David Webster stood looking, with a horrified expression, up and down the damage to the side of the nice, new, company-owned luxury vehicle. Robert Leckie stood next to him, tilting his head at the extent of the dent.
"Well Webster, looks like you're fired," he assessed, clapping his shoulder solemnly. "And we're going to be late to lunch with your parents."
"We almost died," Webster pointed out, more than a little hysteric. "Leckie, we could've been killed."
"Yeah, I don't think so," Leckie cut in, wiping his hands on his borrowed suit pants, nonchalantly, as if talking about the weather. "At the most it's just a fender bender."
Webster still had it in him to look at Leckie in an affronted manner. They both ignored the small line of on-looker traffic that was forming from the ramp they'd just crashed to the side of.
Leckie had the good sense to move in time to avoid getting caught between the cabbie they'd just hit and Web, as the former stomped his way over. "What the fuck is your problem?" He was a ways shorter than Web but apparently had lungs loud enough to make up for it.
Webster, never one to be out done, immediately puffed up at the remark.
"My problem? You're the offending party that hit us!" Webster shot back with a derisive snort, and Leckie observed from the sidelines, trying to use his height to full advantage, "how someone as reckless as you can be a cab driver is a worrying sign for the industry!"
"What the fuck are you saying, huh? That I can't fucking drive?" The cabbie balled his fists, apparently with temper enough to match Webster—which in Leckie's eyes was something of a small accomplishment.
"Obviously the evidence is that you can't!" Webster bellowed, pointing at their damaged cars for effect. Leckie opened his mouth to interject that technically it was both his and the cabbie's faults but instead reached for his phone.
"Fuck you, rich boy. What the fuck do you know about driving? You're the one that was in my way!" came the louder roar. Webster's eyebrow twitched.
Leckie just made himself comfortable against the tree he was leaning against and returned to his phone. He considered stopping the screaming match but decided against it. Webster was in a mood and he knew from past experience it was either let him let it out or listen all day to his bitching. He only had thirty minutes of his lunch break left, and he was firmly against listening to Webster complaining for the remainder of it. Especially to his parents.
"Hello, Mr. and Mrs. Webster?" He greeted, cupping the mouthpiece towards him slightly and leaning away from the spectacle to his left, "We're going to be running a little late."
Leckie knew that he'd have to tell Hoosier and Skinny this story later, especially since he had a feeling that this was hardly going to be the end of it.
Countless hours of complaining later anyway, Leckie got the phone call at home early one evening that Webster was about to be sued by the cab company.
And so, Joesph D. Liebgott shoved himself into their lives.
"I can't believe you're being sued," Chuckler laughed replaying the message on the machine, next to him Skinny snorted in his pilfered soda can.
"I can," he vouched, raising his hand. Next to him, Hoosier helped himself to Leckie and Webster's pantry, adding in his own, "I can too."
Leckie looked up from where he was reading the paper to where his friends were making themselves comfortable around the apartment.
"Yeah, well. Unlike you lucky bastards, I have to go to all the meetings ‘cause I was a 'witness'," He said with a frown, folding up the paper and getting up. "What're we making?"
"I am making a sandwich since you're a shitty host," Hoosier answered with a small tilt of his lips upward, pushing past Leckie and helping himself to their fridge, digging out some cheese and bread. "God damn, Leckie. Did you and Web just decide to create your own supermarket?"
"Web likes to make concoctions a lot." Leckie shrugged, edging in to grab a beer. "You better give me some of that sandwich—don't think I didn't notice you're using the good stuff."
"What can I say? I'm a man of taste." Hoosier winked and set the ingredients on the counter, taking out the cutting board with the same ease of someone who had been over way too often. "Anyone else want anything since apparently I'm being made cook?"
"I'm good," Skinny piped up from where he was now flipping through the TiVo. "...Why is there like … four years’ worth of Shark Week on here?"
"Again, blame my lovely housing buddy," Leckie said with a roll of his eyes, making his way over before finally plopping on the nice, pricey, suede couch. "It's not like sharks really change, either, but he keeps insisting on taping every single one."
"Hey, Leckie?" Chuckler finally released the 'replay' button on the machine and asked, for curiosity's sake, "This guy's really pissed. What did Web exactly do? Car crash aside...."
"Oh, you know how Web is." Leckie took a long gulp of his beer then grimaced, looking at his can. "For fuck's sake, why is this light beer?"
"I know how Web is but that's nothing new. I mean, he's got to have done something else to this guy," Chuckler pressed, going to the last empty spot on the couch. "What happened, exactly?”
Leckie stopped to think about it, placing the beer can down on the table, complete with coaster and a grimace.
"After the crash they got into a fight. It wasn't anything big. Web just started cursing AND talking like he'd just walked off of Harvard's ivy lawns and the guy got even more pissed off and yelled back, 'You think I'm stupid or something?' and you know how certain people are--gotta wave their degrees around even though they write porn," he reported, replaying the morning's events yet again. "I guess there's just something about the two of them."
"'Something about the two of them'?" Hoosier repeated credulously, a plate in each hand, both piled high with sandwiches and chips. "What's that mean?"
"I want one," Chuckler protested, eyeing up the plate that Hoosier handed Leckie. "I didn't even know you were making food!"
"I asked you earlier but you were too busy giggling like a five year old at the answering machine," Hoosier stated without much pity. "You've got legs, go on ahead."
Grumbling, Chuckler rose from his spot on the couch, which Hoosier immediately took. Skinny finally settled on a special about fending off shark attacks.
"Well, Professor?" Hoosier prompted again, as Skinny took some potato chips from his plate. "I saw that."
Skinny just smiled and crunched triumphantly in his face. Leckie placed his plate down, thinking at how to best word it.
"Best way to describe it? They're both almost alike when it came to yelling. I've never seen Webster get that mad at someone, and this is David K. Webster. Get the guy going on any piece of modern literature and you'll lose two hours of your life just to ranting alone." Leckie leaned against the couch, "I think we might have just hit someone with a worse temper than his."
There was a thoughtful silence after that, the dramatic music from the special going unnoticed.
"Shit, you guys are fucked," Hoosier surmised after a beat, taking a bite of his sandwich. Skinny nodded and lifted a few more chips from him. Chuckler stomped his way back with his own sandwich, glancing at his taken spot with a sullen frown before settling on the arm chair.
"What's the other guy's name anyway?" he asked, turning back to the TV to watch a diver punch a shark on the nose. "Couldn't really hear much besides the cursing."
"Lieb-something? It's German-sounding. Liebgott?" Skinny suddenly started choking next to him, spitting up half-chewed food all over the place. "You all right?"
Skinny held up his hand, coughing into the other before rising up to run to the sink. Hoosier reached for some napkins.
"It's nothing," Skinny squeaked from over the counter, his coughing dying down. "Don't worry about it."
Leckie turned to give Hoosier a suspicious glance only to find Bill suddenly helpful in cleaning up. Chuckler went back to being engrossed in the TV.
"You guys know him don't you." Leckie realized with a sigh, more exasperated at how small the world was than mad.
"I don't, just ... Hoosier and Skinny do," Chuckler informed, breaking watch from shark attacks to earnestly assure Leckie. "I've only heard about him from them."
Hoosier's lips thinned, Skinny resumed coughing.
"He's a friend of Skinny's," Hoosier admitted after a moment, grabbing the napkins and tossing them into the nearest trash can, not missing from where he sat. "I should've known when you said that he had a temper..."
"Web's gonna be thrilled to hear this." Leckie reached for his beer, swallowing past the taste. "Not enough he's got a new 'incompetent cretin of a director' to work under."
Once again the air in the room changed again, this time the mood lightened considerably. Leckie had a mind to pursue more information on 'Liebgott' but thought against it, he'd have the unpleasant experience of learning about him first hand anyway. Best not to push, especially if even laid-back Skinny and Hoosier were on edge about it.
"What's the name of the movie this time?" Chuckler's attention suddenly all on him, eyes eager, "Is it a pun again? Please say it is."
"You know he hates it when I tell you guys these things," Leckie said more out of habit than anything else. "He already hates having to write 'filthy mind-numbing smut of the lowest quality'."
"Just tell us, Leckie," Skinny pleaded, returning from the kitchen, the look on his face mirroring Chuckler's glee. "Web won't bring any of these girls home to date us. It's the least you can do."
"Speak for yourself, I'm taken," Chuckler cut in abruptly to pause and shake his head theatrically. "I am hurt on account of Runner."
"Yeah, yeah, brag about your prize later," Hoosier snorted, not looking away from Leckie. "Does this one have to do with those movies that have been coming out recently? The vampire ones?"
"It may or may not be called 'Fucklight'." Leckie said, grinning over the rim of his can. The effect was the immediate guffaws around the room.
"Yes, I'm so rubbing this in," Chuckler crowed, living up to his nickname and whooping with laughter. "Just wait till Runner hears this."
"You should hear the names of the characters." Leckie leaned in conspiratorially, "Webster was practically piss drunk when he came up with them. I helped by the way, you'll be able to tell when the guy shows up..."
There were perks to having your family being on 'friendly terms' with your boss. Besides having a relatively easy work load which really consisted of filing a few papers and calling up people for an hour, there were added bonuses. Like, for example, when your Boss decides to just shut down his practice to spend your Uncle's rare day off with him.
Snafu shut his laptop lid with a clack after reading the email, settling back into Sledge's bed. He had planned to do something with Eugene that day, since it'd been so long since they'd done anything together. Instead Sledge had give him an apologetic smile and Snafu had just shrugged easily and gone to rest in his bed with an even easier, "See ya later, Eugene."
He didn't really mind or care that Sledge had mentioned something about Sid yesterday. Far as he was concerned, it wasn't like Sledge was fucking married to the guy or anything. Maybe a small part of him was a little disappointed but fuck it all; he wasn't some damn chick. He could deal with a day to himself. He used to do it all the time before Sledge was his roommate. It was just Sid that cheesed him off.
Snafu found himself scowling slightly at the thought. He hated it when the other guy just popped up at the dorm like he lived there. Not that he was jealous or anything. Just something about Sledge's best friend grated on his nerves.
He still wasn't sure why he did, but part of him just couldn't stand Sid. He knew enough from the exasperated looks shot his way that Sid didn't think too highly of him, either. Not that he gave a shit, despite all of Sledge's attempts to get them to get along, anyway.
Snafu closed his eyes and grabbed the comforter. It'd been a while since he had the day to sleep in. He wasn't in the mood for much else at the moment, at any rate. He was bored and yet not in the mood to just do anything about it yet.
Of course, just when he was about to drift off, Bill Leyden started pounding on his door like the whole dorm was about to burn down.
He would've gone on to ignore him and go to sleep either way, had it not been for the fact that Leyden just opened the door as if it wasn't fucking locked and scoffed at him from where he stood.
"Jesus, Gene goes out with Sid to pick out some damn bed sheets and you're fucking napping. What the hell kind of dorm am I staying in? Everyone fucking acts like they're forty," Leyden commented, exasperated. "Not even a fucking, 'Welcome back, Bill,' from any of you. Me and Babe have been gone for three days, you dicks."
"Shut the fuck up, Bill," Snafu groaned, still trying to keep his eyes closed and intent on taking his damn nap. "Go cry to someone else. Burgie and Pat already said you guys were going to be gone awhile. Go bitch to someone who gives a damn."
"Yeah, thanks, Snafu, some asshole friend you are." Leyden pointedly ignored the hint to leave and sat on the edge of the bed, not in the least bit ready to stop complaining. "You're really going to just spend the day sleeping? Fuck Snafu, you're not even overworked. You don't do shit."
And Snafu had to open his eyes at that, half-lidded stare not bothering to hide just how annoyed he was.
"Knew that'd get ya up." Bill just grinned jovially, like he wasn't being a pain in the ass; like he wasn't ignoring how much Snafu wanted to just be left alone. "Now come on, let's go do something. It's a weekend and we're in fucking college for Christ's sake."
Snafu pushed him away and sat up, knowing from experience that Leyden wouldn't fucking leave otherwise. And really, he couldn't even fall back asleep, anyways, thanks to the asshole.
"Fuck you, too, Leyden," he yawned, pushing the other out of the way. "Get the hell out of my room."
"Come on, we'll get cigarettes."
Snafu blinked at him before his grin turned fanged, and Leyden knew already that it'd be his treat, along with anything else they did that day.
"You're paying for lunch, too," he added, getting up from the bed, going to grab some clothes from the closet.
Leyden congratulated himself on a job well done.
Richard Winters always had to maintain contact with the company, even on his days off. It was hard enough to get the man to relax but to get him to keep his mind off of work for at least a day was nigh impossible. Luckily, Lewis Nixon was confident in his distracting abilities, even if it meant shutting down the clinic for a day.
"Dick, I've seen my dad run that company for years, nothing insane is going to happen in the span of a day I can assure you," Nixon said at the sight of Winters typing away at his desk in the study. "They call them 'days off' for a reason."
"That's not it, Nix." Winters seemed a little more than apprehensive, not looking up from the screen. "Apparently my bosses want me to start training my replacement."
"You're being replaced?" That did cause Nixon to stop, place the tray with his lunch down with a pause. "You can't be replaced—I named you in charge of the company. It was in my name, they can't do that."
"I'm not getting fired." Winters did look up at that, bemused at Nixon’s agitation. "The company's just merging with another. I'm just going to be more of a figurehead while he takes over the actual running of the company. He's not very ... publicity-friendly."
"Oh that makes me feel better," Nixon snorted, scowling slightly. "You're basically telling me that you're being reduced to a pretty face. Dick, CEOs are never 'publicity-friendly' that's the point of them. Why do you think people hate them so much? You can hire people to MAKE you more 'friendly.' In fact, I think we had the guy who's in charge of that department at our house one time."
"Calm down, Nix, it's not like I like the idea either but it's what's best for the company," Winters replied, tone soothing. "This will all work out. Technically, I'll still be in charge."
"Yeah, while the other guy leads the company to ruin," Nixon said, moving to sit in his own chair and rolled it closer. "Dick, you're the one that cares more about this company than I do. Are you sure you are ok with this?"
"I need to meet with the guy first but Haldane trusts him and I trust Haldane," Winters answered, reaching forward to lay a hand on Nixon's knee. "We'll see how it goes."
Nixon studied his face for a minute before throwing his hand up and getting up from the chair, with a sigh.
"Whatever you say, Dick. You're the boss."
Snafu and Leyden sat on the rooftop, watching the people below with detached interest. It was the middle of the afternoon and Leyden was sufficiently sixty dollars less, only change left jangling in his pocket. Snafu glanced at him with another smirk, as if reading his mind. Leyden just went back to blowing a smoke ring in the air, the chipping paint on the lawn chairs digging into his clothes.
"You're still pissy, aren't you?" Leyden surmised from where Snafu reached for another cigarette from his pack, ignoring his own pack in his pocket. "You're always like this whenever Gene leaves with Sid."
Snafu didn't say anything, just frowned deeper and lit up his pilfered cigarette.
"Fuck, Snafu, you jealous or something?" Leyden, of course, never knew when to quit. If Snafu had been one to really think about it, he'd probably wonder why it always mattered that fucking much to Leyden, someone who he only traded the occasional insult with. Instead he kept his eyes focused on the view below them.
"I mean, it's not like you ain't got friends, right? I mean shit, what are we?" Leyden droned on, lighting up next to him. "Jesus Christ, Snafu, I've known you for years. Years, and you've never been this way with anyone else."
"So what?" Snafu didn't break his gaze from where he was watching the courtyard below. "If you've got something to say just spit it out already. Fucking wasting the entire day on your damn toes."
Leyden paused mid-rant and closed his mouth, reassessing what he was wanting to say.
"I'm just saying, it's weird is all," he admitted after a while, voice hesitant for once, like he was picking his words carefully. "What's so special about Gene? I know he's a good guy--has to be to put up with your shit for two years, but so's Burgin and the rest of us. What's so great about Sledge that gets you acting like a jealous housewife?”
Snafu didn't comment, the only sounds coming from below and the otherwise preoccupied campus and its students.
"Shut up, Bill Leyden. I ain't fucking jealous." Snafu rolled his eyes and blew a burst of smoke in his direction, words spoken with a note of finality. "You're fucking insane, you know that?"
"That's rich, coming from you," Leyden murmured within hearing distance. He shifted over to catch Snafu's eye. Snafu just resumed back to staring straightforward. There was an awkward silence after that; Leyden's body seemed to have realized that hey, they were sitting on a fucking roof baking on decades-old lawn chairs in the hot afternoon sun. He was going to turn pink, he just knew it.
Babe would probably laugh it up, too, the dick. Probably even take a picture to show Guarnere.
"You talk to Jay, lately?" And that brought Leyden back. He blinked, realizing that Snafu was talking to him.
"What?" He reiterated, blinking, the pavement reflecting the sun's rays and making him feel like he was barely able to make out Snafu in the grayish white of the concrete.
"Have you talked to Jay lately?" Snafu repeated, and Leyden just knew that he was probably grinning that same grin he always did when he got the one-up on someone. "You two don't hang out much anymore."
That was random. Leyden raised a brow, stubbing out his cigarette on the concrete.
"Why?" He asked while standing, resolving not to bake any more than he had to. He stopped in front of Snafu's chair, trying to get a read of what he was getting at. "Did he need me for something?"
Snafu just glanced at him, his eyes half-open and knowing. He took one last puff and rose up to leave as well.
He weaved past Leyden for the door, walking back into the dark stairwell with a final, "No reason."
Leyden stared at his retreating form, confusion etched on his face.
What did that mean?
"Snaf, wait up," he commanded, chasing after him. The door closed behind him with a loud clang. "What does Jay want? I know you can hear me asshole, wait up!'
Sledge waved to Sid, walking backwards until the other was out of sight. It was getting nearly late, the campus clock chiming eleven. He had meant to be home a lot earlier but was sidetracked when Sid offered dinner and a movie. Times to see Sid were presenting themselves less often so Eugene had agreed, knowing that he wasn't missing much in the dorms.
He walked past the usual people out at night, waved to a few--Talbert walking off with a busty co-ed and a winning smile, and talked to some more--Garcia had stopped him for a minute to talk since they hadn't seen each other in weeks. Hashey, his ever present partner in crime, was more wrapped up in bugging his new friend Tatum about the upcoming world lit. exam. Sledge had made a mental note to not mention to Hashey that he'd previously taken that class.
When he finally made it to the common room, it was closer to 45 minutes on what should've been a 15-minute walk. He couldn't resist stopping when he noticed Snafu's old roommates talking.
Gibson was something of a sight around campus and even more of a legend. Snafu didn't talk about him much but even he seemed to only keep encounters with him limited to Facebook. Rumor was that Gibson was at one point in time a star student but began crumbling under all the weight of his classes and according to some, his deranged roommate. Snafu had never said much in his defense just given him a look and really that was all Sledge needed. He never was one to trust rumors in the first place.
Still, there was a detached way Gibson spoke to him, always making sure to bring up Snafu in conversation and O'Keefe just dived out of his way whenever he saw Sledge (Burgin had admitted later on that Snafu had kind of messed with O'Keefe here and there but he had held that Gibson was already a loose cannon when Snafu had met him).
Sledge had never expected the meek O'Keefe and the deranged Gibson to actually meet and in fairness, he realized, that probably was due to the third person standing there. A new transfer, who was looking more lost than scared. O'Keefe didn't look like he was talking anymore so much as trying to desperately escape with Blithe from Gibson.
Sledge moved forward, ready to cut in when suddenly came a loud, "Hey guys, I need some help carrying some stuff from my car! Want to help? You do? Awesome!"
He recognized Hoobler from the fifth floor, smiling wide and amiably at all of them like he hadn't just stepped into some kind of tense argument and between Gibson and O'Keefe. He waved at Gibson. "Hey, Gibby, mind if I borrow these guys? You don't? Ok!"
Within the span of barely a minute, he had his arms hooked around Blithe and O'Keefe, yanking them out the door.
"I'll make it up to ya guys, I promise! I get paid next Friday; pizza will be on me! It's nice to meet ya, by the way—my name's Donald Hoobler, people usually call me 'Hoobler' or 'Hoobs'. You guys new? I haven't seen you before! You'll love this place!"
Sledge watched the scene, just as surprised as Gibson was. Hoobler was a force to be reckoned with. They were gone as quickly as Hoobler had appeared.
Gibson kept his eyes locked onto the door they escaped from but instead of following, he simply turned on his heel and disappeared.
Eugene made a mental note to relay the odd encounter to Snafu later and finally made his way up the stairs back to his room.
Knowing full well that Snafu would be in his bed and waiting for him.