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By HawkofNavarre

Other / Romance

Out of the Loop

She couldn't understand men. She would never understand men for as long as she lived, and the mage had landed on that conclusion after several weeks of relentless flirting. Lucy had thought she had maybe at least had a vague idea on how males thought. It was common knowledge that the hormonal meat bags did their thinking with a head that didn't sit upon their shoulders. She knew that cleavage could pretty much get her anything because of that weakness. She knew that while enchanted with beauty or sexiness, they were easily manipulated, and she knew that if she stuck out her lower lip, any man would be at her disposal.

At least, that's what she used to think she knew.

Lately, none of those things applied. It wasn't like she wanted to be a slut or anything. It was just that all those flirty things led to male interest, which led to a boyfriend, which she wanted. Lucy wasn't about to wait around and leave her feminine wiles to gather dust! They were there! She might as well use them!

She'd tried the low top with Gray—a risky move since Juvia was so obviously in love with the ice mage, but Lucy thought she'd give it a try after repeated ignorance towards the water magician's attempts at gaining his reciprocation. She had been wearing a tube top that day and had used the classic technique of clasping her hands together. This, of course, resulted in her arms pressing her chest together to make her breasts look even larger. This skill had never let her down before.

…that time being the exception. Gray blinked like he hadn't even noticed and walked away. Part of her hadn't been surprised, knowing that he was completely dense and hardly part of the dating scene. The other part of her, the one that trusted the infamous "chest-press", was severely astonished that the move hadn't affected Gray even a little. And then she had been angry, because Lucy had taken a huge risk when she decided to put her plan into action, and afterwards Juvia would be trying to murder her like a mad woman until the half-naked man gave her some attention. Then again, it would have happened either way.

Her next scheme was the mini-skirt. Some guys liked the ass more than the chest. Yeah, she knew what those perverts wanted! This time, it was Elfman that she victimized—well, not victimized, just targeted—no—there wasn't a way to make it sound good! Anyhow, in her shortest ruffled mini-skirt, she "accidentally" dropped her whip and was "forced" to bend over (she made sure not to flash anyone, of course) and pick it up. A crash had sounded shortly following and the spirit mage had worn a smirk of certainty.

However, when she turned around, Elfman, completely unfazed and with a straight face, commented, "How clumsy! A man never drops his weapon!" before stalking off. She was so incredulous that she hadn't even been able to retort that she wasn't a man!

The only consolation was that a nearby Makarov had collided with a table at the sight of her bending over and was then on the floor twitching with a bloody nose. Too bad it wasn't much of a comfort. The thought of a man as old as their guild master ogling her behind was terrifyingly disturbing and it sent shivers up her arms.

Days after that scarring incident, Lucy had been lonely and summoned Loki to ask if he would go on a date with her, strictly as friends. She had absolutely no intention of getting into a relationship with one of her spirits, and Loki had always been her good friend in tough situations.

Instead, she got, "I'm sorry, Lucy, but I could never do anything that could even remotely develop into something romantic with you."

She had been insanely offended. What the heck were those words supposed to mean? "So you mean even if you were still living on Earthland, you wouldn't even give me a chance?" she had demanded in fury. Loki had been a playboy, and even he regarded her as a terrible catch!

"No!" he'd spluttered desperately, a panicked look in his eyes. "That's not what I mean at all! I can't like you!"

"Why? Am I such a pathetic master that it's impossible to like me?"

"'Course not! You're the greatest master I've ever had! It's just—I could never betray a friend!" Loki had replied in haste.

The blonde had given him a peculiar look. "Betray…a friend?"

His eyes had rounded beneath his glasses, quickly dismissing himself before she could force any details out of him. She knew that if she called him now, he'd only ignore it. There was something he didn't want to say to her.

Lucy was shot down and full of anger for men. She'd given up on why they wouldn't respond to her advances. Maybe she was just undesirable in general…? It was perfectly reasonable. She was sure she was at least a little good looking, but she was a pretty weak mage and a rather sad fighter. With just her whip, her probability of winning a one-on-one was low. She was reserved when it came to her creative side and she was rather selfish…

"Mira-san, am I a terrible catch?" she asked worriedly at the bar.

Her guild mate was leaning her elbows against the table, smiling brightly. "How can you think that about yourself, Lucy? You're a great person and any man would be lucky to have you," the shape-shifter told her comfortingly.

"So why isn't anyone interested in me?" the blonde lamented as she flattened her upper body onto the bar counter. "I've even used my sex appeal to try and draw some attention! There are tons of guys in this guild, and none of them are even remotely attracted to me!"

"Really? None? Not even one?" Mirajane spoke evasively, a twinkle in her eye.

Lucy straightened herself out as soon as she noticed the mischievous tone her friend was using. "Mira-san, you know something!" the key-bearer accused her senior in disbelief, mostly because there was actually something to know.

"Ooh, there's something to know?" another voice pitched in. Lucy knew it as her close friend Levy's voice, a cheery bookworm who used the magic of words to cut down her opponents.

"Oh no, Levy. You already know it," the waitress replied as if the other female wasn't even there.

"Know what?" Lucy pressed urgently. There was something going on around here, and she was going to find out! Loki had been the first hint, but Mirajane and Levy were in on it too. She really needed to get in the loop.

"Ah, that!" Levy nodded to herself with a look of slow revelation. A suspicious smile crept up the blunette's face as she took a seat next to the celestial wizard. "I can't believe she doesn't know!"

"Know what?" she repeated, almost shaking her chair around now, pulling tightly on the sides of her stool as she bounced around impatiently. "Will you guys stop acting like I'm not here and please just tell me what you're talking about?"

"My, my, perhaps it would be better coming from a male's perspective?" the transforming mage suggested airily.

"Good idea," Levy agreed instantaneously and turned to the room full of guild members. "Gray! Come here!"

Raising an eyebrow, an amazingly fully clothed Gray approached them. "Yeah, did you guys need something?"

"We just want to know," Levy told him hypothetically while Lucy eyed an envious figure that was partially concealed behind an adjacent wall, "what do you think of Lucy, you know, as a woman?"

The spirit mage froze in disbelief, gaping at her friend's actions. What in the world was she doing asking about Gray's opinion of her?

"'As a woman'?" he repeated almost incredulously as he tugged at his shirt, as though he wanted to remove it. "This isn't some kind of joke, is it?"

"Oh no, no. We just want to know what you think—including Lucy," Mira cut in helpfully.

At this point, Lucy wanted to summon Horologium and hide inside of him so that she could shrink into a corner and feel smaller. "I…I didn't say I wanted that…" she trailed off weakly in embarrassment, words falling on deaf ears. She wished to the celestial spirits that Juvia didn't come after her because of this.

Gray considered her for a moment, her face beet red as he did so, then suddenly turned back to the other two girls. "Definitely pretty," he began, nodding as if in confirmation to himself, "smart, and a good ally to have in battle. I think she's a nice girl."

The blonde didn't know whether he was actually telling the truth or just secretly trying to make her feel better about herself. If it was a latter, it was certainly working.

"Would you ask her out?" asked the solid-script mage.

Gray stepped back quickly and put his hands out in front of him like he was telling someone to stop. "Oh hell no."

"And why the hell not?" Lucy snapped back, offended by this seemingly obvious and insulting answer.

"You're Natsu's girl," he replied easily, the two other mages nodding in agreement.

"His 'girl'? What's that supposed to mean?" She either wasn't quite sure as to what Gray was getting at or she just lacked the comprehension to decipher his bizarre answer.

"You're Natsu's girl. Everyone in the guild knows it except you two morons who are too slow to realize it yourselves," the icemaker explained casually.

Lucy didn't think about it; she just reacted. "I'm nobody's girl! I don't belong to anyone!" she spat furiously, waving her fist in the air. "Who's the person who started this…thing?"

"Nobody started it," the dark-haired magician told her, shrugging, "it's just like that. It just is."

"How is it 'just like that'?" she demanded in humiliation. How was she the only one who didn't know about this—especially when it concerned her? And this really concerned her!

Mira's eyes peered thoughtfully at the ceiling. "Well…it's not a rumour or anything. It's more like it's something that developed over time that everybody noticed. Now, it's just a regular thing."

"Kind of like how everyone knows that Erza will kill you if you're caught misbehaving," Gray added in explanation, his voice muffled beneath the shirt he was trying to take off.

"No way, I'm sure you've all got it wrong," the blonde replied in swift denial, because the only way she and Natsu would ever be some sort of couple was if she had gone insane and if he turned into…someone other than himself. Natsu would irrevocably not be the dating type. If he were ever to date a person though, it would be… "Lisanna is Natsu's girl. You've all seen them together!"

They all stared at her with open mouths before bursting into laughter, causing Lucy to turn red for probably the fiftieth time that day. "What?" she protested loudly. The mage felt hopeless at this point. It was like she'd fallen into parallel universe where everybody thought that Natsu was interested in her.

"Did someone say my name?"

Lisanna bounded up happily, waving cheerfully. Her right to call Mirajane her sister was evident in her white hair and jovial demeanour.

"You—and Natsu—together!" Levy choked out between laughs and giggles that were causing her to double over.

Lucy looked in annoyance at her fellow bookworm as the animal mage looked in surprise. "Oh, I thought I'd sorted that out with you guys a while ago?"

The celestial mage didn't understand exactly how her eyes were staying in their sockets. This was simply way too much to take in one day. Lisanna had openly admitted to having a crush on Natsu, and here were three people laughing so hard that they were falling over like the relationship wasn't even possible. Were they just mean? Or was she that out of the loop?

"I know what you're thinking, but they're not being insensitive to my feelings," Lisanna assured her with a hand gesture. "After a week of being back at the guild, I understood that Natsu had chosen you and I took the time to move on. It was mostly just a childhood crush anyway."

Her jaw might have hit the floor had it the ability to unhinge that far. This was over a year ago? Over a flippin' year ago? Somehow even Lisanna had seen what Lucy believed impossible, and only after a measly week!

"No, no, no! This isn't right at all! You like Natsu—"

"I liked Natsu."

"—and you two should definitely be together, even if I don't believe he's capable of that kind of love!"

"Don't worry, Lucy! I've been over it for quite a while now. There's nothing to be ashamed of if you want to be with him."

"Why won't anyone listen to me? Natsu does not have feelings for me!" she moaned into her hands as she slumped into her seat miserably.

"You're correct in thinking that," a masculine voice told her in support.

"Gajeel!" Of course, it was Levy who announced this.

Lucy could've easily gotten even more furious at the fact that this humiliating conversation was getting around the whole guild, but she was grateful to finally have someone on her side. The fact that it was Gajeel was a tad strange, but she'd take whatever she could get. Feeling slightly relieved, she drew herself up. "Thank you, Gajeel."

"Feelings are fleeting. A dragon slayer doesn't have some cheap, pathetic feelings. We give a piece of our soul to our mate, binding us together for eternity. Feelings are too shallow to describe what we have inside," he snorted derisively. "He will not choose another. We find one, and we find only one that we can ever 'feel' for in this lifetime." The male's eyes fell upon Levy as he spoke, the blue-haired teen appearing to be lost in his words.

Lucy vaguely felt as though she'd been shot through the chest by her only ally. The female opened her mouth, then closed it, at a loss for words. Her thoughts jumbled together as she desperately tried to think of something to say, but her brain finally failed her and she simply let out a frustrated cry and her face took refuge against the table again.

Gajeel's voice stood out once more as he grabbed Levy's forearm, an action that was much gentler than it seemed, and began to lead her to the door. "Come on, shrimp! Mission!" He was doing a stellar job of ignoring the two murderous glares on his back that belonged to the partners of the girl he was dragging off.

Lucy closed her eyes in jealousy. Nobody was poking at Levy for being Gajeel's girl, which she obviously was—or more accurately, the only girl that Gajeel would ever "feel" for. She stood up with a newfound fury and placed a sharp look on all who were surrounding her.

"Listen up. Natsu and I will never be together. We're just friends, and I'm going to prove that to all of you, so just watch!" she proclaimed confidently. Nobody laughed at her this time, but Mira gave her a knowing smile that shook her just a little.

"We'll watch," Mira agreed, her joyful expression not shifting in the least, "and see."

And for some reason, Lucy suddenly regretted her words.

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