A/N: This is a somewhat sequel to my other story, Comparison. If you read that, enjoy this. If you haven't, go read that first!
There's been a sudden attack on their team.
Lucy, Natsu, Happy, and a tag-along Lisanna (who is hesitant, as if she hasn't done anything like this in a long time; she probably hasn't, but Lucy can't bring herself to stop minding) are sent scattering apart as a large, grinning mage who is probably from a dark guild gives chase. Lucy clacks her teeth together nervously.
Lisanna is with Lucy, but she looks unsure of what to do- the girl is still recovering from her trip from Edolas- she'd helped clear off a mob earlier in the day, and seems exhausted, her thin frame drooping. Lucy, with a barely audible sigh, squares her shoulders to face the mage, who has cornered the two.
Normally, Lucy thinks ironically as she does a quick inventory of the keys she has on her, Natsu would be dying to fight this guy, jumping with excitement and probably doing the Macarena as he did so. Except the stupid dragon slayer doesn't seem to be anywhere, and Lucy is left to fend for herself, by herself.
Lucy dodges to the right, barely escapes being obliterated by the cynical looking mage, and flings up a key.
"Open! Gate to the-"
Lucy never gets to finish her sentence.
The first thing she hears is a fire crackling. The warmth is comforting, almost like Natsu's body- Natsu!
Lucy jerks up, moans from pain (it sounds off, somehow), and stumbles back down. When she opens her eyes, Natsu is sitting cross-legged next to her, grinning. He's obviously set up a camp for the night; there are tents up and everything. The fire snaps comfortingly.
"I took care of the guy," he says cheerfully. "Sorry you guys had to get hurt. But there weren't any cracked bones or large bruises or anything, so I don't think it was much of a big deal. I got there just in time, huh?"
Lucy bobs her head slowly- somehow, her head feels light. What's going on? She focuses on Natsu's face, which is just as oblivious and stupid and cute as usual.
"Lucy is still over there," Natsu says, and points in an opposite direction.
Because a mere ten feet away from her, lying down asleep on the cot, is her own body. Shocked, Lucy does a quick once-over of herself, and completely freezes.
She's in Lisanna's body.
Of course her head feels light- Lisanna's short, feathery hair is barely brushing against her neck. Her body seems smaller, more frail, longer, more…. Girly. Cutesy. Lucy examines Lisanna's porcelain skin, wonders just what the hell is going on.
Her mind races as her pulse increases- it must have been that mage back there, she thinks to herself, suddenly incensed. He cast some sort of spell on us, and I'll be like this forever, and god knows what might happen, and I don't want this because then Natsu and I-
Lucy shuts her thoughts down there, unwilling to entertain that thought any further.
But, her mind is saying to her, in the corners of her mind, this is something to wait out. Lucy doesn't know why, but she knows better than to distrust her woman's intuition, so she slowly raises her head, and opens her mouth to speak.
"Is Lucy okay?"
Lucy flinches, because the sound of Lisanna's voice coming from within Lucy is so… wrong. It's high and feminine but it's also so… different and alien. Lucy mulls over the sound with a mix of wonder and disgust when Natsu replies,
"Ask her yourself."
Lucy turns, (Lisanna's body complies) and sees her own body getting up and yawning, in that usual tired way that she does. Her mind zooms through the situation.
Then, quite suddenly, Lucy grabs her own arm (well, it's Lisanna's now, in a way), and drags her into the nearby tent, squealing, "Goodnightweneedsomegirltime, talktoyoulater!" in one fast rush.
Next to Happy, Natsu shrugs and decides to go fishing for dinner.
It's obvious that Lisanna has done the math, too.
"This… we've switched bodies…?" She looks at Lucy's ample figure, long golden hair, and then looks up to meet her own eyes. Lucy looks back at her own chocolate orbs, wondering if this is an opportunity or a punishment.
(Vainly, Lucy notes that she really does have rather nice eyes- but wait, no, that's beside the point).
"I… I've never seen this magic before," Lucy says slowly, digesting what she's saying. Lisanna's voice is slowly growing easier to get used to, but it grates against Lucy's nerves. "What if this is permanent? What should we do?" She looks up, frantic, and is surprised to see that Lisanna (er, Lucy, Lucy corrects herself) looks calm, almost… knowing.
"But I have," Lisanna says quietly, looking down at Lucy's hands. Lucy's voice sounds strange to her own ears. "In Edolas."
"Really?" Lucy almost jumps in relief, and notes that Lisanna's body is evidently still tired, because her body collapses back down. She shifts uncomfortably before continuing, "Then you know how long…?"
"It usually only lasts a day or so," Lisanna replies. She's reached up to twist her hair- Lucy's hair- blonde strands curling around and around. Lucy is temporarily distracted by the sight of herself; she's never going to get used to this. This would take too long-
"This stinks," She says grouchily, looking down. "How are we going to explain this to-"
"How about we don't?" Lisanna says excitedly, all of a sudden standing up. Lucy watches as her own body's face brightens. "This is a good opportunity!"
"A good opportunity?" Lucy repeats dumbly. "What do you mean…?"
She gets the point before the sentence is even finished.
"Natsu," Lisanna says, chocolate orbs flashing to meet her original body's own eyes. "Well, it's just…" She blushes all of a sudden, and Lucy feels a sinking in her chest.
Not jealous, Lucy condoles herself.
"You've seen how weak my body is right now," Lisanna stumbles- Lucy's body is red, red, red. Lucy herself, in Lisanna's body, feels awkward and looks away warily. "I just… you guys seem so close!" She says suddenly. "Just for one day, please Lucy. Let me spend this day with him. I've seen you guys, and I feel almost…"
Replaced. The word is left hanging in the air as Lisanna trails off, and Lucy abruptly gets a flash of understanding, of empathy. Because by omission or commission, Lucy understands the feeling that one gets when watching her beloved just talking with another person. And just the thought sends pangs throughout her entire system.
She's going to regret this, Lucy notes, but smiles kindly, and hesitantly, allows Lisanna the day.
Lucy's face brightens adorably, and for a moment, Lucy, in Lisanna's body, relaxes.
One day. How bad could it be?
The next day, Natsu is raring up to go; Lucy and Lisanna awkwardly go up to meet him, and they set off for the guild.
The journey isn't awkward like Lucy thought it would be. They'd had the night to mull things over, and Lucy has already decided that if she's going to go through with this, she might as well go all the way. She ignores the fact that for twenty more hours, she's going to be stuck in Lisanna's body, and tries to act like herself.
She figures Natsu won't know the difference.
"Natsu," Lisanna is saying in Lucy's clear tone (with some sort of horror, Lucy recognizes this as her flirtatious voice, and she scrambles for coherent thought). "I can't wait to go back and see Mira-nee- ahhm, Mira-san."
Luckily, Natsu doesn't notice the slip.
"I can't wait to see Gray," Natsu rambles, "and kick his ass! And I'll beat Erza this time for sure. Oh, and maybe we can pick up another mission soon, eh, Lucy?" Natsu nudges Lisanna, and Lucy watches as her own, familiar smile curves onto her face as Lisanna replies,
"Are you kidding me?" Lucy explodes, habit forcing her to reply. "We just got back from a mission, and you're not even going to let us rest?"
Natsu turns to face Lisanna's body, and surprise etches into his face for a fraction of a second before routine causes him to reply, "aww, c'mon! We gotta pay the rent, don't we? Can't let you- ah, Lucy whine."
"Er, y-yeah. My rent. Don't forget, haha," Lisanna says off-handedly, and Lucy knows that she and Lisanna are thinking the same thing (because their routines are getting in the way, showing through; Lisanna isn't like this). She brushes this thought away.
"Oh, alright, Lis-Lucy," Lucy murmurs from Lisanna's lips, grudgingly turning away as Natsu strikes up a conversation with Not-Lucy. She watches as the two laugh, and she wonders how something so wrong looks so right (it's not her, it's not Lucy, but somehow the sight of her and Natsu together is-)
"Aye!" Happy flies straight into Lisanna's bosom, hugging the girl with a broad smile. "Lisanna! Are you finally getting back in the swing of things?"
"Y-yeah," Lucy half-stammers, half-grinds out, as she watches Lisanna and Natsu talk. Happy follows her gaze to the two, and puts up a paw to his mouth as he says (rather coyly),
Watching her own face light up in response to something that Natsu has said, Lucy silently agrees.
The entire guild (or, what's left of it, anyway- there are people out on missions, but it still seems like a lot of people to Lucy) all greet Lisanna and the rest of Team Natsu warm-heartedly, with Welcome back! and How was it?. Lucy is somehow overwhelmed by a feeling of…
…(Lucy suddenly feels extremely left out).
Lucy watches, instead, as Lisanna (in Lucy's body) laughs and hangs around Natsu, who is obviously confused, and is even more taken aback when Lisanna is so bold as to latch onto Natsu's arm for a moment. Natsu gibbers wordlessly for a moment, and Lucy suddenly feel red all over, with a sinking feeling in her gut (it's not JEALOUSY, Lucy repeats to herself. Not jealous, not jealous… Who was she kidding?)
Lucy put her head on the table tiredly, willing everything to end, never noticing when Natsu turns to give her a long look.
When it gets dark, and the guild has finished celebrating the group's return (consisting of a talkative Levi, a naked Gray, the giggling Mirajane, boxers, and nacho cheese), Lucy trails obediently after an over-protective Elfman and a soft Mirajane. The three walk side-by-side, hands almost brushing each others', but not quite taking the fingers. Lucy can feel Lisanna's siblings' feelings through the tips.
(They brush Lisanna's hands gently, as if reassuring themselves of her returned presence, to make sure this isn't a dream, to make sure that Lisanna is still there and won't leave again).
Lucy feels momentarily guilty about this, because it's only been a week or so since Lisanna has returned, and it isn't right of her to have these moments, but Lucy has never had siblings. Lucy takes in the comfortable, companionable silence as the three walk home, when Mirajane abruptly breaks it with a sly smile.
"So how are things going on with you and Natsu?"
"E-eh?" Lucy locks up in shock, wondering exactly where that came from (in the back of her mind, she wonders if Mirajane and Lisanna do this a lot- it sends both guilt and envy up her spine, because Mirajane used to do this with her, with Lucy-) "A-alright, I guess… It's not like that!" She tacks on at the end, out of habit.
Mirajane gives her a strange look; Elfman hasn't noticed, of course, and is already walking to unlock the front door to their home, but Lucy shifts uncomfortably.
"Are you okay, Lisanna?" Mirajane asks, concern touching her voice.
"I'm fine! Of course I'm fine," Lucy laughs. She proceeds to mentally scream at herself to calm down and for God's sake, stop shaking! as she walks into the threshold.
The house is small, but it's bright and warm, and it fits the Take-Over siblings so well Lucy has trouble stifling a wide smile at how remarkably homey it is. As it is, a grin stretches over her face.
"Well, you know what to do!" Mirajane chirps happily. Elfman goes straight to the kitchen (Lucy finds this amusing- how would that work, a 'manly' apron? Pft!), and Mirajane trudges up a narrow set of stairs, humming.
Lucy stands awkwardly in the room, unsure of what to do because Lisanna hadn't given her any talk about this, and oh no, Lucy realizes suddenly, Lisanna doesn't know where the real Lucy's apartment is!
Bitterly, Lucy notes that there is a high possibility that Natsu will be helping Lisanna find her way. Probably talk with her, spend time with her. Lucy is almost perturbed at the thought of this; it strikes her as odd when she realizes that Natsu is like her comfort zone, her home.
Home is where the heart is.
Lucy's train of thought is broken off when Elfman chirps, "Lisanna? Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Lucy replies absently. And she is, to a certain extent.
"Are you sure?" Lucy finds the brotherly-affection in Elfman's voice quite lovable. "Because I am a man. And men are supposed to take care of their sisters!"
He comes out of the kitchen to strike a pose- Lucy bursts into laughter as Mirajane comes down the stairs, carrying a pile of laundry, and Lucy wonders how Lisanna can be envious of her, when she has this.
(Then she is reminded of Natsu, and her smile falters).
As if right on cue, Natsu suddenly bursts through the window, sprinkling glass everywhere, invoking approval of how manly the entrance is from Elfman, and a rather maternal sigh from Mirajane.
"Natsu!" Lucy stammers, and her heart momentarily leaps when she realizes that Natsu isn't with Lucy, that he'd prefer Lisanna over Lucy! Her heart twists, and she is momentarily speechless from the pain.
"Yo, 'sup," Natsu raises a hand as he stalks up to Lisanna's frozen frame. Lucy quickly gathers up her thoughts, and gives him a rather forced smile.
"H-hi! Natsu! What are you doing here?" (She can hear jealousy in her voice; it's almost painful).
"Well, y'know." Natsu drapes himself over the couch, picks up a piece of bread, and immediately gobbles it down. "Stuff."
Lucy doesn't know what to say, because Natsu is so obviously at home at Lisanna's house, and it hurts her.
"You know what's funny, though?" Natsu continues, breaking into her thoughts. "Lucy's been acting kind of strange the whole day, don't you think?"
Lucy blinks once, twice. Three times. Wasn't Natsu too dense to normally get this stuff?
"Er, she seemed fine to be."
"Maybe it's just me," Natsu shrugs, and he fixes his hot gaze onto Lisanna. Lucy shrinks back, because she may be under his passionate stare, but it's really Lisanna and not her. "Because, well, you smell different, Lisanna."
"Smell?" Now she's just dumbfounded.
"Yeah," Natsu continues. "You usually smell really warm, like… like a forest!" He waves his hand around wildly. "But today you smell sweet. Like… like, I don't know! But it smells really, really good."
Lucy doesn't move. She can't think, because this turn leaves her not knowing how to react.
"A-ah! Don't take it as a bad thing! Your smell is nice, too!" Natsu jumps in suddenly in response to her wide eyes and gaping mouth. "It's just, the weird thing is…" He looks away just the tiniest bit, maybe a little bashfully.
"You smell like Lucy today."
Lucy dimly notes Mirajane chuckling quietly, but she can't concentrate on that because Natsu is fumbling now.
"I-I mean, you smell great and all," he says awkwardly, "But Lucy kinda smells like… like home."
And all of a sudden Lucy's throat is constructed, and she doesn't know how to react because she's just so overwhelmed by this, so she slumps onto the floor and bawls.
Natsu stammers and moves awkwardly to her side, patting her with his rough, calloused hands. "U-uh! Don't cry! I didn't mean it that way! Sheesh!" He lets out an affectionate sigh. "You're even acting like Luce today."
Behind them, Mirajane utters a stifled cough, and quickly masks it with a bright smile Lucy doesn't trust one bit.
"So, Natsu," she says conversationally as Lucy sniffs and gets up, embarrassed. "Do you know where Lucy is?"
"Well," Natsu pushes out his lip. "I led her home, but… she was acting a little odd, so I told her to rest and then I came here!"
"W-well!" Lucy stammers, suddenly remembering Lisanna's face when she agreed to this whole mess. "You should check on her!" Flushing red, she proceeds to push a surprised, protesting Natsu out the door.
Elfman and Mirajane are silent.
Then, "I thought you said it wasn't like that with Natsu?" Mirajane asked cheerfully.
"A-ah! It's not!" Lucy stammers. "I always thought it was..." Lisanna and Natsu, Lucy thinks to herself, but she can't bring herself to finish the thought. So instead, she continues, "Lucy. I always thought it was Lucy."
"…" There is a moment of strained silence as Mirajane and Elfman stare at her.
Lucy stares back blankly, unsure of what she did wrong.
"Lisanna, let's go upstairs. You can help me fold laundry!" Mirajane says, but it's a little off. "Elfman, what's for dinner?"
"O-oh, right! Dinner!"
As Elfman scurries off, Lucy follows Mirajane with a sinking heart. The silence is only broken when Mirajane speaks.
"Lucy," she says slowly.
"Yes?" Lucy replies out of habit, then curses. "I mean, what about her?"
"No," Mirajane shakes her head. "You. Lucy."
Lucy cowers suddenly. "I-I'm sorry!" Everything tumbles out of her. "It was the dark mage we met, and Lisanna wanted to keep it a secret, and I agreed, and I didn't mean to-!"
"It's okay," Mirajane says soothingly. "It seems like a Lisanna thing, and I understand where she's coming from. But, y'know…" She gives Lucy a sideways look that Lucy doesn't like. "Natsu was saying some pretty interesting things down there."
'Mirajane…" Lucy is at a loss of what to say.
"Give it your all, Lucy!" Mirajane says cheerfully before returning to her chores.
Lucy plays along for the rest of the night, her heart inexplicably lighter.
The next day, Lucy wakes up in her own body.
"KYAA!" Lucy jumps, screaming, and turns to see a nonchalant Natsu grinning at her, his face just inches from hers.
"Sh-sheesh! Respect a person's privacy, wouldya?" Lucy snaps, pulling the covers away from Natsu, who whines when the blanket leaves his body. She doesn't know why, (seriously, he was way warmer than the blankets) but she does notice that he is practically naked.
With a sound that's a cross between a high-pitched keening noise and a scream, Lucy flings Natsu out of her bed and demands him to put on clothes.
"When did you get here?" Lucy demands when Natsu is finally decent (except for those damned abs of his. She tries hard not to stare, and fails).
"When your regular scent returned," Natsu says casually. "I can smell you from a mile away, y'know?"
Lucy stares at him, her heart warming and a grin breaking out on her face.
"Natsu. That's really creepy."
Natsu laughs boisterously, and gives her a warm smile that melts her inside, accompanied by a scorching hug. "Welcome back, Lucy!"
Lucy then gets the feeling that the dragon slayer isn't as dense as he seems.
Outside the guild, Lisanna sighs, remembering the night before.
"So, Natsu." Lisanna paused, wondering how to word the question without seeming awkward. "What do you think of Lisanna?"
"Lisanna?" Natsu stopped short on the cobbled path they were on, and Lisanna was abruptly struck by how handsome the rash dragon slayer could be. His hair was endearing, those onyx eyes drew you in, his-
Lisanna's lips pursed as she considered that all of this was Lucy's, in a sense.
"Lisanna is cool," Natsu said with a smile. "Always up for a chat, and she's super nice. Happy loves her! I bet she'd make a great mom."
"Yeah?" Lisanna smiled, and for a moment, forgot her previous thought. "You wouldn't make a bad dad, you know?"
"Huh? Me? Well…" Natsu looked serious for a moment (which was always a humorous expression on Natsu- Lisanna giggled to herself). "You know, sometimes I already feel like it's that way, kinda sorta. Even though I'm too young and all, but sometimes it feels like I have a little family!"
"With Happy as the kid?" Lisanna teased, a light tone in her voice.
"Yeah… and keep this a secret, but," Natsu leaned in and his warm breath tickled her ear, "Lucy is the unsuspecting mom. But she doesn't know yet, so don't tell her!"
He winked at Lisanna, and she felt her heart drop to her stomach.
So all this… had he just been playing along? The concept seemed unreal to Lisanna. Natsu was a terrible liar.
"So you… knew…? All this time…" She swallowed.
"Not at first, but then…" Natsu turned, and his eyes met hers. "The smell gave it away. The way she acted. Most people don't notice that kind of thing with Lucy, but I do.
You know, I made a promise to Lucy. That no matter where she goes, whether it's being kidnapped by dark guilds or visiting her mom's grave, or on a dangerous mission…" He took a deep breath.
"I promised that I'd find Lucy no matter where she went, and the same applies, even if she's in someone else's body. I can tell, you know. We're just like that."
(And Lisanna could tell, all right. Romance wasn't awkward for Natsu like it was for other boys his age- with Natsu, things that were, just were. He and Lucy were like two parts of the same being.
And she couldn't deny it.)
"No matter what," Lisanna echoed as she shut the door.
A/N: Feedback, both positive and negative, is greatly appreciated.