AN: Phew, finally! Took me a while because I've got private stuff going on, but here it is. Glad to see the story is so well received! Looks like I'm not the only one loving this plot, which is just awesome. And I promise it'll just get even better. Thanks so much for your reviews!
I had really fun playing around with Natsu's mischievousness and his intentional OOC-ness. I think he'd totally have his fun with stuff like it happens in this chapter and mess with Lucy's head. And Millacent just continues to be a major lady-jerk. I kinda hate, but love that woman.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except Millacent Heartfilia and Butler.
Highlife and Mayhem
Chapter 2: Mission Pet Name
"I'm so, so sorry!" Lucy whispered a little too high-pitched to Natsu, folding her hands in an apologizing gesture.
She had managed to put off her aunt with a nice cup of Earl Grey to drag the Dragon Slayer and the Eksheed into her bathroom – the excuse being to fill up the shampoo – to explain the situation and most importantly, herself. Natsu arched a rosy eyebrow at her, crossing his arms in front of his still bare chest and staring incredulously at her. Lucy tried to avert her eyes from his appealing torso - she was too busy to be flustered about her half-naked team mate.
"What was that all about, Lucy?" he grumbled. "Fiancé? When did that happen?"
Happy was coyly smiling behind his little paws. "I knew you llllliked him!"
Normally, Lucy would have scolded the blue cat for rolling his tongue like that, but there were more important things right now. "I know this looks pretty unreasonable," she murmured sheepishly, playing with her fingers. "But that woman's my aunt. My Papa's sister. And she's a little old-fashioned as you've seen. She wouldn't understand why you're always here, taking baths and sleeping in my bed, Natsu."
Natsu seemed to calm down, scratching the back of his neck. "Yeah, I got that. But what do you want me to do now?"
Lucy bit her lower lip and then bowed down as deeply as she could, for the first time ever in front of Natsu, and folded up her hands once more. She was dead meat if he said no.
"Please play my fiancé for a few days! Just until she leaves!"
Natsu gawked at her, disbelieving. "Are you serious?"
"Please," said the blonde, insistently. "I'd really owe you one. You don't even have to do much. Just hug me sometimes, hold my hand and call me 'sweetheart' or something."
Natsu was suspiciously silent for a while. Lucy, who had her head lowered, slowly looked up curiously to see what was going on, seeing as it was so not like him, and what she found was beyond anything she had expected. Never had she thought that she would ever see that kind of expression on the face of the fierce, battle-lusting, tough Dragon Slayer that she had known for almost two years now.
He was blushing. Madly and embarrassed.
"Na-Natsu?" Lucy sputtered, totally taken aback. "Don't tell me you're…"
"Natsu's really shy when it comes to romance," Happy cooed slyly.
If possible, Natsu blushed even more. "Sh-shut up! I'm not!"
Somehow, she didn't know why, seeing Natsu blush made her blush herself. She knew he could be cute when he wanted to, especially when he was sleeping, but she didn't know exactly how adorable he could be. Sure, he did blush when her chest had been squished up against his face after he had caught her during the Phantom Lord fiasco or in his sleep when Happy had exclaimed she wore a maid outfit, but never ever had she seen him blush like this before.
"S-so…" Damn it, why was she stuttering now? "You won't do it, huh?"
"Of course I will."
Lucy's head rocketed up, shocked. Natsu avoided looking at her, massaging his neck, still embarrassed.
"You're my friend and you need my help," he said. "There's no way I'll let you down."
The relief she felt was so great that she nearly started crying, but she merely glanced up at Natsu with an awestruck expression and watery eyes. How could she forget? Natsu was unbelievably reliable when it was about his friends. She was so lucky to have him. She tried to disregard that the whole mess she was in was his fault in the first place.
Lucy couldn't help a mischievous smile. "Thanks, darling."
"Natsu's blushing again! He llllikes you!"
"Sh-shut up! I don't!"
Natsu felt something between blank horror and annoyance.
He was sitting across from Millacent Heartfilia at Lucy's dinner table – which was just a low couch table, really. His annoyance was partly, or rather for the greater part, because Lucy's stuck-up aunt was sitting on his favorite spot; the armchair. That was his seat, god damn it. And now he was forced to sit on the ground, with Lucy sprinting around in the kitchen trying to cook up something edible. And Happy was helping her out. They just went and left him alone with this scary woman.
And Millacent was glaring at him. In a definitely terrifying way.
Natsu couldn't believe this woman was related to cheerful, lovely, weird Lucy at all. She was way more relatable to someone like Erza. Millacent was just so painfully different from her niece, it wasn't even funny. But then again, he had met Lucy's father before, so it shouldn't be all that surprising that his sister was even more of a crooked person than he was.
Why the hell was this happening to him again? Oh, right. He had this awful habit of invading Lucy's home. He made a mental note to never do it again. He would at least try.
"Alas," Millacent suddenly said and Natsu flinched. What did 'alas' mean again?
Natsu frowned at her. "Yeah?"
"It is a bit hard to digest that my niece is now romantically involved with a person who can only be described as a… a delinquent," she sighed, taking a sip of her tea. Natsu glared indignantly at her. "Whatever she might see in you, it is a mystery to me."
This old hag really had some nerve. Natsu's lips were already quivering suspiciously with an urge to talk back at her. But she was Lucy's aunt. He couldn't be rude to her. That would just get Lucy mad at him. And the last thing he needed now was a pissed Lucy mixed with Lucy's scary aunt. And then, just because there was a little thing called Murphy's Law, Erza would come barging in just to send him to hell for the heck of it.
He forced a shaky smile, gritting his teeth. "Yeah, I'm so lucky."
Millacent shot him a harsh look. "I hope you are treating her well, Mr. Dragneel." Natsu cringed at the way she addressed him. It wasn't like he was eighty or something. "You will understand that I need to observe you during the days I will spend in Magnolia. Lucy is a Heartfilia. I should probably not expect someone like you to understand what that means, but I cannot allow our family's reputation to be tainted by the likes of you. Should you not be worthy, that is."
That was when something inside Natsu's brain snapped. Inside, he was seething with anger. Hell, he would punch anyone who dared to say something like that to him into the next millennium, but unfortunately, this was Lucy's aunt. Damn that stupid Lucy. She was giving him nothing but trouble. Why in the world did her family have to be this hag?
He desperately bit down on his tongue so much that he was scared it would start bleeding. He couldn't snap at her. He definitely had to restrain himself. Definitely. He could do this. He did have a little bit of what ordinary people called self-control, he was sure he had.
"Although looking at you, I am very certain that Lucy is merely going through a rebellious phase. Being with a vagabond, joining a rampaging magic guild. She is making a statement toward her family, but she will wake up soon and realize where she belongs," said Millacent, looking superior to him in more ways than one. "It is quite simply impossible that she is truly satisfied."
Okay, screw self-control.
Natsu grinned wolfishly at the woman. "Believe me, she's satisfied. Because I'm amazing in bed."
Something back in the kitchen clanked loudly. It sounded a lot like Lucy had just dropped a pot or a pile of dishes. Shortly after, a low screech could be heard accompanied by Happy's giggling, while Millacent's mouth opened wordlessly to an almost shocked expression. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Natsu knew that what he was doing could only turn this situation into a full-fledged disaster, but it was too late. He was pissed and he couldn't stop.
"E… excuse me?"
"I rock Lucy's world," said Natsu and meaningfully waggled his eyebrows. "It's a miracle she's able to walk after yesterday night. You know, after I did this and that to her, oh yeah, she really likes it when I-"
The next minute, Lucy was glomping him from behind, desperately clasping a hand over his mouth to keep him silent while Natsu struggled for dear life. She flashed her aunt a shaky smile as she rubbed her cheek against Natsu's in what was supposed to look like an endearing hug, but in reality came off as looking plain excruciating. The dragon slayer was a hundred percent certain that Lucy was totally hurting him on purpose, but he was way too proud to admit he deserved it.
A nervous giggle bubbled out of the young blonde's mouth. "Would you stop it with your weird jokes? Aunt Millacent doesn't know you well enough to tell that you're kidding," she sputtered hastily while Natsu's face already colored an unhealthy looking shade of blue. "Since of course you're only joking. I'm a virgin after all."
One of Millacent's eyebrows rose at her niece's antics, words and most importantly, at the sight of Natsu's near death experience. Obviously, she wasn't very convinced. Lucy feared that her aunt had already judged. She knew it always happened this fast, so it shouldn't be surprising.
"I… can't… breathe!" Natsu finally croaked out hoarsely once he had managed to shake his fake-fiancée off of him. Slowly, his face returned to a more normal looking color. "Shit, you crazy woman…" he hissed under his breath, glaring at the blonde.
Lucy tried to drown him out with a shrill and beyond unnatural sounding laugh. "Ohoho! But you've gotta cut him some slack, aunt Millacent," she blabbered, trying to ignore the suspicious looks from her aunt. "We've been a couple for almost two years now, so my little sweet-cheeks here had it pretty rough knowing I'll remain a virgin until it's time for our wedding night. He compensates it with those stupid jokes."
Sweet-cheeks? Natsu felt nauseous, the kind that came close to what he felt on vehicles. And wasn't that a pet name that guys used on girls?
"You do not say." Millacent seemed unimpressed. "Is that why Mr. Dragneel wants to marry you?"
Oh god, that old hag.
The dragon slayer felt his fists quiver with anger. What kind of guy did she take him for? Was it really that hard to believe that a man would get married to an old-fashioned girl like Lucy out of love and not lust? Okay, yeah, he wasn't actually going to marry Lucy, but she was a great girl. The guy she was going to end up married to would surely do it out of love, since she was sweet and funny and smart and had a very big heart. Was that so hard to believe for that stuck-up, stupid aunt of hers?
It made him so mad that playing the part didn't seem so hard anymore.
Lucy looked equally stunned, but managed to suppress a sassy comment. "Wh-what are you saying? That's just-"
"Of course not," Natsu said harshly, interrupting the blonde. "What, you think I have to bang a girl so badly that I'd marry her? That's not the kinda man I am."
The blonde's mouth fell open in shock, cheeks heating up not only at Natsu's uncouth choice of words, but also at how serious he looked when he had said them. Never would she have thought that he was this good an actor. Her eyes flitted over to her aunt, flinching when she saw a vein of anger plop on her forehead. Calling this going badly was probably an understatement.
"Aye!" Happy came flying inside, looking equally angered. "Natsu and Lucy lllllove each other!"
Lucy's jaw dropped completely. By now, she was sure she looked like a tomato. On one hand, it was clear that this situation deserved a spot in her top five of her most embarrassing moments of all time, but then again, she couldn't help feeling a little touched that both her best friends got so mad at the implications of her aunt. Still, her aunt was a scary lady. All the more surprising was that Natsu seemed totally calm about it. His brows knitted up, and then, he did something that she would have never thought he would do.
He took her hand in his, intertwining their fingers and her inner Lucy squealed like a school girl at the contact.
Her heart almost popped right out of her chest as he nodded determinedly, although his cheeks were maybe a little rosier than usual. "Damn straight," he said. "We're happy and she's gonna stay with me until we're old and grey and done for. And if you don't like that…"
Lucy actually held her breath.
"Well." Natsu's eyes narrowed. "Too bad for you!"
W-wow, was the only thing Lucy's mind was able to come up with. He had never appeared as more of a hero to her than right now. He was so manly when he had made his statement to her aunt, his voice so clear and deep and not allowing any opposition. If she was very honest, every time she had imagined a man asking for her hand in marriage and defending their relationship, it always went somewhat like this. And it didn't really help that Natsu's hand was just so big and warm and nice to hold.
She was so delighted by her team mate's solidarity that she almost forgot about a tiny little detail that was her seething aunt. Well, that is, Lucy could have betted her room that she was raging inside. She carefully looked up into Millacent's pale face, just in time to see her already narrow eyes narrow even more until they were mere slits. Lucy gulped hard, the tension was way too thick. When she felt Natsu's fingers twitch around hers, her eyes darted over to him, finding that he was nowhere near as calm as he came across: Beads of sweat were running down his forehead, he was kind of pale and his brows, though still knitted up in a solemn expression, were trembling. She guessed with the whole Erza-aura her aunt emitted, it shouldn't be that surprising. Even Happy behind them gave a small squeak of fear as he hid himself in Lucy's hair; his little moment of bravery had been short, huh?
Millacent looked on the brink of an outburst that would scar them for the rest of their lives. That was when Lucy made a decision. She had to show some courage now. It was the least she could do after what Natsu had done.
With that thought, she somehow managed to flash her aunt a big and truthful smile. "See, aunt Millacent? I'm in good hands. I couldn't be happier."
And it wasn't a lie. Everything was true, entirely and completely true. Not in the way they said it was, not in the way her aunt thought it was, but on some level, everything was the truth.
Millacent stared at them gravely for a few moments longer. Lucy heard Natsu gulp hardly, and squeezed his hand encouragingly. It would be okay. Even if her aunt was displeased, who the heck cared? Yes, she was happy here. She loved Fairy Tail. She loved hanging out with Natsu and Happy. Screw if her family thought it was nonsense. To Lucy, it was her dream, her world. And there was nothing more precious than that.
Her aunt slowly brought her cup of tea to her lips and closed her eyes for a sip so long that it felt like a scorching eternity. After she put the cup back down and had slipped back into her black silk gloves that she had took off for the tea, she looked up at them once again. She still looked anything but pleased and Lucy tried not to let her feel that her mind was swirling. It was bad enough that Natsu was so obviously intimidated by the woman. Or he really was that good an actor, since he actually appeared like the stereotypical guy-who-meets-his-girl's-family.
Finally, Millacent sighed. "I must say, your taste in men leaves me speechless, Lucy dear. Although I would be lying if I said Mr. Dragneel was not… intriguing in some way."
Natsu's eyes widened in wonder and Lucy's face lit up with relief. Realizing that she was sporting the most stupid grin ever, she quickly tried to snap out of it. Jeez, they weren't actually asking for Millacent's blessing.
"Seeing as this… this place is preoccupied, I suppose I can spend the nights in a hotel," Millacent declared as she stood up and grabbed for her parasol.
"Yes! We have great hotels here in Magnolia!" Lucy quickly exclaimed, beaming as she also stood up, pulling a reluctant Natsu up with her.
Millacent walked ahead, straight for Lucy's front door, with elegant steps, and Natsu finally released the breath he didn't notice he had been holding. He ignored the slight sting of disappointment he felt when Lucy wriggled her hand free from his grasp – he had been downright crushing her out of nervousness – and decided to be grateful instead, since his palms had been already too moist to begin with, so making skin contact with Lucy's amazingly soft hands didn't really help. She really did have such smooth skin…
Before his thought process could get out of hand, Lucy's aunt turned around to them once more, "Mr. Dragneel."
Natsu flinched violently and almost saluted. "A-aye!"
"Natsu became like me!" Happy whispered in shock to Lucy who just gawked at the Dragon Slayer. Well, like she was saying – Erza-aura.
"Surely you will accompany Lucy and my humble self to lunch tomorrow." It wasn't question, not even a request, it was a downright order. "I have many questions still that I want a righteous answer to, as you will understand. I will not allow you to become a part of the family if I do not like what I hear."
An ice-cold shiver ran down Natsu's spine at the way she had said that. "Uhh…"
"Of course! He'll be there!" Lucy answered quickly, and a little too good-humored for his taste, as her delicate arms snaked around his toned one. Natsu tried his hardest not to blush and scowled at Happy when the cat smirked slyly at his misfortune.
Millacent nodded. "I should hope so. I will visit your… your guild tomorrow once again. I expect you to give me a little tour this time, Lucy dear," she declared.
The blonde paled instantly, her smile wavering ever so slightly. "S-sure thing, aunt Millacent."
The elder woman nodded once again and then her solemn gaze shifted back to Natsu. He furrowed his brows as she just continued to stare at him, maybe a little expectant even, and just remained still by the door, not moving an inch. Natsu's mouth opened in wonderment, green eyes flitting to Happy who just shrugged and then down to Lucy who was still clinging his arm and doing weird stuff with her eyes. Wait, he had seen this on her before. While it looked like she was mentally ill or something, it always meant she wanted to tell him something. But what the hell was it?
Lucy groaned finally, giving him a violent push forward. "Open the door for her, sheesh! Don't you know anything about chivalry?" she hissed at him quietly enough so just he would hear.
Natsu awkwardly stumbled forward, trying to avoid the sharp glare of that demon woman that Lucy actually called her aunt. As a he grabbed the doorknob and turned it, he wondered for a short moment whether this was the first time he had ever touched Lucy's doorknob – he usually came in through her window.
"At last," Millacent sighed, and strutted through the door with her nose pointing upwards and her parasol toc-ing along. "I suppose your fiancé does have some manners after all, Lucy dear."
While the Dragon Slayer fought the nagging urge to just slam the door right into Millacent's face, Lucy was quickly there to prevent whatever sadistic plan his mind could conjure up and smiled brightly at her aunt. "We'll be seeing you tomorrow then, aunt Millacent." The blonde shot Natsu a meaningful look that he thankfully understood this time.
"Yeah, see ya." A sharp elbow hit him right between the ribs – painfully. "I-it was nice to meet you?" he added quickly and Lucy gave a satisfied smile.
"Hm," was all Millacent replied, eyes narrowing further. How she managed to make that sound more insulting than anything Gray and Gajeel combined had ever said to him was beyond Natsu's comprehension.
Lucy was never so happy about someone leaving than right now as she watched her aunt walk down her stairs – she tried to ignore the handkerchief she used to hold onto the balustrade. Well, that didn't go half as bad as she had feared it would. Hey, it could've been much worse, right?
After all, Natsu could have also blown Millacent up.
He just wouldn't stop glaring at her. Menacingly. At least, Lucy was sure it was supposed to look menacing, but she also knew that Natsu would never find it in him to be that mad at her.
Not that he wasn't mad, oh no, Lucy knew he was pissed beyond belief. And she couldn't even blame him either. If it was him that would have forced her to play along in this, she would be pummeling him to unconsciousness with a very heavy thing right now. And Happy laughing his ass off so much he was rolling around on the ground – yes, literally – just made it all even worse. Lucy did feel bad, no question. But that was still no reason for him to glare at her for five whole minutes, wordlessly, which was a miracle in itself.
"W-would you stop it already," Lucy sputtered indignantly, scowling at him. "This was one time! One time compared to the hundreds of times you've dragged me into some insane mess! You're just being unfair right now!"
Finally, Natsu's eyebrow twitched in annoyance. "Oh yeah? I'd rather fight a thousand monsters than have lunch with that demonic old hag!" he snapped. "She keeps picking a fight and I'm not even allowed to punch her! This is just cold-blooded torture!"
"Oh, just get over yourself. You make it sound like a mission. It's just lunch, you dork!"
"It's not lunch, it's certain death!"
"You're being ridiculous!"
"Ahaha, listen to you. You don't even need to act," Happy snickered, tears forming in his eyes. "You're like a married couple most of the time anyway."
Two fierce pair of eyes shot him a harsh death glare. "We're not."
Happy simply smirked, not affected in the least. "Oh c'mon, you totally lllllike each other."
While Lucy blushed with anger or embarrassment or both, Natsu chose to ignore his partner and foster son as he thoughtfully tilted his head. "Y'know, what you said earlier sounds pretty reasonable after all, Lucy," he said.
The blonde blinked, taken aback. "Huh?"
His longer than normal canines surfaced in a devilish grin. "It's actually nothing less than a mission, right?"
Lucy's jaw dropped in shock. Whenever Natsu smiled like that it was never a good thing, and each of his ideas always ended badly for her. It had been like that with the Evaroo fiasco, with the S-class quest, with that 'Sexy Plan' thing in Edoras, and there were a dozens more. Oh, he was totally planning something shady. She just knew it. He was Natsu after all and he could be the worst devil of all the devilish people she knew.
"Wh-what're you plotting now?"
Natsu's eyes flashed up in a way Lucy did not like at all. His grin grew even wider – to her, he had never looked more like a demon before. "Well, what you're asking me to do is what we call a request in Fairy Tail," he said smugly. "So it's only natural for me to be asking about the payment."
The look of pure horror on Lucy's face was inexplicable. He was even more evil than Millacent.
"Isn't that right, Happy?" Natsu asked the cat gleefully.
Happy fluttered over to sit on Natsu's shoulder. "Aye! Sorry, Lucy, but that's how it works," he grinned.
"You can't possibly be serious," Lucy babbled numbly, eyes as wide as they could get.
"Oh, I'm pretty sure I am."
"You're the devil. No, you're even worse."
"Hey, that hurts my feelings."
She pointed an accusing finger at him. "You're asking a friend to pay you? That's shameless!" she cried out in disbelief. "There's no way I'm agreeing to this, you madman!"
Natsu shrugged and turned away. "Fine by me, looks like you'll have to find yourself a new fiancé then. Though I really dunno how you're gonna explain that to your aunt."
"I-I'm sure I can ask Mira-san to transform into you!" Lucy quickly retorted.
"Mira has a job though, weirdo." Natsu grinned widely, thoroughly enjoying seeing her so worked up. "I'm just saying. You're pretty much screwed without me, but whatever. Tell me about the mess when it's over."
The blonde bit her lower lip as she watched Natsu slowly, very slowly, make his way to the window. He was totally walking extra slowly on purpose. He was waiting. Of course that dumbass was waiting, he knew she needed him for this and he knew she would call him back. She hated being so helpless right now, but Natsu was right. She was screwed if she didn't agree to his lunacy. It was her own fault. She had catapulted herself into a chaos that she could only make it through if he was with her, no matter how weird that sounded.
Gah! I have no choice, damn it!, she thought bitterly as she balled her fists angrily. She finally looked up after having glared at the ground for a while and watched dumbfounded as Natsu opened her window in slow motion. No, even slow motion was faster than what he was currently showing. Lucy just gawked at his idiocy for a while, before she finally sighed.
"No, don't go," she said monotonously, playing along, "Please wait."
Natsu turned around with a big smile. "Yeees?"
She brought a hand up to touch her forehead, and closed her eyes in defeat. "You win. I'll pay you, but only if everything goes smoothly and you don't screw up." She knew Natsu was doing his little victory dance right now and she was glad she couldn't see it. "So just tell me what you want."
"I want three things!" he declared and held up three fingers as an emphasis. "First, you'll never say no to a mission I suggest ever again!"
Lucy blinked. "That's all? Okay."
"Second, you'll never kick us outta your room again!"
Happy grinned mischievously. "Oooh, that's a good one, Natsu."
She cringed at that. That would not be easy. "I-I guess that's okay, too…"
"And third," Natsu looked her square in the eye, ominously. "You'll let us sleep in your bed for a year."
Lucy's eyes narrowed. "A month."
She stared at him, mouth twitching. Wow, this guy was really bad at negotiating. But who was she to complain? The only thing she could complain about was having him in her bed for two months, every night. She knew he wasn't the kind of guy who would take advantage of her while she was sleeping, but she was still of marriageable age. They were both in the years where it's natural to be interested in the wonders of the opposite sex. Her cheeks felt warmer when she thought about Natsu sleeping next to her every night and waking up next to him. He was a good-looking guy, she couldn't deny it, and although he was indefinably stupid sometimes, he was really cute while sleeping. Besides, that was no different than dating. Why did he want that of all things, anyway? All his requests mounted up to spending even more time together with each other than they usually did anyway.
God, he was so weird. No matter how hard she tried to understand him, he was a mystery to her. It must have been some kind of bigger power that nobody could comprehend that made her stretch out a hand, her cheeks fiery.
Natsu's face lit up to a triumphant grin as he slammed his hand into hers a little too violently so that Lucy grimaced. "All right! Always a pleasure." He grinned up at Happy. "Good thing that she swore some kinda blood oath to never break a promise, huh?"
"Aye! Lucky for us!"
Lucy felt like crying. "I told you it has nothing to do with blood."
"So it's settled then." Natsu bend down to her, giving her smug smile that Lucy found oddly attractive. "I'm all yours, sugar pie."
She fought hard to keep herself from blushing crimson as he was once again coming to close for comfort and to make things worse, he was saying unnecessary things. Lucy cursed her own heart for pounding so quickly because of something that it shouldn't pound for. This was just stupid. It wasn't like he actually meant what he said. This was just work to him and nothing more, and it wasn't like Lucy really wanted to think anything of it. It was all just an act.
"Do you really have to call me sugar pie?"
"Yup. And believe me, there's a lot more where that came from. This'll be fun!"
"Aye! Call her something with kitty next!"
"Hm. I dunno. How 'bout pudding cup?"
"Now I'm hungry!"
Lucy's face darkened as she watched them. "Kill me. Kill me now."
Sometimes she really hated her best friend's laugh. Especially in moments such as this one, when it was about stuff like that, and she just wouldn't freaking stop.
"No way. No way in hell," Levy giggled loudly, trying to muffle her laughter with her hand. "This is just like a soap opera. Heck, this is better!"
"I'm pretty sure God hates me," Lucy muttered against the counter inside Fairy Tail.
The bluette patted her friend's arm reassuringly, but still couldn't stop giggling. She probably thought this was the best joke of the century or something. "Aw, c'mon, Lu-chan. It's not that bad, is it?" she said, smiling. "I think it's really nice of Natsu to help you out. Especially since I've heard what a… how should I put it? Impressive woman your aunt is. Pity I was out on a mission yesterday."
"Nice? Nice?" Lucy growled dangerously and Levy actually drew back. "He's a goddamn freak! Asking me to pay him, who does he think he is? That idiot! Dumbass! Argh!"
Levy smirked, resting her head in her palm. "But the payment he wants is sorta interesting, don't you think?"
The blonde blushed at her friend's insinuating tone, turning away. "I-I don't know what you mean."
"It's kinda cute if you think about. Sounds like Natsu wants to spend every minute with you."
"No, that's not what it sounds like."
"Yes, it iiiis."
"It so is."
"No way! It's-"
Lucy cut herself off when she felt a suspicious presence at the bar right in front of them. Both girls slowly turned around to find Lisanna leaning against the counter, both hands supporting her head as she innocently smiled at them. That is, to everyone else it would look innocent, but Lucy and Levy knew what she could be like – she was Mirajane's sister after all.
Lisanna cocked her head, grinning. "What? Go on."
The blonde paled at the sight. "L-Lisanna… what the…"
"Sorry, I couldn't help but eavesdrop. 'Cause I was trying to," Lisanna admitted. "So I take it that your aunt met Natsu, huh?"
"Don't tell your sister about this. She'll never let me hear the end of it."
Levy picked up her stupid giggling right where she had left off. "And guess what. Now Natsu has to play Lu-chan's fiancé. I mean, can you really picture that?"
"Thanks a bunch, Levy-chan," Lucy uttered miserably.
"Natsu versus Lucy's scary aunt? This can only end in a disaster." As if Lucy's annoyance level wasn't already high enough, Lisanna burst out laughing along with Levy. "Let's bet how long it takes before Lucy murders them both."
"I say an hour!"
Lucy scowled at her friends. "Right, let's just all laugh at Lucy's problems."
"You're making way too big a deal outta this, Lu-chan." Levy smiled warmly at her, nudging her shoulder with hers. "C'mon, you like Natsu a lot, don't you? Why don't you just have a little fun with the possibilities?"
The blonde Stellar mage didn't really like where this was heading. "P-possibilities?"
Lisanna grinned mischievously. "What it could be like. Dating Natsu," she answered instead of Levy, winking at her.
Lucy's mouth dropped open, in shock, in disbelief, for many reasons, but no sound came out. She was so terribly taken aback that she couldn't even form a coherent thought. Her whole head heated up within seconds, from her cheeks to her ears. They couldn't possibly be hinting at what she thought they were. They couldn't actually believe she felt that way about Natsu. He was just her immature, stupid, irresponsible, insane partner – no, teammate. Partner sounded wrong to her right now. Damn, she felt really confused.
But before she could deny everything, Levy spoke up as if they wouldn't even need an answer, "Where is Natsu anyway? Won't your aunt be here any minute now?"
Lucy blinked, momentarily forgetting what they had been talking about just now. "Good question, actually. He was supposed to be here half an hour ago."
"Typical, I guess…"
"Oh, speak of the devil," Lisanna purred, pointing at something behind Lucy with her chin. "There's your aunt."
The blonde flinched and slowly turned around to see her aunt strutting right towards her with swift and vigorous steps. Butler was close to her heels, carrying her parasol and her bag. Lucy swallowed a big lump in her throat and wondered where the hell Natsu was. Levy was right, this was typical. When she didn't need him, he wouldn't leave her alone, and when she did need him once, he was nowhere to be seen. That damn idiot, if he dared to chicken out on her, she swore to everything that was holy that she would strangle him slowly. But he wouldn't do that, right?
Lucy forced herself to hop off her barstool and meet her aunt halfway, a wobbly grin on her lips. "H-hi, aunt Millacent. How was your night?"
"Pleasant, actually. It was surprising, but Butler found an acceptable hotel in this… this town," she answered, wriggling her Caesar-like nose. "Sometimes, I believe he does have some use to me."
Butler bowed elegantly. "Thank you, madam."
"Wimp," Cana snorted into her barrel.
"I do feel slightly hungry, Lucy dear. Let us save the tour through this… this guild for some other time," Millacent declared, gesturing around in downright disgust. "Now where is Mr. Dragneel so we can leave for lunch? Butler made reservations in an exquisite restaurant, so he says. Although I highly doubt his taste."
"I take full responsibility should you not like it, madam," Butler quickly said, sweating.
Lucy tried to ignore the curious glances her guild mates were throwing at her after her aunt had mentioned Natsu's last name and continued to nervously nudge her fingers together. "W-well, about Natsu… it's like this… he…"
"Phew! Sorry I'm late, babydoll!"
The blonde almost jumped out of her skin when two strong, masculine arms encircled her waist from behind and a toned body pressed up against her back just a moment after. A gasp went through the rows of Fairy Tail, eyes widened, someone gagged loudly that Lucy guessed had to be either Gray or Gajeel and from the corners of her eyes she could see Mirajane fainting in delight. Memo to Lucy: Kill Natsu when this was over.
Struggling so her voice would sound sweet, she turned around to his infuriatingly adorable grin and said, "Th-there you are, pumpkin. Just where have you been?"
"Oh, I bought a little something for your aunt. Couldn't have come empty-handed, right?" Natsu almost cooed. Oh god, he was enjoying this. "Happy, if you would."
Happy surfaced from god knows where, holding a large bouquet of various flowers, pink, yellow, blue and more. He came to a halt in front of Millacent who, Lucy noted surprised, looked quite impressed. The elder woman took the bouquet from the cat, pleased but not even the ghost of a smile was evident on her face.
"Thank you, Mr. Dragneel. I must say I did not expect this," Millacent said, pushing the flowers into Butler's arms.
Lucy was vainly trying to close her gaping mouth. Did the Natsu Dragneel, the Salamander, the single most troublesome wizard the world has ever known, just give her aunt flowers as a present? This could not be reality. It had to be some kind of parallel universe, since there was just no way in hell Natsu would ever use his brain in an actually convenient way. And damn it, he was still hugging her like it was the most natural thing on Earthland. What the hell was she experiencing here?
"Glad you like 'em," Natsu replied cheerfully and then leaned closer to Lucy to mutter in her ear, but loud enough so her aunt and anyone close by would definitely hear, "Anything for my sweetheart's aunt."
And then he kissed her cheek. He actually kissed her goddamn cheek.
Gray gaped at the scene in pure horror. "The fuck is going on-"
"I think I'm gonna puke," Gajeel stated.
Lucy's heart sank into her feet while the whole guild started babbling agitatedly. Had this hothead gone mad? Was he out of his mind? He actually went and did that in front of the whole Fairy Tail guild, meaning everyone had seen it. How was she ever going to explain this? And her aunt. Her aunt was very intelligent. There was just no way she wouldn't get suspicious after this, especially since Lucy had told her they had been dating for two years. Of course it would look weird that her guild mates had no idea about it. Oh god, it was all over. That idiot, idiot, idiot!
"After two years, you still had no idea? Sheesh, you guys are so slow!" Lisanna suddenly called out from behind the bar. "I just came back two weeks ago and I immediately knew those two were together."
Lucy stared in disbelief at the ivory-haired girl as Levy giggled. "Yeah, but it's to be expected they had no idea," said the bluette, "They don't really flaunt it usually, you know?"
Gray was still gaping. "What the fuck-"
"Well, now you know," Natsu said nonchalantly, letting go of his fake-fiancée to grab her hand. "Can we go to lunch now?"
The blonde had no idea whether to just slap Natsu until he didn't know his own name anymore, scream that it was all just a farce, be grateful to Lisanna and Levy or apologize to her aunt. This was all too much. And it was all her fault. Oh, she knew it had been a bad idea to act out on a limb and make up this crazy lie. Why couldn't there be a time machine that took her back and let her erase everything? Her face felt feverish, she was a little dizzy from the combination of shock about the situation and Natsu's intimate actions. It was just too much, it could just go wrong, and her aunt would start ranting now, and-
"I must say that is very relieving," Millacent said, seemingly satisfied. "I would have been ashamed to learn that my niece was inappropriately acting upon her hormones."
Lucy's head rocketed up, eyes widening. Wait, was it actually going well?
Millacent actually smiled. It wasn't a very smile-like looking smile, honestly speaking, it looked completely arrogant, but it was there. "I must admit that I am starting to take a liking to you, Mr. Dragneel."
The blonde Stellar mage was completely taken aback. She looked at Natsu who looked even more bewildered than she felt, and then back to her aunt who was turning around and heading outside. Even Butler was totally shocked at his employers shown of emotions – well, okay, emotion was a little exaggerated, but something just happened. Something incredible. Never had she thought that her aunt would ever approve of an obvious delinquent like Natsu. Anything but that. Slowly, a very small smile crept to Lucy's lips as she squeezed Natsu's hand. He must be doing something right. Somehow, she felt kind of proud.
Gah!, Lucy realized the next second, horrified. What was she thinking? They weren't actually hoping for Millacent's blessing.
"Patience is none of my many good traits, Lucy dear," Millacent spat from her spot by the gate. She turned, walking ahead. "Butler, come."
Lucy gave a sigh, smiling up at her partner and, although she would rather cut off her own tongue than admit it, hero. "You ready, Natsu?"
Natsu grinned down at her, slinging an arm around her shoulders. "You betcha, honey buns."
Everyone in Fairy Tail gawked speechlessly at the pair of a blonde Stellar mage and a salmon-haired Dragon Slayer walking outside. Everyone except Lisanna and Levy who were highly amused at the whole scene, Mirajane who was still passed out from an overdose of happiness, Gajeel and Gray who were gagging at everything and Erza who nodded her approval at Lucy and Natsu finally growing up.
"So you're really not gonna stop it with the stupid pet names, huh?"
"Nope! I'm just starting here!"