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Clandestine Obsidian

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Author's note: Gravitation and all of its affiliated characters belong to Murakami Maki and not to me. Readers may find the characters OOC, but the point of this fanfiction is to trace development and changes over time through events and characterization. So don't worry, all you canon-adherers out there. I will do our beautiful Taki justice. (If I get enough support, perhaps...) Ma-kun's name made by Aibyouka. Thanks to my wonderful beta-reader, Hota.

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Chapter 1 --- Lustrous Nectar

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Laughter. It was a rich, stirring sound, like dripping honey from its comb straight onto your lips. A textured tongue peeked out to scoop it into its welcoming new home.

Dabble. Dabble. Smacking of lips.

Mmm.

It rushed down, warm, tingling, infectious. The comb was passed around and around so that everyone could get that same exquisite taste, the color of the sunrise.

But this particular sample had an edge to it, a lingering aftertaste... of derision, and suddenly Taki felt that he didn't want to be there any longer, surrounded by people who were all too willing to share the foul substance because they certainly weren't going to take it themselves.

"Nice glasses, dork."

This drop was particularly distasteful as the kid ruffled his hair. Taki shirked aside warily. If there was anything he dreaded, it was contact, unneeded, unwanted bodily contact. Being someone who had kept to himself since the day he slid from his mother's womb– crying, screaming– not from the horrifying experience but from the resented, almost violating touch of the doctor's hands as they carried him off... he shook uneasily.

The vibrations of the howling, getting louder and louder around him, buzzed in his ears, echoed through his head, making him nauseous.

He needed to get away.

He closed his eyes.

Why couldn't people physically melt away onto the tiles? Splashing with a satisfying splat and creeping within the small dents and crevices in the classroom floor. Taki didn't want to drink honey. He wanted to be honey.

Maybe if he were laughter they wouldn't be able to laugh at him anymore. He wanted to be laughed with, but there was no way to express that, no way to tell anyone. And even if there was, what bee would wander away from its own hive, lonely and lost, to plant sweetness and delight into his own honeycomb?

"Hey, stop bothering him, guys."

A silence, total emptiness replaced the thick, syrupy goo pouring down his throat. All movement ceased. His eyes fluttered back open like silken insect wings in mid-flight.

Blink. Blink.

An indistinct haze blurred all in his line of vision.

Oh, yes. They had removed his glasses. But Taki could distinguish rough colors and shapes in the seemingly abstract painting laid before him.

It was a blond tidal wave, cascading down a back clothed with the usual black, starchy school uniform, the fluorescent ceiling lights of the classroom shining off of it. Surprisingly the small crowd that had formed at his side had already scattered off, perhaps to find new victims. Thus was the attention span of high schoolers.

"Sorry about that, dude. They're just playin' with you," his savior explained in a friendly and nonchalant tone, as if to tell him not to take it too seriously. As ill tasting as the honey was, it was still honey after all.

Was it... Yes, he knew this guy. He recognized him from the first day...

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He felt uncomfortable then, sitting there in his constricting uniform, the desk seeming to tie him down where he sat. The silver lining on his dark raincloud, however, being that he sat near the window, the only one in the room.

Seeing his reflection faintly outlined in the panes of glass, it felt as if he were free and miraculously outside– that the heated strips of sunlight shimmering into the room were not deflected through the window or off of specks of dust– but directly onto him. For if he felt that it were true, then what was inhibiting it from becoming real? What was keeping matter over mind?

Small pinpricks dotted his back, light pinches that soon went away as fiberglass wings of glistening threads inched their way out from under his tender skin. He stretched back, head thrown back, exhaling. The sky belonged to him now.

Now it tickled, and he could barely contain a joyous grin. Ready for liftoff. But suddenly the evanescent wings shrunk back into his flesh as if they had never been there. Something shook him from the deep reverie.

Eyes.

That was the first thing he felt. Shining dark eyes burning holes into his face. The unease returned as he fidgeted with his hands, turning his head to search for the source of the double-lasered threat.

Light, wheat-colored hair and an inquisitive look stared back at Taki, studying his face with the utmost concentration.

Eyes meeting.

Who would dare blink first and concede victory? But it wasn't because of competition that he returned the look... but because it shocked him so. Never had anyone seemed so attentive, so interested in him, and it was such an unfamiliar yet pleasantly novel experience.

But then his mind caught up to him, his always cautious, guarded mind like an overprotective parent who did in fact look out for him in times of need– yet never knew when to let go of distrust, untangling from his hand, allowing him to take his first few steps on his own. It told him that the overconfident manner in which the other student grinned at him was dangerous. Dangerous.

You know what happens when people get too close to you, Taki, take advantage of you. Don't you forget... Don't you ever forget...

So he broke the momentary bond between them, which in all actuality only lasted several seconds, holding his head rigidly so that he would face the front of the room. Yes, pretend to be interested in algorithms and nothing else. Pretend that it's the most important thing in the world. Because it is. To keep yourself safe.

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But where was that security now? Now that this very same guy was standing before him, having retrieved his glasses from the raucous classmates and was handing them back. What could he say?

"Uh... thanks."

Taki put his thick pair of spectacles back onto his face, feeling quite relieved now that his sense of sight had returned and also because class was about to start. But the bleached blond was still there, his expression mirroring that of the first day, except that now he extended more than a smile out to him.

"So, nice to meet you. My name's Matsushita Kaori, but everyone calls me Ma-kun, so you can go ahead with that, too. No formalities necessary here," the overly friendly boy offered.

Taki managed to keep himself from cringing. Who did this guy think he was? Acting as brash and open as an American... he knew that he wouldn't be able to stand him. But there were basic principles of etiquette in effect here, and as unwilling as Taki was to introduce himself, this Ma-kun character had nonetheless aided him in an outwardly selfless way.

"Aizawa."

"Got anything besides a last name?"

"Aizawa Taki."

"Heh, interesting name. I think I'll just call you Tachi; it fits you better."

As if the incessant probing and obnoxious grin weren't enough to grate on his nerves, the guy had to use that nickname on him. The one Kizuki used to call him...

Flustered and having lost what little patience he originally had, Taki adjusted his posture in his seat and removed his pencils from his schoolbag, bent on ignoring the guy now. Most people would be turned away by this kind of behavior, as it was an obvious sign. Go away.

"You seem like a fun guy."

Taki searched inside his bag for the homework that he was sure he'd stuffed in there last night.

"Anyways, tell me if they mess with you again."

Silence. Where did that stupid worksheet go?

"I'll see you later. Maybe at lunch?"

Ah, there it was. He removed the wrinkled piece of paper from the piles of other ones, thrown in every which way, from the disaster that was his homework folder.

Slyly, out of the corner of his eye, he watched as his strangely optimistic classmate trotted back to his own desk, unfazed by the utter rejection he had just faced.

Well, not that Taki cared. Something like this shouldn't bother him one bit.

But something inside him ate at him with questions. What kind of opportunity could he be missing out on? Was it really worth it taking the bitter solitude in exchange for safety, security, a reassurance for tomorrow? What good does it do if everything is planned out so neatly, so predictably, so that even the golden morning dew called honey tastes like that of yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that...

All of a sudden, lunch sounded really appetizing to him.

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Circling the tiny– yet tastefully designed– courtyard of the school with his eyes, Taki clutched his lunchbox tightly to his chest and stepped out of the doorway into the reaches of the clean, cool air.

Groups of girls in varying hairstyles and temperaments– yet the same binding dresscode– partitioned off most of the grass area, where they chattered noisily about teachers, peers, life, general things. Things that interested them.

An amiable air of merriment settled over them under a gentle breeze and cooperative clouds, who blocked the fiercest of the sun's rays out with their cottony softness– yet left enough for luxurious visibility.

But no sign of him.

Why did I even bother, Taki pondered with a drop of frustration and impatience sprinkled over his forehead, when I know what kind of person he'll turn out to be?

But nevertheless, he was curious about what made Matsushita Kaori tick. What gave him that overbearing confidence and spring in his step that denoted not arrogance but a sense of self-awareness that boggled his mind?

He needed to find out.

Why?

Because he wanted to find out the secret that had been kept from him since his creation, since the beginning of his feeble existence.

Who is Taki?

Maybe, perhaps, if only... this guy could decipher the language of the bees as they buzzed past, the bees that retained some ageless secret that had slipped from him by some unfortunate twist of circumstance.

Then... then he could finally let his feet leave the ground, toes brushing against the slippery green tendrils of grass beneath them... and be liberated.

But at the moment, the grass and the Earth pulled at him, unwilling to give way, so that he sat down under the shade of a particularly neglected-looking oak tree, deciding to make the most of this time. He usually spent his lunchbreaks hibernating in his favorite corner of the classroom alone– and together with the part of his life that had most likely saved him thus far from drowning in the seas of amber syrup.

Another song?

Dimpled face and nimble digits, crooked and tense, penning their heart out.

The piles of paper that had earlier only served as a nuisance, overcrowding his schoolbag, now became his lifeblood as he scribbled, an absent expression blanketing his visage, the lunch very agitated at being so rudely forgotten.

"Whatcha workin' on?"

Frozen. He seemed to have been attacked by a frostbite of the rarest breed and species, the kind that preyed on warm-climated areas, the infamous frostbiteus holycrapus.

The shadow cast over him expanded– yet the temperature only rose. Body heat.

"Oh, you're a writer?"

Chapped lips of winters long departed returned to seal away his power of speech, a tongue chiseling at the chamber door... but to no avail. The intruder approached him like a vulture, circling closer and closer... Or perhaps the circles were only in his head. But he knew... Oh, he knew that his prey had already been defeated– paralyzed with raw fear.

But the predator stopped abruptly when the content on the paper was in sight.

"Poet?"

The princess kissed the frog.

"Songwriter."

Taki was one step ahead of where he used to be because he had discovered something one champagne-tinged day. The language of the bees had to be written in music, with the ingredients of song and light, hopes and wishes, and marshmallow dreams. Definitely those.

"I'm a musician as well," replied the blond after a moment of uncharacteristic hesitation. "May I see it?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"No."

"But-"

"No."

What a preposterous request, letting a stranger see him?

"Don't be that way, Tachi. You want to know something, find something out from me, and I'm willing to share it in exchange."

H-How did he know?

"...Truly seriously really no joke?" One eager breath.

Grin. "I was born without the ability to lie."

"Ummm... alright." The shock was making him do stupid things. Stupid, irresponsible things. Stop. Why was his heart beating faster in anticipation... as if it had been made of cold, rigid marble for all these years and was starting to feel the surge of volcanic lava bubble beneath it?

Passing of the page.

"Mystery in its suffocating shroud, its liquid darkness..."

He didn't need a companion... He didn't need anyone to trust or rely on. Aizawa Taki was special, created to become special, but more than that he was independent.

"...Shuddering, vanquished in the face of the persistent wind. God, Tachi, that's amazing."

Bullshit.

No man was an island, but this boy was a moon, orbiting the Earth... as if it longed to partake in the festitivities of the inhabitants.

And besides, green cheese got quite tiresome after awhile.

"But this isn't finished."

"I'm aware of that."

"Why don't you complete it?"

"Not done."

"What?"

"Me... I'm not finished with myself. I'm writing it as I go." And he was sure that the ending would come to him with the divulging of the secret. Please tell.

The taller classmate chuckled then, a freshly opened jar of honey in which you could dip a single finger, licking it off relishingly. Taki smiled weakly. How could he not...? There was someone putting his own self in a vulnerable position, someone who had a mystery to reveal, someone in full bloom before him...

"Well, to keep with my side of the deal... what I wanted to say to you is... you-you're... ever since the first glance... this...

"...I'm in love with you."

He didn't believe that honey went down into your stomach but rather straight to form the golden aura that was your soul. It satisfied your soul just as it pleasured your tongue. Such a tricky substance, made from the love of bees for flowers. Such a bittersweet substance, for the flowers did not reciprocate the affection.

He gathered his belongings and walked straight out of the schoolyard.

Why didn't they? They were so beautiful– yet so cruel. Their soft petals pricked your face with invisible thorns of tragedy. Their enticing aroma gave you broken hope and only served to superficially mask the uncharming things before you. They pretended to weep along with you, with your sorrows, when it was only because excess pollen had agitated their eyes.

He did not understand. He did not need to understand. He had been lied to one time too often... but...

But they were still just as loved, just as lovely, in the same way that Taki aspired to be.

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Next chapter: Find out a bit more on Taki's background and his reaction to the situation at hand. Review with support/ideas/rants/criticism? All loved.