Oh. My. GOD. I'm sorry I haven't updated in FOREVER, seriously between illness and school I haven't had much time to write much of anything.
BUT here we are.
Sorry to all those that I did not send PMs to, :( I'll try to do better this time, it's just really hard to find the time to reply to 70+ reviews haah but I will try harder this time ^^
This is just full of Nalu fluffiness, I felt like it was needed with the latest chapters of OH SO OBVIOUS NALU. They are ending up together, sorry but I'm so positive it's a fact now.
I feel like this chapter is really weird but I hope you guys still like it. I like to put characters into weird situations where you haven't seen them before because it's sooo fun.
Especially Natsu, sorry Natsu this chapter was totally poking fun at you the whole time! Enjoy!
None of this made any sense. Sure, getting together a group to go scout the island did, bringing her along not so much. Even Wendy was dragged along. The group Natsu had hastily picked out consisted of Erza, Gray, Lucy and Wendy, and the two cats.
Even that made sense more than this.
They had found a town; it was originally the island they had wanted to land on in the first place. They had just been fortunate enough to land on the opposite side of the island, so they had a lot of walking to do. Lucy never thought about the fact she would be walking through lush forest for hours in nothing but a mini skirt and heeled boots. Yeah, not her best idea. Yet, they had made it and now here she was.
In a bar. Alone.
How did this happen?
She wasn't very sure herself; Natsu had originally come with her when the group split up to search for a shipwright. It was the middle of the day so the town shouldn't be too dangerous, Natsu had told her so, and he had been here before actually. But alas, he jumped the gun and ran out of the bar when they had begun to question the bar maid, saying something about meeting him across the street because something smelt really good.
She had not held in her sigh as she watched him bolt out the door.
"He seems like a handful." The brunette smiled at her, taking a drink of something. Now that Lucy paid closer attention she realized it was beer. Was this lady drinking on the job?
"You could say that." Lucy responded politely, honestly she had been more of a handful to the team than Natsu had. Life as a pirate was a handful.
Lucy choked on her own spit.
"What? No, certainly not." Her voice was as steady as she could muster.
"Oh? Well, a good looking guy like that won't stay single for long; you may want to snatch that up before it's gone." The lady chuckled, taking another swig from her glass.
Lucy bit her lip and turned to stare out the door he had just ran. Natsu was good looking but she couldn't…she wouldn't do that. He was her Captain, to think of him as a boyfriend was still odd. He probably wouldn't know what that was anyway.
Lying to herself didn't seem to be working, she knew about Lisanna. Their relationship must've been rather far along when she had died. Happy said it himself…he had 'liiiiiiiked' her. Though that still didn't convince her much, sure she liked Natsu, but not that way yet, if she ever would.
"It's complicated." Lucy muttered, swiveling in her chair a bit debating just getting up and leaving.
"Isn't it always? That's half the fun right? So what are you in town for?"
Lucy's eyebrow rose, looking back at the row of emptied glasses she had just determined did not come from the customers. The girl acted rather normally though, considering she should be plastered by now.
"Um…well, we were wondering if there was a shipwright in town." Lucy said, wondering if she should be asking a lady who was potentially drunk out of her mind.
"Oh yeah, you want Tim. Tim is an ass though, always overprices everything! Now he's the only one capable of building a ship on this island he can charge whatever he wants. If you're looking for a ship, you may just be screwed." The young woman chuckled.
"Great, so it's going to cost a lot of money." Lucy sighed; she had an idea of how much money the crew had. "Don't suppose you have an approximate estimate?"
"Oh lord, last person that left this island had paid Tim, what was it? Something ridiculous. Like 13?"
"Million, of course."
Lucy deadpanned. Ten million? They barely had one…would they be stuck on this island forever? How long would it take for the crew to raise that much money? Years at least. Unless they stole it. She had expected it to be a lot, but 2 million tops.
"You could always go see Ratchin about it though…"
Lucy's hope started to crawl back onto the counter, though she didn't like that devious glint in the brunette's eye.
"And who is Ratchin?"
"The billionaire that lives up the mountain…well he's probably past the billionaire part by now. He would probably give you money, as long as you ask nicely." She said as she winked.
What was that wink for?
"Ask…nicely?" Lucy didn't like the sound of that.
"Well, he's a lonely guy up there on the mountain, I'm sure if you just showed some skin he would be willing to pay a lot of money."
"Skin?" Lucy cringed. Did this girl think she was a whore too? She wasn't even wearing her fancy dress, did that mean like she looked like a cheap whore now? Great.
"Yeah, all you gotta do is flash some skin at him and I'm sure he'll pay up, just make sure to bring your 'not' boyfriend." The bar maid continued, holding back an obvious laugh.
"What kind of person do you take me for!" Lucy hissed, angry at the accusation she would do such a thing.
"I take you for the kind of person who wouldn't want to spend years doing hard labour." The other woman bit back just as fierce.
"I would never stoop that low." Lucy sneered, surprised at her own snideness.
"We shall see, in about a month or so. If the government doesn't catch you first." The brunette chuckled, eyeing the younger girl carefully.
Lucy reacted on instinct, her mouth slapping shut rather loudly as she realized the truth. They could easily be caught by the government here, they were sitting ducks.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I have no idea what the government would want with a handful of merchants."
"Merchants my ass. I'm not stupid, come on. Like, look at what you're wearing."
A slight blush painted across Lucy's cheeks at the other ladies words.
"I didn't choose these clothes…" She murmured.
"I mean, I like what you're wearing but still, you can't lie to a bar maid, I see through bullshit like I'm looking through a clear sky. Don't worry; I'll keep your secret though." The lady cackled, and for some reason Lucy trusted her.
"The name's Cana, Cana Alberona. Let me know when I win my side of the bet and skin is shown!" Cana laughed, sticking her hand out towards Lucy for a handshake.
Lucy wasn't sure when she agreed to a bet but she complied with the handshake anyway.
"My name is Lucy, it is very nice to meet you. But, I am a merchant, I am not saying otherwise." Lucy stated firmly, trying desperately to keep the crew and herself safe.
"Why of course. See you soon." Cana said as Lucy stood off her stool to finally find the disappeared Natsu. Lucy bowed in respect to Cana before taking off with a verbal goodbye as well. They'd have to find another way to make money.
"Crazy Pirates." Cana muttered under her breath, taking another swig of her alcohol.
"Lucy! About time you showed up! I was almost done eating everything I ordered." Natsu cackled, some food spewing onto the table as he struggled to eat and talk at the same time. Lucy mindlessly sat down, wiping some chicken that had ended up on her shirt onto the floor. Her mind was still on Cana. How did she know they weren't what she had said they were? Was it that obvious?
"What's up?" Natsu's voice sounded, pushing a plate of something towards her. "Eat up, you've gotta be hungry by now."
"Natsu? How are we going to get off this island?" Lucy questioned a bit exasperated, picking up some chop sticks and politely placing whatever was placed in front of her into her mouth.
"...In a ship?"
Did Natsu seriously think that was what she was asking?
"No, that's not what I meant. I mean, where are we going to get a ship? I got some information about a guy named Tim who makes ships here but apparently he likes to overprice people…" Lucy explained, trying not to be too distracted by the mass amounts of food Natsu was consuming.
"That's fine, we can pay whatever." He said simply, nodding as if he agreed with himself.
"We don't have that kind of money; Cana said that the last ship that left here cost the owner 13 million." Lucy growled, she knew he wouldn't understand it.
"13 million? Yeah, we don't have that." Obviously. "Hmm, I guess we will have to work for it."
"Aren't you worried at all? What if the government catches us?" Lucy could barely hear her hushed whisper but she knew Natsu would hear it with his good hearing.
"Hm." Natsu finally stopped eating. "Well, let's not jump to conclusions now; let's see how much the ship is going to cost us. Maybe we will get lucky and it'll be cheaper than the last one?"
Lucy openly gaped along with Natsu. They had spent the last hours getting directions to this guy's house so they could as him. The town was rather large and the two of them had gotten lost along the way more than once. To be told 30 million after all of that…was just preposterous. He was a rather large man, muscles clearly from building ships over the years. Tim was tanned, black hair slicked back. Honestly he would have been rather attractive had his high and mighty attitude not been oozing off of him in heaps.
"30 million! That's insane!" Lucy screeched.
"We will give you 1 million for it."
Natsu's voice was followed by utter silence.
"What are you stupid? That's not how haggling works son." Tim cocked an eyebrow at Natsu.
Lucy gave another sigh, seemed like she was doing a lot of sighing today. Did he actually believe that would work?
"The last ship that left here only cost 10 million." Lucy stated.
"That last ship was half the size of what you need. Hey, if you don't like the price go to another ship wright." The man finished with a long smirk across his lips. He knew damn well there were no other ship wrights in town.
"You know, your attitude is awful for business." Lucy scowled at the man.
"Business is business. Not many people come by here, I gotta make a living too."
"Maybe if you were kind and great at your job people from all around would come to you." Lucy stomped her foot an turned towards the door, a sign to let Natsu know they were leaving. "And 30 million is too high to just to make a living!" She shouted behind her.
He followed her quietly, seeming to be thinking about something.
"Now what are we going to do Natsu! 30 million doesn't just fall from the sky you know! We are risking our lives by staying here for too long! Even a week is pushing it!" Lucy hissed at him, stomping harder than needed on the cobblestone path. The town was actually quite beautiful, Lucy would have been admiring it if she wasn't in such a stressed out state. The paths were all a solid cobblestone, a pale yellow, all the houses matched as well. Darker colored stone buildings only ever reaching up to two stories at best. It had a homey feeling that Lucy had not really experienced before. Too bad she was desperate to get out of the place; she may have really enjoyed it here.
"Well, we can work for it. If we get all the guys out on the farms surrounding this place I'm sure we could get out of here in like…a month?" Natsu muttered, walking beside her as he scratched his hooded head as he tried to do the math.
Lucy immediately knew the math was wrong, with the living expenses for the whole crew it would be four months in the least. Even if they lived out in the forest and survive off of it. Four months too long.
Lucy stopped her angry stomping. There was one way to make money fast.
"Ratchin." The name escaped her lips and her skin crawled.
"What about a rat chin?"
"No, I couldn't possibly! I mean…no. No way! But it could save our lives! Is it really worth it? No, I can't do that. But it's for the best…no…yes? Dammit!" She cursed, her eyes finding the palace, it was obvious and stuck out above the trees past the town. Through the opposite side of town and across a few fields and farms.
"You're acting kind of weird…" Natsu's voice brought her back to reality, his face close to hers as he studied her. Jerking back a few steps she muttered something about personal space and dragged her feet towards the hill.
"I guess if it's for the crew…" This was a desperate situation.
"What are you talking about?"
"I know how we can get the money." Lucy muttered, somewhat disgusted with herself now that she was giving in. She was going to have to show some skin…what would Natsu think of her? Would he be mad at her or would he be happy since they had the money to get out of here?
Wait…how much money would she get out of this? If it wasn't for the whole 30 million then she wasn't so sure she wanted to do it. But…she had to at least try right? What kind of person would give away 30 million to strangers…for only skin? Her inner turmoil was apparent on her face as she struggled to put one foot in front of the other, trying to hold onto the time she had before she did this…despicable act. She wasn't going to sleep with him. No way. But she might as well see how much money she could get by flashing a little something.
"Yo, hello? Luuuucy? You still in there? How can we get the money?"
Her gaze was finally averted to her Captain walking beside her, staring at her as she muttered incoherently to herself. He wore the same black toque as usual, the jacket and pants she had first seen him in. The one armed sleeve showing off one of his arms.
And rightfully so. It deserved to be showed off. Lucy shook her head, trying to plan ahead to what was going to happen. It was no time to appreciate muscles.
"You'll…you'll see. Just…try not to freak out, okay?" She mumbled, already unhappy.
His expression changed obviously with his thoughts, going from wonderment of what crazy thing she was going to do to a dark and serious face.
"What are you going to do?"
"Natsu, I said you'll see okay? So just wait…" She increased her pace trying to get out of his intense stare. Of course his hand grabbed her arm and spun her around.
"Tell me. Now. Captain's orders." A mischievous glint flashed in his eyes as he abused his Captains abilities, successfully making Lucy narrow her eyes in annoyance.
"I can't believe someone as childish as you is actually a Captain."
"That's what you signed up for once you because part of the crew."
"I'm…I'm just going to ask the rich guy up in the tower for some money." Lucy said, ignoring the fact she had just told him a half truth…but she still wasn't lying.
"Oh? Really? You think he'd just give us some money?" His voice wasn't condescending, he was actually curious.
"Uh, yeah. Cana, the girl from the bar, said that he gives money out sometimes…" To certain people…
"Oh cool, okay then let's go!" Natsu smiled, grabbing her hand and trudging off towards the palace at a rather alarmingly fast rate.
Lucy was surprised she didn't fall flat on her face as she picked up her feet to try to keep up. She had always thought that holding a guy's hand would be more…romantic than this. Or some romanticism involved at all.
Then she realized they were getting closer to the palace and quick. Her heart beat started to quicken out of fear and embarrassment. Cana seemed nice, she wouldn't have sent her up to a creep right?
It would be reassuring to have Natsu there though, if something went wrong.
Eventually Natsu slowed once he realized Lucy had started to huff and puff. He said something about working on aerobics and stamina later and walked with her. To her disappointment he dropped her hand after a few moments.
She just liked the feeling, that's all.
Lucy busied herself with her surroundings.
She honestly couldn't believe how calming it was here. They were outside the town now, travelling along a dirt path that weaved between the farms. There were a few cows grazing here and there, along with some sheep, horses, pigs, chickens. Anything that could be on a farm, you name it, was out here. The grass was a vibrant green, flowers bloomed along the path and the sun was warm on their backs.
This was nothing like her home island, dark and covered in soot from the factories. Her palace was the only thing that stood out amongst the dirt and grime. A large white spot in the middle of grey. A large pile of money that shouldn't have been kept up for one greedy man, a large pile of money that should have been distributed to the people.
It was a large pile of blood money. People died because of that money, including her mother. This place made it seem like her island, her past, was on a whole different world.
You know, ignoring the fact she was going to be acting like a prostitute within the next hour Lucy was really enjoying the island. Walking beside Natsu was nice too; he'd point to certain things like plants and tell her the names of them. His description of the plants and animals were usually based on if they were edible or not.
He had a lot more information on the ones you could eat, probably because he lost interest on the others once he heard they were edible.
"See and this one is like that purple plant near that one fork in the road, you know, the Itham? That one is poisonous but this one isn't, though it looks the same. This one has little yellow spots if you look closely…see?" He held the uprooted plant up close to her face and when she squinted she did indeed see very small specks of yellow, with a smile she nodded.
"This is called Yagmir, it holds water in its stem. If you snap it on the bottom you can drink it…here." Turning the plant upside down Natsu snapped the bottom off and handed it over to her. She took it, somewhat skeptically and looked down the plant's stem. The stem itself was about 2 inches in diameter and about a foot long, it clearly held a lot of water.
"Go ahead!" Natsu smirked at her, continuing his walking pace.
She put the stem to her lips and poured the liquid down her throat.
"Delicious!" She piped, surprised how cold and sweet the water was.
"I know, remember that one for sure, it's a pretty common plant. It's really good when you're stranded and need water. They grow pretty quick too, within three days or somethin'." Natsu explained his eyes trained on other plants as he walked by.
Lucy drank the rest of the water from the plant, savouring the sweet flavour. When she was done she stared down at the plant in her hands. Without even thinking she automatically launched it ahead straight into the back of Natsu's head. Honestly, she had no idea why she did it but the look on his face when he turned around was well worth it. An expression of shock and wonderment at her actions, but soon her heart froze when his lips quirked up into a dangerous smile.
"No! Don't do it! Whatever you're thinking of doing don't!" She shouted, already backpedaling.
"Oh, I have no idea what you're talking about Lucy." He practically hissed her name, the smirk never leaving his face.
"We don't have time for this! We have to go get the money so we can leave." Lucy decided, trying to put some kind of authority into her voice.
Natsu simply bent down and picked up the plant, when he looked down at it his smile fell.
Oh god, that was never a good sign.
"I…I think I mixed them up Luce…" Natsu was suddenly wide eyed as he stared back at her.
"I think you drank the poisonous one."
Her own breathing hitched in her lungs. The wrong one? Her stomach had been feeling kind of funny; her chest had begun to feel a little heavier.
How could he mix them up? Was she going to die?
Something smacked her right in the middle of the face; it stayed there for a few seconds as if to add dramatic effect and then plopped into her hands. It was the plant she had thrown at Natsu.
And he was all but rolling on the ground laughing now.
"Gotcha!" He cackled. "Did you know you totally zone out sometimes when you think! It's hilarious!"
Lucy bit her lip, a little hurt…relieved but still. That had honestly scared her a little. She huffed, throwing the plant into the dirt and trudged past him.
"Oh come on Luce that was just a joke!" He laughed, stepping wide to catch up with her.
"No, jokes are supposed to be funny to both sides. That most certainly was not." Lucy snapped, refusing to look at him now.
"Well, if you let up a little maybe it would've been funny to you."
"What is funny about dying?"
Natsu stumbled a bit at her words but recovered quickly, stepping in front of her and halting her mini rampage.
"Do you honestly think that I would give you anything to eat that was possibly poisonous? I would never put your life in danger."
At his seriousness Lucy cracked a smile.
"Says the one who helped me become a pirate…that's just safety in a bottle right there."
"Well, it was either that or you stay with your father who was just as dangerous if not more." Natsu rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. "I thought it was the better option."
"It was Natsu, more than you know." Lucy smiled brightly up at him, turned and continued walking. He seemed rather taken aback by her words but soon followed behind her a small smile on his face.
Eventually they reached the exaggerated large doors of the palace. Natsu banged on the door obnoxiously; Lucy found it hard to breath. She wasn't ready for this! Before she could turn around and high tail it out of there the door opened. A tall older gentleman in a suit looked at them.
"Hello sir, we were wondering if Mr. Ratchin was available to see us right now?" Lucy asked politely, her old princess qualities kicking in.
"I'm afraid the master is busy at the moment." The man spoke again, some kind of accent coming out.
"Please sir, could you ask him if he would see us? If only for a moment? It was a dreadfully long walk up here." Lucy continued, the level of sweetness in her voice felt like it could give her cavities. She even waved a hand towards her face for dramatics.
"Very well, please come in. Have a seat." The man opened the door, arm swinging out to show them the couches in the rather large waiting room.
The man took off and Lucy and Natsu sat down. Immediately Natsu turned towards her.
"What the hell was that?"
"What?" She responded confused about the weird look she was giving him.
"That whole 'sir' and 'please' and little miss oh so sweet thing you just did?"
"That is how I was taught to act around those of high status Natsu, that's how I was expected to act at all times. Just, let me do the talking." Lucy scoffed at him.
"It's really creepy." He stated, eyes wondering all around the room.
She rolled her eyes; yeah, she guessed it was a little creepy to those who weren't used to it. Though, Natsu probably thought the manners were the creepy part.
"This place is huge." Natsu awed at the high ceilings and gold plated furniture.
"Yeah, well…when people have a lot of money they like to buy a big house to show it off sometimes…" Lucy muttered. They had originally had their palace because they were royalty, but once her step father took over he had just used it for publicity and bragging rights. He stopped putting money out into the town and kept it all for himself. The town had been in shambles even before he did that.
"Well, this place is still pretty cool." Natsu chuckled, holding up a very intricately embroidered pillow.
"I think it just looks lonely." Lucy said before she could stop herself.
"Indeed, it is quite lonely. I'm sure one of such stature as yourself would be able to understand that. It is a pleasure to finally meet you Princess Heartfilia." A tall dark haired man took her hand. She had not even noticed he had come into the room. He politely kissed her hand in the same way Lucy had been greeted before in her princess days, apparently Natsu didn't appreciate it much as she heard something that resembled a growl come from him.
She realized he had actually used her name, he knew who she was.
"I assure you, I am princess no more. Not even a Heartfilia, the name only bears unhappy memories now." Lucy stated, taking her hand back. The man straightened a small smile on his lips.
"Of course, I had heard about your misfortune. I had also heard you had passed. Some unfortunate run in with pirates? Yet here you are, I am pleased to see you are in good health. If not in good company."
Natsu responded with a glare. Ratchin chuckled quietly.
"Forgive me; I have yet to introduce myself. I am Sir Ratchin, being a descendant of royalty myself I have indeed heard about you, if I may be so bold I had wished originally to eventually ask for your hand." Ratchin spoke softly, a smile still on his lips.
Lucy completely flushed, he was being bold. Probably a little too bold. She found it rather flattering that he had thought of her that way, he was a rather good looking guy himself. Tall, dark, and handsome. The typical storybook prince. He was clearly a few years older than her, no more than five years though. Ratchin's eyes were a vibrant green and he was well versed and trained in the etiquette of the royals.
As soon as he spoke those words she could feel the tension in the air, Natsu was awfully stiff beside her.
"Well, you heard her. She isn't a princess anymore so…" Natsu muttered defensively.
Lucy had to bite down on her lip to not smile. That was rich coming from Natsu, who still called her 'princess' on occasion.
"So what is it that brings you to my humble abode?" He asked, eyes flickering to Natsu as he scoffed at the word 'humble'.
"And who may you be young sir?" Ratchin finally turned to face Natsu, standing a good foot taller.
"Na-None of your business."
Lucy was shocked to say the least at Natsu's blatant display of rudeness but to her surprise Ratchin threw his head back and laughed. It echoed in the large room. If Natsu acted like…well himself they probably wouldn't get the money.
"Oh, feisty. Natsu Dragneel right? I had heard that the Fairy Tail Pirates had been spotted around the disappearance of Miss Heartfilia here. I figured you had been the culprit."
Natsu just growled in response.
"Oh come now, don't be so grumpy. What are a couple of pirates doing in my place? Not that it's really a bad thing." Ratchin asked. Lucy noticed how his speech had steadily gotten less formal when talking to Natsu.
"Well, that is troubling business.. we…" Lucy struggled to find the words to describe their situation.
"Our ship sank and we need money for a new one." Natsu said flat out, resulting in another bout of boisterous laughter from Ratchin.
"I like this guy, doesn't beat around the bush much."
"Um…Cana sent us. She said you would be able to help." Lucy piped up, forgetting about formalities, Ratchin wasn't really using them anymore. She assumed he was bored of them now or something. He was rather peculiar.
"Oh. Cana did did she? Then I'm sure she told you it comes with a price." Ratchin's mood slipped darker, more mysterious than before. Lucy didn't like this…one bit.
"Um…yes." She muttered, eyes staring at the floor.
"She did? When?" Natsu sputtered, trying to keep up with the conversation.
"I heard about Tim's latest offer for the boat, quite ridiculous but I can match it for a price. Well, let's get started then. Go when you're ready." Ratchin plopped into a chair a little ways away, facing the two guests.
Right here? Right in front of Natsu? This was so embarrassing.
She took a step forwards, her fingers brushing the hem of her shirt as she prepared to pull it off. Maybe she could do this quick like a band aid, before she could even get the hem past her belly button Ratchin spoke up.
"What are you doing? Not you. Him." Ratchin pointed towards Natsu.
She deadpanned, immediately releasing her shirt. What?
He wanted Natsu to?
"What?" Her brain finally spluttered out.
"I want him to strip."
"What!" Natsu's enraged yelled sounded behind her, causing her to jump slightly.
"Yeah, well just take your shirt off."Ratchin said, as if it was completely normal.
Lucy whirled around, surprised to see Natsu's face a little redder than normal as he stared at the other man. His eyes met hers and narrowed.
"You knew about this! Were you going to strip in front of him? Why the hell would you do that? What kind of sick bastard is he? Why wouldn't you tell me?" His questions came out so fast it sounded like he said all of them at once, his arms flailing in all directions with his words.
"Oh, the plot thickens!" Ratchin cackled as he watched the conversation, Natsu throwing out a loud 'Shut up' in his direction.
"Yes Natsu I knew. But you get it don't you? It was either this or we stay on the island for a while and we could be caught!"
"No, I don't get it. You lied to me."
"No actually I didn't. You never asked me if there was a price with it."
"You didn't ask that specific question."
"That's a form of lying!"
Lucy heaved out a big sigh. "Natsu, I wasn't going to stay on this island for a long time and risk getting caught."
"I wouldn't let you get caught; no one outside the crew even knows your part of the Fairy Tail pirates. You could just pretend to be a civilian and stay here."
"Your suggesting I say that I am not part of the crew if we get caught?"
"Yeah. You could just say we kidnapped you."
"Natsu, there is so many things wrong with that I don't even know where to begin."
"Well it's still better than stripping in front of a stranger! Was that the only thing you were going to do? What else were you going to do!"
"No. I was just going to show some skin Nat-"
"Show some skin! What the hell Lucy!"
She could tell that he was trying to keep his voice down but he was mad and was beginning to fail at it. He was steadily getting louder; Ratchin's chuckling was still managing to seep through Natsu's words though.
"I just wanted to save the crew."
Natsu faltered at that, he rubbed his face in exasperation.
"It's not your place to do that alone. Not without telling me all the details first so I can judge if it's a good plan or not. This was not a good plan and I would not have let you do it." Natsu sighed. Lucy stared at the ground. They still needed the money right? They really needed it.
"Well…now it's up to you." Lucy looked up at him, trying not to give away any expression. Maybe they could still do this. Maybe she could just convince him.
"You can't be serious."
"Natsu, I was willing to and I'm a woman. You taking your shirt off is a lot different." Lucy proposed, still not showing a single thing. Her poker face was on the verge of breaking though when she saw pink start to creep onto his face. This was a weird situation and honestly…she found it quite humorous. Trying to convince Natsu to strip for a guy. Who knows, maybe being a pirate is like this all the time. Suddenly it all make sense, that's why Cana had been wearing that smirk the whole time, and why she had insisted she brought along Natsu. Cana had known all along the sneaky little-
"There's no way Lucy. I wouldn't let you do this."
"Yeah, but I'd let you do this."
"That's awful. I can't believe you would put your Captain in this kind of a position."
"Okay, well I guess I'll go back and tell the crew that we couldn't get any money because their Captain refused to simply take his shirt off."
"When you put it that way it sounds stupid."
"This is stupid Natsu. Be a man and do it."
Natsu stared at her, bewildered of what she was asking him to do. His mouth hung agape for a few moments.
"I can't believe you are serious. You're really asking me to do this?"
"I'm asking you on behalf of the entire crew, to save your entire crew, yes."
Natsu's stare turned into a glare, holding for a full minute, trying to find some kind of leeway. Lucy didn't allow any. As soon as he abruptly turned around to face Ratchin her poker face broke down and a huge smile. Had she just convinced one of the most notorious pirate Captains to strip in front of a guy for money?
When he reached up to undo his shirt she realized she just had.
"We'd better get the full amount for this."
"Absolutely." Rachin muttered with a wink.
She could literally see Natsu shudder. Shaking his head the whole time in some kind of mini rebellion he undid his shirt and pulled it off. Lucy wondered what kind of facial expression he was wearing right now. Once the shirt was off he just let in fall to the floor in defeat. And there he stood half naked in front of the two of them, obviously he was tense and to his dismay it just made his muscles flex and stand out even more. She was pretty sure he was holding his breath too.
Her eyes bore into Ratchin the whole time, now she was torn between being angry at him for embarrassing the pirate Captain or thinking this whole situation was hilarious. She watched as Ratchin raised his hand and swung his index finger in a circle to indicate for Natsu to turn around in a full turn. At first Natsu shook his head in refusal but Ratchin gave him a look and did the action again.
Painfully, Natsu began to turn around, his gaze finding anything other than Lucy. She had to cover her smile with her hand. She had never seen his face so red before. Now she felt bad. Okay, not that bad.
Once he completed the little turn Ratchin stood up.
"Okay, now the pants."
"Just kidding! I'm just kidding! Geez." Ratchin laughed.
"Well, that was enjoyable. I'll be right back with your payment." With another wink towards Natsu he left the room.
The Captain's top was back on faster than Lucy could blink.
"You happy now?" Natsu growled at her whipping around to face her.
Her face was struggling to frown and smile at the same time. She felt bad for putting him through that but that obvious blush on his face was so endearing at the same time.
"Well…we did get the money." Lucy shrugged trying to see the bright side.
"I can't believe you made me do that."
"I didn't make you. I coaxed you into doing it yourself."
"Oh god, that's even worse." Natsu groaned, putting his face in his hands and plopping back down onto the couch.
"Just think of how happy the crew will be when they know that thanks to their Captain they will be getting off the island much faster?" Lucy gently sat down beside him. His head jolted up and he looked at her seriously.
"We are not telling them what happened here. This does not leave this room. That is an order, and you can't get around that, no half telling people the story either." Natsu said, a glare making the end of his sentence solid.
"Yeah, they would find it too hilarious."
"Lucy." He pleaded, looking at her with what she assumed was puppy eyes.
"I would never Natsu, I think you've been through enough by just doing it."
He groaned again and hid his face slumping back into the couch.
"I'm back!" Ratchin's voice sounded, a large briefcase in his grasp. Lucy stood up as he walked over to him, Natsu refused to even stand let alone look at the guy.
"Okay, so I will give you this on one more condition." Ratchin started, earning a very vicious glare from Natsu, who began to stand.
"Now hold on, this is an optional condition. You'll get the whole payment either way." Ratchin explained, shoving the briefcase over to Natsu, who took it greedily.
"I was wondering if you would investigate something for me. The ship is going to take at most 2 weeks to build, as long as your crew contributes. During that time I was hoping that you two could look around a bit. I know that we have Shipeaters just off the coast of our island; you are not the first ones to come asking for money for a new ship. Tim is taking advantage of the situation, being as greedy as he wants and seeing how much he can get out of me. I haven't given money to everyone who has come asking, but his plan is still succeeding. I need you to catch him red handed."
"Why don't you just get rid of the Shipeaters?" Lucy suggested.
"I have, but they just keep mysteriously reappearing. Someone is reintroducing them to the area around the island. They were supposed to be completely fished out for a reason. Someone has an endless supply of them though it seems and I need you to find out whom."
"Why don't you just do it?"
"It's hard enough for me to find time to walk around asking questions, I usually get hounded for money in town."
"So why not give it out? I'm sure people would appreciate it if you did it without a price." Natsu spat the last word.
"People are greedy, they will ask even if they don't actually need it. If I did that, I'd be the poor one. Just let me know what you find if you decide to look around. It would help the town out a lot; we are getting a bad name because of those fish. People are going to stop coming around and everyone will lose business." Ratchin explained.
"Except Tim…that's why he's asking for such high prices, he's hoarding the money for the inevitable! He'll be one of the few people with enough money to live comfortably when customers stop coming to the island!" Lucy said, it all made sense.
"Exactly. Well, thank you for the visit I'm sorry but I must excuse myself now. It was most enjoyable. Have a pleasant evening." Ratchin nodded politely, suddenly changing back into formalities.
Lucy turned towards the door, seeing Natsu already there. A desperate look on his face to leave.
"Thank-you sir for your…hospitality." She mused, feeling Natsu twitch at her words. Ratchin walked behind her to the door, placing a medium sized bag into her hand behind her back.
Nonchalantly she turned her head to him and whispered.
"What is this for?"
Once she was beside Natsu Ratchin opened the door, allowing the two to walk out.
"See ya."Ratchin laughed, moving quicker than she thought possible his hand swung out and landed a swift pat to Natsu's bottom who stumbled forward in surprise. Before he could even form a reaction the door was shut and she heard the clicks of many locks a loud cackle coming from the other side. They didn't move for a few moments. Natsu's fists clenched and she could see him practically vibrating out of anger. His poor face constantly changing from anger for disgust over and over.
Lucy could hardly believe that just happened. She held up the bag of what she thought were jewels of some sort. Well, that explained her question of what they were for. One last little treat for Ratchin. Natsu noticed the bag and stared at it like it had just grown a head.
It was obvious what it looked like…like Lucy had just sold him out again.
"Yes?" Ratchin replied to his butler, Agnus, politely.
"Mind explaining what all of that was?"
"You already know Agnus."
"Mind explaining to me again? I seem to fail to understand the concept still."
Ratchin turned with a smile on his face.
"Anyone can ask for money Agnus, but only the ones that truly need it are willing to do things that embarrass them horribly. Both of them care so much for their crew that they were willing to strip for me! I mean, did you see the look on that guy's face!" Ratchin cackled. "I've never seen someone so uncomfortable in my life! It was most enjoyable. Not only that but I want the Fairy Tail pirates back on the sea again. They've done good work and if I dare say, the government has become violent and riddled with a disgusting excuse for a form of leadership. If I can get them back on the sea to keep doing good then I certainly will."
"And the…quest sir?"
"I want to try to protect this town at least a little. They may not like me but that doesn't mean they all have to go out of business. I'll play my silent part to help."
"And the last part there, where you showed them the exit with a little bit of a…um…flare? I'm afraid for your reputation sir."
"I'm not gay, and being called gay isn't even tarnish to my reputation. I don't really find it all that insulting. That last part was just for laughs though. I gave her some little things from the vault, she was willing to strip in front of me, I felt awful. I hope she buys something nice with it for herself. I had always felt bad about her living in that Heartfilia estate, her step-father was a real douche."
"Sir, your language."
"Honestly I have no idea where you learned that language from."
"But he was one. Lucy has had a hard life; her mother was a saint, I was sad to hear her go. Though, I don't think she knows of what her mother was. Not many people did. I was one of the very few she told personally, she had trusted me for some reason. That was when I was a child however, Lucy was very young. I'm not surprised she does not remember me. I hope that she gets the little hint that I put in the bag for her." Ratchin's words slipped into a mumble as he begun to talk more so to himself.
"I'm glad to see she's happy now though. Anyway, we should get something to eat." He said once he came out of his brief stupor.
"Very well sir."
Natsu didn't turn around as they walked back. Clearly this was the 'silent' treatment. They had taken a quick peek into the briefcase and when they had seen everything in order they took off back to town. Natsu's pace a little faster so he walked ahead, absolutely refusing to talk or even look at her. At the moment Lucy didn't really mind, she was too busy looking through her little bag of goodies. Just because she wasn't a princess anymore doesn't mean that she couldn't appreciate treasure, plus she was a pirate now and that quality was shared among her crew.
There were a few high grade rubies, diamonds, emeralds and other various jewels and gold but something else caught her eye.
Instantly she withdrew it from the bag and stare at it intently. It was a key. Silver in color and it looked old, not rusty but something about it signified an age far beyond her own. The base of the key had a green cross on it, she wondered how it had stayed so green throughout it's years. Also, painted behind the cross was a white diamond. The blade of the key was almost sharp to the touch. The cross theme continued in the bottom of the key, the metal formed around the shape of a cross. Looking closer she noticed intricate swirls in the metal, whoever had forged this had given it a lot of detail.
What kind of door was this key for?
Her thoughts were interrupted as he foot struck an unusually large rock on the path. Of course she had not been watching where she had been walking. Her fingers gripped around the key protectively trying not to drop it when she hit the ground.
The ground never came, Natsu came quicker. It wasn't gentle but he grabbed her arm and dragged her out of her stumble and back to her feet all in one go. Her arm throbbed lightly under his grasp and she looked up at him. Surprisingly enough he didn't say anything but just gave her a look. That one 'look' made her feel awful. He obviously wasn't over what had happened at the palace yet. His mouth a firm straight line he stared at her for a few seconds before letting her go and continuing on. Lucy didn't follow, unconsciously putting the key into her pocket.
"Look…Natsu…I'm sorry okay? I'm sorry it turned out like that." She said, loud enough for him to hear.
"It's not just that that is buggin' me. I mean look!" He swiveled around holding out the briefcase. "What guy gives out 30 million to a guy to take his shirt off! 30 million!"
She tried to ignore the way his face turned red again.
"A really rich guy with a thing for pirates?" She muttered watching his mouth open and close silently in a fluster.
"No, even then, this is a ridiculous amount of money Luce."
She nodded, she didn't get it herself.
"Not only that but did you realize how long it took him to put all of this into a briefcase? Like 5 minutes. It takes longer than that to count up 30 million and put it in a briefcase Lucy, he knew we were coming."
Lucy was quite surprised at his observations, though she knew the answer to the second question. It was no question Cana's doing.
"Yeah that was probably the barmaid, she probably told Ratchin we were coming." Lucy stated.
"So that's where you got the whole stripping idea from?" Natsu inquired.
"Yeah, and you would've known sooner if you didn't leave me alone in a bar. Anyway, I think that Ratchin was just being generous because we really needed the money."
"Still, there is generous and then there is ridiculous."
"Well then we should make it up to him by doing that 'optional request' of his." Lucy decided.
"Yeah yeah, it's not the only thing that's bugging me…"
There was that weird look again.
"Well, what else is bugging you?" Lucy asked, slightly exasperated. He abruptly dropped the briefcase and stalked up to her.
"I would not have done that" He gestured back to the palace, "in a million years. Now tell me, how the hell you managed to convince me to in under five minutes?" Natsu huffed at her and she had to resist the urge to laugh.
"Oh, just because I am irresistibly convincing, and charming." She added cockily.
"Just…how the hell did you? How did you get me to do that?" He muttered ignoring her last comment.
The question held stagnant in the air for a few moments, he was obviously rather torn up about this that much was clear. Now she sighed.
"It's not that weird Natsu, seriously you had to for your team. Your team's life was on the line, you would've done anything for them so calm down." She muttered waving her hand in the air in an attempt to dismiss the conversation.
Apparently Natsu caught on because he started to walk forward again.
Lucy almost stumbled again, it was meant to be whispered just under his breath so she couldn't hear it but…with an opportune gust of wind it had carried it to her ears and she had heard it clearly.
"Then why do I have the feeling that if the crew wasn't involved I still would've done it for you?"
And there we are, I have finally finished another chapter. Please let me know what you thought.
There will be even mooore plot twists later so that'll be fun.
THANKYOU SO MUCH FOR ALL THE REVIEWS! Like wow guys, over 530 reviews *_* that's crazy. I'm glad you guys like it so much, hope you continue to like it ^^'
Someone mentioned, well asked, why aren't they talking like pirates? Well...like arg and stuff? I don't want to do a typical piratey thing to it. If they were really pirates they'd be raping and pillaging and stuff hahah. This is closer to the One Piece type of pirates, which is also a fantastic manga/anime which you should read.
I'm trying my best not to follow the exact feel of One Piece though...even if they still want to overrun the government in both haha buuuuut yeah.
I tried to get someone to edit my story but they haven't gotten back to me yet T.T so I just decided to try my best and update. Hopefully she will get back to me soon ^^
Thanks for reading!