Author's Note: Yes, another TF2 'fic. I'm not abandoning my other fandoms, but my major project in G.I. Joe right now is a story that requires more plotting than I usually do, so I've been unwinding by writing Team Fortress one-shots at the same time. And since I saw "Meet the Spy," well . . .

I don't believe that the Pyro is actually Scout's mother, or anything like that. However, it seems pretty obvious to me that if the RED Spy met the BLU Scout's mother, it was most likely because of the Scout's connection to BLU. His mom might be understandably upset about his involvement dragging the family into an inter-mercenary war. But on the other hand, she raised Scout and his seven brothers; I somehow doubt she's a lightweight, and it wouldn't surprise me if she had a fairly, erm, assertive personality.

Rating: T for language and implied naughtiness.

Disclaimer: Team Fortress 2 and all associated characters and concepts are property of Valve, and I derive no profit from this. Please accept this in the spirit with which it is offered—as a work of respect and love, not an attempt to claim ownership or earn money from this intellectual property.

Mother Knows Best

by Totenkinder Madchen

"How could ya?" the Scout shouted. Or perhaps, "yelped" would be the more appropriate word. Someone whose voice hadn't cracked until they were sixteen wasn't necessarily the most intimidating interrogator in the world—especially when the person they were facing down had been the same person to pat him on the back and tell him not to worry, that all boys grew at different rates, and it really wasn't anything to be ashamed of.

His mother was sitting at the small kitchen table, legs crossed, one eyebrow raised as she tapped her fingers on the scarred vinyl surface of the table. It was the same table that the Scout had shared with his brothers, fighting for space and dodging flying elbows while the only woman in the house doled out spaghetti and punitive smacks with absolute authority. But it was also the same table that had . . . argh argh argh . . . appeared in one of the photographs. The photographs which he had been trying to block out from his mind ever since his teammates had rescued him from the locker he'd been stuffed into, that day on the base.

Sniper had respawned, courtesy as ever of BLU's experimental cloning and brainwave-transferrence technology. The BLU Spy had respawned, complaining about what it did to his suit and shooting meaningful grins at the Scout. The psychological damage, however, would not be undone that easily. Especially since it had been the Soldier who took it upon himself to explain why nobody else could meet him in the eye.

"Yore momma's doin' the horizontal tango with that RED maggot of a Spy," he'd said in his usual comforting manner. "Though that ain't all true." The Scout had breathed a sigh of relief. "It weren't so horizontal much. Must have been one of them dirty foreign waysa doin' things. She was sorta wiggling way too much for it to be real American sex."

Shortly after that little incident, the Scout had put in for emergency leave. The Medic, thank God, had backed him up on it, claiming to the Administrator that the Scout "vas too schwach for proper experimenting, ja? He is no good to anyvon right now. His mother has all ze guts in zer family." Given that the RED team had been unusually quiet since their capture of the BLU team's latest intel, the Administrator had sighed noisily into the microphone and arranged to have the Scout packed off on a bus back to Boston.

Which meant that he was now standing in his mother's kitchen—the same kitchen of spaghetti and elbows and bitching at his brothers—and realizing that this kitchen was now also the kitchen of I did NOT need to find out just how that cookie jar got broken, Mom.

"How could I?" his mom repeated, crossing her arms. Despite the fact that the Scout was standing and she was sitting, her son got the distinct feeling that he was the one at a disadvantage. "Well, overall, I'd say it's your fault."

The Scout's mouth dropped open.

"I didn't ask you to drag the family into this," his mother added. She stood up, and even standing she was still shorter than Scout, but he retreated just a little bit anyway. She wasn't as young as she looked, but those looks were usually the thing people paid attention to: Scout knew for a fact that she still got wolf-whistled on the street. Which, until recently, had ranked as the creepiest thing he had ever seen in his life.

"Me—drag—Ma, come on!" the Scout managed to say. "Are you nuts?"

She jabbed her finger at him, and the Scout flinched backwards as if it was the barrel of an unfriendly Ambassador. "You decided to become a mercenary. You got hired by those Builder's Limited Unlimited-"

"Builders League United, Ma-"

"-Bullshit League Unequaled. I don't care. You joined those people, and now I get letters from you talking about how many times you fell off a roof and how you think some person in a gas mask might be a woman who really enjoys burning people to death." His mother crossed her arms again, eyes narrowed a bit. "You know, your brothers-"

The Scout groaned and covered his face. "Oh, Gawd, Ma! Not again!"

"Yes, again," she snapped. "Ronnie and Teddy called the other day, you know? Just yesterday. Ronnie wanted to tell me he was going to propose to Sarah this weekend, and he wanted to make sure I was all right with that. Teddy's graduating from college in May, and he's already got several nice job interviews lined up. Jackie and Freddie send me boxes every week of the new recipes the restaurant is trying out, and Larry says that the charges are absolutely false and he'll be out in a week or so. I only get a postcard from you at Christmas, and the last one had 'Welcome to the Fabulous Dustbowl, Visit our World-Famous Capture Points' on the back. You always complained about how 'mad-dog'-" she rolled her eyes a bit "-they used to be, but which one of my boys sent me gloves for my birthday?"

"But that was-"

"One glove still had a finger in it, honey."

"So, what, this is a revenge thing? You want me to call more often, so you—gah—" the Scout clutched his head. "Ma, this is crazy!"

His mother put her hands on her waist, and geez, the Scout wished that he had been in the office when the RED Spy broke in, because anything near her waist was the last thing he wanted to even acknowledge existed right now and a knife in the back sounded pretty damn good. "This is not a 'revenge thing.' Stop being melodramatic. But the fact is that if you hadn't joined those BLU people, I never would have met him. He came to the house," she added, "because he was looking for information on you."

"And you said 'Hey! This is an insane dangerous backstabbing psycho! Sounds like my kinda guy!'" To say that the Scout was hysterical was a mild understatement at this point. Between his loyalty to BLU, the knowledge that a RED Spy had been in his family's house, and the fact that he was discussing his mother's sex life, it was less 'hysteria' and more 'trauma.' He could hear the Medic's voice in his head: zis Junge is gone round ze bend. Anozzer von for ze spare parts pile, I zink.

The Scout's mother scoffed. "I didn't give him anything."

"Uh . . . bad choice of words, Ma."

"Oh, grow up. He was clever, too. He disguised himself as you. Perfectly." She shook her head. "I found him out, though."

The Scout scratched his head. "You set him on fire?"

"I made him a potato-chip sandwich."

In spite of the situation, the Scout grinned just a little at that. Even though the BLU Spy was ridiculously French, the RED Spy had him beat by a mile on that count. Stuck-up bastards couldn't appreciate good food, either: when Scout's mom had sent him a recipe for noodles with canned soup and tuna fish, the BLU Spy had turned a rather interesting shade of green under his mask and express-ordered a shipment of foie gras that same evening.

On the other hand, it meant he never had to share his Bonk.

"When the disguise dropped, I hit him over the head with a frying pan and tied him up," his mother said. She didn't sound mad any more. She sounded . . . oh, geez . . . wistful. The Scout's brief good mood vanished instantly. "We had a nice conversation about what I was going to do to him for daring to sneak into my house, but he didn't believe me. I was just going to get the cheese grater and prove it when he got out of the ropes and pushed me up against the wall."

For the sake of the Scout's tenuous grip on reality, his mother didn't go any further. Suffice it to say that several of the photographs had already filled in the blanks; that while there is no such thing as love at first sight, there is a rather similar species of lust; and that when the French invaded Veigy-Foncenex in 1792, they were very enthusiastically welcomed, if you know what we mean and we think you do.

"He came three times," his mother said. The Scout banged his head against the table. "To the house," she added impatiently.

The Scout slumped into the chair his mother had vacated and rested his head on the table. "Ma," he said weakly, "you're crazy."

His mother smiled. "Where did you think you got it from?"

* * *

The Scout didn't stay long in Boston. Sure, his mom had always been tough—raising eight kids by yourself will probably do that to ya, he figured—but this was just too freaky for him. Plus, Ma wanted to celebrate him being back in town by inviting all of his brothers over, and the Scout would rather get himself Jarate'd then deal with that. He was on the next bus back to the desert.

His mother escorted him to the station, anyway. The bus left at five o'clock in the morning, and at that hour, the station was practically empty; only a couple of janitors were sweeping up. She hugged him just like she always did before he left, gripping him a little too tight around the ribs before pulling off his ball cap and making one final, futile effort to get his hair in some kind of order. And the Scout reacted just like he always did, squirming and going "C'mon, Maaaa!" before she finally let him go.

"You're coming back for Christmas," she said. It wasn't a request. "And if you manage to find a lady friend, bring her too."

"Ma, I'm in a fort in the middle of the desert." The Scout rolled his eyes. "Even if I do manage to meet a girl, she's not exactly gonna fit in with Sarah-the-grad-student or Larry's parole officer."

"So look harder." His mother patted him on the shoulder. "Everybody needs someone. Believe me, I know that celibacy is no fun."

The Scout cringed. "Ma!"

"Oh, stop complaining. Have a good time in your fort, sweetie. Say hi to your teammates for me. And find out if that cackling insane one is a woman or not; my book group and I always share stories about our kids, and it's just embarrassing to have to say 'my baby boy is out in the desert with seven men and one maybe-man.'"

She gave him a gentle push towards the gate. The bus was waiting, its engine rattling a little as it groaned to life. Even the janitor had disappeared; there was nobody left in the station now except them.

As he hefted his backpack, the Scout turned around. "Look, Ma, I-"

He cringed a little and stopped. His mother was standing there, and she was eyeing the BLU logo on the backpack.

"Go be a mercenary," she said quietly. "I'll be all right."

The Scout bit his lip. "Will you?"

"I captured one of their spies. Those RED people won't touch me now. And if they try?" She cocked her head a little, and for a moment, an eerily familiar devious grin split her face. "I'll get out the cheese grater again."

Oddly enough, it was the most reassuring threat he'd ever heard.

* * *

The Scout waved through the clouded glass window as the bus jerked into motion, and his mother waved back. The bus quickly rounded the corner and disappeared from sight, absorbed into the early morning rush-hour traffic. His mother sighed, just a little, and tugging at the collar of her blue jacket. It was nice to see her youngest again, and she understood his concern, but . . . well . . .

There was a soft noise behind her, and a red-gloved hand faded into existence as it rested on her shoulder.

. . . but he just had the worst timing in the world.

"Bonjour, ma petite chou-fleur."