The butt of a cigar was extinguished by the rotating of a gloved hand against an ashtray. There sat a BLU Spy in his poorly lit smoking room, his mind lost in thought as his eyes fell in line with the fireplace as its comforting heat consumed the area. He had a hand on his chin supporting his head while the popping of the fire was merely background noise.
“Backer...” He mumbled to himself. Once the little chat between you and the Spy ended, he immediately retreated to the room. If he wanted time to be in deep thought, this was the time to do it and the place to be. The thought of you brought great curiosity to him. Your hesitation to trust, your instinct to react at the unusual, the darting of your eyes as you observe your surroundings made this feeling even stronger. There were so many unanswered questions, and he wanted to know them all.
His mind kept reanalyzing the agreement the two of you made. For now, he was at a truce with you. Though, it was nothing more. “There has to be a way to…” He whispered to himself before trailing off into silence. His eyes lit up a little. He quickly got up from his seat and walked over to a desk that was across the room. He picked up his Spytron 3000 that sat on top of the table and flicked it open. On the screen portrayed the mercenaries on the opposing team all in their own individual box, then at the very bottom corner of the screen was a blank box. A grin grew on his face as he looked down at it.
“This may just be it.” He closed the device and placed it back down on the table. He returned to his chair and lit another cigar. The Spy laughed to himself a little, “Oh, mon amie… it will work quite well. A small... swap-in... shouldn’t hurt.” He paused again and began to think once more. “But, how do I not raise any suspicion?” His eyes scanned the room in search of an answer. His gaze stops and locks on a book with a somewhat excessively decorative cover that sat on a nearby shelf. Along the spine of the book it read Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.
The Spy did not say a single word. He kept his focus on the book as he took a slow drag on the cigar. A devious smile followed along with the exhale of the gray smoke into the room. It seems that he has made up his mind.
You sat on the floor of your room only partially dressed and ready for the day. You were going through some items that you brought along with you to the new location once you made the map switch. One of the items you included was a box you intended to open, but never got around to it due to you not having the time or forgetting all about it.
Tearing away the tape that sealed the treasures inside, you began to scavenge what items awaited. A lot of what the box contained was only trinkets that you packed from your apartment. There were desk items from your old job, some magazines, a fake little plant, and a whole lot of other unimportant artifacts. Once you believed you reached the bottom of the box, you sighed in disappointment for not finding anything of importance. It was then as you moved the box to the side where you felt there was still stuff on the bottom of the box. There was an old black cardigan at that at the bottom, but the item you noticed felt was more sturdy and heavy. Moving the cloth to the side your face glowed up in disbelief.
At the bottom of the box sat a book that was barely keeping itself intact, in prominent gold labeling read the title Les Misérables in large cursive font. Tenderly, you took the book out from the box and into your loving embrace. Just holding the piece of literature brought back so many wonderful memories. You could picture yourself as a young girl sitting outside on a beautiful spring day on the porch, wasting away the afternoon totally absorbed in the book as the sun shined down on you. You let out a dreamy sigh, only good memories to you were associated with such a tragic tale.
A loud pounding was heard from the door that jumped you out of your trance. Your head shot towards the door in utter surprise.
“Come in.” You called out.
The door swung open to present a disgruntled Scout. He had a sour look on his face as he stomped into the room. His fists were clenched tight, so tight that they were shaking. It didn’t take much to indicate something was wrong.
“Hey, Scout. What’s the matter?” You looked up towards him. His line of view slowly turned down towards you. He didn’t say anything for some time, which surprised you quite a bit. Scout never stops talking. Whatever happened truly was bothering him.
He let out a loud frustrated groan and collapsed onto the floor next to you. His arms were tightly crossed against his chest. “He freaking pisses me off!” He brought one fist down and slammed it against the wooden floor. You shifted away slightly out of instinct as you looked at him with a perplexed expression.
“What happened?” You asked again. “Did you get into another fight with Spy?”
“That snobbish no good suit-wearing snake!” He exclaimed. Whatever happened, it had Scout so upset that it caused him to shake as he spoke. Taking both of his hands he slid them down his face to try and relieve some of the stress. “He-,” Scout began before pausing because he bumped the back of his capped head against your bed frame. He brought one hand to massage the area to soothe the pain.
“I’m just sick an’ tired of how he treats me! He goes around acting like he’s my dad or something, telling me what I can and can’t do. Then he’s gots the nerves to remind me how much of a disappointment I am acting like he’s sooooo much better than me.” His hands waved around as he talked to emphasize the point he was trying to make. You listened carefully with concern. This has not been the first time Scout has come to you to rant about these types of things. Usually when he is upset with something or someone, mainly your team’s Spy, he vents to you. Part of it is that the two of you are friends, but the other part might be because Scout wants to hear a voice of reason now and then.
“I’m so sorry, Scout…” You sighed. “It isn’t fair that he treats you like that. You’re your own person, and you have the liberty to do whatever you want.”
“Backer, there’s some advice I wanna give ya.” He brought a pointed finger up towards your face. “Spies are just dime-a-dozen backstabbing scumbags. They can’t be trusted with anything.” His voice was as sharp as knives and they sent a chill down your spine. Your mind immediately went back to when the BLU Spy made his overture. Is what Scout is saying possibly true?
You sat in silence before you put a hand on his shoulder and shook it a bit in a friendly manner. “But I should ask, did you in any way try to provoke him beforehand?” You raised a brow at the young man.
“Pssh! No way!” He stopped again to think after he spoke. “Well- not necessarily… I just told him to take his chain-smoking baguette ass back to London or sometin’-” You rolled your eyes and playfully slapped where your hand originally was on his shoulder.
“Of course you did.” You remarked flatly. Maybe what he was just saying was just common Scout talk. This causes Scout to let out a small chuckle realizing the ridiculousness of the whole situation and your reaction.
“Yeah, I can kinda now see why he would’ve gotten mad.” His eyes wandered down to your hands that held the ancient book. He read the title labeled on the cover. “Huh, less miss marbles. An’ it’s got the fancy lookin’ "e" on it and everything.” He commented pointing to the accent above the letter. You let out a pitiful chuckle.
“It’s pronounced Les Misérables . It’s my favorite book.” You hugged it even tighter now with a big grin on your face.
“Whateva, I don’t read books ‘cause I’m not a nerd.” He stretched his arms out in front of him.
“Do you want to know what it’s about?” You asked eagerly, excited to hopefully have a conversation on the story.
“Mm, maybe late-uh. Y’know, when I care.”
“What are you cupcakes doing just sitting around??” Soldier now stood at the door frame leaning half of his body into the room. Scout and you looked at him in surprise by his sudden appearance.
“We have a mission in THIRTY MINUTES! You should be up and getting your energy juices FLOWING by training and preparing!” The two of you shot up from where you sat on your floor. You put on your uniform’s pull-over to be prepared for the day’s tasks.
“Get moving, MAGGOTS!!” Soldier pointed down the hall as the two of you left the room swiftly.
The following nights have brought you many mixed emotions. First and foremost was dread. In all honesty, post-clean-up was your least favorite job. It would be anybody’s least favorite if they were in your position. You would have asked your teammates to help out to make the task go faster (since it’s THEIR bodies after all), but now that wasn’t an option anymore because of the BLU Spy roaming around. Oh, speaking of him...
The next emotions were irritation and fear. The Spy seemed to not have a specific schedule when he would wander around the map. Sometimes he came multiple days in a row. Then there were days that there were breaks where you would not see him at all. Though the days he was present he would not. Leave. You. ALONE. You would be busy hauling a torso of a dismembered Heavy to the incinerator as the Spy stood off to the side talking about only god-knows-what. It always seemed to be something about work. You never were really listening.
You would tell him to fuck off, especially considering he didn’t help you either. Though that’s when the sense of fear would kick in. If you did so, there was always that underlying threat that he could come back at any time and seek vengeance. Again, that was a game you did not want to play at the moment. So instead, you just never gave full responses to anything he said. There were only the occasional head nods and ‘mhmm’s’. He was never mean or snide to you as you have seen with your Spy to your teammates, but he just gave off a vibe that did not feel normal. It wasn’t rude if you weren’t supposed to be talking to him in the first place, right? To avoid any deeper trouble you just tried to not talk to him and give him information.
On the other hand, Spy found joy in his attempts. So far they were all blunders, his curiosity still lingered and worked as motivation. He thought of the whole situation as a game of sorts. While it is a timely process, the prize at the end is quite rewarding. Besides, he thought you were at least somewhat attractive appearance-wise anyways. As a result, he was patient with you.
The final emotion that was brought to you was joy. After your pain-staking task was done and the Spy finally decided to call it quits for the night; you would sit up against a tree looking off into the forest and reread the book you loved so deeply. It didn’t matter that you only had a small petty headlight to read with, it was like you knew every line of text by heart. Each turn of a page absorbed you deeper and deeper into Victor Hugo’s fictitious yet so realistic world and far away from the real one. This world was filled full of despair, but so much opportunity all at the same time. It was quite an emotional journey.
It was on that one night after you finished cleaning as quickly as possible, and once you believed Spy had left for the night you retreated to the usual tree to continue the story. Being so immersed in the book, you had failed to notice that Spy had returned to where you were to retrieve something he must have left behind. He noticed your cleaning supplies were still out and turned his head more so to see you against the tree with the book. He was at a close enough distance to be able to read the title, but far enough to not disturb you. He did not approach you, but rather, an idea sparked in his head. With a smirk, he quietly slipped back to the base and left you to read in peace.
The next night seemed to play out just how it was stated. Dread to begin with, and now you were just about to get through the irritation/fear process. The BLU Spy observed you doing your job and getting the final remains disposed of.
“It seems as if you finish faster and faster each day.” He commented.
“Uh-huh.” You replied in a half-assed manner.
“With that, I am assuming you are heading in for the night, non?”
“Yep.” You confirmed while tossing some tools into the wheelbarrow. Your hand rested on a burlap sack that contained the book inside for a brief moment before swiping back over to the wheelbarrow's wooden handles. You pushed the gear towards your reading area but made it seem like you were heading back to base.
“Well in that case I will be off then.”
He turned his back to you and grinned as he tilted his head up a little. “You know… ‘The future has several names. For the weak, it is impossible; for the fainthearted, it is unknown…’”
“‘... but for the valiant; it is ideal... ‘“ You stood there in disbelief for a second. You turned around so then you faced his back. “Why did you say that?”
He caught your attention. Spy turned his neck some without turning his entire body to face you. “It was something I saw in a book some time ago. It has stuck with me ever since. I just don’t seem to remember where it’s from…”
“It’s from the book Les Misérables. Have you read it?” You tilted your head in curiosity.
“But, of course. It is one of my favorite stories.”
A rush of excitement filled you. “Really?! I mean-- Oh, really?” You tried to compose yourself to not seem too overjoyed. “That’s one of my favorites, too.” You couldn’t help but have a small smile form on your face.
He turned back around slowly to see your smiling face. It surprised him, for this was the first time he has seen you with a happy expression. You were suited a lot better with a smile. “No wonder you could finish the quote. Have you read it more than once?” He asked you cooly.
“I can’t keep count of all the times I’ve read it. And if I did, I would be embarrassed to say the amount.”
This made the Spy laugh a little. “I could not blame you. If it is something you genuinely do care about, then to hell about what other people think.”
“I guess you’ve got a point there. There are so many memorable quotes from Victor Hugo’s writing! ‘A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in--what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars’.“ You quoted with pride.
Spy nodded his head approvingly. “Very nice. A little fun fact about myself is that I have read the original French version of the book when I was younger. I did read it again in English though. There are a few lines I do remember in the French edition that stuck out to me.”
“That’s actually pretty interesting.” You admitted.
“‘Si je parle, je suis condamné. Si je grarde le silence, je suis damné!'"
“Which quote is that?” You asked in anticipation.
“The wise words of realization spoken by Jean Valjean himself, mon amie. ‘If I speak, I am condemned. If I stay silent, I am damned!’”
The two of you continued then to have a deep conversation on the story. Admiring the storyline, the characters and their relationships with one another, and your favorite and least favorite parts that happened in the book. You left that night on a high note. You felt glad to talk to someone about one of your most prized interests.
For those days following, you tried to be a bit kinder towards the Spy. You two continued to talk about Les Mis, but you also discussed different kinds of stories and movies as well. The conversation usually followed along in recommending a personal favorite to the other to read or watch. Those mixed emotions all became to blur into one; joy. You did not seem to mind if the Spy wanted to make a small conversation that did not involve anything work-related as you finished for the day.
The sun was setting, and you just had gotten started to clean. A few minutes passed when you heard the familiar sound of Spy’s decloak as he began to approach you.
“Ah, mademoiselle Backer. It is good to see you again. If you could stop what you are doing for a moment, I have something for ‘ou.” He held a rectangular item wrapped in cloth in his hands.
You put down your shovel and wiped your hands clean with a clean cloth you had. Your head turned towards him and raised a brow. “What is it?” A surprised, but somewhat pleased smile rested on your lips.
“It is something I hope you will enjoy.” He gently handed the cloth-covered item to you. It was heavier than you expected. “Go ahead, open it.” He urged.
You flipped the item around and unwrapped it from its casing. Your eyes grew three sizes bigger and your mouth gaped open slightly. It was an edition of Les Mis, but it seemed different. Immensely different.
“I did some searching around my base and I came across this version of the book. See, if you open it up,” He guided you through the book towards the middle of the story. He pointed out how there were little marks and symbols written around the text. “There are annotations and footnotes left by Hugo himself.” He looked down towards you waiting for a reaction.
You were in total shock. Pages upon pages filled to the brim with the citations, notes, and thoughts of the author mesmerized you. “Left by Hugo himself…” You echoed back. “It’s… It’s amazing. I… I can’t accept this! It’s too important to just give away.” In a flurry you tried to hand the book back to Spy. He gently pushed the book back towards you.
“Trust me, I believe you will make better use of that book now than anyone from that base has since it was brought there.” You opened back up to another page and skimmed through it. Your face glowed brighter than ever before.
“I don’t know what to say... Thank you.”
“It is never a problem, ma chérie.” He replied tapping your shoulder softly.
You never felt more grateful in your entire life. Flipping through the pages, you began to notice something somewhat odd. “The only issue is a lot of these notes look like they’re written in French.”
The Spy peered over your shoulder and down at the book as you pointed at some of the writings. “It seems you are right,” He nodded. “My apologies, I should have checked it more carefully.”
You shook your head. “No, it’s perfectly alright,” You looked up at him. “Maybe you can stick around after I’m done cleaning up and help translate some of these? If you don’t mind that is. It’s your choice.”
His face brightened up a little bit more as well. “I would love to.”
You felt a wave of energy escape your body. Your expression clearly stated how ecstatic you were. You broke out into a bright smile at the masked man.
Maybe he wasn’t so bad after all.