Sorry for the late update. Enjoy!

Chapter 5: Secret

Lucy never fought with her brothers. They have always been very close to each other and her older brothers did what they could to protect her. However, after showing up alone at Sabertooth High, she came home to find Rufus in a very sour mood. Their usual greeting of questions regarding their days was replaced by awkward silence. During dinner, Rufus refused to speak to her and only spoke to Laxus. Pouting, she ate her food in silence, Laxus oblivious to the tension in the room.

She had such a wonderful day, even if it was with the new captain of Sabertooth's volleyball team. He was kind to her and treated her well, unlike how she assumed they would be. Though, he could be quite perverted and reckless sometimes, but then, everyone had their own faults. She found it quite endearing, actually.

A blush made its way to her cheeks at the realization that she was thinking about her best friend's rival. She shook her head. If she allowed herself to get distracted, things could take a bad turn for her and the girls, as well as the boys. She refused to let such a thing happen.

"Luce, where were you today?" Laxus voice interrupted her train of thought. Lucy looked up at him, her face turning a dark shade of red. She didn't want to let anyone know that she hung out with Sabertooth's captain. Laxus would throw a fit and worse, if Natsu found out, he would surely be upset with her. But there was no way around it, especially because Rufus knew exactly where she was.

"Uhm...I was at Sabertooth. The captain invited me to watch them practice and drove me back to Fairy Tail, but when I got there, I had already missed practice. I'm sorry,"

Laxus' eyes narrowed, "What were you doing there? Do you know how dangerous that is, Luce? What if you got hurt?"

Lucy looked down on her plate, feeling guilty for being so careless, "Gomen." She looked up at Laxus, who sighed and shook his head, disappointed, but forgiving. Her gazed moved to Rufus, who stood up and excused himself from the table, grabbing his now empty plate and placing them in the sink. Her face fell, a frown on her lips.

"He'll get around to it," Laxus mumbled, "Next time, take someone else with you. You don't know what Sabertooth can do to you."

"I know, but it was an opportunity to see what the other team is capable of, especially with their new members, I—"

Laxus interrupted her mid-sentence, "Luce, you have to remember that you're carrying more than just the girls team, but the boys too. You have to think about us too. What do you think would happen if something bad were to happen to you? We would lose our coach and a captain, our best player. We would be at a disadvantage. Not to mention, every single one of us would throw a rampage if you got hurt."

Again, Lucy looked down, "I'm sorry. I'll be more responsible next time."

A large hand ruffled her silky blonde hair, "You have always been responsible, Luce. We just don't want you getting hurt." He took her empty plate, proceeding to wash the dirty dishes, "Go to bed and rest, I'm sure it's been an exhausting day for you."

Lucy smiled, but still worried over Rufus' reaction, "Good night." She walked up to him and placed a small kiss on his cheek before making her way to her room on the second floor. As she walked up the wooden staircase, her mind recalled the events of the day. A blush was making its way to her cheeks as thoughts of Sting Eucliffe filled her mind.

Even as she laid under the covers that night, she could not help the smile that form on her lips as flashbacks of her day with the blond captain of Sabertooth High's volleyball team occurred in her mind. It was wrong because they were rivals, but it felt right. She was hesitant at first, but he was not as bad as she thought he would be. He was kind, and treated her well.

Something deep within Lucy stirred, her heart beat beginning to increase. She placed her hand over her chest, the feeling unique. She shook her head, but he thoughts continued to flicker back to Sting. Something was changing and she was afraid, yet excited for the near future.

Lucy was daydreaming. Natsu could already tell by the creepy smile on her face and the way her cheeks would turn a rose color the moment she realized what she was doing. She was currently sitting across from him at the school cafeteria, her face in her palms, elbows propped on the table, and ignoring the food in front of her. Then, she smiled, but immediately caught herself and flushed.

The boys volleyball team captain was suspicious. It wasn't just because of her strange behavior, it was also the fact that when he questioned her whereabouts the previous day, she was apparently feeling ill and went for a day into town. That was strange. Lucy never missed practice even if she was sick. She'd rather have someone break her legs before she missed.

Maybe he was overthinking things, or maybe not. Even the girls could tell the difference between their captain and the girl that was now sitting before them. When someone would speak to her, her eyes would glance into a point in space and her mind would wander from the subject. The giggle beside him caught Natsu's attention. His eyes flickered from his best friend to the Strauss siblings who were whispering excitedly to each other.

He leaned over towards Lisanna, who immediately blushed at the close proximity of his face with hers, "What's so funny?"

Mirajane smiled, "It's not funny, but more, adorable. It's quite obvious that our team captain is in love."

Natsu's frown deepened, "In...Love?" The words were strange coming out of his lips. He never really felt that way towards anyone before, but he certainly knew what love was. He loved Lucy like he would to a family member and vice versa, but the idea of Lucy falling in love, that was very new to him. Lucy only ever thought of friends, school, and volleyball. She never really had a crush on anyone, at least she never told Natsu of anyone she was interested in and she always told him everything, so why was she suddenly acting love?

It confused him, and part of him were beginning to put the pieces together. Lucy was gone during practice the day previous and comes back with hearts in her eyes the next day. His eyes observed his best friend, who was, once again, blushing, her mind far away. Did she go on a date and ditched practice? The confusion was beginning to get to him. He didn't mind at all if she finally decided to let loose a little, but lying to him was a whole other story. Their friendship was based on trust, as it always has been.

The rest of the day was Natsu deep in thought. He valued his friendship with Lucy and the bond they had was unbreakable, as was their trust. So why did it suddenly feel like that trust, that was the cornerstone of their relationship was slowly crumbling to pieces?

"Oi! Watch the ball idiot!" Gray's loud voice pulled Natsu out of his thoughts, but the impact of the volleyball on his face was the wakeup call. Pushing himself back on his feet, the pink-haired team captain glared at his co-captain, who was smirking from across the net.

"The hell was that for you ice-freak!" Natsu yelled, his anger boiling.

Someone lightly punched him on the head. Natsu turned, meeting Lucy's half-hearted glare, "Focus, Natsu!" She smiled afterwards, the sight somewhat relieving him from the stress he was suddenly under. She was still the same Lucy after all. "We can't have you slacking off, got that? Sabertooth's new members are viscious this year, especially their new captain."

Natsu did not fail to notice the softness in her voice towards the end. His eyebrow rose, but he eventually shrugged it off. "Who's the new captain of Sabertooth?"

"Sting. Sting Eucliffe. He's a really good player," Lucy mumbled, trying not to sound too fond of their rival.

"How do you know this?" Gray walked up to the duo, "Have you seen him play?"

Laxus watched from a distance. He didn't like the way the two were questioning his younger sister, but they had every right to. Lucy was naive for her age, and maybe it was time for her to grow up a little. She was the coach of their team, and it was her responsibility to report her observations with honesty.

"Uh, yes, actually… Uh… A few nights ago, I was walking home and ran into him and his partner, I think. They were playing one-on-one at the park. I was somewhat in awe of the way they played, actually." She mumbled, eyes glancing anywhere but at the two. Laxus sighed at her sister's obvious lie. He was disappointed, to say the least.

The week sped by, without another disappearance from their beloved captain. She was focused on her job as coach and captain of the girls' team. Each day they would train, and every other day with the boys. And on those days they would run to the beach, at the beach, and practice their jumps.

Everyone was working hard. With the girls' season nearing, it was only to be expected. They boys were awed by their concentration and hard work, which only pushed and motivated them further. The girls' team was a true team, each member supporting the other. Compared to their previous years, the boys team were a mess, playing based on instinct and upon individual strength.

Lucy was training them harder and harder each day. As their stamina increase, their conditioning did as well. The girls were keeping up well, seeing as they conditioned during the summer, too. However, the boys were barely keeping up. They were behind but they managed. Lucy would yell and lecture them whenever any member stopped. She did not mind if they were slow, or behind, but if they so much as stopped to take a breather during practice, she would push them to keep up, or, worse case scenario, add more to their training.

She was serious and each of them were more than happy to see her back to her old self. it was only Natsu who would catch her from time to time, staring into a far distance, a blush on her cheeks. He noticed how she would check her phone a lot more than usual, and sometimes rush out of practice, saying she had errands to run. Normally, she would stay until every member left. It only left Natsu concerned.

Two, three weeks went by, and the girls' first match against Mermaid Heel Academy were upon them. They won without any injuries, aside from a few burns and bruises, but not without difficulty. The captain of the opposing team was just as aggressive as Lucy was. Her girls improved considerably compared to the year before and their usual plays were altered. The girls won the first two sets, but it was a close match.

The boys team were on bleachers watching and cheering them on. Surprisingly, Sabertooth was there to watch the match. The tension in the building was high. Natsu and Laxus were the only ones to notice the smile on Lucy's face and the red tint on her cheeks as she locked eyes with Sting Eucliffe. their hands balled into fists, but they remained on their seats. Natsu thought very little of it, thinking that Lucy was simply being nice, but Laxus, being the over protective brother thought of it as much more. Any male coming near Lucy was a threat, teammate or not.

At the end of the match, Lucy gathered her team and pulled them into a group hug, letting them know that she was proud of their hard work. After their team huddle, the girls walked up to the boys, Juvia running straight into a very surprised Gray, Levy into her boyfriend's arms, and Lucy into her brother's. Soon after she walked up to her best friend who pulled her into a tight embrace and congratulated her. Laxus glared at the pink-haired teen, pulling his sister away and ruffling her hair.

"You did well, Luce. You all did," Laxus continued to ruffle her hair, but his eyes wandered to the captain of Sabertooth's boys volleyball team, who was smirking their way. He couldn't tell if he was up to no good, but he knew he did not want him anywhere near Lucy. "You going to our celebratory dinner?"

Lucy nervously laughed, "I actually have a project I need to finish this weekend. I'm going to head to the library and then meet you at the restaurant." Without another word, she waved grabbed her bag and made her way to the exit, waving good-bye with her back turned towards them.

"I think someone's up to no good," Gray laughed behind Laxus.

"Shut up. Lucy knows better than to get herself into trouble," but he knew she was up to something and when his eyes searched for the suddenly missing Sting Eucliffe, he knew it was no mere coincidence. She was definitely going to see him.

Lucy ran towards the parking lot, stopping just as a black sports car parked a few feet away from her. Giggling, she opened the door and sat down on the passenger seat. As soon as the door was closed, she looked at the driver. His blond hair was in its usual mess of spikes, one hand on the steering wheel, while his eyes were hidden behind dark sunglasses.

"Took you long enough," Sting removed his glasses with his free hand, smirking at Lucy.

The blonde female frowned, playfully smacking his muscled arm, "You got here the same time I did!"

Before any more violence could occur, Sting held up his hand to stop her. He reached in the backseat while he placed a soft kiss on her forehead, "Congratulations by the way, you and your team did very well."

When he pulled away he hand in his hand a bouquet of pink and white carnations. Lucy blushed, not expecting his gift. "Thank you."

"I remember, when you said you love carnations. Win or lose, those are for you," Another blush made its way to her cheeks at his sweet words. For three weeks now, she's been sneaking out to hang out with him and he has done nothing but treat her with care and kindness. Each moment they were together, he heart would race, almost as if it would burst.

Slowly, she leaned towards him, nervous, and yet unafraid. She closed her eyes before closing the gap between their lips. She did not know what got over her, or why she was suddenly so bold. It was her first kiss and she initiated it. But there was no regret as Sting tangled his hands into her hair and began to move his lips gently against hers.

"Is that a yes?" He whispered into her ear as they pulled apart.

Lucy nodded, "Yes."

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