The Business of Pleasure

Title: The Business of Pleasure
Premise, or Lack Thereof: How the Administrator got her very own pet Sniper
Reason for Banishment: Ran out of steam, and canon updates have made the premise slightly more unworkable


The Sniper knew for sure that he was not interviewing with a normal company when his unseen evaluator asked him to remove his clothes.

“Beg pardon?”

“Remove your clothes. Undress. Strip.” The voice remained calm and matter of fact, but he could detect a patronizing note to it now. “Have I made myself clear?”

“Quite.” He rose and shed his outfit with clockwork precision, folding everything in neat piles. He toyed with the idea of asking if he would be allowed to keep his hat and glasses on, but decided against it. Being cheeky would harm his chances of employment, after all. He remained on his feet, hands to his sides, and wondered what would be next.

He counted off a good fifteen minutes in his head before the reply came. “Put your things back on and exit the door on your left. We will notify you to our final decision within the week.”

The letter notifying him that he’d been accepted to his new position arrived in the mail three days later in a manila folder stamped with the company logo. “Follow the instructions exactly. Do not be late,” warned the hand-written post-script.

Again he found himself wondering, if just for a moment, who his prospective employers were, before brushing the concern aside. He worked plenty of jobs stranger than this one, and while a long-term commitment was not something he was used to, the amount being offered to him was far too tempting to turn down.

***

The Sniper stepped into the dark, cold office, removing his glasses as he attempted to make out the figure seated in front of the wall plastered with monitors, each displaying something different. “Reporting for duty as requested,” he began, taking off his hat as well, wondering how to address his new boss.

“Come closer.” The same voice that had spoken to him before commanded him now, and by the reflection of the screen he thought he caught the glimpse of well-manicured nails.

Huh, a lady boss, he thought, crossing the room. Well, if she didn’t know what she was doing she wouldn’t be in charge of such a huge operation.

He heard the sounds of buttons being pressed, and one of the images zoomed in, showing a desperate battle between two teams. “What do you think?”

“Of the situation in general? Or which team will win? Or which one of those blokes down there is doing the best job—” he almost said ‘at not cocking things up’, but he caught himself in time.

“What would you do, if you were there? How would you support your teammates?”

He took a moment to assess the situation. His presumptive allies already captured the first point and was pushing towards the second. He pointed to some outcroppings that overlooked the main route of attack. “These have good vantage points, but they’d also be the first place the other team would be defending against. I’d be here—” he tapped a narrow passage that provided plenty of cover. “Picking off the careless ones who try to rush, and then switching to a semi-automatic, lay down some fire. If somebody got too close then I’d give them a swipe with my kurki. Worse case scenario, I pull back and take up a position with a better view.”

“You make it sound like you could take the entire opposing team by yourself.”

As before, her voice did not chance in pitch or volume, but he had the distinct feeling that she was mocking him. “Only if they’re complete morons. But if this—” he indicated the screen, “—is how my mates fight on a regular basis, then I’ve got nothing to worry about. They’ll do their jobs, I’ll do mine, and by the end of the day we’ll succeed. If we get real lucky, we might not even lose anybody on our side.”

He heard a long inhalation, and then a thin wisp of smoke rose from the darkness. “I suppose I have kept you here long enough.” There was a rustle of paper, and a map found its way into his hands. “Go down to the barracks and make yourself comfortable.”

***

She watched him go, admiring his form. Magnificent. He was a consummate professional, and it didn’t hurt that he was good looking on top of that.

She wondered if she should have tested his boundaries right then and there, but given that he already passed the first hurdle with flying colors perhaps she shouldn’t press her luck. She could wait. She was many things—clever, ruthless, vengeful—but above all she was patient.

But oh, the possibilities, her treacherous mind whispered to her, and she could feel a heat building between her legs.

Patience! To give in to desire now would waste the effort she had expended in getting here. Soon, yes, very soon she would be the unquestioned Fearless Leader of both feuding companies, sitting unimpeded over the lives and deaths of the ragtag bunch of misfits she brought here to kill each other over and over and over again, all for her and her alone.

But a little self-indulgence wouldn’t hurt, would it?

***

“The enemy Spy is in the base!”

“Gee, ya think?” The Sniper muttered, nudging the body of the Demoman aside with his boot as he continued to patrol the hallway. He took in a deep breath, counted to ten, and then forced himself to remain calm. Just three days into his new job and he was already starting to tire of the constant yelling in his ear. Not that he didn’t appreciate every bit of information the Administrator deigned to give to them while they fought their way across each area, but did she have to react to each occurrence like it was the end off the world?

He heard the unmistakable sound of a cloak wearing off behind him and whirled, jumping to the side and bringing his rifle up to block as the other man took a second swipe at him. The Spy drew back as the Sniper whipped out his kukri, easing the rifle to the ground, both men watching each other for an opening.

“Glad to see you are more aware of your surroundings than the man you replaced,” the Spy flicked the knife open and shut, some sort of attempt at an alpha male display perhaps. “It is so very non-stimulating to stab clueless Snipers in the back.”

“Suppose I’ll take that as a compliment.” Unlike his counterpart, who directed his gaze to the kukri, the Sniper watched the Spy’s entire body and as much of the space between them as he could. While the Spy was not as quick on his toes as a Scout, he was still capable of surprising bursts of acrobatics. At least this one did not seem to have that annoying death-cheating device that turned Spy-hunting missions into a game of cat and mouse with the two of them taking turns as predator and prey.

Flick, flick, flick went the knife. Then the Spy lunged.

The Sniper ignored the sting as he felt the knife slice across the bridge of his nose, grabbing the Spy’s wrist with the hand holding the kurki and throwing his fist towards the Spy’s head with the other. Quick to recover from the surprise, the Spy twisted in the same direction as the Sniper was pulling and kicked at his midsection. He let go, flinging the Spy with all his strength, switching to the rifle again.

The Spy disappeared around the corner, but not before taking a bullet to the shin.

The Sniper tapped his microphone, activating the team comm. “Nicked the little bugger. He should be dripping blood all over the place until he can find himself a medkit. Any Pyros near my location?”

An affirmative-sounding muffle answered him, and the Sniper felt himself smirking as bursts of flame could be made out in the distance. Keeping his ears open for frantic footfalls, he kept going, securing each room as he went.

***

Excellent. He was everything she hoped him to be; seeing him in action for herself confirmed that beyond any doubt. Now all that remained was to make him hers.

Hers! The thought alone was intoxicating. She couldn’t help but imagine his strong hands wrapping around her body, snaking their way towards her skirt despite her half-hearted protests. Or his stubble-covered chin brushing against the back of her neck as he trailed kisses along it until he reached her ears, giving her ear a long, seductive lick. Or feeling the growing bulge in his pants when he pinned her against the console while she tried to report on the mission status without sounding obscene and failing.

“The Intelligence has returned to the base,” she purred into the microphone, smirking as the ant-like men below her peered up at the speakers in puzzlement.

“Is it just me, or did the Administrator sound, I dunno, creepier than usual?” The Scout remarked, doing that funny little scratch he always did when he was nervous.

“Don’t you worry about it, son,” the Engineer tried to reassure the younger man, but he sounded hesitant himself. “She just gets into these moods sometimes.”

The Spy snorted, rounding the corner with a fresh cigarette in his mouth, signifying a triumph over his opposite-colored rival. “Feminine moods,” he added, waggling his eyebrows in a lewd manner and causing a burst of raucous laughter.

Cheeky bastard. She would have to come up with a suitable punishment for him later. At the moment she was still too caught up in her fantasies to care.

***

The Sniper tossed and turned a few more times before giving up and exiting the camper, staring up at the night sky. Ever since he arrived at this place he had trouble sleeping even in the relative privacy that he gave himself by parking on the far side of the base away from the rest of the team. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he was being watched by unseen eyes from somewhere—no doubt the Administrator, who took it upon herself to proclaim the latest developments on a constant basis, had cameras everywhere—but the sensation of paranoia ran deeper than that, a nameless anxiety from deep within his gut.

Or maybe he was just being too damn jumpy after being around this many people for the first time. He was never very good at proper social interaction, but he at least knew how to be polite and maintain proper professional distance. The rest of the team, from his impression of them so far, seemed more like a hodgepodge gathering thrown together at random. But he was supposed to be fighting along side them, so he should be giving them a chance, at least.

He sat there—shivering against the cold desert air—for quite some time before he forced himself to go back inside and go to bed. No point in worrying about hypotheticals, not when there were eight other men who expected him to shoot the enemy before they shot back.

***

The Sniper stayed where he was, safe in the shadow of the shed leading up to Badland’s central control point, arrow knocked against the bowstring but not yet drawn. Below him he heard the hesitant footsteps of the enemy Scout, no doubt looking for a tell-tale targeting dot or trying to hear the sound of a cloak deactivating.

“Go go go!” His team’s Scout ran past the Sniper’s position, waving his bat in the air, and the other Scout swore, jumping as high as his skinny little legs would let him in an attempt to catch up to his rival.

Now!

The Sniper didn’t wait to see if the arrow hit his mark, darting down the stairs while he readied a second arrow, but the scream of pain and a subsequent burst of gunfire from the control point told him that his team had now become aware that the other side was also making their push. He crouched behind the rock while he waited for the enemy Pyro to attempt dislodging the Scout from the point.

Again the Sniper was on the move as soon as he let the arrow fly, running at full tilt as their team captured the point and the Engineer began setting up a miniature base from which they can launch their next offensive. When he passed the Dispenser, he gave everyone gathered there a quick dull-side tap with the Kukri and, satisfied that none of them were disguised Spies, started aiming his bow towards the Spire.

The Sniper’s body reacted faster than his mind did when the Medic let out a startled yelp and soon afterward died in a pool of his own blood while the oblivious Heavy charged ahead, his beloved gun blazing at maximum speed; dropping down from his perch, the Sniper readied his Jarate and waited for the Spy to show himself again and take aim at the large Russian man.

“Spy behind you!” The Sniper shouted, letting loose just as he saw the air behind the Heavy flicker and take shape. The Heavy whirled around, spraying bullets everywhere, while the Spy cried out in disgust when the jar shattered against his shoulder, covering him with piss. The Sniper pulled back behind the wall and readied another arrow, but the enemy chose to retreat back towards his own base, outmaneuvering the Heavy’s girth with ease.

On the Spire, a Scout duel was already taking place (how many Scouts did the other side have? No matter, their Scout was no doubt better), trading insults as well as bullets. The Sniper shot the enemy Engineer before he could set a sentry to guard the point and then buried his blade in the arm of the Soldier that was just as surprised to see him as he was.

The last thing the Sniper remembered was trying to present as small a profile as possible when the Soldier fired off a rocket point blank and launched both of them into the air.

The Sniper woke to a Medic stitching yet another shrapnel wound shut while an intravenous drip fed into his arm and a plastic mask pumped oxygen into his lungs.

The Medic noticed and smiled at him. “You were most fortunate that our Pyro was nearby to drag you to a Dispenser.” He patted the Sniper’s cheek. “Our victory would have not been as sweet if we lost such a valuable teammate.”

So we won, then? the Sniper wanted to ask, but found himself unable to move even his lips.

Nevertheless, the Medic guessed what he was thinking and nodded. “It was quite magnificent. The enemy didn’t even get a chance to retake any of the control points. We’re sweeping out the last of them at this very moment.”

“EVERY ONE OF YOU DESERVES A MEDAL!” The jubilant allied Soldier could be heard whooping from somewhere.

The Medic finished his work and gestured to someone that the Sniper couldn’t see. “Medigun.”

This time, the Sniper yelped as he felt the healing stream of energy flow through him. Every muscle in his body burned, but it was a good burn, as if he’d just ran full tilt for miles and miles. He stared as the new wounds closed around the stitching, not even leaving any scars. All that was left of what happened was his bloody clothes, and the Medic was already handing him a folded piles of fresh ones.

The Sniper wondered for a half a moment just where the Medic found an almost exact replica of his outfit in his size before getting dressed in record time and jogging after his team.

***

She hummed a happy little tune to herself as she made her way down to the barracks. By now her mark was no doubt feeling the effects of accelerated healing; it was too bad that she couldn’t convince the uptight Medic to prescribe some extra muscle relaxants, but soon enough her little pet Sniper would do well enough to be promoted to an area with a Medic that had much more flexible ethics.

He was resting in the common room, back against the walls and eyes alert, blinking with surprise when he saw her.

“I’m part of the Staff,” she lied through her teeth, making sure she was speaking with the higher registers of her voice so he wouldn’t recognize her. She had even gone to the trouble of dressing like a janitor and wearing her hair in an unflattering bun, just in case. “Most of the time we try to work unnoticed.”

He seemed to buy the explanation. “Carry on, then.”

She pretended to sweep the floor, accomplishing nothing more than to push the bits of accumulated dirt around. He kept his gaze to the door, watching to see whether anyone else would pass by or come in, but every once in a while his eyes would flicker in her direction.

When it became clear that he wasn’t going to be the one to make the first move, she walked by him and tucked a note with her number on it into his hand.

“My shift ends at five,” she told him, giving him a wink.

***

By dinner, the Sniper was feeling well enough to shuffle his way to the mess hall where the others (minus a few of the faster eaters) were already chowing down on an array of food that surprised him. He didn’t think they’d have anything other than tin cans and rations out in the middle of nowhere, but maybe that was part of what the heretofore unseen staff members was responsible for.

The Heavy was the first to spot him and waved him over. “Come eat! Medic cook today, is wonderful!”

“Sure,” the Sniper gave the Medic a nod and helped himself to a heaping plate of a hot, cooked meal. He said little as he ate, not speaking except to answer questions directed at him, as his mind was on the note that felt like it was burning a hole in his pocket.

What was he going to do? He didn’t think it wise to be involved with anyone, least of all in this line of work, but it would be rude to blow her off as if she hadn’t spoken to him at all. Maybe he could invite her to a harmless outing and then let her down easy. Most companies had rules against interoffice dating, after all.

After dinner, he wandered the halls looking for a phone, but didn’t find anything that he had access to: the rows and rows of computers beyond a large window offered a tantalizing view, but as far as he could tell he had no way of getting to that particular command center without breaking and entering, and he wasn’t that desperate just yet. He went back to his camper and tacked the phone number on his Board of Important Stuff so he could give the number a try the next time he had a chance to go into town, then headed back out to stare at the sky again.

This time, he had company.

“Hey, Snipes,” a Scout that he hadn’t seen since the battle ended called to him, tossing a baseball up and down in one hand.

He pushed his hat up so it wasn’t covering his face and recognized the Scout as the one who capped the second to last point. “Hey.” He looked at the ball. “It’s going to be too dark to play soon.”

“I know. Solly doesn’t like it when I do batting practice anyway—” the Scout made a face, “knocked out a window last time and he didn’t let me hear the end of that for a while. Just stopping by to say you did a pretty swell job out there today.”

The compliment made him a bit self conscious. “It’s what I’m paid to do, isn’t it?”

“Maybe, but you’re a whole bunch better than our last Sniper, that’s for sure. Dumbass wouldn’t do anything except take potshots at the other sides’ Snipers.” The Scout scrunched his nose. “And collect his pee in jars, how gross is that?”

“Better than taking a shit anywhere he pleases, right?” he pointed out. “And you have to admit that seeing a Sniper aiming one of those things at you would be pretty frightening.”

The Scout thought about this for a minute. “I guess.”

The Sniper saw the Engineer’s hardhat poke through the doorway before the man himself made an appearance, crossing his arms over his chest. “You bothering the new guy, Scout?”

“What? No! I just didn’t get a chance to talk to him yet.” The Scout crossed his arms. “Jeez, stop treating me like a kid already!”

“I will when you stop acting like one,” the Engineer shot back. He tipped his hat at the Sniper. “Anyway, seeing as it’s getting dark and Solly will be bugging us for lights out soon, I’ll see you around later.”

The Scout made a face at the Engineer’s back, and then let out an enormous yawn. “Heh, guess I wore myself out a bit today.” He tossed the ball at the Sniper, and grinned as the Sniper caught it with practiced ease. “There. Next time I come by, it’ll be to get my ball back.” He turned on his heel and jogged off. “Sweet dreams, new guy!”

***

He didn’t call.

She knew this, because she stayed up the whole night waiting for him.

It wasn’t his fault. It was decided long ago that having working phones in the base would have been too much of a liability. It wouldn’t do for the details of this project to get leaked, and letting her guinea pigs get news of the outside world would might add too many variables.

But he hadn’t even tried very hard. She had made sure to leave one public telephone within driving distance of the base, just so people like him could call home and hear the voices of his beloved parents, even if all that they ever had to say was that he was a crazed killer.

She would never say such things to him. She would always shower him with praise and affection—when he earned it, of course. But she was sure that he would always succeed in whatever task she threw at him.

But until she could get the inconsiderate brute to romance him like a proper gentleman, it would be up to her to make the next move once again.

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