There are hundreds of Hargrove's forces coming at them from all directions. Simmons can see Tucker slashing clear through their ranks, his energy sword rippling with heat. He's in a rage, not speaking to anyone, not communicating. He's just... Fighting. Doc and Lopez are to Simmons' right, helping Caboose mow down the men flooding the hallway.
They push forward, getting ever closer to the main exit hatch of the Staff of Charon. Tucker and Sarge are heading the attack, leaving Donut and Simmons to watch their backs. Grif is with them, peeking into side doorways and making sure no one's lying in wait.
It all happens so fast.
They're practically at the exit. Simmons hears the sound of a pelican flying close. Lopez is working on getting the door open and there are no more enemies in sight. Grif is leaning against a doorway catching his breath. But then, Grif takes off his helmet, just for a second because there's blood covering the visor and he can't see through it but the moment he does he gets a rifle butt to the head.
There's a grey-clad man standing in the room that was supposed to be clear. He's facing Grif, watching as he staggers back. Simmons doesn't have time to react because as soon as it happens, another man takes ahold of Grif's head and slams it sideways into the doorframe. The sound is sickening, a solid crack-thud. Grif immediately goes still. He crumples to the ground.
Simmons can't move.
"One of you idiots give me some cover fire!" Simmons can hear Sarge yelling over the comms. Caboose turns around and Freckles makes quick work of the two men. Sarge leans over Grif's unconscious form and quickly checks for bleeding. Grif's head has a nasty gash in it. Sarge curses under his breath and hoists him up onto his back. The pelican is right outside now, ready to pick them up. Lopez got the door open. All Simmons can do is watch as Sarge practically tosses Grif into the pelican.
Simmons takes a step forward, ready to jump into the pelican and make sure Grif is okay, but he hears Sarge tell the pilot to leave and get him to Dr. Grey ASAP. The pelican starts to leave and Simmons wants to go with them, but a hand on his shoulder stops him in his tracks. "Simmons, there could still be more of Hargrove's forces. We need you here," Donut says. And he's right. They need to make sure no one gets away. They need to bring them to justice.
So as much as it pains him to do so, Simmons turns away and follows Donut and Lopez down the hall to scour the ship and hopefully find Hargrove himself. And the whole time, his mind is occupied by a single thought. Over and over, "Is he okay? Is he okay? Is he okay?"
Simmons drops everything and comes running once he gets word that Grif has woken up. It's been thirteen days since it happened. Thirteen days since they sent Hargrove to prison. Thirteen days since he became a planet-wide hero. Thirteen days of rebuilding. Thirteen days without Grif to laugh with him. He's been in and out of consciousness the whole time he's been in the hospital but never for more than ten minutes. Simmons is overjoyed at the news. His mind has been in overdrive lately, thinking up horrible scenarios, most of them involving Grif dying in his sleep.
Simmons hopes that seeing Grif will assuage his fears and he can get a proper night's sleep. He passes Palomo and Jensen in the hall. She waves at him and after an awkward moment, she remembers to salute to her captain. Simmons waves back and smiles at her forgetfulness. He almost misses the door. New Armonia is still confusing to him and he barely knows where everything is. Not to mention it's nowhere near complete. There are boxes and unusual bits of machinery and weapons lining the halls day and night, the storage closets have been repurposed into bedrooms but they still contain everything that's being stored. It's a mess, but the Feds and News say it feels like home.
Grif's hospital room is just like every other one Simmons has ever been in. Everything is quiet except for the soft whirring and beeping of various machines. And there, on the only bed in the room is Grif. Dexter Grif, the most precious person in his life. He's sitting up, his eyes wide with curiosity. Dr. Grey is talking to him with her soft, lilting voice. Simmons spares a split second to try and decipher the jumble of emotions he feels.
Relief, because Grif is okay. Happiness, because Grif is okay! Discontent, because ... On second thought, that isn't the right word. He's straight up pissed off. Grif had gotten himself hurt because he was being stupid and decided to take off his helmet. But now isn't the time to berate him about his unsafe habits, Simmons thinks. Now is the time to just be happy he's alright.
"Oh my god, you're okay!" Simmons shouts.
He tears his helmet off and tosses it to the ground without a second thought, running to Grif's bedside and almost catching him in a hug before remembering he still has armor on. He leaves some space between them and gets a good look at Grif. Dexter Grif, the post precious person in his life. Grif looks worse for wear. It's definitely not the worst shape Simmons has seen him in, but it's bad. He has dark circles under his eyes, ones that could rival Wash's. Scratches and bruises pepper his skin. Dark locks of hair spill over his shoulders, making him look like he hasn't showered in weeks. There's a thick bandage wrapped around his head.
"Uh..." Grif mumbles when Simmons takes off his gloves and clasps his hands around Grif's.
"I missed you, you asshole!" Simmons exclaims, turning his head away from Grif. He suddenly wishes he still had his helmet on so he could hide whatever emotion must be showing. "I thought you were going to die!" he shouts.
A confused frown etches itself in Grif's face. He tilts his head slightly. "Yeah, who are you?"
Simmons falters for a moment. His artificial heart starts freaking out.
"I-it's me, Grif," he says. "Simmons? Your best friend?" With every word, Grif starts to look more confused.
Simmons can feel his breath getting shallow, and tears prickling his eyes.
"It's me..." he says, almost like a plea. Why is he so scared? Why is he about to cry? Grif shakes his head. "I'm sorry, I- I don't remember." His eyebrows are furrowed in concentration, like he's really trying to remember. Simmons can feel every bone in his body tense up.
Simmons looks down at their hands and gives Grif's a little squeeze.
"You don't remember me at all?" he asks. His voice is quieter than he wanted, quaking with fear.
"No." Grif shakes his head slightly, looking apologetic.
"Are you sure?" Simmons asks. He earns a slightly more annoyed but still perplexed look from Grif.
"Yes, I'm sure." Simmons tries again.
"Are you really really su-"
"I DON'T REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE, OKAY?" Grif shouts.
He looks confused and tired and Simmons never meant to make him angry. He never does. Simmons flinches away from him, startled by his tone. Grif... He doesn't remember? It has to be a joke, right? There's no way Grif got amnesia or something from... Hitting his head against a doorway... Right? Simmons tightens his grip on Grif's hand.
"I- what? What do you mean?"
Simmons knows it's not a joke. As stupid as Grif can be, he'd never toy with Simmons' emotions willingly. He really... really doesn't remember. The realization hits him like a brick to the face suddenly it's hard to breathe. Simmons lets go of Grif's hand and it's probably a more violent movement than he wanted. Dr. Grey holds up her datapad and speaks in an even softer voice.
"He received quite a bit of head trauma from the impact. If he had had his helmet on, it might have only given him a slight bruise. But-"
She meets Simmons' eyes and gives him a sympathetic gaze, "-He wasn't wearing his helmet. The blow from the rifle was enough to give him a concussion, but the impact from the doorway is much more... Troubling."
Dr. Grey looks back down at her datapad and pulls up another chart.
"The sharp edge punctured his skin and did severe damage to his head. It- along with the rifle- He has-" She glances back up at Simmons. He's shaking now. He knows what's coming. He’s watched enough movies to know she's going to say that Grif has amnesia and that she's going to do whatever she can to help him get his memories back. She's going to tell him that it's okay, except that it isn't. It isn't okay, because the most precious person in his life doesn’t remember who he is.
He doesn't need to hear it. Simmons draws a short, pained breath and he's out of the room in a second. He doesn't mean to, but he slams the door behind him. His shoulders slump as he falls to the ground and he doesn't even try to stop the tears that cascade down his cheeks like a waterfall. He doesn't know why he's able to cry out of both eyes, given one is mechanical, but that's something that he'd talk about with- with Grif. And Dexter Grif doesn't remember who he is. His breathing is starting to get louder, his blood is rushing in his ears.
Simmons chokes out silent sobs and tries to dry his tears with the sleeves of his kevlar undersuit. His metal hand collides with the side of his face and sends a dull, jarring clack through the hall. Why is he freaking out so much? Why does it hurt so much? He almost doesn't notice when the rest of the Reds and Blues come down the hall. Donut stops just short of the door with a wild look in his eyes. He looks scared. After all, who else could possibly have Simmons in such a state? He throws open the door to Grif's room and the rest clamor in behind him. Carolina throws him a concerned gaze as she passes.
He tries not to eavesdrop. They gave him his privacy, he should do the same. But the sound of Caboose’s laugh is enough to have him on his feet and at the door in a second. Fortunately, there’s a window on the door. Unfortunately, he peeks through it just in time to see Grif get a hug from Donut and Caboose. He sees them all, even Sarge, with relief in their eyes and he hears Grif say “I missed you guys,” a huge smile on his face. Donut finally releases him and asks why Simmons is out in the hall.
Grif says he doesn't know
who Donut is talking about.
Simmons doesn't even pretend not to care when he realizes that Grif is answering them, talking to them as if not a minute has passed. He doesn't even pretend not to notice how his chest constricts when he realizes that Grif remembers everyone except... him. He remembers everyone except Simmons. How is that fair? He doesn't even pretend not to be angry and afraid and hurt when the thought creeps up on him like shadows.
What if he never remembers?
Simmons knows a bit about amnesia. He's read plenty of books on the subject. He knows that in most cases, the victims recover their memories. He also knows that sometimes they don't. Sometimes they're left with permanent gaps in their memory and live the rest of their lives never knowing what they forgot.
Simmons gets up off the floor and starts running. He doesn't care where, he just needs to get away from all the sounds of laughter. He's vaguely aware that he's getting weird looks from the people he runs past. Ones of confusion and pity, but he doesn't give a shit. He runs and he runs and he doesn't stop until he's standing in front of the room that he and Grif share- um, shared. There is no way Grif is going to want to share a room with... a stranger, Simmons thinks. He was reluctant to share with Simmons when they first met, and now- now it's probably going to be the same.
He decides to get it over with and opens the door slowly. The left side of the room is neat and organized. There isn't much, however. Just a few mechanical manuals, random books he picked up on supply runs, a box of clothes for the rare times when they don't wear armor, his extensive Star Trek collection. They all fit inside a single crate and he carries it out of the room and down the hall to an empty one which was supposed to be Lopez's until they realized he didn't need a room.
Simmons drops the crate on the floor and throws himself onto the bed. A long-suffering sigh escapes his lips and he tries not to start crying again. He shouldn't. It's not going to help anything. It's just going to make him look weaker than he already does. Would Grif cry if it was Simmons that had amnesia and remembered everyone expect him? He probably would. He would cry and then deny it if anyone asked. He would say he didn't care. He would hide behind his lazy facade and laugh with the others and destroy himself from the inside because that's the kind of person he is.
Simmons doesn't want to move for the rest of the day. He wants to stay on the bed in the dark while everyone else celebrates that fact that Grif is okay. It's funny, Simmons thinks. They think it's okay because they're not the ones who just lost the most precious person in their life.
Simmons has a lot of time to think while he's laying in the dark. He thinks about Grif. He thinks about how much of his life involves Grif. They bicker back and forth, talk about stupid things and do stupid things and it’s great because he knows Grif like the back of his hand and Grif knows him like he knows the ingredients list on a pack of Oreos.
He knows that Grif likes it when Simmons cooks. Sure, he also knows how to cook, but he likes to eat more than he likes to cook. And Simmons not so secretly loves the praise he gets every evening when Grif sits down at the table and comments on how delicious everything looks. He knows that Grif is just as much of a nerd as he is, but does a better job of hiding it.
He knows that Grif likes to have his hair brushed, but he does it himself most of the time because he’s embarrassed to ask anyone else to do it. He knows that Grif gets scared just like everyone else and that he calms down when Simmons grabs his hand and holds on like his life depends on it. He knows that Grif eats when he’s stressed and he eats when he’s happy, or sad, or frustrated, or anxious, or bored.
Simmons knows a lot about Grif, but now... It seems like he knows nothing. Because Simmons without Grif doesn't make sense. Grif without Simmons doesn't make sense. They're a package deal. They are a duo, attached at the hip, so goddamn close that everyone else thinks they're married. They are two halves of a whole, and when one half forgets, the other crumbles into dust.
Simmons hates thinking about it like that. He hates making it seem like they're never going back to what they were. But he can't help it. His mind seems to have subconsciously accepted the fact that Grif and Simmons was now just Grif... And Simmons. It only happened a few hours ago and he's already resigned to his fate. He's already accepted it unconditionally. What a fucking loser, he thinks. But it all happened so fast, and I was feeling so many different things at once, of course I'm going to overreact. That's just like me, isn't it. Always overreacting.
It turns out, two hours is all one needs to make a terrifying realization about oneself.
Simmons rolls over in bed and covers his face with a pillow. He knows a lot about himself too. He knows that he gets emotional, especially when it involves Grif. He knows that it makes him feel weird thinking about the fact that 40% of his body is now grafted to the most important person in his life.
And... He knows that he'd do almost anything for Dexter Grif.
He'd take a bullet for that man if it meant he'd be okay. Simmons knows that Grif was the first person he'd ever considered as a real friend. He knows that when it comes down to it... He loves Dexter Grif. He loves his smile, he loves his laugh, he loves the way his mismatched eyes reflect the afternoon light and the way his hair always finds some way to look like he'd just woken up.
Simmons loves when Grif absentmindedly runs his fingers along the pale skin grafts on the left side of his face and the way those same skin grafts show his blush so much more prominently. He loves the way he so adamantly denies the fact that they're married and how he teases him about being a nerd and always knows when Simmons needs a hug.
He loves everything about Dexter Grif.
Simmons opens his eyes and covers his face with his hands. He starts to laugh, quietly and mostly at himself. Fuck, why did it take him so damn long to admit it? It's so obvious. Simmons loves him. That’s why he’s been feeling ready to tear apart at the seams. He loves him so much it hurts. It hurts to know he's been forgotten. It hurts to be reminded that it could all be over in the blink of an eye. It hurts to sit down and put things in perspective and acknowledge the fact that they've danced with death too many times and their luck is bound to run out at some point.
Maybe it has. Maybe that's what this is, Simmons thinks. Maybe we've finally run out of luck. Simmons sits up in bed and pulls his knees up to his chin. He puts his back to the wall and glares at nothing in particular.
Someone knocks on his door about three hours after he secludes himself in the dark room. Simmons doesn't want to open it. He doesn't want anyone to see him so torn up over Grif. Torn up and confused
and in love.
"Simmons? Are you okay?" a voice asks. He recognizes it as Carolina. What could she possibly want?
"Dr. Grey told me about Grif's... Selective amnesia," Carolina says. Oh. Fucking fantastic. Simmons gets out of bed like it's that last thing he's ever going to do and stomps over to the door. He opens it as calmly as he can manage and glares at Carolina.
"AND? What? Did you come here to rub it in my face or something?" he asks.
His voice cracks and he immediately regrets ever opening his mouth. Carolina shakes her head. She's good at keeping calm.
"No. I came here to tell you that no one else knows yet, but they're starting to realize something’s up. It's only a matter of time before someone mentions that Grif hasn't asked where you are yet."
Simmons visibly deflates. He can feel more tears threatening his eyes.
"I don't want to see him," Simmons whispers, even though he knows it's a lie. He really wants to see him. He wants to grab him by the shoulders and shout "Remember me! Remember the past thirteen years of our lives! Remember how much I care about you! Remember how much I love you!" He wants it to be okay.
Carolina reaches out a hand and puts it awkwardly on Simmons' shoulder.
"You don't have to go if you don't want to, but Donut got really upset when Grif said he didn't know why you were out in the hall. He hasn't stopped frowning for four hours, and I'm starting to think he might be stuck like that," She says, trying to lighten the mood. She does a bad job. It only makes Simmons feel worse.
"Join us if you feel like it, he have cake," Carolina adds. She pats his shoulder a few times and gives him a tight-lipped smile.
"Hey... It'll be alright," she assures him. Simmons knows that isn't true, but he nods anyway and closes the door when Carolina turns to leave.
As Simmons falls asleep that night, he realizes that in the ten odd years that he's been in love with him, Simmons never once told Grif. He wakes up with tears soaking his pillow.