When Lucy stepped out of her apartment the next morning, five pound weights strapped over rolls of pristine white bandages, she was surprised to see Laxus Dreyar leaning against the wall beside the entrance. Her shock was apparently evident on her face because the blonde giant chuckled dryly and shook his head.
"You need to work on concealing your emotions- you're an open book Blondie." He taunted, once again giving her advice in the form of an insult.
"Why're you here, Laxus? And stop calling me Blondie for kami's sake!" She snapped at him, although when he pushed off the wall and began walking she followed him without complaint.
"I figured you'd probably run off to find some new field or clearing in a forest where you thought I wouldn't be able to find you so I decided to just come to you- I really liked the field yesterday, that rock is really comfortable." He snarked, as he led them on the same path she had taken yesterday to get to said field.
A frown marred her lips as she looked at the man in front of her, "Why do you keep watching me train, Laxus?"
She heard him sigh and turn around to glance at her for a moment, stormy eyes rolling in exasperation, "We've already been over this, Lu-chan," He tacked on the nickname, different from Blondie and also four times worse.
She shook her head vehemently, "Don't-" She shuddered, "Call me that, it's worse than Blondie and just wrong on so many levels."
Laxus grinned like a fox, "So then it's ok for me to call you Blondie?"
"No!" She snarled.
"You're infuriating Laxus Dreyar," She hissed angrily, "And, no, we haven't been over why you keep following me around every morning to watch me train."
They had made their way into the clearing, grass sparkling with dew underneath the moon's light as sneaky tendrils of sunlight crept across the sky. There was no breeze today, the air sat still and smelled of dirt and cold. She inhaled deeply, relishing in the burning and watching Laxus easily hop onto the top of the large rock with a frown.
"I like a free show," He shouted down, obviously leering at her in her pink tank-top and short black shirt.
She gasped in indignation and crossed her arms over her chest, "You perverted bastard!" She growled, even as her face flushed bright red.
He laughed- the noise the same thundering that it always was (she was almost afraid that she had grown used to the sound of Laxus Dreyar laughing) as he shook his head in amusement. She watched him lay back against the rock, sprawling out comfortably and realized that he barely even watched- or leered- at her while she trained. She was tempted to call him out on his bullshit, because while she was sure her body was great to watch, she knew that why he was here every morning. She kept her mouth shut though, staring at the rock and wondering what his true motives were.
"Don't you have some goat to call or something?" Laxus interrupted her thought.
"Huh? Oh, yea!" She berated herself for forgetting why she was even here and unclipped her belt from her waist.
She called Capricorn out and for a short moment basked in the warm golden light that lit up the clearing before it faded and in its wake left the lanky, well dressed goat-man with a pair of sunglasses on. Briefly she wondered if it was hard for him to see in the dark light of predawn but cast the thought aside when he spoke.
"Lucy-sama," She watched him customarily bow low before straightening to a height much taller than her and awaiting orders.
"Hey, Capricorn, sorry about passing out yesterday..." She let the sentence trail off, suddenly reminded that Laxus was the one who had taken her home, at least she was pretty sure he was because unless Capricorn had implemented his own magic to stay he would have disappeared soon after she passed out.
She coughed awkwardly, a light blush dusting her cheeks as she stumbled through her sentences, "Anyways, uhm, I put the other weights back on and I think yesterday was definitely a wake-up call on how far I am from ready to move on."
Capricorn nodded sagely, "In truth, Lucy-sama, you are not that far from ready to move up. You simply need to be trained in hand to hand combat, along with jumping, with your weights on. I would also like for you to be doing seventy-five laps when we warm up and another seventy-five when we finish, however you are already at fifty, and I am confident in your abilities."
Lucy murmured in agreement and stretched her still sore limbs out, listening to her joints popping as she did so, "So, how many laps this morning?"
Capricorn made a small humming noise before answering, "I would like fifty-five, sixty if possible."
Lucy groaned, not anticipating what her spirit had in store for her today as she dropped her belt with all of her keys to the ground and took off at a light jog around the field, following the path of trampled grass she had created the day before. But not before muttering a despondent, "Slave driver," at her spirit.
She felt her mind relax, focusing on the even pace of her breathing and the rhythmic sound of her feet hitting the ground. She didn't let her mind wander, paying sole attention to the task at hand.
Lucy panted, her muscles felt like they had they day before, flaming and screaming to be released from the task of holding her body up. She refused to comply, she vowed not to faint like she had yesterday. She knew her limbs were still sore from the strenuous activities yesterday but she hadn't expected today's workout to cause her to feel so weak. Her gulped in lungfuls of air as she muttered a relieved "sixty," and managed to smile brightly at her spirit, sweat shining in the morning sun.
Luckily a breeze had picked up and the air was (surprisingly) cooler than it had been that morning. Lucy broke into a fit of hacking coughs, doubling over as she felt as if her lungs were going to come out of her throat. Her coughs turned into enraged sputters as she felt something hard hit her in the back of the head.
The projectile was followed by a not-so-sorry sounding, "Oops!" coming from the occupied rock on the edge of the clearing she was standing in. Still coughing she pulled herself up and scowled at the grey-ish blue eyed man who was grinning wolfishly.
Her eyes searched for the offending item, intending to chuck it back at him before she realized it was her water bottle and frowned. Damn him. Still scowling she bent over and picked it up before popping it open and greedily gulping down the water which had, somehow, remained relatively cold. She didn't mind that the water was dripping from the corners of her mouth and spilling down her throat, rivulets running down her throat and underneath her shirt.
She gasped for air as she pulled away from the water and shot a narrow-eyed gaze at Laxus before turning to Capricorn, "Is that all for today?"
Her spirit seemed to think for a moment probably going through his mental checklist of 'Ways to Torture Lucy'. She had already been forced into one-hundred and fifteen situps, seventy pushups, a round of training which Capricorn deemed as 'helping her dexterity' which really meant he threw rocks at her and expected her to dodge them- halfway through that Laxus had joined in and she now had quite a few pebble shaped bruises littering her arms and legs. She was basically ready to die then, but after that Capricorn had decided on another unorthodox method of training which included making her attempt to climb up trees.
It failed miserably, to put it nicely. Lucy didn't realize how differently the extra twenty pounds affected her when she was up in the air. By the end she had fallen a grand total of twelve times and only managed to make it less than a third of the way up. Her hands were scratched up from tree branches and bracing her fall.
"No, I would like for us to meditate," Capricorn said finally, as he folded himself into a seated position in the middle of the clearing.
"Oh...kay?" Lucy agreed, confused but making her way to the middle and seating herself across from her instructor.
"I would like for you to find your magical core, feel it out, learn about it. Meditating can be a very enlightening experience- perhaps you can learn how to increase your magical container," Capricorn murmured, eyes closed behind the dark sunglasses.
Lucy's big brown eyes widened, "Increase my magical container? Didn't we already unlock the second origin? It can't get much bigger than that, can it?" She asked, confused but enthralled with the prospect of getting more magical power.
"Yes, but as you know the capacity of magic you can hold inside of you differs depending on the person and their skill level. Natsu Dragneel- for instance- has a larger magical container than you from constant use. It grows- that's how you are able to learn larger spells, and perform multiple summonings," Her spirit said, his voice flat but wise.
Lucy hummed, realising that what he said was true. She had previously never seen her magical container as something that could grow- except for with the assistance of the second origin. Thinking about it, it was very obvious that they could infact become larger- how else would S-class mages become S-class mages? How else would she learn difficult spells that drained her magic? She frowned and tried to focus on her magical container, trying to feel around for it and find hit's center.
She huffed, eyes snapping open, "I don't get it, how am I supposed to find my magical container, or whatever?"
Capricorn slowly opened his eyes, patient as ever, "Lucy-sama," He said softly, "This is not a task that will take but a few minutes, you must concentrate. Find a piece of your magic inside of you and follow it to the center. There you should be able to feel your containers, both your normal one and your second origin. Once you do that, focus on projecting the magic outwards, through your hands or another body part."
"Project it outwards?" She asked, the prospect seeming impossible.
Capricorn nodded his broad head, "This will take even longer for you, but by projecting it outwards and manipulating it into a sphere- or multiple spheres, you will be able to increase your control- and consequently increase your magical capacity. As I said though, this will take time- a long time."
Lucy nodded, her excitement bubbling over, "Do you think I'll be able to do it though?"
"I have faith, Lucy-sama," He murmured.
Lucy nodded and took a deep breath, relaxing her body and closing out the sounds of the outside world, focussing on her breathing and steadying it. Slowly the world began to slip away, first the chirping noise of the birds and then the smell of the grass and dirt. She breathed deeply before delving into herself, searching for a thread of magic, like Capricorn said.
It was confusing, because she wasn't quite sure how she was supposed to 'grasp' the strand of magic and 'follow' it, or really even how she was supposed to find it. However he trusted Capricorn when he said it would take time and she trusted him when he told her he had faith in her. She wasn't sure how long she spent 'searching' for her magic but eventually she felt something.
It was just a brief moment but she envisioned a shimmering golden thread- much like the light that encompassed her spirits when she summoned them- and she could feel the power it radiated. In her mind she tried desperatley to grab it but it slipped between her fingers like an eel and disappeared. Frustrated she continued her desperate search of her soul, feeling around for the warm, gold magic. She felt a thread of the magic and practically tackled it, latching on and refusing to let go as it traveled through her body.
The whole experience was quite weird because Lucy felt as though she was inside of herself but she knew her body was seated in a field facing Capricorn. Everything was black, everything except the gold strand of magic she was 'following'. Her breath hitched- at least in her mind as the strand darted through her fingers and became a part of the swirling mass she was 'looking?' at. Her mind was filled with the image of sparking warm, golden liquid-like light. Her fingers brushed her magic and she pulled them back hastily when they tingled with warmth.
Lucy breathed out, she was here. This was her magical container- now she only had to make the elusive strands of magic to follow her command and manifest in the form of a sphere. She could feel her magic now, sitting warmly somewhere between her heart and her stomach. She tried pushing with her mind. She tried to shove it out of her body, it moved but refused to budge. Trying harder she imagined it expanding outwards and her magic began to flow, but she felt it swirling around in her whole body, not her hands.
Forcing her frustration to dissipate- Capricorn said it would be hard- she tried to reel in the swirling magic from her limbs, bringing it back to the center and focusing on it. It swirled in an almost irritated manner, fighting her grip and slipping through the barriers she tried to put up. It continued to swirl about her body while she desperately tried to control it and bring it back to the container.
Meanwhile- oblivious to Lucy's internal struggle- Laxus was sitting up, wondering why everyone had gone so quiet. He looked towards where he assumed the blonde and her pet goat would be and his eyes widened in shock. Her spirit was sitting calmly, watching her as she sat there, her entire body enveloped in a soft golden glow- much like the one he had seen from her spirits when they were summoned. Her face was calm, her breathing relaxed but her magic was swirling around her.
He didn't even know it was possible to make your magic manifest as it was- magic, but she was projecting it out and it was their, winding around her body and trying to break free from what he assumed was her hold. Silently he jumped down from the rock, landing with a soft thud as he crept towards the magic, which caused it to stir more.
"Don't," Her spirit warned him as he reached out a hand to touch it, "Lucy-sama's magic is her own, I don't know what it would do should you come in contact with it."
"What do you mean?" Laxus demanded, drawing his hand back slightly as her magic lashed out at him.
"It's raw, unprocessed magic, Laxus-san," The spirit said, as if it should be obvious.
After a blank look from Laxus he shook his head and continued, "This magic is what creates every other form of magic that mages use, their pure magic is filtered and used in whatever form they're proficient in. In its pure form magic is extremely hard to control," at that moment Laxus had to jump back as the magic lashed at him once again, shimmery gold swirls coming close to hitting him, "and unpredictable," The spirit added with a soft chuckle.
"So if she could harness this stuff?" He asked, thinking about the power that would come from fighting with pure magic.
Capricorn shook his head and stared hard at the blonde man, "Pure magic can not be harnessed without intense concentration- even then it would be impossible to wield it in a fight."
"Why? I'm sure with a lot of practice-" He was cut off as the goat man interrupted him.
"It is not that way anymore, Laxus-san. Long ago, when magic was new, it was pure and harnessed that way- but very few people could use it because of the intense mental strength needed. Even now, only a small part of the population is able to use magic in it's diluted forms because of the difficulty. No matter how hard you train your magic it will not answer when you call- it will not fight in it's purest form without intense concentration and silence, which can not be obtained in the midsts of battle."
Laxus was too distracted by Capricorn's speech to notice the magic that was growing increasingly irritated until it lashed at him, burning him. He vaulted backwards, as his skin singed, his shoulder baring a irritated red mark that smelled like burnt flesh and Lucy Heartfilia. Capricorn leapt back to, goat hooves skidding in the grass as he backed away.
"Get back!" The spirit shouted, jumping onto Laxus's rock.
Laxus followed suit and leapt onto the rock, standing above the field where Lucy's magic was reaching out, touching grass and turning it into little ashes.
"What's happening?" He hissed at the goat spirit, eyes wide.
"She can't reel her magic back in," The spirit observed, "It'll explode outwards soon."
"Explode?!" Laxus snarled, "Explode how?"
"It won't be a large explosion if that's what you're thinking, but once she releases her weak hold she had on it it'll explode back into the air- she won't be harmed." Capricorn said, voice impassive as ever.
Feeling only slightly reassured Laxus watched with wary eyes as her magic sparked in the air.
Lucy could feel her magic breaking through the hold she was trying to keep. It was raging inside her like a fire and she could feel it around the outside of her body, swirling through the air and lashing out at the nearest thing. She could feel Laxus and Capricorn around her- her magic sensed them and it reacted negatively, trying to attack Laxus as he backed away. It didn't go after Capricorn, the spirit fed off her magic to stay in her world and thus felt like more of her magic.
She tried desperatley to force back her magic- but it wasn't complying, instead it simmered and pushed against her hold, slowly gaining more room as her strength began to weaken. She felt it before it happened, her magic broke her hold and zagged towards Laxus, the swirling substance flicking his shoulder and burning it before it was reined in. She could taste it on her tongue, which was the weirdest part. Not burnt flesh or anything but she could almost taste his magic in her mouth.
It tasted like lightening, of course, even though she had never tasted lightening she knew that if she were, it would taste like this. Spinning and twisting around her magic tasted for either of the two people who had been near her moments before, but she couldn't sense either of them. Lucy's concentration was waning- she knew, and she would have to release her hold on her magic at some point. She hoped Laxus and Capricorn were far enough away because she could feel her magic demanding release.
She regretted ever trying to force it out of her body in the first place, she should have got used to it, learned how to wield it within her body before trying to push it out of her body. She mentally braced herself as she let her control over her magic weaken, and it began rushing out into the air. Not all of it of course, her magic container wasn't empty but she had forced a good portion of her magic outside her body- another mistake on her part but she guessed that she really didn't have much control at the time over how much she let out.
Her eyes popped open to see the golden shimmering wisps of her magic exploding against the air. Automatically she sprang back, but her magic didn't harm her- even though the grass around her was burnt to a crisp. Lucy wobbled, seeing spots in her vision for a moment as the sudden movement caused her world to spin. Falling to her knees she breathed deeply, suddenly feeling weak and drained. She could feel the strain that Capricorn was putting on her by feeding off her magic which had been reduced by at least half.
"Capricorn?" She called out weakly, looking around before her eyes landed on the goat spirit and Laxus standing on top of the boulder.
"Yes, Lucy-sama?" He asked, hopping of the large stone and walking calmly to her side.
"Could you go back to the spirit world? I lost about half of my magic during that whole," She waved her hands around, "thing."
Capricorn nodded, agreeing before vanishing in a soft shimmery light. Lucy groaned, standing back up and making her way over to her belt and key ring, ready to walk home and colapse into her bed. She fastened the belt, her keyring and her fleuve d'étoiles around her waist before stretching her limbs and looking over at Laxus. He was staring at her with a little bit of shock and wariness, like he half expected her magic to attack him again.
She could still taste lightening on her tongue and she could spot the burn that her enraged magic had caused. Smiling she wiggled her fingers at him and began walking off.
"You smell like stars, Blondie," He called after her from his perch.
"You taste like lightening," She shouted back, not turning around, "Blondie," She added, smiling to herself.
All in all, it was a good day. Sure, her body felt like it had been run over by a stampede, her mind was absolutely exhausted from the effort of trying to control her wayward magic and she was half-drained but she felt good. Capricorn's training regimen was working- she could feel the muscles in her arms in legs- e had showed her away to increase her magic container and even if it didn't work right away she knew she was already making great progress.
Smiling to herself Lucy hummed on the way back to her apartment. When she was in sight of the building she stopped dead in her tracks, her mind making mental calculations before her good mood dissipated and she was left a frantic mess. Her rent was due in...
one, two, three... five... seven!
... seven days!
The small antique shop smelled like dust and old books, just the way Yami preferred it. He watched as a little boy tugged on his father's hand, leading him through isles and isles of junk covered in dust. The little boy was wearing a bright blue shirt to match his sparkling eyes and there was a wide smile adorning his lips. He stared at his father with sparkling ocean eyes as he picked up a little dragon figurine- way behind a bunch of other dust-covered antiques.
The little boy chattered excitedly to his father as Yami made his way over, remarking about the shiny scales and the tiny brown eyes. His chubby child fingers held the figurine with care though, and he pet it's head with a little finger as he marveled at the dragon's beauty.
"That there is the King of the Forest," Yami murmured, pointing a long crooked finger at the green and brown figurine the boy was holding.
"Really?" The little boy breathed, wiping brown locks out of his eyes as he stared at the detailed dragon.
It's eyes were a rich brown, scales different shades of green and brown, almost as if the dragon had been sitting for ages and been covered by scale was painted a different set of shades, each detail painstakingly drawn on A dark grey chain was locked around it's wings and body but was made to look as if it had been snapped, the little dragon's wings were by it's side, one looking as though it was prepared to open, free at last from the chains binding it to the ground, it's tail in the air as if ready to strike.
"Really," Yami confirmed, his calloused old hands closed around the little boy's as he stared at him kindly, "You may keep it, for free, but you must promise to always keep it safe- and never give it to anyone else unless you feel as though they really deserve it."
The little boy nodded fiercely, hands clutching the figurine tightly as he stared back at Yami, "I promise oji-san, I won't even show nobody."
Yami smiled softly, and nodded his head.
"C'mon, Kiyoshi! If we don't leave now we'll be late for the train to take us home!" The boy's father called, walking towards the front desk with a few miscellaneous souvenirs.
Yami hobbled up to the front counter, smiling kindly at the man, "You aren't from in town?" He asked curiously.
"No sir, came to visit my sister, she just had a little baby boy," The man said, pulling out his wallet to pay for his purchase.
Yami smiled and congratulated the man before bagging up their items and smiling once more at the little boy, who clutched the dragon tightly in his hands.
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