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Shadow of the Mountain

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It was during the fight on the Staff that Grif finally realized that he was fucking done

He wasn't exactly sure what was worse: the sound of the rapid fire gunshots punching through the wall, the muted sound of Caboose sniffling, or the time when Simmons' took a hit to the shoulder. Grif had caught it out of the corner of his eye and for a second, his blood ran cold, ice that had been broken apart and was just busy stabbing at his veins while it traveled up the predictable path to his heart. It was only after a second that he realized that the bullet had pinged off the stupid metal that Sarge had put there, reinforced and safe.

And there that decision was staring him in the face, simple and easy while he blinked from behind that flipped table:

Fuck. This.

Done. Fucking done. The end. No more bullshit, no more adventures, no more people to save and plots to stop and wars to get into that weren't even theirs to start with. He was done.

And, then they all were. Afterwards back on Chorus and in Kimball's obsolete war room, everyone was fucking On Board, and without Church's bullshit following them around, they were finally able to retire. Hey, shit had been good, too, with made up wars and dinosaurs and the stupid crap that felt almost like home, like Blood Gulch, where laziness was permitted and even trainable.

Even locked closets had been good, regardless that it required more exertion than Grif normally wanted to give to things. It had been hurried and awkward and weird and comfortable like all the moments with Simmons were, and they didn't talk about it after. They'd probably never talk about that time again.

Or the time that happened after, back in their barracks before they took off for their new home.

Or the time after the waterpark burned down.

Or the time--

Whatever. It happened, and they didn't talk about it because what the fuck would that change? Things were fine like this, things were easy even if they weren't, and he had been able to relax and do all the shit he had wanted to: Nothing. Absolutely nothing. No more being shot at. No more shooting at poor assholes who were only just doing their job. No more trailing after leads and Blue Team Drama and AI bullshit.

This was good.

And then...it wasn't anymore.

When the reporter was talking to them, when the recording of That Asshole Who Won't Stay Fucking Dead was playing, Grif watched Sarge and could feel his excitement over having a tangible enemy to fight. Could feel Donut enthused over helping a "friend" who wouldn't have given him a second thought. Could feel Simmons having another chance to get his C.O. to look his way and fill whatever stupid annoying nerdish hole that Grif couldn't.

And he hated them. He hated all of them. And he hated the Blues for this, hated Dylan for this, hated the goddamn Freelancers for these suicide runs.

Sitting in the cave afterwards, a cigarette balancing between his fingers and smoke turning in his lungs, he remembered his old assignment, before this, before Simmons, before Reds and Blues. He remembered waking up to a sea of dead bodies, laid to waste by the alien invasion that he slept through, feeling alone and confused and fucking lost. He remembered that same fear when he watched Simmons get shot, felt the same thing when they were all going to their certain death for the millionth time.

He couldn't see his team laid out like that, couldn't watch them die again. He couldn't.

The cigarette was stamped out, the helmet replaced before the inevitable Talk Down by the reporter. Huh, he expected it to be Wash, honestly, with that same tone he gave Tucker. Okay, maybe not the same tone because he was pretty sure there was something going on there, but he didn't fucking want to know. It was easier to hate them than to worry about them, than to fear for them. It was easier to tell them to fuck off than go with them and watch them die.

And hey, finally some peace and quiet, right?

Yeah. Sure.

So he watched them fly away, turning off his comm after Simmons tried to hail them on their private channel.

Hey, lazyass, what the hell are you thin--

The squeaky wounded sound in his words was replaced by preferable silence once the helmet was removed and tossed away. Quietly, leisurely, he headed back to their makeshift base, reminding himself that he didn't have to worry about where he threw his dirty clothes anymore or stuck his used dishes or how many days it had been since his last shower. He wouldn't miss that.

He wouldn't let himself miss that at all.