Hello, people. It has been a long time since I updated (stuff happened). I know I disappointed some of you because of my inconsistency, but unfortunately I can only blame reality. This year was really hard for me since I lost interest in most of things that I previously liked. I had to go to college away from home and being apart from my family made me very depressed. I could barely write my final papers, nevermind fanfiction. But, as funny as it sounds, I began reading Harry Potter ffcs and came back from the dead. Thanks, HP ffcs!

Er, I went back and rewrote some of the details in the previous chapters, nothing major. I have to say that this chapter is very 'talky' but I can't help it since it is important to the plot.

Enjoy.

Chapter 4

There are two vital skills that every successful man should possess: how to make instant ramen, and how to exorcise unwanted hardness in the unspeakable regions. After all, the two out of three driving forces of the male hemisphere, hunger and sex (the third being the sports channel) haunts every self respecting male at an average rate of 3.5 minutes.

Kanda never ate ramen, and positively despised sports (Why should I ogle strangers catching and passing their balls?), while the most basic human need, sex, remained.

Only that could explain his current position.

Crouched in the bathroom, hands tugging painfully in his hair, Kanda refused to touch himself. No, he was not one of those religious idiots who claimed that masturbation brought about the apocalypse. And no, he did not consider self pleasuring an unclean act.

It was a matter of pride.

"Fucking brat."

The man groaned in the dark, resting his back against the cool tiles. About five minutes ago, he made a hasty and strategic retreat into the bathroom (no, he was not fucking running away) and collapsed vis-à-vis the toilet bowl. He didn't turn on the light because he would imminently stare at himself in the mirror and see his flushed face. He refused to be affected by a pubescent brat.

Ah, screw it.

His hand snaked to his pajama bottoms only to be abruptly jerked away, startled by a very fast and light pitter-patter sound in the night. Kanda held his breath, trying to discern the faint noise. A few seconds, and something scurried on the bare floor, stopping every five or six seconds to give the illusion of absolute stillness.

"Br—" And Kanda didn't call out. It couldn't be the brat. Instead, he reached up and turned on the light.

Three paces away from him, the brat's ferret, TomFuckingCamping, was merrily licking his own balls. As if sensing the man's incredulous stare, the animal lifted his head graciously, then trotted to the toilet bowl. With a graceful leap, the ferret perched on the white margin, smirked at Kanda's disbelieving sputtering, and began to drink.

Needless to say, Kanda experienced the most efficient turnoff of the century, after which he hobbled to the bed, pushed the kid to the margin (telling him what exactly he thought his pets), and went to sleep.

888

When Kanda woke up, he immediately noticed two things. One, it was not as early as he would want it to be. Two, his shoulder was heavy, numb and wet. He huffed, trying to turn sideways, and promptly cringed when his nose collided with a white head. His first instinct told him to jump away. He ignored it in favour of squinting at his situation.

Fact number one. He had gotten hard because of this brat during the night. Kanda stared down, noticing the scrawny shoulder of the aforementioned human. There was some muscle, a few blue veins, and a small, dark brown mole. The man sneered, coming to a conclusion—too skinny.

Continuing his inspection, Kanda noticed that the boy's eyes were rimmed with dark circles, that his nose was too short and a bit turned up, and that his lower lip was too full. Kanda sighed.

There was no way he found the brat attractive. He had worked with many models, many of which were quite attractive. They all shared some degree of classicism in their features, which Kanda considered beautiful. At least, beautiful enough to be photographed. This kid… Kanda stared intently again and squinted. No, he did not feel like humping him. Nor kissing. And it wasn't the gender.

Kanda inspected the boy's face. Then cringed.

"Get up. Your mouth smells."

The boy had the audacity to snuggle, rubbing his face into Kanda shoulder. The man shuddered, got up and unceremoniously pushed the boy awake.

"I said get up. It's already seven."

"Just …many more minutes…" a mumble, a sigh, and more stillness.

Kanda followed his established routine as he entered the kitchen. As always, he turned on the TV in the living room, then glanced on the windowsill where a small pot with violets made itself present through the dusty blue of its flowers. Grunting appreciatively and sticking a finger into its ground to see if it's dry, Kanda waited exactly thirty seconds to fill the tea pot.

"…Lauren with our weather report. Lauren?"

"Thank you, Brian."

Kanda scoffed. What unimaginative names. Couldn't their parents be original, for once? He would definitely watch a news program until the very end if the woman were named Stan Bananahamok. He stared at the TV, where the pretty brunette tried to look professional in fuzzy earmuffs. Definitely not a Bananahamok.

"…cancelations, and many flights will be late or canceled for the next 48 hours. Despite the relatively high temperatures, the snowstorm…"

Kanda tuned her out, in favour of the cancelation list scrolling at the bottom of the screen. Fairly soon, his school was announced, and the man sighed. At least, he'll have time to do groceries. And clean his apartment. And maybe try to find a job.

"Kanda?"

Ah. His job. The man glanced over his shoulder, noticing the disheveled state of his…occupant.

"You're up. How delightful." Not. Kanda turned off the TV. Startled by the absence of noise, the boy turned his head sharply to the left. His voice was thick with sleep and his mouth—Kanda cringed—was sown together by a string of coagulated saliva. Hump that? Only over his rotting cadaver.

"Um, could you leave it on? I want to listen to the news. I think today it's Laura and Brian from the third channel."

A click, and the noise was back. Kanda watched impassively as the boy touched his way around the sofa, then curled on it and pulled the first cloth in his way (Kanda's bathrobe) to his ears. After a few seconds he fidgeted.

"Have you seen TimCampy? I couldn't find him." His head rose from the sofa arm towards the TV. "Is that Laura lady laughing? I bet she has dimples. I really like dimples and a nice laughter."

The man opened his mouth to respond, but instead, he clamped his lips down. Somehow, the brat seemed more insufferable than ever, lying down like that, as if he knew the room for a long time. And the way he clung to the bathrobe…Kanda swallowed down a jolt of irritation. He did not like when a stranger made his or her routine in his house.

"If you want breakfast, come into the kitchen," he said quietly, just enough to cover the noise from the news program. The boy mumbled something, and Kanda squished another ardent wish of slamming something over his head. He tried to distract himself by staring at the window and watching a half frozen pigeon that kept trying to cross the street by the means of power lines. The fact that the power cords were parallel to the road never crossed the pigeon's head, Kanda mused.

His reverie was interrupted by soft shuffling of feet and the scratch of a stool. Kanda turned, discovering the boy.

"Oh, mint tea. How refreshing."

"Hn."

The boy smiled peacefully, eyes closed, nose almost touching the lip of the cup.

"I think I can smell linden. Did you add linden flowers?"

The man sat down and pulled his own cup, taking a small sip. It was sugarless. How bland.

"No, I didn't."

A pause, during which Kanda stared with irritation at two strands of white hair floating the small distance from the kid's head to the blue tablecloth.

"Kanda?"

"What." It wasn't even a question.

"We'll go to the vet today."

The solid cube of sugar Kanda held burst, and the man rubbed his fingers together to get rid of the bits. With some perverse slowness he constructed and deconstructed the small sentence uttered by the boy.

Not "Can we go to the pet store today?"

Not "May we please, please, with soba on top, go to the pet shop?"
Just a plain statement of the future, "We will go to the pet store today."

All he growled in response was,

"It's a fucking blizzard outside and you want to go to a pet shop?"

The boy's face split into a toothy smile and two squinty crevices.

"Campy need vitamins. He looks a bit limp lately.

"You can't see."

The boy frowned.

"I felt him."

"You felt him…being limp?" the man snorted, and almost chocked at the supposed insinuation. "Where exactly did you touch him?"

The boy's brow rose in a graceful arch. Then, maintaining the same arch, the face became beet red.

"You bloody pervert. I would never touch Campy like that! Never!"

Kanda bit back a prejudiced response. After all, different people have different hobbies. Instead, he rose and began to clean up after himself.

"In any case, I need to get out a bit. And of course, you, as a valiant and well mannered caretaker, will come with me," the boy said, finishing off another sandwich.

Kanda stopped midway from putting a few slivers of linden into the teapot. Instead, he crushed it fervently, opening his mouth to deliver a rather lively description of their plans for this afternoon.

"I won't—"

He was interrupted by a loud knock into the door. The boy cocked his head towards it.

"I think someone's at the door."

"I think someone's stating the obvious. I am not deaf."

The boy pouted. He listened as the man wiped his hands with that soft towel of his (No male would choose such towels. Seriously. They were as fluffy as a bloody kitten.), then carefully tip-toed behind the soft sounds of Kanda's footsteps. The creak of the door was covered up by the rather colorful greeting that Kanda invented on the spot, seeing the intruder. Driven by the typical British sense of exploring, which other nations call empiricism, he crouched near the sofa, turned his head toward the door and prepared to uncover some secrets. The stranger was already inside, and he was talking with Kanda rather animatedly.

So, the boy listened.

"—ing, I just wanted to—" implored a frail male voice. The boy heard Kanda snort.

"I don't want you here. I'm sure Daisy needs them for his football team."

"It's Daisya, you fucking—" another male voice joined the verbal brawl. Another snort, then a loud bang made the kid wince.

"Now, Yuu, I know you don't really need it, but just in case—"

"Yeah, Yuu, you don't fucking need it, but Dad here is fucking worried. So be a good girl and take the fucking money."

A growl, something sounding like "I'm not a girl," or possibly, "I'm gonna curl," but then a long wail reached the living room.

"By hucking bose! By hucking bose!"

"It'll be your fucking balls next time, Daisy. Now, get the fuck out."

The wail was interrupted by a groan, then a slam of the door.

"Yuu, please."

"Tiedo—"

"Please," the old man's voice was so anxious, so imploring. The boy peeked over the coach arm and heard the distinct sound of Kanda's grating teeth.

"I won't take long. I really won't. I just want to know how you are."

Soft footsteps, Kanda's probably, followed by a hesitant walk of socked feet. The boy crouched behind the sofa again.

They made it to the kitchen, and in a few minutes the whistle of the kettle made the kid peek out. Seriously, all Kanda did was tea. Maybe he was of British origins, the boy mused, but then the blatant American accent crushed that theory.

"You're cooking for yourself," the old man said, then smiled. The kid heard his soft snort. "Five years ago, you couldn't cook an egg."

"A lot happened," Kanda said quietly pouring tea. Then silence. A loud and wet sip.

"How's school?"

Kanda hesitated.

"It's alright." Then he added quietly, more like a whisper, "They put me on honor's roll or something. Top ten percent of my class."

"Oh." Silence. The thin, white smell of mint with the transparent yellow of linden slivers. The boy gasped. The bloody bastard lied; he did put linden into the tea. "I… I don't know what to say."

"There's nothing to say."

The boy strained to hear.

"I…" the old man began, "I saw your mother a few days ago. She's alright."

"Oh, really." Kanda's voice was venomous, almost dripping with hatred. "You saw that woman and you came to tell me she's alright? Fuck her, and fuck you. Get out."

"Yuu, please. I just don't know what to say. I…You grew up so fast."

"Of course I did. Lack of parents does that to you."

"Yuu…"

Kanda sneered.

"Yes, that's my name. I'm happy you remember."

"I just want to know you're alright. I just…"

"Yes, I know. You don't know what to say."

Silence. The boy sighed. So, his grim babysitter had a father. That much he could guess. The old man snorted as much as Kanda did. Not only that, the snorts themselves came in different intonations and meanings, insinuating only one fact, the older man knew Kanda well, as well as his rather rich collection of snorts. He rolled his eyes and almost yowled when a voice hissed over his head.

"What the fuck are you doing?"

What was he doing? He was laying on the ground, face in the carped, his butt up and, judging by Kanda's furious huffing, very visible.

"I was… sniffing your carpet."

Something grabbed the boy by his arms then forcefully dragged him into the kitchen.

"—Little brat, can't even spy properly—"

"Yuu, what are you—" a sharp intake of breath. "Allen?"

Exactly at the same moment, both the boy and Kanda stiffened at an unnatural angle. Their innards froze, both for different reasons. Fuck, he knows him,was a distinct Kanda thought. After all, Tiedoll knew art very well. He had been a big hit since his debut, and now, in his sixties, he was a prominent name in the art world. Since he sponsored numerous classical debutants, it was very plausible that he could have recognized a talented seventeen year old whose disappearance caused a furor.

The boy's head hosted an entire different bedlam. Oh dear sweet god and three holy saints, I am so, so screwed. Kanda'll know, Cross will find out; they'll take me back! The high pitched mental mantra in the boy's head was interrupted by the old man again.

"Allen Walker. It's you, isn't it?"

Kanda threw a glance at the boy whose hands he was pulling. He was deathly white.

"It's not him," he said impromptu. "Just a stupid fan of that violin player. Bleached his hair and everything."

Tiedoll took off his glasses, leaned forward over the table and tried to brush the locks of white hair away. Inexplicably, Kanda really had no idea what possessed him, he pushed Tiedoll's hand away. Then, just as inexplicably, he let go of the boy's arms and tucked his face into his chest, obscuring Tiedoll's view.

"It's not him."

"But-but—"

"I know," Kanda gave a burdened sigh. "He looks horrible. He even reproduced that tacky British accent."

"Um," the boy patted Kanda's arm hard, trying to release his face from the man's chest.

"I think you're suffocating him, Yuu," the amused voice spoke softly. "Fan or no fan, anyone with enough sense to like Allen Walker's music has to be a tasteful person."

Kanda snorted with disdain and let him go. The boy whimpered, his back hunched and ears red. Kanda pushed him towards a chair and groaned when the boy hit his toes.

"Yuu, is he bli—oh."

Kanda eyed his father under the lashes.

"I take you won't believe me if I say that he, all fan-like, took his own sight?"

The kid whimpered again, looking very much like a beaten dog. Tiedoll gazed at Kanda with those owlish, blue eyes of his, completely floored.

"God help me, Yuu. That sounds like a complete fib. I take it he's the real Allen, then."

Kanda sat down. He threw a glance at the kid and slapped him over his hunched back.

"Sit up straight, bean sprout. You look like a wilted banana."

Allen smiled in spite of the tension and sat straighter. Tiedoll smiled back with a lost, feeble expression. Kanda took pity on them.

"Froi Tiedoll, this is Bean Sprout. Bean Sprout, this is my father, Froi Tiedoll."

"I'm not Bean Sprout! It's Allen! Allen Walker!"

Kanda smirked. The boy could feel it. And, just for your information, the man's smirks came in different shades and meanings, just like his stupid snort.

"Oh my," the soft, albeit moderately enthusiastic voice of Allen's new acquaintance snapped him out of his reverie. "So, it is you."

Kanda's soft huff from his nostrils might have as well said, "duh, stupid plant. I didn't say your name."

Allen coughed. Tiedoll stared at him as if he was Messiah. Bending over the table, he looked at him dazedly with his blue myopic eyes.

"Everyone is looking for you, you know."

Allen sat up straighter, his face a pale and scrunched, as if he was carrying the guilt of the whole world.

"Oh, yes. I know."

"The first week after your disappearance Marian drank and gambled and lost my hunting dogs. Said that his godson will take care of it. But I wish he hadn't touched the old pear tree. It was rather dear to me."

Allen's face became almost entirely white. His nostrils quivered.

"A-a pear tree?"

Tiedoll laughed softly.

"Oh, yes. Back in the day, when I was taken by gardening, I managed to cross a few species. The result was a small pear tree with blue leaves. One of a kind."

Defying the impossible, Allen's face took the shade of the ceiling.

"One of a k-kind?"

Tiedoll smiled while raiding Kanda's sugar bowl. After all it had cubes in it. And everyone knew cubes were tastier than sugar granules.

"Well, Marian is quite brutish. He said if he cut the tree down, you'd show up since you know the godson. I was mystified at first, but then again, I needed to meet this godson so that he can find my hunting dogs. Lassie especially."

Allen sat up even straighter. He brought his blind eyes up, toward the voice. A cold tremor overtook him, and Kanda could see the beads of cold sweat on his forehead and upper lip.

"Hunting dogs. Bloody hunting dogs." Allen whispered. His voice was high and bore the beginning of hysteria. "And a bloody pear tree!"

"Yes," Tiedoll obliviously dug around the sugar bowl, and grinned victoriously when the last lump of sugar ended up on his mustache. "I recon this godson of Marian's will have a lot of bill on his hands."

"Who's Marian?" Kanda barged into the conversation. He had noticed the pallor on the sprout's face.

"He's Allen's guardian," the old man was quick to explain.

"He's my godfather," Allen whispered, shuddering. Both men looked at him with mixed feelings. Tiedoll especially.

"You're the godson? My god, he was right. He cut the pear tree down and here you are."

Allen whimpered.

"Of course he would say that. After all, I'll have to pay for the bloody tree. And his gambling debt. And the bloody dogs. Oh, how I hate that devil."

Tiedoll gasped.

"Allen, you shouldn't call him that. He is a very endearing man."

The boy laughed softly. He felt hysteria creep on him.

"Satan is too, when he needs to be. Anyway, the bastard can cut ten trees for all I care but I am not paying back his stupid debt. And I am not going back."

Tiedoll gasped.

"But Lassie—"

"Most likely sold. As well as, I suspect, all the wine in your cellars."

Tiedoll made a soft mewling noise of a distressed mouse.

"My Beaujolais! Lassie!"

"That man sounds like unspeakable evil." Kanda murmured. The boy nodded and trembled miserably. His nose scrunched up and Kanda saw the tip of his teeth; small, grayish, and not belonging to a seventeen year old.

"And I'll have to pay his bills. Again." He sniffed, but it sounded more like a sob. "Not even my twenty five thousand will make up for that. A bottle of Beaujolais is about…" he groaned and began to twitch his fingers. "I'll have to get a job."

Kanda snorted again. How utterly ridiculous. The kid still looked as if the world just ended, so Kanda cuffed him softly over the back of his head.

"Well then, tomorrow after college I'll help you search for a job." Kanda tried to keep his voice steady and apathetic. It came out a bit softer than he had intended and for a second the man experienced the most uncomfortable feeling. He turned and frowned; his father was looking at him eagerly like a puppy that knew he was about to be kicked out, but pretended not to.

Kanda's left eye twitched.

"It's time to leave, Tiedoll."

Tiedoll's eyes twinkled behind the red framed glasses. He even wiggled in his seat. Damn.

"Leave," Kanda growled, feeling helpless despite the non-threat that sat in front of him. He tried to fortify his resolve by squaring his shoulders and gritting his teeth.

"Now."

It seemed to work. Tiedoll got up, and Kanda was again reminded of how spectacularly he inherited his mother's genes. Excluding his eyes. His old man towered over him. Tiedoll was a pretty tall man by any standards (enjoying Copenhagen as his birth city). Above Kanda's five eleven he simply overwhelmed the younger man.

"Yuu…" the soft pleading behind Kanda made his stop just for a second. "Please, I have not seen you in so long. At least let me accompany you to a café or-er, a neutral zone. And since you left," he continued softly, "Daisya keeps breaking my glasses with his ball. You'd usually stop him."

Kanda swore under his breath. He knew he would give in, eventually. He did every single time Tiedoll spoke in that soft, troubled voice and put his palm on his shoulder like that. But now was different. He was different. He had lived alone for almost three years, making it on his own without either of his parents.

He would resist.

"Please, Yuu. Just spare an hour for me. Convince Daisya to not touch my glasses."

"We're not going to the café." Kanda murmured dejectedly. Oh, for fuck's sake. He knew he'd give in. "We're going to the doctor. His snake is limp."

Tiedoll blinked. Then, his face illuminated with an epiphany.

"Oh…Y-you and him are like that?" A split of a second later he regarded his son with a face that borderlined on horrified. "Snake? Is that what they call it now?"

"Yeah. That's what they call it now." Kanda cocked his head, his brow furrowed. He hadn't understood the first part of his father's words. Shrugging, he pushed the boy to the kitchen door. "Go get dressed, bean sprout. And put your snake in a mitten or something; it's a fucking blizzard outside."

888

It was a fucking blizzard outside. Or, more precisely, the remnants of it. The trees were completely covered, their branches bending under the impossible weight of snow and ice. And even though the snowfall had just stopped, there already were people shoveling the whiteness away. Kanda looked over his shoulder where Tiedoll gingerly stepped on the grossly "cleaned" path, his light brown Berluti shoes shriveling in this relatively poor district. Allen was treading softly next to him, clearly distressed.

"Dad!" A bellow made the boy jump to his left, bumping into Kanda. Ten feet from the block they saw an elegant black car with something purple on it. The purple was approaching them rapidly.

"Dad, what took you so long? I'm freezing my balls over here!"

Allen stopped again, trying to discern whether the ooffing and cursing paces presented some sort of danger to him. He could move aside once he'd determined the noise. To his chagrin, Tiedoll took him gingerly by the elbow and stepped sideways. As the heavy coat the man wore brushed with him, Allen was almost hit by the very familiar expensive cologne he could easily identify. After all, he'd smelled it in the same room with million other expensive perfumes on expensive clothes, worn by expensive people.

He chocked.

"Allen?"

Tiedoll's kind voice made him emerge from whatever illusion he had been in. He was not in Vienne. He was not in Paris, nor in Amsterdam, nor in any cities of Benelux. He was here, in a small dingy town with a grumpy man who forced him to eat all on his plate and put his ferret under a bed.

"Dad, seriously, what took you so long? My car almost died! I almost died!"

"Shut up, Daisy."

Kanda's rather mocking intervention did not make things better. Daisya cursed, then hunched his back to get under Kanda's nose. His pale blue eyes (Tiedoll's genes) and slightly hooked nose almost touched Kanda's thin and straight one. He hissed into his face, his cheeks pale with fury and loathing.

"Shut the fuck up, you good for nothing sonnova bitch. It's good enough Dad cares for you, you heartless fuck. Although, I wouldn't piss on you if you were on fire, I don't want you to hurt dad."

"Daisya," Tiedoll's warning tone was promptly disregarded as the brunet lifted one hand and growled,

"Shut up, dad. It's true. Since the bastard left, you got sick." The furious man turned to Kanda and stared at him again with those pale blue eyes of his. Kanda stared back, the mocking expression leaving room for a blank one. "He was sick every day and who do you think was by his side?"

"Daisya, that's enough."

Kanda tightened his lips, looking at his so called 'big brother.' They were of the same height, but radically different. While Daisya sported the crooked nose and watery blue eyes Tiedoll did, he mostly reminded the world of his mother, a rather vigorous Turkish woman with a loud voice and a louder appetite. Kanda was the polar opposite. Even the eyes, the only thing he liked about himself, were blue; they were almost as dark as those of his Japanese mother. He inherited her stature, her mannerism and even her brutal, aciculate tongue.

His musings were interrupted by the old man's palm on Daisya's shoulder, cutting his angry words.

"Please, Daisya. I have not seen Yuu in three years. And Allen here is probably cold, so let's just find a nice place and have lunch."

"Um," a shy voice meeped into the awkward silence, "can we go faster? I'm really cold." Daisya stared at the pale kid and snorted, very Kanda like. It did run in the family, after all.

"Who's that, Kanda? Your girl?"

"I'm not a girl," Allen cut Kanda's growl with his own. "If you want to know what a girl looks like, look into your bloody trousers."

Shocked silence. Then Kanda laughed. It was a strange sound, and if Allen could see, he would have definitely noticed the deeply touched expression on Tiedoll's face, and something akin to disturbed horror on Daisya.

"Did he just—"

"Yes, he called you a girl," Tiedoll puffed chuckles into his hand while Kanda, startled at his own action looked more grouchy than the usual. Daisya murmured expletives under his nose until Tiedoll slapped his back and pointed to the shopping district.

"I don't know how you young people are, but I am very predisposed to getting a cup of coffee."

"Can we find the vet first? TimCampy is trembling."

The old man peeked over the frame of his red glasses at the blind boy. He frowned, trying to understand what Allen was talking about. Hearing the Kanda's words, his face suddenly cleared as if getting an old joke.

"Let the snake tremble." Kanda pulled his scarf tighter and noticed that the wind picked up. Allen had his hands cupped, holding a small, blue mitten with a quivering tale peeking out of it.

"But he'll die!"

"Too bad. Evolution is a bitch."

"It's not evolution's fault! It's hypothermia!"

Kanda scoffed.

"Same devil."

The boy pursed his lips, ready for a heated tirade, but Tiedoll interrupted him with the habitual friendly slap on the back.

"Yuu, maybe we should see the vet first. If the boy's pet dies, it is most likely that its blood will be on your hands."

Daisya suddenly grinned at Kanda's hostile expression and pulled up his purple hoodie.

"Yeah, Kanda. It'll be on your hands. You make a believable candidate for the murderer of ferrets."

"Shut the fuck up, Daisy."

888

The vet lived in a small shop, squeezed between a money lending agency of dubious intentions and a tea store. The tea store was Kanda's favorite; they spent at least one hour trying to discern Tilia Europaea from Tilia vulgaris, much to Daisya's chagrin. After buying both ("I really don't get why Latin is important; it's just linden," Allen had said) they rapped fast into the door of the vet shop.

Just as fast, they found out that due to crappy weather the vet hasn't considered to accept clients. When Kanda began to kick the door and tell his opinion about the vet's bloodline and its predisposition to hideous genetic deformations, Allen proposed they go to the closest café and warm up—his snake was limper than the usual.

And so, they found a small, half dilapidated café with the E fallen off. They went inside only to find the floor muddy and the clientele even more pathetic and dilapidated than the café.

"But it's the coffee that's important, is it not?" Allen scrunched up his nose in disgust, but it just highlighted the barely visible silvery freckles that dusted his nose. And Kanda berated himself over the fact that he did notice such a minuscule detail. After all it was the same skinny brat, with a stupid snake of a ferret. Just to make a point, the man stared intensely, trying to notice something, anything that would make the boy just a bit more hideous than Kanda imagined him to be. His eyes stopped on the ferret Allen stroked.

"It is limp," Kanda flicked at the animal's nose with his fingers. The ferret snorted, letting strings of mucus. Allen hovered over his cup, almost nuzzling into the hot steam.

"Don't irritate him, Kanda. I will be very displeased if you do."

Kanda snorted, then flicked the ferret's nose again. Tiedoll batted his palm away, but the young man sipped his coffee and kept looking at the ferret with pity.

"You should have named him Malfoy."

Daisya gave out a sudden chortle at which his brother's eyes narrowed with disdain.

"Got that, did you."

"Shut the fuck up! Remember, it was you who stole my copy of Harry Potter!"

Tiedoll slapped his forehead and sighed. He had seen enough of such confrontations to know how they end. So, instead he stroked the ferret lightly and smiled toward the young prodigy.

"Don't pay any attention. TopCamping is a strange name, sure, but it's much better than Max, or, let's say Fluffy."

Daisya snorted again and almost dropped the cup of coffee in his lap.

"Fluffy! Fluffy's a Cerberus."

"Of course it is. Since it's the only book you've read," Kanda murmured, pointedly sipping his own coffee and throwing haughty glares at his brother.

Allen sputtered. His cheeks reddened.

"I-I think TimCampy is a perfectly acceptable name! Anyway, it's too late to rename him. Tim is already old."

That earned him strange looks around the table. Tiedoll stared at the ferret with a small frown; Kanda glanced at him suspiciously while smacking Daisya when the man pocked the animal with a fork.

"How old, exactly?"

Allen took a hurried sip of coffee and began to cough.

"Eight, nine years."

Kanda stared at the limp specimen.

"Are you sure that his, ah, malady, is not related to his ripe age?"

The boy bit his lip, then took another sip.

"This coffee is really strange. It tastes somehow…stale."

And again, he scrunched up his nose. He was avoiding the problem, Kanda thought. And that stupid nose of his was too short, with small nostrils and— and Tiedoll was staring at his son with approval, as if he wasn't checking another male out, but rediscovering the universe.

What the hell?

"It's just coffee, two bucks for a cup. I bet they reheated the same pot for five times," he grunted, reprimanding his idle mind.

"Oh." And the kid pushed the coffee gingerly away. "I'm already warm." Luckily for him, he couldn't see the poisonous glare of the waitress who was wiping the table nearby. However, he could hear the shuffling of her skirts, and the little tangy sound of the apron rubbing against the margin of the table. He listened quietly at Tiedoll's advices to Kanda regarding school, rent, and love, and the other man's rather loud protests. Daisya was playing with TimCampy, letting out sharp barks from time to time. Really, it was quite lovely, if not for Timmy's snot on his palm.

So Allen listened while Kanda yelled at his father, and his father vigorously argued back. About chiaroscuro.

"He's probably too old, dude. If I was you, I'd invest in a younger pet, if you get what I'm saying," he caught Daisya's voice at one point, and sharply untangled his animal from the messy napkins on the table.

888

Kanda pulled his white muffler higher. Their 'neutral zone meeting' took about four hours of bickering and chocolate cake slices. It had ended with a punch into Daisya's crooked nose and the usual, "Stop touching dad's glasses, you fucking prick." This was his first meeting with his family in three years. The screech of a car interrupted his thoughts. Kanda automatically avoided the postal box when he heard a startled yelp. Turning, he saw Allen on his back in the snow.

"You trying to make angels or something?"

"Quiet, you jerk. I think I broke my cane."
Kanda smirked.

"I think you dented the postal box. What a loss to the community."
The boy sputtered and began to reach around, trying to find his cane. His mitten was blue and fluffy, and somehow it reminded Kanda of that night when Lou, his so called mother (he sneered) bundled him up, put him into the tacky plastic chair of some American airport and told him to wait for Mr. Froi Tiedoll. She had worn red mittens that day.

With an audible sigh and an impressive roll of his eyes, Kanda pulled the boy up.

"Your cane's useless here. Just—" and he rapidly put the boy's arm around his. "I'll tell you if there are steps or anything, so just stop being pathetic."

Allen nodded once, then reddened.

"I'm not pathetic," he hissed in that clipped voice of his. "Just sometimes, I-I—"

"Need help. I know."

The boy nodded. His hand was small, with a thin and delicate wrist, elongated palm and long fingers. The hand of an artist. Kanda briefly glanced at his own hands. The fingers were long, like Tiedoll's. But there were differences. His nails were short, blunt, bitten over and over again. And his palm was wide, wide enough to cover Allen's fist.

He felt like a caveman.

And so, he tucked his hand in the pocket, where he couldn't see it. It made Kanda feel better.

"Kanda."

"What."

The boy lifted his face and smiled nervously.

"Thanks. For, you know…asking your dad not to tell about me."

The man snorted and pulled the boy lightly to the side, to avoid an especially audacious beggar.

"Stop being so maudlin. That's Tiedoll's job."

He felt the boy tense and fall behind just a bit, so he slowed down. Allen pulled his head lower into his coat. And that was when Kanda noticed.

Allen was dressed too light for the weather. The coat was nice— some expensive brand— the price being inversely proportioned to thickness. And his shoes... No healthy male would wear something so expensive, white, and absolutely impractical. Kanda groaned.

"Are you cold?"

A hesitant shrug.

"I didn't bring a thicker coat. I had to leave fast." Hearing Kanda's sigh and murmurs about stupid people who come out underdressed, Allen lifted his hands defensively. "It's ok. In fifteen minutes we'll be at the house, right?"

Kanda promptly ignored his logic and pulled him to the side of a small local bookstore, trying to find a spot where the snow wasn't melting or making a mess. Upon stumbling on such a spot, he pulled Allen in front of him, unzipped his coat and began wrapping him into his white woolen muffler. The kid scrunched his nose up.

"What?"

"It itches."

Kanda snorted. In a very condescending way.

"Of course it does. It's woolen. It'll warm you up in no time."

Allen snuggled into it. He disappeared into the white nest up to his ears. Only his eyes peeked over the fluffy margin.

"It smells weirdly."

The man sighed softly. He'd washed the damn thing two weeks ago. He really should have done it last week too.

"It smells of me. I just wore it, you know," he said quietly, then zipped the thin coat up. They were ready to go again.

"It's a nice smell," the kid mumbled. "I like it."

The man's mouth curled up in a covert smile. They crossed the street, avoiding to get hit by a slow kid on a sleigh. After Kanda cuffed him hard over the ear and explained to him in vivid details why his parents were useless humanoids with no reproductive discretion, they finally entered the house, and dodging a random cat, shivered near their door. Kanda was searching for the key while Allen cooed at his pet.

With a shy and homey screech the door opened but Kanda was retained by a frantic tug on his hand. The man turned, eager to show his displeasure, but was stalled at the limp pet in Allen's hands. The boy whimpered.

"Kanda, TimCampy's dead."