Engineer and Pyro have a little heart-to-heart. Fluff, I guess.
Jesus, I've had this thing on the backburner (durr hurr) for about a year now. How does one suck any more than I do already
A heavy sigh slipped from Engineer’s lazily parted lips, barely audible over the hiss of running water. The man relaxed in the moment, thankful for the jets of pure, hot bliss working their magic on his aching muscles. Between the steamy air that rehydrated his respiratory system and the constant white noise of the showerhead, the long day of warring over barren land was easily forgotten.
Peering at his surroundings, Engineer internally rejoiced at this rare chance for total solitude. The thought of raucous laughter and chatter competing with running showerheads in the tiled echo chamber was enough to make him wince.
Shaking off the imagined cacophony, Engineer angled the shower head to direct the stream closer to the wall. He then eased himself down to the tiled floor, sitting cross-legged beneath the water. Smiling at this simple indulgence of his, he wriggled in place to best sit comfortably. Within the minute, he was leaning heavily against the wall at his back, fighting to keep heavy eyelids open. The struggle didn’t last long, and soon the engineer was lost in a sleep irresistibly warm and incredibly deep.
When he finally awoke, it was with a jerk and bout of shuddering. The water had long turned cold, showering him at increasingly cooler temperatures for so long that he hadn’t noticed his drop in core temperature. Shivering uncontrollably, Engineer carefully braced himself against the wall as he made to stand. Even the simple act of getting up was enough to make his head spin, at which he instinctively pressed himself against the tiles for balance. He snatched his towel from the nearby hook with his good hand, wrapping it around his body and pulling the fluffy fabric taut against his arms and chest. It brought him slight relief, and with the ends of the towel tucked under each arm, he shuffled for the locker room on unsteady legs.
Staggering past the first row of lockers, Engineer made straight for the bench and the stability it promised. Sinking heavily onto the wooden slats, he cursed his luck for catching a chill the one day he removed the gunslinger before showering. With one good hand and an amputated stump, he worked as best he could to get himself dry. Much to his relief, the friction from his frantic towel work quickly abated the shaking in his arms. Last thing he needed was to fall bed-ridden due to negligent showering habits, especially when progress on the battlefield had been so cutthroat lately.
Mostly dry, Engineer noted the damp still clinging to the hairs around an ankle. He stooped to dab at the spot when a low, soft murmur caused him to jerk upright.
Head snapping to look over his shoulder, he found himself being stared down by the team’s firestarter, fully suited as usual.
“Sweet fornicatin’ Christ and all that is unholy! Pyro-- when did you--?”
Pyro shook their head absentmindedly, paying no mind to Engineer’s exasperation, and instead stared intently at their teammate’s bare back. It took the Texan a moment to comprehend what held the masked enigma’s attention so completely, before self-consciously covering his shoulders with the towel again. Unsure of what to say, Engineer turned his attention elsewhere, focusing on the dried mold in the crevices of the concrete flooring.
It was only when rubbery fingertips prodded his shoulder that Engineer turned back. Pyro had closed the distance, and now leant over the bench with their head cocked to one side. They motioned at the towel over Engineer’s shoulders, urging the fabric be released to offer them the view once more. Engineer swallowed hard, uneasy in the talking point it would most certainly bring up.
But it only took a moment’s look into those impenetrable goggles to know the person inside meant no harm. Given the hours they had passed between them, he certainly counted Pyro a friend by now - perhaps his closest yet. He was pretty sick of hiding it after so long, anyway.
Taking a deep breath, Engineer let go of his trepidation and the towel in a single exhale.
For the longest moment, nothing happened. Despite his expectation for gasps and recoils in horror, the scene remained exactly the same. His heart hammered then, anxiety brewing at not knowing what Pyro must be thinking. Fuelled by panic, Engineer’s mind began to fill in the blanks with all manner of pessimistic conclusions, until a gentle caress over his skin derailed his train of thought.
He could hear Pyro’s soft breathing as they delicately traced the unnatural surface of his back, felt his heart race as they leant closer to gain a better view. Involuntary shivers danced down his limbs while gloved fingers prodded and stretched his flesh, examining the extent of the damage.
Engineer nervously cleared his throat, moving to cover himself once more.
“The-- Th’oil fields weren’t, uh…” Engineer fumbled, suddenly aware just how much of himself he was bearing to Pyro. He swallowed, knowing that he couldn’t leave the situation unexplained.
“Out there, they... weren’t too kind to a man with no real stature and a fondness for stayin’ indoors and tinkerin’. They didn’t like bein’ told how to do things - how to do ‘em better.”
Engineer’s gaze remained fixed on his knee, teeth gritting involuntarily as his mind flooded with months of punishment. All for the crime of having a brilliant mind. He could almost hear the jeering again, the crack of a whip in the midday air. Relived the feeling of his sunburnt skin, searing and ever-so fragile as it gave way to the relentless lashings.
“An’ that’s… That is how I learned to kill, Pyro. To build things. To run an’ hide and make the right tools t’do what my fists couldn’t.”
Engineer chuckled to himself softly, remembering just how sweet first revenge was. Every day spent in lock-up over the following months had been worth every scream he’d earnt.
His chuckles waned then, replaced by sudden regret for having shared so much. Engineer swallowed hard, closing his eyes to shut out the reality he had just formed for himself. But before he could begin the cycle of self-criticism, a soft shuffling caught his attention.
Engineer lifted his gaze to the sight of his suited companion standing before him. Pyro leant forward, fixing the seated man with an impenetrable stare. Engineer cocked a brow, his lips parting to speak, when a gloved arm rose to his eye level.
Slowly, deliberately, Pyro took hold of the glove’s end, rolling the thick rubber down to their wrist, and stood back to allow Engineer full view of their exposed skin.
The engineer stared in silence at the rare sight. He slowly examined the flesh revealed to him, feeling his eyebrows involuntarily knot in concern. Scars, badly healed, encompassed the entire limb. Whatever ethnicity could have been discerned from Pyro’s complexion in the past, was now lost to the rolling mounds of fibrous collagen.
At a total loss for words, the Texan feebly raised his gaze, his face the dictionary definition of concern. Pyro merely offered a shrug by way of explanation, calmly unrolling the glove without the slightest trace of embarrassment. Fully covered once more, Pyro mumbled something incomprehensible yet oddly reassuring, and fixed the engineer with an expectant gaze.
Engineer stared into the reflective lenses of Pyro’s mask, saw his own face stricken with anxiety staring back. He blinked then, finding the metaphor in the situation to be some sort of absurd joke, and had to laugh at it all.
With a broad smile, Engineer sucked in his first full breath in a long while.
Wonderful. I thought it was clever how you used the introduction with the cold shower to set the tone of the situation.
"Even the simple act of getting up was enough to make his head spin, at which he instinctively pressed himself against the tiles for balance." This kind of extra detail brought your descriptions to life.
Thankyou for writing this!
This was lovely, ty.
Dang Mawaru, this is pretty sweet! In the California way, not the sugar way. I really should poke around on the fanfic threads more often.
I liked how you didn't explain straightaway what was on Engie's back and shoulders; it was an instant hook that made me want to keep reading.
Makes me wonder what scars look like in pyrovision...