A/N: About time I got this chapter up! It's been forever, and I'm really sorry... I've been really busy, and the internet's down at my house currently. Here's... chapter three of The Band! Enjoy! :D



~~~~~Chapter Three~~~~~

Lunchtime.

It was finally lunchtime.

It was finally lunchtime, and Lenora was standing in line with the Burroughs twins: Ralph in front of her, Jemima behind her. Harold was several places in front of them, between a tall, burly, muscled boy with long brown hair and a boy wearing a gas mask. Lenora couldn't help but stare as they got their food. How on earth did Mr. Gas Mask eat?

"Staring at the kid with the mask?" Jemima asked. "That's Corroder. He's obsessed with sulphuric acid... loves the stuff. He's always wearing that mask; it's become a habit."

"The really big guy on the other side of Chopper's Sledgehammer," Ralph added. "Hardly ever talks, but people're scared to death of him. Probably because he once took a janitor out with a sledgehammer in sixth grade!"

He and Jemima laughed, and Lenora suddenly flinched slightly as Sledgehammer whirled his head around to look at her. He had the most frightening hazel eyes she'd ever seen, but they relaxed as they saw Ralph and Jemima. He then turned back around to pay for his food.

"Hey, Jemima?" Lenora asked. "Alyssa told me something in P.E. today... said you all were Subordinates?" Ralph turned around and grinned.

"All that stuff's true," he said. "Causes a bit of instability in the band, but hey, it works."

"Alyssa used to be in with us, too," said Jemima, "but then she met that Dennis Owen and got annoying. So, we kicked her out." They laughed again, and Lenora couldn't help snickering as she got her food.

"You all love band?" she asked, following them outside.

"Of course!" Jemima exclaimed.

"It's very important to us," said Ralph. "It's the only place where we can all really get together. It's the only class we have with Chopper, Corroder, and Sledgehammer. Speaking of..."

They led Lenora over to a picnic table in a faraway, shaded corner of the courtyard. The large boy, Sledgehammer, was sitting in the middle on one bench, while Chopper was on his right and Corroder was on his left.

"Well, speak of the devil," said Chopper as they arrived. "The Scissortwins and the new girl. We were just talking about you, new girl." Corroder laughed, a wheezing, nasally laugh in his gas mask.

Ralph, Jemima, and Lenora all sat down opposite them; Ralph on Lenora's left and Jemima on her right. She realized she was sitting in front of Sledgehammer and looked nervously up at him. He stared back, unblinking.

"So... um..." Lenora stuttered after a moment, "what instruments do you guys play?"

"Coco plays tuba," said Jemima, "and Sledgey's drumline." Sledgehammer's eyes narrowed, and Corroder slammed his fist down on the table.

"How many times must I say it?" he demanded angrily, standing up. "Don't call me Coco!"

Sledgehammer glared at Jemima, as if demanding her not to call him Sledgey. Jemima burst into laughter.

"Coco! Coco Corroder!" she cried, spinning in her seat, shaking with wild laughter. Corroder's grip tightened on the plastic spork he held, and after a moment, jabbed it into Jemima's arm.

"Ow!" she cried, turning back around to face him.

"How do you like that, Aunt Jemima?" Corroder mocked. "Got any pancakes for me?" Jemima's eyes narrowed as he laughed.

"Yeah," she replied, her voice laced with bitter sarcasm. "Flavored with sulphuric acid... and have the sharp bite of scissors!" An evil laugh issued from her mouth, and a startled Lenora jumped sideways, falling onto Ralph. Was this how they always acted?

She suddenly felt Ralph's arms on her sides, pushing her back upright. "Geez," he said. "I knew you liked me, little Lenora, but not that much!"

"Okay, everyone, stop, please," Chopper suddenly said. "We haven't even properly introduced Corroder and Sledgehammer to the new girl, we haven't told her she's sitting with us, she has a right to know." Jemima and Corroder looked at him, then both returned to their food.

"Scissorman, you start," Chopper ordered. Ralph grinned.

"Sledgehammer's real name is Robert Morris," he told Lenora. "Corroder's is John Haigh. You already know Chopper's, mine, and Jemima's, so there's no point in telling you that."

"When you're around us," Chopper said, pointing his spork at her, "you will call us by our nicknames. The twins are Scissorman and Scissorwoman."

"How... did you all get these names?" Lenora asked hesitantly; she didn't really feel like angering Chopper or Corroder with inappropriate questions.

"Back in middle school," Corroder answered, looking at her, "we all found out we each had a certain affinity with a weapon or method of murder. I like sulphuric acid. You know what acid does?"

"It corrodes things?" Lenora guessed.

"That's right," Corroder responded. "Sulphuric acid corrodes, and so my name became Corroder. Get it?"

Lenora slowly nodded. "So... Chopper likes chopping things... right?"

"Chopper's got a pair of axes at his house," said Jemima. "Sledgehammer's got, well, a sledgehammer, and Ralph and I got our names because we adore scissors." She cackled. "Snippety-snap!"

Lenora nodded again. She understood now... Alyssa had been wrong. These guys weren't bad... not at all. She liked them better than Alyssa and Dennis, at any rate.

"So when do I get my nickname?" she asked. "I'm part of the Subordinates now, aren't I?"

Silence followed her words, then Jemima cackled.

"You seem to know what you want, don't you, new girl?" Chopper asked. "You don't get a nickname yet. You still have to prove yourself. You're coming to band practice tonight, yes?"

Lenora nodded. Her parents would understand... It'd been engraved in their brains since sixth grade that if Lenora didn't come straight home on the weekdays, she was doing something for band. They didn't expect her home until at least eight on those days... As long as she was back before one in the morning, they didn't care.

"All right," said Chopper. "We'll see how you do with the drill. In the meantime, go home with the Scissortwins after school. Their adopted dad's the band director -- he'll make sure you all get to practice on time."

"You guys are adopted?" Lenora asked incredulously, looking on either side of her.

"You didn't know?" Jemima replied. "There's a reason we don't look like Mr. Burroughs... picked us up off the battlefield when we were really little. At least, that's what he told us. Doesn't explain why we look Asian, though."

Lenora looked at Jemima and found that she was right: Both of them did look full-blooded Asian...

"I like to think we're Korean," said Ralph, smiling.

"You idiot," said Corroder, "you're not Korean. Koreans look different. You're Chinese."

"No, we're not," Jemima countered. "We're Japanese, duh. Why else do you think it says Emiko and Ryusuke on our birth certificates?"

"Scissors, you just made that up," said Chopper. "You two don't have any birth certificates in your possession. At least, that's what Burroughs says. Anyway, it's decided. New girl's going home with the Scissortwins." He picked up his tray and left the table. Lenora watched him go back into the building. What was that all about?

"Hey, Lenora..." said Jemima. "Want to help me make something special for Corroder at my house today? We promise we'll have it at band practice!" She winked at her, and Lenora blinked unsurely.

"Uh... okay," she said. "What is it?"

"It's a surprise!" Jemima exclaimed. Corroder crossed his arms.

"What are you planning, Scissorwoman?" he asked. Jemima giggled.

* * *

A couple of hours later, eighth period was over, and Lenora left her chemistry classroom to find Ralph and Jemima by her locker. Somehow they'd managed to open it, and they stood next to it, grinning.

"How'd you get in my locker?" Lenora cried, rushing over. Ralph chuckled.

"I have my ways," he said, making scissoring motions with his fingers. Lenora stared, then groaned after a moment.

"What the hell," she moaned, throwing her chemistry book in and slamming the door. "You picked the lock with a pair of scissors?"

"That is for us to know," Ralph replied, "and for you to contemplate. Now... to the band room!"

The twins then began to walk away, and Lenora ran to keep up. She couldn't figure out why they were going to the band room... until she remembered that Mr. Burroughs was their adopted father. That's right. That's what he was. It was still so weird to think about... The band director, their adopted father? It clicked, but then again it didn't.

They entered the band room, and Ralph shouted, "Mr. Burroughs! We're ready to go!"

The band director strode out from behind the piano. He surveyed them, then said, "Lenora's coming with us?"

Jemima nodded, then Mr. Burroughs walked out the back door. The three students followed, hastening into the parking lot.

The twins led Lenora to a green truck, where they threw their bags in the bed. Ralph then climbed into the front of the truck while Jemima and Lenora climbed into the back seat.

"So where do you guys live?" Lenora asked as they left the school.

"North side," Jemima replied. "You?"

"Same," Lenora answered. "Ten minutes away from the middle school."

"Not that much farther from us," Ralph remarked. "Jemima, what are you and Lenora planning?"

Jemima giggled. "Oh, we're just going to give Corroder a present," she replied. "Nothing too big... just a little snack!" She burst into wild laughter, and Lenora stared. She had a strange feeling she knew what Jemima was planning...