Laxus woke up to find the Celestial Spirit Mage curled up in his arms, her hair spilling in every direction. He smiled down at her, wondering what she could be dreaming about as he gently ran a finger along her arm. Even now, just watching her, he could feel himself falling for the sweet blonde. He sighed, hearing stirrings outside his tent, and gently shook Lucy awake. He wished he could have let her sleep longer, but he knew if they stayed in their tent for too much longer rumors would start between his three friends. As it was, he was sure he could hear Bickslow and Evergreen whispering to each other. One big brown eye opened at looked at him, before squeezing itself shut again and he chuckled.
"I know, not a morning person," He whispered in her ear. "But unless you want rumors of what happened between us last night to spread like wildfire then you might want to get up and greet the day."
She groaned, "They wouldn't dare."
"They dare to do a lot, even when I am around to stop them," Laxus laughed.
Lucy sighed and finally open both eyes.
"Fine, I'll get up, but only if you promise that I can get five minutes alone in here to change and fix this mess I call hair," She said, pretending to pout.
"It's a deal," He said, kissing her softly before stepping out into the pre-lit dawn.
Evergreen and Bickslow were, in fact, conferring in low voices as Freed began cooking breakfast. Evergreen's face brightened when she saw Laxus, then fell a little when she realized that Lucy wasn't right behind him.
Laxus chuckled, taking a seat next to the fairy woman, "Don't worry, Ever. Luce requested a few moments of alone time to make herself more presentable to the team. She'll be along shortly."
Evergreen huffed, "I wasn't worried."
The trio of men ignored her as Freed began to pass out plates of hot food. Lucy stepped out only moments later and Bickslow couldn't quite manage to stifle his laughter.
"Natsu wasn't lying when he said you had a nose for food," The Seith Mage teased.
Lucy blushed, sitting beside Laxus and quietly thanking Freed as he handed her a plate of warm food.
Lucy looked around as she ate, surprised at how tranquil the morning had started. Never before had she been able to sit around a fire and actually eat her meal. Most of the time it was grabbing a quick bite on the road, if they had time, and then they were off again. Watching how Laxus's team operated made Lucy long for something similar in her own team. The Thunder Legion worked together, each person doing their own to pitch in.
She was surprised to see Bickslow walking beside her as they started out. Laxus had walked ahead to talk to Freed and Evergreen was occupied with her thoughts, leaving the two alone.
"My turn," Bickslow said, grinning cheekily at her.
"You're turn for what?" She asked, cautiously.
"To talk to you. Evergreen got to hog you most of the day yesterday and what you didn't spend with her you spent with our fearless leader. Today it's my turn," He answered, sticking his tongue out in his signature gesture.
Lucy cocked her head to one side, curious as to what the youngest member of Thunder Legion would want to talk to her about. Especially since they weren't very much alike.
"What would you want to talk about?"
"One, Laxus. Two, your spirits," He answered, ticking them off his fingers as he talked.
The first one didn't surprise Lucy in the least. She was sure that he, like Evergreen, was going to warn her not to break the Dragon Slayer's heart. Which she had no intention of doing. The second one, however, completely baffled her. Why would Bickslow want to talk to her about her spirits? It seemed strange, but she inclined her head, willing to listen.
"I already know about Laxus. 'Don't break his heart' right?" She asked.
"Actually, I was going to say, don't let him break your heart. Laxus adores you, but he tends to run away from serious commitment. Don't let him, it would really break both of your hearts if you did."
She looked at him in surprise. Of all the people she had expected something like that from, Bickslow was definitely not even on the list. The happy go-lucky mage had just never really seemed mature enough to understand something like that before. Lucy was surprised to find herself looking at him in a whole new light.
"Now, that's out of the way, what I really wanted was to question you about your magic," Bickslow grinned causing her to grin back.
"What about it?" She asked, swinging her arms as they walked.
"Well, your spirits are like people, right? And they have souls and personalities?"
Lucy nodded, "Yes. That's why each one seems so unique."
He grinned, "It's just good to see that someone uses magic similar to mine. The others don't really get why I get upset when my babies get hurt. To them they're just animated objects, but they're not. They really do have souls and their own personalities. Like you're spirits."
"I understand. A lot of Celestial Spirit mages have forgotten that our spirits can feel, too. They treat them like shields and weapons and don't stop to worry about if their spirit is hurting or over-exerted. Maybe they're not the same as your babies, but I think I understand how you feel. Each one is special to you in it's own way. They're not really your servants so much as your friends. Your family," Lucy passionately replied.
Laxus looked back at his girlfriend with the same surprised look that he could see on Bickslow's face. He had always known she was a passionate person who cared about her spirits, but to actually hear her talk about them, to see that fierce love and loyalty in her eyes, was amazing to him. His heart swelled. Bickslow was right, he didn't really get their kind of magic because it was so different from his own, but he could see how much it meant to them. Suddenly he felt bad for all of the times he had teased Bickslow for getting upset whenever one of his 'babies' was injured.
Bickslow was still staring at Lucy, his mouth slightly agape and Laxus could tell Lucy was getting a little nervous as she hedged closer to where he was talking to Freed.
"Yes!" Bickslow shouted, as if her movement had woken him up. "That's it exactly!"
The whole group jumped a little at his shout and Lucy smiled happily at him.
"I knew you'd get it, Lula, I just knew it," Bickslow said, wrapping an arm around her.
Lucy froze for half-a-second, one that she was sure Laxus didn't miss.
Lula? Everyone calls me Luce. Well, Levy calls me Lulu, but Lula? She thought.
The group arrived at the station just then and Lucy used it as an excuse to quietly ask Bickslow why he'd chosen Lula for her nickname.
"It's what Levster always calls you, right?" Bickslow asked.
"Levster?" Lucy asked, bewildered.
"He had his own nicknames for everyone," Evergreen explained. "Levster is Levy. Lax-y is Laxus. Freed is referred to as Smartie. I'm either Beautiful or E-Green, depending on his mood. Lisanna is Lissy. And it looks like he's settled on LuLa for you."
Lucy giggled, "Actually, Levy calls me Lulu, Bickslow."
"I like Lula better," The man answered, grinning. "And you can call me Bics if you want. No need to use my full name unless you're Freed or you're mad at me."
Lucy laughed as the train pulled in, looking up to see Laxus standing next to her.
"May I please have my girlfriend back?" He asked, slightly annoyed at how chummy Bickslow was getting with her.
Bickslow mock bowed, "Be my guest."
Laxus was surprised at how annoyed he was with Bickslow. Part of him was thrilled that Lucy had found someone she could relate to on his team, but another part was irritated that it had to be Bickslow. Freed and Evergreen he could have understood, but Bickslow? He inwardly sighed at the thought of her spending so much time with the man. Though he wasn't acting like it, Bickslow was a huge pervert and Laxus was worried that he might try something on Lucy.
He knew better, really he did, but that didn't stop the jealousy that was coursing through him like rage. He tugged Lucy onto the train, opening the first available private carriage and slamming it shut behind him. Both of them missed the looks of concern that were exchanged between the remaining trio as Lucy looked at him in shock.
"You okay, Lax?" She whispered, touching his face gently.
Now that the others were out of sight Laxus relaxed, feeling foolish for his overreaction. The whole point of bringing Lucy along was for her to get to know his team and for them to get to know her. That was going to happen if he was always trying to horde her to himself and pry her away from them whenever they were starting to get close. He rubbed his face and sat down across from her.
"I'm sorry about that, Lucy. I shouldn't have behaved like that. I don't know what got into me," He apologized, sighing heavily.
Lucy smiled, "It's alright, Laxus. Just next time you decide to do that, forewarn me. You had me worried."
He smiled back and kissed her forehead, "Don't worry. I don't plan on doing it again."
She laughed, "Good. Now, could you tell me what this job is we're doing? Everyone seems to know except me, which is totally unfair."
Laxus frowned, "You know, now that you mention it - I don't know what it is either."