((Well, here it is. If you've already lost interest, can't say I blame you. But this is the action-y chapter. So please, please, tell me something that'll make me want to continue this. Oh, turns out I actually can make this story reference to Pyroland, so... yeah, I'm just a big ol' liar. So sorry. I hate lying, it's so... Spy-like. And I don't like Spies. Why is this chapter called Smoke and Torchlight? I have no idea!))
It was late, almost midnight, when it happened. At first, all was still, except for the ten pairs of eyes that looked around the room. Then, without warning, Scout stood bolt upright and launched himself at an unsuspecting Soldier.
"What do you think you're doing?" Soldier yelled as he tried to fend off Scout's rapid blows.
"If you don't get off me right now, I will hack you to bits!" he continued to shout, groping for his shovel.
"No, don't! Look at his eyes!" Seeker said, knocking the shovel away from Soldier's outstretched hands. Soldier managed to thrust Scout off of him, with the help of Heavy, and realized that Scout's irises were as black as the pupils, cold and cruel.
"What the HELL is the matter with him?" Soldier bellowed. Heavy was restraining Scout with both hands.
"Can't you tell? He thinks you're it! That means it's nearby… Scout! Can you hear me?" Seeker moved in front of Scout, and the boy's eyes turned a shade lighter, then darkened once more. He struggled against Heavy's grip with renewed vigor, and Seeker swore violently.
"It's trying to turn him against us!" he said (as if the team didn't know that already), "We have to get through to him! Everyone, try to get his attention, try to bring him back to this reality!"
"And 'ow are we supposed to accomplish zat?" Spy asked snidely.
"I don't know, shout things at him? Something has to wrench him out of this state." Seeker finished with a sharp glare at the Spy, who shrugged and lit yet another cigarette.
"Y'mean… Scout! Snap out of it, lad!…?" Demoman half-asked, half yelled.
"Yeah, that might work," Seeker said, then added, "Scout, don't... don't listen to it!" For a moment afterwards, he paused, a confused look on his face. Was that… fear he had heard on his own voice? But… he had not heard himself afraid since the day it... the day... As he pondered this, the rest of the BLU team tried to bring the boy back to his senses, but had no such luck.
"Get your head on straight, recruit! We need you in this war!" Soldier bellowed.
"Little baby man is not good in head!" Heavy said, still holding him back.
"I can't be ze fastest man on ze BLU team!" Medic said, gesturing to himself.
"Give 'em th' what-for, lad!" Demoman raised his bottle of Scrumpy into the air.
"Whose bat could I steal with you gone?" Spy asked.
"I've seen you fight; you fight to WIN! So FIGHT! FOR AMERICA!"
"Vos zat last part really necessary?" Medic asked Spy.
"For Monsieur Soldier? Oui."
"Oi don' think 'e can even talk wi'out addin' an America 'r two," Sniper commented, and despite the grim circumstances, Spy snorted.
"Guys, look!" Pyro interrupted, pointing. "Look at his eyes!" Sure enough, Scout's eyes were now an odd color that could best be described as a deep navy blue. He had ceased his struggle, and instead was standing perfectly still with a bemused look on his face.
"I have an idea," Pyro said, "Medic, play along. Hey, Soldier, did you know Medic's a Nazi?"
"I vos not-"
"Shh! I said play along!" Pyro hissed.
"It's more of an insult zan you vould zhink..."
"Medic. Please? For Scout."
Medic sighed, turned to Soldier, and said, "Sure, I am a Nazi."
"I knew it! Nazi swine; I'll kill you!"
"Ja, ja… 'Heil Hitler' und all zat nonsense…" Medic's distaste was obvious to all but Soldier, who leaped at him with his arms outstretched and a war cry erupting from his open mouth. Medic darted out of the way and the two became engrossed in this game of cat and mouse that would –hopefully – not end in an overly violent act of patriotism.
Meanwhile, Seeker was struck with a brilliant idea.
"Scout- he likes baseball, right?"
Spy snorted. "Zat is ze understatement of ze century."
"Yeah yeah, save the attitude for the kid's mother," Seeker shot back at him. Sniper and Medic giggled like a couple of schoolgirls - even though Medic was caught in a very painful headlock - and even Engineer allowed himself a small smile.
"Wha... zat was ze enemy Scout's mother!" Spy said, "How did you even know about zat?"
"Well, as I recall, Medic and I had a great conversation during my... examination," Seeker replied with a grin, "but anyway..." he walked in front of Scout, noting with relief that his eyes were nearly their usual shade of blue.
"Scout," he began, "World Series, Red Sox at Yankees; Yankees winning six to three. Bottom of the ninth. Bases loaded, two outs, full count. What are you going to do?" Scout's eyes paled and his body went rigid. "Come on! You're up! What are you going to do?" Seeker urged. His voice rose in desperation and, summoning the tiny piece of an idea that had saved him years ago from the shadows, he reached out and laid his hand softly upon the boy's shoulder. The silence that followed could only have lasted a few moments, but to the gathered BLUs it seemed like years.
Finally, Scout fell to his knees, and Seeker knelt beside him. Quietly, almost too quietly to be heard, came two words from the boy's mouth; two words that almost immediately broke the overwhelming tension and even managed to separate Medic and Soldier.
Then he collapsed onto the floor.
Seeker and Medic hoisted Scout onto a nearby operating table. Medic immediately pulled over the ceiling-mounted Medigun and fixed its powerful beam on Scout.
"The best thing he can do now is rest," Seeker said softly, "We should let him be." He turned away, then added, "Heavy, you should stay with Medic, in case it... in case he flips out. Everyone else..." he trudged out of the room with a small sigh.
Naturally, a very awkward silence followed.
"Well, Ah'm off," Demoman said with a shrug. He walked away and was followed by Sniper and Engineer; the latter mumbled, "Take care of him, Doc." before exiting.
Spy Cloaked and presumably left, leaving Pyro, Soldier, Medic, and Heavy.
"Um, well, I guess... I'll go then," Pyro said, picking up his mask and taking his leave.
"Herr Soldier, is zere a reason you are staying behind?" Medic asked; his voice had a slight edge to it.
"I... uh, well..." his face was scrunched up as if it pained him to talk. Medic raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, waiting for Soldier to continue. "I must, um, apologize for my earlier misconduct. You're... a, ah, worthy member of the BLU team..." even if you are a Nazi, he thought as he looked away, embarrassed. "And so is Scout, so... just... don't let him die or anything, because then we would, um, be less of a team, ah, without him." he looked as though he wanted to say more, but instead he simply picked up his rocket launcher and walked away.
Medic stared after him, perplexed. This was the closest the helmet-head had ever come to expressing any form of compassion, and to be honest, Medic wasn't sure he had enjoyed it. When Soldier was worried, you knew the situation couldn't be good.
Seeker angrily pulled off his hidden blade and threw the device onto his bed. He strode over to the small window and looked out over the battlefield and at the sky, which was dotted with countless, tiny specks of light. They may be bright, but they're still surrounded by darkness, he thought grimly. And they'll all die, one day. The thought reminded him of his father, but he pushed that thought out of his mind quickly. I wonder how Pyro's doing? he asked himself. Probably better than I am... but then, people change, I suppose... He frowned. The thoughts churning inside his head were overwhelming, and he finally resorted to talking to himself – something he actually had done quite often, in the past – to sort them out.
"What do I feel?" he began. Start simple.
"Envy, and fear, and anger, and frustration..." he answered.
"What do I envy?"
"Pyro," he replied, to his surprise.
"I'm just the crazy one, the one they give those looks, the half-pity, half-fear ones. Even bloody Medic thinks I'm off the deep end."
"Perhaps... but so is Pyro. And just look at the warm reception they gave him. And they treat me like the elder of the two. I'm younger than he is! Can't they see-"
"Stop. I'm getting angry." he took a deep breath. "What do I fear?"
"Not myself, but for them..."
"They're like family. Pyro is family. Look how 'family' turned out last time."
"What am I angry at?"
There was no reply, and Seeker sighed. He'd even managed to scare away himself. Lying down on the bed, he told himself that it would be better tomorrow. The thought had always comforted him before, but now...
It was a very, very long time before he finally managed to fall asleep.
Pyro glared at the hole in his wall. He had covered it with a blank piece of paper, but that had since been reduced to ashes. Blank pieces of paper were better, because it didn't feel like you were destroying someone's work when you burned them. He knew he shouldn't have kicked through the plaster – the throbbing pain in his ankle didn't let him forget easily – but he was so frustrated, with everything. With Scout, with Seeker, with the shadowy thing... and the cold. Always the cold. It never went away, not even when he was surrounded by his flames. The flames weren't the warmth he really longed for, this he knew, but they were a start. They were a decent substitute, but they would never amount to the real warmth that he didn't think he'd ever feel again.
He couldn't believe how easily everyone had rushed to help Scout. What had his family done for him? Nothing. And the mercs weren't even Scout's actual family. What had Seeker done, so many years ago?Nothing. He had known, he could see the shadows... but he hadn't helped, he had just looked up at him with those scared green eyes.
Pyro's scowl lessened slightly when he realized. I'll never see those eyes again. The scared ones. It'll never be the same.
Seeker didn't know. His team didn't know, either, except for Medic, and he'd sworn not to speak of it. They didn't know what he had to go through, when he was first hired by Builder's League United.
And I'm keeping it that way, he told himself.
He could feel himself getting angrier and angrier. Who was he most angry at? Probably Scout, just because of the unfairness of it all. Scout had lost nothing, whereas he... he had lost everything. That was why he had kicked the wall.
He had shoved his foot right through it, ignoring the pain because no matter how much his foot – or any other limb, for that matter – hurt, it would never affect him as much as the hurt he felt inside.
He had thrown his mask to the floor, then picked it up gently, staring into the blank eyes. With a sigh, he wondered whether taking it off had been a good idea. It may have been necessary for him to take it off at some point, but was it a good thing? He didn't know. All he did know was that he would never reveal himself to anyone again.
((So how was it? In the next chapter, I'll probably have Seeker interrogate Scout about what happened from his POV. So yeah, that means the action isn't over yet, because I have to describe something creepy and dark in elaborate detail. Oh, and Pyro is totally serious about not telling anyone anything. Plus he's completely insane.))