Disclaimer: I do not own Team Fortress 2 or any of the associated characters or locations. I borrow, I play with, I give back. All rights reserved
Author's note: This is my first Team Fortress 2 story. Just a short bit of fluff – be kind!
"All team members report for mail call," the Announcer's clipped voice echoed through the Dust Bowl, "Repeat, all team members report for mail call."
Christmas had finally arrived, though the meteorologically inclined wouldn't be able to tell at a glance. The Dust Bowl was, as its name implied, dry, dusty, quite devoid of snow, and only slightly cooler than its average temperature, which was poetically summarized by the Sniper as Really Bloody Hot.
Hot it may have been, but Christmas it certainly was, one of the few days when the Administrator allowed both the RED and BLU teams to take a break from the Games, and in light of the season, the mail was full of gifts from various loved ones back home. It seemed that there was a gift for everyone, even those who didn't keep in regular touch with their families. The Scout had a huge family, so he was practically buried in gifts, while even the Spy seemed to have a secret Santa who shared his taste in simple, elegant, razor-sharp things.
Soon, it appeared, it was all over but the cleanup… and it was then that the BLU team noticed the Pyro searching through the sheaves of mail for something bearing his name. This was not a new sight – the firestarter didn't seem to have anyone back home – wherever back home was for him – to write to him, and for that matter nobody was quite sure what his real name was. He didn't talk much about his home – or at all, really, outside of the Games – and it seemed only the Administrator (who knew everything) had any clue where he came from. Hell, only the Medic knew what the man looked like under his ever-present gas mask (and while the German doctor was usually the soul of discretion, the implications had been horrific).
And now, it seemed that another Christmas would pass without a gift for Pyro. He gave no complaints, just muffled whimpering noises through his mask, before heading off to a bench at the far end of the meeting room and slumping onto it, his head hanging low.
The Sniper glanced at the dejected Pyro and sighed. "Happens every bloody year," he observed, having personally witnessed the past five such.
"What's with him?" the Scout asked, "He ain't got no family or nothin'?"
The Sniper shook his head. "Not so far as I can tell. Ye'd think 'e'd 'ave someone back home, friends or somethin'. No mail. No packages. S'like the man dropped outta the bloomin' sky."
"Well, that ain't right," the Scout frowned.
The Scout glanced around at his own collection of packages – most of them the spoils from being the youngest of eight kids – until his eye fell on the one that he had sent away for himself, scraping together his earnings from the Games after having witnessed this exact scene the previous Christmas. He picked up that package – about four feet long and one wide – and turned to the lonely Pyro.
"Hey Firebug!" he called. The gasmask lifted to regard him, and then tilted in curiosity as the young Bostonian approached with the heavy prize. "Here ya go. Merry Christmas, man." He set the package in the Pyro's lap, and for a few seconds the firestarter just started at it in shock. He looked up at the Scout, pointing a rubber-gloved finger at his own chest. The Scout grinned. "Yeah. From me to you. Now you can't say I never do nothin' for ya." He stepped back as the Pyro tore away the heavy brown paper, revealing a shiny new two-handed fireaxe. He hefted the weapon, giving it a few practice swings. It was difficult to tell in the next few moments what the Pyro's opinion of his new weapon was – until he set it reverently on the bench and swept the Scout into a fierce, rib-cracking hug worthy of the Heavy. And, through the three layers of insulated rubber that made up the Pyro's flamesuit, the Scout could feel the irregular spasms of the other man's hitching breath. It took a few moments for him to put this together with the muffled sounds now issuing from the gas mask; the Pyro, who had only ever shown triumph or rage, was in tears – great wracking sobs of joy. The Scout wondered if this was the first Christmas present he'd ever gotten on base.
The Pyro finally released his teammate, and the Scout landed tidily on his cleats.
"Hey," the younger man said, giving the Pyro a friendly cuff to the gas mask, "I dunno what you got where you came from, but remember that you got family around here. Got it?"
"All right. You ever need anything, you come see me. Even if ya just wanna talk. A'ight?"
Hesitation, then nod-nod-nod.
There was a heartwarming silence as the Scout returned to gather up his own packages. He paused and glanced over at the Sniper, who seemed to be trying to work something out.
"Spit it out, Aussie," Scout said.
"That was a noice thing ye did fer 'im, but… what ye gonna do if 'e wants te talk to ye? Nobody ken unnerstand 'im through that gas mask."
The Scout snorted. "I got seven rowdy older brothers that all liked to talk with their mouth full. I think I'll manage."
In hindsight, the Sniper concluded that he should have seen that coming.