Chronicles of Love and War (Chapter 1)
((Hi, everyone!! I am very excited to announce that this is the first chapter of my newest multi-chapter fic, which is the sequel to my other story Matters of Time and Fate! If you haven’t read the first story, that’s fine, but reading that before reading this might be helpful so you understand the context behind what’s going on. Anyway, here it is, and I hope you enjoy!))
Olivia never enjoyed being at hotels. She never found the beds to be comfortable, and the rooms were always freezing cold. On top of that, the televisions never showed anything interesting.
On this evening, though, she did find a cartoon while flipping through the channels. She’d come on during the middle of it, and it showed a family of cartoon bears enjoying a picnic in the woods. As the colorful bears finished their picnic and began to dance around, Olivia's attention was drawn away by a voice: "Olivia? "Are you almost ready for dinner?"
Olivia glanced away from the TV screen. “Huh? What?”
Helen approached, reaching over to turn the TV off. "We're meeting the others downstairs at the restaurant, and while it's only a simple hotel restaurant, I think you should change your clothes," she said, motioning to Olivia's outfit, which was a set of penguin-print pajamas.
“Oh,” Olivia felt a little disappointed at seeing the TV get turned off, but she got up anyway. “Okay…should I just get my dress on?”
“If you’d like,” Helen replied. “Speaking of which, we should take you shopping at some point. You seem to be going through a growth spurt.”
Olivia looked down at her legs. “I don’t think so?”
"When we get to Teufort, we can go to the mall," Miss Pauling suggested as she stepped out of the bathroom and slipped her jacket on. “Now, go get dressed, Olivia—they’re waiting for us downstairs!”
“Okay, okay!” Olivia went to the closet, pulling out one of her dresses to wear for the evening.
Olivia accompanied Helen and Miss Pauling down the elevator and to the hotel's dining room after she’d dressed. Once they made their way past the other patrons, Olivia spotted the others sitting at a large, booth table in the corner.
“We’re here!” Olivia announced, bounding up to the table gleefully.
Scout grinned when he saw her, reaching down and scooping her up. “Hey, kid! How’s it hangin’?”
Olivia climbed up into Scout’s lap, and right away she reached for his hat. “I wanna do the thing!”
“Oh—okay!” Scout removed his hat, placing it on Olivia’s head. “There ya go! I should get you a hat like mine, since ya like it so much,”
Olivia shifted from Scout's knee to the booth seat next to him, sandwiching herself between him and Spy while adjusting the hat a bit. Spy clicked his tongue, reaching over to tuck a stray lock of hair behind her ear. “That hat is far too big for you…and it messes up your hair,”
“So what?” Olivia shrugged.
“I’ll brush it later, do not worry,” Helen assured, taking her seat right across from Olivia. “Is everyone prepared to continue our trip tomorrow?”
“Affirmative!” Soldier barked. “I have the raccoons in the trunk!”
Demoman shushed him. “Keep yer voice down! We can’t let the employees known you brought the raccoons…”
“If they have problem, I will punch them,” Zhanna said in a very matter-of-fact tone.
“Please do not, sister,” Heavy advised, not looking up from the menu in front if him. “We do not need incident.”
“Incidents are fun,” Medic countered, taking a moment to look around. “Where’s the waiter?”
“Busy, I think,” Sniper shrugged, his attention turning to Pyro. “Hey, don’t burn those napkins!”
Pyro mumbled something to Sniper, but Engineer just nudged them and handed them a handheld game to keep them from reaching for their lighter. Once Pyro was distracted, Engineer cleared his throat.
“So! How are we all doin’ tonight?”
“I have a foot cramp,” Lar-Nah answered flatly. “I’ve had it all day and it won’t go away.”
“I could fix it!” Medic offered.
Lar-Nah gave him a look. “No, thank you, I’ll be fine.”
Medic frowned. “Oh, please. We’ve been working closely with each other these last few months, and you still don’t trust me?”
“No, no,” Lar-Nah clarified. “I have seen you work, and that’s why I’m not letting you give me unnecessary surgery for a foot cramp.”
“Oh…how did she know I was going to conduct useless foot surgery on her?" Medic whispered to Heavy.
“You do that to everyone,” Heavy replied simply.
“True,” Medic shrugged, taking a sip of his water.
Miss Pauling turned her attention to Zhanna after a waiter came around to take everyone's orders, asking, “How have you been feeling, Zhanna? I know it’s been a long trip so far, are you doing well?”
Zhanna nodded, sitting back a little. “I am fine, back hurts a little but I will be fine,” she gave Medic a look. “No surgery!”
“I wasn’t going to suggest it!” Medic put his hands up defensively.
Soldier moved a little closer to Zhanna, fixated on her abdomen. “My son’s in there,” he pointed out, clearly enamored by the unborn baby Zhanna was carrying. “He’s so smart – I told him about how many communists I’ve killed!”
“You don’t know if it’s a boy or not, Jane,” Demo pointed out kindly.
Soldier huffed. “I told you already! I just…I just know! I know it’s a boy! I feel it…in my bones…”
Zhanna giggled, lifting Soldier’s helmet to kiss his forehead. “Oh, my silly little man…”
Soldier’s face lit up in a blush, and he pressed his face into Zhanna’s shoulder, letting out a happy sound.
Scout made a gagging noise at the sight. “Get a room, you two!” he then noticed Olivia staring at something under the table. “Whatcha lookin’ at, Liv?”
“Someone put gum under the table,” Olivia pointed out.
“Oh, god – Olivia don’t touch it!” Pauling sighed, motioning for Olivia to leave the gum alone. “It’s probably filthy,”
Olivia sat back up, and a thought crossed her mind. “Hey – tomorrow, when we get to Teufort, what’s gonna happen? We’re gonna go to the new place, right?”
Helen nodded. “Yes. We'll be shown around the new offices and residential buildings when we arrive at the new base tomorrow morning,"
“And we will see family,” Heavy added, smiling wide. “Other sisters and mama are waiting for us,”
“Oh – yes, of course,” Helen clarified. “Some of your family members will be there, I believe?”
Demoman nodded. “Aye! My mum’s gonna be there, too, that’ll be nice,”
“Yeah, so’s my mom,” Scout confirmed, grinning. “I’ve missed her real bad, this is gonna be great!” he noticed that Spy’s demeanor seemed to change at that, so he nudged him to get his attention. “Hey—you good, Spy?”
Spy blinked, clearing his throat. “Yes, yes…I’m all right. It’s just that…” he took a breath. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen your mother, and…”
“Look, it’s gonna be okay,” Scout assured, placing a hand on Spy’s shoulder. “I already told her you were coming, and she’s excited to see you again. It’s gonna be all good, okay?”
“I…yes,” Spy nodded, fiddling with the edge of his napkin to try and calm himself down. “Yes, of course…thank you.”
Olivia listened to all of this, thinking quietly. She’d heard the others talk about their family members, and now, she was finally about to meet them.
“I hope they all like me,” she spoke up, leaning her chin into her hand.
Scout just laughed, ruffling her hair. “Oh, my ma’s gonna love you! Don’t worry about that, Liv – you’re gonna have so much fun with everyone else, too!”
Olivia nodded in understanding, giggling when Scout ruffled her hair.
When the waiter brought the food around for everyone, she mostly forgot about it, but once she was back in her hotel room for the night, the feeling resurfaced.
“Mommy?” Olivia spoke finally, trying to figure out how to put what she felt into words.
Helen brushed Olivia’s hair gently, getting her ready for bed. “Hm?”
Olivia got quiet for a few seconds, and then asked, “Do you…do you think I’ll make friends once we’re in Teufort?”
“What do you mean?” Helen asked, a little surprised by the question. “Of course you’ll make friends. You’ll start going to school once we figure out the paperwork, and you will make plenty of friends there.”
“Okay…” Olivia nodded, feeling somewhat comforted by that response. “I just…I just get worried no one will like me. That they’ll think I’m weird…”
Helen sighed, setting the brush down and lovingly stroking Olivia’s hair with her hand. "No one will believe that. And if they do, it's not a problem with you; it's a problem with them," she said, leaning in and kissing Olivia on the temple. “All right?”
Olivia smiled a little at the kiss, squeezing her mother’s hand. “Okay. Yeah…”
Helen tied Olivia’s hair back with a ribbon like she always did, before she stood back up. “Is your suitcase all packed for when we leave tomorrow?”
“Yep,” Olivia affirmed, climbing into her bed for the night.
Helen smiled warmly, reaching over to tuck her daughter in. “Good. Goodnight, Olivia,”
"Goodnight, mommy," Olivia said, settling into the hotel blankets as Helen switched off the light. For a moment, when she closed her eyes, she felt herself back in her father’s old house, in that old bed. But it soon faded…that was a time far away from her, now, a time that felt like a dream.
A new beginning was coming soon.