Of Food and Flirting
By: The Shadow Hawk
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Hiro Mashima, not poor little me.
Into: Takes place around chapter 167-8 .This is the first thing I've written and felt comfortable posting in nearly 4 years. I really tried to proofread it as much as possible but I'm sure I missed some stuff so I apologize in advance. Hopefully it isn't too weird or awkward. I don't think it is, but you know, I could be wrong.
Jubia Loxar felt silly.
In all the time she'd spent at both the Fairy Tail guild and Magnolia Town in general, she'd never really explored. It was a beautiful town and she really didn't just walk around. She supposed much of that came from the fact that until recently, no one had even wanted her around and she hadn't wanted to ruin anyone else's day.
Phantom Lord, though they had respected her power, still liked it best when she was away on jobs. Even when she hadn't had jobs to complete, she left just so she wouldn't overhear the whispers about the rain she brought everywhere.
Some of them hadn't even been nice enough to whisper. Some of them flat out told her to leave. She was too depressing to have around. Gazille had stood up, well, perhaps stood up wasn't the right term. Gazille told other guild members to shut up and leave the human rainstorm alone a number of times, more because he didn't want her to get angry and flood the guild than out of kindness but sadly he was the closest thing to a friend she'd ever had.
At least until she had come to Fairy Tail. Even after the damage she'd done, she was welcome with open arms. Sometimes she thought it was simply because they were afraid of her magic or that being mean to her would bring the rain back.
But she knew that wasn't true. All the mages of Fairy Tail were kind. Rough most definitely, but still kind. Mirajane was happy to show her around. As soon as the tour was done, Cana had invited her drinking though Jubia couldn't even remotely keep up with her. Natsu, even though he was uncomfortable with her water based magic, had no hesitation in inviting her along to crash in Lucy's place, though she was polite enough to decline. And Lucy, for all the trouble Jubia had caused her, the Stellar Spirit mage was always ready and willing to forgive. To think this girl now had nine golden keys. She'd never met a Stellar Spirit mage that drew such powerful spirits to her so quickly.
Even Gray-sama had been kind.
He was cold, like his magic, but never cruel. She was drawn to him. Maybe it was because their magic was similar, water and ice, that she felt that immediate attraction to him. Not to mention he was certainly more attractive than any mage she'd met in Phantom Lord.
Though perhaps it was his dedication to his nakama that intrigued her the most. Not that Phantom Lord members weren't loyal to each other, but it just wasn't like Fairy Tail. She couldn't imagine anyone in Phantom Lord would have been willing to die for her the way Gray-sama would for Lucy.
Perhaps that was where her jealousy stemmed from. She knew Gray-sama was not in love with Lucy but he was still dedicated to her. She wanted someone like that in her life.
And it was with Gray-sama that she had first seen the sky. He'd bested her, calmed her down, and for the first time, she didn't have the strength to make it rain all around her. After recovering, she'd learned to control the rain. She spent some time as an independent mage but missed working in a guild.
The lack of constant work wasn't exactly a plus either so she was glad when Master Makarov had welcomed her in so easily. She made it her first priority to earn the trust of the guild. She knew she was in part responsible for its destruction and that it wouldn't be easy but at least she could show them her real self instead of having them just see the rain.
She was content with her place in the guild now. She felt like one of them. And like everyone else in the guild, she'd been worried and bored while Lucy, Natsu, Erza and Gray-sama were away saving the world.
She had wanted to go with them, but the Master's order were the Master's orders. She had technically accepted another job that she couldn't just set aside. It wouldn't look good for the guild.
So she waited.
And when they came back, all was well again.
So she took the opportunity to take a nice walk. She had plenty of money for food and rent so she could afford to relax.
She'd bought a few new outfits and wore one of them out of the store. And to her great pleasure and distress, it wasn't long before she ran into Gray-sama. She didn't have time to hide around a corner. They both only just managed to not run into each other.
"Gray-sama…." Being near him, she felt frozen. She felt like she was trying to melt and ooze off somewhere but being near the ice mage kept her solid.
His eyes drifted to the sky for a moment before looking at her again. "I wish you'd stop calling me that…"
"J-Jubia just…that is to say…"
"Whatever." He glanced her over. "New clothes?"
"Y-yes. Jubia bought them over there." She pointed to the boutique she'd bought them from.
"You…you look nice."
Her whole face turned bright red. And yet, she still couldn't melt. It was truly like he'd frozen her solid. "Th-thank you Gray-sa…Gray." She suddenly realized he'd stripped. "You're almost naked again…"
His eyes widened and he jumped behind a barrel on the road. "Dammit!" He put his clothes back on and came back out. "Sorry."
"Jubia doesn't mind." She murmured, looking off to the side, her blush creeping into her shoulders.
Gray blushed as well. He was mildly annoyed with himself, getting embarrassed about his behavior in front of her. He always stripped. It shouldn't be any different in front of her.
On the other hand, her crush on him was hardly a secret and he wasn't sure if his stripping would give her the wrong idea.
On the other hand, what was the wrong idea? She knew he just spontaneously stripped. He was sure she didn't think he was encouraging her. But if he was accidentally encouraging her, did he mind? He wasn't sure. She was strong. Very attractive. She cooked quite well and quite often cooked for him. She was quirky but he didn't mind. If he was going to date someone, she had to be unique.
He would have thought more on the subject but he'd run out of hands.
"Are you taking any jobs right now?"
"No…Jubia finished many jobs while Gray-sa…while you were away…" She bit her lower lip, trying desperate to become more comfortable around him. "She decided to take a small break. How are you feeling?"
"I'm alright. Still a little stiff even with Wendy's help. I probably won't do any jobs for at least a few days. Maybe give myself a little vacation."
"That sounds nice."
Suddenly, they both heard a loud wolf whistle. "Hey baby!"
"Why don't you come over here?"
"We could have a great time!"
"Not again…" Jubia felt her lip curl back. It was those two men again. Every time she went out, they harassed her. No matter how many times she attacked them, they persisted. Short of killing them, they wouldn't stop. And as lenient as Fairy Tail was about property damage, she was sure they wouldn't look so kindly on killing other mages.
Gray felt the air around them getting hotter. Jubia was boiling again, just like in their first fight. Her hand shook, turning into a blade of water then back into her hand, as if she couldn't decide if she wanted to attack even though she wanted to. He turned around and saw the two men in question. They were both mages, he could tell, though not strong ones. He felt himself getting mad as well. No one harassed a Fairy Tail mage and got away with it. Especially one that was a mage Gray was becoming increasingly fond of.
"What are you doing with that guy?"
"We're way more fun!"
No one harassed two Fairy Tail mages and got away with it. Gray felt something in him snap. It wasn't just because he was mad over the insult to himself, he was more upset over anyone daring to harass Jubia. He liked her too much. He knew his feelings for her weren't as deep as hers were for him, but they were deeper than he'd first thought. And not that he thought she was interested in them, but the thought of anyone else looking at her like that suddenly really bothered him.
Gray snarled at the mages. "So you're the dumbasses harassing my girl?"
Jubia's brain threatened to leak out her ears. Did Gray-sama just call her his girl? Suddenly his arm was around her shoulders and he pulled her against him. Once again, she wanted to melt. But being this close to him, it was truly like she was frozen on the outside, a raging storm inside.
"She ain't yours!"
"The hell you know anything." Though he didn't usually cast one handed, he knew he didn't need a strong creation to take out both these mages. "She told me you idiots were harassing her. She was nice about trying to get you to stop. A hell of a lot nicer than I will be."
"Oh we're so scared."
"Look at us, we're shaking." They laughed, somehow not realizing they were dealing with Fairy Tail mages.
"Ice Make Bear." The spell circle appeared around his hand. In a flash of blue light, the living ice appeared. "Get them."
His creation roared and pounced on the mages before they knew what hit them. People walking the streets screamed and ran, leaving the four mages alone on the street. Many of them recognized Gray as a Fairy Tail Mage. Buildings were bound to fall.
The bear held each mage down with one paw. Just like a real animal, it growled and snorted at them. As they whimpered in fear, the bear opened its mouth and firmly bit down on one's head. Not enough to crush, but certainly enough to draw blood and scare the hell out of him.
Leaving Jubia's side for a moment, he hovered over them. Dark shadows falling over his face, he looked like he truly intended to kill them. "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't kill you both."
"She…she never said…"
"Oh! So it's her fault. That's how you want to explain yourselves?" He pressed his hands together. "Ice Make Sword." The sword he created looked to be nearly as tall as Gray was. "You wanna try again?"
"P-please don't kill us…"
"Gray-sama, they're just idiots. Don't waste your energy on them." Jubia was a little worried he would kill them. The whole situation was so surreal. Gray was going farther than she ever expected him to in order to get rid of these men. Maybe he did have feelings for her, even if they weren't as deep as hers, it was something, right?
Gray snarled one more time and stabbed the sword into the ground next to the head of the man not being bitten by the ice bear. "Don't let me hear about you two even looking at her again. The only reason you two aren't a couple of bloody smears in the road is her. Got it?"
They nodded, whimpering. Gray stood up and drew Jubia close again. "Let's go." He led her away, down the street. His magic didn't dissipate until they turned a corner. As soon as they were free, they ran screaming in the other direction.
Jubia was still blushing as she and Gray walked a few more blocks away. He was blushing almost as much as she was.
"Sorry…" He suddenly mumbled, his arm dropping. "I know you can take care of yourself…but…"
"No…Jubia is glad Gray-sama was here. She's tried so hard to get them to stop. Nothing worked though."
He groaned inwardly when she called him Gray-sama again. And here he'd thought he'd made some headway on getting her to stop that. Oh well. He supposed he couldn't expect her to relax suddenly like that. "You could have gotten help at the guild. Cana probably coulda scared them off…or made them latch onto her." He shrugged. "Or Elfman. He probably coulda done something."
"They were annoying but not worth getting anyone else involved."
Gray paused and looked down at her. "You know you don't have to do everything yourself anymore. You're part of Fairy Tail."
"Jubia knows that." She felt tears burning her eyes. When she saw rain clouds rolling in she tried to fan away her tears with her hand. She did not want it to rain. Not now. "Jubia is simply used to doing everything alone."
Gray panicked slightly. What was the appropriate response to her admission? Should he hug her? What if that made her cry? It wasn't that he minded the rain her tears brought, he hated to see her upset. Would if start sounding disingenuous if he kept trying to push the point that she was one of them and could count on them for anything? Sometimes repeating the same thing made it sound too mechanical and insincere.
He scratched his head. "Are you hungry?" When in doubt, change the subject, he decided.
She blinked. "What?"
"I was going out to get lunch when I ran into you. Do you want to get something to eat with me?"
Her eyes widened. Gray Fullbuster was asking her to eat with him. Was it supposed to be a date? Was Gray asking her out?
"Do you like caramade franks?"
"Wh-what's a caramade frank?"
"You've never had one?" She shook her head. "How long have you lived in this town?" He asked, dumbfounded that she didn't know.
"Not long…but Jubia just…"
He grabbed her hand. "Come on. You have to have one right now."
Jubia wasn't sure if she should panic over him grabbing her hand or press the issue of what food he was actually talking about. She decided talking about food would make her panic less. "But what is it?"
"It…it's…look, I can't describe it, you just have to eat one. My treat since it's your first." He tugged her in the direction of the food stall that sold them.
Once she got her legs to work again, she kept pace with him. He didn't let go of her hand. They walked hand in hand to the part of town where food carts lined the streets between some larger restaurants. One of the carts had a longer line than the others. He pulled her into line and kept her close.
"So…are these things popular?" Jubia was still confused and a little frustrated that Gray wasn't more forthcoming about the food.
He nodded. "They're a Magnolia specialty. I promise you'll like them."
"What if Jubia doesn't like them?"
The thought of someone not liking a caramade frank seemed completely foreign to the ice mage. He seemed to ponder this for a while. "Well…" He looked down at her. "I guess then I'll have to take you out to some place you like."
Jubia felt her heart slamming against her ribcage. The chance at a second date with Gray? She was too excited to faint now. "Then if Jubia does like them?"
"Then we'll come back."
Then finally, Jubia's body finally gave in. She could have a second date with Gray. Her vision blurred slightly and she was out like a light. Gray caught her before she hit the ground, thankful she didn't melt. He was actually surprised it had taken her this long to faint. After a minute or two she woke up.
"S-sorry…" Her face was still very flushed and her breathing heavy. Time stood still while she was in his arms. Part of her hoped the line never moved. She could stand with him forever. Despite the constant chill around him, she felt a warmth inside her that no one had ever made her feel before.
"S'okay." He couldn't resist taking a deep breath as he held her close again, her hair under her nose. It was no surprise that she smelled like she'd just come in from a good spring rain but he found he had never really noticed it before.
"The food smells good. Jubia is getting quite hungry."
"Yeah, you really can't walk around here and not get hungry." They moved forward a bit in line. "Where do you usually eat?"
"Jubia usually eats in the guild or cooks for herself in the dormitory."
"You're really missing a lot of good food."
"Perhaps Gray-sa…Gray could show Jubia some of the places he prefers?" She looked up at him hopefully. Maybe this was pushing it too far too soon. But she knew she had to take the chance.
"Yeah…that sounds like it could work."
Inside, Jubia did a little dance of joy. Fortune favors the bold, she reminded herself. After all, Gray wouldn't be interested in a timid, shy girl, would he? Being proactive would certainly get her better results.
Before Jubia could start another conversation, they were at the front of the line. The old woman at the counter looked happy to see Gray then surprised when she realized he was with someone else, a woman no less.
"Gray, who's this? She's a cute one." She inspected Jubia. "You look tough enough to tame our ice mage here. Are you a mage too?"
He turned bright red. "Nana…"
Jubia tried hard to hide her blush. "Thank you…Jubia is a water mage."
She smiled knowingly. "Well, you can't make ice without water. You seem quite suited to each other. What can I get for the two of you?" Gray, still blushing madly, mumbled out an order that sound like everything on the menu to Jubia. The old woman quickly bagged up what he asked for and handed it over. Gray handed over the money. The old woman smiled again. "Thank you. Best of luck to you."
"Let's go back to the guild." Gray steered Jubia back toward Fairy Tail. She nodded and kept pace with him. As they walked, their hands brushed against each other until Gray finally just grabbed her hand. She stared at their hands then up at him. He said nothing, just smiled slightly as his grip tightened momentarily. She smiled timidly back and stayed quiet.
As they walked Gray noticed the sky was getting darker. It looked like it was about to rain. Then he glanced at her. "We better hurry back to the guild."
"Huh?" She had been so absorbed in just walking with Gray, she hadn't noticed how dark it was getting.
"Looks like it's gonna rain. Don't want the food to get wet. Or all your new clothes."
Jubia couldn't stop herself from frowning. She was thoroughly enjoying her time with Gray. Why in the world did it have to rain now? On any other day she wouldn't have cared but why did her first small date with Gray have to get rained out?
Gray saw her face fall as she stared up at the sky. "There's a lot of restaurants I want to show you. It can't rain every time." He squeezed her hand a little. She seemed mildly placated by this but Gray knew she was still upset. He was bummed as well, but he knew he had to keep her spirits up at least a little. If she got too upset, the rain would likely get worse, only serving to depress her more. It was a spiral he didn't want to start sliding down.
Their pace became mildly faster, though not by all that much as they approached the guild. Only the thought of the food and clothing made them hurry. Were it not for that, they probably would have continued at the same pace. Just as they reached the guild door, the skies opened up and it started to pour.
No one said anything about it but everyone smiled knowingly as they walked in, hand in hand and sat at one of the guild's tables. Gray let go of her hand and pulled out some of the food from the bag.
When he handed her one wrapped package, she looked at him questioningly. "Jubia only wanted one."
He grinning. "This is one."
Her eyes widened as she took it from him. "It's huge!"
At a nearby table, a tipsy Cana burst out laughing. Gray growled. "Cana!"
"What? It's too easy!"
He groaned and took out his own food. "Maybe we should have eaten under one of the patios…"
Jubia covered her mouth as she giggled. "No…it's fine. Jubia likes the atmosphere of the guild."
He sighed. "If you say so…"
The rest of the guild seemed too absorbed in the rain to care that much about the new couple. Except Cana anyway. She would make having a polite meal next to impossible.
The rain seemed off somehow, though no one was sure why. Jubia felt it particularly hard but she didn't want anything to get in the way of her time with Gray. Perhaps after she ate, she would see to making it stop. Or at least lighten up.
"I wish the rain would stop…" Lucy casually remarked.
Her words echoed in Jubia's head and she couldn't stop herself from standing up suddenly. "It's not Jubia's doing." She almost growled at the stellar spirit mage. Lucy turned around suddenly, not realizing Jubia was right behind her. She looked surprised and apologetic, knowing how hard Jubia still took remarks like that.
"Nobody said it was you." Gray grabbed her hand and pulled her back to the bench. "We should eat before the food gets cold."
She shook her head, still slightly indignant, despite knowing Lucy meant nothing by the comment. She wished the rain would stop as well. It just didn't feel right, like it was draining her of her energy. She would have to do something soon. "Yes, of course…"
Jubia unwrapped her caramade frank. Not that she had known what to expect but was still surprised by the food she found. It was some kind of meat, grilled she figured, in a bun. The whole thing felt very heavy. When she saw that the whole thing was covered in some kind of thick, sticky sauce, she thought that was part of why the bread felt so dense.
Unsure of how to eat it and seeing Gray was still pulling other food out of the bag, she started to pick at the frank timidly. Immediately, her hand was covered in the sauce. Just how was she supposed to eat this thing?
"You're too sticky." Jubia grimaced when she felt Gray's eyes on her.
"Well…Jubia's never had these before…"
"I know, but you're worse than Natsu."
Jubia made a small sphere of water and washed her hand off. "How do you eat these then?"
He unwrapped his first of many. "Open your mouth wide."
Cana burst out laughing again. "Jeez Gray, moving a little fast, aren't you?"
He growled again with his mouth full. "Cana! Shut up!"
Jubia stared at the frank. She wasn't sure she could even get her mouth around it. But she had to try. "Like this?" She took a deep breath and took a huge bite out of the caramade frank. Despite the fact that it was incredibly difficult to eat, it was in fact delicious.
"It's not something you eat elegantly. I guess I should have warned you."
She couldn't help but stare at his bare chest for a moment. "Elegant or not, Jubia thinks Gray should keep his clothes on."
"Dammit!" He quickly put his clothes back on and went back to his food. She giggled slightly at his discomfort.
Under the table, Jubia's foot brushed his. They glanced at each other over their difficult food, both of them content with their situation. It wasn't even like their relationship had moved all that far today, but that was fine. They didn't need to have a deep passionate kiss. They didn't need to bear their souls to each other. They didn't need to run off to Gray's bedroom for the rest of the week. They both knew more or less how the other person felt about them. What they had today was a beginning. Where their relationship went from here, only time would tell and that was okay.
And there we go. Quite possibly my first, last and only Fairy Tail fic. I just don't write as much as I used to. This idea demanded to be written though. I really like Gray/Jubia and I just thought the whole caramade franks (whatever those are supposed to be) conversation was too cute to leave alone.
The Shadow Hawk