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By NegaDot


Chapter 1

Another summer day in Fiore and nothing seemed special. Gray was doing his best to ignore Juvia's constant attention. They had just completed a job and were heading back. Neither particularly noticed the murmurs as they passed. Juvia blushed brightly as she ran into Gray's back. He'd stopped dead in front the guild. Once she looked up, she, too, saw the apparent gloom that clung to the property. It was strange. No noise poured forth, no one was seen walking about. Just what had they missed?

Before the duo could reach the door, both stopped cold. Erza had her blade to Gray's throat and her demeanor showed no sign of joking. Erza grasped his arm and twisted it behind his back toward her. "What's this for?", he asked in confusion. Juvia reached out, but ceased her motion when she met Erza's piercing stare. Without an answer, she slowly lowered her sword. Shoving the two through the door, the trio was met with discord. Everyone sat silent, lost in their own emotions and thoughts. Near the bar, Makarov waited for them next to a tall man in black. The stranger's icy gaze only added to the melodramatic atmosphere. Gray approached the bar. "What's going on?", he asked. The stranger tugged on his gloves with a sigh. "Come with me. Erza, watch the girl", he said as he motioned to a back room. Mirajane watched with sad eyes.

Once in the room, the man groughly pushed Gray into a seat. He peered over the brim of his dark glasses. Makarov entered the room and sat beside Gray in silence. "Where were you yesterday?", asked the man. Gray glanced toward his master. "Gray, this is Grim, an old friend of mine. He happened to come by for a visit and ended up leading an investigation. Answer carefully", said Makarov. The situation slowly sank in. "What happened?", asked Gray. "That's what I'm trying to find out, young man....Now. Where were you?", said Grim. "On my way back from a job", Gray said firmly. Grim took a deep breath. "Convenient. Where?", he asked unphased. "Several towns away. Now will someone tell me what's going on?", said Gray, annoyed.

Makarov sighed. "One of our members was attacked while you were gone....", he trailed off. Gray looked over his disheveled leader. He was haggard with concern. "What does this have to do with me?", asked Gray cautiously. Grim leaned down and peered hard into his face. "Evidence points to you.", he said plainly. "What?!", shouted Gray as he tried to get up, only to be soundly reseated. Grim said across from him and crossed his legs. "A wound to the head caused by a blunt object and no weapon to be found, almost as if it melted away..." Gray grit his teeth. He didn't like where this was going. "Also, the victim showed no signs of confrontation apart from the blow. He was found face down in the river, like he'd drowned. You're girlfriend possesses strong water magic, does she not?", he asked. "Furthermore, the last time anyone saw you with this person, you were fighting more fervently than usual", he said without inflection. It slowly dawned on Gray. His eyes grew wide as he looked next to him for confirmation. Makarov nodded.



Grim walked the city with Erza. She did her best to be a friendly guide as the master had instructed. The pair walked along the canal. Grim had a quirk about following flowing water, so they trailed the canals back toward the guild. Erza was glad to be back. Her guest wasn't really one for conversation. His gaze seemed distant. "Is there much crime here?", he asked casually. With the guild in sight, she was ready for the tour to end, but Grim wasn't budging an inch. She turned toward him curiously. "No, not really. Why do you ask?", she said. He nodded toward the water. "I suppose no one told him that", he said plainly. Following his vision, she immediately dove into the river. He helped her pull the body out of the water. Upon seeing the guild mark, he knew why she rushed so. She acted swiftly. "He's not breathing!", she gasped as she started CPR. Lucy was walking home from the shop with Happy, conversing casually. She dropped her bag when they stumbled onto the scene. A tear fell as she stood in shock. Happy immediately ran toward Erza and her patient. "Natsu!", he shouted. Grim observed everything without emotion. "Girl, you'd best get help", he said to Lucy. She snapped out the horror when Erza yelled to her, "Lucy, go now!" She nodded and ran for the guild. Happy cried and shook Natsu's arm fervently as Erza once more started chest compressions. Finally, a burst of water and a small groan emanated from the cold drownee. He rolled onto his side instinctively as he coughed. Erza breathed a sigh of relief before glancing back at Grim. He stared after Lucy. Without looking down, he said, "Good work". She panted from all her effort as Happy tried to wake Natsu up. 

Within minutes, Lucy returned with help. Elfman carried Natsu back to the guild where Mirajane dressed his wounds. Lisanna sat in silence, always nearby, but never in the way. Everyone's mood instantly crashed. The entire building filled with worry. Erza had saved Natsu's life, but he still hadn't woken up and it didn't seem like he would any time soon. Happy took off to bring Wendy back from a job she'd taken alone a few days prior. She would be far away and it would be hard to be away from his best friend's side, but it was all he could do help.



Gray leaned onto his knees in disbelief. "I ask again, where were you?", demanded Grim. Gray looked up in anger. "You really think I had something to do with this, don't you?", he said. He looked to his master who sat stoic and silent. "Master, you don't believe - ....", he started as he stood. "This is crazy! Sure we fight all the time, but neither one of us would stoop to something like this!" He was exasperated. Grim sighed. He wasn't getting anywhere. "I already told you, I was on a job", said Gray, regaining his composure. "Doing what?", asked Grim. Gray sighed in frustration. "I can't say. It's part of the contract.", he murmured. "I see", said Grim.

Several minutes later, Juvia was now in the hot seat. She had gotten some of the details about what had transpired. "Gray and Natsu don't get on well, do they?", asked Grim. "Isn't it true that they were fighting before you two left for your job?" She thought carefully. "Gray-sama would never do something like this", she proclaimed. "The evidence is all I listen to, young lady, and the evidence tells me thus: blunt force trauma with no found weapon and likely a forceful drowning. I understand that boy doesn't go down without a fight, yet no marks were found except the blow to his head. I hear that isn't enough to take him down. Someone had to hold him in the water. With no signs of a physical struggle, it leans toward the use of magic", he said as he knelt to meet her at eye level. "I also understand that you would do anything for Gray", he said tactfully. "Juvia would! Even if - ", she stated. Grim cut her off. "Even if you knew it was wrong? Would you die for him?", he baited. "Of course I would!", she said. "Would you lie for him? Even kill?", he said directly. Juvia shook her head. "Gray-sama was with Juvia the whole time! We were nowhere near Magnolia!", she said desperately. The door creaked open and Mirajane peered in. "Master, I hate to interrupt, but he's gotten worse", she said with worry. "The wheezing?", asked Makarov. She nodded. Juvia stood abruptly. "Juvia can help!", she stated. With a nod from their master, Mira lead the way. 

Once to the bedside, Juvia saw with her own eyes just how bad things were. Natsu was pale; His breathing was labored. Lisanna sat beside him, watching with concern. Juvia stepped forward. She carefully manipulated the remaining water from his lungs. A strange sound, then a loud gasp. Juvia looked over him in confusion. "More water?", asked Lisanna. Juvia tried again, but nothing happened. Suddenly, his cheeks flushed and he grasped his chest in pain. Mira propped him up to help him breath. He coughed hard. Blood splattered down his front. He was clearly in distress. Something dislodged deep inside him and a large clot burst forth. The spasm over, Mira carefully placed Natsu back down and Lisanna wiped his face with care. Juvia looked at the large clot in fascinated horror. There was something inside it.

Back down the hall, Erza, Lucy, and Levy waited for news. Gray was with Makarov and Grim when Mira approached them. She handed forth a folded handkerchief and whispered to their master. Slowly opening it, both Grim and Makarov stared in interest. Several tiny shards covered in blood sat in his palm. "Ice?", asked Grim. Gray held his tongue with a look from the nearing Erza. "Glass", said the guild master. Grim's eyes glazed over. Perhaps his suspicions had been misplaced. "I see", was all he said.


To be continued...

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