Author's Notes: This story plays off of the 'Twin Slayer Paradox' theory. It's rated M for adult themes (no lemon). Like always, please read, rate and review.
The day you left, I told myself it was nothing. I watched you leave in the early morning, careful not to let you catch me. You moved silently to my bedroom window, disappearing from my room, jumping to the grounds beneath and out of my life. The day you left, I didn't bother saying goodbye. I didn't bother lifting my head from the pillow. I didn't bother calling your name. I didn't do these things, because I didn't know. I didn't know that morning would be different from all the other mornings we had casually shared. I didn't know our wordless goodbye had meant farewell. When I watched you lift yourself from your side of the bed, I wanted to reach out to you to stop you from leaving. I wanted to follow you to wherever you'd be going. I wanted other people to finally know. I wanted our friends to know that we were together. I didn't want to hide anymore. I didn't want to continue pretending. No more early mornings. No more late nights. No more sneaking around. No more excuses. No more. As I watched you disappear, I lifted myself from my bed. I had made a decision that day as I crossed my book-laden room to the window. I had decided then and there that upon your return, we would tell everyone our secret. We would finally tell our guild the truth.
But as the weeks wore on, and your absence became alarmingly apparent, I started to worry less about the announcement I had always wanted to make, and the one I never imagined. You had been gone for too long and I was beyond worried. What should have taken a couple weeks was now nearing two months. Two months of jerking my head towards the guildhall doors whenever someone entered. Two months of jumping in my seat every time my name was called or uttered. Two months of unease and distress. Nevertheless, it had been two months.
I don't know how I failed to notice sooner. I could ignore the symptoms and the lack of sleep. I could explain it all away. Maybe before us, I would have have figured it out sooner. Maybe before you dominated my thoughts and drove me insane with worry, I'd have noticed the smaller things. But honestly, it was just too much. I had my guesses, and of course, my delusions. I thought maybe I was simply sick; or so I desperately wanted to believe. I never allowed myself to dwell on the possibility that maybe I was pregnant. I couldn't be. I just…
But you had been gone for two months, and that was something I couldn't ignore. I had been late, twice. I told myself, after the second month of your absence came to a close, that the stress of you leaving was wearing on me physically. I went through all the motions. I said every line. Every hallow, helpless word. But denial only goes so far and words can only explain so much. I couldn't ignore the weight I had been gaining. I couldn't hide from the morning sickness or the change in my appetite. Eventually, all delusions about my condition were chased away by one, growing piece of evidence: my belly. My tiny, delicate stomach had started, almost imperceptibly, to bump out from my body. By the third month, I had to admit, at least to myself, that I was carrying your child. The thought paralyzed me. I was running out of time, and I was low on options. I knew that before too long, our guild would notice. How could they not? I knew I could hide my condition only for a short while longer. But until I could figure out how to reach you, I'd have to hide. I wore strategic clothing. I stayed in more often. I spoke to our guild mates less often.
Unfortunately, my tiny body didn't hide the growing one inside of me very well. By the end of the fourth month, it was nearly impossible to conceal my secret any longer. By contrast, my small frame looked nearly six months pregnant, and I knew there was no way I could go on without help. When I told Lucy to meet me at Fairy Hills, I felt an unease so heavy; an anxiety so overwhelming, I was sure I'd have a miscarriage.
She knocked on my door, smiling as she stepped into my room. I walked slowly, careful not to angle my body so that she'd notice my extended abdomen. She immediately jumped forward, pulling my body into hers. I could feel her arms and back stiffen in shock as our embrace tightened, my protruding belly pressing into her flat stomach. She pulled away from me, her face white. It was clear to me that she had been temporarily stunned, and truthfully, I was glad; her silence gave me a moment to collect myself. I took a deep breath, forcefully calming under her probing gaze. She didn't speak once through my confession, and didn't for a while after. I was grateful she had remained quiet, otherwise, I'm not sure I would have had the courage to say what needed to be said. I told her everything. She listened in stunned silence as I caught her up on the last year of our lives. There was so much to say, and hearing it all finally come forward, felt so freeing. I talked for what seemed like hours, all the while, catching her eyes drift down to the biggest secret of all. After some time, she managed to ask her questions.
"Is he the father?" I just nodded, placing a hand subconsciously over my navel. My cheeks reddened at the boldness of her question and the implications behind her words. She stared at me, nodding slowly.
"How far along are you?" She breathed, her voice quiet and fragile. I bit my lip, scouring my brain for a solid response; anything better than I think…
"Around four months."' I frowned, watching her face pale. 'But, I can't be sure." She nodded again, running a hand through her blonde hair.
"I wouldn't have guessed." She spoke flatly, eyes dropping.
"Oh." I mumbled, touching my stomach.
"Lev, I honestly don't know how you kept this hidden for so long.'" Lucy frowned down at me, raking my body with her eyes. She sized me up, sitting on my bed. 'Have you seen a doctor?"
"No." I admitted, shame darkening my voice.
"You won't be able to keep this up forever, Levy. You need help." Her voice was a mingle of things I couldn't place.
"Actually,'" I hesitated, finding my courage. 'That's why I asked you to come here today."
"What do you mean?" Her eyes narrowed as I joined her on my mattress.
"I can't do this alone, Lucy.'" As the words left my mouth, hot tears poured over my cheeks. It was as if all my strength vanished upon finally admitting the helplessness of my situation out loud. 'But I can't tell the rest of the guild. Not before…"
"Levy,"' Lucy grabbed my shoulders, her eyes bright. 'I'm scared for you." I continued crying, hating how pathetic I was feeling.
"I'm scared." We held each other for a long time. Neither of us speaking. I'm sure we were both lost in our own thoughts; at least I was. Could I really do this? After some time, Lucy agreed to help me keep my pregnancy a secret from the rest of the guild, albeit reluctantly, and with conditions. She offered to stay with me at Fairy Hills until you retuned from your mission.
The next couple months seemed to tick by faster than any other time in my life. At the end of the sixth month, I could physically see a difference in my size from one passing day to the next. By this time, I was absolutely enormous. I was by far the smallest guild member in Fairy Tail, besides Wendy, and you, you were anything but. Your large body and its large genes were working against me. At the seventh month mark, I was having trouble breathing; my small lungs were pushed up to make room for the baby breaking me from the inside. By the eighth month, I was really starting to panic. You had been gone for so long, with no word, I was no longer sure you'd arrive before our baby did. Our baby. I honestly never imagined, not in a million years, that this would be my fate; hiding alone in my dorm, heavily pregnant, relying on my best friend for food and news from the outside world. Without her, I'm sure I would be dead by now. No. I know I would be. Without her, Porlyusica would have never come to me.
It happened halfway through my eighth month. And though Lucy kept saying that I looked impossibly pregnant, I was completely shocked when my water broke two weeks early. By this time, I was limited to getting out of my bed only when necessary. My fragile body had been ordered to bed rest for half a month now, and I was only able to make trips to the bathroom to relieve myself or shower. When I got out of bed that morning, my body felt different. Yes, I was even larger; that was nothing new. But as I stepped, panting into the bathroom, I noticed, my face paling, that I my pregnancy had changed. I stared, hand cradling my enormous belly as I turned, accessing the damage. I gasped, as realization sunk in: I was carrying low.
I had read enough books in my lifetime to know what this change in my body had meant. The familiar, constant pressure inside my body had been incredibly still for the past few days; obviously too cramped to move any longer. I was close. I gripped the bathroom counter for support, my body shaking as I approached the shower. A sharp, shooting pain, held me fast. No, not yet.
"Argghh…" I moaned into the echoey bathroom air, pressing my free hand firmly to my lower belly. My insides clenched, causing me to yell out once again. No… please, not now. I dragged myself against the wall in a final moment of clarity, signing the word 'silent' across my dorm door. Now at least, no one in Fairy Hills will know… I whimpered, feeling what must have been the beginnings of my contractions pulse through me, causing me to double over, screaming. I sucked in a deep breath, tears welling in my eyes as I stepped into the shower, letting the cool water drench my orange sundress, soaking my body pleasantly.
"Gajeel…" I cried into the stream, feeling strange, terrifying sensations build inside me. I tried desperately to remember the things Porlyusica had taught me; the things I had read about, preparing me for this moment. I tried. But, my brain, all my cells, everything was focused on the stretching, tearing, pulsing pain growing in my loins. And before I could do anything to ready myself, it happened. My water broke.
I gasped, wide-eyed in shock, my hand shooting between my legs. I knew this was going to happen. I knew I would eventually feel immeasurable pain. I had known. But I was not prepared. I was not prepared to give birth in my shower, wet and alone. I was not prepared for the indescribable fear that washed over me as I remembered that Lucy was out on her final job of the month. I knew then and there that I would have to do this alone. That I would have no best friend to hold my hand. No medicine woman brought to my aid. Nobody. I smiled bitterly as I cried, knowing I was foolish to have waited for so long. I could have sent for you, but I didn't. I could have involved our friends, but I stubbornly refused. I didn't want anyone to know. It was bad enough that I had to rely on Lucy. Worse still that Porlyusica had to get involved. But to allow others to know what you did not, I couldn't do it.
I didn't hear the window bang open. I didn't hear your boots thundering heavily across my bedroom floor. I didn't see the bathroom door burst forward, or the shower slide open. All I could do was breathe as you stepped into the shower, fully clothed, lifting me easily in your muscular arms. I vaguely registered that I was naked after you tugged my soaked sundress over my head. Your face revealed everything as you guided my body to the bed, laying me against the cool sheets. I chocked back a breathy sob, reaching out for you as you knelt onto the bed, removing your damp shirt.
"Shrimp,'" Your watery voice broke, lifting my eyes to your face. 'I'm so fucking sorry." Your hand rested gently over my navel; the warmth feeling nice against my cool body. I hadn't realized I was shaking until you brought the covers around me, kissing my forehead.
"Thank you.'" I chocked out weakly. 'For coming back."
"Fuck…"' You threw your fist into the wall behind us, seething. 'You've been suffering this whole time?"
"I…" What could I say?
"We're… is?'" You hesitated, eyes burning into mine. 'Is it?"
"Yes, Gajeel.'" Another contraction seared through me, causing me to lurch forward. Your hand supporting my back. 'Yes. It's yours."
"That's not what I was going to fucking ask!'" You yelled, shocked. 'Fuck, Levy. Are you… is there anything I can do?"
"How did you-arrgggh!'" The urge to push was building, and I instinctively readied myself, sitting up. 'Ahhhh… how, how did you know?"
"I ran into Lucy on my way back to you.'" Your voice was low. 'She… she told me that," You swallowed. "…That you were pregnant." My eyes flashed open.
"She… no, I…" I whimpered, feeling my eyes well with tears. How could she?
"I couldn't believe it.'" You whispered, taking position behind me, helping me sit up. 'I'm scared, Levs."
"I'm scared too. I have no idea how to be a parent, Gajeel. If you don't want any part of this, I'll…" I felt the words slip out of my mouth before I could stop myself from saying them.
"Is that what you think?'" You offered your hand to me, letting me grip you tightly as I writhed in the biggest contraction yet. I could feel your heartbeat wild and furious through my back. 'I'm not afraid for me, idiot. I'm afraid this is going to kill you." Your tone was raw and unguarded; totally vulnerable.
"Gajeel…'" Suddenly, the pressure in between my legs came to a breaking point; throwing my head back in agony. 'It's coming. I have to push." You mumbled a faint response before I rode the next contraction, squeezing the baby forward. I could feel its head beginning to crown, the worst pain I had ever felt in my life overtaking me.
"Shit, I think I see something!" Your voice chocked.
"It's crowning!" I screamed, pushing the the top of the head through. Your hand was shaking in mine as I gripped you for support, breathing erratically.
"This is insane." You whispered, the shock in your voice apparent.
"Arrrghhh!'" I moaned, feeling the head breach by body. It was too much. The pain was absolutely blinding. 'Gajeel, you'll… have to be the one to deliver it." I panted frantically, feeling its shoulders. Without another word, you moved from behind me, standing at the foot of the bed; your hands spreading my legs apart. I cried out, sitting up as I pushed for the last time, delivering the baby. My eyes closed immediately, legs falling slack against the mattress. I could feel sleep drifting over me, claiming my exhausted body.
"You're amazing." Your voice lifted me back to reality, my eyes finding yours. In your arms cradled the smallest thing I had ever seen.
"Gajeel…" I reached for you, smiling as tears spilled over my flushed cheeks. You sat down next to me, handing me the small, black-haired infant. It cried softly as you picked us both up, walking slowly to the bathroom.
"Come'ere.'" You smiled proudly down at me, stepping us back into the shower. 'Let's clean you up." I nodded, resting my head against your chest. After a moment, soothing water cascaded over us, washing away the sweat. You rinsed our son, drying him immediately with a clean towel from the closet. I watched as you wrapped him, cradling him in your strong arms. He looked so delicate by contrast. Our eyes met; a warm smile lighting your face.
"We have a son." I said, my voice weak.
"Heh… yeah we do.'" You laughed, sweeping my bangs out of my eyes. 'What are we going to call him?"
"I think… I think we should call him something appropriate."
"Yeah." You nodded, grinning madly.
"I think he's put me through too much to get away with just any old name."
"Yeah, that's for sure. He's trouble, I can already tell." You ruffled his hair gently, causing him to squirm.
"You're both trouble."
"Gihihi…" Your smile widened playfully.
"He's going to be a handful. More than we can manage, Gajeel." I frowned, staring up at you as my words sunk in.
"We'll manage." You grunted, face darkening.
"He deserves better than this. He deserves a chance."
"War be damned." You growled, holding our son tightly to your chest. My heart pounded at the expression on your face.
"Gajeel, we have to send him somewhere safe. Somewhere, secret." I forced myself to say what I knew to be true. Nobody was safe. Not in this era. Not with Acnologia. Not with the war. Your face contorted as you struggled, opening and closing your mouth.
"Where?" Your voice broke, running a large thumb over his cheek.
"Not where, Gajeel. When." I had thought about this a thousand times, and every single time, the truth was inescapable; he simply wasn't safe with us in this era.
"You're talking crazy."
"I'm not.'" I spoke softy, tears mixing with the water. 'Nobody but Lucy knows he exists. Lucy, and Porlyusica. Over the last half-year, I've done as much research as possible to prepare for this. Gajeel, I think it's possible to send him back in time."
"But, how would that-"
"We'll send him back to the safest place that's ever existed."
"To before the year dragons disappeared from this world." Your face instantly paled at my words.
"Yes." I whimpered, hugging my legs to my chest, letting the water flow over my back.
"We'll do more than that…'" I continued. 'We'll give him the best chance possible for survival."
"I have a fucking say, dammit!"
"It's going to work.'" I smiled weakly at you, sobbing. 'I know who he is."
"The fuck are you talking about?"
"We'll take him to learn dragon slayer magic. But before we do that, we're going to implant lacrima in his body."
"You're insane." You blinked down at me in shock, stepping backwards.
"Don't you see?'" I stood up, shaking. 'Our son is-"
"No!" Tears welled in your eyes as you glared at me, shaking your head.
"He is." I spoke sadly, wrapping myself in a towel.
"He can't be." You whispered. I placed a firm hand on your shoulder, my eyes melting into yours.
"I'm sorry." I grabbed your hand, pulling us into the bedroom. I scribed the word 'lock' over the door and the window, ensuring our privacy as I pulled a heavy tome from the shelf nearest my bed. 'But, don't worry. None of us will remember this day. Not even Lucy or Porlyusica."
"This isn't right." You spoke numbly, obediently collapsing into a sitting position on the bed.
"If everything works, this spell will reverse a whole year of our lives. We'll have no knowledge or memories of this event."
"…" You stared blankly ahead, unblinking.
"Once it's activated, we'll only have a moment to send him through to a completely different time. Once time is frayed, it wants to quickly repair itself. You and I will be affected on a lesser scale. Everyone in the world will be sent back."
"This is bigger than you, Levy.'" You grabbed my face in your hands, turning me to face you. 'You're talking about altering time, here."
"I know.'" I nodded. 'But this already happened. We did this already."
"So, he really is-"
"It's the only way?"
"If I'm right, the future and the past are dependant on this decision."
"So, we have no choice."
"No. This is destined to happen."
"His name.'" You brushed a tear off of your cheek, frowning down at the child in your arms. 'We still have to name him."
"We aren't the ones to name him.'" I started crying. 'Skiadrum is destined to name him Ryos."
"How long have you known?"
"The more I researched, the more it all connected. I only just realized for sure when I saw his face for the first time.'" I placed my hand against your cheek, smiling. 'He has your eyes, Gajeel." At that, your red eyes flickered down to the pair in your arms.
"Sh-shit…" You sobbed, rubbing your arm roughly across your face.
I awoke, feeling stiff; my whole body feeling as though I had rested for a thousand years. The last thing I remembered dreaming was your face, contorted in pain. But why? I wondered, feeling my cheeks burn. Maybe today I'll finally tell him how I feel. I thought to myself, my stomach twisting excitedly as I reached for the door handle, pulling it as walked into the dormitory hall. I strolled casually, not in any hurry to put my boldness to the test. As I stepped through the guildhall doors, my heart pounded loudly in my ears; you were right in front of me, towering at your full height. You beamed down at me, stepping past me, ruffling my hair as you made your way outside. I don't know why I followed you; turning back the way I came. I don't know why I reached out to take your hand. But I did. In that moment of perfect clarity, I felt something jolt through me, commanding me to take your hand in mine. Your responding smile and gentle kiss took my breath away. How could I have known that this simple action would change the path of time forever? How could I have known that this one decision would trap us forever in an endless, inescapable loop?