(I don't own Team Fortress Two)

A/N: What?! this is the last chapter? huh.


~Chapter Ten~


The next day, the visitors stayed and rested. They'd hit it off well with Russel, and he was beginning to relax a little bit. Affery, especially, had taken it upon herself to make Russel comfortable, and to make sure that the guys didn't say or do anything to upset the scout.

After a day or two, though, the group had to return.

"Thanks, you guys," Beryl thanked them, rubbing his chin absently.

"Hey, no problem," Mankato insisted. "Just glad that we were able to take care of your spy problem." Russel was suddenly self-conscious as he shook hands with them.

"Um... Thank you," he said shyly. "Sorry to be such a problem." Affery was about to protest, but this time, Beryl beat her to it.

"What are you talkin' about?" Russel was blushing, unable to meet the concerned eyes around him.

"W-well," he stammered, not liking the way this was going. "If you hadn't kept me here with you, then he wouldn't have come back, and you wouldn't have had to waste your time dealing with him." Beryl shook his head.

"Well, that's absolute bullshit," Affery observed. "We like you. Obviously, Beryl likes you. All that aside, the bastard needed to die anyway. And trust me, it's my pleasure. Spies burn quite nicely..." She laughed, a little crazily.

"You... scare me, you know that?" Mavi teased, backing away from her. Affery grinned.

"Hey, that's what I'm aiming for." Russel smiled at the team's friendly banter. He could tell that they were trying to distract him, to reassure him, and actually, he was feeling a little better.

"Thanks," He told them quietly. They said their last goodbyes, and then the small group of Blues departed. Beryl could see the change in Russel almost as soon as they left. He instantly became more relaxed, and he seemed less strained.

"You okay?" His voice startled the scout, who jumped slightly.

"Yeah, why?"

"Well, you seemed kinda uptight when they were here, even after they convinced you that they liked you." Russel's shoulders slumped. He was hoping to not have this conversation.

"Yeah... I dunno. I just... new people, all at once, and in such a small area... eh." He shrugged again.

"Just not comfortable yet?"

"Pretty much..." he sighed sadly, clutching his arms close to his body. "Ah, fuck it."

"Huh?"

"Fuck this. Me and all my stupid hang-ups."

"Russel, what do ya mean?" Beryl was beginning to worry...

"I mean that I'm so fucking high-maintenance!" he shouted, startling the engineer. "I mean that I shouldn't still be so freaked out about this shit! I mean that I'm just being totally stupid and pathetic! I mean, he's dead! What the fuck is my problem? And just-just-" He was breathing heavily, and his body was trembling from the severity of the imminent panic attack.

"Hey, Russel," Beryl called softly, aware of how close the scout was to falling apart. "Hey, lissen to me, Russel," He pleaded, gently reaching out and stroking the boy's cheek. "Lissen. You are not a burden, or a bother. You aren't stupid, and you aren't pathetic."

"But-" Beryl put his hand over the boy's mouth.

"Hey, now. I'm not done. Just lissen, love. You have every right to still be upset and uncomfortable. Kay? You are amazing. You're doin' wonderfully, considderin' the shit you've been through." Russel still didn't meet his eyes. "I'm serious, Russel, and I'm not just sayin' it because I love you- although that has somethin' to do with it, of course." Russel had turned away from Beryl, but the engineer could tell that he was a bit calmer. "It's okay to be feel like this. It's alright to be afraid. But it'll be okay," he told the scout. "It'll be okay. It's over, and you're safe. You're here with me now, and we're gonna be okay." Russel turned to him, smiling a little through his tears. He held his hand out to the engineer, but Beryl ignored the hand, instead putting his arms around him protectively. Russel leaned into the hug, allowing himself to be held.

"Beryl, I'm sorry that you have to deal with me."

"Russel. Shut up." The scout laughed a little at that. "Lissen, how's this sound? You 'n' me, we can get outta this hellhole. We can stop by and see yer ma, and then we can go wherever ya want. Whaddaya think?"

"You... you would want to take me with you?" Russel's voice was quiet and unsure.

"I told yeh before, I wanna keep you with me. I love you." Russel blushed as he nuzzled his face into the larger man's chest.

"Thank you," he whispered. Beryl began rubbing his back lightly, and Russel could feel his fears and anxieties beginning to recede.

"Beryl, hurry up!" Russel shouted back to the engineer, who was struggling up the side of yet another sand dune.

"Hey, not everyone's got springs in their feet, ya know!" he called back playfully. It had been three months since they had moved away from the base, and Beryl had begun building their house. It was tucked back into the woods, but it was near enough to the coast that they were able to walk to the ocean. It took a while, but the exercise felt good to the two men.

"Yahoo!!!!" Russel practically threw himself down the steep hill, losing control about halfway down and sliding the rest of the distance on his face.

"You okay?" Beryl shouted frantically. He hated it when Russel did stupid stuff like that. "Russel!"

"Yeah, I'm-ouch-fine," The scout waved away Beryl's concern, climbing laboriously to his feet. "Aw, man! Lookit this!" His chest was scraped from being rubbed against the sand, and there was sand covering every inch of him. Beryl couldn't stop himself from laughing as he caught up with the boy. "Hey! You better watch who you're laughin' at!" Russel picked up a handful of sand and threw it at Beryl, showering the engineer.

"Hey! Look who's talkin,' buddy!" He retaliated by grabbing the scout around the waist and slinging him over his shoulder. He'd gained weight in the last few months, but he was still extremely thin.

"Put me down!" he demanded, laughing. "Noooooo, put me down!!!"

"Oh, no. Not yet," Beryl reprimanded him as he was carried closer and closer to the water.

"Nooooooooooo!" Russel thrashed around like mad. "Don't throw me in the water!!!"

"Fine, fine," Beryl sighed, putting him down. "Suit yourself." Russel laughed and hugged Beryl before running after a flock of seagulls that had landed nearby, screaming at the newcomers for food. They shrieked angrily as Russel ran through their numbers, laughing like a little kid. Good, Beryl thought, smiling as he watched Russel's childish antics. It's good to see him smilin' like that... Not everything had gone well after they left the base. They did indeed try to visit Russel's ma, but she still didn't want to talk to him. She did say that she was relieved that he wasn't dead, and that she still loved him, but she couldn't accept him until he had realized "the error of his ways." Beryl had tried to tell Russel that his relationship with his mother was more important than their relationship, but Russel had taken that completely the wrong way, breaking into hysterics, because he was convinced that Beryl was trying to leave him, using his mother as an excuse. Finally, Beryl was able to convince him that he wasn't trying to do anything of the sort, and things had improved slightly. They had moved quite a bit farther south, but not too far- it was always hot enough to swim and play in the ocean, but it wasn't dangerously hot and dry, like it had been in the desert. Russel had initially not wanted to even go near the water, convinced that it was too cold, or too salty, or too... something. There were fish in it, and one of them could be a man-eater (unlikely, in Beryl's opinion). Eventually, Beryl figured out that Russel hadn't learned to swim, and so he taught him. Now, Russel loved everything about the beach, water included.

"Beryl, look!" Russel was gesturing excitedly toward the open expanse of sea. "Dolphins! Dolphins!" Russel was clearly thrilled by this, and Beryl found that he was pretty happy about it too. Dolphins were cool. They reminded him of Russel, with their seemingly endless energy and sweet personalities.

"You goin' in the water?" He asked Russel as they watched the pod move away from the shore, into the deeper waters.

"Yeah. Come with me?" Beryl wasn't a big fan of swimming, but for Russel, he could get a little wet. He stood from his spot on the blanket, taking Russel's hand in his.

As they waded into the shallow, sunlit waters, small fish darting around their feet and the gentle rhythm of the waves hindering them ever-so-slightly, there was nowhere else that either of them would have rather been. Beryl and Russel had each other, and that was all that was needed. Even more than that, though, Russel was healing. He was smiling almost all the time now, although he did still get dreams that had him screaming, Beryl frantically trying to wake him. But he no longer feared betrayal, he no longer feared that Beryl would leave him. He'd learned to get through life.

"It's beautiful, innit?" Beryl murmured as they surveyed the endless water and the tranquil shore line.

"It really is," Russel admitted. He loved where they lived, and he loved being here with Beryl. He had reconciled with the sea. He was happy.


:~:end:~:


A/N: Yeah, yeah. I know. lame ending, and I do apologize. I just totally didn't know where to go with it. I dunno.

~The 2nd to last sentence about the ocean is kind of stupid... Basically, I just threw that in there because they were by the ocean, and the name Mer (blue spy, remember?) means "sea" in French. so I just was being all symbolic. lame.

*many thanks to soundofmadness223*

~thank you all for reading this story, and I really appreciate all the positive feedback I got on this. I'm really thankful to you guys, and I hope that you liked it. :D

~it's my birthday today (feb. 5), so I had to update my stories today. yep, I'm cool like that. :D

~alex~