Title: All kinds of time
Pairing: Snafu/Sledge, mentions of Roe/Babe
Genre: Hurt/Comfort, Angst, Slash
Disclaimer: I don't own Band of Brothers, The Pacific, nor do I mean any disrespect to the real men in E company, their families, or the First Marines and their families. This is based on the actors' portrayal of real men in a fictional setting not the actual men of Easy or The First Marines themselves.
Summary: Roe, Snafu, and a bar, talking about past mistakes and avoiding future ones.
A/N: Beta'd by binni, this fic is an extension of one of the 100 word crossover drabbles from before. Yes, I know neither Snafu nor Roe are originally from New Orleans, but this is AU-kinda. Also this was supposed to be Roe and Snafu being bros but uh, oh well. This came out a lot less gay too, go figure.
It takes Merriell Shelton roughly two hours to get his job back at the lumber mill.
It takes him a week to move out of his parents’ house and to a tiny apartment in a seedier part of town.
It takes him less than a month for him to adjust to living alone.
All that pales in comparison to what had seemed like the eternity of time of time it took to walk away from Sledge. He'll idly think about it once in a while, some time during his lunch break or after wards when he goes home, sits on his window sill, and just smokes it all away.
He sees flashes of Burgin and Leyden sometimes; once he thought he saw someone that could've been Jay but it's nothing like Sledge. It's better than thinking about how the sounds of his fan sounds like mortars passing over his head, how the hum of his fridge is almost like the steady beat of tanks climbing up clay, he supposes. But then again, he can handle the fear better than whatever washed up feeling of regret that drags at him.
Once he picks up the phone, remembers how Burgin drilled his number into him just on the off chance he died and how he wanted Snafu to tell his parents how he went. It'd been a weird conversation, before Sledge had shown up in their squad and into their lives, Gloucester's rain drenching their tent. Jay had been sleeping off in the corner.
Automatically his mind flashes to Okinawa, its constant hellish flood. He places the receiver back. Things are better this way.
It takes him nearly six months to get sick of his apartment. He starts to go for long walks with nothing on him but his thoughts. It starts to become habit for him to look up and suddenly be in far-reaching corners of the city.
On a whim, during one of his walks, he stops in a crumbling-down bar and orders some gin. The bar is nearly deserted, save for the mean-faced bar tender and a guy picking at the label of his beer. There's something familiar about him but Snafu can't quite place where. He doesn't bother dwelling on it and takes his shot. The guy looks up absently from his drink. They share a glance and Snafu recognizes why this guy is so familiar. He's got the same muted look he wears. Someone else who's been spit up from the damn war and just thrown back home like he's supposed to know what the hell he's doing. The guy's mouth draws into a line, thinking, like he's not sure if he should make conversation or not. He doesn't look like the type with a lot of practice. He takes a glance towards Snafu's hands, and finally says:
"'Should get that looked at." The voice is deep and soothing, Snafu can't place the accent, probably from somewhere more southern, near the bayous. "You dislocated yo' finger."
"What?" Snafu glances back down to his hands and notices his left middle finger's more than a little off from where he'd bumped it earlier on some logs, the pain had hurt like something fierce but he'd forgotten about it till now. It throbs dully and he shrugs. This guy wasn't his mother.
"Yeah?" It's a bit condescending but the guy doesn't take offense. He sets his jaw and turns back to face the bar. Snafu's curiosity gets the better of him. "How would you know?"
"'Used to have to treat people for that--jammin' their trigger fingers," the guy responds. He sounds more embarrassed than proud. Snafu's not sure if he's supposed to press on, what exactly this guy did, not sure if he really cares, but he's got nothing else to do.
"So you a medic." The guy just looks at the chipping bar counter. "Fight in any battles?"
He's not one for tact and the guy turns, frowning at him in a way that reminds Snafu too much of Sledge.
"Give me yo' damn hand," he orders, almost exasperated, and Snafu thinks back to Doc Caswell, and how often he'd met Snafu's attitude without fear, how, unlike Doc Arrogant, he barely batted an eye at Snafu's bared teeth and biting comments.
He blames it on the whiskey and shoves his hand at this random stranger, mostly its cause he's feeling masochistic. The minute Roe grabs Snafu's hand, he feels those calloused palms on his own and something flows in him. He's not sure what it is but he remembers how once his grandma told him about people far away who didn't use the voodoo around them, how all they'd do is set their hands on you and you'd feel better. He remembers thinking the whole thing was crazy, even when he was a kid. He highly doubts this solitary guy is what his grandmama had in mind, but he feels soothed.
There's an excruciating pain and he watches the other guy pull and push the joints back into place. He winces despite himself, the other guy pushes his drink towards him with his freehand.
"Yo' gonna feel that for a while," he explains, then releases his hand, and replies, "yo' gonna need some ice too."
Snafu stares at his hand and flexes his fingers momentarily, his finger pangs in pain, but nothing as bad as before. He takes a swig of gin, and says more of bewilderment then gratitude: "Thanks."
They go back to silence and Snafu orders another glass. The guy goes back to fiddling with his beer.
"Easy Company," the guy finally states after a while. "101st Airborne."
Snafu doesn't make a smartass remark, but he does find himself replying: "Army?"
"Paratrooper." He nods and it comes out distant and unsure; he combs his hand through the wild tangle of bluish black hair on his head.
"You lucky bastards got a lot of nice things, huh?" Snafu remarks looking at the glass tumbler in his hands. There're some scratches here and there, like it's been thrown.
"You sure have a lot resentment," the guy replies with a flat tone, and there's that look Eugene would level his way when he went out of line. He meets his gaze and mimics his expression.
"Somethin' like that. Just hate the damn war in general." Snafu mumbles, placing his glass down, "Tell me, Mistah Medic--how many of you guys were left standin' in the end? We only had three corpsman left 'cause the damn Nips ain't got it in them to surrender. You assholes got nice little Kraut boys for prisoners."
"Last I heard, so did you guys." There's a slow burning anger there, something that sets off Snafu's sense of precaution. "It ain't about what's worse or not, is it?"
He gives Snafu a stern glance, like he can't believe that Snafu could make comparisons.
"Army takes prisoners, Marines don't." He cuts in, and almost feels like shaking the guy next to him, what the hell did he know? He hadn't seen Okinawa, hadn't come face to face with how badly the Nips wanted to take them down. "At least the damned Krauts don't use fucking civilians as fucking meat-shields."
"No, but they built camps to kill men, women, and children." And now the guy next to him is pissed, he rises up from his chair, his accent drips as rage sets in. "Don't you evah, evah compare peoples' lives like that. What da hell is yo' problem?"
"My problem," Snafu repeats, the gin is hitting him enough to make him wobble slightly, "is that you all get to sleep all snug in yo' fuckin' beds at night without havin' to live with the guilt that yo' killed civilians. Yo' nevah had to worry about Germans sneakin' into yo' fuckin' camps at night, and yo' nevah had to see what we fuckin' saw."
"We had to treat people who were being killed because they were different. We lost half our men to the frost and we lost more to an incompetent commanding officer." The other guy's dark eyes are glittering fiercely and they're close enough to feel the frustration of one another. Snafu's not even sure what set him off, not sure why he's feeling like just throttling some guy who hell, fought the good fight just like he did.
The bartender comes out and threatens to call the cops. The former medic just takes one big breath and looks at Snafu before setting his jaw and sitting back down.
"You ain't worth gettin' tossed in jail for," he summarizes, and takes a long gulp from his beer. Snafu watches him for a few moments before following suit.
"You think yo' the only one who's feelin' like that?" The guy snorts and shakes his head like Snafu's slow. "Wake up, we all do. We all saw and did things we ain't proud of."
Snafu doesn't respond, just goes back to his tumbler.
"It ain't worth it to fight ova' somethin' stupid like that," The guy continues and sounds tired, oh so tired, probably as much as Snafu feels if not more. "Don't even know what to do with ourselves."
Snafu regards the man next to him, truly regards him for the first time. He doesn't apologize, it isn't in him too, but he does feel like he's done something just about foolish again.
"What's yo' name, anyway?" he offers up instead. The guy can't be too much older than him. "I'm Merrriell Shelton."
"Eugene Roe," Roe accepts and replies even enough, "I'm not sure if I can add a 'pleased to meet ya' though."
It sounds like something Sledge would say, and he laughs, already forgetting the ill will from earlier.
"Well, I'll go an' change it so you can then," He smirks, "never did have problems with people named 'Gene."
Next to him, Roe's jaw sets like Snafu's said something important and he's not sure if it's intentional. Snafu doesn't pry.
"Take it you have a lot friends named Eugene?" If there's doubt that Snafu has friends in general there, he doesn't call him on it. Snafu pauses to think it over. Would he consider Sledge a friend?
He'd meant so much more to Snafu than that. Still does.
"'Wouldn't call him a friend," He admits and goes through trying to classify what Sledge was to him. It only serves to frustrate him and he goes back to just classifying Sledge as Sledge in his mind. "Sledgehammer's just Sledgehammer."
"You talk to him recently?" Roe's finally calling for another beer. Snafu doesn't think he'll finish it.
"Nope. War's over."
At that Roe gives him a blank stare. "You ok with that?"
And really, he's not. Snafu hasn't been ok with it since the train pulled away from the station. He's never been ok with it.
"Have to be, don't I? Got no choice on it." He says it more to reaffirm himself than as an actual answer, and Roe frowns again at him.
"'Thought that way once too." He breaks out a smoke, lighting it easily with a broken lighter, Snafu thinks back to Haney's lighter in Sledge's hands. "You'll feel bettah if you suck it up and just do it."
He lets out a stream of smoke and Snafu itches for his own smokes in his pocket. He thinks back to Sledge and his god damned pipe--always looked out of place hanging from his lips. Sledge always did have such feminine lips, but then again, with his pretty face it really didn't matter now did it?
Snafu wonders idly if he should ask Roe if he's got the same complicated relationship with someone. He opens his mouth, then thinks better of it. Roe catches his gaze and repeats. "Comin' from experience, it's bettah sooner than lattah."
And yeah, judging from that he knows, all right; has the exact situation happening to him.
The clock chimes midnight on the wall and they both jump at the action.
Roe fishes through his pockets and places some bills on the table, getting up from his seat. He straightens out his clothes, and places his mostly-full bottle of beer on the counter.
"Best be gettin' home. Got work in the mornin'." Roe smiles a little at Snafu. It's more a slight slant of his lips but it conveys what it needs to. "Well I guess it was nice meetin' you."
Snafu finds himself laughing all the same and unabashedly swipes his beer.
"Same." He takes a swig and Roe just sighs and nods.
"Take care of yo'self. Put ice on that," he reminds, still grinning despite himself. He turns, walking away into the Louisiana night and Snafu leans back against the counter, watching him.
Something clicks in Snafu's mind and he decides what the hell--not like it’s going to kill him. He's lived through worse.
He asks the wary-looking bartender to use his phone.
It takes Snafu seven months to realize he needed Sledge again.
It takes three days to get into contact with him.
It takes Sledge less than a month to show up on Snafu's doorstep.
It takes Sledge barely two seconds before he has him in an embrace and nearly falling onto his apartment floor.
It takes less than that for Snafu to kick the door closed and finally let Sledge back into his life.