Levy sat at the bar counter, oddly quiet, staring at the glass in front of her, but not drinking. Levy, of course, was not drinking alcohol but rather a fruit juice, which earned her some ribbing every now and again. She didn't have the constitution for alcohol - a combination of being small and not practicing - and the few times she'd tried it, she'd gone bright red in a couple of sips.
Mira, cleaning glasses behind the counter, watched the small girl with some concern. It took her a while to realise the reason that she was worried was that Levy didn't have a book with her. How often was that the case? Even when Levy was upset, she often sought consolation within the narrative of some fictional land. She was about to check on her when Cana strode up with her confident swagger and a big grin over her face. She'd been out on a small quest and gotten a nice little sum.
"Mira, get me a drink over here!" She called, sitting down next to Levy who didn't appear to notice her.
"What are you having?" Mira asked in her pleasant demeanour.
"Who cares, but bring it by the keg!" Mira acquiesced to the woman's request, pouring her a frothy pint of ale, and leaving the keg next to her. She knocked back the golden liquid and poured herself another. Only at that point did she notice the quiet girl next to her.
"Ah Levy! What say we get you a grown-up's drink!" She waved the mug in front of Levy, but she went red just from the fumes and waved Cana away wordlessly. The lack of words penetrated Cana's happy mood. "Something wrong?"
"N…no, it's nothing," she replied feebly, not looking up. Cana sighed and then elbowed the small girl in the ribs sharply. Levy squealed. "Okay…I was just worrying about Lu-chan, that's all."
"Oh? She's out on this Oricion Seis mission, right?" Cana asked, pouring herself her third mug.
"Yeah. I was just thinking that they're really scary mages…I'm worried that she'll be hurt." Or worse.
"Don't worry about it too much. She's shown herself to be pretty tough. Hell, she beat Bixlow just last week!" Already on her fourth drink, Cana grinned wildly. "We're Fairy Tail Mages, Levy! No one is bigger or stronger than us!"
Later that day, Levy was out walking to the bookstore. If she was worried, then maybe buying a nice, big book would make her feel better.
"We're Fairy Tail Mages, Levy! No one is bigger or stronger than us!"
Bigger and stronger.
Levy frowned. Which of those words described her? She was a Fairy Tail mage, but in what way was she big or strong? In fact, she was fairly sure that she was the littlest person in existence. Makarov was shorter, but only due to his magic, Titan. A few years ago, Levy had made a notch on her bedroom door frame, exactly five feet off of the ground. However, no matter how much time passed, she'd never quite reached it. And then she'd just stopped growing. Eventually, she'd sanded the frame rather than keep looking at it.
Four foot ten. Who on Earth was that short? She couldn't remember hearing of any other person who never reached five feet. She wasn't big, she was small. The double entendre made her hands fly to cover her chest. People in the busy street looked at her funny as she made the sudden movement. Red-faced, she scurried on.
She kept becoming lost in her thoughts. Strong. Was she strong? She recognized herself as useful. Her abilities with written magic were invaluable. She'd proven that against Fried's barrier…then waited in the guild while every other member was lying injured around Magnolia. She was the only person in the entire guild not to fight in the battle of Fairy Tail.
And no one had said a word to her about it.
After all, why would a weakling fight?
She stopped walking and balled her fists. In the rebuilding, Laxus had mocked her for being weak, not even knowing her name. And when he'd instigated his war, how had she disproven him? She stood there, glowering with frustration.
This is what bothered her deeply. Not that Lu-chan was in danger, but that she wasn't even considered to go in her stead. Levy had been in the guild for six years. Lu-chan for what, four months? She wasn't angry at Lucy, she was angry at herself.
At that moment, the heavens opened, and torrential rain began to pour down. Levy stood there, unmoving in the deluge, tears mixing with the raindrops.
"Motherfucking weather!" Gajeel shouted as the rain began. He ran quickly. He'd just gotten back from a mission and had intended to return to the guild, but screw that, his house was much closer. The streets had emptied quickly under the rain, except for morons with umbrellas.
Visibilty was pretty shitty, and he almost ran straight into Levy in the middle of a street, just standing there like some kinda idiot. He jumped back in surprise, but thankfully, she didn't even look up to notice.
"Oi, Shrimp. Don't just stand in the middle of the road!" He scolded, annoyed. She glared up at him, seemingly noticing him for the first time. She didn't speak, but trudged around him silently. That pissed him off. "Hey, I was talking to ya!"
She kept walking, and even Gajeel's emotionally retarded brain kicked in. In the rain, he couldn't see her tears, but her face was red and puffy. He grabbed her arm, stopping her. She didn't turn back.
"What's wrong?" He asked, none too politely. He was wet, why was he wasting his time with her…well, he did owe her one for breaking Fried's barrier…well, maybe more than one, if he was to tally all of his past actions.
"It's not something you would understand," she said in a voice choked with sadness.
"Ah? Time of the month is it?" He asked carelessly. She turned on him, eyes glowing with anger.
"You really are a giant idiot aren't you? Can't you even talk politely?"
"Hey, I'm tryin' ta ask if yer ok!" He admonished. Why was she angry? He was the one going out of his way to help her. To his absolute amazement, she balled her right hand into a fist and swung at him. There was a dull thud as her fist slammed into his chest.
A moment passed.
Levy recoiled, grabbing at her injured hand. "Itatatatata!" She emoted in pain. Gajeel couldn't help it and broke out laughing. She glared at him.
"It's not funny!" She screeched.
"Pffft…ya call that a punch, shorty?"
"Don't call me shorty! I told you that you couldn't understand! You're not weak!" She screamed the words at him, her face red with anger. Gajeel was not the brightest man in the universe and the words confused him.
"What does being weak have to do with anything?"
Levy turned and stalked away, face screwing up with tears.
Well screw this, he was wet. He was going home. Whatever her problems were, they weren't his problems.
…god damn it.
Gajeel went after her, and unceremoniously lifted her by her scruff. She blinked in surprise and began to kick out, protesting at the embarrassing treatment. Gajeel ignored her, and carried her the short distance to his house.
As the door clicked shut, Levy shouted at him again. "What are you doing? I said to put me down!" He did so, dropping her on her ass with a muffled squeak. He went over to his fireplace, piling on a few logs. Levy watched with interest as he turned a hand to iron and clicked his fingers, making a spark to ignite the firewood. He pulled over a huge rug he had, made from the pelt of a bear he'd killed himself.
He smiled in memory. That had been good eating.
He went back over to Levy, still on her ass, and picked her up again, dumping her on the rug in front of the fire. She pouted as he disappeared into another room. She understood that he was trying to do a nice thing, but what a way he had!
Gajeel was sorting through a huge pile of linen. Surely he had a clean towel somewhere? Dammit, he needed someone to live with him, keep him in better check. He wondered if Salamander's cat helped him out. He wouldn't mind a cat. He'd spent quite a while living in alleyways and scrap yards – he was used to cats.
Finally, he found something suitable and took it back out to Levy, dropping the towel over her unawares. She thrashed under it, finally extricating herself. She looked at him and he shrugged, grinning. He didn't know why, but teasing her was such fun. He dropped a second piece of cloth next to her. She looked at it – it was a black t-shirt.
"Change outta yer clothes. Yer wet through," Gajeel said. Levy went bright red.
Gajeel interrupted. "Jeez woman, I'm gonna go into my room and change too. No one's gonna peep. Not like ya got any breasts anyway." She flushed angrily. Damn, why'd he add that last thought? Still, he went into his room, drying his hair and changing his clothes. Something simple, t-shirt and slacks, since he had no plans to go back out today.
As Levy removed her sodden clothes and dried herself, she looked around at Gajeel's house. It was a small, one story place. The living room in which she now stood was fairly expansive, with some beaten furniture and a dark wooden floor. There was litter everywhere, particularly unwashed clothes and scrap iron. She'd need a tetanus jab, she thought wryly.
When Gajeel went back into his living room, he saw Levy standing by the fireplace in his t-shirt. It hung off of her tiny frame like a tent, easily reaching down to her thighs. She was still towelling her hair, her head band gone. She was adorable…
Gajeel shook himself. Of course she was cute, she was always cute. Don't think so hard, cuteness is just inevitable for something so small and…he shook off his train of thoughts again. Levy went red again under his gaze. She did that a lot.
"Ya do that a lot," he noted, immediately voicing his thoughts. She looked puzzled. "Blush, I mean." Inevitably, Levy's blush went deeper, hands flying to cover her cheeks.
"Idiot!" She shouted. "Why can't you make simple, polite conversation?"
"Fine," he said. "Ya aren't going anywhere for a while. We should talk." As if to underline his point lightning flashed. It was followed by the rumble of thunder, joining the cacophony of the falling rain. Levy flinched little. She didn't like lightning.
"What can we talk about?" She asked, half curious, half furious. Gajeel walked past her and into the kitchen. She followed him with her eyes, and could hear a fizz followed by the sound of a pouring liquid. When he came back, he was carrying two mugs full of beer. He dragged his worn table over to the fireside rug and sat down cross-legged, placing the mugs on the table.
He looked up at her. "Well, ya may be enjoying the only time I'm gonna look up at ya, but sit down."
She sat down on the other end of the rug facing him. She briefly panicked that she was on display, but no, his t-shirt covered her well enough. She looked over at the mug nearest her. Maybe now was a good time to kill her emotions, she thought. She grabbed the mug and held it under her face. Immediately, she went bright red and Gajeel snickered.
"Shut up!" She said feebly. "I'm not good with alcohol!"
"Psssh….I don't think I've got anything weaker!"
"You've got me," she said glumly. Gajeel frowned, trying to follow her train of thought.
"That's twice ya've said that now." He looked her square in the eye. "Why do ya think yer weak?"
Her eyes became dangerous, her voice low. "You of all people should know."
Gajeel sighed deeply, looking away from her. If there was one thing in the universe that he didn't want to talk about, this was it. "Fine. Fine! I asked fer this. I guess this is what we'll talk about first."
Outside, the rain continued to drive down, and thunder cracked.
Well, I hope this interests a few people. This is essentially a chance to rewind to a gruffer, less diplomatic Gajeel than the one I normally talk about. This will be a short series, of the two having a series of conversations. No grand plans, I'm afraid!