AN: Hey there awesome friends XD I'm so super duper happy that you guys like this fic! Its so cool reading your reviews and chatting to some of you! XD
"Oh," the Mayor chuckled, "It's not so unbelievable, you're adorable."
He turned to Erza, "Don't you agree, Miss?"
The red haired mage blinked in surprise and then nodded, causing a pink stain to spread over Jellal's cheeks.
"And what are your names anyway?" asked the Mayor, "It was pretty remiss of me not to enquire sooner, but well, as we established, I'm easily distracted by an attractive face."
The man…batted his eyelashes at Jellal. Erza cleared her throat and schooled her features before responding to the Mayor's question, knowing by Jellal's bewildered expression that he was, at the moment, incapable of speech.
"My name is Erza Scarlet," she said evenly, "and this is my…comrade, Sapphire…Blue."
A grin spread across the Mayor's thin lips.
"Sapphire Blue?" he repeated delightedly, "How charming."
Jellal wanted to hide beneath his hood and then be swallowed up by the marble floor, he was ranking this moment as one of the most embarrassing of his life.
I should pay her back for giving me a name like that, he thought with slight bitterness, or maybe I shouldn't…she deserves a few free hits at me, doesn't she?
Then his eyes grew wider by a fraction, wait, did she say 'comrade'?
As warmth bubbled up inside him and warred with his guilt and feelings of unworthiness, Erza continued to converse with the Mayor.
"So," she stated, "There have been several attacks has there?"
The Mayor nodded, a frown pulling his features downwards, "Yes, we're lucky there has been no fatalities and only a few injuries."
"And what is the nature of these attacks?" questioned Erza.
"Destruction," answered the Mayor solemnly.
"I see," Erza said seriously, "Can you provide us with a map of the town and mark it with the locations of the places that have been attacked?"
"The map, I can do," responded the Mayor, then he added sheepishly, "But I'm afraid I'll have to get my assistant to help you with marking it, I'm not the best with directions, maps and the like."
"Very well," nodded Erza.
She then watched the man expectantly, waiting for him to go and retrieve the map. She sighed as she realised he was staring adoringly at Jellal while Jellal himself was frowning down at his boots, deep in thought about something.
Erza inwardly chuckled then, remembering the look of complete shock on his face when he had realised the Mayor had been flirting with him. She shifted her gaze back to the Mayor.
"We'd like to get started on this as soon as we can, sir," she told him pointedly.
"Oh!" cried the Mayor, becoming flustered, "Yes, right, of course. I'll go get the map and Allison right away."
He jumped out of his chair and scuttled out of the room through an open door to the left of the fireplace.
Allison? Erza thought, narrowing her eyes, that must be the Mayor's assistant…why am I hoping she'll be unattractive?
She inwardly growled at herself for being unfocused, then she turned back to Jellal.
"Are you alright there?" she asked, noticing he was still looking to be concentrating on some complex problem; she tried not to dwell on how cute he looked when he was thinking.
His troubled eyes turned up to meet hers then, gradually, his expression smoothed out and he said softly, "I'm fine, just thinking about how good this disguise must be for the Mayor to be as…interested as he was."
She raised an eyebrow at that and refrained from speaking her thoughts.
You're lucky, if the Mayor had seen your real face, Jellal, he would've been all over you.
Jellal suddenly said contemplatively, "Erza…if you can see my appearance as it really is, how are we to know when the potion wears off and everyone else can see me too?"
She winced and thought quickly, "We'll just need to keep an eye on the time, that's all."
Glancing around the large room, she spotted a clock and added, "We have about another hour and a half or so."
They became aware of hushed voices coming from the doorway the Mayor had disappeared through. Erza smirked a little as she realised the voices were that of the Mayor and 'Allison' and that the Mayor was gushing to his assistant about how very good looking 'Sapphire' was.
Jellal shifted from foot to foot uncomfortably at hearing all the praise his disguised appearance was getting. His discomfort only increased however when the Mayor and his assistant fully entered the room. Allison was short, petite and wearing a low cut pink dress.
Her blonde bangs bounced around her pretty face as she and her employer glided over to them. She had a folded up map and a pen clutched nervously in her hands and she peered up at Jellal shyly before blushing and staring at the floor.
"This is my assistant," declared the Mayor with a bright smile, "Allison, she'll help you with anything you need."
While the introductions were made, Erza tried not to glare at the sweet looking young woman who was in awe of Jellal. When Jellal nodded in acknowledgement to Allison and caused the girl to turn a cute shade of pink, Erza hated herself for her irrational dislike.
"Allison," said the Mayor chirpily, "If you would be so kind as to mark on the map, the places that have been attacked by this villain."
"Y-yes, s-sir," the blonde stuttered, moving hurriedly over to a small square table behind Jellal. Unfortunately she was walking a bit too hurriedly and she tripped over. Jellal's quick reflexes saved her however and he caught her around her waist, she blinked up at him with adoration shining in her wide eyes.
Erza clenched her fists, her jaw setting as some strange, burning emotion tore through her.
It was kind of funny when it was the Mayor, she thought darkly, but this…this is unacceptable!
She told herself that she didn't want Allison to look at Jellal like that because he might start to like her back and, we can't afford any distractions on this mission; he must not be allowed to get involved with this girl.
She completely missed the fact that Jellal had shown no signs at all that he saw Allison as more than just the Mayor's assistant.
Erza glared at the blonde and watched her carefully as Jellal helped her straighten up.
"I'm s-sorry," squeaked Allison embarrassedly, brushing some of her golden hair behind her ear in a nervous gesture.
"There's no need to apologise," Jellal told her kindly.
Instantly, Erza was reimagining the scene…
"I'm sorry," sighed the resplendent blonde, clutching onto Jellal's shirt, "I just can't stop myself from falling for you…"
Jellal smiled at Allison, his eyes sparkling with amusement and desire as he said in his low, smooth voice, "I'm glad to hear that, my dearest Alli. You know, people say that you only fall in love once in your life, but every time I look at you, I fall in love all over again."
"Oh, darling," breathed Allison, reaching up to touch his face.
"Alli, will you marry me and have my thirty-three babies?" Jellal asked, his expression filled with hope.
Jellal's inquiry freed her from her nightmarish thoughts and she sighed in relief even as her resolve to get between the two solidified further. She blinked and found that he was standing beside Allison at the square table.
That just won't do, she decided.
She strode over to them and, as subtly as she could, squeezed between them as they stared down at the map spread out before them. Jellal forced himself to step back slightly, even though he quite liked having Erza so close, he needed to be able to concentrate after all.
"Where was the first attack?" he asked the assistant.
The girl glanced up at him and blushed yet again, prompting him to have an odd thought.
Blushing's only cute when Erza does it.
He brought his eyes down to the map as he tried to figure out why such a thought had crossed his mind.
"It was h-here," Allison answered shakily, pointing to a dot on the rough parchment map, "N-near the f-fountain in the public gardens."
She put a little mark on the spot and then made another a few inches away.
"The second one was here, at the public baths."
"Thank you for your help," Erza said, speaking up before Jellal could, "We should get going now."
Allison nodded and smiled before folding up the map and holding it out to Jellal. Erza reached out and snatched it, grabbing his arm at the same time and then pulling him along.
"We'll sort this mission out for you as soon as we can," she called over her shoulder, "You can count on us."
"Have fun!" the Mayor called back.
Jellal frowned at the strange comment but Erza didn't, she was too busy towing him out of the house and fighting to control her emotions. Once they were striding down the hill, Jellal spoke up in mild rebuke.
"You were a little rude back there, Erza."
She shot him a look that made him very much aware of the strong grip she still had on his arm. He wanted to know about her sudden change and so he steeled himself for any reaction she might have, though he did briefly wonder if it was even any of his business.
It is if it will affect the mission, he reasoned.
"Why did you act that way around that assistant, Allison? Do you know something about her?" he questioned carefully.
Erza's steps seemed to damage the ground more after that, but her features were remarkably untroubled as she responded, "The girl was clearly interested in you and we can't have any inappropriateness on this mission."
"Bit late for that," Jellal muttered under his breath, remembering in particular Erza's hand on his ass. He added in a louder voice, "There was never any danger of inappropriateness between Allison and I. I'm not sure why you would even think there would be."
Erza scoffed, "I know what I saw-"
"-and I won't tolerate anything like that, understand?"
Jellal couldn't stop his face from showing his disbelief. He stopped and pulled the arm she held back, forcing her to stop as well.
"Erza…" he began seriously, "I'm willing to take the blame for a lot of things…but this isn't one of them. Me and Allison? There's no way that would ever happen."
"Why not?" demanded Erza against her will, "She's a pretty girl, after the mission perhaps-"
"Erza," interrupted Jellal earnestly, "There's no way I could ever be with someone who's not…-"
"-aware of my past and besides, my life is too dangerous and I have important work to do," he finished.
"Not to mention your fiancée," Erza added with just a hint of malice as she glared away at the sprawling town.
He blinked and then winced, his heart missing a beat.
"Yeah…can't forget about her…" he said weakly.
Again that is…damn these lies.
"I'm such a fool," muttered Erza to herself.
Before he could ask what she meant by that, she had released his arm and started off down the hill. He called out to her but she ignored him, focusing instead on the map she had, orienting herself and figuring out where to go next.
Jellal sighed heavily and caught up to her after deciding he wasn't allowed to press her for answers. He watched her out of the corner of his eye as the sunlight struck her hair and gave it a brilliant glow.
There is no-one else for me.
She glanced at up at him from the map, a small frown present on her face.
"Did you say something?" she asked.
His eyes widened, "No."
He turned his slightly panicked gaze away and mentally beat himself up for that slip.
She stared at him for another sweat-inducing moment and then shrugged, looking back to her map.
"We need to go down this road," she said, pointing slightly to the right.
Jellal nodded and awkward silence rolled over them as they continued onwards, heading onto the empty street. He forced his mind to go quiet; he couldn't say anything embarrassing if he wasn't thinking about anything, right?
They passed by a couple who were standing in a doorway of their house, embracing passionately.
"I wish I was allowed to do that with Erza," he said wistfully as he watched the two.
Then he froze, paled and flicked his horrified eyes over to her while mentally chanting, I can't believe I just said that!
The relief he felt upon realising she hadn't heard him was enormous; it nearly wiped him out as it flooded his system. She had clearly walked on ahead while he had been distracted by the couple and so he now jogged to catch up to her and hoped she didn't notice his small absence.
"What happened to you?" she asked, not looking up from her map.
He winced, unsure for a moment if he should be annoyed or happy that she had indeed noticed.
"Nothing important," he hedged.
"Alright," she said, "But don't get lost again, I don't want to have to go looking for you."
He almost rolled his eyes at her but managed to stay impassive, that is until she mumbled quietly, "Because no doubt I'll find a flock of females around you…"
He sighed and chose to ignore that confusing add-on.
"I'm sorry, Erza, I won't leave you again," he promised.
He shook his head as they walked, unable to figure about why she was acting so strangely.
I'm beginning to think that Erza Scarlet will forever remain a mystery to me, he frowned.
"Here we are," Erza announced, ten long minutes later.
Jellal blinked and then cast his gaze about, studying the tree lined stone gate that welcomed and beckoned them to enter the gardens. He and Erza both stretched out their senses, wary of any sign of trouble, this was the site of the first attack after all, and the mage might've left a nasty surprise.
They walked cautiously in and couldn't help but admire the vast array of colourful flowers and bushes that made many paths through the area. They stayed on the central, cobblestone footpath that would led them ever closer to the main 'attraction.'
"I guess all the fountains in this place are made to look like the Mayor," Erza mused once they stood in the wide circle in the middle of the garden.
Jellal eyed the decapitated statue with mixed emotions before letting his eyes glide over the rest of the damage. Where the fountain should've been, was now a rather deep crater and the fallen statue was at the heart of it, water no longer flowing.
"It was definitely strong magic that caused this damage," he commented, glancing over to Erza who was crouching down and touching the some severed stone fragments.
"Indeed," she said as she tucked the folded map into her right boot, "And there's something…a little familiar about it."
He crouched as well and studied everything more carefully, his eyebrows drawing down in thought.
"Yes," he agreed, "Something a little-"
"Hello!" a squawking voice interrupted, prompting Erza and Jellal to straighten and turn to the newcomer.
It was a chirpy looking middle-aged woman with wild, greying black hair and a gap toothed grin.
"Hello," greeted Erza politely, "Can we help you?"
"Why I think it's the two of you who are helping me," said the woman, "You're the mages investigating this mess aren't ya?"
"That's correct," responded Erza.
"I'm Manda and I was here when this place was hit," explained the woman, stepping around the debris to come closer to them, "The Mayor told me you might like to talk to me about what happened, he also gave me something to give to you."
"He did?" asked Erza with mild confusion, wondering why the Mayor hadn't just given them whatever it was when they saw him.
"Yup, he sure did," Manda answered, smiling broadly before digging her hand into the pocket of her simple, black dress.
Erza and Jellal tensed in suspicion and remained on edge even after the odd woman had pulled out a glass vial of dark blue liquid.
Manda held it out for them to see, "This is some of what was left behind after the attack, the Mayor told me to hold onto this sample for you."
"That's very helpful, thank you," Erza spoke softly, reaching for the vial.
To her surprise and annoyance, the woman pulled it back in a seemingly innocent gesture.
"Oh it happened a couple of days ago and it was very scary," Manda remarked, her arms flying about dangerously as she began to tell her story, "It was a bright, sunny day just like this one and I was minding my own business, just sitting around here when all of a sudden, I see this creepy hooded figure appear and then BAM, the next thing I knew…the place was a wreck and this weird watery stuff was all over the place."
Jellal stepped forward and held his hand out as he asked quietly, "May I have a look at that?"
"Oh!" exclaimed Manda, "Sure thing!"
She jumped closer to him and handed the vial to him. He swirled the liquid around a little and held it at eye level before pulling out the stopper and raising it up so he could catch the scent. He frowned, but before he could think more on the whole thing, Manda wrapped her hand around his so they both had hold of the vial.
"Isn't it interesting!" she cried, "And if you look at it through the light…!"
She jerked their joint hands up and, of course, spilt the contents of the vial on top of Jellal's head. He closed his eyes as he felt the coldness spread down and envelop him completely.
Just great, he thought irritably, slowly reopening his eyes and finding Erza watching him with barely hidden concern. He reached up and touched the now sticky mess on his head and sighed before pinning Manda with a look. She was appearing suitably sheepish however and so he told her not to worry about the whole thing.
"Sorry again!" she said loudly, "Oh, dear me, I just remembered I have somewhere to be! I better go!"
And with that, she skipped off around the destruction and down one of the other paths.
"This town is filled with weirdos," Erza sighed, stepping closer to him, "Are you alright?"
He looked at the substance on his fingers; it was already drying like some sort of dark blue sand on his skin.
"I'd be better if I knew if this would have an effect on me," he remarked, "I can only hope it's harmless for now."
Erza nodded and stared up at the top of his head. He would've bent his knees a bit so she could look closer, but that would bring his face nearer towards her chest and, even though it was covered with her armour, he just knew he would turn red with the proximity.
"Well," Erza started, "It hasn't melted your hair off or anything yet."
She turned away and a small grin came to her face, "I can't imagine you being bald."
"And I don't think you should try," Jellal muttered, self-consciously tugging at a strand of his hair, "Come on, we should go to the other crime scene."
"Alright," said Erza, her tone warm with amusement, "Follow me."
She began walking back down the path they had taken and Jellal tried to go after her. Tried and basically failed.
As soon as he had taken a step, he felt a horrible lurch in his stomach which made his whole body unsteady. He stumbled forward and instinctively grabbed Erza's shoulders, causing her to stumble as well. She managed to stop them from falling in a heap on the path however and she froze while he tried to settle himself.
"Jellal? Are you alright?" she enquired while attempting to stop herself from being delighted that he had his hands on her.
"Ah…no, I don't think so," he admitted, quickly letting go of her and then promptly swaying about like a flower in the breeze.
Before he could fall sideways, Erza caught him around his waist with both her arms and steadied him.
"That potion must have messed with your sense of balance or something," she deduced. She supressed a grin and added without showing her glee, "You'll just have to lean on me."
She wrapped his arm around her shoulder and started them walking, allowing herself for a moment to imagine that they were just a normal couple strolling through a town and enjoying each other's company. She glanced up at Jellal and noticed he was studiously looking away, a faint dusting of pink of his face.
I wonder if he's embarrassed to be seen with me? No, that's ridiculous, it's probably that he doesn't want to be seen leaning on me. Hmm…
She peered down at her mostly metal outfit and decided she should wear something more casual as to not bring extra attention to the two of them as they walked. She simply requipped away her armour, leaving her still in her navy skirt and white blouse; it might look less obvious that he was leaning on her this way.
Erza noticed the almost imperceptible tightening of his arm around her and so she looked to him again and then raised an eyebrow at how the pinkness of his cheeks had darkened.
What is he thinking about?
She mentally shook her head and then tried to focus on walking them in the right direction. They didn't have to go through the large marketplace again, something for which Jellal was very glad about, even though he wouldn't have minded people seeing him with Erza and assuming they were together as a couple.
No, he thought angrily, I can't think like that, the happy couple will never be us and I must accept that.
He stumbled a little and Erza put her arm around his torso for support, he could feel her warm hand pressing against his taut muscles and it was oddly then that he became aware of how close his hand was to her breasts.
He closed his eyes and attempted to empty out his mind, though he made sure to keep his lips pressed together as to not have a repeat of earlier. If he said anything embarrassing now, there was no way Erza wouldn't be able to hear him.
The street they were slowly making their way down had a few shops and Erza herself nearly smiled at the picture of her and Jellal's reflection in the shiny windows, her red hair gleaming in the light and his blue locks almost shimmering. She suddenly froze.
"Jellal," she breathed, "The disguise potion has worn off."
He tensed at her words and followed her gaze to their reflection before he jerked and pulled his hood up. Voices began to flood the street as people emerged from every side road and building, reminding the two mages that it was getting close to lunchtime and the town was about to become very busy.
"Quickly," whispered Erza, "We must keep out of sight."
Jellal kept one hand firmly atop his hood to be sure it wouldn't fall back as they moved as fast as they could through the thickening crowds. They turned into another street and found it nearly clogged with people; they twisted back around and found they were going to be squashed on both sides very soon.
"In here," he directed, pointing to a narrow alley, "We'll just have to wait before we can continue."
She nodded and dashed forward, squeezing them between bustling people before all but throwing Jellal against the wall of the alley. He didn't make any sound of complaint, though that could be because of the shock at her next actions.
She pressed herself against him and pulled his head down into the crook of her neck, making sure that there was no way the tattooed side of his face would be visible. Heat rolled through him and he clenched his fists so he wouldn't grab hold of her and bring her even closer.
As much as he hated himself for it, he closed his eyes and began to savour being like they were, her scent filling him and taking turns soothing and stirring him up.
Erza watched the people moving along and hoped that she and Jellal would be able to pass as a passionate couple until the amount of people thinned out and they could give him the disguise potion again. If people saw him take it now, in this dark alley and with his hood up, they would no doubt think he was a serious kind of trouble.
Several moments went by and Erza became aware that she was idly twirling some of Jellal's hair around her fingers beneath his hood; she stopped immediately and then felt surprise jolt her as she felt him tense up. She resumed her play in the hopes that she was bringing him some comfort. Soon she forgot about keeping an eye on the crowds and instead focused on memorising this rare moment of peace.
I never thought I'd ever get to hold him like this, she thought fondly, I hope he can still breathe…
She abruptly panicked and tried to remember when she last showered, her cheeks blooming bright pink.
I bet I smell awful! Oh, I'm probably torturing him...
And she was, just not in the way she thought. He had realised that if he just shifted forward ever so slightly, he would be kissing her neck. The temptation was killing him.
Stay strong, Jellal, he told himself repeatedly, Stay strong.
Erza released her hold on him then and Jellal was a mix of relieved and disappointed.
"Uh, sorry about that," she muttered, looking away…embarrassedly?
He blinked upon seeing the tint of red on her face.
Why is she blushing?
Erza cleared her throat and stared at him levelly, as if the past five minutes hadn't happened.
"There's no-one around now," she stated, causing Jellal's stomach to flip and a devilish part of his mind to start throwing ideas around, "Once you drink a bit more of the potion, we should continue to the next location."
He nodded in agreement and then waited for her to produce the vial. She was frowning and then she patted herself down (Jellal felt the need to look away), growing increasingly panicked.
"I…I must have left it at the Inn," she said in mild distress, "Unbelievable…how could I have been so foolish?"
He placed his hand on her shoulder, "Don't worry, we just need to make it back to the Inn without me being seen."
Jellal then took his hand away and turned, taking a step towards the opening of the alley. He fell forward and threw his hand out to grip the wall.
He sighed and added, "Oh yeah, and we have to deal with me being dead weight too…"
AN: I love you guys XD Which i why i'm writing this while i'm sick so yay XD
This chapter was pretty long but not as good as previous ones :/ but thats because there's lots of awesome coming up, particularly in chapter 7 if things go according to my very vague plan XDDDD