"Haaaah~ It's so boring~"

Lucy sighed, leaning her head against the counter of the bar, shivering slightly at the feel of cool marble against her cheek. The counter really was cold... and it saddened Lucy that, that was indeed the first thought she had in the past couple hours that didn't have to do with being bored. Speaking of which, she was really, really bored.

Not only bored, she was a little un-easy. She'd been at the guild for nearly the entire day, and Natsu hadn't bothered her, or caused an outburst. Looking around more carefully, she realized it was because Natsu wasn't here. Where was that boy? It was certainly unlike him not to be here, was he on a mission? No, he would have told me if he did...

She did a double take of the guild to see if she had somehow managed to miss a glimpse of bright pink hair, a wide stretched grin and trade-mark white and simple black plaid scarf. And, as expected, she didn't. Which made her frown; she was worried. She knew the flame mage could obviously handle himself, but who knows what trouble he could have gotten into?

Her head whipped around in the direction of the entrance as she heard the familiar jingle of the bell, which always faithfully alerted the guild of someone else's presence. Unbeknownst to herself, her smile fell abruptly as she saw the person who walked through the doors had not been Natsu. Not that she had anything against Gray, mind you.

Getting up from her seat, she strolled over to her teammate who was currently seated at one of the many tables, his eyes raising to meet hers as she walked over. "Yo, Lucy."

She smiled, "Hey, Gray." She paused there. She was thinking of how to phrase her question, and an excuse for asking said question. She'd need one. "Have you seen Natsu?"

Gray cocked an eyebrow, "Why do you want to know?"

See? "He hasn't been here yet today, I'm just curious." Not as if I'm worried or anything...

The ice mage frowned slightly, putting a hand to his chin as his eyes slipped closed and head tilted back. "Hmmm..." He hummed, "Come to think of it, I haven`t seen him. Happy either." If Gray's eyes had been open, he would have noticed the light flush that spread across Lucy's cheeks. I completely forgot about Happy...

After Gray's un-helpful response, Lucy had gone all throughout the guild, questioning everyone about the whereabouts of a certain Salamander. She came up shorthanded, getting responses like;

"Raaaah! I, as a man, don't know the answer to your question!"

"Maybe he's with some cute girl? Snicker"

"Now Now, don't worry about him, cutie~ Why don't you come drink with me? Ohohoho~"

"Juvia doesn't know...Juvia only looks at Gray-sama."

"Sorry, Lucy, I have no idea where he is."

Lucy sighed as Mirajane gave her an apologetic look. "It's okay, Mira. No one knows where he is, it's-"

Lucy was interrupted as the doors to the guild were thrown open violently, slamming against the opposing walls. Anyone within a ten meter radius flinched at the cracking sound, a sound that certainly spelled out more damage to the already beaten walls. There, in the doorway, partly shaded by the darkness that had stretched over the sky who knows how many hours ago, was Natsu.

He seemed to ignore all the stares he was getting, as he made a bee-line straight for Lucy. She blinked, "Na-"

She was cut off for the second time that day, as a pair of arms wrapped around her tightly. In a couple seconds flat, she was pulled flat against a warm, muscled chest and felt her knees buckle as she was pulled to the ground in a sitting position. She gave a muffled yelp at the suddenness of it, and once she regained her senses, she gave a muffled mumble against his chest, "Natsu...?"

He wasn't answering. And she turned bright red as she realized a few things. One, she was pressed up as tightly as possible against Natsu, being able to feel almost every inch of his body, and most likely, visa versa. Two, his face was currently nuzzled into the crook of her neck, and she could feel his warm breath ghosting slightly over her skin, making it tingle- Was he shaking? And Three, everyone, and I mean everyone's eyes were on them. And finally, she was more embarrassed than she had ever been in her entire life. "O-Oi, Natsu, you're making a scene...!" She tried to shake her...friend out of whatever crazy stupor he was in, which only proceeded to make him tighten his grip around her.

Frantically, she looked around, attempting to think of a course of action to take. She blinked as she noticed her blue comrade fly into the entrance. "Happy! Over here!" She said in a hushed, but urgent voice. Said cat noticed her situation, and flew over quickly. She noticed that his face was painted with a worried expression. "What's wrong with him?" She asked quietly, not really worried about Natsu hearing her. After all, he didn't seem too observant of the world around him right now.

"Aye...I'm not sure." The little catmander said with a frown, his eyes glued to Natsu's back. "Natsu wasn't waking up, he was sleeping for a really long time, and when he did wake up, he seemed really...scared."

Lucy blinked. Scared? What could possibly scare Natsu...?

Happy continued. "He was talking really fast, so I didn't understand much...something about you, and blood, and 'gone, gone, gone'..."

At that, she frowned deeply. Blood? Gone? What was Natsu dreaming about? And what did it have to do with her? Well, whatever it was, it was enough to shake him up like this.

Speaking of which, her neck felt...wet. Is he crying...? "Natsu? Hey Natsu...why don't we go back to my apartment, okay...?" She made sure to keep her voice low, and un-threatening. As if she was talking to an injured animal. Or a child...

She felt Natsu nod slightly against her neck, mumbling something inaudible. She grabbed Natsu's hand gently, and pulled him into a standing position, then helping him make his way to the exit and out into the outside world.

_

Lucy sighed, squirming a bit in an attempt to get comfortable, her arms having cramped a long time ago, and her legs falling asleep longer before that. And she was seriously starting to sweat with the amount of heat that the fire mage produced.

She had eventually managed to pull Natsu all the way from the guild to her home, and the moment they got through the door, Natsu had attached himself to Lucy again. In an iron grip; he didn't seem to be letting go anytime soon.

So there they were. Lucy, to her embarrassment, was currently seated in Natsu's lap. His arms were wrapped around her waist, and his head went back to its former placement, nuzzled into the crook of her neck, and making her shiver and squirm all over again.

And the silence was starting to get on her nerves. The small apartment was absolutely silent, other than the quiet sounds of Lucy's breathing, and the 'tick tick tick' of her clock. She wanted to give Natsu time to calm down, but god damnit, she wanted to know what was wrong with him.

Craning her head back a bit, she said in a hushed voice, "What happened, Natsu..?"

It seemed at the sound of her voice, Natsu tensed a bit, she could feel his body go rigid against hers. After a few moments, his muscles relaxed once again, and he whispered just loud enough for her to hear him.

"Bad dream."

Lucy blinked. He's this upset over a nightmare...?

She wasn't going to judge, though. It must have been something terrifying. It did explain why he had woken up in such a fright, like his cat companion had earlier explained. (Where did he go, exactly?) She felt bad for forgetting his existence completely, again.

But, getting back to the point here; herself, blood, and 'gone'. The thing's Natsu had gone on about prior to his awakening. So, his nightmare had to do with her...and blood? And she left? Or something like that...

She frowned. She desperately wanted to ask Natsu exactly what his dream had been about, but she didn't want to pry. And she was afraid that if she pushed him to remember the details of his dream, it may send him into hysterics. The last thing she wanted to do was make the Dragon slayer upset, or worse, cry again. She cringed at the realization that her neck was still damp from earlier.

"I couldn't find you..."

Snapped out of her thoughts, Lucy looked up, to see that Natsu had raised his head. He was staring down at her, directly into her eyes, and she had to resist the urge to shudder. His usually clear brown eyes were fogged over, hazy, pained and frightened. Every emotion she thought she would never see someone like Natsu express was currently crystal clear in the slayer's irises. Subconsciously, she reached down and placed her hand on top of Natsu's, urging him to go on.

He took an intake of breath, doing his best to look strong as he continued. "I was running...I was in a dark place, I had no idea how I got there, when I got there, where it was, or anything...I couldn't see. I couldn't hear either...I felt so powerless. So I did the only thing I could do..." He looked almost ashamed as he continued, "I ran. I ran for a really long time, screaming things I couldn't even hear. It never seemed to end..."

Noticing that he was having difficulty continuing, Lucy ran her thumb across the back of his hand gently, trying to comfort him slightly. It apparently worked, because after a few seconds, he continued.

"And suddenly...I felt something splash under my feet. It was warm, and sticky...I tried to see what it was, but I couldn't...so I went to keep running...B-But I tripped. I fell, and...fell on top of...something."

Lucy frowned. "Something?"

He cringed slightly, "I couldn't tell what it was...I felt around and I felt...H-Hair...Long hair...and a face, and I knew it was...a p-person..." He paused again, and Lucy saw the slight glisten of tears in his eyes, making her frown. "And suddenly...there was a light. And I could see, and hear...and..."

"And...?" Lucy urged him on, not oblivious to the fact that Natsu had started shaking again, both his body and his voice trembling almost violently.

"T-The person...was covered in blood...s-so much of it, I couldn't tell...A-All I could tell was, that it was a girl. And then...I noticed...s-something...and I screamed...and started to cry..."

"What'd you notice?" Who could make him react so strongly? A girl...Erza?

"...They had the Fairy Tail mark...On their right hand.."

At this, Lucy froze. Right hand..."You mean me?"

She watched as he closed his eyes tightly, his eyebrows furrowed as he nodded slowly.

She opened her mouth to respond, but before she could, she was tackled to the ground. She yelped slightly, as Natsu landed on top of her, enveloping her in another hug. "N-Natsu, calm down-"

"I thought I lost you!"

She was taken back at the intensity of his words, they sounded so pained, worried...

"I thought I lost you..." He continued, his voice wet, and Lucy felt her shirt start to get wet again. "I thought you were...d-dead...!"

Frowning, Lucy put one arm around Natsu, rubbing small circles on his back. "Is that why you were so upset? Why you hugged me?" She hummed understandingly as Natsu nodded, her lips pursing as she heard Natsu sniffle.

This entire incident was...obviously a bit shocking. But she couldn't help but almost enjoy it. It was hard to deny, she had obviously grown very close to the dragon slayer over the period of time they had worked together. Anyone with eyes could see that she obviously liked, no, loved Natsu.

Except Natsu; But, it's Natsu, what do you expect?

So, this happening was a bit of an eye opener for her, and possibly Natsu? Maybe he felt the same way...

Realizing that Natsu was still very much on top of her, and still crying, she started patting his back, and whispering comforting things in a hushed voice in his ear. "There, There, Natsu...You don't need to be upset, I'm right here, okay...?"

Natsu sniffled loudly, and raised his head slightly, his head only an inch or so from Lucy's, "I know..." He grinned sheepishly. "You must think I'm a weirdo, right? Here I am freaking out, and you're right here."

She shook her head, and smiled. "Of course not, Natsu, I would ever laugh at you. Everyone gets scared sometimes, right?"

He blinked slightly, "Even people like Erza?"

Lucy giggled. "Yes, even people like Erza." It really took a lot of will power for Lucy not to laugh at the wide-eyed, almost owlish look of astonishment Natsu had right now. She settled for grinning like an idiot instead, proud of the fact she managed to cheer her comrade (Or something more) up. He was finally back to his normal, stupid, oblivious self.

Or so she thought.

"Neh, Lucy...?"

She blinked, "Hm?"

He frowned a bit in confusion. "You know, I'm not upset anymore, but I still have this weird feeling in my chest..."

"Weird?" She panicked slightly. Was something wrong with him? Was he hurt?

He nodded. "Un...And it seems to get worse whenever I get closer to you."

-Wait, what? "Closer to me? Eh?" Could this mean...maybe he really does...!

"Yeah, it's really weird." He grinned, "Oh well, no sense dwelling on it, right?"

...I knew it. I guess he really is too dense. Lucy had to resist the urge to cry in frustration. She thought she was so close...

"...Lucy?"

She sighed, "What is it?" She was a bit shocked as she saw the completely serious expression on his face, his eyes half lidded, staring down gently at Lucy.

"Promise to never leave my side?"

Her eyes widened. It took her a few second to process what he said to her, and when she did, she broke out in one of the biggest smiles of her life. Her heart swelled, and she realized that she was probably tearing up at this point.

"Yeah...I'll always be with you, Natsu."

Maybe Natsu was still too naive to realize that Lucy loved him, or that he loved her, but this was enough. The fact that Natsu wanted to stay with her was enough for her.

And she would stay with him.

For as long as he wants me...