It was an average sweltering afternoon in Blood Gulch, where the sun never set. Grif sat under a tree in the shade, tucked out of sight from either Red or Blue Base. His helmet was on the ground next to him while he worked on putting away his second box of oreos. Three more sat unopened on the ground next to him. What would make his day perfect is if he could get some shitty pop music station on his helmet radio.
He’d been sitting there for hours when Grif saw Tucker approach from the corner of his eye. He rounded a cliff into view and hit a jog on his way over. Whatever it was he had to unload on Grif today, it was going to be good. A pace like that meant business.
“Hey,” Tucker greeted when he arrived, dropping his standard rifle on the ground and landing on his ass next to Grif. Tucker sat to catch his breath, his knee hopping with restless anxiety.
Grif stared at him for as long as he could bear to wait in silence. “Well? What is it?”
Tucker’s helmet whipped around to look at Grif, who raised a hand.
“No no no, don’t you talk to me like you don’t know. Just say it.” Grif popped a fresh oreo into his mouth. “I’m a busy man, I haven’t got all day.”
“Fuck you,” Tucker sniped back, without much anger behind it. “Look - I’ve been thinking.”
“Be careful,” Grif spoke with his mouth full. “You know what thinking gets you. Ideas . And ideas means that things happen, and I want no part in that.”
“Shut up already,” Tucker barked. “So - you know chicks?”
“I’ve heard of them,” Grif replied. He could always make time to be a jackass to anyone, even if there was some good gossip on the line.
“Right. So,” Tucker looked off into the distance, head tilted. “What’s the difference between chicks and dudes, really?”
Grif squinted at Tucker. “Didn’t your parents ever tell you about the birds and the bees, Tucker?”
“Shut up, Grif! That’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about sex!”
“Right,” said Grif. “What was I talking about?”
“Chicks are hot!” Tucker declared as he rolled back onto his feet and started pacing. “Dudes are hot too! I’m hot! I’d fuck me!” Tucker turned to look at Grif, his arms gesturing. “So why don’t I fuck dudes?”
Grif stared up at Tucker to process his words for a moment. Joking aside, the realization that was taking place before him was more serious than he first suspected. Grif swallowed the oreo in his mouth and thought for a minute. “So what you’re saying is you think you’re hot, so you don’t understand why we’re all not dying to sleep with you?”
“N… Maybe,” Tucker said. His voice was strung tight with the precipice of some serious realizations. “I mean, who knows when I’m gonna meet another chick? Why not -- you know -- keep my options open?”
Grif could already see his future: Tucker’s sexual harassment unleashed on everyone present instead of having him quarantined in a box canyon without any women to get him charged for inappropriate workplace conduct. If Grif allowed this bisexual awakening to proceed any further, he would end up on the receiving end of groping and sexual advances from Tucker. It might spook Simmons so far back into the closet that there would be no hope of ever finding him. Worst of all: he might actually get somewhere with Donut. Grif had a brief vision of trying to sleep at night to the sounds. Donut sounds . Grif shuddered.
He knew that this time, he had to take one for the team. Grif would have to stop this before it started, for the sake of everyone and their well-being for god-knew-how-long they would be stuck there.
“So, what you’re telling me is… that you’re gay?”
“No, I’m not gay!” Tucker yelled back with the typical response from a male who was raised in a homophobic society. It was going to be easier than Grif anticipated.
Grif made a show of running his fingers over the stubble on his chin. “So you just wanna have sex with guys because there aren’t any girls around?”
Tucker stared at Grif, his arms lax at his sides. “Uh--”
“And how long has it been since you had sex?”
“I appreciate you coming to me with your great gay awakening, Tucker, but my diagnosis as a person who has to put up with you all the time is this: you’re horny. And you know what that means?” Grif drops his hands to his side to pull open a fresh box of oreos. “It is not my problem.”
Tucker’s helmet tilted away from Grif. There was no way to tell if he was breaking down what he had made up in his mind, or if he was rallying behind it again, so Grif continued on.
“Here’s my advice,” Grif said, popping three oreos into his mouth at once. “Get away from me, as far as you can. Jerk off, and ride the afterglow into not thinking about this. Nobody in the canyon wants to have sex with you, Tucker, so you’d be lowering your standards to a grand total of zero.”
“Yeah,” Tucker agreed. The sound of his admission was reluctant and sad. It almost made Grif feel bad about it.
“You’re acting like you’re in prison or something, don’t sound so depressed. Go jerk off and you’ll feel better. Hey, wait!” As Tucker turned to go, Grif called him back, holding out the tray of cookies. “It’s been a rough day, dude. Have some oreos.”
“Thanks,” Tucker said, and reached out to take some.
“I didn’t say you could take the whole row! And don’t forget your gun. You’re the worst soldier ever.”
Tucker walked off at a slow pace, one arm around his rifle and the other hanging at his side. Grif felt a pang of guilt about doing the thing that would be best for everyone instead of what was good for Tucker. When the time came, down the road, years later, when he was safely away from Grif, he would ease him in to his aggressive bisexuality.
Or if he was lucky, he would never have to deal with it again at all.