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What Do You Believe?

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On the first day of the new school year, Crowley found Adam staring apprehensively up at the main building and sauntered over to him. "It's not the end of the world," he said.

Adam glanced at him, polite but wary. "True."

"There will be rumours, there always are, especially if you hang around us two. But it'll be ok in the end."

Something flickered across Adam's face, almost too fast to read. "Swans look so serene, gliding across the water."

"True," Crowley allowed. "But they're paddling frantically underneath, just to put on a good show for everyone else."

"Fair point." Adam took a deep breath and started in. "Don't let me keep you standing around all day. Warlock would never let me hear the last of it if I did."

Crowley rolled his head wordlessly in lieu of rolling his eyes, and headed on in himself, ears pricked to catch the opening first year rumours.

Kane hunched lower in his seat as the Theology professor ran his eye down his list of students and hoped he wasn't about to be outed or deadnamed. In the end, his worry proved for nothing. The man introduced himself as Dr Young, and then had them all introduce themselves, before giving them a brief introduction to the subject, concluding, "It's about what you believe. Some people believe in big things, like peace or a clean world. Others believe in little things, like a healthy lunch, but they're all just as important."

Kane swallowed. "And what do you believe, Dr Young?"

"I believe," he said, a small, wry, smile curving his generous mouth, "that what you choose to be is more important than what people say you are. But," and he swept them all with his gaze, "part of that choosing has to be listening to what they tell you, and making the choice of whether or not you are, in fact, that person. Because sometimes they're right, and you're going - wrong."

Kane nodded. He wasn't wrong. He also wasn't a princess anymore, to be left waiting for true love to rescue him. Although that wasn't entirely right. He'd determined to love himself as he truly was and set himself free.

In the corridors, one student proclaims to another, "They is a plural term. Don't you know it's not grammatically correct to use it as a singular?"

A throat clears behind him. The proclaimer turns to see Dr Young standing there, scarlet-painted nails poised as if for chin-stroking thought.

The professor looks at the student and said, "You is a plural term. Dost thou not know it doth not serve thee grammatically as a singular one?"

The student stares for a long moment at Dr Young's slight, polite, smile that somehow gives the impression that it is hiding a much fiercer dragon. The light above them both glares down, reflecting red glints off Dr Young's nails into his eyes, and onto the walls and ceiling.

"No, Dr Young. Sorry, Dr Young," he mumbles, and the sensation of danger vanishes.

Dr Young says simply, "Don't police people's words for themselves again," and goes on his way, passing Dr Fell as he goes.

Dr Fell's face, the students notice, is lit up with delight, his smile broad and beaming even as he murmurs something to Dr Young that they can't make out.

Dr Young smiles back, a genuine one this time, and the students look at each other as speculation begins to sprout. They compare hands - Dr Young's painted (sometimes just plain colour, sometimes nature-inspired patterns, but never the same two weeks running) nails to Dr Fell's elegantly manicured nails. The smiles as they looked at each other. It's rare to see Dr Fell smile so widely over something that's neither his husband nor a favorite first edition book. The capstone to the blooming idea comes when one of them looks Dr Young up online and discovers that his first initial is 'A'. They're sure it can only stand for one thing: Anthony!