*runs around in crazy circles* You guys are awesome! I had my fingers crossed for such a positive response but you guys seriously blew me away. Thank you all for the support! It means more than I can say. :)
So let's continue!
Chapter Two: Meet Your New Scout
"Heavy, you're the local expert on food." Engineer tapped the large Russian on the shoulder. "Tell me what ya think of this."
He produced a cupcake from behind his back. Heavy, who had been in the middle of constructing one of his 'sandviches', paused. His sky blue eyes took in the cupcake. It was the oddest color of puce, it sagged slightly in the middle, and it was sloppily smeared with orange frosting. In Soldier's unmistakable scrawl were the words "HAPY BIRTHDAE SCOOT". Heavy, who had been raised on the principle of "waste not" and to whom food poisoning had never been an issue, shrugged. "Looks like cupcake."
Engineer groaned as the Soldier roared in triumph from across the mess hall. "I TOLD YA, YA NANCY! THAT CUPCAKE IS FINE."
"Sol," Engineer buried his face in his hands, "you're gonna kill the kid if you give him that."
"THAT CUPCAKE WAS MADE WITH ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT AMERICAN SPIRIT! THE ONLY THING IT KILLS IS NAZIS AND COMMIES!"
From the depths of his evening bottle of Scrumpy's the Demoman snorted. "Tha' cupcake is pro'lly deadlier than ye, Sol."
Soldier shook a finger furiously at Demoman. "You're on my list, Cyclops!"
"Go back to yer tomato soup!" Sniper barked from his favorite corner of the room. He didn't even look up from the latest issue of Saxton Hale comics when Soldier turned to glare at him. "An' fer the record, Engie, I wouldn't feed that thing to the rabid wombat what killed my auntie, never mind Scout."
"Second opinion was all I needed." Engineer grinned. "Once Pyro gets here I'll have him—"
"I'll have Pyro incinerate it." Engineer set the cupcake down with an air of finality.
Engineer was saved Soldier's heavy-fisted American fury by the sound of a child's shriek and several colorful German curses. Everyone looked to the mess hall's double doors with interest. A split second later, a child came barreling through them, hanging onto a baseball cap and screaming like the Devil himself was after him. The child dove behind the Engineer as a snarling German burst through the doors. "To hell with ze Hippocratic oath, I am going to kill zat Scout—"
"NO!" The child roared from behind Engineer. "NO! NO!"
Medic's fingers twitched as he slowed to a halt. He took an ominous step towards the child.
"Doktor?" Heavy looked between the child and his good friend, "who is itty bitty baby belonging to?"
"All of us, I am afraid." Medic scowled. "Zat child is Scout."
A moment of puzzled silence ensued. When Medic's words sank in, though, all hell broke loose. "I DEMAND TO KNOW WHAT YOU'VE DONE—" "That wee little thing is Scout?" "Haha! Scout really is baby!" "What kinda weird-ass experiments were ya doin' on the boy, doc?" "NONONONONON!"
Medic stared at the rowdy lot with ice in his eyes until the shouts died down. "Believe me, if I had been experimenting on Scout I vould not have turned him into something so useless—or so bitey—as a child. Respawn malfunctioned."
Engineer swore under his breath. "Aw, hell, I knew that system was due for an update."
"But we have respawned all day." Heavy rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Rest of team is fine."
"Scout didn't." Demoman snapped his fingers. "I heard 'im braggin' about it. He didn't die once today, 'cept at the end."
Medic shrugged. "I am only reporting vat Spy und I saw."
Demoman thought some more. "Hold on a mo', are ye sayin' tha' the next person to die an' respawn is gonna end up like tha'?" He pointed almost accusingly at Scout. The boy, still taking refuge behind Engineer, followed the conversation with wide but puzzled eyes.
"I have no idea." Medic snapped. "But ve have the weekend to fix him. Hopefully you Scheißekopf can avoid dying on your days off, hm?"
Engineer felt a tug on his overalls. Glancing down he found Scout putting both hands up into the air imploringly. "Uppy!"
The burly Texan sighed and obeyed. With Scout wrapped around his neck he found it difficult to clear his throat. "Should we, er, let his mama know?"
Sniper, who'd been silent thus far, snorted. 'That's a great idea. 'Listen, we really sorry but when we hired yer boy we left out the vital detail about dyin' on a daily basis. The system that brings yer boy back to life went on the blink, so have a jolly ol' time wastin' the rest of yer good years raisin' the brat all over again—"
"And 'ow would you know Scout's maman still 'as good years left, bushman?" Spy materialized beside Sniper, planting a hand on the Australian's shoulder. Sniper glared up at him and Spy glared right back.
"Don't you two start," Engineer growled, "I don't want anyone brawlin' with a kid around." He swatted Scout's hand away as the boy gave his goggles a good tug.
"It's Scout," Soldier exclaimed, "he's seen plenty of glorious battles!"
Medic shook his head. "He does not remember any of zem. He is a child in every sense of ze vurd." With a heavy expression he sat down next to the literal Heavy, who gave the Medic's shoulder a sympathetic clap.
"Well," Engineer cleared his throat again, "we should introduce ourselves, shouldn't we?" He planted Scout down on one of the long tables. "Scout, you can call me Engie." He stuck his hand out for Scout to shake.
Instead Scout plopped himself down on the table. "Bat." He pointed to the bat in Spy's free hand (the other was still gripping Sniper like a vice).
"Our young friend 'as a one-track mind." Spy explained. "As always." He tossed the bat to Engineer, who caught it and held it out to Scout. "What's my name, Scout?"
Scout frowned up at the round friendly face. "Engie." He said at last. Then he pointed to Medic. "Doca." His slim finger moved back to Engineer. "Engie."
"It is his vurd for doctor." Medic mumbled. At that, Heavy and Demoman roared with laughter. Scout giggled too.
"It's a start." Engineer assured the exasperated German. "Who else do you know, Scout?"
Scout bit his lip before pointing at Spy. "Spoi!"
"Spoi?" Now it was Sniper's turn to smirk. "I never thought you'd lower yourself to such adorableness, spook." He pushed Spy's hand off his shoulder and stood. "Scout, the name's Sniper."
"Nipe!" Scout grinned.
It took longer than expected, but eventually the little guy had a version of each of his teammates down. Soldier became "Solly" (Soldier had protested at first, claiming it was too close to Sally for his manhood to allow), Demoman was "De-mo", and Heavy was still "'eavy." Each time he learned a name he went around the room again, scrunching his little face up as he memorized each man. It was very hard work for a toddler and (at Engineer's instance) they cheered him along the way.
Heavy chortled. "Is just like big Scout. Always needing the praise."
At that moment, the doors to the mess hall opened once more. Pyro, everyone's favorite masked maniac, stepped in. The tune Pyro had been whistling died upon seeing a child in the midst of the REDs. The firebug tilted his head to the side in confusion. "Mmpf mffph mmm?"
Engineer nodded. "That's about right, Pyro. Scout went and got himself turned into a kiddo."
When Pyro had entered Scout went still. He stared at the masked face and blank eye sockets with clear fear. He whimpered when Pyro approached. "Aw, don't worry, Scout." Engineer assured him, "Pyro ain't gonna hurt ya. He—"
Engineer glared at Soldier and Demoman before continuing: "Pyro just wants to say hi."
Pyro gave a little wave, but Scout whined. The little boy's bottom lip began to tremble. Pyro stopped a few feet short of Scout. Then the firebug snapped its gloved fingers before pulling a bottle of bubble soap out of its belt.
When Scout was peppered with bubbles he shrieked and swatted them with glee. "Again!"
Pyro seemed to squeak with delight. The masked enigma started showering the boy in loads of bubbles.
"Why th' bloody hell does Pyro 'ave bubble soap?"
"Why wouldn't Pyro have bubble soap?"
"Pydo!" Scout yelled as he showered once again in bubbles. "Pydo!"
Engineer relaxed a tad. "Looks like we're all reacquainted. Now, I've got to get a look at that Respawn system to see just what went wrong. Who wants babysitting duty?"
Pyro raised its hand, but as Engineer's eyes swept around the room they seemed to mysteriously fail to see Pyro. The rest of the RED team averted their gaze. No one noticed Scout slipping off the table on his own.
Engineer's eyes traveled around the room. "All right, then. I'll chose. Spy, you've got him."
"Eh, no." Spy popped a lit cigarette into his mouth as he spoke. "'e is not mine, ergo, I will not be watching 'im."
"He is yours, Spy. He's all of ours!" Engineer snaked his thumbs around his overall straps. "Like it or not, Scout's a part of the REDs. We're gonna look out for him same as we always do."
"The grease monkey is right!" Soldier slammed his fist down the table. "We're a bunch of fighters, not those cowardly Canadians who run and hide! If we can face the magnificence of bloody battle and come out swingin' we can watch a baby! A REAL MAN NEVER BACKS DOWN FROM A CHALLENGE."
Scout had toddled across the mess hall, retrieving a stray baseball from under one of the tables. He held it up proudly in one hand, still clutching his bat with the other. His chubby little legs wobbled from the effort of standing and he plunked himself down. His baseball cap slipped down over his face once more. "Bonk!"
Had that moment been recorded, it would have gone down in history as "The Moment Seven Manly Guys And One Pyro Were Defeated By A Two-Year-Old's Adorableness". Fortunately for the dignity of the REDs, the moment was not recorded and quickly forgotten when Demoman burped and stood. "I'll take 'im fer the night, lads. I'll be up late anyway. C'mere, ya scampering tyke."
"Not a drop of alcohol, Demo." Engineer warned.
"Gimme more credit than that, toymaker," Demoman hefted a yawning Scout up into his arms, "I know a wee bit more about kiddos than ye might think. In fact, I think I might be the only one here qualified to look after the boy!" Only Spy noticed Sniper starting to say something, but hastily closing his mouth as Demoman chattered on: "Let's go get ye ready fer bed. An' ta think I was goin' to take ye out fer a wild night on the town! Happy twenty-first, lad!"
With that, boy and Scottish cyclops left the mess hall. Engineer sighed. "Y'all had better come with me, doc, you know that medical bay almost as well as I do."
"Ja, ja." Medic stood and stretched.
For a while now Heavy had been silent, eyes cast to the ceiling in quiet thought. "Toymaker…"
"Yeah, big fella?"
"I am wondering if we should tell…" Heavy swallowed, "her about itty-bitty Scout."
There was no need to ask who 'her' was. Engineer's face paled sharply and he exchanged a few looks with Medic and Pyro. "Nah, big fella, I'd much rather leave her out of it for as long as possible."
"She will find out." Heavy warned.
Spy sucked at his cigarette, eying the dog end with a hint of sorrow. "She always finds out."
Who on earth could they be talking about! And so the mysteries deepen!
In the next chapter: Demoman gets more than he bargained for, Scout is an adorable brat, and a lesson is learned about mixing children with caffeine.
Oh! Fun fact! Did you know that reviews power Pyro's bubblemaker? It's been scientifically proven by myself and several squirrels. :P
Regardless, thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed!