…I am very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very sorry. I've had a tough year; it's basically been homework hell…Sadly it's not over yet, but I have finally finished this chapter (sigh of relief). I've been working on it for the past eleven months so I am very frustrated and annoyed. I have another essay to write (sob), so until next time, bye.
Chapter Eleven: Forever Invincible
Lucy woke with a start. Wait…she'd fallen asleep? For how long?! Damn! The girl tried to lift her body, but found the task extremely difficult; she'd used up too much magic in her fight with Bickslow. At her side, she felt a small form wiggle closer into her. Straining her eyes against the light, she looked down to see Happy sound asleep and drooling on her cheer uniform.
"Hey…Happy…" she rasped, her voice coming out weak and pained. The blue cat didn't stir, so she tried again. "Wake up…There's no time," she managed a little louder, yet still he remained unconscious. Slowly, Lucy reached over and gently pinched his fuzzy cheek. Happy's eyes instantly flew open as his little paws grasped around her wrist in an attempt to pry her off.
"What was that for Lucy?!" he whined and the girl frowned.
"Why were you asleep? This is no time to be taking naps!" She struggled to stand. She felt so weak.
"But I was tired and you were doing it!" Happy, noticing her difficulty, flew into the air, grasped her hand and pulled.
"I wasn't trying to; you should have woken me up," she retorted then paused. She breathed out once she was on her feet, "Thanks."
The cat yawned, his ears flattening slightly as his head tilted back. Rubbing sleep from his eye, he asked, "Now what are we going to do?"
"Now we have to find Laxus," Lucy replied. Her fingers traced her belt to make sure that her keys and whip were securely fastened. Assured, the Celestial Wizard straightened the best she could and began to stumble from her resting area. Once she was out of the alley and back on the cobblestone lanes, Lucy noticed that the braver civilians were no longer hiding. Taking a deep, calming breath, the mage picked a direction and began walking.
She was not sure on where she was going exactly, but if she was truly lucky, she'd find Laxus soon; her slow pace wasn't going to get anything done though. To her relief, shifting her pace to a jog was easier to do now that she was already up and moving. Happy fluttered through the air over her head, hurrying ahead every so often to check the area for traps.
After the third time, he fell into her arms to be carried. Such a lazy cat…
Lucy gave him a slight squeeze as she felt her legs grow heaver with each step. Wandering aimlessly would take forever and would waste the little energy she had; they needed a game plan. Perhaps if they made a list of most likely spots where Laxus could be waiting…
"We have to think…" Lucy muttered to herself as she slowed to a stop, catching the cat's attention. "If I was Laxus where would I be…?" She paused to think. "It would have to be a place where he could be in the thick of things and easily watch over the town. A place where he could see people coming; most likely with only one way in and out…"
"Aye…and it would have to have enough space for him to fight while still providing cover," Happy added, activating his wings once more to hover around the girl's head. Lucy glanced up and down the street, but other than the top of the Cathedral, she could not see past the buildings on either side.
"This is no good…Happy could you fly me up higher so I could see more?" she inquired hurriedly. Time was running out.
Little blue paws grasped the back of Lucy's shirt as a determined "Aye" met her ears. A moment later the blonde found herself in the sky, the town of Magnolia stretched out under her. Save for the lake behind the guild hall, the town was surrounded by hilly terrain, both forested as well as farmed. She could make out the train tracks expanding from the station to Hargeon in the south, Onibas and Oshibashi in the west and Oak Town in the north. The westbound tracks rested behind her and out of her line of vision as she searched the center of town. She could barely make out her home by the canal that wound its way through Magnolia's buildings as the angle was bad. Despite the great view of the landscape, Kardia Cathedral blocked a large number of the town from her sight as well. It was so huge and overbearing as it loomed over Magnolia; no matter where she stood in the town, she could easily locate the double towers.
"Can you go higher…I can't see what's beyond the Cathedral!" Lucy called over the wind. As Happy began to ascend, realization hit her. "Wait…That's it!" she cried out, startling the cat into almost dropping her.
"What's it?" he asked once he recovered.
"The Cathedral! It's at the center of town, basically has only one way in, and it has lots of space. I bet that's where he is!" she explained. As if to prove her right, several crashes followed by shouting drifted from the Cathedral's direction. The pair's eyes lit up with hope and determination. "See! Happy, let's go! Hurry up!"
The cat's magical wings fluttered as fast as they could. It would have taken a couple of minutes to walk, but from the air the trip decreased to seconds. Happy carried the girl around the great building to the entrance.
Immediately after turning the corner, a flash of scarlet caught their attention. Instead of landing directly before the Cathedral, Happy sped after the redhead.
"Erza!" Lucy called out. The older girl turned in surprise.
"Lucy?! And Happy! What are you doing here?"
"We figured that Laxus was here…" Lucy felt herself touch down and Happy land on her head; the added weight didn't help her already stiff neck.
"He is. Natsu is fighting him. You should get away from here; it's too dangerous for you two." The words had barely left her mouth when a hot blast of air followed by an explosion caught the group's attention. Lucy spun to face the cathedral. She could make out flashes of flames and lightning through the elaborate double doors that had been left ajar. When a pained cry from Natsu met her ears, Lucy forgot about Happy, Erza and Erza's warning; all that mattered in that moment was Laxus and what he was doing to Natsu and the guild.
Suddenly she was running toward the source of the noise. Though her legs were weak and threatened to give out with each step and Erza ordered for her to stop and turn back, the celestial mage felt as if she had to go. She had to see Laxus and talk to him herself. Even if he didn't care and didn't hesitate to attack, she felt as if she had formed a bond with him. Despite his arrogance and dirty mind, she had come to truly like him; he was smart, strong and determined. If he wasn't such an ass he would have set a great goal for her to reach for.
As she dashed up the steps, she caught glimpses of two forms moving within the building, the sunlight shone through the stained glass windows, brightening Natsu's pink hair and Laxus' golden-blonde. For a split second she recalled the sight of him camped out with the moon shining in his eyes and giving his hair an almost silvery gleam. He'd looked so different that night…so peaceful. What had made him hide that side of himself? What had made him so angry as to provoke him into attacking Fairy Tail so cruelly?
Lucy collapsed against the door frame so she wouldn't fall over, her head hanging and she inhaled deeply. Her skull felt like it was made of lead…and Happy wasn't helping. She'd been blocking out all noise, but his sharp gasp brought her back. She was afraid to look up, knowing the reason for his reaction, but somehow she managed to force all fear away.
As she took in the sight of the two mages wailing on each other, she felt her breath leave her. She'd never seen anything so brutal before in her life. Even Natsu's fight with Gajeel had not felt as intense as the current battle did. The dragon slayer was doing amazingly well. Lucy had heard that it had only taken a single hit to knock him out in past scuffles. Currently though, he was taking blow after blow from Laxus yet still remained standing, even managing a few hits of his own in the short time the girl watched.
Both fighters were strong and had amazing stamina and durability. The girl admitted that though the scene was bloody, it was also almost like a dance. When one moved, the other reacted accordingly. It was a continuous and mesmerizing spectacle, almost appearing practiced if not for the obvious pain involved with each blow.
Propelled into the air by a punch to his jaw, Natsu recovered and twisted to bring his leg down and across to the side of his opponent's skull. The larger male didn't even stagger. However, his head was forced to the side slightly and in that instant he caught sight of Lucy in the corner of his eye. During that brief moment that Laxus' attention was settled on the girl, Natsu managed a second kick to his jaw. He stumbled back a step, but quickly retaliated. As soon as the boy was skidding across the floor and slamming into a pillar Laxus allowed a second glance at Lucy. She appeared to be in a state of shock.
Why was she here? When did she show up? The last time Laxus had checked, Bickslow and her had just begun to fight. He stopped paying attention after that since he didn't need the screen to tell him that the girl was going to be slaughtered by the puppet master. He'd been sure that her fate was inevitable since he wasn't about to stop his plan just because some girl was about to meet a less than happy ending. Yet there she stood…a little banged up, but still in one piece.
Natsu growled as he jumped to his feet once more, flames spewing from his mouth in agitation.
"Come on, Laxus! Let's end this!" he yelled and began to charge again, but the sight of his two friends in the doorway made him skid to a halt. "Happy? Lucy? When did you get here?"
Lucy opened her mouth to answer, but no sound escaped her. Happy, on the other hand, had no difficulties telling the tale.
"Lucy and I defeated Bickslow! Then, after a nap, we came here because Lucy wanted to talk to La-
"GO AWAY!" Laxus suddenly roared, silencing the cat and causing everyone to jump in surprise. The change had been so sudden…before he'd hid behind a mask of indifference, but the cat's word's sent a jolt of indecision through him. He couldn't allow such a thing; if he wanted to win, then he had to remain steadfast. When the girl didn't move, he decided to try more drastic methods.
Lightning struck the marble floor barely a foot from the girl, causing her to jump back in alarm while Happy yelped.
"Guys!" Natsu called out, concerned, before whirling back to his opponent. "Look were you're aiming, Laxus. Your fight is with me!"
"She's pissing me off! Unless you want to see her dead, tell her to go away!" The taller man growled menacingly.
"What'd they ever do to you?!" Natsu bit back before a cocky grin slowly slid over his lips. "Me on the other hand…I'm about to give you lots to get angry about." The fire engulfing his arms amplified, sending waves of heat around him. Laxus forced himself to focus on the raging Dragon slayer, summoning power into his fists. If the boy wanted to be crushed with an audience watching, then so be it. His gaze shifted to Lucy one last time before he expunged her existence completely from his mind.
The two charged before a crack of knuckles meeting face echoed around the Cathedral. The two twisted to let lose a follow-up strike, both refusing to give an inch or to show any hint of pain. Natsu fell into a crouch then lunged forward, releasing a barrage of punches that Laxus blocked before bringing his elbow down on the boy's head. He did not bother trying to dodge; instead he braced for the attack and sent a powerful uppercut into the taller male's jaw.
Angered further by the successful hit, Laxus grasped Natsu by his scarf and lifted him over his head, flinging him at the wall. The dragon slayer twisted so his feet hit first. He pushed off, sending himself toward his opponent like a flaming arrow. Laxus dodged and Natsu hit the marble tiles at a roll; spinning into another crouch.
They stood ready with their eyes locked on their target, only moving to wipe the touch of blood from the corner of their mouth or from the cut over their eye.
"Is that it? I thought this was supposed to be a fight." Natsu smirked and Laxus snorted in response.
"Don't get cocky, kid. In less than two minutes this town will be turned to dust."
Lucy and Happy gasped in unison. They had forgotten about the Thunder Palace. The blonde shook her head; so that was what Erza was doing. Though she had not really thought about it at the time, Lucy realized that there had to be a very good reason for the powerful knight to just run from a fight with Laxus. But could she truly take down every lacrima in such little time. Then there was the danger of the link magic...
Natsu suddenly called all attention back on himself with a short, raspy laugh, "I told you not to worry…Erza will take care of those things and end this. Then you won't have to worry about not being able to back out anymore."
The onlookers watched Laxus grow even angrier. He took on an almost murderous expression and Lucy wondered if Natsu had hit the nail on the head. The older mage was so proud that he hated having his current indecision, his weakness, pointed out for the entire world to see.
Before the girl could finish her thought, Laxus vanished from her sight only to reappear before Natsu. A lightning charged fist sent the boy flying back and into the pillar he'd hit earlier, causing it to crack further and for the cathedral to shake.
"Maybe we should get out of here, Lucy…" The cat softy said in a quivering voice. His paws resting on her head clutched her hair in both worry and fight. Lucy bit back tears; she couldn't let the feline be stronger than her.
"I know, but-
"Hey everyone, do you hear me?" A sudden voice made the cat and celestial mage jump in surprise for what felt like the millionth time that day. While the girl turned to look around in search of the speaker, Happy realized what was going on. "This is an emergency! Look up in the sky!" The voice continued as Lucy searched behind the cathedral doors.
"No Lucy…" Happy said. "It's Warren. He's using Telepathy."
"Telepathy?!" she gasped rather loudly, but the two fighters remained too wrapped up in their battle to notice.
"Yeah. Go outside." He activated his wings and glided out to stare up at the sky. Lucy gave Laxus and Natsu one last pained look before following.
"Does he mean the lightning lacrima?" she questioned out loud, not expecting an actual answer from Warren himself.
"That's exactly what I mean."
"He can hear me?!" she gasped, feeling rather violated.
"I sure can. Anyway, everybody who's down, get up now! Anybody still battling, break it up!" the voice in her head continued and other smaller ones joined in, though they were obviously other members who Warren had connected his mind to. "Listen to me…Those things in the sky are magic that are about to rain down destruction on everything! Laxus set them up and if we want to save the town, we'll have to destroy them. But we're out of time! We'll have to work together and destroy them all at once!"
Familiar voices gasped over the information, making the celestial mage feel as if her mind was getting way too crowded. One voice in particular caught her attention though.
"Warren, how did you know about the Thunder Palace…?" It was Erza who spoke. Lucy wanted to call out an apology for running off the way she had, but Gray spoke up first, answering the lady knight's question.
"That voice! Erza, right?! So you're okay?!" Immediately the other members came alive with questions about the welfare of the other girls, even mentioning that they had heard Lucy earlier. Jet and Droy inquired upon Levy while Cana and Mirajane eagerly responded. Lucy smiled at how genuinely concerned everyone was…it was quite touching.
"I'm sorry, but my telepathy isn't getting through to the guild, so everybody that can hear me…those things floating in the sky-"
"Warren you creep! Have you forgotten what you did to me?!" The moment that line cut through her mind, a short silence fell before the tone of the connection took on an irate feel.
Suddenly a wave of agitated voices exploded in Lucy's head. She flinched and covered her ears, but it did nothing to help with the noise. Even Happy tried to block them out, but discovered that no matter how far he shoved his paws in, it did not let up.
"M-Max?! I'm sorry about that…I was going all out to save the girls…" Warren tried, but he became lost in the confusion. The voices seemed to mold into one as anger overwhelmed the Fairy Tail members.
"Oh, that's right! Can you hear this, Alzack?! You didn't have to be so darn rough! You too, Nigy! Damnit! You're our Tono, but I'll never forgive you for it! I can't believe you would do that! I'll get you later, you jerk!"
Just a moment ago everyone was so caring and yet they changed so suddenly into yelling out death threats back and forth! It was painful to listen to.
Lucy spun on her heel and returned to the cathedral's doorway, taking in the brutal battle between guild mates…family. What she was hearing was hardly any better than what she was seeing. Worse still was that there was only forty-five seconds left until the Thunder Palace was to be activated!
She shook her head, but it all continued. It was too much! Everyone was fighting and shouting at each other and she had flashbacks of her father yelling at her. Lucy couldn't stand it any longer. She opened her mouth, not caring what she said as long as it made them all stop. Once more though, Gray beat her to it.
"Save your petty arguments for after!" he shouted so he could be heard. Though most of the others responded in kind, the ice mage did not give up. "We're out of time here! Just destroy those things in the sky!"
"N-No! They have Organic Link Magic on them…!" Erza argued, but it was obvious that still no one was listening; however, though they were arguing, Lucy could hear their thoughts as they turned their attention to their targets in the air. Lucy checked the magic screen that Laxus had in the cathedral. Only twenty seconds remained.
"Let's do this Happy." she said, determined to help.
"Are you sure? It's going to hurt."
"Even if it hurts, let's go." Lucy pulled her whip from her belt; it cut the air with a sharp crack that echoed around the mighty hall. Neither male noticed though; they were still too engulfed in their fight again. She heard Erza claim the two hundred lacrima to the north as she turned. Lucy made two steps before Happy grabbed the back of her shirt and lifted her into the sky. The wind slapped her face, drying her old tears. As the ground pulled further and further away, Lucy pointed Happy to her mark. The link with the rest of the guild helped her time her attack so it was in sync with everyone's.
The cat released her above the lacrima before veering off to speed toward a target of his own. As Lucy fell near the gleaming yellow crystal, she blocked everything from her mind save for her goal. Just as she relied on everyone, they were currently relying on her. She would do her best for Fairy Tail no matter the consequence. She pulled her whip around to give it momentum before bringing her arm down. The leather blurred through the air and slashed through the lacrima, shattering it. Still falling, she lifted her gaze to see all of the lightening lacrima exploding around her; the falling shards looked like diamond dust before disintegrating. To her right Happy was flapping clumsily while he recovered from head-butting such a hard object at maximum speed.
She smiled toward him; they'd done it. All of the lacrima was destroyed and the town was safe again…at least for the time being. Happy glided over to catch her, cheerfully exclaiming at how awesome what had just happened was. Lucy readily agreed.
They were about ten feet from the ground when Lucy felt every hair on her body stand on end; it was the only warning before the dreaded lacrima defense kicked in.
Lucy could barely hear her own screams over the ones of her guild mates connected to her mind; Erza's was the loudest. The shocking jolts burned through her entire being, seeming to freeze her focus so it was centered on the pain. She didn't even notice when she and the cat fell the last of the way down and collapsed onto the cobblestone steps of the Cathedral. It was over as quickly as it had begun, but her already sore body was left in excruciating shape. She probably looked even worse sprawled out on the steps the way she was with her hair smoking, her clothes torn and a blue cat passed out on her head.
The two mages inside the building froze at the screams of the two a little ways beyond the door. Natsu's eyes widened as he turned in the direction with concern overtaking his normally determined and cocky expression.
"Happy! Lucy! Hey guys!" he called, rushing to the double doors, but Laxus didn't let him get far. The lightening mage needed only to glance at the magic screen to know what happened and that the girl along with everyone else would be fine. However, the news was not what his mind accepted as good; he'd failed again. Why? How could such weaklings manage to escape every trap he set, even if it was just barely? Why was nothing he did good enough? Fury surged up from deep within him, he felt emotionally swept out to sea. He was so blinded with rage and without control that his lightening practically moved on its own when it shot out and blocked Natsu's path, exploding the floor.
"We're not done here." Laxus snarled, "You can go when I say you can." Natsu was forced to dodge another attack, flipping back toward the center of the cathedral while twisting away from flying debris. His eyes were unable to stay away from the doors; he had to know what happened to his friends!
"Laxus, what did you do?" he demanded since his opponent was obviously not going to allow him to go see for himself.
"Nothing. They're just a little shocked is all," the larger male replied with a cold, almost completely detached smirk stretched over his face. Natsu would have been shaken by such a look if he did not notice Laxus' fists tighten, signaling his frustration. It reminded the boy that the man before him was still the guy he grew up with and was still human. Just slightly out of his mind at the moment.
"You've got to be kidding me! That wasn't nothing!" Natsu snapped back, his gaze darting back to the doors.
"Compared to what I'm about to do to you, it is." Laxus continued to smirk, but it strained as Natsu continued to steal glances toward the opening. It was growing more and more irritating with each look; though deep down Laxus had to admit that he too found the current silence to be unsettling, but stubbornness born from irritation over Natsu's dismissal sealed away any thoughts of acting on any such feelings. He was going to finish what he started; it was for the best now that everyone else was out of his way. He just had Natsu left to deal with and once he was down, Fairy Tail would be his to build back up to greatness; it wasn't worth anything unless it was at the absolute top. Nothing was. That was the lesson he learned from his father before he was expelled from the guild. In the end, bonds did not matter; only power did.
As the young dragon slayer continued to express more concern over what was going on outside of the cathedral than inside, Laxus grew weary of the whole affair. He decided to finish it immediately; no more standing around and waiting for him to get serious.
Laxus glowered before suddenly lunging forward, taking Natsu by surprise. He swung his leg out to trip him and when the boy jumped to dodge, the larger male seized his vest and slammed him down with as much force as he could muster. The tile shattered as the floor caved into a crater, but Laxus was not satisfied. Holding his opponent down, he released a barrage of lightening-charged punches that cracked and split the floor even more. Pounding the boy was far from satisfying; he wasn't even able to properly defend himself, but he did not let up or hold back. It wasn't until a low feminine moan reached their ears that he was stopped mid-punch. His arm was pulled back, prepared to strike, but Natsu's hand gripped his fist holding it place. Both of their heads automatically turned toward the open doors where the noise had come from.
"Owww…Happy…are you okay?" The soft, strained voice of Lucy was barely audible; the cat's was even more so.
That was all it took. Natsu's face split into a grin of relief and satisfaction.
"They're alright…" he said to Laxus who looked down at him feeling some relief despite his determination to not care. No longer distracted, the pink-haired boy breathed deep before releasing a roar of flames that Laxus couldn't dodge completely. After landing a good distance away, he scowled at the smoking fur on his coat. "Okay…" Natsu said punching his palm and taking a cool-battle-ready pose, "Let's finally get this thing started. I'm all fired up now!"
"Do you say that every time you get into a fight?" Laxus taunted, shrugging his coat off and removing his headphones; he dropped them on top of the pile of fur. "It is seriously getting old." As he discarded the items, the man pushed all thoughts that were not related to grounding Natsu into pulp out of his mind for the last time.
"No! I don't! And it's not!" Natsu snapped back; he liked his witty line.
"Oh, just most of the time, then," the lightening mage forced a grin as electricity lit up his body. Fully charged, he sent a powerful bolt of his magic across the cathedral. It was finally time to get serious.
Lucy, though she'd finally managed to say something, still couldn't quite find the energy to move her body. No matter how much she internally screamed at herself about how she had to get up and stop Laxus from killing Natsu and taking over the guild, her limbs refused to even so much as twitch. Happy seemed to be in a similar situation since he had yet to get off her face (which made talking, or even breathing for that matter, awkward. Plus the cat was far from pleasant smelling).
After the destruction of the lacrima, Grey, Erza, Macao, Alzack, Jet, Droy, Nab and all the others mumbled their inquiries on each other's condition.
Lucy listened to them for a minute until Warren's link broke and once more her mind was silent save for her own thoughts. She made a few efforts to speak to Happy, but it took a while to actually manage it since her jaw was so slack and useless.
She lay like that for several minutes even after finally succeeding, intently focusing on the soft sound of the cat's breathing as well as the crashes and booms that shook the cathedral's very foundation. What was going on in there?
In spite of her concentrating on the sounds of the fight, she eventually noticed another noise that she recognized as approaching footsteps. They stopped directly next to her, but she found that she was still too exhausted to even worry that it could possibly be one of the Thunder God Tribe here for revenge or something. It wasn't until Happy was lifted off of her face that she discovered that the one kneeling over her with the cat in his hand was actually just Gajeel.
"What the hell is up with you two?" he questioned. "Don't tell me that guy did this…?" Lucy managed to open her mouth, but it was Happy who responded.
"No…we helped take out the lacrima."
"Really?" The Metal Dragon slayer was surprised once more by the little blonde girl. "You're not nearly as wimpy as I originally pegged you as," he snorted and Lucy glared at him.
"Shut up," she managed to mumble, but Gajeel didn't notice. The atmosphere took on an ominous feel as air and ground began to rumbling beneath and around them, as if energy was gathering into a powerful attack; even the clouds darkened.
"Damn…!" Gajeel growled out, dropping Happy back where he'd found him and dashing away up the rest of the steps to the building. Suddenly afraid again, Lucy struggled to turn her head to look. She ignored her screaming muscles and joints until she managed to roll over slightly. She didn't make it in time though. She could hear Laxus speaking, but could not make out what it was…perhaps an incantation or something. He wasn't actually going to try to kill Natsu was he? By the time she maneuvered herself enough to see inside the place, an explosion rattled her teeth and shook her to her core. Dust carried by a blast of air blew out to engulf her and Happy, who was gripping her hair as he struggled to make out what was going on as well.
"Wha…" he tried to speak, but instead choked on the thick cloud polluting the area around them.
"I don't know…" she coughed back, "Laxus…"
"I hope…Natsu is okay," Happy whispered and Lucy swallowed hard.
"I'm sure he is…" Natsu was on the top of Lucy's dependable-people-list; there was no way he would allow himself to be stopped when so many people were relying on him. Besides…, "Gajeel went in to help him…I'm sure of it. Now they can both stop Laxus."
It wasn't until the dust settled though, that she was granted the relief of having her words be proven correct. The two Dragon slayers were together opposite the older and stronger mage, but things still didn't look good. Laxus had completely lost it; Lucy could hardly believe it was the same guy who dragged her away on that job not too long ago…the same guy who gave her so much money despite their earlier agreement…the same guy looking at the stars that night…What was wrong with him? What could drive him to this?
"Disappear! Disappear!" he laughed wildly. Natsu was on the ground as if dropped unceremoniously while Gajeel spoke to him, and Lucy had a feeling that they both were not too pleased with the idea to teaming up to fight Laxus. Considering the crazed look in his eyes though, it was necessary.
When the unlikely team finally took action, Lucy was shocked to discover that they actually worked well together. Their movements were almost in synch; when one attacked, the other would support or defend. Gajeel's iron combined with Natsu's fire resulted in magic Lucy couldn't dream of having. They were amazing. Yet…somehow Laxus was better. He blocked every blow, retaliated without pause; grabbing one to throw at the other as the crazed grin on his face only grew.
"That's impossible…" Lucy whispered. How could Laxus still be more powerful than the two dragon slayers working together? She started to understand how he could label everyone else in the guild as weak when compared to himself. Could this whole fight be hopeless? Was there even a chance of winning?
Realizing where her thoughts were going, Lucy squeezed her eyes shut and bit her lip. No! She could not lose hope! She could not let go…not after everything Fairy Tail had done for her, after everything they'd been through…
A large chunk of debris flew out of the war zone and crashed onto the steps less than a foot from where Lucy and Happy lay. Both squealed and jumped, wincing from the sudden movement.
"Maybe we should move," Happy suggested eyeing the rock worriedly. Lucy nodded in agreement, but was still unable to do much more than crawl and drag her useless self a foot or two before having to rest.
She was distracted by more shouts and explosions as the fire and iron dragon slayers roared, their power rattling the cathedral. It took Lucy a moment to realize that they'd hit Laxus with their attack; he'd been in mid-air with no way to dodge. Lucy held her breath waiting for the dust to settle. Happy whimpered next to her ear and both squinted as a shape became distinguishable in the cloud. The moment Lucy saw Laxus standing unharmed, though now missing his shirt, she released the breath she had not realized she'd been holding and curled her hands into tight fists.
The fight continued, but something else stole the blonde's attention from the battling trio. The sound of footsteps rapidly approaching once more and a surprised cry from a familiar voice startled Lucy enough that her head snapped around before she could remember that it would hurt.
"Lucy?" Levy's voice was shaking as she dashed from the rows of buildings and slowed to a stop in front of the collapsed cat and girl. Lucy's eyes widened when she saw her friend's swollen eyes and tear-stained cheeks. Something had happened.
"Laxus is in there, right…?" It was not a question in need of an answer since the sound of the battling dragon slayers was impossible to miss.
"Natsu and Gajeel are working together," Happy stated almost excitedly; Lucy knew he was putting on a brave face to cover up his worry since it did not seem enough to defeat the raging lightening mage. Meanwhile, Lucy studied her friend's shaking hands and bloodshot eyes.
"Is Master okay?" she asked gently and Levy sniffed and quickly wiped fresh tears from her eyes.
"I need to talk to Laxus," she replied, her voice cracking and leaving a sense of foreboding with the blonde. Whatever happened was worse than any of the past situations that Lucy had faced within the guild; now was no time to be collapsed on the ground.
"I'm coming with you," she breathed out and prepared to stand.
"Wait!" Happy cried out, "You can barely move, so you shouldn't even try to get up." His concern touched her heart, but Lucy didn't have the patience or energy to respond.
"Help me up, Levy," she panted instead, feeling like a baby deer trying to stand for the first time as her arms shook weakly under her torso's weight, her muscles aching and joints screaming. The smaller girl gripped her arm and pulled Lucy up until she could slide her arm over Levy's shoulder for support.
"Whaaaa! Lucy's ignoring me!" Happy wailed from on top of her head and buried his face in her hair. She hoped that he was not wiping his snot on her, but there was no way she was going to reach up to find out.
Leaning on Levy, Lucy managed to hobble up the last couple steps so they stood a few feet within cathedral; sand blew around them as explosions and shouts continued to shake the foundation and rattle their teeth. Jumping from the hazy cloud of debris, Laxus pushed off a pillar to dodge Gajeel's attack while Natsu charged to meet him in the air. He grabbed the boy by his scarf and twisted to use him as a shield as an iron sword shot toward him. Gajeel pulled back before he could stab Natsu, giving Laxus the opportunity to attack. He threw the fire mage and inhaled deeply, scales forming on his shoulders and spreading to his arms. Lucy barely had time to recognize the attack from witnessing it performed by the two dragon slayers before when Laxus released a roar of lightening that blinded everyone in the area.
The girls and the cat were thrown off their feet, but all Lucy could think was how Laxus could use Dragon Slayer magic. She landed roughly on her side, coughing as the air was violently pushed from her lungs. Happy fell from her head and bounced down the stairs, being carried away by the wind.
When things settled down again, Lucy glanced up to see Happy grumbling as he got up and brushed himself off. So he was able to stand on his own the whole time, huh? The little…
Levy asked, "Lucy, are you okay?" The celestial mage coughed a couple more times before managing a husky 'yes'.
"Why don't you just die?" Laxus' voice echoed out to them. The two friends hurriedly helped each other up as Natsu and Gajeel answered him with groans of pain. "You two, Erza, Mystogan…" Laxus continued as Lucy leaned against Levy. The blonde girl wondered if she imagined the slight pause as he spoke, "…the old man, the idiots in the guild, the entire town of Magnolia…" She knew she had not imagined the break in his speech the second time, "…should just be wiped out of existence!"
Lucy's eyes widened. He could not be serious! Despite his actions, she could not believe he would, or could, really believe such a thing. As if to prove her wrong, Laxus fell into a stance Lucy did not recognize. Magic began to gather around him as a light formed in his hands, spiraling out like a windmill. She knew that whatever he was planning was not going to be good.
"Fairy Law!" Levy gasped, suddenly abandoning Lucy to fall against the door frame (or what was left of it) and dashed inside the cathedral. Lucy wished she could go, but she'd gone as far as she could.
"Stop it, Laxus!" Levy screamed, stumbling and catching herself on one of the few remaining pillars. Natsu and Gajeel turned to look at her, surprise evident in their features. Laxus barely spared her a glance, not even noticing Lucy behind her.
"Idiot…What are you doing here?" the iron dragon slayer growled roughly from his spot in the dirt. Lucy noticed Levy's shaking hands and knew she was afraid, but not of anyone in the room. She felt tears leak from her eyes, amazing her that she had any left.
Levy swallowed deeply, looking at Gajeel for a moment, before saying what she'd come to say, even though she wished with all her heart that it was not true.
"The Master…" she started, "…your grandfather…is close to death!"
Laxus was surprised; his whole body stiffened as his eyes widened. He'd never put much thought into the old man's age. Though he was powerful, he supposed that not even the great Makarov could escape time.
"So please! Stop!" Levy continued, but there was no need for her to; he already knew what she was going to say. There was a time when he respected his grandfather, adored him even, but now all he saw when he looked at the wrinkled old man was just a husk of what he once was. A man who cared more for a bunch of weaklings than his own flesh and blood. He called them him 'children' and treated them as such, while not hesitating to banish his own son. Laxus knew his father was scum, he'd figured it out a long time ago, but Makarov had crushed his beliefs on loyalty. He turned his back on his family and Laxus couldn't even see why; the guild was so weak. They were not worth it, and if they still won in the end, then the 'bond' between him and his grandfather might as well have never existed.
"Go and see him!" Levy sobbed, pleading. The two dragon slayers before him were obviously speechless as they processed the shocking news, but Laxus found himself thinking how he would prove to his grandfather that he was better than the useless weaklings; he was stronger than all of them combined…and he would show him by wiping out the entire town in one move. He'd start again with a new guild…one that was so powerful that it would forever be the world's strongest.
With that thought, Laxus invoked Fairy Law.
As his hands came together, he heard Lucy call his name. Her voice was small and fragile, but he reacted instantly. Light exploded as his gaze shot to Levy, then to the figure behind her. The girl's doe eyes were wide as tears slid down her cheeks, her hair blowing about her shoulders. She was filthy and bruised, covered in cuts, and on her face was a pained look; she felt betrayed.
He was not sure what happened after that, but when he could see again, he found himself utterly astonished to discover no one was harmed at all…but how could that be?
"Why…why is nobody dead?" He looked from Natsu and Gajeel on the ground, to Levy clutching the pillar, and Lucy leaning weakly against the doorway. They looked just as stunned as him as they glanced around checking on each other.
Lucy panted as her heart continued its rapid pace; she'd really thought it was over for a second there. Why was everyone fine though? Did Laxus have a change of heart last minute? The twist in her stomach lightened a little at the idea, but not for long.
"What the hell's going on? That much magic…there should be no way…" Laxus didn't look very good; he was breathing heavily and his eyes were bloodshot. Lucy wasn't that surprised though when she considered how much magic he'd used. Her magic was already on dry after a single fight while he'd not only cast a number of high level spells, but also battled Erza, Natsu and Gajeel, maybe even more. Yet he was still strong enough to stand without problems. He was either amazing…or a monster.
"The members of the guild…" a male voice said from directly behind her and Lucy squealed and jumped, turning to see who snuck up on her, but lost her balance and fell over into an unseemly heap on what was left of the tiled floor. The man had long green hair with two strands that stuck up like antenna. His clothes were torn and he was obviously hurt, as he too was huffing and puffing wile clutching his arm. When she began to fall, he reached out as if to catch her, but he was too wounded to do so fast enough. Once she was down, he blinked at her for a second before looking at Laxus to repeat his earlier words. "The members of the guild and all of the townspeople are fine. No one has died." Lucy recognized his voice the second time he spoke; it was one of the guys working for Laxus. If the other guy was Bickslow and the woman was Evergreen, then this guy was Freed. That was the third name, right?
"There's no way! My Fairy Law spell was perfect!" Laxus yelled. He'd gotten over his shock enough to be angry. Why was everything against him? He was so strong yet he still could not win.
"Not the spell, your 'heart'…Laxus," Freed replied collapsing against the same spot in the doorway where Lucy had been until she'd fallen over. His expression softened slightly. "What you inherited from the Master wasn't limited to strength and magic power…but also a heart that holds his comrades dear." Lucy couldn't help by think that Laxus sure fooled everyone if it was true, but at the same time felt her (still aching) muscles relax. "Fairy Law only affects the people who the caster considers a true enemy." Levy picked up on what he was saying faster than the others.
"The magic saw deep inside his heart…" she all but whispered so Lucy only barely heard her.
Freed smiled as he said, "Magic cannot lie, Laxus. It means that's your true self."
In the next second, Lucy saw something in Laxus begin to shatter. She was once more struck with the notion that something he'd buried deep within himself was surfacing after years of being suppressed. She doubted the man's reaction was what Freed had been expecting. His fists tightened so blood dripped between his fingers and the crazed look in his eyes intensified, but it was as if he was grasping for something within himself to grab a hold of. He suddenly didn't look confident at all, but he quickly replaced it with a look of anger.
"No! Anybody who stands in my way is my enemy! All of them!" the lightening mage snapped. Freed looked startled by Laxus, but somehow forced his voice to remain calm as he spoke.
"Oh, stop it, Laxus. Go see the Master," he said, but only seemed to anger Laxus more.
"I don't give a damn about the old man!" Because the old man didn't care about me. "I am myself! I ain't the old man's grandson! I'm Laxus! I am Laxus!" Dad was an asshole and Grandpa was weak.
"Yeah, everybody knows that." Natsu's voice seemed to echo forever as he stumbled to his feet. "Don't get so puffed up, you ass! You think bein' the old man's grandson makes you so different?! Makes you so much better?!" How could any of the idiots understand? "Don't go struttin' around just because of some stupid blood link! It's the guild! That's our family!" Natsu shouted and Laxus glared.
"What would you know of it?!" Laxus growled. Lucy could only stare as he seemed to come alive again, as if Natsu getting up prevented him from breaking.
"I don't know! Does that mean that we're not on the same side?!" Natsu roared. Only power matters because without it you must rely on someone else. "We don't know! That's why we lend each other a hand, right Laxus?!" the fire dragon slayer charged forward, fist raised and engulfed in flames as the lightening mage rushed to meet him with a powered fist of his own.
"Shut up, Natsu!" The two clashed and their powers, as drained as they were, exploded around them. Laxus' eyes narrowed at the boy.
I don't ever want to depend on another again. Ever.