"U-urgh..." Natsu whined, face and head ballooning to the size of a small coffee table from motion sickness.
"W-we probably should have brought Wendy..." Lucy trailed off, a bead of sweat forming on her forehead at the groaning dragon slayer.
"Then you wouldn't be able to pay off your rent, Lucy." Gray spoke, dark eyes almost glaring out the window at the countryside. Staring at the green, he wondered how much longer the trip would take; no one wanted to be with Natsu for much longer, as he looked like he would explode into a puddle of vomit at any given moment. Erza faced the window as well, but her dark brown eyes were shut, unlike Gray's. Chin resting on her head, she hummed a little, oblivious to her teammates' antics.
"Augh..." Natsu cried pitifully. He lay on his stomach on the ground, cheek touching the wooden slats uncomfortably, his expression clearly miserable. After a few more unknown complaints from Natsu, Happy landed near his shoulder and began rubbing said appendage.
"It's alright, Natsu! Only a couple more hours!" the cat chirped happily. Everyone groaned, most of all Natsu. Erza opened her eyes, glared at Happy, then shut them again.
"Oi, Lucy," began Gray, "when did we leave again?"
Checking her watch, her face fell. "We left twenty minutes ago," she growled, smacking her face with her palm. Gray sighed, banging his forehead lightly against the window, resting it there. "Damn it..."
"Gray, your clothes." Erza chimed, somehow miraculously noticing with her eyes covered.
Scowling, Gray got up and collected his garments, putting them on over his boxers. By now, it was such a regular occurrence, no one really cared once they were out of the public eye. Well, almost.
"E-excuse me..." a small, young woman, working on the train, judging by her clothes (and cart full of goodies), whispered. Everyone turned to her and Gray's face flushed pink with embarrassment.
"Sorry about him. He's an idiot." Erza immediately apologized. Ignoring the shouted "OI!" from Gray, Erza got straight to the point and asked for strawberry cake.
After the treat was served to Erza (not one slice; one CAKE), she began shoving it in her mouth and reviewed the mission.
"So, we need to incapacitate this girl and bring her in." she said around a mouthful of cake. "It's one girl; how hard could it be?"
Pessimistically, Gray spoke up. "Well, it depends on how strong she is-" He was cut off by a punch from Erza.
Lucy rolled her eyes. "We know this, Erza. We all read the mission."
"I just want to make sure you can pay your rent off. We don't want you evicted." Erza said.
"Yeah, Lucy. Besides, I'm surprised you haven't already been evicted, what with Flame-brain barging in all the time." Gray smirked cheekily. Happy snorted.
Suddenly, there was a jolt in the train, sending everyone flying about a foot out of their seats and back down. Well, except Natsu, who flew higher in the air from the floor. Surprisingly, the train kept going. A man's voice came on the speakers: "Our apologies for the small malfunction. Everything is under control and it will not affect our travelling time or schedule. Enjoy the rest of your trip." The speakers crackled, then went silent.
Lucy noticed there was a new weight in her lap, and she honestly had no idea what it was. Looking down, she saw Natsu's head pressed against her stomach. "E-EH?!?" she cried out. Natsu moaned pitifully, clearly not feeling great. Gray snorted, then said, "Well, Lucy, you can either keep him there or push him off. I'd rather not have his vomit all over us."
Before Lucy could even raise her hands to shove Natsu off, the arm he was not lying on raised and wrapped around her waist. "L-Luce..." he muttered. The arm was limp, but still there. Lucy felt a light blush powder her cheeks, almost imperceptible, but she raised her arm to push him off. Something stopped her, though. Natsu seemed a little less sick laying here instead of on the ground... wouldn't it be better on his stomach to keep him here?
Lucy quickly asked Erza, who nodded in agreement, before shutting her eyes again and warning them to NOT wake them up until they were at Hildegard. Gray was already napping, so Lucy was alone. Well, Happy was there, but he was exiting to look for the dining car to get some fish.
Instead of putting her hand by her side, she placed it in the dragon slayers tousled, pink locks. Thinking about the mission and her rent, she absentmindedly began running her long fingers through Natsu's hair, nails grazing his scalp and further mussing his hair. He sighed a little, and soon he looked less like he was going to blow chunks and more like he was a bit normal. His brows were still furrowed, face still contorted in discomfort, and sweat was still beaded on his forehead, but he looked more relaxed.
Lucy realized what she was doing, then took her fingers out of his hair. Natsu groaned unhappily and was soon back to his former state. Noticing this fact, Lucy let out a little "Huh," and went back to her rubbing. Almost immediately, he relaxed. "Th-thanks, Luce..." he muttered blearily. The blonde hummed in response, smiling at his open obsidian eyes. He managed to convey happiness in his eyes before they shut in pain. Eyes shut, he proceeded to burrow his face into her stomach.
Lucy leaned back, looked out the window, and thought about the strange girl. She sighed. Turning her gaze to Natsu, she saw he had somehow fallen asleep. Thank goodness, he wouldn't have to suffer awake. Setting an alarm for two hours on her watch, Lucy leaned her head back, closed her eyes, and drifted off as well.
The girl was sleeping peacefully in her little den, her face expressionless in slumber. Hair fell across her face, breaths fluttering the strands away. Occasionally, she would mutter nonsense under her breath, adjust herself, and continue dreaming, about what was unknown.
Suddenly, her eyes shot open, placing her back in the den. She had regained most thought after the long, natural rest, but she was terrified that she would reawaken back in the glass container so new tubes and magic would be pumped in. For her escape and everything that happened to be a dream. Not a wonderful dream, but magnificent, with her own freedom.
Scrabbling, she clawed her way out of the claustrophobic pocket in the earth and emerged, filthy with dirt, into the sunlight. She had no care for modesty as she lay on the grass, legs spread apart and her white, ripped, strained hospital-style fabric dress falling down, exposing nearly all her chest. She had to get out.
After bringing her breaths back to their normal rate, heart beat calmed, she shut her eyes to the bright blue sky. Birds tittered around her in the forest, the occasional cracks of branches sounding around her. She began to think about why she was here. Where was Natsu? Who was she? Why did those people do this to her?
She knew their objectives, but why they would go to such lengths, she had no idea. Abandoning that train of thought, she also dropped her thoughts on Natsu, realizing she would probably convince herself he's dead.
She hoped someone could tell her her name.