Title: A Memory You Never Had
Series: Team Fortress 2
Character/pairing: Spy/Scout's mother, young!Scout
Author's note: Just me trying to work out some headcanon and to figure out Scout has dog tags when he doesn't seem to have ever been in the military. Contains one non-canon character name, because of the setting.
Thanks to Jana for the beta.
She pushed up the strap of her light blue chemise, up over the tender mark he'd left on her shoulder. No cigarette, no afterglow. She considered him, lovely and sharp all at once.
"I need a favor," she said.
"Anything within means, ma petite," he replied.
He lit a cigarette, and she took it after a moment. She blew out a gray cloud and laid back in the bed. He would kill for her, steal for her, lie for her—never mind that was the most of his job. He'd go above and beyond the call of duty. The one thing he wouldn't give her was too much of him. A name, for he no longer had one; finite details, for that could be used against him. He didn't think her a Delilah, using her wiles to undo him, but one could never tell where enemies would lurk.
"My youngest one is always askin' about his father. He doesn't remember him, which truth be told is for the best."
She took a drag of her cigarette, her mood taking a turn for the worse.
"He ran off with his secretary just after I got pregnant. But my littlest one...I couldn't quite bring myself to tell him his father was a good for nothing... I always did have horrible taste in men."
He lifted one brow. "Really, ma petite?"
"Well, you aren't so bad."
She touched his cheek. He leaned into her touch, letting her undo his restraint a little more.
"But he won't stop asking. I wonder if the kids are pickin' on him. Children that age can be cruel," she said.
"And what do you want me to do?" He said.
"I'm not askin' you to marry me or step into his life. Just give him something to hope for. Even if it's an out and out lie," she said.
Lies were his expertise, the one thing he could always offer her.
"As you wish, petite."
The helmet wasn't hard to acquire, nor the uniform. He didn't need historical accuracy to impress a child. He far preferred a suit to this rough and ugly thing, but he'd donned worse for jobs. It wasn't hard to find the boy, following after a team of older players and shouting out occasional insults with a loud voice for his age.
The small boy balanced a bat on his bony shoulder. He had the beginnings of a black eye on his left side.
"Kevin O'Callahan?" He asked.
"Who's askin'?" The boy lifted the rim of his baseball cap and looked up suspiciously at him. "You ain't from around here."
"I worked with your father," he said.
Kevin's eyes widened. "My pa? You sure 'bout that? Ma won't talk about him at all, no matter how much I ask."
"Ah...it must be painful for her. You see, he died in battle very valiantly, but left her a widow."
"Very what-iantly? Speak English, ya French toad bastard!"
Well, he certainly was a precocious one.
"He was very brave. He died saving me, in fact," Spy said. "I'll never forget how he pushed me away from that artillery fire."
Kevin gaped, revealing two very prominent buck teeth. "Really? You ain't messin' with me?"
"Of course not, I wouldn't lie about something so important. He wanted me to give this to you—his dying request–Alas, it took me several years to find you."
It was an easy forgery, and yet the look on the boy's face was priceless as he put on the dog tags. He was filled with such wonder as he clutched them in his grubby hands and studied the print carefully. He squinted and read aloud the words slowly, his thumb running across the indentations as he did.
Finally, he put it on over his neck. "I'm never gonna take this off. Never. And even if you are a French bastard, I guess you're all right if my pa liked you."
He gave Spy a clumsy salute.
"And don't you think about goin' near my ma! Else I'll hit you in the nuts with my bat so hard your grandchildren will be feeling it. I ain't kiddin'."
He lifted a small fist and glared. The boy didn't even come up to his chest. It was not unlike a kitten puffing itself up and hissing at an attacker. It took some restraint to keep his face blank and not smile at the outburst.
"I'll take that to heart," Spy said dryly.
"You do that!" He said. He glared at Spy, and then ran off, dog tags rattling as he did so.
Spy watched him, feeling oddly fond of the little hellion. It felt strange, to have a task without worrying about how to dispose of the body or deliver the intel. It almost left him feeling warmed inside.
And he knew without even meeting her again that this would make her light up more than roses or secret kisses. He'd given her the gift that no other man had ever given her: the gift of being a decent man.
And to think, if I put enough make up on for this disguise, I can almost play the part of being an honorable man.
She laid her head against his shoulder. She smelled of smoke and roses; she smelled like home. He took her palm and kissed it down the wrist. Blue veins against white skin, just a hint of sheen to her nails.
"He's much happier, now. He was yakking my ear of as usual. I can never get that one to shut up."
"I noticed," Spy said dryly.
"Thank you. You don't know what it means to me," she said.
Her smile was more pure, more true than he had even imagined, and perhaps the best gift in return for any mission he'd taken on. She never asked for diamonds or pearls, or even much of his time. She was too used to getting nothing from the men she'd loved, except children they wouldn't take care of, and more cynicism to add to her jaded life.
It made him wish he was a better man. He'd never be able to give her what she deserved, at this point he couldn't even give her his true name or much of his time. And yet he was the best she'd ever had.
"I know, ma petite chou-fleur."
And I'm thankful, too. For you'll never know the gift you give me simply by being here, by being there.