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In Which Grif Has a Thing for Redheads

Chapter Text

 

Grif and Simmons break up on a Monday.

"Why Monday?" Carolina asks him when the second bottle lies empty on the floor between them.

Grif's voice has begun to slur. "Because Mondays suck. And if I'd waited a day longer, it would have ruined Taco Tuesday." He reaches out to give the bottle a push with his finger, letting it roll, chinking the entire way, until it softly bumps against the bag that he’d dropped on the floor earlier.

Carolina watches him closely through the waves of red hair. “That would be a tragedy,” she says. Her voice isn’t slurring. Yet.

With a grin, he leans his back against the leg of the chair. He can’t remember how they ended up on the floor, only that he’d argued against it when she’d offered to pull him back up.

He nods, trying to focus on his burning throat instead of aching heart. The booze has made it easier, like water blurring the bottom of the sea. Out of sight, out of mind, and all that. He can save the heartache for tomorrow when his head will be throbbing too.

His vision swimming in front of him. It’s just a big red blur. “And, you know, after that is Waffle Wednesday, To-Go Thursday, Fried Chicken Friday, Spaghetti Saturday, Sloth Sunday.”

“Sloth?” Carolina asks him.

He can barely make out her smile. “Meh, I would have called it Lazy Sunday or Redhead Sunday or Carolina-ordered-me-to-teach-her-how-to-relax-wtf Sunday, but none of those rhymed.” He reaches for the closest bottle, its touch cold against his lips, and he frowns when he comes to the realization that it is empty. His fingers let it fall, but it doesn’t shatter. “Now it’s just Mourning Monday. Moping Monday. Motherfucking Monday.”

“How about Margarita Monday?” Carolina suggest, flicking a fingernail against the bottle glass.

“I’ll drink to that,” Grif says but that’s a lie because the half-filled (or half-empty; Grif has always been the pessimistic type). Simmons doesn’t drink Margaritas any longer, not after that fateful night where they got drunk enough to tell each other that they’re in love.

So when Simmons had told him to pack his stuff, he hadn’t argued when Grif had brought the near-empty bottles along.

Now they are all empty, and Grif stares at the one he is holding in his hand and he wonders what the fuck he is doing.

He knows why he is here. For once, he actually has the answer to that question.

He is here because Simmons told him to leave – “Just for tonight. Or- or maybe until we figure it out. Or- We are not supposed to, are we? We- You should stay away and- Don’t fucking blame me, you’re the one who chose this-“ and Grif can’t go to Sarge (because why would he ever choose torture voluntarily?)  and he can’t go to Donut (because he will cry more than Simmons did) and he can’t go to Caboose (because he will either understand his logic or he won’t, and both things would cause Grif to regret) and he can’t go to Tucker (because he will be more upset than Simmons) and he can’t go to Wash (because he is ninety percent sure it’d be more awkward than stuffing himself into Lopez’s closet) and that left Carolina.

Carolina – who is a Freelancer, who is terrifying, who can knock out Grif’s teeth with her little finger if it pleases her, who spends every Sunday with him learning how to relax.

The penthouses that were built for them have identical rooms – same size, same interior, except the color difference (Red or Blue, of course, naturally) but they all ended up customizing them in their own ways. Sarge loves storing dynamite, Tucker’s room smells like cheap cologne, Simmons has too many books, Caboose’s bed is filled with teddies, Donut keeps buying stupid scented candles.

Carolina’s room is more bare than expected. It’s not sickly clean like Simmons’ room (or, well, how it’d been before Grif moved in. He supposes it’ll return to that state now), but it doesn’t have candy wrappers on the floor like Grif prefers.

There is nothing on her walls, but there are two pictures on her bed table. One is from before the liberation of Chorus – Grif can tell this from Church’s appearance on her shoulder – and the gang is all around her, Wash right next to her like a bodyguard or something. Obviously the Freelancer hadn’t noticed how Tucker had made bunny ears behind his helmet. The other one is set the same way – Carolina, surrounded by friends – but Grif doesn’t recognizes the faces so he supposes they are Freelancers. The dead ones.

There’s a single lighter between the two picture frames, and Grif wonders if Carolina smokes, too.

It’d be nice with her company.

It is already nice with her company, today, Monday, when Grif has broken up with Simmons, broken two hearts in one go. He is grateful that Carolina let him in, even when he looked like shit with red eyes and wet cheeks.

Carolina is nice, even when she is capable of kicking out his teeth and brain in one go. Maybe it’s because he braided her hair the week before.

It’s easy, their relaxation sessions, mainly because they are meant to be so. That’s the whole point.

He still has a lot to teach her, though. He’s been thinking about pancakes for breakfast and dinner for their next day together.

“Grif,” Carolina says.

“What?” he says, now pulled out of his own thoughts.

“You’re crying.”

“Well, shit.”

He wipes them away with the back of his hand, and unlike Simmons, she doesn’t tell him to stop making a mess of his sleeve.

“So why did you do it?” Carolina asks him. She is closer now, red hair brushing against his shoulder. “I’m not judging you. I just want to know what we’re dealing with.”

“s’not a fucking mission,” Grif says. The floor is cold but the room is hot, and he wonders if Iris is like that; eternal summer. “Is just a relationship. And they can end in two ways, you know. Either you stay together forever and death splits you apart, or you break up. With two ways, that’s like a fifty/fifty chance. I figured the first one was unlikely, so why wait for it all to go to shit anyway? It doesn’t-“ He hiccups once, then twice as his eyes burn. “-it doesn’t make sense to let shit grow worse.”

Carolina doesn’t say anything. She just stares at him, green eyes glowing in the darkness like a cat.

“Simmons fucking hates me now. Tucker will too, but at least he won’t be all passive aggressive about it. Simmons is… I don’t know. He can be an ass.”

He thinks Carolina says; “Is that why you ended it?” but he isn’t sure if it’s just her eyes speaking; her mouth doesn’t seem to move.

Still, he answers the question. “I don’t know. It’s, I- Relationship can kinda suck? You know, when you make it real, and you get all formal and there’s obligations and expectations and shit. Easier to just fuck in a closer every now and then. It- I don’t know. Just thought it’d feel better. We just ended up hurting each other a lot, and that’s-“ He shakes his head, finding comfort in the blurring vision. Like keeping his head below the ocean. It helps quieting down all the mess inside his head. “s’not really the purpose. Not what I signed up for.”

“Relationships are hard,” Carolina says, and he wonders who had the guts to call her their girlfriend.

“Well, now I’m single,” he says, letting the word slip off his tongue. It doesn’t feel bitter, not like an angry spat. Maybe it’s more like a curse, accompanied with a smug smile. Easy. Damning. “And supposed to feel better. But I’m not.”

Alcohol works too well at times. Makes the tongue smoother, the courage greater (“I love you,” Simmons whispers into his hair. “Fuck, fuck, I’m drunk, right? That’s why I’m saying this, why you are-“) but it also allows the truth to fall from his lips by accident.

“Maybe you need time,” Carolina suggests.

“Maybe I need more booze.”

He reaches for the closest bottle, believing to see a slimmer of gold, just enough for a final gulp. But Carolina’s hand is on his wrist, stopping him. “I think you’ve had enough,” she says, as if he is a lightweight.

He opens his mouth, happy to feel offended instead of sad. Simmons is the definition of a lightweight, there’s a picture of him in dictionary if you look it up. Simmons started giggling after half a bottle, and it only required one for him to admit that he was in love.

But that’s a long time ago, now. Three months, at least.

Their new life on Iris feel so long, uninterrupted. It’s like summer vacation back during the awful school days; a break stretching longer and longer until he begins to fret for it to end, until the suspicion grows.

Things have changed now.

Grif forgets why he is offended and the emotion begins to fade in time. He first manages to collect his thoughts when Carolina is moving to the other end of the room, away from him.

“Thanks for letting me stay,” he says in order to get her to freeze.

She looks at him through the curtain of red hair. If there’s a smile behind it, he can’t see it. “Just don’t puke on the floor.”

“When Tucker comes to beat me up, can you be my bodyguard?”

“If you are asking me if I could beat Tucker in a fight; yes. If you are asking me to be your new muscles for hire; no.”

“But I might pay well.” He winks and she responds accordingly; a hand on her hip, looking down at him with a smirk. It’s a ritual by now, he supposes. The greeting began to exist after their first couple of Sloth Sundays together, when he’d realized this deal wasn’t a death wish after all.

Instead of bruises and eyes like dagger, it’d ended up more pleasant than Grif had dared to hope for. It’d been fishing and braiding and cooking and sleeping and swimming. It’s been good.

“Urgh, I could really use a Sloth Sunday,” he sighs. “Why do weeks have to last, like, a week?”

“At least tomorrow is Taco Tuesday,” Carolina says, using his own terms against him.

It doesn’t work.

“Not even tacos can save this mess,” he says, sighing against. His eyes drift towards the mattress in the corner; his new bed. He attempts to head towards it, but his muscles groan the moments he tries to leave the floor. They’re too sore, too exhausted. His head is still swimming, and it takes a while before he can focus on the red color that is Carolina. He licks his lips. “So- Do you think I messed up?”

“I don’t think I’m the one to judge.”

“You know Simmons,” he points out before pressing a thumb against his chest. “You know me. I’m the one who braided your hair last week.” Grif giggles, not knowing why. Maybe it’s just the absurdity of it all, though he should be used to crazy by now. He laughs until he is breathless and slaps a hand against his forehead. “Oh my god, this is messed up.”’

His cheeks burn.

“I’m not-“ Carolina shifts the weight on her feet, hovering above him, but her face turned away. “Grif, I can’t let you cry yourself to sleep.”

“Why not?”

“You are right there,” she points out, voice more dry than the empty bottle. “I can hear you.”

He buries his head against his arms, checking that, yes, there are in fact tears on his cheeks again. How embarrassing. Stupid alcohol; soothing heartache and destroying your pride in one go. “Oh, just let me wallow in self-pity, alright?” Grif mutters against his orange shirt.

As always, Carolina is merciless. “Then why did you come here?” she says, refusing to just let him drift off on the floor.

“Because I’m counting on you not kicking me in my sleep,” he says and it’s true. “And maybe I wanted to braid some hair.”

Carolina’s smile is brief but earnest. “You can stay,” she tells him again. She is a savior like that, rescuing him from sleeping in the hallway with his tears and unwanted truths. She walks towards her own bed, not even swaying, and then calls over her shoulder, “But I’m warning you; the daily morning laps start at zero six hundred hours.”

It makes him giggle again. “And they were roommates,” he says, smiling at the absurdity; of laughing at a joke when he made Simmons cry just hours before. And here he is now; moving into Carolina’s – the Carolina – room. It’s a victory in itself, but it also reminds him of the fact that he’s lost another roommate in the process. He wonders if Simmons will sleeper easier now when he can’t disturb him with his snores. “…And they weren’t.”

“You get the meme wrong,” Carolina points out, not without smugness.

“I was the one who taught you what Vines are in the first place.”

“The student surpasses the teacher.”

“Everyone can do better than me,” Grif says, another truth escaping his lips. He flexes his hands, watching Simmons’ skin stretch around his fingers. He supposes he can’t really escape the nerd; they are stuck on the same moon, after all. “Fuck me. Fuck Simmons. Actually, I don’t fuck Simmons any longer. Oh, fuck. Fucking- fuck-“

He stands up – or tries to, at least. His foot lands on the bottle and it steals his balance. He falls forward, his instincts too dulled for him to even brace himself for the impact against the floor waiting for him.

But Carolina is faster – of course; she is a Freelancer – and catches him by the wrist, holding him upright with a strength that is not surprising, not after watching her shove away the Warthog with little resistance.

“No blood allowed on the floor, either,” she says as she helps him stand. “So try not to crack your head open.”

She doesn’t let go until he is right next to the mattress, as if he could get himself killed the moment her eyes left him. Grif lets himself collapse, ready to get the day over with. He buries his head into the pillow with a happy sigh. “Like I always tell you – sleeping is the most basic way to tell the world to fuck off.”

“Or the best way to deal with a hangover.” Carolina turns off the last dim light. “Sleep, Grif.”

He follows that single order and it’s the easiest thing he’s done today.


Tucker: (Sent 08:32am) YOU FuUCK
Tucker: (Sent 08:32am) MY OTP?!!
Tucker: (Sent 08:33am) MY OTP YOU FUCK HOW DARE


Iris is pretty during sunrise. The golden light of the sun is reflected in the waves, and Carolina watches the colors change until the waves are cobalt again.

She chases away the sting in her heart by resuming her running routine, quickening her pace until her lungs start to burn as well.

She first stops when she spots Wash outside the Reds’ penthouse, waving her towards him. With every step closer, she becomes more aware of the concerned frown in his expression; then she hears the yelling, muffled by the building’s walls.

It’s not that alarming; Sarge has – in average – three meltdowns and two speeches a day.

But Wash doesn’t frown like this until at least two explosions into Sarge’s madness.

Today is something else.

And she already knows what the problem is; it knocked on her door late last night.

But she keeps that to herself and instead asks innocently, “And what are we dealing with today?”

“I really wish it’d be another one of Sarge’s suicide plans, but apparently, Grif and Simmons broke up.” Wash visibly winces, and more yelling can be heard from inside the penthouse.

“Oh,” Carolina says. She tilts her head, listening to identify the voice. “So why is Tucker crying?”


The smell of smoke hits her the moment she steps into her room. The source is easy to trace.

Grif has opened her window, leaning out of it so that the smoke can rise from his lit cigarette to Iris’ sky.

He looks just as terrible as yesterday. She is used to see his hair as a tangled mess, and it doesn’t alert her. Neither does the bags beneath his eyes, though they are darker than usually.

It’s the eyes themselves – one a dark brown, another a piercing blue color – that lets her know that things are worse than even what Tucker believes.

Grif’s mismatched eyes are as numb as his voice as he says, “Your lighter doesn’t work.” He shrugs, gesturing towards York’s lighter on the desk table.

Something inside Carolina’s chest jolts, and she supports herself with a hand against the wall.

“But I had one in my pocket, anyway,” Grif continues, blowing out smoke. “You can keep it if ya wanna join me.”

He throws it towards her. His aim is off, but her hands are quick enough, and the small items lands in her palm.

This lighter isn’t as heavy as the one that belonged to York. The colors are more vibrant too; aqua and orange clashing against each other where the sky meets the ocean, a single palm tree stretching towards the sinking sun. The worn plastic is covered with scratches, and Carolina’s fingers closes around it carefully.

Chapter Text

The day after Grif and Simmons break up, they get married.

Carolina is the flower girl.

“No,” she says. “This is stupid.”

“Not if you really think about it,” Sarge argues and winks.

Carolina’s expression doesn’t change. “No,” she says, dangerously slowly, “the more I think about it, the more stupid this plan seems.”

“But how else are they going to get a divorce?!”

“Maybe a divorce would do the job instead of a wedding.”

“Nonsense,” Sarge says, snorting at the sound of her suggestion. “That is the opposite of what we want.”

“And what we want,” Tucker adds with that too smug smile on his face, “is everyone’s favorite OTP.”

Next to him, Caboose shifts in his seat. He clears his throat before raising a hand. “I already have one turquoise pencil, and it is my favorite, yes.”

“The problem is that somebody had a little too much fun in the Vegas Quadrant that they can’t remember just how much fun they had,” Donut adds helpfully. Carolina has never seen a low-cut judge robe before but Donut is pulling it off and showing off his smooth chest without a flinch. “And there was a ring involved.”

“A candy ring,” Simmons objects. The circles beneath his eyes have absorbed the nearby freckles. “And Grif had already licked off the lollipop diamond.”

“The court still finds it incriminating evidence.”

“You’re not a judge, Donut,” Grif sighs with his head in his hands. He looks as if he could collapse at any second. “Even if Judge Judy is your god.”

“Whose lollipops did you lick, Simmons?” Donut yells, slamming both palms against table surface to lean closer to the maroon soldier who sinks deeper into his seat. “Whose lollipops indeed?!”

With a loud groan, Grif stole the attention by throwing his hands in the air. “For god’s sake. Look, the place had alcohol. We drank a lot of it. There was a priest in the dining room because of some fancy ambassadors' wedding. I do not remember getting married. I remember asking the priest if someone had ever called him daddy instead of father. Then we got kicked out. Then I fucked Simmons in our hotel room.”

Simmons goes so pale that Carolina fears he might faint.

“But you cannot deny that there is a chance you may have gotten married that night?” Donut says, gently tapping the gavel (read: meat mallet from the Red Team kitchen area) against his palm.

“I don’t remember it,” Grif says. “And I was the most sober of the two of us. Simmons is a light weight.”

“I’m just surprised you remember anything after stuffing your fat face with an entire wedding cake,” Simmons says. The tone in his voice is just a bit too sharp to be an ordinary argument. Nothing is ordinary any longer. His skin might be pale but Carolina sees the anger – no, hurt in his eyes. “When we woke up in the morning, the first thing you said was ‘I still taste the peanut butter’, so, obviously, our night together hadn’t been that special.”

“Yeah, well, I remember waking up to you sobbing your eyes out because of your whole gay crisis and ‘boohoo my dad is gonna disown me now’.” Grif has barely said the word before he slams his mouth shut.

A line has been crossed an they all know it (with the exception of Caboose who is asking Donut if they are having burgers for dinner. The reply: “I can do more than hammering the meat.”).

Simmons has lowered his head, staring blankly at the table. Grif has turned his head, staring at nothing in particular. The others are shifting in their seat, trying to breathe in the air as quietly as possible.

Sarge breaks the silence – because of course Sarge is the one to do so – and says, “Well, the core of this coughed up hairball of a mess is that they might be married. We can’t properly take this relationship out in the back and shoot it in the neck before making sure the legal papers have been burned. The way I see it, there’s only one way out of this. We marry them. Then we divorce them. A true shotgun wedding: you blow the license to smithereens with a single bullet.”

This, sadly, makes sense. At least when using the logic of the Reds and Blues.

“Alright,” Carolina says and feels her sanity slip through her fingers. “But why do I have to be the flower girl?”

“It’s you or Donut,” Grif says with a shrug. “I vote you.”

“So do I,” Simmons says begrudgingly. “Not that I support Grif or care about his wishes in any way the slightest.”

“This is going to be an amazing wedding,” Donut says and wipes a tear from his eye. “And I can forgive you for not choosing me as your flower girl. Even though I have just the dress for it. But as your wedding and divorce planner, I have enough to keep myself busy with. It’ll be a tight schedule, but I think we can make it. How does everyone feel about lilacs?”


Lieutenant Maverick: (Sent 10:02am) y did i just recieve an invitation for ur wedding
Lieutenant Maverick: (Sent 10:02am) and divorce hearing??!!!!
Lieutenant Maverick: (Sent 10:03am) also, wedding at 2pm and hearing at 2.30? tight schedule
Grifster: (Sent 10:04am) bitters who the fuck gave you my number


“You look horrible,” Simmons says as the stand in front of the mirror, tightening their butterflies.

“Thanks.”

“Your suit looks like it’s about to split open.”

“I get it. I’m fat. Got anything new for me on our wedding day?”

“I hate you,” Simmons tells him without missing a beat. “I hate you for this.”

Grif is the only one who flinches at his words.

“Well,” he says when he finally finds his voice again, “it takes two to have a shitty relationship.”

In the mirror, he sees the door slam open behind them. Not that Donut can avoid being loud in his neon pink suit. “Oh, you two look marvelous,” he says, clasping his hands together and sniffing. “It’s such a shame our friends from Chorus can’t make it.”

“Such a shame,” Grif says dully and is thankful for the fact that Chorus is a nine-hour journey from here, and that Donut called them five hours ahead of the event.

“I need your help,” Donut says before dragging him out of the room. Grif isn’t sure whether to feel grateful or not, with Simmons glaring daggers at his back. “Someone is getting cold feet!”


“This is stupid,” Carolina says.

“It’s Red Team.”

“Why are we even getting out of armor for this?”

It’s Red Team,” Grif repeats himself. “Have you ever seen us half-ass something absolutely idiotic? Plus, Donut is in charge.”

She turns around, allowing him to get the full view of what has to be a one-time occurrence. The red hair has been allowed to fall freely, spreading around her shoulders. The red color clashes against the cyan silk dress.

“I didn’t know you could walk in heels,” Grif cannot help but admit.

“I once kicked a man’s balls off his body. I can do anything.”

“I will keep that in mind.”

She sighs before turning around. For a moment Grif thinks she is about to leave (to where, he isn’t sure; they are all stuck in this planet) but then she reaches back to brush away her hair. “Can you zip me up?”

“So,” he says as he reaches for the zipper, “I thought you could deny any physical restrictions, Missus Shove-Her-Own-Dislocated-Shoulder-Back-In-Place-By-Herself.”

“True. But Donut has threatened me if I break this thing.”

“Dude, what can Donut threaten you with?”

Pictures,” she says stiffly. “As evidence.”

Grif snorts. Yeah, that sounds about right. No one will believe this is happening.

He sure hadn’t seen it coming.

The whole idea of a breakup had been easier in his mind. But then again; when has the universe ever gone easy on him?

“At least you look good,” he says as he closes the zipper.

“You’re not too bad yourself,” she says, letting go of her hair so it brushes against his fingers.

He backs away a split second afterwards. “Right. Simmons certainly doesn’t think so.”

“Simmons is mad. So are you – but in the lunatic kind of way. Why are you letting this happen?” she asks him, staring at him with widened eyes. But maybe they are only big because of the eyeliner. Since when does Carolina wear makeup?

Grif blinks. “Well, they ganged up on me. I’m the cause of everything bad. The breakup, the aftermath, the chaos, cancer, wars, basically anything bad in the universe if you ask Sarge. And they are refusing to give me back my room before matters are settled. Which means burning the divorce papers. And since we weren’t sure if we’d actually lost a set of those back in Blood Gulch-“

“-You decided you need a new pair. I’m beginning to understand Sarge’s logic.”

“Oh you poor soul,” Grif says and winks. “Anyway, unless you want me to be your roommate forever, we need the others get this thing over with. That means playing along.”

“I don’t like this.”

“Me neither. Hopefully there’s cake. I love cake. You know, cake could really brighten my day. Especially this day.”

“Do you think Donut really has a camera?” Carolina asks him as they both step out of the room together.

Grif shrugs. “If he has, are you up to burning some pictures afterwards?”

“Sign me up.”


Donut is crying before they even reach the end of the aisles.

Simmons isn’t looking at Grif. Grif isn’t looking at Simmons.

They are both just casually walking down an aisles, wearing suits, while some recording of a organ is playing in the background, because Tuesdays just be like that.

“We are gathered here today-“ Donut begins before trailing off. “Sarge, can you save the booing for afterwards?”

“No!” Sarge says and proceeds to boo. His red helmet is really clashing with the suit Donut picked for him.

Donut clears his throat to be heard through the booing. Tucker is holding a recorder and Caboose is waving in front of the lens. Lopez turns off the music. Wash is trying his best to keep a straight face.

Simmons is still not looking at Grif, and Grif is still not looking at Simmons.

“We are gathered here today-“

“Is this the time where you object?” Carolina says. She dropped the bouquet the moment Donut had turned his piercing eyes away from her, and now she crosses her arms to his horror. “Because it should be an official statement that this entire event is pointless.”

“Noted,” Donut says.

“Can we just skip to the yes?” Grif suggests.

“Good idea,” Simmons says before biting his lip. “Or, well, it would be if it hadn’t been Grif’s.”

“Nice burn.”

“Fuck you.”

“I’m not hearing any yesses,” Donut sings.

“Yes.”

“Not you, Caboose.”

“Hurry it up, already.”

“Yes,” Simmons says.

“Yes,” Grif says.

“I hereby declare you husband and husband!”

Wash claps twice before he realizes no one else is doing it.

“Great,” Grif says through the sound of Donut blowing his nose. “Can we have that divorce now?”


After Sarge has shot the marriage license, he shoots it again. Then they set it on fire.

They gather around it while it burns, with the exception of Caboose who is fetching marshmallows.

“Now when this is over with, can I get my room back?” Grif asks, staring into the flames.

“Fat chance, fatso. When you moved in with Simmons, I made it my perfect explosive storage. I always dreamed of one of those,” Sarge says. “You can try to clear it if you dare. Just know I left a few surprises in there. Heh heh.”

Grif hangs his head in defeat. “That’s fucking great,” he sighs and crosses his fingers that Carolina will let him stay in her room until he has this mess sorted out.

He doesn’t even have the time to lament how useless this entire day has been before Simmons coughs.

There’s something in his eyes, that cold sparkle, that lets them know he has something up his sleeve. When Simmons really wants to sink to another level, he knows how to plan his revenge. He is smart enough to do so.

“By the way, if we are talking about personal possessions I have list of items you are legally required to give back to me.” He lets the end of the meter-long list hit the floor, before clearing his throat. “Do you remember borrowing my coffee mug the third of April four years ago?”

Chapter Text

“And as customary of a divorce, we now choose team,” Tucker says at the beginning of the ‘Grimmons-is-cancelled’ meeting.

The others are placed around the table, with the exception of Grif and Simmons who have been left to nurse their emotional wounds and have therefor not been invited.

“Blue team,” Caboose says promptly.

Carolina, wondering why she even bothered to attend the meeting in the first place, leans forward and says, “What do you mean?”

“You don’t get to keep your friends after a divorce,” Tucker says with a shrug. “Well, one of them does. They can’t share them. That’d be awkward.”

“You are really doing this?” Wash says after sharing a glance with his fellow Freelancer. They know the glare very well – after all, they have dealt with Sarge plus dynamite before – and yet they need to have this unspoken conversation once again.

Why are they here?

“We have to pick between Simmons or Grif,” Tucker says. “Normally I would choose Grif without hesitation ‘cause he’s cool but he broke up my OTP and that’s a crime I can’t forgive.”

“Do we have to get political?” Wash asks.

Sarge pounds a fist against the table. “This is not a question about Red vs. Blue,” Sarge says. “This is a question about Red vs. Red. But it so happens that only one of those Reds are Red. The other is an ugly orange. Like dehydrated urine. Or months old puke! Or-“

“So you also choose Simmons?” Tucker has pulled a notebook out from where and is now scrabbling down Grif’s and Simmons’ name with a space left for votes next to them. “What about you, Donut?”

The pink soldier hums for a long time. “You see, I have a problem with grudges. And I don’t believe in spreading bad mood! And I haven’t reached the forgiveness stage of my yoga procedure yet. Gotta free your mind before you can clear those grudges! And Grif called my homemade tea biscuits for mediocre, and that’s a lot of forgiveness I need to save up for that one! So I have to say Simmons.”

“I hate it when families fall apart,” Caboose says and sniffles. “Whose couch will I sleep on? Do I get to stay on weekends?”

Tucker turns towards Wash and the Freelancer immediately throws up his hands. “I’m staying neutral in this.”

“Coward.”

“Shouldn’t Grif and Simmons be included in this discussion?” Carolina says and tries her very best to keep her eye from twitching. This meeting is a piece of idiocy, yes, but yesterday she’d been forced to wear a dress so today is an improvement.

“Uhm, no?” Tucker says. “When you talk behind people’s backs, you don’t want them in the same room.” He puts his own vote next to Simmons’ name before looking up at Carolina. His eyes narrow. “I already know who you are going to choose.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

The moment the words leave her mouth she can see everyone (minus Caboose who is currently talking to himself about who makes the best lunch bags – Grif or Simmons?) shift visibly. Sarge’s face darkens, Donut looks like he is trying to swallow a smile, Tucker keeps coughing.

And Wash’s eyes flicker to the corner of the room. “Oh, so you don’t know?” he says. She can’t figure out if he is amused or downright embarrassed.

She crosses her arms. “I don’t know what?”


Lieutenant Maverick: (Sent 04:57pm) y the fuck are chorus magazines saying you and carolina eloped??!??


The floor beneath them shakes when Carolina slams the door open. “What did you do?” she demands to know as Grif crawls into hiding behind her closet.

“Nothing! I swear! It’s all Donut’s fault!” he whines. He has been fearing the day where she would kick him out – now he fears she’ll just kick him. “At least they didn’t have any pictures of you in that dress,” he points out when he realizes she is taking her anger out on the nearest pillow.

“It says I broke Simmons’ heart,” she growls between the hits. “And that your heart is next.”

“Go for it,” Grif says and now when he believes the danger has passed he dares to crawl back onto the mattress they have found for him. It groans under his weight. “Not like anyone else is talking to me.”

“You shouldn’t go for pity points,” Carolina says with an annoyed glare in his direction. Finally, the last remain of the fury fades away, and she falls back on her bed to lean against the pillow instead. “So, what’s the schedule for today?”

The sudden change of subject – and mood – catches him off guard. “Huh?”

“We have practice,” she says and crosses her legs, slipping into the position that he’s taught him. “Remember?”

“Oh yeah.” He sits up straighter, tilting his head back as he goes through their option. It needs to be either in their room or far away from the penthouse. Running into Simmons or Tucker or Sarge or literally anyone else would ruin the mood. He snaps his fingers. “How about fishing?”


“This isn’t fishing!” he yells two hours later when their tiny boat races through the lake as the fish turns out to be stronger and bigger than expected. “This is goddamn suicide!”

Carolina refuses to let it go, and now Grif fears that her feet will break through the wood of the boat before the line snaps.

“It’s a fish!” she yells through the wind as their boat is dragged forward with enough speed to leave a trail of waves behind them. “We are killing it.”

“Are you sure about that?” Grif yells back. “It feels like a goddamn dinosaur. It’s probably the cousin of whatever almost ate us last week!”

Carolina narrows her eyes in the worst way that he knows too well. “We’re going to catch it.”

“Have you tried to be less suicidal?” Grif asks her.

“Have you tried to be braver?”

Half an hour later and they are swimming their way to the shore. By the time they are finally standing, their clothes are dripping wet and Grif is gasping for air.

“That wasn’t fishing,” he says, glaring in Carolina’s direction until the moment he realizes he can see through her wet t-shirt.

“I know,” she says. “It got away.”

Grif drops his jaw in the horror of her stubbornness. “What is wrong with you?” he says, stunned.

They are met by Donut who has just finished another round of skinny dipping. At this point Grif just closes his eyes and swears to himself that he will first open them again tomorrow.

“Oh,” Donut says as he looks them over. “Did you two go for a swim?”

“You could say that,” Carolina says and pouts as she remembers the fish that got away.


“I preferred fishing,” Carolina declares the day after. She is glaring daggers at the warm plate that Grif is holding out for her.

“C’mon,” he says as he shoves it into her hands. “This is good for you.”

She wrinkles her nose. “What is the point of living of hot-pockets an entire day?” she says but holds up the food to her lips nonetheless.

“There is no point,” Grif says. “That’s the point.”

After another bite, she shoots an eyebrow in his direction. “Isn’t this what they call depression food?” she asks, inhaling the smell.

Grif freezes but it only lasts for a second. He stuffs his mouth and looks away so she can’t see his scowl. “Don’t you psycho-analyze me.”


“Grif?” she whispers into the relative darkness of the room. The blinds can’t hold back all the sunlight, but it’s still the perfect setting for what they are aiming to do: sleeping. “Are you asleep?”

“Carolina,” he whispers back, turning over on his mattress. “What did I tell you to do?”

She doesn’t hesitate. They have been talking about this for days, after all. “Nap.”

“So what are we doing?” Grif demands to know. His voice is still oddly hoarse.

“Sleep,” she replies, resting her cheek against the pillow again. “Or pretend-sleep.”

“Good,” Grif sighs and drags the blanket over his head.

Carolina watched the lump that is Grif, and for a moment the responsible part of her brain wonders if she is feeding into the depressed habits.

She should ask him.

But the knock on the door cuts her off before she can even try.

“Carolina,” Wash’s voice can be heard through the wall. “We need to talk.”

“Wash,” she replies stiffly but doesn’t move from her bed.

“This isn’t healthy,” Wash tells her. At least he doesn’t try to open the door. “No one can nap for three days straight.”

She can hear Grif quietly mutter, “Amateur.”

“It’s a competition, Wash,” she says.

“I know.” It sounds like Wash is letting out a painful sigh. “Trust me, I know. Are you coming out soon?”

“Not for another twenty-four hours.”

“Carolina…”

She can hear his disappointment, but she knows to ignore it. Grif’s eyes are on her, she can feel it. “You are the one who told me to learn to relax,” she reminds him sharply.

There’s a pause and it’s too long.

Finally, Wash says, “Have you considered that maybe… maybe Grif is a bad influence.”

There is the slightest sound of shuffling from the mattress on the floor. Carolina licks her lips. “He can hear you.”

“I know,” Wash says.

Carolina sets her jaw. “I’ll talk with you later, Wash,” she says and does not care if there is hostility in her voice. “I have a record to break.”

She waits, expecting Wash to protest, but he must have left and they hear nothing from him again.

“Don’t wear yourself out,” Grif says quietly in the dark.

“I won’t.”

Grif groans when he sits up, and then there’s the familiar crackling sound of fingers pressing on wrapping. “I’ve saved these cinnamon buns for when our nap ends,” he explains, throwing the package through the air until it lands in Carolina’s bed. “Broken records should be celebrated. I’ve hold onto those since Chorus. Like, before we beat Hargrove and shit.”

“You were saving them for when we won?” she asks.

“Yeah,” he says and is then quiet for a moment to reconsider his answer. “That or comfort snack, you know. Man, I do not miss fearing for everyone- my life. Chorus sucked.”


“Grif?” Carolina says as she practically flies into the room.

Grif buries his head in the pillow. “Meh.”

Grif.”

“C’mon, don’t give up now,” he says, feeling disappointed the moment he realizes that she isn’t napping any longer. He sits up and his vision tilts. He cannot remember her leaving the room. Hiccups leaves his lips. “We’re so, so so close- to win. And doing something good! Good is good! We gotta do good. C’mon, Carolina, have fun-“

“Are you drunk?” she asks and the empty bottle on the floor answers her question.

“No. I’m depressed. There’s a difference. With a d.”

Carolina freezes; forgetting for a moment just why she is here. “What?”

“I’m very good at napping, alright?” Grif says and his voice slurs. “Not good at so many other things. So this- this thing- it’s good. We’re gonna win. That’ll show them.”

Grif!”

He blinks but it doesn’t help his eyes focus on her. “What?”

“The place is on fire,” Carolina says. The smoke has reached them now, crawling beneath the door into the room.

“Oh,” Grif says. He doesn’t leave his mattress, but he does scratch the back of his head. “That’s probably not good?”

“Move,” Carolina orders, grabbing his arm with enough strength to make him yelp. He doesn’t fight against her as she drags him upwards, but as she turns towards the door she sees the light of the flames.

She runs for the windows instead, forcing the blinds away and pressing Grif closer against her body.

“We have to jump,” she says.

“Right,” Grif says and laughs. “Wait, are you being serious?” He doesn’t get a verbal answer, but the situation is rather clear the moment Carolina makes the leap. “Ohmygod.”

The others have gathered around the burning penthouses, looking up at them with soot and sadness and disappointment in their faces.

Sarge coughs twice but only to gain his team’s attention. “I think we can now safely declare Grif dead.”

Carolina lands right next to him, holding a very pale Grif in her arms.

Sarge glares at them. “Never mind.”

When Carolina lets go of him, they have moved away from the group that have begun to throw the blame around already (“Wait, did I remember to put out the lights?” Donut wonders.) and the penthouses that burn in the background.

“You okay?” she asks when Grif’s legs keep wobbling.

“Yeah. That’s uhm- Sorry, I gotta throw up.”

He stumbles away towards the nearest bush and she can’t help but follow him. “Grif?”

“Did you do a backflip?” he asks with a groan after having emptied his stomach. “Or am I just remembering stuff wrong?”

“Grif.”

He stumbles back towards her, careful not to step in his own puke. He looks up, and the flames are reflected in his brown, widened eyes. “Wait, that’s our home that’s on fire,” he says slowly as the realization sets in. “Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit…”

She can literally hear his heart break with a loud pling.

“I can’t believe I did this,” Carolina says slowly, sighing, as she holds out the package. “But I have your cinnamon buns.”

Grif makes grabby hands like a toddler seeing their beloved toy. “You- You saved them!” he exclaims in disbelief.

She sighs again. “I need to sort my priorities.”

“You saved them!” he yells, repeating himself. In a joyful dance, he spins around on the spot. “You saved me! I could kiss you.”

That statement causes her to snort. “You do not have the courage-“

And then a pair of lips slams against her own. They taste of beer and cigarettes and smoke, and it’s over before Carolina realizes that it is happening.

“I’m very drunk,” Grif says as he stumbles away from her. “I should pass out now.”

“That’s probably a good idea,” Carolina says stiffly.

A moment afterwards, when Grif lies passed out at her feet and the penthouses crumble in the distance, a single brown robot is staring at them.

“Lo vi.” [I saw that.]

Chapter Text

“If I were a Freelancer,” Grif asks into the darkness of their room, “what would my name be?”


He was once Dexter Grif. Kai had called him Dex, and he’d called her Kai, because Kaikaina was too long to say without getting winded. He’d been named after some British actor their mom had seen in tv. Kaikaina was a name to honor their granddad who’d died two weeks before Kai was born. Dexter had never met him, only heard of him in stories their mom would tell them once she was in the right mood.

His last name hadn’t mattered until he reached school. There it had been spat at him, like some sort of curse. “Dexter Grif.”

And he’d apparently made a name for himself, because when Kai was old enough for school, the teachers had sighed, “Another Grif.”

“Dexter,” his mother had muttered into his hair when she hugged him. “Dex,” Kai had screamed in joy whenever he waited so they could go home together after her final class.

“Grif-boy,” his employer had snarled whenever he arrived at work too late. He’d shielded himself behind one of the boxes he had to carry to the storage room.

“Dexter Grif,” the UNSC had written in the letter drafting him for duty. He’d checked twice if they might have written another name, if it’d ended at his place by a mistake. He’d been wrong.

Grif had been his name ever since he was given the armor. It was almost as if it had belonged to the orange color. He could get rid of none of them.

Things had changed in Blood Gulch. Grif had still been his name, but it’d been less of an insult now. It’d just been who he was. The insults had been actual insults, and there had been plenty of them.

Numbnuts, Idiot, Fatass had just seemed to become synonymous with his name. Grif.

It’d only changed after that one night on Chorus, in the storage locker, where Simmons would whisper his name into his hair. Dexter.

He’d been Dexter that night, and the name had been whispered to him the following weeks when Simmons had held his hand and revealed hidden emotions.

He’d been Dexter here, in the room he shared with Simmons in the new condo. New home, new life, new old name.

He’d been Dexter once. 


“What?” Carolina asks and turns to stare at him. He can barely see the green glint of  her eyes.

Simmons’ had been green too, but Carolina’s color was stronger.

“I mean, if I were a super cool Freelancer, which state would I be?” He’d discussed it with Simmons once. It was the perfect subject for pillow talk – which was the reason he’d brought it up now. This room could be so quiet at times. “Probably Hawaii, right? If it’s all about where we come from.”

“It isn’t.”

“Oh. You aren’t from Carolina, then?”

“No.” The smile, soft and light, could be heard in her tone. “You’d probably make a good Hawaii. But-“

“But,” he repeated, tasting the word, “I would probably suck as a Freelancer? To be fair, we can’t all be super fighters like you. That’d just leave you looking like casual shit. So we are doing you a favor, actually, by sucking so much.”

“Maybe I should thank you,” she says.

“Maybe.” Grif pauses, unsure of what to do with this gratityde. “Actually, I’d prefer if I could trade that thankfulness for a favor later.”

A soft, brief laughter comes from her bed. In the beginning he would fear it, unsure if it meant that a fist was on its way to meet his face. Now he knows when her amusement is pure and safe.

“Perhaps. What would you use it for?”

He shrugs, though it goes unseen in the dark. “It can never hurt to have a Freelancer watch my ass.”

“Usually people ask me to watch their backs.”

“Yeah, well, my ass is hard to miss. I’m a fatass and all that.”

When he bits his lip, there is silence, and he listens to it. Carolina’s breathing is soft and steady. Simmons had always been accompanied by the echoes of machinery. 

With Simmons, there’d been a source of warmth in his bed. He misses that now. And he wonders if Simmons is cold too, all alone in his room.

Grif, at least, has Carolina to break the silence.

“But I think your codename would be Illinois.”

He’s almost drifted off by then, and it takes an effort to open his heavy eyelids. But Carolina is awake now, with curiosity staining her voice. “Why?” he asks, genuinely confused.

Simmons had voted for Hawaii, and Grif, as always, hadn’t found a logical manner to disagree with him.

Carolina sighs. It’s a heavy, sad sound. “There was an Agent Illinois. You remind me of him.”

“So, what, he sucked?”

“He wasn’t the best Freelancer,” she admits. “But he had a kind heart. And he had hopes for the future. All he wanted was to settle down. A lone island with a beach. A drink in his hand. He kept picturing a happy life at the end of our job.”

“I’ve been told to be a pessimist, though,” Grif says, and tries not to think too much about how she’d described his heart. As if she even knew anything about it. “But, yeah, the rest sounds awesome.”

“I think you two would be good friends.”

“…Is he dead?” he asks.

He’s already settled with an answer for it – it must be yes, Carolina has lost so many people, you can see it in her eyes – but then she says, “No. He disappeared when the Project fell. I don’t know where he is now.” There’s a pause before she continues, “But I hope he found his island.”

“So do I,” Grif says. As he presses his head deeper against his pillow, he thinks that Iris is alright. Not a tropical island, and the beaches here suck and the water is too cold, but it’s alright.

He likes it here.

“Carolina?” he asks before her breathing can grow too slow. “What’s your name?”

“What do you mean? You just said it.”

“It’s just- Is it your real name? Or some codename? I never asked. Not that it matters. I mean, Wash is Wash, even though he probably has another name somewhere else, but that’s none of our business. Same thing with you. Fuck it – forget I asked.”

“No, it’s alright.” She doesn’t sound angry. Surprised, maybe, but it feels a tad too soft for that. There’s a deep inhale before she continues, “It’s my name. I’ve always been Carolina.”

“Right. Makes sense. Probably why you don’t have a direction in front of it. North or South, and all that. I could never remember all the states when I was a kid. Fifty is too many. Well, forty-nine, after what happened to Florida. It’s a shame-“

“Grif,” she says, cutting off his tired rambling. “Thank you. For asking about my name.”

He smiles and forgets she can’t see it. “No problem, Carolina. I’m Dexter Grif, by the way,” he adds with a stupid grin. Jokes make everything easier. Less real. It’s easier to handle, then. It means less.

But Carolina’s voice reaches across the room and says, “Goodnight, Dexter.”

“…Goodnight, Carolina.”

Chapter Text

“You’re staring.”

“No, I’m not,” Grif says and blinks.

Carolina’s back is a masterpiece that belongs in a museum. Her muscles remind him of those ancient Greece statues. The scars run across her skin like strokes on a painting. The aqua bikini clashes with her red hair.

Of course Grif is staring.

“This is a bad idea,” Carolina says and scowls again. She’s been in a sour mood since they voted to build the water park.

Grif, on the other hand, has embraced the good news. After everything has been reduced to embers, this is improvement. Even Simmons has seemed chattier than he’d been the last couple of weeks.

Not that he’s speaking to Grif again… Save for the passive aggressive comments.

“You can swim, right?”

“Of course,” she snorts, and Grif wonders if that big-ass Freelancer ship had a pool. How would that even work? What use is a spaceship if you can’t do a flip?

“Great. Then it should be fun.”

“Fun?”

“You’re supposed to relax, remember?” he says and finally finds his own set of swimming pants. He hopes they still fit him. The war on Chorus had been an involuntary weight loss, but he’s slowly been allowed to regain his pounds during their retirement.

He pulls them on while Carolina has her back turned to him. The pattern of pineapples in the fabric is faded beneath his hands.

He knows he won’t look like Carolina. He isn’t a masterpiece.

The only thing they have in common is their scars.

He looks up to meet green eyes.

“You’re staring.”

“No, I’m not,” Carolina says and blinks.


 Simmons has painted himself with at least fifteen layers of sun screen. It makes him look even paler than usual.

Grif turns his head away before he can be caught in the act.

The sun is hot above them. Caboose is in the process of nearly drowning Wash in the low end of the pool. Donut is reluctantly putting on swimming trousers.

The day is good, Grif supposes.

“I’ll give you ten bucks if you push Carolina in the water.”

“Are you trying to get me killed, Tucker?”

“Dude, I know you gained nothing from the divorce settlement. I’m doing this for my own amusement. Plus, revenge.”

Carolina is sitting on the edge of the pool, straining her neck so the sun can reach her chest. Despite her obvious annoyance with the park, she seems peaceful. For once.

“How’s that sleeping arrangement working out for you-“ Tucker begins, and from the glint in his eyes Grif knows he won’t shut up any time soon.

Tucker’s voice is raised enough to gain them attention; he can see both Donut and Simmons turn their heads in their direction.

Grif doesn’t need them to hear how he’s doing just fine. How it doesn’t matter if they kicked him out. How Carolina doesn’t seem to mind his continued presence.

They don’t need to know how he’s doing, not when they are pretending not to care.

“Fine,” he says to shut Tucker up. “I’ll do it.”

Grif might be stupid but not enough to believe that he can sneak up on Carolina.

Even before her voice calls out, “I can see you.”, he’s stopped behind her.

“If you let me push you, you’ll wipe the smile off Tucker’s face.”

“Hmm… I can consider that.”

“I have a competition for you,” Grif says and tries to keep himself from grinning. “But you need to be in the water.”

A second passes.

“Fine,” Carolina says. “Push me.”

Grif lets himself fall with her. The water is a pleasantly cold refreshment on this warm day, and Grif is comforted by the familiar feeling of water pulling at his long hair. The pool doesn’t beat the Hawaiian sea, though. The taste isn’t the same. He misses the salt.

Grif briefly sees Tucker staring at them with an open mouth, but then he focuses on Carolina instead.

Her long red hair is plastered to her face. She wrinkles her nose in annoyance as she brushes it away. “So,” she says, “what’s that about a competition?”

“Who can hold their breath the longest?”

“Are we going to invite the others?”

“No,” Grif says. “Just you and me.”

“Okay.” Carolina lowers her body so the water reaches her chin. “You’re on.”

Grif takes a deep breath before he pulls himself towards the bottom of the pool. He keeps his eyes open so he can see the red swirl of Carolina’s hair. Her lips are pressed together in determination.

He rests his palms against the tiles, letting the smoothness calm him down. That is the key about all of this. To relax.

Maybe he’s taught Carolina well enough.

He can see her from here, and she returns his glance. A few bubbles leave her nostrils, but she sits perfectly still, like a statue. Grif can count every scar on her arms.

Her green eyes are piercing.

Grif cannot keep track of time down here, but he can feel the pressure slowly building in his lungs. Carolina seems unstressed, to the point where he wonders if she is going to win.

Because of this it’s a surprise when she suddenly pushes herself upwards, towards the air.

Grif’s vision becomes blurred from the bubbles her kicking legs create. He doesn’t move, though, but remains in his position.

He counts and stares at the empty place where she’s been.

… twenty-six… twenty-seven…

A hand closes around his forearm and drags him upright. Instinctively, his body begins to swim as he kicks his way upwards.

“What the fuck,” he says and stares at the mess of wet, red hair. “That’s cheating!”

“I thought you were drowning,” Carolina says. “Do you have any idea how long you were down there?!”

“No,” Grif says and gasps for air. His lungs are burning.

“Should’ve let him drown,” Sarge huffs above them.

Grif looks up.

Simmons has left his sunbed.


 “Where did you learn that?” Carolina asks him after they’ve left the pool.

They’ve stolen two of the lounge chairs and are now facing Iris’ sun. Grif can feel the drops of water dry on his body.

“I grew up in Hawaii,” he reminds her. “And I have a sister who loves seashells. You learn to dive.”

Carolina grunts in acknowledgement and pours an impressive amount of sunscreen into her hand. When she notices his stare, she explains, “I burn easily.”

“You’re a Redhead,” Grif says, amazed, as if it’s the first time he’s realized this. “Just like Simmons…”

Carolina nods and pulls her hair away. “Do my back?” she asks, and he doesn’t hesitate.


 Later, when the water park has become embers too, it’s Carolina who shoves Grif into the water.

“C’mon,” she says and joins him in the sea of Iris. “You said you liked water.”

“Not this early in the morning,” Grif grumbles but continues to swim until his feet can no longer touch the sand.

He licks his lips. The sea here tastes of Hawaii.

Chapter Text

 

CHORUS SINGS, ISSUE 11

This Week’s Headline: Has Captain Grif Left One Redhead for Another?

SHOCKING RUMORS PROVEN TRUE – THE HEARTBREAK NO ONE SAW COMING

The latest rumors sing of a heartbroken Captain Simmons who has refused to give the media any comments. But the latest reports from the Captains’ unknown whereabouts say that red and blue colors have spilled into an ugly mess.

What do you get when you mix maroon and orange? Nothing pretty, it would seem, since Captain Grif has left his fellow Red’s side, and they have not been spotted together since. Instead, rumors have it that Captain Grif and Agent Carolina have been sharing quarters. A decade of color-division has been broken by this shocking match of orange and aqua, but we are yet to hear Colonel Sarge’s reaction.

When Agent Carolina has her eyes set on something, she will get it, and it has been confirmed that she not only tried to break up the wedding ceremony between the Captains – she claimed Captain Grif right there on the wedding aisle. They have been sharing sleeping quarters ever since – and who knows what goes on behind those walls? Neither Agent Carolina nor Captain Grif have commented on the scandal yet.

CHORUS SINGS will follow this case closely and it will be the theme of next week’s issue. For more updates on this colorful twist of hearts, be sure to check out the online polls: ‘Maroon vs. Aqua – Which Color Matches Orange the Best?’ and ‘Griflina, Carif or Aqua Cone – What’s the Name for Chorus’ Most Surprising Couple?’

[This information was brought to us by a reliable source who also provided the news about Captain Tucker’s abs and how they’ve become even more stunning – for proof, see pages 7 and 8 for the latest pictures.]


“You did this,” Carolina says and slams the datapad against Tucker’s face. It can’t hurt that bad; the screen doesn't even crack.

Tucker rubs his sore jaw before he can send her a big smile. “Me? Never!”

“No one but you cares about your abs, Tucker. You’re stirring up rumors.”

“Before you call it fake news, you should at least see my abs. I bet you can’t do that and not call them stunning.” His lips pull upwards until his cheeks might crack as he adds, “Though I know you have a thing for, you know, less impressive body types. No offense to Grif.”

“Shut up, Tucker,” she growls and leans over the table to grab him by the shirt. The smirk falters a bit, but the smile remains. She will have to knock it off. “You did this on purpose.”

“Oh, come on! Why would I possibly to that?”

“You have too much time on your hands and you’re coming up with new ways to annoy me?”

Tucker, still held up by her fist, raises a finger. “Actually, I’m trying to get you to kick Grif out so he’ll come crawling back to Simmons who has the backbone of a jellyfish, and he’ll let him back in, and the angry tension is easily confused with horny tension, they’ll make out, Grimmons is back, fans are happy, the natural order of the world is reestablished.”

“Tucker, if I were to kick someone right now, it’d be you, not Grif. And trust me; someone is going to get kicked.”

“You have to kick him out.”

“How so?”

“Otherwise, everyone will think you’re fucking.” Tucker, braver than he has any right to be, leans his head back to get eye-contact with her. “And you can’t handle that, Carolina.”

She lets go of him and relishes in his pained yelp as his butt makes contact with the floor. “You’re trying to pressure me,” Carolina says as she hovers above him. “And you think I’ll give in.”

“You will.”’

“You’re making me laugh.” But she is, in fact, not laughing. Carolina is staring at him with eyes gleaming like the ones of a cat, and it is Tucker who ends up gulping nervously as he realizes just what is happening. “You challenged me, Tucker,” she says and plants a boot dangerously close to his hand. “That was your first mistake.”

Carolina does not beat Tucker up. She thinks about, briefly, shakes her, thinks about it again, but then abandons the idea.

Instead, she turns around and marches out of the base to find Grif, who is in the middle of eating three cheese sandwiches in the Warthog, and then she grabs his hand and declares, “We’re dating.”

Grif chokes on a delicious piece of cheese.


Carolina’s idea of dating is very simple.

They spend the rest of the days holding hands.

That act should be simple enough in itself, but they are surrounded by idiots, and idiocy has a way of making simple things very complicated.

Tucker glares daggers at them. Caboose asks to join them. Donut takes pictures. Lopez doesn’t care. Simmons cries a little before running away to hide in his room. Sarge mumbles something about Blues that Epsilon would have called racist.

The thought of Epsilon makes Carolina squeeze Grif’s hand even tighter.

They end their evening near the sea, just staring at the waves, still holding hands. It’s pretty, they both think, but none of them say that out loud.

“I’m surrounded by romantics,” Grif says in a sigh. “Simmons would only hold hands when no one could see us because otherwise he’d feel embarrassed. You’ll only hold hand so everyone can see it so you can piss off Tucker. I mean, pissing off Tucker I can get behind, so I’m not complaining. But geez, you both need to watch more romantic movies. What happened to chocolate and lit candles? Especially the chocolate part.”

“We’re still holding hands now,” Carolina says, and they both look down to see that, yep, their fingers are still intertwined, even now when they are alone. “And I’ll find some chocolate. No candles, though. Remember the ban? I think Iris has had enough fires.”

Fucking Donut, and his stupid vanilla-satin scented candles.

“We’ll make it work,” Grif says.