Author's Note: Well, guys, this is the final chapter! It was originally going to be two chapters, but they were both so short that I decided to combine them. Thank you all so much for your continued support and reviews! I'm so happy to see how many people enjoyed this story! I will be posting more in the future, so you'll be seeing more of Red, Danny, Theo and their friends!
Chapter 42 - Finale
Both RED and BLU were told by their teams' Medics to wait in RED's respawn room while they performed surgery on Red. They knew the procedure to remove the bullet from Red's chest would take a long time, so both Engineers took that time to check the respawn barrier to see if there was a way to get the Medics' Mediguns working. Unfortunately, they discovered that the barrier was damaged beyond repair. They returned to the respawn room to wait with their teammates. A group decided to take their mind off of things by playing cards in the corner. The rest were either pacing nervously or chatting with one another to occupy their minds.
Spy was sitting on a bench, holding Scout close and gently rubbing his back as he lightly rocked him back and forth. Scout was staring blankly at the floor as he clung to Spy, resting his head against his chest. Spy would occasionally bring a hand up to wipe away a stray tear that would fall down the young man's cheek, eliciting no response from him as he did so. He frowned deeply at Scout's uncharacteristic silence and lack of energy, though he understood very well why. He wished that he could do more to help him take his mind off of things and alleviate his worries. He looked up when BLU's Sniper approached them, sitting on Spy's other side with an equally concerned expression.
"'ow are you doin', Danny?" he asked worriedly as he brought a hand to the top of the boy's head to smooth his hair down. Scout tightened his grip on Spy's suit and buried his face into his chest, shutting his eyes tightly and taking a deep breath to calm himself.
"Dad…" whimpered Scout quietly. Spy hugged him tightly and kissed the top of his head, rubbing his back again.
"Shh, it'll be okay," he assured him. "Both Medics will take care of him and make him better." As if on cue, both Medics returned to the respawn room, looking tired after having operated on Red for hours. Scout looked up to see the two Germans standing in the room. Without waiting to hear what the doctors had to say, Scout got up and darted out of the respawn room toward the infirmary, ignoring the loud protests from his teammates. He ran faster than he had ever run before, making it incredibly difficult for both teams to keep up with him as they chased after him.
Scout swung the infirmary door open and stared wide-eyed at his father, who was lying unconscious in a bed, hooked up to a heart monitor that was beeping slowly. His chest was heavily bandaged, the white almost blending with his pale skin. Scout shook his head in disbelief as he rushed to his father's side, sitting down on a stool. The rest of the team arrived shortly after Scout sat down. They stayed back in the room and watched in silent shock. Spy was about to step forward to join Scout before his team's Medic held an arm up in front of him, shaking his head solemnly. Spy looked utterly heartbroken as he stared wide-eyed at Medic, then at Scout. Just by reading Medic's expression, he knew things were grim.
Scout brought a hand up to his father's face, then pulled back when he felt how cold it was. He took his father's hand into both of his and squeezed gently. He gave his father a hopeful look.
"Dad?" he asked quietly. "Dad…please wake up. I…I don't know if you can hear me, but…" Scout took a moment to regain his composure. "…there's something I need to tell you. I've only known you for less than a month, but I feel like I've known you forever. I've lived my whole life without you. Now that I've found you, I…I can't imagine life without you. I don't want you to go. Please…just open your eyes and be okay…please, Dad…I…" Scout's eyes widened in horror when the machine flat-lined and he felt his father's hand grow limp in his hand. "No…No, don't do this to me, Dad! Don't leave me like this!" Scout felt tears pour down his cheeks once more as his breathing began to quicken in panic. "Dad! DAD! DAAAAAAD!" He let go of his father's hand and buried his face into his father's chest as he clung to him, crying hysterically.
The others in the room felt tears coming to their own eyes as they witnessed Scout's anguish. The men removed their hats and brought them to their chests in respect as their tears fell silently for their fallen friend. As much as they all wanted to rush to Scout's side, they knew it was best to leave the boy be. The only one who dared move was BLU's Medic, but only so he could take Red off of the heart monitor and turn it off. Scout clung tighter to Red as his crying intensified.
"I…I love you, Dad! Please don't leave me! DAD!"
All he could see was darkness. He couldn't feel or hear anything. He felt weightless, like he could hop up into the air and fly away. He was confused, wondering where he was and what had happened. He felt alone, like he was the only one left in the world.
He lifted his head up and saw a dot of light. Feeling drawn to it, he began to run toward it. The more he ran, the larger the light became until it almost enveloped him. Before he could pass through the light, he stopped, seeing the silhouette of a young woman standing in his way. He looked at her curiously.
"Am…am I dead?" he cautiously asked. "Will I be going through that light?" The woman shook her head.
"No," she replied, her voice sounding serene and almost sad. "It's not your time. You're still needed among the living. There's someone who needs you still."
"Dad!" he heard his son's sobbing voice echo around him. He quickly looked around, trying to find the source.
"Danny…? Danny!" he cried out. He faced the woman once more. The woman nodded to him.
"Go to him," she softly commanded as the light behind her enveloped them both, fading his vision to white.
Red slowly opened his eyes, staring up at the ceiling. He lifted his head slightly to look at his crying son on his chest. He weakly brought his hand up to Scout's head, ruffling his hair slightly.
"Hey…" uttered Red softly. Scout lifted his head up to stare at his father in shock.
"Dad…?" he questioned timidly. Red smiled warmly at him. He brought his hand up to caress his son's cheek. Scout lifted a hand up to place it on top of his father's as he leaned his face into the hand on his cheek, closing his eyes and letting out a few more sobs. Red wiped away Scout's tears with his thumb.
"Shh…no more tears, Danny. I'm okay."
"I thought I lost you, Dad…"
"I'm not going anywhere except home with you," said Red confidently. "Once I'm well enough to get out of this bed, we're going home. It's finally over, Danny. You're safe now."
"The whole world is," noted BLU's Soldier. "And it's all thanks to you, Red." Red sat up slightly to look at everyone in the room. BLU's Soldier and RED's Demoman grinned at each other, then looked back at Red. The two began to clap their hands, praising Red. Both teams soon joined in with their own applause, followed by excited cheers. Red stared at the cheering men in amazement, then looked at his son, who was smiling warmly at him. He felt his cheeks flush a bit in embarrassment as he scratched his right temple with his index finger. Scout managed to laugh.
"Quit being so modest!" he teased. "C'mon, you're a big hero!" Scout looked down a bit, then smiled gratefully at his father. "You're…you're my hero, Dad." Red fully sat up despite the pain he felt in his chest. He pulled Scout into a tight hug, resting his head on his shoulder.
"Hearing that from you makes it all worth it, Kiddo," he said warmly. Scout hugged back, being careful not to injure his father further. Red kissed Scout's temple. "I'm sorry I haven't said this sooner, but…I wanted you to know that I love you, Danny. I have since the day I found out I was going to be your father." Scout hugged Red tighter. He was relieved that his father was going to be okay and elated to hear him say those words.
"I love you, too, Dad." The men in the room smiled at the tender father-son moment. RED's Scout suddenly frowned.
"So…is the war over?" he asked. "The Administrator's gone, but we've still got our separate bosses for each team." RED's Soldier cringed.
"Dammit, Scout!" he scolded. "Quit being a killjoy!" Red narrowed his eyes.
"That's a very good and legitimate question to ask, Casey," he commented. "One that we should find an answer to immediately."
"Leave that to Soldier and I, Red," stated BLU's Soldier. "We'll get a hold of our bosses and get to the bottom of this and explain what happened. You focus on resting and getting well enough to go home and marry Scout's hot mama."
"Solly!" squeaked Scout in embarrassment. Red laughed, then cringed in pain, putting a hand on his chest. Scout gasped and gently lowered his father back down onto the pillow. "Dad, take it easy! You just had heart surgery!"
"Your son is right," agreed BLU's Medic. "You need to rest, Herr Red. It vill be some time before you can laugh and move around again vithout reopening your vounds." Red nodded as he slowly closed his eyes to rest. He opened them once more when he felt Scout squeeze his hand with both of his, looking at his son's worried expression. Red gave him an assuring smile.
"You don't have to worry, Danny," he said. "I'll wake up again. I just need some rest." Scout sighed in relief, then gave him a small smile.
"I'll stay with you," he stated. Spy walked up to the two and wrapped an arm around Scout's shoulder, rubbing it gently with his hand. Both men looked up at him, eliciting a larger smile from Scout. Spy smiled down at him.
"And I'll stay with you," he announced. "I know how bored you can get waiting like this." Scout chuckled while Red smirked, holding back a laugh he desperately wanted to let out.
"Then I can rest worry-free," said Red tiredly. He closed his eyes and soon fell asleep. The pain in his chest seemed to disappear with thoughts of seeing his son's smiling face when he would eventually wake up.
Red woke up to some banging in his room, as well as hushed chatter. He opened his eyes, seeing Scout watch both Engineers and Soldiers setting up a projector and screen in the infirmary.
"A little more to the left," whispered Scout, gesturing in the dictated direction. Both Soldiers moved the projector over a few more inches until Scout gave them the signal to stop. "There. Perfect."
"Danny?" asked Red tiredly. Scout cringed, then looked at his father.
"I'm sorry. Did we wake you?"
"Yes. What's going on?"
"We're going to be setting up a teleconference with Redmond and Blutarch Mann," announced BLU's Soldier.
"Here?" questioned Red. "In the infirmary?"
"You're the big hero, Red! We want you to be a part of this!" exclaimed the RED Soldier.
"Not to mention your skills of persuasion will come in handy for this meeting," added Spy as he came back into the room with the rest of both teams following behind him.
"Is it my persuasion skills, or the fact that I'm in a bed recovering from a bullet wound to the chest as the persuading factor?" questioned Red.
"That might help, too."
"Shh! We're about to go live!" hissed BLU's Engineer. When he cut on the camera and projector, they saw the images of Redmond and Blutarch Mann appear on the screen with the two of them surprisingly in the same room together. Neither man looked exceptionally pleased with the predicament they and their employees were in.
"Could one of you explain to us what the hell is going on!" roared Redmond. "We got a call from one of you saying you wanted a word with both of us!"
"Speak now before I take matters into my own hands!" threatened Blutarch. Everyone in the room looked at Red, expecting him to talk. Red forced himself to sit up – with his son's help – to face the Mann brothers.
"I was not the one who called," began Red, "but it appears I've been voluntold to speak with both of you about the circumstances that have transpired here at Nucleus."
"We've been made aware of Helen's actions and subsequent termination," noted Redmond. "For that – and for the first time ever – my brother and I join together in thanking you, Leon Foyer, for ending her tyrannical reign."
"If you could find it in your hearts to come to a mutual understanding and cease this war, then…"
"Out of the question!" interrupted Blutarch. "I hate this man's guts, and I refuse to give up this war until he's dead!"
"I concur!" agreed Redmond. The two brothers looked at each other, then back at Red. "You said you were at Nucleus, correct?"
"Actually, you did, sir…but yes, we are," answered Red.
"If you've noticed, there are RED and BLU sections of that place," explained Blutarch. "Nucleus was once a base for both of us to fight over before Helen took it over for her Doomsday device. We won't end the war, but we'll cut your wing a deal for all that you've done for not only us, but for the world. If you two can get Nucleus back up and running as a functioning base for the war by your scheduled annual month-long vacation, then we will agree to put your wing in Mission-Only status."
"Mission-Only status?" questioned Scout curiously.
"It means that you will only fight when we want you to. When you're not fighting, you may live your lives however you want on the condition that we can call you in at any time for any reason," answered Redmond. "Do we have a consensus, Gentlemen?"
"YES, SIRS!" shouted all eighteen men at Nucleus, saluting their bosses.
"Then hop to it!" ordered the brothers.
Throughout the three month period, both teams worked diligently in getting Nucleus back up and running. The Heavies, Demomen and Soldiers handled the manual labor. The Engineers rebuilt the Respawn barrier from scratch and got that up and running. Spy, the Snipers and Pyros managed the supplies and rations of food that they ordered and received from their headquarters. The RED Scout served as the go-between for all of the designated groups, running supplies back and forth and relaying messages.
Danny stayed with the Medics, helping his father with his rehabilitation from his gunshot wound. By the time the Respawn barrier had been finished, Red's wound had already healed. It was more of a matter of getting Red back on his feet and functioning normally without straining himself or damaging his heart further. During his rehabilitation time, Red was able to spend more time with his sun, catching up on nearly nineteen years of lost time.
Two weeks before their scheduled leave, both teams had a joint celebration for not only completing their tasks in rebuilding Nucleus and gaining their Mission-Only status, but also to celebrate Danny's 19th birthday. Both of their headquarters were generous enough to send a shipment of beer to them for their celebration. Each man grabbed a beer (Red had a glass of water) and held it up to toast.
"To gaining our freedom and getting this war in the right direction towards its end!" toasted Red.
"CHEERS!" shouted all of the men as they tapped their bottles.
In all of their excitement and anticipation for their return home to see their loved ones, it couldn't suppress Red's sinking feeling that this was only the beginning of more dangers and struggles to come. Though he couldn't shake the nervous feeling of the eventual train ride back to Boston, seeing his son's smiling face reminded him that everything he had done and everything that he would eventually do was all worth it.