"Yo! Cana!" Natsu yelled across the guild. Cana groaned, then looked up groggily, the red imprint of her empty beer barrel on her right cheek. "What time is it..." she grumbled, unaware that she, completely drunk out of her mind, had slept the night at the guild on accident. Currently, she, Natsu, and Happy were the only ones in the large building
"Uh..." Natsu looked at his partner for help; Happy shrugged. "...early in the morning?"
"THEN DON'T WAKE ME UP!!!" Cana roared from her table, making Natsu flinch and hide behind the blue flying cat. "SAVE ME, HAPPY!" Happy trembled, then flew to the ceiling, abandoning Natsu.
Before Natsu could protest, Cana calmed down slightly. "What the hell do ya want so fuckin' early in the morning?" Unnoticed by any of them, Mirajane entered the guild and began her duties.
"Well, Cana... I was gonna find ya later, but I wanted my fortune told!" Natsu smiled and scratched the back of his head, further mussing up his spiky pink locks. "You were already here, so why not?"
At this point, Natsu had made his way to Cana's table. As he sat down, Mirajane smiled brightly. Slipping a glass of water and some aspirin in front of Cana, she chirped, "Good morning, Cana! Natsu!" Then, she looked up. "Happy!" She waved at him, then walked to the bar and began cleaning beer mugs.
"Aye!" Happy piped up from the ceiling.
Cana rolled her eyes. "Not now..."
Natsu pouted and looked at the ground. "... I dun know, why not?" In truth, Natsu just wanted a bit of indirect help on how he felt.
A vein twitched in Cana's forehead as she furrowed her brows. "You wake me up... fuckin' early... for a FORTUNE... AND YOU DON'T EVEN KNOW WHY?!?" She pounded her fist on the table.
"G-gomen!!!" Natsu shrieked, arms and hands arranged around and in front of his face in an effort to shield himself. Mirajane, shining her seventh beer mug, giggled to herself with a smile.
Cana sighed. "Why not... could use some brushing up..." she grumbled. "Besides, where's ev'rbody else?"
Soon, Cana had shuffled through her tarot cards, flipping some on the table and putting others aside. Finally, she ended up with four cards: The Tower, The Devil, The Lovers, and Strength. Looking at the cards, she frowned. "Huh. This is odd. It's not giving me just your fortune; it's giving me someone else's."
"Nani?" Natsu asked, intrigued. Staring at the cards, legs crossed on the bench, he waited for Cana's response.
"Well... it's a bit blurry." Cana said. "I'm pretty sure The Lovers apply to you, so look out for a little romance." Realizing what she said, Cana snorted, then proceeded to laugh out loud. "You? Ha!"
"WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?!?" Natsu asked/whined.
"N-nothing... absolutely nothing..." Cana's laughs slowly died and she continued, quietly, so Mira wouldn't hear. "I'm pretty sure that The Tower, with the way it fell, means someone important escaped somewhere; not sure how this person is related to ya. I can't tell if Strength applies to this person or you. But, The Devil definitely signifies an enemy. Watch your back, Natsu." Cana shrugged, then swept her cards in a pile.
"Th-that's all?" Natsu asked.
"Hey, it usually doesn't go this far in the future. It must be important." As Cana finished her sentence, Gray (with a certain rain woman trailing undercover behind him) burst into the guild. "Yo! Mira, Cana! Flame-brain!" he yelled. "Happy!"
"Shaddup! You're too loud!"
"What did you call me, Ice Princess?!?"
"I found a job, guys!" Lucy cheered, bringing the sheet to her group. "And look at how much it pays!"
"But Lushy, we went on a job three days ago..." Happy moped, oblivious to Lucy's glare. Before she could voice her anger, Natsu piped up. "WHOA! It's easy work, too! And for 2,100,000 jewels!" Natsu yelled, snatching the sheet from his blonde partner's grasp, wrinkling the sheet and almost accidentally burning the paper. Gray plucked it from his rival's unsuspecting hands, saving it from an early death by fire. "What's the description?"
Erza gave him one of her knee-weakening looks. "You're the one holding it, you baka."
"H-hai..." Gray, visibly deflated, turned it over and began reading out loud. Lucy silently jumped up and down, hands fisted together in front of her considerable breasts.
"S-so, 'Dear Guild Member(s)," Gray began.
"My name is Nobuko Barrett, I am the mayor of the town Hildegard. I have an urgent request.
"Around three days ago, maybe ten miles from the outermost farm of our town, a building of some sort that we were not aware of seemingly exploded. We have inspected it and found nothing but ruins.
"This is not the issue. As we made our way back, we were attacked by a girl...'"
"Man that is a long-winded note!" Natsu cried around a mouthful of chicken. After the dragon slayer received a 'whack!' in the head from Lucy, Erza grabbed the sheet and continued.
"'She is a mage of some sort, although we can't tell what kind of magic she uses; it seems to be a mesh.' It must be a user of Copy or Memory magic." Erza concluded. Lucy snatched the sheet and kept reading.
"'In Hildegard, we are a small, agricultural town, and all our wizards have moved to larger cities to find strong guilds.'"
"NANI?!?" the team cried. Interested, they leaned closer as Lucy continued."'Although she didn't kill anyone, as she didn't recognize us as a deadly enemy, she seemed to think we were a danger and proceeded to "scare us" away. She could not be reasoned with and, after we fled, we assume she hid again in the forest.
"'Your job is to find and take her to us... Alive. We will all decide the course of action from there on out. Sincerely yours, Nobuko Barrett. (Note: We believe she is a victim of some kind of abuse; kindly do not involve the military.)'"
The team looked at each other, apprehensive. Natsu grumbled a bit under his breath. "On the front, it just said 'Find This Girl'... and with no image, either..."
Exchanging glances, they nodded, reaching a mutual, wordless conclusion. Taking the sheet with her, Lucy strode to Mirajane, thrust the sheet, and said, "We'll take the job."
The girl stumbled around the forest, completely devoid of thought and humanity, relying on base animal instinct. As she swept here and there, she found an alcove in the ground, hidden under a rock. Sliding into it feet first, she curled up in the fetal position, conserving warmth and rebuild her strength.
She'd find nourishment in the morning.
Laying there, rock above and packed, slightly moist dirt around and below, she stared at the small slit of sunlight shining in, watching tiny dust particles dance in the beams. She began to try thinking about who she was, the only fact known to her being the label assigned by the bad humans. A flash of memory came to her: a cave, a companion, a large, not-human being who smelled of charcoal and smoke. The names escaped her grasp, as did the defined features.
Suddenly, she gasped. The sharp intake of air, unfortunately, also drew in some dirt particles. Coughing out the unwelcome material, she steadily breathed, then grasped the name that had come to mind. The name of the one she held dearest to her.
"N-Natsu..." she croaked, voice quiet and cracking with what could be either lack of use or screaming.
In her small, make-shift den, she drifted off into the black void of sleep.