Back of My Hand

XXX

Amid the overzealous clinking of glasses, occasional curses and brawling of the guild members she did not know, someone tapped Lucy on the shoulder.

She swiveled around, hoping to find Natsu. He needed to explain her initiation into the guild. Lucy did not want to appear as an intruder; these wizards seemed livid enough toward their own.

A high, warm voice belonging to a white-haired girl with deep blue eyes said, "Welcome to Fairy Tail! Natsu told me you'd like to join our guild?"

Having already spasmed over seeing the famous Mirajane, Lucy sobered and straightened herself. "Y-yes. Who do I speak to? Where do I apply? Are there qualifications? I'm old enough, right? I don't have that much experience—"

Mirajane smiled. "It's not that hard. Natsu thinks you'll fit right in here. He said you have the spirit that a true Fairy Tail wizard should have."

He said that? Lucy's excitement doubled upon hearing that Fairy Tail's Salamander vouched for her.

Mirajane continued, "All you need now is to make it official. We'd be glad to have you, Lucy! Let's get you marked." She held up a tool that resembled a rubber stamp.

"Where would you like your Fairy Tail tattoo?"

Lucy paused. Did it matter? She raised her finger to indicate her left arm when the half-naked boy from earlier approached.

"Looks like we have a new member." He offered a handshake. "Congratulations. Sorry for ignoring you earlier. I was rude. My name is Gray."

Lucy smiled and shook Gray's hand. "Why…why did you strip?" Further, why was he still undressed?

"It's a habit for Gray to do that when things get rowdy." Mirajane didn't seem disturbed at all.

Gray unabashedly grinned, almost like a gentleman—except that gentlemen do not introduce themselves clad only in underwear. He indicated the blue Fairy Tail symbol on his right pec. "You could get the mark here."

She gaped and then quietly said "I don't think that will work for me as well as it does for you…"

Lucy's mumbled reply was lost when Happy meandered toward her. "So you're an official member of Fairy Tail! Now I'll get to see you all the time!" Lucy nearly reached out to stroke Happy's head and thought better of it. Did blue flying felines who conversed as humans like to be petted?

Happy didn't notice. "You should get the Fairy Tail logo on your forehead!"

Lucy palmed that area. "I would look stupid!" She'd already begun to see that this cat would never act any differently around her. He resembled a cute, irritating little brother.

Natsu's winged kitty adopted a wounded expression. "But this guild will cause you to smack your forehead again and again so you might as well be smacking our logo!"

Her hand twitched again. She resisted the impulse that would prove Happy's point.

A tanned brunette and a blue-haired girl with a sunny face walked toward the group. The first said, "Get it here," she motioned to her exposed lower abdomen, "Then you have an excuse to show it off." At that, she lifted the large barrel she'd carried over and took a gulp of whatever liquid was inside. It couldn't be beer…could it? The woman appeared to be sober.

The shorter girl smiled warmly. "Or you could get it on your shoulder", she turned, displaying her own mark to Lucy, "And you wouldn't have to lift your shirt when you show it to people!"

"Put it on your lower back!" Shouted the light-haired boy she'd noticed earlier, still surrounded by women and flashing a flirtatious smirk.

Her attempt to feign a smile became a horrified expression. "I am not getting a mark there. It looks wrong!" Lucy replied much louder than she'd meant to.

Turning about revealed the eyes of every present member of Fairy Tail—on her. Happy spoke up again, "Putting the tattoo on your forehead is a better way to get attention than this, Lucy!"

Mira laughed nervously. "Maybe we should move off by ourselves before the guild gets riled up again."

Again? This was a frequent occurrence?

"A lot of members have sentimental value for where they put their stamp. They're usually just silly reasons, but Fairy Tail means a lot to us, so for some people where they put their mark is important. Where would you like yours?"

Lucy wondered at how easily she was being accepted. She said, "Are you sure I'll be a good member for Fairy Tail? You all just met me."

Mirajane smiled reassuringly. "I know it's wild and hard to get used to, but you will. Like I said, Natsu thinks you're a perfect fit for the guild. He doesn't usually recruit people and keeps to himself except for Happy. Fairy Tail doesn't look for strong mages. We make them. What we look for is strong friends. Making friends with Natsu says a lot about you."

The celestial mage blushed. Could she be a part of this guild? It was more appealing than when she'd first imagined it. What Fairy Tail appeared to lack in order it made up for in bonding and warmth. She glanced around the hall, where moments before torrents of beer had been flying at other members, insults had been raised, and fist fights were escalating. Now, the guild was at rest, members chatting cheerily amongst their beer-soaked companions and black-eyed antagonists laughing with their targets. Fairy Tail was like family; they knew each other like the back of the hands they'd punch their comrades with.

She turned back to Mirajane. "I know where I want the tattoo! And what color choices do you have…?"

She would recall that later, the entire guild had thrown a "welcoming" party in her honor. Natsu explained that Fairy Tail used any excuse to become more raucous than usual, and Gray had quipped that the guild was just excited that Natsu had made a friend who was not a cat. Happy had taken offense, Gray and Natsu had begun a rousing round of insults and exchanged blows, Lucy learned to dodge alcoholic projectiles, and the entire guild had taken their cue from there—the whole of the next day had been spent cleaning up debris.

Lucy would not remember that night as her initiation. She would think often on her tattoo, gazing at it whenever she wrote to her late mother or worked furiously on her novel.

The Fairy Tail symbol was on the hand she wrote with, the same hand she recorded these fond memories in writing with. Whenever Lucy writes, she sees Fairy Tail: a friendly, if a tad unruly guild that had accepted her into their dysfunctional family.

Whenever Lucy writes, she sees Natsu, a fire mage with a brilliant smile and a big heart who had given her warm, deep friendship. She thinks often of him smiling at her, offering the chance for a mission, pink hair waving in the breeze as they run toward their next task together because she's returned his kindness and they are inseparable teammates now.

"Who's going to beat Fairy Tail's strongest team?" Natsu always asks her with a giddy gleam in his eyes.

The Fairy Tail stamp connects her irrevocably to her family, and to Natsu. She can be content with worrying about her rent. Whenever she looks at the back of her hand, Lucy is reminded of how rich she is.