Well, I'm on a huge TF2 kick at the moment and I'm pretty desperate to do anything other than the work I'm supposed to be doing so ... taadaah I guess.
I think I've used every single cliché of the TF2 world in this story. I've done my very best to make a believable lady Pyro (writing without personal pronouns is bloody hard!) and tried to keep everything relatively in character. I apologise in advance for the terrible attempt at accents and any casual racism is purely from their characters. Also I thought they might install a screen in the base saying as they keep shooting the Administrator's messengers.
There might even be romance later on depending so read on and enjoy!
"Vhat is all zhe noise?" Medic approached the group of men that appeared to be almost hiding behind the large couch in the rec room. You could hear the commotion all the way down the hall to his infirmary.
Engineer risked missing some of the action to grin at Medic before turning his attention back to the scuffle, "Just watching Pyro dispensin' some frontier justice."
Medic's reply was cut off by whoops from the assembled mercs. Rolling his eyes he pushed his way to the front, "Who is in trouble zhis time? Ahh Scout, natürlich."
Heavy slapped him on the shoulder, missing the way Medic's knees buckled from the force, "Leetle baby Scout was touching flamethrower."
'Leetle baby Scout' was sure as hell paying for it too. For a terrifying psychopath Pyro was pretty easy going during downtime and had a long fuse. All the energy and pent up aggression - and there was a lot - contained within Pyro's abnormal brain was saved exclusively for the BLUs. Scout was always pushing the boundaries of what was going to get him a beating but even he knew that the flamethrower, Pyro's pride, joy and everything in between, was off limits. Why anyone would want to touch that temperamental Frankenstein's monster was another matter entirely. He would book Scout in for a psych. eval. at the next opportunity.
The assorted men flinched back with a noise of sympathy as Pyro landed a particularly sweet blow. Medic sighed as he walked back to the infirmary to pick up his medi-gun. It was only the first day of their specially mandated ceasefire and already he couldn't get any peace. If there was anything left of Scout when Pyro was done he would strangle the boy himself.
By the time he'd made his way back to the central room the fight was over. Demoman had apparently taken pity on the youngster and managed to convince Pyro to let up. Given Demo's equally destructive tendencies it was no wonder he and Pyro had struck up a friendship based on creating as much mayhem as humanly possible. What Medic understood less was how the two of them always seemed to drag Sniper along for the ride. Sniper was the textbook definition of a loner, often choosing to sleep in his vermin-infested van rather than in the complex itself. Yet whenever there was some stupidity involving the other two he was always there, usually lounging in the background smirking. Maybe it was Demo's scrumpy, Medic mused to himself as he flicked the switch to power up the healing rays, that scheiße was certainly potent.
Scout wasn't too badly hurt. The other eight team members would all deny it until the world ended but they all had something of a soft-spot for the mouthy kid. Scout was the youngest by at least ten years and was the bratty little brother most of them had never had. Pyro had obviously pulled most of the punches as Scout had already pulled himself into a sitting position and was looking ready to start running his mouth. Or at least he was going to try; Medic would bet a pfennig to a mark that his cheek was broken.
Pyro was vibrating with badly contained psychosis even with Demo's soothing words and Medic felt his Hippocratic Oath pushing him to intervene. Sniper was being no help as usual, simply sprawled out on the sofa smoking with Engineer now there was no danger of getting sucked into the fight. Heavy was too busy checking Sascha in case Scout really did have a death wish. Spy had slithered off now there was no entertainment and Soldier had been conspicuously (and suspiciously) absent throughout this whole affair.
Sighing Medic knelt down next to Scout and shone a light into his eyes. Not even a concussion, Pyro was in a good mood.
Scout glowered while Medic carried out his checks, "I coulda taken ya, ya chucklenut! I won't go so easy on ya next time!"
Thankfully Demo already had his arm slung around Pyro's shoulders and was able to stop Pyro's mad lunge for Scout. As Demo held on everyone in the room could hear the muffled obscenities pouring out from the filters of Pyro's mask.
Medic slapped Scout on the back of the head, muttering fiercely, "Nein, nein Dummkopf, keep your idiot mouth zhut for zwei seconds."
Scout subsided into sullen silence as the healing rays went to work fixing the damage. So what if he'd touched Pyro's stupid flamethrower? It wasn't like he'd broken it or nothing. It was just lying on the table in the rec room and no one was around. Bet it was that damn froggy Spy that'd tipped Pyro off he was messin' with it. Even his awesome speed hadn't helped much when he was caught red-handed torching some of Soldier's stupid little army men.
Sniper had wandered over to the offending weapon, resting in the ruined remains of the table that had been the first casualty of the morning. The Administrator would be pissed, that was the third bloody table this month, but Engineer would fix it up soon enough. Kneeling down he gave it a quick look over, without being stupid enough to lay a hand on it. Pyro wasn't looking, still too busy waving a fist at a whingeing Scout, but he hadn't had enough coffee yet to deal with Pyro's temper. The weapon was as tough as the maniac that'd built it, looks like the little pup was going to live to fight another day.
"It's alright Pyro mate, the little tyke ain't damaged it," Sniper spoke around a new cigarette that he was going to wait to light until he was well away from that petrol tank with a handle.
Interpreting this to mean 'are you sure?' Sniper nodded, jumping to one side as Demo released Pyro who practically bowled the man over on the way to hug the damn thing.
Turning away from the rather disturbing sight of a grown adult cuddling and cooing at a flamethrower Engineer focused his attention on the little guy. Five seconds in the Doc's magical rays and Scout was as good as new and would hopefully stop causing trouble for a little while. Days off were few and far between here and by God he wanted to enjoy them. Not that watching Pyro meltdown wasn't entertaining enough, but he had plans to work on that didn't involve being outta his workshop. To that end he was just lifting his ass off the couch when Soldier barrelled in dragging a reluctant spy behind him. Engineer calculated the odds of success if he made a bolt for it. Soldier had that queer expression on that meant he'd been coming up with nonsense to inflict on the rest of them. Clearly Sniper was having the same idea but with Heavy blocking the other door there was little chance of escape.
Soldier puffed up his chest, peering out at his assembled comrades from under his helmet. "Maggots! I do not know what has been going on here and I do not care. There are new boxes in the supply rooms with our names on and I want answers! Which one of you dirty communist hippies has been ordering surplus goods?"
Everyone else in the room merely shrugged, looking vaguely interested but not exactly the patriotic, paranoid furore that Soldier had been aiming for.
"I want a full investigation! We'll smoke out the sissy who thinks that the clothes on our backs and the food in our bellies aren't enough to conduct a war!"
Scout was about to say that was bang on the money but Medic pricked him in the thigh with a needle to get him to shut up. They'd all learned by now that Soldier would eventually run out of steam if he couldn't pinpoint an offender.
"I see none of you are going to own up! Well I'll find you, don't you worry about that!" he shouted, slamming his fist into his palm with pure American vigour.
"Do you know what is in ze boxes?" asked Spy, lounging against the wall with folded arms.
"I do not!"
"Of course not," Spy muttered under his breath, wondering for the millionth time what he'd done to deserve this hell, "Why don't we go look 'mm?"
"I don't know how they do things in Frogland, but that sort of attitude won't fly here! Now –"
Whatever culturally insensitive thing the Soldier was going to say next was mercifully cut off by the large screen on the wall humming into life. After a few moments of static the picture cleared into a view of the severe Administrator, with the one and only Saxton Hale standing at her left shoulder and the much more timid Miss Pauling hovering at her right.
Everyone tactfully ignored the gasp of wonder that came out of Sniper when faced with his hero.
"Good Afternoon REDs, I can see you've already taken advantage of having a day off," said the Administrator, looking around the carnage of the rec room with a raised eyebrow.
Saxton gave them all a thumbs up while they tried not to look abashed. Miss Pauling was already scribbling down the replacement items they were going to need.
"I trust our latest shipment has arrived?" on seeing them all nod she spoke loudly to cut Soldier off before he could get started ranting, "Good! I'll pass you over to Mr Hale so he can explain. Mr Hale?"
"No time to dally chaps! There's a corporate shindig that you all have to attend in two days time or so the pen pushers tell me! They also tell me that I need to wear a shirt so I'll be beating them to death very soon! I expect to see you all there and also for you to say I wasn't in the company car park between 6 and 7 o'clock on the 24th!" With a final shouted sentence Hale saluted the teams and bounded off leaving an irritated looking Administrator and a shell shocked Miss Pauling.
"Thank God for Bidwell is all I can say. Go fetch those boxes and bring them in here."
Heavy was dispatched and soon had the nine boxes piled up under the watchful eye of the screen.
"Right, in those boxes are the clothes you're to wear to this fancy do. We have all your measurements and preferences on file so you should find they fit perfectly. Heavy, we will be docking some of your pay to cover the extortionate cost of the tailor's time when he was making yours. Also Pyro, your dress has a full back and sleeves, last thing we need is to scare the investors away."
Pyro lovingly placed the flamethrower down and opened the box marked 'Pyrotechnician' ignoring the unusual silence from the rest of the team. Out of the box poured a beautiful ball gown in a deep shade of red, naturally. Pyro made a delighted noise, holding the dress against the flame-retardant suit and spinning around.
Medic glanced around at his comrades, rather enjoying the thoroughly stunned expressions on their faces. It was certainly the longest Scout had ever been quiet. Pyro was clearly waiting for an opinion on the dress and was starting to seem a bit upset that everyone was just staring.
Medic stepped forward under the pretence of taking a closer look, "It looks lovely liebchen, and no doubt you vill be zhe belle of the ball."
Pyro pressed a hand to the cheek of the gasmask in a gesture that left no doubt as to her femininity. Medic straightened up and turned the face the rest of their comrades, this was something he did not want to miss. If only he had a camera. Ahh well, he would just have to burn this into his memory.
Scout was pointing with wide eyes, only managing inarticulate noises in the back of his throat. Heavy was giving the dress a stern look, rubbing his chin with his hand as if still puzzling it out. Demoman had his bottle of scrumpy held up at eye level and was giving it a suspicious look. Engineer's wrench had dropped out of the man's slackened grip, his mouth hanging open. Sniper's glasses had slid down his nose while his hat was tipped right back after he'd shoved a hand into his hair; his cigarette clinging onto his lip for dear life. Even Spy, the master of everyone else's business, had staggered back onto one of the stools his legs unable to hold him.
"WHAT?" Soldier was the first to break the silence, pointing at Pyro with the shovel he'd pulled out as a reflex, "You put that dress down this instant mister!"
This last piece of idiocy, or perhaps denial, was enough the snap the rest of them back to reality. The incredulous stares turned for a moment to Soldier before going back to the Pyro and then the screen for an explanation.
Miss Pauling had her back turned to the screen, clearly caught in a giggle fit. Even the Administrator was smirking, "I get the feeling I've dropped a bombshell."
"You can sure as hell say that again lady!" Naturally even earth-shaking shock couldn't keep Scout down for long.
"How on earth did you people not figure it out?" the Administrator demanded, "Thank God we never hired any of you for your intelligence!"
Heavy scratched his head, "Leetle Pyro is leetle girl Pyro?"
Pyro nodded, as if this was the most obvious thing in the world. Medic brought a fist to his mouth in a heroic effort to stop the mirth coming out.
The Administrator rolled her eyes, "How is that possible, she must shower at different times and must eat in other places how could you not – " she cut herself off, rubbing her head, "You're all idiots. Pyro's gender doesn't make any difference –"
"But he's a total psycho!" Scout managed to splutter.
"It's a sad day when being mentally unhinged precludes the possibility of being a woman. Don't be so stupid. Make sure you don't wreck those new clothes and if you're not on the transport in two days time you'll regret it. Goodbye."
The screen went black and another unnatural silence descended over the group. Pyro held up the dress against herself again, "Hud Huddah Hurf?"
Engineer sank to the floor to pick up his dropped wrench, remembering his good upbringing, "It looks mighty lovely Pyro" he said faintly.
"Don't say that shit! What the hell Pyro?"
Pyro simply shrugged and started spinning around with the dress again. There was a grin spreading over Heavy's face as he continued to process this information, "This means leetle Scout was beaten by lady!"
Scout's face turned thunderous as Heavy roared with laughter, slapping his knee and hooting to himself in Russian. Medic had to busy himself with opening his own box to hide his cackles; there was no need to totally emasculate the boy. Spy had managed to regain some of his composure and had come over to inspect the workmanship on the clothes.
Demoman's face had taken on an unhealthy pallor, "Pyro, lad – err lass, you know the joke with the nun and the whore, I didn't mean any of that you know!" he said frantically, horrified that he'd been telling filthy jokes in front of a lady. Pyro just laughed making the Demoman sit down with relief.
Sniper had also pulled himself together, so Pyro was a sheila, it didn't make any difference really and Pyro had always been a good friend. Still, he could do with a stiff drink and a long sit, Demo had the right idea.
Soldier puffed up to something like three times his normal size and then fainted clean away.
Later that evening in the mess hall the men were grouped around Pyro. Soldier had been revived with some smelling salts but obviously wasn't himself as he'd yet to start shouting again.
"So come on then, what d'ya look like?" Scout was hovering across the table, the seats next to Pyro taken up by Demoman and Sniper in a show of support. His anger at being beaten up by a supposed woman had given way to curiosity and he had his fingers crossed for a pin up.
"You knew didn't you?" Spy questioned Medic.
"Natürlich. I do all zhe physicals and haff all zhe medical details. Being a voman is hard to hide in zhat situation," Medic said, shrugging.
"I shoulda known!" All eyes turned to the Engineer who blushed when Pyro looked at him. "When I'd forgotten mah missus' birthday Pyro turned up with this woman's catalogue so I could get summin' in time. Well, hell, I was so relieved I didn't think nothin' of it at the time."
"Pyro is good fighter for woman. Has highest kill rates," said Heavy, glancing at the board that showed their totals. Pyro was always top, followed closely by Heavy and Soldier.
"Huddah Hud Hudd Huddah Hah!" Pyro gave them two thumbs up before reaching to pull down the zip of her suit.
All the men except Scout immediately averted their eyes with shocked stuttering. Scout's grin simply got wider until Demo kicked him hard in the shin under the table, "Och have ye no respect, ya wee shite?"
Scout was in for a disappointment. The woman that lurked under Pyro's suit wasn't exactly pin up material. She couldn't be called beautiful but perhaps maybe striking or handsome instead. A strong jaw with an ugly scar running down from the bottom of her cheek down her neck. A straight nose that had clearly been broken several times but set relatively right. Unnervingly bright blue eyes. All set under jet black hair pulled back into a French plait coming from the top of her head. Sat at her sides Sniper and Demo could see the terrible scar tissue spilling out from under her tank top and across the back of her arms and neck. It wasn't altogether surprising to see extensive burn damage on a Pyro but it was shocking none the less. As she pulled the front down and slid her gloves off they could see just how she carried that huge flamethrower around. With arms as muscled as that it was no wonder she'd asked for sleeves on her dress. There were a few more burns and scars down her arms but the worst of it was clearly on her back.
Seeing their stunned faces she grinned, a wild and unhinged grin that for some reason was oddly reassuring – this was definitely their mental Pyro.
Medic was the only one able to smile back, a rather fond expression crossing his face. Perhaps this was for the best. She would be able to stop hiding away when not encased in her ridiculous uniform. Living behind all that rubber and asbestos couldn't have been good for her. The rest of the men were frozen again. They'd better not make this difficult for her. Initially he'd been unsure of her place on the team when she'd arrived. It was nothing personal. To him a woman's place was at home rather than on the front line and he'd been all to ready to apply this belief to Pyro. He'd lodged his complaints with the Administrator who'd waved him off and told him that if he wanted to 'lose to those BLUs every damn day' then he would have to give her a chance. Given that her mental state had been described as 'unstable' he was fully expecting a nightmare. Her first day had been a nightmare. But not for them. With single minded determination and frankly terrifying vitriol she'd set about destroying anything that had the nerve to dress in blue. She wasn't crazy. Well, that was a lie, of course she was crazy, but she wasn't actually developmentally challenged or mentally ill. Once back in base she became totally docile and good fun to be around.
"Well?" Her voice was low, relatively deep for someone her size and carried a strong accent from the Deep South.
Scout was scowling at her and had leaned right in close for a good look. He wasn't impressed. She was at least mid-thirties if not older and was more a work horse than a pretty filly. Still, at least she was female. He was starting to worry about himself stuck in this base for so long with all these dudes.
"I mean, you'll do, I guess." He twisted his head away slightly to put his nose in the air. He didn't have time to blink before he'd been knocked out of his seat and onto the floor with a bleeding nose.
Pyro withdrew her fist from where she'd shot it out with a scowl. The table snickered while Medic merely sighed and congratulated himself for not bothering to put his medi-gun away. Sniper and Demoman shared something of a shell shocked look over her head before they both grinned. Same old Pyro.
Engineer helped Scout back into his seat with a disapproving look, "That's no way to speak to a lady son, imagine if your mamma had heard that, she'd tan your hide."
"Yeah, yeah I guess, sorry Pyro," Scout muttered sullenly.
Spy flicked the ash away from his cigarette with practised ease, "I cannot believe we 'ave been so stupid."
"I cannae believe ya pulled one over on tha' frog lass!" Demo slung an arm round her shoulders, originally he'd been drinking to get over the shock and now he was drinking to celebrate Pyro being a woman. That wasn't a great excuse, but hell, he'd take what he could get.
Spy scoffed but otherwise didn't respond. If the Demo knew how many of his dirty little secrets Spy knew he wouldn't be so quick to be such a boor.
Soldier had been being awful quiet but naturally he had to go and ruin a good thing. "I'll draw up your court martial papers, lady, and we can get a proper masculine MAN in here first thing."
He clearly wasn't expecting everyone else to tell him to shut up. "Oh so it's mutiny now? Two minutes in the presence of a woman and you're all lunatics!"
Medic rolled his eyes, "For goodness sake, you've been in her presence all zhis time, vhat exactly has changed?"
Soldier puffed up again, holding his finger up as if to make a point – the moment stretched and it became clear from the metaphorical smoke coming from under his hat that he didn't really have one. Pyro simply pulled out a cigarette and a battered, clearly well used lighter out of a pocket while keeping those unnatural eyes focused on the Soldier. Sniper rolled his from behind the safety of his aviators. Soldier deflated and everyone turned back to the table.
"Pyro being a lady is not ze most pressing issue at ze moment anyway," Spy noted, idly pulling out yet another cigarette – as if the rest of them hadn't noticed that he chain smoked when he was feeling uncomfortable.
"Wot is then mate?"
"Ze fact zat we have to attend a corporate ball when 'alf of you can barely function in relatively normal society in ze first place."
Sniper rubbed his stubble, "You're right there mate."
Scout rubbed his newly healed face, "Ah ya losers just have to follow my lead, I'll show ya how it's done."
The derisive look everyone sent his way did nothing to damper his swagger.
Heavy looked rather downcast, "I am not good at dancing. I will be laughed at."
Medic patted his arm, "No one vill dare Heavy, mein freund, no one vill dare."
Engineer rubbed the back of his neck self consciously, "I ain't too light on mah feet either."
Spy scoffed, "It's more ze socialising I'm worried about."
The team shared a worried look, it couldn't possibly go well.