Natsu was an enigma. Most mages were, in all honesty, but Natsu was different. All mages had a soulmark: a winding, colorful mark that stretched across their body and connected them to their other half. All mages had one, and they all looked forward to the day they’d meet their other half.
Natsu was terrified.
Across his body were three completely distinct soulmarks, intertwining just as much with each other as they did with him. All he could think about was how much his soulmates would hate him for being bound another person, let alone two, and that they were too big to hide. Most soulmarks were small, the size of one’s hand to covering their forearm, but not his. His spanned his entire body, curling around him from head to toe. Even his face showed some of the markings.
That’s why Natsu learned how to wear makeup.
It’s why he never goes swimming with anyone.
It’s why he never uses the guild’s sauna.
To them, it would be weird, and Natsu wouldn’t be able to handle losing his friends too.
Everyone stared at Natsu, who was just barely ten, as he walked, their eyes trailing up and down his body as they followed the beautiful lines his soulmarks left on his skin. People whispered as they stared, but he could care less.
“What kind a freak has more than one soulmark?” The voice was colder than the polar vortexes Igneel once flew him through, and it stopped Natsu in his tracks. As he looked around him, it was apparent that everyone else only had one set of the colorful marks. He looked at his own, intrigued and curious. He was still new to Fiore, and it’s language, but freak must be a compliment, right?
“Um, Thanks?” Natsu responded unsurely, but as he met the adult’s eyes, he knew he made a mistake. They were full of so hatred and disgust that Natsu nearly took a step back.
The man’s lips pulled into a sneer. “Are you dumb? That wasn’t a compliment. You’re probably going up to be an unfaithful whore and nothing else. Three fucking soulmarks, how disgusting.”
Natsu hadn’t responded, but once he was safely out of the city, he broke down for the second time in a week, the first having been when Igneel vanished.
Finding another dragon slayer was not when Natsu thought would happen when phantom attacked his family. The ground shook violently as they both fought, but Natsu was the one to stand victorious in the end. As Gajeel stared up at him, beaten and bleeding, he saw the acceptance in his eyes. “You were taught the old way,” Natsu said quietly, and Gajeel shook his head..
“I was taught that other slayers would follow those rules,” The Iron Dragon Slayer’s acceptance of his fate turned into shock as Natsu extended a hand to help him stand, “Why?”
“Because I wasn’t taught to be like that, nor do I want to be like that,” Natsu flashed him his signature smile, a tiny piece of makeup flaking off from his cracked lips, “Besides, it’s over now. You were mislead in all of this too.”
Gajeel took his hand warily, still someone shocked that Natsu didn’t follow the Victory or Death rule Metalicana had convinced him all slayers would, or at least, all but one. He really is the son of the true dragon king.
When Gajeel joined the guild, Natsu was overjoyed. He had another dragon slayer to spar with! Then he realized that Gajeel would tell the others things about slayers that Natsu did not.
He’ll tell them about the soul marks.
From then on, Natsu lived on the edge, terrified for the moment that he would be outed as a freak.
The day was unbearably hot for anyone who wasn’t Natsu. Several of the girls had opted to wear their bathing suits, and most of the guys had forgone shirts. Gajeel did the same, leaving both of his soulmarks on full display.
Natsu slipped out of his seat quietly, hoping to sneak out the back door. Someone tried to grab his wrist, but he broke away quickly, running the rest of the way to and out of the door. Shit shit shit .
The back door slammed loudly behind him, leaving Erza in shock, he hand still outstretched. I was only going to ask if he’d grab me a drink.
“Holy shit!” The exclamation brought her attention right back to Gajeel. A brilliant yellow colored soul mark wound tightly around a second, deep purple one. The colors complemented each other beautifully as they stretched across his chest and shoulders. Books and words were hidden among bright yellow flowers, and at every pointed end of purple wisps was the head of a snake sneaking out from beneath matching flowers. “You have two soulmarks!”
Gajeel rubbed the back of his head awkwardly, glancing down at his chest as if he’d forgotten they were there. “Ah- yeah. All dragon raised slayers have had more than one. It wouldn’t surprise me if pinky was the same. Might be why he wears so much fucking makeup too.”
“Natsu doesn’t wear makeup,” Mira responded. “If he did, I’d have noticed.”
Gajeel gave her a flat look, “I have literally torn bits of liquid latex off of him while fighting. He wears more makeup than you even own, ” He rolled his eyes, “Besides, Natsu’s been in your guild for years, how did you not-oh. Oh .”
“ Oh, what, Gajeel?” Heads whipped around as their master come down from the second floor, ever curious about what was going on.
Gajeel lock his lips and threw away the imaginary key, “It’s not my place to say if he didn’t tell you.” People continued to throw questions at him, angry at his refusal, but Gajeel said nothing.
It would be several hours before anyone noticed Natsu had been followed.
Natsu had run back through Magnolia’s streets in a panic. The winding backroad were nothing to him now, the complex city having been memorised by his years before. By the time he’d stopped running, he was nearer to his own home in the forest than the guild itself. “Fucking shit,” Natsu mumbled. His entire body shook as he slid down the side of the tree, “Fuck.” He took only a moment to breathe before forcing himself back up again. I need to get home. I can’t- I can’t break here.
He only made it a few steps before he stumbled, but a someone caught him before he hit the ground. Freezing hands steadied him as he caught the soft scent of mint and pine. “Easier their flame-brain. Panic attacks tire people out, especially when you try to shove them down.” When Natsu didn’t respond, Gray decided to pick him up, “Alright, I’m going to drag you to my house because I know I have food and that you don’t. You can rant to me about whatever this is later.”
Natsu curled around Gray as much as he could, only barely being able to keep the panic at bay.
It didn’t take them long to get to Gray’s nor for Natsu to be wrapped in a blanket with a cup of tea in his hands. “You want to tell me, or do I have to guess?” When Natsu tried to bury himself in the blanket, Gray sighed, “ guessing it is. “You freaked out when Gajeel came in showing his soul marks, so I’m guessing it has something to do with Gajeel specifically, soul marks, or dragon slayers. Since he had more than one, you never show yours, and you haven’t had any problems with Gajeel recently, It’s a dragon slayer thing that had to do with soul marks, isn’t is?”
Natsu refused to look him in the eye, his knuckles white as they gripped the mug.
Gray gently pried his fingers away, afraid that he’s shatter it, “Do you have more than one?”
Of all the things he expected, seeing Natsu attempt to bite back choked sobs was not one of them.he was quick to pull Ntau closer to him, uncaring about the tears on his bare chest. “I’m sorry- I’m sorry,” Natsu kept repeating it like a mantra, the words more cracked and heartbreaking with each one.
Gray threaded his hand through Natsu’s hair, “Why are you sorry? What’s wrong with having more than one person who’s going to love you? To be honest, it’s not that surprising. You have a heart too big for your body.” Natsu only cried harder as he clutched onto the blanket like a lifeline. “Anyone who told you otherwise is a liar, okay?”
The two continued to hold each other long after Natsu’s tea was cold, neither one wanting to move. The sun had long set when Natsu finally removed his head from Gray’s shoulder.”I’m-”
“Don’t,” Gray whispered, “You have no reason to be sorry.” He grabbed a tissue from the box on the side table and carefully started wiping at Natsu’s running eyeliner, stopping the moment the pinkette recoiled. “Whoops, I should have asked. So-”
Natsu shook his head, “don’t you apologize either. It’s just- they- they stretch across all of my body-face too.”
Gray’s eyebrows shot upward, “Oh. You don’t have to answer, but how do you cover them up? Mine’s so bright I had Ur teach me to illusion it. Are they just really neutral colored?”
Natsu let loose a single airy chortle, “No, they’re bright. I layer liquid latex on them…”
Natsu paused, his mind running a thousand miles a minute,”If I show you, then you can’t tell anyone.”
Gray nodded, but quickly regret his decision when Natsu began pulling off his skin , “What the fuck.”
Natsu nearly lost himself laughing, “It’s fake skin I used to cover them! You look so horrified.”He continued to pull at the latex, taking all of his make up with it. “It’s actually not that hard to-what?”
Gray stared at him, mouth agape. WIthout the makeup, Natsu’s face was considerably slimmer, and just a bit paler from the last of sunshine beneath the makeup. However, neither of those is what caught Gray’s attention. Across his cheeks alone there were more freckles than stars in the sky, “ Woah. ”
“Yeah, I know I’m pretty fucking ugly, but that’s-”
“Ugly is the opposite of what I was thinking,” He ignored the odd spluttering that slipped past Natsu’s lips in favor of looking at his soulmarks. All three curled up his cheeks and around his eyes as if they were a decorative mask. Everywhere they went they seemed to wind together, the inky black and bright white one whispering around the more rugged electric blue. The disappeared beneath the layer of latex on his neck before any of their defining traits made themselves known. “They’re beautiful too.”
Natsu choked on his own spit as he punched Gray’s shoulder, “I-ex-what?”
Gray just shook his head, “Since you showed me yours, I’ll show you mine.” Gray released the illusion spell on his soul mark, and Natsu was shocked to find a pink red gradient crawling from Gray’s fingertips to his shoulder. Some of the tiny, detailed designs were thoroughly covered in Natsu’s running eyeliner, which the pinkette quickly tried to rectify. It was almost as if flames were crawling up his arm. “People used to grab my arm to try and see all the details. It pissed me off.”
“Of course it would,” Natsu mumbled, “You aren’t usually a touchy person.” A fact which makes me wonder why you did this.
“Huh, yeah. I guess I’m not,” Gray shrugged, and Natsu slid off Gray’s lap, “Whatcha doing?”
“I’m going to take the back way home, so people don’t have to see this mess,” He picked up the cup of tea to take to the kitchen on the way out, “Hey, thanks for this.”
Gray didn’t know whether he was talking about the tea or the understanding he was met with, but he nodded anyways, “be careful, okay?” he was met with another nod.
As the door closed behind him, Gray felt as if the house had gotten a bit colder. He forced himself to get up from the couch to put the blanket away, but a single thought startled him so badly that he tripped on the blanket.
Shitfuck I called him beautiful to his face-
Natsu and Gray were seen together often. They’d always been close, but now there was less fighting involved. They would sit and play games or even just talk, which weirded out everyone else.
Today though, Gray had come in dead tired. He hadn’t even bothered to illusion his soul mark, the bright pink catching the attention of many. “What’s the occasion, Gray,” Cana called out.
“The occasion is I’m dead fucking tired and you can pissoff,” he shot back. She flipped him off, and he returned the gesture.
A few minutes later, Natsu sat down beside him with two mugs: One tea for himself and one coffee for Gray. He downed the coffee in one go before laying across the booth seat to put his head in Natsu’s lap.
Natsu ran a hand through Gray’s hair, uncaring of the stares.
Cana gaped at the scene, “What did I drink?”
The first time the guild saw Natsu’s soul marks was the day after the battle of Fairy Tail. Laxus’s lightning had ripped bits of the liquid latex off Natsu’s body as it struck, but the nonconductive material had protected him against the brunt of Laxus’s attacks. As he sat by Gray in the guild hall, he muttered, “fuck it.” With quick movements, he began tearing at the rest of the latex, pulling it right off in front of his terrified yet intrigued guildmates.
“They’re so pretty,” Erza blurted, and for a moment Gray thought Natsu was going to cry again, but he didn’t. The slayer had told him why he had hated his soul marks, and it had let to another cuddling session.
Natsu only shrugged in response. He snatched the massive hoodie Gray had stripped earlier and pulled it on. He tucked his legs into the hoodie with the rest of him.
“Juvia think’s that Natsu’s blue soul mark reminds her of Gray,” The water mage was curled up in Cana’s lap as she wrapped her wounds. “It looks like ice, and there’s little snowflakes.”
They both looked at her like she was insane, “That would mean that mine matched him too though,” Gray told her. He broke the illusion on his soulmarks, the vibrant pink appearing once more.
“Juvia thinks Gray sama is being ridiculous. It’s the colors of Natsu-san’s hair and guildmark, and it looks like flames crawling up your arm. She can’t see the details from here, but there’s no way you aren’t”
“Gray,” Natsu whispered, “We’re idiots.”
With the acknowledgement of the match, the marks began to glow softly, and something bizarre happened. Black and white marks appeared alongside Gray’s pink one, as if Natsu’s other soulmates were accepting him as well. The duo burst into laughter. “How did we not notice?”
“Because we’re fucking stupid, I already said that
,” Natsu mumbled. He grabbed onto Gray’s arm to trace the new details that had appeared, not really bothering with the pink one.
Juvia struggled to swallow her laughter, much like the rest of the guild, “Juvia doesn’t think you’re idiots , oblivious maybe-”
She was quickly cut off by Erza, “When’s the first time you saw each other’s soul marks?”
Both of the flushed, and Gray rubbed his neck with his free arm, “about six months ago.”
“Juvia takes it back. You’re both idiots”