-Spoilers up through chapter 335 in the Fairy Tail manga-
You can't stop for long, Lyon's rational side says, calm and sure in the midst of the swirling mass of emotion that is his brain.
Lyon knows that, of course.
Hadn't he just been reprimanding Meredy and Juvia about it? About letting their guard down in a warzone, not paying attention to their surroundings?
You don't have time to mourn, Lyon's rational side continues. You have to keep moving and destroy as many of these little dragons as possible.
But the whirling, sudden storm in his head does not abate or listen to reason. Lyon doesn't want to do the rational thing. He wants Gray to move.
He wants Juvia to stop crying.
He wants the younger pupil—that stupid, sacrificial, far-too-still younger pupil to not be dead, to not just lie there, bloody and quiet.
"Chelia!" Lyon yells, desperation leaking through to his voice. He had just seen her, where was she when he needed her?
Lyon is not aware that he's just frozen a dozen of the dragon things again. He's not aware that he's turned away from Juvia and Meredy and the bloody body that isn't Gray. He's not aware of the gigantic lump rising in his throat or the stinging in his eyes as some warm liquid refuses to stop leaking from the corners. He's not aware of the crashing and fighting and screaming off in the distance or the sounds of Juvia sobbing quietly behind him, her beautiful eyes fixed on the still corpse in front of her. He doesn't see it, doesn't process it, won't let himself.
"Where are you?!" Lyon ignores his rational side as it reminds him, again, that they have to go, have to leave before more enemies show up.
All Lyon knows is that this is not supposed to be. This is not allowed. That sarcastic, annoying, idiotic, loyal younger pupil is not allowed to sacrifice his life for Juvia. He's not allowed to be lying there, still and bloody and he's not allowed to make Juvia cry. (Just Juvia, of course. Lyon's not crying. He's not.)
The water mage's desperate yell of Gray's name is still ringing in his ears. Devoid of the usual honorific, Juvia's terrified scream had done more to terrify Lyon than the wounds, more than the blood endlessly spilling from Gray.
"Please…" Lyon's not sure who he's begging now. Chelia, to please be nearby, to please come save this idiot, who, despite countless feuds and arguments, is one of Lyon's closest friends. Or is he begging Gray, to please, not be dead, to get up and berate Juvia for crying over something like this, to please get up, Gray.
"Gray is…" But what is Gray, exactly? He's an annoying brat, that's for sure, but he's an annoyingly loyal and strong one. He's an irreplaceable piece of Lyon's memories, one who was both a corrector and corrected. He's the younger pupil, the one, who, despite his reluctance in taking the post, was Lyon's responsibility.
Lyon didn't realize that until too late.
The lump in his throat is too big to swallow now, and Lyon is afraid to look back, to face the reality that Gray is gone.
"They hit his head…" He remembers it, remembers the way Gray's head had jerked back as the final bolt had caught his forehead, remembers the way the life had slid from his face, his eyes, and how Gray had fallen, a graceless heap of blood and limbs and how his blank gaze had stayed fixed on a spot in the far distance, far out of Lyon's reach.
He can't do this again.
Ur was one thing.
Gray is a completely different thing.
Lyon can't be devoid of that idiot so soon after reuniting with him. Can't be. Not allowed. It's against every rule of the Universe, against every little piece of logic and fairness that exists.
Lyon can't let that stupid idiot do this.
He can't let Gray do this.
He can't let Gray be dead.
He can't let Gray be so still, so dead and so bloody, so gone. He can't let Gray make Juvia cry, and now that he thinks about it, it'll be more than Juvia crying. The rest of Gray's friends will mourn him too, and that's just not allowed.
Because they will.
If there's one thing Lyon knows about Fairy Tail, it's that they are loyal to the end, and the bond formed between the stupid younger pupil and his guildmates is not one that Lyon wants to challenge again.
"Chelia…" Lyon's last plea is more of a whisper than a call.
He knows that it's too late. He'd known that before he'd started calling. He'd known when Juvia screamed, when Gray let out his last, coughed breath of "Huh?" and was hit with one final bolt to the forehead.
He can't hold on to the delusion that Gray can be saved anymore. He can't deny the reality of the tears that are still forming in his eyes, or the half-sobbed breaths he can hear from behind him, from where Juvia kneels next to her savior. He can't deny the blood or the crashing, horrible truth that the idiotic younger pupil won't be there to annoy Lyon anymore.
Lyon finally stops scanning the smoking ruins of the landscape for any sign of the pink-haired Chelia. Lyon finally drops his eyes and clenches his fists, trying to deny the sob rising in his own throat.
It's not fair, he thinks, to lose him so soon after finding him again. It's not fair that Gray had to go before Lyon. Lyon was supposed to save Gray, was supposed to protect him, as brothers should and fight next to him once again.
This wasn't supposed to happen.
Lyon can barely think anymore. The raging cold inside him will not be denied any longer, the pain tearing at his insides can no longer be contained.
Lyon wants to yell and destroy.
He wants this to not be real.
He wants Gray alive.
Lyon grits his teeth and tries in vain to stop the tears still streaming down his face. Not this, not again, not again, please not again, don't leave me. It's an unending chant in his head, ringing along with the pain in his ears. Not again, don't leave me, don't leave me. There seems to be a jagged hole in his chest, much more painful than any wound he's ever experienced, much deeper, ripped open straight to his heart and sending stabs of agony through his limbs with every reminder of this reality which Lyon no longer wants to be a part of.
"Look out!" Meredy's scream of warning is the only alert that Lyon got before the enemy is upon them again.
Lyon snaps his eyes up, feeling something ignite his veins with an icy fury. These were the monsters who had killed Gray.
They were all going to pay,
Lyon starts moving, dodging those energy beams like the ones which had killed Gray, despising the black, gaping holes of the monster's mouths which greet him and those black eyes which had watched Gray fall. Lyon slams his right fist onto his left palm and lets ice, the ice magic which Ur had taught to him and Gray destroy the creatures who dare to stand in his way, who dare to attack the town and who had dared to kill Gray.
Meredy had joined him, but his vision is so focused on the enemies directly in front of him that he doesn't notice her presence, or her contribution. He is too consumed with this constricting, cold rage to process anything other than the enemies who dare to come close. Unfortunately, the rage doesn't stop him from being struck by the absence of Juvia, and most importantly, Gray, at his side, and the pain in his chest which has not flagged with the fury increases.
The group was small, and is quickly dispatched of, but the attack had triggered Lyon's rational side to start badgering him again.
Take Juvia and go, instructed his rational side. There's nothing you can do for Gray, now.
Lyon's rational side may be right, but the rest of Lyon, the furious, agonizing, screaming part of his brain is not ready to leave Gray, regardless of the risk, regardless of how illogical it may be.
So Lyon turns, facing the sobbing Juvia and the still body of the younger pupil who will never move again, and forces his feet to move. The previous fury which had given strength and purpose to his limbs had drained out of him the minute the last enemy had been disposed of, and his legs do not seem to want to cooperate. But they carry him over to Juvia's side nonetheless, where he sinks to his knees, trying not to look at the bloody corpse that isn't Gray. Instead, Lyon focuses on Juvia, whose big eyes do not turn from their horrified transfixion on the unmoving, bloody ice mage who had saved her life.
"Juvia." Lyon says, hating the shakiness of his quiet tone. The blue-haired mage has tears streaming down her face like the ones Lyon can still feel on his own, (the ones he's repressing with all of his wavering self-control) but she is completely still. If it were not for the half-sobbed breaths he can hear and the continuing streams of water from her eyes, Lyon would have guessed she was stone.
Lyon extends a trembling hand to touch her shoulder, hoping for a reaction. Hoping that she will turn her wide eyes from the still savior in front of her, hoping that Juvia will move at all.
Juvia flinches at his touch, but does not move her gaze for a moment.
Lyon has to force himself to not look too, to not glance to his left, to not look and see the irreversible truth that Gray is gone.
Finally, Juvia drags her horrified eyes from Gray's lack face to Lyon's, and it is only then that she moves. Juvia collapses onto Lyon, her sobbing no longer silent and stationary, now she shakes with her grief. He supports her, feeling her tremble and hugging her close to him, offering comfort as much as seeking it. Lyon shoves the rational side of his brain away, ignores the crunch of Meredy's boots on the dirt behind him, refuses to think about the war raging around them or the pressing need to leave before more dragons show up. He holds Juvia close, trying not to succumb to the giant lump in his throat again, battling to suppress the tears he can still feel in his eyes and the desperate, pained sounds which want to escape from his locked jaw.
With Juvia in his arms now, Lyon can no longer avoid looking at the body that (can't be, impossible) isn't Gray. The body is too still, to quiet, too empty to be the sarcastic younger pupil that Lyon knew. The lax, bloodstained features (no matter how much they look like it) can't be Gray's, because Gray isn't idiotic enough to let himself get wounded like this. He isn't idiotic enough to sacrifice himself and make Lyon and Juvia watch as he fell, leave them behind like this.
Lyon clenches his jaw harder at the realization that that is exactly how idiotic Gray is. Was.
And Lyon tears his eyes away and clutches the trembling Juvia closer, grief over-whelming the anger which had seemed to be eternal just moments before.
It is only then that Lyon realizes that it's raining. Fat, heavy drops are falling from the bloodstained, smoky sky, tamping down the disturbed dirt and soaking into Lyon, Juvia, Meredy, and onto Gray. The sky echoes Juvia's lament, and Lyon feels the pain in his chest suddenly become blinding.
He didn't want this.
He never wanted this.
A/N: And next in Lali novelizes everything she watches: That one chapter in FT where we all freaked out for a week then Ultear saved the day! More angst and pain for those characters I love most.
Do I know where this came from?
Do I like it anyway?
Iiin other news, I have a vague idea that I could go further with this but every time I try to extend it, nothing works, so... Basically, I enjoy hurting my favorite characters and this arc was one of my favorites in FT.
Thank you much for reading!