Salem and Rios are very tightly knit, to the point where they're probably around each other out of missions nearly as much as in them. Neither of them makes an attempt to hit on the female lead whom they interact with on a daily basis, and in fact, she tends to go back and forth with them on the nickname 'hun,' but it's always a very tongue-in-cheek delivery. The fact that she rolls her eyes at their fratboy-ish behavior and closes a door in their faces when they first meet suggests we're not meant to even think either of them are a good fit for her.
Given the setting and his behavior otherwise, it's thematically bizarre that Salem never brags about his sex life. Rios, being the more down-to-earth of the two, would probably not do this at all and is often wondering how Salem can have such a short attention span on a battlefield; the one thing Rios goes into a tangent with is a concern for Salem's personal life, suggesting that Salem's well-being is important to him. Rios also tends to have oddly tender one-liners when reviving Salem, and his lines signaling to a player-controlled Salem that he's low on health are delivered with a tone suggesting as much emotional need for backup from Salem as physical.
Perhaps the most telling, if also the most subtle suggestion of this comes in the form of dialog during the China mission, after Salem and Rios realize they've been set up for the murder of a US Senator because Rios has unraveled the conspiracy and their morals clash:
- Salem: We could just not try to make all of this right, let the conspirators go, and maybe even make money off of the conspiracy by helping it out.Rios: No, we're going to do the right thing and stop them or die trying.Salem: Okay.
Salem is noted to have grown up in a gang to the point where he was put into a "choose prison or the military" scenario, and that, as a result, he sees little value in common decency and even less value in being financially responsible. It's noted several times, even right before this dialog occurs, that he'll do anything to make a quick buck for the support of his lifestyle. This scene essentially amounts to Salem willingly setting the basic principles he lives his life by completely aside because Rios tells him he's wrong. People are simply unwilling and often downright unable to do this even when presented with the most pure moralities as motivation, and Salem is clearly not considerate of pure morality. He does this because he cares what Rios thinks about him on a level deeper than friendship. While it could be argued that Salem simply sees their situation as hopeless if he doesn't have Rios for backup, it could also be argued that he's not the type of person who would actually think of this until its too late. If anything, a refusal to go along with Rios in this scenario would probably result in Rios pointing this out to him.
Finally, the prequel to the game depicts Rios with a girlfriend and a daughter, which seems to torpedo this whole idea...until it gets to the part about how they've tried to marry several times only for Rios to go on a mission (with Salem) instead. The final scene in the book has Rios and Salem asking for time off from their boss, so they can vacation in Hawaii together.
- In one of the cinematics, Salem is shown trying (and failing) to hit on the girl. Though it is possible he's bi.
- Salem is either bi or straight. He considers a strip club a palace.
Alternatively, they're Heterosexual Life-Partners .
- Alternately, the plane crash was his first death, leading him to return increasingly annoyed.
- The failure of the bill that would've privatized the US military inadvertently leads to the United States' weakened position circa Guns of the Patriots, with the still-growing PMCs out-pacing state militaries. Salem and Rios, not really in a position to see the way things are going like Snake and Otacon are, happily retire after being bought out by Outer Heaven and renamed Ravensword. Former SSC employees on the run jump ship to Praying Mantis in the UK.
- Yeah, we saw Salem shoot her in the head, but it is quite possible for one to survive such a thing(despite what movies/TV shows/video games would lead you to believe), adding crediblity to this is that when Alpha and Bravo return to pick up her body, it's lying in a different position then it was after Salem "killed" her(her body was initially lying face-up, when they pick it up, it's now lying face-down and bizarrely enough, there are no gaping head wounds to be found) Perhaps she somehow survived and wanted to pay Salem a visit, it would be the perfect way to shock him, being in prison is bad enough for him, but knowing that his plan to kill the person whom he resented for being chosen over him did not succeed would be the ultimate failure for him
- We never got any real confirmation that Alice is dead(if you look at your objectives in The40th Day, Salem and Rios mention they have no idea if Alice if was actually on the chopper that went down or not, her not contacting them for the rest of the game could easily be chalked up to the terrible internet connection not allowing her to get through to them), Salem asking Rios about it indicated that he has no idea where she is or what happened to her. Perhaps she is the mysterious visitor that Salem gets in prison at the end of Devil's Cartel
- How else to explain him suddenly heading into pure evil territory with a piss-poor explanation? The government didn't like TWO taking the place of the real military, so they somehow implanted subliminal messages into Salem's mind as a form of mind-control to make him act out of character(him not caring about saving a hostage in TDC in spite of having no problem saving several civilians in 40th Day), and then go over to the side of the cartel, that way when it was revealed that the leader of TWO had been mass-murdering civilians for the past five years, TWO would be severely discredited and lose a considerable amount of support and then people would begin to favor the military instead of mercenaries for hire