A/N: IMPORTANT... Fanfiction has been having some complications lately. To my knowledge, emails aren't being sent out when I post a new chapter. I have been uploading them on time, but if any of you are experiencing issues, that is why! Hopefully it will work this time! *fingers crossed*
With that said, enjoy the final chapter of Before I Go :) Thank you all for taking the time to read my story!
THREE YEARS LATER
"Dude, would you just relax? You're going to do great."
Gajeel's knee bounced as he sat, fingers tapping nervously against the table. "This is a big deal, you idiot."
"And you're going to be fine!" Gray said. "And if you don't stop tapping I'm going to break your hand."
Gajeel rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair. He'd went to Jellal's to talk to him about this first. Out of all of his insane friends, he was the most level-headed. But somehow, Gray and Natsu wound up coming up to his apartment, too. Now they were all giving him advice, though Jellal's was still much more helpful. Gajeel groaned and smoothed his hand over his face, studs scratching his hand. "What if—"
"Don't even say it. You're being ridiculous."
Gajeel sighed and dropped his head onto the table.
"Look, when I proposed to Juvia, I was nervous, too," Gray said, suddenly serious. "But we'd been together for so long that I knew she'd say yes."
It was a year ago that Gray finally decided to pop the question. Gajeel remembered that he actually was really nervous, but when he proposed, Juvia had burst into tears and knocked him to the ground in her excitement. Jellal had proposed to Erza before they really became friends, but from the stories he heard, Erza was stunned. Gajeel hoped that Levy would have that kind of reaction, and he didn't really fear that she would turn him down. He knew she loved him, after all. But proposing was a really big deal. He wanted to do it right. It took him nearly two months to decide how he wanted to do it—every proposal imaginable came to mind before he finally settled on the details.
Jellal chuckled and shook his head. "It's only natural for you to be nervous, but you can rest easy. I can guarantee she'll say yes. After all you've been through together, she'll be by your side."
Gajeel sighed, raking his fingers through his short hair. "You're right."
"That's the spirit!" Natsu said. "There's nothing to this proposing stuff, anyway!"
The room was silent as everyone look at him. Gajeel quirked a brow. "Oi, how the hell would you know? You haven't proposed."
"I know, but there's still nothing to it! Besides, I'm not scared Lucy would say no. She's crazy about me!"
Gray grinned evilly. "So, if you're not scared, why don't you ask her?"
Natsu's smile faltered, and they laughed.
"Come on, lover boy." Gray stood and clapped his hand on Gajeel's shoulder. "Let's go to the gym before your magical night of romance." Gajeel shot him a look when he fluttered his eyelashes dramatically. "It'll help you unwind."
"Yeah," said Natsu. "And I can kick your ass in a rematch!"
Gajeel rolled his eyes and smirked. "I think you're ahead of yourself. I'll kick your sorry ass from here to next week!" Gajeel slung his jacket over his shoulder, pausing at the door. "But if you hit my face, I'll kill you. I gotta look good."
Gray just shook his head. "You coming, Jellal?"
"Love to," he said. He looked around the apartment a bit cautiously before adding, "I could use a break from the hormones…"
Gajeel laughed. "Is she still crying all the time?"
Jellal sighed tiredly. "Over everything… I came home yesterday and she was on the couch with bowl of ice cream propped up on her belly, sobbing over some romance movie." He held up a hand. "A movie, which I should point out, ended happily. A romantic comedy, I might add."
"But she doesn't like romance movies," Gray said.
"I know. She doesn't like mint ice cream, either, but that seems to be all she wants. Pregnancy does strange things to the mind."
Laughing, they all grabbed their gym bags and filed out the door. Life certainly had changed in the last three years, and it had easily been the best years of Gajeel's life. It took a while, but Gajeel had finally gotten back to his pre-cancer body. He'd gained the weight back, as well as the muscle, and thanks to the vitamins Porlyusica had prescribed him, he felt like a brand new person. Now, he was rippling with muscles again, and he had more energy than he knew what to do with. He went to the gym several times a week, he was running again, and he was back to the body he was used to—and one Levy drooled over. When she met him, he was already on the downward slope, and his muscle definition had gone down a little bit. Now, every time she saw his muscles made her cheeks pink. Gajeel loved it.
Other than the muscles returning, Gajeel was completely healthy internally, as well. He'd just gone to his final post-cancer screening, and Porlyusica had been pleased to announce that after three years, he was still cancer free. And finally, finally, done with medical appointments.
The last appointment was a whirlwind of emotion. Wendy was in tears, handing him a homemade cake with chocolate frosting—and Gajeel refused to admit that he got a little choked up hugging her. Just a little. The guys would never know that.
Levy cried at the appointment, Wendy cried, and Gajeel could've sworn he saw some shininess to Porlyusica's eyes as well, but when he joked about it, she dismissed him with a wave of her hand and a "don't kid yourself, fool." But she did smile. And when Gajeel and Levy got back to his place, all his friends were waiting with ungodly amounts of food in his apartment. And after they left, Levy surprised him with their own private celebration, which involved a new lingerie set that put the ones she already owned to shame. It had been one of the best days of his life.
Gajeel regularly had to pinch himself to make sure this wasn't all some cruel, sick dream. Surely, he thought, any day he'd wake up and he'd be sitting in a hospital bed, coughing blood and too weak to move. But it wasn't—this was all real. He got to wake up to the girl of his dreams every morning, her cerulean hair splayed over his pillow as she snuggled against his shoulder. He got to run again, and lift the heavier weights in the gym. He got to eat because he was actually hungry, not just because if he didn't force something down his throat, he'd wither away.
The future he'd dreamed of having with Levy, the family he'd always wanted, the clean bill of health—it was all finally his.
Gajeel took each and every day as a chance to live life to the fullest, and Levy was loving seeing how happy he was. One time she actually caught him singing in the shower, his weird shoo-be-doo-ba loud enough to hear all the way across the apartment. She was prepared to call him out on it and embarrass him, but it backfired. When she opened the bathroom door, he ripped the shower curtain open, yanked her into the shower, and sang louder.
He had boundless energy, and he was always joking around and laughing—a complete flip from the man she met. But it only made her love him more. She loved how he would wake her up with kisses and whispered words in the morning, how he would steal bites of her food when she wasn't looking, or how he wore her floral apron when he was cooking. Levy loved how when she was brushing her teeth, he'd pepper kisses over her shoulder, or how he'd take her on weekend dates to the park or to dinner. How they'd dance together in the middle of the flowers in the park late at night when no one was around. How he'd sing to her as he stroked her hair while she was drifting off to dreamland.
Life was normal, and at times, Levy would jolt from peaceful sleep to a sudden fear that it would all get taken away. That the cancer would win and she'd lose him again. But then she'd look over at him sleeping peacefully, his arm, corded with muscle, draped over her protectively, and her fears would melt away. He was happy, he was safe, he was healthy.
And everything was okay.
Everything was perfect.
Recovery had been a slow process, and it was more of an emotional process than physical. Yes, he had to get his health back in order, but there was a lot of emotional damage that needed to heal, for both himself and Levy.
Once Gajeel started getting his life back together, he took it as a new beginning. A chance to start fresh. He cut his hair short (which Levy loved), started eating right, and dropped alcohol. Having a few drinks at a party was his limit, but anything else he ditched. Having a near-death experience really makes you look at things in a new light, and all of a sudden, sacrificing a couple of things that weren't so healthy wasn't the end of the world.
He was trying new things, which didn't always work. Yoga, he discovered, was not his forte—he'd fallen four times trying to do the tree pose, and while Levy thought it was hilarious, he wasn't too keen on posing for exercise. But she did start running with him. That was an interesting experience to begin with, too. He's nearly double her height, and even when she's at a full sprint, he could leave her in the dust. But he didn't…most days. Sometimes it was fun to mess with her, and the angrier she got, the more adorable it was. Dragneel was becoming a bad influence.
Since 'the incident' as it had been labeled, friendship became more important. Life was too short, and friendship was precious, as cheesy as it sounded. Once a week, they got together at someone's apartment. Erza had organized a rational system so no one had to host two weeks in a row. They switched between Natsu's place, Jellal's, and Gajeel's, and always on Friday night. It had become something that everyone looked forward to. And now Gajeel actually had a couch big enough to seat more than three people.
Levy moving in had been the best decision of his life. A lot of things in his apartment changed. There were the expected things, like two toothbrushes and two plates to wash. But then there were the little things, the things that meant so much more—touches of Levy here and there that brought a smile to his face. Her floral apron that hung on a hook in the kitchen, her perfume on the bathroom counter. Every now and then he'd see something and have to slap himself to reassert that it's real and he's not dead.
They had more furniture, too, like a sectional and a new coffee table. And curtains. Gajeel had never owned curtains before, but he found that he didn't mind because it blocked the sun when it was the crack of dawn and he wanted to sleep in. There were pillows on the couch and pictures on the walls and a rug on the floor. There were bookshelves, completely full, lining the bedroom wall, and there was a new comforter on the bed, and overall it had become a bit more feminine. But he didn't mind one bit, because it looked like an actual home. Not just a place he went to sleep in, but a home.
Levy had asked him once if a few decorative pieces around the apartment would bother him, and he just smiled. "How could it? You made this a home, shorty."
She'd been a bit confused as to why he was smiling at her so happily, like she just gave him the world, but she didn't ask questions as she set out the vase of white flowers in the kitchen. Gajeel couldn't complain (and he secretly loved the curtains and the soft couch pillows, but he wouldn't tell her that), and Pantherlily was completely satisfied with his new cat tree stationed near the window—perfect for afternoon naps and birdwatching.
Gajeel was finally getting to where he wanted to be. He was finishing up his degree, he was working with Sting and Rogue again, and he was planning to propose. Life was just right.
Not to mention, Levy was floating on clouds since quitting ballet, and they had so much more time together. Though her professional career was done, she still danced. In the kitchen as she cooked, through the apartment, sometimes even when she held Lily, stroking his ears. Gajeel found her dancing randomly to her own music all the time, and sometimes he joined in. Levy was renewed, like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She'd just graduated college, and was in the process of opening up her own book store, specializing in ancient texts. But until all the plans for that were set in stone, she spent her time working at the library—the one Margaret had made her quit. Levy almost cried when she got the job back.
Gajeel couldn't believe how much had changed since he was younger, but he was so happy. He had a family, he had a home, he had his health. And he had Levy. For the first time in his life, Gajeel could honestly say that he was happy to be alive.
When Gajeel got home from the gym, Levy was sitting at the couch, bent over the coffee table studying some documents. He smirked when he saw her. Red reading glasses perched on her nose, her lip caught between her teeth and her brows drawn together in concentration. Absently, she tucked a loose curl behind her ear, tapping her pen against the papers with her other hand.
Gajeel tossed his keys on the entry table, setting his gym bag down by the door. She looked up at him, her face lighting up with that beautiful smile that turned his stomach into liquid sunlight. "Gajeel! How was the gym?"
He grinned and took a swig from the water bottle from his bag. "Good. Destroyed Natsu while sparring and won ten bucks from Gray."
Levy laughed. "Well hopefully you didn't destroy him too bad. We have to go to dinner in a few hours!"
"He'll live. No black eyes this time." Gajeel snorted and walked into the bedroom, Levy in tow. "But he'll have a nasty bruise on his stomach."
Levy sighed and shook her head. "I don't know how Lu and I put up with the two of you…"
Gajeel snickered and bent to kiss her. "You love me."
She smiled against his lips and giggled when he kissed her nose. "I do."
"So what were you studying so hard in there?"
Levy sat on the bed, watching as he disappeared into the bathroom to start the shower. "Just some paperwork for the lease I need to sign. Once these are complete, I will officially have my own book store!"
Gajeel returned, smiling. "I'm proud of you, Lev."
"Thanks! Oh, just so you know, the girls are kicking you out in an hour…" Her smile was sheepish. "They told me to send you to Natsu's to get ready for dinner."
He raised a studded brow and blinked. "Why?"
"They want to get ready together here. I don't know why you can't see me, though."
He cleared his throat, looking away. "I dunno, shorty."
Levy watched as he tugged his shirt off over his head, eyes drinking in the contours of his muscled abdomen. He turned to toss the shirt in the hamper, the light catching the scars on his stomach and she softened. A jagged, rounded scar was on his stomach from the bullet wound, and there were smaller scars from stitches—from various surgeries—and the larger scar on his side from the acid burn. Gajeel looked over at her, his gaze soft, and he took tucked her hair behind her ear.
She smiled, gingerly brushing her fingers over the scar against his stomach. "They tell your story. I love you, just the way you are."
His heart swelled and he kissed her forehead. "I love you, Lev."
True to their word, an hour later, Gajeel was unceremoniously kicked out of his apartment. There was a short knock on the door, and before he could even get to the door, it swung open. A very pregnant Erza breezed in, holding a makeup bag and her purse. Mira, Juvia, Cana, and Lucy followed her, all carrying different hair products and dress bags. Lucy smiled, brushing her cropped hair over her shoulder.
"Go on, go see Natsu," she'd said, pushing him out the door.
Levy had only giggled, smiling at him apologetically as she rushed to hand him his clothes. Now Gajeel was sitting on the couch at Natsu's with Gray, Laxus, and Jellal, each with a beer. It seems everyone was avoiding the chaos.
Natsu grinned. "You ready for this, man?"
Gajeel snorted, sipping his beer—secretly terrified. "Yeah, why wouldn't I be?"
"You have the ring, right?" Gray asked, leveling him with a flat look.
Gajeel paled, tapped his pocket, and sighed in relief. "Got it."
Jellal only laughed.
It didn't take the guys long to get ready. Would've taken even less time had the girls not insisted that they make tonight dressy—probably because they knew of the proposal. So they'd all been instructed to wear slacks and ties. With the exception of Jellal, formal wasn't exactly any of their fortes, but they cleaned up well enough. By the time they were ready, Cana was knocking on the door.
Lucy took Natsu's arm to lead him to the elevator, stopping quickly to give Gajeel a teary look. "You look so handsome! I'm so happy for you!"
He rolled his eyes, but smiled.
"Rogue sent me a text," Natsu said. "They'll meet us at the restaurant."
As everyone else went to wait downstairs in the lobby, Cana grinned at Gajeel, elbowing him in the ribs. "Wait until you see her. Our little princess looks hot." She gave him a wolfish grin as she turned toward the elevator. "Just don't be late, Gajeel! We leave in ten!"
Gajeel just rolled his eyes. The elevator door shut, he was completely alone. He'd never been nervous to enter his own apartment, but he felt like he couldn't breathe. How the hell did guys do this? Proposing was the scariest thing he'd ever have to do—and he almost died! How had Jellal and Gray done this? Well… From what he heard, Jellal wasn't nervous at all. But Gray was. Gajeel snickered—no matter what the little popsicle said, he was damn near petrified when he proposed to Juvia. Gajeel refused to be a wuss like him.
Squaring his shoulders, he adjusted his black tie and opened the door to his apartment.
All his nerves melted away when he saw her. "Levy…"
"You look so handsome!" she gushed.
Gajeel didn't hear her. He was too focused on the goddess standing before him. Pantherlily perched by her feet proudly, looking up at him expectantly. Gajeel just cleared his throat. Loosened his tie. Ran a hand through his short hair. Cleared his throat again.
In all the time he'd known Levy, he'd never seen her wear a dress like that. Silver silk draped her form, highlighting the curve of her hips and the narrow dip of her waist. The low neckline emphasized her chest, and the draped scoop of silk hung low against her back. The dress was short, but tastefully, and her lace-up heels made her legs look longer. His gaze flicked back up to her face, glowing from within. Soft cerulean curls were pulled back into a loose, low bun, but she still wore her signature headband. This one was made of black velvet, the trailing ribbons hung against her bare back and loose curls framed her face.
"Wow," he breathed, cheeks burning. "You look so beautiful…"
Her freckled cheeks flushed a rosy pink. "Thank you! It's not too much?"
Gajeel grinned. "No, you look amazing."
She giggled when he pulled her against his chest. The hard muscles of his stomach were warm against her, and she tilted her head to the side when his lips found her neck. "G-Gajeel… Not yet… We have to go to dinner!"
"Not yet, though."
Her back hit the wall and he towered over her, bending to scrape his teeth against her throat. "Gajeel—"
"They said we have ten minutes." The tenor of his voice was husky, and her knees quivered. "I can do it in ten…"
Levy pushed him back and gave him a look, but her eyes sparkled with happiness, betraying her stern expression. "We're going to be late! And they'll know again!"
"Don't exactly have the best record, do we?"
Pink cheeks darkened as she huffed. "No…"
He barked out a laugh and took her hand. "Come on, shorty. If you keep comin' on to me, we'll be late."
Pretty eyes blinked once, twice, and then she balked. "Stupid Gajeel! I-I wasn't— I was not coming on to you!"
Stepping aside to open the door for her, he checked for the fiftieth time to ensure the ring was in his pocket before following her into the hall. "Where is everyone?"
"They went downstairs to wait in the lobby." He tugged her into the elevator, admiring the softness of her skin where his hand brushed her back. She just looked so beautiful. "You really look great, Levy. I like this dress."
Her cheeks flushed and she beamed. "Thank you! I was worried it wouldn't look good on me."
Gajeel grinned as he hit the button for the first floor. "It looks great on you." He bent at the waist, pressing her to the wall of the elevator and ghosting his lips across her neck. "But it'll look even better on the floor…" he purred.
He snickered. After all this time, he still knew how to make her blush.
Gajeel couldn't count the times they'd been to Blue Pegasus as a group. There were those times back when Levy was doing ballet and Gajeel's friendships were new, and they came to support Levy. Then it became tradition, but everyone was in a different place. Over the last three years, so much had changed. Gray and Juvia were engaged, Jellal and Erza were married and now expecting a baby, Sting and Yukino got married—it was all different. Blue Pegasus was like their gathering point. Freed still worked there, but he was the co-owner now. Rather than the apron and slacks they were used to seeing him in, he joined them for dinner in a suit and sleek ponytail. Three years had taken a bunch of misfit college kids and turned them into adults with their own life plans.
But the biggest change was that rather than coming here with his friends, Gajeel was coming with his family. Crazy they may be, but this group was the closest he'd ever have to family, and as far as he was concerned, they were.
Gajeel raked his fingers through his hair. Cutting it had been an interesting experience, but after going through so much, he just wanted a change. A fresh start. So on a spur of the moment decision, he waltzed into the nearest barber shop and had them chop it all off. The man that cut it was flabbergasted at taking off that much hair—over two feet in length. But Gajeel stood firm. Cut it all off, he'd said. Now it was just a bit shorter than Gray's hair, just long enough to brush his forehead, but still just as choppy. And if Levy thought he was attractive before, short hair and newly regained muscles just about made her brain short circuit. Though, she swore that the most wonderful thing was that he was healthy, which he had to agree with.
Gajeel looked around. Mira and Laxus were laughing at something Natsu had said, Lucy shaking her head exasperatedly. Juvia was practically bouncing with joy as Gray ordered her favorite dessert, and Cana was joking around with Freed, Rogue, and Sting. But Erza and Jellal caught his attention. Erza looked exhausted, short of breath as she leaned back in her chair, rubbing her belly. Jellal smiled at his wife like she was made of starlight and heaven, kissing her forehead and resting a hand atop her belly. It was an innocent gesture, but it was something that made him think about the future. One day, maybe that would be him and Levy.
Levy's hand came to rest on his thigh under the table, and Gajeel smiled and kissed her temple. Lucy and Juvia were giving him knowing looks, and when he saw the emotion surfacing in their eyes, he quickly looked away. Damn girls were already getting teary, and he hadn't even proposed yet! He knew them knowing about the proposal was a bad idea…
When Bob brought the check by, flashing Gajeel an excited smile, he grumbled and swiped it from his hand. He uncapped the pen and rolled his eyes when Bob giggled.
Mid-signature, he looked across the table at Sting, who was grinning mischievously, chin resting atop his folded hands lazily. For the tenth time that day, Gajeel groaned inwardly. He shot Sting a look. He definitely should've never told anyone he was going to propose… Damn nosey friends couldn't keep their noses out of his damn business…
Levy looked up at him, baffled. "What's going on?"
"Don't worry about it," he grumbled. "He's just being stupid."
She looked thoroughly confused, but she didn't ask any more questions. Meanwhile, Gray and Natsu were practically cackling. They were having way too much fun with this…
Once dinner was over, they all left and headed to the sea of white flowers behind the restaurant. It was a nostalgic place. Where Gajeel came to realize these were his friends, where they came to hang out after the many dinners they'd had at Blue Pegasus. Juvia had carved everyone's initials into the largest oak tree in the field. It was just their place. And Gajeel couldn't think of a better place to propose.
The spring air was warm, flower petals dusting the sidewalk. The large oak trees around the restaurant were a bright, fresh green. They'd spent nearly an hour just sitting around in the grass and talking. Rogue and Sting told funny stories about Gajeel from work, Levy told them about the newest updates on her book store. Gajeel remembered a time when conversation with them was forced and awkward. He was so resistant to hang out with them, and they were still a bunch of morons, but now he couldn't imagine life without them.
He wouldn't tell them that, because Dragneel would never let him hear the end of it and Gajeel wouldn't give up his pride so easily. But it was the truth. This was his family.
As the evening was winding down, Lucy provided the excellent diversion to distract Levy. Everyone was standing, looking at the carvings in the tree from a year ago. Levy was laughing as Lucy was talking about when Juvia almost cut her hand carving it, and she was oblivious to the many eyes shooting Gajeel encouraging looks.
This was it.
This was the moment he'd been waiting three years for. This was the moment that he never thought he'd have. His heart thundered in his chest, and he mentally slapped himself. This was Levy—the woman who fought for him. The woman who stayed by his when he was at his very worst. The woman who saw all his darkness and held him close, looking past the shaded parts of his past and loving him anyway. This was Levy.
An intense wave of calm washed over him as he looked at her, and suddenly everything was peaceful and right. "Levy."
Her eyes twinkled, her head swiveled away from the tree, and her jaw dropped as she faced him. There in the flowers, all their friends around them, Gajeel was down on one knee. She blinked, looking around to process what was happening. Lucy had tears in her eyes, as well as a very pregnant Erza, and everyone was watching them with looks varying between pride and happiness. Her attention shifted to Gajeel, and her heart stopped.
Eyes filled with love, he looked up at her, taking her hand and squeezing it softly. And when the realization hit her, her vision blurred with tears.
"I used to be nothing but scum. And even when I tried to fix things, it made no difference." He squeezed her hand. "Levy, when I met you, you were able to pull out all the best parts of me. You taught me what it means to love, and for that, I will be eternally grateful." Gently, he reached up to wipe away a tear that escaped down her cheek. "I love you, Lev, and I can't imagine my life without you. I want to walk with you, side by side, for the rest of my life."
Tears rolled down her cheeks, and he pulled a small velvet box from his pocket and opened it to reveal a simple diamond ring. "Marry me?"
Levy just beamed and nodded, laughing when he stood to pick her up and spin her around. Everyone was cheering, Lucy and Erza crying, and Levy giggled when he kissed her. "Like you even had to ask," she said against his lips.
Gajeel lowered her to the ground, kissing her fiercely. He didn't care that Gray was shouting "get a room!" or that people were watching. He didn't care about any of them—because all he saw was Levy. His arms encircled her waist as he held her closer, pressing a final kiss to her forehead. Levy cried harder when he slipped the ring onto her finger, and she nearly knocked the air out of his lungs when she jumped into his arms again.
If someone asked Gajeel five years ago what his future looked like, his answer would've been simple—who cared? All he wanted was to get by. He just wanted to get through life unnoticed. He would've welcomed death as payment for his sins. He hated himself, the world and everyone in it. But then Levy came along, and his entire mindset shifted, his world shattered. She brought him out of the darkness, into a world of color and light. She taught him love and friendship, and all of a sudden, life had meaning. Life had worth. He had worth.
Now, if asked what his future looked like, he'd have a better answer—great. His future looked great. His future looked happy, his future looked full.
"Let's see that rock, lady!"
Levy laughed, wiping her cheeks again and holding out her hand so they could gawk at the ring.
Cana whistled lowly. "Damn, Gajeel."
Erza smiled. "It's beautiful, Levy."
Gajeel stood, watching them, heart overwhelmingly full. The guys were patting him on the back, Natsu punching his shoulder and laughing. He just laughed—the punch was a good reminder for him that he was alive. This was real. He was going to marry Levy, and he was healthy. The future he'd dreamed of when he met her was actually going to happen.
The wind kicked up, sending white flower petals from the ground up into the air. As Levy came to wrap her arms around him, her smile bringing a warmth into his chest, he smiled and looked up at the sky. Old Man Makarov was still watching over them.
Juvia and Mira sighed when Gajeel kissed Levy again, and Erza watched them with an amused grin. But the smile fell from her face almost immediately, her eyes going wide. "Um. Jellal."
"What is it?" His gaze shifted from her face to the hand over her belly and back. Just like Erza, his eyes went wide. "Erza—"
"I, uh—" She laughed nervously, catching everyone's attention. "Not that this isn't sweet, and I'm truly thrilled for the both of you, but I need to get to the hospital. Now."
There was a silent pause before they erupted into excited noises. Natsu laughed. "Alright, man! You're going to be a dad!"
Jellal was processing. "I'm— I'm going to be a father."
His face went from terrified to ecstatic in the span of a second before he sprung into action, escorting Erza to the car in a surprisingly calm manner. While he helped her get settled in the car, everyone else was scrambling to their own vehicles, all intent on following Jellal to the hospital to welcome their new niece or nephew. Levy got into the car, laughing when Gajeel grinned and pulled the truck out onto the road. Jellal was, very uncharacteristically, speeding. But Levy couldn't say she blamed him.
"This has been so exciting!" she gushed. "An engagement and becoming an aunt in one day!"
Gajeel's expression softened at the flower petals fluttering in the breeze, seemingly following them to the hospital, and kissed the back of her hand. He was ready to start a new journey with his crazy, totally insane, bizarre, weird, misfit, dorky family.
And he wouldn't have it any other way.
A/N: And with that, Before I Go is done... It's so bittersweet to see this completed. This story adds up (in word count) to be a full length novel, and it took so much work to write, but it was a wonderful process. I've enjoyed every minute of it!
Thank you so much for reading. I'll miss all of your sweet reviews. To the regulars who left me a review on every chapter (you know who you are!), you have no idea how much I appreciated that! I read every single one of your reviews and I can't tell you how much they meant to me.
I hope you enjoyed this story! Thanks for hanging with me to the end :) Take care, everyone!