Your mother always used to warn you about taking job applications from strangers. Although to be fair, strangers in your mind looked nothing like the well-dressed lady sitting across from you now. The nine cut-throat thugs she was describing as your future colleagues, maybe, but even they couldn’t deter you from the money on the table.
“So, are you interested?” The lady who at first, seemed so suspicious, asked as she leaned back in her chair. Your eyes scanned over the application once again but kept returning to the bottom of the page under the section listed wages. Those were some big numbers.
It had taken you three years worth of saving to reach the amount you could be making in only one month, years of school tuition be damned. Not to mention that finding a job so early on in your career, skipping the last few years of your schooling without any question at all, how could you pass that up.
“When you say under the radar, do you mean-”
“I mean illegal, oh yeah.” The lady answered your question before you could finish asking it, your mouth quickly closing in understanding.
You nodded, placing a gentle hand against your face. She smiled sweetly, allowing you to think about it once more. Being a young lady alive at the turn of the 20th century, the odds in the financial department did not look great. It was either to devote your life to a husband, depending on him to earn wages for you both, or- no- yeah that was really your only option. Women like you didn’t go to school, at least that’s what your father had said before you left. Truth be told you had given it your all, pushing past the boundaries and breaking through the glass ceiling, but, there was only so high you could climb in 1969.
Finally, you settled your gaze back towards the woman before you, whoever so slightly pushed the application towards you.
“Right. Where do I sign?” You asked.
The sunburnt sands and dunes sped past you in a blur as Miss. Pauling pressed harder against the gas. Ever since you both had been formally introduced, you got the feeling that she was a rough and tough type of girl.
“Once we arrive at the base, I’ll introduce you to the guys and we’ll get you all settled, no worries! You’re going to do fine.” She smiled, averting her gaze from the road to smile at you, causing you to nervously grip your seat a little tighter.
Anxiety kept creeping its way up your spine, your tried and true way of dealing with it- AKA- “Think of the money, think of the money” wasn’t really cutting it at this point. You had no idea that the job would have brought you this far out into the middle of nowhere, and it didn’t help that Miss. Pauling wouldn’t actually answer you on where that was. The closer you got to this ‘base’ of theirs, the more worried you become of the logistics here. Reviewing the details of the job in your head, you tried to sort through anything that might lend you a helping hand. They needed a young woman with a medical background, working in close quarters with nine other men, for an ‘under the table’ type position of employment. Nope, none of that really stood out to you as particularly suspicious. Well, I mean all of it sounded bat shit crazy now that you thought about it but then again the pay really helped all of the information slide down your throat.
Thinking about it again, was this really a good idea? Miss. Pauling seemed nice enough but according to her, you’d never get to meet your real employer and the more you thought about it- the close quarters with so many men really did make you uncomfortable-
Oh god, what if you had made a huge mistake?
Well. The time for regret was dead and gone as with one swift turn of the vehicle, your worries were whisked away, or more like whisked up your throat and into your mouth. You struggled to hold down your lunch as Miss. Pauling took a sharp right and drove up and over what seemed to be a set of cardboard cut out cacti. Trembling hands found purchase against old and matted pleather as you gripped the car seat, wincing as the vehicle somehow made it up the slope. You chanced a glance over to where Miss. Pauling wrestled with the wheel and found an almost alarming smile across her face, oh dear- the fear was back.
Finally, the vehicle came to a stop, slowly screeching as its brakes practically hissed out in thanks. It took you a second to pry yourself from the seat. A few deep breaths later and you were ready to chance a glance up towards the building you had parked in front of and found it to be, well, kinda ordinary. Besides the large, painted “ Red Bread” emblem on the side, it seemed like a perfectly ordinary warehouse to you. It did make you wonder though, what would a bread mill want with a medical student?
“This way y/n!” Your attention was snapped away from the building’s smoking chimes, and back towards Miss. Pauling who was standing by the door.
You blinked, peeling your hands and legs from the car seat and grabbing your suitcases before following her inside.
Your first thoughts upon entering the bread mill consisted of- “this place is a wreck, what the heck is that thing spinning in the corner” and “this is not a bread mill” to which your suspicions were imminently confirmed.
“As you may have guessed, this is not a bread mill!” Miss. Pauling said with a smile, walking you further into the building.
You nodded slowly, your eyes too busy taking in the mess of bottles and shotgun shells that littered the corners of the room. There was also an odd theme of red decor. Red tile, red painting accents on the walls, and even red door stoppers.
“This building serves as a sort of base for your colleges. And a safe house for any and all confidential objects they happen to acquire on their missions.” Miss. Pauling continued, kept busy by your absent responses of “mhm” and “I see..”
“This will be your home for the next- well- until either the building explodes or we have to relocate to a new one to prevent that from happening.” She concluded, your head spinning around in surprise.
“What? explodes?” You asked. Miss. Pauling just kept on walking, turning a corner with a smile. You were left stunned, the whirling thig in the corner giving off and odd humming sound. Would it be too late for you to turn tail and run?
“Come on, keep up!” You heard Ms. Pauling shout from down the hall.
A few more corridors down, you were feeling a little sick to your stomach. So much information had just exited one mouth and you could hardly stand it anymore. RED team? BLU team? You didn’t care what team, all of this nonsense about turf wars and intel had just about pulled the hypothetical blanket over you. Good pay or no pay, you didn’t think you could take this job.
“All of that settling weel with yah?” Miss. Pauling asked sweetly, turning to look at you for the first time since the second floor. You sighed, betting it was obvious how disheveled you had become since your journey indoors.
“Miss. Pauling, I’m not too sure I’m cut out for such a thing..I-” You started.
“I’m going to stop yah right there, I just remembered we are late! The boys are all waiting in the conference room, c’mon let’s go.” She said, grabbing your arm and hurrying you down the hall. For a lady in heels, she sure walks fast.
You weren’t sure you could keep up with a trolly in your best pair let alone this roller derby of a woman.
Before long, the two of you reached a set of wooden double doors. They seemed particularly ordinary, well besides the lingering red door frames. You predicted that the so-called ‘boys’ would be behind these doors and quickly worked on brushing the wrinkles out of your skirt and settling your cardigan back over your shoulders.
“You ready?” Miss. Pauling asked, which surprised you because did you really have to mentally prepare yourself for a group of men? You nodded after straightening out your glasses and she rewarded you with a smile before she pushed open one of the doors. What met your eyes next was quite an alarming sight.
Two men were in the middle of what appeared to be a fistfight, the larger one between the two holding the younger up by his shirt collar over a large table. Five other men surrounded the two brawlers, either watching or minding their own business with some other occupation. There was a man wearing a wide-brimmed hat, his boots kicked up on the table as he relaxed against his chair and a very thin man in a suit next to him holding a cigarette. A smaller gentleman in a hard hat gestured to the two fighting and was trying to calm them down, while another seemingly drunk gentleman urged them on. There was also a masked individual who sat criss-cross applesauce in his chair, his masked face leaned against his hands as he watched the fight.
“Oh good heavens!” You gasped, your hands flying to you face as the shock caught you off guard. The sound of your voice snapping everyone’s attention onto you and the men seemed to freeze in their tracks. You suddenly felt very embarrassed.
“Boys!” Miss. Pauling said, clearing her throat as she stepped in front of you a little. You mentally thanked her for that.
“Ayye, hey there Miss. Pauling- Umph!” The younger man’s words were cut off by a swift punch to the face as the larger man delivered one right to his nose.
“Boys, please. Soldier put Scout down.” Miss. Pauling said to which the large man reluctantly dropped the lanky boy to the ground.
“Thank you.” Miss. Pauling continued “ Now then, as you know, we’ve got a new member of the team with us today.” She said and carefully stepped out of your way.
The men’s eyes all shifted back on you and the familiar heat of embarrassment flushed your face once again. Miss. Pauling smiled reassuringly towards you and gestured towards the men in front of you.
“I would like to introduce you to the rest of the RED team, Scout-” She said as she pointed towards the lanky boy from before. He smiled in a cheesy sort of way, snapping a finger gun towards Miss. Pauling as his new black eye started to swell.
“Soldier,” The man in question saluted you both as his name was called, his lowbrow combat helmet hanging over his eyes.
“That fellow in the hat is Sniper,” She said, the lounging man in the boots tipping his hat to you with a silent smile.
“And the man next to him is spy,” Cigarette smoke sailed through the air as the suited man shot a wink towards you with a smile. You couldn’t help but flush a little at that.
“Good afternoon darl’n, names Engineer.” Miss. Pauling was quickly cut to the chase by the man in the hard hat, his gloved hand reaching out to you in greeting. You looked down at it before he wiped it on his overalls and tried again, this time making you smile as you shook his hand.
“The one suckling the bottle is Demo.” Engineer said, patting the back of your hand with his other one and pointing a thumb over his shoulder at the man currently asleep on the table. You nodded in understanding.
“And the curious-looking one there is Pyro.” Miss. Pauling finished, gesturing to the other man in the mask. Pyro looked up at you and you guessed- smiled? He waved at the very least which you returned shyly.
“Hold on, where are Medic and Heavy?” Miss. Pauling asked the boys, suggesting that there were two other characters in this crew you hadn’t met yet. You shuddered at the thought, these were already too colorful to handle.
“Doc’s back in his lab and I’m pretty sure Heavy is with him” Scout replied, placing a gentle hand against his sore jaw. You winced, betting that hurt a lot.
“Thanks Scout, c’mon you. Time to meet your ‘boss’” She said and motioned for you to follow her back out into the hall. You blinked in surprise, boss?
Before leaving, you turned back towards the men who were still staring at you and offered them a smile. It was true that this job had already given you a headache, but the men seemed like good ones enough. If they were to be your future patients then so be it.
“Hello! It’s very nice to meet you all. I’ve been told I can’t tell you my name, but I look forward to working with you.” You said, figuring it would be rude to leave them like that without introducing yourself. Each one of them seemed to relax a bit, returning your smile as they watched you leave.
“What a pretty sight for sore eyes, aye fella’s” Engineer said after the door had closed. Sniper chuckled in agreement and Scout waved him off.
“Medic is going to eat that girl alive.” Spy said, making all of them freeze.