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I admire the gutsy move Miles pulled for the Season 13 finale, but killing off my favorite character combined with the lack of closure was killing me. I eventually decided the only way to move on was to invent my own closure, so I wrote this short story, on how the Red's and Blue's discovered that Church was gone for good and how they dealt with it. Although, I did goof up horribly and forgot to write in Lopez, so, please forgive me for that. Constructive criticism is welcome, this is the first time I've ever tried to write anything science fiction, (and it shows) so please give me feedback. (Good feedback, don't just write saying, "This sucks." Tell me why) This is my take on what may have happened, I hope you enjoy.



The smell of acrid smoke tainted the air as the Pelican door opened, sounds of celebratory grenades and enthusiastic cheering invading their ears as they stepped off the ramp. Grit from a nearby explosion splashed over Simmons, scratching his visor as he tried to spit out grains of sand that could not get through his helmet.

"Hey! Is that how you greet you're savoir!?" Simmons protested , aiming his words at rebels who were paying no attention to him.

"By aiming the money shot at you? I wish that was my hero's welcome." Tucker replied.

Suddenly, Washington appeared from the crowd, Carolina close behind him, the blood on their armour almost making them unrecognizable. "I'd let this one go, Simmons," Washington said, glancing over his shoulder before adding, "Hargrove has tried to make Chorus spill it's own blood for so long, now they want to destroy everything of his that they can get their hands on."

As he spoke, a federation solider climbed over the leg of a mantis, sticking a grenade to it's side before jumping off. As the explosion scattered bolts and shrapnel all over the field, a huge cheer erupted from the watching rebel and federation forces.

"Hah, these people know how to celebrate! What's a good firework show without the risk of being stabbed with flying metal?" Doc/O'Malley said, laughing as Simmons barely dodged a piece of debris the shape of a spearhead.

"Don't go slacking off yet," Carolina barked at Grif, who was nervously edging away from the group in the direction of the base, "Kimball told us she would get them back in order soon, and dispose of all of this properly. So until the UNSC comes for Hargrove and gets us out of here, we may as well help them rebuild," She paused as she noticed Donut, his left arm hanging limply at his side, the bandages still dripping with blood, "Except you."

"And why should we do that? We didn't make them start shooting each other!" Grif complained.

"No, but they still need just as much inspiration now that they're facing the fallout of the war," Carolina pointed out before turning toward Tucker. "Hand over Epsilon. I want to see if there's any salvation for the computer systems around here."

Tucker hesitated, he had hoped to talk to Church a little before he went back to Carolina. Nevertheless, he called, "Church? I know we said we would be exclusive, but Carolina wants you back now."

Only silence answered him. "Church? Come on buddy, wake up."

Still, no blue hologram appeared.

"See? Why does Church get to take a nap-" Grif said, before Carolina silenced him with a glare. "You must not be doing it right. Church! Get over here!"

Nothing.

"Oh no, did you guys have a spat when you were alone? I can't remember a time you two were alone on the ship, but I guess you don't know what goes on when one of your friends is inside the other. " Donut said, oblivious to Sarge as he huffed in embarrassment.

"No, there was nothing...like that, just, don't ever say that again!" Tucker snapped. "Church! Get the fuck up!"

To his surprise, Delta appeared, his green aura duller than usual. "Private Tucker, I am afraid Epsilon is unavailable right now. We are still re charging from the firefight. He left a message for you. Would you like me to play it?"

A small dose of confusion and foreboding zapped the base of Tucker's spine as he said, "Play."

Delta faded away from view, and crackled static screeched through Tucker's helmet and the clearing, before abruptly stopping, Church's voice replacing it.

"Hey guys, if you're listening to this, then it means you did it. You won."

The deafening sound of his heartbeat began to thrum in Tucker's ears. This could not mean what he thought it did. It couldn't.

"All of these things are what make me who I am...but they're also holding me back."

This better be a joke, you son of a bitch.

"But, I am leaving this message, as well as others, in the hopes that you'll understand why I have to go for good this time."

You cannot be quitting on me again, motherfucker.

"They'll never know if they're sacrifice made any difference. They just have to have faith. Ain't that a bitch?"

Then, a high pitched buzzing cut out the frequency, before it went dead. "Would you like me to repeat the message, Private Tucker?" Delta asked politely.

"No. I want you to bring out Church, now." Tucker growled, his grip on his sword handle tightening.

"Tucker-" Washington began, but Delta cut him off, "I cannot do that, Epsilon has deconstructed himself, he no longer exists. Would you like me to play some of his other messages?"

A strong wave of anger washed over his senses, so strong he didn't feel his legs shaking. "No. Transfer to Carolina."

The faint green hologram faded out and instantly reappeared by Carolina's shoulder, who was staring at the ground like it was the most fascinating thing in the universe.

"What a darn shame. Church was a fine solider, he deserved better than that." Sarge sighed, with more sorrow in his voice than Tucker ever heard before.

"He was not a solider. He was a coward." Tucker growled, his hands balled into fists. Sarge swiveled his head toward him, squaring his shoulders like he was ready to argue, but Caboose interrupted whatever he was going to say, beaming, "That doesn't matter, now we can rebuild him like last time! He'll be better than ever, with the new memories we have! Santa can give us something to put him in!"

"Caboose, it won't be like last time. Church, he... wanted, he needed..." Washington trailed off, slowly looking away from him as if Caboose's optimism hurt his eyes.

Tucker turned from the group, walking toward a bluff in the distance. All he knew at that moment was that he wanted to be alone.

No one called after him.


The sun had sank halfway into the horizon when the noise of rebels and federation soldiers celebrating and clearing away rubble finally died down as the news of Church's demise trickled through the masses. Normally, they would be tearing up the night to welcome their new found peace, but now, all was quiet as the light bled upon the broken land, to show respect for their heroes loss.

Just as the sky began to darken, the sound of metal scraping against gravel snapped Tucker out of his thoughtless laments.

"Enough is enough, Tucker. You can't sit here forever." Washington said.

"I am not going to sit here forever. Just, a really long time." Tucker snapped.

"Come on, Tucks! There are more comfortable places to sit than dirt! Like park benches, or cheap office chairs, or narrow ledges!" To his irritation, Caboose appeared, grabbing his arm and pulling Tucker up to his feet with surprising strength.

"Tucks?" He sneered.

"Jensen said one of the best ways to cheer people up is give each other cool nicknames! Donut said he wanted to be called Peach because it's light red and pretty, and Grif was going to be named Large, but it went to Sarge instead because it rhymes. He was not happy about it." Caboose explained.

"Caboose, how about you go ahead and tell the others I am bringing Tucker back?" Washington ordered gently, the concern in his voice clear.

"Sure thing, Wash. See you back at base, Tucks!" Caboose called over his shoulder as sauntered away. Once he was out of earshot, Tucker said, "Do me a favour, and make sure no one ever calls me that again."

To his surprise, Washington stayed silent, he only scanned the horizon as if he was searching for the right response. Tucker tried to walk past him, but he suddenly snapped back to attention, blocking Tucker's path with his arm.

"Tucker, everyone can see that you're not taking this well." Washington began after a moment's hesitation.

"Well, who would?" He snapped back.

"No one, just, that's not what I meant." Washington sighed, lowering his arm to his side. "You called Church a coward. Lying to yourself about him or his intentions is only going to make things worse."

"I am not lying, it's true. He left us to fight those mercs alone. Who else would do that but a coward?" Tucker said.

Washington leaned his head to the side, stunned into silence for a brief moment. "This again? He died for us. He wouldn't have deconstructed himself if he didn't feel it wasn't necessary." Tucker looked away from him, and Washington added, "This is getting old, Tucker. He didn't abandon anyone. Don't bring up your old grievances, Church isn't here to argue with you anymore."

"I don't care. He still chose this, and I don't have to accept it." Tucker growled before power walking down the hill. He barely took five steps before Washington's icy tone stopped him in his tracks, "Do you really think you're the only one who knows about loss?"

A silent instinct urged Tucker to turn around, and when he did, he came face to face with Washington, who leered over him like he was about to attack. "Or did you just forget about my history while you were wallowing in sorrow over here?"

Before Tucker could retort, he continued, "I know what it's like to lose your friends. I couldn't deal with the pain, so I forced myself to stop feeling it, to stop feeling everything. I let the ice grow from within, and look where it got me. Almost murdered by the last 'comrade' I had, that's what."

Abruptly, he stopped, sighing in exhaustion. Washington turned away, as if he couldn't bear to look at Tucker anymore, and murmured, "You haven't lost everything, so don't act like you have. Now, come on, we've wasted enough time here." Without looking back, Washington briskly walked down the slope, his head bowed deeply. Tucker followed after a second of hesitation, his mind numb.


Tucker awoke not to the bustle of federation and rebel soldiers clearing debris outside, rather the loud bickering he could not understand through the walls of the barracks. As he got up and walked out into the bright day, he recognized the voice of Donut, complaining, "No roses, no lilies, not even a few pitiful daisies? Do you expect me to just take these...weeds?!"

"I am sorry, no one was out protecting the flowers from explosions or gunfire." Kimball's voice rasped in response, her flat tone making it clear her patience had gone awhile ago.

Tucker turned the corner and saw the Red's as well as Kimball and Carolina standing in the clearing, Donut glumly holding a fistful of yellow flowers.

"Don't worry, solider, roses and the like are overrated. Their smell is so nauseating. and they're so expensive, they think they're better than everyone else!" Sarge said.

"Sir, with all..." Grif paused, sighing in exasperation before adding, "due respect, do you even listen to yourself anymore?!"

Before an argument could break out, Tucker butted in, "So, um, you guys are all...talking about flowers? Is there anything that I missed recently, like, broken closet hinges?"

"For your information, our closets are intact and closed, asshole." Simmons retorted, pausing as everyone stared at him questioningly. He shook himself before continuing, "The point is, these are for Church's funeral."

Suddenly, a heavy weight slammed down over Tucker's shoulders. He had forgotten in his half asleep state of mind. "A funeral? For what? It's not like he was...alive, or anything."

"A funeral isn't just about burying a body. It's about honouring the fallen." Kimball pointed out, purposefully turning her back to Tucker as she asked Carolina, "Now, are you sure you don't want anyone else there? My soldiers wouldn't hesitate to help pay respects to the one that saved their heroes."

"No, it's fine, Kimball. You have your own ceremonies to plan." Carolina said with a quick glance at the Reds. It didn't take a genius to know that they'd all be uncomfortable accepting the respects of thousands of soldiers who, in the end, didn't know Church that well.

"Alright. We're going to be kept busy building a new capital, but don't hesitate to call on me if you change your mind." Kimball said with a barely detectable trace of regret before walking away.

When she was barely out of earshot, Donut sighed in frustration. "Well, if these are the best flowers I am going to get, I'll just have to make sure everything else is perfect! Grif, you said Doc was in the mess hall, right?"

"Erm, yeah.." Grif replied slowly.

"Then let's go! With his expertise in decoration, he can help us find the perfect bluff for Church's funeral. Nothing but the spot with the best natural lighting will do." Donut cried.

"Wha-what do you mean, us?! What makes you think I want to go hiking to the tops of hills? That goes against my rule of not walking up-hill!" Grif protested.

"Oh, I don't know, maybe because my arm still bleeds like a thirteen year old girl if I so much as move it the wrong way? I can't walk that far by myself!" Donut pointed out.

"Well, that's a good reason to, you know, not go searching for funeral spots, and rest instead. Seriously, what do you people have against sleeping? Besides, you just said you wanted to take Doc with you. You won't be alone." Grif argued.

"Um, Grif, I am not sure if a useless medic with a violent split personality counts as…real support." Simmons said.

"Guys, I can't believe I am saying this, but I agree with Grif. Why should a crippled guy go hiking any-" Tucker began to but in, but suddenly Sarge stepped forward, staring down Grif intensely. "Grif, I ordered you to help Donut plan the funeral. This is important to him." He spoke in a soft, menacing growl that seemed to freeze everyone except Carolina to the ground.

"Why aren't you making Simmons help? I just want to be alone!" Grif complained, his question left unanswered as Sarge bowed his chin, intensifying his stare as the shadows darkened his visor.After a brief stand off, Grif stepped away from him, muttering, "Yeah, kiss ass doesn't have to do any work," before following Donut to the mess hall.

Tucker looked at Sarge in disbelief, wondering aloud, "Ok, first, I come out here to find you all talking about flowers, and then Sarge actually acts intimidating? Tell me, am I in a fever dream, or a drug induced nightmare?"

"Hey, you don't need to be on drugs to find Sarge intimidating." Simmons said.

"Maybe you don't, you damn pussy, but I wasn't asking you." Tucker retorted.

"You need to grow a pair, Tucker," Sarge rasped, throwing Tucker off guard. Simmons snorted in satisfaction, and Carolina instinctively looked away to hide her smile...even if it was already hidden.

Sarge turned toward the Tucker, saying, "I don't know what nonsense is swirling around in your head to call Church fake, but he was a still a friend to all of us, fancy blue hologram or robot body be damned. We're all hurting, but we all show it in different ways. After you went wandering off like a scalded cat, Grif was shutting everyone out. And I won't let that dirtbag cut off the people who can help him through it."

"See, that's kind of the whole problem. Since when have you cared about helping other people, let alone Grif?" Tucker questioned.

"Helping?" Sarge echoed, chuckling softly. "I prefer to see it as steering him away from me. Right now..." He paused, looking off into the distance where Grif, Donut, and Doc/O'Malley were barely visible on a small ridge. Donut suddenly stumbled, barely avoiding falling on his face as Grif held him up. The wind barely carried over the sound of Grif's complaining to where they stood.Sarge sighed heavily, adding, "I am too tired to insult him directly."

Carolina walked past him, pausing for a split second as if she was considering patting Sarge on the shoulder, then decided against it.

"Tucker, can I speak to you alone for a minute?" She asked.

Bow chika bow wow, Out of habit, Tucker said the words in his head, but out loud, he replied, "Um, sure?"

Once Carolina and Tucker had walked out of earshot of the two Red's, who had been called for help by a group of federation soldiers struggling with a sputtering vehicle nearby, Carolina held out her arm for them to stop. "Listen, Tucker, Wash and I have been talking, and we decided that we need to get it through Caboose's head that Church is gone. The longer he thinks he's going to come back, the more damage he's going to do to himself, and everyone around him." Carolina said.

"Why not? He's lived in denial every other time Church left." Tucker pointed out.

"Because this time isn't like the others," Carolina snapped, "You heard that message as well as the rest of us, there is no coming back for him this time."

Tucker hesitated. Somewhere, far under the surface, he had a nagging feeling that she was wrong.

"Fine, so Church isn't coming back and you want to make Caboose understand that. Why are you telling me this? Go tell Caboose." Tucker argued.

"That's my point. I want you to tell Caboose." Carolina said, a small weight suddenly pressing on his brain.

"Good morning, Private Tucker." Delta's voice hummed out of his helmet.

"Whoa! What the fuck?! At least warn me when you're about to do that!" Tucker shouted, almost losing his balance.

"I played back some of the messages Delta has. Church left a individual message for each one of us. I think you should be the one to play Caboose's message for him." Carolina explained, ignoring Tucker's outburst.

"Again, why?! We don't even like each other! I am probably the worst choice for this!" Tucker yelped.

"Because you were allies from the beginning, when you still fought with the Reds. You still trusted each other enough to turn your back on the other. You've both known Church as a friend longer than any of us. That has to stand for something." Carolina listed off the reasons like items from a grocery list, emotionless and disinterested, her voice faltering as she said the last sentence. Tucker blinked as Carolina's posture sagged, the only sign of weakness she had shown since Church's message was played yesterday. The silence stretched out between them as Tucker slowly took two steps back, finally murmuring, "I...I shouldn't be the one to do this."

Carolina snorted, snapping, "Why? Because you're in denial yourself?!"

Her words made Tucker start, and before he could think of something to say, she stomped toward him, spitting, "Sarge may have refused to order you around because you're not his subordinate, but I will. You need to do this, Tucker, not just for Caboose, but for yourself. The grief is too heavy for you to hold alone."

Tucker wanted to tell her off, but his mind went blank. His eyes flickered briefly to Carolina's, and he felt the cold breeze of defeat sigh in his bones.

"Okay, fine, I'll do it. But only because you sound hot." Tucker agreed begrudgingly.

"Don't make me stab you. Come on, Caboose is this way." Carolina said, leading him toward the remains of the base.


The farther Carolina and Tucker walked, the more scattered scrap metal and broken wires they had to step around. As they turned around the corner of a nearly decimated wall, a flurry of crashing metal and breaking glass shattered the unsettling silence.

"Tucker did it!" Caboose cried from somewhere behind the small pile of junk, the parts on top collapsing to reveal Caboose's oil covered helmet as he tried to remove a coil of wire from the bottom of the pile.

"He's not even here, Caboose. Why don't you just take a break and- " Washington suddenly appeared from the other side of the rubble, cutting himself off when he spotted Tucker and Carolina.

He tensed up immediately, whispering coolly, "I told you, Carolina, I got this."

"No you don't. Gentleness isn't going to get this through his skull. Let Tucker handle it." Carolina hissed back.

Understanding washed over Tucker like a strong ray of light. "Oh, I see. You decided, by yourself, to get the jackass to tell Caboose. Real nice." Tucker complained.

"Just get in there." Carolina said, shoving Tucker roughly. Washington looked back from Carolina to Tucker for several seconds, but didn't protest any further. Taking a deep breath, Tucker started walking toward Caboose, but stopped when he saw the weird objects on what was supposed to be a workbench behind him. They all looked somewhat like the alien artifact Caboose had transplanted Church into the first time he was disassembled, (Tucker still had nightmares about his "laser face".) except with wires holding chunks of steel and copper into a vaguely spherical shape. Mounds of white, grainy slime glued the parts together where the wire had snapped, but where did Caboose find glue around here? Unless it was...paper pulp?

"Caboose, I swear if you melted down my po-, um, art, collection," Tucker stammered angrily, barely remembering Carolina's presence in time, "for... whatever this is, I..."

"Tucker! You're finally here!" Caboose said, instantly dropping the wire and running to Tucker, dragging him over to the workbench before he could finish his complaint. Just when Tucker tried to think of a time Caboose was actually happy to see him, the blue solider cut off his thoughts, asking, "Which one do you like? I want Church to be as happy with his new body as possible, and since Wash refused to let me paint his armour and let Church have it when he comes back, we'll have to use one of these until we can find something better!"

"Are you sure these are our only options?" Tucker pondered, reluctant enthusiasm overtaking his tone like a parent praising their child's horrible art project.Tucker swore he could see twigs sticking out from the holes in the sides.

Caboose ignored his question, repeating, "So, which one do you think? I like the middle one myself, but I'll let you pick one, too!"

"Well, if I had to choose one..." Tucker said, glancing back at Carolina and Washington. Releasing a breath he didn't know he was holding, he added, "Actually, before I decide, you should listen to this."

"Listen to what? Oh, is it a song? Is that why Carolina and Wash are here? They must be the back up singers!" Caboose said, clapping his hands excitedly.

"Wha-no! It's a message, from Church." Tucker said, silently asking Delta to come out. The green AI appeared, but before he could ask him to play the message, Caboose interrupted, "But I already listened to that! Now, we just have to assemble him again!"

Tucker blinked, thinking back to the first message Church had left behind. Caboose must have selective hearing as well as stupidity. "No, this is a different message. It's for you specifically." He turned to Delta, not wanting to give Caboose another chance to cut him off, "Delta, play Caboose's message."

"Affirmative." Delta replied, fading out as Church's voice once again amplified through Tucker's helmet. "Caboose, this is important, so I need you to focus, alright? I know you probably didn't get it when I said it the first time, so I am going to repeat it; I am not coming back."

That got his attention. Caboose dropped the sphere he was holding as the recorded voice continued, "I know this is going to be hard for you to accept, almost impossible for you to understand, so I just want you to hold these words close to you until the day that they finally make sense."

Delta teleported over to Caboose's palm, a loud, irritating buzz replacing Church's voice until Caboose closed his hands around Delta. His voice came back, then quickly faded into nothing as Caboose started nodding slowly. Tucker watched in confusion for a moment, then realization dawned over him; whatever else Church had to say, was for Caboose to hear alone.

After what seemed like an eternity, Caboose opened his palms, and Delta reappeared by Tucker's shoulder. Slowly, Caboose turned back to his paper and twig spheres, and picked one up, staring at it intently. Washington approached carefully, but before he could say anything, Caboose muttered, "Needs paint."

"I am sorry, what?" Tucker said, dismay itching through his skin as Caboose rapidly began searching through the piles of junk again.

"Church just doesn't know he wants to come back, that's all! We'll paint up this sphere to his old colour, resurrect him, and it will be like he never left!" Caboose said, desperation mounting in his voice as he yanked out a large piece of metal, rubbing off the rust to look at the colour underneath.

A cold tide of nameless emotion flowed through Tucker's mind. This wasn't stupidity, this was full blown denial.

"Calm down, Caboose, just stop and listen to me. There's nothing left of Church to rebuild." Washington urged.

"That's what you said about Freckles! But look, now he's a gun!" Caboose argued, holding up his rifle in the air, confetti bursting from the barrel as if to prove his point.

"No, that isn't what I said. The only thing left of him was the chip. Church was different, there was no physical form of him at all." Washington reasoned.

"I am not listening to you. Blah, blah, blah..." Caboose began to blather as Washington stood over him, who only bothered to try and get in a word when Caboose paused to take a breath. Watching this, something inside Tucker snapped, the weight of all that was said to him yesterday and today crushing him.

"Snap out of it, Caboose!" Tucker shouted, "He's gone! He abandoned you, he abandoned me, he abandoned all of us! Again! Why won't you just accept that?"

Caboose cowered under him as he stammered, "B...but, last ti-time, we fixed him, like a, a- "

"You can’t fix him now! He chose to die! He knew he couldn't be brought back again, and he did it anyway, so get it through your dumb skull. He's not coming back, and he's never coming back!" His words echoed into the distance, slowly fading away as their meaning finally sank in, as if he was hearing them for the first time. "Fake" people didn't make decisions like this.

"He's gone, he's...gone." Tucker repeated, trying to choke back the growing lump in his throat.

Instantly, the panicked energy Caboose had seemed to dissolve. He gradually stood up, walking past Washington and stepping on the sphere he had dropped, the metal crunching under his boot.

Washington swiveled his head toward Carolina, sneering, "Oh yeah, that turned out great."

"It was the only way." Carolina insisted, although she sounded uncertain. She directed her attention to Tucker. "Now it's your turn."

"Um, for what?" Tucker wondered, more interested in where Caboose had wandered off as Washington began to follow him.

"Your message, dumb ass." Carolina said. Tucker froze, looking at Delta through his peripheral vision.

"I said Church left a message for all of us, remember? Did you think that excluded you?" Carolina reminded him.

"No, it just occurred to me, that you somehow knew that Church left individual words for everyone. Last time I checked, Delta didn't have a labelling system." Tucker suggested.

"You seriously think I would eavesdrop on that sort of thing?! All of the files are encrypted, like Caboose's. I could only play a certain portion before it would stop." Carolina explained.

That was one less worry on Tucker's mind. He was pretty sure whatever Church had left for him was very incriminating.

But still, he hesitated. Curiosity was making his brain toss and turn, but the command wouldn't form on his tongue.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" Carolina asked.

"I...once I listen to it..." Tucker whispered, unable to say anymore as he tore his eyes away from Delta's shimmering aura.

"Oh." The sound was barely a sigh as it left Carolina's chest, and she scanned the horizon as the awkward lull pressed down on them. Abruptly, she spoke again, "I know how that feels. Take your time." She ambled away, barely glimpsing back as she left Tucker alone with his thoughts.

Time crawled by like it was shot in both of it's ankles, the thin, ribbon like clouds appearing to point at the sun as it inched across the sky. With each gentle wisp of wind, he heard the words resonate in his head.

I just want you to hold these words close to you until the day that they finally make sense...

The grief is too heavy for you to hold alone...

You haven't lost everything, so don't act like you have...

He's gone...he's gone.

Every passing hour they seemed to ring louder and louder, an almost constant background noise to his memories as he was helplessly dragged through the past. Gasping for breath, he tried to fish his mind out of the flood as he remembered arguments, the bad and the weird times, a few rare instances when they kicked ass, but it always slipped out of his grasp and floated away deeper into his conscious. At last, when twilight began to settle over the horizon, exhaustion dulled his frayed nerves, and his thoughts came to a stand still. He closed his eyes against the strong orange light, and

breathed, "Delta, play the message."

"Playing," Delta replied, the familiar static making him flinch before the voice kicked in,

"Hi, buddy, you just have to love the irony, here, right? Just after you finally stop whining about me leaving you guys in a canyon, I make you listen to my ramblings like a dead guy that had a tape recorder. In any case, I hope you haven't been harassing the others about what an asshole I am. And if you have been, then, what the fuck dude? I am dead, have some respect.

Don't get me wrong, I get it. Grief does some fucked up shit to you. But one way or another, you have to find a way to live with this man, in a way that won't make you self destruct. I am not going to lie, it might take awhile to find it, but don't expect the scars to heal completely, because they won't. The sting may lessen over time, but you'll always carry it, and that's just the price of life. For every breath we take, every joy we get to experience, life will cut more and more losses into our skin that we have to carry. But those memories, and the friends that you still have by you, make it all worth it. You would never have anything good to remember on a lonely night if you played it safe and never reached out. Yeah, you would never get hurt, but you would also never truly live. The sound of Church's laughter briefly filled Tucker's ears before he continued, "Stop me if you heard that one already. But cliché’s are cliché’s for a reason, buddy. Just, whenever you feel like the agony might be unbearable, just remember this; those memories are painful because they are worth remembering. Whenever you are going through a loss, just try to be grateful that they made their absence so hard to accept."

There was a long pause, and Tucker thought that the message ended, but then he heard the last words he'd ever hear of Church, "I... I am glad that you were my friend, even if we were assholes to eachother. See you on the other side, Tucker."

Tucker stared off into space, hoping against hope that there was more, but only silence greeted him. He murmured, "Play it one more time, Delta."

Tucker listened as the night overtook the day, the first star searing a place for itself in the same spot where the last of the light disappeared. He sat there for a few hours, holding back the tears that stung his eyes.


When the moon was at it's peak in the sky, Tucker approached the base, surprised to hear his friends talking outside. He turned the corner and saw them standing in a circle, overhearing Sarge saying, "And remember that time we had to negotiate surrender after someone forgot to bring the bullets? Do you still like to kiss all the boys, Grif?" Grif's only response was an audible sigh.

"What about that time you idiots were blasted through time by Church's own abdomen bomb? Now that was a spectacle!" O'Malley cried.

"Yeah, but an awfully violent one!" Doc protested.

So this is how they're dealing with it, Tucker thought, I guess they didn't need Church's "sage" advice. When Grif started talking, Tucker remembered, or, just different advice from mine.

Caboose stood just outside the circle, staring at his own feet. Tucker inched closer, barely able to hear him sniffling.

I guess Carolina didn't have the right idea after all. Damn it, I am going to hate myself for this. Despite his instincts screaming at him not to, Tucker stepped beside Caboose, whispering, "Hey."

"You're not going to have another yelling episode, are you? I don't want mean people yelling at me anymore." Caboose whined.

"No, I am not. And I am sorry for that. Why don't we go talk to the others?" Tucker said.

"I think I just want to be alone." Caboose moaned.

"But you're not. Come on, at least talk to them for a little while. It will make you feel a bit better, I promise. If you need to, you can have some alone time later." Tucker assured him, patiently waiting until Caboose followed him into the circle. Washington turned as they came near, and stood aside to make room. Everyone turned for a split second as Caboose stopped beside Washington, then continued talking, relief spelled across their relaxed shoulders. Despite himself, Tucker smiled, a tiny shard of hope igniting within as Caboose recalled the time Church and Tex hunted down O'Malley in his mind.


Church's funeral was prepared and ready after three more depressing days. Donut had woken them up half an hour before dawn, much to everyone's annoyance, to lead them to the spot he and Doc had chose. As Tucker blinked the sleep out of his eyes, he noticed Sarge and Simmons were already gone.

"Hey, did anyone see where Sarge or Simmons went?" He asked.

"No, and I don't care, as long as he's out of lecturing range." Grif said between yawns.

Donut replied, "Don't worry about it, they're making... arrangements. Now come on, before..."

"Noo!" A piercing scream split through the air, and Tucker spun to see Grey storming toward Donut.

"Oh, God, she's here! Protect me!" Donut yelped, hiding behind Washington.

"You can't hide when she's already seen you, Donut." Washington sighed, shaking him off as Grey stepped toward him.

"You're supposed to be resting! You can't put any unnecessary strain on that arm! You already pushed your luck running off the other day without even asking me for clearance!" She fumed, seeming to push Donut toward the barracks by mental thought alone.

"Grey, please." Carolina said, gently placing a hand on her shoulder. Everyone seemed to back up at once, the collective thought across the clearing being that Carolina was about to get sliced open.

"Planning this was Donut's way of coping. Please don't make him stay here." Carolina reasoned. Grey hesitated, so she added, "I'll make sure he doesn't push himself, and that he rests when this is done. Right?" Her voice grew ominously low as she turned her gaze on Donut.

"Um, right?" Donut squeaked, shrinking under both of the ladies glares.

Grey still paused, then huffed, "Fine. I have other patients that won't waste my time by running around. At least take this with you," She handed Carolina a large wad of gauze before adding, "And bring him back here right away if it re opens." With that, she trotted back to the sick bay, leaving the red's and blue's to their funeral.


It seemed like hours had gone by when the terrain under Tucker's feet flattened, and Donut called for them to stop.

"Seriously, why did you have to pick the steepest hill around here?! Do you know how hard it was to haul this piece of junk up here?!" A shrill voice complained as Tucker bent down to catch his breath. It took him a few moments to register what had been said.

"Hey, that's my complaint-" Tucker stopped when he saw the broken down warthog filled with bright yellow weeds, Sarge and Simmons standing beside it.

"Why are you complaining? All you had to do was drive a vehicle up here, I had to follow these two idiots around to pick enough flowers to stuff into it!" Grif puffed.

"Um, did you think Kimball just let us take a perfectly good warthog for this? I had to push it all the way up here!" Simmons retorted.

Sarge chuckled, commenting, "Wasn't that much work for me. Now will you two stop belly aching, we have a dead solider to honour!"

"Okay, fill me in. How exactly does a leaking warthog and a bunch of dandelions honour Church?" Washington inquired.

"I remember caring for a plant when I was little, her name was Sally. One day, dandelions grew by and choked her up. She was my only friend!" Caboose sobbed.

Tucker knitted his eyebrows in worry, at the same time surprised he felt an emotion other than disgust towards him. Caboose seemed to start crying at everything nowadays.

"Isn't it obvious? We take a machine that's served long past it's days, and blow it up, from where everyone can see it for miles! A beautiful explosion to celebrate an exciting life!" Sarge explained.

"I... guess that's kind of fitting." Carolina said, her tone conveying her reluctance to be directly associated with the idea.

"So basically, almost everyone helped put this funeral together. I wish someone had told me about that sooner! Now I feel like a dick for not doing anything." Tucker fussed.

"You can," Donut objected, dropping a grenade into his hand, "When I give the word, throw it at the warthog." He paced around the circle, giving everybody one grenade, When Caboose reached out for his, Tucker objected, "Whoa, I don't think you should get one, considering your.. track record." Donut nodded in agreement.

"Oh, but, everyone else will get to part of the metaphor, and I won't. Is it because I wasn't important enough to Church?" Caboose lamented.

Tucker exhaled, sneering, "Fine, but you'll get it when it's time." Donut stepped back into his place, and asked, "Okay, so.. who wants to say the first words?" After a brief moment, Sarge spoke up, "Throughout my military career, I've known a lot of soldiers who laid down their lives for a war that wasn't even real. I am happy one of our own chose to die for a good cause."

More uncomfortable silence. Carolina sighed in exasperation before saying, "I never thought I'd find anyone who could help me leave the past behind. Thank you, Church."

"I wish I had the chance to know him a bit longer. I guess, relatively, he didn't live that long, but," Washington scanned the faces around him meaningfully, "He's made such an impact."

"Church was a bitch sometimes, but he was our bitch." Donut sniffed, his voice on the verge of sobs.

"Who would have thought I'd ever be mourning for a blue? I am going to miss you, pal." Simmons added.

"He was an admirable adversary and ally! That can't be said for others very often!" O'Malley laughed.

"And he was so soft on the inside, despite his tough shell, just like a cookie!" Doc butted in.

Grif moaned, "We're really doing this? Genuine compliments aren't my thing." He stood in contemplation for a second, then said, "I thought he was a douche, but after being locked up with him in a jail for eight hours, I realized... he wasn't a complete douche. Goodbye, Church."

Panic stiffened his insides like starched laundry when Tucker realized he and Caboose were the only ones left. Quickly, he elbowed Caboose in the back while his mind raced through words. Caboose raised his shoulders to his head like he was trying to withdraw into a shell as everyone looked at him. Finally, he stammered, "Ch...Church was m…my friend. My best friend. And now he's gone forever, and it makes me sad! Why won't he come back?! I don't want to be sad all the time!" Caboose turned his back to them, barrelling into Tucker for a hug as he tried to hide his face under his armpit like a cat.

Tucker tolerated it for an unbearable ten seconds, until Caboose seemed to realize what he was doing and let go, making a grossed out tch noise. After the shock of Caboose touching him wore off, Tucker realized all eyes were on him. Unable to take the pressure of everyone's attention, he looked down, and said, "What is there to say? He was my friend...and, and for the longest time, I didn't even know. How could you call someone you fought with most of the time your friend? Yet, when push comes to shove, there was never any doubt we'd be there for eachother. And then it hit me. There's a word for a best friend you argued with all the time. Church, was like, my... my brother, and you can never replace a brother like him." He cringed, pausing to keep his voice steady. He released a deep breath, and whispered loudly, "Stop me if you heard that one already."

He lifted his head when a faint glow hurt his eye, and immediately understood why Donut chose this spot. The sun was a giant in the sky, leaning over them as if it was curious about what was going on. It's angle formed a golden silhouette over the warthog, it's edges white beams of light on the grass underfoot, making the whole plain seem serene and heavenly. The clouds that rolled like gentle hills in the low horizon were stained a vivid orange as they rose and fell through the empty air, like fluffy whales.

"See? Now that's a backdrop you send off you're best friend to! Okay, everyone step back, it's time." Donut said. He took out his grenade, handing one to Caboose before they took their place just under the crest of the hill. In one swift motion, they all threw their grenades, the only ones landing in the warthog being the ones thrown by Donut, Washington and Carolina. The rest landed relatively nearby, and then, they exploded one after another, pieces of glass and metal turned into a tide of sun catchers against the light.The left tire burst into chunks, the disproportioned weight causing the warthog to tip to one side. Ever so slowly, it capsized, the half incinerated petals blown into the wind as it rolled down the hill with a symphony of crunches and squeals. When the noise finally stopped, traces of smoke beginning to rise, a defective grenade finally exploded, sending up a spray of earth on the opposite bank, as if for good measure.

The petals drifted down the wind currents over the reds and blues, encouraging Caboose to shout, "Yeah! This is for Sally, dandelions!" Holding up his grenade, he wound up for a throw.

"Caboose, what are you doing?! You were supposed to throw it before the warthog blew up!" Donut cried as Caboose tossed it into the ground directly in front of his feet.

"Goddamn it, Caboose! Take cover!" Tucker shouted unnecessarily as every one dived backward before the explosion let loose a flood of dirt and grass on top of them. Shaking off the soil that covered his legs, he heard Washington say, "That was the third worst throw, ever. Of all time."

"Not my fault. Tucker did it." Caboose replied, only his head visible above the grass clippings.

"See, I told you that was a bad idea, Sarge! Now the funeral's ruined." Donut whined.

"Nonsense! Screwing up an idea that was already dumb and nearly getting ourselves killed in the process? Church wouldn't have had it any other way." Sarge said.

"No, he wouldn't have." Simmons agreed, his voice choked up.

Tucker knelt in the grass, shaking the dirt of his arms as he stood. Looking around, he saw eyes go back and forth meeting one another, until a silent agreement seemed to be reached. Climbing back to the top of the hill, they watched the smoke curdle up into the atmosphere, painted into gold from the early morning flare. Washington stopped beside Tucker, craning his neck up toward the spot where the sky swallowed up any sign of smog. A loud sniff from Donut made Tucker look to his left, and he just barely caught the glint of welling tears under Washington's visor before he looked away.

You haven't lost everything. Probably for the fifth time this week, his words repeated themselves in Tucker's head. Surveying the people around him, he thought,

And it only took several scolding’s, one emotional breakdown, a message from beyond the grave and a chaotic funeral for me to finally figure out what that meant. A strange feeling of hope bloomed in his gut, even as the memories assaulted his conscience, and his eyes stung. But, damn it, it still hurts.

Finally, he let the tears wash down, his sorrow held back too long to be denied any longer. He tried to breath without sniveling as his throat closed up, and failed. Washington glanced at him as Tucker bowed his head, embarrassed. Washington reached over his shoulders with his arm, purposefully looking away as Tucker sobbed quietly.

When I first came back as Epsilon, I had a lot of data, memories, of the freelancers, how so many of them died unburied and unmourned. I don't exactly have anything to bury, but don't forget the whole mourning part, all right? I know you guys are going to throw some ridiculous funeral, so, Donut, make it classy for me. Well, as classy as you can with these guys around to attend it. And after it's over, try to remember that, moving on and forgetting are not the same thing. Having the courage to carry those memories with you rather than trying to sever it from yourself is one of the greatest feats of strength you can ever achieve. Believe me, I know.

You, you all made my life it's own, and, now, I, guess were even. Thank you.

I admire the gutsy move Miles pulled for the Season 13 finale, but killing off my favorite character combined with the lack of closure was killing me. I eventually decided the only way to move on was to invent my own closure, so I wrote this short story, on how the Red's and Blue's discovered that Church was gone for good and how they dealt with it. Although, I did goof up horribly and forgot to write in Lopez, so, please forgive me for that. Constructive criticism is welcome, this is the first time I've ever tried to write anything science fiction, (and it shows) so please give me feedback. (Good feedback, don't just write saying, "This sucks." Tell me why) This is my take on what may have happened, I hope you enjoy.



The smell of acrid smoke tainted the air as the Pelican door opened, sounds of celebratory grenades and enthusiastic cheering invading their ears as they stepped off the ramp. Grit from a nearby explosion splashed over Simmons, scratching his visor as he tried to spit out grains of sand that could not get through his helmet.

"Hey! Is that how you greet you're savoir!?" Simmons protested , aiming his words at rebels who were paying no attention to him.

"By aiming the money shot at you? I wish that was my hero's welcome." Tucker replied.

Suddenly, Washington appeared from the crowd, Carolina close behind him, the blood on their armour almost making them unrecognizable. "I'd let this one go, Simmons," Washington said, glancing over his shoulder before adding, "Hargrove has tried to make Chorus spill it's own blood for so long, now they want to destroy everything of his that they can get their hands on."

As he spoke, a federation solider climbed over the leg of a mantis, sticking a grenade to it's side before jumping off. As the explosion scattered bolts and shrapnel all over the field, a huge cheer erupted from the watching rebel and federation forces.

"Hah, these people know how to celebrate! What's a good firework show without the risk of being stabbed with flying metal?" Doc/O'Malley said, laughing as Simmons barely dodged a piece of debris the shape of a spearhead.

"Don't go slacking off yet," Carolina barked at Grif, who was nervously edging away from the group in the direction of the base, "Kimball told us she would get them back in order soon, and dispose of all of this properly. So until the UNSC comes for Hargrove and gets us out of here, we may as well help them rebuild," She paused as she noticed Donut, his left arm hanging limply at his side, the bandages still dripping with blood, "Except you."

"And why should we do that? We didn't make them start shooting each other!" Grif complained.

"No, but they still need just as much inspiration now that they're facing the fallout of the war," Carolina pointed out before turning toward Tucker. "Hand over Epsilon. I want to see if there's any salvation for the computer systems around here."

Tucker hesitated, he had hoped to talk to Church a little before he went back to Carolina. Nevertheless, he called, "Church? I know we said we would be exclusive, but Carolina wants you back now."

Only silence answered him. "Church? Come on buddy, wake up."

Still, no blue hologram appeared.

"See? Why does Church get to take a nap-" Grif said, before Carolina silenced him with a glare. "You must not be doing it right. Church! Get over here!"

Nothing.

"Oh no, did you guys have a spat when you were alone? I can't remember a time you two were alone on the ship, but I guess you don't know what goes on when one of your friends is inside the other. " Donut said, oblivious to Sarge as he huffed in embarrassment.

"No, there was nothing...like that, just, don't ever say that again!" Tucker snapped. "Church! Get the fuck up!"

To his surprise, Delta appeared, his green aura duller than usual. "Private Tucker, I am afraid Epsilon is unavailable right now. We are still re charging from the firefight. He left a message for you. Would you like me to play it?"

A small dose of confusion and foreboding zapped the base of Tucker's spine as he said, "Play."

Delta faded away from view, and crackled static screeched through Tucker's helmet and the clearing, before abruptly stopping, Church's voice replacing it.

"Hey guys, if you're listening to this, then it means you did it. You won."

The deafening sound of his heartbeat began to thrum in Tucker's ears. This could not mean what he thought it did. It couldn't.

"All of these things are what make me who I am...but they're also holding me back."

This better be a joke, you son of a bitch.

"But, I am leaving this message, as well as others, in the hopes that you'll understand why I have to go for good this time."

You cannot be quitting on me again, motherfucker.

"They'll never know if they're sacrifice made any difference. They just have to have faith. Ain't that a bitch?"

Then, a high pitched buzzing cut out the frequency, before it went dead. "Would you like me to repeat the message, Private Tucker?" Delta asked politely.

"No. I want you to bring out Church, now." Tucker growled, his grip on his sword handle tightening.

"Tucker-" Washington began, but Delta cut him off, "I cannot do that, Epsilon has deconstructed himself, he no longer exists. Would you like me to play some of his other messages?"

A strong wave of anger washed over his senses, so strong he didn't feel his legs shaking. "No. Transfer to Carolina."

The faint green hologram faded out and instantly reappeared by Carolina's shoulder, who was staring at the ground like it was the most fascinating thing in the universe.

"What a darn shame. Church was a fine solider, he deserved better than that." Sarge sighed, with more sorrow in his voice than Tucker ever heard before.

"He was not a solider. He was a coward." Tucker growled, his hands balled into fists. Sarge swiveled his head toward him, squaring his shoulders like he was ready to argue, but Caboose interrupted whatever he was going to say, beaming, "That doesn't matter, now we can rebuild him like last time! He'll be better than ever, with the new memories we have! Santa can give us something to put him in!"

"Caboose, it won't be like last time. Church, he... wanted, he needed..." Washington trailed off, slowly looking away from him as if Caboose's optimism hurt his eyes.

Tucker turned from the group, walking toward a bluff in the distance. All he knew at that moment was that he wanted to be alone.

No one called after him.


The sun had sank halfway into the horizon when the noise of rebels and federation soldiers celebrating and clearing away rubble finally died down as the news of Church's demise trickled through the masses. Normally, they would be tearing up the night to welcome their new found peace, but now, all was quiet as the light bled upon the broken land, to show respect for their heroes loss.

Just as the sky began to darken, the sound of metal scraping against gravel snapped Tucker out of his thoughtless laments.

"Enough is enough, Tucker. You can't sit here forever." Washington said.

"I am not going to sit here forever. Just, a really long time." Tucker snapped.

"Come on, Tucks! There are more comfortable places to sit than dirt! Like park benches, or cheap office chairs, or narrow ledges!" To his irritation, Caboose appeared, grabbing his arm and pulling Tucker up to his feet with surprising strength.

"Tucks?" He sneered.

"Jensen said one of the best ways to cheer people up is give each other cool nicknames! Donut said he wanted to be called Peach because it's light red and pretty, and Grif was going to be named Large, but it went to Sarge instead because it rhymes. He was not happy about it." Caboose explained.

"Caboose, how about you go ahead and tell the others I am bringing Tucker back?" Washington ordered gently, the concern in his voice clear.

"Sure thing, Wash. See you back at base, Tucks!" Caboose called over his shoulder as sauntered away. Once he was out of earshot, Tucker said, "Do me a favour, and make sure no one ever calls me that again."

To his surprise, Washington stayed silent, he only scanned the horizon as if he was searching for the right response. Tucker tried to walk past him, but he suddenly snapped back to attention, blocking Tucker's path with his arm.

"Tucker, everyone can see that you're not taking this well." Washington began after a moment's hesitation.

"Well, who would?" He snapped back.

"No one, just, that's not what I meant." Washington sighed, lowering his arm to his side. "You called Church a coward. Lying to yourself about him or his intentions is only going to make things worse."

"I am not lying, it's true. He left us to fight those mercs alone. Who else would do that but a coward?" Tucker said.

Washington leaned his head to the side, stunned into silence for a brief moment. "This again? He died for us. He wouldn't have deconstructed himself if he didn't feel it wasn't necessary." Tucker looked away from him, and Washington added, "This is getting old, Tucker. He didn't abandon anyone. Don't bring up your old grievances, Church isn't here to argue with you anymore."

"I don't care. He still chose this, and I don't have to accept it." Tucker growled before power walking down the hill. He barely took five steps before Washington's icy tone stopped him in his tracks, "Do you really think you're the only one who knows about loss?"

A silent instinct urged Tucker to turn around, and when he did, he came face to face with Washington, who leered over him like he was about to attack. "Or did you just forget about my history while you were wallowing in sorrow over here?"

Before Tucker could retort, he continued, "I know what it's like to lose your friends. I couldn't deal with the pain, so I forced myself to stop feeling it, to stop feeling everything. I let the ice grow from within, and look where it got me. Almost murdered by the last 'comrade' I had, that's what."

Abruptly, he stopped, sighing in exhaustion. Washington turned away, as if he couldn't bear to look at Tucker anymore, and murmured, "You haven't lost everything, so don't act like you have. Now, come on, we've wasted enough time here." Without looking back, Washington briskly walked down the slope, his head bowed deeply. Tucker followed after a second of hesitation, his mind numb.


Tucker awoke not to the bustle of federation and rebel soldiers clearing debris outside, rather the loud bickering he could not understand through the walls of the barracks. As he got up and walked out into the bright day, he recognized the voice of Donut, complaining, "No roses, no lilies, not even a few pitiful daisies? Do you expect me to just take these...weeds?!"

"I am sorry, no one was out protecting the flowers from explosions or gunfire." Kimball's voice rasped in response, her flat tone making it clear her patience had gone awhile ago.

Tucker turned the corner and saw the Red's as well as Kimball and Carolina standing in the clearing, Donut glumly holding a fistful of yellow flowers.

"Don't worry, solider, roses and the like are overrated. Their smell is so nauseating. and they're so expensive, they think they're better than everyone else!" Sarge said.

"Sir, with all..." Grif paused, sighing in exasperation before adding, "due respect, do you even listen to yourself anymore?!"

Before an argument could break out, Tucker butted in, "So, um, you guys are all...talking about flowers? Is there anything that I missed recently, like, broken closet hinges?"

"For your information, our closets are intact and closed, asshole." Simmons retorted, pausing as everyone stared at him questioningly. He shook himself before continuing, "The point is, these are for Church's funeral."

Suddenly, a heavy weight slammed down over Tucker's shoulders. He had forgotten in his half asleep state of mind. "A funeral? For what? It's not like he was...alive, or anything."

"A funeral isn't just about burying a body. It's about honouring the fallen." Kimball pointed out, purposefully turning her back to Tucker as she asked Carolina, "Now, are you sure you don't want anyone else there? My soldiers wouldn't hesitate to help pay respects to the one that saved their heroes."

"No, it's fine, Kimball. You have your own ceremonies to plan." Carolina said with a quick glance at the Reds. It didn't take a genius to know that they'd all be uncomfortable accepting the respects of thousands of soldiers who, in the end, didn't know Church that well.

"Alright. We're going to be kept busy building a new capital, but don't hesitate to call on me if you change your mind." Kimball said with a barely detectable trace of regret before walking away.

When she was barely out of earshot, Donut sighed in frustration. "Well, if these are the best flowers I am going to get, I'll just have to make sure everything else is perfect! Grif, you said Doc was in the mess hall, right?"

"Erm, yeah.." Grif replied slowly.

"Then let's go! With his expertise in decoration, he can help us find the perfect bluff for Church's funeral. Nothing but the spot with the best natural lighting will do." Donut cried.

"Wha-what do you mean, us?! What makes you think I want to go hiking to the tops of hills? That goes against my rule of not walking up-hill!" Grif protested.

"Oh, I don't know, maybe because my arm still bleeds like a thirteen year old girl if I so much as move it the wrong way? I can't walk that far by myself!" Donut pointed out.

"Well, that's a good reason to, you know, not go searching for funeral spots, and rest instead. Seriously, what do you people have against sleeping? Besides, you just said you wanted to take Doc with you. You won't be alone." Grif argued.

"Um, Grif, I am not sure if a useless medic with a violent split personality counts as…real support." Simmons said.

"Guys, I can't believe I am saying this, but I agree with Grif. Why should a crippled guy go hiking any-" Tucker began to but in, but suddenly Sarge stepped forward, staring down Grif intensely. "Grif, I ordered you to help Donut plan the funeral. This is important to him." He spoke in a soft, menacing growl that seemed to freeze everyone except Carolina to the ground.

"Why aren't you making Simmons help? I just want to be alone!" Grif complained, his question left unanswered as Sarge bowed his chin, intensifying his stare as the shadows darkened his visor.After a brief stand off, Grif stepped away from him, muttering, "Yeah, kiss ass doesn't have to do any work," before following Donut to the mess hall.

Tucker looked at Sarge in disbelief, wondering aloud, "Ok, first, I come out here to find you all talking about flowers, and then Sarge actually acts intimidating? Tell me, am I in a fever dream, or a drug induced nightmare?"

"Hey, you don't need to be on drugs to find Sarge intimidating." Simmons said.

"Maybe you don't, you damn pussy, but I wasn't asking you." Tucker retorted.

"You need to grow a pair, Tucker," Sarge rasped, throwing Tucker off guard. Simmons snorted in satisfaction, and Carolina instinctively looked away to hide her smile...even if it was already hidden.

Sarge turned toward the Tucker, saying, "I don't know what nonsense is swirling around in your head to call Church fake, but he was a still a friend to all of us, fancy blue hologram or robot body be damned. We're all hurting, but we all show it in different ways. After you went wandering off like a scalded cat, Grif was shutting everyone out. And I won't let that dirtbag cut off the people who can help him through it."

"See, that's kind of the whole problem. Since when have you cared about helping other people, let alone Grif?" Tucker questioned.

"Helping?" Sarge echoed, chuckling softly. "I prefer to see it as steering him away from me. Right now..." He paused, looking off into the distance where Grif, Donut, and Doc/O'Malley were barely visible on a small ridge. Donut suddenly stumbled, barely avoiding falling on his face as Grif held him up. The wind barely carried over the sound of Grif's complaining to where they stood.Sarge sighed heavily, adding, "I am too tired to insult him directly."

Carolina walked past him, pausing for a split second as if she was considering patting Sarge on the shoulder, then decided against it.

"Tucker, can I speak to you alone for a minute?" She asked.

Bow chika bow wow, Out of habit, Tucker said the words in his head, but out loud, he replied, "Um, sure?"

Once Carolina and Tucker had walked out of earshot of the two Red's, who had been called for help by a group of federation soldiers struggling with a sputtering vehicle nearby, Carolina held out her arm for them to stop. "Listen, Tucker, Wash and I have been talking, and we decided that we need to get it through Caboose's head that Church is gone. The longer he thinks he's going to come back, the more damage he's going to do to himself, and everyone around him." Carolina said.

"Why not? He's lived in denial every other time Church left." Tucker pointed out.

"Because this time isn't like the others," Carolina snapped, "You heard that message as well as the rest of us, there is no coming back for him this time."

Tucker hesitated. Somewhere, far under the surface, he had a nagging feeling that she was wrong.

"Fine, so Church isn't coming back and you want to make Caboose understand that. Why are you telling me this? Go tell Caboose." Tucker argued.

"That's my point. I want you to tell Caboose." Carolina said, a small weight suddenly pressing on his brain.

"Good morning, Private Tucker." Delta's voice hummed out of his helmet.

"Whoa! What the fuck?! At least warn me when you're about to do that!" Tucker shouted, almost losing his balance.

"I played back some of the messages Delta has. Church left a individual message for each one of us. I think you should be the one to play Caboose's message for him." Carolina explained, ignoring Tucker's outburst.

"Again, why?! We don't even like each other! I am probably the worst choice for this!" Tucker yelped.

"Because you were allies from the beginning, when you still fought with the Reds. You still trusted each other enough to turn your back on the other. You've both known Church as a friend longer than any of us. That has to stand for something." Carolina listed off the reasons like items from a grocery list, emotionless and disinterested, her voice faltering as she said the last sentence. Tucker blinked as Carolina's posture sagged, the only sign of weakness she had shown since Church's message was played yesterday. The silence stretched out between them as Tucker slowly took two steps back, finally murmuring, "I...I shouldn't be the one to do this."

Carolina snorted, snapping, "Why? Because you're in denial yourself?!"

Her words made Tucker start, and before he could think of something to say, she stomped toward him, spitting, "Sarge may have refused to order you around because you're not his subordinate, but I will. You need to do this, Tucker, not just for Caboose, but for yourself. The grief is too heavy for you to hold alone."

Tucker wanted to tell her off, but his mind went blank. His eyes flickered briefly to Carolina's, and he felt the cold breeze of defeat sigh in his bones.

"Okay, fine, I'll do it. But only because you sound hot." Tucker agreed begrudgingly.

"Don't make me stab you. Come on, Caboose is this way." Carolina said, leading him toward the remains of the base.


The farther Carolina and Tucker walked, the more scattered scrap metal and broken wires they had to step around. As they turned around the corner of a nearly decimated wall, a flurry of crashing metal and breaking glass shattered the unsettling silence.

"Tucker did it!" Caboose cried from somewhere behind the small pile of junk, the parts on top collapsing to reveal Caboose's oil covered helmet as he tried to remove a coil of wire from the bottom of the pile.

"He's not even here, Caboose. Why don't you just take a break and- " Washington suddenly appeared from the other side of the rubble, cutting himself off when he spotted Tucker and Carolina.

He tensed up immediately, whispering coolly, "I told you, Carolina, I got this."

"No you don't. Gentleness isn't going to get this through his skull. Let Tucker handle it." Carolina hissed back.

Understanding washed over Tucker like a strong ray of light. "Oh, I see. You decided, by yourself, to get the jackass to tell Caboose. Real nice." Tucker complained.

"Just get in there." Carolina said, shoving Tucker roughly. Washington looked back from Carolina to Tucker for several seconds, but didn't protest any further. Taking a deep breath, Tucker started walking toward Caboose, but stopped when he saw the weird objects on what was supposed to be a workbench behind him. They all looked somewhat like the alien artifact Caboose had transplanted Church into the first time he was disassembled, (Tucker still had nightmares about his "laser face".) except with wires holding chunks of steel and copper into a vaguely spherical shape. Mounds of white, grainy slime glued the parts together where the wire had snapped, but where did Caboose find glue around here? Unless it was...paper pulp?

"Caboose, I swear if you melted down my po-, um, art, collection," Tucker stammered angrily, barely remembering Carolina's presence in time, "for... whatever this is, I..."

"Tucker! You're finally here!" Caboose said, instantly dropping the wire and running to Tucker, dragging him over to the workbench before he could finish his complaint. Just when Tucker tried to think of a time Caboose was actually happy to see him, the blue solider cut off his thoughts, asking, "Which one do you like? I want Church to be as happy with his new body as possible, and since Wash refused to let me paint his armour and let Church have it when he comes back, we'll have to use one of these until we can find something better!"

"Are you sure these are our only options?" Tucker pondered, reluctant enthusiasm overtaking his tone like a parent praising their child's horrible art project.Tucker swore he could see twigs sticking out from the holes in the sides.

Caboose ignored his question, repeating, "So, which one do you think? I like the middle one myself, but I'll let you pick one, too!"

"Well, if I had to choose one..." Tucker said, glancing back at Carolina and Washington. Releasing a breath he didn't know he was holding, he added, "Actually, before I decide, you should listen to this."

"Listen to what? Oh, is it a song? Is that why Carolina and Wash are here? They must be the back up singers!" Caboose said, clapping his hands excitedly.

"Wha-no! It's a message, from Church." Tucker said, silently asking Delta to come out. The green AI appeared, but before he could ask him to play the message, Caboose interrupted, "But I already listened to that! Now, we just have to assemble him again!"

Tucker blinked, thinking back to the first message Church had left behind. Caboose must have selective hearing as well as stupidity. "No, this is a different message. It's for you specifically." He turned to Delta, not wanting to give Caboose another chance to cut him off, "Delta, play Caboose's message."

"Affirmative." Delta replied, fading out as Church's voice once again amplified through Tucker's helmet. "Caboose, this is important, so I need you to focus, alright? I know you probably didn't get it when I said it the first time, so I am going to repeat it; I am not coming back."

That got his attention. Caboose dropped the sphere he was holding as the recorded voice continued, "I know this is going to be hard for you to accept, almost impossible for you to understand, so I just want you to hold these words close to you until the day that they finally make sense."

Delta teleported over to Caboose's palm, a loud, irritating buzz replacing Church's voice until Caboose closed his hands around Delta. His voice came back, then quickly faded into nothing as Caboose started nodding slowly. Tucker watched in confusion for a moment, then realization dawned over him; whatever else Church had to say, was for Caboose to hear alone.

After what seemed like an eternity, Caboose opened his palms, and Delta reappeared by Tucker's shoulder. Slowly, Caboose turned back to his paper and twig spheres, and picked one up, staring at it intently. Washington approached carefully, but before he could say anything, Caboose muttered, "Needs paint."

"I am sorry, what?" Tucker said, dismay itching through his skin as Caboose rapidly began searching through the piles of junk again.

"Church just doesn't know he wants to come back, that's all! We'll paint up this sphere to his old colour, resurrect him, and it will be like he never left!" Caboose said, desperation mounting in his voice as he yanked out a large piece of metal, rubbing off the rust to look at the colour underneath.

A cold tide of nameless emotion flowed through Tucker's mind. This wasn't stupidity, this was full blown denial.

"Calm down, Caboose, just stop and listen to me. There's nothing left of Church to rebuild." Washington urged.

"That's what you said about Freckles! But look, now he's a gun!" Caboose argued, holding up his rifle in the air, confetti bursting from the barrel as if to prove his point.

"No, that isn't what I said. The only thing left of him was the chip. Church was different, there was no physical form of him at all." Washington reasoned.

"I am not listening to you. Blah, blah, blah..." Caboose began to blather as Washington stood over him, who only bothered to try and get in a word when Caboose paused to take a breath. Watching this, something inside Tucker snapped, the weight of all that was said to him yesterday and today crushing him.

"Snap out of it, Caboose!" Tucker shouted, "He's gone! He abandoned you, he abandoned me, he abandoned all of us! Again! Why won't you just accept that?"

Caboose cowered under him as he stammered, "B...but, last ti-time, we fixed him, like a, a- "

"You can’t fix him now! He chose to die! He knew he couldn't be brought back again, and he did it anyway, so get it through your dumb skull. He's not coming back, and he's never coming back!" His words echoed into the distance, slowly fading away as their meaning finally sank in, as if he was hearing them for the first time. "Fake" people didn't make decisions like this.

"He's gone, he's...gone." Tucker repeated, trying to choke back the growing lump in his throat.

Instantly, the panicked energy Caboose had seemed to dissolve. He gradually stood up, walking past Washington and stepping on the sphere he had dropped, the metal crunching under his boot.

Washington swiveled his head toward Carolina, sneering, "Oh yeah, that turned out great."

"It was the only way." Carolina insisted, although she sounded uncertain. She directed her attention to Tucker. "Now it's your turn."

"Um, for what?" Tucker wondered, more interested in where Caboose had wandered off as Washington began to follow him.

"Your message, dumb ass." Carolina said. Tucker froze, looking at Delta through his peripheral vision.

"I said Church left a message for all of us, remember? Did you think that excluded you?" Carolina reminded him.

"No, it just occurred to me, that you somehow knew that Church left individual words for everyone. Last time I checked, Delta didn't have a labelling system." Tucker suggested.

"You seriously think I would eavesdrop on that sort of thing?! All of the files are encrypted, like Caboose's. I could only play a certain portion before it would stop." Carolina explained.

That was one less worry on Tucker's mind. He was pretty sure whatever Church had left for him was very incriminating.

But still, he hesitated. Curiosity was making his brain toss and turn, but the command wouldn't form on his tongue.

"Well, what are you waiting for?" Carolina asked.

"I...once I listen to it..." Tucker whispered, unable to say anymore as he tore his eyes away from Delta's shimmering aura.

"Oh." The sound was barely a sigh as it left Carolina's chest, and she scanned the horizon as the awkward lull pressed down on them. Abruptly, she spoke again, "I know how that feels. Take your time." She ambled away, barely glimpsing back as she left Tucker alone with his thoughts.

Time crawled by like it was shot in both of it's ankles, the thin, ribbon like clouds appearing to point at the sun as it inched across the sky. With each gentle wisp of wind, he heard the words resonate in his head.

I just want you to hold these words close to you until the day that they finally make sense...

The grief is too heavy for you to hold alone...

You haven't lost everything, so don't act like you have...

He's gone...he's gone.

Every passing hour they seemed to ring louder and louder, an almost constant background noise to his memories as he was helplessly dragged through the past. Gasping for breath, he tried to fish his mind out of the flood as he remembered arguments, the bad and the weird times, a few rare instances when they kicked ass, but it always slipped out of his grasp and floated away deeper into his conscious. At last, when twilight began to settle over the horizon, exhaustion dulled his frayed nerves, and his thoughts came to a stand still. He closed his eyes against the strong orange light, and

breathed, "Delta, play the message."

"Playing," Delta replied, the familiar static making him flinch before the voice kicked in,

"Hi, buddy, you just have to love the irony, here, right? Just after you finally stop whining about me leaving you guys in a canyon, I make you listen to my ramblings like a dead guy that had a tape recorder. In any case, I hope you haven't been harassing the others about what an asshole I am. And if you have been, then, what the fuck dude? I am dead, have some respect.

Don't get me wrong, I get it. Grief does some fucked up shit to you. But one way or another, you have to find a way to live with this man, in a way that won't make you self destruct. I am not going to lie, it might take awhile to find it, but don't expect the scars to heal completely, because they won't. The sting may lessen over time, but you'll always carry it, and that's just the price of life. For every breath we take, every joy we get to experience, life will cut more and more losses into our skin that we have to carry. But those memories, and the friends that you still have by you, make it all worth it. You would never have anything good to remember on a lonely night if you played it safe and never reached out. Yeah, you would never get hurt, but you would also never truly live. The sound of Church's laughter briefly filled Tucker's ears before he continued, "Stop me if you heard that one already. But cliché’s are cliché’s for a reason, buddy. Just, whenever you feel like the agony might be unbearable, just remember this; those memories are painful because they are worth remembering. Whenever you are going through a loss, just try to be grateful that they made their absence so hard to accept."

There was a long pause, and Tucker thought that the message ended, but then he heard the last words he'd ever hear of Church, "I... I am glad that you were my friend, even if we were assholes to eachother. See you on the other side, Tucker."

Tucker stared off into space, hoping against hope that there was more, but only silence greeted him. He murmured, "Play it one more time, Delta."

Tucker listened as the night overtook the day, the first star searing a place for itself in the same spot where the last of the light disappeared. He sat there for a few hours, holding back the tears that stung his eyes.


When the moon was at it's peak in the sky, Tucker approached the base, surprised to hear his friends talking outside. He turned the corner and saw them standing in a circle, overhearing Sarge saying, "And remember that time we had to negotiate surrender after someone forgot to bring the bullets? Do you still like to kiss all the boys, Grif?" Grif's only response was an audible sigh.

"What about that time you idiots were blasted through time by Church's own abdomen bomb? Now that was a spectacle!" O'Malley cried.

"Yeah, but an awfully violent one!" Doc protested.

So this is how they're dealing with it, Tucker thought, I guess they didn't need Church's "sage" advice. When Grif started talking, Tucker remembered, or, just different advice from mine.

Caboose stood just outside the circle, staring at his own feet. Tucker inched closer, barely able to hear him sniffling.

I guess Carolina didn't have the right idea after all. Damn it, I am going to hate myself for this. Despite his instincts screaming at him not to, Tucker stepped beside Caboose, whispering, "Hey."

"You're not going to have another yelling episode, are you? I don't want mean people yelling at me anymore." Caboose whined.

"No, I am not. And I am sorry for that. Why don't we go talk to the others?" Tucker said.

"I think I just want to be alone." Caboose moaned.

"But you're not. Come on, at least talk to them for a little while. It will make you feel a bit better, I promise. If you need to, you can have some alone time later." Tucker assured him, patiently waiting until Caboose followed him into the circle. Washington turned as they came near, and stood aside to make room. Everyone turned for a split second as Caboose stopped beside Washington, then continued talking, relief spelled across their relaxed shoulders. Despite himself, Tucker smiled, a tiny shard of hope igniting within as Caboose recalled the time Church and Tex hunted down O'Malley in his mind.


Church's funeral was prepared and ready after three more depressing days. Donut had woken them up half an hour before dawn, much to everyone's annoyance, to lead them to the spot he and Doc had chose. As Tucker blinked the sleep out of his eyes, he noticed Sarge and Simmons were already gone.

"Hey, did anyone see where Sarge or Simmons went?" He asked.

"No, and I don't care, as long as he's out of lecturing range." Grif said between yawns.

Donut replied, "Don't worry about it, they're making... arrangements. Now come on, before..."

"Noo!" A piercing scream split through the air, and Tucker spun to see Grey storming toward Donut.

"Oh, God, she's here! Protect me!" Donut yelped, hiding behind Washington.

"You can't hide when she's already seen you, Donut." Washington sighed, shaking him off as Grey stepped toward him.

"You're supposed to be resting! You can't put any unnecessary strain on that arm! You already pushed your luck running off the other day without even asking me for clearance!" She fumed, seeming to push Donut toward the barracks by mental thought alone.

"Grey, please." Carolina said, gently placing a hand on her shoulder. Everyone seemed to back up at once, the collective thought across the clearing being that Carolina was about to get sliced open.

"Planning this was Donut's way of coping. Please don't make him stay here." Carolina reasoned. Grey hesitated, so she added, "I'll make sure he doesn't push himself, and that he rests when this is done. Right?" Her voice grew ominously low as she turned her gaze on Donut.

"Um, right?" Donut squeaked, shrinking under both of the ladies glares.

Grey still paused, then huffed, "Fine. I have other patients that won't waste my time by running around. At least take this with you," She handed Carolina a large wad of gauze before adding, "And bring him back here right away if it re opens." With that, she trotted back to the sick bay, leaving the red's and blue's to their funeral.


It seemed like hours had gone by when the terrain under Tucker's feet flattened, and Donut called for them to stop.

"Seriously, why did you have to pick the steepest hill around here?! Do you know how hard it was to haul this piece of junk up here?!" A shrill voice complained as Tucker bent down to catch his breath. It took him a few moments to register what had been said.

"Hey, that's my complaint-" Tucker stopped when he saw the broken down warthog filled with bright yellow weeds, Sarge and Simmons standing beside it.

"Why are you complaining? All you had to do was drive a vehicle up here, I had to follow these two idiots around to pick enough flowers to stuff into it!" Grif puffed.

"Um, did you think Kimball just let us take a perfectly good warthog for this? I had to push it all the way up here!" Simmons retorted.

Sarge chuckled, commenting, "Wasn't that much work for me. Now will you two stop belly aching, we have a dead solider to honour!"

"Okay, fill me in. How exactly does a leaking warthog and a bunch of dandelions honour Church?" Washington inquired.

"I remember caring for a plant when I was little, her name was Sally. One day, dandelions grew by and choked her up. She was my only friend!" Caboose sobbed.

Tucker knitted his eyebrows in worry, at the same time surprised he felt an emotion other than disgust towards him. Caboose seemed to start crying at everything nowadays.

"Isn't it obvious? We take a machine that's served long past it's days, and blow it up, from where everyone can see it for miles! A beautiful explosion to celebrate an exciting life!" Sarge explained.

"I... guess that's kind of fitting." Carolina said, her tone conveying her reluctance to be directly associated with the idea.

"So basically, almost everyone helped put this funeral together. I wish someone had told me about that sooner! Now I feel like a dick for not doing anything." Tucker fussed.

"You can," Donut objected, dropping a grenade into his hand, "When I give the word, throw it at the warthog." He paced around the circle, giving everybody one grenade, When Caboose reached out for his, Tucker objected, "Whoa, I don't think you should get one, considering your.. track record." Donut nodded in agreement.

"Oh, but, everyone else will get to part of the metaphor, and I won't. Is it because I wasn't important enough to Church?" Caboose lamented.

Tucker exhaled, sneering, "Fine, but you'll get it when it's time." Donut stepped back into his place, and asked, "Okay, so.. who wants to say the first words?" After a brief moment, Sarge spoke up, "Throughout my military career, I've known a lot of soldiers who laid down their lives for a war that wasn't even real. I am happy one of our own chose to die for a good cause."

More uncomfortable silence. Carolina sighed in exasperation before saying, "I never thought I'd find anyone who could help me leave the past behind. Thank you, Church."

"I wish I had the chance to know him a bit longer. I guess, relatively, he didn't live that long, but," Washington scanned the faces around him meaningfully, "He's made such an impact."

"Church was a bitch sometimes, but he was our bitch." Donut sniffed, his voice on the verge of sobs.

"Who would have thought I'd ever be mourning for a blue? I am going to miss you, pal." Simmons added.

"He was an admirable adversary and ally! That can't be said for others very often!" O'Malley laughed.

"And he was so soft on the inside, despite his tough shell, just like a cookie!" Doc butted in.

Grif moaned, "We're really doing this? Genuine compliments aren't my thing." He stood in contemplation for a second, then said, "I thought he was a douche, but after being locked up with him in a jail for eight hours, I realized... he wasn't a complete douche. Goodbye, Church."

Panic stiffened his insides like starched laundry when Tucker realized he and Caboose were the only ones left. Quickly, he elbowed Caboose in the back while his mind raced through words. Caboose raised his shoulders to his head like he was trying to withdraw into a shell as everyone looked at him. Finally, he stammered, "Ch...Church was m…my friend. My best friend. And now he's gone forever, and it makes me sad! Why won't he come back?! I don't want to be sad all the time!" Caboose turned his back to them, barrelling into Tucker for a hug as he tried to hide his face under his armpit like a cat.

Tucker tolerated it for an unbearable ten seconds, until Caboose seemed to realize what he was doing and let go, making a grossed out tch noise. After the shock of Caboose touching him wore off, Tucker realized all eyes were on him. Unable to take the pressure of everyone's attention, he looked down, and said, "What is there to say? He was my friend...and, and for the longest time, I didn't even know. How could you call someone you fought with most of the time your friend? Yet, when push comes to shove, there was never any doubt we'd be there for eachother. And then it hit me. There's a word for a best friend you argued with all the time. Church, was like, my... my brother, and you can never replace a brother like him." He cringed, pausing to keep his voice steady. He released a deep breath, and whispered loudly, "Stop me if you heard that one already."

He lifted his head when a faint glow hurt his eye, and immediately understood why Donut chose this spot. The sun was a giant in the sky, leaning over them as if it was curious about what was going on. It's angle formed a golden silhouette over the warthog, it's edges white beams of light on the grass underfoot, making the whole plain seem serene and heavenly. The clouds that rolled like gentle hills in the low horizon were stained a vivid orange as they rose and fell through the empty air, like fluffy whales.

"See? Now that's a backdrop you send off you're best friend to! Okay, everyone step back, it's time." Donut said. He took out his grenade, handing one to Caboose before they took their place just under the crest of the hill. In one swift motion, they all threw their grenades, the only ones landing in the warthog being the ones thrown by Donut, Washington and Carolina. The rest landed relatively nearby, and then, they exploded one after another, pieces of glass and metal turned into a tide of sun catchers against the light.The left tire burst into chunks, the disproportioned weight causing the warthog to tip to one side. Ever so slowly, it capsized, the half incinerated petals blown into the wind as it rolled down the hill with a symphony of crunches and squeals. When the noise finally stopped, traces of smoke beginning to rise, a defective grenade finally exploded, sending up a spray of earth on the opposite bank, as if for good measure.

The petals drifted down the wind currents over the reds and blues, encouraging Caboose to shout, "Yeah! This is for Sally, dandelions!" Holding up his grenade, he wound up for a throw.

"Caboose, what are you doing?! You were supposed to throw it before the warthog blew up!" Donut cried as Caboose tossed it into the ground directly in front of his feet.

"Goddamn it, Caboose! Take cover!" Tucker shouted unnecessarily as every one dived backward before the explosion let loose a flood of dirt and grass on top of them. Shaking off the soil that covered his legs, he heard Washington say, "That was the third worst throw, ever. Of all time."

"Not my fault. Tucker did it." Caboose replied, only his head visible above the grass clippings.

"See, I told you that was a bad idea, Sarge! Now the funeral's ruined." Donut whined.

"Nonsense! Screwing up an idea that was already dumb and nearly getting ourselves killed in the process? Church wouldn't have had it any other way." Sarge said.

"No, he wouldn't have." Simmons agreed, his voice choked up.

Tucker knelt in the grass, shaking the dirt of his arms as he stood. Looking around, he saw eyes go back and forth meeting one another, until a silent agreement seemed to be reached. Climbing back to the top of the hill, they watched the smoke curdle up into the atmosphere, painted into gold from the early morning flare. Washington stopped beside Tucker, craning his neck up toward the spot where the sky swallowed up any sign of smog. A loud sniff from Donut made Tucker look to his left, and he just barely caught the glint of welling tears under Washington's visor before he looked away.

You haven't lost everything. Probably for the fifth time this week, his words repeated themselves in Tucker's head. Surveying the people around him, he thought,

And it only took several scolding’s, one emotional breakdown, a message from beyond the grave and a chaotic funeral for me to finally figure out what that meant. A strange feeling of hope bloomed in his gut, even as the memories assaulted his conscience, and his eyes stung. But, damn it, it still hurts.

Finally, he let the tears wash down, his sorrow held back too long to be denied any longer. He tried to breath without sniveling as his throat closed up, and failed. Washington glanced at him as Tucker bowed his head, embarrassed. Washington reached over his shoulders with his arm, purposefully looking away as Tucker sobbed quietly.

When I first came back as Epsilon, I had a lot of data, memories, of the freelancers, how so many of them died unburied and unmourned. I don't exactly have anything to bury, but don't forget the whole mourning part, all right? I know you guys are going to throw some ridiculous funeral, so, Donut, make it classy for me. Well, as classy as you can with these guys around to attend it. And after it's over, try to remember that, moving on and forgetting are not the same thing. Having the courage to carry those memories with you rather than trying to sever it from yourself is one of the greatest feats of strength you can ever achieve. Believe me, I know.

You, you all made my life it's own, and, now, I, guess were even. Thank you.

deviantID

Pommy1
Canada

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FeyNeko Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2016   Digital Artist
Thanks for the fave! :3
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