The next chapter is one of my favorites, since it's one of my favorite NaLu moments that I've written. I'm flying home, so I'll try my best to have the next chapter up on Monday, but since the flight from Japan to America is really long...we'll see how it is. Please remember to review!

Chapter 16

Erza's glare was enough to turn anyone to stone. Arms crossed and armor gleaming, she stared down at the man at her feet. Lucy had tied the purse snatcher up and Natsu had dragged him all the way back to the ryokan. Close to the mountains, just on the outskirts of town, the large traditional Japanese-style ryokan towered behind her. Juvia and Gray were nowhere in sight. The thief sat trembling at Erza's feet. And though his face was so swollen that he could hardly open his eyes, the slim sight of Erza made him quake in fear.

"Good job, you two," she said, glancing up at Natsu and Lucy.

"I was there too!" Happy cried.

"It was more of a coincidence, really." Lucy hooked a lock of hair behind her ear. "We were just passing by when someone's purse was stolen."

"Either way, it makes things more convenient. But Natsu, you didn't need to beat him up this much."

"Look who's talking!" he shouted.

"Let's get this started, shall we?" Erza dragged the man behind her. "You're going to talk whether you like it or not. So I suggest you don't make it hard on yourself."

Lucy and Natsu followed her inside. Because of their limited funding, she had only been able to rent out one room for the five of them. Erza led them to a room toward the back of the ryokan. She opened the door and tossed the man inside. Natsu sat on the floor by the sliding door and Lucy sat at the low table. Erza stalked over to the thief.

"Now then." She stood over the thief and glared down at him. "Where is the Night Hawk Gang's hideout."

"I'll neber tell bou beoble!"

Erza punched him hard. Natsu heard the man's nose crack. Erza could be even more ruthless than he could! That was one of the reasons she was so scary. Refuse to comply immediately and you were in a world of hurt! Blood dripped from the man's nose. He lay shaking in fear on the floor.

"I'm sorry," Erza said. "I don't think I heard you."

"I-I-I'b sowy…I'll dalk. I'll dalk."

"Go on."

"Our leader, Iban, he sed up our base in dis run-down old ware'ouse," he said. "I don' know dat much. I swear!"

"Where's the warehouse."

"Down by da port. Dock numba seben."

"We know where they are now, so let's just go beat 'em up!" Natsu said, cracking his knuckles.

"Not just yet." Erza glanced at him. "Once Juvia and Gray come back, we'll head out."

"Who needs to wait for them?"

"Otherwise they won't get part of the reward," Lucy said with a sigh. "But it won't be all that much. This job was worth only 50,000 Jewels."

"And the purpose was to get you two to work together." Erza shot him a pointed look. "Or did you forget?"

"W-we work together just great!" Natsu stuttered.

"Anyway, just drop this man off at the police station, will you Natsu?"

"Why me?"

She glared at him. "Because I told you too."

He growled, but stood up obediently. "Fine." Grabbing the man by his shirt, he dragged him toward the door. "C'mon, deadweight, let's go."

V* V* V* V* V* V* V* V* V* V* V* V* V*

By the time Natsu returned to the ryokan, Gray and Juvia had already returned. Juvia clung to Gray's arm. They were all standing outside waiting for him. Erza looked up as Natsu approached.

"Good, you're back," she said.

Gray smirked. "Took you long enough."

"Shut up!" Natsu growled. "Where were you, huh? We coulda been kicking ass by now!"

"Juvia and Gray-sama went out for lunch!" Juvia cooed.

"Now that everyone's here, let's get going." Erza started off down the street.

"Wait up, Erza!" Lucy called, racing after her.

Because the port was rather far from the ryokan, it took them a while to reach the ocean. The closer they got, the saltier the air became. The warehouses that lined the wharf were enormous. Most of them were still in use, but a few of them were rather run-down looking. The warehouses were used to store all the types of boats that came in to dock at the port town. They ranged from small one-man dingies to cruise ship size boats. As they walked along the wharf, Natsu spotted the abandoned warehouse.

"There it is! Number seven!"

"Good," Gray said. "Now we can get this stupid job over with."

"I'm all fired up!" Natsu shouted, charging headfirst toward the door.

"Natsu, hold on!" Lucy cried. "Wait for us!"

Running at top speed, Natsu kicked in the door. The door splintered and woodchips flew everywhere. A group of nasty looking thugs looked up as he came crashing in. Many of them had tattoos or piercings. To the average citizen they would appear very frightening.

"Who the hell're you?" one of them shouted.

"The guy who's gonna kick your ass." Natsu grinned.

"The hell?" The gang members snatched up their weapons or anything they had at hand. "What's with this guy?"

Erza walked through the door calmly. "Just don't get too carried away, Natsu."

"You got it!" Natsu took a deep breath and cupped his hands around his mouth. "Fire Dragon's Roar!" Flames shot out of his mouth.

Lucy snatched her keys. "Open a door to the gate of the golden bull—Taurus!"

A black and white spotted bull appeared. "MOOOO! I'll protect Lucy-san's boobs!"

"Hey now," Gray said. "Don't hog all the fun." He slammed his fist against his open palm."Ice Make: Hammer!" A large hammer made out of ice crystallized above the heads of the gang members and slammed down on them.

Juvia sighed and blushed. "Gray-sama, you look so wonderful when you use your ice magic."

"They're all mages! Run for it!"

The men screamed in terror as wave after wave of magic came at them. Taurus rampaged through the group, swinging his giant axe as he went. Combined with Natsu's fire attacks and Gray's ice magic, there was nowhere left for the men to run. Erza strode calmly to the other room as the fight erupted around her. Debris flew everywhere. Crates shot across the room with the force of the mages' magic attacks. And soon there wasn't a single man left standing.

"Alright!" Lucy high-fived Happy. "Another job well done!"

"Aye!"

"Lucy-san!" Taurus called. "You were as sexy as ever! MOOOO!"

Natsu tossed another unconscious man onto the pile he had made. "But man, I was hoping they'd put up more of a fight." He glanced at Gray, grinning. "I got thirty-two! How many'd you get?"

"Thirty." Gray looked up, his last opponent frozen in a block of solid ice.

"Gray-sama, you were amazing!" No matter what he did, Gray was always amazing in Juvia's mind. She blushed, looking away in embarrassment. "Every time Juvia sees Gray-sama fight, Juvia would gladly die happy."

"That means I won!" Natsu shouted. "You only got thirty guys."

"No." Erza strode in through the door to the next room. "I believe it's my win."

"What?" Fire streamed from his mouth. "You didn't even do anything, did you?"

"On the contrary. I believe I took out one hundred and five men."

"There were more in the next room?" Lucy asked, amazed.

"Yes. But they shouldn't be going anywhere anytime soon."

Natsu and Gray shivered at the thought of what she had done to them.

"Erza's a real demon…" Gray muttered.

"I knew it would be a quick and easy job, but I didn't think it would be over this fast," Erza said.

"Damn straight!" Natsu shouted. "I need a chance to be more wild!"

Lucy shook her head and chuckled. "I think you went plenty wild today."

Erza grinned. "Let's head back to the ryokan."

"No way!" Natsu frowned. "We gotta get back to the guild soon and find another job!"

"But we already paid for one night's lodging," Lucy pointed out. "We might as well enjoy ourselves and relax."

"But what about—"

"We're staying, Natsu," Erza said sternly. "That's final."

Natsu gulped. "F-fine…."

"I'm so excited!" Lucy could hardly contain her excitement. "I'm going to soak in the onsen all night!"

"M-m-maybe Juvia and G-Gray-sama c-could use the s-s-s-s-s…s-s-shared b-bath…" Juvia mumbled, her face crimson with embarrassment.

"Hm?" Gray glanced at her. "You say something?"

Her face turned even redder. "N-n-n-no! Juvia said nothing!"

"Let's go, I'm starving," Lucy said.

"YEAH!" Natsu grinned. "Let's go eat!"

I designed my own cover for this fanfic, so if you're interested, check it out! Took my a while to draw, but I hope you all like it. The link to my Devianart account is down below:

art/Dragon-s-Plight-NaLu-fanfic-cover-316831160

Check back for chapter 17!