He and Lucy were waiting patiently for another good job, which usually meant that he was blasting fireballs at Gray and Gray was chucking ice-spears at Natsu. That was exactly what was going on in the Fairy Tail that normal sunny day.
“Oi! Natsu! You’re losing your touch! Can’t even give me a little burn!” Gray mocked him with a smirk after blocking the fire-mage’s last attack with his ice shield. He was without a shirt like he was most of the time and standing on top of one of the tables, taunting his long-time rival.
“What? I hope you’re getting ready to roast like my lunch! I’ll show you who’s losing his touch!” Natsu retorted angrily, flames surrounding him dangerously. The dragon slayer put one foot forward menacingly and it crushed the wooden floor below easily. A path of destruction already lay before him from previous attempts at harming Gray and it would seem that the area would only become more burnt than it already was.
The teenage boys glared at each other although a menacing grin played across both faces. Only one would be left standing.
Somewhere in the room, a sigh left a guild member’s lips. “Guys, can’t you just live one day without fighting?”
Natsu took his eyes off his opponent to glance at his whiny partner. She was also at her regular spot by the bar, talking to Mirajane. He had no idea why Lucy was complaining about the two boys’ constant brawls. Maybe she was…
“Lucy, are you mad because I didn’t ask you if you wanted to fight?” he questioned his teammate worriedly.
He figured that this would be a completely appropriate subject for her to get mad at him with, and perhaps if he tried to make it up? What else could she be sulking about—or brooding, for that matter.
However, Lucy didn’t look at all happy with his slow and untrue revelation. She simply looked at him with disdain. “You are absolutely mental,” she declared in disbelief. “I can’t believe that you’re my partner!”
“Eh? What’s that supposed to mean?” Natsu demanded as he left his spot to go bother the stellar spirit mage.
“Hey, get back here! I’m not done with you!” Gray shouted at his rival’s back, though his protests were left unheard.
Lucy flicked a lock of her hair behind her shoulder and shot a glare at both of them. “I just want some peace and quiet for a day. Is that too much to ask for?”
The dragon slayer blinked in confusion. “What peace and quiet?”
“Exactly,” she groaned back in despair.
“Hmm, if you feel that way, Lucy, it might be best that you go home,” Mirajane suggested cheerfully. “Things don’t settle down quite so easily here.”
It was at that time that Erza walked in her standard Heart Kreuz armour looking disapprovingly at their surroundings. Tables were knocked over, the floorboards were wrecked, and a quarter of the room looked charred. Natsu blanched in fear. Although the room didn’t seem to bother anyone else, Erza was a member of Fairy Tail that totally enforced the rules. She was also really, really scary. That was one girl you did not want to mess with.
“What happened here?” she asked as she glanced at the wooden floor, wet and burnt. It wasn’t suspicious, was it?
“Natsu and Gray happened,” Lucy muttered scornfully.
If there had been more time, Natsu would have used it to give the key holder a piece of his mind. Sometimes that girl was really unreasonable. Lately, all she’d been doing was criticizing him, and he didn’t really care besides the fact that it was quite annoying. He hadn’t ever really been angry with Lucy, but right now she was pushing whatever patience he had. The fire mage had thought she was nice! Really, did that woman want him to die? Sheesh, she had some problems.
Regrettably, there wasn’t a second to even get a glimpse of the formerly kind and now grumpy teenage girl. He and Gray flew together like oppositely charged magnets with an arm around the other’s shoulder, and grinned nervously at their senior.
“Heh, heh, we were just playing Dodge the Elements!” Gray supplied helpfully, and Natsu was certain the ice mage’s feelings toward Lucy at the time were similar to his own.
“Yeah! It’s really fun with fire and ice!” the dragon slayer added, sweating slightly. “We weren’t…”
“Doing anything to try and harm each other!” the black-haired male finished professionally. They’d gotten into these situations many times.
“We would never hurt each other, because we’re such good friends!” they shouted in unison, feigning congenial smiles.
“Right, okay then,” Erza nodded at the two. “Just try not to wreck so much stuff next time.”
Natsu and Gray glared at her.
“Anyway, I’ve gotten a mission that pays over a million jewels, but I need more fire power,” the ex-quipper explained. “We’d be taking out a whole gang of thieves, so I figured you two would be good for the job.”
“Sure,” Natsu agreed without a second thought, “I’m always up for a good fight.”
“Tch, if he’s going, I’m going. I’m not going to get beaten by some third-rate dragon slayer,” the ice alchemist snickered arrogantly, forgetting that he was in the presence of Erza the Titania.
She raised an eyebrow. “Are you guys having an argument?”
“Not a chance!” Gray exclaimed, alert again as he slapped his “best friend” on the back.
“Jubia will come too!” announced the water mage, appearing out of nowhere. “I will go wherever Gray-sama goes!”
Gray didn’t even twitch. It looked like he wasn’t even listening as he pulled a shirt over his head, though it was strange because now he was missing his pants…
Erza nodded and looked to Lucy curiously. “Lucy, do you want to come too? You’ve been on the lookout for high paying jobs, right?”
“Alright, it sounds good to me,” she replied willingly, smiling at her powerful companion.
“Oh, and where’s Happy, Natsu?” Erza questioned him concernedly.
“He ate some bad fish this morning, so he’s not here and probably won’t be able to come with us on the mission,” he answered quickly, recalling his poor friend hunched in a corner, shivering. There wasn’t much he could do about. Happy had caught that fish himself.
“Okay then, meet at the train station tomorrow morning at eight,” the scary woman told them before leaving the guild’s room.
Natsu froze in regret. Did she just say…train?
He swore there were tears leaking from his eyes. Natsu hated this place—no, he hated the means of transportation that it led to. The agony within him was inevitable. He had sworn he would never ride the train again, yet here he was, waiting to board that sickening piece of moving wood. Oh, he should have never, ever accepted that mission from Erza in the first place. Bad things always happened when he went on jobs with that woman! Things like evil flutes and crazy men in towers happened when she was there!
“Jeez, you look pathetic,” Gray taunted him as the ice maker walked up beside him on the platform, arms crossed behind his head.
Natsu didn’t bother retaliating. His situation was too devastating to think about anything else. Just thinking about the strange feeling under his body and the sharp jerking of the train starting and stopping…
He keeled over, groaning, “I think I’m going to be sick…”
“What the—we’re not even on the train yet, moron!” his rival shouted in disbelief. “Don’t get sick on solid ground!”
“Ugh,” Natsu moaned in anguish, grabbing onto the closest anchor, which just so happened to be Gray’s leg.
“Hey! Let go of me!”
“Natsu! Go barf on someone else, you loser!”
“You guys are already at it this early in the morning?” Lucy asked, clearly not amused as she joined the brawling males along with Jubia.
Natsu stood up, magically brushing off the nauseous feeling in his stomach. “Huh? What’s that supposed to mean?”
She sighed and placed a hand on one of her curvy hips. “Look, I’m just saying that all you two do is fight with each other, cause a big ruckus, and then you end up wrecking everything in sight! Can’t you guys just be normal mages for once?”
Jubia turned with a stubborn look on her face, her curls swinging slightly. “I hope you were not implying that Gray-sama is not normal.”
Natsu ignored her because he was utterly confused. What exactly was the definition of a normal mage? He didn’t really understand what she was saying to him.
So he stated his bewilderment.
“I don’t get it.”
Lucy glared at him for a second and let out a rather undignified scream of frustration and whirled on him contemptuously. He had never seen the stellar spirit mage look so angry in his life. She seemed like she was ready to decapitate him and then put his head on a pike for display.
“Let me tell you what your stupid, pointless little fights did the other day!” she shouted at him, causing him to back up a little. “You set the table I was sitting at on fire. And do you know what was on that table?”
He shook his head in fear, no.
“My favourite book was on that table, Natsu, and that was a special edition copy of it! Do you know how hard it is to find one of those? Huh? HUH?”
Natsu opened his mouth wordlessly to apologize (except he wasn’t sure what was so special about a thing that just contained words on paper) when their superior decided to show up.
“Good morning. It seems we’re all here,” Erza observed with a nod. “Okay, everyone get on the train.”
The dragon slayer didn’t have time to apologize, nor mourn his impending death that awaited him on the train. He was shoved quickly through the door before a word could leave his mouth.
The fiery-haired teenager trudged—or at least tried to do something close to that, though it ended up more like crawling—to the back of the train. He hadn’t felt this horrible in a long time. Motion sickness coupled with the guilt of ruining one of Lucy’s most prized possessions really set him in. A groan came from his mouth as he flung the door open at the back of the train and proceeded to drag himself to the mini-balcony, searching urgently for fresh air. His hand grasped one of the railings and he pulled himself up, his upper-body leaning over the top bar. He wanted nothing more than to spill his stomach contents on the railway. Watching as the ground in front of him move away from him only made him dizzier.
However, Natsu wasn’t one to give up easily. He was well aware that transportation was his obvious weakness, and he was going to rid himself of it. He just needed to know exactly how to get rid of it. Leaning over the railings didn’t seem to be helping him much, and Lucy certainly was not going to forgive him without him needing to lift a finger.
With a ragged, desperate breath, he decided that he should try to cope with his sickness inside the train. After all, Gray never tried to kill him when they were travelling, and vice versa (not that he could anyway).
Natsu finally managed to reach the doorknob with much effort before he pulled on it.
The knob didn’t move as far as it should’ve, and the door didn’t budge.
He tried again…to no avail.
“I’m…locked out…” Natsu realized in annoyance, bringing himself back over the bar, just in case.
Wow, the door just had to be locked on the wrong side.
Well, this was just perfect. He couldn’t figure out a remedy for his weakness like this. He was ecstatic, really.
Just then, Natsu’s sharp hearing told him that someone else had opened the door when a sliding noise floated into his ears. He spun at the door, but his stomach lurched and he collapsed on the ground, resolute to keep his food in his belly. The fire mage hunched over, hands on the ground, and breathed heavily through his mouth.
“Oh, it’s you…” a feminine voice said, sounding quite displeased.
There, lo and behold, was Lucy, standing there in all of her blonde glory. His back straightened slightly to look at her, but her eyes hardened when his eyes set into hers. He needed to apologize, like really needed to apologize. Unfortunately, this wasn’t his ideal setting to say “sorry” to someone in. He opened his mouth, then snapped it shut quickly, nearly throwing up when he felt the words touch his throat. There had to be a better time.
A mental scream of protest arose within him when she put her hand on the doorknob and tried to pry it open, yet the sliding contraption held fast in its place. Natsu was a bit relieved that he now had a longer time to attempt to compose himself enough to force an apology out his lips, remembering the lock on the only escape route at the current time. He heard Lucy sigh and kneel down in front of his body. She was warm, and he welcomed it. Heat was his thing.
Feeling a tinge better, he closed his eyes and sucked in the oxygen through his nostrils, letting the air fill his lungs. There was a sweet scent in the air, and he continued to breathe in that way as he lay back against the railing. The nice smell was slowly settling his stomach.
“Natsu, you okay?” Lucy asked tenderly as she stroked his back comfortingly. She had seemed to forget the whole incident with her precious book, and it would have made him feel even guiltier had his head been working better.
Yet his mind was fuzzy as the beautiful aroma surrounded him. He simply wanted more of it, a stronger version of it. With his sharpened dragon senses, he silently slipped closer to the source. The smell consisted of cherry blossoms and something else that he couldn’t quite identify, but it was nice—really nice. There was no sign of nausea or sickness within him anymore. All he could think about was that soothing and relaxing scent.
He was sent back to reality when he felt soft flesh against his own. Lucy’s hand had wandered up his back onto the side of his neck, but he wasn’t complaining. That felt good too. Natsu was in a vaguely intoxicated state, drunk off the fragrance that was floating in the air. His head tilted back a little, shuddering when her fingers grazed his cheek. Pure euphoria.
Eventually, he opened his eyes half way, just to see what had happened when Lucy lifted her hand from his face. Lazily, he gazed at her attractive complexion only to see that her cheeks were flaming red and her eyes strayed away from him. Natsu didn’t really know why, so he prompted to find out. He sat up and leaned in closer to her, finding, to his surprise, that the magnificent smell grew stronger. With half-lidded eyes, he knew a revelation was coming on.
Lucy was the source of his cure.
He couldn’t help himself.
Natsu tugged her wrist toward him and fell onto him with a squeak, just as he’d calculated. Her delicate arms were nuzzled at his chest under her own chin, and the right side of her face rested on his left shoulder. Before she could make any movements, the stubborn Fairy Tail loyalist wrapped his arms around her waist, ensuring that his human perfume bottle couldn’t get away.
“N-Natsu…?” Lucy choked out in uncertainty. He could feel the heat radiating from her face, and it was definitely hotter than it was normally.
“You smell nice,” he murmured in reply, his eyelids drooping shut once again. It was only part of the truth. At first, all he’d wanted was to get closer to the wonderful smell, but now that they were in this position, he had absolutely no intentions of letting go.
This was the most content Natsu had been since last seeing Igneel.
Lucy shifted in his arms a bit, lifting her head to look at his face. One of his eyes opened, and then the second. Sure enough, her visage was of a colour that rivalled a strawberry’s. He grinned, just a little.
He didn’t even know what he was thinking anymore. Thinking… There was no thinking. The only thing that was crossing his mind was the image of Lucy, flushed and beautiful.
Natsu didn’t move, wanting to keep feeling her warm breath on his face, her smooth hands on his chest, and her body in his embrace. He found himself never wanting to lose this moment. He didn’t dare move, closing both of his eyes and taking everything in.
So she did.
Their lips touched only briefly, but it was enough to freeze time. Dizzy with bliss, he held the instant they connect—really connected—and didn’t let it go.
“It should be just around the corner,” Erza informed the group, looking at them sternly. “Be prepared.”
The four nodded and followed after the ex-quipper. However, Natsu lagged behind along with Lucy.
He didn’t let it show on his face, but he was pretty sure he’d passed out from pure happiness after that very fleeting kiss on the train. Natsu had woken up with the train still and all his nakama waiting for him on the platform, including Lucy. He hadn’t pondered and simply jumped over the railing to get to the group, going on like he would in a day. He wasn’t willing to doubt that incident.
Lucy hadn’t shown any signs that that had happened either. She’d acted like regular Lucy, sighing at their crazy antics and denying anything Jubia said that implicated her in trying to get a relationship with Gray.
Still, there was something there now that had developed during their time alone.
“Hey, Lucy,” Natsu started.
“Sorry about your book. I didn’t mean to wreck it,” he apologized finally, after having to wait for forever.
Lucy smiled at him, no anger or spite evident in her face. “It’s fine,” she responded cheerfully, waving off his request for forgiveness. “I was exaggerating. I’ve got five more copies at home. When Happy gets better, I’ll just bring him to my old house and get him to take one from the library.”
“Okay, that’s good,” the dragon slayer said before pausing again in though. He just had to ask. “Lucy, are you wearing a scent?”
She shook her head, eying him curiously. “No, not today, why?”
“Didn’t I tell you?” Natsu asked, grinning mischievously. “You smell nice.”