Not too sure how this little one shot should be taken. But I do love the idea, I was re-reading Kain's fight with Natsu and Lucy in the S-class Trails and I wondered what would happen if those two started to actually fight? It seemed most likely that Natsu would teach Lucy how. It was suppose to be fun and I couldn't get what Kain said about them getting hot and bothered out of my head. But for some reason my mind went off course and suddenly I was writing about probably one of the more cliché insecurities female leads seem to have; Weakness. It annoys me that the fic came to this, but I hope I've done it justice. Maybe I'll put that idea of these two 'getting all hot and bothered' in Double Cross… Spoilers XD
Thanks to MrsHopeEsthiem for beta-ing this! Seriously, where would we authors be without awesome people like her?
Anyway, despite the clicheness of it all, enjoy!
Natsu's fist slammed into the ground, creating a small crater around his hand as I scrambled away from him. I gulped at the realization that, had I not moved out of the way in time, I would have been left with several broken ribs and a severely bruised stomach.
Before Natsu could move and land another surprise attack on me, I leapt to my feet and shifted into another fighting stance, my own hands curling into tight fists. Sweat covered every inch of my skin. I knew that if I looked into a mirror, I would be able to see how my face was set into a determined expression. Lucy of Fairy Tail. Ready to kick the Salamander's ass!
Natsu had his head down and his body was locked into place. My face grew warm when I saw how the muscles were bulging, straining against his skin and possessing so much power! He had one knee drawn to his chest, the other touching the ground with one of his fists still planted into the earth. He looked so hot and god damned heroic… I can never get tired of seeing this side of my nakama. The dangerous side, the dark, brutal, bad-ass side of him that enthrals and thrills me all at the same time. However, it was a side of him that genuinely scares me… especially when that deadly look comes into his eyes. When his forehead becomes tight with rage, when his lips are drawn into a merciless scowl, and the shadows that dance across his face and throw sharp relief to the hard planes, it always looks like some evil predator out of a horror film. Nothing like my nakama, or even my brave, sweet (if idiotic and dense) best friend. Nothing. As much as this change fascinates me, it's also intimidating and terrifying.
"That was much better, Luce." Natsu says, straightening up from his position and sending me a wide grin, snapping me out of my thoughts with his voice. He looks like my Natsu now. The one I know most. Natsu raises his hand and scratches the back of his neck, looking annoyingly cocky and yet somehow… relieved.
"Have to admit, I was worried I was actually going to really hurt you this time." He supplies, gesturing to the rather extensive collection of bruises and cuts that covers my arms and legs. There was even one sneaky bruise that coloured my chest, just where my breast began. I had managed to 'repay him' the favour by back handing him across the face. I was saving the kick to the groin until later.
"As if, Natsu, I was just biding time." I said, letting my face show him my own smirk. The adrenaline that was pumping through my veins felt euphoric and made me quite confident.
"Yeah, right. I would have landed you in hospital if you hadn't moved." Natsu shot back, twisting his body so it faced to the east, his head turned in my direction with one foot taking a step closer towards me. His fist raised once more. I instantly picked up the tone of voice he used, however, and then let myself get distracted by his muscular chest rising up and down with every breath (Seriously, how could she not look?), knowing that even though he sounded playful he also sounded concerned.
Time to set him right. "You agreed to this Natsu. You agreed to teach me how to do hand to hand combat, and train me so I can get stronger. You promised. You never back down from a promise, it's not you. So fight me!"
Two days ago I had approached Natsu and asked him to fight me. Ever since the S-class trials and that impromptu fight with Kain and his weird voodoo magic, I couldn't get it out of my mind that I had been fighting with my fists instead of my magic. I had become determined that I would learn it, so I wouldn't feel as useless during my missions with Team Natsu. After thinking a lot about who my teacher would be, I decided on Natsu. He would be the best for that sort of combat since he used his fists and kicks all the time. Gray wouldn't be as effective and I would have gone to Erza with this, but she probably would have wanted to teach me how to use weapons and I wanted to at least throw a good punch before putting aside my fears and actually picking up a sword.
And yet asking Nastu hadn't exactly gone to plan. I had marched up to him at the bar, with the whole guild watching and practically demanded Natsu to fight me. Natsu had nearly choked on a fish bone and the rest of the guild had exploded with laughter. I still remember how my cheeks had burned. However, I knew that the guild wasn't laughing at me. On the contrary, most of them were rooting for me to kick the crap out of Natsu. Fact was that it had come as a shock to them all to think that I would want to do something like this.
Natsu was very eager once I had explained the situation to him and the rest of the guild, and literally dragged me out of the place to get started, yelling the whole time. I remember hearing rumours of bets being placed, of how long Lucy can stick with being taught by Fairy Tail's resident pyromaniac.
But over the last few days, and the fact that I hadn't quit after only two hours despite my constant complaining of sore muscles and ruined clothes, Natsu had become more serious. And much more uneasy about fighting me. And I was getting frustrated that I hadn't hit him more than once!
It took me a few minutes to realize that we had started circling each other, his steps much more lithe and prowling than mine could ever be. My hands were starting to get sweaty.
Natsu scowled, caught out. "God damn Luce, I know I promised! It just doesn't feel right fighting my nakama."
"You fight Gray and everyone else all the time!" I cried out indignantly, huffing at his stupid comment.
"That's different." Natsu said, waving his hand around as if to dismiss my comment. "You're Lucy." I fumed at that comment, suddenly imagining my head exploding into a volcano.
"Aye!" Happy suddenly chirped up and I nearly tripped over my feet in shock as I had completely forgotten about him. He had been sitting on the roots of that tree and watching Natsu and I fight, completely engrossed with the picnic of fish he brought with him every day.
"What does that mean?" I shrieked, anger fuelling more adrenaline into my muscles. With a strangled battle cry, I charged at Natsu, my fist swinging forward to connect with his cheek. But the bastard dodged my attack with ease and danced around me while I lost my balance because of the force of my strike and stumbled forwards, quickly spinning around so I could protect my back from his elbow if he decided to strike me.
"Wow, it's scary Lucy again!" Happy gasped but we both ignored him.
"It means you're Lucy!" Natsu said again, looking at me as if it were something I was suppose to understand. I really wanted to hit him again, yelling 'News flash, I DON'T GET IT!'
"Oh, as in I'm a girl and you can't hit girls?" I snapped.
"Well yeah." Natsu said, probably before he could stop himself but I didn't care in that moment, I just wanted to see him in a pulp! I snarled and aimed a kick for the family jewels. Screw my secret attack, I was too mad to not want to maim him for the rest of his life! The Bastard!
But he caught my foot, giving it a wide eyed panicked look and I nearly screamed again at his infuriatingly fast reflexes.
"No! I mean NO! I said no!" He gabbled, blocking yet another of my punches. "Lucy, I can explain!"
"TOO LATE!" I screamed and threw another punch, hoping that this time, this time, I'd manage to catch him off guard.
Unfortunately not. Natsu suddenly growled as his temper snapped. Quick as a flash, he grabbed my arms with both his hands and shoved me backwards, my back hitting the tree hard. He pinned me there, his face inches from mine and his chest rising and falling at the same rate as mine, both of us out of breath and exhausted. During my rampage we had moved closer to the tree, forcing Happy to squeak and fly up into the braches to escape us. And as I stared into Natsu's smouldering eyes I realized with some horror: if I wasn't so startled by his retaliation, I would have been rather turned on.
"Would you just listen?" Natsu gasped. "Weirdo."
"Nope," I replied with gritted teeth, recovering enough to unleash one of my more powerful glares, slightly take aback when he didn't so much as flinch "This is all because you think I'm weak, isn't it?"
"What the hell's gotten into you, Luce? You on your period or something?" I made a noise that sounded something like an embarrassed squeal and an enraged shriek and I started to struggle against him but his damned grip was too strong.
"I'm not weak!" I shouted again.
"I never said you were!" He yelled back, looking confused and close, he was just too close and now all sort of feelings were bubbling up in my chest, like water that was about to fill my lungs and drown me if I didn't open my mouth and tell him everything about it. But instead my mind came up with a plan. I grabbed his forearms, ceasing my movements and lifted my head for him to lock gazes with me, allowing my tears of frustration to fill my eyes and even letting one escape. As expected, Natsu froze, looking stricken and slightly panicked. I always wondered whether Natsu knew how to deal with crying girls, now I could add that little piece of information to my memory for the next time he broke into my apartment. Then his face went all funny, as if either in pain or angry at himself.
"I'm sorry Luce, I'm hurting you too much aren't I?" he said in a voce that just didn't sound like him at all. As if he knew this would happen, as if he knew and dreaded hurting me. He almost sounded… self loathing.
I had to stop that.
So I kicked him in the groin.
"Lucy!" Natsu shrieked, keeling over with his hands falling to clasp that tender area. Eyes nearly falling out of their sockets as they bulged from the pain.
"Hah!" I cried in triumph, sticking out my tongue at him so I could squash the feelings of regret that sprang up.
"Meanie." He managed to gasp. I sighed, deciding that I should go. It was stupid of me to get so worked up and to blame Natsu for an issue that was mine and mine alone to deal with.
"I'm going, Natsu. I'll see you later at the guild." I told him before turning away.
However, I had only taken a handful of steps before a hot pair of arms encircled my waist and pulled me back, trapping me within his embrace.
"Natsu, let me go!" I shouted, my voice raised from the shock of his fast recovery. How invincible was this guy?
"No." One arm raised to my collar bone and clung on, my hands flying to his forearms as I dug my nails into the flesh. Yet again he acted as if nothing was happening. Am I really that weak…?
"Natsu I'm warning you–"
"You're not weak, Lucy!" Natsu snapped, his voice deafening my ears with his raised volume. "You're stupid for even thinking that, but you're not weak!"
I froze slightly, surprised at that sudden shout. But Natsu hadn't finished.
"Jeez, the number of times that stupid thing goes around in your smart brain… I don't think you're weak. It's just, the reason I feel bad about fighting you is… Lucy, you don't fight people! You yell like a banshee and hit harder than Erza, but you don't fight. It's me who fights for you. Me. I protect you, Lucy, you don't need to fight because I'm there. I like it that you want to get stronger, it's awesome, really! But…it's just that, well, what if you don't need me? I like knowing I can protect you, too. Not all the time, but it's nice to feel…" He paused and I waited with baited breath for the rest of that sentence, my heart pounding harshly within my chest. And annoyingly, I knew he could hear every beat and skip as his warm fingers brushed my skin with my every pant, "… needed." he finished quietly, and his warm breath caressed my ear.
I closed my eyes, sighing as I let my body go limp in his arms, all the fight sucked out of me. I understood him, almost. Igneel left him, and while he had a whole family whom he loved with all his heart at Fairy Tail, there was always that extra pain he would feel, that yearning to be needed, for someone to depend on him and want him to never up and leave them without an explanation. And I loved that about our partnership, because it was the one thing I needed from someone. Someone to depend on, someone I had to have to look after me. The hole my mother and father had left in my chest was closing day by day because of my dependency on Natsu. And the knowledge that he would never leave me and would protect me even though I never really needed protecting.
But… even the saviours need someone to stand up for them. To rescue them in their darkest need. Even the invincible Natsu needed to be protected. And I wouldn't grow into a person proud of myself, proud to be a part of Fairy Tail if I wasn't able to at least be content that, when it came to fighting alongside my friends and family, I gave it my all.
"I get it. I do, it's just… I don't think I can bear seeing you get hurt again. It makes me so… angry, and hurt, to be able to do nothing, and that I have to sit at the side lines and pray that you get another of those stupid power ups… how I had to be taken away when you were all fighting Phantom Lord… I hated it then and I hate it now… I hate it so much, Natsu! It makes my heart burn with agony. Do you understand me?"
"Yeah." he whispered. And his arms were suddenly pressing at my body, drawing me ever closer and almost holding me like a giant teddy bear. And the way he held me… it wasn't like I was fragile glass, bound to break at any moment. He held me tightly, as if I was the only one who could anchor him to this weightless earth. I almost jumped when his face nuzzled my hair.
"Why do we always have the same conversation?" he asked.
"I don't know." I admitted, understanding him. He was asking why we had to argue about our insecurities to each other all the time, why the same topic always had to be discussed when it came to us. I believed it was because our childhoods are so similar, so we cling to each other because we know that the other will understand what was buried so deeply in our hearts. We're probably the only two people who can really, fully understand each other in this world. But yeah, it was starting to grate on my nerves a bit. I didn't want to have to constantly think about my fears and thoughts of being weak. It would only break us in the end. And I can't lose Natsu, not because of my fears.
I can only get stronger if I face and conquer my own insecurities. I don't need Natsu to keep telling me everything was going to be alright when what it really comes down to is that I have to make the effort to change myself. And grow stronger as a person.
We stayed like that for a while. I was content to be in his arms. Before the silence could be shattered by someone else and make things between us awkward, I tentatively broke it myself.
"It's probably because we're weird."
Natsu snorted into my neck. "You're the weird one." he mumbled, his grin that stretched across his face making his teeth scrape lightly across the nape of my neck. I quivered.
"From now on," I said, turning around in his arms to stare up at him. "When either of us gets into one of our insecure moments, well just go somewhere quiet and kick each other's asses. Deal?"
Natsu's eyebrow raised a bit before he snorted. "Deal. As long as you stop being a weirdo."
"As long as you stop being an idiot!" I retorted, but I was grinning again.
"As long as you leave my balls alone!"
I giggled and he laughed. We started, instinctively mirroring each others movements exactly, to circle each other again. Our eyes never strayed from each other.
"You stole that from Gray!" Natsu mock-gasped "All right then, you asked for it! Key forgetter!"
"Yeah, cause you always forget your keys, then it's me who has to save your ass!"
"WHAT? Come back and say that to my face!"
"I just did! You're worse than Gray when it comes to come backs!"
"WHA–? Right, you and me, right here, right now!"
"Aw yeah, bring it on Luce!" Natsu cackled. I grinned back again before launching myself forward, throwing another punch to his face. He dodged and his hand snapped up to catch my wrist in a fixed vice, pulling me towards him, my stomach heading straight for his closed fist. Warning bells clanged in my head and at the last moment I twisted my body around, tugging at his grip as I arched my back and span around until my back collided with the arm that imprisoned me. With this opening I drew my elbow back and hit him hard where his shoulder connected with his back.
Natsu howled with pain and surprise and released me. I jumped away, yelling my triumph. I did it, I had finally hit him! The feelings that coursed through my body were indescribable. Euphoria, pride, elation and a swelling sense of satisfaction eradicated any guilt I felt towards hurting him.
Mama, I feel as if I am starting to shine at last!
"That was great Lucy!" Natsu whooped, looking for all the world like he was proud of me. All doubts about training me looked to be gone. And I had his full support again.
That was even more priceless than my progress in growing stronger.
"Well of course! You were just being sloppy." I replied smugly. The grin dropped and outrage shone clearly, my laughter ringing like bells through the clearing as he launched into another indignant tirade.
"I was not! I was going easy on your face!"
"You were aiming for my stomach!"
"No, your face!"
"I don't have a mother, weirdo!"
"Fine, your cat then!"
"LEAVE HAPPY OUT OF THIS!"
Up in my tree, I giggled at Natsu and Lucy's bickering.
'Are they really trying to have a 'your face' fight?' I wondered at their strangeness. The camera I had so cunningly smuggled in with my picnic basket was almost out of film, the now nearly useless box dangling around my neck. I needed to ask Mirajane for more.
"Mirajane and Gray are going to love these!" I giggled again, rubbing my paws together at the thought of the extra fish Gray and Mirajane were going to give me for pinning these photos up on the guild's wall. Photos of Natsu and Lucy fighting, their scary moment at the tree and one little photo that looked like Natsu was kissing Lucy's neck while they held each other.
"They llllllike each other." I sang gleefully. "It's raining fish. Hallelujah, it's raining fish…"