So...this was supposed to happen a while ago. But, life happened. You guys understand, right? Well, I hope you do, anyway... 。◕‿◕。 Anywhoser, this is bounced off of my other fic, Plan H. Lot's of you guys wanted a, here you go! You don't have to read Plan H first, but I would recommend that you do!


Plan I

Lucy leaned her head back against the steel wall, closing her eyes and hugging herself tighter against the bitter cold that seemed to slice right through her clothes. Granted, she was wearing her every day spring clothes—a skimpy skirt that barely covered her ass, a tube top that fit a little too well and threatened to pop with every inhale, and her sandals. But even if she had been wearing a furry winter coat with thick pants and boots, she was sure that she would still be huddled against the wall, gritting her teeth to prevent them from chattering.

After all, a freezer was supposed to be cold. Its designed purpose was to freeze everything inside—including people, if they, for whatever reason, just so happened to be trapped inside…with no way of escape.

And, Lucy was sure, it wouldn't be long until she turned into a celestial popsicle. She'd been trapped in the guild's giant freezer for over an hour…with only Natsu for company. Why was she trapped in the guild's giant freezer with only Natsu for company? Well, to be honest, she couldn't really remember. Gray had said something about Mira needing another big bag of ice for martinis, and somehow, she and Natsu had been sent to retrieve said big bag of ice. Needless to say, being trapped meant that something—or rather, someone—had shut the steel door on them, and bolted it for good measure.

Looking back on it now, Lucy thought with a heavy sigh, it'd obviously been a trap. After all… Why send Natsu with her, of all people, the idiot who burned down buildings in his excessive fits? He'd be more likely to melt the ice than actually help—even if he'd been serious; his body temperature was just too high, and the ice would have melted within a few minutes.

Stupid on her part, and on Natsu's part, she knew. And because of their stupidity, they were now trapped in a giant freezer…

"Oi! Gray, you bastard, I know this was your idea! Open the damn door!" Natsu shouted, pounding his clenched fist on the steel door. The resounding booms sounded like canon-fire, ricocheting off the metal walls sharply, and they made Lucy, who was already shivering from the cold, flinch. "Oi!" Another smack of his hand against the door. "Gray, I'm gonna kick," and another, "your," and another, "ass – "

"Natsu!" Lucy finally hissed, having had enough of his insistent shouting and hollering and raucous battering. All of the noise he was generating was like taking little sewing needles and sticking them in her ears, straight through her brain. "Stop it already… You're giving me a headache." Though, she wasn't sure if it was because of his excessive noise, or because she was just too cold.

She always got terrible migraines in the winter, after all, from the dry but freezing temperatures.

The fire dragonslayer, completely unfazed by the below zero temperature, looked over his shoulder at her from where he stood, poised by the locked door. His wide hand was raised, ready to smash into the steel again. But, with a frown, he lowered that fist—much to Lucy's relief. "Oi, Luce, I'm trying to get us outta here… Don't you want out?" he asked incredulously.

"What kind of question is that? Of course I want out…" she said back through a tight jaw.

She wanted out more than anything. She was the one feeling the sting of the cold, not him. She was the one who could actually freeze to death, not him. Being a fire dragonslayer, his body temperature burned twice as hot as a normal person's, and maybe even more than that when he felt threatened, or excited, or aroused… So, naturally, he was fine in this situation. More than fine; he wasn't even wearing his overcoat. Just his trousers, his sandals, and his scarf.

If Lucy had ever been jealous of Natsu and his dragonslayer capabilities, it was now. What she wouldn't give to be able to generate the warmth of a space heater…

The thought of a small space heater—or better yet, an actual campfire—made her shudder and sigh with unrestrained longing. Her teeth clacked together, as if vouching their opinion on the matter as well, and in response, she tightened her arms around her drawn-up legs and dropped her forehead to her knees.

Watching his blonde teammate carefully, and not liking the way that she curled into herself tighter as if she were a roly-poly, Natsu felt a line form in his brow. She was hardly ever this quiet or reserved; especially when it involved imprisonment of any kind. Usually, she was right there with him, helping him try to bust down the door, or call for help.

"Hey, Lucy… You okay?" he cautiously probed, inching away from the door and towards where she sat.

He didn't like that she was suddenly so still, it made his insides writhe with uncertainty.

And that uncertainty solidified when she flung her head up to glare at him, lips blue and teeth chattering like a chainsaw. "Do I look okay?" Lucy seethed at him, her breaths puffing in the cold, wintery air that felt like a gentle breeze to the dragonslayer. "I'm stuck in a freezer, Natsu," she said, as though he wasn't entirely aware of that fact, "and I'm wearing this." Her finger pointed to the sparsely-covered area of her bust.

His green eyes drank in the sight of her attire. That skin-tight tube top, with the mini-skirt, and the sandals… He'd be lying if he told himself that the outfit wasn't worthy of admiration—especially since it fit Lucy so well and show off those perfectly luscious hips and breasts of hers. He wasn't the ignorant fool everyone seemed to take him for; he recognized that Lucy was drop-dead gorgeous, even on her bad days. And he'd doubly be lying if he tried to convince himself that he was…unaffected by that beauty.

His heart always kicked and spluttered, and his chest always felt tight, and his head would suddenly feel so light. And when she would shoot him that smile of hers, his gut would twist painfully. Just like now… He felt wound up, tighter than a clock.

But, at the same time, he had to frown and shake his head, shooing away his stray thoughts. Her clothes were definitely not suited for such cold temperatures, he knew. Well, at least for people who weren't fire mages, anyway…

"Aren't you cold?" Natsu asked.

Lucy blinked up at him for a few moments, this dazed expression briefly crossing her face before her cracked lips pursed and her coffee-colored eyes slitted. Her response was almost as bitter as the frost that layered the floor. "Of course I'm cold! Most people aren't their own heater, you know…"

"Well why didn't you say so earlier?" he snorted, lifting an eyebrow inquisitively. Because the cold had little to no effect on him, he sometimes forgot that non-fire-dragonslayers were very perceptible to temperatures below zero. Why had she just sat there, all miserable-like? "You should have told me that you were cold instead of trying to tough it out," berated the fire dragonslayer as he squatted down to his haunches so that he was eye-to-eye with his best friend.

When he simply stared at her, waiting for some sort of response, Lucy sighed. Her teeth started clicking again. "I thought it was obvious…"

Of course, while it'd been obvious that she was absolutely freezing, she did suppose that he probably hadn't even thought to notice. One, because freezing just wasn't something that he personally thought about very often, and two, because he'd been too busy trying to ram down the door to pay much attention to anything else.

At the sound of her jittering teeth, and the sight of her shoulders shaking uncontrollably, Natsu frowned again. He couldn't let her just sit there and freeze… What kind of best friend and partner would he be then? A terrible one.

"Oi, Luce, scoot over for just a sec," he said, nodding his head to the side. When she simply blinked at him, teeth still chattering away like some sort of busy beaver, brown eyes weary and tired and narrowed in suspicion, he encouraged her with a gentle grin. "C'mon," he insisted, "trust me."

Lucy was wary as she complied, watching him steadily through eyes that felt crusted over from the ice as she inched to the side.

It was common knowledge that Natsu was about as unpredictable as the Fiorian weather in the spring. But, being his best friend and partner for so many years, Lucy thought that she had at least an inkling about his behavioral patterns and whatnot… So, she supposed she should have seen it coming when Natsu suddenly plopped right down next to her, ungraceful as ever. She also should have foreseen him grabbing her by the upper arms, hissing at how frigid her skin felt, and then dragging her to sit in-between his spread knees.

But she hadn't.

So when he quite literally snatched her, wrapping his thick arms around her shoulders, she was too stunned to do or say anything. Her teeth even stopped clicking, though momentarily, out of surprise.

This was certainly not how she had foreseen this scene playing out. The blonde celestial spirit mage had entertained quite a few possibilities—Natsu breaking down the door, one of their nakama finally coming to let them out, her eventually falling unconscious and then waking up in Magnolia Central with hypothermia—but none of them had even considered Natsu cradling her into his own, wondrously warm, body…

…Okay, maybe that was a lie. So, she'd thought about it. Briefly. What freezing girl wouldn't when there was a living inferno standing just across from her? And it didn't help that the said living inferno happened to be fairly decent eye-candy.

"N-Natsu? What are you doing?" Lucy demanded once she could think clearly again.

Though, it was obvious what her dragonslayer partner was attempting—his molten body heat was already seeping into her stiffened shoulders. And despite how she initially tried to wiggle away from him, she would have been lying through her teeth if she'd said that it didn't feel absolutely heavenly.

"Dammit, Luce, you're like a block of ice," he muttered, ignoring her impulsive question.

Her squirming only made him tighten his arms around her slim shoulders, constricting like a boa. Natsu couldn't help but grimace. She was so cold—cold to the point that it felt like little needles were pricking at his skin as he held her. The cold never bothered him; he was usually impervious to it. But coming into direct contact with her popsicle-cold skin was making him uncomfortable.

Moving his arms, Natsu placed his palms on Lucy's arms and hastily began rubbing. "We gotta get you warmed up before you turn into a Lucy-popsicle." He was hoping that the friction combined with his own body heat would help jump start her own internal temperature. But, then again, he didn't exactly know much about this kind of stuff…

"…Thanks," replied Lucy in a strangled voice.

Natsu paused for a moment, noticing the strange hitch in her voice, and how…odd it sounded. "…You okay, Lucy?"

The blonde jumped at that, like she hadn't been expecting him to say anything else. And Natsu couldn't help but wonder what was making her so jumpy… Before he had a change to question her and her suddenly alien behavior, she nodded curtly. "Yeah," she said. "I'm…fine. Just cold…"

Of course she was fine, Lucy thought as her eyes rolled up to the ceiling, glancing at the precociously dangling icicles. Those soft brown eyes of hers closed tightly. She was just sitting between the legs of the man that she had completely unprofessional feelings for, being forced to lean back so that her spine was pressed to his chest, feeling the pressure of his powerful thighs caging her hips.

This was a bad idea. A very bad idea.

With each inhale he gave—she could feel the expanding of his well-muscled chest against her curved back—her hopes took another leap-size step. And those hands of his just kept rubbing. Up and down, and up and down… Even though they were calloused and roughened from years of fighting and roughhousing and general idiocy, they felt so good against her soft, frigid skin. Each second that ticked by was absolutely critical, damning her for the rest of her life—and if not her life, then definitely the majority of her youth.

And the worst part, Lucy decided, was that Natsu was absolutely clueless to the effect he had on her. If she tried to create some space between them—for the sole sake of her sanity—he would only grunt and pull her tighter into his chest with no care for how she nearly stopped breathing.

He was so…close. Close enough that she could feel almost every inch of him behind her. Close enough that she could feel his warm exhales on the top of her head. Close enough that she could feel his heartbeat, steady and sure, in stark contrast to her own that was erratic and jumping as though she'd been shocked by a live wire.

She felt another puff on her crown as Natsu exhaled shortly. His voice was concerned, and slightly amused, when he said, "…You sure you're okay? Your heart's going crazy."

Lucy closed her eyes. Crap. She'd forgotten that even if he couldn't feel her heartbeat through her ribcage—which, he undoubtedly could—he could hear it. There was no hiding that from him…

"Um, I…"

But she really had no answer for him. Because, she was fine…ish. She could feel the tips of her fingers again, which was some progress for her physical predicament, but her brain was nearly scrambled. And it wasn't like she could just come out and say, "Oh, well, I think I'm in love with you and that's why I'm being so weird," now could she? That was one sure fire way to scare Natsu away for good.

He didn't understand love… At least, not the romantic kind. Lucy had no doubt that Natsu Dragneel was a man full of love, but only the platonic, nakama-love that he shared with everyone in the guild. Not only that, but even if he did understand romance and whatnot, Lucy highly doubted that he would hold those types of feelings for her. She was his partner, his friend, his nakama…but any potential to be more than that was smothered.

Mirajane, Levy, and a few others in the guild said otherwise—frequently—but Lucy knew better than to hope.

"You're still cold, aren'tcha?" Natsu's question was puffed into her ear, tickling her cheek and making her jump.

Mavis, why was he so close? Her heart was going to explode out of her chest if he kept up this unpredictable behavior of his…

"…Yeah, I'm still cold." Which wasn't exactly a lie, per say. She couldn't feel her toes, or anything below her hips for that matter.

Behind her, Natsu felt his face pinch into a frown, eyebrows knitting over his shamrock-colored eyes.

He wasn't warming her up fast enough. Even though his longer legs were plastered to hers, and her back was pushed into his torso, and he had wrapped her up in his arms, she was still cold. From the corner of his eyes he could see that her lips were still blue, and her chin still gave little tremors as if her teeth were silently chattering again.

The fire dragonslayer scowled in distaste. Lucy needed to be warm, pronto.

"Now, listen, Flame-brain…" he heard Gray's voice echo in the back of his mind. "There's one sure-fire way to get a girl hot…" It was a subtle suggestion, something that Natsu would have never even thought of. And, naturally, coming from Gray, it made Natsu skeptical. But, Lucy was cold—so cold that she was probably in pain—and Natsu couldn't stand knowing that she was hurting, or uncomfortable. So…what was the harm in trying? He was willing to go to drastic measures to ensure that Lucy stayed warm.

Couldn't have her freezing on his watch.

Settling his nerves, and steeling against the roiling going on in his stomach—he didn't understand why he was suddenly so…nervous—Natsu cleared his throat. "Ah, Luce?" His voice sounded dry and winded. "Can you turn your face?"

Natsu didn't need to look into her eyes to see the confusion that was surely there. He could imagine the way her nose would scrunch and her bittersweet chocolate eyes would narrow in curiosity. Lucy barely inched her head to the side so that he could see her full lashes blink a few times. Then, he watched her bite her lip before finally looking at him directly, full-on eye-contact.

Like he'd suspected, her nose was wrinkled and her eyes were narrowed.

"…Why do you want me to – "

But he didn't waste time dwelling on those facts… He was too busy craning his neck forward to catch her lips with his own in a hasty kiss. Her reaction was delayed, but a shocked, gasping inhale came from her mouth, her eyes grew round, and she tried to jerk away from him. Natsu wouldn't let that happen. He caged her neck with both of his hands, bracing his blunt fingers at the base of the back of her head to keep her utterly still as he kept his mouth melded to hers.

Mavis, he thought and closed his eyes. Gray had been right. For once.

Through their lips, Natsu felt this…spark; and it wasn't his doing. Odd, considering that he typically caused the sparks to fly. But, either way, warmth traveled through their connected mouths, zinging down his spine and straight into his limbs. He recognized the feeling—adrenaline; the same feeling he got in battle, the same exhilaration.

Even his blood heated in the same way. And, strangely, he didn't mind. But he did have to wonder, in the back of his head, if Lucy was experiencing the same things that he was… After all, he was doing this for her benefit. Even if he found that he, for some reason, quite liked kissing her.

As if in answer to his unspoken question, Lucy came to life like a live wire. Her whole body tightened against him, drawing up like a bow string, and she slammed her hands into his wide, developed chest. "Natsu…" His name was muttered against his own lips, coming out muffled. "Natsu… Natsu, stop!" she cried, and shoved him away a final time.

The command shot through him like a bullet, piercing his heart as he heard the utter panic in her voice, and he released her.

Lucy jumped back from him as though he were sickly and contagious. Her brown eyes were the color of wheat, seeming to lighten with her obvious fear, and they were rounder than he'd ever seen them. Her mouth, too, was round and gaping, soundless noises coming from it like she was trying her best to say something but just, for whatever reason, couldn't. And if those sights weren't enough to crush Natsu's soul and make him feel like a grimy bastard, she was shaking…and he could tell that it wasn't because she was cold.

He'd…scared her. In all of their years together, she'd never once been legitimately afraid of him. Not even when he'd purposely tried to scare her. But now, she was looking at him in such a way—with panic and confusion and uncertainty in her eyes—and he felt lower than dirt.

Natsu knew he had to apologize. "Lucy… I'm sorry, I didn't think that…" His jaw clenched and he closed his eyes again.

That what? That she'd react so badly? He didn't really understand what he'd done wrong. It was just a kiss—something he saw other people do all the time, and they never made a huge fuss about it. But, obviously, if he'd scared her, then what he'd done was wrong.

…Maybe he should have asked first?

A couple spaces away, Lucy gulped and finally closed her mouth. She took a few calming breaths in hopes that it would help settle the cloud of confusion that had swamped her. It didn't. She hadn't wanted to panic, but she hadn't been able to help herself… Being kissed so suddenly with no prior warning would freak any sane girl out… Especially if the one doing the kissing was Natsu Dragneel, who was supposed to have no inkling to what a kiss meant.

When she found her voice, it was distant and thick. "…Why did you do that?" she asked as collectedly as she could.

He flinched as though she'd physically struck him. "I didn't mean… I mean, I just thought that it would help," finished Natsu weakly, eyes glued to the frosted floor. His jaw bunched as his mouth tightened into a remorseful grimace. "I didn't mean to scare you, Lucy…"

Scare her?

"You…didn't scare me." Lucy shook her head slowly. "Just…surprised me. A lot."

Understatement of the century, the blonde mused to herself as she frowned. When had her partner grown so unpredictable? She'd thought that she knew him inside and out like a best friend should. But, this day was proving to be a wedge in that theory… Obviously, she didn't know him as well as she thought.

And she didn't know how she felt about that.

"Sorry," Natsu murmured and ducked his head. "It's just that Gray said – "

Lucy felt as though she'd been sucker punched in the lungs. Gray. Gray had convinced Natsu to do this… Of course. She'd known that Natsu wouldn't just kiss her out of the blue without any outside instigation. "Gray said what?" she snapped, effectively startling Natsu, who flung his head up to blink at her in surprise.

He swallowed but his eyes slitted as though he found something odd. "He said that one of the only ways to get a girl hot is to kiss her. I didn't think it would work, but, it looks like it did something…" the dragonslayer admitted, leaving out the part that the kiss had worked its wonders on him and probably not Lucy.

Lucy, a sardonic feeling taking over, closed her eyes and her mouth thinned. She wasn't sure what she'd expected him to say, but that was definitely not it. And instead of yelling at him—because it really wasn't his fault for being ignorant and falling for Gray's twisted words—she simply said, "Natsu… You can't just go around kissing girls."

"Why not?" His look was challenging but curious. He really didn't know what the big deal was about a kiss. "I needed to get you warmed up, Luce."

"Because you just can't, okay?" insisted the blonde. "Even if you're just trying to help, you can't go around kissing girls for no reason." It was hard not for Lucy to just tell him that he wasn't allowed to kiss other girls period—even though she had no right; she loathed the idea of him kissing other girls.

She recognized jealousy and wistful longing when she felt it… Though it just made her stomach sink even lower. She wasn't supposed to get so territorial over her partner… Because while they would always be together as friends, she knew that they'd never become lovers.

Natsu was stubborn as ever as he jutted his chin out at her. "But I did have a reason—you were cold."

"No," Lucy shook her head, "that's not what I meant. You should only kiss girls that you… Well, that you love. Or, at the very least, like."

His brows furrowed again, his lips pursed, and he snorted, the air coming out in a cold plume. It was a look that Lucy recognized—he frequently fixed her with it when he thought she was being weird or ridiculous. Then, he said nonchalantly, "But I do love you, Lucy, so what's the problem?"

If she hadn't already been frozen to the core, Lucy would have been shocked still. As it was, she could only blink and gape and try to digest what he'd so easily confessed. Out of her mouth came soundless noises, and she lifted a finger to point weakly at him. The celestial mage shook her head after a few seconds, her rational side stepping in. "Natsu, you love me like you love everyone else in the guild. You're not in love with me… There's a huge difference."

Was that what she thought? Natsu asked himself as he tilted his head to the side and regarded her with an incredulous stare. "You're not like everyone else in the guild, Lucy…" he said slowly, as though he was speaking to a child. "You're my partner, my best friend. You're special."

Really special, he tacked on in an afterthought to himself. What he felt for Lucy… Well, he did love her like he loved the rest of his nakama. But there was something else when it came to her specifically that was different. Something that he just didn't know how to explain. So…yes he loved her very much—he recognized that—but the love he had for her and the love he had for the rest of his comrades was…different somehow.

He just really didn't know how to convey that to her.

And for some reason, her eyes looked red, and she kept swallowing. "…Yeah, Natsu. I'm your best friend and partner…" she thickly whispered, voice like a dying flower. Lucy blinked furiously, dropping her gaze to the frozen floor, and then she shivered… Whether or not it was because she was cold, Natsu couldn't tell because a salty smell assaulted his nose in the next few seconds.

The unmistakable scent of tears.

Lucy was crying…

Mavis, no, Natsu thought. He hated it when she cried. Whenever Lucy cried, it was like a stake was being driven through his heart, and the only way he knew to make himself feel better was to ensure that she wasn't crying anymore… By any means necessary.

"Lucy? Luce! Oi, I'm sorry," the fire dragonslayer exclaimed hastily. "There's no need to cry, promise! I'm sorry, I didn't mean to upset you, okay? I promise I won't ever kiss you again. So please, please don't cry… Here, hit me. That'll make you feel better, right? Go ahead, hit me. I won't get mad."

But, she only shook her head at him. She wouldn't even look up, and she kept lifting her hands to dry her wetted cheeks. "I'm not crying," she told him in a completely unconvincing, throaty mumble. And just when Natsu was about to call her out on her blatant lie, she stumbled out, "…It's just not fair. Not fair at all!"

"…What's not fair?" he asked hesitantly.

"You! You're not fair. The way you are… I can't help but fall in love with you, and yet, you'll never love me back." Lucy's eyes popped open, widening, and she sucked her lips back in shock. Mavis, had she really just said that? …She'd really just said that. Oh, no. "Mavis, Natsu, forget what I just said. Forget I ever said that, okay?"

But, Natsu was seemingly captivated by his partner's outburst and he ignored her command. "…You're in love with me, Lucy?"

"I… I mean… I don't…" she tried to protest. Protesting was futile, however, she realized and simply swallowed her pride and dignity. Her face was red, but Natsu couldn't tell if she was flushed from the chill or if she was embarrassed. Probably both. "…Yes, okay? Yes… I'm in love with you." The blonde inhaled deeply, as though letting go of some massive secret. "I couldn't help it; the more I fought it, the harder I fell. And just when I thought that I might be able to move on, you go and kiss me." Her voice was thick again, with misery and a touch of anger, and her eyes were once more red around the rims and brimming with unshed tears. "How am I supposed to move on if you kiss me like that?" she demanded.

The confession washed over Natsu, and if he hadn't already been on his haunches, he knew he would have fallen flat. Lucy was in love with him… But…she didn't want to be in love with him, as he understood, and she wanted to move on…but she couldn't. Because he'd kissed her.

As strange as it was, satisfaction rose up within Natsu's chest. He…rather liked the idea that Lucy was in love with him. In fact, he kind of wanted her to stay in love with him… Though, he didn't really understand why that was. It just left this sense of completion, of wholeness, within him.

And…he didn't want that feeling to fade.

Clearing his throat, Natsu reacted on impulse and said simply, "So don't."

Lucy just gaped at him. "…What?" She blinked, her tears misting away. Clearly, she'd misheard whatever he'd said… Her headache was messing with her hearing. There was no way that Natsu was implying that she shouldn't…

"Don't move on, Luce."

…Or maybe he was.

"I… I can't just not move on," Lucy protested hastily, throwing out a hand as if to keep him at a distance even though he hadn't taken a step toward her. Gulping, she insisted, "I can't be in love with you, I just can't."

"Why not?" Natsu's brow furrowed as he braced his wide palm on the iced-over floor to push himself to a crouch. Standing up slowly, and keeping his gaze locked with Lucy's, the fire dragonslayer strode forward.

Lucy's skin prickled at the sight—Natsu suddenly looked like a predator, ready and eager to pounce on his prey. "Because you're my partner!" she stammered. But the excuse tasted sour on her tongue, and only served to unnerve her further as he continued to stalk towards her, movements sleek and nimble like some sort of jungle cat.

"So?" he hummed, stepping even closer, close enough that he could feel the fragile heat that seeped from Lucy's body.

She, too, could feel Natsu's body heat, though his was more of a smothering wave than anything else. It was all too tempting to just lean into his arms and let that heat warm her… "So, everyone knows that you can't fall in love with your partner," Lucy muttered, tearing her eyes away from the slow rise and fall of Natsu's rippling chest muscles. "It just causes problems with your priorities on missions."

It was causing problems with her priorities right now, for Mavis's sake! Her body wanted nothing more than to curl into his, accepting warmth and comfort, but her brain was stubborn as it insistently demanded that she back away as quickly as possible. Natsu was her partner, her friend, and her comrade… Falling in love with him was inappropriate, and completely one-sided.

"C'mon, Lucy, you think I really believe that? Alzack and Bisca are partners and they're married. They've got some of the best teamwork in the whole guild, you know. So what's the real reason?" Her partner brushed aside her excuse as if it were nothing, a knowing glint in his clover eyes.

He always seemed to know when she was lying.

Lucy relinquished her held breath, a sigh rocking through her body. It was pointless to try and fool him, she knew, because he would just ignore her lies until he found the answer he wanted—the truth. And, quite frankly, she was tired of fighting—the attraction between them, her feelings, and most of all, him in general.

So, with a hesitant glance into his probing stare, as he was now standing chest-to-chest with her, she admitted quietly, "…Because you'll never love me back. Not the nakama type of love, but the real love…"

His green eyes turned flinty and sharp at that, mouth turning down in a confused frown. The heat his body was throwing off, suddenly many degrees hotter, had her toes curling with anticipation and anxiety.

"Oi, Luce, didn't you hear me earlier? I do love you; I said so." His words were gruff and short, but they got his point across clearly enough.

Enough for Lucy to sigh again. "No, Natsu, you said – "

"That you're special," Natsu interrupted before she could finish her thought. Lucy was exceedingly smart—much smarter than he was—but for some reason, she was having trouble processing what he was telling her. "You're my nakama…but you're…more than that to me. You're special, Lucy. The way I feel about you is… I don't feel the same about anyone else. No one." The look he fixed her with was hard and intense…a seriousness that was usually reserved for battle.

He didn't know how else to convince her.

Lucy's mouth ran dry at his little speech. No, she told herself. "You're my partner, my best friend," she said. "I'm special to you, but I'm not… I mean, you're not in love with me."

"…And how do you know that, Luce?"


"How do you know that… How do you know that I'm not in love with you?" Natsu challenged, tilting his square jaw in a way that dared her to challenge him back. His sudden seriousness intimidated her a little. "What if I am?" he murmured in a low voice that she wouldn't have heard unless she was as close to him as she was, nearly plastered chest-to-chest.

Her heart nearly stopped, but then it picked back up again at double its previous rate. She took a small step back, feeling a need for distance between them. "…But you're not. You can't be. You don't understand – "

"Dammit, I'm tired of people deciding that I don't understand," he suddenly griped, his tone almost snappy. "I'm not stupid, Luce, I can learn. Maybe a bit slower than some people," he admitted grudgingly, "but I can learn. And one thing I've learned is that I definitely know you're more than just nakama to me… More important than anyone else." His outburst left her shell-shocked, completely mute and unsure of what to say. As an afterthought, he added with a quirk of his upper lip, "And that I liked kissing you."

Lucy was rooted where she stood, feet glued to the frozen floor, and she couldn't top her mouth from popping open. Even when he suddenly dipped his head, his warm mouth grazing hers for the second time that day.

Lucy didn't have the will to pull back this time. Only ask breathlessly, "Natsu? What are you doing?" and feel his lips brush hers with soft, butterfly kisses. So nice, a voice in the back of her head whispered.

"Kissing you," he murmured back.

Her heart sped up again for the umpteenth time, and there was no doubt in her mind that he could hear the difference. Against his rough, but warm and somehow comforting mouth, she breathed, "…Why?" before she could tell herself to just let it happen. Just let it go and let the pieces fall into place.

"Oi, didn't I just tell you why? I like kissing you," he said in between the feather-light sweeps. Across her cheeks, her nose, her eyelids, and then back to her mouth. For someone with little to no experience, he was damn good at coaxing her.

She frowned against his lips, feeling them grow firmer. "But…but I already told you that you can't – "

"Dammit, Lucy… How many times do I have to tell you?" Natsu interrupted, yanking his head back to narrow his green eyes at her. "You're not a random girl; you're my partner, but you're so much more than that to me. You know I'm not very good with words…"

But it was like his heart was just saying: Her. It has to be her, and no one else.

No one but Lucy would do. Not even Happy. So if she protested one more time…

"I…I just…" Lucy started, still unsure. But, she jumped when she felt a sharp, swift sting on her bottom lip and couldn't help but yelp, "Ow!" She paused, blinking at Natsu who looked vaguely smug, grinning like a well-fed cat. "Did you just… You bit me!" the celestial mage accused, pointing a finger at him while nursing her smarting lip with her other hand.

He only shrugged. "You were being weird."

"Weird?" she echoed. "I was being weird? You can't just bite someone for being weird, you know…"

"I can if she's my girlfriend," the dragonslayer replied.

And before she had a chance to argue with him yet again, he used his strong arms to pull her against him and effectively occupy her mouth with his own. He didn't know why, but it seemed like kissing her was an excellent way to get her to stop talking and be compliant. It seemed that Gray was right about some things after all...

Natsu was a little unsure of his own talent, considering he'd never really kissed anyone before. Well, except for Cana—but that had been an unfortunate accident; it was more like she'd been drunk and had smashed their faces together thinking it'd be a good idea at the time. But, Lucy was very responsive. Where she'd been frozen the past two times, now she was alive in his arms and thriving.

Her hands snagged onto the nape of his neck, digging into the short, rosy hair there. Her mouth was so, so soft and pliant and welcoming. She just molded to him, shaped against him perfectly like his second half. And the way that she nipped his upper lip? He'd never been prone to biting people, provocatively at least, but it seemed like a thrilling idea all of the sudden.

Unfortunately, however, air was a necessity for the two of them.

They broke apart softly, foreheads resting against each other, lips still a hairs' breadth away… Lucy's eyes were glossy when she looked up at him, and the sight made his heart squeeze. She looked so…right. Hair disheveled, face pink, lips cherry-red and parted with what looked like surprise.

He wouldn't be able to take it if she denied him again. He was sure of it.

So when she opened her mouth, he prepared for the worst. But all she managed was a shaky, "…Oh…" Her hand lifted to cover those delectable lips of hers, and her eyes lowered to keep from holding his smoldering stare.

"Is that…a good oh, or a bad oh?" Natsu asked nervously, licking his chapped lips. His hands wrapped themselves around her upper arms.

"That was a good oh…" she softly said. "A very good oh…" A pause, and then… "So… I'm your girlfriend?"

Natsu nearly swallowed his tongue. Instead, he laughed—a deep, belly-laugh that made his sides hurt and his eyes water. Lucy looked almost offended when he glanced back at her, but it quickly melted into a smile of her own when he chuckled, "I bit you for being weird, didn't I?"

As if that was explanation enough.

And Lucy supposed it was.


"…Hey, Luce…"


"…Did you know there's a backdoor to this freezer?"