the chilliad: hour two
Updated: Sep 12, 2019
“the thing you have to understand is that, helen aside, things were kind of like, brewing,” homer says. to be fair, up until this point he really could not have given less of a shit about greek life politics. he'd rushed alpha sig because he wanted to lose his virginity, make friends, drink a lot of beer, and because lowkey he wanted to be like capi from ABC’s greek. he loved that guy. that guy was the shit.
anyway, the point is, now that homer’s really giving it some thought, yeah: the thing between troy and alpha sig had been building for a while, long before homer got anywhere near campus. helen was kind of just like, the final straw.
“the trojans aren’t even greek, is the thing,” he explains. “like, they used to be, um ... i dunno, some national chapter, i forget because who cares. but they got kicked off campus and then just renamed themselves after the street their new house was on. priam’s nice but he’s not exactly creative.”
“why did they get kicked off campus?”
“well, a deer got drunk at one of their parties, and then the deer got hit by a car, and then there were all these protests by the vegan club.”
“why did they get a deer drunk?”
“is this on the record?”
“son, you’re at a police station. everything is on the record.”
homer hesitates. he’s pretty sure they’re past the statute of limitations on getting animals drunk, and also he doesn’t think that’s technically illegal, just a real dick move.
“well ... they didn’t,” he admits. “but -- okay. look, don’t tell anyone i told you, but the real truth is aggy did it.”
“aggy got them kicked off campus?”
“no, aggy got the deer drunk. it was on trojan property, though. and -- this is extremely on the DL, i’m very serious about this, boys -- it wasn’t the vegans who protested. or i mean, it was the vegans, but how did the vegans find out, you know what i’m saying?”
there’s a thoughtful hum. homer isn’t sure if it’s coming from Ray Ban or Donut Mouth, but he thinks it might be Donut Mouth because he smells a hint of bear claw on the exhale.
“so how did they find out?” Ray Ban asks. his words are a little squished, like he’s resting his chin on one of his hands.
“roy,” Donut Mouth mutters. “c’mon, this isn’t relevant.”
“so?” Ray Ban answers, unapologetic. “it’s fucking interesting. you so desperate to go write up your reports that you wanna get out of here? you itching to sit in the bullpen listening to frank powerwash the floors for the next four hours?”
homer grins. he holds his hand out for a high-five. “my main man ray ban,” he says. Ray Ban takes the five.
“it’s roy, actually,” he says.
“rick and roy, that’s cute, actually,” homer answers. “i’m still gonna call you ray ban, though. it’s like, your vibe. rick, sorry man, but you’ve been donut mouth to me this whole time and i just don’t think that’s gonna change for you.”
“for god’s sake,” Donut Mouth says, “can we please focus?”
homer, nodding, feels around the table until he finds the corner of what he’s pretty sure is the donut box. he raises his eyebrows in question and is gratified to hear Donut Mouth sigh before nudging the box forward so he can get his hand in. he grabs whatever is closest -- no such thing as a bad donut, after all -- and says, mouth full of strawberry glaze, “okay, so, someone told the muses and the muses told me that it was emi hunter, olly hunter’s twin sister. she’s not a vegan herself but is BIG into like, animal husbandry. their whole family have been butchers since like, the 1600s or some shit. i heard she only eats meat she’s killed herself, which is super hot and very scary.”
he waits, but neither Ray Ban nor Donut Mouth have anything to say about emi hunter. “... anyway, she found out that someone at this party had gotten the deer drunk and that the deer had gotten hit by a car and died, and also nobody even used the venison, and she sicced the vegans on them.”
“why didn’t she report them herself?”
“well,” says homer.
yeah, it was emi, and she’d do it again, honestly. she didn’t give a fuck. olly would have done the same thing, if he weren’t so far up his own ass about the like, “brotherhood” or whatever. not that emi cares, because she doesn’t, but ever since they got to this stupid place, he’s been like, a totally different person.
there was even a period of time where he was considering actually letting those fucknuggets actually call him apollo, which--come on. they’d decided together in the year of our lord two thousand and one not to stick with the names their parents had given them, because naming your twin babies artemis and apollo is the height of pretension.
like, artemis was a bad bitch and emi respected her, but the world had iphones now. that time was over. it was not on the table as an option.
anyway, she was extremely unimpressed by olly’s wholehearted adoption of the whole greek fraternity thing. they’d shared a womb, and he expected her to be impressed because some guy he met ten seconds ago drank heavily with him in a basement for three straight days?
the point was, yes, she’d found out about the deer and like, it was just so representative of how fucked up the whole thing was, you know? and also, they wasted really good venison. obviously the deer’s suffering was more important, overall, thematically, but it was worth mentioning that they killed a deer and didn’t even eat it.
she was lowkey friendly with some of the less intense vegans, because at the end of the day they kind of agreed with each other on some things, like that factory farming was fucked up and “organic” was basically fake, and animals had the same rights to dignity as humans. where they disagreed was that, in emi’s humble but obviously extremely correct opinion, humans were the top of the food chain. nature isn’t vegan. you gonna tell a hyena that zebras have a right to life? you gonna look a hyena in the eye and tell it to drink a fucking kale smoothie?
good fucking luck, gwyneth paltrow!!!!
whatever. whatever. whatever. emi wasn’t here to fight vegans, except insofar as emi was kind of lowkey always here to fight everybody. she was here to say: yeah, it was that dumbfuck aggy atreaus who actually started giving the deer beer, but it happened at a trojan party, and nobody stopped it, and the greatest evil is when good men see evil and say nothing or whatever, so it was the trojans who got fucked for it. not emi’s problem. olly could eat her whole foot if he wanted to fight about it.
also, not for nothing but the trojans as a whole were much more bearable once they lost their national standing and had to be, you know, trojans. you’re fucking welcome, everybody.
once they’d been knocked off their greek horse, she even like ... kind of liked some of them. not a lot. but gilly was kind of funny, and anton was a real dude, and ares went hunting with her sometimes and didn’t even act like an asshole even though he was, fundamentally, an asshole. like, in his heart.
all told, emi was on the trojan’s side of things, because helen could date whoever the fuck helen wanted to date, and if for some unknown reason she wanted to date that gumby-looking weenie paris, then that’s what she wanted to do.
nobody got to tell her she like, had to date manny atreus, what the fuck.
plus, emi admired that hector, though clearly bewildered by everything that came out of paris’s mouth, was sticking by him. that was classy. emi didn’t have a crush on hector, and anyone who said she did was fucking lying, but she admired his spirit, okay? she admired the way his spirit looked in a pair of jeans. his spirit was buff as hell.
“oh, is it his ‘spirit’ you based your mage on?” heff asked, raising his eyebrows and putting finger quotes around the word spirit.
“how about you fuck right off,” emi answered. “you’re mad because you gave your cleric an ugly face and now none of the elves want to sleep with you. that’s your own fault. own up to your mistakes, heffer.”
“guys,” cleo interrupted, holding up her hands. “can we chill? can we get through one session without talking about who has boned the most elves, which by the way is a deeply degrading thing for me as your DM to have to keep track of and very difficult to integrate into the plot?”
“no,” heff and emi said at the same time, then fist-bumped.
sappho flopped dramatically backwards, narrowly avoiding the coffee table. they were in cleo’s room out at the artist collective, because she was the only one with enough space for the whole DnD party plus snacks. the muses by and large eschewed chairs and insisted on having beanbags strewn around the house in place of couches. their parents insisted that creativity flowed most freely when you were close to the ground, which sappho personally thought was bullshit, because she did all her best writing when she was perched pensively in a windowsill, or alone on a roof.
but whatever, it wasn’t her house and unlike some people in the group, she wasn’t rude.
“it’s some real bullshit that so far none of the elves have wanted to sleep with me,” she said. “i find it hard to believe that none of them are lesbians. they’re all farmers and they love poetry. that’s like, peak lesbian culture.”
“you’re a nun,” cleo said. “none of the elves want to sleep with you because you are a nun. they are respecting your sacred vows!”
“what, like you wouldn’t fuck a nun?” sappho countered, sitting up. “i call bullshit. i call total bullshit. everyone in this room would fuck a nun.”
bree frowned thoughtfully. “it would depend on the nun,” she said after a minute. “and why she wanted to sleep with me. like, are we in love, or is she just using me to rebel against the dictums of the church?”
“sexual politics run deep,” chrys agreed. “i’m not wading into those waters.”
sappho blew a fart sound against her palms. “all y’all are cowards,” she declared. “i’m the only brave person in this room.”
“big fuckin words from the girl who literally cannot get it together enough to order a coffee from the barista at her local dunkin,” darius said. he wheeled his chair around so that sappho could get the full effect of his unimpressed face.
“stuttering in front of pretty girls is bi culture,” sappho snapped back. “that and like, sitting in chairs weird.”
“i thought it was farming and poetry.”
“that’s lesbian culture, darius. keep up, man.”
cleo slid off her beanbag and onto the floor. “hey, you know what would be cool,” she said. “if just one time we got through a session without getting off track. also, darius, leave saph alone. it’s not her fault every time delphine looks at her she passes out.”
“i don’t pass out!”
cleo pulled out her phone. “@BiDisaster: cool cool cool just made eye contact with Beautiful Barista and my knees promptly decided to no longer support my body weight so i collapsed & spilled my drink everywhere, one hundred emoji, one hundred emoji, one hundred emoji,” she read out.
“okay -- but -- that’s not passing out, it’s ... it’s different. that happens to a lot of people when they see beautiful things.”
emi winced. “cheeser,” she said. “we’ve talked about this. please keep your very embarrassing feelings bottled up while i’m around.”
“i know but she looks like the moon,” sappho sighed. “that’s not my fault. i didn’t do her makeup, which by the way is understated but elegant. i bet she watches helen’s makeup tutorials.”
heff squinted at her, pointing a finger. “is your attraction to delphi just a sublimation of your attraction to helen?” he asked. “because i like delphi, and that’s fucked up.”
“you are way too nice to be dating dité,” darius said idly through a mouthful of white cheddar popcorn. “like. what do y’all even see in each other?”
sappho waved a hand, rolling her eyes. “please. my attraction to helen is irrelevant. everyone’s attracted to helen. it barely even matters. you don’t do anything about it, you just acknowledge it as a fact of life.”
“unless, apparently, you’re paris,” chrys pointed out. “a bold man. a hero of the people.”
“well that’s definitely the first time anyone’s said that about paris,” emi said dryly. “can you imagine looking like helen and having the opportunity to bone hector and instead boning paris? paris???”
“paris is nice,” bree interjected mildly. “he always holds the door for me. one time he bought me a snickers when i was a quarter short and crying by the vending machine.”
cleo gave up on the session. she set her notes aside. they still hadn’t made it out of their home village and she had a whole adventure planned for them, but fine, whatever, they would just talk about who was boning who instead.
“i want y’all to know i have a beautifully crafted story for you assholes, and you’re missing out,” she said. “but emi’s right. it’s a weird move. super dope, and very weird.”
“why is it dope?” chrys asked. “is it because you have a crush on manny atreus and now he’s available?”
“first of all, hard no. secondly, i’m just saying, i always kind of thought helen was like ... a little shallow,” cleo said, shrugging. “clearly she’s got deeper waters than i realized, if paris rings her bell.”
sappho kicked out at cleo’s beanbag, unseating her enough that she tipped over and had to catch herself on the wheel of darius’s chair. “just because helen subscribes to outwardly traditional femininity doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a rich inner life,” she snapped.
cleo raised her hand in a gesture of surrender. “i literally just said i was wrong,” she muttered. “you can’t pull the receipt out of my own damn hand and then pretend you found it.”
“well, i think it’s romantic,” darius said. “either that, or paris is secretly a master of sex, which -- i mean. it’s not impossible, but i would be surprised. practice makes perfect and i just don’t see him having a lot of practice, given that it’s twenty-eighteen and he still wears screws for earrings.”
bree laughed. “maybe they’re functional,” she said, idly putting her feet flat against the back of darius’s wheelchair and pushing it gently forward until he bumped into the nearest beanbag. “maybe he’s just waiting for the right carpentry project.”
“well, they’re functional insofar as they’re real screws,” heff said. “i gave them to him. he said all the ones for sale were too brightly colored.” he pinched the bridge of his nose, looking tired. “anyway, as always this whole thing is my girlfriend’s fault. i’ve told ares a thousand times not to let her go out with helen unless they have a chaperone but he never listens to me because he thinks all their shenanigans are funny.”
chrys let out a sharp laugh and flopped sideways so that her head was in bree’s lap. bree’s hands went automatically to her hair, running them through it gently. “funny?” chrys repeated, incredulous. “didn’t dité’s last ‘shenanigan’ get a girl kicked out?”
“dora didn’t get kicked out,” heff said, choosing his words carefully. “she ... took a year off. there’s hope for her yet.”
chrys held up her hands in a gesture of surrender. “all i’m saying is that when dité gets up to no good, it tends to be no good for all of us.”
“there’s no way the atreus brothers just shrug this one off,” sappho agreed thoughtfully. “they’re probably, like, gearing up for something epic as we speak.”
“and you know they’re gonna go too big,” emi agreed, rolling her eyes. “aggy atreus always does. he has no sense of scale. he just does whatever the fuck he wants all the time, just because, what, he’s vice president of some stupid, boring fraternity nobody’s gonna care about once he graduates?”
“hey,” darius protested dryly, “i’m in a stupid, boring fraternity that nobody’s gonna care about once i graduate.”
“no, you’re not,” emi snapped. “you’re a trojan, which is fake greek at best.”
laughter spilled out of sappho and she rolled up into a sitting position. “you gotta let me interview you for the blog, em,” she said. “you’re so mean. people are going to love it.”
“i’m not mean,” emi said. “i’m honest.”
“that’s what all mean people say,” sappho told her, fondly.
emi rolled her eyes. heff let out a loud groan and pulled a long face as he reached for a handful of chips. “so ... does that mean we all gotta pick sides?” he asked. “fuck. do i have to care about this? am i going to have to get involved?”
bree wrinkled her nose. “maybe it’s just one big misunderstanding and once everybody gets in a room together, it’ll all work out without coming to blows,” she suggested, but even she didn’t sound particularly convinced.
“y’all are all gonna have to pick sides,” cleo said, voice overflowing with schadenfreude. “and that’s why i moved off campus as soon as i was allowed to. muse-land is switzer-land, baby.”
bree kept carding her hands carefully through chrys’s hair. she hated conflict. she found it boring. also, she didn’t understand why people couldn’t just talk things through. was it so hard to just be fucking nice?
“ugh,” she said, and ate six potato chips at once.
Donut Mouth clears his throat. “this feels like a lot of detail about a group of people that seem to be, at best, peripheral to actual events,” he says. “they’re just a bunch of college nerds playing dungeons and dragons.”
homer makes a face; clearly Donut Mouth has no sense of storytelling. “okay, first of all, it’s extremely rude to call people peripheral,” homer says, reaching for another donut. “we are all the protagonists of our own lives. also: joke’s on you, because as it turns out some of these so-called peripherals are extremely integral to how things went down.”
“but were any of these people actually present when the trojan house caught fire?”
homer takes a mental attendance. “darius and emi were probably there,” he decides. “and the muses are kind of everywhere, but just like, in spirit. sappho definitely was not around.” homer presses his fingers against his watch, to feel the time. he’s so tired that his eyes feel like sandpaper, but at least he’s getting pretty close to sober.
Donut Mouth huffs, and drags the donut box out of homer’s reach. “what i don’t understand is: did no one attempt to mediate? everyone seems to have known that this type of thing was coming. why didn’t you try to stop it?”
homer almost doesn’t deign to answer, because that’s a stupid question if he’s ever heard it. stop a fraternity prank war? what kind of self-confidence does Donut Mouth think he has? homer’s a nineteen-year-old virgin from smyrna, iowa, a town so small that they ran out of people who were eligible to be sheriff. he hasn’t even picked a major because the only thing he’s good at is poetry, for god’s sake.
still: “to be fair,” homer muses, “aggy and manny tried to talk to priam about paris, but they got totally stonewalled. i mean -- i get it, paris is hector’s little brother, and hector is priam’s best friend. so like, i can see how you’d want to present a united front, you know? but still.”
Donut Mouth sighs. “kid,” he says, wearily, “i am begging you to get to the point.”
“this is the point,” homer tells him. “maybe if priam had just been willing to hand paris over for a teeny tiny ass kicking, none of this would have happened.”
priam had never much cared for paris, honestly. he thought he was kind of a weird kid, who seemed deeply uninterested in following the social rules that priam, personally, found very comforting.
but priam was, above all, loyal. he’d been a freshman when the trojans lost their greek status, but he hadn’t jumped ship; he and hector had stayed on and decided to run what was officially classified as a social club the same way they’d have run a real frat. every year they worked to get new boys in, held their own rush any everything, and mostly the other frats were cool about it because everyone knew it wasn’t troy’s fault that deer got drunk.
did it happen at troy? sure. but all bad things had to happen somewhere, and that’s not the place’s fault! it’s the fault of the perpetrators, and in this case, that meant aggy atreus, the biggest nightmare person alive, in priam’s personal opinion.
anyway, all of this is to say that when atreus one and two came to troy, talking about how paris had broken the bro code, and that allowing him to go without answering for his crimes would tear the fabric of greek society, or whatever, what priam said in reply was: “sure, maybe, but as you may remember, troy is not part of greek society.”
manny glanced at aggy, looking uncomfortable. “oh,” he said, sounding dejected. “that’s ... aggs, technically he’s right.”
aggy rolled his eyes, folded his arms across his chest, and widened his stance as if, what, he was gonna fight priam? please. priam played rugby. priam wrestled. aggy atreus thought just because he spent half his life grunting in the gym he was going to scare priam, who’d competed in judo until the eleventh grade?
bitch, priam won state twice.
“have we not included troy in all the greek games?” aggy asked. “have we not let you be part of rush? did we not provide character references last year when the whole mess with your landlord started?”
“we had permission to build that fence,” priam said immediately. “we improved the property value! he has no legs to stand on!”
aggy shrugged. manny shifted back and forth on his feet. “it does look better,” he said, supportively. “look, man. i’m just saying that you gotta let me talk to paris. i’m not gonna like, hurt him. ....badly.”
priam raised an eyebrow, shifting his gaze meaningfully from manny to aggy, who was still standing like he was waiting to get into a boxing ring. “what point is there?” he asked. “you got dumped, atreus. i feel for you. that shit’s rough. but like, talk to a therapist about it, man. beating up paris isn’t going to make helen suddenly want to be with you again.”
especially given that i’ve never fully understood why she was with you in the first place, he thought but didn’t say, because priam didn’t like the atreus brothers but he wasn’t a monster, and it was obvious that manny was upset.
“how about you watch your mouth, bud,” aggy snapped.
“how about you watch your mouth, bud,” priam spit back.
“c’mon, man. you don’t even like paris,” manny whined, a little desperately. “nobody does! he’s a little turd!”
“of course he’s a little turd,” priam said, rolling his eyes. “he’s like the most irritating motherfucker i’ve ever met in my life. he insists on being called paris, for god’s sake, when everyone knows his name is alexander, which is a perfectly normal name. but he’s hector’s brother, and as i’m sure even you can appreciate, bros don’t let bros’ brothers get beat up by two fucking meatheads.”
manny huffed. “meathead is a slur,” he muttered.
“no, it’s not,” corrected priam.
“no it’s not,” manny agreed miserably, and gave a long sigh, looking defeated.
aggy rolled up the sleeves of his button-down, which was only done up to about the fourth button, leaving his chest hair exposed and poking out. sometimes priam wanted to punch him so badly that his knuckles ached.
“either you give us paris or you accept the consequences,” aggy drawled, mouth quirking up into a tiny, dangerous grin. “and you’re not gonna like the consequences.”
priam took a couple steps forward, until they were almost touching noses. he was shorter than aggy, but not by much; if he straightened his back they could stand basically eye-to-eye.
“come the fuck at me, bro,” he said.
“i guess the pranks really kicked off a couple weeks after that,” homer muses, trying to put the timeline together in his mind. he takes a long sip of coffee. it’s really bad, but it’s caffeinated, and beggars can’t be choosers, etc. “there were like, a few false starts, i guess? i don’t know how to explain it, man. it was like nothing the alphas did, like, worked. stuff just kept going wrong.”
one of the officers kicks his feet up onto the table; homer can hear his heel click against the metal, and a little coffee spills over the lip of the cup and onto homer’s hand.
“shit -- sorry. here.” a napkin is pressed into homer’s hand. he wipes up with it, then presses it to where the coffee is pooling on the table.
Donut Mouth asks, “what do you mean by ‘going wrong’?”
“just like, we were losing,” homer answers, shrugging. “none of the pranks really went off very well, and the trojans got a few really good ones in. like they broke in and glued all our furniture to the ceiling. that takes time and like a lot of effort, man. that’s some parent-trap level shit. the best manny and aggy could come up with was filling their cars with popcorn, and when they tried doing that they ended up just accidentally kidnapping bree and chrys.”
shit, homer thinks. i shouldn’t have said that.
given how badly the talk went -- “WE’RE GOING TO WAR, BOYS,” aggy had announced with not a small amount of delight when they’d come home, a dejected-looking manny trailing behind him -- odysseus was not surprised to come home to a blueprint of the trojan house spread out on the dining room table. the parking space next to the back yard was circled.
“yeah, leave these out, that’s smart,” odysseus muttered. “just leave ’em right out in the open, where anyone can see them. brilliant. a-plus leadership, boys.”
jax poked his head out from the kitchen. “who you talkin to?” he asked, before taking a long sip of his smoothie from a crazy straw in the shape of what he insisted was mount vesuvius but odysseus was pretty sure was just a fucking triangle. “is it me?”
“no, jax,” odysseus said. “it’s not you. have you seen our fearless leaders anywhere around?”
jax shrugged, coming fully into the dining room. “haven’t seen ’em since this afternoon. i think manny had a training session. maybe AC knows. HEY,” he yelled, leaning toward the stairs, “AC. COME HERE.”
“OKAY BUT HOLD ON,” AC’s voice answered. “IT’S GONNA TAKE ME A SECOND TO GET DOWN THE STAIRS.”
odysseus frowned. “why is it -- ”
“wait and see,” jax interrupted cheerfully. “ace is trying on his costume for the guys and dolls party this weekend. it’s gonna be fuckin lit, man. i heard they’re getting a bouncy castle. circe said there might be pony rides.”
before odysseus could ask why in god’s name a guys and dolls party would feature a bouncy castle and pony rides, two activities which were not thematically relevant, AC flung himself dramatically through the doorway and announced: “please acknowledge how fuckin good i look in these!”
he was wearing gym shorts, a tank top that said SUNS OUT GUNS OUT, and a pair of bright red high heels. his hat was on backwards, but odysseus recognized it as his favorite, a red sox cap PK had bought him freshman year. it matched PK’s white sox one, which odysseus thought was weird but AC insisted was “fuckin’ romantic, because even though we’re different, we’re both baseball.”
odysseys heaved a sigh and said, “they’re nice,” which is the same thing he said to penny when she asked him how her rug designs looked.
“‘nice’? fuck you bud,” AC said. “these heels make my calves looked ripped as shit. look at this. are you looking?”
“i’m looking,” said odysseus, wearily.
“vogue as fuck, brother,” jax enthused, raising his smoothie in salute.
“i’m gonna be marilyn monroe, like from that photo with the skirt,” he explained. “peeks is going as JFK. it’s gonna be hilarious.”
odysseus debated whether or not he should tell AC that marilyn monroe was wearing white in that photo, and then decided he didn’t care anywhere approaching enough. “you’re a star, kid,” he said instead, and AC beamed. “but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to help me fix whatever fuckin disaster prank that the knockoff marx brothers have planned.”
AC made a face. “aw, c’mon, i don’t have time for that shit. just let them do whatever stupid prank they wanna do, doctor buzzkill.”
odysseus held the rolled-up plans aloft. “i think they’re planning to steal a car,” he said flatly. “you want to let them steal a car? you think it’s a good idea to let them commit crimes?”
“oh, for fuck’s sake,” AC grumbled. “they’re such assholes. why are they so bad at this? it’s not that fuckin hard, man.”
jax took a long slurp and smacked his lips. “we’re all born with different gifts,” he said diplomatically, then paused. “wait -- where are we gonna put a stolen car? i’m not doing street parking, man. i fought and bled for the rights to the garage spot.”
odysseus pinched the bridge of his nose. AC, sighing heavily, kicked off his high heels. “jesus christ,” he said. “i have to do everything my goddamn self. PEEKS. BRING ME MY SHOES. WE’VE GOT TO GO UNSTEAL A CAR.”
there was a long pause, and then, from upstairs: “YOU WANT YOUR HEELIES OR YOUR NIKES?”
“okay,” said aggy, Not Panicking. “this is fine. we can fix this.”
he looked at manny and cal, and then back at bree and chrys, who were blinking up at him, extremely unimpressed.
“this is kidnapping,” chrys said, very calmly. “like, it’s fine, but just to be clear that’s what this is.”
“it’s not kidnapping,” manny said quickly. “it’s, uh ... accidental ... getting. you’ve been accidentally got.”
“what were you doing in the truck bed anyway?!” aggy cried. “this isn’t even your truck!”
the girls shared a glance and made a series of faces at one another, until chrys threw up her hands in defeat and bree grinned. aggy never understood how girls did that. he’s known manny since the first day of the kid’s life and he doesn’t know what he’s saying half the time when he’s using actual words.
“well,” explained bree, “you see, the apartment has asbestos.”
“wait,” says Ray Ban. “before you lived with the muses you lived with two different girls?”
Donut Mouth hums thoughtfully. “do you prefer living with women?” he asks.
“first of all, i don’t care for your tone,” homer says. “secondly, of-fucking-course i prefer living with women. not to gender essentialize, but college bros are disgusting and their living spaces are also disgusting, which i know because i am one. bree and chrys had fresh flowers every week. there was a diffuser in the bathroom. you could eat off the floor, man.”
Ray Ban snorts. “i dunno, kid,” he mutters. “my sister’s the worst slob i’ve ever met. she doesn’t do her dishes until they start to smell. i once found a cookie tin under her bed and the cookies in it were like, a year old.”
“i’m not saying women can’t be disgusting,” homer protests. “i’m saying that no one is more disgusting than fraternity brothers living together.”
“fair point,” Donut Mouth acquiesces. “continue.”
manny startled. he put the back of his hand against bree’s forehead. he didn’t remember what asbestos did to you but he knew it wasn’t good. “shit,” he said, “that’s really bad, right? are you okay? do you have somewhere to live?”
chrys’s frown deepened in direct proportion to how much bree’s smile widened. “yeah. the truck bed.”
“you can’t live in a truck bed,” manny said firmly. “come live with us.”
“manny,” aggy warned. “we’re getting off track, here. cal, back me up.”
to manny’s delight, cal hesitated, looking between aggy and the girls. eventually he said, “they’re homeless, bro.”
“where are they gonna sleep? the house is full!”
manny thought about it. aggy was right; all the rooms were full. during rush AC and jax had all the pledges sleep in the basement and pretended it was part of the hazing rather than a practical necessity.
he snapped his fingers when it came to him: “AC and PK sleep together,” he said. “they’ve got a spare mattress. and you’re at nessa’s half the time anyway, so one of them can have your room.”
“dibs,” called bree.
“but geni is in my room,” aggy protested. “she’s staying in my room for the rest of the semester. i can’t kick her out, nessa will literally murder me.”
“um, not to -- i mean, i know you probably -- it’s just that i kind of have this feeling? you might have to sacrifice her?” cal half-said, half-asked, wincing. “i know it — just, baby jax told me that you were — sorry, but you were the one who got that deer drunk, right? which got the trojans kicked off campus which made priam hate us and not give us paris even though he doesn’t even like paris, so this is, like, karma, kind of? and, um, i’m sure nessa will understand?”
aggy pinched the bridge of his nose. “understand? have you met nessa?”
“c’mon, aggs,” manny wheedled. “if they come live with us then we’re not kidnapping them, we’re just ... helping them move.” he clapped bree’s shoulder and gave it a light squeeze. she was surprising buff for a girl he’s pretty sure was majoring in special education.
aggy let out a long sigh. he squinted up at the sky and said, to god probably, “is this karma for the deer thing? is that what this is?”
above their heads, thunder rolled, which manny felt was a fairly conclusive answer.
“fine,” aggy grumbled. “they can move in with me, and when my girlfriend murders me because i kicked her little sister out of my house, y’all’d better throw me a kickass fuckin funeral.”
“deal!” cried bree, and aggy started the car.
“i think our luck is about to change,” manny said. he rolled the windows down and knocked his sunglasses off the top of his head down to rest on his nose. “bro, i really think we’re gonna start winning this thing real soon.”
“and did they?” ray ban asks. “start winning?”
homer laughs. “oh, god no,” he says. “never listen to manny. manny’s a fuckin idiot.”