Spy was neat. That much was apparent from his room. He had left the lights off and his bed made. There was a few days' worth of dust on everything, but that was to be expected. He had died last week, and Engineer had only just got around to cleaning out his room. He probably wouldn't have bothered if Spy had his weapons with him when he died. He wasn't in the habit of pawing through the belongings of his dead teammates, but he was in charge of weapons, and he couldn't rightly give damaged equipment to whoever the next Spy would be.
He pulled the shades back and opened the window. It was a cold outside, but the cool air helped sweep the musty, closed-up feeling out of the room. He turned his back to the window, and wondered where Spy had kept his weapons. It would be easier if they were lying out in some obvious place, but the entire room was bare, as if it had never been occupied.
He shivered. He didn't believe in ghosts, but the empty room was spooky. He scolded himself for being childish, and opened the top drawer of Spy's dresser. Precisely folded socks and underwear, but no weapons. The other drawers were similarly stocked.
He sighed and closed the dresser. Lord knows, he hadn't gotten along with the Spy, but it seemed wrong, somehow, to be going through his things. He remembered cleaning out his grandmother's house after she died. It had felt weird, going from room to room, stripping his Gramma's house of her possessions. The entire process had taken three days, and he had been immensely grateful when they finished. He still avoided her house on principle. She was long since dead; it was better not to hold onto her.
Spy didn't have a bedside table, and he wasn't the sort to keep things in boxes under his bed. That left the desk. It was made of dark wood polished to a gleam. Engineer sat in the chair, and opened the first of the three drawers.
The Spy's pistol, knife, and disguises were lying on top. Engineer scooped them up with a note of triumph, and made to slam the drawer when something caught his eye. The drawer was full of photographs.
He set the equipment on the desk, and took the top picture off the stack. It was of a handsome young man dancing on his wedding day. He and his bride were gazing into each others' eyes, unaware of anything but each other. Engineer realized with a pang that it was the Spy. He turned the picture over. Miguel y Isabel.
His stomach sank. He set the wedding picture on the desk, and flipped through the stack. They were all pictures of the same wedding, full of people laughing and smiling and dancing and happy to be together. Each photograph had names printed neatly on the back. The names somehow made it worse. The pictures of the Spy, of Miguel, surrounded by his family were difficult enough to look at, but matching the names to the happy faces made the whole thing more real.
He should have put the pictures back where he'd found them, and left the room. He should have pretended he never saw the evidence that their Spy had once been a young man with family and friends that loved him. He should have, but he didn't.
Instead, he looked through the next stack. The pictures were mostly of the couple fixing their first home. The woman was pregnant, and Miguel was positively glowing with pride. Their child was a son, a boy named Miguel after his father.
The rest of the photographs documented the boy's childhood. He looked like his mother, but he had his father's eyes. He was an active child, and always surrounded by friends and cousins. And in the background of the pictures, his mother and father were still very much in love.
Engineer thought he was going to be sick. He had never taken the time to think of Spy as a person. He was Spy: cold, standoffish, and cruel. But he was also Miguel: a father, a husband, very much alive and very much loved. He had more reason than any of them to want to leave the fort, but he hadn't. He had followed his orders, and even if Engineer disagreed with him, he had to admire him.
Maybe he had been a better person than any of them had been able to see.
A cold breeze drifted through the window, stirring the messy stacks of pictures on the desk, and sending a few stray photos drifting to the floor. Engineer gathered them up, and restacked the photos. He slid the piles back into the drawer, and then closed it. He slipped Spy's weapons into the pockets of his overalls, then stood and shut the window.
He left the room with a final, fleeting glance over his shoulder. He thought he saw the shadow of a tall, thin man sitting in the desk with his head in his hands. But when he looked again, the image was gone.
After all, he didn't believe in ghosts.
Wrote this for Kytri's wonderful fancomic, Cuanta Vida, but I decided it was open-ended enough to submit it here under TF2. Anyway, if you have spare time, definitely go read Cuanta Vida .com/?p=3.