Puppy Love and Human Tears
It was yet another day at the guild. Cana was sitting on one of the tables, her barrel of beer in her lap. Happy was over at a different table with Wendy and Carla, thanking them for doctoring him, as he’d been bedridden with food poisoning for a few days. Kinana behind the bar restocking the wares while Mira chatted with Lucy and Natsu about their latest adventure. It hadn’t gone unnoticed to the She-Devil the way the two friends were sitting slightly further apart and making sure not to brush against one another, or the way Natsu kept glancing at Lucy, whose cheeks would be stained just a bit with pink every time she caught his gaze. Mira knew something had happened on the job that the two were avoiding.
“So what was the job for you two? I thought it was a bit fishy that all it listed were the reward and location.” Her eyes glinted with all the possible reasons for their awkwardness, her inner matchmaker going wild.
Natsu’s eyes lit up at the chance to tell the story, “It was amazing! Once we got to Shirotsume Town that is…” His face turned slightly green at the memory of the train and carriage rides. Lucy decided to finish the story for him.
“Once Natsu recovered and we had our hotel room, we went to the address on the flier. It was a little cottage outside the town about five minutes. When we knocked on the door, a little old lady answered.”
Natsu knocked on the old wooden door. After a moment it opened, revealing a woman who appeared to be in her late 70’s or early 80’s. “We’re mages from Fairy Tail, I’m Natsu and she’s Lucy. We’re here about the job.” He held up the parchment for reference.
“Oh, yes! Come in, come in! I’m Mrs. Trina. The pot of tea I made just finished brewing. Would either of you like a cup?” Lucy nodded, while Natsu declined the offer. The woman fixed the tea, and served it to Lucy, setting the tea set on the coffee table in front of them. Once everyone was settled, the elderly lady pulled out a vial that some swirling reddish brown liquid in it. “I posted the job because I need help testing something. I make potions for the nearby village. Well about a week ago, I overheard some of the village children talking about how it would be amazing to be able to turn into their favorite animals for a few hours. So I made a potion, this one here, that would allow one to become a dog for about six hours. I tested it on myself first, and it works well with no side effects.”
Lucy leaned forward, “So why do you need us? You already tested the potion.”
Nodding, Mrs. Trina smiled and continued, “Well some of the villagers have magic, and I don’t know how this potion would affect them.” The two mages looked confused. “To solve your confusion, I don’t have any magic. The potions I make, while they do have magical properties, don’t require magic to be made.”
“Why don’t you just ask one of the villagers if they would help test it for you, then you could save your money?” The blonde mage nodded at her partner’s question, also wanting to know.
“If I asked one of my friends, and the potion didn’t work as planned, they could be stuck in that form, or even killed.” Both mages gasped. “By killed, I don’t mean dead. I simply mean that their mind would slowly adapt to the form they had taken, meaning they would lose their human identities. But if I can make sure that these potions are safe for mages, and then I’m sure my money spent paying you two to test them would be recouped quickly. Currently I only have this dog one. So, will one of you help me test this? I’m certain there is minimal danger.”
Lucy hesitated. As exciting as it sounded, she couldn’t help but worry about the risks involved. She turned to Natsu, to discuss it with him, but he had already grabbed the vial and downed over half of the elixir. “Natsu!” She quickly knocked the vial out of his hand, but it was too late.
“Hey Luce, I feel funny…” After that, he began shrinking in his clothes, with Lucy unable to do anything but watch. It seemed like it took forever, but in only five seconds, her friend was gone. The pile of clothes where he had been sitting twitched, and there was a shuffling sound, then it started to move. She peeled back the layers of clothing, startled when a small, salmon-haired puppy popped into view.
The little dog panted, licking Lucy’s hand on his way to climbing out of the clothes. Once free, he barked once and a small jet of fire shot out of his mouth. Lucy giggled and scratched puppy Natsu behind the ears. He immediately sat on his haunches and his back leg started kicking, signaling his pleasure at her touch. She turned to Mrs. Trina, “Why is he a puppy? It would make sense that a child became a puppy, but not an adult.”
“The potion is for what species of animal. How old you appear depends on your personality and mental state. I’m guessing that your friend has a mind similar to a child, or that he acts like one most of the time.” Lucy chuckled, thinking how she had no idea how spot on she was. “If you wouldn’t mind, could you two stay in the area and come tell me when he changes back? The town is quite the tourist destination, you know!”
With a smile and a nod, Lucy picked up Natsu, holding him to her chest. “Mmhm! Years ago, we came here on our first official job as a team. But back then, we never really got to explore the town. It would be fun to look around and sight-see. Do you happen to have a bag that I can put his clothes in for when he changes back?” Mrs. Trina nodded and went into another room, coming back a moment later with a canvas doggie backpack. Together, they fitted the harness onto Natsu, who wouldn’t quit squirming.
“That harness will stretch when he changes back, so there is no need to worry about him breaking it or getting hurt.” The old woman attached a leash to the harness after Lucy put the clothes into the bag on Natsu’s back, then handed Lucy the other end. Lucy waved goodbye to Mrs. Trina, and with Natsu running ahead of her to sniff everything he could, the two made their way back to town to their hotel room.
“Okay, Natsu, you stay here and I’ll be right back. Don’t destroy anything while I’m gone.” Lucy left Natsu in the main part of their hotel room while she went to the bathroom to change into some cooler clothes. The morning had been chilly, but now it was in the afternoon, she had begun to sweat on their walk back. It struck her as ironic that what she would tell human Natsu was nearly the exact same thing she told puppy Natsu, making her giggle as she changed.
Once done, she grabbed Natsu’s leash and together they headed out to go sight-seeing. Everywhere they went, children and adults alike would coo and fawn over the pink German shepherd husky puppy. Natsu seemed to enjoy the attention and would play with the children, running around them and chasing them, only to be chased right back. Lucy smiled and watched making sure to keep an eye on the time so he didn’t change back and scar these people. After a few hours of walking around, Lucy tied Natsu outside a store and went in, coming out a little later with a grocery bag in hand.
*End of Flashback*
“… And so then we went and sat at a bench and had dinner till he changed back. We went back to Mrs. Trina to tell her it worked for six hours and that there were no worries about magic users, and she gave us the 50,000 Jewels. We went back to the hotel and stayed the night, mainly because we had paid for it, and also because the carriage to Oshibani Station didn’t leave till 8 AM the next day.” Lucy finished the story and sipped her milkshake.
Mira could tell that Lucy had left some things out, but she wouldn’t press her for them. She would ask Lucy later for the details of why she and Natsu were different around each other. “Well that was quite the adventure! I’m glad you two had fun!”
Checking the time, Lucy finished her milkshake and stood up from the barstool. “I think I’m gonna go home. I need to unpack.” She waved at her partner and a few others in the guild hall, then began her walk home. Her mind flew to what happened at that bench…
They went to the edge of town and the blonde sat on a weather-worn, secluded bench, figuring Natsu would change back soon and she didn’t want any witnesses. She opened the bag and brought out a bowl and some water, filling the bowl before setting it on the ground for Natsu. Going back into the bag, Lucy pulled out some charcoal sticks and matches. When Natsu had drunk some water, she lit one of the sticks and held it out for the pup to eat. It was entertaining to watch the puppy jump around the stick, his tail wagging, then take a bite of fire, only to go back to jumping around.
Her hand getting tired of holding the flaming stick, she stuck it into the soft dirt a few feet from the bench, then lit two more and doing the same to them. Lucy laid back on the bench, staring at the stars. She could hear Natsu running around the fiery sticks, snapping at them, barking once in a while. Her eyes closed and she thought about what she would do if Natsu didn’t change back. What would the guild think? What about Happy? If Natsu didn’t change back, he would be gone. Soon he would just be a dog, not the lovable young man with salmon hair who always seemed to be aloof, and yet able to do or say just the right thing when she needed it most. Who would be there do catch her when she fell? He promised he would always be there, and yet he foolishly drank that potion, knowing he might not return to normal. Did he not think? Did he not care about how it might affect his family?
Without her notice, tears silently began to fall down her face and into her hair. Before long she was sobbing, the thought of losing her dragon slayer almost too much to take. Lucy turned onto her side, facing away from the town, not wanting any passers-by to see her weakness. The sobs made her shoulders shake and her breath hitch. She didn’t even bother attempting to wipe away the tears.
Right when her thoughts turned irrational, becoming about how the guild would blame her for the loss of their friend, Lucy felt a hand brush against her cheek, wiping away her tears. Her chocolate eyes opened to see the onyx eyes of her beloved friend staring back. It took her a moment to realize they were human eyes, not canine. She sat up quickly and wrapped her arms around Natsu, sobbing in relief, falling off the bench in her haste to hug him.
He simply wrapped his arms around her and held her, letting her cry on his shoulder. He knew what made her cry, he had seen her look when he drank the vial, and he had caught the worried look that would flash in her eyes every time she checked her watch. Natsu knew his recklessness had hurt her, and he felt terrible for it. Rubbing her back, he comforted her till her sobs began to cease.
Lucy leaned back and looked him over, to make sure he was human, quickly realizing that he was both very human and VERY naked. She yelped and leaned away from him quickly, hiding behind the bench, looking away. Her cheeks had turned a very deep shade of red at the sight. Natsu, once he realized why she ran away, chuckled.
“Don’t laugh at me! Why didn’t you get dressed? You knew your clothes are in the pack.” Lucy kept her eyes covered as she turned around to yell at Natsu.
His laughter stopped. “You were crying. You were crying because of me. I couldn’t just take the time to get my clothes out and get dressed when you needed me.” Natsu turned and began to get dressed, sitting beside her once he was fully clothed.
Touched, Lucy’s anger subsided. “Well…. You could have at least put on pants or something…” She knew she couldn’t stay mad at him, not while knowing that her crying affected him that way. Lucy climbed back onto the bench and hugged him, then just leaned against him.
After a few minutes more of just enjoying the feel of her best friend being next to her and not covered in fur, Lucy stood and stretched. “Come on, we need to go tell Mrs. Trina that the potion worked and that it’s safe.” Natsu nodded, and by the time they got back to their employer’s home, his carefree grin was back. They got paid, and went back to the hotel.
Lucy told Natsu she was going to shower, then he could, because he smelled like a dog, making him laugh and give his trademark grin, which in turn made butterflies appear in her stomach. Again she was confused at this, but she shrugged it off as after-effects of seeing him naked. They both showered and soon Lucy was asleep, Natsu crawling into her bed during the night, holding her to him, like a teddy bear, before he too fell asleep.
*End of Flashback*
Natsu knew something was off with Lucy. She didn’t tell the whole story, not that he would, but he wouldn’t tell because he wasn’t proud of having made Lucy cry. He didn’t want to tell anyone of that. A few minutes after Lucy left the guild, Natsu left too, telling Happy not to follow. Happy knew something serious had happened, so he didn’t question his friend.
He decided to go straight to Lucy’s apartment, climbing up to her bedroom window and looking in. He could see steam coming from under the bathroom door, telling him she was in the shower. Unlocking the window, he let himself in and sat in a chair off in the corner, so as to not be immediately noticed when Lucy entered the room.
When Lucy did finally enter, dressed in her pajamas, he stood.
“Luce…” His voice sounded low and rough, full of emotion.
Lucy jumped slightly when she heard him, “Yeah Natsu?” She turned to face him. There was a look in his eyes that made her want to go to him. Instead he walked to her.
“I am so sorry Luce….. I didn’t think. I didn’t consider the risks… My lack of thought hurt you, and for that, I promise to pay attention more.” Natsu walked to her and wrapped his arms around her, pressing her to him. “I wouldn’t be able to take it if you were taken from me. You or Happy or anyone from the guild. You all are my friends, my family. I am sorry… Please forgive me?”
Lucy didn’t know what to say. Her heart fluttered when he told her he wouldn’t be able to take it if he lost her, but then her stomach twisted slightly when he included Happy and the guild. It confused her, so she put it to the back of her mind to think about later. With a nod, she wrapped her arms around her friend and rubbed his back like he had for her the previous day. “Yes Natsu, I forgive you.” Lucy could feel Natsu physically relax, like he had been tense or expecting her to say no.
“Luce?...” His voice was muffled since his face was pressed into her neck.
“Yes Natsu?” She smiled at the change of tone from a few minutes earlier.
“Would it be okay with you if I stayed the night?...” That question threw her for a loop and she leaned back from his embrace to look him in the eyes. Never had he asked before, but considering what they had just been talking about, it made sense.She nodded and he smiled. “Just don’t hog the bed!” He just laughed and lay in his usual spot, patting where she normally lay. With a sigh, Lucy laid beside her dragon slayer. Natsu held her like he did the night before, and soon they both were asleep.