Disclaimer: Everything regarding Fairy Tail is owned by Hiro Mashima. No question here.
Author's Notes: This is the first fic that I've published on . I would appreciate your reviews! The first chapter's a bit short but I will try to have more interactions in the following ones.
Chapter 1 - In which a deal is struck with the Devil
It started with a kiss. Two, actually, if truth was being told.
The first kiss was an accident, and it wasn't even that good—though, to be fair, as inexperienced as Lucy was, she really wasn't in a position to judge. But she had meant it to be a harmless peck on the cheek, something you normally did with friends if you were feeling affectionate, but it didn't happen like that at all.
She, Natsu, and Happy were at the train station in town, on their way to Crocus to meet up with a bigwig literary agent who wanted to publish her experiences as a mage in Fairy Tail, when a man came out of nowhere and swiped her book bag from her grasp, taking with him the only copy of her manuscript. Natsu rushed after him instantly, and the man, who had no inkling of what was coming, hadn't even cleared ten yards of the exit before the dragon slayer caught up to him. Short of torching the guy, Natsu grabbed the bag back and skipped over to Lucy, looking smug and invigorated. Lucy felt so grateful afterwards that she glomped him and moved to kiss his cheek, but he turned his head to her at the last possible second. Their lips smushed together.
"Ah! They kissed!" Happy crowed in surprise.
Natsu pulled back, unfazed. "What d'you do that for?"
Lucy felt her face burn all the way to her ears. "Well, you know! It's what friends do to say thanks!" She'd laughed it off, even though it meant everything to her. It was her first kiss, after all.
And it wasn't even half of what she'd expected. She'd read about kisses before. A first kiss was supposed to be special. It was supposed to be shared with someone who had the same feelings as you did. And, more importantly, it was supposed to be romantic. Though she and Natsu were pretty close and he had been through so many things with her, Lucy wasn't sure if they even had that kind of relationship. Despite his affection for her, he just didn't seem all that interested in things like kisses, romance, and relationships.
So in the end, Lucy decided that it didn't count as her first kiss. For one thing, both parties should want to do it with each other.
And first kisses shouldn't be awkward like that, not according to her standards anyway.
The second one—should it still be considered the second one if the first one didn't count?—dear Mavis, the second one was worse. She had just finished a mission with Natsu and Happy at a nearby island and was bodily dragging the seasick boy back to his house when, at his stoop, he straightened up and put his lips on hers. She was too stunned that she didn't even have the mind to pull away.
Natsu grinned down at her. "That's a thank you, in case you were wondering."
"O-Of course!" She jabbed him on the arm playfully, her heart thudding in her ears. "Come on, let's get you to your hammock."
Lucy told herself that she wouldn't overthink it, that there wasn't anything in the kiss to even consider. Were second kisses supposed to taste of smoke and vomit? Suddenly, she started to lose faith in the idea of kisses entirely.
But, thinking back, she hadn't expected Natsu's lips to be soft and gentle either.
Lucy tried not to think about Natsu's lips. She wasn't sure if she was ready to deal with what kissing Natsu meant and the possibility that she might have feelings for her best friend, as improbable as that seemed. All this fuss because of a kiss (or two).
So she faced forward. In the days that followed, she strove to live as though nothing happened. Everyday life ensued. She took missions with her team, bickered with Juvia about Gray, shopped books with Levy, went around town with Wendy, and at the end of each day, she wrote her feelings down in unsent letters to her mother. She moved on. She was doing so well in forgetting that she was beginning to believe those two kisses with Natsu were just anomalies that every boy-girl friendship was bound to have.
Until today, that is.
It started with a fight.
A usual day in the Fairy Tail guild hall, if Lucy were to be asked. She and Levy were talking at the bar with Mirajane when Natsu and Happy strode over.
"We found a job, Lucy," Natsu said cheerfully, waving a mission request in front of her face. "It's something that you would like!"
Immediately suspicious, Lucy narrowed her eyes. "What sort of job is it?"
"A fashion show!" Happy replied.
"But the show's just a front," Natsu went on. "While you strut around in your little outfits, Happy and I get to catch the guys who supposedly smuggle dud lacrima into Fiore."
"So I'm the distraction?" Lucy asked. Somehow, this sounded too dubious. She wasn't one to involve herself in their mission skirmishes, and they'd had plenty of those in the past, but she wasn't one to idly stand by in the sidelines either while everyone else worked their butts off.
"Aw, come on. There'll be photographers there," Happy insisted. "You'd get to show yourself off!"
"You might even get scouted, Lu-chan," Levy chimed in. "You'll be popular like Mira-san!"
Admittedly, this was something Lucy could agree to. A spread about her on Sorcerer Magazine wouldn't hurt. "Maybe I'd even get to keep the clothes," she wondered.
"Pffft, even if you didn't, the 900,000J reward could definitely make you rich enough to buy clothes, right?" Natsu grinned.
"900,000 Jewels?" Lucy's eyes bugged. "When do we leave?!"
"You should have led with the reward, Natsu," Happy said snidely. "She played so hard to get before."
Lucy was too excited for the reward and the possibility of future fame that she let the Exceed's retort slide. Split three ways, that amount of money could cover at least four months' worth of rent. "Why is the client offering so much money for a setup like that?"
"It's probably a government council that's holding the event," Mirajane quipped helpfully. "Since the request is to catch smugglers."
"If you're going to do some catching, it will be better for you to take someone who can do the actual work." Gray had sauntered over to them, having overheard the conversation from his table. He motioned toward Natsu. "With just this idiot around, you'll probably end up paying the client your reward money."
Natsu perked up at the ice mage's challenge. "What do you plan to do? Throw little swan ice sculptures at them?" He guffawed at this.
"That's still better than what you probably will do, which is raze the entire event to the ground!"
Lucy could actually see that happening. But instinctively, she shimmied away a bit, knowing full well what the two mages' arguments eventually led to.
"I bet I could think of better ideas than you—"
"That is if you could think at all, you flame-head moron!"
And soon enough they were in a dust cloud of flailing limbs and biting heads, scattering food and splintering furniture every which way. The guild members had learned how to sidestep Gray and Natsu's fights early on, and no fuss was made when ice spears and flame jets shot out from the melee. Well, not too much fuss, anyway; maybe Macao huffed a little when his lager spilled, and Reedus whined when his easel got hit, and perhaps there was also a bit of grumbling from Elfman when Gray's leg nudged his face straight into his curry. But, all of this was already a given.
All of it, except when Natsu spewed a fire ball and it almost, almost singed Erza's eyebrows off. Lucy held her breath. Even that could be forgiven, she thought. Her biggest worry was that the strawberry cake had been blown clean off the Requip mage's plate on the bar.
Time seemed to freeze.
Lucy cringed. Before she had time to stand and urge Levy to get out of the immediate vicinity with her (they were too close to Ground Zero), Erza had already requipped into full golden armor, something Lucy had never seen before. The S-class mage must have been saving it for a special occasion.
There was the sound of crunching bone.
"No, no! Gray and I were just—"
"WHY ARE YOU STILL TALKING?!"
Whoosh, thud, groan. Maybe another groan.
"I. AM. SO. TIRED. OF. YOUR. STUPID. PISSING. CONTESTS!"
Happy flew over and plopped on Lucy's shoulder. "Poor Natsu," he lamented, looking on in worry.
She patted his paw. "Can't say we didn't see this coming, though."
The mage's raging pushed on. It was so painful to watch that Lucy had stopped trying to keep up, feeling sorry for Natsu and Gray. She sighed, expecting the dragon slayer to be roosting in her apartment soon after this to recover, as was his tendency every time he was hurt or injured.
More furniture broke. There was a slam, a grunt, a crash, and...a cheer?
Cana was cheering. She was perched on one of the tables near the bar, looking like she'd just gotten up from a drunken nap. "Woohoo, a kissing contest! We're having a kissing contest? Did I hear that right?"
Lucy was about to correct her when Erza suddenly went stock still, her gaze flicking over to Cana. "Actually," she started, "that's not a bad idea."
"Right?" Cana cackled. "About time too!"
Erza turned back to the two male mages, who by this time had picked themselves up from the floor. Natsu's nose was bleeding, while Gray's jaw was starting to bruise. "Let's settle this in a peaceful way then," she told them. "A kissing contest, five days from now."
Natsu glared at Erza, horrified. "I am not kissing him!"
"You moron, we're not going to kiss each other." Gray glanced at Erza gingerly. "Right?"
"Of course not," Erza said. "You get to pick your partners."
Juvia had fluttered close to Lucy at this. "Juvia will be Gray-sama's partner, not you."
"I wasn't even volunteering!" Unwittingly, Lucy looked at Natsu. He appeared as unaffected as ever, frowning at Erza in deep thought. Lucy couldn't help but wonder who he would pick as his partner. Hoping he'd choose her was ridiculous, but the seed of it was there in her head, germinating. He was likely to choose Lisanna, though. Somehow, the thought of it made her heart sink.
"What are the terms?" Natsu asked.
"Whoever kisses the longest wins the contest," Cana said, mid-hiccup. "The loser..." She looked at Erza questioningly.
"The loser prostrates himself to the winner in apology," Erza declares, "and gets to do my bidding for a month."
Every head in the guild swung around to the back of the guild hall. Beside her, Lucy heard Levy gasp. Gajeel was standing on top of his usual table, his arm raised, fist in the air.
Erza arched an eyebrow at him.
"Not to be your slave boy," Gajeel clarified quickly, "but to join the contest."
"Huh? You?" Natsu snorted. "The iron boy can kiss?"
"Are you saying you can kiss better than me, flame breath?"
"I'm saying that I can kiss better than ALL OF YOU."
Happy shook his head, sliding off of Lucy's shoulder. "This is getting too weird." He flew off to the bar to ask Mira for fish.
"Then prove it," Gajeel goaded, sauntering over to where Erza stood to address her. "I'll join the contest just so I can shove this idiot's foot down his throat when I win."
"F-Fine," Erza relented, seeming confused now. "Though the terms will have to change now that three pairs are involved..."
"I'll write the rules," Mirajane offered sweetly. "But the basic terms should still apply, I think."
Natsu let out an excited howl. "Let's do this, then!"
"You have five days to prepare," the barmaid announced with a smile, which, to Lucy, seemed more dangerous than Erza's weapons at the moment, "so you better pick your partners now."
Erza nodded towards Gray. "Who's your partner?"
Juvia reached over to grab Lucy by the arm, her nails digging into her skin. Lucy nudged her off, but the woman's grip on her only tightened. "Seriously, Juvia, this is so unnecessary." She found herself holding her breath and praying for her dear life when Gray promptly glanced in their direction.
"Juvia?" Gray asked.
The water mage turned a very deep shade of red. She gave Lucy a victorious huff before she glided over to Gray's side. Lucy shook her head in disbelief, but nonetheless felt a note of gladness for the blue-haired mage, knowing she'd been longing for something like this to happen for ages. It was short of what she deserved for her patience, but it was a good start.
Erza swept her gaze toward the iron dragon slayer. "Gajeel?"
The long-haired mage snorted, as though finding it stupid that she even had to ask. He pointed a finger to Levy, who yelped in surprise.
"You'll help me win, shrimp." He ignored the loud protestations that came from Jet and Droy.
"B-But I haven't..." The Solid Script mage faltered. "This is..."
"Your first time?" Gajeel drawled, nodding. "You worry too damn much. That's what your books are for."
Lucy stopped herself from rolling her eyes. Books can only do so much. She glanced at Levy, understanding her dilemma, but the bookish mage seemed strangely...happy. Huh.
"What about you, Natsu?" Erza asked.
"I pick Lucy, naturally!" Natsu answered without missing a beat.
"There's nothing natural about this!" Lucy retorted at him, but her heart had jumped at his mention of her name. She didn't know if she wanted to whack his clueless head or hug it in delight. What was going on with her?
Natsu turned to her. "What's the big deal? We've already kissed a couple of times."
Lucy's face burned. Oh, she definitely wanted to whack him hard now. Slowly, she felt everyone's widened eyes upon her, heard their collective gasp. Only Mirajane appeared unperturbed, smiling sweetly as usual, as though she'd already expected this.
Cana snickered, almost tottering off her table. "My, my. Who kissed whom first?"
"She kissed me first," Natsu said, grinning. This elicited squeals of disbelief from the women, and Lucy thought Erza gave her a nod of approval.
"That's not very manly of you," Elfman muttered.
"That's why I kissed her next," the fire dragon slayer boasted triumphantly, at which point Lucy had reached his side, yanking on his arm, blatantly ignoring the catcalls and wolf whistles that followed the bold declaration.
"That's not something you talk about in front of everyone!" She hissed, unable to meet his eyes.
"But why not?" Natsu whispered. "It was a nice kiss."
Lucy looked up at him then, startled at his words. It never occurred to her that he might have had an opinion about the kiss, seeing how offhand he'd been. "I-It was?"
"Hm-mm," Natsu chucked her lightly on the chin. "That's why I'm sure we're going to win this thing. What do you say?"
There was an expression of unadulterated excitement on his face that made Lucy realize she didn't have it in her to let him down. How could he feel such open joy in facing something so unknown when she herself was almost quaking in her boots? But this was the best thing she admired about Natsu: his fearlessness, his optimism, his boundless zest for life. He never did anything half-assed. And though his rashness often resulted in damage and destruction, he always acted out of the purest of intentions. So in spite of her misgivings—and the loud voice in the back of her head that warned her of the terrible consequences—she quickly nodded her assent. "Let's do it!"