Disclaimer: I don't own Fairy Tail.
'The mission. That mission ruined everything,' Gray thought idly.
He was looking at his friend and at how strangely he had been behaving ever since they had returned.
Gray hadn't been with Natsu when it had happened – he was with Lucy and they had been fighting as hard as they could against that hoard of enemies. Erza was the one with him and she hadn't seen it happen either, having been too engrossed in her own fight.
Something had happened to him. He was different.
Not himself, almost.
And so here was Gray, sitting at one of the guild's tables and nursing a drink at the same time that Natsu, sitting at the counter flanked by Lucy and Happy, threw his head back and let out a guffaw. Happy was looking up confusedly and Lucy was patting the pink haired mage's arm awkwardly.
The fire mage kept laughing, so much that he lost his balance and fell off his stool.
The ruckus turned some heads of the few mages at the guild but, after a couple of beats, everybody resumed their previous activities, dismissing the event. It was just Natsu being Natsu.
It wasn't Natsu.
Gray didn't feel it being Natsu.
Finishing his drink with a sigh, the ice mage prepared to leave the guild. He needed a smoke.
To hell and back that he had quit.
He really needed it.
The cool night breeze greeted him, the cloudless sky from which starts twinkled and where the moon was just a thin sliver of white.
Grabbing the pack from his pocket, Gray picked up one cigarette and lit it.
The first hit of nicotine was like a welcomed wave, encompassing his limbs and firing up his neurons.
Letting out the smoke, the ice mage saw it rise and disperse amidst the darkness above, from where the glow issuing from the guild's windows didn't reach. The iridescent tip glowing slowly.
'Much better,' Gray thought, leaning against the guild's wall. His slightly muddled mind seemed to clear slightly for he started feeling that he could think better now.
Rolling the cigarette between his fingers, Gray saw the ashes falling away into the gentle breeze that had started blowing. He stared into the glowing tip – it was consuming and warm reminded him of Natsu.
Shock coursed through him as if he had been struck by lightning.
That was it – Natsu!
Where was his characteristic warmth, his glow?
It was missing, that was for sure, but how could they have missed that? It was such a basic thing that it was dumb to-
All of his bluster. It had covered up somewhat because there was so much going on with him lately that one didn't have time to notice what was underneath.
Natsu hadn't provoked Gray – well, teased – since they had gotten back…
Why wouldn't he when it was something so natural and-
Wait. Did Natsu even have his magic? They hadn't fought and he hadn't shown his magic ever since…
'Nonsense,' he instantly brushed the thought aside. 'We would have noticed,' he blew out more smoke, 'we're not that-'
He froze. The cigarette slipping between his now lax fingers, spreading little interspersed bits of light when it hit the ground.
The guild was half empty. The Master, for instance, had gone to meet with the masters of other guilds and, just, so many others were away.
And Gray, Lucy and Happy – who had stayed behind – were too blind to realize what was off.
Which was stupid and unexplainable since they were the ones closest to him.
How could they have not realized it?
Gray straightened up, stepping on the stub and heading resolutely back to the guild.
He entered the space and instantly zeroed in on Natsu who was standing and chatting excitedly, arms moving expansively, as a way to empathize his point.
Gray walked over, unconsciously freezing his hands.
He stopped right behind the fire mage, Lucy noticing him.
"Gray-" she started.
Without saying a word, Gray grasped Natsu's forearms and from his hands ice started to form instantly.
There was no steam, noticed the ice mage startled. No. There was no reaction at all.
Natsu was just standing, cradled in between his arms.
"What the-?" Lucy exclaimed, getting up.
Gray turned Natsu forcefully around, hands grasping tightly on to the other's shoulders. He glared.
"Who the hell are you and what have you done to Natsu?" he growled.
The face that stared back at him was blank.
"What do you mean?" he asked in a monotone.
"Answer me!" Gray shook the person he was pinning. "What have you done to Natsu?"
The person's face scrunched up momentarily before the eyes rolled to the back of his head and the body fell, limply, against Gray.
"What the-!" Gray stumbled due to the unexpected weight, making them both fall to the ground.
"What now, Gray? Could you explain what has just happened?"
"Yeah, Gray, what happened to Natsu?" Happy asked from where he was hovering by Natsu's head.
Running a hand through his hair, Gray shook his head, in a wary motion. Steadying himself he looked up and replied.
"Look, I don't know how but, this isn't Natsu," he looked down at the form that was draped over his legs.
"What?!" was his reply.
A/N: Okay, so I felt like posting this story. It's been under works for a while and I basically just decided to post it.
As you might see there's plenty of room to continue but, I don't know... For one, it won't get in my priorities if there's no interest shown so, yeah... Let's see where it goes, people.
Besides, my dearest beta, K, doesn't know I'm doing this. She'll definitely kick my arse once she finds out, since I wasn't supposed to post or update anything until I finished the bunch of stories on my plate. Oh well... :P But yeah, that's just to say that this is unbetaed and that the mistakes and stuff are all mine. Hopefully nobody was scarred. xD
Anyway, reviews are awesome. *winks*