AUTHOR'S NOTE: This fic was written completely out of spite. I got tired of all the terrible Kawaii Emo Spy and Van Rapist Sniper stuff out there, and of most of the Sniper/Spy fandom in general. I also got tired of all the people putting the characters and the pairing down or outright dismissing everything featuring them without a second glance because of the reputation caused by the former.
So here it is, an egotistical attempt at how to do it 'right'. Romance, humor, drama, a pinch of action and perhaps a dash of (hopefully) realistic character development and progression. I hope you like it, and that it makes Sniper and Spy enjoyable or at least tolerable again. Originally posted in its entirety on TF2chan, this is the edited, completely finished version. Danke schoen.
AUTHOR'S NOTE II: If you see an e-book called It Could Be Worse out there, do not be alarmed. I have adapted ICBW into a completely original story and published it to help pay the bills. Danke schoen.
It Could Be Worse
Sniper raised the brim of his hat an inch and looked at the sleek dress shoes and smart pinstripes to his right, so out of place in the scrubby desert. Then he lowered it again, shutting his eyes.
"And how are you, this fine afternoon?" the voice continued.
Sniper ignored it, settling lower in his deck chair.
"Tch. Such treatment of your own teammate. It is but a simple polite qu-"
"Well I was nappin' until you showed up, Spy!" he finally snapped, the brim of his hat rising again with an angry flick of his fingers as he glared up at the man. "Thought your type was s'pposed to be more observant than that!"
RED Spy didn't respond, instead gazing idly about at the scenery. The RED Sniper insisted on living outdoors in his camper van, and had annexed a private back corner of their current base's property for himself. Half-hidden by old crates, cannisters and piles of equipment and parked right up against the fence, it was very much out of the way and not something you'd stumble upon accidentally. You'd have to make a point of coming over.
The Australian gunman had indeed been napping, sprawled out on a slightly-too-small and rickety old deck lounge chair that he'd propped up outside of his camper, his bulky vest draped over a corner of one of the closer crates. For whatever reason the BLU Team never made a move on weekends, giving the REDs a chance to catch their breath and relax. Sniper enjoyed the occasional afternoon siesta in the sun, and had been in the midst of one when so rudely interrupted.
Jumbled piles of washed jars and empty beer bottles dried in the sun next to the old van. The ground around the chair itself was randomly littered with newspapers, magazines, old cigarettes and several more bottles, both empty and full. Spy gave one near his foot a little kick.
"All you would need is an old tire in the corner there, and perhaps a few fruit peels, and then you would have the beginning of a most wonderful garbage dump," Spy remarked.
"Yer so funny. What do you want, Spy."
"Want? Want? I want nothing but to fraternize with my coworker. We are a team, after all."
"Hrmph. Save it for later. I ain't in the mood for talkin'."
"As you wish, mate."
Sniper grumbled at the imitation, and shaded his face with the slouch hat pulled low. He soon heard footsteps, a slight rustling, and the gentle hiss of the Spy's cloaking device. All was finally quiet once more; Sniper exhaled. Then he sat bolt upright, whipping his head to and fro. His vest had disappeared right along with the Frenchman.
Swearing loudly, he jumped up and started heading at speed in the direction he'd heard Spy go. The other man had the reflexes and stealth of a cat when he wanted, and seemed to spend just as much time antagonizing his own side as he did fighting the enemy. The Spy also seemed to take special delight in bothering Sniper. Sniper figured it had something to do with the mercenaries' jobs being so similar yet so at odds with each other, or some sort of spill-over aggression from fighting the BLU Sniper, but who really knew with that man. He'd probably singled Sniper out randomly.
He rounded another corner, and entered the base. The antagonization had reached new levels lately, with Spy outright stealing people's belongings. Mostly his. The infuriating part was that he apparently did it just for kicks, as within a few hours the missing item was usually found just sitting somewhere random, discarded. Sometimes it was an innocent item, sometimes not. Spy had once found a purse, of all things, and had quietly left it on the messhall table for all to see. The massive confusion and suspicion had lasted several days. The smarmy bastard had probably loved every minute of it.
Sniper heard movement in a hallway to his left and quickly entered it, eyes peeled for the telltale glimmers and distorted shadows cloaking devices made when up close. He quickened his pace again after what sounded like a faint snicker, just on the edge of hearing.
Sniper could feel his temper rising, something it did a lot more often lately then it used to. His job called for a great deal of patience, which he usually had in spades, but it appeared that getting under people's skin was part of the Spy's own job description.
He loped up and down the twisty passages of the lower fortress, glaring into closets and spare rooms, always coming up empty-handed. Whenever he thought Spy had lost him and was about to give up, the footsteps started up yet again. Sometimes it sounded like they were doubling back to him before taking off once more; like he was being egged on to keep going.
And there they were, loud and clear, heading in his direction. Sniper quickly flattened himself against the wall, just around the edge of the corner. To hell with all this chasing, he was just going to wait for Spy to finish doubling back again and jump him. He flexed his fists, holding his breath during a slight pause in the sounds. They resumed, and the moment he saw the tiniest sliver of shadow rounding the corner, he jumped.
"Gotcha, ya poncey little spoo—aw, piss. Sorry, Pyro."
Sniper released the RED Team Pyro from his headlock, holding his hands up placatingly. Pyro rubbed their head and neck gingerly, muffled anger emanating from within the gasmask. While the Pyro's face was completely obscured by the mask, the blank goggles still managed to give Sniper an offended and accusing look.
"Sorry mate, really. I thought ya were Spy, he—," Sniper stopped, and narrowed his eyes slightly. He raised his hand, paused for a few seconds, and then gave the Pyro's mask a few jabs with his finger. This elicited more muffled outrage, and he quickly took several steps back.
"Sorry sorry sorry! I just wanted to make sure y'were really you! Spy's gone klepto on us again."
Pyro lowered their fists. "Hmfeththm?" they inquired.
"Took me vest when I wasn't lookin'. You ah, ain't seen it around, have ya?" Pyro shook their head. "Piss."
The Sniper kicked at an imaginary annoyance on the ground, and gingerly patted the Pyro on their shoulder. "Ahr, well. Keep an eye out for me, would ya? An' if you see Spy, give 'im a little hotfoot or somethin', eh? Sorry again."
The Pyro made a muffled chittering noise that Sniper presumed to be laughter, and gave him the thumbs up. He watched them walk away. Bollocks to this, he thought. Hands in pockets, he headed for the messhall.
"Son, I don't think you could make more noise if y'all tried."
The Scout and Engineer were the only two people in the messhall when Sniper entered. This was fine by him, as they were the ones of the whole odd bunch that he got on best with, them and Demoman. The Demoman spent a lot of time going back and forth between angry drunk and maudlin drunk, Engineer was always rambling away about big words and mind-numbing science, and the kid could be hyper and chatty to an annoying extent, but they were far more tolerable than, say, ten minutes in the same room as Soldier.
Engineer was sitting at the table, scritching away at blueprints for some thing or another with a half-eaten plate of eggs and toast next to him. He occasionally looked up to frown at Scout, who was digging away in the fridge with a cacophany of clinks and clanks. He was rummaging around in everything, stuffing random pieces of food in his mouth as he went.
Sniper regarded this display of youthful metabolism with the quiet hatred of older men everywhere, and turned to the cupboards. Carefully pulling out his prized #1 SNIPER mug, he started fixing himself a pot of decaf without a word.
Scout watched him out of the corner of his eye, cheeks bulging as he chewed. Wiping his mouth with the back of his hand after finally swallowing he asked, "Yo, Legs. Yer face's longer than usual. What's up?"
"Uh-huh, sure. Dingos eat your baby again?"
The gunman slowly swivelled his head in the Scout's direction. He looked so enormously pleased with himself over that joke that Sniper decided to just drop it and let him have it. He swivelled back to his coffee.
"It get that hot out today, Sniper?" Engineer asked.
"Eh? Wotchoo mean?"
Engineer nodded at Sniper's chest. "You're not wearin' your vest, so I was wonderin' how hot it is."
"Oh. It's kind of hot, yeah," Sniper sighed. "But I ain't wearin' my vest 'cos Spy stole it."
The Scout made a disgusted noise, and spat a piece of apple core into the trashcan in the corner. "Man, Spy's nickin' stuff again?"
"He's nickin' my stuff again. Goddamn spook seems to have it in for me in particular. You two ain't seen 'im recently? Or my vest?"
"'Fraid not, Sniper. He don't seem to mean real harm with this sort of thing though, so I think it'll show up eventually."
"Gawd, I was so pissed when I thought I'd lost my favorite ball and it just turned out to be Frenchie laughin' at me. How come nobody's complained to the big guys?"
"It ain't real theft, Scout, I doubt they'd care."
The light on the coffee machine bleeped on, and Sniper poured out the fresh decaf. "He's right, unfort'nately. Wish he wasn't. I got better things to do than keep worryin' what of mine'll go missin' next."
Engineer scratched his chin. "Eh, that ain't no knotty problem. Just ignore him."
"Easier said than done, mate."
"Well, try at least. He does it to get a rise outta people. Obvious as spit. You ignore him, it ain't fun for him anymore and he stops. I know he ain't bothered me in a long time 'cos of that."
Sniper looked into the steaming contents of his mug, savoring the smell of the black coffee.
"Here's hopin'," he grunted.
Sniper had been about to open the backdoor of his van when he finally noticed the dark shape on the edge of his vision. Setting his coffee mug on a crate, he climbed the vehicle's ladder and cautiously peered over the edge of its roof. It was his vest.
He yanked it down, hopping back to earth and disturbing the desert dust, searching every inch of the vest. It seemed to be in perfect condition; not a bullet or button was out of place. Nothing was missing from its pockets. Slowly putting it back on, he wondered if Spy had immediately placed it up there and he'd been chasing the Frenchman for no reason all that time, or if he'd just recently come back to return it after the fun had ended.
Helluva way to spend yer free time, Sniper thought to himself.