Company

It was quite an ordinary day at Fairy Tail, with chairs flying to and fro, numerous mugs clinking and everyone talking at the top of their voices. Hardly anyone noticed a blue haired water mage bounce in and happily fling her arms around the object of her affection with a loud and excited squeal. Those that noticed simply shrugged or smiled, it had become a very regular occurrence. The ice mage would usually grumble or protest, but would let her keep him company nevertheless. But what happened next was something hardly anyone expected.

"Goddamnit Juvia, why the hell must you be so clingy?! Can't you leave me alone for a frigging second? You're so irritating, and it's suffocating me! Now just leave me alone!" Gray's sharp voice cut through the chatter, shocking everyone into silence. Mira dropped the glass she was polishing with a loud thud, the noise echoing in the pin-drop silence that had now descended on the guild.

Juvia's hands were trembling in shock, her blue eyes sparkling with tears. She seemed frozen to the spot, as if it was taking all her willpower just to keep standing steadily. Gray began to look slightly guilty at her stricken expression. Running a hand through his hair, he said, less harshly, "Look, that might have sounded a little too extreme… but I just want to spend some time in peace, alone. So don't cling to me and do all those things, okay?"

Juvia nodded shakily, murmuring, "J-Juvia understands, Gray sama. S-Sorry, Juvia is very sorry!" Avoiding the stares of her guild mates, she dashed out through the open doors of the guild hall, not even stopping to apologize to Erza for bumping into her.

The scarlet haired mage watched her go, before turning to glare at the entire guild for an answer. Gajeel glared back, snarling," Don't look at us; blame the damned stripper for making her cry!"

"Gray, is this your fault? Tell me before I pierce a hundred holes in you; what the hell did you say to Juvia this time?!"

"I just told her to stop clinging to me and leave me alone. It's not my fault that she can't take a hint or understand what I'm trying to say, so don't get mad at me."

Everyone in the guild gulped; speaking thus to Erza had consequences, the least of which was a shortcut to the afterworld. But they were even more surprised when Erza lowered her sword and headed towards the bar, speaking in a disappointed tone, "Well, she's not the only one then, because I too, cannot understand what exactly you're trying to say, Gray. Mira, I'll have a slice of strawberry cake."

Mirajane nodded, casting a disapproving look at Gray before hurrying off.


Meanwhile, in her dorm room, after a long hour of crying, Juvia sat up in bed and began to think. Gray sama told Juvia to stop clinging to him. He even said that Juvia's company suffocates him! Gray sama wants Juvia to leave him alone…. Is Juvia being too clingy? But that's just how I am…. Juvia thought Gray sama would have got used to that side of hers… But regardless, it is Juvia's responsibility to obey Gray sama! If he has asked her to leave him alone, then Juvia shall leave him well alone, even if it tears her apart from the inside! Gray sama, you'll never be suffocated by Juvia's company again!


The next day began without any startling events. Mages entered and exited the guildhall, talking and drinking loudly. Cana had already downed three barrels of beer and was currently persuading Lucy to have one too. Gray and Natsu were having one of their daily brawls, which ended only when Erza banged their heads together and chucked them onto their chairs. Just then, the guild doors swung open, admitting Juvia in. The voices dropped a notch as everybody looked on, wondering whether they would be seeing a repeat of yesterday's events.

Nothing of the sort happened. Juvia gave Mira and Erza a bright smile, before heading off to Lisanna's table to talk. It was as if Gray wasn't even present in the room for her. The ice mage sighed in relief, it seemed that she had understood well enough. But still, a little niggle of resentment gnawed at him. I'm glad she's not clinging, but hey, surely she could have greeted me, right? It's not like I told her to totally avoid me or anything….

The rest of the day passed without any notable event, that is, if one did not consider Juvia ignoring Gray for a whole day, a notable event. Levy commented about this to Gajeel, who snorted contemptuously, saying, "She shoulda done it a long time ago. It's not like the Stripper's bothered by it anyway." And almost everyone else had to agree to that.

Even Juvia noticed it, feeling like her heart was about to break. Her beloved Gray sama wasn't troubled in the least by her absence, in fact, he may have even relished it. After all these days… but if Gray sama is happy with it, who is Juvia to protest? Even if this is very hard for her, Juvia must do this, for Gray sama, and not lose to her fancies!


The next morning, as Gray walked down to the guild hall, he found himself looking for something, almost absentmindedly. It was as if something was missing, something that had always been there…. His eyes widened when he realized that he was actually searching for Juvia. When the hell did I get so used to her stalking that it feels weird to have it stop? Heck, I was the one to tell her to quit all that…. Well, it doesn't really matter; she'll be back to her old habits today. Sheesh...

But it was not at all as Gray expected. When he reached the guild, he saw her asking Mira permission to take a job. Wondering how long it would be before she tried to drag him along with her, he dropped down at a table beside Natsu and Lucy. As he watched, Juvia thanked Mira brightly before marching out of the guild, hardly sparing a glance at his table. He heard the barmaid telling Lucy something, but he was too bewildered to comprehend it. Juvia had left for a job, without inviting him, without even saying goodbye to him? Juvia? Just what the hell was happening?

He was so distracted that he did not notice the smirk on Erza's face as she sat down next to him, and the fact that Mirajane was grinning wider than a Cheshire cat.


It had been two days since Juvia had gone on a job, and Erza was highly satisfied with the events of the past days. At present, she sat at the bar, talking with Mira as she devoured her strawberry cake. The takeover mage was smiling her sweetest smile as she said, "My, my, it looks like he really misses her around him… Who'd have ever guessed…?"

"Serves him right for talking to Juvia like that. It does seem now that this is a better plan than beating him up. Now then, Mira, what was the job you gave her?"

"Oh, it was a very suitable one, really. The location is close to Lamia Scale's headquarters, and well, let's just say that ice and water can make the job a resounding success."

"Lamia Scale? Ah, I see now. Do you think they will return together?"

"I already called Chelia to ensure that, and she assured me it would be done. I can't wait to see Gray's face when it happens!"

Both the mages smirked in anticipation, their grins widening as Gray walked over to the bar to order a drink. The ice mage suppressed a shiver on looking at them; a smiling Erza and Mira never boded well for anybody. But all thoughts of fear were soon swept away, as he noticed the couple entering the guild. Fairy Tail's resident water mage looked happy enough to be home, accompanied by an ice wizard who was repeatedly praising her beauty and skills.

Gray could feel jealousy bubbling within him as he watched Juvia and Lyon enter the guild together. No, cross that, why the hell would he even be feeling jealous? It wasn't like he liked Juvia or anything… But what the hell was she even doing with Lyon? Wasn't she supposed to be out on a job or something? And hell, why hadn't she even turned his way yet?!

"Thank you for accompanying Juvia back home, Lyon sama… She is sorry for making you take such trouble…But now, you can, um…"

"It is actually a pleasure for me, Juvia chan! How could I ever consider your company troublesome?"

A smiling Mira called out from across the bar,"Welcome back, Juvia! Though it's quite a surprise to see you, Lyon…"

"Ah, Lyon sama insisted on helping Juvia with the mission and taking her home…. G- Natsu san, how are you?"

Great. So now even Natsu gets her attention, not me? And why the hell does Lyon have that smug look on his face? Fuck it all, why is she blushing when that douchebag talks to her?! And why the freaking hell am I even reacting like this?

His grip on the mug tightened painfully as he watched Juvia greet the other girls, her back firmly turned towards him. Truth to be told, he couldn't believe what was going on. Juvia, the very Juvia who would cling to him the whole day, never miss a chance to greet or jump on him, who would always give him the smile she never gave anybody else, hadn't even looked at him for over three days. Alright, he did tell her to leave him alone, perhaps more harshly than usual because he was drunk and annoyed for some childish reason, but this was going overboard! Besides, when had she ever taken his rejections so seriously?! The moment he saw her come over to greet Mira, his heart suddenly leaped up. Surely she wouldn't ignore him any more….

But no. Without even a side glance at him, she began to thank Mira profusely for recommending her such a job, and lots of nonsense he didn't want to listen to. He slammed his mug onto the table, spilling most of its contents, and walked out before anyone could even call his name.

Juvia's eyes brimmed up with tears once more as she watched her beloved stalk out. She buried her face in her hands and burst out sobbing, "Gray sama is still furious with Juvia! Juvia's presence is so unbearable to him that he had to leave when she came closer! But Juvia just could not stay away any more! It's s-so hard for Juvia to i-ignore Gray sama and not even talk to him or be near him, but she's been doing it! Whatever did Juvia do wrong, that he detests her company so much?!"

"Juvia, please stop crying, we'll be flooded!"

"I'M GONNA MURDER THAT STRIPPER!"

Mira sighed as she tried to comfort the distraught water mage, while Erza murmured to herself that beating the pulp out of Gray might just have been a better idea. As Happy hovered over the brimming waters, he mumbled, "Gray is even bigger an idiot than Natsu… Why won't he just admit that he liiiiiiiiikes her?"


Gray groaned as he heard the pounding on the door. The last thing he wanted to do now was to get up and answer the door. But still, he dragged himself off the couch on hearing Erza calling him and wearily tugged on some clothes that were scattered all over the house. He himself was taken aback by his reflection; it looked somewhat like a zombie, with large bags under its eyes and hair messed up worse than he had ever thought possible.

The previous day, after storming home from the guild, he had paced about furiously, stripping reflexively, trying to make sense of the maelstrom of feelings within his head. After a long time, he had restlessly fallen asleep on the couch. Thus, he was definitely not in the best of moods when he awoke, and he assumed it showed on his face too, as he pulled the door open to face Erza, Lucy, Natsu and Happy.

"Gray! You look terrible, what's the matter?!"

"Whoa, Ice princess, I knew you had squinty eyes and all, but when did ya become a friggin' zombie, huh?"

"That's enough, Natsu. Gray, I've selected a mission for us, do you plan to come along or not? I need a quick reply, so hurry up… and put on your clothes!"

Gray scrambled for his shirt, which was inexplicably hanging on the door, and gave a thought to what Erza said. A mission would be good, but he really didn't think he'd be able to handle Natsu's antics and destructiveness in his current state of mind. Not to mention that Erza and Lucy would probably be giving him a long talk about feelings, and he so didn't need that. All those reasons, along with another very important one, caused him to come up with the lamest reply ever, "Uh, I think I won't go this time, Erza, because… I, er, I have a, um, a cold, you know?"

Erza merely raised her eyebrows even as Lucy looked bewildered at his excuse; since when did ice mages catch a cold? , but all she said was, "Fine, stay back and rest. See you later, Gray."

Natsu looked like he was about to say something more, but he hardly got a chance as Erza grabbed his scarf and dragged his away, Lucy following her with an air of resignation. Happy soon flew after them, babbling something about fish and rewards. Gray felt relieved as he watched their backs disappear, at least they hadn't jumped to the obvious conclusion that he was lying, and that he didn't at all have a cold. Luckily, Wendy hadn't been with them, so he figured that his deception would go unnoticed for at least a while.


At the guild hall,

Juvia sat at the bar, sadly stirring her juice as she murmured stuff to herself. It made Mira sigh to look at her; her matchmaking wasn't having the expected results for possibly the very first time. She glanced up as Erza marched towards them, holding a job request. As Mira noted it down, she noticed that Gray wasn't with the group, a surprising occurrence indeed.

Apparently, Juvia had noticed too, for she asked tentatively, "Um, Erza san, isn't Gray sama coming along for the job?"

"No, he said that he had a cold, so I told him to stay back this time. Don't worry so much about that idiotic excuse of a man, Juvia, I'm sure he'll be perfectly fine."

"But still… if he's not feeling well, Gray sama needs someone to take care of him! Juvia really wants to go, but then Gray sama will be annoyed with her, and Juvia doesn't want that too…"

"I think you should go, Juvia. I'm sure Gray won't be too angry with you; in fact, it might just be the opposite! Besides, you haven't given up for so many days now, so you can't lose hope so easily, right?"

Juvia brightened up considerably at Mira's words, jumping off her seat and hurrying out with her usual smile and wave, saying, "Thank you, Mira san, Erza san! Juvia will be off to visit Gray sama now!" Lucy watched her go, before turning to Mira and Erza, "Um, why do I have a feeling that you had that planned?"

"Because we did, Lucy! Say, Erza, are you really leaving town today?"

"Yes, but we'll be back soon enough. There's no way I'd be losing the chance to see it happen at last…"

"I really wonder whether I should be worried …"


Gray was ready to die of boredom. In retrospection, he wondered whatever had made him say that he had a cold. Not only was it one of the stupidest excuses ever, but it also meant that he had to stay cooped up within the house, all alone, because people suffering from a cold do not go about half naked and if Wendy happened to spot him…. So he was stuck inside, with absolutely nothing to do and doubly pissed off by the fact that no one had even bothered to inquire about his well being yet. Not that he was really expecting them too, but still-

His thoughts were cut off by a knock on the door. That puzzled him, since most members of Fairy Tail would never knock. They would just kick down or rush through the door, literally. So he called out, trying to sound as if he had a cold, "Who is it?"

"Gray sama, its Juvia. Juvia heard from Erza san that you had a cold, so she came over…. Juvia will leave if you want, she does not mean to pry… Gray sama, what's that noise? Is something the matter?"

For Gray had shot up from his seat the moment he had heard her voice, and was currently rushing about, trying to look more like one who has a severe bout of influenza. He had heard about running a high temperature, but hell, his body was always cool, something else about a running nose, but he wasn't a water mage, still more about flushed cheeks, well, at least that could be ensured. He froze as he heard the front door opening and Juvia's light footsteps and immediately abandoned all his plans, instead choosing to dash into his bedroom, jump into his bed and cocoon himself under the covers. Unfortunately, he had underestimated just how hot that could get.

Juvia tentatively made her way to her Gray sama's bedroom, her cheeks turning scarlet at the thought of all the pleasurable fantasies the idea evoked. But she quickly pushed them all away, Gray sama was sick, and she had only come to care for him! She couldn't make him uncomfortable again! A small smile crept onto her face as she noticed the clothes flung all over the floor. As long as she was here, it probably wouldn't hurt if she cleaned up a bit too… She gently pushed the door open to see him half hidden under numerous layers, sweating profusely and breathing heavily, as if he had just been running about. Juvia went nearer, noticing that her beloved's eyes were shut, as if he was sleeping soundly.

Her smile widened as she lovingly stroked his black hair, before gently pulling most of the sheets off him. She fetched a thermometer from the medicine cupboard, carefully sticking it under his arms and measuring the temperature. All doubts put to rest, Juvia placed her palm against his forehead, using her magic to cool him down, humming softly as she did so.

Gray relaxed as the temperature dropped, the water drops soothing away all the weariness he had been feeling. He had been quite nervous when he had felt her use the thermometer; what if she noticed that he didn't have a cold in the slightest? But seeing how she was trying to cool him, Juvia probably believed that he had a cold. Well, he was fine enough with that. He pointedly ignored a devilish little voice within his mind that piped up, "Well, obviously, since you are enjoying all the attention you're getting."

He suddenly felt her remove her hand and move away. When she hadn't returned in a few minutes, Gray snapped his eyes open, wondering where she had gone. Had she left? But that wasn't likely either… Soon, there was a clink of cutlery outside the door, as Juvia entered with a big, steaming bowl and a cheerful smile.

"Ah, so you're awake, Gray sama! Juvia had warmed up some soup for you, she thinks it'll help with the cold." The blue haired mage finished with a giggle, leaving Gray wondering what was so funny. But for once, he didn't say no to her cooking; he was hungry, and thankfully, you couldn't create a face on soup.

Juvia sat beside him as he ate, watching him happily. Her cheerfulness bemused him; it really didn't seem to be the attitude one would adopt near a sick person. But then, you could never tell with Juvia. Gray almost choked on his soup as he realized with a start that it was one of many things that he liked about her. Liked, as in a 'friend', nothing more, nothing less….

Gray shook himself out of his thoughts, wondering when Juvia had become such an integral part of them. But he hardly got the chance to muse any more on the topic as Juvia used her magic to transport the bowl into the kitchen, and slipped onto the bed. Before he could utter a word of protest, she placed his head in her lap and began playing with his hair, chuckling merrily.

"Juvia, what the hell-"

"It's okay, Gray sama, there's no need to be embarrassed. Though Juvia thinks that you could just ask for her company next time, instead of pretending to have a cold and all. You really made Juvia worry. But Juvia is very glad, now that she knows what you really feel!"

As she spoke, Gray's face steadily reddened, till it could even give Erza's hair a run for its money. He wanted to say that she was getting it all wrong and that he didn't mean anything like that, but he just couldn't, since he knew that she was right. So he just sighed and allowed himself to drift off into sleep, smiling a little as he did so.

Juvia looked even happier, if that was possible, on seeing the smile stretching across his face. In her eyes, Gray was always handsome, but he was truly the cutest when he was sleeping…


Meanwhile, unknown to both of them, a celebration of sorts was going on at the guild, where everyone was huddled around a Lacrima vision, watching the proceedings at Gray's house. Happy was flying about, trilling, "They llllllllllliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikkkkkkkkeeee each other!", and for once, nobody stopped him. Erza dug into her cake, speaking with approval, "It was about time."

Mira clapped her hands in glee, "I just can't wait for the proposal! Master, we've got to start planning for a wedding soon!"


A/N: Hello everyone, thanks so much for reading this story! This is the first fanfic I'm writing for Fairy Tail, so I'm sorry for any inaccuracies or deficiencies. Still, I hope you enjoyed it, because I did have a lot of fun while writing it! If not, I promise I'll try my best to improve on a whole. Please do take some time out to review and send me suggestions for improvement too; I love to know what you think of it. Follows, favorites, constructive criticism and anything else are very, very, much appreciated!

Thanks again for reading!