Title: Brilliant Life Choices
Series: Team Fortress 2
Character/pairing: Scout/Miss Pauling, Soldier, Spy
Rating: PG-13
Author's note: based on a piece of art by Dick Gayson. Missing scenes from the Smissmass comic. Thanks to Feral Phoenix for the beta.

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Miss Pauling could hardly say she was surprised when she heard the news. Annoyed, yes. Confused that somehow Soldier of all people had lead the bomb destroying mission, but on a scale of one to Poopy Joe, this was a five at best in terms of poor publicity.

That didn't, however, mean that she wouldn't tear them all a new one.

Spy had settled into what seemed almost a permanent facepalm, while Soldier's booming voice could be heard three rooms away.

"—and you see, that is exactly the way it went! Bombs for charity, that's the way to go!"

"I think this just might be hare-brained enough a plan to work," Scout said.

"You would think that," Spy muttered.

"Hey, shut it, you—"

Miss Pauling closed the door behind her and Scout's attention was instantly diverted.

"Miss Pauling!" Scout said.

"I do not know how all of you failed to make a simple disposal mission into a bust of this magnitude. I am not sure how all of you managed to get into a Mall Santa facility when you were clearly charged to take it to a deserted marked sector of the desert, but I can assure you that this is all coming out of your pay."

She looked at each of them. Soldier was standing at attention, Spy looked utterly done with the rest of his compatriots, while Scout was smiling at her.

"You can take extra out of my paycheck," Scout said.

Miss Pauling looked up from her clipboard. She gave each and every one of them a piercing glare.
"Each failure reflects poorly on the company. Any further missteps and all of you will be headed straight for a meeting with the Administrator."

Scout's cocksure grin faded, and he laughed nervously as he shuffled from foot to foot. "You're just jokin', right?" He said hopefully.

"I don't joke in such matters," she said. "And perhaps I should remind you how the Administrator treats those who fail."

"Uh, yeah. I can take her on, throw it at me," Scout said, though without his usual brazen confidence. He looked to his comrades. "Right, guys?"

"You first," Spy said.

"At any rate, you're all going to be late. I trust you've already come into contact with your lawyer?"

"I sent him away, he smelled like a Communist. I'm representing us, with the lawyer skills of a real American," Soldier said, puffing out his chest.

Miss Pauling looked heavenwards. They were doomed for sure.

Scout was tugging at his tie like he was trying to make a noose. With Soldier for a lawyer, she didn't blame him taking a third option.

"Let me," she said. She began to untangle the mess he'd made of his tie. Spy and Soldier slipped out.

"So, Miss Pauling. How ya doing, gorgeous?" Scout said.

"I'm currently cleaning up your mess," Miss Pauling said flatly.

"Hey, don't look at me—I wasn't the one who lead the plan, I was just followin' orders," Scout said.

That was a first, Scout wanting someone to not look his way. "And it never struck you that this was a poor dumping site? Right in the middle of a group of mall Santas?"

"Soldier was wavin' around his rocket launcher and talkin' about how he was leadin' the charge. I make a habit not to argue with crazy guys with rocket launchers, especially when they're in charge," Scout said. "Things just spun out of control from there."

She supposed it wasn't that bad of a plan, all things considered. Now to find out who had sanctioned Soldier as leader in charge of this mission and take care of them. Unless it was Mr. Hale, then she'd just have to go to the firing range for a couple hours until she didn't feel like turning the gun on someone.

Once the tie was untangled, she redid the knot. For a moment she lingered, tie in hand, the side of her hand against Scout's chest, her thumb pressed up in the hollow of his collarbone. She could feel the heat of his body, a fraction of a heartbeat and each breath. She felt a flicker of something warm and confusing inside her. She shook her head, but it was still there.

Her heart rate was somehow altered, and she hadn't realized she'd gotten this close until just now. Somehow it seemed typical for him to choose a cheap, too strong cologne. All it could make her think was how much his usual scent of sweat, blood and sugary drinks fit him better.

"You like what you see, Miss Pauling?" Scout said. He raised his eyebrows suggestively.

On reflex, she looked down. Honestly he was the sort of man who looked better covered in dirt and blood, dog tags jingling as he lifted up his bat to swing. Suits didn't suit him, as it only seemed to make him look younger, like a boy dressing up as a man, and made his ears more prominent without his hat.

This wasn't something she was about to verbalize, given that he didn't need encouragement. At all.

Instead she cleared her throat and got back to business. "All right, you're all set, Now just say exactly what your attorney tells you to say, got that?"

"Don't even worry about it! I'm all over it, Miss Pauling! C'mon, you know me!"

"I do know you, which is exactly why I said that," she said. "There. You're...finished. Now go on, or you'll be late."

"Thanks a ton, Miss Pauling. You're a real prize, you know that? We woulda failed ages ago without you here."

"You're going to be late," she reminded him.

"Pshah, I'll be right in time," Scout said.

He winked, and closed the door behind him, and she could hear the sound of him racing down the halls towards his fellow compatriots.

Miss Pauling figured she might as well get started on paperwork. There was sure to be plenty to help cover up this, and she could lose herself in it. Obviously the stress was getting to her. Maybe she had the beginnings of a fever. It'd explain her current addled mental state, and why she'd just begun to think He has a certain charm all his own instead of being completely annoyed at him, as usual.

She frowned and looked at her hand, which still tingled faintly from just a faint touch of him. Her heart still hadn't stopped racing.

She definitely was coming down with something.

.

Scout caught up with the others in no time flat, which was how he did everything.

"Man, I haven't gotten a tongue-lashin' like that since I forgot to call for ma's birthday.
Scout stretched out, forgetting for a moment that he was wearing a monkey suit, and that the tie was about tight enough to strangle him. Wouldn't that be a hoot? Sorry, I can't come to court today. Too busy dying.

He rubbed at his cheek like she'd slapped him. "It was kinda nostalgic, really."

He trailed off, remembering times when his mother was yelling at him and telling him and his brothers to get their asses inside for dinner, or do their homework. Really, getting in trouble like this was one of the first times he felt like he was right back home. Sure, she was pretty scary when she was angry, not scary like the Administrator who he was pretty sure could breathe fire, but a pretty sort of scary.

She was a real class act, that Miss Pauling. She had all her shit together and could kick the ass of a guy twice her size. Scout liked that in a woman.

Well, technically he liked everything in a woman, but that had to be up at the top. He had this big ol' stupid grin on his face just thinking about her.

"I'm gonna marry that girl someday," Scout said.

A someday was a great deal of dirty single mothers away. But he'd make it. He always did when he put his mind to it.

Soldier grunted. Spy had already settled into looking like he had a headache, which sorta translated to I hate you all.

Scout was well acquainted with that look. Funny enough, it came up whenever he started talking.

"Are any of you even payin' attention to me?" Scout said.

"Negatory!"

"I'm not likely to start now," Spy said.

Scout sighed. "Let's just get this over with. I hope you're a better lawyer than you are a cook, Soldier, because those last sour cream and beans you made was awful."

.

Alternatively, Miss P isn't in love, Scout is just radioactive from all the BONK he's been drinking.

I'm a romantic, though, so I'll assume she's just humming "I Won't Say I'm In Love" all day.