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Loves Me Not

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Your name is Richard Simmons but nobody calls you that because you’ve been Simmons for fifteen years and even before that it was Dick never Richard and you don’t know how you would react if someone even called you that.

The island is on a moon and it’s peaceful and you can relax and unwind and you have time and no one’s shooting at anyone except Sarge when he’s bored. You spend your time learning Esperanto to learn to talk to Lopez and trying to convince Donut to wear clothes again and then you can always go sit on the rooftop with Grif and just talk, like the rest of it never happene.

Your name is Dick Simmons and there’s a Captain in there somewhere and you’ve been a soldier in the Red Army for a long, long time.

On the Staff of Charon you had held Grif as he bled out. You had clutched him and told him he wasn’t allowed to leave you, and you had insulted him and called him names and he had survived.

Your name is Captain Simmons and you’ve known Dexter Grif since you were a kid who didn’t understand what war meant.

Afterwards there had been a closet, and his lips on yours, and even now, months later, the taste of him burns your skin, hot and itchy and important. You don’t talk about it, of course you don’t talk about it, it’s not… that’s not something friends talk about.

Your name is Simmons and you have never had a boyfriend in your life.

Most of the time things are okay but other times it feels like Grif is harder and his jokes are just a bit more pointed, like it had been back at Blood Gulch. But it’s okay, because it didn’t mean anything. And neither did the other times; the fumbling kisses fueled by alcohol, the giddy kiss while high on the victory of survival, the stuttered love confession at a bedside while Grif was unconscious.

None of it means anything.

Your name is Simmons and you’ve been in love with Dexter Grif for at least ten years.

The reporter arrives and everything is ruined.

Grif leaves.

Grif was never supposed to leave; Simmons was the one who left, every time. Grif always stays. Grif is the good soldier, he is steady and loyal and good. He’s probably the best soldier in the Red Army, as much as it would kill Sarge to admit that.

But Grif stays behind.

And he goes further than that.

“I quit.”

“What?”

“You.”

It’s like you can’t breathe. He takes every moment the two of you have ever had and turns it on its head, because he doesn’t like Simmons, and Simmons knows, he knows that Grif is just saying these things to hurt, he’s being caustic and cruel for whatever reason, but it doesn’t make it better.

All it does is provide a single revelation, as clear as the crystal-methshrooms that grow on their island.

Your name is Simmons and you’ve been dating Grif as in Grif-and-Simmons for years and years and you didn’t know it until he told you that you were done.

Your name is Simmons and you’re not entirely sure you know who you are without Grif at your side.

So you go with the others, even though there’s an empty space nearby where he should be, and you follow the reporter and the others and you…

You look out of the ship and you see Grif staring up after you and you wonder what he would have done if you had stayed.