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R u ready to talk yet? 

From: Sid 

To: Eugene 

RECEVIED: 20:43 

Babe prided himself on being able to read a guy who, for the most part, was a blank face. So when his boyfriend didn't even crack a sly comment or shy grin at Luz's antics at lunch, he knew something was wrong and waited till they were alone in his room doing homework to ask. 

''Something's up with you. You're quiet.'' 

Gene raised an amused eyebrow. 

Babe shook his head, ''More quiet than usual.'' he reached out for his hand, ''What's bothering you?'' 

Gene's thumb stroked along Babe's, tracing the light brown freckles. 

''You know how I have family in New Orleans?''  

Babe nodded, remembering him mentioning a cousin he used to be close to who was a little crazy even by Gene's lax standards.  

''Well my aunt Marie and my cousin Snafu started arguing and now she’s kicked him out of the house.'' 

''Oh my god.'' Babe said horrified, ''Is he okay?'' 

''He managed to get out of the house with some of his possessions but I don’t know. I haven’t seen him yet.'' 

''That must be awful.'' 

''They’ve been arguing a lot lately but I guess we didn’t think she’d actually do it. I don’t think he wanted to leave but he's arriving here sometime tomorrow.'' 

''Wow. How'd you think he's gonna fit in?'' 

At that Gene shrugged. ''Snafu's a pretty cool guy once you get to know him but I gotta admit he's... intense sometimes. Not always in a good way either. He has a thing about pushing people to their limits. Usually he laughs a lot off but when he gets into a fight, he turns vicious. He once punched out a kid's tooth and picked it up offuva the ground and showed it to everyone.'' 

Babe tensed, feeling uncomfortable just by the sounds of this guy. 

''But that was a few years ago.’’ Gene comforted, ‘’He's calmed down a lot and I promise he won't mess with you. He'll know to be cool.'' 

''Cool.'' Babe's voice cracked. 

Just as he looked ready to respond to that, they saw Eugene storm up the stairs through the crack of the door. Before they could fully register his bad mood, the door across the hall slammed loudly and echoed through the empty corridor.  

Babe just shook his head and groaned. Gene smiled sympathetically. 

''If this has anything to do with Sid again, I'm gonna kick his ass myself.'' 

''Because he was real appreciative of you interfering in his love life last time.'' 

Babe sighed but knew it was true. His interference was not well received by a mortified Eugene who uncharacteristically told him to stay the fuck out of his business and refused to talk to him for several days. 

''He used to be such a happier person.'' 

''Give him time.'' Gene advised softly, unaware that the distraction from Eugene's problems was arriving tomorrow. 

 As expected Luz, Toye, Liebgott, Muck and Bill were already hanging outside the lockers when Babe arrived alone. 

Liebgott frowned and looked around Babe comically, ''Where's the Doc?'' 

''He's showing his cousin around school.'' 

''Don't you ever check the group chat?'' Toye directed at Lieb who simply rolled his eyes. 

''You guys ain't as interesting as you like to think you are.'' he shut his locker door and the others began walking to class. 

''Besides I was...busy.'' he concluded with a wide smirk. 

''Spill.'' Muck demanded, ''Who, when and how?'' 

''Who.'' Luz scoffed, ''It was obviously Hot Librarian.'' 

''His name's Webster actually.'' Liebgott clarified and carried on, ''Cut a long story short, we made out a little and now we're going out on a date this Friday.'' 

To his embarrassment his friends gave a loud chorus of ''Fucking finally.'' 

As Sidney Phillips and Mary Houston went past, Liebgott stuck his foot out and caused the other boy to nearly trip into an open locker door. 

Sidney whipped around furiously to see Liebgott chewing on his gum with a smirk.  

''Whoops...'' he remarked coolly. 

Sid looked at the group of boys with assessing eyes, who gathered a little closer at the severely seething look he was throwing their way. Mary tugged at his arm looking worried. Deciding it wasn't worth it, the other boy stormed off as quickly as he could with his wrist in a sling and a girlfriend hanging on his arm. 

Babe sighed, ''We shouldn't mess with him. It ain't right.'' 

''Coming from the guy who broke his fucking wrist.'' Bill scoffed. 

''Anymore!'' Babe elaborated frustratedly. 

''Why not? That little shit fucked around with Sledge for months then ditched him first chance he got to make eyes at Mary fucking Houston.'' 

‘’He was our friend once.’’ 

Joe rolled his eyes, ‘’Like I give a shit.’’ 

''Let's just... leave it.'' Babe insisted tiredly. 

The others mumbled half heartedly while Liebgott just huffed a quick, ''Sure.'' 

 Eugene walked into first period History with the terrifying teacher affectionately named Sniper Spiers, which was admittedly a much kinder name than SOB Sobiel from Maths. 

Although Eugene secretly thought Spiers liked to stay quiet on the rumours circulating about him just to mess with them all. 

This was not an opinion he would ever dare call their history teacher out on though. 

He clenched his teeth tightly as he saw Sid chatting happily to Mary in the corner. It made him feel sick and bitter to be so easily forgotten. Sid still texted him trying to make things right and, in all honesty, Eugene missed being his friend from before they started fucking around. He missed the easy conversation that made him fall for his best friend in the first place.  

But his heart still felt like it had been crushed in Sid's palm when he said he couldn't carry on with- 

Fuck with whatever they started that didn't even dignify having a label. 

He briefly met Sid's eyes and pointedly turned away when he saw the guilt in them. Eugene shook his head and rested it on his desk, waiting for his brother's boyfriend to come along and be a distraction. He liked Gene, especially as he was the only one not telling him 'I told you so.'  or offering to kick Sidney's ass for him. 

An unexpected finger flicked his fringe upwards and he jumped up to see an unfamiliar guy with the most extraordinary and weird looking pair of green eyes he'd ever seen. 

He looked between Gene and Sledge, uttering ''Il est votre amoureux?'' 

Roe looked at him in confusion as the new guy leaned in a little closer to Eugene. The stranger's tone became huskier as he admitted, ''Parce que... je me sens jaloux. J’ai toujours pensé que rousses étaient secrètement chaudes.J’ai entendu ils sont les meilleurs au sexe.'' 

''Non, il est son frère.'' Gene sighed out in annoyance. ''Asseyez-vous et cesser de causer des ennuis.'' 

''Je ne fais aucuns promesses.'' The other drawled out with a smirk as he sat down on the table across from him. 

Eugene looked at his friend and laughed, ''Care to fill me in?'' 

The other guy reached out his hand, ''Je m'appelle Merriell .'' 

That Eugene understood and held out his own hand, ''Nice to meet you Merriell , I'm Eugene.''  

Merriell took his hand in a tight grip. He had a faint smile on his face but a weird look in his eye that was starting to make Sledge feel uncomfortable. 

''Does he know English?'' he asked nervously as he let go of his hand, unsure if Merriell understood him. 

Merriell looked towards Gene, who took on a scoldful tone. ''Cousin, nous ne pouvons pas parler Cajun tout le temps. Nous avons d’autres classes.'' 

Merriell seemed to consider this and grinned. 

''I prefer to be called Snafu.'' he informed Eugene in a slow, southern drawl that startled him after only hearing a regional French. 

''Is that a French thing too?'' 

Snafu threw his head back and laughed, ''Nah boo, it's military lingo. Stands for Situation Normal, All Fucked up.'' 

''You must have quite a reputation to get that kinda nickname.'' 

Snafu let the pause hang in the air for a moment, searching for Eugene's reaction to his silent, focused stare before finally giving a small smile. 

''That I do.'' 

It had been hard to focus throughout History with the constant feeling of being watched. Eugene had to admit he found the attention unsettling and Snafu kinda creepy. His entire being emitted an odd aura. He had olive skin and dark curled hair but then he had these intense and wide pale green eyes that almost popped out of his head and an upper lip slightly too big constantly placed in a side smirk. All the boy seemed to do was stare and smile. 

But Eugene had to admit it was a gorgeous smile that added a heat he wanted to know if there were more of. 

Dangerous thoughts there, he internally warned himself. 

However quickly Sid was willing to move on, Eugene was still reluctant to jump into something else after going through something so heavy. 

It wouldn’t have to be anything serious, he debated. 

Snafu looked over at him with a grin like he knew what he was thinking and Sledge find it less unsettling than he did before. 

Once they were all sat down for lunch and the stranger sat at their table, all of them stared at Snafu with some curiosity until Doc sat down, kissed Babe on the cheek and explained. 

''Guys this is my cousin, Snafu. He's going to be staying with me for a while.'' 

They all nod in understanding and Snafu finally sits down like that was the cue he was waiting for. 

As Gene introduces the guys to Snafu, he pointed to each of them. 

''This is Luz. He's a joker but he don't mean no harm.'' 

Almost as a challenge, Luz elbows Joe with a snicker, ''Toye over here is our very own Mexican McGreggor.'' 

''How many times do I gotta tell you animals I'm Puerto Rican?'', Toye huffed, pushing the shorter kid back and almost throwing him out of his chair. 

Doc rolled his eyes and carried on. 

''The midget is Muck, next to him is Liebgott and Bill. They're all assholes but you get used to them.'' 

''My heart is truly warmed...'' Muck drolled. He looked at Snafu and addressed him, ''So where you from?'' 

''Nawlins.'' Snafu drawled. He looked down annoyed at his tray like the question had pissed him off and began stabbing at his carrots with his fork. 

Feeling a need to defuse the tension, Eugene gave a small laugh and asked, ''So how does our shitty school seem so far?'' 

Snafu looked up at him, almost like he was debating whether to go along with Eugene's attempts to distract him. 

Eventually he shrugged. 

''It seems okay. Haven't ran into anyone wantin' to beat me for my lunch money yet.'' he mocked. 

''I get the feeling you could handle yourself.'' Bill observed off-handedly as he bit into his sandwich. 

Snafu's mouth twitched up like Bill had poked at a secret and it didn't sit right with Eugene, especially when Snafu caught him looking his way and his smirk widen. 

‘’You have no idea.’’ 

Snafu had stayed unusually quiet throughout the whole day, even by his standards.  

Gene escorted Snafu to all of his classes and hadn't heard any of the teachers complain about him. He didn't know if he should have expected that but surely even Snafu couldn't really cause that much of a ruckus on the first day. 

Give it time he warned himself. 

Gene had mourned the loss of his private room but reminded himself that Babe's dad was deaf as a post and his sister worked night shifts so their time alone hadn't changed dramatically.  

Besides, he wouldn't allow family to sleep on the sofa. Even if the make shift bed wasn't all that great but Snafu didn't complain as he sank down on the air mattress.  

He gave an apologetic smile, ''We'll be able to sort you out a proper bed soon. You'll only have to tolerate this a week or so.'' 

Snafu shrugged, ''When you've slept on top'a bus shelters, you stop being fussy.'' 

It was a throwaway comment that had Gene looking at him curiously. He knew that his aunt could be a little temperamental but he'd hoped this was the first time she’d done something like this. 

But Snafu didn't even seem to acknowledge it was an odd thing to say so he let it go, aware of his cousin’s strong sense of pride. Instead he helped him unpack what little clothes he had left into his wardrobe.  

Snafu passed them from his suitcase while Gene put them on the hangers and put them away. 

''So how are you finding it here?'' 

''It's a lot more quieter than home. Smells different too.'' 

Gene cracked a smirk at that, ''Been a while since I visited. How is Grandma Roe?'' 

''She still got her healin' hands. Been tryna encourage me to do the same but I tol' her you the one in the family to carry on her magic.'' 

As the last shirt was put away, Gene looked around the room. ''Do you have anything else?''  

A part of him cringed at the abruptly distant look on Snafu's face and the small whispered, ''No.'' as he sat down on the edge of the bed. Gene soon sat by his side and put a comforting hand on his shoulder. 

''You can always tell me things, things you feel like bottling up. It ain't no good to keep it inside.'' 

Snafu shook his head and gave a humourless laugh, ''You know what my mama is like. I’ll be back this time next week so there ain’t nothin’ to talk about.’’ 

He wasn’t sure how true he thought that was but Gene nodded his head and removed his arm, their knees knocking together as they stay sat side by side. 

''You follow the classes okay?'' 

''It's a similar curriculum back home so it ain't too hard to keep up. I think I gave the French teacher the shock o’ her life though.'' 

Gene laughed at that, ''Cajun's a dying breed of French. I remember my teacher musta thought I was having some sorta stroke the way I was pronouncing everything when I first moved here.'' 

''Yeah they got you speaking sissy French now.'' 

Gene shrugged, ''If the shoe fits...'' 

After a pause, Snafu smiled.  

''Your boyfriend seems nice. His brother seems nicer though.'' he leered 

Gene shook his head and laughed. 

''What's so damn funny?' Snafu asked, a defensive undertone present. 

''They ain’t brothers.'' 

His cousin looked at him strangely, ''You lost me there.'' 

''Babe's actually Sledge's uncle. Judy, his sister, was left widowed and pregnant not long after Babe was born so she came back home. The two were raised together so they just call each other brother. More of an honourary title between them. A joke.'' 

''Huh. I did wonder why they had two different last names.'' Snafu observed. 

Gene sighed. 

''Be careful with Sledge. He's not in the right headspace for anything romantic at the moment.'' 

''Well it's a good thing I only wanna a fuck then.'' Snafu smirked. 

''I'm serious. Don't go there Snafu, he's a good friend of mine.'' 

Snafu only shrugged and Gene knew that wasn’t a reassurance, like he'd said earlier, he wouldn't make a promise he wouldn't keep.