A/N: FIRE HERE. This is for litache's forum of Fairy Tail Writing Challenges. Criticism welcome. :)

P.S. Uh, first FT fic. Wish me luck.

Round 1

Pairing: NaLu

Rating: K—T

Genre: Romance + anything

Details: One-shot, 800-2100 words, only fluff or death allowed.

Quotes: "I love you, stupid."

.

.

.

.

.

It all came down to irony, really, Lucy thought as the first drops came splashing down her skin. Statistically, the chances were high – they got into life and death situations quite often. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

But it had seemed so impossible. They had been invincible. They had been friends, a team, nakama. They had gone hell and back and gotten cut and burned and fought until sweat and blood were one and –

But it hadn't been enough.

.

.

.

It had started harmlessly enough, like all disasters do. They had been out on a job when Erza noted the weird atmosphere – barely anyone was outside, and the ones who were skittered from errand to errand before disappearing back into their houses.

"Weird. I don't like it," agreed Lucy. "This town is plain weird."

"Naw. It's just you. You're a major worrywart."

"I am not!"

"See, you're overrea- Ow! Lucy, that was mean," Natsu moaned.

"You should pay more attention to your surroundings. It could get you killed, idiot!"

"Ehh…"

"NATSU…" Lucy raised her whip threateningly as an image suddenly flashed through her mind at the idea of Natsu and whipping and holy crap she did not just go there –

"Okay, okay, geez, woman. Chill. There's nothing to worry about, anyway. If anything happens, we'll make it through." He thumped his fist against his chest to emphasize his words. His eyes were light but his words rang strong and firm. "That's what Nakama do."

And she's instantly reassured despite the corniness of the words.

The thing about Natsu is that he's dense. And an idiot.

But he doesn't censor his words, and he doesn't (can't) lie. It's the spirit of hard perseverance that's ingrained in his bones that gives him his sense of right and wrong. It is the stubborn determination that all Fairy Tail members house, but in Natsu it burns the brightest.

Perhaps that's why she trusts him so.

.

.

.

Three hours later, the feeling comes back, with more force. Suddenly she's afraid, but she doesn't know what or who or how, except that it's wreaking her focus and giving her more close shaves then she's had in months.

The others notice. They ask if she wants to sit out this time, give it some thinking time. Gray awkwardly asks if it has to do with, you know, the terrible monthlies, and he gets booted out within seconds. Gray takes that as an affirmative and studiously ignores Lucy for the next few hours.

.

.

.

Five days later they find their target. She's supposedly the one behind the missing children and mangled bodies, and when it is revealed that the victims have been going under experimentation, Lucy's vision turns red and she hurls herself at the woman, shrieking.

The fight breaks out in full force, then, as the woman reveals her ability as an ice mage, crystallizing everything liquid in the area. They doge and lash out, but the projectiles keep coming. There is no end to them, she thinks. The fear comes back, and she stumbles.

And then she slips on the ground again and a needle, deadly and fast, pierces through her arm. It slows her down but it is not enough to beat her, but soon the ice is multiplying, coming faster – or maybe it's just her. The others are getting the hang of dodging and are beginning to hurl their own attacks at the enemy. Natsu, she notices, is literally melting the ice before it even reaches him.

Why is it just me? Why am I the only one struggling?

And then it hits her. It's said that those who have contracts with the stars have a closer connection with the future - because Fate and Destiny are written in the movements of the stellar plane. It doesn't happen often, but most mages get it as a hunch, or a strong feeling of apprehension.

Up until now, she only knew that something bad was going to happen. Now, however…she thinks of Karen and her almost frenzied desperation to get Loki back. The daily travels to the ruins in order to beg from Loki…and the magazines that noted her increased agitation, loss of suitors, and increase of paranoid behavior.

Lucy knows the story. She also knows that Karen lost her patience and went out on a job, and got killed.

If Karen had been experiencing a stellar prediction…

…and Lucy had the same symptoms…

.

.

.

I think I'm going to die.

.

.

.

The thought terrifies her and for a moment all she can see is white as her vision swerves. But then she steels herself and tells herself that she's a sissy, after all, she believes in an afterlife and golden light and she shouldn't be so afraid –

But she is.

The fight drags longer and longer and soon she finds herself dappling over random little things.

If I let one of the spikes graze my throat just right, I could probably avoid a painful death…

Maybe if I let one lop off my head. Or through the brain. Brain tissue can't feel pain, right?

And there are moments that she almost lets herself plan it out, predict the movements, and stretch her neck out just where it could slice her jugular open…

But she snaps back with a rush, out of the way, and cold trickles down her back as she thinks of how close she was.

In the end, however, she decides that she can't abandon her friends, never mind her crippling sense of knowing. She rises to the front lines, side by side with her comrades. Better to die surrounded by friends than alone.

And then she's hit. It's not that bad compared to some other times she's been mauled, but Natsu's head turns –

It could have been anything. Fate, chance, a colliding of coincidences. It doesn't matter. What matters is the spike that flies out and hits Natsu square in the chest.

Time stops while everything from the past few days shatters into pieces and reforms in a jagged scar across her chest. She can count her heartbeats as he falls, and either gravity has died or her heart has simply sped up – she doesn't know which – and all she can think is that this is much worse then being killed herself, because Natsu –

He lands with a thud and suddenly time skips a track to a faster pace. Suddenly she can move. She runs as fast as she can but it will never be fast enough.

His face is pale and he's grimacing and his torso is starting to turn red and No –

Because Natsu is the most solid and reliable thing in her life. He's the one she trusts with her entire being. He's the single embodiment of Fairy Tail and everything she ever wanted and if he's gone she doesn't know what to do with herself.

How do you go on once an integral part of you is gone?

"Hey," he says weakly, and Lucy laughs hysterically because the 'hey' is the only sane thing that is left in her world. "You know, this won't (cough) get me down. I'll heal twice as fast and beat Gray up for not covering me." Lucy just holds on and sobs.

"No. No no no I knew this would happen, i-it's my fault and now you're gonna di-" she chokes off and without looking they both know this is a wound that cannot be healed. "W-why?" She finally asks, looking at his face.

"Why did you look back?" Silence. "Why? Damn it, speak Natsu, you're going to tell me that everything is fine and that you're made of iron and why the hell you looked back.

"Tell me!" she shrieks, and shakes him by the shoulders, tears falling like warm rain. A part of her is shocked at the intensity of her voice. She's going insane. This can't be happening. Not Natsu. "TELL ME! You swore you'd never keep a secret from me, you promised you wouldn't ever let anyone d-die, you promised…you promised…" she punctuates each word with a blow, but her accusations sound weak even to her own ears.

Natsu doesn't say anything, but that's probably because he isn't able to. Lucy knows that the coughing means that blood is seeping into his lungs, and soon he won't be able to breathe, and he'd suffocate that way…

She holds on tighter. A part of her feels like its breaking, and she wonders if this is what Elfman and Mirajane felt when Lisanna disappeared. The siblings had a second chance, a miracle. Lucy knows she won't have any. She buries her head into his neck and tries to speak louder then a mumble.

"Natsu, I…I l-love you, i-idiot." He probably can't even understand what she's saying because liquid is dripping out of all her facial openings and each word is interrupted by her snuffling. But she doesn't care, because this is the last time she'll hold him and feel the fire under his skin, it's the last chance she'll ever have to say goodbye, and she wants to give him something to take with him when he leaves. "S-so don't you d-die on me!"

Lucy wishes that the conviction of her words would be enough to keep him with her. But they both know that only holds true in the star – sprinkled wisps of a dream. She cries harder.

Natsu simply gives her a small smile, and she vainly holds onto the last couple heaves of his chest.

And then all is still.

.

.

.

.

.

fin.