DISCLAIMER: I do not own Fairy Tail.
This is a companion fic with Iris. There's no need for you to read Iris before you read this, since it's not a sequel, but I'd appreciate it if you read Iris anyways.
Gajeel knew Juvia was strong. After all, a weakling wouldn't have been able to take down both Sol and Totomaru in under five minutes.
He just hadn't expected her to be strong enough send him on his hands and knees, sporting an "X" shaped gash across his chest, and hacking gallons of water from his lungs, in the same amount of time.
The next day, Gajeel spotted yet another guild member harassing Juvia, and sent him flying out of the guild building. He caught a small smile on Juvia's face, and swore he felt the rain die down just a bit.
Gajeel never considered himself a pillar of support; if anything, he was the wrecking ball that smashed that pillar to pieces.
But on the night when the rain suddenly intensified and he found a blue haired woman drenched to the bone at his doorstep, he found himself becoming just that. He had dried her, clothed her, even offered to feed her, but Juvia had simply staggered into his bed without a word. So he did the same, intending to just give her the comfort of another. But when she pressed her back to his, and he felt her shoulders shake and heard her muffled sobs, he couldn't help but give her his touch as a form of consolation.
After all, seeing Juvia like that — too strong to openly sob, yet too weak to keep it all inside — reminded Gajeel of an empty field, a flap of the wind's wings, and the vanishing scent of iron scales.
It had been a simple mission — break into the hideout of a band of thieves, defeat them, turn them in. That was it. Simple.
But upon arrival at the hideout, Gajeel and Juvia realized that they couldn't get into the thieves' hideout without busting the metal door. Gajeel had been more than happy to do the honours, and had smashed an iron rod into the door with enough force that it had shattered, sending shrapnel flying everywhere. A piece had gotten lodged in Juvia's side, but for the sake of the mission, she hadn't told him.
Instead, she had followed him around the hideout for thirty minutes, attacking every thief they had encountered. Gajeel loved missions like this, since he was pretty much beating people up for the entire duration. Gajeel also loved taking his sweet time, preferring to gloat about his power before bashing his victim's face in. And in his fight-induced frenzy, Gajeel hadn't seen Juvia's pale face, or smelled the dangerous amount of blood she was losing.
It was only after he had defeated the ringleader, bound him to the roof of their hideout, and rubbed his victory into the criminal's face, did he realize that Juvia was being awfully quiet. He had turned to ask her what was wrong, and found her slumped against a wall, her torso a bloody mess, and her breathing short and pained. He had rushed to her side and ripped her shirt, then hissed in anger when he saw the metal embedded in her flesh.
He had worked on extracting the shrapnel right away, anger dispelling as he changed his right hand into pliers and clamped down on the metal. On his first tug, Juvia whimpered and groped blindly for something to grip. Gajeel had nudged her right hand with his left, and Juvia had grabbed it quickly. Gajeel pulled on the metal again, and he could feel the bones in his hand crush against each other when Juvia gasped in pain. He shifted so that she could rest her head on his shoulder, and moved the metal again. Juvia had tightened her grip on his hand, and her whole body shuddered in what Gajeel realized was a muffled scream. He gnashed his teeth together and continued.
Twenty minutes later, the shrapnel was finally extracted, and Juvia had passed out from exhaustion. Gajeel had picked her up delicately and carried her outside, relieved that she was okay, but what he saw at the exit made him break into a cold sweat.
It wasn't raining outside.
Gajeel had almost dropped her in shock.
Two days and multiple rolls of bandages later, Gajeel had yelled at Juvia for not telling him about her wound sooner. Juvia had smiled and said that she would've slowed them down, and Gajeel had intentionally prodded her bandages as punishment, before kissing her palm and telling her, voice shakier than he would have liked, that seeing the clear sky had brought him the closest to tears since Metalicana had left all those years ago.
Juvia had touched the side of his face with a melancholy smile, and he turned to kiss her palm again. No more words were exchanged between them, but from the very beginning, their relationship was more touch-based than word-based, anyways.
Fairy Tail was Juvia's savior. They took her in, forgave her sins, and, most importantly, took away her rain. Gajeel had followed her around for a few days, just to make sure that she would be fine. She had caught him one day, and approached him.
She talked about the fun she was having at Fairy Tail. She provided unnecessary explanations for her infatuation with "Gray-sama", and muttered darkly about her "love rival". She had then knelt beside him on the ground, and placed an iris made of iron — his iron — in his hand. He looked up to see a small smile, and Juvia's touch lingered for a second more before she stood and skipped away.
Gajeel had always been a prideful man. But he had come to Fairy Tail for redemption, and that was more important to him than his shoddy manly pride. So he had allowed himself to take the blows from Shadow Gear's males, and had even shielded the tiny bluenette from that Lightning guy's magic. In the end, however, he had only succeeded in getting himself fried by lighting.
He went to Fairy Tail, seeking the company of the one person that understood him. He knew Juvia was on a mission, but she had left early in the morning, and the mission was fairly simple, so...
He was both relieved and angry when he stepped into the guild and heard the sudden pounding of rain in the roof. He had snapped at Juvia to stop crying, and was promptly ushered into the medical wing. He heard the door close from his spot on a bed a minute later, and turned to find a teary eyed Juvia at the door. She had wiped her tears away when she noticed his stare, and began readying medical supplies. He had hissed when she applied antiseptic on his wounds, not caring that he was showing weakness because it was Juvia tending his wounds. The Water Mage gave a soft harrumph and applied pressure, making Gajeel flinch and swat her arm.
The treatment was continued with care and in silence. Halfway through, however, Gajeel broke the silence by mumbling something that made Juvia's shoulders tense. The Water Mage had lifted a hand to touch the side Gajeel's face, and the male had returned the gesture with one that had become so natural between them: a kiss on the palm. He had reached up to wipe the tears from her face, then moved his hand to a place on her side where a faint scar was covered by clothing. Juvia touched his hand, wiped her damp cheeks, and resumed treatment without another word.
It might've been the wind, the faint scent of metal, the stretch of green around him, or simply because being a part of Fairy Tail had made him so damn soft, but whatever the reason, Gajeel couldn't stop the tears that leaked from his eyes on the seventh of July. He twitched when he caught the scent of another person in the forest, but quickly relaxed when he realized who it was. He did, however, dry his eyes and make it so that he looked like he was doing anything but crying.
He didn't turn when he heard someone settle beside him, didn't react when he felt the body of another lean towards him. But he did flinch when she touched the side of his face. Gajeel had responded by lifting her hand and kissing her palm, but Juvia shook her head and retracted her hand.
She then moved so that she was between his legs and as close to him as possible, and pulled him into a hug. She touched his hair and kissed his ear, and Gajeel choked up and managed to withhold his feelings for a second more before the dam broke and hot tears spilled from his eyes. He dropped his head onto her shoulder and gripped the back of her shirt, and Juvia smiled and stroked his back.
The only sound the two of them shared was the occasional sob from Gajeel and the rustle of leaves on the trees. After all, to them, words were mere trivialities.
A kiss on the palm represents ultimate respect. Since Juvia had beaten Gajeel in a fight, I figured that Gajeel would respect her for being able to do so. I know that a kiss on the back the hand/knuckles also means respect, but that kind of kiss is used more in greeting and formality.
I absolutely adore the relationship that Gajeel and Juvia have. I found it interesting that Juvia called Gajeel "Gajeel-kun", since "kun" is usually used for someone that you're closer to. Their relationship was never covered in the manga, so the reasons behind this choice of honourific are endless.
Thanks for reading!