Do you truly see me?
She could faintly feel the coldness seeping into her skin through her clothes as she sat beneath the pouring sky. It wasn't like it mattered much to her that her clothes were practically see through from the water drenching the fabric, or that her usually well kept locks of blonde hair were sticking to her face. Lucy didn't pay attention to the dirt clinging to her knees as she kneeled in the park amidst the newly blossoming cherry trees, staring up at the angry gray clouds. A swift wind buffeted her body as she let out a choked sob to the uncaring skies, the tears trailed down her face mixing in the cascade of water pouring down her body, and yet she didn't care.
Her world had just been turned upside down and it hurt to think of anything, because it was sure to always lead back to him and what he did. His actions, his words cut deep and the more she revisited their interactions the more she kicked herself for being so damn blind. Admittedly it was an odd match up to begin with as just about everyone thought she'd never give the oddball a second look, but she thought underneath it all he was a sweet guy so what harm could it possibly do to see if it would go anywhere? To see if they could connect on a deeper level? She supposed deep down she'd had a vague idea of what might happen, of what his past was like, but she could've never guessed just how badly it would hurt her in the end.
"Lucy are you serious?"
"Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"
"Because I just don't get why you're willing to date… him."
"Why? Because he's a big goofball?"
"No, more like he's the biggest player in Earthland and nothing good could possibly come of this."
"Gray I think you're just over exaggerating."
"…..If you say so Lucy. I just hope you're right."
"Yes, my lovely Lucy?"
"I was wondering if you'd like to go get some coffee with me..."
"You… you mean like a DATE?!"
Lucy giggled at his shocked face. "Yeah, like a date." She tilted her head and gave him a soft smile. "So, would you like to?"
"Would I ever!? Come on lets go!"
Squeezing her eyes closed as the memories filtered through her mind, Lucy couldn't break the slide show playing rapidly flickering behind her eyelids, forced to relive everything that had led up to this moment. Another tear squeezed through as she fisted her hands in the fabric of her yoga pants, desperate to to make the images stop, but it was on rails now. The cruel images continued to taunt her from the recesses of her mind, the barbs poking and prodding her with every jeer that echoed through her mind.
"Dan, who was that?"
"Hmm? Who was who baby?"
"That woman you just had your eyes glued to."
He laughed, shaking his head as Lucy' narrowed her eyes at him. "You know I've only got eyes for you love." His hand slipped down to grasp hers, threading their fingers together and placed a kiss across her knuckles.
She still wasn't satisfied with that answer, but maybe she was just being paranoid? Perhaps she was just seeing things were there were none? She did have an active imagination after all. She turned over the thoughts in her mind for a few minutes and figured she'd give him the benefit of the doubt, deciding to let it drop.
"Lucy why do you let him get away with that?"
"Get away with what?"
"Don't play the dumb blonde with me Lucy, I know better."
With a deep sigh she met his concerned gaze with her own. "Look Gray, it's not that big of a deal ok? It's not like he's cheating on me or anything?"
"The hell he's not! He's blatantly disrespecting you, IN FRONT OF YOU! And you have no problem with that?!" He bellowed out, as he threw his hands up in frustration.
She frowned."Look, I've talked to him about it and he swears it's nothing."
"Nothing my ass. He's a player plain and simple Lucy. You need to get rid of him." He replied with a sneer.
She drew herself up and tensed her shoulders."Don't tell me what to do Gray. I'm a grown woman and this is my relationship, not yours. So butt the hell out!"
"I'm only trying to look out for you Lucy, nothing more. I just want to see you happy." He pleaded with her.
"Has it occurred to you that maybe he makes me happy?" She snapped back as she turned and walked away.
Gray stood there not quite knowing what to say, his hands clenching in suppressed agitation. "No Lucy. Everyone can see he's no good for you, so why can't you?"
He was sitting there on her sofa staring at her with that weird expression again, but for the life of her she couldn't figure out what it meant. The first time she'd seen it she hadn't thought much of it as he normally had goofy looks at any given time, but this one seemed different. She could see the fondness in his gaze of course, but it almost seemed like he wasn't really looking at her, more like a fond memory.
Lucy sat down beside him and leaned into his side as he looped an arm around her shoulder, bringing her closer. She hummed contently, curling into his side as he ran his fingers through her hair, the motion sending pleasant tingles through her body.
Dan nuzzled against her ear, bringing out a giggle when he blew against it playfully.
"I ever tell you, you've got the softest hair I've ever felt?"
"Oh I do huh?" She murmured softly, starting to doze.
"Mhmm. And it's the most gorgeous color of chestnut I've ever seen."
She stiffened as his words cut through the fog in her mind, the words ringing in her ears like a warning bell as she leaned away and locked eyes with him. "What did you just say?" She whispered.
He set there for a moment his mouth open and shook his head, expression shocked almost as if he couldn't believe he'd actually said those words. "I-I meant, blonde hair baby!"
Lucy pulled back as he tried to wrap his arms around her, not wanting him to touch her. "I distinctly heard you say chestnut hair." Her eyes narrowed. "Who were you thinking of that has chestnut hair, 'cause it sure as hell wasn't me."
He swallowed hard at her piercing stare... "I was thinking about my mother. She has the chestnut hair."
Lucy arched a brow. "I thought she had the same hair color you did? Or were you lying to me?"
He faltered. "What? Oh no, Dad has the same hair as me."
Her lips twisted as she continued to stare at him, chewing over his words. Maybe she was blowing this all out of proportion and yet something tugged at the back of her mind. Was he really telling the truth? Was he really only thinking of his mother and had absentmindedly commented on a long buried memory without really noticing?
His lower lip pushed out in an adorable pout as he pinned her with sad puppy dog eyes, the ones she couldn't help but soften at. "I was thinking about my mother, nothing more." He tentatively threaded his fingers with hers, pleading with her to believe him. "I promise, Lucy."
Lucy bit her lip, feeling like a heel. Was he really only thinking about his mother? He could just be missing her terribly and maybe something about her triggered a memory and just blurted out the first thing that came to mind? If so, that made her feel even worse.
She squeezed his hand. "I'm sorry for being so suspicious." She whispered, brushing her lips across his. "Forgive me?"
He grinned and dragged her into his lap, wrapping his strong arms around her. "Of course baby. I understand."
Lucy turned to see the trunk of one of the trees dotting the park and her anger renewed once again. Reminded yet again of all the times she stupidly shook off her suspicions and defended his actions to everyone around her when they questioned his behavior.
"HOW COULD YOU?! HOW COULD YOU LIE TO ME? LIE TO MY FACE AGAIN AND AGAIN AND NOT FEEL A THING?! DID I NOT MATTER ENOUGH TO YOU TO GET YOUR HONESTY? WAS I WORTH THAT LITTLE TO YOU?!"
Snarling, she drove a dainty fist into the bark of the tree barely wincing when she felt the rough texture rip through her knuckles like tissue paper. The pain felt good. It cut through misery as she berated herself over and over again under her breath for not seeing things as others did. Was she so desperate to find happiness that she'd purposefully remain blind against the most obvious signs? With a choked off scream she threw another punch into the tree before her wishing it was the deceiver instead.
"I didn't deserve it, dammit!" She screamed to the heavens as thunder rumbled through the atmosphere, slumping against the tree, her arms dragging down the bark as her forehead scraped the rough grooves. "I didn't… deserve... it." She croaked.
"Lucy? Are you ok? You look pale."
"Hmm? Oh, I'm just fine, Mira."
It was a lie.
"You sure? You look like you're coming down with something. Maybe Wendy should have a look at you." Her face scrunched into a small frown.
Lucy waved off the concern with a weak smile that fooled no one. "I just stayed up too late writing a new chapter to my novel that's all."
They knew something was wrong but she stayed tight lipped about it, refusing to acknowledge that perhaps they had been right all along.
Mira hesitated, clearly not convinced."Well if you're certain you're okay."
"Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be?"
She was anything but fine. That nagging feeling in the back of her mind was now a full blown voice. Something was wrong and she knew it but still refused to see it. She figured as long as she didn't acknowledge it, then nothing was wrong.
With a low groan Dan pulled Lucy into his lap, spreading her legs to straddle him on the sofa. Threading his fingers in her hair he tilted her head to slant his lips against hers as she wrapped her arms around his neck. His teeth dragged across her lower lip, sucking it into his mouth, drawing a gasp from her. Lucy moaned softly as he thrust his tongue into her mouth, flicking it across her teeth and teasing her own as one of his hands traveled down, slipping underneath her shirt to rest against her lower back. Unconsciously she rolled her hips drawing a hiss from him as he pushed against her back to reciprocate the motion. A small whimper left her throat as she tilted her head back and closed her eyes, getting lost in the slow movements of their lower bodies. She twisted her hips slowly and shivered as he let out another groan against her neck, his nose trailed down the smooth column, biting softly against the pale flesh. Letting out a breathless gasp Lucy sifted her fingers through his hair as his lips continued to lavish kisses down to the opening of her blouse, nuzzling the fabric open.
"D-Dan... that feels so good."
He grunted as he thrust up against her, his fingers digging into her hips as he dragged his tongue across the upper swells of her breasts and blew across them.
"Hmm I know. Gods, you taste incredible...Muriel."
The air left her lungs in an instant as her back stiffened and she jerked back from his touches, scrambling out of his lap, staring incredulously down at him. "What did you call me?"
The cloud of lust started to clear from his mind as he noticed just how furious she was standing in front of him, breathing hard and trembling with anger. Hesitantly he went back over his words and froze. Dan swallowed hard as Lucy clenched her hands into fists waiting for what he assumed would be a reply from him, but he honestly had no clue what to say. He moved to get up and faltered when her glare stopped him in place.
"L-Lucy, baby… let me explain..."
Her usually warm brown eyes hardened as she drew herself up to her full height, a mask of fury slid across her face. "Who is Muriel?" She asked softly, but her tone was tinged with a sharp edge saying he'd better think long and hard about how he was going to reply.
Dan tried to produce enough saliva to coat his unbelievably dry throat enough to croak an answer out. "M-Mur..."
"MURIEL!?" She screamed. "WHO IS SHE?!" She leaned in closer, watching as he scooted back in his seat, his eyes wide at being the subject of her wrath. "Who is she?" Lucy asked in a low flat tone that booked no argument.
"Don't… lie to me. Don't you fucking dare."
"But, I've never..."
"Yes, you have." She interrupted coldly. "I may be a blonde but I'm not stupid, nor am I blind. You've had a wandering eye ever since we started dating you bastard and it's not a tremendous leap that you'd step out on me from there."
He hung his head.
"So I ask again, who is she? A one-time fling? A floozy on the side? How many of those have you had over all these months? Do you have more then one? Am I just a number in a sea of hundreds?"
He jerked his head up suddenly. "NO! I swear I'm not seeing a bunch of girls on the side."
She narrowed her eyes again, noticing what he was conveniently leaving out as her arms trembled, her nails dug into her palms leaving indents from her anger. "I noticed you didn't deny seeing this Muriel." She stepped closer, looming over him. "Do you think I'm an idiot?"
"That I wouldn't figure it out?" She seethed.
"I didn't mean..."
"I DEFENDED YOU DAMMIT! TO MY OWN FAMILY." She threw up her hands. "I DEFENDED YOUR ACTIONS. All the while I knew something was wrong. I knew you were keeping things from me, but I refused to see it, because I didn't want to." She choked on a sob, her eyes shining. The tears threatened to spill over but she stubbornly refused to let him see just how badly he'd hurt her. "So stop lying to me… give me some truth… something. Do I not deserve that little bit?" Lucy whispered.
He paled visibly. "I-I didn't mean to Lucy, I swear!" he stammered, holding his hands up. "She just popped back up in town and it brought up all those long dead feelings I thought would never come back. I couldn't help it!"
Lucy trembled with rage as she drew back her throbbing hand from his face. A distinct red mark spread across his cheek as he sat there stunned, not really believing that she'd actually hit him.
Before she could even draw a breath a golden light burst into the room, blinding her. With a mighty roar Leo came stomping out, his glasses gone, jacket missing, tie undone and hazel eyes feral in his rage as he stalked over to the cowering man on the couch. A dangerous snarl rumbled up from his chest as his fists began to glow and Lucy knew he wouldn't stop until he paid this man back for every tear she'd shed.
"YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT! HOW DARE YOU MAKE LUCY CRY LIKE THIS!?" He reared back to deliver what would be a very fierce regulus blast. "I'LL MAKE YOU REGRET THE DAY YOU WERE BORN YOU SORRY EXCUSE FOR A MAN!?"
Lucy latched onto him and swung him around putting herself in front of his heaving form as he snarled out his frustrations.
"Loke, Loke stop it! Please!" She wailed, hugging tightly, the tears freely falling down her cheeks as she clung to his struggling form. "He's not worth it! Please, you've gotta stop this!?"
He stilled and she could hear him draw in a breath, the snarls dying down as her warmth and scent brought him back to himself. His strong arms wrapped around her trembling body as she sobbed, his solid form shook along with hers as he felt her pain.
"Princess… I can't just let him get away with this."
She pulled back wiping her eyes as she stared into the face of her loyal lion and shook her head.
"He's not worth it Loke. I refuse to let you do anything to get yourself into real trouble. Go back, please. We already had a tough time before when you were in trouble and I won't do that again. I won't let you get into trouble with stash face again! I refuse!"
His eyes widened as she started to force his gate closed and she could see him struggling to keep it open desperately. "Lucy, please… let me..."
She kept her eyes on his as he slowly faded into the ether. "Thank you for trying to protect me, my strong lion." She gave him a weak smile as her throat threatened to close under all the emotions rolling around inside her. But she kept the smile on her face for as long as he had his eyes on her.
He sighed and nodded knowing he couldn't do anything and gave her a determined look." I will ALWAYS protect you, my Princess." He swung his gaze back over to the pathetic lump huddled behind the couch as another snarl ripped up his throat. "Don't think this is over you piece of shit. My Princess won't always be there to save your sorry ass. One day when you're least expecting it there I'll be. And I promise you," he grinned, showing a set of very shiny fangs. "You won't even look in her direction without flinching."
With one last echo he faded completely out of existence.
It was a few minutes of pregnant silence before he dared to breath as he stayed behind the couch, using it as a barrier just in case the crazy spirit decided to pop back out. He winced as his eyes once again landed on the blond that still had her back to him. Dan licked his lips before trying to talk again. "L..."
Lucy whirled back around, her gaze fierce even through the tears tracking down her pale cheeks as she all but snarled at him, much like her lion did a few minutes before. "Don't you fucking say a word! Just because I stopped my friend from making a mistake doesn't mean I won't hesitate to do what I refused to let him." Her back straightened suddenly, her shoulders tensing, a level of disgust swam in her usually warm brown eyes making him apprehensive. "This is the last straw. We're over Dan. This is the last time I ever want to lay eyes on you. Ever."
"B-But..let me explain… Lucy please! I don't want to lose you!" He started back around the couch approaching her swiftly.
She backed away, afraid she would do something much worse then slap him if he even tried to touch her. "You lost me a long time ago. You just never knew it." With those parting words she ran out into the night, out of his hotel room, out of his life forever and he knew it.
He slumped to the ground, holding his head as silent tears streaked down his face. "What have I done?" He whispered to no one, knowing he would find no comfort, not here, not anymore. But it was no ones fault but his own and he knew it as he wallowed in self pity.
Her nails dug into the unforgiving bark as another sob crawled up her throat and she desperately willed the pain to erase the misery in the pieces of what used to be her heart. She couldn't stand it. It hurt so bad and nothing would make it right again. No amount of begging or pleading would make this intense pain disappear. Words meant nothing to the scattered ashes of her heart. She banged her fists again and again against the unforgiving tree, her throat raw from continuous use.
Suddenly she found her arms held within a strong grasp and she tried to wrench away from the presence desperately with a wail not wanting to be held by anyone. How dare they touch her. They didn't know what she was going through. Why couldn't they just leave her alone?
"LET ME GO!" She thrashed against the embrace as whoever it was refused to let go and instead held on tighter. She felt a strong tug and was hit with a dizzy spell as she was turned around abruptly, her eyes trying to focus through the tears and rain and found her hands cradled against a warm chest.
But she refused to be consoled and started struggling again. "I SAID LET GOO!"
"NO, LUCY! I WON'T LET YOU GO! YOU'RE HURTING YOURSELF AND I WON'T LET YOU!"
The figure bellowed out, startling her into silence as she tentatively peered up through the wet strands of her long blonde hair covering her face. Vaguely through the darkness she could make out small things here and there but she still had no clue who this person was and why they cared.
She flinched back as a hand rose to cup her frozen cheek tenderly, the thumb absently rubbing over her jaw, tilting her head up. It was at that moment that the moon emerged from the angry clouds across the sky and she found herself staring up into the kind dark eyes of an old friend.
"H-Hibiki?" She croaked out. "What are you doing here?" She wondered if perhaps she had finally lost it and she was only conjuring his phantom image.
His concerned eyes narrowed as he nodded silently, his thumb moving to her chin to tilt her head this way and that examining her as he held her wrists with his other. It felt like an endless amount of time passed before he locked eyes with her again, firm and barely able to repress anger at what could've happened to her.
"What happened? Why are you out here in the rain, hurting yourself?" His voice low.
She tried to jerk her chin out of his hold but he only tightened his grip and warned her with his eyes not to try again.
Lucy's lip trembled as she blew out a choked sigh, her eyes darting everywhere at once, not wanting to see the pity she was sure he'd have in his gaze directed at her. An immense wave of shame overtook her and she just wanted to curl into a ball and forget the day ever began, but she knew he wouldn't let this go, not without an answer.
"I...I..." Not knowing where to begin, or what to say. She didn't want to go back over all of it for fear it would break her again.
He sighed, seeing she was struggling. "I know you don't want to say whatever it is that happened, but perhaps I can find out another way?" he tilted his head gentling his hold on her, as his gaze softened. "Would you perhaps, permit me to look into your mind instead?"
Her eyes widened and he hastened to reassure her. "I won't delve too deep I promise, just skim over the surface." She bit her lip, clearly uncertain. "Please?" He pleaded. "I just want to help, I promise."
Lucy drew in a breath and nodded silently, closing her eyes as she felt the phantom brushes against her mind deciding she'd rather not see the pity in his gaze when he found out. He was very gentle as he moved within her memories of what happened and felt as he stiffened against her, knowing he was seeing everything and cringed. Her eyes opened slowly to find his had closed and had let her wrists go, instead fisting his hands into his pants, trembling.
Hesitantly she laid a hand against his and watched him jerk in surprise, his eyes snapped open, landing on her almost as if he'd forgotten she was even there. "Hibiki?"
He moved to get up. "I'll kill him."
Lucy clutched onto his arm and jerked him back down beside her. "No!"
Hibiki stared incredulously at her. "Why not? The bastard deserves it!"
He lowered his voice as she flinched and drew back within herself. "I'm sorry," he whispered. Setting back on his knees and gently wrapping her battered hands in his with a mournful expression. "I was being selfish. You need me more than that jerk needs a beating right now."
Lucy winced as he rubbed against a deep cut, watching as he frowned from the action. "Lets go get you cleaned up and into some warm dry clothes okay?"
She nodded and as he helped her to stand she paused and looked at him quizzically. "Hibiki, what are you doing here anyways?"
The question caught him off guard and he rubbed the back of his neck as his eyes darted around nervously. "W-Well, I just… missed... you and thought it might be a good time to visit." he mumbled.
"Oh, well I missed you too." She smiled weakly.
Fresh out of a shower and clad in some flannel jammies Lucy sat on her bed as Hibiki painstakingly applied ointment and wrapped her hands up as gently as he could. They had talked for a while about how everything had devolved so badly and Lucy surprisingly found out that she didn't feel the need to cry much about it anymore. Finally they descended into a comfortable silence as she clutched a blanket around her shoulders for warmth almost ready to fall asleep.
"I'm sorry he treated you that way Lucy." he said startling her out of her pleasant dozing. "You shouldn't have been treated that way." he stopped and looked down at her bandaged hands, a deep frown creased his brow. "I know I would never treat you that way." he said softly.
At her soft gasp his gaze flew up and she saw in his eyes the truth of his words. "You mean… you'd want to be with me Hibiki?" She asked in surprise.
"Nothing in this world would make me happier, Lucy." He said seriously.
She sat stunned as her thoughts ran rampant in her mind. Why would he just come out and say that? Why now? Why hadn't he ever said anything before now? But then thoughts of his past decided to push their way towards the front and a blank mask fall over her face as she closed herself off. "That would never work Hibiki." She started to rise but was stopped as he grabbed onto her forearms and refused to let go.
His eyes searched hers, seemingly confused as to her reaction to his admission. He had been assuming she would be taken aback but not like this. It was as if just the mere thought of being with him caused her more pain, but why?
"Why? Why wouldn't we work?" He asked urgently, needing to know.
She drew back as much as he would allow and gave him a questioning look. "Are you serious?"
She sighed and shook her head. "I refuse to go from a replacement of another to the replacement of a dead woman." She leveled him with a dead stare. "I wont do it again, not for anyone Hibiki. So don't ask me, please." She whispered and rose from the bed.
This time he let her go as his mouth fell open, stunned at her reply. She really thought? He jerked to his feet and drew her into his embrace, shushing her as she whimpered.
"I have never thought of you as a replacement for anyone Lucy." She lifted her head to see his gentle smile as he stroked her cheek with his thumb.
"B-but how do I know you're telling me the truth?" She whispered, wanting so badly to believe him, but her abused heart wasn't willing to budge, not without solid proof. There was barely anything left as it was and she didn't think she could handle anything else without dissolving into a sobbing pile of goo.
He leaned in closer touching his forehead to hers as his eyes locked on hers. "Let me show you my lady."
Her eyesight was abruptly stolen from her and she gasped as memories not of her own filtered through her mind. The first time he'd seen her, during the Oracion Seis problem, he'd been attracted to her body yes, but as time went on and they'd fought Angel he saw her intellect and her immense love for her spirits and a deeper kind of affection grew. Sure, she was a celestial wizard like Karen had been but that's where the similarities had ended. Her heart was huge and affection for those she loved ran deep. She was smart, sassy and fun to be around and most of all, she had a kindness that knew no bounds, which was something only unique to her and that's why he'd given her the knowledge of Urano Metria. He knew she'd be able to utilize the spell to it's full potential and knew she would use it wisely, like it was meant be be used. A single tear slipped free as his memories started to fade out and his eyes came back into focus. The last echoes of his were of him wishing her happiness with Dan, and she felt his heart ache at not being the one to hold her and show her just how deeply he cared for her.
"Why?" She choked on a sob. "Why didn't you ever tell me?"
He smiled, wiping her tears from her cheeks. "Because I wanted you to be happy even if it wasn't with me."
"You still could've told me!" She argued.
He shook his head. "You wouldn't have taken me seriously yet, Lucy." He put a finger over her lips before she could interrupt. "I needed you to be able to truly see me as I see you."
Lucy was stunned. He'd said just the right thing to alleviate her fears, for he did truly see her and she now truly saw him, but where did that leave them now?
As if he could read her mind he smiled and brought a hand up to encourage her to lay her head against his chest, his heart thudding steadily under her ear giving her comfort. "Now that both our eyes are clear, we take it slow. We have a long time to get to know each other and I refuse to waste this once in a lifetime chance with you. I'll build your trust back up and treasure the pieces of your heart as you mend and in time maybe we'll have a future worth seeing."
Lucy had no words so she nodded instead not trusting her voice at the moment, her bruised hands clasped gently against his chest, feeling for the first time sure her gaze was indeed clear.