"She leaned forward and caught at his hand, pressing it between her own. The touch was like white fire through his veins. He could not feel her skin only the cloth of her gloves, and yet it did not matter. You kindled me, heap of ashes that I am, into fire. He had wondered once why love was always phrased in terms of burning. The conflagration in his own veins, now, gave the answer."

― Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Princess



Chapter #1: Incipient


Looking back, Natsu couldn't really decide if it happened slowly or all at once. He certainly didn't just wake up one morning as a walking pile of hormones - that little development had taken at least a good month. But he could remember the exact moment that he realized Lucy had some strange power over him. Some kind of dangerous magic that made him feel … things.

Things that should not come out because of his best friend - or for anyone for that matter. He could really live without all of the pent up sexual frustration it was causing. In fact, he had made it many, many years - happy years - without it. So he wasn't so convinced that this whole 'becoming a man' business was the great thing that everyone was making it out to be. It was changing everything he knew and loved. It was changing him and it was dangerously close to changing his partnership with Lucy.

Natsu didn't like change. Especially when said changes made it hard to even look at his blond friend without wanting to pin her to the stupid wall. Or the bar. Or that table over there in the corner where no one ever really sat. Or -

It was down right stupid.

He had seen her naked - felt her naked - and it hadn't brought out these feelings. But a few light, innocent touches across his back and shoulders and suddenly he was burning. Leave it to Lucy to somehow ignite this - this thing inside of him without even trying. Without even knowing.

They had gone on a mission to take down a sand mage, just the three of them, so that Lucy would quit fretting over her rent money. Splitting the jewels two ways (because Happy was more than content to just live off of his) was a heck of a lot better than four. Sandy was tough, sure, but he was in no way a match for a Fairy Tail wizard. Lucy could have probably managed to knock him out on her own really. She had gotten so much stronger through the years. Together, the guy didn't even stand a chance. Still, the asshole was smart enough (or stupid enough) to target Lucy first in order to get her spirits off his back. He had made use of several of the towns windows (because apparently glass was made out of sand of all things – who knew?) and sent their broken, cutting edges towards Lucy with a single taunting, knowing, grin directed solely the dragon slayer.

That really, really pissed Natsu off.

Luckily, the he had a handy habit of turning rage into power and (in this case) speed. Getting in front of Lucy in time to shield her hadn't been a problem, unfortunately his back paid the price for it. But it was better to have those little shards imbedded in his back than to have them ripping her apart. His skin was tougher than hers ever would be. It was just another perk of his dragon slayer magic, and the moment he pulled away to see Lucy safe and unscathed in his arms he sent a silent thank you to Igneel for teaching him before pulverizing the (now quaking) sand mage.

After they had promptly collected their reward (the damage blamed on the freaking criminal for once) they had promptly checked into a hotel at Lucy's insistence. She wanted to wait and head out first thing in the morning so that they could return to Magnolia just before night fall. He didn't think he'd ever really understand her reluctance to travel in the dark but then again she was weird like that. Happy had quickly abandoned them when the receptionist had casually mentioned that the lake just outside of town was famous for its fishing. Natsu almost went with him but Lucy's stern glare had promptly laid those plans to rest. Apparently it wasn't ok to just let the glass in his back work itself out (Lucy insisted that it would only work its way farther into his skin but he disagreed).

And so he had ended up face down on his traveling futon (because hey, why pay for two rooms when he had carried a mattress on his back?) with his shredded vest acting as a pillow for his chin to rest on while Lucy's hands slowly tore away at the world he knew. The moment he felt her fingertips brushing against the ridge of his shoulders and down his spine in what was an innocent examination of the damaged flesh, he began to feel something. She was unwittingly stoking a fire that was slowly growing in his gut and setting his nerves aflame in a way that he had never, in all his experience with heat and flames, felt.

It was confusing. Above him, Lucy grumbled about a particularly stubborn piece of glass along his rib but he was too busy wondering what the sensations simmering under his skin meant to really pay attention to the words.

He wasn't completely stupid. He had gotten his lesson about the 'birds and the bees' like the rest of the guild children. So he knew how that whole baby making thing worked and, judging by the little tidbits of conversation he heard on the matter, knew it was supposedly enjoyable. Natsu had just never really felt the need or the desire because really, the whole thing just sounded more awkward than fun.

No one had said anything about the coil of heat that was curling in his lower stomach though - or the fever. Natsu rarely felt hot but suddenly he felt like he was burning in his very own skin. He wanted something, but he wasn't really sure what. The only thing he really did know what that whatever it was that Lucy was doing to him felt – good. Really good. Dangerously good.

"Natsu, you're burning up..." Lucy's voice pulled him from his trance. He turned his head to look at her and was greeted by her worried expression. Her chocolate eyes swimming with concern. "Are you ok? Does it hurt?"

He didn't know. Everything felt different and he wasn't sure if it was a good or a bad thing. But instead of saying that he plastered on a grin, "Of course! Just tired." He wasn't of course, his body was thrumming with energy but telling her that her hands were making him feel like he was on fire seemed like a good way to get the crap beat out of him. "Are you almost done?"

Please, please be done. Who knew what other strange reactions he would have if she stayed? If she kept touching him?

The little worried frown still pulled at her mouth but she removed her hand from his bare shoulder with a nod. "Yeah. Yeah I'm done," she mumbled, releasing him from her searching gaze as she gracefully rose from the floor. "Just let me get grab a towel from the bathroom to wipe up the rest of the blood." Her knees were blotched red from how long she'd been kneeling over him, the skin indented by the cracks in the floor, and Natsu felt a sharp twinge of guilt pierce through the ring of hormonal fire he had unwittingly found himself surrounded by.

"Lucy?" Her name escaped his lips before he could really stop it. When she turned back to look at him he faltered, because he had said her name like a question but he wasn't really sure what he was asking. Probably a combination of 'what just happened' and 'what have you done to me'.

Andwith an emphasized 'what am I suppose to do now?'

Her head tilted, little hints of concern still hiding in her brow. "What is it Natsu?"

Crap. Had his name always sounded like that when she said it? He gulped. "Uh, just, thanks." He could feel the heat that had been burning across his body suddenly spread across his cheeks. "You know. For patching me up, and stuff."

Her cheeks tinted adorably (since when was that adorable?) and she rewarded him with a pleased smile. "You're welcome. Anything for a friend, right?"

He nodded. Right, anything for a friend. Except, he wasn't so sure he would have wanted anyone else to do this for him. He's almost positive if it had been someone else he wouldn't be feeling like the futon was going to burst into flames right under him. What did that mean?

Moments later, as she was carefully dabbing the wet cloth against his skin, the coolness of it sliding against his overly heated flesh, Natsu realized what had made these touches so different from all the others she had given him in the past. She had been so gentle, her ministrations so tender and full of care. Lucy had never touched him like that. No one had ever touched him like that.

What did it mean?

When she finished he was both relieved and, deep inside in a place he really didn't want to evaluate, a bit disappointed. It was over, his body temperature was slowly returning to normal and soon Happy would be back with a bulging stomach full of fish and everything would be normal again. Surely things would go back to the way they were before and he'd never have to think about the heat her fingers drew out from him ever again.

Obviously, he had been entirely too optimistic. Three months later and the heat was only escalating in temperature and the things that brought it out were quickly becoming more and more trivial. Now, if he stared at her for too long, even just the curve of her smile could set his body on fire. He was pretty sure if she touched him like that again he would probably combust from the inside out and fall around her like ash.

Apparently there were some flames that not even ancient fire magic could control.

AN: So I've watched the first season of Fairy Tail and have have become a NaLu fan pretty much over night.

I'm posting this as a one shot but I may decide to continue it depending on reader response. I know there's probably a million other fics like this one but I just had to try my hand at it. :) Gotta write what comes to you right?

If this does become a chapter fic, just be aware that the rating will probably change to 'M'.

Thanks for reading and please take the time to leave a review on what you thought!

Update 7/16: This will be a chapter story after all - three chapters are already drafted (not in sequential order, but hey). Man that NaLu bug bites hard. Thanks for all the people who have reviewed and supported a continuation because guess what?

You're getting it.