Title: The Accidental Baby Acquisition
Series: TF2
Character/pairing: ensemble, Scout/Miss Pauling, mentions of Spy/Scout's mother
Rating: PG-13
Summary: When a baby is found in a shipment of weapons, Miss Pauling and the mercenaries scramble to care for it. Scout/Miss Pauling, ensemble.
Author's note: trope_bingo: accidental baby acquisition. This was supposed to be a short gen piece, but Scout wouldn't shut up.

.

"Yo, Miss Pauling! I found this in the weapons cargo," He held a bawling baby, wrapped in a blue blanket. Miss Pauling dropped her pen, and rose so fast from her desk that she nearly knocked her papers off.

"What? A child was found on the compound? Oh, this isn't good, this isn't good at all..."

The baby let out a particularly loud cry, and Scout looked down in panic.

"Why's the kid cryin' more?" Scout said. He tried to grin at the baby to get his attention, but that only made the child howl.

"Scout, you're holding him the wrong way," Miss Pauling said.

He attempted to hand him to her, but she drew back.

"Just because I'm female doesn't grant me magical knowledge of children. I was an only child," Miss Pauling said.

"Yeah, well, I was the youngest, I ain't ever changed a diaper in my life! I don't know what the hell to do with a baby!"

Heavy came around the corner, inspecting the commotion.

"Little baby crying? Scout, you are louder than usual. Rejected yet again?"

"Ha, ha, real funny, big guy," Scout said. "I'm just dyin' of laughter to here. Rolling on the floor and everythin'."

Heavy's face lit up as he saw the child.

"It is so tiny," Heavy said. He lifted up the child from Scout's grasp. "So very tiny."

The baby was dwarfed in his arms, and he began to sing to the child in Russian, the same song he sang as he pushed the cart. The crying ceased, and the child began to giggle.

Soldier burst in the door. "Is that Russian I hear? Have the communists attacked?! All men on duty—!"

"It's in code," Miss Pauling cut in quickly.

"—otherwise, the commies might find out!" Scout added. "'They could infiltrate our songs and stuff. And make them all communist–and man, can you imagine if they did that? Baseball games sure wouldn't be the same with 'Communism The Beautiful' right before. So we gotta take back their stupid language and show them who's boss!"

"Good one, Scout," Miss Pauling said under her breath.

"Yes, I fight for American things...like capitalism and apple pie. I love flag so much, I want to hug it. Big bear hug for American flag," Heavy said. His smile looked frozen on his face, and didn't reach his eyes. Soldier, as usual, did not notice the finer details.

"Good one, my American comrade! Carry on, then!" Soldier said. He strode on, taking no mind of the fact that Heavy was holding a baby.

Scout let out a sigh of relief. "Well, that was a close shave. What are we gonna do with this?"

"iYou/i are going to leave because my office isn't the common room, and it isn't a nursery, either," Miss Pauling said.

"Aww, come on, Miss P, don't be cold'," Scout protested.

"I need to focus and figure out how to fix this mess," she said.

"Do not worry. I will take little baby to doctor," Heavy said.

"I didn't say you had to haul Scout off," Miss Pauling said.

"Hey!"

"Other little baby, the one who is crying less," Heavy said.

"I ain't cryin'!" Scout protested. "I just got some dust in my eye, that's all!"

"Good lord, don't do that, the child would be scarred for life," Miss Pauling said with a sigh.

"Doctor is good," Heavy said, frowning a bit. "He is nice man. He take care of team."

"The kid will love the heads in his fridge," Scout said. "Give 'em a real head-start on life. Eh? Eh? I kill myself with how brilliant I am, sometimes!"

Miss Pauling rolled her eyes. "I need to check the missing persons reports. So you might as well take him to the infirmary—but please don't let the Medic do any experiments on him. Okay?"

"If any experiments happen, they happen to me," Heavy said, drawing himself up.

"Is that right, little one?"

The baby cooed and giggled in response.

Scout lingered a bit, his hand on the door. "You looked pretty good with that kid. You should start a family. In fact, I can help you with that–"

She didn't even look up. "I have work to do, Scout," she said.

"Haha, yeah. Seeya later, Miss P," he said, giving her one last impish grin before he shut the door.

.

Medic was doing a blood-spattered crossword puzzle. He set it aside when Heavy came in the room.

"Oh, a baby," Medic said. He pushed up his glasses and took a closer look. "Under a year old, I'd say. About five months–Is it yours?"

"No. Scout found him, so I take care of baby."

"Ah, so that's how it is. You're quite the father, you know," Medic said. He was cut off as the doors were pushed roughly open.

"Boom, I'm back! Did you miss me?"

"No," Heavy said.

"You were gone?" Medic said.

Scout stuck his tongue out. "Yeah, screw you guys. I'm here for the little bugger." He held his arms out. "I''llll take 'em. I'm sure Miss Pauling would want me watchin' over the little guy, ain't that right?"

The baby let out a gurgling sound and sucked on Heavy's arm. His voice was a low roar I"I am taking care of baby."/I

Scout stepped back, having seen Heavy's rage far too often.

"Whoa, big guy. No need to go all Hulk smash on me," Scout said.

The baby let out a happy cry as Archimedes flew by. Reaching out with stubby, fat arms. Heavy held a little tighter.

"No, no–Where did I put that–"

Medic put some kind of bloody medical waste on the counter, and Archimedes flew down right towards him.

"See? Works like a charm," Medic said with a laugh.

The baby reached out towards Archimedes and began to laugh. Archimedes hopped back, away from the baby, but he didn't fly away.

The door opened again, and Miss Pauling came through the door. Scout beamed at her.

"Hey, you're back! I bet you missed me, couldn't stand bein' in that lonely old office without me, huh?"

"Actually, I couldn't focus. Too many mental images of the sort of things all of you might do to the poor child," she said.

"God, Miss P. You make it sound like we'd play target practice with the kid, or I'd use 'em for a ball. We're not frickin' monsters!" He lifted up the baby, spooking Archimedes in the process.

"We're all gonna take good care of you, aren't we, little guy?"

The baby began to fuss, and a very foul odor filled the room. Medic took a step back, Scout nearly dropped the baby.

"Uh-oh. Looks like someone soiled diaper," Heavy said.

Scout held out the baby towards her. "It's time to visit your ma, kid."

"Why am I the mother the minute he has a dirty diaper?" Miss Pauling said, her brow creased in irritation.

"I could be the ma if you know what I mean," Scout said.

Miss Pauling raised one eyebrow. "You know, every time I think you've pulled out the worst line imaginable, you top it. You're very talented in that respect."

"Aw, yeah, darlin', I'm the most talented guy around. You gonna give me a gold star for it? Or even better, a kiss?"

Miss Pauling reached into her bag and pulled out a particularly large set of star stickers. She put a gold one right on his mouth, effectively gagging him.

"There's your gold star," she said. "There's been no reports of missing children in Teufort, though missing persons reports won't go out until at least twenty-four hours have passed..." She brushed her lower lip with her finger.

He hadn't peeled off the star. "Mmpha, mmmmmrpha!"

She glanced to him. "You aren't going to peel it off?"

"Leave it," Heavy said. "Is good decision."

"Probably the best you've ever made," Medic added cheerfully.

Scout shrugged. "Mmmphmrrrumpha."

"Ah, yes, I put it there."

She peeled off the star, and put it on his cheek instead. It stuck there, bunching up as he grinned.

"That's the second time you touched my lips today. Damn today's a good day."

"That's all you need for a good day?" she said.

"Well, not all I need..." he replied suggestively.

Spy appeared from the corner, where he had been cloaked all along. A blue bag covered in storks was thrown over his shoulder, with a single bottle hanging out from one of the many pockets. "Give him here. Since you numbskulls can't even change a diaper, I'll have to do it for you."

He plucked up the baby and took him past a partition to one of the gurneys. Only his silhouette and a trail of smoke was visible behind the screen.

"I could if I wanted to—which I don't, by the way—but I still could! Besides, aren't you afraid of gettin' your precious suit dirty?!"

"He'll do no worse than the bushman and all of you do by bleeding all over it," Spy said. "Besides, it'll do me some good to practice, for when I'll have to change your diaper next time you piss yourself when Pyro comes around."

"I oughta pound you, you friggin' spook!"

Spy chuckled. "Your mother wouldn't want that, now would she?"

"You frickin' asshole—!"

"Ugh, it's as if the two of you are fighting to see who can be the most immature," Miss Pauling said.

"Am I winnin'?" Scout said. He turned back and grinned at her.

She rolled her eyes. "Yes, Scout, you're beating him with far superior experience."

Scout leapt up and pointed at Spy triumphantly. "Wooohooo! Take that, you spook! The lady says I'm beatin' you!"

"And you're too much of an idiot to realize that's hardly a compliment," Spy replied.

Scout let out an indignant noise, but Miss Pauling talked over him.

"Do you usually carry around baby bags with you, or was that found with the child?" Miss Pauling said.

"Yes, of course I carry around baby bags. You never know when Scout might need a bottle to suck on."

Scout balled his fists. Before he could step forward, Miss Pauling touched his shoulder.

"Not in front of the child," Miss Pauling said in an undertone.

Scout's jaw set, but he swallowed back the insult. "All right. Whatever you say, Miss Pauling."

He came out from behind the divider without even a trace of powder on him. He coughed, and underneath the cough one word could be clearly heard. Whipped.

"That's enough. I have his mother's number and I'm not afraid to use it," she said.

"Oho, you got burned!" Scout said.

"That counts for you too, Scout," Miss Pauling said.

Scout had a pained expression, and yet managed to look lovestruck at the same time. "God, you're good at this. Our asses just got handed to us."

"Never underestimate a woman, even if she can't clear five-foot in heels," Spy said.

The corner of Miss Pauling's mouth twitched.

"Hey, she's the perfect size! She's frickin' cute—Frickin' adorable, okay!"

"Don't bother, Scout. He's just trying to bait you," she said.

"But, defending your honor!" he protested.

"Well, it was rather sweet of you," she said, rubbing at her flushed cheeks.

"Anytime, babe," he said, and winked at her.

Spy held up the empty bottle with a bored expression.

"Would you happen to have any formula? There wasn't any in the bag. There wasn't a note, either," Spy said.

"Yes, I keep baby formula around, just in case I ever need it for all those children I'm not pregnant with," Miss Pauling said.

Scout started to speak, but she held up her hand. "Say anything and I'll put a dozen stars on your mouth and leave them on this time."

"At least we're near Teufort this time. I'll go buy some formula. Come on, Scout, you're on carrying duty."

They left together, and Spy chuckled lowly one last time.

"It looks like it's just you and me, mon petit," he said. He exhaled a ring of smoke. Before he could leave the infirmary, Heavy stood in front of him, effectively blocking the door with over six foot of solid muscle.

"No, I will be taking care of baby," he said.

"You only speak up now?" Spy said.

"I do not speak when Scout is doing stupid attempt at courtship. Do not want to be caught in crossfire," Heavy said.

Spy chuckled, and moved away from the door. Behind him, Medic had begun to clean one of his very sharp saws.

"Then it looks like we'll all watch him," Spy said.

.

Mann co had about pushed most of Teufort's stores out of business, but a few were clinging on. Scout picked a green basket up and looped it through his arms. Miss Pauling stood on tiptoe to try and read the signs.

"Sometimes I really hate being under five-foot," she muttered under her breath.

"Aisle five," he said.

"Thank you," she replied.

"See, you should totally have me around. I can reach stuff on the top shelves, too. I'm just a ball of helpfulness! Hey, did I tell you about the time I captured all of the points and nobody even sent me to Respawn? How I outran and outgunned them all? Because I did!"

"Multiple times, each time you do it," she said evenly.

"Ehe, you're listenin'!"

She made quick progress, but of course, he still was ahead of her. Even when he actively tried to slow down, he outpaced her without even meaning to. This caused him to walk backward, chattering all the way.

"You're going to run into someone that way," she said.

"Nah, I'm good at dodging—" Something bright caught his attention, and he suddenly turned. "Oooh, yum—" He disappeared down another aisle.

"We don't have time to shop around, the child is waiting," she said. "Scout—"

He returned just as quickly, with his arms full of boxes of sugary cereal.

"If I have to eat pork and beans another time, I'm gonna kill someone. I swear to god," Scout said. "Ever since our chef went and disappeared on us, it's been freakin' dire."

"Killing someone is your job," Miss Pauling said.

"Kill someone outside of match! I'm serious. Pork and beans makes me frickin' homicidal!"

"All right, all right, just make sure you remember to get milk," she said.

"Yes!" Scout punched his arm in the air, and summarily dropped several boxes. He bent and quickly retrieved them, with a chuckle. "I meant to do that."

"Uh-huh," she said.

He took off at a run towards the dairy aisle, and returned before she'd even gotten partway to the other aisle with a gallon of milk in both hands.

"Under a minute. Impressive," she said. "Though at this rate, we're going to need a cart—"

He disappeared again. She heard the rattling of a cart racing through the store, complete with him providing vrooming noises for it.

"Pushin' the caaart," he called, and laughed to himself. "So, Miss P. Am I impressive now? Huh?"

"You are such a dork," she said, with just a faint hint of affection in her voice.

"If by dork you mean awesome then yes, you are totally right. I am the dorkiest of dorks. The dorkmeister, the king of all things dork. They should give me a medal for all my dorkdom!"

"For once, I agree with you," she said.

He put his food in the cart. Somehow he'd managed to accumulate more along the way. No matter, they'd have enough to cover it, anyways. With that, they made their way to aisle five. Scout looked around like he had somehow landed himself in some foreign jungle filled with strange, fascinating creatures.

"God, who knew there'd be so much baby crap to buy?"

Scout picked up one with a blue stork on the bottle. "How about this? It's the cheapest," he said.

"No, not cheapest. That'd be the most poorly made. How the hell did we even end up in this situation?"

"Well, I came into your office, and–"

She held up her hand. "Never mind, forget I said anything."

At the other side of the aisle, there was an older woman wearing the store khaki pants and brown shirt that was the store uniform. She smiled at them.

"Losing a lot of sleep, eh? Ah, I remember the days."

"I never get enough sleep," she said.

"You know I'd help you with that anytime–" Scout said.

She just gave him a look.

The woman laughed. "It happens to the best of young parents, you know. You two make me feel young."

"Ah...yes. We need to give the baby something. Do you have any suggestions?" Miss Pauling asked the woman.

"Nothing like mother's milk," the woman said.

Scout choked and coughed, trying to conceal his laughter.

"–That isn't a possibility," Miss Pauling said.

"Well, then Carnation brand is the best."

"Thank you," Miss Pauling said.

She looked over to Scout to find he was still holding in laughter. When the old lady disappeared down the aisle, she let out a sigh. He was bent over with laughter, slapping his thigh.

"Are you finished?" Miss Pauling said.

He shook his head, still shaking with laughter.

She took this chance to put in a few more bottles of formula. There was no telling how long the child would be with them. Scout had finally stopped laughing, though just looking at her seemed to threaten to make him burst out again.

"This probably made your day, didn't it?" Miss Pauling said.

"More like my month—make that year," Scout said.

She raised one eyebrow. "A year of happiness just because some old woman thought we were married?"

Scout shrugged, a loopy grin on his face. "Not just that, I got cereal too."

"You're very easily pleased," she said.

"Babe, you have no idea," he said.

She rolled her eyes, looking away to conceal the faintest tinge of pink to her cheeks.

.

Scout carried in the groceries, while she tracked down the child again. Spy was in the common room, a book in hand, the child in the other. Heavy and Medic were chatting in a corner, occasionally looking up to watch Spy.

Miss Pauling grabbed the book from his hand.

"de Sade, really?" she said.

"It's never too early to expand the child's mind," he replied.

Her rebuke was cut off by Scout quite literally sliding into the room.

"Hey, guys! Look what I brought back!"

Scout held up the cereal boxes and nodded, grinning at them all. "You can just call me Iyour hero/I, because yes, I did just frickin' save the day."

"Sweet Mary mother of God, do me eyes deceive me?" Demoman said.

"No, man, it's true! No pork and beans!" Scout said.

Scout set out bowls for the men, nearly tipping them over in his haste. Pyro was busy hugging the bowl. He lifted it up and carried it off, along with a whole box of rainbow colored sugary cereal.

"Lad, I take back what I said, you're all right," Demoman. He laughed and kissed the bowl.

"Haha, yeah–wait, what?! You been talkin' about me? Really? What'd you say first, my handsome good looks, or my incredibly mad skills?"

Demoman laughed at this. "Sure, lad. That's exactly what I said."

He poured a bottle of alcohol into the bowl instead of milk.

"Traditional Scottish breakfast," Demoman said with a grin.

The baby was seated on the lunch table, and Scout pushed the ball back and forth in front of him, keeping his attention.

"Well, well, you actually did get a girl knocked up. I'm not sure whether to be surprised or impressed," Sniper said.

"Ahhahahah—shut up," Scout said. He looked down and muttered I wish.

Sniper pushed off Scout's cap and mussed his hair in one absent gesture. Scout squirmed, and Sniper absently flicked him in the forehead before reaching down to push the ball away from both Scout and the baby. Soldier leaned in. "I hope you're ready for a work out, Admiral Toots, because we start bright and early."

"Did you really just name the baby Admiral Toots? Seriously, man?"

"He'll be a great soldier one day! In fact, training will happen tomorrow!"

"Hey, Soldier, maybe you should wait until the kid can actually walk before you start him on the marchin' lessons," Scout said.

"As an American, he needs to learn his patriotism early, otherwise the hippies might get him! Can you imagine what would happen to fine, upstanding Admiral Toots if that happened?" Soldier said. He balled his fists in patriotic rage.

"You're not training the baby, Soldier. I mean it," Miss Pauling said. She leaned in and inspected the child.

"Whoa, Miss P, you takin' lessons from Spy? You're appearin' out of nowhere and stuff," Scout said. He grinned, but after a moment's realization, his grin faltered. "You aren't really gettin' lessons from him, are you? Right, Miss P?"

"No, I'm not," she said.

Scout let out an audible sigh of relief. The baby began to fuss, turning into an outright bawl.

"The formula is here—"

Before she said another word, Heavy leaned in and lifted the child up from her.

"I will feed little baby," Heavy said.

And no one was about to fight with a giant bear of a Russian man who could rip them limb from limb.

.

Heavy had finally let the child go, but only because Medic requested some assistance. So Scout had taken over the babysitting job for the night shift. For a while, anyways. He hung out in the empty common room, holding up the child which was squirming a little.

"You and me, little guy. We're gonna be stars, huh? We can watch baseball games together, and one day, I'll show you how to throw the ball like a real champ."

"Here, make sure to hold the child underneath the derriere," Spy said.

"The what now?" Scout said.

"The same part of Miss Pauling's anatomy you're always staring at!" Spy said in exasperation.

"Oh, the ass! Why can't you just speak normal like the rest of us?"

Spy rolled his eyes and muttered something in French. "I heard that," Scout said.

"And you didn't understand a word of it," Spy replied.

"Yeah, I don't speak frickin' frog, you frog," Scout said. He stuck his tongue out at Spy.

"One day you'll need to know this, so listen to my advice for once."

"You think I could do this sometime?" Scout said. He looked hopefully at Spy.

"Of course. You're too stupid to use a condom, so it's bound to happen sooner or later, even if you have to pay her to make it happen."

Scout made a fist, which was hard to do while carrying something.

"You can't punch me, you're holding a baby. At least set the child down before you try and hit me. Try being the main word here."

"Eh, you ain't worth the trouble," Scout said. He rocked the baby a little, and the child gurgled and then spit up on his shirt.

"Aw, man–!"

"Joys of parenthood," Spy said smugly.

"You knew that was gonna happen, didn't you?" Scout said.

"It was an educated guess. Better your filthy little shirt than mine." He laughed as he faded into a cloak.

"I'd swear at you, but the kid ain't learnin' to swear until he's at least three!" Scout called after him. "I owe you one asskickin', by the way! I'll put it on my fridge, 'I owe this lame Spy one asskickin'!"

Laughter down the hall was the only reply.

"Oh, shit, I swore in front of the baby."

The baby let out a happy gurgling noise and made a face like a smile.

"Aw, fuck it. Don't tell your ma I said that. Speakin' of which, I wonder if your real ma is hot. You wouldn't be holdin' out on me if you had a hot single ma, would you?"

Another gurgle, and a sound like a giggle.

"Bet she is." Scout chuckled. "You're a cute little guy, you know? I don't even care that you messed up my shirt. It can be washed. Besides, ain't like it hasn't gotten worse on it thanks to Snipes. Maybe we can keep you. You'll be the official team mascot until you're old enough. Aw, man, that'd be great! I could teach you how to play baseball, since I can't seem to get the guys to do an official company baseball team with me. Probably just sore losers that I beat them all the time."

His grin faltered a little.

"But she'll probably find them. Miss P always finds stuff...and does stuff...She's a real classy dame, you know that? Huh, this is probably the point where I give some great advice. Don't lick a flagpole, even if your brothers dare you and call you a chicken! No, wait, I got it, I got it. Never give up on what you really want, even if it seems impossible, or she kicks you out of her office again. You gotta just keep tryin'. Just because life throws you a curveball doesn't mean you give up."

The baby's eyes were half-lidded. The child began to fuss and rock from side to side, soon enough it'd probably be in full out bawling again.

"Yeah, I'm pretty tired, too. I guess I better check in with the woman on top before I head out," Scout said. He sniggered to himself. "Man, is she on top of everything...but me. One day she will be, though. One day."

He chatted on about the baseball season and future plans as he went down the hall to her office. The door was slightly ajar, and he opened it with his back, because his hands were too full to knock.

"Heeeya, Miss P. You look pretty worn out. Parenthood tiring you out already?"

"I still have things to do," she said, breaking off into a yawn. She covered her mouth, all demure and stuff. There was a smudge of lipstick on her finger that kept distracting him.

He saw one of the drawers had been pulled out and covered with blankets and stuff. Apparently she'd made out a crib and everything for the little guy. Scout laid the baby inside it. He looked down at his shirt and remembered the mess.

"Damn, should've changed," he muttered to himself.

She didn't hear him, apparently. He grinned to himself and whipped his shirt off.

"Shirt was dirty," he said. "Also, so am I, by the way."

She leaned her face on her hand and only gave him passing glance before she looked tiredly down at her papers.

"You do stuff like this every night? Stayin' up all night to do paperwork and crap?"

"Pretty much," she said.

"Even on the weekends, huh?" he said.

She nodded.

"Man, that's rough. You ever get lonely?"

She rubbed at her eyes and blearily looked up.

"What? I..."

She yawned again.

"Mmm... sometimes, I suppose. The hours are long and I rarely see my family or friends these days."

"Hey, listen up. I'll make sure you're never alone, okay? So you never have to be lonely," he said.

"Basically, you're saying you're never leaving my office," she said.

"Bingo!" He gave her a big grin.

"You should go to bed," she said.

"I'm keepin' you company," he said, folding his arms stubbornly over his chest.

"I'm too tired to argue with you. If you want to stay, then you'll have to sleep on the floor or in one of the chairs. And you'll have to be quiet. I know this is a foreign idea to you, but I need to work."

"I can do it," he said. "I can do all of those things and kick ass at them. Zippin' my lips now." He made the motion of zipping up his lips and throwing away the key.

The baby must've been worn out as well, because he was already sleeping like a log. Scout leaned back in the chair and closed his eyes to the sound of papers rustling.

.

He nearly fell out of the chair, stiff as could be.

"Questioning my life choices, yieegh—"

Various joints cracked as he got up. He groaned again, and caught sight of her asleep on the desk, head resting on her folded arms. Her neck was going to be seriously stiff. Still...she was awful cute while she slept. And, you know, always.

"Actually, natch that. My life choices are awesome."

The baby had started to make this fussy sound, like the kid was one step away from bawling. He plucked the baby up, only to find the kid was...damp. And smelly.

"Phew, you're a little stinkbomb. I should take you off and hose you off or something," Scout said.

He held the baby at arm's length.

"Hungry, little guy? Okay, I'll feed you...after I figure out how to destink you."

He put the baby down for a second, just so he could get the big blue bag of baby stuff which was leaned against Miss Pauling's desk.

As luck would have it, he ran into Heavy just outside the door on his way to the showers.

"Big guy! You know how to destink a baby? See, I can't do two things at once, and I was just thinking of bringing back some donuts. Which I'd share with you, if you helped me out here—"

"Maple cream or no deal," Heavy said.

"Hey, I'm in a good mood, I'll bring some back for the whole team, donuts for everybody, extra for you for being a champ," Scout said.

Heavy was pretty strong, he didn't even mind if he got babystink on him, and held the baby close and tight in his huge arms.

All in all, it was a great idea. He'd even get his running in for the morning while he was at it. Multitasking for the score! Miss P was bound to Ilove/I that.

Plus, no stink.

.

He was back in less than a half hour, which had to be some kind of record, considering that there was a huge line with the morning crowd and he was carrying hot coffee all the way, balanced all out like he was a circus act.

"Sometimes I'm so awesome I just stun myself," he said as he stepped into the door.

He left box after box out on the common room table and opened it just a crack. The smell of new donuts was sure to get the guys up, and if they didn't and Heavy ended up taking all of them to go eat with Medic? Well, their loss.

He eased open the door with his back and stepped in as softly as he could. She kind of looked like his ma did when she had one of her adult headaches. As he closed the door, she began to groan and stir a little.

"Good mornin', gorgeous," Scout said.

"Baby?" she said groggily

"Yeah?" Scout eagerly.

"No, the baby."

"Oh, Heavy is takin' care of him a bit while I got stuff. Speaking of stuff—"

He made a dramatic drum roll sound and pushed her haul over closer on the desk. He'd picked up an egg and sausage sandwich, and a whole box of donuts just for her, as well as coffee, and a bottle of painkillers.

"This base ain't too far away from stores and stuff, though I gotta say you'd be out of luck if we were at Viaduct."

The first thing she did was open the bottle of painkillers, pour out a couple of pills and swallowed them back with a sip of coffee.

She peeked into the donut box and pulled away with a groan.

"Maple cream? Apple fritters? Chocolate bear claws? This is going to do horrible things to my waist," she said.

"One ain't gonna hurt. Besides, you're always pretty. Ain't nothin' gonna change that," she said.

"You're such a sweet talker," she said.

"It's the truth, though!" He said, gesturing emphatically with his hands.

She reached for the coffee again and almost tipped it, but he was right there, catching her elbow and her.

She leaned into him, her hair tickling his bare abdomen. He was too surprised to even make comments about where she was. Just, what, holy shit what? And she looked up and smiled at him. Not a smirk, a real honest to God smile. Nearly tipped him over, but he caught himself, and she laughed a little.

"I need to brush my teeth before I do anything else, but...why don't you help me eat those donuts? You always look one step away from starvation as it is."

"What, I—sure!"

"I'm only having one," she said.

"Uh-huh," Scout said, grabbing one of the maple creams. His ma was always getting at him for eating too fast, but he did everything fast, and eating was no exception. Three sweet bites later, she was back.

"Ugh, I need to change. My dress is all wrinkled, and I haven't showered yet—"

"You look fine—better than fine, you look awesome! Awesomegreat, yeah!"

"Awesomegreat?" she said.

"Awesomegreat. Your awesome defies words so it turned into a new one," he said with a nod.

"I see," she said, chuckling a bit.

She reached in and took the Apple Fritter. She let out a little moan as she ate it, which made him really glad he had already finished the donut he was working on, because he was full out gaping.

"What?" she said.

He stuffed a donut in his mouth to add to the sweetness of the moment. He smiled with his mouth full. A plan came to him. He stretched and laid back on her desk. He could only make it halfway because he'd knock the box of donuts off, plus his legs wouldn't fit at all, but still. On her desk, boo yeah.

"Oh, look, a shirtless man on my desk with donuts. Just what I always wanted," she said dryly.

"Hey, if nothin', I make dreams come true," Scout said.

He reached in and held out a bear claw to her. His fingers were still faintly sticky and covered with icing.

"This is a bad idea," she said.

"Yeah, but it'll taste great," he said.

She slowly took a bite of the donut, closing her eyes to savor the taste. She was delicate, that was the word that best described her, though there was a bunch of them. Pretty, capable, strong as hell, gorgeous and a whole bunch of other ones which he forgot just because she tended to make his mind blank around her.

"You're grinning again," she said.

"I can't help it around you," he replied.

She bent down to take another bite, except she licked his thumb, and for a second he thought it was about the luckiest accident ever, until she did it again and licked his finger.

She drew away a little, her cheeks flushed very red. "This is a bad idea."

"Nah, it's about the best idea ever," he said. "No, really. It's great, you're great..."

She leaned in and for a moment she was going to lean in and kiss him senseless, but she stopped short and pulled out another donut.

"For the record, no one knows this happened, and I had one donut."

She stepped out towards the door, and to whatever duties she had to do.

"Your secret is safe with me!" he called back. She didn't reply, but that was okay. He'd see her later, even if he had to stay up until dawn to get a glimpse and make sure she had company.

.

Heavy held up the baby as Demoman laid down another hand of cards. Scout and Soldier were on the sidelines, while Sniper took a sip of something out of a flask.

"You're robbin' me of me house and home," Demoman said.

Spy chuckled and flicked his spent cigarette. "You've got three of them, you can deal."

"I'll win Nessie back, you hear?" Demoman said, determinedly taking another set of cards.

"Of course you will," Spy said.

Miss Pauling walked in, and Scout looked up, his face breaking instantly into a grin at the sight of her.

"The missing person report was finally filed," Miss Pauling said. Nine mercenaries looked up at her. The cigarette fell from Spy's mouth.

"Admiral Toots?" Soldier said. He pushed his helmet down to hide his face.

"Can't we just keep him? Finders keepers, like the lost and found box," Scout said.

"That doesn't apply to babies," Miss Pauling said, rubbing at her temples.

"So, uh, what's the details on this?" Scout said.

"I went into some of the information lines, and it seems like our friendly neighborhood arms dealer had a take your child to work day," Miss Pauling said.

"Man, his wife is gonna kill him," Scout said.

Sseveral mercenaries nodded in agreement. Pyro was too distracted by the card house he was making to pay attention, and Engineer was off doing routine duties.

"He'll be here in less than an hour, if you want to say your goodbyes..."

Sniper leaned against the wall, and put away his flask. "Ain't much for kids," he said. "Don't see what the big fuss is with all of you."

"We've bored of killing each other," Spy said.

"And giving me headaches," Miss Pauling added.

"I never get tired of that," Scout said, grinning at her.

"Scout, you singlehandedly keep all the makers of aspirin in business," she said.

He just grinned wider.

"If a sheep came through the compound, we'd probably dress it up as the mascot. Or eat it, depending on how drunk this Icardshark/I over here is," Spy said with a tinge of irritation in his voice.

"I told ye, I'm winnin' it back!"

"And then you'd probably try and date it," Spy added, glancing at the corner.

"What the hell, I'm not into sheep," Scout said.

"Not everything is about you," Spy said.

"Like hell it isn't!" Scout replied.

Soldier bent near the child and touched its head.

"One day we'll meet again, Admiral Toots. On the battleground of freedom." There was a catch in his voice, and he pushed the helmet down lower. Demoman patted him on the back.

"It's all right, lad. I'm sure we'll see the wee one again. He'll grow up to be just like his daddy and sell us overpriced weapons that catch on fire for no reason at all."

"Like a true American should," Soldier said with much conviction.

Heavy bent down and whispered something in Russian to the boy.

"He's just warning him about the communists," Medic added quickly. "You can't start too early with the warnings."

Soldier had another manly cough which was in no way hidden tears. Demoman patted him on the shoulder.

"It's all right, lad. He'll be fightin' communists before ye know it."

It was his turn. Scout took a deep breath before he stepped in. Here was his great last goodbye. He leaned in and held tight to the blanket.

"Hey kid. It was fun, but you gotta go home now, all right? I guess your ma and da really miss you. Remember what I told you, all right? Trust me on the flagpoles...and the curveballs." Emotion made his voice break, about as embarrassing as puberty all over again.

He pulled down his cap and stepped back. "It was fun, kid," he said.

He felt a hand against his back. He looked down to see purple nails and small, delicate fingers. She just kept her hands there, supporting him. For once, Scout didn't say anything.

.

He'd hung around until the parents came back for the kid. And it was a nice scene and all, a weeping mother and a father who looked like he'd spent the entire time in the doghouse and would probably be there for the next several months. Miss Pauling was real calm and collected, but she was always like that. She handled it like a pro.

He'd already said his goodbyes, so he just gave the kid a salute and waited for her to come out through it all. His head was full of thoughts and memories and stuff. Her pink tongue against his fingers, the rustling of papers and how she looked when she was just waking up.

If someone asked about what he wanted the future, he'd probably just say more of this. The old TF paid well, and he got to bash skulls in and fight all he wanted without worry about getting in the clink. The guys were like brothers to him, a whole new set from every part of the world. Sure, he missed his family, but the best thing would be for them to move closer and not for him to stop.

But he knew one thing for sure: he wanted more. He wanted to see that smile again, to feel her hair between his fingers and know every little thing about her. When she came out of her office, alone this time, he followed after her and called her name. She turned, her hair blue-black in the light.

"Hey, Miss Pauling...you want kids?"

"Eventually, I suppose. My job keeps me too busy to really plan such things right now," she replied.

"I wasn't thinkin' about it, but somehow the thought of some stupid suburban white picket fence dream makes me happy. Didn't think it ever would, but hey, kids are great. I think I want a whole parcel of 'em, enough to have a whole baseball team, just like I was raised," he said.

"It's much harder than this, Scout. You don't get to stop playing house when the day is over," she said.

"I know. Still, I think it'd be worth it. I'd be great at it, I just know it—just like I am about everythin' else, I mean. Not exactly a surprise, right? And I bet you'd be a great ma—you sure take care of us," he said.

"Did you just try and use a proposal of marriage to flirt with me this time?" Miss Pauling said incredulously.

"What? No, I'm just sayin'—sayin' uh, stuff! Yeah, stuff! Don't mind me—but that doesn't mean you should stop listenin' to me just...not that!"

He tugged at his collar. The room had gotten really stuffy and hot all the sudden. Scout had this little problem where his mouth would keep running before his mind caught up and then he realized halfway through what he'd said. It'd given him more than a few bloody noses and black eyes over the years.

She looked down and sighed. "Leave it to you to do something like this..."

He thought that was the end of it–open mouth, insert foot as his freaking motto–but she went on in a softer voice.

"If that ever happened, you'd be the one wearing the apron."

"Seriously? With legs like this, I could totally pull an apron off! In fact, I'd wear an apron and nothin' else for when you got home, how about that? A super manly apron, for a super manly guy!"

She reached into her bag for the star stickers. He was about to protest, but instead of his mouth, it was his cheek that she put the large red star on. The pressure sort of felt like a kiss, and he touched it with his hand, smoothing over the shiny red foil.

"What was that for?"

"That was for the mental image," she said. "...and because you wouldn't leave me lonely."

"Hey, anytime. I'm great at the eye candy. And you don't ever gotta worry about bein' lonely with me around."

She smiled in a way that lit up her whole face and made his heart skip a beat or two. She turned and left without another word, off to save the world—or at least his world—again. But it was more than enough for him.

Scout nodded smugly to himself. "Guess who's awesome? Spoiler alert: it's me! Oh, haha, you are so in love with me, you can't even deal with it!"

He stopped a second. Wait a minute... was she joking, or did that technically make him the wife?

He thought it over a few, but finally he just shrugged it off. "What the hell. You can wear the pants, babe, as long as I'm gettin' in them."