Hey guys, it's been a while, so have a fairly small chapter for now so we can (hopefully) get back to all the juicy stuff soon!

"Ugh, I don't wanna go back to Fairy Tail yet, I'm too relaxed to deal with all that stress…" Lucy grumbled as she stretched languidly in her seat aboard the train. It had been eight days exactly since Laxus and Lucy's night together, and this would be her first time seeing either one since then. Levy had stayed with Lucy all day after and helped to clean and fix up her apartment until there was practically no trace left of their sordid activities, save the door. She had had to report that particular problem to her landlady, who had been quite fairly pissed off at Lucy and her rather unsatisfactory explanation (i.e. lie) of how it become broken in the first place. When all was done and Levy was ready to head home, the blonde had dissolved into a fit of tears, terrified of being left alone and had begged her friend to go away somewhere with her for a few days. The thought of facing either of the boys made her feel like she was having a panic attack and she was so afraid that Laxus would tell everyone what she had done and they would think she was a slut.

Being the great friend that she was, Levy immediately agreed to Lucy's request, though suggested they take a job, rather than just going away. Distracting Lucy with a job would be good for her, and she knew her friend could always use the rent money. Levy left to go the Guild and find a suitable job for them while Lucy packed her stuff and headed over to Levy's to wait. Levy wanted a job that would take them away for at least a few days, give Lucy's mind time to come to terms with what had happened as well as allowing the bruises and scratches on her body to heal, but would also be fairly easy to complete. Luckily, there was one available in a small mountain town that fit the bill, and also had a marvellous hot-springs inn they could stay at. Grabbing the flyer, she had the job verified by Mira and ran off to alert her boys Jet and Droy before heading home to meet Lucy and pack her own things.

The job itself had taken less time to complete than either of the girls had expected, a mere four days, but they had already been booked in at the inn for the full week, so they decided to stay and relax, enjoying all the pampering treatments the facility had to offer.

The train pulled in to Magnolia Station and the girls stepped off and embraced each other fiercely, knowing they would have to separate in a few moments. Levy was heading home to dump her things, and then going straight to the guild to meet her team, but Lucy still wasn't ready to face everything and just wanted to go home and rest.

Worries filled Lucy's mind as she balanced her way along the side of the canal, summoning Plue for company as she walked home absent-mindedly, waving as usual to the men in the boats. She wasn't planning on seeing anyone else today, not that it was late, not long after dinner time she supposed, but she fancied being alone for a bit before facing everyone tomorrow. She quickly lost track of time as she wandered home and before she knew it, she was facing her front door, from behind which came a soft 'thump' sound. Drawing Leo's key for a speedy summon, she unlocked the door as quietly as she could, silently thanking her landlady for fixing it, and opening her mouth wide to summon Loke when the words died in her throat, a bewildered look on her face. Her team, her fucking team, were sprawled messily around her apartment, eating and drinking like idiots.

"Lucy!" yelled Natsu as he launched himself towards her.

A much undignified squeak of surprise left Lucy's mouth as she sidestepped the flying boy and he crashed headfirst into the wall.

As Natsu lay dazed on the floor, Gray was sniggering away like a maniac while Happy and Wendy rushed over in concern and Carla simply sighed and shook her head. Erza was grinning at Lucy with a mouthful of what appeared to be strawberry cheesecake and beckoning her over.

"What the hell are you all doing in my apartment?" Lucy roared, but it was only half hearted. This had happened far too many times over for Lucy to really be indignant over it anymore, but still, it was the principle of the thing! Right?

"Jet and Droy said Levy told them that the two of you would be home today, so we decided to come and wait for you!" declared Erza proudly.

"…I did tell them you would probably want peace on your first night back…" said Wendy in a small voice before Natsu burst in over the sound of Carla admonishing Wendy for being so passive.

"But being alone is BORING so we came in through the window… And by the way, your place stinks, you used too much bleach, I don't like it, you shouldn't do it again, you, argh!"

"Shut up already!" hissed Gray as he held his hand over Natsu's mouth and iced it to make him be quiet.

"Wait… All of the windows were shut when I left."


"IDIOTS!" Lucy screeched. Just typical! After she had managed to get her place into a decent state after everything, her baka team had gone and broken one of her windows… Again!

"Anyway, now that you're back, we should go to Fairy Tail and celebrate!" Gray grinned; his clothes once again mysteriously vanished.

"Celebrate what? I was only gone for a week…" Lucy groaned.

"But… we missed you…" Uh oh. Lucy knew that voice. Lucy knew the face Natsu would be making to go with the voice. Those god-damned puppy-dog eyes that she had been so far powerless to resist.

'Don't look at him… Don't look at him…' The thought ran through her head like a mantra but was ultimately futile as Natsu turned her towards him and pouted, looking like a poor little kicked puppy and her resolution caved. She wasn't happy about it, and she damned well let them know, but she finally agreed to go with them. 'Just for a couple of drinks,' she thought. 'Maybe he won't be there anyway. Maybe he'll be out somewhere else, or on a job of his own or with his team….'

The guild doors loomed in front of the group, menacing and foreboding to Lucy alone, her breath caught in her throat. Wendy was beginning to become concerned about her friend. After all, Lucy had disappeared for an entire week without telling anyone and only Jet and Droy had heard from Levy about their leaving, as Mira had been busy elsewhere. This was odd enough on its own, but Lucy had been exceedingly distracted in the short time she had been home, and the closer they got to the guild, the worse it had become. No one else but Carla seemed to notice though. Natsu and Gray were squabbling like children and throwing punches and Erza was alternating between yelling at the boys, bashing their heads together and merely glaring at them, while Happy was off in his own little world flying overhead and occasionally cheering Natsu on.

The group entered the hall with the bickering boys in the front and the din hit Lucy across the face as if it were physical, and she couldn't help but grin happily. She had really missed this place. Her short holiday had been great fun and a chance to relax and forget her worries, but this, this was her home, where she belonged and she wouldn't change it for the world.

Her gaze was inexorably drawn almost against her will across the room to the table usually occupied by Laxus and his team and she could have sworn her heart had tried to make a bid for freedom and leap out of her chest.

Laxus was there all right. He had already been turned towards the door as she came in and immediately her hesitant look had met his intense stare. For a second, everything had seemed to fall away around her before her cheeks blazed like miniature suns and she had to force herself to turn away from him and followed her team over to the bar where Mira was smiling with her usual brightness and curiously regarding the unusual flush across Lucy's face.

Lucy was in a state of relief as they reached the bar. Everyone was just being normal and not acting oddly around her. It looked like Laxus hadn't gone bragging around after all. She'd have to thank him… At some point… Whenever they next spoke. Which she wouldn't be initiating.

Her smell had hit him as soon as the doors had swung open. How such a thing was even possibly from that distance Laxus didn't know. It had taken every ounce of willpower that he possessed to stop himself from getting up, throwing Lucy over his shoulder and taking her home to claim her again. And again. And again. She was so beautiful standing there and then her eyes had immediately found him and he had felt his heart swell as his body stirred for her. But she had wrenched gaze from him and deliberately turned away to go towards Mira and there had been a deep pang in his chest. But really, what had he expected? She had pretty much run away from him. Disappeared for an entire week without even alerting her own team beforehand. It was pretty obvious that she regretted her actions that night; he just hadn't expected her rejection when he next saw her to hurt as badly as it did. Laxus really didn't know why he was feeling this way. Hell, he had already decided he was going to stay away from her… So why did his chest ache so terribly?

Laxus still hadn't told anyone about their night together, save what little Bickslow already knew. Bix had tried to get Laxus to tell him who the girl had been, but Laxus wouldn't budge. Honestly, Bickslow's money was on Cana. Or Mira. Figuratively speaking of course.

Laxus week of waiting hadn't been particularly easy. Aside from barely being able to sleep after constantly waking up wholly unsatisfied from the most intense sex dreams he'd ever had in his life, all starring our favourite busty blonde, he'd had a lot to put up with both inside the guild and out. First, he'd clashed with his Grandfather over some small irrelevant issue, but the old man had blown a casket and Laxus had to deal with it all. Second, he'd went on a short one-day mission with his team for Porlyusica, but had been distracted stupidly thinking about Lucy and a potion had accidently been spilled on him. It was nothing lethal, or even particularly dangerous, but he had ended up covered in the most horrendous hives for a few days while Porlyusica brewed up an antidote. There had been others too, small things, but all adding up to a pretty shitty week for the dragon slayer.

But the worst… The worst had been Natsu. Natsu had burst into Fairy Tail with a large bouquet of flowers the day after Laxus' tryst with Lucy and demanded everyone tell him where she was, declaring his love for her and animatedly telling everyone that he'd show her just how special she was. Laxus had wanted to smash his fist into the smaller boys' face. He wanted to tell Natsu that Lucy was his. He wanted to tell everyone that Lucy belonged to him. But she didn't, did she? Sure, he'd left her bed, but she'd left the entire fucking town to get away from him. Shit.