AN: Oh God, I don't know why I wrote this. I seriously don't know how I could do this to them.
Honestly, I don't think (at least I hope) this is what the real deal with Natsu is, but the idea just occurred to me and wouldn't stop bugging me until I wrote it down. While I was writing it, I realized how much in common Lucy and Natsu really have with Wendy and Peter. Like how Natsu always climbs through her window, or that she loves to tell stories.
Used many references and lines from the Peter Pan movie, but that was necessary. Anyway, I really hope you won't kill me for this tragic fic. And I do mean tragic.
At the Riverside of Neverland
"Maybe you're like Peter Pan," Lucy told him one slow day at their favorite spot by the riverside. Natsu arched a brow in confusion as he looked over to her.
"You couldn't pass through Fried's seal. Maybe you're already over eighty years old, you just don't know it."
"Pfft." Natsu rolled his eyes, grinning in disbelief. "That's just stupid. I'd know if I was over eighty."
"Peter Pan had no clue how old he was."
"I'm not Peter Pan."
Lucy looked at him, curiously. "Then you know your age?"
"Of course I do," he mumbled quickly, looking away.
She smiled at him. "It's okay. I don't really care how old you are."
Something about the way she had said that suddenly made his cheeks feel a lot warmer than before. Or maybe it was just the way she was smiling, or the simple fact that he knew he loved her more than anyone else in the guild.
He thought it was a little of everything.
After a few moments of silence, Lucy turned her head once more and Natsu realized only then that he had been staring at her, admiring her face. And somehow, he still couldn't look away, maybe because her eyes were sparkling as her smile grew.
"I could be your Wendy."
Lucy's lips parted in surprise when his hand closed around hers, and Natsu immediately decided that she looked the prettiest when she was bashful.
"I don't want us to have that kind of tragic love story."
In the middle of the ruckus at the train station of a town, on one of their missions, while their friends were walking further and further away from them, Lucy grabbed for the fabric of his vest from behind, leaning her forehead against his back and softly whispered to him.
"I don't care if it's tragic. Let me be your Wendy."
Natsu just smiled.
"You always were."
It was late at night when Natsu pushed her down on the bed, hovering over her with a sly grin and slowly sliding a hand up her bare thigh.
"Want me to show you what Peter Pan and Wendy never did?"
"How long will you be gone?"
Natsu didn't look up from his backpack as he strapped his sleeping bag down on it. But he didn't need to look to know that she had that same melancholic expression on her face that she wore every time he left without her.
"Just a few months," he told her absentmindedly.
"Why can't I come with you?"
"Luce, I told you. It'll be too dangerous, and I don't wanna risk losing you."
He could feel her determined stare piercing his back. "But I don't care."
Putting on his backpack, Natsu turned around to her with a sigh. "Sorry, but we can't go together this time. This is something I have to do alone," he said solemnly.
"Then at least take Happy with you."
"I can't, Luce."
"Fine," she weakly spat, lowering her gaze in disappointment.
Natsu smiled at her, tipping her chin with two fingers so she would look at him. He bore a sort of love-hate towards that look on her face, cheeks flushed with anger, and eyes filled with distress.
"I'll definitely come back."
Lucy nodded, eyes glassy with suppressed tears. "I'll come and kick your ass if you don't."
Grinning at her half-hearted threat, he leaned in to kiss her, softly. Lucy held his hands tightly as he cupped her face, and he knew she was just as scared of losing him like he was of losing her.
"I hope you find him this time," she whispered to him.
She smiled warmly. "Maybe he's in Neverland."
When Natsu burst through the gates of Fairy Tail after his absence, he was welcomed by a stunned silence, but he didn't care.
"I found him!"
He grinned at his friends, breathlessly, and happier than he ever was before. Back at him stared many pairs of disbelieving eyes, still silent, and somehow, it felt as if they were seeing a ghost. But he was too happy, too damn happy to fully realize it.
"I found Igneel!" he yelled once more, his grin never ceasing.
From somewhere in the back, Erza stood up, her eyes wide, blank and glassy. "Natsu," she whispered, but it was so quiet in the usually wild guild that everyone heard her.
"Erza!" Natsu's canines flashed up as his grin grew. "I finally found Igneel!"
Somewhere further away, a fist collided violently with a table and Juvia shrieked when it split in two. "You damn asshole," Gray mumbled, his voice quaking as he looked up at Natsu, a furious grimace forming on his face.
"Where the fucking hell have you been?"
Natsu smirked at him. "What, you missed me?"
"Shut the fuck up." Gray's fists were trembling with anger. "I'm going to kill you."
"Gray-sama," Juvia said soothingly as she touched his arm to hold him back.
She pointed her head subtly at something at the other end of the guild, and Gray inhaled sharply, quickly looking away as if he couldn't watch. Natsu slowly turned around and there she was, the one person in the world he loved even more than Igneel, gazing at him incredulously from empty eyes, looking as if in some sort of trance.
Natsu's heart immediately felt warmer and lighter. "Lucy," he said her name, like it was the most beautiful thing in the world, practically running over to her and scooping her up in his arms in a tight embrace.
"I found him, Luce. I really found him."
"Natsu. Natsu." She whispered his name like a prayer, her arms hanging down limply. "Natsu."
He gave a relieved laugh as he buried his face in her hair. "I missed you," he mumbled softly.
"N-Natsu," she sputtered faintly once more, silent tears running down her cheeks.
"You smell different." He drew back only so much that he could look at her, his fingers sliding into her much longer hair. "You look different."
Lucy brought her hands up to weakly grab his and pull them back. "I… you…"
Natsu smiled warmly, holding her hands tightly and lowering his head, kissing her. She tasted salty, like tears and her lips were stiff, not returning the gesture. He slowly pulled back, his face blank as he looked at her, brows knitting up.
"Luce, what's wrong?"
"I'm sorry. It's too much," she whispered softly, her whole body trembling. "I just can't deal with this right now."
His eyes widened when she broke away from him, walking out of the guild with quick steps without giving him a chance to say something or react somehow. Somewhere in the guild, a chair creaked over the floor, and then an unfamiliar man ran past Natsu, after the blonde girl.
Natsu felt his eyes narrow slightly. "What's going on?" he murmured. "Who is that guy?"
"Natsu," Erza said solemnly, but her eyes were full of grief. "He's Lucy's husband."
He felt as if the world just shattered beneath his feet.
How she had wished he would come back. How she had longed to see him, feel him. Missed his voice, his scent, his touch. How many times had she pictured him returning to their favorite spot one day, with that cheerful grin on his face, telling her he would never ever leave her again.
She couldn't count the times they had been sitting by the riverside, picturing their life together, full of laughter, fun and adventures. And she couldn't count the times she had been sitting alone on the same spot, wondering why he wasn't with her, cursing everything and everyone on the planet for taking him away from her.
How she had wished that he had barged into the chapel that day, declaring the world she was his.
Lucy knew it was all too late now.
"How can she be married?" Natsu roared uncontrollably.
Erza flinched a bit at his outburst, her face grave. "You can't blame her. You've been gone for so long."
He couldn't believe what he was hearing, couldn't believe this was happening. "What the hell are you saying?" he yelled desperately, his fists trembling. "It's been five months! Only five months!"
At that, Erza's eyes widened and not only did hers. It seemed like everyone in Fairy Tail had just held their breaths for a moment that felt too long to bear.
"Natsu," came Mirajane's voice, awfully faint. "You've been gone for five years."
He stared at her in pure disbelief, brows knitting up to a blank frown as he stumbled a step backwards. "That's impossible," he mumbled, shaking his head. "It was five months."
"No, it wasn't," said Erza, staring at him in sheer disbelief. "How can you not know that?"
Natsu was looking at the ground, wide-eyed. "No. That can't be."
"It's pretty clear, isn't it?"
He raised his head, frowning at Gazille who was indifferently gazing in another direction. Crossing his arms, he looked up at Natsu.
"We really do age differently than the rest."
He knew he would find her by the riverside.
When Natsu sat down next to her, she wasn't looking at him and she wasn't crying anymore. Instead, she was gazing at the small waves of the river, her bare feet dangling in the crystal clear water. Something about her face looked very off, very not Lucy-like. He just couldn't decide if it was because she was five years older now or if it was because of the grief in her eyes.
After a while, she softly said, "It's been a long time."
Natsu looked away, gazing at a building across the river. "It felt like only five months to me."
"You're hiding your wedding ring."
She bit down on her lower lip, loosening her fist. "Natsu, I thought you died."
"I just tried to live my life."
"I get it."
"Accepting the fact that you're gone was the hardest thing I ever had to do."
"I'm sorry, Luce," he mumbled weakly. "Really."
Lucy turned her head to look at him, smiling sadly. "I missed you calling me that." Her voice was barely a whisper. "I missed you, Natsu. So much."
"Seems like it's my turn to accept some stuff."
"It's all my fault."
Natsu looked up at her in confusion when she tucked her legs up and out of the water, straightening up with that sad smile still on her face.
"I knew it would end tragic," she said softly. "And I wanted you anyway."
As she left him there by the riverside, Natsu watched in grief how the best and worst day of his life ended. He had gained a father, and lost his Wendy.
"Why were you crying?" Igneel inquired carefully as he moved to sit next to his sniffling foster son.
"Everything is so different from before."
"Things change, Natsu."
"I didn't notice. I couldn't realize that years passed."
Igneel looked up at the sky, sighing. "There's not only power to being a Dragon Slayer."
Natsu rubbed over his eyes, sniffing. "Happy is gone. He left Fairy Tail to travel the land with Charle," he said, not caring that Igneel didn't know them. "And my old guild master died two years ago. Erza is now in charge of Fairy Tail. My old friends are all S-class mages now."
Igneel kept silent, watching how Natsu tucked up his legs as he leaned against the tree on a hill outside Magnolia.
"And Lucy is married."
"I'm sorry about that. No wonder you were crying," Igneel said softly. "I would have loved to meet her."
"I wasn't crying about her. I was crying because I never felt more like a child before," Natsu mumbled indignantly. "And I wasn't crying."
Igneel gave a sad smile.
"Sure you weren't."
It was normal and a given that he never used her door. So that day, he also climbed through her window, like he always did. Not wasting a thought about that guy sitting in Lucy's armchair.
"What the hell?"
"Calm down," Natsu said nonchalantly. "I always use the window."
"Oh. You're that Natsu." The guy narrowed his eyes to an icy expression.
Natsu arched a brow in exasperation. "Is Lucy around?"
"Where is she?"
"When will she be back?"
Natsu's brow twitched. What an asshole. "Whatever. Just tell her I stopped by."
Lucy's husband watched him climb the window sill and then sighed. "Wait a sec," he said, making Natsu pause and turn around. "There's something I wanna say."
"What could you have to say to me?"
"Look, I know you don't like me. And that feeling is completely mutual." More like downright hate, Natsu thought angrily. "But you mean a lot to Lucy. She cherishes you. So I want to try to get along with you, for her."
Natsu refused to look at that man, the guy who ruined his fairy tale.
"Fuck that." His voice was nothing more than a faint whisper. "You stole my Wendy."
It was late at night when Natsu returned to his apartment and found Lucy sitting on his threshold, her face buried in her hands.
She looked up at him, her mascara smeared across her cheeks from the tears that were pouring out from her chocolate brown eyes.
"Gray told me," she said softly. "You're leaving me again."
Closing his eyes, he sighed. "I can't leave someone who's not mine anymore." It hurt, to say it out loud, to realize it. "I'm just leaving Magnolia. Meet up with Happy if I'm lucky."
And suddenly, she was hugging him. "Don't go! Please stay with me!"
"You're married, Luce."
"I'll divorce him!" she exclaimed, looking up at his face, desperately, pleadingly. "Please, Natsu! I'm not myself without you!"
And then, she kissed him, frantically, gripping his vest tightly. He almost wanted to kiss her back, tell her to throw her life away and come with him, but he couldn't be a child right now. He wanted to be a grown-up, even just once.
"I can't do that to you," he mumbled faintly as he gently shoved her away. "You'll be getting older and I'll just stay the same. You need someone to grow old with you."
"No, I don't. I need you," Lucy whispered, her shoulders trembling.
He felt his heart ache, but he couldn't be selfish about this. She was more important than him. "Be reasonable, weirdo." His voice was quavering, but he couldn't. "You need security."
Natsu pressed a gentle kiss on her forehead and broke away from her, leaving her there before he could change his mind.
"See you in a few months. Or years."
He paused at her suddenly calm voice.
"It belongs to you and always will," she told him softly, before turning away.
Natsu knew she meant her heart.
"Let's go," Natsu said as he climbed on Igneel's back.
"Are you sure you don't wanna stay?"
"I don't wanna hurt her."
Igneel gazed back at him in sympathy. "You're hurting both of you either way, aren't you?"
"This way it'll be more painful for me than for her."
"You know," Igneel said, smirking softly. "I think you're more grown-up than you let on. I'm kinda proud of you, Natsu."
Natsu smiled at this, even if it looked melancholic, as he gazed up at the stars.
"Hey, Igneel. Do you think Neverland is up there?"
Igneel gave a grin. "Let's find out."
Lucy was crying, yet smiling, as she gazed affectionately at the baby in her arms. When she raised her eyes at her husband sitting at her bedside, she looked almost pleading.
"Can we call her Natsu?"
The man offered her a melancholic smile. "Sure, love."
He had put up with always playing the second fiddle in her heart. He would get used to the third, too.
It was a warm summer day and Lucy was sitting on a bench in the park, reading a book while her daughter was playing with the other children, when he sat down next to her without a word. Everyone else wouldn't even look up from their book, but she had always somehow felt whenever Natsu was near.
So she just smiled. "It's been a while."
Natsu cracked a grin. "You're reading Peter Pan."
"It became my favorite novel over the years."
She closed the book, finally looking up at him and it was odd that after all those years his vision, his eyes, his smile still made her heart skip a beat.
"You cut your hair," he said, touching a shoulder-long golden lock. "It looks pretty."
"You look the same as the last time I saw you," she told him in return, smirking at him.
He grinned. "Well, it's my curse."
"Don't say that. Many people would kill for that, including me."
Natsu's smile faltered, thinking he had just seen a glint flitter across her eyes that told him her feelings never faded away. Maybe they were just as present as they were in their old days, just like his were. It wasn't just so she would never age – it was to be able to be with him.
"Hey, I want you to meet someone," she suddenly said, and then called out to the children, "Honey, come here for a sec, okay?"
A little girl came running over, six or seven years old, with brown hair and Lucy's eyes. Natsu felt his heart wrench at her daughter's vision, but he successfully managed to force a smile anyhow.
Lucy knelt down before the girl, taking her hands. "Honey, guess who's here?" she said lovingly, and he immediately thought she must be the best mother in the world. "It's the man you're named after, and Mommy's dearest friend."
Lucy threw him a smile, and Natsu quickly cleared his throat, still stunned that she actually named her kid after him. Straightening up to kneel down next to Lucy in front of her daughter, he offered her a cheerful grin.
"Hey, you. I'm Natsu."
"No way!" squealed the little girl in pure excitement, her eyes sparkling. "You're Natsu the Salamander! Mommy told me all of your awesome adventures!"
Natsu smirked at Lucy in amusement, and she blushed the faintest bit.
"Can we be friends?" exclaimed the little girl, looking as if about to burst with joy.
"Best buds," he grinned.
"Wait 'till my friends hear this!"
As little Natsu ran off, squealing at her friends how the awesome Salamander was her best friend, the big Natsu looked up at her mother who straightened up, looking slightly bashful – she had never been prettier.
"Kids always loved you," she sighed, looking away.
"So you told her stories about me?"
"Just a few. She's exaggerating."
He couldn't help but chuckle. That was so like her. "I'm glad you're happy, Luce."
As Natsu sat back down on the bench, gazing at the children playing in the noonday heat, he failed to notice the melancholic look Lucy was giving him. She slowly sat down next to him, never looking away. It took a few heartbeats for him to notice her stare and turn his head, only to find her quickly turning hers away.
"You know, Natsu," she said after a while. "There's still another Wendy out there, and she's like you."
He frowned at her, his face blank. "Why are you telling me this?"
"I don't want you to have unhappy thoughts."
Natsu gave a hollow laugh, looking up at the sky. "Don't worry about me."
Lucy looked gravely at him. "I always worry about you."
"But I'm not yours to worry about, am I?"
She was silent for a few eternal moments. "You've grown up inside, huh?"
"Yuck. Don't say that ever again, you freak." He stuck his tongue out at her, and she laughed.
"Really now, how could I have thought that?"
Natsu smiled, and then out of the blue, he leaned in to give her a soft peck on the cheek. She whirled around to him, eyes wide and cheeks red, as she watched him straighten up, his smile growing to a grin.
"A goodbye kiss."
Lucy smiled sadly. "Will you come back?"
He chuckled softly, turning away.
"To hear stories. About me."
What Lucy didn't know was that he stood in front of her apartment that evening, gazing into her window from down there and watching her play with her daughter. He smiled when she threw the little girl in the air and caught her again, and her daughter just laughed that carefree laugh only a child could have.
And then her husband came into the picture in the window, wearing a hilarious mask and both females burst out laughing as he chased them across the room.
Natsu narrowed his eyes to a grievous expression, one thought haunting him.
He should have been the father.
Lucy's laughter faded away when she gazed outside the window to see Natsu walking away. Looking back at her husband and her daughter, their carefree laughter filling the air, she hated herself for feeling sad despite all the happiness in her life. And she hated herself even more for the one thought that haunted her since her daughter's birth.
Natsu should have been the father.
He visited her every year, took her out for a little adventure and watched little Natsu grow up to a woman just as pretty as her mother. Lucy always made a point to tell him how much she cherished those few days he would spent with her every now and then, and he would always keep it a secret that in reality, she was the one doing him a favor.
He'd always secretly picture that he was little Natsu's father whenever he was with them, and the girl truly seemed to love him like he was. Lucy always said that her real father was away more than Natsu himself. What an utter idiot.
But pretending to be her father became harder and harder over the years as the little girl grew up, and now that she was about the same age as he looked, and married even, it was just impossible.
"I'm so happy you came," his little girl said as she hugged him tightly. She looked beautiful in her white wedding dress.
"Never would've missed this."
She offered him a blissful grin. "I'd be mad if you did, Na-kun." It was a stupid nickname, but he loved it; maybe because she loved it. "Though it eggs me you weren't the one walking me down the aisle."
He chuckled softly. "Sheesh, what if your father hears that?"
"It would've been perfect if you had both walked me." She cheekily stuck out her tongue at him, and he laughed. "It may sound weird, because you look the same age as me, but you've always kind of been like a second father to me."
He smiled warmly at her. "You know, I really wish I were your father."
"You'd be the best Dad there ever was," she grinned.
The older Natsu cleared his throat before he could get all emotional. "So where's your mother? I've seen her at the wedding, but then I lost track."
She suddenly looked reflective. "That's a good question, actually. I haven't seen her for a while," she said. "Maybe Mom went to get some fresh air."
"I'll go look for her then."
Little Natsu, even if she wasn't as little anymore, giggled when he squeezed her nose with two fingers, like he did back when she was still a child.
"Hey, stop that. I'm not a kid anymore."
She rolled her eyes at him and he just smiled warmly.
"You know, I think you're the prettiest bride there ever was."
"How did you find me?" Lucy asked softly as he sat down next to her by the riverside.
Natsu shrugged, diving his feet into the cool water. "Where else could you have been?"
"Oh, the cleverness of you."
Lucy flashed him a sly smile, and he chuckled about her small joke. "Hey, you weirdo. Your daughter's celebrating her wedding back there," he grinned then. "What the hell are you doing sitting here?"
"I needed some fresh air. It's pretty crowdy in there."
"Well, it's her big day." He nudged her shoulder gently with his. "Mother-in-law."
"Yuck, don't say it," she sputtered as she buried her face in her hands. "Even without your help I know I'll soon be a grandma. It's awful. The wall of youth is shattering."
"I think you're lucky."
She looked up at him, curiously, her eyes full of sympathy.
Natsu was smiling miserably. "I think you're all very lucky. To grow old would be an awfully big adventure."
She was silent for a while, not daring to break this moment of tragic enchantment. Then, slowly, a smile crept to her lips as she playfully tapped his shoulder, and he turned to look at her.
"Wendy wants to give Peter a kiss."
It was amusing that Natsu actually blushed.
"And it hurts her that she can't," Lucy said softly, sighing deeply. "So she gives him this instead."
Natsu watched in bewilderment as she reached into her purse and then took his hand where she placed a small, silver thing that made him blink in utter blankness.
Lucy smiled lovingly. "It's the hidden kiss Wendy gave Peter. I've been saving it for you."
Her smile grew to a grin, and though she was about twenty years older than her daughter, and even though her age was showing around her eyes, he thought she looked even prettier than this day's bride.
It was like she was kissing his heart.
"I'll treasure it," he smiled.
It was the last time that he climbed through her window, and even if she was old now and her armchair was facing the other way, she still seemed to feel whenever he was near – then again, he was the only one who ever climbed through her window.
"I can't go and have fun with you anymore, Natsu," she faintly told him. Her voice was hoarse and nothing like he had known it anymore. "I'm too old."
"That's okay. I just came to see you."
He walked over to her armchair, sitting down in front of her on the coffee table and smiling at her weak and wrinkly self.
"You're the prettiest grandma I've ever seen, Luce."
She laughed, but it quickly broke into coughing. "Don't be stupid," she croaked out. "I'm old and sick and almost done for."
Natsu frowned at her. "Don't say that."
Lucy gave a hollow smile. "No worries. I think to die will be an awfully big adventure."
Somehow, her words stabbed his heart. He gently took her hand with both of his, moving it and lowering his head to press his mouth against it, without really giving it a kiss. Lucy cocked her head, sadly, when she felt moisture on the skin of her palm.
"Boy, why are you crying?"
"It's not fair," he sputtered hoarsely against her skin, his shoulders trembling. "I wanted to grow old with you. I wanted to marry you, and have kids with you. I wanted to live with you so badly."
Lucy gently removed her hand from his desperate grasp to graze his cheek with her fingers and wipe away the tears, smiling melancholic and looking genuinely heartrending.
"I know. Me too," she whispered.
"I swear it to you," Natsu mumbled in a sob. "He had you in this life, but during the next one million you'll be only mine."
Lucy smiled weakly at him. "I'll kick your ass if you don't make that true."
He gave a desperate laugh and the sound hurt her more than any of her ailments.
"Stay a while, yeah?" she said to him, leaning back in her armchair. "I'll just rest my eyes for a bit."
"I'll stay as long as you want."
"That's good," she whispered with a content smile as she closed her eyes while he was holding her hand.
It took Natsu a few hours to realize she would never open them again.
He released her stiff hand, placing it over her heart as he straightened up, and it was strange that he wasn't crying, when he felt that he just died with her. Despite his inner emptiness, he smiled warmly at the peaceful picture she was giving before he leaned down to press one last kiss on her cold lips.
"I'll meet you in Neverland," he whispered. "By the riverside."