This fic came about as a response to a prompt idea given to me by the awesome Shiranai Atsune! :D It is a post-Season 15 Canon Divergent story based around the concept of "What if South and Wash got Eta and Iota, and Carolina got Epsilon?"


Legal Disclaimer: I do not own Red vs. Blue or any of the show's characters. They are the rightful properties of Rooster Teeth.

Prologue:

A lone figure in orchid armor with olive green trim stood out on the landing zone, icy blue eyes narrowed as the returning transport ship made its reentry. The loud noise from its descent didn't even seem to faze the woman with platinum blond hair, who stood defensively with helmet tucked deftly under her arm.

In a matter of minutes, the ship's occupants disembarked in a colorful, tired line. This was the first time that some of them had stepped foot onto Chorus in several months. But, no effort was made on the part of the emerging party to look around at the constantly rebuilding world. All that could be discerned of the group in question was a bone-deep weariness along with the lingering scent of something burning that wafted from battered armor.

The woman in orchid armor made a beeline straight for another woman amongst the newcomers, this one in cyan armor. The blonde impatiently tapped her foot on the ground twice to grant the group some small moment to collect themselves, though it was obviously an inner battle on her part to provide them even that much.

"What the fuck happened?" Passed harshly from her lips not a second later, moment of patience suddenly over.

The redhead in cyan regarded her wryly, green eyes looking oddly sunken and hollow, "A "hello" might be nice, South."

"Like you'd say anything different if you were in my position, Carolina." South Dakota said, practically scoffing at the suggestion as the wind whipped strands of pale hair with orchid tips across her forehead. A few offending spiky pieces tickled her ears, but were easily ignored.

The former leader of the Freelancers said nothing in response, confirming to South that her assumption was correct. But, the Freelancer-turned-bodyguard was far too frustrated to really give a shit about that just then.

"First, I was woken up from the only decent sleep I've had in fucking weeks thanks to this shithole situation we're stuck in with the UNSC by a screaming and more panicked than usual Eta," South paused for a moment there to see if her golden A.I. partner wanted to make an appearance, but he had retreated from her, no doubt worried that she was still mad about his previous emotional outburst (figured. The stupid little fucker), "Only to then find out that Iota and Wash had been mysteriously dropped off at the hospital with a goddamned bullet hole through the throat."

South poked Carolina pointedly in the shoulder for added emphasis to her tirade, noticing but not commenting on the fact that the forceful shove actually caused the other armored soldier to take a shaky step back when normally she wouldn't so much as flinch, "And then there's all this talk about the Reds and Blues getting caught up in some Sim Trooper bullshit on Earth. Why the hell were they back there?" She leaned away from the redhead for a moment to glance at the motley crew just behind her, "Some fucking retirement you ended up having."

From within the colorful assemblage, there was a movement of orange armor as Dexter Grif shouted back, "You're telling me!"

But, any other remarks from the peanut gallery were cut off as an armored figure in teal raced forward to join Carolina in crowding around South. "How's Wash doing?" Both Carolina and Lavernius Tucker quite loudly demanded at the same time. South's annoyance only grew when she felt Eta defensively shrink back further into the recesses of her mind.

South took a step backwards, "Give me a damn minute!" She practically growled out before rolling her eyes in clear-cut exasperation, "He's as stable as he's going to get. Doctor Grey is constantly monitoring him, and Iota refuses to leave his side."

There were huge sighs of relief from both Carolina and Tucker as some of the tension visibly melted from their limbs. The former Freelancer noted that it was the same for the other members of their group who had been listening in to the report. Not that South could fucking blame them, as it had been a rather dicey situation for a while.

…Getting shot through the goddamned throat tended to have that effect.

"Take me to him!" Tucker demanded fervently, a desperate plea crawling its way through his vocal chords, "Fucking please!"

"Chill, you'll get to visit your boyfriend soon." South replied, letting out a tired sigh. Oh, how she hadn't missed this old song and dance from when the two idiots had been separated previously from one another by Washington's dumbass "heroics."

"Wha—what?!" The dark-skinned man spluttered at that frantically, "He isn't my boyfriend. I mean—!"

Ice blue eyes rolled, cutting him off, "Sure, Tucker. Whatever helps you sleep at night." As Tucker continued to stand like a gaping fish trying to form coherent words, South turned back to the redheaded woman, "So, what the fuck happened?" She repeated as slowly and succinctly as possible, "Kimball's waist deep in even more political bullshit than usual because of this shit."

At the mention of the newly-elected President of Chorus, Carolina's already sagging shoulders slumped further as a guilt-stricken look suffused her pallid features, "I…I should go and apologize to her."

"Um," the two women and Tucker turned around at the purple medic's sudden intrusion, Frank "Doc" DuFresne shifting awkwardly on the spot at all of the added attention thrown his way, "Carolina, I really think you need to go to the hospital immediately."

Tucker scowled at Doc, causing the brown-haired man to flinch though he continued ultimately to hold his ground. South raised an eyebrow, noting how Tucker's expression softened once again when he turned back to regard Carolina as well, "As much as I hate to fucking admit it, Doc has a point."

Carolina looked as though she was struggling to stand upright, but she bit her lip and steadied her wobbling stance, "I'm fine."

A tiny, green-armored figure appeared at her shoulder, "I believe that is nothing more than a false statement of bravado at this point, Carolina."

Carolina shook her head, stumbling forward and barely catching herself. Tucker stopped just a few centimeters away from grabbing onto her shoulders himself, "Even…even you, D?" The weakened woman questioned incredulously.

Delta inclined his head slightly, "Consider it an advisable cautionary measure, if you would."

"You do look like shit." South noted rather sardonically, relenting just a bit in her "extremely pissed" demeanor.

The other woman rolled her green eyes, "Gee, thanks." She muttered back sarcastically, clearly aggravated by the input on her status.

South shrugged indifferently to Carolina's obvious frustration at the situation, turning her attention over to Doc and Tucker, "I'll get the other assholes to fill me in on the details, you two just get her to the hospital. Or else."

Neither man had to be told twice.


Meanwhile, the "other assholes" were quietly making their way into the city proper for some much need rest following the quite chaotic and rather emotionally draining events on Earth.

The reporter garbed in white armor with a cobalt trim was walking in-between the red-armored form of Sarge and the "lightish red" figure of Franklin Delano Donut. Though they all smelled a bit singed, for lack of a better term, given their previously close proximity to a volcano, the burnt smell coming off of the younger dirty blond was a bit more pronounced. It caused the reporter's nose to scrunch up slightly at his shoulder-to-shoulder proximity.

She turned to him out of concern, "Are you sure you don't want to go to the hospital to get checked over yourself, Donut?" The woman asked carefully, "After all, you did get hit by some kind of beam from a time-traveling doomsday device."

Donut cheerily waved his hand as if the matter was of little importance, "Oh, thanks for the concern, but I'm right as rain, Dylan!" He assured her, "It will take more than a tingle like that to whack me off!"

"I'd hardly describe what happened as a mere "tingle."" The reporter, Dylan Andrews, tried again, decidedly ignoring the last bit of Donut's remark entirely.

"The boy's right. It will take more than a giant, glorified bug zapper to take him down!" Sarge puffed out his chest proudly, "Why, the sheer amount of times that Donut has been met with grievous bodily harm while working towards the continued glory of Red Team is impressive!"

"Ah, gee, thanks, Sarge!" Donut beamed over at his superior, "It's always nice to be appreciated!"

"Yes, Captain Pastry is super helpful." The blue-armored Caboose chimed in from close by, cradling Lopez's waterlogged head in his arms, "He always has the fire extinguisher ready when I am helping machines."

"¿Puedo ser detenido por alguien más que por él?" {"Can I please be held by anyone but him?"}

Donut sniffled appreciatively, "Aw, you guys are the best!"

"Though that did not help the water park." Caboose added solemnly.

"Oh, that was only because I always seem to get the fire extinguisher and the flamethrower mixed up!"

"... Tal vez tampoco él." {"…Maybe not him either."}

"I'm…not sure how to respond to any of that," Dylan admitted after a few seconds of openly gaping at the group, "But I'll take you on your word that you're fine."

"Yep!" Donut nodded his head emphatically, "I'm filled to the brim with fineness!"

There was a small cough behind them, and Dylan turned around to see a tan-armored figure with blue trim standing there. John Elizabeth Andersmith saluted all of them, much to Dylan's amusement given her civilian status. But, the man seemed overly formal in general given his mannerisms, which was evident as he addressed her, "Jax Jonez appears to have made it safely to his destination back on Earth, ma'am."

…And her young, cobalt-trimmed cameraman was no doubt currently trying to pitch a very altered version of what had happened over the last several weeks to a Hollywood executive as they spoke. The brunette's lips turned upwards slightly at the notion before she spoke: "Thank you for the information."

Another salute, "Of course, ma'am!"

A young woman in tan armor with maroon trim and a young man in equally tan armor with aqua trim joined them as well. "Would you guys like to stop by your old apartment building to rest up before visiting the others at the hospital or talking to President Kimball?" Katie Jensen inquired politely, lisp heard quite plainly in her question.

"Yeah, everything's just like how you left it!" Charles Palomo told them rather happily, "Including all the holes and lighting problems! You know, for ambiance!"

Donut's eyes lit up at that last word, "Oh!"

Andersmith smiled apologetically, "It hasn't made it on to our list of top rebuilding priorities yet, I'm afraid."

Sarge nodded his head in understanding, "That's fine. It will give us something to do while we're here." He turned to stare down at the brown-armored helmet still in Caboose's arms, "Isn't that right, Lopez?"

"¡Hazme un cuerpo nuevo primero, viejo loco!" {"Make me a new body first, you crazy old man!"}

"That's a great idea!" Donut stated enthusiastically before sweeping his brown eyes over the three lieutenants-turned-police-officers in their midst, "Say, where did Bitters run off to?"

Palomo smirked, "Antoine just couldn't wait to visit with his boyfriend again!" He teased, although it seemed rather pointless considering the person being teased wasn't even there.

"Charlie!" Jensen admonished her significant other, placing her hands on her hips, "You shouldn't spread around gossip."

The dark-skinned young man only grinned all the more cheekily, "Oh, come on, Katie! It's only a matter of time before him and Matthews get together."

Andersmith sighed and shook his dark head of hair, "It's just a shame that Matthews couldn't be here to welcome Captain Grif back personally."

Donut reached over and patted the taller man on the shoulder consolingly, "Maybe that's a good thing this time around." He told him, "After all, Grif did seem rather overwhelmed at being reunited with both Kaikaina and Theta earlier." He grinned, "There will be plenty of time for everyone to play catch up later!"

At the mention of the orange-armored soldier, Sarge frowned and glanced around them, "Where in tarnation is that orange dirt-bag anyways?" He asked, his gruff voice holding a tinge more concern than his words let on, "That crazy sister of his and Simmons aren't here either."

"The little purple one is missing too." Caboose noted as well, as if he suddenly realized half their group was gone.

"Oh!" Jensen blinked, brown eyes lighting up in recollection, "Captains Grif and Simmons had wanted to show Kaikaina around Chorus some more since she hadn't been here for very long." She looked thoughtfully in the direction that she had last seen them, "I guess Theta went with them too."

"Well, that's a pity." South Dakota's voice stated sarcastically behind the group, and they turned to see her standing there with arms crossed over her chest and helmet dangling from her fingertips rather carelessly, "I guess that means I'll just have to get what happened out of you chumps instead."

"Dangnabit!" Sarge's shoulders slumped downwards as he muttered under his breath, "We should've done like Grif and Simmons and escaped when we had the chance."

The smirk on South's face only widened at the older man's remark.


"…And this was where the second weapons cache was located, conveniently right near one of the vehicle hangars." Richard "Dick" Simmons remarked, though the organic portions of his face took on a vibrant shade of red as they stood in the middle of what appeared to be, for all intents and purposes, a deserted hallway, "Though I suppose from the look of things, Chorus has certainly changed quite a bit since the last time we were here."

Dexter Grif rolled his eyes at the rather obvious statement, "No shit, but what else did we expect when the entire planet is busy rebuilding?"

The maroon-armored cyborg deflated even more, "But you're the one who suggested this in the first place, fat-ass!" He managed to splutter out.

"Yeah, but only because I wanted to get away from the landing zone real quick." The tan-skinned man said as he gave Simmons his best shit-eating grin.

"That's—!"

The yellow-armored form of Kaikaina Grif stepped past the bickering pair, brown eyes sweeping over the hallway in a rather unimpressed motion, "Yeah, yeah. I get it. Everything's very up and coming. Blah, blah, blah…" She turned back towards the two arguing men and flashed them a grin, "But the little guy already showed me around this part of town when I first got here."

There was a sudden flash of purple over Grif's shoulder, and Theta appeared. The childlike A.I. Fragment bowed his head slightly as if in apology to Kai, "I...I just hope that I was a decent tour guide." He mumbled timidly.

Kai's grin only widened, "Come on, you were the fucking best!"

"R—really?" The hesitant smile in the A.I.'s voice at the assurance was as clear as could be.

Simmons smiled warmly at Theta, "It's definitely good to see you again, Theta." He told him emphatically for what was probably the tenth time since their reunion back on Earth, "Was helping Santa with overseeing that tech placement here on Chorus fun?"

Theta nodded earnestly, "Fun, but not nearly as eventful as all of the stuff on the moon and on Earth, I bet!"

Grif and Simmons both glanced at each other rather awkwardly then. Yes, they had recently experienced some fun and eventful times, but there had also been a whole lot of pain and hurt full of things that shouldn't have been said all around, and things that still needed to be said. Neither man wanted to burden Kai or Theta with that stuff yet though, if ever. Hell, if they were given the choice, they would probably prefer to just bury it between themselves deep down and forget any of it had ever happened.

Simmons fidgeted awkwardly along with Grif as the shared gaze lingered. Still…

"Hanging out with Eta again was nice," Theta continued enthusiastically, pulling the two men's attention away from hidden words and feelings, "But South was her usual self." His form flickered briefly, and his shoulders sagged, "I…I think having me in her armor's storage unit upset her."

Simmons and Grif both looked at one another again, this time with mutual concern and worry mirrored in their eyes.

"Maybe having me around just reminds her too much of N—North…" The A.I. mused quietly to himself, looking absolutely downtrodden at the reminder of his previous Freelancer partner.

Simmons opened his mouth desperately to speak up then, to reassure the young-minded Fragment, but no words came out. He nearly wanted to cry out in helpless frustration then. The maroon-armored soldier always seemed to fuck it up when he needed to speak out.

It was just like when he had frozen those two times before. Back when Grif had quit, and then when he had confided in Simmons about how he thought that he was the group's "hate glue." The redhead had desperately wanted to say something, anything both times in order to convince the orange-armored soldier otherwise. But, his voice had frozen around any words he might have said and nothing had come out.

He hated how absolutely fucking inept he was at really saying how he felt when it mattered.

Surprisingly, though, it wasn't Grif who carried on the conversation this time without him like he had back at Temple's underwater lair, back when they had then proceeded into extremely awkward other feelings territory. Rather, it was Kai who beat him to the punch.

"Are you referring to that crazy hot angry chick who isn't Carolina?" She asked, clearly intrigued.

Theta turned to Grif's sibling, "Er…I think so?" He stated, unsure of how Kai had described said person.

The young woman nodded her head, recollection clouding her tanned features, "That chick threatened me, and not in the fucking fun way if you get my drift," Kai said to an A.I. who clearly didn't get her drift, "To take good care of you before I was even allowed to bring you off-planet to see these two dorks again."

"Hey!" Both Simmons and Grif stated rather lamely in response to her last comment.

Theta looked at the younger Grif, absolutely stunned, "R—really?"

"Totally, little dude." Kai tapped a finger to her chin thoughtfully, "I bet she's just one of those hottie types who uses anger to keep anyone from getting too close or some bullshit like that."

Simmons blinked in astonishment, "That is a surprisingly accurate description of South, actually." He confirmed to Theta, impressed by Kai's psychological profile on the former Freelancer.

Meanwhile, Grif was still mouthing the word "hottie" with a disbelieving look on his face. Simmons winced, wondering if Grif wasn't going to decide to have some fucked up version of "the talk" with Kai yet again as a result.

"Thank you for telling me that, Kaikaina." Theta told her politely, "Whether it's true or not."

"Kid, my word is golden!" Kai assured him, winking, "And you can totally call me Kai now too, you know."

"O—okay!" Theta exclaimed, practically beaming now.

The young woman turned her attention back to the empty hallway their group was standing in, her eyes zeroing in on a row of storage closets, "Whoa, fucking really?" Kai remarked rather loudly as she practically skipped over to one of the doors and experimentally wrapped her knuckles on it, "With how it's designed, I bet this whole planet is just a setup for people getting it on."

Simmons felt heat rising to his face at Kai's rather innocent (for her, anyway) comment. He caught Grif looking his way out of the corner of his eye, a bit of redness visible on the paler patches of his skin, before both men quickly darted their heads away to look in opposite directions.

Don't think about heat and sweat, fingers and mouths touching everywhere…!

"If you're interested in architecture," Theta was completely oblivious to the discomfort of his two partners just then, focused instead on keeping the conversation going with Kai, "Some of the newer buildings are really unique!"

Kai raised a black eyebrow in pure curiosity, "Really? Any good make out spots?"

Her voice, along with Theta's, started to carry down the hall as they continued their discussion on building designs of all things, leaving Grif and Simmons to still stand together awkwardly.

Simmons coughed rather abruptly in a rather obvious attempt to diffuse the sudden tension between them, "So," he tried focusing on keeping his voice down to a regular, conversational pitch, "I—it's good having both Kai and Theta back, yeah?"

"Yeah." Grif confirmed, smiling slightly as he watched the two in question meander down a turn in the corridor. There was another momentary silence as Grif seemed to debate something in his head. He glanced over at Simmons cautiously, "If it's okay with you, could Theta maybe stay with me for a while? If he wants to, that is."

That question caught Simmons completely off-guard and he had to do a double-take to make sure that he had heard it correctly. After all, he and Grif basically had what amounted to "joint custody" of Theta, as Donut liked to dreamily put it. That had been the case ever since the two members of Red Team had unofficially adopted the Fragment years earlier following the tragic death of Freelancer Agent North Dakota at the hands of the Meta.

It was a system that had worked well for all of them, surprisingly enough. The grieving Theta only really wanted to be in someone's storage compartment anymore. Delta had surmised that it was from the sadness and shock of having been connected while North was dying. Plus, both Grif and Simmons secretly liked looking out for kids in their own ways. Not to mention that the two were largely inseparable, besides.

But, the redhead figured that maybe Grif just wanted some quality bonding time with Theta one-on-one since Simmons had technically been the one to carry the A.I. last before Theta, in an attempt to become a bit more outgoing, had volunteered himself to help out on Chorus for a while. Simmons had never felt so proud and yet so terrified all at once back when Theta had stated his intent.

Simmons nodded his head slightly in agreement, which caused Grif to relax somewhat. For some reason, the chubby man seemed more deflated than usual, which caused Simmons to worry.

"Thanks, Simmons." Grif closed his eyes, the bags under them became extremely pronounced at the motion, "I'm tired as shit with everything that's fucking happened recently." He told the cyborg, stretching his arms out over his head, "I really just want to go to sleep."

Simmons rolled his eyes, "You're always tired, Grif." He shot back at him, though he couldn't help but stifle a yawn himself just then, "But this time? I kind of have to agree."

After all, they had been through a fucking lot. A real, proper rest would do them all a world of good.

But then, Simmons glanced over at Grif's face again and frowned. There were distinctive, splotchy bruises covering his mismatched skin from his unfortunate nosedive back at the volcano lair.

Before his brain could put two and two together in order to scream at him to stop, since he was just about to make things even more awkward between the two of them, Simmons tentatively reached out with his still flesh-and-blood hand to touch a particularly large bruise covering Grif's tanned cheek.

"We should have gone to the hospital too." Simmons noted softly, eyes focused on the contusion.

Grif did not react to Simmons' sudden touch in the way that the cyborg had expected. Instead of flinching away and looking at Simmons in absolute disgust, the tan-skinned man actually leaned into the warmth of Simmons' fingers pressing against his face as if he was starved for the contact. Simmons' pulse quickened at that action, his whole body freezing as he stood there dumbly.

The entire event only lasted for a moment as both men pulled away almost instantaneously, as if suddenly remembering where they were and what they should be doing instead.

Grif cleared his throat awkwardly, looking down at the ground in sudden fascination, "I'm fine, Simmons. Really."

Simmons reluctantly dropped his hand back to his side, a frown settling across his face. He opened his mouth, about to argue with Grif on that point, when Kai and Theta both appeared around the corner of the hallway again.

"Hey, losers!" Kai cupped her hands over her mouth and yelled over at them down the corridor, "You two had better start making out in the next five minutes, or me and the little guy are leaving your sorry asses here!"

Grif and Simmons both turned red, Grif yelling out "Goddamn it, Kai!" at the top of his lungs before chasing after the now laughing girl.

Simmons followed them not a second later, shaking his head but sporting a slight smile on his face all the same. If nothing else, revisiting Chorus seemed like it would prove to be rather eventful.


Author's Notes: This fic came about as a response to a prompt idea given to me by the awesome Shiranai Atsune! :D The prompt idea that this story stems from is "What if South and Wash got Eta and Iota, and Carolina got Epsilon?" …Since I'm also still having all sorts of Season 15 feels, it ended up evolving into a Canon Divergent story set after the events of that season too. Also, it somehow managed to become a multi-chapter fic as opposed to just a one shot! XD My brain, it makes little sense at times! XD

Just to sort of catch up with some background plot for this fic and how it is Canon Divergent: South received Eta and Washington got Iota during the events of Project Freelancer, while Carolina received Epsilon. Carolina ended up having a mental collapse as a result of Epsilon trying to kill himself while connected to her, thus causing her to be out of commission when the Meta incident begins. York and North still defect from Freelancer along with Tex, and both South and Wash became Recovery Agents tasked with bringing them back. The three defectors meet up with the Reds and Blues, and ultimately run into South and Wash. They band together in order to try to stop the Meta, just as Carolina escapes from her "recovery period" along with Epsilon.

The group ends up defeating the Meta, though they lose Tex, Alpha, York, and North in the process. Carolina acquires Delta afterwards, and Grif and Simmons both "adopt" Theta. Afterwards, South and Wash decide to go along with Carolina and Epsilon's mission of revenge against the Director with the Reds and Blues. Events play out rather similarly to canon from that point. They end up crashing onto Chorus and get embroiled in the civil war there, with Epsilon still sacrificing himself. While everyone else retires on the moon, South decides to become Kimball's bodyguard instead and the events of Season 15 play out rather similarly as they did in canon with a few alterations here and there given how Iota and Delta are thrown into the mix. This fic pretty much takes place immediately afterwards.

Pairings will be Grimmons, Tuckington, Kai x South, past!Yorkalina, Kimbalina, Sarge x Grey, Jensen x Palomo, Bitthews, and Docnut. :D

…Oh boy, was that a long explanation! XD I apologize if this isn't exactly what you were hoping for, Shiranai Atsune, but I really, really hope that you will enjoy reading it none the less! :D