OH GOD there were so many typos in that last chapter I'll try and do better in this one, guys.


The mercs awoke the next day to the sight of 8 large wooden crates with an individual class symbol stamped on each one. When they asked Pyro where its' own crate was, it just twirled around in a circle for a little while and gave everybody a good morning hug. It then proceeded to hug each of the crates, even Medic's which was by far the largest. For the first time since his arrival, Sniper displayed some genuine excitement at the first sight of "ME VAN!" and jogged happily down the hill to his beloved home. If you listened, you'd probably have heard Scout mutter quite darkly something about "Fuckin' creep lives in a fuckin' van…bet he fuckin' stashes bodies in it an' stuff…fuckin' no-good piece a'," As he pushed his medium-sized crate in the direction of the base. Soldier didn't have the good sense to open his crate after taking it to his quarters, the contents of which was just cans and cans of soup. No sooner did Engineer locate his crate than he set about attatching a neat little pulley system that allowed him to tow it all the way up the hill to his workshop by turning some sort of lever that was up there. Everybody else was fairly unremarkable in their endeavours.

Despite his best efforts, Medic simply couldn't carry his crate on his own; because of its' sheer size, it had all come on a small set of wheels which he interpreted by now as somebody's idea of a joke, seeing as how they simply refused to turn no matter how hard he pushed or pulled. In defeat, he climbed up and sat on the top of the crate, his legs dangling over the edge. Heavy's be able to pull it, he was sure. As his heels drummed the side of his new throne, he delved deeper into this hypothesis. What was the most weight Heavy could move, he wondered? What if this crate was nothing to him, like he was moving an empty cardboard box? He visualized the giant Slavic man's muscles glistening with sweat, his shirt clinging to him in the Mexican sun, telling him it was 'No problem, Doktor," and moving the crate - with Medic himself still on top, even – with the greatest of ease, chatting to him as if they were strolling along side by side on a summer's day.

Oh, he'd love to do that with him. His command of French had given Medic ideas that he might be quite the intellectual, dispite his poor English – Oh, if he was it'd be perfect. They'd have all sorts of debates and discussions, maybe some even quite heated, and what those might spiral into, he shouldn't even think! The two of them, both angry, both raging, both clearly convinced their own side was the truth, and that the other was in the wrong. Then suddenly one of them would say something that was so hurtful and passionate in the heat of the moment that they'd both just stop and stare at eachother in silence, both daring the other to make the first move, and it would always be himself who gave it, who wrapped his arms around those broad shoulders, kissed his lips and drank in his scent like nectar—

Oh. Gott.

All he could do was pray he remained alone out there, at least for the next few minutes - legs tightly crossed, eyes squeezed shut, until his abdominal muscles ceased their frantic spasms.

"So, you see this one?"


"This one is a lower case 'a'. And this one is an upper case 'A'."

"Huddah" The student gave the lower case letter a thumbs down, and the upper case letter a thumbs up.


Soldier and Pyro were sitting cross-legged on the War Room floor. Beside Soldier were a pile of lower case letters, a pile of upper case letters, numbers and punctuation symbols. Soldier wouldn't use that last two just yet.

"OK, your upper case 'A' would be used at the start of a sentence. And a sentence is like this:" He god up and wrote on a blackboard that Pyro had inexplicably managed to provide the words;

'I am Soldier, and I am on RED Team.'

"Now, I've underlined all the upper case letters, and I'm going to go through them one by one to show you how they're used. The first one, 'I', is used when you're talking about yourself. 'I got my crate today.' Y'see?" Pyro nodded enthusiastically. "But the tricky thing you'll notice with 'I' is that if you're using it in that way, it absolutely positively has to be upper case. Now, I don't know or care why, but if you're writing a letter or something and you refer to yourself without capitalizing, well. You're, uh…that's…not a very serious letter, is what it is."

Pyro nodded and made a sort of "Uhaah" sound, as if this were a previous mystery that Soldier had shed some light on for the first time. Maybe it was.

"Yes! But you see, the next upper case is used on a special type of word called a noun. Spelt N,O,W,N. And it's basically a word that is a name for something, like Shovel or Pansy or America. That's why the word Soldier is capitalized in this sentence, because it is my name. Well, it's not my real name, but that of course is highly classified information, and I will never reveal it as long as I'm under this contract!"

Elsewhere in the RED base, two colleagues were having a slightly less amiable chat.

"Of all zhe low, cowardly, insensitive people! You 'aven't even apologized to 'im!"

"Stop it! I will, OK?"

"Alright, when?"

"Fuck sake."

"This izn't going away, you know. I 'ave all zhe time in zhe world."

"Why'd'jou care?"

"Depends what you zhink I care about."

"'Bout 'im?"

"Ah, mon ami, zhat is where you are wrong. Efficient teamwork requirez zhat we get along, no? Zhey 'ave given uz a week to accustom ourselvez to zhis lifestyle and eachozher, and if on zhe first day we are 'aving little conflictz already?" He shook his head and made condescending tutting noises "I though RED only hired zhe best. You claim to be 'professional', yet I see no professionalism 'ere. I assure you, Zhat boy will only become more bitter wizh every day zhat passez and you don't speak up. Trust me on zhis, you'll both feel better."

There was a pause. Sniper finally shrugged his shoulders and turned to leave."'Aight, you win. I'll talk to 'im." Spy was about to cloak when something seemed to cross the Bushman's mind and he turned around suddenly, "I get me brains bashed in, right? S'your fault."

The Spy smiled. It was the least he could offer him. "But of course."

The physicals. Medic had been both dreading and anticipating them. The second day was probably the latest he could put them off anyway, any later would seem decidedly odd. It had all gone fairly smoothly so far – Scout had jumped and giggled uncontrollably every time something cold touched his bare skin, which became more irritating than cute after a while. It wasn't all that cute to begin with, to be honest. Engineer was fine and dandy – apart from being slightly overweight for his height (it was a shame, Medic thought. Afterall, a few inches taller and he'd probably be quite lean), which he took surprisingly well. Pyro was an impossible case. Medic had spent the best part of twenty minutes chasing it around his infirmary, and when he finally managed to get it to sit down and let him check its' heartbeat (through the suit, of course – he didn't want to find out how it'd react to anyone trying to undress it) it was constantly looking around and pointing at things with an inquisitive noise and a cock of the head, to which he was happy to oblige with his vast biological knowledge, but then it insisted on sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor and spelling words with a bunch of lower-case alphabet cards it had found, then looking up towards him for approval.

This went on for about half an hour before Soldier appeared.

"Well done, Private! I can see your spelling is coming along nicely!"

"…You are…teaching it?"

"Yes. I've taken on the role of its' official educational tutor!"

"How…very considerate of you, Herr Soldier, but vould you mind asking it to pvactise somewhere else? It von't listen to me."

"It's perfectly alright, Private. You can listen to Medic, he has to work here. Not least on my physical!" Pyro picked up its' cards, hugged Medic tightly and skipped out of the room.

The rest of the physical went smoothly – apart from a penchant for a fat cigar every now and again Soldier was obviously in tip-top condition.

Demo was much the same, although his vice was drinking. Medic took much pleasure in shining a light inside his exposed eye socket, exploring nooks and crannies inside a live human skull he'd never had access to before, and might never again. Sniper was next, who had no abnormalities to speak of and then Spy, who was chastised greatly for his chain-smoking.

Then was Heavy. Medic knew he couldn't put him off forever, he'd better just make it quick and try not to look at him too much. However, that proved extremely difficult.

"Herr Heavy? I believe you are next, ja?"

"I am only patient left, Doktor."

"Oh, of course! Excuse me," He mentally slapped himself multiple times.

"Now, I'll just find your medical file, zhen I believe ve can begin."

Medic had to double-take the sight that greeted him on his return. He had to swallow and force his eyes not to widen. Without prompt, Heavy had stripped right down to his boxers.

"Ah, I see you are…prepared for your examination."

"Da." There was an awkward apuse.

"Vell zhen!" Medic pushed his spectacles back up "Let us begin."

Gott, he felt like he was in some sort of dream-state as he ran through the motions of the physical. The Heavy was so much ore imposing up close, so much more impressive, and his natural musk was just so…male. Just something about him, you couldn't deny the steady flow of testosterone pumping through his powerful heart.

And my, what a heart that was, too. Medic could hear in thumping away, sure, steady, stronger than any he'd heard before. His lung capacity was incredible, his eyesight and hearing perfectly clear, his skin was thick and toned and riddled with scars. Medic wanted to trace them with his tongue, he wanted to kiss up and down each and every one, explore each crevice with his fingers, as each had its' own story to tell. How are you so perfect, my great Russian beast? Was all he could think, over and over. Why were you sent to me? He kept catching himself drooling and hoped Heavy didn't notice.

"Vell, I can say Vizout a doubt, you are in peak condition, mien freund. Vhy, you seem to have never suffered an illness in your life!" Heavy was re-dressing himself after the physical.

"Da, I am very lucky. I tink is vhat help me" He searched for the English "eh, fight vinter as boy."

Medic understood well enough. "I vonce met a young boy in Russian Vinter," he started.

"I know."

"…Vhat..?" Maybe he was just trying to say he knew what the winters were like or something.

He smiled that same smile from the train station.

"You do not recognise me, Doktor?"

Medic was truly speechless. All this time, that boy, his sister, his mother, the mercy he'd showed, how cold he'd looked, even with all those layers – and he'd just spent the last two days lusting over him, entertaining these sick fantasies of his - a hand found its' way to his mouth.

The good doctor suddenly felt quite sick.