Author's Note: For Jelulz based on the following prompt -
"Person A lost a bet and have to stand somewhere with a giant "free kiss" hanging around their neck, and they can't leave before having a single kiss. After a playful banter, person B saves the day. (More like saving person A from a heat stroke.) Bonus if they're not in a relationship. Bonus 2x if they're not exactly friends, or they hate each other. Bonus 3x if after the incident they started dating."
This came out more angsty than I intended but alas.
Erza scowled. "I never agreed to let you make the sign."
"You lost the bet, Erza," Laxus drawled and leaned back in the booth. "You don't get to start calling shots. What's wrong with the sign I made?"
"It's ridiculous," she stated flatly. "No one is going to want to kiss me wearing this thing. Or was it your goal to just have me standing outside all day in humiliation?"
"Either way, it's fine with me." He grinned and pushed the sign across the table toward her. "Now go on. You're burning daylight."
Erza's face was set in a deep frown but she snatched the square of cardboard and slid from her side of the booth. The ribbons Laxus had attached fluttered behind her as she stalked from the restaurant.
She was going to kill Laxus slowly. Maybe she'd cut him up into tiny little pieces and make him watch as she started with his toes. Or maybe she'd drown him in a toilet bowl – a dirty one. Or maybe she'd tie him to a chair so she could explain to him how completely idiotic he was before shooting him right between the eyes. It was these murderous fantasies, Erza decided, that would get her through the day. She wouldn't be allowed back inside the restaurant until sundown unless she wanted a new task… probably an even worse task if at all possible.
The afternoon was abnormally hot and Erza's tank top was starting to stick to her skin. Why hadn't anyone tried to take advantage of this opportunity? She knew she wasn't hard to look at; men were always flirting with her when she waited tables, and even outside of work she had prospects! Of course she already knew the answer to that question. The scowl on her face paired with Laxus's outrageous sign guaranteed she'd be spending all day outside at the mercy of the public.
"Brave a kiss," a familiar voice read aloud. "And save the world."
Erza folded her arms across the sign as best she could. Of all the people to stroll by on this particular day, it had to be him. He laughed and she refused to make eye contact.
"I had no idea you were so desperate for a kiss, Erza. Who'd've thought someone as gorgeous as you needed to stoop to this level?"
"I'm not desperate," she hissed. "I lost a bet. Please, just go." Erza squeezed her eyes shut in an effort to block him out.
"No, I think I need to see how this plays out." Still smiling, he made himself comfortable on the bench behind her.
"What?" Erza spun around in horror.
"Well, the way I see it, you owe me."
"I certainly do not!"
"So, it was a different redhead that broke my foot in high school and didn't even bother to come see me once in the hospital?"
Erza's face turned a bright red that had nothing to do with the scorching temperature. "I –"
"I figure this'll make us even."
"Well, yeah. My foot was broken and I lost my new girlfriend that day." He was still smiling at her and Erza couldn't do anything but grasp at words. "Four years is a long time to wait for a debt to be fulfilled but I'm okay with this."
Erza turned back toward the street. Not looking at him would be the only way to handle his presence. "I didn't realize you counted what happened as a debt."
"Well, how could I not?" His voice was good-natured but it still made her nervous. "I didn't get to walk across the stage at graduation, and like I said I lost a girlfriend over it."
"Is that what I was to you? I didn't think we dated long enough to assume titles." For once, Erza wished she could be cool around Jellal and not stiff or awkward. She never said the right thing.
"Maybe not, but I think it was enough for you to at least come and make sure I was okay. Instead, I was all alone with only my loyal mother by my side."
"It looks as if you've recovered just fine," she said haughtily.
"On the outside, sure. I look just as dashing as ever, but you left me a heartbroken mess on the inside, Erza. I can't say I ever got over you."
She snorted and glanced back to find him still smiling at her in the same teasing way. "You're so full of shit."
Jellal clapped a hand over his heart and feigned hurt. "You're so cruel with my feelings, Erza, but I can't help how I feel."
A car horn snapped her attention back to the street and he was silent for the next several minutes. She could feel his eyes on her back and between Jellal and the sun's intensity; Erza thought she should've been sweating more. In an attempt to cool off, she tried to create air circulation but the fanning only made her skin feel clammy despite the heat.
The hair on her arms prickled when she felt Jellal gather the mass of her ponytail and peel it off her neck. He spoke quietly in her ear.
"I'm fine," she bit out.
"No, you're not. It's part of my job to recognize the signs of heatstroke."
Erza tried to flip her hair out of his grasp but couldn't bring herself to do it completely. The air on her neck felt fantastic. "Are you a doctor or something?" she snapped sarcastically.
He laughed lightly and coiled the ponytail around the base. "Not quite, but I am a volunteer fire fighter and EMT." Jellal stepped around her and Erza bristled under his inspection. He reached out and pressed his fingers to her neck for a pulse. "You're not sweating, your face isn't sunburned but splotchy, and you're heart rate is way above normal. Do you feel dizzy at all?"
She swatted is hand away from her neck. "No. Everything you just said is only because it's a million degrees out here."
Jellal stuffed his hands into his pockets and smiled again. "Irritability is also a symptom. Honestly, though, Erza you should go inside. There was a heat advisory this morning."
Erza picked a bush across the street to stare at. Jellal's proximity was flustering. "I can't," she mumbled.
"What was that?"
"I can't go back inside until someone kisses me. That was the cost of losing the bet. Laxus will never let me live it down."
"Still as stubborn as ever," he said softly. To her own shock, she didn't flinch when his hands cupped her cheeks. They felt cool on her face and she supposed that maybe he'd been right about her being flushed. Erza could only close her eyes when he leaned in to kiss her. His lips were soft and despite everything she was disappointed when he pulled back. "There," he whispered. "Now you can come inside with me."
"Breathe, Erza." He chuckled and pulled the sign over her head. "Come on, you need some water and air conditioning."
Erza followed him inside and Mirajane brought her some water and a wet napkin for her head. Jellal stayed with her until he was certain she didn't need medical attention. He kissed her a second time that evening when he walked her home, and again two days later when he took her out for dinner.
After that, Erza stopped counting kisses as there were just too many.