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Chapter One

Quick Note: This Fanfiction is inspired by another A Separate Peace fan’s unfinished Fanfic. As far as I know A Study in Ginny is no longer active on their new or old Tumblr account. The Fanfic is called Love on the Web and, while I’m not copying it, this Fanfic is based on that. This one will be multi-chapter, but it won’t be as long as Eloquence.
Warning for profanity and friends abandoning each other!

Gene was a baker.

Well- not really. It was more or less a hobby of his. While he enjoyed baking; he didn’t plan on pursuing a career in it. The studious boy was too focused on his studies and getting what needed to be done finished that he didn’t even bother with a culinary arts class.

Baking is for fun only. He told himself when he pulled up his four year plan back in freshman year. If Gene was going to be honest with himself, he would admit that he was the only one actually taking the assignment this seriously. He thought about his father when he stopped at the culinary arts option. He would be what his parents wanted. He would go through high school with his mind on business. He would get a desk job working as The State of Oklahoma’s Director in Network Security (the same job his mother has). He would make his family proud.
Making his family proud included not being a fucking baker.

Even so he loved baking. He loved the feeling is flour against his hands. The satisfaction of taking a perfectly baked cake out of the oven. The happiness when some compliments his work. Gene loves every second of it. In conclusion, he couldn't just “let go” of this hobby of his.

So he did the most rebellious thing in his life and made an Instagram account behind his parents back. The words of “Social Media is bad” and “You’ll get too distracted by it” rang through his ears when he saw the confirmation link. The account was inactive for eight months until he finally posted something. It was a picture of a batch of vanilla cupcakes that Gene had made. He didn’t what to put in the description so he just put: “Vanilla cupcakes with light blue fondant and edible pearls for my friend’s birthday.”

He was embarrassed and ended up shutting his laptop tightly after the post was made. He didn’t want to read any mean comments that he knew he would get. A week later he got his first comment. He spent a total of 20 minutes mentally preparing himself for what it would say.
“Wow! These look really good! Was this photo taken off the internet?”
Gene was taken aback by the nice message and soon it was post after post. In his free time he would go to his favorite bakery and help out a bit. He posted pictures of stuff he made there. Pictures of things he made at home one of the many times his parents weren't around. Picture of candy he tried to replicate and soon he posted his first video of him making a cake with his few friends to celebrate 1,000 followers.

He didn’t expect this much attention from social media, but he wasn’t complaining. He liked this kind of popularity. This feeling of knowing people care. He was happy logged into Instagram. It was where no one knew about his personal life or his flaws. No one knew about the troubles in his mind or his growing anxiety or the fact that he never ate the sweets he made. Online: everything was perfect, he was happy.

When he reached 5,000 followers, the tradition of “recording a video with his friends” was different. This time Gene recorded a video alone. He got comments asking him where everyone was. He began typing out an edit in the happy sounding description.
“Edit: I know you guys have been commenting a lot about how my friends aren’t in this video. Sadly, due to some issues I’ve been dealing with I put a lot of pressure on them and they ended up leaving me. They had a good reason, I was pushing them too far and I got clingy. They just didn’t wanna put up with that. Didn’t want to put up with m”
He didn’t finish typing. He deleted every bit of that edit and left only the original description. From then on, he recorded all his follower milestones. Alone.


Gene was staring intently at his screen. He always tried his best to get back to anyone who privately messaged him, but this message was special. This message was from a photographer he followed. A boy by the name of “Phineas Pell” according to his description. Gene found it curious that the boy put his full name down (if it wasn’t a fake name). Later on, though, he would see how expressive the 17 year-old was; both in his photography and in his descriptions. That was one of the main reasons Gene followed him. He admired how free willed the stranger was. And here he was sitting in front of him computer typing a reply to PellPhotography.

PellPhotography at 5:33PM
“Hey! I’ve been following you for a while now and I really like your stuff!”

Buttercup-Cupcakes at 6:56PM
“Thanks, I happen to be following you too.”

Gene had debated on putting a smiley face at the end of the message. He decided he wasn’t going to express that kind of emotion yet.

PellPotography at 6:56PM
“Oh my god you responded!!!”
“YOu follow me too? Thats so awesome!”

Gene stiffened slightly at the energetic reply. But quickly frowned at the improper grammar.

Buttercup-Cupcakes at 6:57PM
“I’m not sure if you’re Christian but God is usually capitalized in the context you’re using it in.”
“Also, the ‘o’ in ‘You’ should not be capitalized as well. Lastly, ‘thats’ should have an apostrophe after the second ‘t’.”

After sending these, Gene quickly added to the stream of messages.
“Sorry, I’m a bit of a grammar Nazi.”

PellPhotography at 6:58PM
“Ha! I noticed. Sorry, I’ll message you in proper grammar now.”

Gene smiled and for a second he felt his heartbeat pickup and he felt happy.
He hadn’t felt this kind of genuine happiness in a long time.

Chapter Text

Gene’s account was named “Buttercup” for a wide array of reasons. First and most important, it wasn’t his name. Gene valued his personal life and didn’t want people intruding on that. Back when his friends recorded with him, Gene would insist they don’t call him by his real name. Even now, after his friends left, he still is careful not to say his real name in his post when he puts “-Buttercup”. Naturally some people want to know his name or what he looks like, but he never acknowledges those comments.

Next, it gives people the wrong idea. Tying in to whole “privacy” thing, most people mistake Gene for a girl. Now, most guys probably wouldn’t to mistaken for a girl, but Gene didn’t mind. If anything, he liked it. He wasn’t trans or anything; he didn’t like being called a girl by it self. It was more or so the fact that it’s as far away from the real him as possible. At least, until people watched a video he posted where he would be talking.

Finally, the name “Buttercup” itself was chosen from Gene’s favorite song “Buttercup” by Jack Stauber. Buttercups were also Gene’s favorite flower and he loved butterfingers. With all these things in mind, Gene created his account. And that was that.

Two thirds of those reasons revolved around privacy, Gene never even considered giving out his real name. Yet here he was, eyeballing his computer screen, specifically Finny’s last message.

PellPhotography at 4:35PM
“What’s your name?”

Of course that’s all Finny would type. He wouldn’t feel the need to put “Random question” or “Hey” in front. He’s blunt and straight to the point. Gene ran his hands over his face and groaned. He wanted to tell Finny his name, yet he was scared that he might go off and tell someone. Or worse: make a post about it.

Buttercup-Cupcakes at 4:41PM
“You’re not gonna tell anyone are you?”

PellPhotography at 4:41PM
“What? Of course not!”

Gene sucked in air through his teeth.

Buttercup-Cupcakes at 4:47PM
“Gene. My name’s Gene.”

Looking at the message he realized it was kinda dramatic and sighed. It took him six minutes to respond. Six fucking minutes to type four words. By now Finny might as well be having a conversation with a rock. Gene jumped when he heard the notification bell go off, signaling Finny had responded. It had taken him a while. Two minutes to be exact. Gene took a deep breath. Maybe Finny though his name was stupid? Maybe Finny decided to actually post it? Maybe Finny was going to blackmail Gene using his name? Gene shook his head. Okay, now he was getting ridiculous. Just look at the message he told himself.

PellPhotography at 4:49PM
“That’s a really cute name.”

Gene felt a heat rising to his cheeks and he ducked his head down; smiling to himself. Finny thought his name was cute! That was definitely a first for Gene. No one had ever complimented his name, better yet call it cute. This led Gene to believe his name was weird and everyone hated it. He soon felt his confidence growing a bit as he typed out a response.

Buttercup-Cupcakes at 4:50PM
“Thank you.”

Then in a bold moment of pure emotion he added:
“That means a lot to me.”

When Gene came home he wasn’t expecting to have a black eye covered in mud and toilet water. He unlocked the back door and kicked his shoes off outside. Gene stopped dead in his tracks when he stepped inside. The couch was to his right when he walked in and facing away from him was his mother. She was on her laptop, not paying attention to the TV, and without turning around spoke out to her son.
“Gene, I need to talk to you about your gra-”, she stopped mid-sentence when she turned to look at Gene. “You look like shit.”

Gene visibly flinched but quickly relaxed a bit, still tense though. It was only in his mother’s nature to be so blunt.
“Sorry Ma’am. I tipped.”

She raised a brow and it was clear she knew Gene was lying. “Get yourself washed up and take care of your eye. No son of mine is going to look like that.” Gene felt his shoulders start to shake. The was she spoke of him, the was she said “that” it was with complete disgust.

“Y-Yes Ma’am. I’m sorry.”
“And come down here when your done, I need to talk to you.”
“Yes Ma’am. Am I excused?”
She didn’t say anything. Just nodded easily.

Gene rushed upstairs and quickly grabbed a change of comfortable jeans and an over-sized Pierce the Veil sweater before rushing into the bathroom.
He stepped into the warm shower and felt relief wash over him. He loved doing this taking a long warm shower. He felt like the water washed away his troubles along with the dirt that mud that had he had been pushed into. He stood there for a minute but then remembered his mother was waiting for him down stairs. He reached for the soap to actually wash himself off.
When Gene stepped out of the shower the mirror was foggy and he suddenly felt a ache in his chest. This feeling was common for him.

He wiped off the fog on some of the mirror and reached for the medical kit under the sink. It didn’t take long to patch up his eye and put his clothes on. Gene felt his anxiety grow for every step he took down the stairs. A conversation with either his mother or father never ended well.

Gene was right about the conversation not ending well.

He considered himself lucky, though, to get out with only a slap on the face and three scratched on his cheek where his mother slapped him. Her nails were long and sharp, so it was no wonder he got hurt from them.

When Gene walked into his room and saw his bed all the exhaustion from the day hit him at full force and he collapsed into the sheets immediately. He finished all his homework in school today and was happy that he would get to rest.

But when 11:00PM rolled around and he was still awake he opened his laptop, giving up on sleep. His mind was too active to let him sleep so instead he pulled up his Instagram and prayed Finny was awake.

Buttercup-Cupcakes at 11:06PM
“Hey, you’re probably asleep right now. I’m sorry if I woke you up but I’m tired and can’t seem to sleep. So I’m messaging you.”

Gene quickly added.
“That doesn’t make sense. Sorry."

Gene sighed resting his head against the headboard. He didn’t expect Finny to respond so late. To his surprise, he got a response.

PellPhotography at 11:07PM
“It’s alright, I’m having trouble sleeping too.”
“What’s wrong?”

Chapter Text

Buttercup-Cupcakes at 11:10PM
“I’m just having some family troubles.”

“And on top of that school is a mess. People don’t really like me and I have a lot of pressure put on my shoulders.”

“I’m the suspected valedictorian, y’ know? Sometimes I feel like all I do is work and I’m just some machine mindlessly taking orders in order to please others.”


PellPhotography at 11:13PM

“I don’t even know where to start.”

“Sounds like you need a break.”


Buttercup-Cupcakes at 11:13PM

“Sorry, I kinda spammed you there.”


PellPhotography at 11:14PM

“It’s fine! There’s just a lot to cover. First off, how can people not like you?! You’re soooo awesome and fun to talk to, Gene”


Gene felt his chest tighten a bit when Finny called him by his real name. Which is stupid because all he did was type.


PellPhotography at 11:14PM

“I don’t know what type of family business you’ve got going on, but don’t you let it worry you! You’re parents love you; just hang in there!”


Gene frowned but didn’t type any response.


PellPhotography at 11:14PM

“If you’re the suspected valedictorian, then you’ve got to be smart, right? So just take a deep breath and try to not stress out too much.”


After about 30 seconds of a bubble showing that Finny was typing another message was added.


PellPhotography at 11:15PM

“It makes me worried when you’re not feeling well, alright? So take care of yourself.”


Gene felt a sudden impulse to scream into his pillow. In the end he took a deep breath and pushed it away and instead opted to typing out a response.


Buttercup-Cupcakes at 11:16PM
“Thank you, it makes me happy to know you care so much. :)”

“If you ever want to talk to someone, I’ll be here for you”


Even though Gene wasn’t hoping are a type of response he was still nervous about what Finny would say.


PellPhotography at 11:17PM

“Alright, I’ll keep that in mind.”


Gene smiled widely, feeling giddy right before another message was sent to him.


“Also, you didn’t put a period at the end of you’re message.”


At that moment Gene gave in to his impulse to scream into his pillow.




From what Finny could tell, Gene was not going to be showing his face to the world anytime soon. Which is why the photographer was so nervous at sight of his most recent message to Gene.


PellPhotography at 4:06PM

“Can we Skype? Or Facetime?”


It had been a while since the message was sent. 39 minutes to be exsact. Gene has just left class. Finny was a hour ahead of Gene, so when Finny left school at 3:45, Gene’s last class of the day still has 45 minutes to-go. Finny cringed at the thought of Gene reading that message in the middle of class. He would probably start choking on his own saliva.


In hindsight it was a ridiculous question to ask. Gene was hesitant on telling Finny his name; why would he want to (or even be willing to) show Finny his face?


Finny thought it was ridiculous how nervous Gene made him. He has told his friends about the constant anxious feeling, and they would joke around about how “it was about time” he get scared over something.


Another 20 minutes later and their was still no response, then it was 30 and 50 and soon a hour had passed. Finny was skittish by the time Gene responded.


Buttercup-Cupcakes at 5:45PM



Finny felt like mountains had been lifted off his shoulders. He said yes. Okay. This is good.


They exchanged information so they can Skype and Finny was still reeling when he pressed the call button. It took four rings for Gene to answer.


“Um…. Hi….”


Now, Finny has a lot of theories as to what Gene looked like. But this surpassed all of his exspectations.


Gene was sitting criss-crossed on his bed; the computer sitting in front of him. A thick blanket was draped over his shoulders where he was sitting. Finny’s eyes pulled away from the blanket and onto the more important subject: Gene.


Gene had the kind of features that made Snow White pop into Finny’s head. Gene’s skin was pale and it seemed to indicate that he didn’t go outside much. His hair was dark enough to rival a raven’s and it seemed to be freshly brushed. Gene’s eyes were blue (from what Finny could tell), and his cheeks were tinted red. Finny’s eyes trailed down to Gene’s lips and he realized for the time that they were moving.


“-y Phineas? Are you okay?”


“I asked if your okay.” Gene paused hesitantly, “You’re staring at me.”

“Oh! Sorry about that! You look nice is all.”


Gene looked away, clearly embarrassed. “You think so?”

Finny nodded quickly. And was happy to see a wide dazzling smile cross Gene’s face.

“Well then… thank you.”


Finny smiled warmly, “Y’know Gene…” Was he flirting? He was totally flirting. “ would be a really beautiful muse for me to photograph.”


Gene tried, and failed, to stutter out a response to this complement and settled on just covering his mouth in embarrassment.


And while Finny wanted so much more than just this, he would have to settle for now.