It’s More Fun when We’re Together!
A week after the puppy incident, Lucy seemed different. She had started avoiding Natsu and Happy, taking solo jobs, and even avoiding her fellow guild mates. It seemed that all she wanted to do lately was sit in her apartment and write. When she had to go on a job with Team Natsu to Oak Town, she made sure she bunked with Erza.
It was on the way back from this job that Natsu had had enough. The group was walking from Oak Town to the Desert Village to the south east, with Lucy lagging far behind the rest. A few times now, Natsu had tried to walk beside her, but she would either slow down or speed up, anything to not walk by him. By now the whole guild knew something had happened between them during that trip to Shirotsume Town, and had been giving him grief about it.
When they finally reached Desert Village, they booked two rooms, at Lucy’s request. Natsu pulled Gray aside when they had gone into their room. “Gray, you gotta help me!”
“Is it about whatever you screwed up with Lucy, Flame brain?” Gray glared at him like he normally did, but this time there seemed to be more than playful rivalry behind it.
Natsu collapsed onto the bed, his head in his hands. “Yes, I want to fix it. I don’t know what I did, but I need to fix it. I can’t take the way the guild looks at me, and I can’t take the whispers. But most of all, I can’t take her absence… It’s killing me!” He started pulling at his hair.
Gray had never seen his frienemy so distraught. Sure, when one of his friends was threatened by the enemy, or he felt like his guild was being attacked, Natsu could become serious and quite insightful, but this was different. This was true pain. Gray put a hand on Natsu’s shoulder, “What do you need?”
Looking up at his friend, slightly surprised by the change in Gray’s demeanor, Natsu nodded, “I need to have some alone time with Lucy. Do you think you could convince Erza to leave early tomorrow and not tell Lucy? Happy can go with you guys, I just think if I can get her alone, and actually talk to her, with her having nowhere to run away to, that she will have to listen to me.” Happy, who had been listening the whole time from the little table in the room, decided he would go with Gray and Erza. He didn’t like seeing his friends hurting.
With a nod, Gray pulled a chair next to the bed. “Yeah, I can do that. Erza will definitely go along with this. I’ll talk to Erza tonight, and then I’ll go talk to the carriage driver. Since we are his only passengers, I’m sure it won’t take much to convince him to leave early. Also, Lucy will want to go home as fast as possible, to get away from you,” Natsu winced as he said this, “so she will probably decide to start walking to the next town, since there is only one carriage a day that leaves from here. The nearest place is the Sabertooth guild, so she will probably head there. Use that time to talk to her.” Natsu nodded, hope glinting in his eyes for the first time since they took the job. Gray stood, “Now I’ll go talk to Erza. Stay here. You don’t want to spook Lucy.” With that, he left.
Natsu lay back on the bed, closing his eyes. He wanted to badly to believe that this plan would work, because if it didn’t, he could lose Lucy forever.
Meanwhile, in the girl’s room, Gray knocked on the door. Erza’s voice called from inside, “Come in.”
Gray opened the door and walked in. “Erza, there seems to be a problem with the carriage driver. He said he wanted to speak to you. He mentioned it was something about the carriage being over-packed, I think.”
With a sigh, Erza stood and went to the door. “Come on Gray… Lucy, I’ll be back.” She stepped out of the room and walked to the end of the hallway, away from sight or hearing range of her room, with Gray following. “Spill it. You and I both know the carriage man didn’t say that, so what do you want?” She put a hand on her hip, glaring slightly, looking quite formidable.
“I spoke with Natsu.”
Erza’s eyes darkened upon hearing those words. “What did he want?”
“He wants us to go on ahead and leave Lucy here with him. He wants to talk to her.” Gray held his ground, knowing if he didn’t stay strong, Erza would go tell Lucy what was happening, or punish Natsu.
She shook her head, “No. I’m not going to leave her here just to he can hurt her more. If he wants to apologize to her, he can do it with us here or at the guild.”
The ice make mage clenched his fists, “You don’t understand. He doesn’t want to apologize. He wants to find out what’s wrong. He doesn’t understand why she has been avoiding him. And before you say something about him just saying it so he can get his way, I saw his eyes. He was speaking the truth.” To prove his point, he stared into Erza’s eyes. “He needs to be able to work things out with her, and he can’t back in Magnolia or with us around. She just locks her door and window, or redirects any conversation with him to us. Natsu is right, she needs to stop running from him and face whatever he did or didn’t do.”
Erza’s eyes softened as she listened. For acting like a buffoon most of the time, Natsu could be pretty smart sometimes. Titania nodded and smiled softly, “You are right. It’s time for Lucy to deal with this and move on.”
“Right. Now we need to go and talk to the carriage driver and see if he will let us leave early. Lucy will have to choose to wait for the next one, or she will have to walk to the next town, that being the Sabertooth guild. Either way, Natsu should have plenty of opportunities and time to talk with her.” He and Erza began walking to their transport’s home, explaining the short version of the situation to him. The carriage driver told him that they could leave at 5 AM instead of 8 AM. They told him it was fine and that they would be ready by then.
The next morning, Lucy awoke and stretched. She couldn’t wait to get back home and start writing. She dreamed about the perfect fight scene for her two main protagonists, and she wanted to get it on paper before she forgot it. It was a good thing they would be going by carriage. It meant that their trip would be cut in half, letting them get to Magnolia by nightfall.
Looking around the room, she noticed that all of Erza’s belongings were gone. “Huh… Maybe she already took them to be packed into the carriage.” Lucy shrugged and started getting ready, packing away everything she wouldn’t need in her go-bag. After tying up her blonde hair in pigtails, she picked up her bag and left the room and went to the front desk to return her keys. “Um, excuse me, but I was wondering if you have seen my friend. She came in with me and two guys yesterday, has long red hair?”
“Oh yes, Dearie! She left a couple hours ago. Told me to tell you to…” The little old lady behind the counter started searching the cluttered desk, stopping when she had found a small paper with writing on it. She cleared her throat, “’Lucy. Gray, Happy, and I have gone on ahead. Use this time to sort things out with Natsu. This has gone on long enough. The guild misses you, and you’re hurting Natsu and Happy. Erza.’”
Lucy groaned and hung her head, “Thank you Ma’am…” Just as she turned to go outside, she ran into someone. “Oof! Oh, sorry sir, I didn’t watch where I was…. Natsu?” She looked up at who she had run into and sure enough, it was the dragon slayer. He nodded to her, smiling, but the smile didn’t reach his eyes. Lucy knew she had been hurting him, but it was that half-smile that broke her resolve.
“Hey Lucy,” She noted how he didn’t call her “Luce” like he normally did, “you ready to get going?”
Sighing, she nodded. “Yeah, let’s go.” Lucy turned to the door and walked out, letting Natsu follow behind her.
After walking for about an hour, Natsu cleared his throat, “Hey, Lucy? Can we talk?”
She knew it was coming. “Yeah Natsu, what do you want to talk about?”
“Why have you been avoiding me? What did I do wrong? Not only that, but why did you start avoiding the guild? Erza had to practically drag you on this mission.” Natsu’s voice was dripping with confusion and pain. Lucy knew what she had been doing was wrong, but she didn’t know what else to do.
Lucy stopped walking, moving to the side of the road where there was a rock, then sitting on it. “Natsu… I never meant to hurt you or the guild. I just…. After the mission in Shirotsume, I couldn’t help but think about what would happen if I lost you, if I lost anyone of my guild mates. I just couldn’t take it. First I lost my mom, then I lost my dad, then I actually lost him… It felt like, feels like, whenever I begin to get close to people, they will eventually leave me. I wouldn’t be able to take losing someone else, especially you.” She took a shaky breath, “I know you told me you would try to not be reckless, and on this job, it was like you were a whole other person! But what if something happened that was out of your control? Mom and dad got sick, nothing they did caused their deaths, and yet they both left me.”
“I figured that if I distanced myself from you guys, that maybe one day, if one of you died, it wouldn’t hurt. But I just ended up hurting everyone, you most of all. I’m sorry…” She hung her head, hearing Natsu walk to her.
“Luce. Don’t worry about what isn’t in our control. All we can do is train to get stronger so when the worst does happen, we can deal with it. Aside from Happy and Igneel, you are the most important person in my life. You are my best friend! And don’t you remember? It’s always more fun when we’re together!” Natsu by now was kneeling in front of her so she could see his face, which had that brilliant smile of his plastered on it. “Never forget that we are all in this together. If I did die, I’d want you by my side, instead of being alone. Wouldn’t you agree?”
By now, Lucy had tears streaming down her cheeks and her stomach tying itself in knots, but she was grinning like the fool in front of her. She nodded and hugged Natsu, and when they stood, they held up their hands in the Fairy Tail Salute. Together, they shouted to the sky, “Because we’re Fairy Tail Wizards!”
The doors to the guild hall flew open, revealing the two mages. “WE’RE BACK!!!!” Natsu yelled into the guild, making people chuckle, including Lucy. Together they walked to the bar and sat at their usual places, with mages calling out here and there “Welcome back”s and telling Lucy how much they missed her.
Mira walked over to the two partners, “So guys, how was it?” She smiled at Lucy, her eyes telling the blonde that she was going to have to explain her actions later.“Oh Mira! There was this one guy who thought…” Natsu continued with his story, acting like his old childish self, with Lucy smiling at him. She corrected his story once in a while, making Mira and any nearby people laugh. Everything was as it should be, except for one thing. Ever since Natsu confronted her about her behavior, no, before that, since the puppy potion incident, Lucy couldn’t seem to stop thinking about the pink haired man who occupied most of her time. Even now, laughing with her friends, she couldn’t help but think “When did Natsu become so grown up?”