I wanted to be tall

Lucy flipped through the hangers, trying to ignore her agitation and pick a suitable outfit to wear to the guild. What she chose suddenly seemed very important after Natsu's visit had interrupted her morning routine only moments ago.

She had just walked into her bedroom and was preparing to remove her towel when he appeared in the window. He smiled wide despite her angry shout and told her that since she was his best friend after Happy, he wanted her to be one of the first to know. Befuddled, she gestured for him to go on. And, he did, his smile widening further as he exclaimed that he and Lisanna were officially dating. She had frozen and he had sat in the window with an expectant look on his handsome face. Shaking her head, she stuttered out a congratulations as sincere as she could make it.

He disappeared after that, excited to share the news with all of his friends and called over his shoulder that he would see her at the guild.

So, now she had to be careful what she picked. If she dressed too comfortably or 'down', she might appear to be depressed about the news. But, if she put too much effort into looking nice, she might appear to be trying to steal him back.

Back? Lucy grabbed a purple shirt and put it on with trembling hands, laughing at herself. He was never hers to begin with. How was she supposed to win him back when Lisanna had laid her claim long before she had even met him? She picked a pair of shorts at random and hurriedly pulled them on, the shaking in her hands increasing in intensity. She'd only been borrowing him and now it was time to give him back. Anxious energy swept through her.

She couldn't go to the guild. Not in this state. She wasn't composed. She needed to work off the anxiousness. She needed to run.

Slipping into her tennis shoes, she rushed out the door, her presence of mind not allowing her to remember much more than to grab her gate keys and to lock the door; which she only did out of habit.

She started running as soon as her feet touched the sidewalk just outside of the apartments. She ran in the opposite direction of the guild as if this would allow her to escape the feelings constricting her chest. Ducking her head down, she pumped her arms hard and tried to focus on regulating her breathing so she could forget.

And, for the moment, it was working quite well. It didn't take her long to run out of Magnolia and now she was getting pretty far out into the countryside. The burning in her legs and side was a good distraction. Lucy might have kept running for much longer. She was fit after all, and fueled with anxiety and confusion and pain.

But, her mad dash was ended when she collided with someone and ricocheted from his broad chest. She rubbed her nose with a groan and prepared to apologize. The apology died on her lips when she looked up and saw who she had run into.

"You!" she said between gasps, anger cutting through the other emotions easily as she glared up at the blonde Sabertooth mage.

"Me," Sting responded. He gave her a perfunctory once over, "Oh, you're a Fairy…what's your deal? What are you running from?"

She stood up shakily, the exhaustion from her long run finally setting in, "I'm not running from anything."

He raised his eyebrows, "It sure looked like you were."

"I wasn't. Nothing was chasing me."

"Whatever. I don't really care. So, get lost. Your face is gloomy and splotchy and is bringing down my mood," he said, waving his hands as if he were shooing a stray cat.

She frowned and pointed an angry finger at him, "I've been running for a while. What's your excuse? You say I'm bringing down the mood, but you already looked like a grump long before I ran into you."

He shooed at her again, making a small 'sspss-sspss' noise that made her hackles rise indignantly. The nerve of that man! He smirked at her silent reaction and turned without further comment, heading in the same direction she'd been running.

Not really wanting to go back to the guild and Natsu's happy face, she balked at turning around. He would probably have his arm slung over Lisanna's thin shoulders and they would be so…happy. She wasn't ready to face that yet. So, she waited a little so that there was what seemed a safe enough distance between her and Sting before she started walking down the path.

After a few moments, Sting glanced back at her and said, "Quit following me."

"I'm not following you," she said, staring past him at the path.

"It sure looks like you are," he said, his voice a little more distorted now that he was facing forward again.

"I'm not. You're just going in the same direction as me," she insisted. Then, as an afterthought, "What are you doing so close to Magnolia anyway?"

"Mind your business."

She was a little alarmed by his rude response, worried that he had nefarious intentions. He was a Sabertooth, after all. She wouldn't put it past them to try something with her guild, especially since they'd lost to Fairy Tail at the games. "If you're going to try something with my guild, you better just give it up now. Fairy Tail isn't a guild to play with. I…,"

"Oh, shut up. We're not after your stupid guild," he cut her off. "I just finished up a job nearby. I'm walking to the next town so I don't have to stay near Fairies."

Lucy fell silent. He was rude and normally she would get angry, but she was thinking about what he'd said earlier about her running from something. She had denied it, but wasn't that what she was doing? And, wasn't that what she'd done with her Father? Why was she always running? Why was it so difficult for her to face her problems head on? She was so weak. Someone like her didn't even deserve to be with Natsu.

"Stop crying," Sting said.

"I'm not crying," she said even as she wiped the unwanted tears away.

"I can smell your tears."

"I'm not crying!"

"Okay, okay," he said. She could hear the smirk in his voice when he said, "You'd fit right in at Sabertooth. Though…you might want to work on being more convincing."

"Shut up," she huffed, crossing her arms and trying not to think too much. It was hard not to. The next town was far away, and they'd been walking for around two hours without talking when they finally reached it. It was too much time without distraction and her mind couldn't help but run circles around her private misery. It was nearing lunch time, and Lucy guiltily acknowledged that her guildmates were probably worried about her by now. The guilt was heavy, but she still dreaded going back too much. She was still running like a coward.

"Are you going to follow me all the way to the bar?" Sting asked, walking backwards now.

She frowned and pretended to be occupied with studying the storefronts around them, "I didn't know you were going to a bar."

He laughed, "You kind of look like a kicked cat."

Her eyes snapped back to him and he laughed more, "Why don't you leave me alone?"

"If you give me a kiss, I might buy you a beer," Sting offered, hovering closer.

She scoffed, "I wouldn't ever."

"I knew you'd say that. Who'd want a kiss from a Fairy?" he said, laughing again. He seemed to find her pain amusing. She remembered him laughing when Minerva had severely beaten her…he was a twisted person.

"If you find Fairies so repulsive, then why do you keep bugging me?" Lucy asked.

"You didn't answer. Are you following me to the bar?"

"…I was going to the bar anyway. Before I knew you were."

"I'm sure you were."

The bar was dark and windowless, so it was easy to forget that it was daytime out. Lucy settled on a stool at the counter and Sting sat on the stool next to her. She tried to ignore him and studied the menu. She wasn't sure what to order. At the guild, she usually just stuck with milkshakes.

Sting ordered a drink and she told the barkeeper that she would have the same, pretending she didn't see the blonde man's knowing smirk. Now that she was closer, she noticed that it didn't really reach his eyes. Had the ones before?

They were silent for a long time, drinking together in some strange companionship. As if they shared the same sort of pain and denial. Lucy would sneak peeks out of the corner of her eye when she didn't think he was looking and observe him, wondering at what might have caused this sense she got from him. Lucy prided herself on being perceptive and the longer she sat next to him, the more she felt that there was more to him than his shallow words and smirks.

Guessing at Sting's hidden pain and drinking provided a better distraction than the running did. The reminders of Natsu and his inaugurate relationship with Lisanna became fewer and far between. As they got progressively drunker, she almost forgot why she was so heartbroken. Almost.

She finished off the last drink from her glass and laid her head on the cool wood of the counter. She felt strange, as if she were on a tilt-a-whirl even though she wasn't actually moving. Beside her Sting put his own glass back on the counter.

"My parents were killed by my dragon foster parent," he said, his tongue loose from alcohol and his fingers absently spinning the cup around and around. She watched it, respectfully not looking at the expression on his face. "My dragon took me on because he didn't want to be the only one without a dragonslayer. He saw me as a sort of pet."

Lucy listened quietly, not moving in fear that he would shy away like a deer if she did.

"So, I killed him. Whenever I think about it…I still get so angry. I hate weak people. I despise them." He took a long drink, "I hate myself."

"Sting…," she said, unable to keep her silence, feeling the urge to cheer him up despite him being a Sabertooth.

"I did it again, you know?"

"Did what?"

"Killed because something was taken away from me," Sting said. His body was tense with anger. She moved back a little, nervous that he might take it out on her. "I should have known better. I should have killed her, too."

"What are you talking about?"

"Minerva has Lector and I'm starting to think that she will always hold him above me. I should have killed that bitch. She's using me and I hate it. I'm stronger than this. I'm not weak, dammit!"

"Wait…Minerva took Lector?"

"I hate weak people! They piss me off so much! So, why am I so weak?! I've trained so much and it's never enough!" his voice was raising louder and louder. Lucy moved closer, touching his neck and face gently in effort to calm him down. Even drunk, she noticed the increasingly startled and irritated expressions on the other customers in the bar. If she didn't get him out of there, there would surely be a scuffle, and if Natsu was any indication of Dragonslayer scuffles…well, she didn't have the money to afford that.

"Come on, Sting," she said in what she hoped was a soothing voice, hooking her hand under his armpit and pulling him from the chair. He followed her surprisingly easy, falling against her shoulder. The Dragonslayer had drank faster and more than her, so he was probably twice as intoxicated as she was.

"Hey, Lady, you better not be leaving without taking care of your tab," the bartender shouted after her.

"We'll come back and pay later," Lucy said. Her stomach sank when she realized that she had absolutely no money and she had no idea where Sting kept his. She didn't really want to search for it either. "This is Sting Eucliffe. He'll come back and pay tomorrow when he's sober. If he doesn't, take it up with Sabertooth."

"S-Sting Eucliffe?" the barkeeper echoed, looking more than a little frightened. He didn't give her any further trouble as she slipped out of the bar as smoothly as she could in her drunken state while supporting Sting, which meant that she had ran into the door frame a couple of times and couldn't manage to shut the door behind her. It must be nice to have such a reputation that people didn't mess with you.

She stumbled to the closest hotel she could find, a little surprised to find that it was still light outside. It seemed that they had been in the bar for forever. It was probably around dinner time now. The sun had begun its descent and shined directly in her eyes, making it even harder to drag the almost unconscious Sting into the hotel lobby.

"I need a room," Lucy said, propping Sting against the counter and missing him when he fell away and onto the ground.

"Ah, okay," the man at the desk said, running his finger down the chart to find an open room. "Did you want one bed or two?"

"I don't care. One bed," Lucy responded distractedly. She was attempting to pull Sting back up, but the ground didn't seem to want to stay still. It kept moving on her, so she didn't really think too deeply about her answer. It wasn't like she planned to stay with him or something. And, he might expect something from her if she were to make him pay for a bigger room for her to stay with.

"What name will the room be under?" the man asked.

"Sting Eucliffe," she said, finally managing to get her arms around Sting. She pulled him up just in time to catch the fearful expression that apparently tended to follow upon hearing Sting's name. He quickly passed her the key and pointed in the direction of the room.

Scowling a little, she struggled with him down the hallway, "Come on, Sting. Can't you help just a little bit? You're killing my back."

"Shut up," Sting said. Lucy hit him in the stomach and lessened her assistance so that he had to contribute more. He fell again when she tried to lean him against the hall wall so that she could unlock the room door.

After a few more fallings and a lot more effort, she somehow got him into the room and onto the bed. She was leaning over him, doing her best to tuck him in, when he started getting more hands-y. One of his hands trailed up her thigh and the other slipped under the back of her shirt.

"What are you doing?" she snapped, moving backwards. She wished she was sober so that she would have been coordinated enough to give him a good Lucy Kick to the head.

"I said I'd buy you a drink if you gave me a kiss. I bought you lots of drinks."

"I never agreed to that!"

"Don't be such a prude," he laughed, the noise slurring drunkenly. "I hope you brought enough money for all the alcohol you drank."

"Just…just one kiss, then…Nothing more! You hear me!? One kiss!" Lucy said, shaking her finger at him in emphasis. Then, yelping when he pulled her down and rolled on top of her. She only had a split second to be nervous before he leaned down and kissed her hard.

It was her first kiss. She was really drunk and he was even more drunk, but she felt a warmness settle in her stomach. She didn't entirely regret it and even felt a little disappointed when he broke it not too long after. He let his head drop onto the pillow next to hers, his breath loud in her ear. He was heavy, but it wasn't entirely unpleasant. It was actually kind of…nice.

"Natsu and Lisanna are dating now," she whispered. Staring up at the ceiling, she stopped lying to herself. No matter how much she told herself she was happy for him, she couldn't deny how torn up she was. She hadn't realized how strong her feelings were before. What a stupid, clichéd mistake.

"Natsu was the one who saved me. He gave me a family when I felt abandoned and uncared for. I thought he liked me above everyone else. I wanted it so desperately. I wanted mutual love, to feel like I mattered. That, to someone, I was the most important thing in their life. It feels like I'm destined to chase after other's affections and to constantly lose."

She thought she might cry when she said it, but she felt so numb. It must be the alcohol. The tears just wouldn't come. She even attempted to force herself to cry…but nothing. It was like the feeling, the pain, was too big and her body couldn't even comprehend it fully to react accordingly. It was devastating to allow yourself to be lost in affection for a person and for them to not even notice. This was how it had been with her father.

"I love him."

She didn't know if Sting was still listening, or comprehending what she said, or even still awake, but his arms tightened around her. She snuggled into the hug and, for the moment, she allowed herself to feel warm and pretend like she was okay. Like she didn't have to wake up tomorrow and return home and face the couple. She let herself pretend that she loved Sting and that he loved her back and that this was just another one of those blissfully happy nights they often shared.

And, she was able to fall asleep with a smile on her face.

(A/N: So. I might make this into a multichapter story, but for the moment it'll stay as a (an?) oneshot. And, to explain the reason that Lucy ran into Sting's chest even though he was going in the same direction as her was because he turned around to see what was going on when he heard her running recklessly behind him. Just to clarify that, haha. So yeah. Hope you liked it!~)