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The Dad of the Team

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The first time Tucker realized Sarge was... the dad of their little group of misfits, he just... was stunned when they were on Chorus.

It took him literally years to come to that realization.

Of all people that crazy, shooting, blue-hating man was his dad—a dad! Not father material, that's for sure, but... crap, he really was like a parental figure to the group. Sarge would have to be the craziest father ever. Did he have any kids? Hell, he hoped not. He pictured a little kid with Sarge's helmet(of all things) running around and shooting a shotgun while going, "Eat lead, dirtbags!"

Before he arrived in the canyon, that was probably when he was in the real army. He had thought he was still in the actual army when he arrived to serve under Captain Flowers, but nope. What probably had him transferred was... well, it was probably all the sexual harassment people accused him of... which were real. Which was embarrassing now that he looked back on it.

In the beginning, all he knew Sarge as was the leader of the other base. Before Captain Flowers had his heart attack he'd patrol with Church and just ask him what they were doing, because he didn't fucking have a sniper rifle. Asshole. At least he had his kick-ass sword now. Church would reply that they would usually do nothing, unless Sarge was running drills. Then he'd say that the maroon one would run while the orange one looked like he was face down in the dirt with the sergeant yelling down at him. Right away he thought they were all fucking weird.

The first time he met Sarge, in person, was when the Reds attacked and they negotiated Doc. Though they weren't paying attention to each other. All they wanted to do was humiliate one of the Reds. Hey, whatever small achievement in the war made him a little more satisfied in that stupid "war." Usually, before that moment, they had just tried stealing each others flag.

Then they had their little adventures. The first time he ever talked to Sarge was on the radio when they went to go distract them, though he was addressing all of the Reds. When he talked to him face to face it had been when they arrived in the "future." He had approached Sarge to tell him that they were idiots and that there was no way they were in the future.

"Hey, Sarge!" He opened his mouth to tell him off for being such a fucking idiot.

"We're gonna camp here fer the night," Sarge cut him off, standing up from fixing the vehicle that Donut and Caboose found. "We're all practically runnin' of fumes here, no use to keep on goin' if we're all 'bout to drop. We can trace that signal tomorrow."

Tucker stared, eyes wide behind his helmet. Sarge... didn't have his on. He was about the age he suspected him to be, but to actually see him without his helmet, which he had on all the time... Sarge was squinting at him, a scowl firmly on his face and a look of annoyance glinting in his eyes. He must have been gawking, because Sarge sent him a stern glare and put his helmet back on. He then registered what he had said and spluttered.

"Shouldn't we just go now and meet up with Tex? We can just rest up when we meet her." Tucker crossed his arms with a scowl.

Sarge scoffed and rolled his tense shoulders. "Her? Let us rest?" He snorted and stood straighter. "Use yer head, private." For a moment Tucker had bristled when he had talked to him like he was one of his soldiers. "She would run us inta the ground before we could even think 'bout restin'. No, we'll stay here fer tonight and head out at dawn."

And Tucker complained. "Dawwwwn? Why dawn?" He ignored the fact that he was whining. "How do we even know if the sun sets here, huh? When would we even know when dawn arrives?"

"I always wake up before dawn," Sarge said, standing straight and proud. Tucker sent him a look of disbelief. "I'll take watch an' let all of ya get some rest before then."

Tucker let out an irritated sigh, seeing Grif and Simmons approaching. He could already hear their bickering. "Fine. And don't worry," He said mockingly. "Caboose and I'll keep our hands to ourselves."

"Damn right ya will! Now go and sleep!" Sarge leaned in uncomfortably close that Tucker had to take a step back. "I'm watchin' ya, Blue." He said the name as if it was an insult.

Tucker had scoffed and turned to go find Caboose and tell them they had to go to sleep. He told him, and got a whine in return. Caboose said he couldn't sleep unless he had a pillow, so Tucker told him to deal with it. Where the hell did he expect him to find a pillow, anyway? From his ass? They set up a fire, which seemed pretty moot. Since the sun had yet to fuckin' set. Stupid weird planet with stupid weird sun that doesn't move.

Sarge was patrolling the perimeter, making sure no wildlife approached while they tried to catch some shuteye. It was later, when Tucker was half-asleep and could hear murmuring from Grif and Simmons and... someone else, that he realized that Sarge hadn't said "first watch." Turns out the crazy bastard took watch all night and got some rest on their way to meet Tex.

If he thought about it... that probably would have been the first time Sarge acted... fatherly. Eeegh, just thinking about it creeps him out.

He didn't see much of him after that, they barely even talked when they found O'Malley's base. Though he always noticed how Sarge looked out for his men, even though he put them through hell.

Then he was sent away after Tex... well, blew up because of Andy. He had been panicking at the time because that bitch had taken Junior. He had walked away. He stumbled, he remembered stumbling, and fell to the ground. The Reds mocked him, but he just sat there. All he remembered was nothing, he just sat on the ground for a long time while the Reds stuck around until someone said they found him. They found Junior. Along with the other alien, but it didn't matter to him. They jumped out. They fucking jumped out of the ship before it blew up. He pushed whoever was in his way and ran to where he could hear Donut trying to communicate with the injured alien, who took the brunt of the fall. He ran and ran until he reached them with the others trying to catch up to him. He remembered seeing Junior holding onto the alien and looking at him. His lil' alien son. His crazy kid. Junior raised his head and started "honking" in excitement. But Tucker didn't even slow down. The other alien had tried to get on the defensive when he saw him approaching, but couldn't even get up.

He remembered running and dropping to his knees and just... hugging Junior. He had honked in surprise when his father hugged him for the first time and took off his helmet. Tucker just ignored everyone, even when Donut went "awww."He just hugged and held on and felt so relieved.

Tucker wanted to be a better father to Junior. So, he went with him and became an Ambassador, trying to help keep the peace between the humans and aliens. It was tiring having to be in the talks and put up with the arguing but he spent every moment with his son. Turns out the Sangheili(that's what they were friggin' called. Weird, right?) grew much faster than humans. Pretty soon Tucker was looking eye-level with his son. In order for him to even understand the aliens they had given him a translator, which would have be fucking useful before he met up with the alien that got him pregnant.

So, when Tucker and Junior would retire to their rooms and relax, Junior would lay his head on Tucker's lap and, of all things, purr and coo at his "tiny daddy." He would flick his head every time that happened but every time Tucker had a smile on his face.

Then it went to shit.

They wanted Junior somewhere else, since the aliens he had to go talk to were more... hostile to humans than the previous ones. So they had to part ways, which was tough when Junior tried hanging onto him while the other Sangheili tried urging him onto the ship that would take him away. Tucker tried coaxing him, rubbing his head(heh, now that he recalls, Junior was just a couple inches taller than him when it happened) and murmuring to him that it would be all right. Junior shook his head, shook off the hands trying to grab him and held him tighter. Junior whimpered, and he tried to swallow the lump in his throat, so he backed up and held his hands with a wide grin.

"We'll see each other after you calm them down, yeah? We'll go right back to late nights snacking out and watching movies we don't understand. And I'll show you how to get with the ladies." Tucker had grinned, ignoring the aliens huffing disapprovingly at the last part.

And Junior, his lil' alien son, responded with a, "Bow-Chika-Honk-Honk."

Junior held onto his hands, his intense eyes staring at him before he bumped his head gently with his. Tucker just smiled, since he was out of his armor until he was back on duty. Which he supposed was going to happen since he wouldn't see Junior for a while. Junior purred, giving him one last hug and that he would miss his "tiny father." Tucker reached up and flicked his head, one last time.

He stayed until he couldn't see the ship anymore... and stayed for a little more. Some other guy whose name he didn't bother remembering had been with him patted his shoulder and said he'd be back soon enough.

Yeah... right...

He had been relocated, trying to find an artifact. He had also met up with Donut. While he was silently cursing his luck, Donut was excited and happily greeted him and spoke to him while they were heading to the temple. They hadn't talked to each other before, just knew the other was there. So they talked and actually became friends. Tucker was fine with it, all those innuendos were funny. As he had said before, it all went to shit. He had to lock down the temple after he found the pirates. He didn't even know how long he had been there, surviving on food rations. He clearly remembered calling for help. Donut had even snuck away to get help, even after Tucker warned him that something might happen if he left. Donut just reassured him he would be fine and made it awkward by hugging him and then left. What came, however... well...

He knew he shouldn't have trusted that fucking idiot.

Caboose... Grif... and Sarge. Tucker had waited for them to tell him where the back-up was, only for them to tell him they were the back-up. Fan-fucking-tastic. He was calm at first, just trying to brush it off as the usual stupid decisions their group made, but that calmness pretty much wore off the more he thought of his situation after he had explained why he was even there in the first place. He yelled at them, wanting to know why they thought they were the best for this job. Grif tried talking to him, but gave up after he kept brushing him off. Fucking... great. Just fucking great. Stupid idiots! Why did they—He gave a startled jump when he felt something poke his back. He turned, seeing Sarge standing behind him. With his fucking. Shotgun. Pointed. Towards him.

"Whoa! Watch it!" Tucker backed up and held his hands up, realizing Sarge had poked him with his fucking shotgun.

Sarge scoffed. "Calm down, son, I ain't gonna shoot ya," Tucker scowled scowled at the 'son' and glared at him through his visor. "All Donut said was that ya needed help, so we came."

"Yeah, you guys!" He motioned towards him as if that was enough to get him to realize the severity of the situation. "I didn't need you guys! I needed professionals! Real soldiers! Ones that were going to help me fight these fuckers off!" He huffed and looked away with his arms crossed. Shit. Shit shit shit. How soon would he get this over with and get back to Junior? He turned to tell Sarge off some more, because that was the only thing that was keeping him from lashing out physically, only to rear back when he saw the pose Sarge had. "Whoa, what—?"

"Listen here, boy," Whoa, he never heard that tone. He went quiet, hearing the low voice Sarge had. Even Grif had gone still and took a step back. "Ya can stay pissed off as long as ya like, fer all I care. You needed help, an' you got help. Ya may not have gotten the help ya wanted, but you got it nonetheless. You're goin' ta hafta deal with it. But that boy," He pointed in the direction Caboose had last stood. "decided, on his own, ta come an' help ya."

Tucker scowled. Yeah, probably because he didn't fucking understand why he needed help.

He ignored him, asking if they could help him find Caboose. Sarge just grunted an agreement while Grif mocked him when he made fun of Caboose. When they turned to go find his teammate he jumped in surprise and almost grabbed his sword in reflex.

Sarge cuffed the back of his head when he walked by.

Tucker stared after him shock, seeing Grif cock his head before he followed his leader. What the actual fuck? A scowl crossed his face before he followed, grumbling to himself before he started calling out for Caboose. Then someone found a way into the temple. He was all ready to kick some ass until Caboose said the name of the guy that was supposed to be dead. They had said that. And Church was back! Kinda... not really. Just a floating ball with his obnoxious voice.

He didn't know, the entire time they were in Blood Gulch, but he suspected that something was off about Church. He just didn't seem... real, kinda. Plus he was never out of his armour. Church hadn't even questioned it, now that he recalled. And all the weird things that happened, Church being able to go places where they couldn't. Controlling armour, shit like that. Having it confirmed, that Church hadn't been a human, but an A.I. had him sighing in relief. Great, he wasn't crazy!

Again, all went to shit.

C.T. was a crazy motherfucker and he didn't care that he was dead. What he cared about, though, was that Church shot a fucking laser from his eye! It was fucking awesome! He told Church and even sniggered when the little ball seemed to preen. Sarge and Grif were worried, but who wouldn't be if their enemy had a kickass little fighter ball! Then weird shit happened. The aliens started worshipping the fuck out of Church, which went to his head. No surprise there. The dick was always such an egotistic asshole.

Things managed to calm down where they could all process this and that they were actually beside aliens. Ones that weren't trying to impregnate them. But he'd like to see how they'd like it, the Reds and Caboose, just so they know how it was for him. Being moody and hungry until he gave birth to lil' Junior. Fucking jerks.

A couple days passed with no events occurring... except keeping a careful eye on the aliens.

Hell, they were just resting and trying to figure out what to do. Since they had no idea what to do, they just... rested. Tried figuring out the next step. They slept in the temple, since it seemed to be the only place to sleep since it got cold outside at night. Which seemed weird, since the sun never set. This planet had weird weather. They set up a fire, not knowing what to do or say. Sarge didn't trust the Blues, even though they weren't even trying to "poison them while they slept." His exact words, along with dirtbags.

So he kept watch, tensing whenever one of the aliens wandered too close to their camp. Tucker wasn't worried... too worried, Church seemed to be keeping them in line. Or Epsilon, Caboose had called them. The big and tall Blue was still at Church's every beck and call.

They were sitting around the fire, with Grif taking the chance to sleep and snoring while he was sitting up. He really can sleep in any position, can he? Sarge looked at him and huffed, pushing him over until he was lying down on his side. Tucker actually had to pause and rerun that thought his mind while Sarge grumbled about 'lazy subordinates'. That was... weird. Did he actually help Grif by making him comfortable? Tucker turned his head to check on his teammate. Since they were uneasy with the aliens Church had instructed Caboose to sleep with them until they figured out what to do next.

"So, uh..." Tucker felt uncomfortable with the silence, seeing Sarge turn his helmet in his direction. He was used to hearing the sergeant yelling orders and making insane plans. He wasn't used to him being quiet, it seemed too strange. "These aliens... ya don't think they'll... try to impregnate us, right?" He patted his stomach. "'Cause I don't want to put my body through another kid."

"Any of 'em try, and I'll shoot 'em," Sarge cocked his shotgun as an example, glancing at the doorway just in case one tried to jump them. "Where's yer little brat, anyway?" He looked around, as if expecting Junior to pop out.

"He's negotiating with some hostile aliens," Tucker sighed lightly and leaned back, tilting his head upwards. "Dunno when he'll be done."

Sarge hummed. "...Well, ya should be proud of 'im."

Tucker froze and shifted uncomfortably at the... praise? Nah, this was Sarge. There was no way this old coot would praise someone from Blue team. Though Junior wasn't really apart of Blue team. But still... was Sarge stashing some booze around here or something? Tucker continued to stare at him strangely before he laid on the ground—making sure he was a few feet from Caboose. He made the mistake of sleeping a couple feet away—since he was suspicious that Sarge and Grif(mostly Sarge) might do something—and had ended up as a teddy bear to the strangely buff(seriously, no one expected Caboose of all people to be ripped as fuck) Blue. Just as he was getting ready to sleep—he trusted Sarge enough not to blow a couple rounds into his head—he didn't know why he said what he said.

"So... you, like... got a family or something?"

Sarge turned his head towards him and stayed silent. He huffed lightly and looked towards the exit.

"Go to sleep, son."

Tucker stared, debating on whether or not to snap at him and tell him he wasn't a kid, and that he wasn't his son. In the end he decided it wasn't worth it to try and fight before he did as he was told, grumpily.

He was watching in exasperation as he watched Caboose walk after Church with the group of aliens, shaking his head lightly and scoffing. Tucker turned to see Grif standing just up the hill, remembering he had seen Sarge talking to him before he went somewhere else in a huff. Hm. Feeling bored of watching the aliens continue worshiping the very ground Church walked on—or floated above—he walked up the hill to see what Grif was up to.

He was supposed to bury the bodies.

In the desert.

He just congratulated Grif for doing such a "good job" of burying those bodies. They shared a comfortable moment before Sarge walked up the hill and asked if Grif was done, and it wasn't a surprise that he was in disbelief that Grif managed to do something. A smirk crossed his face until Sarge asked if they wanted to say something. A eulogy. For the assholes that tried to kill them. He rolled his eyes when the Red yelled down at Church.

"Seriously?" Tucker asked, seeing Sarge turn and give him a stare through his helmet. He held his hands up. "Fine! Fine."

So, they had to suffer through Church's "eulogy" until their little round companion started floating away while muttering to himself. It was happening again. These little episodes where Church just drifted off, seeming to see things only he could see. So he told Caboose to take Church's spot when he noticed that the aliens were looking at each other and 'honking' and jogged after his friend.

He lost that damn translator, which would be fucking perfect right now. Who knows if the aliens were planning on trying to become 'parents'.

Grif and Sarge jogged after him, and had to watch as he spoke to Church and asked him questions. Simple questions. Ones that shouldn't be too hard to answer after his episode. It worked after the first time when Church was confused and looking around in panic. So, yeah. Easy questions about what he was seeing.

Only to find out that all these 'images' he was seeing was their new base, which Caboose and the others failed to mention. But... he had to wonder how Church was able to know what their new bases looked like.

Like hell he was letting this mocking moment pass him by, so he mentioned Grif's first girlfriend. They were bored one night while Sarge had actually let them take first watch and rested while they sat around the fire so they had traded stories. And eventually secrets.

Caboose had even talked about his dad, and that they weren't close. All Tucker did was pat his arm and snicker at Grif's secret.

He grinned under his helmet when Grif looked at him in dismay and regretted sharing any stories with him. Sarge just scoffed lightly and shook his head after Tucker blurted out Grif's secret, muttering under his breath about 'kids'.

He then asked for Church's help, walking away with Church floating after him and asking what he wanted in a voice that said he was suspicious.

Short version, Church got something stuck up his ass.

Or his exhaust, or... hell, he didn't know. Something equivalent to an ass.

When he went to go find them it was to find out that they were gone. Stupid fuckers. And oh! That's not all! They took Church, for some fucking reason. So they had to play cat and mouse, or... hell he didn't know what to compare it to, so he calmly watched as Caboose stood on a pillar while the aliens blamed him and tried to kill him. Then Sarge came on over some hours later, saying they rescued Simmons and casually commenting that they needed parts... and a new warthog. And then saying it was 'cool' that they were trying to kill Caboose.

Sarge didn't react when Tucker sent him a dry stare.

Now that he thought about it... it was strange that they could actually convey emotions through their helmets without actually trying. Except only they, their little group of misfits, could tell what the others were feeling. Other people, outside their group, couldn't tell jack shit since all they thought of them was weird. Maybe it was a connection or something, hell, he didn't know.

Then Caboose... oh, man, he had to give him credit. Tucker grinned when Caboose blamed Sarge, and he was right to blame him, and basically had all the aliens gang up on Sarge. The aliens growled and snarled at the Red, who backed up and quickly said he had no idea where Church was.

"He's lying!" Tucker said, one hand on his hip and the other waving away the lie.

Sarge had sent him a glare, he knew it. He could feel it burning on his head. "No, an' I can prove it!" He said to the aliens. He then turned to Tucker. "You shut up, boy! C'mon, I'll show ya!" He turned and started leading the way, with the aliens following eagerly.

Tucker had scowled at the 'boy' while Caboose scrambled after Sarge. And Sarge... why was he loudly commenting that they were walking around the corner? Almost like he was... warning them... He cursed and then ran around the corner would a loud, "Aha!" Only to see no sign of Church while Grif and Simmons stood there innocently. So he glared at them and then demanded they tell him where Church was, only to have three of them play it off like they hadn't seen their floating ball of ego.

He turned, then turned back to see the Reds running away. Fuck. Then he turned to tell Caboose that they were fucked, only to see him running away. Double fuck! Then he tried to calmly explain to them that he was sure they could find Church if they just looked.

But they didn't even understand him.

So... yeah... it was his turn to stand on the pillar while everyone else basically just abandoned him. He cursed all of them to hell and back and then cursed the aliens. Hell, fuck everybody on this stupid planet! With the stupid sun that didn't move!

He growled in irritation, which only grew when the Reds returned... not to help but to grab a warthog. He cursed them again, mostly Sarge, because odds are is that they were leaving on Sarge's orders! So, yeah! Fuck Sarge and him calling him 'son' and 'boy' and other stuff!

"I didn't do anything to him!" He yelled out, kicking at the hand that gripped at the edge of the pillar. "He's somewhere else! The Reds are probably after him! You can follow them and they'll lead you to them!"

It was a failed persuasion. So, he distracted them, tried to grab a vehicle to run... and then ended up running the rest of the way to the facility they had gone to. He just went in the one direction they went in, and sighed in great relief when he got out of the sun. His suit may be cooled, but the sun made it tough. He found the entrance by himself, went in and was about to start cursing everyone...

"Y'know what, guys?! You can all go fuck—!" He froze when he heard a loud crash and started running in.

Fucking.

Tex.

Tex was back.

She was back.

And ready to kick their asses.

Okay, when Simmons asked if he knew how to use his sword he was ready. Ready to kick ass. He thought that maybe it was a soldier they were having problems with, or a Freelancer. He didn't think he'd be facing off against Tex. When he saw her he froze for a second after she hit Sarge and sent him hitting the floor with a loud 'CLANG!' So he threw a grenade, and if he knew her as well as he thought he did then—yep! She dodged it without a problem.

It was barely even a fight.

Caboose 'saved' him, then he saw a fucking awesome move where Tex used Simmons' missiles against him and then he got hit. With Simmons himself. Fuck!

Then Sarge got up, with Grif doing so reluctantly after the Red leader grabbed his arm and hauled him up, and told them to get ready. But the fucker said he didn't know how to do this, since he never hit women. Was he being serious? Was he really being serious?! Tucker sent him a glare, one that Sarge didn't even notice because he made sure all his attention was on Tex.

Again, barely even a fight.

He had to wince sympathetically when Tex punched Sarge and sent him fucking flying. And from the way he hit the ground, it didn't sound like it was a soft landing. But, amazingly, Sarge got back up. When Tucker looked up, it was to see a storage container, so he did the next best thing and asked Caboose for help. He jumped out of the way, ecstatic that they may have beaten Tex and looked up to see her holding the fucking storage container. Everyone in the area dropped their jaws and promptly gawked before Tucker got serious and took out his sword(bow-chika-bow-wow) while the Reds panicked behind him.

"Don't worry, guys, I got this!" Tucker grinned and cut it in half.

He preened for a moment, thinking that was so fucking awesome of him, only to hear the Reds scream and groan in pain. Tucker turned and scowled when he saw that the move only saved him and wounded the Reds. Well, just Grif it seemed.

And when he was fighting, well, he tried fighting, against Tex he could hear... whirring. From her arms and legs. In fact, where had she come from? She was dead, wasn't she? Unless...

Before he could even finish the thought he was on the floor and skidding across the floor and into a teleporter. He yelped when he was grabbed and then smirked when he saw Tex holding his sword, only for it to stop working. He couldn't help the joke that slipped out and winced when he saw Tex slowly turn her head towards him.

Oh, crap.

Then, Sarge, the oh, so great leader of the Red team decided hey, why don't we beat up the person in the black armour?! And even when he found out it was him, and he only felt a little relief when the punches stopped, he punched him once more. Sarge didn't even sound sorry. He just turned away to see where Tex was and ignored him.

...Tucker had to admit, he should've kept attention to what was behind him. Then maybe he wouldn't have Tex punching him. But hey, she was on top of him, so that was a plus. Then she pulled some kind of move, hell, he didn't know, where she punched him hard enough to get the black shit off!

He had to admit, Tex was fucking awesome.

He doubted anyone could come close to her level.

It was even more painful after that, when she managed to punch him, Sarge, and Simmons in one go. Without even trying, while dodging a fucking rocket.

It fucking hurt when they got hit and sent flying into the air. When he hit the floor he groaned and winced in pain when he heard a 'clang.'

Then Church arrived, and he had to admit, for a moment he had thought Church was about show off some moves... only to get his ass kicked without any trouble. Hey, at least they managed to give Tex some trouble. Then, hell, he was barely paying attention after that. Next thing he knew Church and Tex were gone and Sarge was pissed off after learning some news.

He, uh... he kinda suspected... after all this time that they weren't really soldiers. It just... didn't seem like the army.

But he accepted that, while Sarge seemed... really pissed off. More so than usual.

Simmons and Grif seemed worried, well, Simmons did. Grif didn't seem to care, though he kept glancing in the direction of Sarge. And Caboose was off... well, last he'd seen him was when he was talking to him. Maybe he was with Sarge, so that's where he went. It turns out Sarge had a little project and was trying to make a base and Caboose offered his help. And surprisingly Sarge took it.

Tucker stared at the makeshift base, seeing Simmons and Grif just 'guarding' it while Sarge was huffing angrily and pushing a crate. He sounded like he was panting hard. Wow, he sounded like he was working himself. Caboose looked over, from pushing two crates, and walked towards the Red leader. Tucker was about to make a comment that maybe old men shouldn't be pushing themselves, since it seemed like Caboose was about to offer his help, but what happened next caused everyone to go still and go quiet.

Sarge snarled and kicked the crate to send it skidding five feet away. Then he grabbed his shotgun, which made everyone back away when he began shooting the crate, cocking the shotgun when he finished with a shot and continuing on shooting.

Caboose curled in on himself, grabbing his head and backing away with a whimper.

Simmons had his hands up, like he was torn between backing off and trying to calm down their leader.

Grif straightened his posture and stared straight at Sarge, and he looked like he didn't know what to do.

And Tucker... hell, he just watched. Watched as the fearless leader of the Red team shot the crate until he ran out of bullets and angrily threw his prized shotgun to the side. He panted harshly, reaching up and unlocking the latches to his helmet. He threw it to the side and glared at nothing, while everyone stared at his exposed face in shock. Rarely did Sarge ever take it off. Tucker saw everyone's faces already, more than a couple times. Though none of them had the military haircut, except for Sarge. He didn't allow them to see his face, to see the scars littered across his face.

Movement caught Tucker's eye and he turned, tensing when he saw Caboose inching towards Sarge. He stepped forward, about to warn Caboose not to touch or go near him. This was a delicate situation, anything would make Sarge blow up again.

"Uhh... mister sergeant," None of them even sighed in exasperation at the 'mister.' Sarge didn't move at the sound. "Are... Are you all right?"

At least Caboose seemed wise enough not to go too close.

"Are... Is... Is everything okay now?" Caboose took another step closer, shoulders hunched and head lowered like he was trying to make himself smaller. Which didn't work, since he towered over their group of misfits. "Do you want... to go back to making the fort now? We...We can tell stories and roast marshmallows." Sarge squinted his eyes, which made Tucker narrow his, and turned his head to look at Caboose. "...Is that okay?"

Sarge was silent, refusing to move, while Caboose stared at him with his head tilted. The Blue turned his head and stared at the helmet Sarge threw, pausing before he walked over to it and grabbed it. Simmons and Grif were still frozen, didn't seem to know what to make of the situation. Hell, Sarge has probably never done this the entire time they were on his team. He's gotten mad, yeah, but never to the point where he got like... this.

Caboose hesitated and offered the helmet, which Sarge stared at before he slowly grabbed it and stared with an unreadable expression.

He put it back on, muttering something, and made sure it was on straight.

"Yeah... yeah, let's continue workin' on the base." Sarge turned and walked towards his shotgun and picked it up.

Caboose had straightened and went back to pushing the crates while the other three sim soldiers stood still. Just in case. He didn't know how long he watched Sarge pushing the crates, a couple minutes probably, but as soon as he made sure he wasn't about to having another breakdown he turned and took a walk.

He didn't know what to make of that.

They usually got angry, but it was never really... serious. They blamed each other for things they had no way of controlling, but that was it. They blamed each other, played it off as a joke. Never meant it. Not really. Hell, they didn't really react, except for Simmons and that jab at his intelligence, that they weren't real soldiers. The only one that took it hard was Sarge.

...Hm.

Before he could contemplate it further he was sitting on Caboose's 'fort', and just leaned back while Caboose said he was going to find better crates that didn't have bullet holes in them. He watched as Sarge straightened a crate and went to go find another one.

It seemed like... Sarge was acting on auto-pilot. Didn't want to accept it. Accept that everything they had done was a fucking simulation. Simulations designed by some smug fucker that thought they were barely qualified enough to be soldiers. Sim soldiers that were placed in fake bases to test their fucking 'Freelancers.'

He got up and walked over towards Grif and Simmons, hearing them talking to each other lowly.

That was when Caboose came running towards them and said that Church and Tex were in trouble.

Grif and Simmons scoffed. And if Tucker was serious... he was too emotionally drained. He just wanted to lay down and go to sleep. Hell, he was becoming Grif.

But Sarge...

He saw the way Sarge had straightened up and held his shotgun closer and then declared he was going after them. Which surprised the hell out of them, but delighted Caboose. Tucker had been confused, why even try? They probably wouldn't even get there in time. Freelancers were better at fighting than them. They couldn't even compete. It didn't seem to matter to Sarge.

Then... Holy hell.

Then came the Speech.

Tucker didn't forget his words, even now. He sometimes looked back and remembered the words. Felt better. Felt... like he was a real soldier. Yeah, fuck the Freelancer program.

Simmons said they wouldn't make it, after they all agreed that they were coming along as well, which frustrated Sarge. But it seemed like Simmons had looked around. He found a vehicle all right. Tucker could admit, it was exciting and terrifying. Grif seemed scared, though, when everyone looked to him after he asked who would drive the Pelican. So Sarge grabbed him, took him aside, and talked to him. His stance hadn't been threatening, surprisingly. But after he was done Grif had grumbled and said he'd need to fire her up and check her systems. So he climbed in and started making a racket in there, cursing every once in a while.

Caboose was giddy, couldn't seem to stand still. Soon, he had grabbed Sarge's shoulder and turned him to face him. He handled him like a doll, and Tucker snickered when he saw Sarge stumble.

"I'm so glad you're okay, mister sergeant!" Caboose was simple. He couldn't hide his emotions that well. So when he had said that he had meant it. "I was so scared when you got mad! You almost reminded me of... of..." He tilted his head and conveyed happiness. "Are you okay now?"

Sarge did something that surprised Tucker, even to this day.

He reached over and rested his hand on Caboose's helmet. "Yeah, 'm fine, son. Now," He straightened up and held his shotgun close. "Let's go kick some ass!"

Tucker couldn't agree more.

When they piled in, well, it was a tight fit. And the landing could've been better. But hey, what could they do?

Another fight.

Another day.

Tucker had actually been proud of himself. He managed to stab the Meta. Though he still got knocked away. Hurt like a bitch, had actually hurt more than Tex. Not that he'd give him the satisfaction of knowing that. And then Sarge. Stupid Sarge...

He just walked over, shooting the Meta repeatedly and not even phased when the Meta grabbed him. Tucker tried getting up, thought that maybe he could help, but hell, the Meta could punch. But Sarge actually had a plan, and Tucker could only feel satisfaction when he saw the Meta being dragged away. Then he ignored the pain and shot up when he saw Grif go over. He limped on over while Sarge ran over.

Tucker didn't look at him, he just ran over and stared at the cliff in silence and shock. Grif was...

Sarge played it off, said Grif was dead and that they'd get a new soldier. But... no.

So he said he was probably hanging over the edge. And he was... Tucker relaxed when he realized one of their misfits was still alive.

Then he went tense again, after he learned that Church pulled off a stupid, fucking move and went into the memory unit. He just... stood numbly beside Caboose, arms by his sides while he stared at the unit. Stupid Church. Stupid, fucking Church. He said he'd come back out. He said he'd be right out.

Washington was fine. Doc managed to save him, had put biofoam over his wounds but said he was in critical condition.

He had to watch Caboose stare at the unit hopefully before he slumped and stared at the ground in silence after it was confirmed that Church wasn't coming back out. No one said anything when he started whimpering. No one could look when his shoulders started shaking.

The only one that reacted to that was Sarge. He walked on over, without even hesitating, and placed a hand on Caboose's shoulder.

Everyone who met Caboose knew he was incompetent, that he wasn't like everyone else, that he could mess up almost anything without even trying. But he was compassionate. He cared. He was innocent. He could see the good in everyone, even if that person had no more 'good' in them.

Even Sarge could see that.

They were all silent and tense, ignoring the passed out Freelancer. He wasn't dead. He'd be going back to jail and that was that. Except... after sitting on the ground Caboose had looked up to see Doc checking Washington over. Then he held his head up hopefully, a move that made Tucker narrow his eyes. He wasn't going to do something stupid, was he?

"Can we help him?"

The quiet question took startled everyone, and that's when Simmons started to panic and bring up points that were logical. He shot Donut, he took Simmons hostage, and he killed Lopez. Killed Church, the original one. Deleted him. Shit, he didn't know. Everyone listened to the panicked Red, though they all went silent when Caboose stood up and walked over to Washington and started fiddling with his boot. Which caused Washington to let out a loud, pained groan.

"Watcha doin', blue?" Sarge asked warily.

"...Got to help him..." Caboose said, trying to take the boot off and getting frustrated. "He helped us."

"He killed Donut and Lopez!" Simmons yelled loudly and backed up.

"But he helped us...!" The quiver in his voice made everyone shift uncomfortably. "We... We have to help Agent Washington, because he'll go away for a long time, and I don't want anyone else... Church is... he's..."

When he hit the ground, everyone jumped when he let out a frustrated sound and continued to fiddle with the boot. Doc hesitated, Tucker could see, before he reached over and helped Caboose take off the boot.

"...We put it to a vote, then," Heads turned in Sarge's direction, seeing him step forward and stare at the agent suspiciously. "A vote ta leave 'im where he is or we help him." He was silent for a while. "I vote ta help him." To this day, he still didn't know why Sarge, paranoid Sarge, wanted to help Washington. Who was an unknown.

It was stupid, Tucker realized. The bastard was crazy, paranoid, but he wanted to help the son of a bitch that killed two people on their team. It took a while to debate, with Caboose and Doc voting on helping Washington. He voted against it, along with Grif and Simmons, and they were tied. Simmons said they wouldn't be alone for long, that this place would be crawling with UNSC. So, after a few minutes Tucker let out a groan and decided, why not? He changed his vote and almost smirked when Simmons let out a squawk. The maroon soldier was silent before he quickly suggested switching Washington's armour with Church's.

And that pissed him off.

He had to help take off Washington's fucking armour and switch it with Church's. It didn't feel right. He turned his head when he heard Grif talking to Sarge and didn't bother to listen. When they were done Washington let out a groan and blearily opened his eyes after they finished putting the armour on. And hell, he still didn't know where the fuck Sarge pulled that can of paint from.

It almost felt... wrong to see him using Church's armour. But what could he say? Caboose had already taken to the asshole.

Had already mistakenly called him 'Church.'

Washington was confused, hurt, and had asked why they were helping him. They didn't get a chance to explain before the UNSC arrived. Had to listen to the doubt and suspicion from the stupid soldier that didn't take them seriously. Which, admittedly, pissed them all off.

It took about a week to reach a couple of abandoned bases. Washington was hurt and they needed to treat him in case something went wrong. They ended up staying, since they thought there was nothing in Valhalla.

Then it took a few more days for them to come back from the ordeal. Doc had watched over Washington before he seemed to disappear, and came back when it was time to turn in. Washington didn't seem to mind, but he exercised each day, sometimes with Caboose. Sometimes by himself. He heard Sarge even joined him sometimes and beat him. Not that they were competing, but Sarge said he wouldn't lose to a blue.

Then they were playing 'capture the flag,' which Washington seemed to enjoy. He said this was the lightest workout he's had in years. Which just pissed Sarge off and he kept barking orders at Simmons and Grif to try harder. Sarge seemed to get over that they weren't real soldiers and sometimes went over to their base to grab something. The first time it happened Tucker had scrambled, grabbed his weapon, and pointed it at the red soldier while Sarge ignored him and grabbed a wrench they had. Had said Simmons had theirs last and lost it. Then he walked out.

Sarge seemed like he didn't care that they were simulation troopers... but sometimes Tucker came out to practice with his sword and would see him standing on top the red base with his shoulders hanging.

It was almost... peaceful.

Sometimes Caboose called Washington 'Church' by accident, and they weren't scrambling trying to 'save' the galaxy. This was almost like a vacation.

Until another Freelancer came.

...Bow-chika-bow-wow.

 

Chapter Text

Tucker was still getting used to Washington being there, then started calling him Wash because he didn't want to say 'Washington' every damn time. There were times when he scowled at seeing the former Freelancer wearing his friend's armour, but he couldn't really do much. Caboose still almost destroyed everything he came into contact with, and there were times they just lazed around without any drills. Caboose loved the drills, which came as no surprise when they didn't even make him break a sweat. He was a fucking tank.

There had been a time, when he had been sleeping, that he could hear panicked screaming. Tucker didn't know what to do, he had just frozen. Kept his breathing slow and even and stayed still, like he had actually thought he didn't need to go check if he didn't move. He heard movement, and then running before all he could hear was the screaming.

He didn't get much sleep that night, even after the screaming stopped.

Tucker remembered that Wash had went on patrol, because the guy didn't know the first thing about relaxing, when their radios crackled to life. He had scowled and opened his mouth to tell Caboose to stop playing with it when he could hear yelling from the other side. Caboose, who had been coloring, had looked up and glanced at him curiously.

The shared channel.

It was after they had thought they were in the future.

They thought that since they were being forced to work with each other, why not make a shared channel? So that had been what Simmons did, made an encrypted channel only they could access. Tucker had thought it was dumb, but there were times it was useful. Like making fun of Grif.

"Blues!" Simmons. "Are you there?! W-We need help—!"

"Get yer keisters over here!" Sarge had snarled before he heard gunshots. "Grif—!"

Tucker didn't even think about it. He yelled at Caboose to get ready and grabbed his gun and ran out of the base with the blue tank behind him. Wondered where Wash was, who the hell was attacking the Reds, and who the fuck thought it had been a good idea to come here.

He ran in and surveyed the situation, tensing when he saw Sarge pointing his shotgun at the intruder with Simmons right behind him. The intruder had teal armour and was holding Grif hostage, gun pointed right at his head. He could hear Grif muttering and cursing before he held his gun up and pointed at the stupid asshole. Caboose may not be smart, but he knew this was a serious situation. Maybe. He did get his gun up, but he was pointing it at Grif. Tucker quickly took a moment to point it at the intruder.

"I don't know who the hell ya are," Sarge had said, shoulders tense and not moving an inch. "But get the hell away from Grif." Tucker had actually been surprised. Was Sarge actually scared Grif might be kill—? "The only one that gets ta hurt my men is me!" Never mind.

"I'm looking for someone," A woman. Of course it was a woman. Only a woman can kick their asses. "Someone you saved."

Simmons made a confused sound. "We haven't saved anyone."

"We don't know how to save people worth shit, but when we have our little missions we might have saved some people but people we didn't know." Tucker couldn't help but add. He smirked when he could feel Simmons give him an irritated stare.

"Even if we did save someone, we wouldn't tell ya," Sarge had brought the attention back to the intruder. "Ya think ya can just come in here an' make demands an' we'd just tell ya?"

"Tell me where Agent Washington is."

That threw everyone off, though Caboose had perked up excitedly. "You know Agent Washingtub?!" He was about to step forward until Tucker held up his hand and held him back. "Are you friends?"

"Yeah..." She drawled, which made Tucker narrow his eyes. She sounded... cold. "We're old friends."

They were all tense, trying to decide whether or not that was a lie, when they heard Washington. "Except you're supposed to be dead," They turned to see Wash walk in with his gun pointed at the intruder. "How did you survive that fall?" Tucker could see, from where he was, that Wash's hands were shaking. If he could see it, then everyone else could. "What are you doing here?"

She was silent for a moment, and seeing as she had five guns trained onto her, she removed her weapon from Grif. The orange soldier got up and stumbled away with his own weapon. That was apparently enough for Wash to lower his, because who cared if she was about to shoot someone to get what she wanted? Tucker rolled his eyes and did the same.

They decided to let her say what she wanted and they would decide to make her leave or not. She started talking, with everyone staring at her in tense silence. Sarge had yet to relax, his grip on his shotgun tight while Simmons quickly murmured a question to Grif. When she was done everyone was left in stunned silence, while Caboose started shaking with excitement.

Fuckin' hell.

Church can... Church can be saved? Was this was trick? Was she kidding?

Everyone could only stare while Wash listened to everything Carolina had to say. Sarge had his arms crossed, nothing but suspicion in his pose. Wash had even asked one time, his curiosity too much, why Sarge wore his armour all the time. Truth was, Tucker didn't know. So Tucker had asked Grif, one time, if he ever took the armour off.

"Only when he's in the base," Grif shrugged and didn't seem to care. "You've see him, how paranoid he is. Doesn't trust anyone to be completely off guard."

After Carolina was done, and said why she needed to rescue Epsilon, everyone had frowned and glanced at one another. Find the Director? Weren't they done with this crap? Tucker scowled and gave the woman a glare—even if she was attractive. Hell, he didn't know if she was, but she had a nice body. He silently muttered his phrase and glanced at Wash when he stepped forward.

"That's it? That's all we need to do?" Wash gave her a warning stare.

"We might need to do more than that," Carolina didn't sound like a nice person. She sounded cold. "But we'll see."

Wash gave a small frown before he glanced at the rest of the group. They had a silent conversation, this lady might have even realized it, trying to decide what to do. Caboose had smiled excitedly, so his answer was clear. Wash was protective of the big guy, and he must have been wary of this woman, so he decided to go. Which prompted Sarge to agree, since he couldn't let a Blue get the best of him, and glared at Grif and Simmons when they hesitated. Tucker stared at them all, seeing them staring at him, before he sighed and shrugged. Which was pretty much a go.

Besides... they were going to rescue Church.

She was mean, they all learned right away. Caboose didn't care, didn't even seem to notice the way she addressed them all. Like they were... tools. Tucker followed her orders, but only because she was attractive and she might kill him. Mostly because she might kill him. So when she was in the other warthog they had taken he grumbled and glared.

"Somethin' wrong, son?" Sarge asked, driving after Grif calmly.

"Don't call me that," Tucker said, slipping further into his seat. "What if this is a trick? What if she kills us? What if she's getting our hopes up for nothing and Church can't be saved?" He pushed himself back up and glanced back to see Caboose spinning around with a gleeful 'whee.' They should switch on the next stop just in case Caboose decides to get trigger happy. "Besides, she said she needed an engineer to work on the damn thing. We don't have an engineer!"

Sarge scoffed. "Ya have one."

"We do?!" Tucker turned and gave him a disbelieving look. "But Simmons works on computers."

Sarge turned and gave him what he assumed was a glare. "That 'lil lady said we'd have three teams, one for extraction, one for guarding, and the last for gettin' yer blue buddy out," He grumbled and looked forward. "Caboose might be a stumbling blue idiot, but he's a master with his hands. He can open that unit an' I'll take a look at it."

"Wait, you and Caboose?!" Tucker gawked at the Red leader. "You? Really? You think you can get him out?!"

Sarge growled under his breath, which made Tucker duck his head sheepishly. "Yes, I can...! Is that so hard to believe...?!" Did he ever mention that Sarge can be scary when he wanted to?

Tucker waved his hands. "Uh, no! I was just...!"

"Looks like we're stoppin'," Sarge commented, slowing to a stop and glancing back. "Hey, blue! We're stoppin'! Get out an' stretch yer legs!"

"Yes, sir, mister sergeant!" Caboose saluted and jumped down from the gun and started stretching.

Tucker got out and frowned in consternation. Sarge and Caboose can get him out? Well, Sarge was good, not great, with machines. So maybe? He thought back to all the times he saw Sarge tinkering with something, remember he had built two bodies. Three, if he counted Lopez. Had converted a warthog to use sunlight. Repaired the warthogs multiple times. Had done countless of things. He seemed to be better at robotics, and that was a shocker. Tucker looked at him in a new light... kinda. He never thought Sarge capable of something like trying to get an A.I. out of a prison, but... maybe he can do it.

They rested up, with Sarge refilling the tanks because the guy was a workaholic, and they were on their way.

When they got to the facility... well... let's just say getting in was easy. They were loud, something that Carolina didn't like. They went crashing through the gates, yelling all kinds of things. He didn't even remember, he just remembered sitting in his seat with a wide grin and shooting in the directions of the soldiers. Made sure not to wound anyone.

Then Sarge and Caboose jumped out, and the rest of the Reds and Blues stared after them before Tucker, Carolina, and Wash held their position at the entrance. From where he was Tucker could still hear Sarge as they got further away.

"Just remember ta aim for the door and not towards me! Ya know what?! Don't look towards me at all while I work!" Sarge yelled as they ran down the hall. He heard gunshots. "Yeah, that's the spirit! Scare those bastards!"

"Thank you, mister sergeant!"

They were out there for fifteen... maybe twenty minutes before Carolina went inside. Tucker stared after her. She might be a bitch, but she had a hell of a body. Not that he'd ever hit that. It wasn't long after that that Wash went inside, telling them to make sure no one got past them.

He ran across the compound to head for Grif and Simmons, seeing them waiting for the signal for the extraction. And he was that signal. He jumped in with Simmons, ready to get the hell out of there. Tucker soon frowned when Simmons drove like an old lady while Grif floored it and took off. Seriously? He turned and gave Simmons a flat stare, one that Simmons chose to meekly avoid. When they arrived he sighed in relief and smirked when he saw Wash was feeling embarrassed by Sarge and Caboose and opened his mouth to unleash some sass.

Except he froze for a second when he saw who was with them.

Church...

Standing there... with a glowing body. That actually threw Tucker off for a moment before he decided this was probably what an A.I. looked like without a husk to occupy. He jumped out and went towards them, but they didn't have long before they were leaving.

"They fucking did it," Tucker said in awe, sitting in his seat while Grif turned his head to stare at him in question. "Sarge and Caboose got Church out."

Grif shrugged. "...Eh, it wasn't impressive. Something was bound to get that bastard out. He doesn't know how to die."

On that, they could agree on. "B-But... this probably means that if Sarge and Caboose actually looked closer at that thing we could've saved Church earlier!" He waved his hand towards the other warthog Sarge was in and to Caboose, who sat behind them and perked up when he was mentioned. "We wouldn't be here right now with her!" He pointed at the woman on the mongoose. "We could've been back at the bases right now, trying to negotiate our flags!"

"Uh, yeah, but we were already doing that," Grif didn't sound like he cared, and he probably didn't. "And just so you know, Sarge was pissed every time we lost." He grumbled to himself. "Had Simmons stop working with any technology for a day and took all my snacks away."

Tucker was silent before he started snickering. "He's your dad."

Grif paused and shuddered. "Don't even joke about that, dude! What if he was here?! He'd kick your ass!" He sounded more pissed off when Tucker started laughing louder.

They switched off the next time they made a pit stop, with him and Caboose riding with Wash and all the Reds in the other warthog.

Church, or hell, Epsilon, had floated over to Sarge and said something, which had made Sarge chuckle. Tucker was watching, seeing Church grumbling and acting like his old self. Just a little depressed, it seemed. He had muttered something about making a hard choice in the unit. Something no one bothered to ask, because while they may hate each other that also meant respecting privacy.

Caboose was happy.

He was talking more faster, and didn't want to leave Church alone.

So Tucker knew that Caboose was probably wondering where he was when Church wandered over to him and said they were going to eavesdrop. That didn't bother Tucker one bit, so he did what he wanted and snuck up on Carolina and Wash, hearing them talk to each other quietly. Except he couldn't fight the urge, the urge to yell his phrase the more innuendos that left Carolina's mouth.

Which pissed off Church when he gave away their position, but he couldn't help it. It was like a reflex. He just didn't think she'd fucking shoot at him!

...Bitch.

So he was sent away, bristling when he heard her say they were her squad(like fuck they were), scowling when Church kept mocking him. They walked around, keeping quiet and just making sure nothing else would happen. It always seemed to happen to them. Tucker stared at Church, hearing him grumble like he usually did. Sometimes, when he talked, he sounded like he was mixing things up. Remembering something he wasn't supposed to remember. So he asked him as they walked over to the Reds and Caboose. The tall Blue perked up when he saw him and practically started jumping around when he saw Church appear in his miniature form while Church tried to explain that he had multiple memories and didn't even know which were his.

"So, are you, like... going to stay that small?" Grif was staring at the tiny member of their misfit group.

"Too much energy goes into trying to stay your size," Church had said, crossing his arms and huffing to himself. He sounded like he had more of a grasp of his computer self. Which sounded really, fucking retarded. "Besides, it's easier this way to stay in your helmets, when there's space." At this, he turned to stare at Tucker. "...Still really fucking gross, dude."

"Shut up, you deleted my porn." He was still sore about that.

Then Sarge did that thing.

Where he shook his head and muttered 'kids' under his breath.

They were off, going to places they had visited previously when they had been on their mission. Tucker smirked when he heard everyone on the shared channel, one that Carolina wasn't aware of, complain about the heat when they were in the desert. And Church may not be their Church, the original one, but he had the channel and still said a comment every now and then. It was when they were standing around, waiting for Carolina and Wash that Sarge popped out from behind the big vehicle and said that he wanted a truce.

Seriously?

Tucker had smirked and rolled his eyes when Church yelled at him that they accept. And his smirk only grew when Sarge blurted out his usual weird sentences about 'friendenemapanion' or something. They all agreed that Carolina was a crazy bitch, so they needed to make sure she wasn't going to... yunno, kill 'em or something after she was done with her mission.

So Simmons had the most awesome idea of putting Church into the Mongoose, which would let him hear whatever Carolina had planned. Fuck yeah. Once he was inside, thanks to Caboose(who knew he was an expert on machines), Tucker and Grif jeered at him while Caboose continually ran his hand through him. The plan almost got ruined when uptight Carolina asked for Epsilon to answer some questions, but thankfully he was able to answer them on his own, along with Caboose. Though she was more pissed with him. Then Carolina took Church, and soon they would know what she was up to. Whether or not she was going to kill them after her damn mission.

But then Wash said she'd be gone for about a day. A whole day of waiting around this place. Tucker hung his shoulders and groaned before he followed everyone else into the temple, wondering why Wash said it'd get dark soon... since the sun never set. Ah, forget the damn sun.

Caboose settled in while Wash said he'd be going on patrol, even though he said they should all sleep. Tucker just groaned as he sat down and turned to see Grif and Simmons sit beside each other and start bickering already. Sarge exchanged some words with Wash and nodded before he settled down. Except they couldn't sleep, too much on their minds and wondering what Carolina had planned. It couldn't be good, right? She was a cold bitch, what if she slit their throats while they slept? He shuddered and reached back to rub his back. It wasn't easy to sleep in power armour.

Sarge may be the commander of the Reds, but it seemed he valued space. Tucker laid on his back with his head leaning against the wall. He idly thought he must look stupid while he observed the Red leader, seeing him sit farther away from them all. Didn't he even trust his own men? One would think he'd be beside them making sure the 'malicious' Blues weren't trying to poison them.

His mind was taken away from Sarge when he heard something crinkle, and turned his head to see what that was. He did a double take when he saw what the hell Grif was holding. The fuck?! Where'd he get chips?! He continued gawking while Grif took off his helmet and started eating.

"Seriously?" Simmons asked dryly, staring at said chips.

"Shuddap, let me eat."

That's how they spent the night, trying to sleep and only getting a few hours. There was a while spent in silence when Caboose went missing, but he happily walked back in, which made them all sigh with relief. Good, maybe he didn't do anything stupid. Or he did. He usually did. When they woke up they were lethargic and he only mildly noted that Sarge was gone and Wash was with them.

When they stood up and stretched he let out a loud, exaggerated groan and walked outside to relieve himself. Along with everyone else, it seemed. So... it was really embarrassing to see Sarge walk by and give them a blank stare when he saw them all doing their business against the temple's walls. Granted, they didn't need to stand next to each other, but they just kinda... fell into a line.

So yeah... awkward morning of everyone just standing around and feeling weird about that. Now all they had to do was wait for Church and he'd tell them what Carolina had planned for them.

Which is what he was supposed to have done.

Tucker was still pissed off, when they came back and they were suddenly buddy-buddy.

So, begrudgingly, they followed with everyone else wondering why Church was suddenly in her helmet. Tucker was muttering under his breath when they were on the road again, with Wash and Sarge. He could hear Simmons and Grif telling Caboose, no, he couldn't go back on the gun. Then they were in Valhalla. Tucker observed the bases in silence while Caboose rattled on that this place was amazing, but then sighed in irritation when he saw Carolina and Church walking away. Then the Reds walked away. And Caboose. And he was left alone in the valley by himself. So fucking much for sticking together. Assholes.

So, sighing angrily he turned and went after Caboose with tense shoulders. The base was... well, it was shitty. Not really a one-up from the last one. So he wandered around while Caboose happily commented on everything. That was where the fire started when he tried turning on Epsilon. That was where he tried cooking. And where another fire started. That was where he caught on fire... for no reason.

He was surprised it was still standing.

Simmons sent him a message, and he opened it on his HUD while he tuned Caboose out.

Low and fucking behold... Donut was alive.

Donut was fucking alive.

This entire time, he had... he had thought he was dead. Doc was with him, but still... Donut was alive and greeted them happily, Simmons had said... and almost got punched for trying to hug Sarge. Tucker stared at then 'lol' on his screen.

The group was finally together. It could've been better. Tex could've been alive, Lopez could also be there but he was a fucking head, and Church—Epsilon—whatever the fuck his name was could stop being a dick. Then, oh, that's not all that happened! Church was on her side, all the time, stopped listening, stopped seeing her as the enemy. Tucker got aggravated when Church started talking to them like... like they were idiots for not seeing something he didn't try to explain, as if he stopped caring whether or not they survived. Why the hell didn't he fucking care?! And they were all leaving already because someone didn't know how to fucking rest.

They went down into the holographic room, and Tucker was highly doubtful that they built it and started to believe them when they said Lopez built it. But they had completed their mission. Carolina and Church found the Director. Good, right? Nope, not for her. Tucker was silent when she tried telling them the plan, and couldn't help but agree with Grif and Simmons. And fighting any guards! Was she fucking nuts?! Wash was cool, he tried telling her as such that they couldn't do shit by themselves and that he should be with them. Against one man, they can do that. Except if that person was Tex. But a whole bunch of people? No. No fucking way.

Then Church... fucking Church was an idiot. And then Tucker was reminded how much Church didn't give a shit about them. Didn't care that they almost actually died trying to save his holographic ass. Hadn't seen how Grif almost got shot in the facility, or how Sarge had to tackle someone that tried to shoot Caboose.

Tucker grew frustrated when Church got angry enough to insult them. Then the crazy bitch started getting angry when Grif tried to leave, which, he had the right to do with how they were being treated. And Sarge was right. They shouldn't be trying to throw their lives away because these two wanted to get their fucking revenge on this fucking Director. Carolina ordered them around, like they were under her leadership, like they were fucking tools, to do whatever she wanted. So he did what he thought was right, standing up to the one trying to get them to end their lives by doing something they probably couldn't even do. Then she pulled a fucking gun on him, which he had to admit almost made him shit himself, and had them all jump and try to point their weapons at her. But then Wash, Wash who had been following every order she gave, pointed his gun right at her, as well. Wash and Sarge tried getting Church to calm down when they realized he was getting mad, and only got further confused when he started to blame them.

Blamed them.

Blamed them all.

Not in a joking matter, this time.

He meant every damn word.

Tucker stared up at the giant holographic A.I. in shock, eyes wide behind his visor before he frowned. They were a problem, huh? Forget this. With a scoff, he turned and walked away, hearing the others walk after him. He was done with all this crap. Caboose was the last one to leave, and that said a lot. He was done with this. The Freelancers, sim troopers, the facilities the stupid project had. He was done with all of it. Carolina and Church left. But they didn't care. They went back to their 'vacation' before Carolina ruined it and gave them false hope. They were taking a break before they started a game of 'capture of the flag.' Maybe they wouldn't feel so pissed off if they had a small break of doing nothing.

Yeah... right.

Tucker grumbled, kicking a stone he saw and huffing when it saw it roll a couple feet. So he grabbed it and threw it into the water as hard as he could. It made a big splash at least.

He heard footsteps and voices, turning his head to see Sarge walking away from... Wash? He furrowed his brows in confusion and didn't do anything when Sarge noticed him. He expected him to walk right past without a care, it was what was expected. Sarge hated Blues, after all.

He never thought he'd see Sarge walk right towards him, willingly.

"Whatcha doin', Blue?" Sarge asked casually and stared at the small lake Tucker had been walking along.

"Throwing stones," Tucker crossed his arms petulantly. "...It's more fun than this stupid game."

Sarge hummed lightly. So when he thought that Sarge was going to head back to his base, and he was about to grab another big stone, he gave a start when he heard a loud grunt and saw a large rock fly past him and into the water. It made a big splash. Tucker stared at the water and turned to see Sarge wiping his hands.

"Yeah, bit more fun," Sarge agreed, tilting his head and shrugging when he noticed Tucker's confusion. "Best ta blow off some steam every once in a while."

"Yeah... though it'd be better to punch Epsilon in the face," Tucker huffed, hearing a snigger from the Red. "If he had a face to punch."

"Eh, if he ever comes back, I'll ask 'im if he wants a body. I'll tell ya when 'm done so ya can punch 'im." Sarge sounded like he was smirking. He could hear it. And there it was again. Reminded that Sarge had built bodies for Tex and Church, and had built Lopez without much trouble. Well, a lot of trouble he had heard, but still.

Sometimes he wondered if people knew what a genius Sarge was.

Tucker was silent for a few moments before he scoffed. "He probably wouldn't. Too comfortable in Carolina's helmet," His words were mocking. He was pissed. He had a right to be pissed off. "Would probably get offended at any offer of a body. Stupid, little glowing body of his..." He sounded like a kid. He knew he did, but Sarge didn't comment on it.

All he did was shrug. "Probably," He paused and reached over to pat Tucker on the shoulder, which made him tense for just a second before he relaxed. It wasn't often that Sarge initiated any contact with him. Usually he wanted to punch and shoot him. "Well, get ready, son, we're about to start out next game—shit, match." He grumbled and turned to walk away. "Stupid Grif."

Tucker snickered when he walked away and turned to head for the blue base.

They were bored, which was no surprise, when they negotiated the flag. And Grif was right, this was depressing. And the Reds had nothing else to negotiate, so... wait... they had a what? Fifteen minutes later they were staring at the Meta's weapon. Tucker gawked. They had it this entire time? On a wall?! He was about to comment when Doc started talking.

A speech... he truly never expected to hear one from Doc, of all people.

Sure, they... did some things they were proud of, but... Well... He had to give up his son for this stupid thing... This... Tucker sighed when he heard Caboose's comment and stared at the ground for a moment. They had a connection, he can see that, sure, but they were also really shitty soldiers. But, even though he was still pissed at Church, he can at least do something fucking awesome.

He pulled out his sword with a confident pose, smirking when he heard everyone else was with him. Sure, they weren't great, but they were still going. His smirk grew when Sarge started talking, another speech, another reminder that even though they sucked they still managed to beat some of the Freelancers by themselves and they still had each other to rely on.

...Didn't mean they liked relying on each other, or something.

But Wash was in. Fuck yeah.

Before they could even come up with awesome plans on how to reach Carolina and the asshole, they were ambushed by the UNSC. Everyone gawked at the three Hornets. Wait, they really were criminals?! He then watched as these UNSC soldiers commented that the airships were easy to pilot, had enough seats for all of them, and then fucking landed. Seriously? Was everyone an idiot?

It didn't really take much to subdue them, but Sarge had used unnecessary aggression on them by pinning one of them down and almost dislocating a shoulder. That's when Wash had to step in. Soon they were piled in and on their way to go save the fucking day!

It hadn't even occurred to Tucker that they had left Doc behind.

They weren't fighters, that much was certain. They were more... 'hide behind crap and hope to hit something' fighters. So it confused the fuck out of Tucker that they were always in these stupid intense fights. Why couldn't someone else get that luck instead?

When they got the facility Caboose had commented that they had been there before. The only clue they had that Carolina and Church were there was by the open door. They ran in and instantly got ready. Carolina had said they would be dealing with the forces, anyway. They crept inside, growing more relaxed when nothing popped out to shoot them.

"Where are they?" Wash murmured lightly, enough just for them to hear.

"Simmons, move ahead." Sarge ordered, receiving a surprise stare from everyone before the maroon did as he was told.

Simmons looked around the corner and gave the all clear, all running around the corner and down the hallway. It was clear no one was here. It was when they got to the teleporters did they hear the yelling and grunts. Wash was the one to determine which one to go into, and when they did...

They all froze and widened their eyes when they saw a ghost.

...A lot of ghosts.

They all winced when they saw Carolina fly through the air and hit a large crate hard enough to put a giant dent in it. Donut was the only one who reacted, running forward and throwing three grenades. It surprised her, they could see that, to suddenly see grenades appear out of nowhere. She jumped towards him and Tucker scowled lightly when he saw Church appear right beside him. But fuck, Church may be an asshole, but he was still a member of their group of misfits. They got ready, seeing all the bodies of their former friend face them.

He knew it was coming, but his jaw still dropped when he saw Caboose run forward and fucking knock aside every damn Tex in his way. A grin worked its way onto his face when Caboose punched and kicked their... friend left and right to send them flying. And this is why Tucker called him a fucking tank!

They all ran forward and started fighting. Not as fast as Wash or Carolina, but they did what they were doing. Shooting and slicing and punching their way through their old friend. Tucker stabbed one of them, and jumped when Caboose came by and knocked some more down. They all sucked, they could all agree with that, but right here, right now, Tucker never felt more awesome than he did with his group of idiots. He was grinning the entire time, even when Grif got punched and kicked in the crotch. Again. It had to fucking hurt. He sliced down the two that hit Carolina, turning his head to make sure she was okay and smirked at Grif when he stood up with a groan.

Tucker backed up towards Wash, noticing that everyone else was getting into a circle the more they were surrounded. They were coming from everywhere. But they couldn't stop. If they stopped they could get killed, and like fuck he was going to let a single idiot die now. Not now. Not again. Not after Tex.

He froze when he heard Wash talk to Church and saw something fly past him. When it did, every single Tex in the room froze. He, along with everyone else, did, as well, and looked around in confusion. Tucker jumped when he heard a gunshot and turned, along with everyone else, to see Sarge kick another downed Tex.

He muttered something angrily and held up his shotgun, just in case. Everyone else did the same, held up their weapons, in case whatever Church was doing wouldn't work. It probably took... two minutes. Two minutes of waiting anxiously and standing back to back. Then every single robotic body of Tex's fell.

Huh...

He was going to be honest, he didn't think Church could do it.

They stood around when they saw Church appear, and Tucker smirked when he heard Grif complain. Hah. And for some reason... he almost felt... envious when he heard Sarge praise Church. Even called him by his name. No 'blue' or 'dirtbag.' Just called him by his name. Lucky bastard. Except Sarge ruined it by saying what he usually said. Tucker continued to smirk and straightened up when Wash mentioned the Director.

Everyone watched as Carolina and Church left, went into some hallway with determination. As soon as they were gone everyone groaned and all practically collapsed to the floor. The only ones still standing was Sarge and Wash.

"That was... intense," Tucker muttered, turning his head to see Caboose panting harshly. Caboose had more energy and strength than them, but even he was tired. He was tired. Hungry... and thirsty. But... he was grinning. "That was..."

"...Fucking epic." Simmons finished with a grin in his voice.

Tucker couldn't disagree.

Sarge chuckled while Grif groaned and leaned forward. Oh, yeah. He had been kicked and punched in the tenders. He couldn't really help the laugh that bubbled from his mouth. They were all tired. Slowly, they got back up and started making their way outside, with Wash staying behind to wait for Carolina to tell them where they were. Caboose was already jogging down the hallway and looking back at them like he was blaming them for being slow. Tucker rolled his eyes when they got outside and instantly sat on the ground with a groan. Everyone else did the same and just stayed quiet.

Tex... He didn't think he'd see her again, to be honest. She, uh... she was bitch, for sure, but... he was hoping. Really hoping. That she could rest after this ordeal. He wasn't religious, by any means, but... C'mon, if there's a god he's gotta stop putting her through this. Tucker leaned against a tree and just breathed calmly while everyone else did the same. He turned his head when he caught movement, along with everyone else.

And they saw Carolina, looking down at them from a perch. He kind of wanted to know what had happened, but it was their business. Besides, all he wanted to do was dance in victory and go to sleep. And some coffee.

"All right, kids," Sarge could be heard over their groaning and need to relax, but they all paid him attention. "Time ta rest up and figure out what to do next." Like that wasn't obvious.

But they all sat on the ground, even when Carolina showed up, and just rested. After that, however, he just nodded along to whatever they were saying. Find a place to call home. Huh... If he was honest, he didn't really know where home was. Mom and dad were... they hadn't really cared when he joined the army. He had no brothers or sisters. Didn't have anyone. All he had was his sword, his son, and these idiots.

So, when they left... relocated... going 'home' he just nodded along and did what they wanted. They were thanked, put in the news, called heroes for bringing down the organization, and were sent home. He couldn't help but pose when they took the picture and had looked at it when they were on the ship. He still had it. Something to remember by. All the shit they went through, and they were finally going home.

They just didn't count on fucking crashing on some stupid planet.

Everyone that had been in the crew, besides the Red and Blues, and Carolina, died. He... might have done a part in crashing the ship, but that pilot had been hot! It wasn't his fault.

When he woke up, after the crash, he had groaned in pain when he felt his ribs hurting. Ah, fuck. He really hoped his ribs weren't broken, and were just cracked. Please just let his ribs be cracked, it's better than broken bones. This ship was huge. He let out a loud groan and pushed himself up, taking his time and not pushing himself. He could hear yelling... it sounded like... Wash... When he looked up, he saw Wash moving aside a piece of metal. He called out and felt relief when Wash saw him and began moving towards him quickly.

"You seen Caboose?" Tucker pushed himself up with Wash's help and bit back another groan.

"No," Wash made sure he was able to stand on his own before he removed his hands. "Everyone I've found is dead." And for a terrifying moment Tucker's heart stopped at the thought that anyone in their group of crazy idiots was dead. "I haven't found the Reds, or Caboose yet, or Carolina... We should move."

Tucker couldn't find it in himself to disagree.

So he limped after Wash while holding his side, trying to keep in the hiss of pain. Crap, crap, crap. What if everyone was dead? What if it was just him and Wash? What if...? What if he never heard Grif complain again, or Simmons trying to get all technical and shit, or Sarge yelling at them and calling them no good dirtbags, or Caboose trying to help them and utterly failing, or never seeing that idiot Church again? He didn't realize he was hyperventilating until Wash grabbed his arms.

"Tucker, I need you to listen to me," Wash, his ever calm voice, sounded tired but he stared at Tucker through his cracked visor. "They are fine. They are not dead." He paused and then gave a small chuckle. "Nothing ever kills you guys, anyway."

Tucker paused and realized... yeah, nothing ever did kill them. All the crap they went through and they only got hurt. None of them were dead yet. But, that fear was still there. He was about to start hyperventilating again when they heard a low moan.

They whipped around and saw Grif trying to push a big slab of metal off, but unable to. Tucker sagged with relief when he limped over, seeing the orange soldier turn his head to see them approach. He probably would've relaxed as well in relief if it wasn't for the slab trying to crush him.

"Hey, guys." There was a little bit of sarcasm in his voice, mixed with relief and exhaustion.

"Your fat ass need help?" Tucker asked with a grin, helping Wash grab the side and try to lift it.

Grif actually tried helping and started pushing, but it was too big and wouldn't budge. If they had one more person...! His hands were shaking, and told Wash so they could put it down for only a second and try again. They were about to set it back down slowly when another pair of hands reached under the slab and started trying to lift it. Tucker turned to see Simmons lifting the slab, and then all four of them attempted to remove the slab. And succeeded. They all let out sighs of relief when they pushed it off of Grif and felt the surface shake from the impact. Grif groaned in relief and pushed himself up, with Simmons' help.

"Where's, uh..." Grif took a deep breath "Where's Sarge?" He sounded like he was trying to hold his breath to keep the pain back. Tucker winced in sympathy. He was lucky nothing had crushed him.

"I-I haven't found him," Simmons was shaking, mostly his arm, trying to lead Grif in one direction. "But I found Caboose and it's bad."

Tucker's heart jumped and he quickly started limping after them. They all paused when they were about to round the corner, hearing a southern accent. Tucker's shoulders fell in relief. They didn't have to worry about Donut, he went somewhere else. Lucky son of a bitch didn't have to deal with this. When they walked around the corner, they saw Carolina standing behind Sarge as the Red leader spoke calmly to Caboose. Tucker wasn't worried about her, she can take care of herself. What he was worried about at this moment was the fucking pipe sticking out of Caboose's shoulder.

"Holy fuck!" Tucker stumbled forward when Caboose's head lolled in his direction. "Is he high?"

"Hi... Tucker!" Caboose said slowly, and yep, the big guy sounded like he was on a trip.

"Yeah," Church let out a snicker. "Can't wait to see if being high makes him smarter or... well, I dunno, more destructive?"

"Be quiet, boy," Sarge said, examining the pipe closely. "...Who can move without much pain?" Carolina, Wash, and Simmons said they were hurt but not as much as the others. "Good, I need ya guys to hold Caboose down."

Tucker stiffened, along with Simmons, when Caboose shook his head and tried pushing the Red leader away. Ah, shit. Simmons timidly handed Grif to him, and crap, now he had to hold him up while trying to ignore his ribs. Wash and Carolina didn't question it, they did as Sarge ordered and held Caboose back while Simmons hesitated and did the same. Tucker noticed the kit Sarge had, and saw why Caboose was drugged. Where did Sarge find the med kit?

He couldn't ignore the pained yell Caboose made when they removed the pipe and closed his eyes when he heard whimpering before the big guy passed out. Sarge managed to close the wound with some biofoam and told Wash and Carolina to carry him out. Before they could question why he wasn't helping Sarge told Simmons to remove his helmet. He did, and noticed the shocked jolt from Carolina when she saw Simmons' upgrades.

"...I'll need to look more closely after we get outside," Sarge muttered, examining Simmons' cybernetic parts and turning to see everyone staring at him. "Well? We ain't gonna make much progress if we stay here!"

So they slowly made their way outside. The irony wasn't lost on Tucker when they got out. They started in a canyon, left it, only to crash into another one. Fucking great. Tucker scowled and helped Grif settle on the ground. Carolina and Wash said they'd patrol, paranoid Freelancers, while Sarge helped them with their injuries. Sarge had no medical training whatsoever, but he turned Simmons into a cyborg and actually put some of his organs in Grif and they weren't dead. So yeah, he'll let him look him over.

Tucker stayed still while Sarge examined his ribs and said what he suspected when he said they were cracked. Caboose was passed out, groaning every time he shifted, and Grif was breathing slowly. He even commented that the sun was down and seemed relieved. Simmons was instructed to take off his armour. Sarge had said he noticed that Simmons' movement seemed off when he was pinning Caboose down.

The Red leader may be a paranoid son of a bitch that had crazy plans, but he knew when something was off.

It took several days before they were able to move without too much pain. Hell, it only took three days until Caboose was running around the canyon with Wash yelling after him to be careful. Wash was like a mother hen to Caboose, and the big guy didn't even seem to care. He actually reveled in it and stared at Tucker with something akin to smugness whenever Wash fussed over him.

All Tucker would do was roll his eyes.

And while they may work with each other, that didn't exclude the fact that Sarge was a paranoid son of a bitch. He decided that there would be two bases. A red and blue base. No one bothered to argue with him when he started dragging some scrap metal to the other side of the canyon. They all knew him by now. Simmons had to help, and Grif was instructed to drive the scrap they put in the warthog to their base.

How the hell a warthog managed to survive the crash is beyond him.

Never mind a warthog, a fucking tank survived that crash.

They weren't there for long, probably two or three days... and then Carolina and Church were gone.

...Assholes.

Chapter Text

Tucker was pissed, he wouldn't deny that. He expected Carolina to leave, she had eased up after her mission but was still a lone wolf. But he never expected Church to go with her. He then had to watch Caboose mope for a while. Which was irritating the longer it dragged on. And Sarge was doing everything it seemed to piss them off. It was working on Wash, when he borrowed the tank by asking Caboose. And then Wash was getting more controlling, to the point that it was working on Tucker's already short patience.

It seemed, to him, that Wash was trying to take over as leader to replace Church. He may have been a shitty leader, but Tucker knew Church didn't try making them do anything. So, this whole, 'trying to become a new leader' was wearing on Tucker's patience.

So, after becoming irritated with Wash's stupid drills he wandered around the canyon, muttering to himself. Stupid Church. Stupid Wash. Stupid mopey Caboose that missed stupid Church. Stupid tank that survived. Stupid Reds. Stupid Blues.

“That's a lotta 'stupid' there, kid.”

Tucker jolted and turned to see Sarge walking on over with his trusty shotgun in his hands. He crossed his arms and huffed, turning away from the Red leader and pouting.

“Everything's stupid,” Tucker was sounding like a kid more and more these days. A stupid, spoiled kid that didn't know how to shut the fuck up even if other people sent the parents looks that told them to shut the kid up. “What do you want?”

“Nothin',” Sarge answered with a shrug, moving to seeing where Tucker was heading to. Which was nowhere. “Just goin' fer a walk.” He paused and sent the teal soldier a look of suspicion. “Yer not tryin' anythin', are ya?” Tucker rolled his eyes, which Sarge managed to pick up on. “Don't ya roll yer eyes at me, boy...!” He growled threateningly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Tucker held his hands up and rolled his eyes, again. Just to spite him. “Whatever, dad!!

While Sarge growled again at the lack of respect Tucker had froze and widened his eyes. Holy fuck. And this was how he came to realize... Sarge was the fucking dad of their group of misfits. He wasn't the best, but he also wasn't the worst. Except when it came to Grif, then it was fifty-fifty. No way. He refused to accept it. He stood straighter and sent the red a glare.

“Whatever, get lost! Leave me alone!” He turned and stomped away, feeling better when Sarge didn't go after him to demand an apology... and fifty push-ups.

But he did hear 'emotional brat' and bristled.

So, he said. “Old, controlling fucker.”

He then took off running when he heard Sarge start yelling at him. He was a shit, he can admit that. He was grinning when he ran away and into the base, which made the Red leader growl and shake in anger before he turned to head back towards his base. Tucker was still grinning when he watched Sarge storm away while muttering angrily, and was still grinning until he was ordered to do more drills. Son of a...

He ran through them, and came out exhausted. Caboose ran through them... and didn't even sweat. Lucky son of a bitch, with his super strength and stamina.

Why was Caboose so happy, anyway?

Tucker watched as Caboose ran away happily while he was there... dying. Fucking drills. He hated them. Church had accepted that he was lazy and didn't want to lead at all. Didn't try to change him. Just accepted. But the fact that Caboose ran right through and almost instantly came out on the other side shocked Wash enough to declare that training was over. Which was fucking awesome.

Then he was trying to help Wash cheer up. Wash was getting too pathetic for him, complaining about everything and feeling like he was being watched. He was trying to fix the comm. tower, and so far it wasn't doing anything. So of all things Wash told him to go down there and try to fix something. So he went down there and just started kicking random shit to see if it did anything.

No, it did not.

Wash soon caught on. Shouldn't surprise him. Wash seemed to fit right in with their group of idiots. Only he was much more competent than any of them.

Tucker was about to make a snarky comment when the Reds came on over along with the dad of the team—uh, Sarge! Holy crap, what the hell was that? He frowned and informed Wash of the Reds, because even if the Reds suck as soldiers they are quick and quiet. Wash didn't even notice until he said they had a situation. Tucker smirked when Sarge made the suggestion of converting the comm. tower to diesel and then mocked Wash since he assumed he liked everything green. Sarge may be a genius when it came to engineering, but he was so sad when it came to stuff like this. Tucker turned and jumped when he saw Lopez. Where the hell—?

Look at that! He had even made another Lopez!

So Wash told them that if they did anything—or Sarge tried to help—to stab them. Then he was about to say his famous phrase until he realized what that would mean. No thanks. He shuddered at the thought of ever thinking that way about Sarge. Or any other guy.

The highlight of the day—before Caboose ruined it—was when they connected to Donut. Fuck yeah! They cheered, shot bullets, and didn't stop cheering. It was enough to make Wash start to be optimistic. He was even happy when Caboose showed up with a happy greeting.

Then Freckles showed up.

...Yeah, it was enough to scare the Reds shitless.

As soon as the Blues were leaving the Reds sprinted back to their base. Grif just walked. Tucker stared at Freckles with nothing but fear. A big military weapon under Caboose's orders? Yeah, no. It was bound to blow up in their face. And what made it worse, is that it enforced the drills! Made sure he did what Wash ordered! He couldn't even try to sleep in before he could feel the floor shake when Freckles drew near. So he did it begrudgingly.

A couple days later, he frowned when he felt eyes on him and turned to see Grif and Simmons hiding poorly. Well, Grif was hiding rather well, it was Simmons that was sticking out. So, Tucker went on over to find out what they wanted and learned that Sarge thought they were planning something to kill them.

Yeah, he barely had enough time to himself to plan anything. Even when to masturbate, which wasn't a lot.

It sucked.

Then Simmons wanted to stay, so he did. And he would be fucking humming while they cleaned up and was happy. He was happy to clean.

When Wash came back it was to see an irritated Tucker because he had just been asked why he wasn't doing drills. Drills, drills, drills, drills!!!! AGHHHHH!!!! He couldn't help it. He whirled around, glared at Wash, and then started yelling and telling Simmons to shut up! Help them! HAH! All these useless drills were to help them?!! Help them against what?! No one was attacking them!!!

Which was stupid, because right after he said that Sarge and Grif attacked. A two man team. Tucker groaned under his breath. For the love of...

The dad of the team was pissing everyone off at the moment, and Freckles wasn't making anything better. And... what?! Tucker lowered his gun when Sarge said he wasn't fraternizing with the enemy anymore! Enemy?! What enemy?! He almost hit his head when he realized that they were the enemy!

Tucker stared flatly when Sarge ranted about how he thought they could work together and become a little... purple. That was stupid. It was retarded.

Then they were accused of kidnapping the kissass!

Then arguments broke out, everyone was yelling at each other, Tucker got fed up with Wash and started getting furious with him, and Caboose was asking for a fucking newspaper so he could whack his stupid pet with it! They yelled some things, stupid things, and he now regretted ever yelling at Washington because that meant Caboose was the Captain now!

AGHHH!!!

Then fucking freckles shot Sarge and Grif! Tucker froze and stared in stunned silence when he saw Sarge getting thrown away from the warthog and hit the ground. Grif went somewhere behind the tank, but Tucker was too shocked that someone on their team—even if he was a robot—actually shot someone on the Red team. Sarge got up when Simmons ran towards him and asked if he was all right, though he waved him off and said he wouldn't.

And Tucker had to admit, that fucking scared him. Until Sarge opened his mouth and said he wouldn't be all right until he had his revenge.

Just when the dad of the team was about to enact said revenge everyone froze when they heard a gunshot.

For a moment, Tucker had thought Freckles actually shot Sarge, but it wasn't. It was... Donut! Tucker forgot all about the arguments and ran over with everyone else, too excited to be angry that Caboose was his commanding officer now.

Until Donut fucked up the day.

Beating up his ass just made it a tiny bit better.

They all went their separate ways, too pissed off to remain in each others presence. Tucker spent all day kicking everything out of the way and had to put whatever he kicked back to where it was because Freckles was monitoring. So he had to be extra careful, then he was given duty by Caboose to fix the comm. tower while Simmons whimpered pathetically beside him.

So, because he didn't want to die, he did as he was told. Tried to, in the beginning. Then he started pretending he was fixing it, because he didn't understand how the hell to even fix it. Stupid Caboose. Then Simmons made a stupid thing called 'Basebook' and got to the point of so pathetic he almost felt sorry for him.

Seriously, what the hell was with him and Sarge? He knows Simmons has daddy issues, but this is really, really sad. In a bad way.

When Wash walked up to him he ignored him and continued hitting the console, at first, and then tried following his directions, only to later realize that it was turned off. But talking to him... he calmed down and started talking to him. Sure, yeah... Wash was trying to help them... but he was trying to do it by turning them into something they're not. It was like... he expected them to act like real soldiers. And they weren't. He expected both the Reds and Blues to act like something they're not.

And that's what pissed Tucker off the most.

Tucker accepted it. That he would not turn into a badass like Tex. Like Carolina and Wash. Like any of the Freelancers. Sure, he was frustrated sometimes that he couldn't really protect himself against a single punch from Tex, but he knew that she trained hard to get where she was. That she was at a level no one could reach.

And he could never reach that position.

He was happy with it. Give them more work, and leave him relaxing and just do what he normally did when they were in the canyon. Except Caboose telling him to clean up the base. Where the hell did all that garbage even come from?

Wash apologized to Caboose... gave him a nice speech, he'd admit that. He had to agree, though, Church had abandoned them. Without a word. Fucking asshole. But, Caboose was happy with Wash, and even gave him back the leadership. Tucker was... well, he'd admit, that speech was enough to make him feel better. But being attacked ruined the moment. Stupid jerks. And just as the dad of the team appeared with the Reds Tucker froze when he heard a gunshot. They might not be the best soldiers, but they knew what a gunshot sounds like.

Then Felix appeared...

Wash was right to be paranoid. They should've never trusted that guy.

But they were confused and had no idea what was going on. They interrogated him, kinda. He seemed nice enough, and he sure gave everyone a scare when he said he was a freelancer, but they should have shot him. Tucker frowned while this guy told them that they were the greatest heroes in the galaxy. Was he serious? Was that how everyone saw them?

They were on Chorus, a backwater planet everyone forgot... fucking great.

He didn't really know what happened after that. They got ready, he fixed Caboose's helmet(how the hell he accomplished that, he'll never know), they fortified their position and Sarge ruined it by building a frickin' robot that wanted to kill them all. Apparently, their dumb robot put himself into it. Oh, and that's not all!! He chose the time to attack the same time Locus did!

They were rushed, they did what they had to to survive and almost got a scare when Freckles went down. Never mind, they did have a scare when Freckles went down because when they hooked him up to the ship it was only to find out fucking Donut was downloading a stupid, fucking photo!! He pissed everyone off right there. Except he heard the gunshot and Wash and Simmons calling for Donut...

Fuck it!

He ran towards Red base while cursing the pink soldier and dodged attacks at the same time. He was fucking awesome! He shot down Basebook when he arrived and almost relaxed that he was sure Freckles was getting power from the ship now.

Y'know, until he heard someone behind him.

His first thought was that he thought he was fucked and froze when he heard a gunshot. Except there was no pain. So he guessed it wasn't him that was shot. Turning around, he never expected to see Dos point 0 standing there... except it wasn't.

Tucker almost reared back when he realized it was Lopez!!

He almost touched him to see if it was really him, but they needed to meet up with the others. He ran out of the base and heard Lopez heading after him. For a moment he thought they were going to survive. Except he didn't expect to see Wash go down when he arrived. He had to admit, his heart fucking stopped. He froze and called out for him and jumped when he heard a noise from Lopez and turned to see him down, as well. Fuck! Fuck, fuck, fuck!!

He went for cover and called out for Lopez. He couldn't be, he had to be—

He almost relaxed when he heard Lopez shouting angrily in Spanish—they really needed a translator.

Tucker sighed in relief when he heard Sarge yelling angrily, like usual. Maybe they can still win, with the seven of them(Freckles included).

He froze when he heard a grunt and looked over to see Sarge gone from his post.

Where...?

He ducked back down and cursed when he heard more troops coming. Fuck. Fucking hell!! Fuck this planet, seriously! He was pretty sure they were going to lose, and by losing that also meant dying, when Freckles went down. Caboose was obviously panicked because his pet was down, but they were going to fucking die now.

Tucker was actually about to jump out when they felt and heard a rumble. The hell was that? He then turned to see a hole suddenly appear in the wall with troops running out. That had to have been the backup Felix had called. All he had heard Felix say was that they had to go.

So that's what he did.

He was sure Grif and Simmons, or at least Simmons and Grif, would grab Sarge and Caboose was heft Wash on his back and someone would grab Lopez and Donut. They had to... Except when he got there, he only saw three run into the tunnel.

He saw Wash. He could see him, standing up. He was sure he was going to run for it, to make it, to lead them.

He never expected the idiot to tell Freckles to shake.

Tucker yelled out for him and the next everything was black.

When he woke up, it was to hear Felix talking to him soothingly... well, not soothingly, but in a way that didn't hurt his fucking pounding head. They carried him to base after a rock hit his head. Or rather, Caboose did. He took a brief look around and noticed the ceiling of a cave and didn't bother trying to notice anything else. They wouldn't be here long, right?

So he had to ask... Where Sarge was. Wash. Donut and Lopez. Freckles.

They had to leave them.

War, Felix said. No, fuck that. No, they couldn't be dead. Nothing could kill them! They were proof that nothing could kill them! They were the universe's worst soldiers and they were still standing!! Tucker got pissed off, he had a right to be pissed off. He told Felix to fuck off, because no way was Wash and the others dead. Not them. Not Sarge, Wash, Donut, Lopez, and even Freckles. No way.

He grudgingly listened to Kimball when she introduced herself, too pissed off to even try hitting on her, and left when she recommended that he go see the others that made it. The only ones of their group that made it. He walked through this sad excuse of a base and ignored everyone that muttered to each other and openly stared at him, as if... as if he was the answer to all their prayers. Yeah, right.

He found Grif, Simmons, and Caboose looking at a canteen or something. Just them. The four of them... possibly the only ones that survived. They were in a cave in the middle of a jungle. Simmons and Grif argued, maybe to try and make it normal, to make it seem like nothing was wrong and it didn't affect them... but he couldn't get past the fact that it was only them. They all went quiet when they had to face it.

It was only them.

Felix called them, so they followed and stood in front of Kimball. He was too pissed off. Pissed off at this war, the rebels, the leaders, the mercenaries, because fuck everything. This whole thing was too stupid. Yeah, sure, the rebels needed their help, like it was going to make any differenc—... Wait...

Tucker stepped forward, along with the others, when he heard that the others were alive. They weren't dead? They were alive? They can save them? Sarge, Wash, Donut, and Lopez were alive!! Except he didn't know if Freckles was alive, but they were alive!!!

Except it was a quid pro quo... or whatever that fucking meant. They needed to be in this fucking war to save their friends. They help these rebels and they save their friends. He heard Grif mutter “oh shit” under his breath and he agreed.

And they gave these idiots hope. Them. The worst soldiers in history. The problem was that they didn't know how to lead. Sarge may be... well, to be honest, he was a shitty leader, but he was still a leader. He gave orders and shit. And Wash was a leader. They never led anyone before!!

They needed to try... Wash said he needed to try... Tucker frowned and could practically feel the reluctance from Grif and Simmons. They didn't even know if they could do this.

Stupid Wash... stupid Sarge... they all suck.

Now, Tucker was forced to be a leader to a bunch of people that didn't know how to fight. They must've gotten their info wrong, if they thought they know how to teach people shit. They can't fight, they can't do anything without screwing something up. Tucker liked to think it was a talent sometimes.

He was bunking with Caboose, which he hated. Hated hearing the big guy whimpering in his bed when they went to bed. Crying that he wanted Freckles, wondered what happened to Wash and the Reds. Tucker didn't know. He wanted their group back together and then they could leave. He didn't really care about this stupid civil war. He just wanted to go.

Find Junior.

Go back home.

Simmons and Grif were bunking together, which was no surprise there. They loved each other. Secretly married, whatever. He made the mistake of saying that out loud when they were having their lover's quarrel and had to run for about ten meters when Grif ran after him. Okay, sure, they were friends, but that was hard to distinguish when they were together.

It was the same routine. Try to teach the rebels and hoping that their friends were alive... Well, friends was stretching it, but still.

He had been sitting with Simmons and Grif while Caboose tried teaching the rebels some manoeuvres. They could barely keep up with the hyperactive Blue.

“...Do you think he'll accidentally teach 'em something?” Grif asked, leaning back with something in his hand while they were sitting on the stairs. “Ten bucks says he will.”

Simmons was quiet for a moment. “...I want to switch teams.”

Grif and Tucker turned their heads and frowned at him. “Why?” Tucker asked, staring at the man like he was crazy.

“Uh...” Simmons shifted in his seat and shrugged. “No reason, just want to.”

Didn't Simmons have the team that consisted of only girls? Tucker rolled his eyes and looked back to Caboose as he did jumping jacks in his civvies. It was rare that they were outside their armour, it was practically melded to them. It made Tucker uncomfortable, if he was honest. People stared, the first time they were out of their armour. At Caboose because of his height and how fucking ripped he was, and him, because he was clearly awesome, at Grif because they hadn't expected his weight, and at Simmons because of his cybernetic parts.

But they were fucking awesome.

As soon as they were done with lunch they were getting back into their armour and continue this stupid training.

“So, uh...” Shit, he didn't know how to bring this up. “Do you think Sarge—Wash, Donut, and Lopez are okay?” He kept his eyes at the two Reds. He needed to make sure he wasn't the only one who saw Sarge at the dad of the team.

Grif rolled his eyes and huffed while Simmons sat straight. “He is, I mean... at least I hope so!” Simmons looked worried, glancing at his food with a frown, clearly thinking of only Sarge. “He... He's fine. Wash is fine, too, I'm sure.” He gave Tucker an uncomfortable smile. “They're all fine.” He sounded like he was trying to comfort himself.

“Yeah...” Tucker narrowed his eyes slightly. “So... what position would you say Sarge is... in our group of crazy bastards?”

Simmons and Grif turned to him with frowns. “What do you mean?” The orange soldier actually stopped eating to stare at him.

“Is he... like the crazy brother that builds stuff... or the grumpy uncle?” He shrugged lightly and continued to stare. “I'm obviously the cool cousin because I don't want to be seen with any of you.”

“You're being seen with us now, asshole,” Grif rolled his eyes and scoffed. “How the hell should we know? Why bring this up anyway?” He suddenly started eyeing him strangely, which Tucker didn't care for. He just wanted to know.

“Uh...” Simmons blushed in embarrassment and looked away. “W-Why?”

“Just 'cause.” Tucker shrugged, trying to play it cool.

“We-Well, I—”

“I think mister sergeant would be a great dad,” Caboose suddenly piped up, which made them all jump in surprise to see him panting lightly with sweat on his face and a wide smile. Tucker relaxed slightly. Oh, good, he wasn't the only one that saw him that way. Even if it was Caboose. “He was very nice to me, and doesn't act like my dad at all.” Okay, now he just made them uncomfortable.

Sarge?” Grif gave Caboose a flat stare, still leaning back. He still forgot about his food, wow. “...Sarge was nice to you?” Caboose nodded. “A blue?” Caboose nodded once again. “...Bullshit.”

“But he was!!” Caboose whined and even added a stomp to the ground.

“Until I see it, I'm calling bullshit,” Grif wasn't moved and continued to munch out. He wasn't moved by the pout Caboose gave him. “I'd say he was more of the asshole uncle that said shit and our family doesn't speak to him anymore.” He paused and frowned in distaste. “W-Why the hell are we even talking about this? Screw this, let's go train!”

Simmons piped up. “You want to willingly train?” He gave a flat stare.

“When I say train, I mean you assholes give 'em drills and I'll comment from the side.”

“Of course.” Simmons rolled his eyes with a smirk.

Then it was left alone, which satisfied Tucker.

He later heard, when they were getting ready to turn in, Simmons ask Grif the same thing. Grif responded with a snore, one that sounded to fake. Tucker was almost knocked aside by Caboose when he rushed towards the room and said he was going to go to sleep so the days went faster and that they could rescue their friends.

He hated Palomo. He was an annoying shit. The others on his squad were all right, they didn't piss him off. But Palomo... Ugh, if he wasn't looked at with respect he'd probably punch him. The man just got on his nerves by always seeming to mess everything up. He didn't know how the others were doing with their squads, but he had heard Simmons' entire team consisted of girls and he couldn't talk to them without his voice cracking up.

Grif and Tucker teased him for days.

He heard Caboose's squad could barely keep up, but Caboose couldn't make a plan in the middle of a war zone worth shit so they only exercised.

Grif... well, he heard that he made his squad do everything. So, no surprise there.

He and Caboose were getting ready for bed when one of Caboose's troops walked up to them, and Tucker had to stop as well because Caboose couldn't navigate through this cave worth shit.

“Captain Caboose,” Did he mention they were promoted? Fucking awesome. Wow, this guy sounded macho. He just wished he dropped the goody act. Tucker rolled his eyes when he even saluted. “The team wished to know if you would be willing to train with us for another half hour.”

“It's time for bed, Smithy.” Caboose sounded tired and turned to acknowledge the smaller man. Small for him, this guy was taller than Tucker.

“It's Smith, sir. And yes, I realize, but—”

Tucker scowled and groaned when he realized that he would need to stay because Caboose wouldn't be able to find his way to the barracks. He turned his head when he saw Grif and Simmons heading for the barracks, and the orange soldier was actually power walking at the chance to sleep. Fuck that.

He waved them over, seeing them pause and hesitate.

If he had to suffer, so did they.

Since it was just them... out of their group... they didn't trust anyone. Oh, sure, they talked to people. But they didn't bother to get to know anyone else. Not without making sure that their friends were okay. They couldn't really relax since they've been here. They slept, they exercised, but they were too round up. Even Grif. Just knowing that it was possible to save their friends... but not knowing if they were being tortured.

In the end, the three of them sat on the ground while Caboose trained with his troops because he didn't know how to say no. Tucker sighed and rubbed the back of his head and glanced at the two Reds. He should probably be surprised they even agreed to sit with them, but... not really.

“...Did you know... that Wash... liked playing the game?” He tried making conversation and glanced at his two friends. “...Capture the flag?”

Grif snorted. “Game? It wasn't a game to Sarge,” He waved his hand in the air and made a noise, something between a snort and a scoff. “He didn't know how to admit defeat, especially from a Blue.” He sounded like he was grinning. “He'd sulk around the base for days until the next match.”

“It was tough, trying to compete against Washington,” Simmons said and shook his head, helmet off and holding a bottle of water. “I'm not surprised that Sarge marched over one day and started yelling at Washington.”

Tucker looked at him and frowned. “What?” He didn't know this. “When?”

Grif turned his head. “Oh, yeah. Marched over one day with just Wash and Caboose outside and started yelling about how Wash wasn't giving us a chance to win. Then he...!” He started snickering and waving his hand. “Then he started scolding Wash like he was a kid!!”

“Yeah, agent Washington was embarrassed.” Simmons sounded like he was laughing, as well.

Aw, man, Tucker would have given anything to see that.

They didn't get anymore time to reflect on the past before Caboose was done and he wandered over with heavy pants. Tucker frowned to himself. This meant waiting for Caboose to finish a shower so he didn't stink up the room. But he walked towards the wash racks while Simmons and Grif headed towards the barracks.

Several months passed, and it turned out he was competent enough to go into the field, whereas Caboose, Grif, and Simmons still needed to do some more practice. Hah, suckers. They infiltrated some bases, had to retreat some bases, and blew up some bases. So far it was proving to be a waste of time. They hadn't heard anything about their friends—and at the same time not-friends—in months!!! Then came that same fear that they might be... dead. No, no, they still had information that they were alive, they just didn't know where.

Until they found information in one base, and like hell Tucker was going to let this opportunity go by. He got it, and in return he lost the lives of two people on his team. Which left Palomo... fucking loser. Tucker wanted to hit him every time he opened his stupid mouth. There were times he actually almost shot him. He didn't know why, he just hated that asshole.

When it gave Kimball the information they needed to save them, he was ready. He wanted to rescue their friends, all right, he could admit that they're all friends. Even if some of them them didn't see it that way(Sarge). They were ready, he could even sense some anticipation from Grif even if he tried to hide it. They could do it. Then Kimball said no. She fucking said no. Not enough resources. Okay, then. She said they could go, if they made an elite team. Felix sounded skeptical.Tucker was about to prove him wrong, they will make their team the best damn team ever.

He just wished Palomo wasn't in the damn team.

Even if Felix didn't want to be their target, it didn't matter. They beat him, and they can go.

They just didn't count on him actually fighting against them. Well, he didn't do much, but it was enough to overwhelm them. It was humiliating, it was almost as if Felix was trying to humiliate them. It pissed Tucker off to no end.

So he had to confront the bastard and ask why he was making this difficult. Their goal was so close!

And Felix was right, as much as he hated it, if they took anyone else with them they might die. But he was starting to piss him off. He wasn't trying to be something he wasn't! All he wanted to do was save his friends and leave!! That's what he's been trying to do from the beginning!!! He wasn't trying to be a hero or anything!! He was a selfish son of a bitch that wanted his family and to leave this shitty planet!!

Tucker inwardly thanked Kimball for stopping Felix before Tucker punched him... well, try to punch him. The asshole's good, he'll give him that.

He scowled when Felix had to make one last remark. So he said Felix doesn't care if anyone dies, which is true. He kept scowling when Kimball asked him to walk with her and talk. Fuck. He listened, and almost panicked when she said her predecessors were assassinated. Shit, it couldn't be good to be near her. He found out Felix and Locus worked together once before. Rivals. So Felix only joined this war because of Locus and rare artifacts. Huh. But he didn't really care about that, except he could kind of guess why Felix was such a hardass. And she was right, they were slowly making progress, but not fast enough. They had Wash's coordinates. They had their coordinates. They could go save them right now, but...

They could go save them right now...

Felix was right, if they took the elite team they'd probably just get killed. But them, the Blues and Reds... No one had their luck.

No matter what they did, through all the stuff they went through, they were lucky sons of bitches. They got through everything they did through sheer luck. Sarge got shot in the fucking head and survived. Grif had most of his organs destroyed and lived. Tucker had to fend for himself in the fucking desert. They were in fights they should have killed them and they survived.

So, when he made sure Kimball left her office he snuck in and started looking for the data they needed. He found it, along with a few personal things of Kimball's he left alone because he wasn't a creep that snooped her stuff. He looked through them, and left just as quickly.

He went looking for the others and was definitely confused as to why Grif ran up to him and started saying crap that wasn't making sense. What did Grif even mean by not wanting a southern accent? He quickly shook it off and told him to meet him later. When they asked why he then told them they were leaving. They were all confused, when he said they weren't taking their squad, and soon understood when he explained why they were leaving the team behind. But they were still confused as to why they should even go, since they thought it might get themselves killed.

So Tucker told them.

Everything they've practically done has been dumb. They don't make plans, they don't use code names, they've just been themselves. Which is practically dumb.

Simmons was against it, immediately started protesting because they were going to have no plan. But Grif surprised the hell out of them. He didn't want to become a 'Sarge'... whatever that meant, but he didn't want to give shitty orders to a bunch of soldiers that would probably just get them killed. They sucked. But Caboose was in, so they all looked at Simmons when he remained the only one that didn't say anything. When he begrudgingly decided to come along Tucker grinned. They left a message and left, nodding to some of the soldiers that greeted them.

He had Simmons be on the lookout, since Caboose probably wouldn't even understand what to do, while they got the two jeeps ready. Grif filled them up and checked them over. And it was moments like these that Tucker realized that Grif actually had some training if he knew how to work practically any vehicle he came across.

They were soon leaving, leaving the Rebels and any chances of getting them killed.

Yeah, he'd rather not have that on his conscience.

So they went, with Caboose frequently complaining that he needed a bathroom break. Tucker kept snapping at him to hold it until they needed to refill. They weren't the best soldiers, but a short time with Carolina taught them that they could go for hours until they needed to stop. Not that they tried. They did stop every two hours until they arrived at the gas station.

They heard some sort of noise, one that made Tucker frown before he assumed it was the owners and told Caboose to go get them. Then he told Grif and Simmons to fill up the cars and scowled when Grif told him to do it himself. Okay, sure he had to go bathroom but he didn't need to be a dick. How haven't they died, yet? He had to guess pure luck.

Maybe spending some time with Wash made him paranoid or something. But he went to go investigate that noise, hearing voices and seeing Caboose round the corner. He grabbed him and gave him the signal to be silent, and of course he couldn't, so he crept to the edge and peered over with Simmons and Grif on his six. They stayed quiet, staring at the strange soldiers.

Who were they? Are they the Feds? He heard them mention Reds and Blues and almost jumped up. Did they say Locus?

He narrowed his eyes when they turned and went around the corner, so he got up and ran after them. If he could just find out which direction they were going in... When he ran around the corner he startled when he realized they disappeared. What the hell? Who were they? And he heard that noise again...

They needed to go.

They went back to the gas station and refilled the tanks and were on their way to the base. If that conversation meant anything... it probably meant that they were going to move Wash and them soon. They needed to leave, now.

Where did our new friends go?” Caboose asked over their shared channel.

Hell if we know,” Grif said, leading the way since Simmons was navigating. “Why should we even care?

Maybe because we've never seen them before.” Simmons said sarcastically.

Tucker rolled his eyes when they started bickering again, with Caboose commenting every now and then. Almost... They were almost there. He knew as soon as he noticed that snow was starting to surround them. He was almost reminded of Sidewinder. They drove for a couple more hours before they finally arrived, and they stood on one side of a wall.

Okay, now for their talent.

He asked for suggestions. Simmons' was just asking for them to get shot. Grif wasn't taking this seriously, as usual. They needed dumber. Something the enemy wouldn't expect. How...? When Caboose suggested that they melt it he rolled his eyes before he paused. Wait... it could work. They could go under!! Grif and Simmons were instantly skeptical, but c'mon!! They always made dumb plans!! Now they just needed a way to melt the snow. Tucker grinned when he realized he had a way to melt it and stabbed his sword into the ground.

He paused.

Wait, this might take a while.

They stared at the sword in the ground for a moment and jolted when they heard a loud noise and felt the ground beneath them give.

They all yelped when they fell and hit the ground and pushed themselves up. It worked!! Tucker grinned and froze when he heard a voice, and they all turned as one in the direction of the voice. They panicked, and he instantly felt irritated when he didn't plan this far ahead. Fuck!!! They couldn't just go running down the tunnels, there could be more guards. They panicked again.

Then... fuck, he still didn't remember how... but somehow... Grif built snowmen in record time and they hid inside.

He had to kill the soldier that wanted to play target practice with them but they hid the body, rather poorly, and he felt ecstatic when Simmons said there was nothing between them and the base. They were close! Except that wasn't quite what Simmons meant.

He stared at the open space, absolutely nothing to shield them from anyone. They couldn't sneak across. But... maybe they could. Nobody was there.

But as soon as he fucking said it out loud they heard a horn and suddenly people were suddenly there. Fuck. So he turned and wandered down the tunnel and stared at the pipes. Those had to be important, right? They could do this. Cause problems elsewhere and send the soldiers there and they can make a run for it. Hell, he was even ready to be locked up with Wash and everyone else.

But Simmons made a good point. What if Grif got shot. There was only three of them and they couldn't carry him, even with Caboose's help. He stared at the orange soldier, who wasn't even offended, and decided... fuck it. He told Caboose to do his thing and smirked when the Blue soldier jumped and immediately 'cleaned' the pipes by shooting them.

They could hear the alarms and Tucker frowned when he heard nothing. But when he heard something about the barracks all the soldiers ran away from the area. He ran towards the nearest entrance to the base and felt exasperated when he could already hear Grif panting hard.

Running through the tunnels and making it to the door... well, he can honestly say that none of them expected to see Wash, Sarge, Donut, and Lopez on the either side. Tucker had gawked when he saw Wash and almost shot him to see if he was real. Didn't know why that logic popped into his head, he might be hanging around with Caboose too much.

Simmons and Grif looked straight at Sarge and were clearly shocked, like they thought they would never see him again. Caboose was clearly happy to see everyone, but he scanned them and almost dropped when he realized that Freckles wasn't with them. Tucker relaxed when he saw that Wash was all right. He wasn't dead. He was alive. He looked at the dad of the team.

Sarge was already fighting with Grif.

Tucker smirked and rolled his eyes.

They hadn't even noticed anything off until Simmons pointed out that the alarms were off. This gave Tucker an uneasy feeling, which only grew when they ran outside to see that everyone was gone. What the fuck? He frowned and asked Wash what was going on. When they ran over the hill to catch up with Sarge, Lopez, and Donut it was only to see a man disintegrate.

Tucker didn't have a weak stomach, not as weak as Simmons', but he was close to losing his chunks after that.

Fucking gross.