Thank you so much to everyone who patiently read this in tiny parts on tumblr! All your replies and tags got me to the end!

Kid is sitting in his physics lecture, and he's bored as hell. It doesn't help that it's his last class of the day on Fridays either. He's itching to get out, checking the clock every two minutes, but there's still twenty minutes to go. Wait, eighteen minutes left. He can't afford to miss any more of these lectures though, he's trapped here.

But he's so goddamn bored. He's checked his phone a million times already and there's nothing new on there to distract him anymore. He checks it one more time just in case, still nothing. The professor is droning on and on, writing stuff on the board that he should probably be copying, but his attention keeps sliding off and wandering around the room instead.

Then something weird about the guy sitting next to him catches his eye. There's a snake poking out of the collar of the guy's hoodie. It's just a stripey brown snake head with shiny black eyes, and as he wonders if it's real its little forked snake tongue flicks out. Kid is immediately riveted.

The guy, Kid has no idea who he is, is just sitting there nonchalantly taking notes, like he doesn't have a live reptile hidden under his clothes. Kid pays no mind to him, he's busy waiting to see if the snake will stick its tongue out again. But after a few minutes, the snake just disappears back into its hiding place, like it wasn't even there to begin with.

Kid leans closer to see if he can get another look at the snake, and as he's intently staring at the spot where the snake vanished the guy suddenly talks.

"Can I help you with something?" he murmurs.

Kid then realizes he's trying to look down a dude's shirt, and jerks upright, snapping his eyes back to the whiteboard at the front of the room.

"Uh, no."

He looks at the clock. Ten minutes left, shit. Attempting to pay attention to the lecture still doesn't work. He's just thinking about what the fuck this guy next to him is doing bringing a snake to class. Why would anyone do that? Did he imagine it in some kind of boredom induced hallucination?

Damnit, he really wants to know.

"Hey," he says, and the guy glances sideways at him. "Do you have a snake in your shirt?"


"...Oh." Well, that answers that, but now he has a million more questions and can't think of what to ask first.

Before he comes up with anything to say next though, the guy is eyeing him again. "Don't tell anyone."

"Ok," Kid says. So somehow, instead of paying attention in class, he's made a secret snake pact with a stranger. Great.

He doesn't have any time to think about that though, because at that moment the professor says, "We'll end here today-" and Kid is out of his seat and through the door, forgetting about anything beyond the fact that as soon as he's home he's going to finally eat that lunch he skipped four hours ago (he'd forgotten about the homework.. again), and then drag Killer out to the bar.

He doesn't remember the snake until Monday, when he walks into class (late) and recognizes the back of that snake guy's head, sitting in the last row. Is that the same place he was in last week? Does he always sit there? He's wearing another hoodie too, and now Kid has to know if he brought the snake again.

So he sits down next to the guy, who already seems completely absorbed in the lecture and doesn't look up from his notes.

Kid resolves not to bother him about the snake, but fifteen minutes later he's dying with boredom and is staring at the guy's hoodie trying to figure out how good snakes are at remaining undetected under clothing. Because it really seems like there could be a snake in there, but he hasn't seen a sign of it this whole time, so maybe it's just wishful thinking.

Eventually he gives up on not bothering the guy.


"Hm," the guy says, still not looking up from his notes.

"You got the snake?"

"Yeah. Don't say snake."

"Right. Sorry." He drums his fingers on the desk for a few seconds. "Can I see it?"

The guy pushes his sleeve back a bit and there, wrapped around his forearm, is the snake. Or at least part of the snake, all Kid can see is one loop of it. But it's definitely there.

He props his chin in one hand, and watches for movement. The snake guy's arm moves, he's actually taking notes, but the snake stays so still it could be some kind of artsy bracelet. Why didn't he think of bringing a snake to class? It's such a good idea. He spends the entire class focused.. on the snake.

When the lecture is finally over, for once Kid doesn't feel like getting off campus as fast as humanly possible. Snake-guy just covers the snake with his sleeve again, puts his notes away in his bag (Kid hadn't even taken his notes out so he had nothing to put away), and starts walking off. He follows snake-guy out of the room, and once they're outside he catches up and walks next to him.

"Hey," he says.

The guy turns to look at him, but doesn't stop walking. "Hey."

"Do you always bring it to class?"

"Yes, most days."


"I like it."

"Oh. It's cool."

The guy lifts an eyebrow at him, and doesn't say anything.

Kid keeps pace with him for another minute. He doesn't have any more classes today, so he's got nowhere better to be.

"I'm Kid, by the way. Eustass Kid."



"That's my name. Pleasure to meet you."

"Oh. Yeah. Where're you going? Class?"

"The library."

"You bring a snake with you to the library?"

"It helps me concentrate."

"Doesn't it.. wiggle? Or something?"

The guy smirks. "Not really. I think it likes the quiet."

Kid thinks about that for a bit. He doesn't know anything about snakes, but now he's wondering how hard it'd be to get his own snake and start bringing it to class.

He ends up following the guy – Trafalgar – all the way to the library and inside, taking the elevator with him up to the seventh floor. Trafalgar makes a beeline through the stacks straight to some tucked away corner with a single empty table that Kid never knew was there, though he didn't really go to the library so that's no surprise, and starts unloading books from his bag. Kid takes the seat across from him without thinking much of it.

"Can I hold it?" he asks, once Trafalgar seems settled in with two textbooks open in front of him and three highlighters in different colors. Kid has one highlighter, it's yellow, and he hasn't touched it since freshman year.

Trafalgar glances up at him, then shrugs and rolls up his sleeve. The snake is coiled around his arm, its head tucked neatly into the crook of his elbow, and Kid watches with fascination as Trafalgar gets his fingers under it and gently pries it loose. He slides it off and sets it on the table in front of Kid, and Kid is surprised by how much of it there is. It's hard to tell how long it is exactly though, because it's twisting itself into a scaly lump.

"Just pick it up," Trafalgar says after a moment, when it's clear Kid has no idea what to do with the thing. So he scoops it up with both hands, and holds it on the table like that. Instead of unraveling, it just coils up around itself tighter.

"What's it doing? How do I make it stretch out?"

"It's a ball python, they curl up when they're nervous. It'll relax when it gets used to you, give it a couple minutes."

True enough, when he waits long enough the snake starts to loosen up and pokes its head out, slowly unwinding in Kid's palms. Then it starts slithering off him and across the table without warning, remarkably fast.

"Hey you little shit, don't run," he says, hastily moving one hand to get it under the head before it makes it over the edge of the table. It's still moving though, so he lifts it up, and it keeps sliding out of his hands.

"Where the hell are you going," he mutters to it, trying to keep it from slipping away and ending up balancing it awkwardly with both hands. He's trying to make it go up his arm but it's ignoring him, and he has to keep switching hands so it won't slither free.

"How the fuck do you control this thing," he finally complains. It was acting so nice for Trafalgar a minute ago, maybe it didn't like him.

Trafalgar reaches across the table and catches the front end without hesitation, guiding it twice around Kid's wrist. The snake stops trying to escape right away, and obediently coils the rest of itself up Kid's forearm, squeezing snugly around him.

Kid grins, pleased by the result. The snake looks back at him with baleful unblinking eyes.

"You're a natural," Trafalgar remarks. "Sometimes people try to grab it too hard."

"Really? It's such a little guy." He'd be afraid of hurting it if he grabbed it. From what he can tell the snake isn't even three feet long, but it has a nice heft to it.

"Or they're afraid of getting bit."

Oh. He hadn't even thought of that. "...Does it bite?"

"Not really, pythons squeeze things to death. Like it's doing to you."

Kid laughs. "So it's trying to kill me? Not doing a very good job."

"It's still a baby. Once it gets a few feet longer it'll be strong enough to constrict your ribcage too tight to breathe."


Kid rests his arm across his thighs and props his chin up with his other hand so he can look down at the snake, which seems to have settled in for a nap or something. Trafalgar gets back to studying, and for a while it's nice and quiet.

So nice and quiet that Kid is nodding off as well, and he jerks awake when his phone starts buzzing in his pocket. He fumbles around to get it out using his left hand, so he doesn't disturb the snake, then he sees it's Killer and answers it.

"What?" he says, and Trafalgar makes a face. "Sorry. What?" he repeats, in a lower voice.

"Where are you? I thought your class ended a while ago."

"Yeah, I went to the library after though."

"What the hell? Why'd you pick up then? Wait, why the fuck are you at the library?"

"There's this guy with a snake-" Trafalgar glares at him. "Oh. Sorry," he says, directing that last part to Trafalgar.

"A snake?" Killer says, sounding skeptical.

"Nevermind. You need something or what?"

"Wire says you owe him a pizza, and he's going to start pawning your shit if you're not here with it soon."

"Fucker," Kid growls into the phone. "Tell that freak if he touches my stuff I'll break both his legs." Then he notices Trafalgar giving him a weird look. Whoops.

"Tell him yourself. And don't put any peppers on it, they're garbage."

"You're garbage," he grumbles, and ends the call before lifting up his snake arm. "I gotta go. How do you get this thing off?"

"Just pull it loose. Gently."

Kid eyes the snake. It looks pretty content now, and he doesn't want to get on its bad side by moving it... He holds his arm out across the table. "Can you do it?"

Trafalgar rolls his eyes, but reaches over and slides his fingers under the snake. The snake doesn't seem to appreciate that, and it squeezes tighter instead of letting go.

"I guess it likes you," Trafalgar says wryly, grabbing Kid's wrist to hold him still and get better leverage.

"Or something," Kid says, just now realizing this is involving a lot more arm-to-hand contact with Trafalgar than he thought it would.

Trafalgar pries the snake off bit by bit with a lot more patience than Kid has, and finally gets it off, winding it back around his own arm where it belongs.

Kid rubs his arm, nervously getting rid of the feeling of Trafalgar's hands on him. "Thanks. You gonna bring it with you on Wednesday?"


"Alright... well, seeya," he says, and scoops his bag off the floor before leaving.

He gets home an hour later with a couple pizzas that both have extra green AND red peppers. Killer can go fuck himself, peppers aren't garbage, they're necessary. He regrets provoking him once they're done eating though, when Killer says all casually, "So what's with the library? You said something about a guy and his snake."

"Nothing," Kid says, but it's too late.

"What?" Wire interjects, turning around from the couch to leer at him. "You were playing with some guy's snake that whole time? How was it?"

"It was a real snake, asshole."

"Yeah ok. How'd you get him to let you touch his snake though? Did he touch your snake?"

"It was a REAL SNAKE! He brought it to class!"

"Don't we all. You were pretty late, though. You must've really liked his snake if you lost track of time."

"Oh my god, if you say snake one more time I'll fucking kill all of you."

Wire manages to work snakes into every conversation for the next two days. He also starts texting Kid random pictures of snakes and asking if they're his type. Kid fucking hates his roommates.

By the time he makes it to physics on Wednesday, he is completely sick of hearing about snakes. At least until he spots Trafalgar in the back row, and decides he's ok with his snake. Except now the word snake is irrevocably associated with dicks, so now he's thinking about Trafalgar's dick. Fucking Wire. He's seriously going to kill him.

He takes the open seat next to Trafalgar, and grudgingly gets out a piece of paper to take notes, then gives up about five minutes in and starts drawing doodles around the page instead. Eventually even that fails to hold his attention, and he's back to thinking about snakes. Real snakes. No, really.

He looks over at what Trafalgar's doing, which is being a good student, diligently filling in a notebook with precise equations and diagrams. Then he looks a little closer, and realizes Trafalgar is writing out chemical reactions and drawing molecular diagrams, not physics.

Kid checks the board again to make sure he's in the right class and didn't somehow screw up the day. Nope, this is definitely his physics lecture, same weaselly professor, same board full of shitty electric force equations.

"What the heck are you doing?" he asks.

"Studying," Trafalgar replies.

"For what?"

"Organic chem."

"You got a test next or something?"


"If you're doing ochem now, won't you just have to catch up on physics later though?"

"I'm two weeks ahead of this class."


The girl sitting in front of them turns around and glares at him. Kid scowls back.

"Be quiet," she hisses.

He sneers and flips her off. She huffs indignantly and turns away again. He was being quiet, Trafalgar just surprised him is all.

Trafalgar taps his hand with a pen, distracting him from being annoyed at that girl. Trafalgar had flipped to a blank page while he wasn't paying attention, and written So mean.

Kid snorts, and leans over with his own pen to write, She'll live. Snake?, far less neatly than Trafalgar's prim handwriting.

Trafalgar tugs the collar of his sweater down to reveal a glimpse of dark scales and dark skin. Kid feels his ears getting warm. Goddamnit.

Trafalgar is cute enough as it is, Kid really doesn't need his stupid perv friends making things weird. He usually handled that part himself.

Won't it try and strangle you like that? he scrawls onto Trafalgar's notebook.

I'm too big for prey, Trafalgar writes back. It usually eats mice.


It kills them first, obviously.

That's metal.

Trafalgar smirks at the page, then looks sideways at him. "I'm feeding it after this. Want to see?"

"Yeah." Hell yeah. So what if it's morbid and probably kinda gross, he wants to watch the snake eat a mouse.

Trafalgar goes back to studying for the rest of the lecture, and Kid doodles a bunch of spirals and puts snake heads on them. Finally class is over, and he stands and waits for Trafalgar to put his twenty highlighters away before they leave.

Trafalgar explains he has an apartment off campus as they walk, so Kid winds up taking the bus there with him.

Kid's still not over the fact that Trafalgar is just walking around, going to class, and riding the bus home with a snake nobody else knows about. Being in a secret snake pact is turning out to be pretty great. Though he did end up telling all his roommates about the snake... but they're convinced it doesn't actually exist, so that probably didn't count as breaking the pact.

On the way to Trafalgar's place Kid tries to talk about something else though, because he'd actually like to get to know Trafalgar a little more and so far all he's done is pester him about his snake.

So he asks Trafalgar about his classes instead, and learns the guy is double majoring in chem and bio, and is working on an honors thesis at the same time.

No surprise there, since apparently Trafalgar even studied in class. Though what Kid ends up saying is, "Wow. You're a fucking nerd."

Trafalgar arches an eyebrow at him. "I just try to use my time wisely."

"Yeah, I bet you know the fancy word for studying snakes of the top of your head."


"Wait, doesn't it start with an 'H'?"

"Herpetology is the broader term for the study of amphibians and reptiles."

"Wow. You're worse than I thought," Kid says, grinning.

"And you spent the last hour drawing snakes," Trafalgar retorts. "How am I worse?"

They get to Trafalgar's apartment and Trafalgar asks if he wants something to drink, leaving Kid on the couch to look around. Trafalgar's place is pretty tidy, though kind of small. The most interesting thing in the room is the glass reptile tank, with a water bowl and a couple makeshift caves that look like overturned flower pots.

Trafalgar comes back out of the kitchen with a pair of beers. He hands one to Kid and sets his own down on the coffee table, then pulls his sweater off, leaving him in just a t-shirt and the snake looped loosely around his neck and over his shoulders.

"It's pretty fashionable like that," Kid comments. More like Trafalgar looks pretty damn hot with short sleeves showing off the tattoos on his arms and a deadly predator draped over him.

Trafalgar unwinds the snake and puts it into its tank, turning on the light inside. "Nigerian kings used to wear them as jewelry."

"Oh yeah? You could bring that back. Start a trend."

"I'd rather not become known as the guy that wears a snake."

Kid hides his smirk by taking a drink. He'd spent a few days thinking of Trafalgar only as 'snake-guy' already.

Trafalgar picks up a small wire cage next, and says, "Come here," so Kid gets up and walks over next to him. Trafalgar gives him the cage to hold. Inside is a little white mouse that stands up to sniff his fingers through the bars curiously. It's actually kind of cute. And they're going to feed it to the snake. Kid is a bit less excited about that part now.

But Trafalgar is already opening the cage and scooping up the mouse with one hand. He looks at Kid's face for a moment. "You still want to watch?"

"Yeah. It has to eat something, right?"

"I tried giving it dead mice at first, but it wasn't interested. It's kind of bloodthirsty I suppose." Then he sets the mouse down in the tank, and they both lean in.

The snake is tucked between the glass and the water dish, and at first nothing happens. The mouse just sits there for a few seconds, twitching its whiskers. But then it starts scurrying around, and the snake eases away from the glass wall. The moment the mouse passes in front of it a second time, the snake's head snaps out and grabs it in its mouth (the mouse squeaks, Kid winces), twisting back over itself, and before Kid can blink the snake is wrapped three times around the mouse, and only two little mouse feet are left poking out from a tight ball of snake.

"Holy shit," he says.

Trafalgar is smiling smugly when he looks up again. "It strikes fast, but takes a few minutes for its prey to suffocate. That part isn't as interesting to watch. Then it swallows the thing whole."

"Goddamn," Kid says. Rest in peace, little mouse.

"Snakes don't actually unhinge their jaws," Trafalgar is saying as he walks back over to the couch and grabs his beer off the coffee table. "Contrary to popular belief, their jaws aren't hinged. They're three separate bones made to stretch open."

"You really know a lot about snakes," Kid says, leaving the tank after one last look at the snake-mouse death hug. "When'd you get this one?"

"About two years ago. I had to wait until I moved out. My mother hates them, thinks they're slimy minions of Satan or something. Now she won't visit, so that's a bonus."

Kid laughs loudly at that, picturing Trafalgar's mom stuck in the doorway and Trafalgar with the snake around his neck like a magic mom-repelling charm.

Then when Kid asks how wide a snake can open its mouth they spend an hour looking up a bunch of videos of boa constrictors and Amazon pythons eating deer, which is just as amazing as it is disgusting.

Eventually Kid's phone starts ringing, and he remembers he never told Killer he needs a ride home, so he has to do that now.

"Thanks for letting me come over," he tells Trafalgar before he heads out. "That was cool."

"Sure," Trafalgar says. "See you in physics."

In class on Friday Kid automatically takes the seat next to Trafalgar in the back row, and doesn't even bother waiting before he asks, "You got it?"

Trafalgar has a textbook open on the desk and is taking notes for something that's clearly not physics, judging by the pictures of magnified bacteria on the pages.

"No," he says to Kid. "It needs to rest after eating."

"Oh," Kid says. That's disappointing, he'd actually been looking forward to coming to class today. He considers taking notes on the lecture for about five seconds, then decides he'd rather read out of Trafalgar's textbook.

He's halfway through a paragraph about the immunodeficiency of neonates when Trafalgar turns the page.

"Hey, I wasn't finished."

"Tough shit," Trafalgar murmurs, without pausing from his note taking.

"What's a neonate anyway?"

"A newborn infant."

"What class is this for?"


Kid hums. He doesn't know shit about biology, and none of his friends were majoring in it either, but immunology has an upper div ring to it. Eventually his attention slides off the textbook and onto Trafalgar's notes, and for a while he just watches him fill pages with neat lines and bullet pointed lists in blue ink, along with the occasional drawing of a cell membrane.

"That looks like a five year old drew it," he remarks, after Trafalgar finishes a particularly wonky bacteria.

"Shut up," Trafalgar says. "Like you could do better."

"I could do way better. Here," he says, holding out his hand for the pen.

Trafalgar hands it over without a fuss and flips to a new page, probably so Kid won't fuck with his typewriter perfect notes, and Kid starts drawing mice instead of copying anything out of the book.

Trafalgar silently watches him screw around for ten minutes, then when Kid is putting the final touches on a mouse sitting on a hamburger bun he says, "Is that supposed to be a bed?"

"It's a mouseburger."

"That's a mouse?"

"Yeah, what do you think I've been doing this whole time? These are all mice."

"I have no idea what you're doing, Eustass."

"Take an art class once in a while," Kid gripes. Trafalgar is blind, they're obviously mice. They've got ears and tails and everything. Ok, except for the one that looks more like a weird dog. Kid'll give him that.

When class is over he sits on the desk and waits for Trafalgar to put his stuff away again as other students leave around them, finally free to enjoy their weekends.

"What're you doing now?" he asks when they make it out of the room. He has half a mind to see if Trafalgar wants to get something to eat with him.

"Going to the library," Trafalgar says.

"What? But it's Friday."

"Yes, it is."

"Nobody studies on Friday."

"And yet I am. You should try it sometime, the library is practically empty."

"You should try having a life."

Trafalgar elbows him at just the right moment to make him walk into a lamp post, and then keeps walking without him. By the time Kid has caught up and is done cursing at him, they've reached the campus library.

He's about to follow Trafalgar in, but then he remembers Trafalgar didn't bring the snake today, and might want to actually get some work done now instead of having him tag along, so there won't be anything interesting to do. And since there's no way Kid's going to study (it's Friday for christ's sake), he really has no reason to be at the library right now.

"Seeya nerd," he says as Trafalgar takes the steps up to the entrance, and Trafalgar flips him a middle finger without turning around before disappearing inside.

On Monday Kid is still hungover by the time he gets to physics. Finals are starting to loom in the near future, so every weekend is a new opportunity to get trashed and ignore them. He'd skipped his other two classes for today already, and the only reason he managed to make it to this lecture is because he wants to see Trafalgar and the snake.

He slouches into the seat next to Trafalgar, and puts his aching head on the desk, mumbling, "Hi," after a second.

"Hi," Trafalgar says. "You look like shit."

"'M fine," Kid says. "You bring it?"


"Can I hold it?"

"I'm not taking it out right now."

"Please? I'm dying here."

"You just said you were fine."

"'M not gonna make it without the snake."

Trafalgar shoots him an irritated frown, and Kid tries to look pathetic enough that Trafalgar will let him have the snake during class. He's positive if he held the snake for a while he'd feel better.

Trafalgar huffs and grabs his wrist instead, sticking Kid's hand up his hoodie and putting it right on top of a smooth scaled section of snake wrapped around his waist like a live belt. "There it is, so shut up."

Kid freezes. He was not prepared for this and he doesn't know what to do now, so he stays absolutely still. He's so still he thinks he can feel the snake breathing, but that's overshadowed by the way his thumb touching Trafalgar's back, separated by only a thin t-shirt that does nothing to hide how warm Trafalgar is.

It's certainly enough to distract him from his stupid hangover for the entire class, which is over faster than any hour has a right to be. When the professor wraps up the lecture and people start standing to leave, Kid reluctantly slides his hand out before anyone can notice it looks like he's feeling Trafalgar up.

"Are you sick or something?" Trafalgar asks as he starts putting away his stuff.

"Just hungover," he says. His headache is coming back already, or maybe it hadn't gone away but he'd just been too busy trying not to move to notice it for a while.

"Want to get something to drink? It would help."

"Yeah," he says, perking up immediately.

Trafalgar ends up leading him to the coffee shop on campus though, instead of the bus stop.

"I thought you meant a real drink," Kid complains.

"That is the path to alcoholism, Eustass. Get some water."

"Alcoholism my ass, this is college," he mutters, but buys a bottle of water anyway. Trafalgar gets a coffee, and they go outside to grab one of the free tables.

Once they've sat down, Kid starts wondering around the snake again. Is it still wrapped around Trafalgar's waist? That seems like a precarious position though, Trafalgar is kind of slim. Is it holding on tight enough? The little shit, getting all cozy with Trafalgar... Alright, now he's starting to get jealous of a stupid snake. "What's its name, anyway?"

"It doesn't have a name," Trafalgar says.


Trafalgar looks genuinely puzzled. "Why would I give it a name?"

"You've had it for two years, you can't have just called it 'snake' the whole time."

Trafalgar shrugs. "It's a snake, not a dog. It wouldn't understand a name, what's the point?"

"You're so weird... Obviously it needs a name."

"You think of one then, I don't care."

"Hmm." Kid sits back in his seat to consider that. "Is it a boy or a girl?"

"No idea."

"What? You don't even know? What the heck."

"If it's a female it will be over five feet long fully grown. If it's male it'll stop at four."

"That doesn't help at all. Isn't there some way to tell?"

"Well, you take a probe and insert it into the cloaca. For males the hemipenes will-"

Kid cuts him off before Trafalgar tells him more than he wants to hear about snake genitals. "Gross, ok I don't need to know all that."

Trafalgar smirks and sips his coffee, and Kid tries to think of a good snake name. It should be something that fits a snake that murders fuzzy mice like it's nothing, but also curls up into a cute little ball when it gets scared.

"How about... Beyonce."


"Yeah, or who did the anaconda song?"

Trafalgar stares at him. Useless.

"Nicki Minaj the snake."


"You said you didn't care."

"I changed my mind. Don't name it after a person."

"Don't be so picky."

So he tries to think of something else. After half an hour he's scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of movie and music references, and Trafalgar doesn't like any of them. He's amazingly picky for somebody who claims otherwise.

Kid sighs. "You think of something then," he says, when Trafalgar is done shooting down every Godzilla villain. Even Mothra. He's out of ideas.

"It doesn't need a name."

"Yes it does! Just pick something you like. You can call it Library."

Trafalgar rolls his eyes. "I'm getting another coffee," he says, standing up.

"Name it Book," Kid calls after him. Then he snickers to himself. Book the snake.

He checks his phone while Trafalgar is inside and deletes three messages from Wire, one telling him to remember to get beer on his way home when he's done getting some snake, and two that are just snake pictures and question marks. He decides to rename Wire to Shithead in his contacts.

"How about Hertz?" Trafalgar says as he sits down again.


"Hertz. You know, the unit for wavelength." Trafalgar makes a wavy motion with his hand. It's cute. "Or Heinrich."

"That's the dumbest name."

"Well I'm not thinking of another one."

"Fine, Hertz the snake. Hey, can I borrow it tomorrow?"

"For what?"

"My mat sci lecture. It's three hours and it's awful."

Trafalgar seems skeptical.

"C'mon, you always have it."

"That's because it's mine."

"I'll give it back right after. Please?"

Trafalgar sighs. "What time is your class?"

"Five to eight."

"Alright. Meet me in front of the lab building."

Kid grins, he's already looking forward to it.

Trafalgar ends up asking him what his major is, and he happily bitches about mech eng and the work flow problems that take an hour each, until its late enough that his phone keeps buzzing with messages from all his roommates nagging him to stop touching snakes and bring home some fucking beer already.

He'd rather turn the damn thing off and keep talking, but Trafalgar says he has to go, so they say goodbye and part ways.

The next day he hangs around outside the chem labs, and fifteen minutes before his lecture Trafalgar appears from inside, wearing a lab coat and a pair of safety goggles shoved up on his forehead.

"Look at this nerd," Kid says with a smirk. "You've got goggle marks."

Trafalgar just scowls at him, and leads him around the side of the building so no one can see him pass off the snake. Then Trafalgar reaches down the collar of his shirt and pulls out the snake like a magic trick, holding it out to him.

Kid pushes up the sleeve of his jacket and puts out his arm instead of taking the snake. "He didn't listen to me last time I tried to hold him," he explains, when Trafalgar raises an eyebrow.

"So it's a he now," Trafalgar says, as he carefully loops the snake around Kid's arm.

"Yeah. Hertz was a guy." Kid had looked him up yesterday, and in his opinion there was nothing snake-ish about him.

"Hertz is a surname."

"Whatever," Kid says. He puts his sleeve over the snake, and pokes the tail that's sticking out back under the cuff. "Thanks. I'll meet you back here after?"

"Yeah. Don't let anybody see it, or your snake privileges will be revoked."

"Ok boss. See you at eight."

As he suspected, class is a lot more bearable with a snake. Trafalgar was really onto something. He even manages to take notes for the first hour, and listens to the lecture until it's over.

The snake behaves itself the entire time, not moving except to squeeze him a bit. Nobody notices a thing. It's a nice weight to have on his arm too, a few extra pounds of cool smooth scales, and Kid pats it gently when class lets out. "Good boy."

Trafalgar is sitting on a bench outside the labs when he gets there, wearing a hoodie again sans lab coat and goggles.

"Hey," Kid says as he walks up.

"Was it ok? Did anybody see it?"

Kid grins. "Yeah Gandalf, it's fine."

Trafalgar looks at him blankly.

"Is it secret, is it safe?"

Trafalgar frowns.

"Come on, Lord of the Rings? How could you not know that. Anyway, he's fine." He goes around to the side of the building, shrugging off his jacket when they turn the corner, and lifts his arm up for Trafalgar. "See? I took good care of him."

"Well, good," Trafalgar says, still not sounding entirely convinced.

"Were you worried?"

"I just don't want the thing confiscated."

Kid holds still while Trafalgar coaxes the snake off his arm. "I wouldn't let anything happen to little Hertie."

Trafalgar pulls a face at the nickname, and Kid laughs. "Hey, don't blame me. You picked the name."

"And I'm already regretting it," Trafalgar says, putting the snake under his hoodie and guiding it to sit around his shoulders.

Once the snake is secure they start walking to the bus stop together by unspoken mutual agreement. The campus is dark except for the lamps lighting the path, and mostly empty at this time of night. It's quiet, and the weather is good this late in the spring. Kid doesn't want to go home yet, even though most Tuesdays he's ready to crash after three hours of mat sci.

"So," he says, trying for a casual invitation. "I'm starving. Wanna get something to eat?"

"I already ate," Trafalgar says.

"Ah..." So much for that.

"Where are you going?"

"I dunno. Probably get a burger from that place on Stuart and 5th."

"Oh, I'll go."


"Yeah. I like their fries."

Hallelujah. Now he just has to get his shit together to actually ask for Trafalgar's number, and maybe before the semester is over he can figure out how to ask him on a real date.

They take the bus to 5th, and Kid learns that when Trafalgar said he likes the fries he meant he likes eating them but not paying for them, because he doesn't actually buy anything, just helps himself from Kid's tray.

If any of his friends pulled that shit with him Kid would probably start a fight (ok, there's no probably about it, Wire steals his food all the time to the point where Kid thinks he only enjoys a meal when someone is yelling at him). Trafalgar is completely unapologetic about eating more of Kid's fries than Kid does too, only smirking at him when he complains.

Still, it's a lot cuter when Trafalgar does it. And when Trafalgar decides he doesn't want Kid's orange soda ('Gross,' he says after one sip, 'Serves you right,' Kid says) and buys a shake, Kid grabs it off the table before he can get to it as they're leaving.

He's slurping loudly on the last of it while they wait for the bus, grinning around the straw at Trafalgar's pained expression. Trafalgar tried to 'accidentally' trip him at least three times on the way to the bus stop and didn't succeed once, so overall Kid is feeling like the winner of this round.

The only downside is that he can't think of any reason not to go home now.

"Where's Hertie?" he asks, out of the blue. They've been talking about Trafalgar's abysmal taste in movies almost the whole time (what kind of nerd hasn't watched Alien, Terminator, OR The Matrix? Trafalgar that's who), and he hasn't seen any sign of the snake since passing it off over an hour ago.

Trafalgar gestures vaguely around his left shoulder. "Stop using that stupid name."

"I told you the name was stupid when you picked it."

"Hertie is not what I picked."

"Yeah, well, too late to change your mind now."

Trafalgar huffs at him, then at that moment the bus finally arrives.

Trafalgar goes to gets on, and Kid says, "See you tomorrow?"

"Aren't you taking this one?" Trafalgar asks, pausing in front of the doors.

"My house is up that way," Kid says, jerking a thumb back towards the restaurant. Though he'd gladly ride the bus with Trafalgar keep him company on his way home, it'd be kind of weird when Trafalgar realized he didn't live around there.

"Oh," Trafalgar says, and Kid can't tell if he's disappointed or not. "Thanks for waiting with me."

Kid grins. "Sure. Here, don't forget your shake." He offers Trafalgar the cup.

Trafalgar accepts it, then frowns at him. "This is empty."

"Yep. 'Night!" He takes off before Trafalgar has a chance to chuck it at him.

He's still in a good mood when he gets to class the next day, and actually makes it there on time for once. He'd been hoping to get there early to have a chance to talk to Trafalgar, but ended up cutting it too close anyway.

He kicks Trafalgar's foot by way of greeting as soon as he sits down, and gives him a wide grin when he looks up to glare. "You got him?" he asks.

Trafalgar already has his nose back in a textbook, but he nods and lifts his arm a bit.

Satisfied for the moment, Kid digs a piece of paper out of his bag and does his best to pay attention to the lecture, since for the last week he's done nothing but focus on Trafalgar's snake. He has no clue what the professor is talking about today, though he diligently copies whatever gets written on the board for the first half of class before spending the other half playing around on his phone.

When class is over Trafalgar says he's going to the library and doesn't seem to mind when Kid follows so he winds up in the library too, sitting with Trafalgar at the same secluded table as the other time.

He's had his fill of academics from going to class all day, and immediately gets Trafalgar to fork over the snake.

"When do you actually study, I wonder," Trafalgar says, once Kid has managed to get the snake to relax and is letting it slither through his hands across the table.

"Only before a test," Kid replies. The snake attempts to make a break for it over the edge of the table, and he blocks it with his arm. "Ha. Not so fast, asshole."

"What's your definition of before? Finals are less than two weeks away, you realize."

"Don't remind me, I have so much shit to catch up on."

Trafalgar is quiet for a moment, and when Kid looks up he finds himself being watched.


"Nothing," Trafalgar says. "I was planning on reviewing for physics on Friday, do you want to?

"Friday, are you kidding?"

"Either that or the weekend, take your pick."

"Ugh, the weekend?" Kid groans. It already sounds awful, but he'd be an idiot to turn down the invitation. Trafalgar doesn't strike him as a very helpful guy, he might not offer again if Kid refused now. He'll just force himself to study long enough that Trafalgar won't take offense. "I guess Saturday, then."

"Alright. Come over in the afternoon sometime."

"To your place?"

"Yeah. Do you remember how to get there?"

"I think so."

Trafalgar tears off a corner of a page and jots something down, sliding it across the table at him. "Here's the address, call me if you get lost."

Oh, Trafalgar's number. And he didn't even have to ask for it. Maybe this is a good sign, and Saturday wouldn't be so bad.

The next two days pass quickly. After class on Friday he tries to convince Trafalgar to abandon the library and come have some fun, he could even bring the snake, but Trafalgar stubbornly repeats that finals are practically a week away, adding that Kid better not show up hungover.

He is hungover on Saturday, so he gulps down a bunch of water and a random amount of aspirin and goes back to sleep until noon. By the time he leaves the house he's mostly back to normal. His roommates are all shocked at his assertion that he's going to study, but he's looking forward to seeing Trafalgar (studying, not so much) and not even Wire's bullshit can piss him off today.

He makes it to Trafalgar's apartment a little after one and Trafalgar answers the door wearing a rumpled tshirt and school sweatpants rolled up to his knees, looking like he just woke up himself.

"Hey," Kid says, smiling at his bedhair.

Trafalgar just waves him in.

"Where's Hertie?" Kid says.

"Under the couch, I think," Trafalgar replies, as he leads Kid over to the kitchen table, where books and papers are already piled up.

"Shit, is this all physics?" Kid asks, eyeing it reluctantly.

"I was doing physiology last night." Trafalgar stacks a bunch of stuff together and pushes it to the side, then slaps a thick folder down in front of Kid. "Here. My notes, the formulas, examples and practice problems from chapters three through twelve, and a few exams from previous years. I have all the homework and quizzes as well."

"Um," Kid says, peeking into the folder. "Wow. You did all this?"

Trafalgar sits down and shrugs. "I like to be prepared."

Kid flips through the neatly arranged folder, photocopies sectioned off with paperclips and clearly labeled in Trafalgar's precise handwriting.

"Damn. This is better than a study guide, you really didn't have to give it to me..." Now Kid feels kind of bad, using all the results of Trafalgar's hard work without any of the effort. He only brought the book and some blank paper.

"Whatever, I do it for all my classes. It's just a copy."

"Well... thanks."

"You're welcome. Where do you want to start?"

"I wanna get that lazy bastard out from under the couch first," Kid says.

Trafalgar raises his eyebrows at him but doesn't comment as Kid goes back to the other room and tries to figure out how to convince the snake to leave its hiding spot, where it's squeezed itself up against the wall and wrapped around one of the couch legs.

Ten minutes later he returns to the kitchen, with the snake coiled around his shoulders like he's seen Trafalgar do, and very pleased with himself.

He sits down, arranging the snake into a more comfortable position, and gives Trafalgar a smug grin. "He likes me now."

"Mmhm," Trafalgar says, and gets back to solving practice problems.

Kid spends twenty minutes reading over Trafalgar's notes from the beginning, scribbling idly in the margins and stopping to take some time getting the snake to wrap around his arm instead, then spends another twenty minutes highlighting the notes in five different colors just because all of Trafalgar's highlighters are right there.

"These notes are great," he says, when he's about halfway through and his patience is already at an end. "Other nerds would kill for them."

"Wouldn't they already have their own notes, if they're nerds?"

"Oh, I guess. But they'd be jealous as hell." He leans back in his chair, balancing it on two legs, and regards the snake wrapped around his arm. "Do you think snakes like being pet?"

"Some of them don't mind it. It depends on how well they were socialized when young."

He finds the snake's head and pets it with a finger. The snake does nothing.

"Not on the head," Trafalgar says, then stands up. "Bring it in here."

Kid follows him into the living room and slips the snake off his arm into a little pile on the coffee table. It curls up, but Trafalgar waits until it starts unwinding and strokes a knuckle lightly down its spine. The snake spreads itself out more, staying pretty still while it lets Trafalgar do that a few more times.

"Wow, you're like the snake whisperer."

"Anyone can do it," Trafalgar says, so Kid does the same thing and the snake starts sliding away from him.


Trafalgar is smirking at him, and doesn't help at all as Kid tries to get the snake to stay put and let him pet it. Eventually he gives up and lets the little shit slither off the coffee table and around the room as it pleases, though he blocks it from getting under the couch again.

Trafalgar just sits on the floor with him and the snake for a while, though soon enough he's going back to the kitchen.

Kid feels somewhat guilty for distracting him, and about coming over to study for less than an hour when Trafalgar is obviously way more serious about it, but then Trafalgar returns with another sheet of problems and his calculator and sets himself up at the coffee table.

He doesn't seem to mind as Kid plays with the snake, even when it finally sneaks past him to get back under the couch and crams itself into the corner where Kid can't reach and he spends a bunch of time telling it to stop being such a shit and come out.

Arguing with the snake proves fruitless, and he decides to do some of those practice problems that Trafalgar is solving like clockwork, because he can't think of anything else to occupy himself with and he really hasn't gotten much done yet.

Kid skips around through the chapters and makes slow progress on the problems, but it's progress nonetheless so he's happy about it. He doesn't even have to use the cheat sheet Trafalgar wrote up that much, though it has handy descriptions summarizing each formula.

Trafalgar pays no attention to him muttering under his breath debating which equations to use, or when the snake creeps from under the couch and attempts to sneak out of the room without being noticed and Kid snatches it up and piles it into his lap.

It's another half an hour before Kid has had enough and tosses his pencil down. Finals are still a week away, and he's got plenty of time to learn the rest of this crap. He has lots of experience cramming a semester's worth of material overnight and getting through finals with minimal casualties, though if he studied in advance as much as Trafalgar did he'd probably get perfect scores.

The snake is nestled in a neat coil between his crossed legs, behaving itself, and Trafalgar is still working calmly. Kid checks the time on his phone, and is surprised to see it's way past four. He must have spent longer than he thought playing with the snake.

Now he's bored though, and Trafalgar has barely said a word to him for the last two hours.

He's definitely not studying anymore today, but he's alright with skipping his usual weekend routine and imposing on Trafalgar until he gets kicked out. At this hour on a regular Saturday he'd probably be at home drinking cheap beer with his roommates so they won't have to buy $8 domestics at the bars later, or choke down some idiot's Everclear and Koolaid experiment if one of Wire's friends is throwing a party that night.

"Don't you take breaks?" he asks.


"Prove it," Kid says.

Trafalgar gives him a look that clearly conveys his low opinion of Kid's sense of humor. But he sighs and sets down his pen, then links his fingers together and stretches his arms above his head, screwing his face up in a grimace.

Kid holds his breath for a second, until Trafalgar opens his eyes again and leans back, propping his hands behind him on the floor.

"Alright. How are the notes working for you?"

"Great. I feel like I should be paying you for them or something, it must've taken a while to do all that."

"Oh, did I forget to mention? They're not free."

"What? Shit, uh-"

"You're buying dinner." Trafalgar points towards the kitchen. "Take out menus are by the fridge."

Kid laughs. "And I thought you were doing this out of the goodness of your heart. You just don't like paying for your food." He gets up to retrieve the menus, putting the snake around his shoulders so it won't make a break for the couch a third time, and brings them back to spread them across the coffee table and have a debate with Trafalgar over Chinese versus Thai.

Trafalgar wins (only because Kid lets him), so he calls up the restaurant and orders a bunch of sesame chicken and pepper steak. While they wait for the food to arrive, Kid complains about his boredom enough that Trafalgar finally chucks the tv remote at him, then he flips through channels until he finds a marathon of some show about ghost hunting.

"You're joking," Trafalgar mutters. "They never find anything."

"Yeah, but look at them running around like rabbits because the mic picked up some interference."

When the doorbell rings Kid goes to pay for the order, and smirks at the delivery guy's wide-eyed reaction to the irritated snake coiling around his neck.

Trafalgar provides the beer ("Are you charging me for this?" "I might.") and they eat on the couch straight from the take-out boxes. Kid kicks his feet up onto the coffee table when he's done polishing off his share and keeps making rude remarks about the ghost hunters, while Trafalgar sits with a book open in his lap, occasionally turning a page.

After another episode Kid's phone starts ringing, and he notices he's missed about a dozen messages from his roommates asking what the hell he's doing, whether he's going out with them tonight or not, and how much fun can that guy's snake really be. Those last ones are from Wire, of course.

It's Killer calling now to see if his phone ran out of battery or something, and to tell him they're going to the bars on Jackson Ave tonight, so if he's done studying he can meet them there. Kid gives him a noncommittal reply, hoping that Trafalgar will have overheard and ask if he wants to hang out some more.

"You're very popular," Trafalgar remarks dryly, after he hangs up.

"Nah, my friends are nosy assholes."

"How nice." Trafalgar smirks at him.

"So..." Kid says, and falters, not sure how far he should be pushing Trafalgar's hospitality since he's not going to study anymore. That had been Trafalgar's explicit intent after all, at this point he might become more of a pain in the ass if he stayed longer.

"Have to leave?"

"I could, if you wanted to get some more work done." There, it's better to just lay it right out, even if it'd suck to have Trafalgar tell him to go home.

"Doesn't matter to me," Trafalgar says, and he's looking at him and Kid doesn't know what that look means, if he should stay or go, but in the course of trying to figure it out his eyes drop down to Trafalgar's mouth without meaning to. Oh crap, Trafalgar definitely saw that.

Kid can feel his face heating up, and Trafalgar just blinks at him. All his confidence vanishes. "Um, well. I'll leave you to it," he says. Shit, that was probably the wrong thing to say. Shit shit shit, stupid Trafalgar and his stupid pretty face, confusing the hell out of him.

He really can't tell if Trafalgar cares one way or the other, but he gets up from the couch anyway to collect his stuff, after handing the snake over to Trafalgar (avoiding eyecontact).

Trafalgar says, "See you on Monday," and he says yeah, and that's fucking that. Fuck.

What the fuck is wrong with him? He's not easily rattled while talking to people, even when it's one on one with a cute guy. Trafalgar is just... there's something weird about him and Kid can't seem to make sense of it, and it makes him do weird shit like study on a Saturday and chicken out at the last second.

Sure they'd been spending a lot of time together and getting along pretty well, all signs pointed to Trafalgar liking him, but when it came down to a critical moment like that and he couldn't get a clear read from the guy it threw him way off.

He should've stayed, though. All he had to do was make a move, and then he'd know right away if he has a chance or not, none of this but-does-he-like-like-me bullshit.

He wants to walk into traffic on his way to Jackson Ave, but resists long enough to try and drown himself in overpriced alcohol instead. His roommates can tell something is up once he gets to the bar and orders nothing but double shots, though they convey their concern only in snake innuendo and he bites their heads off in return, so they let him sulk.

Sunday is completely given up to recovering from Saturday night. He crawls out of his hangover in the late afternoon and spends the rest of the day downstairs, hogging the couch and the tv and wheedling Heat into making him waffles for dinner.

He doesn't want to go to class tomorrow, but starting today finals are officially a week away and he doesn't know anybody else in physics besides Trafalgar. So he's gotta go, unless he wants to ask Trafalgar what happened in the lecture after the guy had already been generous enough to let him use his notes.

When he gets to class on Monday Trafalgar is in his usual seat in the back row, and Kid almost sits somewhere else because he's still feeling like an idiot and doesn't need any reminders about why he's an idiot. But Trafalgar would obviously notice that he was sitting somewhere else, and for Christ's sake all Trafalgar did was be nice, he doesn't need Kid to start acting all weird with him for no apparent reason.

So he takes the seat next to Trafalgar, determined to act completely normal.

"You bring him?"

"No," Trafalgar says. "He barely moved yesterday, I think you wore him out."

Kid also barely moved yesterday, for a different reason, but he can sympathize.

Despite his resolve to act normally, he ends up nervous. He doesn't know what to say to Trafalgar now, and he's only used to having the opposite problem.

Thankfully Trafalgar doesn't mention it. Though midway through the lecture he says, "Oh," and reaches into his bag for something. He slides the folder full of his notes over the desk towards Kid. "You can keep these. I was just kidding about them not being free."

Kid had completely forgotten about the notes in his haste to leave on Saturday. "Yeah, sure you were. Didn't stop you from making me pay for the food though, did it?"

Trafalgar smirks at him. "You can't blame me for trying."

Kid's comeback, that he most certainly can blame Trafalgar for trying, gets stuck in his mouth when he sees that smirk. He just says, "Well, thanks," lamely, and starts fiddling with the folder.

He doesn't recover from being tongue-tied, so the lecture ends without anything else being said, except for a quick bye to each other before parting ways. He really doesn't know what to about this new problem.

When he gets home he finds Killer studying in the dining room, and he complains vaguely about how everything sucks without actually admitting what's the matter, but Killer just tells him to worry about it after his exams are over. Kid complains about those too, until Killer demands he stop bitching and go find someone else to bother. No help whatsoever.

The rest of the week passes the same way. Every chance he has to talk to Trafalgar he fucks it up somehow, and that just makes it harder the next time. Trafalgar seems unfazed by the lack of conversation, but Kid can't help thinking he's figured out exactly why Kid's constantly at a loss for words around him. Which blows. At least he's not making fun of him for it though, Kid might just drop the damn class if he did that.

Trafalgar brings the snake on Wednesday though Kid hardly sees it the whole time, he's forcing himself to concentrate on the lecture as much as possible instead. When Trafalgar says he's going to the library after class, Kid doesn't go with him. Finals are lurking ominously just around the corner, and thinking about tackling all the work he has to catch up on is too intimidating when combined with being alone with Trafalgar. Kid decides to put off studying until Saturday.

By the time the weekend rolls around he's straight up mad at himself, but now he really can't worry about it anymore because he has to throw himself headlong into studying. As much as he'd like to avoid it for one more day, his nerves are killing him so he just has to get it over with already.

His lab practical is on Monday, mat sci on Tuesday, diff eqs on Wednesday, with thermo and physics rounding it out on Friday. It's a week of pure hell, like the end of every semester, and he gets through it by knuckling down and drinking more 99-cent knockoff energy drinks than a human being should legally be allowed to consume.

His brain is so scrambled when he makes it to physics, his last final, that he doesn't have any thought to spare worrying about seeing Trafalgar there. They have assigned seats anyway, he only catches a glimpse of Trafalgar's head across the room before the test starts, and when he's finished Trafalgar has already left without him noticing.

Kid is just grateful he's still alive. It feels like there should be differential equations leaking out of his skull. He goes straight home, where Wire has already broken out the vodka in celebration of another semester finished, and after three shots he falls right the fuck asleep.

On Saturday he wakes up with the sun full in his face, somehow in his own bed even though his last memory was putting his head down on the kitchen table just for a second. He slept for fourteen hours, and it feels amazing. He's free – no classes, no homework or tests, for three whole months.

Before that feeling can fade, he grabs his phone and texts Trafalgar for the first time to ask him how his finals went. Then he shoves it under his pillow so he won't get stuck checking over and over for a reply, and goes to pester Heat into helping him make a fuckload of breakfast.

He remembers the text after eating and taking a shower, and looks to see if Trafalgar said anything back.

'Who's this,' the message says. Oops, he'd forgotten he never actually told Trafalgar his number.

So he texts back that he's Hertie's favorite, obviously, and complains that the practice problems Trafalgar picked were a lot harder than the test, so he ended up studying more than he had to.

Trafalgar replies that his finals were fine, and that it's better to practice on difficult material, because then the test would be less stressful, also that Kid can eat shit if he thinks the snake likes him better.

He asks what Hertie is up to, and gets a blurry picture of the snake curled up snug underneath something. Kid says he looks hungry, and Trafalgar says he ate a hamster on Thursday.

There, it finally feels normal again. Kid has no trouble coming up with how to respond, maybe because Trafalgar isn't in the room to beguile him with his mere presence, but it's a relief no matter the reason.

They chat back and forth a bit about the physics final and when grades are coming out. He asks if Trafalgar is taking any classes over the summer, and Trafalgar says no, he'll be too busy with lab work and an internship.

Kid finally gathers up his courage and says, 'great, then you have nothing to study for. there's a party at my house tonight you should come.' It's their usual post-finals thing, not many people but a lot of alcohol and good music to wash out any bad taste left over from the semester.

He watches his phone intently for five minutes until Trafalgar replies.


Kid grins at the screen, and sends Trafalgar the time and address to show up at, adding 'bring Hertie.' He's not worried at all about talking to Trafalgar face to face now, if he still can't do it he'll just drink until he can. Piece of cake.

Now he has a few hours before anybody is supposed to start showing up, and he wishes he didn't have so much time to waste. He shuffles some stuff around his room, in case... no, he's getting ahead of himself.

So he goes downstairs to see what everybody else is up to, and gets dragged along to the liquor store with Killer to help carry shit. When they get home he starts arguing with Wire about the stupid trash he's putting in the playlist, almost coming to blows over whether or not to include any dubstep.

The whole time, in the back of his mind, is Trafalgar. He doesn't tell his roommates that he invited the guy with the snake, but if Trafalgar brings Hertie it'll prove once and for all the snake is real, and he hasn't actually been screwing Trafalgar for the last few weeks. And then maybe Wire will finally shut up about goddamn snakes.

Wire's annoying girlfriend arrives so Kid gets distracted stopping her from getting into all the food before anyone else has a chance to have some, and the party starts without him really noticing. All of a sudden there's a bunch of people in the house, and some girl is playing an acoustic guitar in the living room.

Kid is telling that idiot to take her crappy attempt at "Smoke on the Water" outside when he spots Trafalgar wandering down the hall.

Trafalgar glances into the room and sees him at the same time, then looks down and smirks at the guitar Kid is almost done wrestling away from the whiny asshole who can't sing.

Kid abandons the idiot and her cheap guitar to go up to Trafalgar, grinning widely. He's already got a buzz going, and now Trafalgar's here, and he just knows it'll be good.

"Hey! You came. Found it alright?"

"Yeah," Trafalgar says. "There's people all over your lawn, you know. It's a little hard to miss."

"Right. You want a drink? Or something to eat?"

"A drink would be fine."

"Sure, come on in."

He leads Trafalgar back to the kitchen and gets him one of the good beers hidden in the fridge's vegetable drawer, behind Heat's bag of spinach. Killer's in the kitchen too, and Kid introduces them.

"This is Trafalgar. He was in my physics class."

"Oh," Killer says. "So this is the guy with the snake."

Kid laughs at the face Trafalgar makes when he hears that. "Sorry, yeah. Secret's out. Hey, did you bring him?"

Trafalgar nods, and sets down his beer on the counter to push back the sleeve of his jacket.

"Wow, it's real," Killer says when Hertie's little brown head pokes out, sounding a bit surprised.

"I told you," Kid says, finally vindicated.

"To be honest, we all thought he was talking about your dick," Killer says mildly.

Trafalgar snorts, and Kid almost spits out his beer.

"I wasn't!"

"What's this about dicks?" Wire calls, choosing the exact worst moment to walk in, his shitty girlfriend just a step behind.

"Fuck off," Kid tells him, now tempted to pull Trafalgar out of the room before Wire gets started.

It's too late, Wire has already spotted the snake on Trafalgar's arm and is clearly thrilled.

"Snake guy! You didn't say he was coming. Aw it's so cute. I thought it'd be bigger, since Kid is such a size queen and all-"


Wire ignores him. "Bonney look, it's real!"

With all the fuss Wire is making about the snake, more people start to notice something interesting is happening in the kitchen and soon Trafalgar is surrounded by a bunch of drunk college students cooing over Hertie. The snake is a little show off, curling around Trafalgar's hands and looking especially adorable for its ten minutes of fame.

But Wire does not shut up. He still has an endless supply of snake innuendo to share long after most people lose interest and wander off, and Trafalgar doesn't even seem to mind. In fact he looks like he's enjoying it, and if there's one thing that makes Wire more unbearable it's a willing audience.

And when Trafalgar describes how Kid followed him to the library the first time and shamelessly asked to hold his snake then didn't know what to do with it, Bonney starts laughing so hard she can't stop.

Kid finally decides he needs a break from all the fucking humor, and declares he's going outside for a smoke, leaving them all in the kitchen to joke as much as they want.

He kicks a couple of potheads off the back steps and takes them for himself so he can smoke in peace. The sound of the party is still loud out here, and over the music he can hear more of Bonney's ringing laughter floating out of the open kitchen window around the side of the house.

Stupid Wire, only he could completely bulldoze any chance of this night going well. When the hell would he get another opportunity to spend time with Trafalgar like this? Probably never, because now Trafalgar was in on the whole snake joke thing and it would follow him for the rest of his student life.

He's not out there for very long before the door opens and shuts behind him, and Trafalgar drops down to sit on his step.

"I like your friends," he says to Kid.

"They're not my friends," Kid grumbles. "I hate them."

"It is kind of funny though," Trafalgar says.

"Thanks for taking their side." Kid blows smoke away disagreeably into the yard.

"To be fair, you did only start talking to me because you liked my snake."

"I didn't just like your snake," Kid insists. Whoops, he didn't mean to say it like that. Well, too late now.

"That's a relief." Trafalgar scoots in a little more, enough that his leg presses into Kid's, and rests against Kid's shoulder before taking a swig from the beer he carried outside.

Oh. This is nice. Another ten minutes out here with Trafalgar might make the last hour of snake jokes at his expense worth it. Except what the hell is he supposed to do now?

Then Trafalgar smirks at him, and their faces are suddenly very close.

After a moment, Trafalgar's expression softens. "Thanks for inviting me," he says.

"Yeah," Kid says, then leans in the last few inches and kisses him.

Trafalgar tilts his face at the perfect angle to meet him and returns the kiss, easy and warm. When Kid pulls away to look at him Trafalgar opens his eyes and looks back quietly, and he just has to put his arm around him to kiss him again.

Trafalgar seems to simply melt against him until there's not even an inch of space left, and Kid can only think of how amazing he feels. He has no idea how long they stay like that, sitting pressed together on the back steps, just kissing slow and sweet.

Then some fucking drunk asshole bangs the door open and yells, "Wooo!"

Kid wants to break his stupid goddamn neck. Before he has a chance to get up and start throttling the bastard though, Trafalgar keeps him in place with a hand on his knee.

"Hey. You haven't shown me your room yet."

"Oh. Ok."

Trafalgar gives him a lazy smile, and Kid gives him one more kiss. Actually three more, and he's already completely forgotten about going anywhere, but Trafalgar pushes him away.

"Your room," he says, more firmly.

"Right," Kid murmurs, then sneaks in another kiss anyway.

Trafalgar stands up and pulls him along, into the house and straight to the stairs. Once they're up there though Kid has been waiting for like a minute already, so he gets Trafalgar against the wall for some more kissing. He thinks somebody passes behind them in the hall, but he really doesn't give a shit, he just wants to do this all night.

"You're impossible," Trafalgar says when he has to break for air. He shoves a hand in Kid's face to stop him from leaning in again.

"Ow, stoppit."

"Where's your stupid room?" Trafalgar demands, and it's clear he's not going to get that hand out of Kid's face until he answers.

"Last door," Kid says.

Trafalgar grabs him by the front of his shirt and practically drags him the rest of the way. Not that Kid needs dragging, he'd follow Trafalgar anywhere at this point.

Finally they make it to his room. Trafalgar takes a look around, eyeing the shitheap of paper covering his desk, and Kid wishes he had dared to take a little more time hiding the remains of the disaster that was finals week.

But only for a second, because after that Trafalgar is sitting down on his bed and saying, "Come here."

And making out with Trafalgar in bed has to be the greatest feeling in the world. Wait no, getting his hands on Trafalgar's ass—which makes Trafalgar moan and start grinding against his thigh—is the greatest feeling in the world. Making out is a close second.

When Kid wakes up the next morning with Trafalgar still in his arms though, cuddled up close all warm and very naked and asleep with his face pressed into Kid's neck, he decides this is definitely the best feeling in the world. It's just too perfect, nothing could possibly be better.

Except then Trafalgar wakes up, gives him a kiss and a mumbled, "Good morning," and slides between his legs to suck him off, and Kid thinks he should stop trying to quantify how great everything is that Trafalgar does. He would just end up being wrong a lot.

After the most incredible blowjob of his life, Kid realizes it's almost noon and he's starving, and Trafalgar asks where he can take a shower. So he shows Trafalgar to the bathroom and goes downstairs to see if anybody had made breakfast, or gotten lunch, or if there were at least any chips left from last night.

Wire is the only thing in the kitchen, he's eating cereal and he's got the snake coiled around one of his biceps. Oh shit, Kid had totally forgotten about poor Hertie for the last.. twelve hours...

"Hey, Trafalgar left without his snake," Wire says when Kid walks in. "I call dibs."

"Like hell. And he didn't leave, he's in the shower."

"Oh- wait what? You said you weren't fucking him! And I finally believed you!"

Kid grins at him as smugly as physically possible.

Then he asks why there's no more cereal anywhere, and Wire says Bonney only left enough for one bowl, because she loves him. Kid chucks the empty Lucky Charms box at his head.

While he's searching to see if there's any food left at all (seems like a big no), Trafalgar comes downstairs wearing his jeans from last night and one of Kid's favorite band t-shirts, his dark hair damp and tousled, and Kid falls for him all over again.

He has to stop what he's doing and go kiss him right away, it's been like fifteen minutes for christ's sake, and Trafalgar just smiles and lets him.

Wire says, "Hey, cut it out. If I can't fuck in the kitchen neither can you guys."

Kid ignores him and tells Trafalgar there's nothing to eat in the house, asking if he wants to go out to get something instead. Trafalgar says sure, and after he relieves Wire of the snake and gets it safely tucked away under Kid's t-shirt they head over to a diner a few blocks away.

And it's great to finally be able to just put his arm around Trafalgar's shoulders as they walk, careful not squish Hertie.

This summer is going to be so fucking good.