Lucy felt really warm and comfortable, so she snuggled deeper into the soft pillow in front of her. A breathing pillow. Since when do pillows have muscles? With that question on her mind, she slowly opened her eyes and blinked at the sight of a familiar and very well-built chest. How the hell did he get in her bed again?
Natsu's strong arms were wrapped tightly around her and pressed her body so closely to his, making her feel his chest rise with every breath. He mumbled something in his sleep, smiling at whatever it was. At that moment, Lucy thought he looked she found him snoring away in the guild for the first time, the celestial mage had been surprised by his innocent and childlike dragon slayer always surrounded himself with his friends, one would rarely find him on his own, which made her wonder if he ever felt lonely. It was really hard to picture him in his and Happy's small cottage without the cat around.
Suddenly, one of his legs wiggled itself between hers, unconsciously seeking for the warmth of her body. All in all, it was a very compromising position. His smooth, muscled skin rubbed against her sensitive upper tighs and a shiver ran down her was not adorable nor was it innocent, but it made her stomach somersault and a tingly sensation warmed her entire body. Damn, hormones.
"Stupid fire breather," she hissed. "Intruding my bed again..."
Lucy tried to escape the cage of his arms, but every time she got a part of her body free Natsu held her even tighter. It was almost like a reflex. How Annoying. Like a dragon protecting its golden treasure. She giggled at the thought; it would definitely suit him. Still, she wanted to get out before any of the others woke up and saw them like this.
The curvy blonde was antagonized for a few seconds until she gave up reluctantly, deciding that it was rather comfortable. She closed her eyes again and took deep breaths to calm herself. Natsu was still sleeping, meaning he wasn't intentionally trapping her. He wasn't even aware of their position or what he was doing, so she shouldn't be mad.
Nice and warm. Being in his arms was as if someone wrapped her up in a blanket of just the happiest feelings. She was almost back in her own dreamland.
Then Lucy heard him sigh in his sleep, when suddenly his hand traveled down to grope her butt. Her eyes snapped open. What the hell? Even in his sleep, he knew how to ruin a moment. That perverted dragon slayer! Enough was enough. Unceremoniously, she clawed herself out of his embrace and harshly slapped his wandering hand away. Natsu who just registered that he wasn't dreaming anymore, opened his eyes in confusion.
He gulped in fright, when he saw an expression on his partner's face that promised pain.
"Intruder!" Lucy yelled. He probably didn't even know what he did wrong. She didn't really care though and wasn't willing to reign in her anger. "Get out of my room!"
The dragon slayer flinched, sensitive ears not liking the shrill sound of Lucy's angry voice. She kicked the unsuspecting wizard out of her bed and Natsu crashed into a small table. Apparently, the table wasn't used to the amount of weight since it immediately broke in two pieces, one of them hitting a lamp which fell on Gray, rudely waking him up.
"Holy shit what's happening?" The ice-make wizard panicked and threw the lamp away like it was a time bomb about to explode. He was oblivious to the fight that was about to ensue between his team mates and shot a glance at Erza who was still sleeping to his great relief. She'd kill anyone who dared to wake her.
Natsu rubbed his eyes and yawned. "G'morning to you too, Lucy. What's got you all fired up this early?"
"Don't go all 'good morning' on me!" She balled her hands to fists and stomped her feet on the messy bed. "What are you doing in my bedroom?"
"We are in a hotel remember? This is our room, too. So could you please keep it down," Gray answered instead and rubbed his temples in order to soothe his growing headache. "My head feels like exploding!"
"What the stripper said is right, you know? It's our room," Natsu added.
"No shit Sherlock. That's still no reason to sneak into my bed," Lucy fumed and glared at both of them. At Gray for butting in and at Natsu for obvious reasons. Of course, the one time those two agreed with eachother was when they argued against her. "How would you like if I'd sneak into you bedroom, drool on your shirt and snore in you ear, huh? You could at least… "
"You should cut down the drinking, bastard." Natsu rolled his eyes and looked at his rival, ignoring Lucy's angry rant. It was too early to deal with her antics and his brain was still too fuzzy from having her so close to him. No matter how much she yelled at him, it wouldn't shake the happy feelings bubbling in his stomach. That reminded him, he was kinda hungry. "All that whiskey makes you smell worse then an alley drunk."
"Are you my mom?" Gray stood up from the couch that he slept on and threw a squishy pillow at him. "And who are ya callin' a bastard, fire freak."
"Wanna start a fight, ice cream?" Natsu chucked it right back at him. Bullseye, it laded right in his face.
His rival smirked evilly and got himself two more pillows. "You're gonna lose, punk!"
" … and don't ignore me when I'm talking to you and don't start a fight in the morning!" Lucy finally exploded, successfully waking Happy. "I could kill you two just about now."
"Lucy? Can I have your pillows?" Eagerly, Natsu turned around to face her, but she was still very busy with her angry rant. Thinking she finally got his attention back, she continued scolding him but he just pouted in return. The fire wizard really needed those pillows to win the fight. "Lucy, did you hear me?"
"I'm not deaf! No Natsu, you can't have my pillows because they are mine just like the bed." The blonde woman crossed her arms like a stubborn child. "I won't support your stupid pillow fight! You know how well that went last time!"
Erza put her own pillow over her ears.
"Jeez, you're so mean. No need to get all worked up …" Natsu tried to calm her down because she started to seriously annoy him. He rubbed his ear because her voice continued to reach higher octaves. At this pace, she'd set up a world record. Moreover, he was puzzled over the reason she threw such a fit. Usually, he found himself on the end of her rage, receiving a well-aimed kick or two but that was about it. She never went into a tirade like this.
All he remembered from earlier was that he had a really nice dream, Lucy was in his arms and then he got flung out of bed by the blonde beast.
"No need to get worked up? You were the one who grabbed my butt!" Lucy shrieked and pointed an accusing finger at the stunned boy.
Erza turned to the other side.
"I didn't do that, I would remember something like that," Natsu replied sheepishly and tried to hide his blush. Slowly but surely, the faint memory of something soft and round beneath his fingertips resurfaced. Opps, so he didn't dream that part after all. A brilliant blush threatened to conquer his cheeks and he did everything to avoid her accusing glare.
"Keep it down you two," Gray whisper-yelled, really getting pissed now. They should try waking up with a murder hangover and listen to their bickering. It's painful. Not to mention what would happen if they made Erza mad in the morning. Summoning Satan from hell would be more pleasant. "You'll wake her."
Erza's eyebrow twitched in annoyance.
Lucy made a pacifying gesture towards Gray, before she turned back to continue arguing with Natsu. "It's all your fault! Pervert!"
"I'm not a pervert."
"They're having a lover's quarrel," Happy giggled behind his paws which earned him two embarrassed and one smug face. "Natsu and Lucy are sitting in a tree. K-i-s-s-i-n-g!"
"We're not!" they yelled in unison.
"Shut up already our this hote room will be the last thing you see before I send you to hell!" Erza stood up from her make shift bed on the floor and the room went quiet all of a sudden. A dozen swords were pointed at the four and they gulped in sync. Natsu and Gray were sweating bullets while Happy hid behind Lucy, willing to offer her as a sacrifice to save his fur. "Now, get dressed and shower. It will throw a bad light on Fairy Tail, if you show up in this sorry state. If you have so much energy left to establish a war zone in our hotel room, you aren't working hard enough. Today we'll concentrate on the mission. Only the mission. And Natsu ..."
"Y-Yes, ma'am?" he squeaked and tried to hide behind one of the table pieces, dreading his possible punishment.
"If you ever and I really mean ever touch Lucy's butt against her will again, I will punish you so hard you won't ever be able to use your hands again," she growled and stared daggers at him. For a moment tough, he thought he saw the hint of a smirk, but it was gone so fast he wasn't sure if he really saw it. That woman was the devil.
For most of the morning, Lucy was trying not to think about her perverted best friend. However, every time their eyes met, questions sprouted in her mind like a disease. Why did she feel so comfortable in his arms? Lately, they have been hugging more often and they even had one argument that was borderline serious. They never argued this much. Just what was wrong with their relationship? It just couldn't possibly be that he liked her in a romantic way, he was way to immature for that. Or could it be? She'd have to find it out.
They were on their way to the library again in order to find an entrance to the underground labyrinth. Lucy avoided talking to the whining dragon slayer and focused all of her attention on the people around them. She shouldn't be thinking about Natsu and his issues, but rather about finding her one true love like Miss Mystic suggested.
If you are able to pass the emotional roller coaster, you will float on cloud nine with your one true love!
One true love … that sounded too good to be true. Not that the poser magician was right, but it was worth a try since there have been a few coincidences that hit too close to home to simply write them off. Nevertheless, Lucy had to be consequent with her silent treatment or Natsu would never learn. Still, the tense silence which hung in the air between them grew as the minutes ticked by.
"Lucy? Are you still angry?"
Natsu touched her arm gently and she turned her gaze on him for the first time since hours. His voice sounded annoyed, but the sadness in his eyes was undeniable. Images of his face close to hers and his body flashed behind her eyes and overwhelmed her mind. She couldn't help the dreamy look on her face and the pink hue that coloured her cheeks.
Damn, she sure was blushing a lot these days. If the curvy woman didn't know better, one would think she was actually turning into a living, breathing tomato. She couldn't help the giddy feeling though. That was until the memory of him groping her behind returned. Internally, she relived her rage.
"Lucy? I don't want to fight with you again. Please forgive me?"
She would stay strong. No, she had to stay strong and resist the urge to cuddle him to death … Oh, curse him and his puppy dog eyes, it made the dork look sweeter than a pile of candy and made her melt inside.
Oh, to hell with it.
"It's okay, just stop making that adorable face! It's so cute," she squealed and threw her arms around his neck, rubbing her cheek against his in a rush of affection. When she regained her senses, Lucy leaped back with a shy grin and scratched the back of her head. Where did that come from?
"I'm not cute, dragons can't be cute. They're dangerous and intimidating," he replied and furrowed his eyebrows, a usual sign that he was being serious. Lucy groaned and rolled her eyes. Of course, he always had to be as manly as possible and compare himself to a dragon. Sometimes she wondered whether he considered himself more dragon than human.
"Sure, that's what I wanted to say." Lucy laughed and punched his arm. "You're very intimidating and dangerous just like a dragon."
"Glad you see it my way!" He grinned proudly, not registering the sarcasm. Then a thought seemed to cross his mind – holy hell, yes a thought – it was scary to witness.
Out of nowhere, Natsu threw an arm over her shoulder and leaned closer to her face. His nose was now inches from her own and she felt herself getting lost in his charcoal eyes which glowed with a teasing light that made her shiver. His warm breath fanned across her face, making her breath hitch in her throat. Breathe, Lucy!
"But I'm more like a fire dragon," he said huskily. Oh good lord have mercy on her, that sounded just so unlike Natsu. It sounded almost – she dared to even think the word in connection with that dork – sexy. How could he go from adorable idiot to smoldering in just a moment? She was getting a whiplash from the back and forth.
"S-so? W-what's the difference?" Lucy stuttered and tried to hide her flushed face from his gaze. With the arm around her shoulder, he pulled her even closer to him and ruffled her hair affectionately.
"I'm hot, duh." He laughed out loud like a maniac and Lucy joined in, ignoring the way his chest vibrated against her body when he laughed. They gained some odd looks from the passerby around them.
Natsu wore his broad signature grin that could light up the entire world and made her forget about the new weirdy attractive side to him. Maybe he has a multiple personality issue, but he'd have told her about that. This other side of her best friend made her nervous and sometimes it even frightened her. It felt like there was a ticking clock which limited the time they'd spent together. A world without her best friend would be scary.
"Jeez, this is so boring. Let's do something else," Natsu grumbled as he watched the pretty blonde grab jet another book. Books are lame. How could she even read so fast? She was already skimming what felt like the one hundredth book while he needed an hour for five pages. They weren't even about food! Besides, the library smelled bad. He couldn't quite place it, but it was very unpleasant.
Well, their trip to this place had two good points still. First off, they could spend some undisturbed quality time together. Even if he didn't like reading, it was quite relaxing to watch Lucy work. The dragon slayer also really enjoyed watching her excitement over the stack of history volumes, it made him content to see her this happy. Secondly, that annoying librarian from yesterday wasn't on the clock today. Not that Natsu would let him come even a few metres close to his partner again, he'd do everything to protect her from that creep.
"Erza will kill us if we don't work hard. You heard her this morning and I'm so close to figuring this our. Just a few more books and I'm certain we'll find the entrance," she mumbled absentmindedly while adjusting her magic glasses. "You can go and look around if you're bored. I will find it faster without you nagging all the time anyway."
"You're mean," he grumbled and threw his book on a table.
There was nothing interesting in the store except one thing … his glance fell on the girl next to him. To kill some time, Natsu put his head on his hands and started to watch the blond wizard curiously. Lucy was lost in the story of the novel in her hands and didn't even acknowledge his existance at the moment. The warm glow of a candle cast a mysterious but beautiful light on her face and made her silky hair shimmer golden with every slight movement of her head. His stomach twisted and warmed up when he thought about touching it.
Her brows were furrowed in concentration and she bit her plump lips. Every now and then she wrinkled her nose, most likely when something important was written on the pages. Natsu never noticed before, but she looked really cute when she was puzzled over something. His cheeks warmed up, but he didn't look away to hide it.
Lately, Lucy looked like that more often. The fire wizard knew something was bothering her ever since this week started, but from her behavior he could tell that she wasn't ready to talk about it yet. Still, it worried him when she kept quiet about something.
"C-could you stop t-that?" Her embarrassed voice shook him out of his thoughts and he blinked dumbfounded.
"Quit staring, it's distracting me." Uncomfortably, she shuffled in her seat hid her face behind a book.
"How so? I'm not doing anything." He chuckled and she threw him a glare over the pages. It should be illegal to be this adorable. Natsu leaned closer to her and took the book out of her hands to get a better look at her flustered face, meeting resistance in the progress. He was a lot stronger than Lucy, so all her efforts went to waste.
"Y-you're staring at me … with that weird look ..." she fumbled with her words while pointing an accusing finger at him. Pride rose in his chest when he figured out that he was the reason that she had that cute look on her face. "Just do something else, okay?"
The dragon slayer rolled his eyes. Nevertheless, he stood up to occupy himself but not before ruffling her hair affectionately, earning a shocked squeal from her. Natsu didn't really want to leave her sitting alone, but he knew from experience that if he continued to annoy her, she'd explode. That wasn't a pretty thing to witness, if this morning was any indication.
After wandering about the packed book shelves for what seemed like an eternity, the unpleasant scent intensified gradually. It was familiar to his nose. The faint smell of blood. Natsu followed it until he reached a small shelf which was loaded with dust. The smell was now almost unbearable and he pinched his nose in disgust. Something must have happened in this crazy shop and he doubted that somebody had a papercut.
"Can you come over here? I think I found something." Although he didn't really want her anywhere near this horrid smell, they had to investigate it.
The wooden floor creaked beneath her annoyed footsteps, assuming it was just another one of his attempts to get her attention, before she found him sniffing at a red book. Seriously, sometimes he wasn't much different from a dog. A golden retriever to be specific. Loyal, overly cheerful, clingy and intelligence wise challenged. What sane person walked around sniffing at books? A red book and his pink hair.
Avoid the color red and don't match it up with pink.
Should she be worried? Was something bad about to happen? When Natsu noticed her watching him, he motioned for her to come closer.
"Since we've entered the library, there was this nasty smell but I didn't pay any attention to it 'till now. It's coming from this shelf," he mumbled absentmindedly. "It reeks of blood, probably about five hours old but I couldn't find even one drop."
Lucy furrowed her brows and contemplated his words. "You know, in many mystery stories there are secret passages in libraries. For instance, if you were to pull a certain book out, the shelf moves away and reveals a hidden path through which the murderer could escape or hide his victims."
"You're sayin' there is a super-secret path behind the wall?"
She nodded in approval.
"You're so smart." Natsu patted her shoulder proudly while beaming his one-hundred-watt grin, leaving her dazed. He turning his attention back to the old shelf, the perfect plan forming in his mind. Finally, there was going to be some action. "Let's do this. Here I go!"
Lucy's jaw dropped to the floor as soon as her brain processed what he was going to do. Of course, the idiot wouldn't waste any time simply trying to find the secret lock. – "Roar of the fire dragon!" – No, the fire dragon slayer did what he could do best; he burned the entire shelf to a crisp while laughing maniacally. She balled her hands to fists and a vein popped on her forehead. He was the only person on the planet who would think it's smart to start a fire in a library.
"Lucy, look you were right. There is a path! We found it! Erza will be so proud of us and we didn't even need all those books you've read," Natsu exclaimed giddily and showed her a thumbs up when he turned around for praise. Lucy stood there motionless. "Oi, you alright? Lucy? What's wrong?"
"Uhm … Lucy?"
"Natsu," she hissed and one of her eyebrows twitched in annoyance.
"Are you out of your mind?! Those books were probably centuries old, they have historical value. Can you even imagine how much they are worth? I don't even want to imagine the Jewels you carelessly burned. You burned about eighty of them in one go," she yelled and performed a well-aimed kick to his side. Perplexed, he lost balance and fell to the ground in an ungraceful heap. "Do you even think about getting a reward at all? How I'm gonna survive without my rent money, huh? I will have to live on the streets if this continues. You can be so thick-headed! Sometimes I wonder if you even have a brain!"
Now Natsu was the speechless one and the remaining pieces of wood continued to burn in the background, spreading the fire to the remaining furniture. Most things in the library were easily flameable, soon turning the place into an inferno of burned books that put even the fire's of hell to shame.
Seeing the dangerous situation they were in, Lucy post-phoned the scolding for later and wondered how to keep the fire under control. After all, she learned early on that Natsu couldn't eat his own flames. Well, she had one option. A frightening one. Realizing that there was no water nearby, Lucy had to do the most dangerous thing ever: Spit on the golden key of her most violent spirit.
"Open gate of the water bearer, Aquarius!"
Brilliant gold light further illuminated the burning room as the stongest spirit she owned appeared. Her blue scaled tail snapped from side to side like a whip and Lucy could already feel the deadly glare bore into her head. "Tell me you didn't summon me from your own spit, wench."
"I-I d-d-didn't?" Lucy stuttered nervously, cold sweat breaking out on her forehead. This was it, her life was officially over and done for.
"Tch don't lie to me, stupid girl. I've had it with you. I was on a date with Scorpio," Aquarius spat angrily, nearly causing the girl's soul to leave her body. "What did I say about calling me when I'm on a date?"
"Y-you'll d-drown m-me to d-death?"
"If you remember, you should know better than to provoke me. Die a painful death in your own shitty spit!" Aquarius howled and a tidal wave swept over the shop, drowning the rest of the books and two innocent wizards.
The world turned upside down in front of Lucy's eyes, several objects were colliding with her body and she felt the urge to puke. It was like being inside of a gigantic washing machine. It was hard to keep track of her whereabouts but she did her best to hold her breath and just wait it out. The celestail wizard prayed that she'd come out of this alive. After a while, the steady flow of violent water weakened and she regained a safe place on the floor. Completely soaked from head to toe, it was no wonder her teeth started to shatter. If that keeps happening, Lucy'd get sick sooner or later.
"Don't freaking call me for the next two months. I'm on vacation with my boyfriend!"
There it was again, the endless mean spirited teasing. Lucy let out the breath she unknowingly held when her lunatic spirit vanished back to her own realm. Cautiously, her eyes scanned the obviously destroyed room to find the cause for all her troubles. She found him laying upside down not a few feet from her, spitting out a small fountain of water from his mouth.
"Hmmm Lucy?" Natsu smirked, a teasing glint sparkled in his charcoal eyes when he walked over to help her on her feet. "Someone told me once that those books have historical value, not to mention they are worth a great deal of money. She also told me that her rent money was very important, but I can't remember who that was. Mysterious, isn't it?"
"I don't have a clue who you're talking about, but she must have been a smart person," the celestial wizard growled, but a small guilty smiled tugged at her lips. "At least the fire is out. Sorry about the mess."
"It's not a big deal, we do that all the time." Natsu laughed out loud and threw an arm over her shoulder. "Let's go and find some dark guild creeps to beat up!"
Lucy sighed comfortably when her shivering ceased due to his warmth as they walked towards the hidden path's entrance. Her relief was short lived though. As soon as they stepped into the black tunnel, a shiver ran down her spine and spread through her whole body and it was not due to being soaked this time. It wasn't pleasant. Her skin felt as if thousand icy needles poked her. Lucy had the unnerving feeling in her gut that they should turn around and get the hell out of that place.
Natsu pulled her closer to him when they spotted the origin of the heavy scent. Sprinkles of ruby red blood covered the cold stones on either side of the tunnel. They gasped simultaneously and stayed rooted on the spot. Still, they had to push forward. After all, it was their job to investigate it.
"We skipped lunch, so I'm kinda hungry. Did you bring food?" Natsu asked casually and on cue his stomach grumbled loudly. Seriously, he was the only person she knew who was concerned about his meal in a situation like that. This time though, she was glad for the distraction.