A/N: Let the crackship madness begin again! Please purchase your tickets for the Crazy Train here, and enjoy the ride!

Chapter 1 is dedicated to Leosladyever. I hope your tummy feels better soon, Triplet! Keep resting!

(Please read note at the end of this chapter).

(I don't own Fairy Tail.)

This was it. Today was the day that he was finally going to tell her just how he felt. He'd been fighting it with everything he was worth, constantly reminding himself that a woman should show true interest in a man before he asked her out. It had worked for months—years if he was counting the seven years they lost on Tenrou—and after Fairy Tail had come out victorious in the Grand Magic Games, he'd thought things would be different. The feisty brunette had stayed by his side the entire time he was locked in the infirmary during the games, had snuck out with him to go to Ryuzetsu Land. She smacked him with her fan constantly, but he figured it was just her way of showing affection. She turned him to stone more often than he cared to admit, but that was just how she was. Everything about the Fairy mage set Elfman's heart aflutter in the manliest way possible, and he knew she must feel the same way. At least, he hoped she did.

Elfman had set his feelings for her to the side when they had all returned from Crocus, instead choosing to make sure his sisters were well cared for since they had all been gone for so long. He took mission after mission with Lisanna, wanting to know without a doubt that his baby sister would be able to take care of herself whenever she went on random missions with Team Natsu. It wasn't often that she went, but he could see that she still had feelings for Natsu. It was nice to know that there were things that time didn't change. Lisanna and Natsu had been the most adorable little family while they raised Happy, and Elfman was just glad that they had entrusted him to watch over Happy's egg back then. Happy was their kid, and Lisanna and Natsu were married. He'd heard the sweet angel that was his little sister ramble about the pink-haired fire-breather day in and day out up until the day she 'died'.

Now that things were finally back to normal for them all, Elfman decided to take Mira and Lisanna's advice and just ask Evergreen out. 'It'd be worse if I didn't at least try,' he thought as he glanced across the guild hall to see a quick flash of light bouncing off of Evergreen's glasses from her seat at the Raijinshuu's table. It made him think that maybe… Just maybe… She had been looking his way before he had turned to look at her. A very familiar warmth spread through him at the thought that she really would want to be with a guy like him. He knew he'd be all the man she could ever want, and just hoped she would give him the chance to prove that to her.

The doors to the guild flew open, banging loudly against the walls as a bruised and grinning Team Natsu entered. Elfman turned to worriedly watch each of the members ambling into the guild, checking to see if Lisanna had made it back safely from her mission with them. When he saw that Erza had an unconscious Gray thrown over her shoulder, with slightly bloodied bandages wrapped around his naked torso and forehead, Elfman started to fear the worst. Happy flew in next, munching on a fish with a grin on his face. Following closely behind him was Wendy, who was talking animatedly with Lisanna—making his heartbeat return to a much more normal pace instead of the hummingbird-like thrumming it had been doing when he hadn't been able to see her. His baby sister was safe, smiling widely, and didn't seem to be injured in the slightest. Once he caught her bright blue gaze, she smiled sweetly at Wendy and excused herself before making a bee-line to the table he was lounging at near the bar.

"Hey, big brother!" Lisanna chirped happily as she bounced over to Elfman, a wide smile on her face and her short white hair flowing slightly behind her since she'd let it grow out just a little more than before.

Elfman pulled Lisanna into a tender hug, reminding himself just how manly it was to care so much for his family, and then pushed her at arm's length while he checked over her one more time for injuries he may have missed. "How was it?" he asked softly, returning her smile with one of his own.

"Oh, well…" Lisanna muttered sheepishly, scratching the back of her head and nervously laughing while she avoided her brother's gaze. "I-I think Lucy might kill Natsu for real this time."

"Huh?" Elfman asked, lifting his head and looking around the guild for the blonde-haired girl that had reminded him so much of his little sister before she'd been returned from Edolas. When he didn't see her, he started to look for Natsu—knowing the two were hardly away from each other for long—before Lisanna drew his attention back to her.

"Yeah… We were supposed to round up a bunch of monsters, and it was an S-Class mission so Wendy came along in case we needed to be healed… Well, Natsu got into a fight way Gray halfway through fighting everything, and they made it into a competition of sorts to see who could kill more of them…"

"That's a MAN!" Elfman chuckled, his smile faltering when Lisanna flinched and grimaced.

"Well… Erza tried to stop them from getting too carried away, and Natsu set the forest on fire with a stray attack. Gray tried to stop it with his ice, but ended up hitting Erza in the process, and her sword went flying at Wendy and me… Wendy used her roar to send the sword flying away from us, but the wind in her attack ended up spreading the fire in the forest even more…"

"Uh-huh…?" Elfman said slowly, his eyes widening in shock at just how much damage that team was able to cause when it was just an accident. He paled to think of what could happen if they actually tried to decimate things.

"So… The monsters ran off in every direction, and we were all scrambling to catch them before they got back to the town we were only about a mile away from…" Lisanna continued softly. "When we finally caught all of them, we couldn't find Lucy anywhere… And we were searching and searching for her until Natsu found her scent. We walked about three miles further from the town and found her sitting in a camp she'd made for all of us for the night. Turns out she took out the ones that had doubled back when we weren't looking, and then figured there was no point in trying to search for us since it would just take longer for everyone to rally together again."

"… Alright…?" Elfman had never known Lisanna to ramble this much, even when it concerned Natsu, and with how guilty she looked, he knew it must have been pretty bad.

"… Well…" Lisanna mumbled, finally looking up into Elfman's eyes with a frown. "We turned in the mission when it was finished, and the mayor told us that the forest was protected with hundreds of species of endangered wildlife. That it was slotted to become a wildlife preserve of sorts in the next few weeks, and that was why they needed those monsters gone. There was so much damage done to the forest that we didn't get anything for a reward."

"That sucks… Next time I'm sure it'll be better though!" Elfman said proudly.

"Yeah, if there's even going to be a next time," Lisanna whispered sadly as she glanced at the doors, wondering why it was taking Lucy and Natsu so long to get to the guild. "We took the mission because it had a good reward, and there was a gate key that Lucy really wanted. The requestor said it was everyone on the team's fault for the damage, and that we wouldn't be getting any of the reward… Not even the key… She was so upset with Natsu that she knocked him out before we were even on the train to come back to town…"

"And Gray?"

Lisanna giggled slightly and said, "He started laughing about how easily Natsu was knocked out by Lucy… and she hit him over the head with one of Erza's suitcases. I just hope she's calmed down a little by the time she—" Lisanna stopped and stared wide-eyed at the door as a limp head of pink hair made an appearance.

"Natsu, I'm gonna kill you one of these days," Lucy growled, pausing in her entrance into the guild to heft Natsu's body higher on her back. He groaned in discomfort and she rolled her eyes, blowing her hair out of her face and slowly stalking towards the bar. "If you barf on me, I'm gonna have Virgo shove ice up your ass for a week straight!" she shouted when he groaned again.

Elfman let out a booming laugh and shouted, "Lucy's a real man!" He grinned when the sweet blonde turned to look at him, her deep scowl giving way to the warm smile she always greeted their guild mates with. He didn't know Lucy all that well, but Lisanna liked her and that was enough for him to know that she was a pretty awesome chick. Sure, he'd been on her team during the games, and he'd seen how fiercely she fought from time to time, but there wasn't much else that he knew.

When Lucy heard a sickening gurgling noise coming from Natsu's stomach, followed by a suppressed belch, she screeched and threw him to the ground, vaulting over a table or two and not caring who saw up her skirt. Just as she reached the bar, scrambling over it and scraping her knees in the process, Natsu finally expelled the contents of his stomach. Sixteen whole fire chickens, three cases of hot peppers, and a gallon of sweetened tea. "THAT'S WHY YOU DON'T EAT BEFORE WE GET ON A TRAIN!" Lucy screamed from her hiding place behind an utterly unflappable Mira who, for her part, looked as though this was the most normal thing in the world.

"Luuuuce," Natsu groaned.

"NO! You stay away from me, Pukey McFirePants! I'm still mad at you!"

Lisanna laughed and sighed happily. "Ten jewels says she forgives him before the day is out."

Elfman chuckled and shook his little sister's petite hand. "She'll make him wait until at least tomorrow."

After the insanity of the morning, and feeling a little more at ease now that Lisanna was back safe and sound from her mission, Elfman took a deep breath and gave himself a small internal pep-talk before even moving away from his spot at the bar. Evergreen was still surrounded by her team. Hell, even Laxus was sitting with them instead of being holed up in his office like he usually was as of late. 'You can do this,' he told himself. 'Just man up, and ask her on a date. You guys were great together on Tenrou. She forgave you for not being manly enough to protect her. She stayed by your side in the infirmary during the games… You've got this in the bag. No one would turn down a real man!'

"Elfman," Mira said softly, "Is everything alright? You look a little pale…"

Elfman quickly shook his head to clear away the last of his doubts, then grinned at his older sister. "I'm gonna do it," he said firmly. If he had any doubts, they could easily be dispelled by the number of times he'd heard random people in the guild mentioning that he and Evergreen should just get together already since it was obvious they liked each other. If other people saw that she liked him, then that was a good sign, right?

"Do what?" Mira asked, cocking her head to the side and narrowing her eyes at him slightly.

"You'll see, Mira. Wish me luck!" Elfman said, taking one last deep breath before standing from his barstool and taking long strides over to the Raijinshuu's table.

Lucy paused in her conversation with Lisanna and smiled softly at the largely muscled back of her friend's older brother. "He's gonna ask her out?" she whispered excitedly as her eyes glimmered with happiness.

Lisanna gaped at the sight of Elfman fearlessly walking over to the girl he'd been pining over for months. "I-I guess he is… M-Mira?"

Mira may not have been overly excited about what little 'EverElf' babies would look like, with their Elfman-like faces, flowing blonde hair that was somehow a mixture between her little brother's wild spiked hairstyle and Evergreen's soft curls, with Elfman's eyes and Evergreen's glasses… But, the fact that her brother was taking a chance and finding the courage to finally tell the Fairy mage that he liked her had filled Mira with pride. "As long as he's happy, I'm happy," she said sweetly, meaning every word of it.

"Took him long enough," Lucy said with a wistful sigh. "Too bad I can't find a guy to sweep me off my feet…" She sighed again and propped an elbow on the bar, lazily laying her head in her hand.

"Oh?" Mira asked a little too quickly. "Anyone in mind, Lucy?"

Lucy blanched and quickly waved her hands in front of her face, trying to dispel the evil matchmaking gleam in the barmaid's eyes that only spelled trouble and weeks of hints about pink-haired, brown-eyed babies. "No! No one in particular, Mira!"

"I still think you and Natsu would—"

Lucy frowned and put her hands on her hips. "I will never like Natsu as anything more than my best friend, Mira Jane Strauss! You get those sick little fantasies out of your head, this instant!"

Lisanna's jaw dropped and she blinked repeatedly while gaping at Lucy. "R-Really?" she asked incredulously. "I thought…"

Lucy sighed and pinched the bridge of her nose, then shook her head and smiled at Lisanna. "I couldn't even begin to fathom handling Natsu in my life more than he already is… I'm pretty sure I'd have an aneurysm by the end of the week if I even entertained the notion of dating him. Besides," she paused and smirked before turning her attention to the newly forming couple, watching as Elfman stopped just next to the table and grinned nervously at Evergreen. "I heard that Natsu likes girls with much lighter hair than mine."

"Oh?" Mira asked, leaning her elbows on the bar and staring intently at Lucy. "Where did you hear that from?"

Lucy giggled and said, "Mira, you should know just how much information a few fish can get you…"

"Hey, Evergreen!" Elfman said with a wide grin, forcing his nerves to leave him as he stood so close to the three men that the girl of his dreams was closest to. All four members of the Raijinshuu were staring at him, each of them looking both bored and slightly surprised by his appearance by their table without the assistance of a guild brawl sending him flying their way. Freed paused in reading his book, Bickslow had stopped mid-sentence in a conversation with his totems, Laxus cracked one eye open while keeping his sound pod over his ears, and Evergreen huffed and raised a thin, condescending brow in his direction. "Hey, so uh… Do you think I could talk to you for a minute?"

Evergreen rolled her eyes and waved with her fan, motioning for Elfman to continue.

"Right," Elfman said, chuckling and focusing all of his attention on the woman in front of him instead of the countless stares he was accumulating. "S-So… I was thinking. Maybe, you'd… If you wanted to… uh… It'd be super manly if you'd let me… um… Take you out on a date…?"

Evergreen blinked once, twice, then narrowed her eyes at the hulking white-haired man in front of her. "Why?" she asked coldly, flapping her fan agitatedly in front of her face and hiding most of it from view.

"Huh? OH! Well, you know," Elfman chuckled again, feeling his palms beginning to pour sweat the longer he stood there without a definitive answer. His whole body was alight with his nerves firing off, and not in a good way at all. There was something screaming in the back of his head that he should have insisted that she talk with him somewhere in private, that way… just in case this didn't end well… it wouldn't be in front of everyone. Then again, it wasn't a very manly thing to take a woman somewhere all alone when she wasn't your girlfriend yet. "I uh… I like you a lot. And, I figured I needed to man up and ask you out, so you knew… I mean, I'd like to take you on more than one date, but… Well, yeah. You'd have to say 'yes' for that… So… Do you, um… Do you wanna go out with me?"

Laxus cracked his other eye open and watched Evergreen's interaction with Elfman carefully. He, along with Bickslow and Freed (the latter begrudgingly having been dragged kicking and screaming into the conversation between the other two males), were all firm believers that Elfman and Evergreen would be getting together in no time with how close they'd gotten during GMG. It was only a matter of time before the big muscular Strauss got up the nerve to ask her out, and they were—although they would never admit it aloud—waiting with bated breath to see how she was going to tell him 'yes'.

Evergreen scoffed and closed her fan while she slowly stood to her feet. Pushing her glasses a little higher on her nose with a haughty smirk on her face, she crossed her arms over her chest and cocked a hip out to one side while she said, "What makes you think I'd want to go out with someone like you?"

Elfman's eyes widened before he nervously chuckled again, swallowing to try and relieve the sudden desert that had swept through his throat. "Well, um… I figured, or hoped really… That maybe you like me like I'd like you to like me… That is, that you like me like I like you…"

Evergreen's eyebrows rose minutely, then she frowned and poked the center of Elfman's chest with her closed fan. "Listen closely, because I'm only going to say this once," she said, pushing him away from her with pressure from her fan against his sternum, and watching as he took a slow step backwards. "The Queen of the Fairies shouldn't be seen socializing with oafish barbarians that can't go more than a minute without spiraling into a testosterone-induced yelling match about masculinity."

A round of gasps could be heard throughout the guild, everyone sitting on the edges of their seats while they watched Elfman's infectious smile slowly fade into a look of utter confusion. No one had seen that coming from the Fairy mage. Sure, Evergreen could be a little callous at times, condescending with a serious superiority complex even, but she'd gotten much better about it since Laxus' banishment for the Fantasia incident, and even more so with his reinstatement into the guild. This was on a whole other level, and was very reminiscent of the kind of person she used to be before she and her team had plotted to overthrow Makarov as guildmaster.

Elfman felt a small piece of his heart crack when he heard her. Evergreen sounded so angry right then in a way he hadn't seen her in a long time. She usually scolded him for things, got aggravated with him, or even beat him over the head with her fan, but she never acted like this towards him. "I-I don't understand…" he whispered, his brow furrowing as he fought back the tears that were stinging the backs of his eyes.

"Of course you don't," Evergreen huffed. "Idiot…"

Mira and Lisanna were scowling at Evergreen, practically able to feel just how much her rejection was affecting their sweet brother. Not many people could tell when Elfman was upset about something the way the other two Strauss siblings could. There was a certain slump to his broad shoulders, the way his hands relaxed completely, the soft and almost imperceptible catch in his voice as he fought back the tears that always came so easily to him. Elfman cared with all of his heart about anyone and everyone he met, and he would protect them with everything he was worth. When it came to himself, though… He didn't know how to handle stressful situations. He had buried his own needs for so long—always worrying about Mira and Lisanna's wellbeing, making sure they were never taken advantage of, being the 'man of the house' for them, acting as a huge shoulder to cry on when they had a bad day, holding the both of them in his massive arms when there was a thunderstorm because both of the girls were terrified of them—that when he finally tried to do something more that was solely for himself, and it didn't work out for one reason or another… He always retreated further into the, as Evergreen put it, 'testosterone-induced yelling match about masculinity.' It was just his way of coping with things so people didn't see him crying when he was truly hurt.

Elfman had been holding out hope that maybe Evergreen was just being stubborn or difficult like she usually was around him. But, as her words nestled themselves within him, the cracks in his heart grew and grew until it felt as though one more word from her could shatter his very existence. "S-So, you… You don't wanna go out… with me?" he whispered.

With an agitated glare and a swift smack from her fan, Evergreen shouted, "NO! I will never want to go out with an idiot like YOU with more muscles than brains! Why can't you get that through your thick skull? Just go off and do whatever the hell it is you do, and leave me al—"

A loud smack resounded through the otherwise silent guild, followed by the sound of Evergreen crashing backwards into the Raijinshuu's table with her hand held to her face. Everyone's eyes honed in on a dainty hand, and moved slowly up to a slender, pale wrist. An equally feminine arm, heaving chest, and finally… The scowling and utterly terrifying visage of one furious Lucy Heartfilia. Not a single person moved, too shocked by the fact that Lucy of all people had struck Evergreen in the first place and that she'd knocked the brunette down with the hit. Dozens of eyes shot from the burning chocolate eyes down to the still extended hand that very clearly held a light pink Fairy Tail guild mark and back up.

"How dare you?" Lucy seethed as she stood between Elfman and Evergreen, narrowing her eyes when the Fairy mage stood up with wide eyes, still holding a hand to the large red mark on her face. "Some 'Queen of the Fairies' you are! You're just a cold heartless bitch, Evergreen! The least you could have done was let him down easily, and IN PRIVATE!" Lucy sneered and took a step forward, feeling her anger with Natsu over their train wreck of a mission spilling over into this situation as she moved until she was only a hairsbreadth from Evergreen's nose, her heaving and rage-filled breaths slightly fogging the other woman's glasses. "I don't know who you think you are to make it okay to treat someone like that, but you'd better get past your little self-induced delusion and hop on over to reality. No one deserves to be treated like a piece of garbage on the bottom of your shoe, because you're no better than anyone else." Lucy brought her hands up and roughly pushed Evergreen into her previously vacated seat and sent her one last glare. "You're pathetic… And to think, there are people that are stupid enough to look up to someone like you…"

Lucy whirled around, her face still showing the fury lurking just beneath the surface, and looked up at Elfman. His gaze was distant as though he was in shock, but he looked utterly defeated right then. She ached to comfort the big guy, just like she did when any of her guild mates were in pain. Deciding that she was going to take it upon herself to help him get through what was very clearly something heartbreaking, Lucy firmed her resolve and slowly grabbed the still-silent muscled man's hand that easily dwarfed her own. "You're coming with me," she whispered gently as she led him over to the bar to stand in front of Mira and Lisanna.

"L-Lucy?" Lisanna whispered, noticing that the blonde's hand was still tightly gripping her brother's while his remained lax. Elfman didn't even seem to realize that he had moved from the Raijinshuu's table, his eyes wide and already beginning to shine with the tears he wanted to shed over how devastated he was. She couldn't understand why Evergreen would say anything like that to her sweet brother, or even what had compelled Lucy to step in on his behalf. Lucy was one of Lisanna's best friends in the guild, but they hadn't had very much time for the blonde to really get to know Mira and Elfman the way she would have if Lisanna had been around when Lucy joined. The fact that Lucy had even gotten in the middle of it, had actually struck Evergreen for being so heartless, had Lisanna floored to think she had gained such a wonderful person as a friend.

Lucy smiled sadly and pulled a folded piece of paper from the small pocket in her skirt. "Mira, can you put me and Elfman down for this mission?" she whispered. "I saw it before the team left on that last mission, and grabbed it today. I just needed to find a partner that wouldn't destroy the place…"

"A-Are you sure?" Mira asked softly as she looked over the request, a soft smile gracing her face when she realized just how perfect the mission really was for Elfman. It was something that suited who he was inside, instead of overly masculine as he portrayed himself to be, and she couldn't help but feel grateful that Lucy was taking it upon herself to help him. "Lisanna can help him—"

Lucy turned to look up at Elfman, her sad smile still in place until she saw the tell-tale shine in his brilliant blue eyes. Gently squeezing the gigantic hand with her slender fingers to try and comfort the dazed man, Lucy nodded as she turned back to the Strauss sisters. "I'm sure, Mira. It'll take a week or two, and he could use the time away. We'll be leaving tomorrow morning." Sending one last glance at Elfman, Lucy quickly added, "We should really get going before…"

Mira looked worriedly at Elfman, noticing just how upset he really was by what had happened, and blinked away her tears and anger until he was well out of hearing distance before her wrath was wrought on the woman who had broken his heart. She smiled at Lucy and nodded, signing off on the request, then turned to Lisanna and said, "Go pack his stuff, Lissy."

"But—" Lisanna started, only to be cut off by Lucy.

"He can stay at my place tonight, if that's alright with you guys." Lucy saw both Mira and Lisanna blinking back tears as they nodded. She took the request back from Mira, tucking it back into her pocket, then said, "I'll leave the door unlocked, okay Lis? Just come on in whenever." When Lisanna nodded again, Lucy turned to Elfman and saw that he was still utterly detached from reality. "Come on, Elfman. I'll go make you some tea at my place, and we'll talk," she whispered as she led the huge man out of the still-silent guild. All she could hope was that he would eventually be alright. She didn't know Elfman that well, but there had always been a certain softness to him that she had admired—wondering how the guy could be the most boisterous guild member, and still seem as though a butterfly could bring him to tears from time to time. 'Maybe it's just a Strauss thing to be a sweetheart inside,' Lucy thought as she carefully led Elfman to her home.

Lucy sighed as she unlocked the door to her apartment, opening the door and finally letting go of Elfman's hand once they were inside with the door closed behind them. She placed a gentle hand on his lower back, which was only a few inches short of being in line with her shoulders, and steered him towards her couch. "Elfman?" she whispered as soon as he was seated with his elbows resting on his knees and his head bowed.

No response.

"Elfman, you know you can talk to me if you need to, right?" Lucy asked softly. When he still didn't respond, she smiled sadly and patted his enormous shoulder. "I'll go make us some tea. Let me know if you need anything." With that she walked off into the kitchen, her heart aching for the man sitting on her couch.

He couldn't believe it. This whole day had to be some sort of crazy dream—more like nightmare—that he just hadn't woken up from yet. He'd had a few dreams like this one before. He'd get up the courage to ask Evergreen out, and she would tell him 'no'. That was where he usually woke up though, panting and sweating with his heart pounding because it was one of the few things he feared the most. Evergreen's rejection ranked only under his sisters' dying, him not being able to protect his sisters, spiders, and being a failure as a man. So, it still ranked in the top five things that terrified him. 'This is a messed up dream,' he thought absently, 'Lucy's never come to my rescue in a dream before… Why haven't I woken up yet?'

When the first of his tears finally broke free, Elfman was surprised to say the least. It wasn't that he wasn't accustomed to tears. Crying was something he'd done a lot of before Lisanna had been sucked into Edolas that day he thought he killed her. He'd done a good bit of crying afterwards, too. That is, until he realized that she was gone because he wasn't enough of a man to keep the beast's soul in check, and his sister got hurt. Lisanna and Mira had both been able to manage full-body takeovers pretty quickly, and it had just left him in the dust. He was the middle kid, but even his baby sister had surpassed him. Granted, he and Lisanna had decided to learn Takeover magic to begin with so that Mira wouldn't feel like a pariah even after they were essentially driven out of their hometown because she took a demon's form. They had been a support system for one another, even after coming to Fairy Tail. After Lisanna was gone, he decided to become the man he should have been all along. And now his heart had shattered because he had tried to be a man and ask the girl of his dreams out.

He just couldn't understand what was wrong with him. When the tears came, he knew for a fact that he wasn't dreaming. Evergreen had really rejected him in front of the whole guild. She had really said all of those things about him, and that she wouldn't be interested in 'someone like him'… Wasn't he good enough? Wasn't it every girl's dream to find a man that would sweep her off of her feet, and be everything she could ever want out of life? 'I guess… I guess I'm not manly enough for that either…'

A set of ten little toes adorned with hot pink nail polish came into Elfman's line of sight, making him furrow his brow. Lisanna never painted her toes pink, only shades of blue, and Mira hated nail polish. Slowly lifting his gaze and following a pair of pale, slender legs up to a blue mini-skirt that he vaguely recognized. Once he saw exposed hips and the woman's belly button, Elfman's eyes skipped over the rest of her until they were drawn in by a pair of understanding, deep brown eyes.

"Hey, I made us some tea," Lucy said softly, ignoring the constant stream of tears that poured down Elfman's face.

"I-I…" He was at a complete loss for words. The last thing he really remembered was Evergreen ripping into him, and then… Then Lucy slapped her. Everything was really just a blur after that. He'd been completely shocked that his baby sister's best friend had jumped in and actually struck the Fairy mage, and since Lucy didn't seem to be hurt or made of stone, he could only assume that Evergreen or the Raijinshuu didn't retaliate. He didn't really think they would do something like that anyway, since that whole team had really gotten their priorities in order since that whole Fantasia thing. "Where…"

Lucy giggled softly and turned to hand Elfman his cup of tea, already knowing that he only drank green tea with honey in it—since Lisanna always complained about how gross it tasted when he wouldn't let her drink anything else on missions with him—then said, "I talked with your sisters, then brought you to my place. I figured you might wanna be away from the guild for a little while. Drink up… It might help a little."

Elfman just blinked, staying completely silent aside from the occasional sniffle to keep his mucus to himself, then carefully took the cup from Lucy. He watched from the corner of his eye as she sat down on the couch next to him and daintily sipped her tea with a smile on her face. She didn't seem to be looking at anything in particular, but she wasn't in a daze either. He took a small sip of his tea, and sighed when the wonderful combination of green tea leaves mixed with honey burst across his tongue. Another small giggle turned his attention back to the blonde, and he saw her smiling up at him.

"Lisanna told me."

He didn't know exactly what she meant at first, because he knew that Lucy had been there for his very un-manly public rejection. Then it dawned on him that she was talking about the tea. Lisanna must have told Lucy about how he likes his tea, but he couldn't understand why. Instead of saying anything, not trusting his voice in the slightest, and definitely not wanting to make a bigger fool out of himself, Elfman just nodded and stared into the slowly draining liquid of his cup while he finished it over the next few minutes.

Lucy didn't really know what to say to him, so she let him sit in silence. She did know that sometimes all you really needed was having someone there in case you wanted to talk, not that they really had to say anything. Still, she felt like maybe he just didn't know where to start. It's not like she had much experience with matters of the heart in the first place, since she had never even dated someone. She could definitely empathize though—that was one of her strong suits. Putting herself in Elfman's shoes, Lucy imagined just how devastated she would be if she'd had a crush on someone for a long time, and finally got the courage to ask him out… Only to have him publicly humiliate her in front of all of their friends in the guild by tearing into her own self-esteem. Dig after dig at how she acted or what he thought was wrong with her. Being called an idiot…

Elfman slowly put the cup down on the table once his tea was gone and stared at his hands for only a moment before he heard Lucy taking a shaky breath as she set her own cup of tea down. Furrowing his brow, he turned to look at the petite blonde and was thoroughly surprised to see her crying. "What happened?" he asked, deciding that maybe he could just ignore the pain in his heart if it meant that he could help someone else. It had always worked for him before—just pushing his own problems to the side to help anyone that needed it.

Lucy gave Elfman a watery smile, then shot to her feet before dashing into the kitchen. She grabbed a box of tissues from the counter and walked back into the living room, dabbing her eyes and nose. After setting the box down in front of the hulking man, who was sporting a thoroughly confused and concerned expression, Lucy smiled at him again.

"Who made you cry, Lucy?" Elfman asked. "It's not manly to make women cry…"

"No one," Lucy whispered. She finally realized just how big Elfman was as he sat on her couch. Even though she was standing only a foot or so away from him, his head was nearly level with hers. When she saw that he was about to question her more, Lucy shook her head and reminded herself that she was going to help him get through this. She moved slowly as though he was a wild animal, and was finally standing between his knees while he followed her every movement. "I was just thinking about how I would feel if that happened to me… If… If I had my heart ripped out in front of everyone," she whispered. Once the words had left her mouth, Lucy saw Elfman's face fall. Gone was his concern for her, along with his confusion. He was only left with new tears and his mouth pressed into a thin line while he tried to hold back his emotions.

"I-I'll be fine," Elfman choked out, dropping his head to keep Lucy from thinking he was even less of a man for crying.

"You will," Lucy said softly as she leaned down while bringing her hands to his cheeks. She slowly lifted his head, and once his teary blue eyes met with her own tear-filled brown ones, Lucy continued. "I promise. You'll be fine, and I'll help in any way I can." Her thumbs lightly caressed his strong jaw, and she heard the small hitch in his breath. Without another thought, Lucy moved forward and hugged him with her arms around his neck and her face unintentionally buried in his spiky white hair. "It's okay to cry, Elfman," she whispered soothingly. "You don't have to hide it. It's okay."

As if that was all he needed to hear, Elfman let out a strangled sob before his enormous arms barred around Lucy's small frame and pulled her more tightly to himself. The dam had officially burst, and there was nothing he could do to stop the torrential flow of his own tears while he finally just let everything out. She was right. Evergreen had ripped his heart out, walked all over it, turned it to stone and then smashed it with a hammer. He didn't know anything could be this painful, the emptiness that filled him in the wake of the Fairy mage's wrath on his affection for her, but he never wanted to feel like this again. "I-I don't… Understand," he cried. "Wh-Why would… sh-she…"

"Shhh," Lucy whispered soothingly, running her fingers through his hair the same way she did with Natsu while they were on a train to soothe his motion sickness at least a little. "I don't understand it either."

Elfman continued to brokenly question what had happened to make Evergreen hate him, what he could have done wrong. He wondered if he shouldn't have asked her out that way, or if maybe he and everyone had read the signs wrong. No matter what he did, Lucy just held him and whispered softly, saying that things would work out, that she would help him figure it out, and that he could let everything out. She encouraged him to just keep crying his eyes out, and he thought he even heard a smile in her voice. Finally, after a long while with no signs of his tears slowing, Elfman started to pull himself away from Lucy's comforting hold. "I-I should… I should get g-going," he muttered lamely. "You didn't have to do all this…"

Lucy tightened her hold on Elfman, and rubbed slow circles of the portions of his upper back and shoulders she could reach. "It's fine," she whispered, "I told you, you can let everything out, Elfman. Don't worry."

"Why are you d-doing this?" Elfman muttered as he melted back into her embrace.

Lucy giggled and said, "Well, I don't like seeing anyone in pain. Plus, your Lis' older brother, and she's one of my best friends." She paused and smiled softly, then added, "Besides, you looked like you could really use a friend."

Elfman nodded and tightened his grip on Lucy only marginally—already knowing that his increased strength from those three months of intensive training before the games meant he had to be extremely careful now. "It's because I'm… I'm not manly enough… isn't it?" he whispered.

Lucy frowned and picked her head up, pushing Elfman back until he met her gaze. "That has absolutely nothing to do with it," she said gently. "If Evergreen can't see just how manly you are, then it's her loss."

Elfman shook his head in defeat and looked away from Lucy's intense gaze. "No, she thinks I'm an idiot…" He sighed and felt his shoulders slumping even further as he added, "I am an idiot… Thinking I'd be able to date someone like her…"

Lucy smiled down at Elfman, forcing his head up to meet her gaze once again. "Nah," she whispered playfully, "You're a real man! She's the idiot for not seeing it."

Elfman felt just a small smile turning up one corner of his mouth when Lucy laid his head back on her shoulder. She didn't expect him to say anything in response. All she was doing was giving him a safe place to let everything out, not just in the confines of her own apartment, but with her. He was heartbroken, and feeling as though nothing could ever help mend those shattered remains of his heart… But, Lucy was willing to help him figure out how to get through it. "Thanks, Lucy," he whispered gratefully when her fingers sifted through his hair again. 'Who knew Lucy could be so manly?' he thought, allowing himself to find comfort in the arms of his little sister's best friend, and maybe… maybe even his own friend.

That's all for the first chapter!

-Note: This story will be a chapter fic, but I will not be updating it regularly for some time. It's just a little side doodly that I'll work on from time to time. It will get updated eventually, but I'm not sure when. I have several other stories that need my attention, and I'm only posting this chapter to give you guys a taste for this new story along with giving Lady a wonderful gift to make her feel better!

There is a poll on my profile to decide which chapter fic I'll be starting after I finish He Might Be the One, along with summaries for each story on my profile. This story is not on that list, since I made the poll before I even had a plot for this, and I've technically already started writing it! Please head on over and vote (you have up to 4 votes that you can cast) so I know what you guys would like to see next.

-Note 2: Concerning He Might Be the One, I have decided to add one more chapter before the epilogue, and I'm working on it right now. This chapter will be insanely long, and hopefully it'll make up for the utter lack of inspiration I had in regards to finishing up the story. To the fans of that story, thank you for your patience.

Next Story To Be Updated: He Might Be the One (BixLu).

Special shout-outs to LittlePrincessNana, Leoslady4ever, Dragon'sHost, and Eien ni Touko. I'm so glad I sent this to you wonderful ladies. Definitely gave me a boost in confidence about the story, since I'm kinda leaving my comfort zone on this one (especially trying to write ELFMAN! Lol)

So… Review, Follow, Favorite. I love you guys!

~~GemNika, Citric Chancellor of The Crack Fiction Liberation Army.