As a first-time writer of Fairy Tail fanfiction, I can only pray and sincerely hope that I made everyone in-character. Gray is especially hard to write, which almost frustrates me in more than one occasion.
Then why go through the trouble of writing a Gray-centric fanfic in the first place, you ask? Call me masochistic. That, and my baby sister practically begged me to do it for her. Yes, I'm a softie. Teehee~
Also, just so you people know, this was supposed to be just a drabble. I honestly have no idea how it came to be — this — long. Still, I hope this fic is to your liking — if you're a Gray/Lucy fan, that is. xD
Standard disclaimers apply.
Rated T for swearing and mindless name-callings.
Gray watches Lucy sometimes.
Not because he particularly likes her or anything.
In all honesty, she tends to annoy him with her narcissistic streak and constant whining about the pettiest of things – is barging in to her place unannounced really THAT big of a deal? And when she insists on acting like a spoiled brat during missions (no doubt having grown up as the first and only daughter of the Heartfilia conglomerate), the idea of making her into a human snowball is always so tempting.
Sure, she's pretty damn cute and she's got the hottest body ever (according to Macao and Wakaba and even the Master Makarov himself), but that doesn't really make her anything special in his book, especially when her skills aren't even on par with the rest of Team Natsu. It's a cruel assessment, yes, but that's also why he's keeping it to himself. He has no plans of getting pummeled to near death by both Natsu and Erza, thankyouverymuch. And the tears – oh, the tears! – he can never handle that.
So what if he watches her? He merely finds her... interesting.
That doesn't mean he cares about her beyond what a nakama should.
Because he doesn't.
Not a bit.
She's just an interesting person.
He watches her sit on one of the stools at the bar, legs crossed and posture as upright as the princess she is — rather, she used to be. She is talking animatedly to Mirajane about who-knows-what, but the blush on her porcelain cheeks is quite prominent, and he can't help but wonder. Then, Levy – has she been there all along? – stands up from her seat beside her and suddenly drags her by the hand to a table a few feet away from where he is. Now, he can see her upfront (to which he is silently thankful for because craning his neck sideways toward the bar for so long is actually kind of painful), settled between a grinning Lisanna and a still perky Levy. Their laughs can be heard among the noise and rowdy banters around the guild.
Really, there are certain things about her that intrigue him.
Like that crazy hairstyle she wears most of the time. Or the way her face lights up when she's just thought of a 'genius' plan. Or the way her chocolate-brown eyes sparkle in mirth every time she's reading a book. Or the way she chews on her bottom lip when she's really concentrating on something. Or the way she stomps her foot on the floor when she's angry or frustrated. Or the way she absently brushes her blonde hair with her fingers when she's daydreaming.
She is always smiling, but she has a particular smile that she seems to reserve for him alone — one that's neither creepy nor breathtaking; he doesn't really know how to describe it (because he's not artistic with words like her), but it's just the kind of smile that makes him want to smile back despite himself. And he does so every time, which he finds weird. It's like he's possessed or something.
She always laughs at his jokes, even when he's being grumpy and sarcastic and childish, and sometimes, he finds himself making jokes simply to hear the sound of her bubbling laughter because a small part of him finds the sound pleasant.
Lastly, she makes every day in Fairy Tail interesting; even the most boring of days has its entertaining moments when he's sitting in the table beside her or when they're together in a mission as the five-man Team Natsu. She's always so gullible with the most unique set of reactions — most probably why Natsu likes having her around, prankster that he is.
Maybe that's what she is to him, a form of entertainment. Maybe that's why he observes her so often. Or perhaps he watches her because she is like a — no, she is a puzzle he cannot solve, which is a merit in itself, considering they're a part of the craziest guild in Fiore. To everyone else, she can easily be dismissed as the happiest, brightest, ditziest being on the planet.
But not to him.
Never to him.
He can tell she's hurting by the pain he sometimes sees in her eyes, and he wonders what makes her so sad — her father? Him habitually stripping down? Them breaking into her place almost everyday? Sometimes, he even finds himself worrying about her and subsequently ponders why she constantly covers up that sorrow with the mask of an upbeat, carefree individual. It's unnerving, and he wishes he could know her secrets and the reasons for her troubles, just so he can put an end to them all — because oddly enough, he finds her burdens and tears much more annoying than her whining (about her rent), freaking out (when she catches him naked or reading her novel or both), and above all else, her smiling (that smile at him).
And so, he watches her and wonders about her, studying her person like a book that needs to be read over and over again — simply because he finds her interesting.
But that doesn't mean he cares about her beyond what a nakama should.
Because he doesn't.
Not at all.
Noting the dazed look on his teammate's face, Natsu grins mischievously. "Oh, Graaaaaaaay," he coos uncharacteristically, leaning closer to the ice mage sitting across him. "Who are you staring at?"
Gray looks up, annoyance evident on his face as his attention is suddenly drawn away from the girl he was observing so intently. "What?"
"You've been watching Lucy for the past ten minutes." Natsu replies gleefully around a mouthful of his lunch, bits of half-chewed food flying from his mouth and pelting the black-haired lad's face like kamikaze flies.
Gray wrinkles his nose in disgust, swiping at his face. "You're being gross, Natsu. Don't talk with your mouth full."
"Ha! You're changing the subject!" is the idiot's instant retort. A finger is pointed accusingly at Gray as he swallows the food still left in his mouth. He then crosses his arms to his chest and nods his head, seemingly fully convinced of his claim. "That's a sure sign."
"Of what?" snaps Gray impatiently.
Happy chooses this moment to pop up behind his shoulder. "That you liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike Lucy." he drawls teasingly, eyebrows waggling in a suggestive manner.
"Why else would you be making goo-goo eyes at her so much?" Natsu continues, his facial expression mirroring that of his cat.
This catches the ice mage off-guard, and he bristles for a moment, his face flushing in what he sincerely hopes is only anger and not embarrassment. "I do not—" he mutters, throwing a quick glance at Lucy's direction to make sure she's not observing any of this exchange, "—make goo-goo eyes at Lucy. Nor do I like her. At all. None. Never in a million years." He shakes his head vigorously and even makes the effort of crossing his arms into an 'X' in front of him to make his point.
Too bad for him, Natsu doesn't look convinced. "Riiiight," he remarks condescendingly. Why, of all times, does he have to choose NOW to be such a smartass? "We believe you, don't we, Happy?"
"Aye, sir!" the blue feline pipes in.
"How about you, Erza?"
Said mage doesn't even look up from her slice of strawberry cheesecake. "Give it up, Natsu," she says calmly, and just as Gray is about to mock Natsu for being an idiot, she continues, "You know Gray won't admit it."
Natsu snickers as Gray lets out an indignant snort, an eyebrow twitching in annoyance. "Excuse me? Admit what, exactly?"
"That you have feelings for Lucy, of course." Erza merely supplies.
"WHAT!" Gray bursts out, banging his fists on the table. "I do NOT!"
Happy is quick to counter. "Sure, you do!"
"You liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiike her!" Again with that stupid catch phrase!
"Quit it, cat!"
The corners of Erza's lips curl into an amused smile, taking in the sight of the normally unruffled ice mage's livid countenance.
Natsu, on the other hand, is grinning madly, looking oddly pleased with himself. "Denial, denial..." he says.
"Listen," the black-haired wizard growls, turning angry eyes at his companions. If Erza isn't sitting beside him at this moment, he'd have already frozen both Natsu and his annoying pet into ice sculptures. "Lucy is NOT my type. I don't like girls like her."
"What type of girl do you think she is, Gray?" Happy blinks in question.
"The spoiled, high-maintenance rich girl type." he automatically answers.
The cat pouts, now perched atop his best friend's rosette head. "But she's so much more than that!"
"Yeah, for starters, Lucy's really weird, but she's a nice girl," Natsu quips. "I wouldn't be teaming up with her if she's not."
Erza nods at this, forking another chunk of her beloved cake. "She's even thoughtful enough to cook for us every time we pay her a visit."
"Well, it's actually more like we break in and help ourselves to her food..." Gray mumbles inaudibly. He raises a glass of orange juice to his lips and begins to take a few swigs.
"Plus, her boobs are really big and soft! It felt really comfortable when she let me sleep on th—" Happy never got to finish his statement when the ice mage suddenly spits out his drink to the troublesome duo, spraying them with a mix of saliva and citrus-flavored liquid.
"GAH! Gray, that's gross!" the now drenched Exceed cries out and quickly flies toward the bar, most likely to get a couple of towels from Mirajane.
Strangely, Natsu isn't even the least upset with him. Usually, this would signal the start of another brawl for them, but this time, he simply chooses to wipe himself with his muffler. He figures that the look on Gray's (red) face right now is more than enough payback. "Here come the images~" he says in a sing-song voice. When the poor boy stiffens, he cackles evilly.
Gray glares at the Dragon Slayer, face hot from embarrassment and bubbling anger. Fully mindful of Erza's eyes on him, he resists the (very strong) urge to lunge at Natsu and stab his sneering face with an icicle. "Bastard..." he mutters.
Natsu shrugs his shoulders, eyes glinting mischievously. "Say whatever you want, Gray, but the fact is you're not denying you have feelings for her."
"WHAT!" the ice mage shouts for the second time that day. "Weren't you listening, you dimwit? I just told you she's not my type!"
"Not really," Erza interrupts. "You said you don't like girls like her," Here, she puts down her fork and turns to him, an eyebrow raised as if challenging Gray to defy her. "You never said anything about not liking Lucy herself."
He gapes at her incredulously. "Th-that's just the same thing, isn't it?"
"Is it now?" she asks back, a hint of playfulness in her voice.
"Tch." Gray vehemently refuses to look at the smirking redhead, and instead steals a glance at Lucy's direction — which, unfortunately, doesn't escape Natsu's sight.
"Sure doesn't look like it!"
A vein finally pops, and Gray makes a grab for his rival's vest. "You just don't give up, do you, Flame Brain!"
Completely unperturbed, Natsu leers at him and prepares himself for a much-awaited fight; ruffling the ice alchemist's feathers is just too fun for him (especially now). "Want me to beat it out of you, Snowflake?"
The scuffle ends before it can even begin with a swift punch to either boys' head, courtesy of Erza's iron-clad fists.
"PLAY NICE, YOU TWO!"
"Y-yes..." they manage to squeak.
It is around this time when Happy flies back to them and hands a towel to (a long dried down) Natsu. "What did I miss?" he asks, watching the two youngsters pick themselves up from the cemented floor and back to their respective seats.
"Gray is still in denial." Natsu tells him as he rubs his head.
"I am NOT, you dumbass!"
The Dragon Slayer merely shrugs. "See?"
"Shut up already!" Gray shouts frustratingly. "How many times do I have to say it before your pea-sized brain gets it, huh? I don't like her, I really don't!"
Happy looks back at him, round eyes sparkling in (feigned) innocence. "If what you're saying is true," he asserts, in which the ice mage twitches. "Then, why do you keep on looking at Lucy?"
"I don't—Shit! It doesn't mean anything! S-stop overanalyzing things!" Gray quickly splutters in retaliation.
"You know, Gray…" Erza intervenes yet again, catching the trio's attentions in an instant. She gives the black-haired mage a pointed look. "You can't blame Natsu and Happy for thinking the way they do. After all, you have been staring at Lucy quite a lot nowadays."
"Yeah! Don't think we haven't noticed, Droopy Eyes," Natsu follows with renewed vigor. "For the past couple of weeks, you've been watching her like she's sprouted another head or something. Isn't that right, Happy?"
"Aye, sir!" the cat confirms energetically. "Even Mira notices, and she's waaaaaaaaaaaaay over at the bar!"
Gray can feel his temper flaring up once again. Tanned fists clench so tightly that knuckles grow white as he glares contemptuously at his supposed friends. "So what's your point?"
Erza sighs heavily. Really, the kid's stubbornness is incomparable — even to Natsu's. "The point is, Gray," she begins to say as she turns to the disgruntled wizard. "Denial will get you nowhere."
"Just admit it, Ice Bastard. I mean, hey, it's perfectly okay if you like Lucy," Natsu butts in, that irritating, cheeky grin still in place. "We won't hold it against you."
"Aye! Definitely!" Happy cheers.
Gray tries to control it; really, he does. But the look on his comrade's faces is making this particular job incredibly difficult. Still, he tries harder, MUCH harder — he's not the most laid-back guy in the guild for nothing.
"I can't wait to see the look on Lucy's face once she finds out about Droopy Eyes crushing on her!" Fuck you, Natsu!
"Do you think I fly over there and tell her?" Go to hell, Happy!
"Nah, as tempting as that sounds, it's better if Gray confesses himself." Yes, thank you, that's—WHAT!
"Good luck, Gray!" the idiot and his pesky cat chorus.
And that is it for the normally 'cool' Gray Fullbuster – pun intended.
"FOR THE LOVE OF—!" he bellows, shooting out of his seat. "I DO – NOT – LIKE HER! STOP PUTTING WORDS IN MY MOUTH, DAMMIT!"
Silence instantly ensues around the entire dining hall as everyone, including Lucy, whips their heads toward the foursome's table to stare dubiously at a red-faced ice alchemist, a grinning Salamander, a stiff Exceed and a wide-eyed Titania.
Gray suddenly wishes he could hide, and wordlessly wills the ground to swallow him whole (to no avail).
No one speaks.
The rest simply gawks.
...And still, no one speaks.
Gray glances at Lucy again, only to find her watching him, and their eyes meet across the silent lunchroom. Her expression is blank for a moment, before she lets out a soft giggle, chocolate-brown eyes crinkling into a smile as she turns to say something to Levy. The petite mage responds cheerily. Then, the other girls at their table resume their talking and eating as if nothing has happened.
Soon, all the guild members are back to their own businesses, restoring the usual volume of the dining hall.
Gray heaves out a sigh and plops back down in his seat, a frown still marring his face.
Happy blinks innocently. "Wow, you're really hung up on this denial thing, aren't you?"
"Happy..." he growls, exasperated.
"You really should pay more heed to your actions, Gray," Erza tells him as she turns her attention back to her unfinished cake. "Surely, you don't want the rest of the guild to be onto you."
"Tch. I know that already." Gray drones stiffly. Crossing his arms, he glares at the surface of the table, determined not to look at a certain blonde Celestial Spirit mage again.
It is only a few seconds later when the sound of choked laughter reaches his ears, making him look up with contempt.
Sitting across from him, Natsu is hunched over, shoulders shaking as he tries to hold back his snickers.
"And just WHAT is so damn funny?" Gray demands angrily, dark eyes flashing dangerously as he glowers at the trembling Dragon Slayer.
Tears are beginning to gather in the corners of Natsu's eyes when he finally succumbs to the laughter threatening to overtake him. "D-dude," he gasps out amidst his bouts of guffaws. "I—really, I-I can't help it! It's just, you're just so... s-so... obvious!"
Gray's eyebrows crease in question. "Obvious?" he echoes, his curiosity outweighing his annoyance for a moment. "What the hell are you talking about?"
However, Natsu has already collapsed in giggles, unable to reply. Clutching his stomach, he proceeds to whack the table repeatedly with one hand and furiously pat Happy's back with another, much to the cat's chagrin.
Gray sighs in frustration, and turns to the scarlet-haired mage beside him. "A little help here?" he asks hopelessly. When Erza merely gives him a bemused look, he continues, "What did Natsu mean by obvious?"
Erza doesn't remove her gaze from him as she eats the last chunk of her dessert, hazel-brown eyes studying Gray intently. "You sure you want to know?" she asks him coolly after swallowing the cake.
The ice mage casts the chortling Natsu a disdainful look. "Positive."
"Very well, then," Erza lowers her fork, and reaches for her drink this time — a chocolate-banana smoothie. Deliberately ignoring the antsy Gray, she takes a moment to savor the sweet flavor of her beloved shake before she resumes talking. "To put it simply, Gray, the very fact that you are so protective over your feelings or actions toward Lucy hints that you may just really feel something for her."
"But I'm not—"
"I only mean that from Natsu's point of view," she continues, effectively cutting him off. "This... defensiveness of yours looks like a form of denial, and only seems to make the feelings you have that much more obvious."
"Which the idiot finds hilarious." Gray spats conclusively as he scowls some more at the rosette-haired Salamander.
"To Natsu, yes," Erza nods her head, then turns back to him, smiling lightly. "Personally, I find it cute."
The ice wizard's jaw drops.
"Oh, man," Natsu finally wheezes as he recovers from his fit of laughter. He gives Happy one last smack on the back before he wipes the tears from his flushed cheeks. "That... that was great."
"You're a meanie, Natsu!" Happy whines, rubbing his sore spot. When Erza hands him his forgotten plate of raw fish, he promptly shuts up and begins to gnaw his food eagerly.
Gray can only shake his head at their silliness.
"So, how about it, Gray?" Natsu chirps out of the blue. "When are you gonna confess to our dear Lucy?"
He lets out a derisive snort, rolling his eyes. "There's nothing to confess, moron. I don't like her."
"Drop it, loser!"
"Speaking of confessions..." Happy remarks thoughtfully, round eyes staring questioningly up at his rosette-haired partner. "When are YOU gonna do it, Natsu?"
As expected, the 'brazen' Dragon Slayer stiffens. "Th-that—um," he mumbles, then clears his throat uncomfortably, and hurriedly stuffs his mouth with the rest of his lunch, a faint blush making its way to his cheeks.
"Oh, so that's how you shut him up..." Gray comments with mild awe.
"Natsu?" Happy calls again. "Hellooo~ Did you hear me? Natsu~?"
Natsu answers by looking up, and giving them the coldest expression he can muster. "Am eefing. Gonk gawk ku ngee."
"Huh? What did he just say?"
"I think he said, 'I'm eating. Don't talk to me.'." Erza says, a tinge of humor in her voice.
Happy sighs, shrugging dejectedly. "Denial, denial..."
Natsu just buries his head to his bowl of chili gumbo.
"What an idiot..." Gray mutters dryly. At the sight of the fire wizard choking on his soup, he shakes his head, and casually glances at Lucy's table again out of the corner of his eye.
She's laughing heartily, cheeks tinted a rosy red, and his obsidian eyes soften at the way she claps her hand in glee at whatever Levy told her. A stream of sunlight is coming through a nearby window, casting an ethereal glow to her profile. Her golden locks, now shining an airy white under the sun, dance around her bare shoulders as she says something to Lisanna, who promptly chokes on her drink (like the idiot flame punk across him, Gray notes with amusement). This only causes Lucy, Levy and the rest of the girls in their table — Cana, Visca and Wendy — to burst out laughing, and the ever snooty Charle to shake her feline head as she sips on her cup of tea.
Something about the way she looks when she laughs causes a strange feeling that he's pretty sure isn't from the lunch he just ate to stir in his stomach, and for a moment, Gray feels almost worried. Nevertheless, he continues to watch her silently, an unreadable emotion dancing in his normally steely eyes.
Happy, noticing this, grins up at him. "Gray, you're staring again."
"Leave him be, Happy." Erza instructs, not looking up from her second plate of dessert — a lemon soufflé.
The blue cat giggles. "He liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiikes her." he sing-songs faintly, but still loud enough for Gray to hear.
This time though, Gray doesn't bite back (no angry counters, no yells, no cursing, no ice-made lances ready to spear them — and more importantly, no denials), because Lucy's bright, chocolate-brown eyes are suddenly on him, giving him that smile upon noticing his gaze on her.
Gray pauses. Then, after a moment's hesitation, he smiles back.
Almost instantly, an odd mix of surprise and contentment crosses the blonde's face before Levy nudges her, and she turns back to chatting happily with her friends. That wide, cheery beam of hers never leaves her visage for a minute.
He likes it when she smiles.
She's really (Hot? Pretty? Cute?) interesting.
But that doesn't mean he—
Ah, screw it.
Maybe he does like her, after all.
05.16.11 ~ First published.
11.07.11 ~ Made a few small edits in tenses and sentence constructions. Changed the formatting.
12.15.11 ~ Changed the formatting again. Slightly.
Hmm... The ending seems to call for a follow-up. What do you guys think? Should a sequel be in the works? Let me know your thoughts!
[EDIT #1:] Due to the number of supporters of this humble story, I am now confirming a sequel... sequel... a freakin' SEQUEL! I have the premise and plot already planned out, but they're not yet finalized, so if you think you can be of help, send in your ideas via review, PM or e-mail (see my profile). I'm open for ideas, so don't hesitate to approach me. Much thanks!
[EDIT #2:] The sequel is finally up, folks! Head on to my profile and click "Chaos Theory" from my super duper sparse collection of stories, will you? It'll be a short, multi-chaptered ficlet. Let's all cross our fingers that I get to finish it this time, mmkay?
Anyway, reviews, comments, criticisms and the likes are always welcome, just so you know. I appreciate them all, and I read every single one of them. They feed my (newly-revived) muse, after all. =)