A/N: Wow, my bad on how much time's passed since I put up the first chapter. My writing's changed a lot since then, but I hope it doesn't throw off the story too much (if anything, I'd like to think it's made it better! haha). Anyways, I seem to notice a disturbing lack of Gray x Erza stories being made! What's up with that? I know there's got to be more Gray x Erza fans than what I've seen so far. I'll do what I can in my spare time to spark it up by making more oneshots and perhaps some drabbles, but I want to see some feedback on this and more content from now on! Anyways, hope you guys enjoy this chapter, put a lot of work into it and spent way more time than I wanted to for its length. Be ready, it's a fairly long chapter to boot too, so get comfortable!
Edit: For some reason when I upload some chapters the horizontal breakers don't get tranfsered and it results in one large chunk of text. Went through and put the spacers where they needed to be to transition breaks in the text instead of being without notice.
"Are you ready, Gray?" a voice called out to the ice mage.
Gray rubbed the bridge of his nose, wanting desperately to say no but knowing that he was left with no other choice after his clone issued the challenge.
"Yeah…" he sighed.
Erza perked up, crossing her arms and eying the ice mage intensely. "What's wrong? You don't seem very enthused right now." She chuckled to herself. "And here I was thinking that you finally had the courage to fight me again, you seemed so determined back at the guild."
"Courage?" the ice mage echoed, "What's that supposed to mean?"
The scarlet haired swordswoman looked straight at her guild mate. "I think you know exactly what I mean."
Gray scowled, frowning at the woman in front of him before leaning towards her, his thumb pointing out from his clenched fist towards his chest. "Are you saying that I'm scared?"
"Oh, heavens no, I'm not saying that…" the woman began, leaning back and grinning at the black haired youth, "but I'm certainly implying it."
"Why you! I've never run from a fight be—"
"Avoiding a fight and running from one are basically the same things, Gray," Erza chided, interrupting her childhood friend with a glare.
Gray straightened up.
"Who said I was 'avoiding' this fight? There's a difference between not wanting a fight and avoiding a fight, you know."
Erza planted her hands at her hips, pouting at the last statement. "Is that so? And why wouldn't you want to fight me if you weren't scared?"
"That's…" Gray began, reaching into his back pocket and withdrawing a cigarette from it, "none of your business."
"None of my business?" the scarlet haired spell caster repeated, tilting her head to the side. Noticing the narcotic in the ice mage's hand, Erza pointed at it while yelling, "And what is that?! How many times do I have to tell you to stop smoking those things?"
"Sue me." The ice mage reached around in his pockets, searching for something before looking to the crowd of people eagerly awaiting the fight. "Natsu…" Gray waved the dragon slayer over, pointing at the cigarette now resting in his mouth, "if you wouldn't mind."
"Tch, when are you going to buy some matches for a change you cheap bastard?"
Natsu pointed out a finger, a small flame flowing out from his fingertips. Gray used the fire to light his cigarette, taking a large drag before exhaling it in satisfaction.
Natsu poked the ice caster, his finger still emitting the flame he'd used to light the black haired mage's cigarette. "If you're really thankful start with the fight already. I can't wait to see Erza tear you a new one!"
Gray smacked the hand away forcibly with his free hand, the other one resting by his mouth holding the freshly lit cigarette. No words followed the gesture, but the message got through to Natsu loud and clear; Gray was taking this very seriously.
Natsu blinked. He was surprised that Gray hadn't followed up with some lame quip or something similar, the black haired youth's silence perturbing Natsu more than the fire mage cared for. It seemed whenever things regarding Erza came up the ice maker didn't take it lightly, especially now considering that Natsu had never seen the two fight before.
"What's with Gray?" a feminine voice behind the fire mage asked.
"Huh?" Natsu turned around, looking at the celestial wizard standing by him.
"I mean, look at him!" she cried out in exasperation. "I don't think I've ever seen him pass up an opportunity to fight with you; plus I think I've seen him smoke like twice since I've been at Fairy Tail."
"Oh, that," Natsu remarked. "From what I've seen, that ice queen only smokes when he needs to calm his nerves." The dragon slayer watched as the celestial spirit summoner looked at him questionably. "To each their own, right?" he finished, shrugging.
Lucy returned her attention to the guild member in question, inspecting the ice caster a second time. Natsu had been right, what once had been a nervous and hesitant person was now replaced with a calm and collected one. She doubted that her guildmate had done a complete personality change within the past ten seconds; the cigarette must have really helped out.
"This should definitely be interesting," Natsu continued after a moment, grinning widely while lightly bumping his fists together.
"You seem more excited than I thought you would be, Natsu," Lucy noted.
"Well yeah, why wouldn't I be?" Natsu replied indignantly while giving the celestial spirit a curious look. "Oh, right," he realized, "you haven't been here for that long, so it's something you wouldn't have noticed yet..." The salmon haired dragon slayer looked distantly to Gray and Erza.
"That Gray and Erza haven't fought each other yet."
"Well, yeah, I did kinda notice that. I just didn't think much of it since I've only seen you and Erza go it out twice." She added under her breath, "You and Gray on the other hand are a totally different story …"
Something about the way Natsu had brought the subject up to her stuck out to the celestial spirit summoner. "You make it sound like they haven't fought each other for a while. How long has it been since their last spar?"
"I wouldn't know," Natsu coolly responded.
"Wouldn't know?" Lucy repeated, somewhat incredulously, "I doubt they would fight in secret or something. I'd expect them to have you watch of all people."
"That's because there hasn't been anything for me to see." After a moment of Lucy looking puzzled at the dragon slayer, Natsu sighed before answering her unasked question. "In all the time I've been here at Fairy Tail, I've never seen these two fight."
"WHAT?" Lucy yelped, unable to understand how two of the three most destructive forces in Fairy Tail were able to refrain themselves from testing their strength against the other; especially when the friends in question were Gray, Erza, and Natsu. Each of the three were constantly trying to outdo the others in just about everything they did, it simply didn't make sense.
"That's why this is such a big deal," Natsu finished, gesturing to the crowd that had gathered.
The blonde haired wizard looked around to see that Natsu was right; there were a lot people surrounding the battle area, just about every member of Fairy Tail somewhere in the crowd. With everyone's gazes at the two friends about to fight, Lucy couldn't help but follow the stares.
Lucy watched the duo intently, both nervously and eagerly awaiting the start of their fight. On one side, Erza stood intently and unwavering, deep in thought; however, on the other, Gray had begun to tap his foot impatiently. After a minute, the ice wizard finally spoke up.
"Erza." Gray waited for the scarlet haired warrior to turn her attention back to him. "You asked if I was ready to fight, but I think the real question here is are you?"
"Oh?" the swordswoman chimed, "Is that so, Gray?"
Narrowing her eyes, the scarlet haired mage requipped her favored blade into her hands and pointed it at the ice caster.
"I think I'm more than ready."
Gray continued to stand still, unconvinced. "Is that what you're going to come at me in?"
"Don't make me laugh."
"What made you think I was trying to be funny?" Erza took a battle stance. "Stand ready, Gray. If you don't, I'm going to attack you as you are."
"If you're not taking this seriously, why should I?"
Erza clenched the long blade, twisting her hands tightly on the grip. "Last warning."
Gray didn't move.
"If that's the way it's going to be, Gray, then don't blame me if you get hurt!" With that last line Erza darted towards her opponent, drawing her sword to the side and sweeping across in a horizontal slash that would collide with the ice maker's midsection. Before her blade could strike, however, it met heavy resistance in the form of a block of ice before stopping more than a foot away from its intended target.
"I knew you were going to hold back, but this much?" With his right arm which was free, the left subdued by keeping the block of ice formed, Gray took the mostly consumed cigarette and flicked it in Erza's direction. The narcotic passed harmlessly by the scarlet haired swordswoman, however she squinted her eyes in anticipation of it possibly hitting her.
In that moment of weakness, Gray balled up his free hand and stepped forward, delivering a strong hook into his friend's cheek that sent the woman flying back. The force of the unexpected blow loosened Erza's grip on her sword and she fell back empty handed, landing hard on her back with her blade still embedded in the ice.
"Hey, jerk, what's the deal?! That was a cheap shot, Gray!" Lucy yelled out, trying to scold the ice mage physically as well but was held back by Natsu. "Let go! That wasn't fair! Isn't this supposed to be a duel, a fair fight?"
Gray said nothing to the celestial wizard currently berating him. Instead, he reached over and withdrew the sword embedded in his ice with his free hand, afterwards relieving the other from its duty in maintaining the ice. The chunk of summoned ice afterwards crackled loudly, breaking apart before melting into water that quickly disappeared. The ice mage limply tossed the sword halfway between him and Erza who was still sitting on the ground, rubbing her jaw.
"Are you really so afraid of hurting me that you don't give me the god damn respect of an equal fight? And you called me a coward."
Lucy continued to banter, even more loudly than before due to the latest accusation by Gray. "Where do you get off on calling Erza a coward after such a spineless move, Gray?! If anything, it's—"
"That's enough Lucy," Erza interrupted, standing up and wiping off blood from her lip, "he's right." The scarlet haired warrior walked slowly to her sword, not looking at her opponent, and picked it up. She then returned to her original distance before she'd charged and turned to face Gray.
"Sorry, Gray, I guess that was a little cowardly of me. I shouldn't have taken it as lightly as I did, I won't make the same mistake again." Erza made eye contact with the ice mage, looking at him evenly. "I won't be holding back at all anymore. I'll be coming at you as if you were an enemy of Fairy Tail, so don't betray my trust and get yourself hurt."
Gray scoffed. "It's almost as if you're still worrying about me, Erza."
Erza thrust her sword into the air and at the tip of the blade a blue haze started to form, swirling down the blade and eventually the swordswoman in a corkscrew motion, covering her partially. More lines of the haze began forming at the top of the weapon, repeating the effect of the first streak until eventually the entirety of the Fairy Tail wizard was covered by the mist. Then, just as it had started, the blue haze began to disappear in the same circular swivels, this time from the bottom up. As the haze disappeared, more and more of Erza's new requip could be seen.
The first thing that Gray noticed about the new suit of armor, one he had never seen before, was the unique color. Streaking down the outside portions of the armor was a bold, dark azure color with a sky blue tint outlining the edges and a black finish on the underside of any plate that stuck out; of which there was a lot of. Much to the ice mage's confusion, there were multiple juts and edges running along the sides and arms of the armor, random in placement with no actual discernable purpose. Also peculiar was that the armor itself wasn't in one whole piece. Instead, there were separated sections of armor that were connected by slivers of metal in the same azure color that adorned the rest of it. The sections of armor were at each joint; the elbows, shoulders, wrists, and knees. The slivers were hinged, allowing for mobility whilst still keeping the pieces of armor on Erza's body. The armor rose up from her neck to just below her jaw, leaving no part of it exposed.
"Sovereign Ice Armor."
"That's a bizarre suit of armor if I've ever seen one," Gray managed to say after examining it intensely. "What's it do?"
Erza began moving around, testing out the mobility of the armor that she rarely wore, getting a feel for it. "It's going to make your ice attacks all but useless."
"That's a bold claim," Gray scoffed.
"Perhaps I'll just show you then."
Erza bent over, squatting close to the ground before readying her sword. The scarlet haired swordswoman burst into action by charging at the ice mage in front of her, swinging her blade from the right side at Gray as she reached him.
To avoid the incoming attack, Gray clapped his hands together before planting them onto the ground. When the hands touched the ground a pillar of ice shot out of the ground under them, propelling the ice maker upwards and out of harm's way as Erza finished her attack, her sword carving through a chunk of ice instead of a human body. Gray remained upwards, hands planted on the pillar of ice, as Erza's sword tried to finish its sweep only to come inches short of cutting through the frozen water.
After Erza's strike came to a sudden halt, the scarlet haired warrior looked quickly upwards as Gray began his own counterattack. The ice mage threw himself off of the pillar he'd formed and forcefully grabbed Erza's left arm at the elbow, freezing as much as he could in midair before landing and jumping back, preventatively dodging Erza's next attack when she removed her blade with a one handed backslash.
Gray smirked confidently. "Looks like I've got the upper hand now, unless you want to use that frozen arm and risk breaking the ice connecting to your elbow."
Erza returned the grin Gray wore, chuckling lightly to herself. "Didn't I already tell you? Your ice attacks are useless against this armor."
Without another word, the swordswoman raised her left arm into the air, slamming it backwards into the pillar of ice Gray had summoned, now behind her. The strike caused both the pillar, already cut through mostly by Erza's first attack, and the ice at her elbow to break apart.
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!" Gray yelled suddenly in disbelief. He looked in horror at the ground where the armor that had once been on her arm now lay, the piece at the elbow still mostly encased in ice.
The ice maker continued to gape at the armor, frantic that Erza had just broke the ice on her elbow. He didn't think she'd do it; it was to prevent her from using both arms since breaking the ice would break everything it was frozen to, her limbs being no exception.
Much to Gray's surprise as well as simultaneous relief and chagrin, Erza called out his name teasingly before presenting the black haired wizard with her left arm, armorless from the elbow to her hand and unharmed. The upper arm still had its section of armor attached, the slivers connecting the elbow section no longer present.
"So how are my attacks useless exactly?" Gray asked, pointing at her arm. "You losing that piece of armor seems pretty useful for me to be honest."
Erza smiled self-assuredly again, presenting the arm in question for Gray.
Erza breathed in deeply before exhaling loudly, closing her eyes and concentrating on her magical powers. Suddenly, the section covering her left forearm and gauntlet returned onto her body, the slivers connecting the segments replaced as if nothing had happened.
Gray looked from the scarlet haired mage's arm to the spot on the ground where the armor lay before, the ice that previously encased it now empty of any contents.
"I see…" he began a little shakily, still affected from the shock from before, "so that's why your joints have those little slivers of metal connecting them. You can break the ice that's freezing any part of your armor without it harming you physically. Then, when the frozen piece of armor is off, you can requip it back on."
"You've found it out," Erza said applaudingly.
"What I don't get is how you're able to break off the armor and replace it; I didn't think you could fix broken armor with your Knight's magic."
Erza nodded in confirmation to Gray's assertion. "That's very true and also where the slivers you mentioned come into place. I can detach them at will; they aren't physically attached to the segments of my armor."
"Through magic," Erza answered, winking, "Imagine them as a sort of magnet with my magic as the source of their polarity."
"So you can take them on and off any time you want?"
To demonstrate, Erza reached up and grabbed one of the slivers of metal in question, pulling it off effortlessly and showcasing it to Gray. Afterwards, she put it back into place and let it go and the piece reattached like it had never been removed. Gray guessed that it was likely as strong and durable as the rest of her armor, so targeting them would be a waste of time.
"Well that's quite troublesome… at least now I know its weakness, though."
"Well, first off, it didn't look too easy for you to requip the piece out of my ice, so you'll need some preparation time from when you break it off to when you replace it. Second, it doesn't look like your head is protected like the rest of your body."
Erza chuckled. "You won't be getting any chances at my head."
"Wouldn't want to, anyways…" Gray responded, "Don't really enjoy going for life threatening areas like that quite honestly. Shall we continue?"
When Erza readied her stance again, Gray balled up his right hand and planted it in the palm of his left. Twisting his right arm and hand inwards while still resting on the left's palm, Gray brought his arms behind his right side while summoning his magical powers. When he gathered enough magic, Gray thrust his arms forward, opening his hand and sticking out his palms, one behind the other.
"Ice Make: Lance!"
Spears of ice formed in front of the black haired mage, shooting towards Erza at high speeds and deadly accuracy. The swordswoman easily dodged the incoming projectiles, somewhat disappointed at the weak attack. Suddenly, Erza realized that her opponent had only been using them to force her to move to a specific point, however it was too late.
Following up his projectile attack, Gray punched his left palm with his right fist, afterwards planting both hands to the ground.
"Ice Make: Geyser!"
Erza, knowing the attack very well, looked down under her feet and saw the ground under her quickly begin freezing. The ice spread out to a circle that encompassed more area than she could cover before the spell was cast so the swordswoman didn't even bother trying to avoid it. Erza sent away her blade before summoning a shield she had saved for emergencies such as this, placing it on the ground face down before getting on top of it, her posture low and enclosed to better protect herself.
The moment Erza jumped onto the shield spikes of ice erupted from the ground under her in random directions. One spike luckily formed under her shield and sent the piece of equipment, along with the person on it, hurtling into the air.
"Heaven Wheel Armor!"
Now at the apex of the rise upwards, Erza's Sovereign Ice Armor disappeared and was replaced by her Heaven Wheel Armor. Less protective than her previous armor, the Heaven Wheel Armor exposed her stomach and upper chest, the rest covered by a silver colored armor. Petals of darkened grey armor covered part of Erza's legs, giving way to a white skirt with a silver lining at the bottom and giant, scale-like wings spreading out from behind her.
Erza used the armor's magic ability to summon multiple swords around her and began to launch them at the unsuspecting ice mage below her as she descended back downwards.
Gray had been looking expectantly at the geyser of icicles to see if he'd landed an attack against his childhood friend before he heard her yelling out high above him. The ice maker dreadfully looked up to see a sword flying towards him, moments away from piercing him. Acting on pure reflexes, the black haired mage dove to the side to get out of the path of the projectile, the blade so close to hitting him that it nicked his side, drawing a small line of blood.
Gray knew before his dive even made it to the ground that there were scores more swords currently being sent his way, so upon landing the ice maker rolled along the ground before throwing himself back onto his feet again. Swords assailed the ground, boring deep into it mere inches from him throughout his movements even as the mage began running when back on his feet. Gray continued to weave in and out of the relentless barrage of swords as he made his way under the scarlet haired mage. Once directly under her and her descent, the ice maker thrust his arms upwards.
"Ice Make: Shield!"
A flower-like shield of ice spread out over the black haired mage, shielding him from the rest of the swords cascading down towards him. The blades managed to penetrate the shield, but none were able to make it completely through.
"Sovereign Ice Armor!"
Unable to move while in midair, Erza found herself falling towards the shield of ice Gray had summoned, dozens of her swords embedded into it that threatened to harm her if she landed on them. The scarlet haired swordswoman requipped into her previous dark azure armor suitable for fighting against ice and resummoned her strongest blade into her hands. Erza inhaled deeply and summoned her strength, raising the sword high above her head before bringing it down in an explosion of power. A shockwave of light escaped the blade and coursed through the air wildly, shredding through the already damaged wall of ice beneath her, splitting it apart enough for her to pass through untouched.
Gray threw his arms to the side, removing his attention from the ice shield above him and it completely shattered into husks of broken ice that faded to nothingness before they made it to the ground, the summoned swords following suit. He ran to where Erza was moments from landing and brought his fists upwards into the air, side by side as if he was grasping something. Erza, in retaliation, brought the blade in her hands up above her before swinging it down at Gray.
"Ice Make: Sword!"
Gray separated the two fists, keeping the knuckles of each aligned, and a fantastically carved piece of ice in the shape of a masterfully crafted broadsword formed in the ice mage's clutches. The two swords carried by each Fairy Tail member collided loudly and the force of the swing from Erza combined with her downward momentum almost overtook Gray, bringing the black haired mage to his knee and cracking his blade. Gray recovered himself at the last moment, as Erza landed on her feet, and pushed his sword upwards explosively, throwing the scarlet haired warrior's arms above her head.
Gray dropped his ice broadsword and reached up to grab each of Erza's arms, her sword still in her grasp, freezing them all the way to her shoulders.
Erza, in a rush of panic, swung back downwards at her childhood friend without realizing that both of her arms had been frozen. Gray effortlessly dodged the cumbersome attack, slowed down from Erza's arms being frozen, and the ice shattered as her sword hit the ground.
Cursing under her breath, Erza had hardly any time to react before she saw Gray slam his right fist into his left palm.
"Ice Make: Hammer!"
Erza was awestruck at the choice of attack since the black haired mage was only a few feet from her. His hammer attack would certainly hit the both of them. Unless…
The scarlet haired swordswoman looked up above her and saw that there was an open area in the hammer of ice falling down directly above the ice maker. It would allow the created ice to crash to the ground without actually ever touching its creator.
Erza decided that making it to that crevice was her only choice, however she didn't have enough time to make it there. The scarlet haired warrior hurled the blade in her hands upwards as hard as she could, afterwards throwing off the armor covering her arms, still partially encased in ice, to lower her weight. The sword slammed into the hammer above and stunted the object's fall momentarily as Erza rushed to where Gray was standing.
The summoned ice began falling downwards again and the Fairy Tail wizard was left with no choice but to leap at her childhood friend to make it in time. The ice pounded into the ground behind Erza without landing on her, signifying the success of her endeavor.
Erza immediately felt cold air flowing around from the ice surrounding her and unconsciously shivered. Longer to notice was the warm sensation coming from directly in front of her and the soft and pleasant feeling on her arms and palms. The scarlet haired swordswoman looked up and noticed, quite shockingly, Gray looking down at her; red in the face and highly embarrassed. It was then that she realized she'd thrown her arms on her childhood friend, over his shoulders, during her mad dash, the soft feeling being his exposed chest. Erza could also feel the ice maker's heart beating.
Erza immediately tried backing up to distance herself from Gray only to immediately bump into a wall of ice. Something else dug into her back and looking down Erza saw that Gray's arms were wrapped around her, his hands on her lower back. Around her Erza could see that there was hardly any space to move at all so they weren't going to be untangled any time soon.
"Well this is kinda awkward," Gray muttered, trying to avert his gaze from the woman in front of him clinging onto his body.
"Well what did you expect? There's hardly any room to move around!" Erza tried squirming around to move her arms off of her friend, however her attempts proved fruitless as she could barely move. Though she didn't notice it, Gray's heartbeat quickened.
"I didn't exactly expect company, if you catch my drift. There's more than enough room in here for myself alone— would you mind moving a little less? It's already cramped up enough as it is without you trying to move around." The ice maker couldn't deny that he rather enjoyed the situation despite what he'd said.
"Whatever!" Erza snapped, "Would you just release the ice around us? This is rather uncomfortable." She had been lying, Erza found the situation strangely enjoyable as well.
"No can do," Gray responded bluntly.
"What?!" Erza looked up at the black haired mage irately. "You're doing this on purpose, aren't you?"
"It's nothing like that!" Gray defended quickly, the color in his face deepening, "I just don't have a plan for getting away from you safely yet!"
"Oh…" Erza mumbled with a touch of disappointment. It was a good point, if he were to release the ice he'd be in a precarious situation with her in such close quarters. Still, she didn't like the idea of him trying to get away from her for some reason.
A thought occurred to the scarlet haired woman and the idea caused the color in her face to imitate that of the one she was clinging on to.
"Wait, can the others see us?!?" she cried out worriedly.
Gray chuckled under his breath. "Not likely. It probably just looks like a cluttered mess to them from the outside. Good thing, too; would be kind of hard to explain this anyways."
"Got that right."
Gray looked around the ice to see if there was anything he could do to separate himself from the woman enclosed with him inside. The ice maker became frustrated as nothing came to mind, he was too distracted by Erza and the situation they were in. Any time he tried thinking of a way to break free, he unwittingly found himself and his eyes drifting back to the scarlet haired woman.
"Gah! This situation is too bizarre to think of a way out of!"
Erza felt Gray's grasp tighten around her.
"Screw it! Doesn't look like I'm going to be able to do this with any finesse…"
The scarlet haired woman felt a cold aura permeate from the man holding on to her, a very unusual but also very pleasant sensation resulting from it. Suddenly the ice around the pair began cracking and chipping before completely breaking apart around them.
For the briefest of moments, the most observant of the spectators could see the image of two close friends in each other's embrace while deep blue ice cascaded around them in an airy mist from the dissipating magic that only enhanced the image.
It was only for a moment, however, as the two split apart immediately in their own directions away from the other, a hint of longing on their faces. Gray held at his stomach where the scarlet haired mage had managed to land a kick in during the chaos, Erza on the other side untouched.
Gray cursed under his breath. "Damn that hurt. Guess I should be thankful it was only a foot instead of a weapon, though." The ice maker watched his opponent intently, awaiting her next move.
Much to Gray's surprise, his childhood friend was changing her armor despite the fact that he'd barely been able to scratch the scarlet haired swordswoman. Her dark azure armor dissipated into thin air and Gray watched expectantly for the next suit of armor to replace it, only it didn't. The ice caster looked over Erza a second time to see that only her pants had been replaced by long, baggy ones that had streaks of flames running up them. The only thing covering her chest was a long strand of cloth wrapping around her upper torso. The wrap didn't do much to hide her features, something that did not escape Gray's attention.
"Uhh… what armor is this?" the ice maker pointedly asked, eyeing the peculiarly clad woman.
"There is none."
"None? What do you mean?"
"It means what I said; this isn't one of my armors. I'm not wearing one."
Gray tilted his head to the side, a scowl forming. "Any particular reason why you're not wearing one? Even if I haven't been able to land a hit, I don't want your charity, Erza."
The scarlet haired swordswoman shook her head. "You're wrong Gray, this isn't anything like that." Seeing that the ice caster remained unconvinced, Erza continued, "You nearly broke the last armor and all of the others have an inherent weakness to ice."
"Why don't you just requip the Sovereign Ice Armor back to normal?"
Erza sighed, closing her eyes wearily. "I had to remove all of the armor on each of my arms. I simply don't have the time needed to do it regularly nor do I have the energy left to do it quickly."
The sword wielder then narrowed her eyes at her childhood friend. "I'll be frank; I plan to end this fight in this last assault since I don't have any more time to spare. The longer I take, the more likely you are to land a hit and when that happens I'm as good as done."
Gray shuffled his posture. "One final attack, huh? Not exactly my style…" he grumbled while shrugging, "but I guess it can't be helped."
The ice maker opened his hands so that the palms faced each other, his fingers spread out. He brought the two hands together, almost touching, with his right hand raised above the left one.
"Ice Make: Sword."
Closing his hands in a grasp, the sword made perfectly of ice from earlier formed inside and the black haired man brought the blade down to his side, poised for action.
"Going toe to toe against you with just a blade would be stupid as hell, so if you don't mind I'll be coming at you in my own way."
Erza smirked in response. "I wouldn't want you having an excuse to complain about after I beat you down, so go right ahead."
"Hahaha, beat me down?" Gray chided, laughing, "In your dreams."
The two Fairy Tail members simultaneously charged at one another, their respective swords held tightly in their grasps. Erza noticed that Gray was charging at her more slowly than before and took it as a sign of exhaustion from the kick she'd landed. Using the momentary weakness to her advantage, the scarlet haired warrior exploded with the last of her power in a full on sprint towards the ice maker.
Gray grinned to himself, noticing that Erza had taken the bait. There was no way in hell that he was going to be able to take down the swordswoman in a simple clash like this, that much both of the Fairy Tail wizards knew. Erza was simply trying to end things before Gray had a chance to cast a spell.
Unfortunately for Erza, Gray had no intention of casting any offensive spells that he knew Erza was waiting for. He knew that she figured he was going to try to avoid the clash altogether, using the charge as a ruse to hide his real attack. In actuality, Gray was doing the exact opposite, using the looming ice attack as a guise for his real one.
Suddenly, the ice mage sidestepped to the left, creating an angle between himself and Erza. The black haired man raised his sword into the air and brought it to the ground mid run, creating a path of ice that extended from where the sword landed to farther than he would need it to be. Using all the strength he could muster in his legs, Gray threw himself onto the ice path with his knees on the ground, the rest of his body upright and the sword of ice still in his hands. The ice maker glided effortlessly on the created path, flying towards the scarlet haired swordswoman at an incredible speed.
Erza witnessed the entire debacle without being able to react at all. Since she had poured all of her efforts into her speed running at Gray she had no ability to slow down, much less change her path in an instant. The black haired mage had angled the path of ice he'd created so that he would intersect with Erza right as she reached it and trying to jump over the path would only give him the advantage of attacking her while she was helpless up in the air.
Just as Erza began considering simply swinging at the black haired mage instead of trying to avoid him, Gray threw her another curveball by pushing with his right leg to rotate himself on the ice clockwise, the ice sword poised for a backhanded slash that would connect directly with her exposed torso. He had perfectly positioned himself for an attack in such a manner that Erza had no chance to retaliate with her own blade, the angle much too awkward for her to manage.
Cursing in frustration, Erza let go of her sword with her left hand, bringing it down by her chest with her right in order to dampen as much of Gray's blow as she could. Balling up her fist, the scarlet haired swordswoman swung it as hard as she could at the ice mage, connecting with his face just as he passed by her. The sword in her right hand did little to deter Gray's and it passed through her defense, smashing just under her ribcage and knocking the wind out of her while tossing her off to the side. The punch from Erza threw the ice maker onto his back and he immediately clutched at his face with both hands while continuing to slide on the path, his blade discarded and clattering to the side.
After the two opponents came to a stop, they both tried standing up, each wobbling in their attempt. Erza painfully held at her side, counting a couple of broken ribs that jabbed in horrendous pain each time she moved. Gray, on the other hand, covered his nose with a free hand while trying to use the other to keep his balance.
Both Fairy Tail mages began walking towards the other, neither giving up on the fight and both determined to win. Just as they reached each other, both friends lost their balance and fell towards each other, just barely being able to turn their backs as they collided. Gray and Erza crumpled into a seated position, back to back, while groaning in their own agony.
"Ogh, fuhuck, I think my nose is broken," Gray muttered, still clutching his face.
"Oh quit crying you—" Erza paused as her side throttled in pain. "Urk… you big baby. I think you broke a couple of my ribs there and you don't see me— ack… complaining about it." Erza inspected her side that was hit, it already beginning to darken in color from bruising. "Speaking of, the hell did you hit me with? Definitely wasn't a sword."
Gray removed his hand from his nose and looked bleakly to see if there was blood on it. Being greeted by the unwanted sight, the ice mage groaned even louder.
"You alright back there?"
"Oh, yeah," he said, snapping back to attention, "I enchanted the blade to create the path of ice when it touched the ground. Ice was taken from it to make the path, so it flattened and dulled."
Erza chuckled lightly, inhaling sharply when her pain renewed. "How come I haven't seen you use something like that before?"
"New trick I guess."
Erza smiled. "Saving it for me?"
"Heh, not exactly, just never found a chance to use it." Gray tenderly touched around his nose to inspect the damage. "That was a hell of a punch…" The ice mage grimaced as his fingers ran across a split in his skin on the bridge of his nose. "Yep… definitely broken… damnit."
Erza rested her weight against her childhood friend a little bit more. "Don't worry about it too much; we'll get a healer to mend it up. As long as you don't take another fist to the face for a few days it should heal up just fine."
Gray reciprocated the gesture, this time leaning his head back against Erza's. "Yeah, yeah. I'm more bothered about my supposed 'fortune'." The ice maker's tone with the last word showed exactly how he felt about it.
"Fortune? Did you get one from Cana too?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah. Want to know the funny thing about it? I was supposed to have a day of 'brilliant luck' and apparently Natsu was supposed to have one of horrendous pain..."
The ice mage grimly chuckled to himself. "And yet… here I am with a broken nose and Natsu doesn't have a scratch on him! This is such bullshit." Gray raised a bloodied middle finger at the dragon slayer when Natsu began to mockingly laugh at the ice maker.
"So, can you get up?" Erza asked behind her.
"Not a chance."
"Same here. I guess that means our match is a draw."
Natsu's mocking laughter suddenly came to a stop. The salmon haired fire user began silently reviewing what he'd just heard.
"D—Draw?" he muttered shakily before suddenly realizing that Gray had managed to do something he'd been unable to in the many times he'd challenged the scarlet haired swordswoman.
Natsu fell to his knees and clutched at his chest, crying out, "NOOOO, MY PRIDE… IT… IT HURTS! IT HURTS SO MUCH! I CAN'T BEAR IT." Flames erupted unchecked from the dragon slayer's mouth as he yelled.
Gray looked dumbfounded at his friend as he continued to yell out and claw at his body, flames all the while streaming out wildly. "Huh… we'll I'll be damned. I guess the fortune had some merit to it after all. I doubt he'll be living this down any time soon."
"Not like you'd let him," Erza reminded the ice maker.
"Very true, I can't wait to rub it in his face."
Erza thought back to Gray's earlier grievance.
"So your reading was one of fortune, Gray?"
"Kind of a strange one considering how the day's turned out."
Gray smiled warmly. "I wouldn't say that, I think it kinda fits."
"Yeah, here I am, back to back, with one of my best friends after a great fight. My entire guild is celebrating rather than asking if I'm ok, partying for no reason other than to enjoy themselves…"
Erza looked around to see that everyone in the crowd was cheering the two on, drinks in one hand and food in the other.
"Even though the fight ended as a draw and my nose is busted up, I can't help but feel like I'm the luckiest guy in the whole world right now. I wouldn't trade any of this for anything."
Erza pressed herself against the black haired youth more, completely resting herself against the ice maker.
"Interesting…" she muttered under her breath.
"It's the fortune I got earlier from Cana, I think I finally get it."
Erza blushed slightly. "It's a secret." She paused for a moment in consideration. "I'll tell you about it sometime, though."
Gray rolled his eyes. "Whatever…"
Cana flipped over the final card in the reading for Erza, the Card of Temperance facing back up at the female.
"Huh, odd," Cana stated, looking over the cards on the table to make sure everything went correctly.
"What is it?" Erza responded quickly, worried that it might be something unwanted.
"Nothing bad if that's what you're nervous about."
Erza sighed in relief and leaned back further into her chair as the tarot card reader across from her brought a keg of alcohol up to her mouth for a drink. Erza felt like scolding Cana for her ungraceful manner of alcohol consumption, however she restrained herself since she was more interested in what the fortune was.
Cana leaned forward after drinking her fill. "It's a card of balance and of pairings, basically. Nothing on its own, however in combination with the rest it indicates the source as an individual rather than an object." Cana smirked as Erza looked at her dumbfounded. "Essentially, today you're going to discover your true equal, of that I can guarantee."
Erza placed her elbows on the table and looked blankly at the cards resting on it. Discover her true equal? What did that even mean? Was Cana suggesting that she was going to find her soul mate or something? That didn't even make any sense, it's not like some random person was going to show up in the scarlet haired mage's life that would instantly sweep her off of her feet. Sure, there were close friends of hers she viewed in the highest regard, some differently than others, but the card suggested that she was going to 'discover' her equal, as if she didn't know it already.
"So who is it?" Cana eagerly asked, dying to know the person in question regarding the scarlet haired mage's reading.
"What do you mean?" Erza casually responded, trying to avoid the matter.
"Don't play dumb, you know exactly what I mean. Who's going to be your 'true equal'?"
"What does that even mean, 'true equal'?"
"I've got a few guesses, but that's not the point. Who is it, Erza?"
"How would I know? I'm supposed to 'discover' whomever it is, so it's not like it's somebody I already know."
Cana shook her finger. "Not necessarily, just because you're discovering it doesn't mean it hasn't been under your nose this whole time. I think I might have a guess, though." As Erza looked at the card user worriedly Cana waved her off. "Don't worry, I'm not going to go around telling people about this. It'll be between you and me."
"I appreciate it." Erza stood up from her chair. "Thanks for the reading, as always. I'm going to go collect my thoughts… talk with you later Cana."
"No problem, just be sure to tell me who it ends up being in case I don't see for myself."
"Uh… sure… I guess…" Erza responded awkwardly, not being very familiar with the territory she was in.
After waving goodbye to the arguably alcoholic card user, Erza made her way to her closest group of friends; the ones she felt where the answer to her fortune would most likely be.
Ending note: YESSSSSSS it's FINISHED! I had a blast writing this chapter despite how difficult it was and how long it took to make. I hope everything was clear and easy to read/understand and I hope that you'll let me know if something bothers you/seems off. If nothing else, drop a review to let me know if you liked it! I'll try to get some more Gray x Erza stuff out in the future (definitely NOT as long as this one, haha) so don't think this is it for me. I hope you've enjoyed this twoshot and thanks for reading!