A/N: You know what? Fuck it. I'm gonna end up adding entire sections to this chapter later. Like it or not, it's how I write best. So sorry guys, I tried writing everything in one go. But it's just not working out. If that means less reviews, then so be it.
It's not you, it's me.
Chapter Six - Confrontation
- 1 -
Naruto wasn't at the gates when Lucy finally made it to Gilia. It was this simple fact that sullied her mood even further than it already was. She was so delirious with annoyance that she even began complaining to a completely random stranger who had the gall to be within arm's reach.
She grabbed the stranger, a young boy from the looks of it, by his collar and glared menacingly at him. "Why couldn't that idiot just wait here for me to find him? Huh? Jerk," she growled, shaking the poor kid mercilessly.
The hapless boy ran away as soon as she released him, shouting random profanities at Lucy when he figured he was at a safe enough distance. Lucy ignored him and worked on calming herself.
It wouldn't have been so bad if the journey to Gilia Town itself hadn't been pure agony. But pure agony it was. Maybe even worse. It was bright and sunny outside, but mostly, unbearably hot. And the walk itself was so long that her legs felt all wobbly by the end of it. To add insult to injury, not even one person bothered to stop and offer her a ride as they passed. Even when she undid a button (or three) on her shirt to let her bosom - err - charm, show a little.
Realization struck her and Lucy stared at her own chest, depressed. Maybe she was starting to lose her womanly allure? She so wanted cry right now. But before she could grab another random stranger to complain to, she felt a tiny glow of energy pulsating from somewhere in the town. Of course, being in a town full of mages, there were similar glows of pulsating energy practically everywhere, but this one was different. It felt dark and malicious, yet warm and comforting all the same, resonating with the emanations echoing from her own chest.
There was no doubt about it after that. It was definitely, 'Naruto!'
All the fatigue in her body left her at that moment. She spun around to face the road where the energy was coming from and practically sprinted towards it. Naruto wasn't very far. Maybe nine or ten blocks away. That was nothing if you considered that she had come all the way from Magnolia to find him. Nothing at all. So she weaved through the crowd, jostling some people along the way.
Lucy found him. Easily. At first, it was his hair that she saw. Bright, spiky, and cheerful, each strand as yellow as the afternoon sun. Then, she caught a glimpse of his face, and it melted away all of her doubts, replacing them with a hundred thoughts all at once. It was really Naruto. He was there. He's okay. He looked the same as ever.
Lucy stopped running. Stopped moving completely. And before Naruto could notice her, she darted behind some of the crowds of people, walking with them, but keeping Naruto always in her sight. She wasn't sure, herself, why she was so nervous, but she straightened out her hair and fiddled with her blue skirt. Her white and blue sleeveless shirt heaved in and out, in rhythm with her heavy breathing as she caught her breath. And when she calmed a little, the questions started coming to her in droves. How was he hiding his power so well? Why was he hiding it in the first place? What was he doing out here, anyways? Why had he lied to her? Why... were his clothes such a mess? It looked like had just gotten out of a fight.
Lucy pulled at her hair. Why was she fretting like this anyways? This was so unlike her. So she made up her mind then and just waltzed towards Naruto. Jerk. Making her feel like this. He'll get whats coming to him. And then some.
She saw Naruto's eyes catch her own and she smirked, darkly. And just when she was about to give him hell... his eyes just dart away from her. No. It wasn't even that. It was like he had simply glossed over her. Like he didn't know her at all.
And the anger that was already bellowing inside her exploded.
She stomped towards him, shoving people out of her way, a mission in her strides.
Soon, there was nothing left between her and Naruto but the dark thoughts emanating from her stare. He couldn't ignore her now. Not if he wanted to live through the day. She stood there, a statue of ill omen, just daring him to...
Their shoulders bumped slightly when Naruto walked passed her. He had ignored her. Completely.
Not even. It was like she didn't exist or something.
'How... how could he?' Lucy's lips quivered. Her face became demonic. She turned around and grabbed him, firmly, by the shoulder. When their eyes met a second time, she glared at him. A furious glare. Like she wanted to scratch his face off with it.
"Huh?" Naruto said to her. His brows went up, questioningly. Then his eyes struck understanding. Lucy's heart skipped a beat. But then he said: "Ah, sorry for bumping into you, Miss. Kinda got lost in this book." He raised his hand and showed her, all friendly-like. The title read: Marriage Enchantments - A Guide. Her gaze travelled back to his eyes, and that was when he bowed apologetically to her and kept walking past. That was it.
'That was it?'She had come all the way to this far away town for that? Lucy wanted to cry again. What the hell was that about? She wanted to say something but, suddenly, she was speechless. At first, she was going to call him out on his lies or his bluffing or whatever it was. But then, she saw his eyes. Lucy could always tell when Naruto lied. He was never really good at it. But that time, his eyes were crystal clear. No hesitation. No funny movements. They looked straight at her and asked: 'Who the heck are you?'
Lucy turned around and stared at Naruto's back as he disappeared into the crowd again. 'What? The? Fuck?'
- 2 -
'That blonde girl was weird,' mused Naruto to himself as he walked. She had looked kind of scary too, like she was going to kill him or something. 'Psh, what was her problem?' It was just a little bump. 'Ah, whatever.'
Book in hand, Naruto continued up the road, back in the direction of the entrance gates, until he finally found his destination.
He had no idea how he missed it the first time - no - how he missed it at all. Was he so blindly aggravated at Fara that he somehow failed to notice that heaven itself had relocated to Earth Land and renamed itself 'The Noodle Stand'?
Naruto stared, wide-eyed and slack-jawed, at the open, pearly gates, of the establishment. In an arch, above the gates, were golden glowing letters that spelled out 'The Noodle Stand'. A girl, nay, wingless angel smiled dazzingly at him, as if beckoning him to come inside. And the smell. Oh Kami, the cornucopia of aroma that assaulted his senses and set his mouth watering in excitement...
Who was he, a mere mortal, to say no to such a divine welcome? The fact that this was undoubtedly the place where he was to meet up with Fara was just a mere footnote in his decision-making process. Forget Fara. Forget the tournament. Forget his memories (oh wait =P). Because now, there was only one thing on his mind...
"Hey, wait just a minute!" said the greeting girl just as he was about to pass through the gates. She pointed out the rags Naruto was wearing and grimaced. "We don't do bums," she told him.
Naruto flashed a cocky smile, then his wallet, fat with Jewels.
It was scary how quickly the girl changed her tune. All of a sudden, she became somehow, predatorial? She was around his age, maybe a little older, and gorgeous. And her clothes... It would be a mistake to call what she was wearing a kimono. For one thing, it was much shorter, coming down to about her upper thigh, threatening to unveil the secret garment underneath if she so much as tilted forward a little. And for another, it seemed as if her ample cleavage might spill out of it at any second. Was it magic that kept them inside that tiny outfit? It had to be.
Naruto couldn't help but flush.
"My apologies, Master," she said, breathily. Even her voice was suddenly seductive now, pitched just low enough to sound inviting, as if she were about to share a naughty little secret with him. "Please, right this way. Let me show you around."
"But I'm meeting someone..." Naruto said, clearly flustered as he tore his gaze away from her outfit, only to be met with seductively narrowed, gunmetal-grey eyes. Long violet hair shifted from the girl's shoulders ever-so-perfectly and she frowned in the sweetest possible way, as if she were telling him something with that frown. Something like: 'Are you really going to just leave me here, Master? Do I not please you? Why, Master?"
Naruto couldn't win. He simply couldn't. Not against that puppy dog expression combined with her sultry body. Naruto half wondered what sort of embarrassed expression was on his own face. "I guess I could..."
"Then it's decided," she said, happily. She was suddenly close to him, close enough that her sweet perfumed wafted at his nose. And she grabbed his arm possessively, not very subtly pressing her chest into it as she led him into the establishment. "Welcome to The Noodle Stand, Master. Here, we serve the best food and drink in town. Along with a full range of other services. You'll love us here, Master."
- 3 -
The next several hours of Naruto's life was barely more than a blur. With the help of his 'serving girl' (for lack of a better term), he ate, and drank, and had a most wonderful time. The food was incredible, everything he imagined it would be. And the drink was phenomenal, the kind of hard stuff that left his mind a blithering, happy mess.
The serving girl's name was... oh... what was it again? Something that started with a 'K'? He guessed that, in the end, it didn't really matter. But she seemed more than just a pretty face. In the short time that he knew her, Naruto found her charming, witty, and immensely entertaining.
She led him around the huge establishment after his lavish meal; explained that The Noodle Stand also doubled as a bath-house and Inn. So they went to the bath-house next, where he washed himself off with the flirty 'serving girl's' help because, hey, he was just so drunk that he could barely do it himself.
Then at the end of it all, they went to an Inn and there, Naruto did something that he wasn't entirely proud of. Something he never would have done were it not for his extremely intoxicated state. So let's just pretend it never happened. Let's pretend that most of his Jewels were spent only on food and drink and a night at the Inn. Let's pretend that his 'serving girl' was only a serving girl and nothing more. Yes, let's pretend all that and assume Naruto simply went to the Inn for a blissful afternoon's sleep.
Yes, let's do that, because he couldn't remember any of it anyways.
- 4 -
A/N: As always, thank you for reading. And expect this chapter to be complete within a week or so. I have another memory sequence planned. And one more scene with Lucy. Then I'll call it a chapter and finally start with the damn tournament that I've been mentioning since like, chapter three.
Finally, a question for all of you. Do you want to see some NarutoxLucy? I was planning on keeping their relationship strictly platonic. But I can easily spin it into a romance if you guys want.
Let me know. The story will naturally change a bit if you guys decide on the romance. Either way, it won't be the only one.