...And other stories from Viaduct. Started as a one-shot, turned into a series of one-shots (per se) in the works after I began looking through more fanart and reading /dis/. Please excuse the first chapter, I wasn't writing it very seriously so it likely isn't very good.
Scout cussed the whole way down the sagging hallway that connected the second floor of RED's storeroom to the bunks, stomping hard enough to rattle the floorboards. He was glad, at least, not to have to go outside. After a recent victory at Gorge they were stationed at Viaduct, which was located (as far as Scout knew) somewhere near the summit of Mount Bumfuck Nowhere. There was nothing up there except snow, and when it wasn't snowing they we being pummeled with sleet that turned the terrain to dangerously slick ice or greedy mud that would slurp the shoes straight off your feet if you stood in place too long. No matter the weather, though, it was always cold, and that pissed him off. He hadn't been able to get a good night's sleep since they'd arrived, and no amount of shitty coffee could make up for that fact. It was for that reason that Scout, after his second week of unrest in a row, had hauled himself out of bed and set out on a frozen trek to the storeroom for yet another blanket to add to his collection of four.
"Fucken piece-a-shit RED Bed brand making their piece-a-shit blankets, man, I can't even get no sleep around here..." The boy grumbled to himself, gripping the arms of his flannel pajamas and resisting the urge to chatter his teeth. At least they'd given the team good pajamas. How they found nightclothes big enough to fit Heavy's fat ass into, though, he didn't know. The worst part was that the rest of the guys didn't seem to mind the climate. No one so much as trembled when they were outside, not even Sniper or Engie, who were both probably used to balmier or more arid environments. Scout's breath hissed through his teeth, and it made him even angrier to see it mist and drift away. He was so preoccupied with being pissed off, in fact, that he didn't notice the footsteps on his heels until a big, hard hand closed on his skinny shoulder. The boy shouted and flailed in surprise when he was whipped around to face their very own Soldier, already fully dressed and looking none too pleased.
"And what are you whimpering about this morning, Susie?" The older man grated. Scout gave him a dirty look. He didn't appreciate being called Susie, but Soldier was a fountain of endearing terms like that. The runner brushed Soldier's hand off his shoulder and tried to stand up straight no matter how much he wanted to curl up into a shivering ball of cold, goosebumpy flesh and maybe succumb to that 'hypozermia' thing Medic kept mentioning.
"It's fuckin' cold!" Griped Scout. "Cantcha even tell? Jeezus, it's like nobody's got nerves anymore. You're all having a good night's sleep while I sit dere under my shitty blankets tryin' not to freeze to death. What the hell's the matter wit you anyway, stoppin' me here? I just want another fuckin' blanket! It's six in the morning, man, go to bed!" Soldier's mouth seemed to set into a harder line after each sentence. Scout grumbled and turned his back on the midwesterner, intent on getting his blanket and going back to bed.
"Your mother raised you to be a girl, son!" Scout rounded on Soldier like a snarling greyhound, opening his mouth to warn the older man never to talk about his mother, but Soldier's mouth was faster and louder. "You aren't a MAN until you've survived a Minnesota winter. When I was a boy we got twenty inches of snow in three days! Every year temperatures dropped to thirty below zero. Do you know how cold that is, boy?" A meaty finger was jabbed into Scout's face. "Colder than your little lady brain can imagine. Man up, son." Scout bared his teeth at the man, but was too tired and cold to start a fight. He grabbed his blanket and shoved right past the stiff obstacle that was Soldier. The Bostonian heard his company take another sharp breath. "By the way. Engineer asked me to come up here and call you down to breakfast with the others. It's almost eight."
The boy stopped in his tracks, a spasm of tension making the lids of his left eye twitch. Almost eight? And all these other fuckers were already awake? Scout snarled furiously enough to give a wolverine a run for it's money, throwing his blanket over his shoulders and returning to his bunk in such a loud fashion that Soldier had his work cut out for him-- the remainder of the team stirred from their collective slumber. Pyro's gloved hand poked out into the hall, a middle finger raised high at the back of the runner's head.
"Bum bum bum bum..." Heavy's mountainous voice made a great bassline to open a song to. Medic was laughing, leaning so far back on the crate he'd perched on that Heavy had to catch him by the arm to stop him falling. Engineer stirred the grits on the woodstove with such energy that they spackled the front of his overalls, grinning big as he added the melody.
"Oh Mister Sandman," He sang, pausing to let Heavy interject a masculine 'yes?' necessary for the spirit of the song. "Bring me a dream, make her the cutest that I ever seen." Medic conducted with his hands, his face flushed from laughter where it was framed by the ear flaps of Heavy's knitted cap. The hat was ruining his meticulously combed hair, but the Russian had insisted he wear it at least for a bit.
"Vith two lips, like roses und clovers..." The gentlemen threw their hands into the air, singing as a makeshift barber shop choir. Not a very good one, mind, as no one knew how to harmonize with the other voices present, but they tried their damndest. "And tell her that her lonely nights are over!" The song ended there. Heavy didn't know the rest, Engie was laughing too hard, and Medic had a cup of coffee to his lips.
"Mrrnn." Pyro waved to the company as he came in from the bunks next door. He was wearing a scarf and a beanie despite being covered head to toe. No one could claim to understand Pyro's fashion sense, and nobody tried.
"Guten morgen, Herr Pyro." Said Medic, but Pyro didn't seem to be listening. He was staring at Engie's stockpot full of grits, or in the general direction of it anyway. Engie ladled up a thick spoonful for a taste, causing Pyro to throw his hands into the air in great dismay.
"Hmmmmf! Mr prrgh!" He cried, rushing over to the woodstove. Engie was muscled out of the way in short order with a grunt so Pyro could instead take the spoon in hand and wave it threateningly at the Texan. "Grmm mulk!" Engineer stared at him, pushing his hard hat up in bewilderment.
"Care to run that by me again, son?" Pyro waved his arms wildly, his ladle wielding hand spraying grits everywhere. Medic ducked while Heavy leaned over to take the brunt of the edible onslaught in his stead.
"Ach, he vants milk. I think he might be upset that you haf ruined his porridge recipe. He is as unfamiliar viz zese 'grits' as any of us." As he spoke, Medic scowled into his coffee cup as if doing so might remove the island of cornmeal floating in it. Heavy turned to him, face and vest covered in spots of the same food. The doctor finicked even as his enormous comrade licked a spot of porridge from the corner of his mouth with relish, and before long he'd taken to cleaning Heavy's face with the hem of his bone white duster coat. Engineer looked a little outraged at the implication that he had somehow ruined Pyro's porridge.
"Don't you know anything about southern hospitality, boy?" He waved a finger at Pyro, who was presently rushing to the icebox packed with fresh snow for a canister of milk. "I was tryin' to do something nice for y'all and you're goin' off saying I done ruined it." Pyro stopped what he was doing, deflating shyly. He didn't like being scolded, and he hadn't meant to offend Engie. He humbly offered the canister of milk in his hands to the Texan, who took it only to return it to the icebox. "We shouldn't use too much milk. It ain't as abundant as the corn or oats."
"Muh..." Pyro moved out of the way to let the mechanic back at the stove. Engineer glanced back at the sullen pyromaniac, who in short order pointed at his gas mask. That was a gesture he could understand. Pyro made thin porridge (for himself if no one else) so that he could drink it through a straw and avoid removing his mask. Engineer gave him a good natured smile and a pat on the shoulder.
"Awe, don't look so down, pardner. I'll add plenty of milk to yours. Now, howsabout you go and grab that handy flamethrower of yours and help me stoke this here fire?" Pyro was game for that idea, sashaying out the door and practically sprinting through the snow towards resupply. In passing, he sprayed a rooster tail of snow all over a group comprised of Spy, Demoman, and Soldier, who could do little more than glance back curiously before continuing towards the building that served as their mess hall. One by one they filed in, respectively cold, hung over, and sleepy. Spy took his place in the corner closest to the stove, pulling his overexpensive Swiss-made winter jacket tight around his body. He didn't like the harsh weather, but he could manage. At least his balaclava wasn't just a way of protecting his identity now-- in this climate, it was a blessing that kept his face warm.
Demoman smacked a dented pan down on the stovetop next to the stockpot. Over his shoulder he carried a small number of skinned and gutted rabbits tethered together on a length of twine. "Got a knife, mate?" He asked Engineer, who was eyeing the rodents. He wasn't unused to catching small animals for a bit of meat, but Demoman was normally in no right state for hunting game. He handed the Scot a knife, but asked the burning question as he did.
"How in sam hell did you catch all them rabbits anyhow?"
"Oh, me an' Snipes were gunning 'em down." Demoman answered cheerfully, hacking the first bunny on the string to bits around the bone. Spy watched him until he could take it no more. Such a horrible hackjob could not be ignored. He rose from his warm little spot to wrench the knife from the Scotsman's hand, proceeding to cut the meat into fine strips where he could and cubing it where he couldn't.
"What does zis look like to you, a member of ze BLU team? Bon dieu, you may as well have cut it with your Excalibur--" Demoman cut him off defensively.
"It's the EYELANDER, not the Excalibur. Cripes, man, don't yae know yer swords? It's a bloody disgrace!" Demoman picked up the coffee pot towards the back of the stovetop, making the rounds with it and pouring the last of it straight into the hip flask he'd been keeping in his bomber jacket. Spy grunted, never looking up from his work. Heavy cocked his head at Demoman, who was slamming back whatever concoction he'd made in the flask with great gulps.
"What was in bottle?" He asked between sips of coffee from a mug that was dwarfed by his enormous paws. Demoman flopped onto a crate next to Soldier with a satisfied smile having emptied the flask.
"Rum." He said, as if it were no big deal. Medic made a sound of annoyance in his throat. He didn't like that Demoman was slowly poisoning himself into an early grave, but they were all adults-- there was nothing he could do. Even respawn couldn't fix a liver that pickled. He might have said something had the collective thoughts of the group not been quite abruptly shattered by Pyro bursting back into the room with flamethrower in hand. Most of the men present actually hit the deck. Soldier actually gave Pyro a faceful of coffee with an earsplitting war cry before realizing that the invader was one of their own. Heads came up. Pyro stood staring at the psychotic patriot, doubtlessly cross as he dripped on the floorboards. Soldier stared back and sunk onto his seat with his mug in his lap. Spy cleared his throat, breaking the awkward silence as he often liked to do.
"C'mon Pyro. Let's get this fire blazin' again." Engie waved Pyro over as if nothing had happened. Pyro was happy to forget his annoyance. The Texan broke down another empty crate and tossed it into the stove to be consumed by the breath of the flamethrower. Medic got up to go out to the water pump and rinse out bowls enough for the team to eat. On his way out, he frowned, performing a body count.
"Ve are missing two people." The headcount was repeated by everyone but Demoman and Soldier.
"The Scout went back to bed. I caught him smuggling more blankets to his room like a sissy little girl. Boy's never seen a real winter!" Soldier said. He looked then to Demoman, assuming he had some explanation as to the whereabouts of Sniper. As if on cue, footsteps thudded across the wooden catwalk attached to the building. A boistrous yawn erupted into the doorway above and there was Sniper, ugg boots and all. As usual, he bunked apart from the rest of the team. RED hadn't let him bring his van up, but Engineer had helped him turn the wall of corrugated metal on the opposite end of the catwalk into a decent little shack. Sniper preferred it over there. He could get to a nest faster than he could out of the barracks, and the outer shell of his shelter was fairly bulletproof.
Sniper took his seat where Spy had previously been, next to the stove. Spy was presently browning the rabbit to the best of his ability in Demoman's beat-up piece of battle cookware. He seemed at ease, at least until Sniper leaned over, scratched himself, and farted. This sent the Frenchman into a flurry of curses and complaints following the words "filthy bushman." He knew the Aussie did it just to annoy and disgust him, but that didn't lessen the effect. He heard Engie snickering at his reaction and shot him a venomous glare. Sniper pounded a fist on the side of the steps.
"Oi, waitress," He jeered, addressing Spy. "Where's the coffee?" Spy resisted the urge to toss the pan of burning meat into the bushman's face, or better yet beat him with it. Perhaps he could pour hot coffee over his head, oh yes, that might do. Visions of violence made a sugarplum dance through the saboteur's thoughts. More snickering in the background. He stabbed at the last plump rabbit carcass haphazardly, venting his annoyance on the poor slain creature. He wondered if the BLU Sniper was this obnoxious.
"Someone needs to grab Scout. We ain't eating until everyone's here." Engineer insisted. A concordant groan rose from the group. Engie summarily ignored it, staring out over his teammates. No one seemed particularly eager to step back out into the cold, especially when this room was easily the warmest on their side of the base. They were much more eager to get outside when two high screams shattered the silence of snowfall. Heavy was on his feet first. One of those voices belonged to his doctor. The knot of men barely made it out of the doorway at all as they were, but when they did they made a break for the water pump near resupply. Many of them were without their primary weapons, but none of them were unarmed.
What they found at the pump was a crime scene of a very different sort. There stood Medic over a mishmash of shattered dishes. He'd cracked Scout about the head with the bowl he'd been holding, destroying it and dousing the boy in the freezing contents of which. Scout would have been screaming and swearing if not for the profuse chattering of his teeth. There was a moment of gawking, but Heavy was the first to roar with laughter. "Doktor, you let little Scout sneak up on you?" Medic gave him a searing look.
"I did not let him, he simply did. Komm, Herr Scout, ve vill get you indoors." He tried to usher the runner back to the building from whence they emerged, but Scout shrugged him off aggressively.
"Man, don't fuckin' touch me. I was cold enough without you throwin' water all on me." He stammered. Demoman approached him second, grabbing him by the arm and practically dragging him back to their kitchen. Scout was much too cold to resist at that point, and he could feel blood trickling along his scalp where Medic had broken a bowl over his head. He actually felt fortunate not to have gotten the business end of the doctor's saw instead.
"C'mon boy-o. We'll get some coffee in ye and you'll be jus' fine." The Scotsman wound his arm fully around Scout, gesturing behind himself to call the team back indoors. Heavy waved them off.
"Nyet, I stay out here and help Doktor clean dishes so he is not afraid." Heavy half-joked. Medic's glare might have burned holes through the Russian, and then they all would have had bacon.
Despite the lack of bacon they did have breakfast. The stockpot was emptied of it's contents in the span of an hour, the rabbit was gone even faster, and many more pots of coffee were made. The men made each other hungrier still, discussing foods they'd enjoyed back home, though some were more appetizing than others. Engie talked on about ribs and the fresh produce from his auntie's farm, Scout boasted about his mother's world-class clam chowder and chocolate chip cookies between scathing glances at Medic. Spy gave a detailed recollection of the flavour of boeuf bourguignon even as Demoman loudly championed the quality of his mother Tilly's homemade haggis with cock-a-leekie soup in an increasingly thick accent. Scout made the mistake of snickering at the term "cock-a-leekie" only to find himself with a still-warm demopan dangerously close to his face. Soldier, surprisingly, diffused the situation by broaching the subject of green bean casserole, which to his dismay was then agreed upon to be almost as bad or even worse than haggis. Heavy frustrated himself trying to explain what botvinya was and why it was unusual that he preferred to eat it hot.
Pyro followed his example, but for different reasons-- everyone could only assume he preferred anything cooked on an open flame. Medic expressed a surprising love for dessert, especially bread puddings. Finally the conversation came full circle to Sniper, who had been curiously silent up until that point. The bushman cleared his throat softly and pulled his hat down. The group egged him on until he decided to open with a description of how python eggs tasted, leading into a ghastly presentation on raw ptarmigan liver and sleeping in a moose carcass as well as an offhand mention of fried chupacabra legs (but only once in New Mexico). It was at that point that everyone but Sniper decided they were no longer hungry. They also decided that Australia, for all it's advancements in technology, was a horrible place; Australium be damned.
They still had an hour before the morning match. Engineer had once coined the term "punch-clock mercenaries" to describe the job they did. Most of the team didn't have any personal beef with BLU, they did their jobs when respawn was turned on and left each other be when it was off. Sure, more than a few of them enjoyed killing their counterparts. That didn't mean they hated the guys on BLU, it just meant that their deaths were entertaining. The subject turned to what the men had did on their last vacation, before being shipped to Viaduct.
An hour would not be enough.
In the process of research for the next chapter. Expect to see the adventures of Sniper, Spy, and Demoman in Arabia once I'm through. Thank you for reading!
Dear lord, did I really write the sentence "what the men had did?" I meant what they had done.
Interesting so far. Two things: "Dousing the boy in the freezing contents of which." Clip off the "of which" and it works just fine.
Also, Bostonians have at least some sense of winter. Maybe not Minnesotan winter, but New England does snow and cold pretty well.
This is agonizingly cute. Do feel free to continue!
Thank you for the little correction, I am always open for more. My writing gets a little convoluted.
Secondly, I'll keep the Boston winter comment in mind. I've never actually been up to New England so I can't say first hand how cold it gets. I probably also should have mentioned at some point that Scout doesn't have a jacket.
Well, Connecticut can be in the single digits (and that's Fahrenheit) during the day in January (personal experience, that), and below zero at night, and Massachusetts is an hour or two's drive away with no dramatic geographic features along the way to change the weather. Yep. Cold.