Story Three; Love Drunk

"I'd give her a seven." Yuka mumbled, nodding subtly towards the solitary girl at the bar.

Toby yipped with laughter, nudging his stoic friend in the ribs with his elbow. "Strange for you to take an interest in girls, ne Yuka?"

The smaller man's brows furrowed deeply. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about." He said calmly, his mouth quirking into a wicked grin when Toby yelped as his boot-clad foot dug into his shin.

Gray covered his grimace with his glass, taking a deep swig of whatever Lyon had bought him earlier. He didn't really have anything against Lyon's friends, but right now he'd rather be drinking with the flame brain and metal head – at least Natsu and Gajeel thought about something other than girls (although it's a miracle if they think at all, he thought to himself, a grin splitting his face). Wishing somewhat miserably that Lyon would hurry up and get back from his phone call, Gray tried to distract himself by concentrating on his companions' focus of attention.

The 'seven' as Yuka had now dubbed her was sitting alone at the counter, staring thoughtfully at her phone in one hand whilst fiddling with the straw of her drink with the other. Well, she's not unattractive, he thought to himself, more than a seven though… maybe eight and a half?

Unconventionally pretty, Gray decided was the best way to describe her. She had shoulder length blue hair that fell in gentle curls, which contrasted sharply with her alabaster skin. Her hands looked delicate, and they weren't the only feminine things about her. The short dress she was wearing didn't leave much to the imagination, flaunting smooth curves and long legs.

Gray suddenly felt rather thirsty, and knocked back the rest of his drink. Maybe a nine.

As if sensing his thoughts, her head perked up and glanced briefly in his direction. Pearlescent blue eyes made contact with his own just for a second, and Gray gulped. Nope, nine's not good enough. Not even a ten. She's in a league of her own. Self-consciously he ran a hand through his hair, scolding himself for acting like a sweaty-palmed teenager.

Toby's eyes darted between the ebony-haired boy and the good-looking girl at the bar, and he smirked. "Seen something you like, mate?" he chuckled in amusement.

"Maybe…" Gray said, somewhat distractedly, prompting the other two men at the table to blink at each other with wide, surprised eyes.

It was at this moment that Lyon strolled back into the bar, dusting the snow out of his already-white hair and bringing a cold winter draft in with him. The girl at the bar shivered, and Gray found himself stripping off his coat, the chivalrous part of himself wanting desperately to offer it to her. Yuka cleared his throat uncomfortably and brought Gray back to his senses long enough to realize he'd started to unbutton his shirt.

Lyon slid heavily into the booth next to his long-time friend, and slumped forward to hit his forehead repeatedly against the table. Gray shot a confused look at the men opposite him, and Toby grimaced.

"Was that Sherry again, by any chance?" he asked somewhat sympathetically, and Lyon groaned in affirmation.

He lifted his head and pouted petulantly. "She's insistent that I escort her to her company's luncheon this coming Sunday, but I simply can't get out of work. I love her like a sister, but if she continues to be so stubborn I'm afraid we might have a falling out."

Gray snorted. "It's because you're so wishy-washy that she won't give up. Just give her a straight no."

Lyon frowned at his sometimes-rival in reprimand. "Unlike you, you walking icicle, I'm a gentleman. I actually have manners when it comes to women." He said haughtily, his arrogant ego asserting that he was not 'wishy-washy' in the slightest.

Toby muttered something to Yuka that Gray couldn't hear, to which the other boy simply said "you'll crash and burn". Toby waggled his eyebrows in what appeared to be challenge and pushed away from the table, but Gray paid him little notice.

Feeling bolstered by the alcohol coursing through his system, Gray couldn't resist the bait. "I have manners, asshole, just none for you." He said with a smirk, taking a sort of sadistic pleasure from Lyon's angry spluttering.

Lyon grabbed a fistful of Gray's shirt and tugged sharply. "Do we need to take this outside?" he grumbled sulkily, but there was a flash of amusement in his eyes that let Gray know he was half-kidding.

"Before you pointlessly bruise each other," Yuka piped up, "I suggest you enjoy the show." He finished with a grin, looking pointedly at the counter.

Gray spotted their tall, tanned companion hovering near the pretty bluenette they'd been talking about earlier. He looked somewhat embarrassed, shoulders slumped forward while one hand scratched sheepishly at the base of his neck. The girl, on the other hand, was talking rapidly. Her brows were furrowed in what Gray guessed was annoyance as she gestured with one hand and poked Toby in the chest with the other.

The girl seemed to finish her rant and turned back to her drink with a huff, and if Toby shrinking in on himself and the bartender trying desperately to stifle his laughter were any indications, Gray guessed he had just been rejected.

Toby shuffled back to their booth and dropped into his seat, slipping a two hundred jewel note into Yuka's open waiting hand.

"I told you – crash and burn." The smaller boy said gleefully as he pocketed the cash.

Toby scowled at his best friend, and only grunted in response. Gray couldn't help but feel slightly happy that the poor dolt had been shot down, but he pushed away those thoughts

"Kinda curious, what did you say to make her so angry?" Gray asked, so I can avoid it.

The brunet puffed out his cheeks and rested his chin against the sticky wooden table. "I told her that Yuka thought she was a seven, but I thought she was a definite ten. She got super angry and said we shouldn't have been rating girls in the first place, said it was degrading."

Silently Gray agreed with her – it was a bit offensive to be judging her like a dog at a pet show, and he instantly felt guilty for doing so himself.

Lyon, who hadn't spoken for a while, muttered something under his breath, his eyes firmly locked on the girl at the bar.

"Hm?" Gray hummed in question.

His friend's head swiveled towards him, and Lyon's eyes were practically glowing – honestly, it freaked Gray out just a little.

"She's beautiful." Lyon whispered reverently, his hands grasping Gray's shoulders. "I have to speak to her!"

Gray felt his brow twitch. "Oh god, here we go again." He mumbled to himself. This wasn't the first time Lyon 'had to speak' to a girl. For as long as he'd known him, it'd been rare when there wasn't a time when Lyon had fallen ass over teakettle for a stranger. 'Love at first sight', Lyon had always insisted, but Gray knew his friend well enough to know he just got easily infatuated.

His pale friend straightened his collar and slicked one hand through his hair. Taking a deep breath he pushed up from the table, nodded to his friends, then scampered off towards the bar like a moth to a flame.

Toby turned to Yuka and raised an eyebrow. "Crash and burn?" he asked.

Yuka smirked. "Five hundred says he gets so flustered he passes out."

Toby yipped in laughter. "You're on."

Gray knew better. He may take the piss out of his friend a lot, but if there was one thing he envied it was Lyon's way with the ladies. He'd always been a smooth talker, and if the flattering pink flush that adorned the girl's cheeks was anything to go by, Lyon hadn't gotten rusty.

His throat suddenly felt dry, but Gray refused to believe he was jealous. He didn't wish that he was the one pressing his lips to the girls knuckles (fucking smooth bastard), and he certainly wasn't excusing himself from the table so he could go eavesdrop at the counter. Of course not. That'd be ridiculous and dammit what am I doing?

Leaning against the bar, Gray waved down the bartender. He simply ordered 'something strong' while burning holes in the back of Lyon's skull. Knocking back some of the sharp brown liquid the man behind the counter gave him, Gray's eyes widened as he realized something.

From a distance, the couple may have looked cosy, but now that he was closer Gray spotted the way the girl had angled herself away from his friend. She opened her mouth occasionally but only managed to stutter out a few syllables before Lyon's rambling drowned her out.

Lyon may have been smooth but he never seemed to notice when a girl wasn't interested. Gray shook his head and was about to walk away from the bar when he noticed the young woman glancing his way.

Catching her eye, he raised an eyebrow in question. Her red lips thinned out and the hand around her glass clenched. Her eyes flickered pointedly between him and Lyon, and ever so subtly she mumbled 'help'.

Gray sighed deeply, before downing the rest of his drink. Leaving his glass on the table, he wandered over to his friend and clapped a hand on his shoulder. Lyon looked slightly put out at being interrupted but the blue-eyed girl gave him a small grateful smile, so he couldn't really feel bad for his friend. Gray offered her a wink and the girl's flush blazed a brilliant red that left him feeling very satisfied.

Lyon coughed slightly. "Gray," he said through gritted teeth, obviously not wanting to appear angry in front of his latest infatuation, "can I help you?"

He gave Lyon a meaningful look as he jerked his head towards the girl. "Ixnay on the lirtingfay." Gray said. "You're smothering her, bro."

The white-haired man looked confusedly between his rival and the blue-haired goddess before it dawned on him. "Oh!" he said suddenly, a pale pink dusting his cheeks. "I'm so sorry, Miss Juvia." He spluttered with a slight bow. "I didn't mean to upset you."

"A-ah, it's quite alright!" the girl – Juvia – stammered in return, her ears now burning.

Gray couldn't help but be reminded of wind chimes when she spoke, before he realized he'd only just learnt her name – it was too early to be waxing poetic, and he scolded himself.

Feeling the need to break the awkward silence, Gray ruffled a hand through his friend's hair. "Forgive him, miss. He tends to run in head first when it comes to lovely ladies." He said suavely, and she squeaked in response, which was absolutely adorable in his opinion.

Oh god, he was starting to think like Lyon.

A shrill ringing interrupted them as Lyon's phone went off, and with a quick grumble under his breath and another insistent apology to Juvia, he excused himself to undoubtedly face another onslaught from Sherry.

Gray felt a flood of relief as he watched his friend leave the bar – defusing that situation had gone a lot better than he thought it would. Turning back to the young lady at the counter, he wasn't quite prepared for the intensity of the look Juvia was giving him.

Her hands were clasped together beneath her chin, her lips were spread wide in a grin and her eyes were practically sparkling as they bore into his own. His palms started to sweat again.

"Juvia thanks you!" she chirruped. "Juvia has never been able to handle his kind, so thank you very much," she paused in her gushing, her brow furrowing, "uh…" she trailed off.

Gray reached out a hand in greeting. "Gray, Gray Fullbuster." He said cautiously.

She reached out with both hands to grasp his own, tugging it firmly towards her. "Thank you, Gray-sama! Juvia is pleased that you came to her rescue – you're like the princes Juvia has read about in fairy tales. A knight in shining armor!" She cooed, her voice raising an octave with every sentence. She gradually leaned closer to him, her eyes never straying from his face.

Gray leaned away slightly, feeling unnerved under her scrutiny. "Ah, you're welcome?" he replied uncertainly, before stopping abruptly. "Wait, sama?" he asked incredulously.

A few metres away from the obsessing girl and scared boy, three girls stood watching on. A short girl with blue hair was giggling behind her hand as a taller, full-figured red head just sighed and shook her head. The blonde that stood between them couldn't help but feel sorry for the ebony-haired man.

"Looks like Juvia's enjoying herself." said the bluenette between snickers.

The blonde gave her friend a chiding look, before focussing on her other friend. "Do you think she's even noticed we're here?"

The red head raised her hands in defeat. "I believe we are just blurry shapes in the background to her now."