AN: This will be a multi-chaptered, easygoing thing with lots and lots of shameless fluff and Gajeel/Levy cuteness. Linguist nerds, unite!
Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail – Hiro Mashima does.
by Miss Mungoe
"(to) stalk": verb. If you stalk a person or a wild animal, you follow them quietly in order to kill them, catch them, or observe them carefully.
"You're a stalker, you know that?"
Ignoring the Exceed, the iron dragonslayer kept on walking. Although 'sneaking' would probably be more accurate, but who the hell cared about semantics, anyway?
"And you're good at it, too, which is...kind of disturbing. Do you do this often?"
Getting no reply, Pantherlily aimed a sharp poke to the man's leg, as that was as far as he could reach from his current position by the man's feet. "Oye. Gajeel. Do you mind telling me what you're doing?"
"Do you mind yelling any louder?"
Lily frowned, crossing his arms over his chest, and a moment of silence passed between them as they walked on down the shadowed alley running adjacent to the main street. The street in which a certain bookworm was strolling down, casually oblivious and with her nose rooted in a paperback novel.
"You know, it would be a lot easier to just, oh, I don't know, ask to walk her home? Like a normal person?"
"I don't do that kind of sissy shit."
"But stalking young girls in dark alleys is completely alright?"
Lily snorted. "At least be honest about it."
"I ain't a damn stalker," Gajeel growled, to which Lily rolled his eyes.
"You are aware of the definition of the word?"
"Juvia is a stalker."
"Juvia is honest about it."
Ignoring his partner, the dragonslayer trudged on down the darkened side-street, keeping within sight of the little mage walking a few feet to their right.
"She really should let someone walk her home, though – it's a miracle she notices where she's putting her feet, let alone in which direction she's going," Lily murmured as he watched the script mage make her way down the street. "I wonder why those boys of hers even let her – the way they're at her heels the rest of the day, you'd think they'd at least have the sense to walk her home."
Gajeel grumbled softly, "Wouldn't be much protection, anyway, useless shits."
Lily's frowned, but said nothing. A heavy silence settled between them as they continued their stealthy trek. Gajeel didn't speak – he didn't particularly want to explain himself, least of all at such an bloody inopportune moment. 'Chatting' and 'stealth' didn't exactly go hand-in-hand.
"You have an odd way of showing it, you know."
Turning his head slightly at his cat's remark, Gajeel frowned. "What?"
Lily smirked, a knowing smile on his face. "That you care."
He scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest. "Right."
"Hey, I'm not the crazy stalker. I just tagged along to see what you were up to – you're the one without the guts to walk her home."
"I am walking her home."
"Yes, I can see that. She can't, though, which is what makes it so creepy."
"If you compare me to Juvia again..."
Lily shrugged. "Maybe you should swap notes?"
"Har har har."
"I am actually finding this extremely amusing," Lily remarked. "I mean, I used to think humans were weird, but you dragonslayers are in a class of your own."
"Says the talking cat with the changeable wings."
"Says the guy who wanted a talking cat with changeable wings so bad he cried."
Lily grinned. "What, no comeback?"
Gajeel shrugged. "What? I wanted a cat, didn't I?"
The Exceed said nothing to that – only shook his head with a smirk.
Gajeel ignored him.
"I'm assuming you're going to follow her all the way to Fairy Hills?"
Gajeel grunted his consent. Lily snorted.
"Well, if that's the case, I'm going to bed. Have fun lurking like a creeper."
Waving him off, Gajeel continued on down the alley as Lily took off towards the flat he shared with the dragonslayer. Knowing his cat wouldn't hold his off-handedness against him, the dragonslayer kept his eyes on the tiny woman making her way towards the girls' dormitory.
She'd made it an odd habit of walking home alone the past few days, opting to stay at the guild longer than she usually did, insisting to her accessories she'd walk home with one of the girls but always ending up going alone anyway, although he couldn't fathom why she'd do something so glaringly stupid, knowing perfectly well what could be hiding in the dark corners of Magnolia.
So he'd been forced to follow. Well, not follow, per se. Just...conveniently walk in the same direction. Through the adjacent alleyways. In the shadows.
Alright, so maybe Lily was right and he was acting like a creeper, but when she insisted on walking home on her own in the middle of the friggin' night, what was he supposed to do? He knew what could happen to idiots who walked alone at night, but apparently, she had forgotten. Or maybe she'd gotten too confident. Either way, she was an idiot. An idiot who clearly needed backup. But as he'd told Lily, he didn't do sissy shit like asking to walk girls home. Did he look like a pansy? He wasn't that lecher of a stellar spirit the bunny girl couldn't control for the life of her, either, or one of the bookworm's fashion-disabled accessories who'd jump at the opportunity to escort her.
But that didn't mean he couldn't make sure she got home safe.
And so he followed silently, walking casually at a small distance and out of sight. Stealth was hardly necessary – with her nose stuck in a book, she'd have a hard time noticing an earthquake, let alone that she was being shadowed.
As they neared dormitory, he slipped quietly out of sight and into the greenery surrounding the building. Even though the shrimp hadn't noticed him didn't mean Titania wouldn't – the woman had eyes like a hawk, and from what he'd heard at the guild, had little mercy to spare for men foolish enough to approach Fairy Hills after hours.
And as much as Gajeel wanted to fight the chick, he wasn't a complete idiot.
Noticing she was as good as at the entrance, he turned on his heel to walk back the way he had come when her voice stopped him.
She'd turned around, and was looking into the bushes with a small smile on her face. "For following me home," she added.
He didn't say anything, but she crossed her arms over her chest, sticking her hip out in the way she had a habit of doing whenever she thought he was bullshitting her.
He came out of his hiding place, trying – and failing – to ignore the curiosity wanting to know how the hell she'd caught on. She usually wasn't very perceptive, and even less so when she was reading. "I wasn't following."
She grinned. "Of course not. How silly of me."
He crossed his arms over his chest, regarding her closely, and a moment of silence passed between them before he spoke, "You of all people should know better than to walk alone at night."
She smirked, eyes twinkling as though at some inside joke. "With you watching my back, I don't think I've got much to fear."
"And who says I was watching your back?"
She raised a brow. "The distinct lack of drunk creepers I usually meet on my way home, for one."
He shrugged. "Coincidence." A small dose of killer intent did wonders sometimes, even on drunkards.
"It ain't a joke, Levy. You should pay attention to what you're doing – yer about as perceptive as a bag of rice."
She raised a brow at that – no doubt finding his out-of-place simile, well, out of place. A small smile tugged at her lips. "I'm not perceptive?"
He sent her a look telling her what he thought about that question. She grinned, and he got the distinct feeling he was on the receiving end of another inside joke. "What are you grinning about?" he asked, brows furrowing as he took in her not-quite-so-innocent smile. She shook her head.
"It's just funny that you should say that – when you're not even aware that I've been attempting to get you to walk me home for the past week."
He...had absolutely nothing to retort to that, he found, standing before her as she shyly smiled up at him. As though she hadn't just admitted to trying to manipulate him. To having succeeded in manipulating him, in fact, and if he hadn't been so damn surprised, he might have taken offence.
She grinned. "Cat got your tongue?"
Gathering his wits, Gajeel snorted, and a grin tugged at his lips. "A shrimp, actually."
"Must be a clever shrimp."
"The cleverest," he retorted. "And the shortest."
She stuck out her tongue playfully, and a moment of comfortable silence passed between them where they stood outside the quiet dormitory. After a pause, Levy inhaled deeply.
"So," she said, biting down on her lip.
He raised a brow. "So?"
She shrugged. "My plan didn't go as I'd...well, planned it to."
Gajeel regarded her closely for a moment, her hands fiddling with the hem of her shirt, as though she'd lost all her nerve. A smirk tugged his lips apart. "I wouldn't say that. I walked you home, didn't I?"
"More like stalked me home."
She smiled. "Big word. I'm impressed."
His grin was devilish. "And a little turned on?"
"Don't lie, Shorty. You like it when I talk nerdy."
She flushed, and he almost laughed at the reaction. She huffed softly, tucking a strand of blue hair behind her ear. "Alright."
His brows raised at that. "Alright what?"
She shrugged, averting her gaze to her shoes. "And what if I said I liked it?"
Gajeel grinned. "Then I might have to go find a thesaurus."
She blushed, pursing her lips. "You better not be mocking me, Gajeel Redfox."
"Even if you're hella easy to tease?"
"Especially if," she retorted, crossing her arms over his chest. He smirked, sneaking a glance up at the dormitory windows facing them, confirming the suspicion that had nagged at his mind for the past five minutes.
"I was led to believe Titania didn't go easy on guys outside the dormitory at night."
Levy frowned. "She doesn't."
He raised a brow. "She's been watching us for the past five minutes."
She blushed fiercely at that, and for the second time in the past hour, Gajeel felt he was at the receiving end of another joke. Levy sneaked a glance up at the building, a soft whine escaping her as she no doubt caught the now obvious flicker of red in one of the upper windows. Gajeel smirked.
"She expecting a show?" The look the little mage gave him was priceless, and he laughed. "Kidding, Shorty. Don't lose yer head."
She pouted, crossing her arms over her chest, her gaze flickering uneasily to the building behind her even as she tried to focus on him. Gajeel grinned wickedly as a sudden thought struck him.
Well, if Titania wasn't going to kill him for it...
Stepping up to the little mage, making her yelp in surprise at his sudden move, he caught her chin with his fingers, tilting her head to make up for their gap in height as he covered her mouth with his.
It was a completely spontaneous move – he hadn't planned anything of the sort when he'd followed her out of the guild, after all. And he wasn't going to lie – he had, maybe, wanted to see how the redhead would react – if she would come storming out, swords raised and ready to skewer him. Or hand him a free meal. But when Levy damn near melted against him with a small mewl that had his wilder nature growling with unexpected appreciation, Gajeel found all thoughts of pissing off the sword chick fleeing his mind, replaced with the intoxicating sweet scent of the tiny mage before him. He grinned against her lips at her eager reaction. It looked as though his stalking hadn't even phased her, and even if he was reluctant to call it by that particular definition, he revelled in the small victory that he was doing a much better job at it than Juvia ever had.
After all, he had a pretty little bookworm in his arms.
Pulling away, he released her chin, putting his hand on her head and letting his fingers tangle in her hair as he gave it what was now his trademark ruffle. The blush on her cheeks was vibrant against the blue of her hair, and he grinned at the sight.
She blinked, and her flush deepened. "Interesting?" she asked – or more like squeaked, when he suddenly leaned in close.
"Let's repeat that sometime we don't have an audience," he suggested, canines flashing in a wicked grin as she blushed even redder.
"Go to sleep, Shorty."
Ruffling her hair once more for extra measure, he turned to leave, choosing not to look up at the windows of the dormitory where he could now sense the presence of more than Titania's metal-tinged scent. He was halfway down the road from her when her voice reached his ears again.
"Warn a girl next time!"
He could only grin.
AN: I love Juvia. Gotta give the girl credit for dedication.