Disclaimer: Laugh at your problems. Everybody else does.

August sixth: network

Have you ever gone on a wild goose chase through a massive network of people? I have.

Yeah, I screwed up in the first palce, but it was my best friend who should shoulder a lot of blame. I know some of it falls to me for starting the chain, but I trusted her! What was I supposed to say? I thought she wouldn't lend it out if I told her not to!

That's the last time I lend out a comic by the great Hoshino!


Allen Walker's smile slowly fades from his face till he's left staring in horror at his best friend. "You're kidding, right?" he begs. There's desperation in his voice that makes Lenalee feel all the more guilty. "Please tell me your kidding!"

People taking their morning walk look in confusion at the strange boy on the Lee's porch. They frown at him, mistaking him for some kind of hoodlum with his white hair and strange 'tattoo' on his face. A few more concerned neighbors even call out to ask Lenalee what's wrong. She waves them away before turning her attention back to the almost hyperventilating Allen.

"I'm sorry, but Kanda really wanted it." She rubs her arm awkwardly, knowing that lending the comic away because he's her boyfriend isn't exactly the best excuse. Then again, Allen's excuse isn't either. "He'd said he give it back. He probably forgot. Why don't we just go pick it up?" she reasons, quick to make up for her goof.

"I really don't want to go to his house," Allen says in disgust. "I bet he threw it away just to spite me."

Lenalee frowns at her friend, crossing her arms defensively like she always does when someone insults her boyfriend. "He's not like that, Allen! Why can't you two get along?" Allen looks away, scowling. Lenalee sighs. "Do you need a ride?"

Shaking his head, Allen starts down the porch stairs. "No. His house is on the way back to mine. I'll just stop there."

"If you're sure…" Lenalee bites her lip nervously, debating whether to just drive him over anyway. It's supposed to get really hot today, and Allen always has long sleeves on. Heat stroke is a real possibility.

Allen waves good-bye before Lenalee can protest, taking off down the sidewalk. By the time Lenalee got the keys off Komui, Allen could already be there. The sooner he gets his comic back, the better.


Knock, knock, kn-

"Shut up! I hear you!"

Allen taps his foot impatiently, looking at the grand house with slight distaste. Having only ever lived in small houses or apartments and developing a fondness for them over the years, the building always seems intimidating and egotistical every time he goes there to get supplies from Tiedoll for Cross. The fact Kanda lives there makes him hate it even more.

'I told Lenalee not to lend that comic to anyone else,' he fumes in agitation fueled by the heat, wiping away the sweat trickling down his face. Only ten and it was already in the ninety's! Just his luck he had to get the book back on the hottest day of the year. Cross will be back the next day, and Allen doesn't even want to think what he'd do if he saw his limited edition collection of one-shots by the great Katsura Hoshino gone.

After what feels like hours to Allen, Kanda opens the door. He takes one look at the boy before scowling and attempting to slam the door in his face. Unluckily for him, Allen's strange left hand is very strong. He slams his hand against the door's side, easily keeping the door open as a fake smile pulls at his lips.

"Now that's not very nice, Kanda," he chides, an angry tick working its way into his smile. "I came all this way just to see you. The least you can do it give me a few minutes of your useless time."

Kanda pulls back the door and tries once again to slam it, but Allen takes advantage of the moment he takes to pull the door back to jump inside. Kanda doesn't react in time to stop mid-swing. The slam echoes in the vast family room, making Allen jump at the sheer volume.

"I need my comic back," Allen demands before Kanda can say anything.

The 'sick litte asshole' chuckles before opening the door to let Allen out, a mirthful grin on his face. "Don't have it. I lent it to Alma…who lives twenty blocks down the road. Good luck in the ninety degree weather with that coat."

It takes all of Allen's strength to walk out the door without punching Kanda in his smug face.


"Allen! Hi!" Alma chirps as he opens the door, positively beaming. The boy loves all his friends more than anything in the world (even ice cream, much to Allen's shock). Any unplanned visit is like an early Christmas present to him. He's easy to shop for. "Wait…what's wrong?" he asks, finally noticing the less than perfect state of his friend.

Allen is leaning heavily against the shaded porch railing, his clothes soaked and hair sticking to his forehead. He looks slightly dazed, but his stormy eyes focus on Alma. "Comic…Hoshino…please?" he pants.

Alma shakes his head, hustling Allen inside. "Get out of the heat! You looking like you're going to drop dead!"

"What about dropping dead?" calls someone from inside the house. Allen frowns. He thought he knew all of Alma's friends since they are all his friend too, but he's never heard that voice before.

"Nothing Lavi! Just stay there!" Alma calls back, leading the white haired teen to his kitchen.

Lavi walks in soon after anyway, pausing when he sees the unusual Allen for the first time. Allen, who was taking off his jacket, quickly hugs it tightly back to his body. Lavi raises an eyebrow, the one visible eye critically observing the other while Alma looks nervously between his two friends. "If you got something to hide, I can leave," he supplies, "but covering it up won't make it better." He taps his eye patch. "Believe me."

Slowly, Allen relaxes his hold. He keeps his jacket on, eyeing the stranger in return. "I don't believe you," he challenges, wondering exactly what this guy is made of. There's an aura of nonchalance about him that both sets Allen off and relaxes him.

"Lavi volunteers at the hospital," Alma explains. "Your arm probably wouldn't even faze him." Allen shakes his head stubbornly, frowning at Alma for mentioning his arm. He earns a sigh. "Lavi, do you mind?"

The red-head shakes his head and is gone before Allen can even blink.

Allen lets his jacket slide down, letting it pool around his waist but keeping some of it on his lower arms just in case he as to pull it back on in a hurry. He doesn't trust Lavi. The air conditioning feels good on his soaked skin, leading him to relax more. Allen takes a moment to savor the cold before getting down to business.

"Do you have the comic Kanda lent you? I need it back." Allen looks at his friend hopefully.

Alma smiles apologetically, handing Allen a bottle of water. "I didn't know that was yours. Yu- Yu as in Kanda- never said anything about it, so I lent it to Bak." Alma panics when his guest jumps up and pulls on his coat, swaying unsteadily. "Sit down and cool off before you go chasing that comic! You're going to kill yourself!"

"Not if Cross does first," Allen mutters, taking the bottle from Alma and holding the cold water to his pounding head. He sighs in relief. "That comic is his."

Visibly paling, Alma has to keep himself from pushing the other out the door. The boy hasn't exactly had a good experience with Cross. "Wait at least five minutes before booking it down to Bak's house." He pats Allen's shoulder sadly. "I hope you survive."


Allen knocks furiously at Kanda's door for the third goddamn time today two hours later! Why the Japanese ass hadn't told him when he was at his house earlier his comic had passed through twice was beyond him. He's sick of this giant network of people! From Lenlaee to Kanda to Alma to Bak to Fou to old man Zu to-

Marie opens the door, brow creased in confusion. "Hello?" he asks, straining his ears for some kind of hint as to who it'd be. "...Allen? Please knock louder next time."

Allen smiles apologetically, not that Marie can see. The younger always forgets that Marie can usually tell a person by thier knock, but Allen's is so soft he can't pick it up well enough to tell. "Yeah. Hello again." He sighs when Marie chuckles. "I need to talk to Daisya this time." Allen had been to this house ninth to try and get it from Marie and is now there for number thirteen.

Marie shakes his head, leaning against the door frame with more coordination than you'd expect from a blind person. Allen still has no idea why the man had wanted the comic before. Sure, the story was interesting, but didn't it defeat the purpose to read it out loud? Even if you describe what's going on, you don't get the full affect. 'Hoshino is just so great her work appeals to blind people.'

"Daisya lent it to someone else." Allen wants to slam his head against a wall. " I think it was…someone named Lavi?"

'You've got to be kidding me.'

Marie shakes his head in dismissal. Allen, fed up, starts to bag his head against the wall. "Stop banging your head on the wall. You're starting to sound like Kanda." Marie can imagine the scowl on Allen's face as he stops. "Lavi lives on Forty Ninth Street. Last name is Deak. I think the bottom of his apartment is a bookstore."

'That's ten blocks down!'

Agitated beyond all reason, Allen stomps away with only a distracted and curt 'thank you' to Marie.

The heat slams against the teen as he walks, laughing at the boy for wearing a jacket on such a beautiful day. What did it care about his disfigured arm? Did it care how self-conscious about the boy is? Nope, the sun is determined to get that jacket off or kill him trying. At least it feels that way to Allen.


Snapping out of his daze, the teen looks up to see Lavi. "It's Allen, right?" the red head asks, stopping in front of him. "Still on that quest for your comic?" Allen can barely nod. "You look like you're in bad shape," Lavi observes, a tingle of warning in his voice. "My house is a few blocks down. Stay there for a bit before chasing your next link."

"'Link?'" Allen echoes, thinking back to a rather stuffy senior at his college. "...Oh! Right." They walk for a few moments before he bursts out, "Lavi! You have it, right? Please tell me you have my comic! Katsura Hoshino one-shots?"

Lavi laughs and pulls the comic out of his bag, the beautiful illustrations becoming even more entrancing in the sun as the light catches the colors. "I thought this was Yu's and was going to return it."

"He wishes," Allen mumbles. Lavi agrees whole-heartedly, giving the comic a longing look.


"Is this necessary?" Lavi whines, cutting short when dust flies up in his face and makes him cough. He gives the old box filled with books a dirty look before beginning to stack them on the 'used' shelf. "Alma already told you I wouldn't care."

"I care!" Allen counters, keeping an ear out for Lavi and a hand on his discarded jacket. He's down in the top sellers on the other end of the store where he's certain Lavi can't get a peek at his arm. Lavi insisted Allen stay, but the younger was wary of the other. To put his mind at ease, Lavi left him alone and went to work stocking the shelves, but Allen couldn't stand just sitting around. So Allen got a box that would put him a 'safe distance' away from Lavi to help.

The bookstore is freezing, making Allen put back on his jacket in less than thirty minutes. More confident with it on, he struck up a conversation with Lavi, asking how he knew Alma. It turns out they each know all of the other's friends somehow. They'd been to the same parties, just not in the same place at the same time. It was just a matter of time before they met though.

They slowly wind down to more mundane topics, really hitting it off. They do drift back to friends a few times, telling sides to stories the other only knew half of.

"So you must be the gay bean sprout," Lavi concludes. Both finished stalking the store a short time ago, but neither had really wanted to leave. They're lounging in the front of the store, the comic in between them.

"You must be the stupid, gay rabbit," Allen responds, a little unnerved when Lavi keeps staring at him. "What?"

Lavi, not realizing he was staring, smiles in embarrassment. "You're not as small as I thought you'd be…short stack." He dodges a teasing smack on the arm from Allen before getting serious. "You know, I need help around the shop. This usually would've taken me almost another hour. You want a job?" He nudges Allen when he hesitates. "Come on. Time goes faster with a friend."

Allen looks out over the store, loving the simple but inviting décor. There's a café down the street, and he's sure Lavi will pay him well. Sure, he'll have to walk from his classes to here, doubling back to class depending on his hours, but then he won't have to gamble. It's not like he spends much time at home anyway, and he can use the extra cash.

Still, the teen hesitates.

"We could talk about it over dinner?" Lavi suggests. "Go see a movie? Insert cheap outing idea that I hope hides the fact I'm asking for a date?"

A small smile blooms on Allen's face, the comic between them the last thing on his mind. "Sure."

I'll be trying out different styles of writing for a few of these, so please let me know what you think of each chapter! Harsh reviews build character!

See you tomorrow.