Summary: Being the new kid in Catholic school is one thing. Being the gay kid in Catholic school is something else entirely.

::checks label of underwear:: Nope. Still not Hoshino Katsura.

Sorry this took so long to update. I was away in Kenya, and since I was out in the Mara, we didn't exactly have internet connection… And yet, for all that time I took, this "chapter" is amazingly 112.7 percent bullshit and filler. ::sighs:: I'm sorry for the incredible disappointment, guys. Next chapter will be better, I swear D:

Just think of this horrible thing as my gift to you that says I am not dead. School starts tomorrow for me, and that'll be...interesting. I can't say when this'll be updated next, either. When I was in Africa, in the midst of my malaria-pill induced dream-insanity, I came up with a number of fic ideas for Kingdom Hearts. Many of which have already become WIPs. Still, this is a story I've become unusually attached to. And I'd like to see one of my fics see its third chapter... ::gloom::

I also just wanted to thank all of you. I couldn't ask for more supportive readers ;.; Really, 24 reviews for that silly experiment of a first chapter? I'm touched. Really, I am. T0T

Other Notes:
Just to clear up some confusion as to whom Tag (Doug) is… Tag, first and foremost, is not an OC. He's a finder in the second Reverse novel.

Started: September 2, 2007.
Completed: September 3, 2007.

"I am your Father"
Prayer Two: Plague

"Yuu, Yuu, Yuuuuuuuu!! I still don't see why you had to punch meeeeee!!"

God, does he never shut up?

Lavi pouted childishly and pointed an offending finger at me. "And stop ignoring me, Yuu! You're so cruel! No wonder you don't have a girlfriend!"

I just stared blankly at him. What a fool. Why do I even talk to him?

"Lavi," I hissed through clenched teeth. "How many times have I told you not to address me by my first name?" When his expression of pure idiocy failed to change, I decided to voice another one of Lavi's foolish curiosities. "And what does my 'cruelty' have to do with my not having a girlfriend?"

Lavi's visible eye (he'd covered up his left eye with that eye patch again) widened to the point where it was practically bulging out of his head. "It has to do with everything!" he exclaimed, waving his arms around frantically and brutally swatting innocent passersby. "Girls don't like cruel, unfeeling men!"

I raised an eyebrow. "Since when were you such an expert on women?" I asked dryly. "If memory serves me, then you've never had a girlfriend, either."

Lavi looked stricken. "What's that got to do with anything?" he asked, looking greatly puzzled. (Or maybe that was his thinking face…)

I rolled my eyes. "Never mind," I said. No point in trying to get through to him. I'd been trying to knock some common sense into him for years (via his left eye socket), and it's all gone to waste thus far.

Lavi, bless him, looked satisfied with this and ceased his unconscious attack on the passing students. "So are we even?" he asked randomly as we made to enter the gym.

I blinked. "What?"

"You hit me because I signed you up for all those clubs, right? Since you've pulled out of most of them—and since you've hit me—we should be even now, right?" he gave me an imploring look.

It's kind of useless trying to argue with Lavi when he's being sane, so I nodded and told him we were square. He looked considerably happier.

"Good thing," he was saying as we headed to the wrestling room. "Tag was afraid that you'd kill me this time!" he laughed.

"Hn." I didn't have the heart—quite literally—to break it to him that that had been exactly what I'd been planning on doing.

"So," Lavi prattled on, looking around and realising for the first time where we were. "What're we doing in the wrestling room?" he asked. "We have English class this period."

"I'm aware of that," I said. "I just needed to get someone to take the new kid to his class." Damn that new kid.

"Oh yeah!!" A wide smile spread across Lavi's face. "How is that new guy?" he asked. "What's he like? Does he like waffles?"

"He's a moron—kind of like you."

Lavi looked impressed. "Wow. I can't wait to meet him," he said with a nod.

I raised an eyebrow. "Why?"

Lavi gave me an incredulous look. "C'mon, Yuu. If this guy managed to thoroughly piss you off after talking to you for less than thirty minutes, then he must be great!"

I shook my head wearily as I pushed open the door to the wrestling room. Why do I talk to him?

"So, why are we in the wrestling room, again?" Lavi asked, looking around as many of our bulkier classmates grunted like animals and threw each other into the mat-covered walls and floor. "Who are we looking for, anyway?"

"I told you, I need to find a guide to take the kid to his next class."

"Oh, and I suppose that the only people in his next period class are on the wrestling team, huh?" Lavi drawled in an overly blasé voice. His eyebrows were in danger of vanishing into his hairline.

I shrugged. "I already had a person in mind, and this was where she was."

"'She'?" Lavi echoed. Then it dawned on him, and the effect was almost comical. His face lost all of its colour and his mouth dropped open. "You can't mean her?!"

I scowled. "There's only one girl on the wrestling team," I said flatly as I dragged him off to the far corner of the room. "Of course I mean her."

Lavi's eye widened. "That's so cruel—even for you!" he cried.

"Che. Like I give a damn."

"Don't curse! We're in a Catholic school!"

I rolled my eyes. What a moron.

Lavi peered over my shoulder once we'd arrived in the corner of the room. "Where is she?" he asked in a hushed tone, fear evident in his quaking voice.

I glanced around. "I'm not sure," I replied.

Lavi let out a nervous sort of a laugh that sounded more like a strangled cough than anything else. "Maybe sh-she's not in school today…?"

Just then, a huge guy in grade twelve went flying right past us and crashed into the wall with a sickening thud!, and Lavi jumped nearly a foot in the air and fastened a death grip on me. The guy let out a dazed groan and gave a lifeless sort of twitch. I watched his eyes roll around in his head with a kind of morbid fascination. "I think she's here."

And sure enough, when I turned around, there she was, dusting off her hands and cracking her neck.

"There you are, Fou," I said, pushing Lavi away from me so I could approach the small girl.

Fou stopped cracking her neck and instead began cracking her knuckles. "Kanda," she said with a nod at me. She craned her neck out in order to get a good look at Lavi. "And Lavi."

One thing I've always liked about Fou was that she never said more than necessary. She's the only person who actually gets why I don't say very much. Maybe it's an Asian thing…then again, probably not. Lenalee is Chinese, and you can never get her to shut up. Same with her brother.

"What are you two doing here?" Fou asked, still cracking her knuckles and causing Lavi to flinch with every pop. "Neither of you wrestle, and I highly doubt that you ever will." Her eyes narrowed. "So what are you doing here?"

Lavi paled even further—something I wouldn't have thought possible—and pointed that same offending finger at me. "Yuu has a favour to ask!"

Fou rounded her heavy stare toward me. "Oh, really?"

I nodded. "I've recently become a member of the Peer Welcoming Committee, and I—"

"Wait, wait, hold up." Fou put her hands on her hips and gave me a sceptical look. "Kanda, did you just say that you were a member of the Peer Welcoming Committee?" She looked amused. This was not good.


Fou's thin lips curled up into a smirk; and that smirk curled up into a smile; and that smile curled up into a deranged Cheshire grin. And then she started laughing hysterically. "So that's why Lavi's got an eye patch today!" she roared in between guffaws.

I felt right eye twitch dangerously. "Yes," I ground out. "That's why Lavi's got an eye patch today." I gave Lavi (who had joined Fou in her bouts of laughter at my expense) a nasty look, and he quickly sobered.

When Fou had finally calmed down, she smiled widely at me and wiped a tear from her eye. "Whatever you need, Kanda, I'll do it. You've made my day."

I gave her something of a maniacal half-smile. "I'm glad to have amused you."

Fou sniggered. "You have no idea…" she chortled. "So, whatcha need?"

"You have World History next period, right?"

"Yup. What of it?"

I felt my inner demon throw its head back and laugh.

I'm not exactly sure why Lenalee seemed so nervous about letting Fou take me to class. Fou seemed nice enough; she was pretty small in stature, a little shorter than me, but she made up for it in her confidence. Her posture and calm poise reflected her self-assurance, which was much more than can be said about me. Her eyes also shone with a cool sort of intelligence and attitude that made it clear that she was not to be toiled with. I decided I liked her, but Lenalee didn't seem too thrilled about Fou arriving at the door of Mr. Tiedoll's room, claiming that Kanda had sent her. Still, seeing as Lenalee had her Science Research class on the other side of the school, she had no choice but to let me go with Fou.

"You thinking of joining any school clubs or teams?" Fou asked suddenly after she saved me from being carried away by the student body (again). "You could probably do with some bulking up. You're kind of weak…no offence."

I then decided that although I liked her, she was a little too frank for me.

"Erm, I hadn't considered it…"

Fou gave me a sort of inscrutable look and nodded, like she knew exactly what I meant. (Which struck me as odd, seeing as I myself didn't know what I meant.) "You should," she said flatly in such a way that it seemed like more of a command than anything else.

I laughed anxiously and she rolled her eyes. "Well, what teams are you on?" I asked, trying not-so-subtly to move the conversation off myself.

If Fou noticed, she didn't mention it. "I'm the captain of the wrestling team," she said offhandedly.

"Oh, really? That's…nice…" Wrestling? She said wrestling, right?

She shrugged. "I guess." She adjusted the strap of her backpack, moving it into a more comfortable position. "But the new recruits this year need a lot of work," she said with a sigh. "Coach Sokaro doesn't really like it when we lose," she added, her lips thinning into a grim frown. "In the past, our team has been fully capable of fighting a crusade." A slightly maniacal grin spread across her face. "That's why, as captain, I've taken it upon myself to personally oversee the development of our team." She cackled. "I plan on making the team of the Black Order an impenetrable barrier!" Her hands twitched robotically as she screeched.

A couple students and teachers surrounding her (myself included) inched back a little.

"That's…nice…" I said again, watching her warily. Fou gave me a deprecating look.

"But seriously," she said, "you should sign up for something. Extra curricula makes you look more appealing for university, and they help you build character." She frowned again. "Aren't you taking any elective classes?" I opened my mouth to reply, but she didn't wait for an answer and instead snatched my thoroughly abused schedule from my hand. Her blank expression morphed into one of disgust. "You didn't take any electives," she scowled.

I gave her a rather perturbed look. "What do you mean?" I asked. "I'm taking an Anatomy course and a Psychology course."

Fou scowled and slapped the schedule back into my hands. "Those are hardly electives," she snapped. "They're more academic than anything else. Geez… Isn't there anything you want to be when you grow up?"

"A doctor."

From the look on her face, she didn't think I could ever succeed in such a demanding career.

"Keep dreaming, Walker."

I sighed heavily and followed her into our classroom and sat down in the seat next to her. "Yeah, I guess…"

Fou's glare intensified. "The fact that you're not even trying to reprimand me for mocking your goal just goes to show how little of a chance you'll have in achieving that sort of a job."

I groaned and buried my face in my hands. "Give me a break, Fou," I pleaded, slumping in my seat. "I've been so stressed out…" What with dealing with insensitive bastards like Kanda and dealing with all the general insanity of school piled on top of getting Mana settled, I was completely wiped out.

"Ehhhh? Fouuuu, who's this?" a sugary voice cooed, and I was suddenly overwhelmed with the powerful scent of strawberries and bubblegum. I glanced up timidly and was met with a pair of large violet eyes and an even larger smile.

Fou glanced up at the girl and nodded in greeting. "Hey, Rhode," she said flatly. "This is Allen Walker, the new guy."

Rhode's smile grew even larger—something I hadn't thought possible—and she extended a hand. "Rhode Kamelot," she said pleasantly as she shook my hand energetically. "I like your haircut! It's so cute."

"Thanks… Um, it's a pleasure to meet you…" Because really, what else was there to say?

Rhode let out a girlish laugh and gracefully sat down in the seat behind me. "It's nice to know that there are still some civilised men out there," she said, daintily smoothing out her skirt. "All the boys around here are bumbling idiots." A slightly amused look spread across her face. "Men can be so useless, eh?" She leaned back slightly in her seat, twirling a pen around expertly in between her fingers.

Fou's eyes narrowed. "I'll say," she muttered. "Actually," her brow furrowed. "A number of the girls here are pretty useless, too."

Rhode looked a little disturbed by this. "Not all of them," she said flatly. "Some are interesting."

Fou raised her eyebrows. "'Interesting'?" she repeated, looking sceptical. "How so?"

Rhode shrugged and entertained herself by balancing her pen on her nose. "Some people can be fun."

"People are not your playthings, y'know," Fou said sharply. Rhode didn't look too bothered by this.

"Doesn't mean I can't play with them," she said cheerily. She turned her attention back on me. "So, Allen, do you have any people that you play with?" The evident leer in her eyes was slightly unnerving, and I could see that Fou was curious for an answer, too.

"Erm, no, not really…" I said truthfully. "I just got here, actually."

Rhode nodded sagely. "I highly doubt that you'd find anyone to play with around here," she said lightly, before proceeding to dig through her book bag. She pulled out a handful of lollipops. "Sucker?" she offered. Fou declined, so Rhode turned to me.

I smiled weakly and shook my head. "No, thank you."

She grinned and unwrapped one. "Good answer," she mumbled, sticking a cherry-coloured lollipop in her mouth.

Fou glanced over at me. "So, Allen, have you made any friends yet?"

Rhode leaned forward. "Who've you met besides Fou and me?"

"Uhh…well, Kanda is my guide—"

Rhode giggled. "That must be interesting."

I must have had a look of disgust on my face, because even Fou cracked a smile. "Kanda is rather unapproachable," she said with a semi-sympathetic nod.

I folded my arms across my chest. "That's an understatement," I sulked.

"So aside from the infamous Kanda, who else have you met?" Fou asked lightly.

I pushed some of my hair out of my eyes. "No one, really… Uh, I guess I'm friends with Lenalee Lee, though."

Fou rolled her eyes at this, but Rhode smiled around her lollipop stick. "You know Le-na-leeeee?" she asked, singing out each syllable of Lenalee's name. Her eyes were suddenly hungry looking.

I nodded slowly, feeling slightly wary of that strange look in Rhode's eyes. "Well, I only just met her…"

Rhode didn't seem to be listening. "And she thinks of you as a friend?"

"I guess…"

Rhode pursed her lips and leaned back in her seat, twirling her lollipop around in her mouth. "Do you think of her as a friend?"

I blinked. "Of course." Rhode nodded, all smiles gone. Something was very strange about this conversation, and I didn't like it. Fou must've not liked it, either, because she was looking rather tense.

"Rhode," Fou said sharply, "just drop it." Rhode gave her a blank stare that smoothly melted into a look of anger and insult. And when she turned that look onto me, I felt like my flesh was melting off my face.

"Rhode," I said slowly, curiosity brewing in my mind. "Do you think of Lenalee as a friend?"

Fou gave me an alarmed look, danger flashing in her eyes. I pretended to ignore her.

Rhode looked strangely embittered by my question, but she quickly masked it over with a smooth look of indifference. "I'll think of Lenalee as a friend when she thinks the same of me," Rhode said at last, brow furrowed pensively as she swirled the lollipop in her mouth. "Only then will we play with each other."

Fou turned rather ashen at this and quickly changed the subject by saying that Rhode would be taking me to my next class, which was math. Rhode looked rather thrilled by this.

"Lenalee, I really don't know what to do with Lavi…he's just so hard headed and utterly impossible to work with. I just…I just feel like he never is gonna learn! Like he's been born into this endless loop of a lifestyle: wake up, eat breakfast, piss Kanda off, eat lunch, get punched in the eye, eat dinner, raise hell for Doug, go to bed. REPEAT."

"Tag, don't you think you're overreacting just a teensy bit?" Lenalee asked patiently as she looked up from her book. (Our science research class had found us in the library with a free period, as our teacher, Mr. Russell, mysteriously vanished and left our class unattended to.)

I pretended to mull over Lenalee's words. "Um, hm, let me think about that for a second…NO."

"Tag, listen—"

"No, you listen, Lenalee," I said flatly, slamming my copy of Nightingale down on the table. "I've known Lavi since we were in diapers. I live next door to him, for goodness sake! I've known that guy for fifteen years! Fifteen years!" I shrieked.

Lenalee sighed in a tired sort of way that reminded me of my employer at the book store, Mr. Bachman. (Not that I could blame her for being so exasperated. She heard this rant at least three times a week.) "Yes," she said, returning her gaze back to her book, "I know, Tag."

"No," I protested, my voice jumping up an octave. "I don't think you do understand, Lenalee. You've known Lavi for, what, five…six years at the most. I've known him since I was one. Do you understand this, Lenalee? Can you even begin to comprehend this span of time? I mean, good lord, my memory doesn't even go back that far!"

"Uh huh…" Lenalee nodded listlessly from behind her book. (Normally, if she'd been anyone else, I probably would have gotten annoyed and started screeching. But, since Lenalee was Lenalee, and since Lenalee always helped me vent, and since Lenalee was understandably tired of hearing this string of complaints after hearing it so many times in the past six years, I was willing to make a special exception.)

"I mean…I just feel like he's never gonna grow up…" I continued, slumping back in my chair and pinching the bridge of my nose. God, only Lavi could give me a migraine without any effort…

Lenalee's eyes watched me from over the top of her book. "Well, you did say he was Peter Pan for Halloween that one year, didn't you?"

I let out a hollow laugh. "Yeah. He told me that I should be Wendy, since I'm always telling him to grow up and all that," I said with a sigh.

Lenalee grinned. "I can imagine." She turned a page. "I think Komui was Peter Pan one year, too."

I snorted. "I wouldn't doubt that." Lenalee's older brother Komui was very much like Lavi. They both whined a lot, they were both incredibly clingy, they both were unnecessarily noisy, and they both had a soft spot for rabbits for some reason.

Lenalee just giggled and returned to her book. I blinked. She was unusually enraptured in this one. For the most part, she actually put some effort into pretending that she was listening to me complain. For her to flat out read a book in my moment of need was, well, weird.

"You seem to like that book a lot," I commented lightly, leaning forward.

Lenalee blushed slightly. "It's rather interesting," she replied, looking just the slightest bit flustered.

"Who's it by?"

Lenalee checked the cover. "Uhh, some person—I'm not sure if they're a girl or guy—named Zed Azrael."

I pouted. I'd never heard of that writer. "Is that a penname?"

"I think so."

"Uh huh. How's the book so far?"

Lenalee snapped the book shut and placed it face down on the table. "I already told you, Tag. It's interesting," she said flatly, sounding a bit annoyed.

I nodded and flicked a bit of fluff off my blazer's sleeve. "But that doesn't tell me anything," I reasoned. "Give me an idea of what the book's about. What's it called?" I asked.

"Umm, it's called I Am Your Father."

I stared at her blankly. Was she mocking me? She knew I was an avid fan of Star Wars. (Lavi would probably have a more incriminating term to describe my level of love/obsession. Dare I say "fanboy"?) "Are you serious? Is it some spoof of Star Wars? Because you know how I feel about things like that…"

She looked appalled at such a suggestion. "Of course not!" she cried. "It's got nothing to do with anything like that."

I relaxed and nodded. "Okay, fine. But, geez, you still haven't told me what it's about…"

Lenalee shifted uncomfortably in her seat. "It's about a Catholic school," she said slowly, tentatively.

"Okay, see, that still doesn't tell me anything." Really, what the heck was she doing? It was an easy question… "Here, just give me the book," I said at last, reaching out for it. "I'll find out myself." Lenalee snatched the book away from me. I raised an eyebrow. "Lenalee, what's up? It's not porn or anything, is it?" I worked at a book store, and by far, the most awkward thing was when people would bring erotica to the cash register. They generally acted like Lenalee, too. They would get all jumpy and stuff. (It was even worse when I worked at that video store, though…)

"No! It's not porn!" she hissed, going red in the face and swatting me on the head when I laughed. "Erm," Lenalee gave me a nervous smile. "It's a gay romance novel." She ducked her head in shame.

Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

Did she just say what I think she said?!

Judging by the way her face was rapidly turning red, I probably had heard correctly.

"Geez, Lenalee, is that all?" Here I was, expecting something dark and upsetting…but, geeezzzz… "Y'know, I never really pictured you as the type to be into that sort of stuff."

Lenalee glared at me. "You're not one to talk," she snapped, jabbing a finger at Nightingale. "You've been reading gay romance for as long as I can remember."

Well, isn't this embarrassing.

"Shut up!" I looked around hastily. "Would it kill you to be quiet?! You didn't hear me shouting that you read it across the face of the earth!"

She sniffed snobbishly. "You set yourself up for that one," she sniped. "Besides, what would Lavi think? Geez, what would your parents think?"

I gawked at her. I didn't want to breach the idea of what Lavi would think. Such an idea terrified me. So, I decided to stick to the stuff I could actually come up with a semi-intelligible response to. "You've met my parents! You know what they're like, and besides, what did you expect?! I have four sisters! What's your excuse?!"

Lenalee threw me a superior grin that was practically dripping with smugness. "I am a girl."

"And what? That makes you special?!"

"Of course!"

I just continued gaping at her. One thing I've learned from spending so much time with Lenalee is that arguing with her is just pointless. In the end, it all ends up being sexist. She's such a goddamn feminist at heart.

x x x

Lenalee and I both had World History together after Science Research, but she told me to go ahead and meet her in Yeeger's room. She said she wanted to go to the washroom before class, and I wasn't really going to argue with that, so I went to class without her. Lenalee always takes forever in the washroom, and she always seems to need to go every fifteen minutes. I've never understood it.

Why do girls spend half of their lives in the washroom, anyway? Every time I pass by the girls' room, there's always this incredible line out the door and across the hallway. I mean, really, what the hell are they doing in there? There's only so much pee that can fit in one's bladder… Even at home, it's the same. All of my sisters would take forever. Maybe it's just a girl thing, I dunno. With guys, it's easy. We're in, we're out. That just about sums it up. I have no idea what it is about the female population that makes them feel the need to spend hours and hours in a washroom. I guess it's one of the mysteries of life.

I once asked Lenalee what the girls did in the washroom that made them take so long, but she just turned pink in the face and told me to consult one of my sisters. So I did, and she said—


Stars were flying in my eyes as I was abruptly knocked out of my thoughts and onto the floor. I groaned and rubbed my head gingerly. I must've walked into someone…

My ears blearily registered the sound of someone saying "ouch" not far from me. I opened my eyes and saw a kid—probably around my age, but as for why his hair was white…well, I had no idea—sitting on the ground, massaging his arm and wincing slightly. "Are you all right?" he asked me, cracking a small smile.

I grinned back sheepishly. "Eh heh, yeah… What about you?" I asked, getting to my feet and offering him a hand to help him up. He took it gratefully.

"I'm all right, thanks."

He was quite soft-spoken, and his accent betrayed a British background. It was kind of refreshing, actually, in comparison with the thick Scottish and Irish accents of my parents. I gave the guy a quick once-over. He was pretty small in size and build, maybe only a little taller than me, but his posture was phenomenal. My boss, Mr. Bachman, would've loved him.

"I'm Doug Sheridan, by the way," I said awkwardly, shaking his hand. "Sorry I bumped into you… I'm such a clutz…"

He laughed a little at this. "Don't worry about it," he said pleasantly as he released my hand. "I bump into people all the time. It's nice to meet you, Doug. I'm Allen Walker." A sudden look of distaste flashed across his face. "I'm new."

My smile faded slightly. This guy was the new kid. That figures. This was the guy that Kanda was supposed to be helping out. This kid, Allen, was the reason that Kanda punched Lavi. (Again.) I suddenly wasn't feeling too good about Allen, never mind that it was hardly Allen's fault that Lavi got punched… Still, my mood had been thoroughly destroyed.

Rhode Kamelot suddenly came skipping up to Allen and looped one of her arms through his. "Allen," she sang, "We've got to go to maaaathhhh!" She blinked when she noticed me, and waved energetically with her free hand. "Hi, Dooooug!"

I winced and gave her a pained smile. "Hi."

"Tag! There you are!" Lenalee appeared behind me, then smiled brightly when she saw Allen, whose smile also widened considerably. "Allen!" she exclaimed, "How was history class?"

Allen shrugged. "It was good, but I've got to go to math class, now."

Lenalee nodded cheerfully. "All right. Do you have someone who can take you there?" she asked in a very maternal way.

Allen nodded. "Yes, Rhode said she'd take me there, since we have math together."

Lenalee's smile faded slightly when her gaze levelled with Rhode's. Rhode had an eerily large smile plastered over her face. "Oh," was all Lenalee could muster. "That's very nice of her."

Rhode just giggled and led Allen away, leaving Lenalee with the most peculiar expression on her face.