All Rights to Hiro Mashima
~ Part Two: Water ~
Noun: a colourless, transparent, odourless, tasteless liquid that forms the seas, lakes, rivers, and rain and is the basis of the fluids of living organisms
"Oi! Wake up you pervert!"
Gray was roused from his slumber with a heaving snort, shooting straight up in the King sized bed he was laying in.
He immediately knew something was wrong.
For one, this room wasn't his, or really it wasn't the same one that their team was given at the beginning of the mission from the Demon Moka, it was much too opulent and the colour scheme centred around a deep royal purple with golden accents. For another, his team was sitting in dining room chairs around the bed drinking coffee and either watching him warily (Lucy), sighing wearily (Erza), or cackling gleefully (Natsu). Or napping on his feet (Happy).
For another, his head was pounding to the beat of a thousand tribal drums, and he really wanted to ask for the damn room to stop moving until he realised it was him that was swaying precariously in bed.
The last clue that tipped him off about how the situation was…not bad per se but more…disturbing than anything was the fact that he could feel a warm slightly damp body pressed up against under the sheets.
And they were both naked as the day they were born.
This was nothing new. One night stands and casual hookups were common in his life.
Or they were until Lucy had dropped like a falling star out of nowhere and shook up his ideals to one where he only desired one single person and couldn't think about even touching another woman. Which was weird for him.
Maybe he was just growing up.
Gray held his head in his hands and willed his skull to stop splitting at the seams. "What the hell happened!?" His shout whisper was almost too loud, and he cringed at the taste of sour bile in his mouth.
Erza took a dainty sip from her porcelain cup, her expression stormy as she gazed at him. "What do you remember last Gray?"
"Just…hearing the fire alarm…then running...Deliora's cage shattering…then...Natsu punching me? What the fuck?"
Lucy raised a sceptical perfectly shaped brow. "That's it? Nothing in between? How about after the fight?"
'That's right…the fight we were all sprinting towards. What the hell happened? Why can't I remember?' Gray eyed each of his team in turn and noticed things he hadn't seen before. Lucy's right arm was bandaged, Erza was favouring her ribs, and Natsu had a delightful looking black eye that Gray could only hope he gave to the Flamethrower himself.
He looked underneath the covers – disregarding the naked body beside him for the moment – and assessed the damage. It wasn't so bad, a few wraps on his calm on one side and a bandage over his right eye. He was more bruised than anything and was really surprised that he couldn't feel the bone-deep ache until that point. "What happened? Is everyone alright? Jura's team too? Did I get knocked out?"
Lucy placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and pushed him back onto the bed. Gray was looking distinctly green as he babbled and questioned everything and she would rather not have him throw up on them. She already had to endure on moaning man with motion sickness on a daily basis, she didn't really want to add another person that threatened the integrity of her very adorable shoes.
The funny thing was – Gray noticed hazily – that Natsu didn't go all scary-dragon-protective-mode when Lucy placed her palm against his cool skin. They all knew he was naked (when was he not?) under the covers and were choosing to ignore that fact. But after these last couple of days, Natsu shouldn't even be letting her within an inch of him. It bewildered him, but he was more than thankful at the time because he was in no shape to duke it out with his rival.
Give him an hour, and he would be right as rain and ready to brawl.
Natsu cackled again, the sound sending piercing shards straight into Gray's ears. "Nah you asshole! You got shitfaced."
"What?" Gray hissed. He knew he drank quite a bit on occasion, but he didn't usually get drunk unless it was a challenge from Cana or Bacchus just happened to stop by for a wild time. "How? I would never do that on a mission!"
Erza pinched the bridge of her nose with her fingers, the act so familiar to them all that they knew without a doubt that Titania was at the end of her rope. "Gray. After the fight with Deliora, you were…distraught, to say the least. Both you and Lyon were. He went home with his team to deal with the news there, but you decided to drown your misery in hard liquor. We couldn't find you until this morning when I forced one of the hotel staff to tell me what room you were in and then I broke down the door. I'm surprised that you didn't hear that actually. I've looked at the charges for this suite, and you didn't drink that much…that is true. But you didn't realise that because you are a mage, the drinks you were ordering were laced with magic. Apparently, it is a common custom in Demon bars, and this one was no exception."
"Ugh…whatever. So I got drunk. No biggy, I can handle the hangover. I've had worse."
The re-quip mage's scowl led him to believe that it was a big deal, but he didn't understand why.
Lucy leant forward and refilled her cup and then Natsu's with fresh coffee then turned to him. "Just listen to us, Gray. Hopefully, you'll understand why we are concerned after we refresh your memory."
Gray closed his eyes, determined to ignore the still sleeping person at his side – whom no one had mentioned yet – and listened to Lucy's calm voice while trying to stop his stomach contents from escaping his throat. He was stronger than Natsu. He could overcome nausea and kick its ass into submission and not hurl on Lucy's feet.
"We need to get down to the ballroom!" Jura's team – plus Erza and a disgruntled Happy – streaked down the hallways, their footsteps light and quick.
Suddenly they came to one of the more crowded corridors that converged on the staircases and were met with a throng of patrons all clamouring to get out of the building. Luckily enough, Jura was a beast, and Erza was used to creating a warpath. So they barreled through the masses.
Seeing as they knew that the fire alarm was a false call, they headed for the elevators. Hopefully, they weren't locked down yet.
Jura slammed a palm down on the outside sliding doors shaking his head. "Shit. They must have the elevators that go to the ground floor as soon as it goes off. A good security measure, but not helpful to us in this situation."
Erza stepped up and yanked the doors open with surprising strength, her gauntleted hands leaving indents in the metal. "We will have to be inventive then. Let's proceed. Our comrades are waiting."
She jumped into the dark elevator shaft without a moment's hesitation.
"What the hell is going on!? How is that damn ice melting? I couldn't even make a dent in the fucking iceberg, and now some upstart idiot comes in and steals my thunder…dammit!"
Lucy chastised him quietly. "Shut up Natsu…please. You can mope later. Right now we need to fight."
As she turned towards the new enemy-intruder-person, Natsu caught a flash of gold as her favourite (or maybe it was his favourite? Who wouldn't like Lucy in knee-highs?) Star-dress, clutching the golden daggers tightly in her hands.
He grinned wolfishly, taking a not so subtle peek at her derriere, as Gray and Juvia came barreling through the door, throwing a massive ice blockade behind them to keep the innocent people out and hopefully contain the soon to be raging Demon of Destruction. "I'm all fired up!"
They disregarded Deliora for the moment, as he was still stuck inside his prison and instead launched themselves at the still shrouded figure. Lucy skirted around, dancing and weaving as the enemy pulled out a strange orb and used it to try and incapacitate them, breaking it apart into tiny daggers of crystal, then pulling it back together and whipping it at their heads.
It connected with Natsu's face, who swore and clutched his eye with a hand before bursting into flames a murderous aura floating off of him. "Damn that hurt! I'm gonna roast you alive for that!" Natsu threw himself at the person once again, engaging them in a fierce bout of hand to hand combat.
The ball shattered once again into larger pieces, and they all tried to dodge the incoming missiles, but Lucy wasn't quite fast enough and caught a single shard in her right thigh that immediately started to bleed profusely. She knew from experience from when they were in combat with the Demon Flute that trying to fight on an injured leg with something so big was almost suicidal.
She needed to give it her all before her leg finally gave out and she was too weak to walk from the blood loss. Lucy grit her teeth. Once again she would be pulling out of the confrontation, leaving her family to fend for themselves without her help. She knew they would be fine…hopefully. But she couldn't help the feeling of uselessness that crept into her bones.
She really needed to be trained in combat; this getting hit thing was starting to wear her down.
Gray threw ice daggers, Natsu pulled back for a Dragon's Roar, and Lucy hurled one of her shining blades, but each attack passed the intruder by as they dodged expertly. Finally, the mystery person was pushed back into the light from the full moon, and it was revealed as a woman in a skin tight body suit, black heeled knee-high boots and a tribal mask that shielded her face, but left her long dark purple hair flowing freely down her back.
Lucy and Natsu converged in the back half of the ballroom away from the flying ice and crystal shards. The Dragon Slayer inspected her wound with careful fingers before quickly ripping off a piece of his black t-shirt, binding the cut tightly. He growled out his displeasure that his bonded was shedding her lifeblood onto the floor. "Damn Luce. That's going to leave a scar. How do you feel?"
She waved off his concern, making an effort into not showing the pain on her face. She was a Fairy Tail wizard, she was strong and resilient, even though all she wanted to do was cringe and whine about the unfairness of it all. "You know I'm fine with scars. I told you last time. And I feel alright, a little dizzy from the blood loss. I just need to see Wendy, and I'll be just fine. I can still walk on it...but I'll be useless in a battle like this."
Her mate only nodded. She appreciated the fact that he didn't tell her that she would be all right and that she was strong and it was only a scratch. In truth, when people said that it was like they thought that she would think herself weak when in reality she was just bummed that she couldn't help out more this time. "Can you tell who that masked woman is?"
Natsu sucked in a quick breath and cringed. "Damn. She smells old. Like…ancient artefact old, and cold."
Lucy's eyes flicked to him while they caught their breath before jumping back into the fray. "What do you mean cold?"
"Like the Ice Prick does. I've never smelt something so musty before, though."
"Huh." Neither understood why she smelled like Gray did so they shoved that information into the back of their minds for later as Jura and Erza slammed their way through the ice wall, pausing for only a second before they too entered the fight. Happy streaked forward and stood guard in front of Lucy, hissing and spitting at the slowly melting Demon popsicle.
Natsu gave an approving nod to the little cat. "Good job little buddy. Stay here with Luce, her leg is injured."
Jura created a wall made of rock to replace the one they destroyed and joined his comrades.
Lucy loved that Natsu talked to his feline friend like an actual person. It made her heart melt. She had a feeling sometimes that Happy did actually know more than he was letting on. "Don't think I'll let you go back in there without backup Natsu. I'm not out of magic yet."
He gave her a look full of pride and an absurd amount of devotion before he grinned toothily. "Wouldn't dream of it, babe. Who you gonna call out?"
Rifling through her keys for a moment, she brought out one she had only used in an enclosed space before to disastrous results…but the ballroom was huge and so was Deliora, so the extra muscle would help tip the scales to victory if worst came to worst.
"OPEN! GATE OF THE GOLDEN BULL, TAURUS!"
The perverted cow gave Lucy a wink and smirk before following Natsu back into the now entirely one-sided fight. Although the mage they were against was holding their own very well against some many different attacks, she was waning in strength and power and Lucy knew she would soon be overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of their comrades.
Completely overwhelmed, the intruder was finally caught off guard by one of Lyon's ice Eagles and sent her flying to the floor. Erza was there in a second, pulling off the mask to reveal dark brown eyes, pouty lips and a cruel smile.
Lyon and Gray's attacks split apart into a million shards of ice, each tinkling on the marble floor before melting off into nothing.
Everyone stood still, no one breathing, not one word was uttered.
Until Gray's choked, words could be heard by everyone in the room. "Ultear…"
Lyon seethed by his side. "We thought you were dead!"
The woman – who they now knew as Ultear – smirked sadistically, the expression hideous against her pretty face. "It's so good to see you both again. How are you? I'm so glad you remember your big sister…"
Juvia stood stoically beside Gray's side, ready to offer comfort or a helping hand if needed. But this was not their fight, this was among the three siblings that now stood against each other, glaring and snarling at one another.
Lucy now understood why Ultear smelled cold. She was Lyon and Gray's sister. Whether they were related wasn't known at that point. It would seem that she could also use some type of ice magic as well.
"Wh-why are you doing this? You're melting the only thing left of Ur! That ice is her body Ultear."
The woman sneered in derision and gestured to the melted ice that dripped onto the floor. "My mother died when she cast that spell to hold this Demon from killing you. You-" Ultear lifted both hands to her sides, palms up, "-are the reason why she is dead. I will never forgive you, dear brothers…" Dark hair swished as she turned towards their frozen comrades.
"PARALLEL WORLDS! FLASH FORWARD!"
Hundreds of glowing spheres attacked them from all sides, the impacts leaving deep bruises and scrapes as the crystals all exploded on impact. When the dust cleared, Ultear had disappeared out the way she came – presumably as no one had seen her go – and they were sure that she wouldn't be coming back.
"Fuck! Shit! Goddammit, Ultear you get your prissy little ass back here! You hear me you frigid bitch?!"
Gray shouted insults into the air while Lyon sat heavily on the ground, chest heaving. He fainted moments later, and when inspected, Jura found an almost black bruise along the side of his head.
"Erza, forgive me, but I think my team and I will retreat to the first aid room. Lyon needs help, and Sherry has a broken arm. We will be of no help from here on out."
Titania gave a small bow of her head, accepting his tactical decision as a good one. They didn't need hurt mages around while they were trying to fight Deliora. "As you wish."
Jura turned to Lucy. "Miss Lucy, will you be coming with us?"
Lucy threw her long blonde hair over her shoulder and grimaced slightly. "No. I will be staying with my comrades here while they fight. I must remain in the vicinity or Taurus, and my Star Dress will be sent back to the Celestial Plane."
The Lamia Scale mages nodded and proceeded to leave, Jura removing the rock wall and then replacing it again when they had gone.
The Star Child huffed and took mental stock of her magic reserves. She had enough for another summons, but she didn't know who else to call.
But as she watched Jura manipulate the rock by the door, she decided to call on her every trusted Virgo. Before she could even utter the spell to open the Maiden's Gate, Virgo stepped out of a flash of golden sparkles with a quirked eyebrow. "Punishment Princess?"
Lucy smiled wide. "It is Virgo. Get ready. Deliora must be punished."
The feral grin on her spirit's sent shivers down Lucy's spine. She was suddenly infinitely grateful that Virgo was now working with her. "As you wish Princess."
A great roar split the air causing the ground to shake. Lucy watched as spider web fractures started to creep out from underneath the Demon's almost entirely exposed body.
"NOW VIRGO! Go help the others!"
Her pink haired spirit sprinted off to assist, only to be sent flying with everyone else by a shockwave filled with the last of the forbidden ice spell. Lucy hunkered down close to the floor to minimise the damage to herself and counted herself lucky. She only received a few scrapes that would heal easily. Natsu and Gray were shielded by Taurus who took the brunt of the attack and was sent back almost immediately to the Celestial Spirit World.
Erza was the unlucky one, her trajectory had her flying right over Juvia's head and colliding with one of the marble pillars. Lucy watched as Titania cringed while feeling her side, there was most likely two or three bruised ribs or possibly even broken ones.
The red-head immediately re-quipped into her Black Winged Armour to up her attacks, but before she could even move, Gray was yelling out swear words and curses at the Demon. Deliora didn't look quite with it yet as if it was waking up from a long nap and was surprised by his surroundings.
Fear overcame the IceKing as he watched the Demon who ripped apart his family finally lock gazes with him. He was stronger this time. He wouldn't let Deliora do the same thing twice.
No. He had finally found another family that he loved without reservation, even if they got on his nerves constantly, or were smashing his head in for arguing and fighting, or drank way too much…they were his, and this creature wasn't going to take them from him.
He would protect them with his life. Even if he had to give his own life to do so.
Gray gathered up all his courage and shot his comrades a quick smile. He crossed his arms in front of him, and a gigantic magic circle spun into existence under his legs. The wind whipped his hair around his forehead.
It was now or never.
Magic power exploded out from around the Ice-make Mage. The voices of his friends and another roar from Deliora was drowned out by the beating of his heart in his ears.
This was it. This was the end.
Or it would have been if Natsu hadn't up and punched him straight in the face screaming at him for being a fucking twat.
"NATSU! I have to do this! I can't let you all die!"
"YOU DON'T DIE FOR YOUR FRIENDS! YOU LIVE FOR THEM!" Those words would haunt him for nights to come until they would sink into his mind and root themselves there for the rest of his life. It was the wisest thing Natsu had ever said.
Natsu and Gray watched as Deliora stepped forward, readying their attacks as Natsu let his Dragon take control. The pink-haired man clapped a warm hand on Gray's shoulder, a rare show of solidarity and friendship.
Gray nodded. There were no words that needed to be spoken. It was time for action.
And then the Demon crumbled, breaking apart with a silent scream, its disintegrating body falling to the marble floor with a great crash.
One full minute later the mages watched in dumbfounded silence as Deliora shifted away into ash. The Demon of Destruction was finally dead.
The question was how? Not one person had attacked it.
Gray had an inkling that Ur had sapped the Demon of its life force over all those years of being the container for the beast. But he would need to talk to Makarov to be completely sure.
The group left the room in total silence – Natsu piggybacking Lucy – even Juvia was being unusually stoic and made their way to the first aid room. They met up with Jura's group, and Erza relayed all that had happened as she had her ribs bandaged.
Lucy's cut was stitched and bound while all their scrapes and bruises disinfected. Funnily enough, Gray's worst injury was the one that Natsu gave him when he was punched in the face.
But he didn't complain. Gray decided that he deserved that punch and decided to keep the scar as a reminder of the mistake he almost made.
Lyon ambled up to him asking him if he wanted to talk. They disappeared from sight with Juvia trailing behind at a safe distance.
"…That was the last time we saw you until this morning."
Gray scrubbed his tired face with the palms of his hands. No wonder he felt like shit. He and Lyon finally found Ultear again only to have her twisted beyond recognition, and then he confronted Deliora and almost sacrificed his life.
He was suddenly so thankful for Natsu right then. But he would never say it…out loud that is.
The body shifted by his side and murmured a little. All he caught was a mumbled 'beloved Gray', but he suddenly knew who was pressed up so intimately to him.
He had slept with the same woman twice. That hadn't happened before. No wonder she wasn't seated around the bed with the others raging about 'her darling Gray sleeping with a love-rival.' He felt marginally better knowing that she wasn't with Lyon, at least.
"Alright…so why do you look like I'm on my deathbed?" He was referring to the women of the room because Natsu just looked…abnormally gleeful.
It was Lucy who chose to speak. Her tone low and cautious. "Uhm…well, Gray…when we demanded to know where you were…we found a couple of…uh…interesting things on the bill…"
He was aware that something bad was coming. Lucy was always articulate and never stumbled around finding her words. She was either so embarrassed or beyond worried.
"Well…it turns out that you rented the Bridal Suite, their most expensive room."
Gray nodded. That sounded annoying at most, but why was she hesitating.
"There was one other charge. Made…"
He finally lost his patients with the Celestial Mage and cracked. "What the hell happened? Just tell me, Lucy!"
Natsu slapped a hand down on his shoulder his smile tinged with madness. "You bought rings stripper! Two of them. From the chapel downstairs that was sandwiched between that one jewellery place and the restaurant with those extreme buffalo wings that we had the first night."
"…what." His whisper was as loud as a shout in their ears, and Lucy flinched.
Erza pulled his left hand out from under the covers and held it up to his face, showing off the golden wedding band that was wrapped around his fourth finger. His eyes were wide, and he couldn't breathe. This wasn't true! This was a fucking dream!
Natsu nodded, having the time of his life watching the icicle wallow in absolute misery. "Oh yes pervert. You got hitched."
Erza pointed to the lump of blankets that hid Juvia's naked sleeping body next to him. 'Oh. Well,…that makes sense actually.'
His shout finally roused Juvia from her slumber, and she turned over and gave Gray a sleepy timid smile that absolutely melted his cold frigid heart just a smidge. "Good morning…husband."
~End Part Two~