Author's Note: Uhh. Ok. I love this pairing but I've never written for them before so... hopefully it's not too ooc for you. Though it's definitely super cheesy toward the end. sorry. I've got a penchant for writing fluff. Especially when I should be studying for an exam. Anyhow, I may eventually turn this into a series of one-shots/drabbles if anyone's genuinely interested in the future. Maybe. uh I guess this takes place mid-canon or something idk man. Let me know if you like it, I guess.
have a nice day.
She twitches as he slings small scraps of metal from his mouth with the forced question onto the table, into the dip of her weathered book. This is a habit of his she knows she'll never like: talking, forcefully, with his mouth full. Like he wants everyone within five feet of him to get a taste of what he's already eaten. She wonders if it's a dragon-slayer habit because she assumes they don't need to know any table manners besides smashing them to bits in barside brawls. But she thinks it might just be his personality; his lack of care for what others think of him as a person – scaled or not. Maybe that's what bothers her more than anything.
She picks some pieces of the new pipe he chomps on out of the book, from between her bold-printed lines and swipes them from the tabletop to the floor. She's hesitant. Her cheeks fill and pool with a coral pink, and the question won't come out, like it's lodged in her throat. She wishes, suddenly, she had the table manners of her iron-boned friend so she could just spew it without thinking, without any consideration for what the aftermath could be. But she's different in that way: she does care, and deeply, about what he'll think of her when what she has to say breaches the waves of her deep-set reluctance. This is not a piece of foundation in a steel building, this is a piece of her own foundation that she's about to send sailing.
"Shrimp? You okay? Just spit it out."
Just spit it out, she thinks with an internal sigh, so easy for the boy raised by a steel dragon.
Levy turns her hazel eyes to his piercing sanguine ones, and the coral pink on her face blooms furiously to burgundy in layer after layer of fringed embarrassment. She's afraid she's going to just burst. Or collapse. Or crawl under the table and never come out instead of biting the bullet.
Spit it out.
"I… Master Makarov announced yesterday that…" She takes a deep breath. She's taking a leap, and she's afraid what she's going to hit at the bottom is the solid metal of his true skin. "That next week we'll be having a wedding reception for Bisca and Alzack since we never got to celebrate their marriage while we stuck on Tenrou Island." The solid script mage closes her book. "And I was hoping you'd come with me. As… my…"
He hangs on her words; at least if he slams into metal it won't hurt him, it'll make him stronger.
"Date." She releases the breath that her thickened throat had pinched the past few, tense minutes.
"You heard me, shrimp. No." He returns to grinding his midday meal with serrated teeth.
She gazes back at the closed, red-leather cover of her book. It's the same color of his eyes, but without the seething intensity she's come to really like. The words of the title blur as tears coat her eyes and drip onto it. As if it's not already worn enough from years of overuse; now she's forcing it to succumb to water damage. Because of a metal-headed moron!
"Why?" she asks. Neither of them want to look at each other.
"I have my reasons," he murmurs. His crunches stop.
"You're an idiot!" she shouts. "Fine then!" She glares at him, hands on her hips. "I'll go with Jet and Droy! At least they know my worth."
"Fine!" he yells back, reacts on instinct instead of emotion, like an animal, a predator. And she's always been his unfortunate victim, and that's what he believes he'll always be to her no matter how he tries- though the ache in her eyes makes him not want to single her out from the herd for the vulnerability, but makes him want to protect her more, hold her close, despite him being the reason she's wounded.
"And I'll… I'll dance with them, real close, all night! In-intimately!"
He snorts. "Look, you can't even say the word intimate without blushing."
"I hate you!" Though she knows all of Fairy Tail have their eyes trained on the two of them, and she hates being the center of public spectacles, she can't resist knocking him over the back of the head with her book before she stomps over to Jet and Droy's table at the back of the room.
Natsu and Gray, mid-fight, stop to cringe with laughter.
"Maybe that'll put some wisdom in your head, huh, Gajeel?" Natsu asks between fits of chortles.
The iron dragon-slayer launches a metal beam at the both of them before he all but breaks down the doors to leave. He doesn't meet her heated gaze from across the room, nor anybody else's.
"At least they know my worth!"
Her words scrape at his heart.
He knows her worth; that's part of why he rejected her.
She's worth a lot more than someone like him.
He's scrap metal and she's a diamond.
"Are you sure you're okay?" Lucy asks as she helps with the finishing touches of Levy's makeup.
"I'm fine," she huffs, crosses her arms. "I just don't want to go to this stupid thing."
The celestial mage stands back and appraises her work, and her friend's troubled expression beneath the new eyeliner and lip gloss. "But you were really excited about before. What changed?"
Lucy sighs, and leans onto the vanity. "It's Gajeel, isn't it?"
"It is not! I hate him. Just that name makes me nauseous."
Her friend laughs. "It is him."
"He shot me down, Lucy! I'm… affronted. And I was so scared to ask, and he must have known that, and he was so rude about it! He could have at least let me down gently. But he just… dropped me." His eyes usually remind her of fire, of blood, of pulsing life and of warmth. But that day his eyes shut down, and reminded her of ice, of a last heartbeat and a chill like a soul escaping a body. Like he never cared about her at all, just as she suspected. He doesn't give any concern to what others think of him, and she felt like a fool for believing for a while that she was special to him, that she mattered.
"But he said he has his reasons, right? Maybe he really does?"
"I hate when you're the voice of reason. But somehow, I doubt it. He probably just doesn't like me." She pouts and plays with the strap on her wristlet. "He probably just lets me hang around him because he feels guilty about what he did before. He just tolerates me."
Lucy puts a hand on her friend's small shoulder, her smile small but soft. "I think he really does like you. A lot. I think he's just…" She thinks of Natsu, of a hole in his brain where the romantic in him was supposed to be. "Maybe he just…" She fiddles with the ends of one of her pigtails. "Maybe he's afraid he'll hurt you if he gets too close. Or maybe just all dragon-slayers are idiots."
She sinks deeper into the chair. "I'm going to go with the latter on this one, Lucy."
Her friend laughs along with her. "I'm going to have to agree."
He forms loops out of smaller fragments of metal repeatedly, aggravated beyond belief, like he's searching for a shape he can't find within his piles of beams and nuts and bolts, unused wrenches and screwdriver ends.
"What are you doing?" Pantherlily asks as he sits on the dragon-slayer's hunched shoulder.
"Mind yer own business."
His Exceed raises his eyebrows and flicks his tail. "You've been irritated and irrational all day. Let me guess, because you're thinking of your little bookworm?"
Gajeel snaps a pipe in half at the endearing name for the blue-headed girl with the bright smile that won't get out of his damned head. "No!"
"It is. I know why."
Gajeel grumbles a few swear words and continues to string loops together, forming smaller and smaller ones, some with pointed ends.
"You're thinking about her having fun at the dance. Maybe slow dancing with her fanboys. Maybe making out with one of them in the cor-"
"Will you shut yer fuckin' trap?"
Actually, he hasn't thought of that. Her weird little legion of jerk-off followers have always stepped on his short nerves, but he's never, until now, considered them a threat to his - technically -unspoken territory. He's never thought them to be brave enough to make anything beyond a verbal move on her. The thought of one of them with even the tip of a finger on any part of her soft skin, or even her dress which he hopes to all the gods is not revealing – even one of them just breathing her pure air – incenses him beyond rational belief. Images of her slow dancing with either the stick figure or the bulbous freak causes him to grind his teeth.
"Goddamnit," he growls. He probably lost his chance, and he deserves it. He shouldn't even get to walk on the same ground she does. She's too above him. He should be kissing the dirt at her shoes, groveling for her affections just like Jet and Droy do all day long, but even more fervently. Because any original member of Fairy Tail, really, he considers to be better than him. He punches the wall to his left.
He wants to be part of her life but he doesn't deserve it.
"I know." He rubs a hand over his face. "I know."
Why does she want to be a part of his at all?
He's never wished he could change who he used to be until today.
He complains wordlessly when he hears a loud knock on his door around one am. If it's the damn salamander playing pranks on him again he'll choke him till that pink mop of hair of his turns blue – blue hair.
"Levy?" he asks with one eye half open and the other still half-stuck in a dream.
She's still in her dress from the evening's festivities. It's silver, he notices. The guilt that started as a mist becomes a thick fog when he realizes she probably bought it thinking they'd match, even if he just wore his normal attire. Why the hell does she consider him ever? Why does she give him her time of day?
She doesn't speak, just shuts the door behind her and glares. "I didn't have fun. I didn't want to dance with anybody except the one member who wasn't there tonight."
"What?" He's bleary. She leads him to his couch with her hand and he follows like a lost dog. They sit close, and it burns at him. Jet and Droy got closer to her tonight. He could sink into her skin and it still wouldn't be enough for him to remove that mental image he's conjured thanks to his furry friend's knack for mischief, and for pissing people off.
She puts a hand in his. He could crush it. It's a hummingbird in a bear trap. He pulls his hand away, but hers flutters back into his, so he gives in.
"Why did you not want to go with me to the reception?"
"Look, shorty, this really isn't the time-"
"Wasn't it you who told me to spit it out? I did. Your turn." Her hazel leer says no nonsense, and he finds himself wrapping his hand around hers, gently.
"It was you who said that I didn't know your worth. But… that's not true." He scratches the back of his head, flushed. "But I do know it. Yer better than me. A lot better. That whole guild is better than me. But… especially you, Levy."
She startles at his use of her name. It's rare, and she swallows a lump. "So you really are just an idiot."
"Well, listen to yourself! You're pathetic. You've already proven your worth to the whole guild, and to me! We're equals!"
"We are not! Don't ever say that. Just look at who I was! Look at what I did to you! I'm no good for you."
Her scars aren't there anymore. The mark on her stomach is cleaned off. There are no more rope burns on her frail wrists and ankles. But it's like he can still see all of the injury he left. He remembers the fear in her eyes as he rotted her skin like old fruit with his own hands.
"Who cares who you were? That's not who you are anymore!" She puts her hands and alights them on either side of his studded face. "You're nakama now. I wouldn't have asked you to go in the first place if I hadn't thought that! Stupid." She smiles, faint but thorough in the dark-damp lighting of the room. "And you're more than good enough for me, otherwise I wouldn't have picked you. I'm smart, remember? And you're special to me."
She thinks of his own scars. Where the burn mark on his arm used to be from the lightning strike she wouldn't have been able to dodge in time without his help.
He huffs. "I guess you're not as weak as I think you are."
"You made me stronger, remember?"
He sighs and rolls his eyes. "What am I gonna do with you, shrimp? Yer killin' me."
"Do whatever you want."
A long silence passes, and then she blushes and shakes her head. "Well, you know what I m-mean. Within reason."
"Oh?" He chuckles, and his grin is heart-rattling lewd. "What's within reason?"
"S-stop it! I think you're very well aware!"
"Well, since you were gonna get intimate with a couple of losers, and since you told me I'm special I guess-"
She kisses him, and it's quiet, like the room around them. It's clear she's confused by the process, but he leads her into it, slow at first, and then with a rush it's more intense. He pulls away after a while with a heaving reluctance.
"Cute face, shrimp." He laughs again.
Her hair is mussed just the slightest bit from where he grabbed it earlier, and her cheeks are burning. Her eyes are as bright as they are when they're captivated by a book, and that makes him feel worth more than the weight of her own personal library, if only for the moment.
She looks away. "Jerk." She melts a little against his burly frame as she feels the gravity of time slosh in her bones. It's late, and she's exhausted emotionally and physically. She didn't dance but she was sure to socialize. Though really all she wanted was this in the beginning, she thinks as she puts her head on his shoulder and soaks in the scent of something like iron, like cold steel but softer at the edges.
He hefts her over his shoulder.
"Hey!" she mumbles. "Where are you taking me?"
"It's too late to walk you home. We're goin' to my bed."
He remains silent, bites back laughter as she pounds fists on his back.
"I'm only going in there if you put a beam between us in that bed!"
He bursts out the laughter he can't retain.
"You're lucky I'm tired," she hisses as he curls around her beneath the surprisingly warm sheets. "Otherwise I'd be fighting you tooth and nail."
"Yeah," he snorts, "and you'd be losin' every step of the way."