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Lost in the Flames

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He leads her through the streets of Magnolia, away from the mall and into the crowds. Faces and buildings, street signs and lights all blur together as he drags her forward, stopping for the briefest of moments every once in a while to allow her to get her feet under her again. Happy clung to his shoulder like he’d been doing it since he was a kitten, tail streaming out behind him like a rudder for balance. When they finally stop, it’s in a semi-darkened alley in front of a door with a single neon sign overhead. And for a moment, just a moment, she wonders if maybe she made the wrong decision in allowing him to drag her along behind him.

However she might feel now, she realizes that it’s a little too late to go back. Now she’s in front of some tiny dive bar, still holding hands with a man she just met. As if suddenly realizing that she is indeed still holding Natsu’s hand, Lucy tugs backwards, trying to reclaim her hand to no avail.

“We’re here!” His tone is upbeat, hand tightening ever so slightly on her own as he opens the door and tugs her forward. If he hears her quiet, exasperated, Where is here, exactly?, he doesn’t show it. Instead, he just grins wider and steps through the door, pulling her along with him into a din of noise and light.

Happy gives a high pitched meow in his own greeting as he jumps from his master’s shoulder, tail held high as he saunters through the bar like he owns the place. A few people look up at the sound, yelling out greetings to the cat and Natsu both as they enter before going back to their own drinks and conversations. Surprised, and a little nervous about being in a new place, Lucy scoots closer to the man in front of her, wide honey eyes taking in everything around her.

Grin still firmly in place, he pulls her towards the bar, shouting greetings as he goes. He doesn’t say a word about her scooting closer to him as they walk, though he’s surely noticed it. He only holds her hand tighter as they walk, refusing to answer any of her silent questions. When they do finally stop, it’s at the bar itself, right in front of an absolutely beautiful platinum blonde bartender. Only then does he release her hand, gesturing that she should take the seat next to him.

“Hey Natsu! Who’s your friend?” The bartender’s high, melodic voice cuts through the din of the other patrons, surprising Lucy a little bit as she sits down. Taking a moment to settle her heartbeat, she studies the other woman, wondering idly if she’d ever seen anyone as gorgeous as her.

“Hey Mira!” Settling into his seat, Natsu takes the beer offered to him, stealing a quick glance at his companion before turning his attention back to Mira. “This is--! Uh…” He falters, grin faltering as he feigns ignorance of her name, yelping when a small hand lands sharply on his arm. “Hey! What was that for?”

“Seriously?! You forgot my name already? You just learned it like twenty minutes ago!”

“What? Nah, I totally remember your name! It’s uh.. Loopy? Looney?” He’s having fun teasing her, pretending to not know her name and seeing the indignant look she gets on her face, the way she scrunches her nose in annoyance. It’s just too cute.

“It’s Lucy, you jerk!” She purses her lips petulantly, looking very much like a spoiled child that had been told no. He can tell though that she’s not really upset with him, not if that twinkle in her honey brown eyes is any indication. Mira’s tinkling laughter rings out behind them, mirth making her eyes shine with an inner light and causing Lucy to pause in her half hearted assault on Natsu’s arm. Suddenly bashful, she withdraws her hands and places them in her lap, staring holes into the top of the bar for a moment before she finds her voice again. “I’m sorry, that was rude of me. My name is Lucy.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Lucy!” Her genuine happiness throws the other off guard, and her gaze lifts to meet Mira’s, amazed at the kindness she sees there. “My name is Mirajane, though you can call me Mira; everyone does! And--”

“Don’t apologize for gettin’ some hits in on flame brain, he probably deserved it,” the voice that cuts her off is lower than Natsu’s and the words more clipped. And suddenly there’s a body to accompany the voice, a pale arm draped over the other man’s shoulder and a black mop of hair contrasting sharply with the tanned strawberry blond. Cold, calculating eyes rake over Lucy’s form for a brief moment, taking in everything before him as the aforementioned flame brain protests the stranger hanging on him. “Man would you pipe down, Natsu? Your voice is getting on my nerves!”

“You shut up, popsicle! You’re the one intruding!” An irritated growl as he shrugs off the offending arm slung around his shoulders, hand closest to the bar coming up to push the other man’s face away. A brief struggle ensues, Natsu’s beer and Lucy going forgotten for a moment as the two men squabble.

Mira ignores them, obviously used to their antics and instead tries to distract Lucy with a conversation. She wipes down the bar and saves bottles and glasses from getting knocked over and broken with practiced ease. She ducks flying objects and wildly thrown punches like it was second nature to her, never once losing her train of thought as she converses with Lucy.

“So Lucy, how did you meet Natsu?”