A/N: Alright, I realize that as I'm releasing this my two-shot, Challenge of Fate, still isn't finished. I haven't forgotten it, just going to take time to learn how the two fight (how to write it down) before I finish that up. In the meantime, enjoy some more Gray x Erza goodness! Like I said in the description, it's a tad bit angsty, but in a good way. The kind of angst where a person is near death and pushed to their limits in a fight then exceeds them for some reason and their friends' anger afterwards at the person's recklessness. Anyways, hope you all enjoy and don't forget to leave a review to let me know how you liked it! All criticism/commendation is greatly appreciated!
Gray lay beaten to within an inch of his life on the crumbled ground of a castle.
Erza had been fighting an opponent that even the great Titania herself could not defeat. It wasn't a question of power or strength, simply that their opponent's style of magic perfectly countered her own in every way possible.
Coughing, the ice mage felt a surge of pain course through his chest as his spit and blood found their way onto the ground by his mouth. Licking his cracked lips, the wizard noticed that his bottom lip had been split on the side and he could feel a warm liquid, likely blood, run down from his temple into his left eye.
Squinting from the burning sensation in his eye, Gray moaned and felt another bout of pain in his chest. The blow he'd taken that was meant for the scarlet warrior must've broken or cracked at least three of the ice mage's ribs. The two Fairy Tail wizards had exhausted a large amount of their strength before reaching the final chamber in the abandoned castle and it didn't help that the leader of the gang of bandits they'd been sent to dispatch was a renowned dark wizard, Raldios. The man actually had a bounty placed on his head, something completely unexpected for the couple of 'petty thieves' that were described in the mission details.
Summoning as much strength as he could, Gray slowly and agonizingly pushed his way up from lying on the ground to being on his knees. The ice mage tried to work his way to standing up, but another fit of pain attacked and forced the black haired man to crumple forwards clutching his chest, the top of his head resting on the ground. Gritting his teeth and ignoring the almost insurmountable pain, Gray forced himself to stand up and leaned against a wall behind him upon his success.
Breathing heavily, the Fairy Tail wizard looked to the center of the room and saw Erza still fighting against Raldios. Erza's hazel eyes looked heavy and showed clear signs of weariness and fatigue; the scarlet haired mage wouldn't hold out for much longer. Aware of her waning strength, Erza steadied herself to prepare for one final attack of which she would put every last ounce of power she had into.
Raldios cocked his head to the side, smiling menacingly and putting a hand to his side.
"Oh, what's this? Do you plan on finishing this fight on one last attack? How noble. It's a shame, really…" the dark mage began as he punched his fists together, green sparks shooting out from the collision as a sword formed in his grasp, "since I won't even give you the chance of using it."
Gray gasped in response to what Raldios had said. That spineless bastard, Gray thought, he jumps us off guard and low in magic then refuses to even fight us head on! Clutching his fists, the ice mage summoned the last remnants of his strength and pushed himself off of the wall, at first walking towards the two fighting mages before eventually bringing himself to a full on sprint.
Without warning Raldios burst towards the scarlet haired swordswoman, the anti-magic blade he'd summoned in his hands poised to thrust through the warrior's magic-enhanced armor and into her heart. At the brink of certain defeat, Erza winced in anticipation and a tear rolled down her cheek. She wasn't crying in fear or in remorse for her death, but rather that she was unable to protect her closest friend. The Fairy Tail wizard had planned on sacrificing herself in her last attack in order to save Gray who was no longer able to defend himself from an opponent like Raldios due to the attack he'd taken for her.
"Ice make: WALL!" a familiar voice bellowed before Erza's sure demise came.
Erza expected to feel the sickening sensation of a blade pass through her chest for the slightest of moments before crumpling into a heap on the ground, but after seconds of nothing but a cold chill on her face she'd mistaken for death the scarlet haired wizard opened her eyes in confusion. Erza took a step back in delayed shock as she noticed the anti-magic blade mere inches from piercing her armor. The second thing she noticed were droplets of blood falling off the edge of said blade and Erza horrifyingly looked up to see a giant wall of ice separating her from Gray and Raldios. It was Gray's blood trickling down, the blade passing through the side of her companion's midsection and the sheet of ice he had made.
"GRAY!!!" Erza screamed at the top of her lungs, fearing the worst.
The weapon mage could hear garbled coughing in response which thankfully meant Gray was still alive even though he probably had a punctured lung.
"Oh, you're still alive then?" Raldios quipped at the Fairy Tail wizard impaled before him. "You made one mistake, however. You forgot to protect yourself as well with that wall of yours. I'm afraid you're on the wrong side, ice maker."
Gray hacked up more blood before smugly laughing with a grin on his face, the blood he'd spat out streaking down his chin.
"Who said anything about protecting myself?" the ice mage asked his opponent.
"What do you mean?" the dark wizard responded, attempting to remove his blade from the wall of ice and, consequently, the ice mage. The blade refused to budge and when the dark wizard attempted stepping back to get a better hold he found his feet frozen to the ground in small chunks of ice.
Erza began banging on the wall of ice separating her from her childhood friend and the man who was moments away from killing him, screaming at the top of her lungs for Gray to get away while he could. She no longer had any more strength to fight, let alone carve her way through a thick wall of ice.
Gray chuckled solemnly at the dark wizard in front of him, clasping his palms together to form a ball.
"Ice make: Sphere…"
The ice mage began pouring his final reserve of magic into one final spell as he spread his hands apart, a ball of ice forming and growing in size as the distance between his hands increased. The ball of ice remained perfectly centered in between the two hands and Gray's hands suddenly stopped at shoulder width when he could make it no larger.
"What… what are you planning?" Raldios asked in bewilderment.
In response to the question, Gray wore a wild grin as he reversed the motions he had made earlier in perfect execution, compressing the ball of ice inwards. Loud cracking noises could be heard as the physical form of the ice desired to break and shatter apart, however the ice mage wasn't going to allow that to happen.
Raldios's eyes widened in complete horror as he began to comprehend what his opponent was attempting to do.
"Don't… don't tell me…" the dark wizard shakily began as Grays insane smile widened, "you're not planning to destroy your own magic, are you?!?"
The cracking and splitting noises grew even louder and as Gray's hands neared making a ball again the noise had become almost deafening. The grin on the Fairy Tail wizard's face never wavered for a moment.
"You'd go against the very nature of your own magic? Do you even realize the consequences of that?!" Raldios yelled at the man in front of him.
"I don't care." Gray simply responded.
"Why are you doing this? You are betraying the very magic you've devoted your life to, why?" the dark wizard asked, pleading to reach his opponent's sense. "THIS IS INSANE!"
Gray stared into the eyes of the man in front of him, a deep rage emanating that chilled Raldios to his very core.
"You made Erza cry. That's something I can't forgive, whatever the reason," Gray said in a low growl through grit teeth.
In exasperation, Raldios began to punch Gray as hard as he could at whatever points he was able to reach in a desperate attempt to disrupt what the ice maker was doing. Despite the heavy blows he was landing, Gray remained steadfast in his efforts. The crackling noise suddenly stopped as the ice mage finally clasped his hands closed again.
"YOU IDIOT!" Raldios bellowed. "Do you realize that we're both going to be killed if you do this?!
The smirk that had left Gray's face earlier returned.
"Like I said, I don't give a shit about that. It's my turn to protect Erza, there's nothing you can say that will make me change my mind."
Raldios roared in staggering emotion as he watched the ice maker in front of him pull outwards a final time, the mage's hands violently shaking as he sought to destroy the essence of the ice magic he'd formed, essentially de-creating it. The force Gray was exerting in his attempt to destabilize the compressed ice eviscerated the Fairy Tail wizard's hands as multiple cuts began to cover them, blood droplets freezing as they fell to the ground.
Erza continued to yell at Gray, pleading with him to stop while knowing that he wouldn't. More tears streaked down the scarlet haired warrior's visage and she continued to pound at the ice in a futile effort.
Sorry, Erza. Looks like I was selfish to the end. I wasn't there for you before and I won't be there for you again, but at least I can be here for you this one time.
Gray yelled out his childhood friend's name one final time before successfully tearing his hands free of the force trying to keep them together. Blinding blue light filled the ice mage's vision before everything went dark.
Gray Fullbuster awoke with a gasp and he instantly sat up, his eyes shooting open as he looked wildly around him. Was he alive? How could he be, that blast should have killed him at the very least, let alone leave his body intact.
The ice mage felt uncomfortably warm and threw the blankets on his body off onto his legs. Pain coursed through his hands and the ice mage recalled how his efforts had torn them up. Both of his hands were heavily bandaged, however Gray hadn't lost much mobility in their movements. No longer wearing the clothing he'd originally gone out in, Gray simply removed the new shirt that had been put on by someone else.
Inspecting his left side which had begun stinging, Gray found that it had been expertly patched up since the fight. Not wanting to remove the bandages yet, the black haired wizard accepted that if he was still alive and bandaged up then the wound must have been addressed in some manner. Reaching up with his hand, Gray rubbed his forehead with his palm in a meager attempt to calm the splitting headache he was enduring.
It didn't take long for the ice mage to recognize his surroundings as that of the medical room in Fairy Tail. Looking around, Gray saw that none of the other beds were occupied by anybody and that he was surprisingly the only person in the room. On the table next to him rested an assortment of various cups. Gray picked up one of the cups to look at. Inside was a small wooden stirring rod in what seemed to be a strawberry drink, perhaps a smoothie. Instead of placing it back on the desk, Gray lazily put the cup onto the bed frame next to him.
"GRAY! You're awake! Hey, Lucy, come here! Gray's awake!" a voice that Gray never thought he'd welcome the sound of yelled in the distance.
Turning his head towards the entrance of the room, Gray watched as Natsu excitedly ran up to him with Lucy following happily, though less energetic.
"Oh, you're right, he is! Erza's going to be pissed that you woke up when she wasn't around, Gray," Lucy said as she came to the foot of the resting bed.
Gray swallowed hard at the thought of being beaten up even more than he already was and beads of sweat began to form.
Lucy waved her finger at the ice mage, a smile on her face.
"Oh come on, Gray. I was only joking. I think she's just going to be relieved that you're awake is all."
"So how long was I out?" Gray asked to nobody in particular.
"It's been four days since Erza brought you back, but she hasn't said how long you'd been out for before she arrived. Nobody asked, either. We're just glad that you weren't killed," Lucy responded before asking, "What happened out there?"
Gray looked to the ground next to the bed with half closed eyes, reminiscing on the fight.
Lucy leaned forwards with her hands on her hips, looking accusatively at the ice mage.
"Nothing? That's bull! I've never seen Erza so worked up before! I thought she was going to lose it at least four times since she walked in with you slung over her shoulders. What happened Gray? You need to tell—" Lucy resumed before she was interrupted by Natsu.
"Lucy, mind your place. He doesn't have to tell us anything," Natsu said to the blonde haired celestial wizard.
"However…" the salmon haired dragon slayer continued before punching Gray on the top of the head.
"If you do whatever it is that you did to Erza again, the next time you wake up like this will be because of me, you got that!" Natsu yelled at his friend.
Gray rubbed the area on the back of his head and returned Natsu's gaze, nodding somberly before averting his eyes to break eye contact, looking at the ground in embarrassment. Meanwhile, Lucy began nervously looking from the door to Natsu and back repeatedly.
"Tch, not this crybaby bullshit again."
"Uhh… Natsu… maybe you shouldn't… you know… be so hard on Gray. After all, he just woke up from near death wounds," Lucy stuttered as she tried to get Natsu to stop, continuing to look back and forth from the entrance of the room to the dragon slayer.
Natsu began to laugh boisterously as he slapped Gray's chest. The salamander didn't realize it, but the hits were landing right where Gray had been punctured by the anti-magic sword.
Gray yelped loudly in pain before grabbing Natsu by the collar and growling at him, a gesture returned by the fire mage aside from the collar grabbing since there was nothing for him to grab hold of.
The two began exchanging a barrage of insults at each other as Lucy stopped trying to reason with them and slowly began stepping away from the bed. The celestial spirit wizard was doing her best to get as far away from the two as possible without making any sudden movements.
"You wanna go, you coldhearted bastard? I'll bet those wounds aren't even that bad, ya—HURK"
Erza held Natsu's scarf tightly from behind the salmon haired mage and pulled the dragon slayer away from Gray's bed. Upon realization of who had him in her grasp, Natsu broke out into a cold sweat and his legs began shaking.
Before the dragon slayer could get out a single word, Erza picked him up off of the ground by the scarf.
"Hey, Natsu. I think somebody wanted to talk to you outside, you'd better go out there and not make them wait."
Erza proceeded to launch Natsu down the room all the way back to the main guild room. Had the door not been open it would have been broken down.
Erza turned to Lucy who looked in awe at the direction Natsu had been thrown, her mouth agape at the distance the salamander had been thrown.
"Lucy, I think you'd better check up on him."
The blonde haired mage nodded fervently in response before hurrying to the exit of the room.
"Oh, and close the door on the way out if you wouldn't mind," Erza added kindly to the celestial spirit wizard as she made her way to the door, closing it behind her in compliance with the sword wielder's request.
Alone with the ice mage, Erza walked up to the table next to the bed and pulled out a chair. Before the scarlet haired warrior sat down Gray noticed something that stuck out to him about the chair. Completely covering the chair was nicks, scratches, and cuts that Gray decided must have come from Erza's armor. How long had she been sitting in that chair by his side and how restless was she the whole time?
Erza cleared her throat to catch the ice maker's attention before talking to him for the first time in days.
"How are you feeling?" the scarlet haired mage said awkwardly, not knowing how to begin the conversation.
Gray didn't look at his childhood friend, instead looking directly ahead of him halfheartedly to the other side of the room.
"All right, I guess."
Gray chuckled to himself.
"Been better, I'd say. How about you, Erza?"
Erza pounded her right fist forcibly against the table next to her, a dull and loud thud echoing across the empty room. She was done being congenial and wanted to get her piece out.
"WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?!" Erza bellowed at the ice mage who cringed at her explosion.
Gray still didn't look at his childhood friend, keeping his gaze straight ahead.
"Answer me, Gray. What the hell was that back at the castle? You almost got yourself killed."
Gray scoffed at how Erza had said the last word.
"What's so funny about that, huh?" Erza accusingly asked, not amused by the ice mage's reaction.
Gray quickly shot a glance to the scarlet haired mage before looking back ahead of him.
"What happened to Raldios, at least tell me that much."
Erza smirked slightly at the question, allowing her companion to enjoy at least that little piece of information before she continued with her barrage.
"Let's just say the person who has to come and clean up that place is going to have to scrape him off of the wall. Last I checked his feet were still frozen into the ground in those blocks of ice you made. You're extremely lucky that anti-magic sword was still stabbed through your body and pinning you to the ice wall, it's the only reason the explosion didn't affect you and the knockback didn't seal the deal either."
Gray smiled widely at the good news.
"I'll take lucky any day."
Before Erza could continue on, Gray shot her another glance to distract her attention.
"What happened after I was out, how long has it been since then?"
Erza's small smirk disappeared; she was quickly losing her patience with growing irritation.
"About five days, I bandaged you up as best as I could before rushing you back here. I had a healer address your punctured lung immediately after the fight but after that I didn't want to trust anyone else with your life."
Gray looked at the weapons mage a third time, holding her gaze.
"Wait what? What about all of those wounds you had? If anything, you should be here in the bed next to—"
Erza furiously kicked the chair she was sitting on out behind her before flipping the table next to the bed, the wooden furniture crashing loudly as it fumbled across the ground. All of the cups crashed to the floor and their contents spilled together to form a murky puddle of various drinks.
"STOP TRYING TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT!"
Gray meekly looked at his friend. The ice mage could tell that she was hurting, hurting on the outside and even more on the inside.
"What were you thinking?" Erza asked through closed eyes to prevent tears from forming. She pulled up the chair and sat back down, closing her legs together while leaning forward with her hands gently resting on her hips. "It's a miracle you're not dead, Gray. What would I have done if you had died? I would never be able to forgive myself…"
Gray continued to look at Erza's face. It brought him more pain than anything else ever possibly could to see her suffer so much. Even still, that didn't mean that her suffering was somewhat misplaced.
"Is that so? Tell me now, that last attack you were planning to use, you were going to do the same thing as I was, weren't you?"
Erza grunted in surprise as her eyes flared open and she saw Gray looking at her, a wide grin on his face with an aura of confidence and comfort surrounding him.
"I knew it. You shouldn't be so quick to judge others, Erza. Hell, half the time you do the same exact things you yell at us for," Gray said as he heartily laughed.
A warm sensation ran through Erza's body as she stared deep into the eyes of her childhood friend. She smiled gratefully at the black haired wizard.
"Still, you shouldn't push yourself so hard," the scarlet haired mage said to Gray before grinning widely. "You know, I don't know if you and the others are ready for S-Class missions yet. I guess we should wait a little longer so I don't have to—"
At the start of her sentence, Gray had reached into the cup he'd placed onto the bed frame earlier and grabbed the wooden stirring rod. He froze part of the strawberry drink into a sphere around the stick and took it out, putting it into the scarlet haired mage's mouth to stop her from talking.
The act startled Erza and she couldn't do anything but keep the frozen sucker in her mouth as Gray leaned back against the bed frame and placed his hands behind his head to rest.
"There we go, that's better. You know," Gray began before turning his head to face Erza, "we can handle ourselves now. Besides, if I'm not there, who's going to protect you?"
Erza was awestruck at what the ice mage had said. Before it had always been her protecting her childhood friend, now it looked like he was returning the favor, much to her chagrin. Gray mistook her reaction for something else.
"What's up, the sucker too cold for you?"
Erza shook her head, a hint of red permeating her features as her face flushed.
"No, I like the cold."
Ending Note: Phew, that was a tough one. I have to be honest here, the idea for the sucker used at the end was from a piece of fanart (search 'Gray x Erza' on google, called 'gray decides to treat erza'). I looked at the picture and loved the idea, then when I thought about a story for it the author had exactly what I envisioned in the description D: Anyways, I really liked how this story turned out. I've always been a fan of the situations where two people are in a really dire situation and one goes above and beyond for the other's sake. It's even better when there are hints of a budding romance between the two and I had a blast describing this one. Let me know how it turned out!