. “Even a child could see right through this.”
“You would be surprised,” Spy responded. He sat in the driver's seat examining himself in his mirror as well. On his lap sat a small container that held various amounts of different accessories and cosmetics. A small mustache sticker was on his lip as well, paired along with a monocle and a bowler hat. “Were you ever told why you are not supposed to drink the tap water here?”
“Isn’t there lead in it?”
“Correct. Now, take that and provide it to an entire population for generations-- also knowing what the effects of lead do to the mind. What does that give you?”
“Oh,” You covered your lips with your hand. “... Oh my…”
Spy plopped a hat onto your head, “Try putting as much of your hair in it as possible.”
“Got it,” You did exactly what you were told. “Are we ready to go?”
You could tell Spy was trying to hold back his laughter, “Just one more thing…” He pulled out a large flashy ribbon. With red, white, and blue stripes surrounding the outline, it read “V.I.P.” in large letters. “Wear this over your team logo.”
Hesitantly, you took it from his grasp and covered your embroidered RED symbol. You opened the car door and stepped back so Spy could see your full outfit. “How do I look?”
“Like an authorized individual.” He gave you a thumbs up.
“I can’t help but think you’re just trying to make me look as ridiculous as you can.” You couldn’t help but roll your eyes and crack a smile.
“Me? Poking fun at you? I would never do such a thing.” A small echo of laughter was heard as he locked the car doors. The two of you entered the building and approached the desk once again. The old woman was occupied with a book.
With a tiny push from Spy, you were forced to move forward. You cleared your throat nervously. In attempts to gain her attention you tried to mimic the manliest voice you could produce, “Pardon me, ma’am...” It was an ill attempt, but you tried nonetheless.
A small snicker was heard from behind you. You turned your head back in Spy’s direction who was covering his mouth with his hands. He was trying so hard to stifle his laughter.
You felt shaky from his reaction. Yep, that was totally embarrassing. There was no going back now though. The old woman picked up her head and smiled. “Yes, how can I help you, sir?”
“Uh... My colleague and I,” You gestured towards Spy, “Are from the Teufort city council.”
“Are you gentlemen here for Men’s Night?”
“Men’s Night..?” You broke character for a moment and looked back at your masked friend. Urgency spread on his face as he gestured for you to continue. Realization quickly overcame you as you turned back to the woman, “Oh! Men’s Night, of course! Authorized individuals for Men’s Night. Yep, that’s us. ” You let a small fake laugh follow.
The woman pointed to the staircase at the back wall. “It’s taking place on the third floor. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding them.”
“Alright, thank you very much.” You took a step back from the desk and started towards the steps. Spy came to your side, a very entertained look still sat on his face.
“Keep this acting of yours up and you just might put me out of a job.”
“Can it, Spy.” The heat of humility rolled back onto you, but you tried with all your might to not cave in and laugh. It was pretty ridiculous.
“Non, non, but to be truly honest it wasn’t a horrible effort for being so impromptu.”
“You can try sugarcoating it all you want, but even I still think it was embarrassing.”
“You’re too hard on yourself, ma chérie.”
Once reaching the top of the stairs the two of you were suddenly greeted by different mixtures of mumbling. Dozens of nicely dressed men stood in small groups conversing with one another. Some held different smoking products (even though smoking was not permitted in the library), and some of them held small glasses of assorted refreshments.
It set you back slightly, but Spy put a hand on your shoulder for reassurance, “Do not be worried; follow my lead.”
He walked out into the group and you followed shortly behind. Each group that you passed seemed to be primmer than the last. As you walked past, some of them gave you strange looks.
Eventually, Spy stationed the two of you with a group that stood near the wall. He struck up a simple questionnaire for the men about themselves and their work. They all pleasantly responded, but they kept gawking at your presence.
Finally, one of the bigger men of the group spoke. “And who might this pipsqueak be?” He looked back up at Spy. A cigarette rested in his hand.
“This is the head librarian’s subordinate. He is being trained to replace the old one once he retires, isn’t that right?” Spy looked back at you and flashed a smile.
“Yes, that is correct.” You tried speaking in your manly voice again and nodded your head.
“Is that so?” The man raised a brow to you, “I speak to the head librarian often, he has never mentioned that he has taken someone under his wing.”
“Well, I’m… I’m pretty new! And he said that I’m allowed to close on certain nights. You gentlemen have a little more time before we are done for the night, but I have also left something in the archives that wasn’t supposed to be in there. I forgot my key at home because I was in such a rush as well… Do any of you happen to have a spare I could borrow?”
The group all fell silent for a minute. The big man with the cigarette took in a puff and blew the smoke in the direction of your face. You waved the haze away and quietly coughed. Spy shot him a nasty glare.
“I’m still not fully convinced. I will strike you a deal though, if you can show me that you have any sort of authentication to gain access into the archives, then I’ll lend you my spare.” He plucked a small key that was strung to a leather lanyard and waved it in front of you tauntingly.
Beads of sweat formed on your brow. How were you going to prove that? It seemed like all hope was lost. You’d have to abort the mission and find someone else to convince.
That was when Spy cleared his throat in your direction.
You looked his way, his eyes were focused on another part of the room, but his fingers kept repeatedly tapping the side of his chest.
It was the correlating side where the ribbon sat on your chest!
Triumphantly, you jabbed a finger at the badge, “I do have authentication! Right here! See? It means that I’m a very important person in the library! Well, it was supposed to read ‘very important head librarian’s assistant’. But ‘V.I.H.L.A’ doesn’t make as much sense or doesn’t have as good of a ring as ‘V.I.P.’ and--”
“Okay, okay! I get it! Take it if it’ll shut you up.” The man tossed you the key in annoyance. You fumbled to catch it but successfully did so. The man took another inhale from his cigarette, “Just make sure to give it back before you close for the night. Come along men, I need one last drink.”
The group of men separated from you and Spy. Once they left you both exchanged bright smiles. You took a moment to check down at your watch, “We should hurry. We’ve only got ten minutes before they close.”
“With our efforts, we only need five, mademoiselle. Let us move.”
Both of you started to scout out the perimeter of the third floor. Part of you was nervous that you weren’t going to find it with enough time to look inside-- if you ever found it at all. After a few minutes of sticking to the wall, a large metal door was wedged between two bookshelves. As you both approached there was a small plaque that simply read “archives”. The window on the opposite side was pitch black.
You lifted the key and began to wiggle it in the lock. A cold breeze from the inside blew past you both. The deadly silence from the inside made you a little worried. You looked to Spy for safety. He gazed down towards you and gave a simple nod and gentle smile.
The sound of your own heart pounded in your ears.
This was it.
With one last deep inhale through the nose, you took the first step towards what you hoped were answers.
Mon amie- My friend (feminine) [French]
Petit Sucre rose- Little sugar rose [French]
Madame- Mrs (feminine) [French]
Mademoiselle- Miss (feminine) [French]
Ma chérie- My dear (feminine) [French]
Also! Check out this awesome SFM poster big_scrunch made! It's a POV where you (Backer) is sitting and reading along with Spy! Make sure to check out her story "Jack of all Trades" if you haven't already!
Chapter 16: Does This Count As Spying?
Get the book and leave. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
... Right? :)
The stuffy feeling from being in a tight space blanketed around you. Neither of you bothered to turn on the lights, but you heard a metallic clicking sound from behind you. Spy had taken out a lighter as he quietly shut the door behind him. He flashed you a half-smile; signaling you to continue walking.
With wobbly legs, you pressed onwards. From what you could make out in the dim lighting were shelves upon shelves of sturdy cardboard containers. Each box had a sticker on the front that labeled who owned the fonds and the items held inside. The long aisles came off as a little too overwhelming for your liking.
"How are we supposed to know where to look?" You whispered over to your friend, trying to keep your footsteps as quiet as possible.
"It may just be a matter of searching around," He mumbled, "How about we split up? We can cover more areas that way. You can take the lighter. I will be fine on my own."
"If you say so," He carefully handed you the lighter, "If one of us finds anything let's try and meet up."
"I will keep that in mind." Were his final words. The sound of his cloaking device hissed, then he was gone.
You began to focus on the compartments the shelves held. Many were names you have never heard of, probably civilians or businesses. There may be some sensitive information you'd rather not dig around in if you believed they did not have what you were looking for. So you tried to avoid any titles that didn't seem to match.
There was some standard to be held.
Multiple times you would bring the lighter closer to your wristwatch to look at the time. A sour taste formed in your mouth as you watched the time slip closer and closer to ten o'clock. With the new stress for time, you paced up and down the rows taking less care into your search to find a lead.
It was foolish to think ten minutes would be enough time to search a room with this much content.
Eventually, there was a small section that broke from the endless stream of shelves that had large wooden cupboards that hugged the wall. If you were going to stop and collect your thoughts, this was the place to be. You flicked the lighter closed and approached one of the cabinets.
You let out an agitated groan as you quietly leaned against the structure. You massaged your temples as your eyes tried to adjust to the dark. For the hell of it, you checked your watch again,
Anxiety pushed through you, maybe if you started speed checking in those last three minutes you would find something? It's a ridiculous idea, but there wasn't much you could do otherwise. You snapped up from where you were leaning and moved towards the closest row. Over each label, you pointed and read along, desperately trying to find something, anything, that may have some sort of relevance.
The cardboard surface of the boxes gently slid across your finger. "C'mon..." You murmured to yourself, "C'mon!" The lights in the room were now switched on, blinding you for a second by the sudden brightness.
Your heart leaped into your throat.
Masculine voices were heard through the rows and grew closer by the second.
"I told you, he said that he was going to be in here!" That voice you recognized. It was the bigger man you took the key from.
"Yes, you've said that about a million times now. We're checking, see?" This was a voice you couldn't identify. Whoever it may be was the least of your worries, it was just important for them not to find you.
With quick-paced breaths, you began to tiptoe towards the corner of the room. You backed up while still facing out to where the voices came from, only to bump right into the side of a cabinet. Your shaky hand tried to find a handle, but nothing was in reach.
Their footsteps were heard just around the corner. It wasn't difficult to predict what would come next: a mix of their yelling as they angrily would trap you in this already tiny space. You shut your eyes and pressed your hands tightly against the cupboard and braced for the worse.
A sudden force squeezed onto your arm. Your breath hitched as you were suddenly pulled backward. The confusion of the moment wanted you to cry out for help, but a clothed hand pressed against it to muffle any noise you would have made.
Once your vision could focus, you saw you were leaning up against Spy. "Shh," His hush was gentle but still urgent. His other hand pressed a finger to his lips.
Your eyes darted to look at the scene around you. It was an even smaller space compared to the corner you were originally trapped in. Two long wooden slabs were closed by a small metal latch on your right. Spy's face was only a few centimeters away from your own.
... Were you in one of the closets?
There was a loud creak from the wood when you tried to shift your leg. Spy's hands moved from your mouth onto your shoulders as he pressed you into his chest.
"I am sorry, mademoiselle, but we need to stay quiet." His whisper in your ear was barely audible. It felt like your face was on fire. All you could do was sink into his embrace to reduce any other noise.
The footsteps outside grew louder. A string of curses came from one of the men.
"I don't-- I don't understand! He was supposed to be here! I watched the exit; nobody came down from this floor before we started looking!" It was the big guy again. Now thinking about it, he seemed like the wrong person to borrow something from.
"If he was in here we would of saw him by now. Listen, it's past ten. We'll keep looking, but we are going to make our way downstairs while doing so. Understand?" Their voices faded away as they walked past the cupboard.
Even after the voices were long gone you didn't move a muscle. You could tell his chest was firm from how your face rested on it. This whole scenario left you shaky.
"I can feel your heart beating at a million miles an hour." Spy teased.
"You scared the living christ out of me." You whispered up to him. Your arms tried to push up from the wall, but they felt like jelly.
Your discomposure made him chuckle. His hand tried to soothe your worries by caressing the back of your neck. You stiffened up in his hold.
"Oh Backer, always so bashful. And for what?" He purred as he caught your gaze. You were speechless. The only thing you could do is stare back at him with a helpless expression.
Slowly, he lifted his closest arm to the door and opened the latch. It made a loud squeak as the darkness of the archives was revealed again. For sure the men had left the room. The two of you stumbled out of the cupboard and took a moment to freshen yourselves back up.
It was almost embarrassing to look back at Spy. Just how he held you into his chest with such care, lightly teasing and prodding at you the entire time... The feelings you felt were something you couldn't put your finger on, but it left your stomach in knots and pretending to be focused on anything but him.
After Spy finished fixing his tie he turned to you, "Come with me, there is something you might want to check out."
You nodded your head and dug into your pocket to retrieve his lighter to give back to him. He opened it and began walking to the opposite side of the room.
It led to a row of shelves that did not seem any more special from the others. Stopping about two-thirds of the way in the aisle, Spy knelt to start observing the labels on the lower level. Eventually, his hovering hand paused and waved you over, "Do you see this?"
His finger pointed in the direction of an oddly large gap between two containers. You raised a brow, "Is there supposed to be a box there?" You inquired.
"I believe so. Take a closer look at the labels next to them."
You observed what was written on the other boxes. Both contained the prefix 'australi-'. Though, it would never finish forming the exact word you were looking for.
"The Australium section is gone..." Your whisper was low.
"That's not all," He stood back up and hastily left that row. You trailed closely behind. Just only a few sections down did he enter and began to search again. He stopped and pointed out another abnormally large gap made within the containers. "Whose section do you believe this belongs to?"
The neighboring labels were in the "T's". Each one that sat beside the space had a "T.F." initial followed along with a name or business.
"TF Industries has fonds here too...?" You looked up at him.
"And they seem to be missing as well."
You follow his statement with a long hum. "I think we're seeing some things begin to align here..." You spoke out, but it received no response. While focused on the spot you allowed your mind to wander, "It's odd to find out both TF Industries and the Australium files are missing at the exact same time... On the same day I talked to Miss Pauling about getting a book from here."
The space was filled by you placing a hand between the boxes, "This isn't some sort of coincidence. There's something weird going on."
There was another pause before you let out a sigh in defeat, "Well... if there's nothing here I guess we should get going. It's getting late..." A lump formed in your throat, "I'm so sorry, Spy... It seems like I led us on a wild goose chase for nothing."
Still no response from the Frenchman.
His silence finally caught your attention. You broke your stare to face where he was originally standing.
He was gone.
"Spy?" You called out while walking towards the end of the row. Your head scanned around the room. No sight of him. Worried by his sudden disappearance you began to aimlessly weave through the rows.
Near the exit of the room, there were the sounds of rummaging a few sections down. You popped your head to peek around the corner.
"Spy!" You scolded, perhaps a little too loud for your liking.
There he was crouched down quietly sliding one of the containers out of its space. His other arm was occupied trying to balance a stack of boxes on one another. He looked like a deer in headlights as his eyes shot in your direction, "What?"
"What are you doing with all that--" For a second you brought your hand up to pinch the bridge of your nose, "Forget it, it's fine. You probably didn't hear it anyway."
"I wasth listhening," There was a manila folder clenched between his teeth which made his words jumbled. Walking over you took the file from his mouth, you could see a hint shame dash his expression, "... Merci."
"Let's get going," You pressed, disappointment waved in your tone, "As I said, it's getting super late now."
Spy slowly rose from the floor with his treasures still in hand. The two of you walked out of the archives in silence. You sullenly stared down at your feet with each step you took.
"We're looking for a gentleman in a fine-looking hat... He claimed to be my assistant and is wearing a 'V.I.P.' badge on his chest."
You didn't even reach the bottom of the stairs when you stopped dead in your tracks. Only a few dozen yards ahead away stood the big man. A scrawny guy with glasses stood next to him and was talking to two other men of a bulkier build.
The big man's voice boomed out as he caught sight of the stairs, "THERE! THEM THERE! THEY'RE THE ONES WHO STOLE MY KEY!"
Both Spy and yourself stood rigid. The other men's heads pointed up to stare at you both with uncertainty on what to do. The big man broke the tension and pointed at you in fury.
"DON'T JUST STAND THERE! GET THEM!!"
Spy's hand wrapped around your wrist, "Run!" Only a few moments later the two of you burst out into a sprint. Some of the boxes from Spy's pile flew past you.
"HEY!" An angry voice roared from behind. Only for a second did you build up the courage to look behind you. The two stronger men were chasing after you. A small cry of fear bubbled out from you as you tried to keep up with Spy.
The dash down the next flight of stairs was quick. There were even a few steps you hopped down to avoid wasting time. Burning came from your ankle, only now remembering you still had your foot bandaged within your shoe.
On the main floor, you were met with two other men blocking the exit. They started to dash towards you both as the guys from upstairs were right on your tail. Spy's grip on your wrist broke loose.
"Go left, Backer!" He called. Before any response could be formed he ran off towards the line of shelves on the right. You followed his orders and changed directions.
While you passed the shelves one of the men was keeping up with you on the opposite side. Pounding from the ground behind you implied that someone had followed your trail. Your levels of anxiety were at an all-time high as you struggled to figure out where to go. All you could think about was running forward.
The wall of the building grew near. Without thinking you took a sharp turn right into the aisle.
You had forgotten about the guy on the opposite end.
He was charging right towards you.
Someone's presence from behind began to enclose as well. Your surroundings were a blur as your eyes darted around trying to figure out what to do. The space shrunk smaller and smaller.
You jumped off to the side at the very last second and latched onto the shelf next to you. A loud groaning came from the floor, snapping your head around you saw that the two men ran right into each other. They sat on the ground in a dazed state, you scurried up the rest of the shelf until you made it to the top.
You scoped out the rest of the library from that height. Spy was nowhere to be seen, but you could hear shouting from the other side of the building. Your gaze then went to the front desk. The old lady from earlier stared up at you in astonishment, almost impressed. Both men on the ground scrambled to their feet. They gave you some of the nastiest looks you've ever seen.
"Get down from there you bastard!" One of them barked.
"Make me!" You retorted. The remark felt like an out-of-body experience. It did not feel like it was truly you who said it.
The two men grabbed onto the case and attempted to climb the shelf. You walked further off to the side so they wouldn't have direct contact with you if they made it up. Many of the books began flopping to the floor as they both struggled to scale.
The sound of wood snapping rang through the aisle as the two violently plummeted back onto the ground. Remains of an old shelf scattered onto the ground. An abundance of books fell along with it, hitting them. Their frustration only grew.
You had an idea. Bending down to reach the shelf beneath your feet you grabbed onto a few books. One by one you began hurling them at the guys. They brought their arms out to block them from hitting their face.
That was the final straw.
Both stormed over to the section of shelf you stood on and aggressively began to shake it. For the first few rocks not much happened, but once more force was applied it began to sway almost making you lose balance. Your mind raced as you crouched down to prevent you from falling.
You had to move quickly.
The first thing you observed was the ground below. Based on how much the shelf was shaking it didn't seem like directly jumping down in the other aisle was the safest option. You then looked up at the top of the shelf next to you. When you were on the ground it didn't seem like the shelves were spaced too far from one another... Now at the top, they looked further than you thought.
A memory played back in your head. You remembered only a few months back Scout taught you some dodging tricks if you 'ever found yourself in a pickle'. While most of it was a stunt to try and impress you, one thing you remember learning was jumping off a surface and rolling safely onto the ground.
The shaking now had the shelf barely on its edges. Snapping out of thought you prepared yourself, squatting as you eyed the next platform. Once the shelf tipped closer in the direction of the next case you sprung from one surface to the next. Your feet barely touched the top as you slid across and towards the floor.
With hands barely sprung out your body spun from one shoulder to the opposite hip. It was a violent roll for a landing, but it worked. You sprawled out onto your side with your hat sitting close by.
"I owe you one, Scout." You whispered to yourself out loud. Never have you been more thankful for his nonsense until now.
The sounds of the rocking shelf stopped as the guys called to follow you. You jumped to your feet, grabbed the hat, and ran out from the aisle and to the exit.
As you pushed the glass doors open you saw the other two men who took off in Spy's direction come from a section nearby. The night sky wrapped around you as you booked it down the front steps and towards the car. You saw Spy peek out from a bush near the parking lot, looking shocked seeing how you were being pursued by all four men.
Spy waved you over with one hand. He began to run towards the vehicle once you passed him.
"The door's unlocked!" his voice cut through the air as you rushed for the door handle.
Just as you hopped into the passenger's side you saw Spy slide up and over the hood of the car. He just barely made the landing as he pounced into the driver's seat. His hand fumbled with the car keys as the engine struggled to spark. The other footsteps stormed closer.
Finally, the engine gave life and Spy took no hesitation to punch the car into reverse. You tensed up in your seat and grabbing onto its edges as Spy's head was thrown back to look out the rear window. The car now faced the men who didn't stop running. The sound of the gear shifted as you then were shoved into your seat as the car barreled right towards the four.
You wanted to call out to have Spy swerve out of the direction of the men, but your breath clogged your throat and you couldn't speak. The men saw the incoming vehicle and jumped out of the way just before they could make contact with the front. Tires screeched as Spy took a sharp turn out of the library's lot and back onto the street.
He refused to slow down, not until the town was nowhere in sight. At some point you turned your head to face the back window, dust was kicked as Teufort shrunk out of view. It must have been enough distance because the car slowed down. What was a tensed-up Spy loosened up his shoulders. You sat back down in your seat and started removing parts of your disguise.
"That... Was close." Was the first thing you breathed out as you peeled the mustache sticker off your lip.
"Yes, yes it was." Spy's voice was firm. He began to take off parts of his disguise as well. His eyes darted in your direction for a second before returning to the road, "You're not injured, are you?"
"No, I think I'm okay," You observed from your shoulders down to see if anything was visibly different, but you looked fine. "My ankle hurts a little, but it shouldn't be anything serious..." Your hand dropped to where your shoe covered the bandages. Rubbing it helped relieve some of the burning. It was then you noticed you no longer had the folder you took from Spy, "I uh... I think I dropped the file folder at some point."
A smirk grew on Spy's face, "That is the least of my worries... I almost forgot you hurt your foot the last time we went out together."
You weren't in a joking mood, but you forced out a laugh anyways, "Yeah... Crazy stuff." Silence fell in the car as you stared out the window at the scenery.
The quiet hung in the air for quite some time. It wasn't uncomfortable for you, but you could hear Spy shift around in his seat. He was the first one to break it.
"I did not have time to mention it back there, but there is nothing you need to apologize for." His voice made you lean back in your chair. You kept your focus on your feet now that you were sitting in your own disappointment.
When he didn't get a reply he spoke again, "I was the one who gave you hope that we would find what you were looking for. This 'wild goose chase' you mentioned is entirely on my part. So I should be apologizing to you..."
The sound of the turn signal clicked through the inside of the vehicle. Spy began to slow the car down and pulled it onto the side of the road. You still didn't look up from your feet, but you were curious as to why you were stopping.
After parking, there was another brief pause. Then there was more sound from him moving in his seat, and from the corner of your eye, you saw his legs point in your direction.
One of his hands slid to grab hold of a hand that sat in your lap. His intertwined with yours, melting it into a soft touch. All you wanted was time to reflect in self-anguish. You fought with all your mental strength to not look up at him.
His other hand made its way to your chin. The thumb and forefinger guided your glance so you would face him. There was only a short frame of time where you could still keep your eyes down before having no choice but to look up at his face.
Icy blue eyes stared back, and they had a hard expression to them. Yet the smile he held was so tender and warm...
The hand on your chin left and grabbed hold of the hand that still rested on your leg. Bringing them together he clasped both from the top and bottom. You couldn't leave his eyes now, so the same glum look stared back.
"I'm so sorry, Backer.." His voice was just as delicate as his touch, "I did not mean to lead you to such disappointment."
You felt your lip quiver open, but no words came out.
"Can you forgive me?"
The sincerity and pain in his voice made your heart do backflips. The sorrow that you felt was now bundled with shock. You didn't know how to react.
"It's not your fault..." Is what you managed to muster out. Airiness lined every word, but it was clear enough for him to hear. "I'm not upset at you... I did this to myself and got my hopes up too high," You then found the strength to crack a smile, "That just means I need to dig a little deeper, right?"
Spy returned an even sunnier expression. It was only then when you noticed how gorgeous his smile truly was. "That is right, ma chérie. Just know I will always be here if you want to tell me anything."
Your sadness began to wash away. At that moment you couldn't have been more grateful to have him there. "... Thank you, Spy."
"There isn't much I wouldn't do for you, mon amie. You are someone special to me."
Those words were exactly what you needed to hear. You could feel your face grow warm for the ten-thousandth time that night. Never in the moment did you notice how close both were until he slowly pulled away. A cold space of air filled the gap between the two of you as he lightly put your hands down.
It was strange, but you couldn't help but feel like something was missing during that exchange. Something a lot more affectionate and intimate...
... You couldn't help but feel embarrassed to know what exactly that was.
You were still a blushing mess as Spy signaled to pull back onto the road. As you calmed down you felt sleepiness loom overhead. A small yawn was covered by your arm as you slunk deeper into the chair.
"Get some sleep if you must. It has been a long night," His voice was still soft, "I will wake you when it's time."
"No, it's fine-- we're only about half an hour away. I can stay awake." You protested, but the calm atmosphere wasn't helping.
"If you insist." He chaffed.
His comment was discarded with a joking tisk from you. The lower you melted into the chair the more you thought about how... comfortable it was. As you tried to look out the window you noticed that the frame of the car grew darker and darker. The thrums from the engine were becoming more muffled.
It only felt like seconds later when you felt a small shake on your shoulder. "I hate to wake you, mon chou. But we are back at your base."
Groggily you rubbed your eyes as they slowly opened. "Okay," You said in a small drone and slid out of the car, "Have a goodnight. I'll keep in touch."
"As will I. Sleep well, Backer. I hope to see you again soon."
You gave him one last sweet smile before closing the car door. Turning back to the front of your base you noticed that most of the lights were off. Looking over at Sniper's van you saw that light came from the vents. To try and avoid being noticed you crouched down as you passed the vehicle. Once in the clear, you rushed towards the same side door you left the building from.
Everyone must have retired to their rooms for the evening because you were the only one in the hall. Just as you were about to fumble with the doorknob of your room you felt something bump against your shoe and hit the wall. A cloth bag sat off to the side of your doorframe. Nothing has ever been in its place before, so you grabbed it and brought it with you inside. After quietly closing the door and locking it you dropped it onto your bed. When opening it the first thing to stand out was small handwriting on a piece of blank paper. You slowly lifted it out from the bag to skimmed over it.
I apologize for cutting you off earlier this morning. I did some digging and found something for you to look at. I hope this helps!
- Miss P
"The Complete Guide and History to Australium: The World's Most Innovative Element".
You have got to be fucking kidding.
That was a lot easier than you were expecting. Now you felt horrible for going out and causing such a ruckus at the library.
Well, you just hoped the disguise fooled them. At least fooled them enough that they wouldn't want to imprison you the second you step foot in that town again.
Going to your wardrobe you pulled out a small slip of paper and your pen. At this point, you could care less about penmanship. It was late and you were too tired to put in too much effort. You scribbled down what you wanted to say and activated your mini teleporter.
After putting the book back in the bag you shut off the lights. You reorganized your bed and got comfortable under the blanket. A smile stamped on your lips as you hummed yourself to sleep.
The world better watch out...
... because there's a new series you're going to begin with Spy.
Did you find out where the song fits? Hehe
Mademoiselle- Miss (feminine) [French]
Merci- Thank you [French]
Ma chérie- My dear (feminine) [French]
Mon amie- My friend (feminine) [French]
Mon chou- Sweetheart/Sweetie/My cabbage (💀 lmao i can't i'm sorry) [French]
Chapter 17: Fait Accompli
Are we history buffs now? :)
All translations are at the end of the chapter!
GENTLEMEN. I. AM. BACK!!!
Sorry for the lack of updates in August! I got pretty busy with some other obligations. Hopefully, I can be more productive since I start school again!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Blood-caked clothing was your least favorite part of your job.
A day’s worth of sweat and various spills and stains from the items you provided the men already made it bad enough. By that point, you just want to hose yourself off. Topping it off with a slick, wet, layer of blood that doesn’t belong to you is what made it the most aggravating.
Today was yet another messy day to clean. 2Fort was always very filthy due to the space being so small. Then take plenty of weapons that enjoy blowing people to bits upon close contact.
You finished cleaning up for the evening. The stars twinkled like glitter on a black sheet of paper. You stationed yourself so that you were sitting against the rail of the bridge, being extra cautious not to lean into BLU’s territory.
Even though there was nobody out to witness you hover into their space, that fear still lingered in the back of your head. It was always the worst-case scenario. Some of which you would stop yourself and laugh.
You’re not afraid of sneaking OUTSIDE of the fighting area, but getting close onto BLU’s side of the yard? Backwards thoughts in a backwards job.
Now thinking about it, Spy was later than normal. Usually, he’d pick up on your cleaning rituals quickly. A new wave of worry shot through you while constantly moving your attention from one base to the other.
Just before you were going to stumble back to your feet, the sounds of footsteps were heard splashing from below the bridge. It came from BLU’s side, which opted for you to turn in that direction only to find nobody standing there.
“Spy?” You called out in a whisper.
He would have made himself present by now. If you were being honest, this was starting to creep you out. You slowly stood up, cautiously staring in the direction the noise came from.
You brought a foot forward and tiptoed closer to the enemy’s end. You bit down on your lip as you pushed through the wobbly feeling in your legs. A loud creak came from the boards below you which made you cringe.
“Backer!” A harsh whisper came out of thin air. It sounded like it was coming from below the bridge. You stopped to lean over the railing. Looking down at BLU’s pipe entrance, Spy stood waving you down. “Get down here, hurry!”
A rifle being loaded echoed through the dark. Your head moved in the direction of the noise. Up on the second floor of BLU’s base, their Sniper had just strolled out from the opening. His attention was away from you, but even catching a glimpse of his figure put you on red-alert.
Initially, you were frozen in fear, unsure of what to do. You were so easily exposed, as soon as he’d focus on the bridge he’d spot you. More than likely, blow your head to bits as well. You then glanced towards Spy, who was now trying to mouth the words ‘jump’.
Mentally counting down, you gripped onto the bridge’s rail and plunged into the water below. The splashing noise was replaced by bubbles from your landing. Keeping your head underwater, you swam to underneath the bridge’s structure.
Your head broke the surface from the water. You tried your damnedest to control your breathing, making sure it wasn’t too loud. The Sniper had to have heard you for sure. If it weren’t for the overheard protection, your skull would be like a broken eggshell.
To prevent any splashing, you still kept low in the water as you approached the pipe. Disgust was your main thought. Covered in blood, dirt, and now strangely warm drain water. What could be better? Spy looked down at you, a cheeky smile tugging at the corners of his lips.
“Going for a swim?” He inquired.
“Hardy har har,” You responded sarcastically, ringing some of the excess water from the bottom of your jacket, “You have the book, right?”
“But of course. I have it right here,” Spy grabbed an item that was tucked between his arm. He showcased the cover, “This will be the first time I will see the contents inside. I am a man of my word.”
When Spy initially asked to hold onto the book, you were a little hesitant yourself. As much faith you have put into Spy in the past already, you still get times where you question his... Intentions.
He is a spy after all.
His entire occupation is to prowl on information like this.
You had to sit on the thought during breakfast. It must have been a good morning because your outlook on the matter was positive.
Spy has helped you out this far with your wacky journey. Putting more trust into him wouldn’t hurt anybody. Even if he did take a peek, he’d still be looking at the content with you. So, you sent him the book before the day’s mission began.
After being drenched from head to toe, maybe it was the smarter decision to leave the book with Spy.
“This way, my dear.” His voice sang while gesturing you to follow him further into the drain.
Your stomach began to cramp, standing completely still at the opening. Never had you been so deep into enemy territory before. The stories the guys told about what happened to them in the BLU base always left you uneasy. There was the danger of your identity being compromised by the rest of the enemy team. What would the company do to you? Or your team? The unknown was the most terrifying thing of them all.
Spy picked up on your hesitance and stopped himself. He turned to face you, offering a gentle smile, “You don’t need to worry, it is safe. Nobody knows that we are down here.”
His words were offered as a strange sort of comfort. You loosened up a little and took small steps closer to Spy. He waited patiently for you to catch up.
“I promise,” He cooed. For only a moment longer, he gazed down to look at you through the dark. Your uncertainty made him chuckle, “I will not let anything happen to you.”
The more he spoke, the more restful you became. Once again, Spy has stuck with you this far, why would it be any different now? After another moment of thought, you nodded your head in agreement.
That was enough confirmation for him to start walking again. You stuck close by his side, trying your absolute best not to make any noise. Light started to bleed into the tunnel.
It then opened up to a small room. Two large drains sat on different walls, one of which leads up to a staircase. The other being the one you just traveled through. Off to the side was an area with a concrete floor. You both walked up the steps so you were standing on the landing.
You took the lead and sat in the corner tucked away from both drain’s heads. Spy wiped off the part of the ground and sat next to you, offering the book back. It rested on your lap as you squirmed to get comfortable.
“Is it weird to say I’m nervous?” You asked, eyes focused on the texture of the cover.
“Not at all. It has been a headache to get to this point. Getting the answers so easily is almost frightening.”
“Alright,” You sighed, taking a deep breath, “Let’s do this.”
The first thing you wanted to examine was who wrote the book. At the bottom of the cover, a name in small printing was slowly starting to fade away.
“Martin Campbell?” You questioned, “... I’m trying to remember if I have heard that name before.” A moment’s pause later, you came to the conclusion that you haven’t. “Nope, doesn’t ring a bell.”
“I have not heard of the name until now, either.” Spy added on.
That will have to be a name you remember in the future.
You slowly opened the book. The side where labeling about the printing company and copyright claims were missing.
“Soo… Unless it says later in the book-- we don’t know when this was published.”
“Perhaps it is an older copy? Normally, they fade away with age. If the copyright date was… Wait.” Spy stopped himself.
His eyes squinted as he gently took the book from your grip into his own. He held the page upwards, then turned it so it revealed the inner part of the book’s spine. His finger traced down it, “Do you see this ridge here?”
You leaned in a bit closer to observe the spot. Indeed, part of the staple holding the book together was showing a little too much. “Yeah…?”
“It appears to me that someone removed the entire page that you were talking about.” He stated, “They did a fine job at it, too.”
“How in the world..?” You whispered to yourself, “There’s not even evidence of torn paper here. The spine isn’t horribly loose, either. If it fell out, wouldn’t the title page come with it too?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, cherie.” Spy sighed, focusing on the blank page. “Let’s continue. There’s more we need to figure out.”
“You’re right,” Still shocked by his observation, “What else can we find?”
Naturally, you wanted to start from the beginning. You immediately looked for what would be the table of contents. Once you found it, the lack of categorization was surprising.
There were three main headers to divide the book into three parts: ‘History’, ‘Modern Day’, and ‘The Future’. The smaller topics within each part only consisted of a few bullet points. As of now, you were fixated on its past. So many questions floated in your head about Australium. Getting a solid background would be the best first option.
The first few pages were accompanied by plenty of fancy designs around the text. An aging picture of a large gold bar was displayed on the side. A strange symbol was melted onto the top.
“This,” Spy made you acknowledge the image, “This is what a normal bar of Australium looks like.”
From closer inspection, the symbol appeared to be a man boxing kangaroo. Sniper’s comment replayed in your memory, “some bogan fighting a ‘roo…” You whispered following along with a chuckle.
“What?” Spy raised a brow.
“Nothing, nothing. Anyways…” You skimmed through the text and began to read out loud.
“The 1890’s for Australia is what many would consider being bittersweet. Funded by the British while still a penal colony, the nation built up into a highly functional industrialization state. The population grew, railroads were built, and more funds towards infrastructure were put in place. The banks of Australia thrived, and it seemed there was no stopping this rapid growth of a contending superpower.” You paused a moment before reading further,
“But then…” You added, “Economic depression plagued the country early in the decade. This left many unemployed, homeless, and facing starvation. With a decrease in demand for wool, a core industry in Australia, many banks suffered and were forced to close. The global effect of this market crash was catastrophic, and it felt as if anever-ending tunnel of misfortune to the Australians.
“As many were beginning to think all hope was lost, the discovery of Australium became known.”
“I am assuming it is what got the economy back on its feet, yes?” Spy questioned. You smiled.
“You bet, it even says here that the nation’s technology grew even more rapidly after they started to mine it. Look at this picture!” You pointed to another picture displayed by the text. An image of a modern-looking city stood proudly, “This was taken not even two years after they discovered the element.” Even Spy seemed somewhat fascinated.
You read onward. Most detail gave insight into how Australium modeled the nation’s history and even its health effects on people. Though, the history of Australia made you feel antsy. You wanted to start looking for any ingots that looked like your own. After asking Spy, you flipped a few pages ahead in hopes of finding something.
While skimming you grinded to a stop. One header popped out to you in particular:
Barnabus Hale and Mann Co.
“Mann Co.? As in, our Mann Co.?” You looked towards the Frenchman stunned.
“I could imagine.” He mused.
Your lips went dry. You cleared your throat and read out loud once again.
“Australium, for the most part, was a secretive luxury that only was known throughout Australia. Many Aussies favored keeping the element to themselves. The wealth, power, and technological acceleration were remedies they did not want to give away. Australia was the strongest and most modern nation of its time. There was a high expectation that the state wanted to keep.
“In late 1890, Australian businessman Barnabus Hale took over American munitions company ‘Mann Co.’ after its previous successor, Zepheniah Mann, passed away. While having past business practices with Australium, Hale began incorporating the element into certain prototypes and weapon models. These arms were scarce, so they went for a great value when being sold. They were only available in specific parts of Australia and the United States.”
All this new knowledge on the metal was nice, but your mind began to wander off-topic again. The main question you had was yet to be answered:
Why was your last name printed on it?
“Can we skim through the book a little faster, please? I just wanna know why that… word was printed on the bottom of the bar I have.”
“Of course. That’s why we were looking in the first place, is it not?”
The search began. More details about Australia growing as a nation were recorded, but in no way was there any mention of your surname being printed on any bars. A crushing feeling pressed into your chest. Cities built, weapons made, its impact made in major historical events, the decline of Australium the world still had left, it all seemed to be here. Everything BUT what you were looking for.
Even while flipping through, something strange grew present later into the book. What started with a few singular words grew into small sentences. A handful of areas of the book that were blacked out. Spy picked up on it, too. Multiple times he raised a hand to stop you, but always cut himself short.
The flapping noises of thin paper stopped.
Your last name, the same curly design and all, was plastered right in the middle of the page.
“It’s here!” You shouted in a whisper tone, still acknowledging you’re on land that’s foreign to your own.
Spy’s finger poked at the bold, large title.
Fifteen Minutes of Fame
A small gasp escaped your lips. No other captions or paragraphs sat; only the image and the ominous name. It felt like the book was trying to tease you.
Everything had to be a mystery, didn’t it?
Slower this time, you took the edge of the page and slowly turned it. Spy seemed to lean in closer so he could start reading immediately. A shocked noise came from him before anything could compute in your mind.
Your eyes grew large.
Line after line, paragraph after paragraph, all were masked with a thick, black line.
You turned to the page, censored.
The next one? Expurgated.
The page after that was sloppily torn out. Large jags were replaced where the paper was previously held in place. Even the images were cut out of their original spots.
“No…!” You begged quietly, turning the pages faster and faster. It only revealed more destruction.
“Nononono!” It was a nightmare right in front of your eyes. From that first cursed title to the back cover was tampered with.
The shredded cardboard of the breaking spine grew loose. After moving through the last section, papers fell to the floor.
“I don’t get it! Why would Miss Pauling give m--”
You sucked your lips in. A twisted thought entered your mind. Your sudden silence seemed to worry Spy. “Backer?”
“She did this.”
“Who is she?”
“Miss Pauling,” You answered hastily, almost not giving Spy room to finish his question. “She--or someone who gave it to her--destroyed this book.”
Spy took the guide from your weak hold. He opened up to the pages near the end to get a closer examination of the blackened lines. Aiming the book towards the light that hung above, he tried to read the text that may have been hiding behind the dark marking.
It was no use.
“They have made it clearly obvious that they don’t want you to know whatever this book contains.” He said in a monotone voice.
“But why? Wouldn’t they want to make it as inconspicuous as possible?”
“I was thinking the same thing. But then again… Don’t you think this conveys a message of sorts?”
“A message that what they’re doing is really strange?”
“Well, yes… but no. It’s a mind trick. They are trying to outwit you.”
“How so?” You tipped your head to the side, almost sounding offended. The adrenaline rush of confusion began to kick in.
Spy’s face remained solemn, “You are probably familiar with reverse psychology.” He stated, bringing your attention to the book, “Them--whoever them may be--going out of their way to tear up this book… Makes you want to throw your hands in the air and give up, correct? You have expired the resources you were given, and there is nothing left to investigate. Makes you believe that this is a fait accompli?”
“A… A fait accompli?” You sputtered, a laugh almost leaving with it. “You must be kidding, right?”
“No, I am very serious.”
“Who in their right mind would just accept this as their answer?” The sass in your question surprised you. It wasn’t aimed towards Spy, but it certainly did sound like it.
“This is unbelievable! I need to get to the bottom of this! I can’t afford to stand to the side and take what piss-poor evidence that they’ve given us and accept it as the only truth. And--”
Spy pulled out his cigar box from his pocket. He slipped a new one into his mouth and lit it. A smooth road of smoke left his lips after taking a slow drag, “Is where they caught you.”
You were left without words. What the hell did he just do? You must have had the right reaction on your face because it caused Spy to laugh.
“From what I’ve learned to know about you... is that you are a very sensible woman, Backer.” His eyebrows furrowed down, “The people who play these mind games enjoy taking advantage of those who are clever. The people who like to think and explore, give them the attention that they crave.”
You kept staring up at him. Disquiet tingled where it didn’t feel numb. The thought that was the reaction they wanted out of you was appalling.
Did they take you for an idiot?
Spy tended to his own business, filling his longing for a puff on his cigar.
“You seem worried,” His eyes flickered towards you, “You’re not the one at blame here. Nor does this make you any less bright.”
Spy’s attention gravitated towards the book, which now sat on your opposite side.
“My advice: don’t get yourself involved. As much as it may be difficult to comply, given that there is potentially more than what meets the eye; you are better off having them making fools of themselves. And, if these ‘them’s’ we keep speaking about happens to be who I am thinking they are…” Spy’s gaze was towards the wall in front of him. A deafening pause filled the air.
“... They will go to dangerous extents to get what they want. Even if that means doing something to you.”
His eyes fluttered closed as his cig rested between his fingers. He bathed in the still. You swallowed hard.
As much as you wanted to think, your mind was static. Just moments ago, thoughts and questions flung around in your brain like a madhouse. It all came crashing down with Spy’s stomach-churning words.
Not long after Spy straightened himself up. His eyes slowly opening as the last of what he was smoking smoldered into ash. Your attention focused on the ground, sweat started to form on the back of your neck.
Maybe… it was time to be done for the evening.
“Well then, I guess that does it.” Those words felt toxic in your mouth, “Thanks for all your help once again. … You know you didn’t have to do this if you didn’t want to. I told you about it as a reason to stay in touch.” A weak yet friendly laugh burst through a fake smile. You rose to your feet, stretching out your limbs.
Spy rose to his feet flashing you a tender smile at your forced laughter, “A good reason, indeed.” He agreed, “I hope I didn’t scare you; that wasn’t my intention.”
Well jeez, a little late for that.
“It would... pain me to see you get hurt. I’m just--”
“Looking out for my best interest, I understand.” You said. “Your concern goes farther than you think it does.”
“Well then, I might have to start being a bit more loathsome. You’re starting to get to know me a little too well.” He was joking, of course. His hand rested on your shoulder and you couldn’t help but have a real smile replace the old one.
Once he let go, he picked up the book giving it back to you. He walked you down the tunnel, but Spy stopped you before you could exit, “Let me check to see if it is clear for you to leave.” He used his invis watch and took a few steps into the water. An audible groan of disgust was heard somewhere in the distance and you couldn’t help but snicker.
Spy returned shortly. His dress slacks were soaked to about his knees. Every time his leg moved he cringed at the damp cloth hitting his skin. “The coast is clear for you, mon amie. Now you do not have to swim like a sewer rat back to your base.”
“Oh, wow. What a gentleman. Maybe I’ll do it out of spite now.”
He enjoyed your comeback, “I admire your humor. Get some rest now. Let me know if anything else bizarre happens.”
With a nod, you hopped onto the side of the drain. It was difficult to grab on with one hand holding the book, so you tucked it within your shirt. With one final wave and verbal farewell, you finished your climb onto the bridge.
You took the book out again. Looking at its cover didn’t spark any excitement anymore. The rough leather gliding against your thumbs made you sigh heavily. You knew Spy was right, but you couldn’t help but still be…
As much as you loathed clothing covered in dried blood and sewer water...
These unsolved mysteries were slowly climbing on your list.
Mademoiselle- Miss (feminine) [French]
Mon amie- My friend (feminine) [French]
Fait Accompli- Accomplished Fact (an idiom to describe an event that already happened before those affected hear about it, leaving them no option but to accept it) [French]