A/N: This will be my first fanfic related to Fairy Tail, so any and all criticism/reviews are greatly welcomed and appreciated. I just burned through the manga up to current events so I don't feel as strongly as I'd like to in my understanding of each character, however I've been itching to write a story with this pairing since they are just too awesome. I think this will probably end up as a two-shot but I'll have to revisit and finish it sometime later since I have previous works out I need to work on for a little. It should be noted I'm having this taking place after the current arc in progress right now with Lucy having the new keys (no actual spoilers in this story though). In any case, hope this turns out well and enjoy!
Gray Fullbuster leaned back on the chair he was sitting on while stretching his arms. The chair was propped up onto two legs with his feet supporting the weight on the front and the wizard tipped the chair back and forth, each time trying to lean the chair back as far as possible without losing balance. Trying to go further than his previous push, Gray extended his feet more forcibly than he intended to and felt the sickening sensation of his stomach dropping as his chair started to fall over backwards.
In an attempt to counterbalance the motion, Gray threw himself forward in his chair with his legs extended forward in the air as well, trying to have as much weight in the front as possible. A reassuring jolt of movement and the resounding thud of the two front legs of the chair hitting the wooden floor signified to the ice mage that he was successful in his endeavor and as a result Gray exhaled in relief.
"You really should learn some patience when it comes to these kinds of things, Gray. It's not like you're making them happen any quicker," a voice at the opposite side of the table said.
Gray crossed his arms on the table and rested his chin on them, half-closing his eyes in disinterest as he looked over the cards in front of him for what seemed like the hundredth time.
"Well when you came up to me asking if I wanted a quick tarot card reading, I took the word 'quick' to heart. I didn't think that 'quick' meant half of a damned hour. What's up with you, Cana? You never used to take this long with this useless task."
The black haired card-user sitting in front of him shot an angry glance to the ice mage before returning her gaze to her deck of cards, reaching down and flipping another onto the table. After she had flipped the card, the magician grabbed a bottle of liquor next to her free hand and proceeded to down the bottle in one setting, slamming it back on the table afterwards with a satisfied gasp.
"That would actually explain it," Gray decided to himself.
"What would explain what?" the woman responded.
The ice mage raised one of the arms he was resting on and half-heartedly waved at the card user.
"Nothing, just forget about it."
Returning her attention to the cards in front of her, Cana continued to channel her magic through the cards while keeping Gray's presence in mind. Despite what the fellow Fairy Tail member in front of her might think about the reading, he was mistaken in a couple of areas about it. It was true that readings took longer than they used to for the ice mage, but that wasn't because of anything simple like alcohol. Rather, it was due to the fact that in order to give someone a reading, Cana had to align her presence and magic to that of the subject. Essentially, the stronger the person, the more difficult and longer it took for the magician to give them a reading, and Gray certainly wasn't at the level of ability from back when he was a kid.
That was actually part of the reason Cana offered the reading in the first place, the card user had thought herself on a level similar to that of the ice mage, however current events had led the magician to believe her skills couldn't compare to that of her childhood friend.
Cana took a deep breath before flipping the final card onto the table. The next card would decide definitively whether or not Gray's reading was to be of great fortune or complete tragedy. In either case, the results would be to the extreme. A wheel of fortune card stared back up and Cana smiled to herself. Noticing the change in her attitude and guessing that it meant she was done, Gray raised himself back off of the table.
"Well what do you know, Gray, you're one hell of a lucky guy."
"It seems like any time that I give you a reading you have brilliant luck in store. It's quite astonishing, actually."
Gray started to lean back in his chair again, this time more out of irritation than anything else.
"You say that, and yet nothing spectacular ever happens. Not to mention that every time you do say it I have an awful set of events that have either happened or are yet to happen."
Cana leaned forward and rested her chin on her hand, her elbow supporting the weight on the table and a renewed smile on her face. It was as she thought; Gray was on a nearly identical level of strength to Natsu, whom she had just done a reading for previous to the ice mage. Cana was comforted by the knowledge that while she certainly wasn't at that particular level, her old friends hadn't surpassed her by too much yet. There was always time for change.
"So you're not satisfied with it then? I guess I could redo your reading if you'd like, though it's not going to change."
Gray sat straight up and began waving his arms across each other as if he was trying to tell the card user to stop and go no further.
"Spare me. I'm more than happy with the one at this point."
The ice mage proceeded to get out of his chair and walk over to the bar where he had just spotted Natsu and Lucy before he could be interrupted again by Cana. Right when the wizard made it to the bar, a commotion all throughout Fairy Tail could be heard, directed towards the front entrance. Cana looked over to see what all the fuss was about when she saw one of the guild's strongest, Erza, returning from her latest mission. It didn't take long for the scarlet haired warrior to start scolding various members of the guild for actions they had done or were currently doing. Soon enough the swordswoman had wended her way through the crowd near Cana on her way to no doubt yell at Natsu and Gray for their reckless destruction on their last mission.
"Oh, Erza!" the card user called out before the swordswoman could get out of earshot.
Erza turned around with a pleasant look on her face to reply to the card user.
"Oh, hey Cana, what's up? Do you need something?"
"Not really, I've just been giving out readings for the day and I wanted to see if you were interested in one."
The thought of a tarot card reading piqued the interest of the scarlet haired warrior enough to detract her attention from the mission to punish her two friends and Erza sat herself across from Cana.
"Sure, sounds interesting," the armor wearing magician stated with a light smile as she adjusted herself in the chair.
Cana found herself almost shaking with anticipation. It had been quite a while since she had last given Erza a reading and the card user found herself dying to know the true extent of her guild mate's strength.
Not too far away from the two at the table, Gray and Natsu exhaled in relief that their childhood friend had been distracted before making her way over to them. Erza had been called out alone for a particular mission after the group had finished their ordeal with Nirvana and without anyone to keep them in check the duo had torn down a small village during an argument that got out of hand. Gray looked over to his salmon haired friend and noticed that the dragon slayer was looking more nervous than usual.
"What's with you, Natsu? You look like you're riding a vehicle or something. Seriously, stop it. You're starting to make me feel sick just looking at you."
The fire mage looked over to his companion with an indignant look before stretching himself over the bar with his chin resting on the polished wood. Sweat began to drip down the Fairy Tail wizard's face if anything he looked more worried than before.
"Hey! Listen to me when I'm talking to you, you low-class mage!" Gray yelled at the dragon slayer.
Natsu threw himself off of the bar and butted his head against the ice mage's, gritting his teeth while emitting an angry growl, smoke pouring out from his mouth.
"What's that, ice fairy?! You wanna start something?"
Gray pressed his head forcefully against Natsu's before responding.
"Yeah, we have some unfinished business anyways. You were lucky that the guards came before our last fight ended, otherwise you would be a chunk of ice right now, you damned whelp!"
"As if! You're the lucky one! If it wasn't for that interruption you'd be a puddle on the ground!"
Both mages continued to argue and soon enough they began to summon their power into their hands, a cool mist circling around Gray's hands while smoke and fire torrented around Natsu's. Before the two rivals could begin another fight, Lucy, who had until then been talking with Mirajane, interjected.
"Are you sure you want to do that, Natsu? Don't tell me you've already forgotten about the reading you got..." the blonde haired celestial wizard stated, "it would probably be better for you to just not do anything today, lest you make your punishment worse."
Natsu's countenance went from fired up to completely petrified and within an instant he went from having his head against Gray's to face-first on the bar, breaking out in another cold sweat. Gray looked confusedly to the celestial wizard.
"What's the deal with Natsu?" Gray asked pointedly.
Lucy gestured with an outstretched thumb to where Gray had just been with Cana and he saw, much to his horror, that Erza's reading was progressing faster than he'd anticipated.
"Natsu got a reading from Cana just before you did. Apparently this guy has lots of destruction and lots of pain in his future."
Gray crossed his arms.
"Well the destruction part isn't really that surprising, and for that matter neither is the pain. It's not like our last few missions have been a walk in the park, what's that got him so worried for?"
"Well, normally you'd be right, but apparently Cana said that the large amount of pain is going to happen today. Considering that we're not going on a mission right now and that Erza just walked in…"
"Ah, I get it now," Gray interjected.
"So what did your reading say, Gray?" Lucy asked the ice mage.
"Something about me having brilliant luck or fortune or something, it doesn't really matter since the day's been nothing but trouble and with Erza about to punish me and Natsu it doesn't look like it's going to get any better."
Lucy raised her hand to her head and rubbed her chin in thought, grabbing her elbow with the other hand to support the weight and rest her head.
"Don't be so glum all the time; I'm sure things will get better. After all, Cana's readings have never been wrong when she's done them for me, so I'm sure they'll work for you! Oh, I just remembered something that I've wanted to test out ever since the whole thing with Nirvana."
Gray took a swig of alcohol from the mug Mirajane had just gotten from him before replying disinterestedly.
"Is there anyone in Fairy Tail you like more than a friend?" the blonde haired mage spontaneously asked.
Gray had taken another swill of his drink when Lucy asked him the question and whatever amount didn't half-choke him was sprayed onto the bar.
"Do I what?!" the ice mage yelled out amidst coughing.
"You heard me Gray. I think you do and I have a sneaking suspicion of who it might be."
Gray cleared out his throat through clenched teeth and nervously awaited the next thing Lucy was to say. Almost as if on cue, the celestial spirit mage took out one of her recently acquired golden keys from her belt and pointed it next to her chair.
A poof of smoke appeared in the area Lucy pointed her key towards and the smoke gave way to two smaller figures. Identical aside from minor differences such as one smiling and the other frowning, the two summons awaited Lucy's next command. Lucy proceeded to point to Gray and looked to her new summons.
"If you would be so kind, Gemi and Mini."
Needing to go no further, Lucy happily watched as two of her newest spirits bonded together. Similar to before, a cloud of smoke covered area around the spirit and when it cleared another Gray Fullbuster stood.
"Hey! What's with this?! Why are there two of me? What's going on here?" the original ice mage began yelling.
Lucy looked back to her companion slightly confused before realizing something that she hadn't noticed before.
"Oh, that's right. You never saw Gemi and Mini in action during our fights with the Oracion Seis. They have the power to perfectly replicate the appearance, abilities, and thoughts of any person they come in contact with. You weren't there, but we had a brief run-in with them cloned as you during that mission."
"Oh… well that's nice and all, but what's that got to do with…" Gray began to ask before he put the pieces together.
Lucy smiled and winked at the Fairy Tail wizard.
"That's right; we're going to find out a little more about you thanks to these two right here!"
Gray stepped back in apprehension before his anxiety turned into frustration and anger.
"Hang on, shouldn't that be a direct violation of your contract or something? You shouldn't be able to just pry into other peoples' business like that, especially your friends!"
"Oh lighten up Gray, it's not like I'm going to have them reveal your darkest secrets. I'm just interested to see what you think about a certain someone. When I saw your clone, it said something that raised my interest..."
Gray nervously shuffled waiting for Lucy to continue.
"So, Gemini, if you wouldn't mind," the stellar mage continued, "could you tell me what Gray thinks about me?"
A wave of relief overcame the ice mage and he loosened his posture considerably, getting ready to enjoy the disappointment the blonde haired Fairy Tail wizard was about to get.
The fake Gray Fullbuster turned to look at Lucy, intensely examining her in order to gather the information she requested.
"Gray's opinion of Lucy Heartphilia…"
"Great… now only a good friend," the clone began.
Lucy looked irritably towards the original Gray who now wore a mocking grin for some reason. The stellar mage found it odd at how quickly his countenance had changed.
"Overestimated by others, underestimated by herself," the fake Gray continued.
"Pretty damn good looking,"
"Ahah! I knew it!" Lucy yelled at the real Gray Fullbuster while pointing at him, sure of her victory.
The ice mage scoffed at the blonde haired wizard.
"So? That doesn't mean a thing. I happen to think a lot of the people in this guild are attractive, it doesn't mean I like them."
Lucy stomped her foot and put on a pouty face, completely unsatisfied with the results the clone was giving her.
"Keep going! I know there's someone here that you like, even if it's surprisingly not me! I'm determined to at least find that much out. Otherwise you wouldn't have been acting so sketchy about the whole situation."
Gray's smirk faltered a little and his eyebrow twitched, but aside from that his demeanor remained confident.
"Thinks she might like Natsu," the fake Gray resumed.
Lucy gasped and realized that her spirit was going in the opposite direction of where she wanted.
"Thinks the two would probably make a pretty good couple."
"Wait, wait! Enough about what he thinks of me, Gemini! Look around and find out what he thinks of the rest of the girls in the guild!" the blonde haired mage yelled as her cheeks began to flush.
Gray slammed his fist onto the bar, fed up with the information gathering despite his satisfaction at Lucy's plan backfiring on her.
"Whoa, enough is enough already! You've had your fun, give me some privacy already here."
Lucy slumped her shoulders and looked meekly at the ground, disappointed that she was unsuccessful.
"Oh alright, you're right. I did say I wasn't going to pry too far into your business and I'll stick to that. Gemini, ret—"
Lucy was cut off when she looked over to her summoned spirit and saw the fake Gray staring intently at Erza who had just finished with her reading as was making her way over to the bar. Normally Lucy would have just ignored the situation and sent her stellar spirit back to the spirit world, but the look on the clone's face stopped her from doing so.
Gemini began to observe Gray's thoughts and emotions regarding the scarlet haired wizard and without command began to state them in an unsteady voice.
"Gray's opinion of Erza Scarlet…" the spirit shakily began.
The original Gray had leaned back against the bar with his back, holding his mug of ale and closing his eyes in respite, glad that the situation was over with. Upon hearing his own voice mentioning his opinion of Erza, the ice mage jumped forward and fell off of his stool, spilling the contents of his drink on the floor. When he recovered himself, the black haired wizard could do nothing but watch in horror as his clone continued on.
"One of his closest friends," the spirit continued on, now with a more confident and stronger voice.
"Always closes herself off even when she doesn't have to."
"More important than his own life."
Gray clenched his fists and silently prayed that the spirit wouldn't go any further.
"Also…" the spirit tried to continue on, its voice wavering again.
To both Lucy and Gray's surprise, Gemini stopped it's progression of analysis, possibly because it was at a loss of what to say. The fake Gray Fullbuster looked extremely nervous and apprehensive at what it was about to say.
"Also…" the clone continued to try.
Erza had finally made it over to the fake Gray Fullbuster, unaware that it was secretly a celestial spirit in disguise. She lightly smiled at her supposed childhood friend and at his strange presentation.
Finally, the fake Gray Fullbuster stepped forward and raised a fist in the air, presenting it to the swordswoman.
"Erza! I challenge you!" the clone bellowed out loud enough for the entire guild to hear.
All of Fairy Tail dropped to a dead silence at the mention of a challenge to Erza Scarlet. The scarlet haired mage crossed her arms and tilted her posture to one foot.
"Is that so, Gray? I've always wondered when you'd get the courage to challenge me again. Very well, I accept!" Erza boisterously yelled.
Ending note: Well that was an absolute blast! I had a lot of fun writing this chapter and I hope you guys enjoy it. I'm not going to skip out on the fight, either. I've been trying to work on my action writing and I think this is a great chance for me to improve, so expect a big fight between the two friends next chapter as well as other interaction. I've grown to be a huge sucker for Gray x Erza and I dearly hope that something will develop between them in the manga. There's still a chance and luckily even though it's been going back and forth there isn't any reason for me to believe that it's not possible. For a lack of someone to talk to about the pairing, I'll just put my thoughts here, read on if you'd like (it'll probably be fairly long).
Honestly, as things stand right now, I think Gray genuinely likes Erza. I don't know if he's realized/accepted it or not, but I think it's there. Looking at how he acts around her and how emotional he gets when she's in trouble is what I really think drives it home. I don't think Erza feels one way or another on the matter considering she's constantly torn between people and always secluded her emotions from others, but that's just me. It very well could be that she's interested in someone else (entirely possible) but at the very least I think Gray likes her.
When I started reading the manga, I always found it odd that Natsu was so eager to challenge Erza to a fight and Gray was so reluctant. I mean, here we have two enormous rivals who are ready to go at it anytime and one of them challenges a stronger opponent while the other doesn't? It never made sense to me until chapter 89 (Gray x Erza fans' favorite chapter). Gray constantly challenged Erza until he saw her crying by the river and I'm inclined to agree with others in that he has never challenged her since that event (it would certainly explain the discrepancy with him and Natsu on the matter). I think Gray really does want to challenge her like Natsu does, but for whatever reason can't bring himself to do it. It needs to happen again at some point and I hope it does since that would be a huge development for the two.
I'd go on in more detail, however this is getting a little too long and I can't really remember everything I wanted to say. Oh well. If you're interested in discussing the pairing, feel free to PM me or leave a review, perhaps we can talk through that. At least let me know how the chapter was haha!