Lucy slumped against the train window. Outside, workers were leisurely performing some emergency repairs on the train. It was a beautiful day out, the breeze and warm sun combining to create the sort of day that made you long for a comfy little porch to sit on and enjoy the weather and a nice book. They were in no rush to fix the train's malfunction, despite the frustrated urgings of the conductor, so they'd been in the station for a while.
Lucy and the others had declined switching to another train. Lucy had kind of fallen into the decision making role for their group and she had thought this would be a good opportunity for Natsu to have a break and refresh. The attendant smiled when she explained and returned to their compartment with a trolley full of food that he left with them free of charge.
"Hey, Lucy, you still thinking about that old Lady?" Natsu asked, settling beside her now that he'd gotten his fill of food.
Lucy pulled away from the window and straightened some, her expression thoughtful, "Yeah. I can't figure it out. Why would she have directed us to Custos? And, what happened to her afterwards? Is she in league with him? Is she against him? Why did she claim to be related to Altor…I mean Shin…when he has no idea who she was?"
Upon mentioning him, she looked across the compartment at the man. He was sitting next to Wendy and avoided her gaze like he normally did. The more that time passed that he was no longer under the spell, the more that the bashful man could remember from his life previous to Custos's control. One of the first things they'd learned was his actual name.
Lucy was hoping that he'd eventually remember something about dragons and how he came to be under Custos' control spell. That was why she had begged him to accompany them.
"Maybe you should try not to think about it as much. It sounds like you're getting frustrated," Wendy interjected, her eyebrows drawn together with worry. "You've been having a lot of headaches lately and frustration will make them worse."
She pouted a little, looking back out the window again. She hated when they worried about her. It made her feel bad. She didn't want to make them feel like they had to keep a close eye on her and be extra gentle around her. It just made her feel even more weak. Trying to keep a light tone, she said, "Yeah, I'll be more careful."
Natsu's warm hand squeezed her shoulder, "Hey, do you wanna go on a walk? To help take your mind off things?"
"Do you think we'd have time to?" Lucy asked, studying the repairmen, but not knowing enough to estimate how much longer it would take.
"Sure," he grinned, pulling on her arm urgently. "We can just walk around the train yard. That way, we can see when they're packing up and won't risk missing the train."
"Okay," she agreed, allowing him to pull her up from the seat and out of the compartment. She laughed at his enthusiasm, but she wasn't really able to push the thought of the Old Lady out of her head. She was really concerned. What if something bad had happened to her? Should they look for her? Did they even have the time?
They slowed down outside and their hands slipped easily together. Lucy stepped up on one of the tracks and walked next to him, using his hand that she was holding as a source of balance. "Hey, Natsu."
"Do you think we would have time to look for her? The Old Lady?" Lucy stared down the tracks, down to the point where they seemed to meet in the far distance on the horizon. She heard him groan and stopped when he stopped.
"Lucy." She tried to avoid his eyes, hearing the exasperation in his voice, but he grabbed her chin gently and turned her face to his. "Listen. You don't have to figure everything out. It's okay. We're a team. We can help you come up with explanations and find things. We have no idea where the Old Lady is and won't be able to come up with anything until we find more clues. So, don't drive yourself crazy by obsessing over it. We'll figure things out as we go, when we can. Okay?"
She puffed her cheeks.
She puffed them bigger and he laughed.
"You're so stubborn," he said, stepping closer to her so that their bodies were touching. With her standing on the rail, she was almost a half a head taller than him, so it was her who had to be pulled down by the shirt for a kiss. All of the air puffed out of her cheeks into the kiss and she would have lost her balance if it weren't for Natsu's grip on her.
He slipped his tongue into her mouth and the kiss quickly turned into a battle. She put up a good fight, trying to get dominance with dirty tricks, like rubbing her body against him and tugging on his hair. But, like pretty much all of his battles, Natsu won. He had never been so fierce and commanding in a kiss before and she found herself going jelly legged. She sagged into him and submitted to his kiss.
"I win," he said triumphantly.
"Yeah, yeah," Lucy mumbled. She hid her flushed face in the crook of his shoulder and struggled to recover. She knew this side of his personality, but she had never been kissed like that. She liked it. She really, really liked it.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
"I think so," Lucy said. She paused, then, smiling, "But, you should carry me, anyway."
Natsu turned around and let her climb onto his back. He walked them back in the direction of the train. The workers were starting to pick up their things, so it seemed they had perfect timing.
After a few moments of quiet, Natsu said, "You know, I really meant what I said earlier. You don't have to do everything yourself. You spend so much of your time translating that book…when was the last time you wrote anything?"
Lucy played with the collar of his shirt, more than a little touched by his concerns, "It's okay, Natsu. Really. With the sickness, I'm even weaker than usual. So, this is my way to contribute to our group. I'm the one we're working to heal, so it's my responsibility."
"You're not weak," Natsu said.
She didn't respond.
"Lucy," he pressed. "As the winner of the kiss, I say that you aren't allowed to translate the book or try to figure out what happened to the Old Lady or anything else until after your wedding."
"Don't get so full of yourself!"
He laughed, "Come on, promise me you'll relax until after the wedding."
"Okay," Lucy said. She slipped her hand down his collar and rubbed the skin over his chest, feeling his heart beating. "Thank you, Natsu."
#41 I Win
(A lot of people mentioned that the chapters are short. Some can get long, but I like to keep them short so they have one main theme that fits with that kiss (or kisses) and because there are going to be a little under a hundred chapters (some kisses are combined in a single chapter). I will work on making them longer, though, if you guys would really like that. I'm open to feedback (: Uh, also, the next chapter is one of the reasons this has a 'T' rating. I'm not gonna say more than that, heh.)