Title: Waiting For The New Year
Series: Team Fortress 2
Character/pairing: Scout/Miss Pauling,
Author's note:based on two pieces of fanart, except that ffn destroyed the ability to link them. The gun in question is the Shortstop. Title comes from a New Year by Beach House
Thanks to Feral Phoenix for the betaing.
A faint glow showed through the frosted windows. She knocked, as the mercenaries tended to be trigger happy when drunk, and about every other time. Miss Pauling kicked her shoes against the doorstop as she stepped in. The faint glow of the fireplace and a few lanterns were all that lit up the barracks. Most of the men were around a ramshackle table which was made even more of a mess with all the bullet holes and cigarette burns, to say nothing of a place which looked like Heavy might have smashed his fist into the table, leaving a large indentation.
She couldn't see the floor very well due to the lighting, but she suspected that it couldn't be in much better condition, considering.
"Good evening, gentlemen," she said.
Though that hardly applied to half of them, it was easier to say than 'you bloodythirsty unwashed heathens.'
She lifted up her envelopes. "Your paychecks."
A cacophony of cheers and whoops rose up, and several of glasses were raised up high.
"Bless ye, Miss Pauling."
Scout vaulted up from his chair, uncaring that it crashed to the floor behind him.
"Oh, hey—you weren't around for the Smissmass party," Scout said with a sort of forced casualness. He had his hands in his pockets, and was leaning in towards her.
"That's the one day a year I have off," Miss Pauling said. She handed him his paystub. He took it, though he barely glanced at it as he shoved it into the pocket of his pants.
"Oh, right, I knew that, I knew that–Was it a good break?"
"I suppose," she said.
It was good to see her family: though around the holidays dinners were always filled with a chilly passive aggression, much like normal dinners, but accelerated by the quantities of alcohol.
"He stayed by that mistle plant all night long!" Demoman said. He broke into a laughing fit which turned into a coughing fit.
"Shut up—I did not!"
Scout slammed his fist against the table, but did not have the dramatic effect that Heavy's would. Instead he muttered a curse and shook his hand.
This only made Demoman laugh harder. Several of the mercenaries began to laugh as well, and Scout began to shout the usual notes about beating them black and blue. The doctor's face was already quite red, as he knocked his glass back and drank some more. He and Demoman seemed to be racing each other to see who could get most drunk, or perhaps that was just incidental.
Heavy sat near to him, barely touching his own drink. He watched over Medic, occasionally pulling the drink away to pour it into another mercenary's cup.
"We could just kill him and let the respawn do its work," Medic replied in an entirely too cheerful manner. Demoman had already raised up his bottle with entirely too much enthusiasm.
"I'll do the honors," he said.
"Uh, no, Let's not!" Scout said.
"No unauthorized kills," Miss Pauling said.
She gave the group a long, disapproving glare. Demoman sighed and poured more of the Scumpy into a glass instead.
"Now, let me see," she said. Scout was all too happy to lay his hand in her palm. This wasn't the usual use of her tweezers, but it wasn't like that ever stopped her. Actually standing still for two whole seconds seemed to be too much for him.
"Your hands are pretty cold," he said.
"I just got inside a short while ago," she said.
"But even with those mittens?" Scout said. "I mean, really, Miss Pauling, if you're that cold, I'd be happy to warm you up, if you know what I mean."
"Hold still," she said.
"This is still,"Scout protested. "Any stiller and I'd be turnin' to ice, here," he said.
"Not still enough," she said.
His bandages protected his palms, but they hadn't saved his fingers. She had to note how warm he was, surprisingly so for someone as lanky as himself. It was as if all his nervous energy was pushing outward into heat. It felt nicer than she'd admit. She found one sliver of wood and pulled it out in a quick jerk.
"Little baby crying," Heavy said.
"Aw, shut up, before I make you shut up," Scout said.
"I thought they only let men in this establishment," Soldier said.
"Little baby needs diapers," Heavy said and nodded.
"One, Pyro, two, I said shut up!"
They all looked to Pyro, who had now turned the bunch of coal into a slightly clumsy heart.
"I stand corrected," Soldier said.
With that distraction, she pulled out the last three slivers.
"It's over, you can stop complaining now," she said.
"Still hurts like a bitch," Scout said. "Anyways, thanks, Miss P! You're the best, you fix up all our crap."
The tables that weren't glass were quite prone to slivers, though she'd never seen any of the others complain. Scout was always the most vocal of the group anyways.
"Doctor fixed me," Heavy said with pride. "And I did not cry."
"You sure swore up a storm, though," Scout said.
"Is not the same. When you are man you will understand," Heavy said sagely.
"For frick's sake, I am an adult! Cut the crap—"
It said something for his trust in Medic that he'd let a drunk man near him with a sharp object.
"No unauthorized fighting," Miss Pauling said.
"He ain't worth the effort anyways," Scout said.
Heavy clenched his fist as if to strike, but then another burst of laughter from Medic made him stop. She watched the situation, wondering if she'd have to intervene yet again, but Heavy seemed too wrapped up in ensuring that Medic didn't go on a drunken rampage to smash Scout's face in. She walked to the table, with Scout trailing behind her chattering about something or other. She was too focused on her task at hand to pay much notice.
"Come on, boy. Come take a drink, this will put some hair on your chest. Or at least try," Demoman said.
"No, I ain't touchin' that crap. I tried that last time, and it nearly burnt my throat out!"
Demoman chuckled. "Aye, that it will. Good ol' Scumpy." He began to down yet more. She wasn't even sure how he was still upright at this point, but his alcohol tolerance always had been the stuff of legends.
Medic slumped into Heavy, nearly on the brink of a giggly unconsciousness. Heavy supported him, and looked worriedly down, while Sniper considered his drink in a seemingly moody manner. All the while, Pyro had been pushing coal around the floor, while making what may have been intended to be train sounds, it was hard to tell. Engineer played what was presumably, a Smissmass tune as the Spy watched out the window, his back to the wall as he drank some different sort of alcohol in a moody silence.
She cleared her throat. Ah, the ever-futile task of giving a speech to a bunch of drunken mercenaries.
"We at Reliable Excavation And Demolition and Builders League United value your contributions—"
"And our body parts," Demoman added, as he wiped his face and let out a rather admirable blech.
"Hey, hey, they like my body because it's better," Scout cut in. He winked at her.
"—and hope to continue for the rest of the new year," she said.
"We will fight the war until the end!" Soldier said.
Medic giggled and let out a moan as he began to wobble and fall straight towards the table. Heavy put out one of his massive hands and cushioned his fall, and then gently laid him to red. In a second's space, Heavy plucked him up and put him over his shoulder. "Time for bed, doctor."
Demoman shook his head. "And I thought you Germans could drink better. Come on, who will drink in this new year? Only an hour left of drinking for the year, and I'll be damned if I let it go to waste."
"It will be my patriotic duty to drink with you," Soldier said.
"Yeah, that's a great patriotic duty and all, have fun with that, guys—" Scout said.
She'd had more to say, but she had a feeling they'd just be turning into more drinking jokes, or innuendos. It was a good enough summation for a bunch of drunken mercenaries, she supposed. She stepped out back into the cold. There was only a faint dusting of snow over the hills, but it was so cold the glass was frosted over. She looked back as the door behind her closed, and unsurprisingly, Scout stepped out onto the porch.
"You should've put on more," she said.
His scarf was put on haphazardly, and his hat looked about to fall off. He wasn't wearing a coat, or even a sweater.
"You sound like my ma," he said.
"It's only common sense," she replied.
"I couldn't find my coat in all the other guys' stuff, and I didn't have time to look," he said. "Besides, it's barely even cold. We got itons/i worse in Boston, and I've been in several stints at Viaduct without a coat."
"That doesn't make it a good excuse," she said.
"You're worryin' about me!" Scout said. He sounded downright giddy at this.
"It's part of my job to ensure that all of you mercenaries aren't killed by your own stupidity," she replied.
It was the hardest part of her job, truth be told. Hours of paperwork was a breeze compared to this.
"Yeah, yeah. I'll go grab one and be back in a flash."
The thing about Scout was when he said a second—or a flash—he really did mean a second. He came stumbling out wearing Heavy's coat, which looked about big enough to be a tent and dragged on the ground around him.
"See, lookit the coat I got. It seats two."
"So it does," Miss Pauling said.
Scout looked up at the stars, again with a sort of too-casual stance which she knew meant more attempts at flirting were to be had. At this rate his flirting style was so horrible, it had circled back to become almost endearing. She expected bad pick up lines, or him ripping off his shirt, but instead he removed his cap and ran his fingers though his hair.
"I never had a New Year's kiss. Well, except from my ma."
Miss Pauling raised one brow. "Your mother?"
"What, you never got a forehead kiss from your ma before?" Scout said.
"I suppose my family wasn't particularly physically demonstrative," she said.
"Aw, my family sure is. My brothers would beat each other to a pulp, and them ma would smack up aside the head to get us to stop," he said with fondness in his voice.
"That's not what I meant," she said.
He pulled something from his pocket, and threw it up in the air. He caught it, and held before tossing it up again. For a moment she thought it was a ball—he was prone to carrying baseballs around, and even using them to stun his enemies– A second glance showed it as being a plant. Slightly dried out, with little white flowers. Mistletoe.
Scout's plans couldn't be more obvious if they were broadcast on a giant neon billboard.
"You didn't go home?" she said.
Some of the mercenaries stayed over the holidays because they had no family to go back to, but Scout wasn't one of them. She'd actually come in contact with his family more than once because of her duties. It still astounded her that Scout wasn't even the loudest or most talkative of the bunch.
"Nah, I thought—" He adjusted his hat. "Thought I'd stay for the party. I've been to plenty of my family's parties. Sure, ma wasn't too happy, but she'll get over it. There's always next year."
He'd been waiting for her. Suddenly, the Demoman's drunken joking didn't seem that much of a joke.
"Anyways, I gotcha somethin'," he said. He pulled something out of the big pockets of the coat.
It was without a doubt, the worst wrapping job she'd ever seen, with mismatched tape and ripped paper. Little Old Nick with glaring eyes and a submachine guns and a rather nasty looking Frosty the Snowman seemed to be in some kind of standoff. She'd heard that Mr. Hale was going to get into the wrapping business, but she assumed that was just one of his drunken tirades. Like the time he said he was going to design women's swimwear to be more busty and also with complimentary bulletproof vests sewn in, and she'd yet to see any. Though, if they did, she'd buy them. Really, who couldn't use some bulletproof swimwear?
She started to protest, but he raised his hand. "I insist. Really, you do a ton for all of us, and get almost no time off. It's the least I could do."
She pulled the wrapping off, and slid off the top of the box. Inside was a gun. She picked it up, and noticed that it had four barrels for firing, and a very sleek build. She smiled. He had good choice in guns. Always a good trait in a man.
"That model you got is pretty good, and I've seen you firing it before, but this one holds more and fires faster–and faster is always good if you're caught in a fight. Plus, it's apparently like, a traditional Australian Smissmass gift. Good for keeping Old Nick away."
In fact, she felt a bubbly little feeling growing in her chest. She'd never had a boyfriend who gave her guns before, and they never wanted to go to gun shows with her, either.
"I'm afraid it's against company policy for me to give gifts to mercenaries," she said.
Technically, it was against company policy for her to receive gifts as well, but there was no way she was giving up this beauty without a fight.
"Aw, I don't mind. Bein' around you is enough of a gift."
It was the sweetest thing she'd ever heard in regards to her. Then he had to go and break the moment.
"And bein' around me is a gift for alll the days, because I'm the gift that keeps giving," he said, and grinned broadly.
"So you certainly keep telling everyone," she said, but there was a trace of fondness in her voice.
"That I—wait, I gotta ask, though. Where do you keep your holster?" Scout said.
With a little smile, she lifted up her skirts just a little bit to reveal the holster on her thigh. She slipped the gun down on the other one, which had only held a knife on the other side.
"Oh man, that's hot. Really hot."
She smoothed her purple skirts down again. "Thank you."
She heard a countdown from the inside. She'd never quite been one for the sentimentalities of the new year. Drinking too much, making lists of things to change that would never be completed, kissing someone and feeling like a pariah if you had no one to kiss...honestly, she'd rather have a nice night in and read than deal with this year in and year out.
"So how about it, Miss Pauling?" Scout said.
The countdown continued. Eight, seven, six, five—
"Just a kiss and I'll show you that me and you could be the most awesome thing the world ever has seen," Scout said.
He wasn't so bad, after all. She'd dismissed him at first for being too loud, but none of her quiet boyfriends were giving her guns, or telling her the kind of sincere compliments which brought a smile to her face. Was it against company policy and an utterly bad idea? Completely. But he was looking quite cute in the moonlight, and it was making her forget all the other many reasons why this was a bad idea.
"Do you like gun shows?" Miss Pauling asked.
"Huh? Love em, why?" Scout said.
"Happy new year, Scout," she said.
She cupped his chin and brought his lips to hers. He was so surprised, he stepped back and nearly fell over from the weight of the coat. But he caught himself, and opened up the coat and wrapped her up inside it with him. His skin was cool to the touch, and his lips slightly chapped. He almost bumped her glasses off in his haste to get closer to her. The coat was weighty and covered with thick fur on the inside. It tickled her with every brush against her cheeks and neck.
The kiss was a little clumsy in his haste, his grip on her shoulders a little too tight, and yet it affected her more than the sensible boyfriends who kissed reasonably well ever had. Her heartbeat quickened, a tingle going from her lips down from her body.
"I won't let you down, I swear it," he said.
"That remains to be seen...but I don't regret it, even if common sense dictates that I really should."
He was too caught up in his own thoughts to hear that, though. Thoughts which were soon broadcast to the world as he jumped up and let out a loud wooohooohoo!
"Did you drink the punch?" she said.
"Nah, I'm not drunk—I'm just so happy! It's like being on Bonk and the first kill of a round, but better! Way better!"
She pushed up her glasses. "Haven't you been kissed before?"
"Uh, sure, but they weren't on the first of the year, and they definitely weren't from you—"
He wasn't the best liar. It only made her smile, now. He jumped up once again, only to topple over into a pile of snow. She stepped out to the edge of the deck to catch him.
"Uh. I can't get up. What the hell does he have in this coat? Bricks?"
"Ammo, probably," she said. Miss Pauling bent down and reached for his arm. She took his arm, and attempted to pull him up. He wasn't kidding when he said how heavy the coat was. There had to be several boxes to make it hard enough for two people to have trouble lifting it again. Scout himself came up easily enough, but the coat dragged. When she finally got him up, they toppled together back into the snow, except with him on top.
"Hey, this is nice," he said.
"Try being the one stuck in the snow," she said. Her backside was already getting cold, to say nothing of her legs.
What she was going to say was broken off as she felt his fingers trace along her cheeks. He kissed her again, lingeringly, his thumb tracing along her neck. It wasn't so much that the cold went away, as it became less evident past the heat of their bodies. When he pulled back, it was only because he had to talk more.
"God, you're frickin' gorgeous. I wanna kiss you every day of the year."
"That can be arranged," she said.
"Seriously?" Scout said.
"Yes, seriously," she replied.
He rolled off, and pulled the coat off, and left it there in the snow. He rubbed his arms as he stepped back into the cold. She pushed herself up, giving one last wary glance to the coat.
"If Heavy finds out, he'll kill you," she warned.
"Eh, I'll just blame Demoman. I've been blaming him for crap for years, and nobody has figured it out yet," Scout said.
She smiled despite herself.
"Didja make any New Year's resolutions?" Scout said.
"Not particularly. You?" She said.
"This, pretty much," he said.
"My, you've finished out your plans already? Whatever will you do with yourself for the rest of the year?"
"I can think of a few things," Scout said. His hair was mussed out of place from the hat, and flakes of snow had gathered there. She reached up to brush them off.
"Me too," she replied.
She heard a drunken chorus from the inside of Auld Lang Syne. Another year had begun, and with it, a whole new realm of possibilities.