Caged

Part 1: Fullbuster

CAGED

PART 1—TEN YEARS OLD (2007)

Fullbuster

The day I start out my new school, there's not a speck of rain—its far dryer here than Canada's rainy climate. The air is crisp and cool, leaves crunching under our feet as we press their corpses to the pavement. Ultear's hair flows behind her in a dark cloud and Lyon's spiky hair has three clumps droop downwards after the wind knocked them awry.

My own black hair is obstructing my vision but I don't try to move them—there's no point to it, really. Unless the wind stops the ebony strands will just return to where they lay now.

I watch as Lyon and Ultear change paths, the high school and middle school looming in the distance. My own school takes another five minutes to get to. I continue walked and at the gate, I pause.

"Hi!" A chipper voice grabs my attention and I turn to see a boy with spiky pink hair and a white scarf behind me, a toothy grin adorning his face. "I'm Natsu." No one catholic school was ever this nice to me and all I can do for a moment is blink in surprise.

"I'm Gray." Natsu is about an inch shorter than me. I then realize I have no clue where the hell I'm going. "Do you know where the office is?"

He grins, grabbing my wrist—the bruise is fading but the pain is still there—as he runs into the building, promptly abandoning me in front of the double doors. My blue gaze follows his form as it runs down light blue hall, backpack swinging wildly behind him. Bastard.

The office is way different here. The walls are baby blue, one holding a mural of a forest, a friendly deer, bear and other animals painted on. A woman with brown hair and green eyes smiles as I shuffle over.

"You must be our new student, Grayson." I nod, gaze flittering to the ground as I twist my sleeves around. She chats to me before typing on her computer then leaving me to my class, knee-length purple skirt swishing around her legs. My vision is parallel with the small of her back, the white polka-dots adorning her black blouse spotting my line of seeing.

My new class is the same blue color, painting and drawings dancing above my head, strung up on a clothes line. The teacher has red hair, her face speckled in freckles. Natsu waves wildly from a spot by her desk.

The students all introduce themselves one by one, some more enthusiastic than others. There's Natsu, Cana, Lisanna, Gajeel, Levy, Hannah, Percy, Mila, Jeremy, Sting, Rogue, Sara, Rin, Sam, Mike, Jet, Droy, Casey and Mary.

"Why don't you tell the class your name, sweetie?" My teacher requests.

"I'm Gray Fullbuster-Milkovich."

"Why do you have two last names?" Lisanna asks.

"I'm adopted…" Everyone sits in silence before Ms. Smith claps her hand together.

"Anyone have another question for Gray?"

"Just one," Gajeel says as he raises his hand lazily, lounged back in his seat. "Why didn't your parents want you?"

I stand awkwardly, fiddling with the fabric of my jeans as I stare at him with wide eyes.

"Buzz off, Gajeel," Natsu says finally, eyes flashing with anger. "Don't be a prick."

"Gajeel, don't be rude, and Natsu don't use that language," Ms. Smith snaps. "Gray, take a seat by the class savior."

She gives me a blank name tag and blue marker, which I hold in my hand, tip of the pen hovering over the page. Gray Fullbuster-Milkovich will never fit. I share my concerns with Natsu and Lisanna and they tell me, "Just pick one."

"Pick one?"

"Yea, you have two last names and you only need one."

Dad would be livid if I write Fullbuster, but writing Milkovich would be letting him win. Lyon can flick off our dad and curse his brains out, but I can't, and as long as I remain myself I'll never be able to. As simple as it is, my heart pounds as I write out Gray Fullbuster.

I smile, the ink didn't even smear from my hand dragging across it. I think I'll take this as a good omen.

Gray Fullbuster. It sounds way better without the extra family-marker. My name has never felt more natural.

chemical violets

I sit with Natsu, Lisanna, Cana and Levy at lunch, Fullbuster bouncing around the caverns of my mind, along with Gajeel's smug voice. Why didn't your parents want you? I had never thought of it like that before. That was always just the way it was. Gray Milkovich-Fullbuster, the black-haired boy with parents who aren't quite his parents.

"Hey, Gray." I look up into Natsu's dark eyes as he continues. "Don't listen to Gajeel, okay? He's a jackass." I smile at him, which he returns 2x as wide.

"Where are you from, Gray?" Cana asks.

"Isvan. It's in Canada."

"You're from a different country!? Cool!" Natsu exclaims.

Finally, it seems, I have friends. Not just Lyon when no one but his close friends are around. I have Natsu with the pink hair and black eyes. Cana with the brown hair and purple eyes. Lisanna with her white hair and warm blue eyes. Possibly even Levy and her two male friends, Jet and Droy.

It's a small group, but finally my only friend isn't my brother. I hope I'm not reading too far into it—after all, I once had friends in catholic school. But people change. People leave. People are unreliable.

chemical violets

There is a large empty field before you reach the fence stopping kids from running off into the forest. The playground is on raised ground, mulch in varying shades of brown covering the L shaped ground. The playground is far different from the one at Holy Family—if it could even be called that. We played in the parking lot, each grade getting three jump-ropes to play with that the older kids would always steal and hide. Every time a car would drive through to get to the church the teachers would scream Car! and we'd have to stand on the sides of the lot, waiting as the vehicle passed at 2 miles per hour (A/N this is legitimately how recess was at my catholic school) The play structures have rusty corners and the swings creak as a group of girls kick their legs to stay in motion.

Natsu drags me off to the monkey bars, laughing as he swings quickly across the red structure, hands squeaking against the metal. The paint flakes off as he moves, red flurries floating down like red snow, an entire rectangle of paint fluttering past my vision.

I slowly curl my fingers around the metal as Natsu waits for me on the other side, slowly and shakily moving across the metal. My grasp slips and I crash to the mulch. I shake off the pain in my ankle, staring at the red dots littering my friction-burnt hands. Natsu is suddenly next to me, wiping the flakes off my palm with his calloused hand.

"Haven't you ever been on monkey bars?"

"No." Frost always made the bars too slippery to play on. He looks shocked for a minute before grinning.

"That's okay. You can only get better."

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