It was near midnight, and the day had been long.
The Demoman was strolling leisurely down the corridors of the base, deciding a shower would be good. While he enjoyed the smell of gunpowder sticking to his skin, the smell of blood too was a bit off-putting while he was relaxing.
He passed many doors on his way; the Medics infirmary with its often glowing little light above it, a store closet, the Medics actual room, the Heavy’s gun maintenance room, the Snipers spare room for when he was not in his van, the Scouts room…
He paused. Scouts door was closed.
It was never closed this time of night. It was open if he was inside if he was not asleep, just a crack, and it was only midnight – Scout more often than not stayed up until two or three in the morning to watch the static of the old television flicker with the Pyro or pester the gentle Engineer or fiery Soldier.
Concerned, the Demoman knocked on the oak.
“….Who is it?” was his reply, slow and quiet. Unusual. Demoman opened the door quietly, sticking his head in.
“Y’alright there lad?”
The younger mercenary was on the edge of his bed. The bed, draped in the team colour was pressed against the wall so that if the Scout moved in his sleep to his left, his nose would be pressed to the painted brickwork. His legs were tucked to his chin and his arms lay folded across them.
The bomb-maker frowned and slowly sat next to him. “Was’ wrong?”
The other male sighed, reluctant. But, if he could trust anyone, it’s the Demoman. At least with information. Any one else was out the question. Private information? – The Soldier would scream it at the top of his lungs in the morning to wake everybody up, the Sniper would likely not care or just give a blank, spaced-out look until Scout stopped speaking, Pyro, yeah he was a bud but just a mask, Heavy would just be ‘da, da, is good’ and be too occupied fucking his gun or Medic, Medic himself would only care if the information was about entrails, Engineer would be too busy focusing on his next big project or cooking or something, and there was no way Spy was learning more that he already knew.
Demoman was a trustful person. Even when drunk, the only secrets he shouted about were the ones everybody knew, like the time he saw Nessie or the number of toes he’d blown off. He trusted the one-eyed man.
“It’s my Ma and Pa’s anniversary is all.” The Scout gave a tense smile, rocking slightly on the bed. “Nah, I mean, I never knew my Pa, He left when I was younger, but…”
He trailed off for a moment, and a frown appeared. He stared and his fingernails, his hands no longer wrapped in their bandages after battle and dinner. He liked his bandages. Grip. Security. Realism. He craved the feel against his skin once they were removed.
“I always remember.” He ended up whispering, which was not his intention. He was not a coward, whether it be on the battlefield or when emotions came to play. If he was a coward with emotions, how was he brave enough to ask out the radiant Miss Pauling after so many rejections, or be able to shout friendly abuse at the Medic despite the man carving up his chest in adrenaline and battle inflicted surgeries? How could he run straight into sentry fire and leap through their enemies windows to grab their briefcase? Scout was not a coward. But he had whispered. The last time he had whispered it had been his dear old Ma’s birthday, and he muttered his thanks and congratulations into his pillow before sliding into the realm of sleep and tomorrow.
“Ya kinda can’t forget a day that the rest of the family avoid, right? My brotha’s, they all seem quiet on today. All seem like they’ve forgotton’ him cus he left. Ma, too, she just … Kinda sits ‘n’ stares at the walls an’ forgets to do lil’ things. Burnin’ pancakes, forgettin’ ta do dishes and stuff.” He broke out into a remorseful grin, and his companion smiled too, leaning forward from his seat.
The singular, doe-brown eye watched the younger mercenary as he remained still. He was not fidgeting, which was an immense rarity.
Soft, almost blonde eyebrows creased. His fingers were apparently very interesting.
“I kinda just …” He faltered. He was the youngest. He was always the youngest. “I . . . kinda feel like I’m the only one that don’t hate him. I mean, I remember goin’ ta the park with him, ‘n’ him comin’ home and sitting in front ‘a the TV with us. Nobody else does. Eh’body else just seems to hate him… I can’t hate him, man. He tried... he just couldn’t hack it.”
The Demoman spoke for the first time in a good few minutes.
“…Why did he go?”
“Stress.” Scout muttered bluntly. “Couldn’t take twelve other brats like me bitin’ his ankles, askin’ him ta play ball or come to school meetins’ and what not. S’always Ma.”
“I was about three. Don’t remember a lot.”
“I can imagine, lad. Musta bin hard with no old man aboot.”
Scout chuckled, smile hidden in his folded arms. “Twelve brotha’s, man. I turned out okay.”
“Aye, no doubt about that.” The taller man leant back so his back was firmly leaning on the wall. “Out in a war zone, running fer yer country, yer freedom-” Scout briefly thought of Highlander, “- usin’ yer smarts and legs erryday. Can’t be so bad. Keepin’ a war out here instead of over there, at home, where yer Ma is… can’t be all bad, can it lad?”
“ … No.” He murmured softly, seeming to be deep in thought, melancholic. The Scotsman frowned and moved an arm to wrap around his shoulder, resting his hand on his pale arm.
Nothing was said for a long time. Demoman did not bring up any points involving his own family. Nothing could be said to make anything better. Scout said nothing. He had burdened Demoman, like everyone else, enough. He felt very hollow. He missed his Ma.
“You take it easy lad, aright?” The explosion expert slowly closed everything off as he rubbed a small circle on the others fair shoulder.
“... Yeah.” He murmured, frowning again.
The dark-skinned Scot slowly slid from the bed, stood, ruffled the Bostonians hair and headed for the door.
He looked back, watching those long legs unfold and the young man sit up straighter. “Thanks, old man.”
He smirked. He may have winked but he could have just been blinking. “Cheers, mate.”
With that, he closed the door and let the Scout rest. He forgot his need of a shower. He headed for his own room, for his good friend Scrumpy, and for his bed where he could lie and think of his own mum and dad for once.