Disclaimer: I do not own the Fairy Tail series or any of the characters.

Summary: A collection of Fairy Tail shorts, drabbles, and other curiosities. Latest: "Tangible". Natsu likes to touch. January 5, 2013.


Tell Me a Fairy Tail

Tangible

Natsu had to touch everything.

It probably wouldn't have been much of a problem, if not for his careless inattention and destructive impulses. Factor in the general Fairy Tail tendency to over-do everything, and it was inevitable that things would get broken.

But they were just things. Things could be replaced. People couldn't.

Natsu had never gone without physical contact as a child. With Igneel, he was always touching, pushing, tugging, mauling, and snuggling, whenever the urge struck him. There were no real rules or limits, although occasionally, if he was being a deliberate nuisance, Igneel would push him away, sending him tumbling. Natsu lived by his instincts, and his instincts told him that the important things in life were those that he could see, hear, smell, taste, and especially touch.

Then Igneel was gone, and as it turned out, Natsu's instincts had been lying. The things he could obtain using his senses, like food, water, shelter, and fire, were not nearly as crucial for his survival as things like love, and happiness, and belonging. His senses proved useless when it came to finding those. It was his heart that told him that those things were all gone, gone, gone.

He wound up in Fairy Tail, and managed to find those essential things again, and the ache eased. But the need to touch was still as strong as ever. Stronger, maybe. He'd learned early in life to associate touch with those important things. He needed to touch people to make sure they were there, that they hadn't left him behind.

Maybe he had abandonment issues.

Guild brawls satisfied this need for physical contact fairly well. Every time he punched Gray, every time Erza's fists collided with his head, every time he kicked Elfman's ass or tripped Jet or slugged Droy in the gut, every time he was thrown through a wall by Gildarts, the physical contact told him he was not alone. He needed that confirmation, desperately. Violence and pain were just minor byproducts of the process, and had never really bothered him. And if he found himself craving less violent contact, Happy was always nearby to perch on his head or sit on his shoulder or sleep on top of his stomach. Natsu was content.

And then he met Lucy.

He knew almost immediately that something had changed, but it took him a while before he began to figure it out. At the start, he simply knew that he had to keep her. So he took her home with him, and of course they all welcomed her. It wasn't unusual for Fairy Tail mages to bring home strays, after all. But it was unusual for him. This was his family, and he didn't invite just anyone to join. But when he brought Lucy to the guild less than a day after meeting her, it didn't even occur to him to question the impulse.

She belonged there. With his family. With him.

He didn't really notice it happening, and he wasn't sure how it had happened. But sometime between Galuna Island and the war with Phantom Lord, he realised that Lucy had become one of his important people.

He needed her. He needed to know that she was nearby. And it went deeper than that; seeing her face, catching her scent, hearing her voice ring out in the guild hall... it wasn't enough. He needed to touch.

He couldn't pull her into a brawl to satisfy this need. She wasn't quite tough enough, yet (even if she had a pretty impressive kick). She was stronger than she looked, but she wouldn't be able to withstand the sort of pain that Natsu and the others dealt each other on a daily basis. She'd get hurt, and then it wouldn't be fun for her the way it was for them.

So he found other ways to touch her. He'd grab her hand to drag her along with him, sneak up and drape himself over her shoulders when she was trying to read or eat her lunch, lean on her, poke her, nudge her with an elbow. Anything to be a bit closer to her. And of course, she thought he was a terrible nuisance, and she'd often shove him away, pretty much the same way Igneel had done when Natsu was being a pest. The only difference was that sometimes Lucy blushed.

Personal space was still a concept that Natsu had difficulty with, and Lucy often freaked out about it. But then she would touch his arm, or lean against him, or grab his chin to force him to pay attention (he never heard whatever she was saying then, because all his focus always wound up concentrated on that touch). So he was fairly certain that her freak-outs were mostly a formality.

When it really mattered, she never had any problem touching him. She carried him when he couldn't walk, rubbed his back when he was motion sick, let him rest against her when he exhausted himself, bandaged him when he was wounded, and hugged him when there was something to be sad about. She touched him quite a lot, actually.

Lucy probably hadn't had much physical contact after her mother died. Not with a father as cold and distant as hers had been. It must have been like having both of her parents die at once. Sometimes, Natsu wondered if she had abandonment issues, too.

He knew that he touched her much more often than he touched his other nakama. He knew that her touch could distract him instantly, even at times when anger was scorching his insides. Her skin fascinated him like no one else's ever had. And he wasn't stupid, no matter what everyone thought. He had enough self-awareness to recognize that he maybe-kinda liked her, more than the usual amount of liking he felt towards the rest of Fairy Tail. And he wasn't quite sure what to do with that knowledge, because he'd happily avoided the complications of liking a girl until now.

But there was one thing he was sure of, and that was this: even if he sort of liked her, and even if he liked to touch her, and even if he just happened to be in her bed right now, he wasn't a pervert. He was certain of that fact. But he knew that he'd have a hard time explaining all of this to anyone without sounding like some sort of sick weirdo.

He slept in her bed because he needed to touch her.

Not like that! See, it just sounded wrong when he tried to explain it.

He just needed physical contact — to have his knee bump her leg when he rolled over, to have his hand collide lightly with her back when he stretched, to sling a casual arm over the curve of her waist simply because it was the most comfortable spot to rest it. The need had gotten so bad that sometimes he had trouble sleeping without her beside him.

But it was totally innocent. Well, almost totally. He was actually a fairly normal teenage boy, with all the usual impulses, even if everyone seemed to assume that he was too oblivious to think that way. Contrary to popular belief, he did notice girls. He enjoyed looking at them just as much as any guy did. And he had noticed that his best friend was very pretty. He'd noticed that the moment they'd met.

So he couldn't deny the fact that he experienced a rather naughty thrill from being so close to her. A part of him craved more, much more, than that simple touch. But he recognized that in this situation, he could not indulge his usual tactic of charging in where angels feared to tread. Not unless he wanted to ruin everything that was wonderful between them. He could never do that to his dearest friend. So he would take things slow. Very slow. She wasn't remotely ready for more. And if he was honest with himself, neither was he.

Natsu's inner monologue paused here, as Lucy shifted in her sleep. He held his breath, hoping that she wasn't about to wake up and kick him in the face and throw him out of her apartment. Lately, she was more likely to just shout at him a bit; the face-kicking had become a fairly rare occurrence, but Natsu knew that Lucy still considered it an option.

Lucy relaxed again, and Natsu let out a relieved sigh as he snuggled closer to her back... but his relief was premature.

"Natsu," Lucy said in a sleepy, grumpy tone. "You'd better not be in my bed again."

Natsu winced, trying to think of a way to appease her before she could get mad at him.

"I'm not," he assured her. "You're only dreaming. It's a nice dream, 'cause I'm in it."

He knew that she was far too alert to fall for such a thing, but he was hoping that she would be amused enough to let it pass.

She was worryingly silent for a long moment, and very still. But then she huffed, conveying a mixture of amusement, exasperation, and resignation, and Natsu knew that he was in the clear.

"Well, so long as it's just a dream," Lucy muttered wryly.

She rolled over to face him, but didn't bother opening her eyes. She just burrowed close, nosing in under his chin so that when she sighed, he could feel her warm breath on his throat. The sensation sent a delicious shiver down his back and made his imagination whirl with possibilities.

It always baffled him to experience the effect she had on him. She would do something simple and innocent, and it would set his mind spinning every time. She would walk by with a particular sway in her hips, or stretch a certain way, or make a little noise that somehow made his blood burn, or give him the smile that she reserved just for him, and he would find himself defenceless before her. It never failed.

It took him a minute to get a hold of himself, and by then Lucy was already sound asleep again. He tightened his arms around her, and found that he only needed to purse his lips the slightest bit to make contact with her forehead. A secret, chaste kiss — all he dared, for now.

He adored her.

He wanted those tangible things from her. But he'd learned his lessons well. The intangible things — love, and happiness, and belonging — were more important. And now that he'd found them, he wasn't about to give them up. The rest could wait.

For now, this was enough.

::Owari::


A/N: Hope you liked it! I had a persistent idea for a little scene that continues where the story left off, but it didn't fit the story's mood. But as a special treat, I've included it below. Enjoy!

Omake:

"Psst! I saw you, Natsu."

*Gasp!* "Happy!"

"Kissy, kissy, Natsu! Teehee!"

"Stop it! Go back to sleep!"

"You l-l-l-like her! Pffft! That's so funny!"

"Shut up, Happy!"

"Natsu's blushing! Haha! Uwah! No, don't smother me! I can't breathe under here!"

"Then how come you're still talking?"

"BOTH OF YOU SHUT UP!"

"A-aye sir!"

A/N: Because really, we all know that's what would logically happen next. It's Fairy Tail, after all.