It's Not Unusual
(to be sad with anyone)
Notes: I used the dates and ages given in the comics for this. That, combined with googling Tom Jones' birthday told me that Jones would only be 5 years older than Scout. And Scout is a super fan so he'd know that. So this story was born out of math.
Reading the comics I have discovered I love Heavy and Scout just hanging out and I adore Zhanna.
It's Not Unusual
He was well aware that the other mercs viewed his denial with either pity or exasperation or a combination of both. There was only so many times he could claim that Tom Jones was his father before someone eventually called him out on it. Scout looked young for his age so when strangers thought to comment on his bold claims, they didn't usually comment on the age difference. But Scout was a massive Tom Jones fan. He had the chest tattoo to prove it. Thus, he was well aware that the Welsh singer was only five years older than him. And Scout's Ma wasn't some kinda pedo.
It was just easier to pretend that the death bed confessional was real or, at the very least, a hallucination created by his brain shutting down. Otherwise… otherwise Scout would have to acknowledge he had spent the past six years, including that time when it was just the two of them and Joey Murders in that tiny cell, alongside his father and his father. DIDN'T. SAY. ANYTHING. ABOUT. IT.
Not even when Scout was bleeding out.
Scout was pretty sure the only reason Spy even bothered to pretend to be proud of him was because Sniper was there to make him. Sniper was a pretty good friend so of course he'd want Scout to have closure after years of Scout telling him how he wished he had known his dad. Scout would have liked to have grown up with a father, someone to watch his back. Jeremy was loved by his older brothers but all seven older brothers had the same dad. And their dad really was dead. Scout sometimes suspected that's why his brothers picked on him, why they'd finish fights before he had a chance to get involved in the fray (until he trained himself to outrun them anyway). He was self-absorbed enough to want to stand out from his siblings but he didn't like feeling as if he wasn't one of them. Maybe having a father in his life would have given him some sense of belonging somewhere. And Sniper knew all that, more or less, so of course he'd push Spy to say something before it was too late. Spy had probably given in cause his knee was busted and it wasn't worth arguing with a naked dude. But Spy was still Spy and it probably really bothered him to have to admit to sharing genes with Scout so of course he wore a disguise to do so.
When Scout had told Heavy about how Tom Jones had come to see him, Heavy had frowned and said, "Your father is very stupid or think you very stupid. Jones young man, da?" Scout had shrugged and said, "Maybe I'm very young. Had to be twenty-one to join dis racket. Coulda lied about my age ta get in." To which Heavy had pointed out that that the only way it would have worked that way was if Scout had been a ten-year-old lying about his age. Heavy was the one merc that was truly exasperated with the whole Tom Jones thing because he knew that Scout knew who his real father was (along with the rest of Heavy's family and Soldier and Pyro as Scout's screaming had been heard throughout the whole house but Pyro and Soldier didn't seem to know what it meant and Zhanna was… Zhanna). Scout was pretty sure the entire base knew that Spy was his dad and none of them liked the Tom Jones story but it seemed like none of them knew that Scout knew (except for, like previously mentioned, Heavy and Zhanna). So, when the rest of the gang would mutter something under their breath whenever Scout talked abut his famous Welsh father, Heavy would point out that Scout knew better.
There were advantages to Scout knowing that Heavy knew that Scout knew that Spy was his father. Scout could deny the fact with extreme prejudice -and not the racist kind- but he just couldn't stop his mouth. You grow up with seven brothers and only one parent and you spend all your time talking non-stop, one sibling over the other, in the hopes that your mom picked you to pay attention to. If one was lucky, their Ma would catch maybe ten percent of what any one child was trying to tell her. So Scout talked non-stop, even when he knew that no older brother was there to talk over him, because after twenty-one years he didn't know how to stop. And when you talk that much then you sometimes say things you don't want anyone else to know. Scout and all of his brothers had accidently said something one time or another in front of their mother that got them grounded. (Scout was 99% certain that Spy had to be an only child because how else did he know how to keep a secret so well? Its easy to keep information to yourself when there's no one to share it with.)
Heavy, on the other hand, grew up taking care of siblings and knew how to listen to them. So when Scout thought that he was at risk of revealing the only real secret he had- that he knew who his real dad was- it was Heavy that he went to. Heavy wouldn't tell anyone partly because his English wasn't great and partly because Heavy knew that siblings didn't rat siblings out. Scout would always act like a little brother and Heavy couldn't shake the big brother role so they actually worked pretty well together when it came to talking (or skirting) emotional family crises. Thus, Scout would talk and talk and talk while Heavy got more and more annoyed until Scout could go another day able to deny his parentage without too much emotional trauma.
"Yana likes your father. Maybe you'll be little nephew." Zhanna told Scout one day.
Scout had been about to go into a rant about how great Tom Jones and of course any woman would want him when Heavy sent him such a dark look that Scout immediately shut up for once in his life.
"She means real father." Heavy muttered. "Bad enough Soldier is joining family. Don't need Spy as well."
Scout had turned red. He had hoped that Zhanna maybe hadn't heard his outburst in her house, while she was sat alongside him, on the same bed… "Spy is NOT my dad! Zhanna, please God, no."
Zhanna merely shrugged. "If Yana changes her mind then little man can still be little brother. Misha treats you like little brother. So, if little brother has issues with father and Yana is not opposed, I can dispose of Spook."
Scout had hidden his face in his hands in his embarrassment. He didn't fight it went Zhanna gave him a friendly pat on the back that nearly broke his spine before she left the room. He was lucky she did not like it when people talked to much if she was of the mind to acknowledge Scout's fears. Still, he had never had a big sister before and part of him had been warmed by the thought that he suddenly had one who was willing to take people out for him. And he wasn't too dumb to pick up on her pointing out how Heavy treated him. Even if he had to someday fess up that it was impossible for Tom Jones to be his dad then it would be worth it to know that Scout had managed to create a familial bond with the psychopaths he worked with.
If Heavy and Zhanna could have been considered his found family than that meant that Medic and Soldier could be considered his future brothers-in-law. Scout had spent a long time thinking of what that meant to him and he had decided that he could work with that. He even spent time thinking of how he could work the others into his family. It had been easy to work Demo into the dynamic because every family Scout had ever been familiar with had a drunk uncle. Pyro was like that black sheep cousin that you worried would kill you in your sleep. Sniper was also an uncle type, although the kind that was more awkward than anything and stayed mostly sober.
Engie was the one that was like a wise elder. The dad type that you went to for advice and hugs. Which didn't leave much room for actual father Sp- Tom Jones.
It wasn't like Spy left a lot of room for Scout either.
Joey fucking Murders was warmer to the runner and he was rotting in a grave somewhere.
"You ever gonna tell the sprout you're his dad for real?"
Well, fuck you too, Scout had thought from his hiding place in the kitchen. He didn't need the emotional burden of overhearing he was unwanted on his way to get a sandwich.
In the end it was Miss Pauling who announced, in front of all the other mercs, that there was no way Tom Jones could be Scout's father as Jones was only five years older than him. And Scout, not thinking as he had merely been running his mouth like usual when she called him out on the lie, had said, "Well yeah. I'm his biggest fan. I know exactly how close in age we are. Plus I'm pretty sure I'd have remembered the greatest man alive was my dad before I died that time considering I remember learning to walk in front of my dad."
Scout hadn't even realised what he said until he noticed that the room had gone deathly quiet, eight sets of mercenary eyes and one pair of pretty green eyes all on him. The runner had always preferred being the center of attention except for that fact that he only ever got that attention when something had gone terribly wrong.
"You… remember your dad?" Sniper had asked, shooting a sidelong look to a horrified Spy.
"What? No. Shit, no. I mean… someone help me out here." Scout said.
Zhanna merely nodded. "He announced it very loudly when I was trying to sex him. Little man has strong lungs for the yelling. Misha, do not make that face."
Scout screamed and buried his face in his hands. "Zhanna, dat is not what happened. Youse making it sound like yelling me da's name is how I get off."
"No, that's probably how your Ma got off." Demo had laughed.
And Scout… hadn't been able to decide if he wanted to go turn off Respawn and murder Demo or just turn of Respawn and off himself. Maybe both. All he had known was that it would have made sense if Tom Jones wasn't around because he was just so busy making world changing music. But any other father, other than a dead one, would have made the conscious choice to leave Jeremy. So Scout didn't want to admit to having any other father than Tom Jones. And Scout knew he was the kind of guy who ran his mouth until he said shit he didn't want people to know so he… just… ran.
Learning to outrun his brothers had always proven advantageous as it meant he could outrun every member of the team. Some of his brothers could outrun every member of the team. It had helped that no one had expected him to catapult himself over a couch that had Soldier, Zhanna and Medic sitting on it before he bolted towards the open doorway leading into the base. No one had been prepared to stop him. He just had to decide on where to go.
He couldn't just bail on the team, not after Saxton Hale renewed all their contracts. Yet Scout also couldn't just return to the common area after running scared. What he could do was sneak into his own room, grab the essentials- wallet, bat, baseball and jacket- and then head to the garage to get his bike. He'd stay on the other side of time, practicing his batting while he cooled off. He'd only have to worry about Demo and Soldier making fun of him and he was pretty sure that either Engie, Sniper or Heavy could put an end to that for him.
He wasn't worried about talking to Spy. Six years fighting side by side and five months with just the two of them and Mr. Murders told Scout that Spy wouldn't say anything. Why acknowledge your parental status now when you spent so long avoiding it?
Scout took the longer route back to his room, knowing that he wouldn't come across anyone from that direction. He thought the best way to go about things was to treat his wallet like intelligence and his room like an enemy base.
He could be as quiet as his father when he wanted.
Scout eased the door open, and quickly glanced around. The person most likely to be waiting in there for him was Engie, ready to dole out fatherly affection. But he wasn't. No one was in there. The others must have decided to let Scout deal with things his own way. The runner sighed, flopped onto his bed and rubbed at damp eyes. Then he took a steadying breath and got back up. Mechanical motions, letting routine take over so he didn't have to think. Wallet in back pocket. Jacket on. Ball and bat in his duffel bag. Contemplated writing a note but he could barely read, let alone write. What would have looked like sensible words to him would look completely jumbled to his non-dyslexic coworkers. It was fine. He wouldn't be gone longer than a day. Then, just in case Engie was giving him time to settle down and was about to appear outside the door in any moment, Scout starting climbing out his bedroom window.
"I did not peg you for someone who ran away."
Scout yelped and fell from his perch, landing on his ass on the bedroom floor. He glared in the direction that Spy's disembodied voice came from.
"I'm the Scout. All I do is run towards and away from things."
Spy materialised. "This is not the same thing."
No, this was worse. This was finding out Soldier had killed Tom Jones and Merasmus doing some dark ritual to bring Jones back from the dead bad. This was a twenty-seven-year-old man running away from home like a teenager bad. This was the one confrontation Scout wasn't expecting when he was about ready to cry bad.
"How far did you think you'd get before the Voice sent Miss Pauling to eliminate you because you violated your contract?" Spy asked.
Scout had gasped, affronted. "Miss Pauling would never!" Then he had frowned, staring down his running shoes. Muttered, "I'm not going to violate my contract. Just needed to get away from here for a day or two. Was gonna stay within Teufort's boarders."
"Well, that is actually a reasonable plan for once. But why do you need to leave?"
"Why do ya care?"
"… Tell me what you remember of your father."
Scout frowned, and thought about not answering. This mopey act wasn't who he was, wasn't how he presented himself. But he had too much emotion to deal with right now that he didn't know how to process at that moment. He wasn't shallow per se, but Scout knew himself well enough to know that he wasn't particularly deep either.
What he knew about himself was this: he could run better than anyone, he was God's gift to women, the only thing he was better at than baseball was hurting people, and he loved his Ma, his brothers, Miss Pauling and Tom Jones… and his father didn't want him.
For someone who only thought about the good things about himself, Scout could not figure out how to integrate that last fact with his generally narcissistic world view. He was naturally over-confident. It was how one survived fights on the streets of Boston and in the gravel pits of Teufort. Cockiness usually backfired right in one's face when dealing with a Spy though. Well, if Spy was about to do his spy thing and weaponize his knowledge then Scout might as well help him along. Ease the blow.
"Back in Russia, I starting remembering stuff. Told myself it was just a dream. I had lost a fight to a bear while in Amelia Earhart's Hotdog suit so it was a good time for unusual dreams." Scout sighed. "I was walking, in nothing but a diaper and a t-shirt of what I think was a googly eyed France. My Ma was watching over me by the recliner, where my dad was sat smoking a pipe. I remember thinking they were happy and maybe even kinda proud so I think it was my first time walking. But, like, I coulda been wrong. Dad's face was… covered… so I coulda misread his expression. He left us so he couldn't have been that proud."
Judging by Spy's sharp intake of breath the dream had been fairly accurate. The way Spy said "Jeremy," right after confirmed that Scout had had a memory instead.
"It's okay. I'll be okay. I'm used ta ya not liking me." Scout had said, deciding it was finally time to get off the floor. His ass had started to complain about his position post-fall. "Not gonna lie. I did want a dad who wanted me but I get why you'd wouldn't want me. It makes sense that I'd be the reason you left Mom."
Huh. Spy was frowning. Scout hadn't been expecting much emotional reaction from him, other than maybe distaste at having this conversation. Which Scout still failed to understand why they were having it. "Why do you think you were the reason I left?"
"Cause I remember you being all domestic with Mom. And she already had seven kids for another man when ya woulda gotten together. If seven kids didn't scare ya off then they couldn't have been the problem. And Ma couldn't have been the problem or ya wouldn't have tolerated her seven kids. Now, my Ma is awesome so any man would be lucky to have her even if she had a thousand kids. And you couldn't have left us 'cause you missed France or something. You're still in America. I ain't so dumb I can't figure out where the problem lies. Obviously ya left me. Only reason you haven't left me now is because of your contract. You were gonna leave me behind in Teufort when we were fired until I brought up my Ma- which, by the way, is additional proof that my Ma wasn't the one you needed to get away from." Scout paused for breath. Thought about what he wanted to say and then just said, "If I wasn't a problem for you then you'd be nicer to me. I ain't blind. You tolerate everyone on the team better than me. Even Sniper and you hate snipers in general!"
And then Scout thought oh shit as he had yelled that last part, and it seemed raising his voice had finally triggered the water works. He quickly scrubbed his eyes with his wrist as if the bandages he wore would soak up his tears before Spy saw. Damnit, he couldn't even look at Spy anymore after that.
He didn't hear Spy move. Hadn't realised how close Spy was until the Frenchman put an awkward hand his shoulder. Scout had flinched but didn't move away. He knew what Spy did with sudden moves.
"I… I didn't leave because of you but because of me. I was young enough when I met your mother that I thought I could have a wife and seven children and even one of my own and still do what I do. You remember the mask, non? I've been in espionage long before Teufort. I didn't understand the… difficulties parenthood brings. And your mother is older than I am. She had expectations that any woman who had been through a marriage before had learned to expect. She knew how much one needed to sacrifice of themselves for children, for a romantic partner. She understood financial obligations and the necessity of weekly routines. I was young enough that the only responsibilities I understood where the ones that made sure one did not get killed during this kind of work." Spy squeezed Scout's soldier. "I was not an awful father but neither was I a good one. There was more than one occasion my work followed me home. Your mother and I came to the conclusion that we couldn't be together… together."
Scout sniffed. "Okay, that explains then. It doesn't explain now. We've worked together for nearly seven years."
"How was I supposed to react when my twenty-one-year-old son came to a literal war zone when he should have been in college? A man who was barely out of his childhood and was coming to work with mercenaries who were specialists in their chosen fields? I've seen your file Scout. You had never killed anyone before. There were a good few you put in ICU, but being good at hurting people is not the same as being good at killing them. You were never hired to kill. You were hired to steal and outrun while the rest of us killed for you. You were meant to be expendable." Scout almost thought he heard an implied 'thank god you proved you weren't easily replaceable but he dismissed it as false hope. Then his father continued with, "I did not feel it appropriate for the first thing I ever said to my adult child to be 'Welcome to RED. I am your father by the way.' And then it felt like too much time had passed."
"Still don't explain why you like me the least out of everyone."
"Mon fils, I would not even blink if one of our teammates got themselves permanently killed. That is the nature of our work. But seeing you bleed out stopped me in my tracks. I am harder on you because I need you to be the strongest. I need you to be able to get yourself out of situations that I cannot get you out of. I will not have you bleed out in my arms again."
Scout whipped his head to the side to meet Spy's eyes. "So that was you?!"
"Did you really think Tom Jones showed up in the middle of a blood bath between Grey Man's robot army and our team?"
"I thought I was high from oxygen depletion! And, well, okay I knew it was you but I thought Sniper made you say it. But… but you know that Tom Jones is too young to be my dad! You commented on his age in the bank! Like, I always thought the last thing I'd see before I died was Tom Jones cause he's, like, gotta be a literal frickin' angel with dat voice. But I wasn't expecting him to be all 'I dropped a sex bomb on your mom!' What were you thinkin!?"
"Fine. I panicked all right? I did not know how to handle having the only time I held you since you were born be as you died. Tom Jones was the first person to pop into my mind… did you just call me Dad?"
Whoops. But still, Scout felt some relief. That had been the stupidest excuse he had ever heard in his life. And Scout had always wondered where he got his more idiotic tendencies from. It hadn't come from his mother as she was the smartest person that he knew, aside from Engie. It actually made Scout feel warm inside to think that his father could pull stunts like that without thinking like Scout did.
"Well, you are my dad aren't ya? Or do you prefer Spy?"
"I haven't the right to 'Dad.'"
"Uh-huh. So does this mean that you do sorta like me?"
Spy sighed in exasperation. "I do not want to say anything so embarrassing."
"C'mon. You can say it. You like me a little bit."
"You are my son and I do love you very much but you are making it very hard to like you right now." Spy snapped. Even the runner could see how uncomfortable the older man was with this conversation. It really made Scout wonder why Spy would even put himself in this kind of situation. One where he had to talk to someone who was clearly in emotional distress despite his personal loathing of having emotions. Scout still hadn't figured out what made Spy come to him instead of someone else. And then Scout registered Spy's words. Dissected them like he was Medic, looking for a lie instead of a bullet.
He was loved.
And so Scout found himself crying again but this time it was that good kind of cry. The kind where you were embarrassed but it didn't matter because the pressure in his chest was released. Spy seemed perturbed, unable to figure out what was wrong this time. Scout could have told him that there wasn't anything wrong but that would have required words. Words Scout didn't have right now. Instead, he threw his arms around Spy's shoulders and hugged him tight. He felt his father's muscles tense under him but ignored it. Eventually Spy would relax into it and hold his son back and maybe even make a joke, something like "At least it isn't blood this time but I am not certain tears are any better for my suit." And maybe he'd be trying not to cry and failing, despite thinking that tears were Scout's right and not his own.
Scout thought that they could start over. That they could phone up his mom and decide together how they wanted to move forward, if Scout would alternate holidays between them or have joint events. Maybe Scout even learn a little French because, shit (or, what was it Spy said, merde), he was half French.
And when he was ready to let Spy go, he'd go talk to Heavy. And maybe Zhanna too. Scout figured he could teach them the lyrics to all of Tom Jones' hit songs. They could sing them loudly every time they saw Spy for the next week.
Scout had to get back at him for letting him think Tom Jones was his dad.