Title: Eternal Summer
Chapter: 10 – The Value of Blood Gulch
Pairing: None Yet (Eventual Grif x Simmons)
Summary: Simmons isn’t the only one who’s not completely human.
Author’s Notes: I’d like to start with a special thanks to all of those who gave condolences following Chip’s passing. It’s been hard for me, but every day gets better. and I may have cheated the healing process along, by purchasing Chip’s half-brother, Teddy. Who’s currently 10 Weeks old and growing fast. Teddy is… Well.. Not Chip but very much himself and a constant reminder to me that even in the hardest times life goes on. Additionaly, as of July 5th, my Fiance will become my Husband. I’ve been having a heck of a time finding time to write, and keep forgetting to make the time to post chapter 10…
As for the next chapter… Theoreticaly (or at least, according to the current outline) it will be the final chapter of this Eternal Summer. Though don’t discount the possibility of a sequal. This AU seems to have a mind of it’s own. Something resembling an ending should show up in July.
Special thanks go to miss_poppet, who has offered up her servises and does a wonderful job as the Beta of the series!
The night had been long for Dexter Grif, mostly spent awake. Instincts screamed at him to protect his pack, and that sort of gut feeling was something worth worrying about. Sure, he’d long had vague feelings of ‘pack’ towards the other members of Blood Gulch Outpost but never before had it been bone deep feelings of ‘protect’ and ‘trust’ raging through him like this. He wondered if the thing that had poisoned him, the Rashra it had been called, had something to do with it. He’d felt every instinct more dramatically since it had bitten him, and had been unable to rein in emotions that drove a snarl into his throat. Time on whatever UNSC ship on the way back to Blood Gulch was going to be a challenge…
The realization that he’d been petting Simmons drifted into his awareness without any knowledge of when it had started, just that his fingers were gently working tangles from the ruddy strands without his advanced permission. He didn’t bother stopping, letting his mind flow back into the swirling thoughts within his head. The most dangerous amongst them was the old woman’s demands for him to sign on as a spy for Kael. She’d accepted his refusal, but he assumed it was only a temporary thing. Her threats to reveal his species were more disturbing than he wanted to admit, and put more than just himself in danger. If he was Kaelsar, only an idiot wouldn’t realize that he parents had to be, too. Donut would be the only person in the galaxy who missed it.
The edges of exhaustion were creeping into Grif’s perception and giving the stubborn mist that clawed at the edges of his vision a foothold. He had almost surrendered to the inevitable power of the venom lingering in his system when a quiet click and the rhythmic sound of footsteps drew his eyes. Simmons shifted slightly and mumbled something indecipherable but didn’t wake. Grif simply waited, leaving the first move to the old bat.
“Have you decided to accept your place and serve your kind?” The threat was unmistakable.
“No.” He kept his voice even and quiet, leaving his fingers tangled in the shaggy auburn locks. “There is nothing worth spying on in Blood Gulch.”
“Do you really have such a loyalty to your human masters?” Her voice was condescending. “Have you yielded to their leash so completely that you’ll fight against your own kind?”
“Considering you’re probably going to trade two suits of MJOLNIR for UN recognition, I don’t think Spartans will be used to bend Kael to anyone’s will.” Grif glared at her, daring her to push harder on the subject. The old woman rose to the challenge.
“Certainly providing your homeworld with an edge is more important to you.”
“Technically, Earth is the Kaelsar homeworld.” Grif would have laughed if he didn’t think it would have woken Simmons. His own grandmother had made the claim more times than he could count, refusing her family’s suggestion that the old woman retire to the Kael ‘homeworld’, where it was safer for someone brushing the edges of dementia. She never did agree to go, and no one ever did find out what she really was.
Romy didn‘t find the implication or his expression entertaining. “Spartans are the greatest danger to your species. Would you rather we inform your superiors that they’ve been harboring and training a Kaelsar?”
“That would turn my entire family into refugees. You can tell the UNSC whatever you want about me as long as you let my family know they need to start running.” Mostly it was a bluff, but Grif was comfortable risking it. “But it’s not like I’d get anything worth the amount of trouble you’re going through. Blood Gulch isn’t worth this much effort.”
“You think I’m a fool, don’t you, boy?” She toyed with the cane, tapping lightly on the floor. “I’ve researched this military base of yours. Two different Spartan Units are deployed there. If nothing worthwhile is there, it’s a foolish waste of manpower.”
“As far as I can tell, it’s a huge waste of manpower. We’re also supposed to be fighting each other, actually. And there’s only one Medic.” As Grif spoke Simmons shifted slightly, and his breathing changed. Grif tightened his fingers almost compulsively, hoping he’d get the message. Simmons seemed to, stilling and playing possum. The change in Grif’s focus, however, wasn’t missed by the old woman.
“What happens to him, if you’re secret comes out? How long has it been his secret, too?” She smirked when that got a dangerous sounding growl from the Spartan. Now her expression turned dangerous. “Isn’t it treason to knowingly harbor one of your kind? I wonder what sort of effect the fact that your both Spartans will have on his fate.”
“Leave him out of this.” Grif tried to keep his voice even and steady, to not tip Simmons off to the dangerous and suddenly changed nature of the discussion. So far the entire thing was happening in K’sar, which Simmons (thankfully) didn’t understand. “How would you feel if I dragged your Clan into this?”
“My Clan is already involved, Spartan.” She spit the final word out like it had burned her tongue. “Do you think your precious UNSC would miss him if we just shipped the armor back?” Cold fury, tempered by dread, ran through Grif’s veins. Only Simmons’ head on his lap and the wall of silver bars between him and the old woman kept him where he was.
“Fine. Leave Simmons and my family out of this, and I’ll be your dog.”
“How nice of you to agree so quickly.” She smirked and started to turn.
“You know,” Grif’s voice was low. “This sort of thing was why Harper and the early Kaelsar revolted in the first place. Kaelsar shouldn’t be used, least of all by each other.”
“You perverted your place amongst your own kind when you donned that armor, Spartan.” She turned, eyes hard and deadly serious. “And made it worse when you made another your pack. Just enjoy the fact that neither of you are dead.” She didn’t wait for a response and simply left, the door closing with a sharp snap behind her. Grif stared as if trying to kill with a look. He was so intense that he didn’t notice Simmons sit up and smooth his ruffled hair flat.
“What did she want?” The simple question in plan English snapped Grif suddenly out of the homicidal fantasy playing out in his mind.
“She’s still wanting me to be a spy.” Grif slumped back against the wall. He’d been sitting upright most of the night, and layered on top of his injury and subsequent envenomation, what rest he’d gotten hadn’t seemed sufficient at all. “I gave in. What am I ever gonna have to report from Blood Gulch?”
“What will you do if there ever is something worthwhile?”
“Probably just pretend I don’t know and not bother with it. Once I’m back, what’s she gonna do? For now I’m just going to play nice.” Grif rubbed his face, trying to find a way to scrub the exhaustion from his being. “But if anyone, Human or Kaelsar, ever asks you anything about what I am. You know nothing. Absolutely nothing. Even if I’ve already been busted.”
It was a disconcerting reminder for Simmons of what his knowledge of Grif’s species really was. By military law he should have been identified as a spy and executed that first day he’d clawed his way up the cliff face and saved both of their lives. “You’ve been hiding it your entire life. It’s not like you’re going to be caught now.”
“I’ve been on Kael for… 2, maybe 3, days?”
“4, actually. You were really out of it for first couple.”
“Okay. 4 then. I’ve been here for 4 days and I’m growling without thinking about it. Basically a lifetime of ‘how not to be caught’ has been destroyed. When we’re picked up we’ll be packed on a UNSC carrier. Which means that, if they can be convinced not to x-ray me, I’m going to be rubbing elbows with a bunch of people who aren’t like you and will shoot me the second they realize what’s going on.” In a sudden deluge thoughts he’d been keeping to himself started to escape. “My mom’s gonna kill me. Went to Kael and the only souvenir’s gonna be a bunch of nasty scars on my face…”
“They wont be too bad…” Simmons knew that Grif knew it was a lie, but it was the sort of lie friends made for each other. “And they don’t look infected anymore. Did she say anything about how often you’re supposed to report, or how she wants it done?”
“Nope. Basically said ‘agree or bad things will happen’. Once I agreed she took off.” Resting his elbows on his knees he tried to stifle a yawn.
“What did you say to her at the end? Looked like you pissed her off…”
“Nothing important. I was going out of my way to be annoying.”
“That’s different from normal how?” Simmons laughed, folding his legs up to sit cross-legged. “You look almost as bad as you did right after that thing chewed on your head. Why don’t you lay down and get some rest? Now that you’re on board with her plan I bet she’ll leave you alone.”
Stretching quickly, Grif settled, his head coming to rest on Simmons lap. “You got over your personal space issues pretty quickly.”
“It’s cold in here. Just relax and enjoy the fact that I‘m willing to cuddle.”