Fic 372: Tradition
So here’s a little head cannon for you, Imagine Anon: Pyro’s grandfather used to make fireworks, and would tell them stories about the Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival that he saw when he was a child. Pyro’s memory isn’t great, but they remember making fireworks with him and the stories that he’d tell. It’s the happy part of their memory that they hold on to as best they can, even if they have to fudge a few things here and there to remember it.
Strictly speaking, it should have been bamboo wrapped with rice stalks. That was the traditional way of doing it. But bamboo was hard to find in New Mexico, especially in Teufort, and there wasn’t much around to replace it. The old trees were too dry, and the cactus too spiny to work properly. So in the end it had been metal, sourced and reinforced by Engineer’s steady hands that replaced it. One more modernization. One more accommodation. One more thing that was different from the way it used to be done.
They could imagine grandfather’s face as they carried the loaded cylinder in their arms. What would it look like if he saw them now? Well, his nose would wrinkle and he’d cross his arms, but in the end he wouldn’t say a word. He’d just sigh and shake his head and then tell them to make sure they counted all their fingers both before and after.
Grandfather always had the best advice, even if they didn’t keep up with all the traditions properly. But somehow it always felt like he knew they were thinking about him whenever they lit a match or touched up the paint on the Backburner. They weren’t the old traditions, but they were their new ones, and really, all traditions were new at one time, right? They knew he would understand.
“Hey, Mumbles! Got something good for us this year?”
Pyro looked up to see Scout up on the roof. Behind him was Soldier and Engie, and the others would be arriving soon. They waved up at their friend, who was smiling like a kid on the Fourth of July, and gave him a nod and an enthusiastic thumbs up as they continued on their way to meet Demo at the edge of the base. It wasn’t the Fourth, of course. That was the one thing that they refused to change, no matter how much Soldier told them that it was the proper day for fireworks. Grandfather always insisted on the last week of July, just like he had done since he was a boy, so the last week it would be.
Demo was grinning from ear to ear when they arrived at the launch site. Demo had always been happy to help them with the finer points of mixing that they’d forgotten. Grandfather’s notes had been detailed, too detailed for Pyro to figure out the chemical mixtures by themselves, but equally incomprehensible to Demo in the language in which it was written. There had been many late nights over the years, but between them they’d rediscovered Grandfather’s secrets, coaxing them out line by line, one or two a year and testing them in secret before sharing them with the rest of the team. Now it was an annual event, something to look forward to, even if it didn’t quite mean the same thing to everyone else as it did to them.
“They’re in for some barry bangers tonight, eh boyo?” Demo laughed as he helped them to settle the last pipe down into place. They grinned back under their mask and nodded. There were two new fireworks this year; fish and kamuro, both in green and red.
Once it was settled into place, they paused. In their pocket was Grandfather’s picture. Demo watched as they fished it out and placed it on a rock, angling it so that Grandfather would be able to watch the show that would soon begin. Demo never said anything about it, and never asked any questions. He just gave them a knowing smile and gave them their moment. Demo understood a lot about family and tradition.
Together they waited until the sun finally sank down behind the mountains, draping the desert in the dark blanket of night. The perfect canvas for fire, but a fire of the most beautiful kind. More beautiful than all the bombs and explosions that Teufort usually saw. These would be all the colors of the rainbow, and designed to match the pictures that always floated through their head. Once it was dark enough, Pyro lit the first fuse. There was a hiss as the flame raced towards the first cylinder and a massive wooosh! as the rocket inside shot skyward. They watched in silence as it sailed into the darkness so quickly that they almost lost track of it, and then it burst into a cascade of stars that slowly drifted back towards the earth.
Cheers erupted behind them, and they smiled. They let Demo light the rest as they sat down next to Grandfather to watch the night sky be painted in fire and light. The fireworks wouldn’t be as perfect as Grandfather’s - he could make butterflies and flowers burn against the sky - but they would be for him.