Eyes on the Prize
a NaLu fanfiction [Natsu x Lucy]
by scribbles of madness
summary: love was so not on her to-do list that one accursed Sunday morning.
A/N: Oh, yeah, I have so jumped onto the Fairy Tail fanfiction writers bandwagon :]
Immediately written when I realized that (based from her reactions when Taurus/Loki/Gray/Hibiki/Ren/Eve/Jiraiya/Sanji/Kobe Bryant tries to make a Move™ on her) Lucy is such a prude.
Disclaimer: I do not own the awesome manga Fairy Tail by Hiro Mashima.
When her best friend in the guild thrust a fistful of flowers stolen from someone's garden towards her, Lucy couldn't help but just stare at him in horror.
Natsu dropped his gaze to the ground, his face tinged with pink; he was just as comfortable as she was.
"These are for you," Natsu mumbled.
Lucy didn't understand. He never did this before. Perhaps it was her birthday? She recalled the date in her head. No, in fact, it was eight months until her birthday. "What for?"
"I'm courting you."
Lucy's jaw dropped.
After all, who knew Natsu Dragneel, the power-mad, crazy force of destruction in Fairy Tail, would have the proper male genitalia to court someone? And isn't that practice, you know, ancient?
Lucy averted her eyes to her feet as well, failing to find the courage to meet his eyes. "You should…you should take them back to Juvia-chan's garden."
She absolutely refused to acknowledge what was happening. If she dated him, it would be the end of the world as she knows it.
"For you," Natsu repeated, stressing the pronoun.
Lucy took one step back, and tried to scurry back into her apartment. Get those things away from me.
"She got mad at me already," Natsu said, rueful. "I can't put them back even if I want to."
The blond bit her lower lip. She didn't want to hurt Natsu, the sweet boy who's always looked after her, but at the same time, she didn't want to lead him on, either. She lamented for the days when their relationship was carefree and uncomplicated; why did he have to make it a million times more difficult?
She only wished she misunderstood, like that one time she thought Natsu liked her, but as it turns out, he just wanted Virgo's help to unearth some stupid treasure. Only this time, Natsu said the words loud and clear.
"Natsu, I forgot to do something inside. I got a new key yesterday, and I want to make a contract—"
"My God, woman, just take the damn flowers!"
The sound of pebbles being thrown against the window snatched Lucy away from her dreams.
She covered her ears with her pillow, and tried to go back to sleep. Her efforts were in vain. The glass continued to cry in protest. She begrudgingly dragged herself out of bed, opened the windows and restrained herself from screaming curses at the beast who disturbed her in her sleep.
She rubbed her eyes.
A dozen more times.
It couldn't be.
Right outside her apartment, Natsu was wildly waving at her, completely bathed in moonlight.
"Hey, Luce! Wanna go out with me?"
Silverware clinking against glass interrupted the guild's usual noise.
Curious, everyone turned their attention to Natsu, his grin—the one usually reserved for fights he's always so ecstatic about—highlighting the eagerness emanating from his entire person. Happy, his cat companion, had a mischievous twinkle in his eyes. Lucy paused in her intense reading to listen to Natsu. Then she broke out in cold sweat. Something about this just screamed out impending doom to her. Whatever it was, she'll never live it do—
"I am going to marry that woman!"
Everyone followed the direction to which his finger was pointed at, and gawked incredulously at the bewildered Lucy, who promptly started to bang her head against the table.
"I don't need the scarf, Natsu."
"You'll get cold."
"The poster in your hand clearly states we'll be doing the job in Sunny Hills, where it's summer time all the time."
"…so you want Gray's fur coat, then?"
It's never a good idea to let a man do a woman's work.
Lucy fumed at the sight of her disorderly kitchen; several bowls on the floor, their contents spilt, bottles of spice overturned, eggshells scattered all over the counter. Her mouth was set in a grim line as she watched Natsu make a complete mess in her home. Some societies might consider that he was cooking omelets.
"Did I wake you up?" the flame mage asked.
"The banging pots and pans aren't exactly easy to sleep off," Lucy grumbled.
She caught a whiff of fried eggs.
"Hope you're hungry," Natsu sang.
Lucy turned her nose up at the food Natsu offered her. "I am not a woman who eats food cooked by a man. It's an act of defiance toward all laws of nature."
Later, Natsu sat at one end of the table as he ate his breakfast in silent triumph to avoid appearing smug, while Lucy chomped down spoonfuls of omelet in between demands for more.
The celestial mage glared at the man before her. She ignored the burning pain and focused on finding a weak spot. Her parter wasn't as determined. He was too busy examining the deep gash on her arm.
Their opponent smirked. "Better tell your boyfriend to quit checking you out and fight me."
Lucy threw a dirty look at Natsu. "Forget about me. Just go crazy on that guy already!"
"Knife wound? A sword?" Natsu asked, not following instructions. "What did he use to hurt you?"
"His entire right arm is a blade."
A snarl ripped from Natsu's throat.
"That's why he's wearing that robe—to hide his weapon," Lucy explained.
It didn't take Natsu long before he all but incapacitated the guy. He walked over to Lucy, and started to treat her injury. Resentment (at the enemy? At himself?) reflected in his dark, somber eyes.
"I'm sorry," he whispered.
"It's not your fault," Lucy said gently.
She almost missed him choke out in a strangled voice, "I won't let it happen again".
Lucy couldn't deny that she was shocked out of her mind when Natsu vehemently banned her from seeing the "scumbag reporter", after she was informed that she would be the cover girl of the following month's Sorcerer Weekly.
Natsu had sulked when Lucy opened the gate of Loki during a fight with a band of thieves from Naked Mummy. With Loki's help, they defeated the thieves and even received a bonus on the reward.
When she asked him what was wrong the moment she had closed the stellar spirit's gate, she had to admit she was rather pleased with his answer.
"I wanted to be the one to save you."
"I'm all fired up…"
Lucy sighed in relief. After several battles that involved Natsu's über-dramas, she was glad he was finally taking one seriously.
"…all fired up for you, baby."
It was a habit of Lucy's to pass by a bookstore in Magnolia every time she goes out to run an errand.
It doesn't matter if she's just walking to the market to buy some things for dinner; she'd always go to the little town she's fallen in love with to see the book she knew she can't afford.
The book, one that has been on display for several weeks now, was written by a powerful mage, well-known for his mastery of countless magic. Inside it was a chapter solely devoted to explaining celestial magic, including its roots. Lucy had wanted to read it, for she heard that it was very interesting and a valuable source of information to a mage like herself. Unfortunately, the book buckle was made entirely out of gold and scattered with sparkling diamonds, making the entire book much too precious for someone who worries for her monthly rent.
"I could probably cut back on clothes and food expenses," she would tell herself. "I can go without dinner for a few days."
It wasn't enough. She'll always go back to the bookstore, always aware that she had no jewels in her pocket to spare.
One day, she went down the stairs and found Natsu waiting for her in her living room. This wasn't new to her; it was a habit of his since her first day in Fairy Tail. He grinned upon seeing her, and handed her a thick, rectangular package.
"It's a gift," Natsu said, and urged her to open it.
Tearing the paper, Lucy's heart skipped a beat when she saw the familiar brown leather cover. Could it be that he actually bought her the Book? She'd whined to him and Happy once that she really, really wanted it.
She was confused when the golden book buckle was mysteriously absent. For a moment, she wondered if Natsu had forced the bookkeeper to rip the buckle out from the book. Then, cracking it open and turning the pages, she understood.
It was not the book that she had longed for.
A page contained the words:
It's not what you really had in mind, but it's the best we could come up with.
(Natsu annoyed the hell out of us until we gave in)
Love, FAIRY TAIL!
It was a book written by Natsu and the other guild members. It contained all the magic that all of them—from little Wendy to Master Makarov—had any knowledge of.
Tears welled up in her eyes, and she threw her arms around Natsu. "Thank you."
That night, she thumbed through the book, laughing out loud at the passages she came across.
Her favorite one, however, was in the chapter about celestial magic.
It stated, The greatest, strongest, and most powerful celestial mage that ever existed in history is the princess of the Heartphilias, named Lucy. She has manipulated stellar spirit magic with amazing skill, defeated an entire guild that tried to rob a bank, and had the strongest mage ever, awesome pupil of fire dragon Igneel, totally and utterly dazzled.
Lucy didn't mind when Happy, instead of saying his annoying catchphrase whenever Loki was around, playfully purred, "He liiiiiikes you", shooting a pointed look at Natsu.
The first formal party that Lucy had ever attended during the entire two-year-long-and-counting duration of her stay took place on a cool, breezy December night.
She squeezed herself into a black—"It's formal! Black-tie, you morons!"—halter dress that showed off her arms and shoulders, instead of her chest, because people have seen it way too much already. The silk dress reached her ankles and had a slit on the left side, giving people a peek of one of her long legs. Her hair, done by Cancer, was up in an artfully messy ponytail.
"Oh, you look so pretty, Lucy!" Mirajane cooed, seeing Lucy look around the extravagantly decorated guild.
It was truly strange; the guild being a venue for formal gatherings and the fairies being so behaved during that one night. The reason was because the other guild masters—Blue Pegasus and Lamia Scale (Cat Shelter had cut off all affiliations, obviously because it only consisted of one person)—are coming to discuss some negotiations regarding the alliance. Although Fairy Tail's notorious reputation spreads far and wide throughout the country, they still tried to go out of their way to make things more comfortable for their guests.
Lucy eyed Mirajane's elegant, black floor-length gown. "Thanks, but nobody will look at me with you around."
The white-haired woman giggled. "I'm positive that Natsu will beg to differ."
Lucy simply smirked at her, and scanned the guild again. She saw Juvia, dressed in a ruffled dress, blushing as Gray talked to her. Lucy thought the guys looked funny in tuxedos, and she wondered if Gray would risk Makarov's wrath by taking his off. Levi was reading a book in a quiet corner. Elfman was the one manning the bar. Makarov, together with Erza, was being the gracious host welcoming the people that came in—"Welcome. Come in. DO NOT MAKE FUN OF ME OR I WILL GO FAIRY LAW ON YOU." Jet and Droy were self-consciously fixing their collars and yanking their tuxedo jackets down. Cana gazed longingly at the alcohol while Gazille kept an eye on her, just in case she grabbed a barrel and made a run for it. Everyone she knew was there—except one.
Her favorite fairy.
She whirled around, and found herself face to face with Natsu, his rose-colored hair slicked back. Somehow he didn't quite look like himself in his tailored black suit. The Natsu she knew appeared in such a way that you'd ask yourself instantly if he was raised by a dragon. She knew that that assumption was true, of course.
"Hi," she said.
Her greeting came out in a gasp. She won't lie; he really knocked the breath out of her. The way he looked right now…she swore, if he was dressed up like that every freaking day, she'd be all over him by this time.
Lucy didn't mean to be so superficial and shallow. He just surprised her, that's all. Deep inside, he was still the Natsu who saved her from the pervert human trafficker, who took down the rainbow sakura tree and floated it down the river along her neighborhood. He saved her from falling off the tower and fought, along with Fairy Tail, for her when Phantom Lord abducted her. She felt a twinge of guilt. He did all those things for her, and all he wants is her heart in return.
A faint blush dusted Natsu's cheeks as he took in the sight of the girl he likes. "You look really beautiful."
"Didn't I look beautiful yesterday?" she teased.
"Sorry. You're stunning even in a shirt and jeans. I—I didn't know what else to say," Natsu said, reddening.
Lucy winked at him. "You said enough. Thank you."
They turned their attention to Gray, who somehow lost his dinner jacket and was being screamed at by Erza.
The corners of Lucy's lips lifted up, and she took Natsu's hand and led him to a table as Makarov began his program proper.
A still and perfect silence falls on Fairy Tail during the ungodly hours between two and five in the morning.
Lucy tossed and turned in her bed, unable to sleep. She was thinking. And she was confused.
Are those eyes, masked with light, yet hid a past of pain and darkness, the reason why she thrashed repeatedly?
She found herself thinking about him. Did she ever think about him before? She couldn't recall. If she ever did, it involved a particularly embarrassing situation he found funny, or how nice he is to her, even though they've only known each other for not more than twenty-four months.
What's wrong with me?
She stared into the darkness, waiting for its answer.
She simply cannot fathom the sudden change in her personality.
She is still the bookworm absorbed in her books, all kinds of books—from medical, to romance, to atlases—and the one to underestimate herself during battles, always willing to back out from a fight. No, none of that had changed.
When she notices Gray and Erza and everyone else bickering and eating and fighting villains, she would merely steal a glance at them and she would turn away just as quickly as they had captured her attention. But with Natsu, her eyes would rest on him longer—for a fraction of a minute, an extra five seconds.
If he stumbles his way to the guild in disheveled hair and clothes, she'll allow herself a small smile and daydream how she'd be able to fix him, how much more organized his life will become with her in his life.
What does that mean? Afraid, she doesn't dare muse over the question.
They're puzzling, these emotions her all-too-human heart could not handle.
She felt as if she would explode, and her feelings will escape her, out of her control, and be exposed for the world to see.
Lucy held her hand to her aching chest. It's funny, actually. Why would she have such unbearable emotions, when she's not in pain?
She recognized the feelings, and not for the first time, she moved the thought to the back of her mind.
"You know, like, when you were a kid, and you wanted to be a teacher and a doctor and a mage? Then you get a little older, and you realize that you could only pick one? That's how you're making me feel, Lucy. I want to search for Igneel, to go out of town, out of the country, and just fucking find him already. But I can't. I can't stay away from you for more than five minutes and don't know how you are. What should I do, Luce?"
One night, she curled herself into a ball and listened to her heartbeats.
Lucy took a deep breath, exhaled and it came out jagged. There's that aching feeling again.
Then she tried to open up to it, to not run away from it anymore. It felt like there was a ton of bricks on her chest, like she was drowning and she couldn't find the way up.
The sound of pebbles hitting the windows woke Natsu up. It sounded like rain, but a thousand times more annoying since it only came at intervals. Rain was continuous, and poured like there was no freaking tomorrow so there's a weird calming effect on his mind.
He fumbled with the locks—he didn't want to install them since he knew he could fight bastard thieves off, but Happy kept on insisting—and yanked his door open to shout at the wise guy.
Lucy with her pretty blonde hair down, in (Oh, Good God, Natsu thought) a T-shirt and short shorts and bathed in silver moonlight, leaned forwards against his fence, and was about to throw a handful of stones at the house. She grinned and waved at him wildly.
"Hey, Natsu! Wanna go out with me?"
A/N: Please review, and don't hesitate to give constructive criticism :D Thanks for reading :)