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Lost in the Flames

Chapter Text

I was the match and you were the rock
Maybe we started this fire
We sat apart and watched
All we had burned on the pyre

Hair just the perfect shade of strawberry blond to appear pink in the sunlight and cigarette smoke curling in the chill spring air are what greet Lucy as she follows the flow of people out of the mall. Dark eyes flicker up to meet her’s for just a moment before a wide grin spreads across his face, and she swears he looks almost predatory grinning at her like that with cigarette smoke curling in front of his face. Honey brown eyes widen at the thought, shoulders squaring as she stands just that little bit straighter; unsure of how to feel about that particular thought and the images it conjures in her mind. Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, she allows a slight frown to appear on her face before she breaks the staring contest and shoulders through the crowd on her way past him.

She doesn’t know who he is, but he’s there every time she gets off work; leaning against one of the decorative pillars in front of the mall, cigarette hanging from his lips and the sun making his hair look pink. He never says a word to her, doesn’t wave or make a move towards her at all, just leans against that pillar and grins when he sees her. And she shouldn’t find his presence so intriguing, knows that she should probably report him to the police for loitering or try to chase him off, but.. He’s not threatening her, hasn’t hurt anyone or anything, so she sees no reason to do any of that. So she engages him in a staring contest whenever she sees him but otherwise ignores him.

For a week this had been their routine, short staring contest and then pretending that she hadn’t seen him, and honestly she’d thought that today would be no different. Except that it was.

As she moved to walk past him, a yell sounded from his direction and a silvery-blue cat ran in front of her, followed shortly by Pinky, who practically bowled her over. There was a yelp as she landed rather ungracefully on her butt, blinking in confusion as she wondered what had just happened and loud curses as the man tripped over her, landing face first on the sidewalk.

Irritation and concern both flared in Lucy as she stared at the man, silently wondering if she should smack him for running her over in the first place or if she should check to see if he was okay. In the end, she settled for a mixture of both options. What kind of person would she be if she didn’t help someone that had fallen on their face in front of her?

Rolling onto her knees, the blonde shuffled forward, one hand outstretched towards the man before her. He was still cursing the cat, which had come back to sit beside his head, but had yet to move from where he'd fallen. She was almost touching him, had been ready to poke his shoulder to get his attention, when he suddenly sat up. The sudden movement caught her off guard and she might have screamed in shock.

"Hey, could you stop screaming for a second? You're hurting my ears." The way he spoke, so nonchalant and calm like nothing had happened, surprised her so much that she immediately shut up. The resulting grin he flashed her before turning his attention to the cat confused her, and she wondered if this man was insane. What person spoke so casually after falling face first on a sidewalk and then acted as if it hadn't happened at all?

Irritation dying a bit, Lucy cleared her throat to get his attention this time, deciding that it might be better not to touch him. If he really were insane, there was no telling what he'd do if she touched him. "Uh-- A-are you okay?"

"Hm?" A glance up at her as he paused in petting the cat, obviously surprised at her concern. Dark eyes roved over her as she knelt beside him, noting the nametag that got skewed when she fell and the expression on her face before he grinned again, albeit rather sheepishly this time. "Who me? Ah yeah, don't worry. Sorry about knocking you over by the way, I didn't mean to."

"I--" She stumbled over her words as she watched him place the cat on his head and stand up; brushing off his jeans before he held a hand out to her. There was a moment of hesitation as she stared at his outstretched hand, a distant feeling that this was fated swelling in her heart urging her to ignore all of the alarms going off in the back of her mind and take his hand. Swallowing the sudden dryness in her throat, she placed her hand in his and allowed him to pull her to her feet, implicitly knowing that she couldn't go back now. Whether she liked it or not, she had a feeling she was stuck with Pinky and his cat now.

"Are you alright? Name's Natsu by the way and this is Happy."

"Y-yeah. Hi, Lucy."

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Retracting her hand, Lucy took a moment to knock any dirt off her butt and tug at the bottom of her shirt; a habit she’d picked up somewhere, though she couldn’t quite recall where. Clearing her throat, she wondered idly if she should excuse herself and go home or if she were supposed to try and start a conversation. She’d never really been in a situation like this before, and was at a loss of what exactly she was supposed to do.

“--Luce? Luce!” His voice broke into her thoughts, startling her and bringing her back to reality. Wait. Had he just given her a nickname?

“I-- Wh-what? Sorry!” She offers him a sheepish smile, tucking a blonde strand behind one ear as she stands there in front of him. Clearing her throat, she offers him a quiet apology, “I’m so sorry, but I didn’t catch what you were saying.”

“S’okay,” it’s more of a throaty laugh than an actual response, and Lucy can’t help but marvel at how nice it is to hear him laugh. “I was just wondering if you maybe wanted to go and get a drink somewhere..?”

Natsu lets his words trail off, head cocked to the side and one hand rubbing absently at the back of his neck in a nervous gesture. And God but Lucy can’t help but think for a moment, that he looked far less predatory than she had originally painted him in her head. No longer was he the stranger grinning behind cigarette smoke at her, dark eyes holding her’s in a staring contest. Instead, he was now the stranger with an adorable smile, cat perched precariously atop his head and asking her to get a drink with him. Everything had changed so suddenly that it was hard to wrap her head around the situation.

Remembering that he’d asked her a question, Lucy feigned a polite cough to cover up her embarrassment. Shifting from one foot to the other, she thought about what he’d asked her for a moment, considering the pros and cons of grabbing a drink with him. Pro: He was a fairly attractive man close to her own age. Con: He’d made her feel rather uneasy for weeks because of his creepy staring. Pro: He obviously liked animals, considering he had a cat. Con: He smoked. Pro: He was friendly and had a nice laugh.

“Well,” she started, finally coming to a decision, fingers of one hand still fiddling with the hem of her shirt, “I-- S-sure. Did you have a place in mind?” Hopefully she’d made the right decision and wouldn’t come to regret her choice the next morning.

“Really?! Hell yeah!” Dark eyes light up with unrestrained excitement as a wide smile spreads across his face. He stands just that little bit straighter, hand falling from the back of his neck to his side, fingers twitching slightly like they itched to reach forward and grab her hand. “Yeah! I’ve got just the place in mind! C’mon!”

And just like that, without even waiting for a response, Natsu reached forward and grabbed her hand, dragging her along behind him. Lucy was too surprised to protest, stumbling a bit as she tried to keep up, a million things running through her mind. Where were they going? Was it safe? Was she safe? And above all; what in the world had she gotten herself into?

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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?”