Rating: R (to be sure for later chapters)
Disclaimer: The contents of this story are entirely fictional and they don’t concern the real men from World War II, but the actors. I don’t own anything.
Warnings: Minor spoilers for The Pacific.
A/N: English isn't my native language, so if there are any language mistakes, I'm sorry. You may always point them out to me.
Summary: The two of them became something close to friends, but with every fight they fought, every Jap they shot, Sledge grew more grim and Snafu less sure in his endeavor to seem tough. And then, at the point where most men lose the will to care, he started to. About one thing in particular.
Why it would never last for eternity
He had the face for it. The slightly scary smile. The dangerous eyes. Even his accent. From the start he had shown himself tougher than he was. Alright, he wasn’t a sweetheart to begin with, but he also wasn’t as badass as he liked people to believe. Sure, he could harass the new guys and be in control of most situations, but he missed the social skills to perfect the image.
Eugene Sledge was the first to see through it.
Maybe it was because he puked when they were closing in on the beach of Peleliu. That might have given him away a bit… Given away the fear behind his straightened face. But also Sledge just wasn’t easily intimidated by him. He never minded Snafu’s harsh treatment and words as much as the others. Which was also for a part the reason that he easily gave in and started to be friendly to the boy. The other part was that he found Sledge quite interesting. ‘Cause just as Sledge didn’t believe Snafu cared as less as he tried to care about the fucked up shitload that was war, Snafu didn’t believe that Sledge was as much of a choirboy as he seemed.
Something that was proved during their time on Peleliu. The two of them became something close to friends, but with every fight they fought, every Jap they shot, Sledge grew more grim and Snafu less sure in his endeavor to seem tough. And then, at the point where most men lose the will to care, he started to. About one thing in particular.
When they got off Peleliu and were shipped to Pavuvu, they finally found some rest – physically at least. Mentally they were all still with their thoughts in the hell that they had just left. But it would get better, the memories would fade. Or at least, they all had to believe that.
They had been on the ship for quite some hours already, when Snafu went looking for Sledge. Finally, by the time it had become dark, he found him on an empty part of the deck. He was leaning against the rail and looking out over the black water. Snafu felt himself relax a bit at the sight of the other and walked up to him. He fell with his back against the rail, ignoring the sea behind him and instead focusing on Sledge’s face. It stayed silent for a long time, until Snafu tilted his head to one side and tried to manage a grin that didn’t seem totally awkward. His social skills failed him though, and Sledge gave him an annoyed look.
Snafu shrugged, looking randomly around. For a moment, he gave up his attempts and turned to the water, leaning over the rail. ‘Nothing.’
Yet after less than a minute, he turned around again and shifted a little to the side, basically forcing half of him between Sledge and the rail. ‘How you doin’?’
‘Seriously? How I’m doing?’ He didn’t sound annoyed anymore, just tired. ‘The same as all of us, right?’
‘Just askin’, Sledgehammer,’ Snafu said, shifting away again. A second silence lingered between them and he heard the rain begin to fall before he felt it. Soft at first, but very fast it became a downright shower.
‘Shit.’ Sledge looked around for cover, but Snafu was faster. There was a lifeboat to the right of them, with a sail draped over it. He took hold of Sledge’s wrist and pulled him towards the boat.
‘Wait, we could just go downsta–’
Snafu had them under the covering of the sail before the other could finish his sentence. There wasn’t much space, so they were forced to lay pressed up against each other in the dark.
‘Yeah, great idea,’ Sledge sighed and Snafu actually worried about the lack of anger in his voice. He let out a chuckle to lighten the mood, but it just was as awkward as all his attempts to ease the situation or start a conversation.
‘I like the sound of the rain,’ he said. Now there was a genius sentence. He decided it would be better if he stayed silent.
‘Why’d you stop me?’ Sledge blurred out all of a sudden.
Snafu snapped his head to the side instantly, but then pulled away a bit, because he could swear his nose had grazed the others cheek. He drew in a breath. ‘Stopped you when, Eugene?’
‘When I wanted to get myself a… a war trophy.’ He hesitated. ‘Japanese gold.’
Snafu stayed silent. He thought about all the reasons why he’d stopped Sledge that day. Why he’d almost gone frantic. Why he would have done about anything to stop him. He swallowed. ‘Told you, didn’t I? Bad germs.’
‘Bad germs,’ Sledge slowly repeated. His voice was softer. Snafu tried to see his face in the dark, but didn’t succeed. But then the next moment the other man shifted and Snafu felt damp hair touching his neck and the pressure of the man’s head against his shoulder. He shivered. And he realized that he didn’t need to see Eugene. He already had outlined all his features a million times before. He only had to close his eyes to see his face burned into his memory.
‘You goin’ to sleep here, Sledgehammer?’ This time he managed a chuckle that sounded convincing enough. Maybe just a little nervous.
‘I don’t want to get outside again… I happen to hate the rain,’ sounded the muffled answer after a while. ‘The sound of it, all of it.’
Snafu felt his mouth twisting into a smile. ‘Want me to sing for you then? If I get loud ‘nough, you won’t hear the rain anymore. Hell, I can sing you a song.’ He started humming.
‘Shut up, Shelton.’
‘Fuck you, Sledge.’
Then the rain stopped as fast as it had begun. But neither of them left.
When they woke up the next morning, their body’s were entangled together. Snafu’s arm was squirmed beneath Sledge’s head, while his arms had found their way around Snafu’s waist. Their legs entwined. They didn’t say a word. They didn’t look at each other. They just untangled and got out the boat. It wouldn’t take long before they reached Pavuvu. It would take ages for Snafu to lose the lingering ache of where Eugene had touched him unconsciously while they were sleeping. His waist, his legs, his face where it had felt the touch of the others hair…All of him. He was soaked by the feel of the other and it would linger until the heavy, draining rains on Okinawa washed it all away. Until the blood of a hundred Japs drained it from his pores and took its place. Until the adrenaline rushing through his own blood would drive it out his veins.
And then they would accidentally touch and he would feel it all over again. But he knew that it would never last for eternity.
Yet exactly that feeling was why he had stopped Sledge from taking his Japanese gold. It would have changed him. It would have pushed him over the ridge. It would have cost him his humanity. And it would have cost Snafu his only beacon in this war. Because if Eugene had lost it and had stopped being Eugene, then what had he left to hold on to? That would have left him broken too.Because Eugene was that one thing he had started to care for.