Author's Note: Last chapter, folks! It's been a fun snowball of a story, but alas, the time has come for it to stop rolling. It really was supposed to be a quick three-shot, but then suggestions and plot bunnies happened. I think the story is better for it though. I'd like to thank everyone who gave their valuable time to read, favorite, and/or review, and a particular thanks to dragonslayer437 and arunedel, who both gave hilarious and helpful suggestions for Bixlow's hobbies that propelled this story even further. Also a shout out to Ulcaasi, who always notices grammar mistakes (that I promise I will eventually get around to fixing!) and is always helping me improve. I think Smashing Skunk53 also deserves some recognition for calling me their "favorite little tugboat" which...I strangely liked, for some reason.
Anyway, fear not, dearest readers! I know LisBix stories are few and far between, but there shall be more from this author very soon! I will not stop until the LisBix revolution has gripped then entire fanfiction community, until I am satisfied with the quality and quantity of the LisBix stories available for my entertainment! And even then, I will not stop!
Seriously, I'm in love with them. So if you have an idea, write it. Please? I'm really tired of reading what few there are.
Smurf is signing off...until next time, my pretties!
9. Ice skating
Lisanna grinned and tugged at Bixlow's arm, urging him to walk faster. "Come on, hurry up! We don't have all night."
"I don't think the lake is gonna thaw in the few minutes it takes us to get there," Bixlow said, maintaining his frustratingly sluggish pace as he stomped through the snow. The fluffy white precipitation had been falling at a steady rate for the past week, coming down from the blank gray slate of clouds that blocked any traces of blue. Even now, in the darkness of night, he could see the layer shifting across the sky, blotting out the stars. It made him feel cooped up, like he was surrounded in a cocoon of cotton. Really, really cold cotton.
Everyone else seemed to like it, though. Fairy Tail was having a blast, what with the daily snowball fights and snowmen and igloos constructed along the property. Lisanna in particular loved the snow. She bounced around in it like a white rabbit, blue eyes bright enough to make up for the missing sky.
"It's not a lake, it's a pond," she corrected as they trudged on, leaving deep gray footprints in the snow. Bixlow had made a game of stepping on her little footprints, completely engulfing them in his own. It was part of the reason he walked so slowly.
"What's the difference?"
"A lake is bigger. Deeper. This is a small one, just big enough for two or three people," Lisanna explained. She smiled. "Elf-nii and I found it when we were kids. I didn't realize it was still here until he mentioned it the other day. We went looking for it and it was completely frozen. Perfect for ice skating."
"Why take me, then?" Bixlow asked curiously. "Why not your brother? Or the barmaid?"
"Because I thought it would be fun to skate with you," Lisanna said.
To his surprise, Bixlow felt his ears heat up. He was suddenly glad for the darkness, and for his hood. Blushing wasn't something that happened to him very often, but when it did, it happened everywhere.
He gave her a trademark Bixlow grin, brushing it off. "Oh, yeah?"
She nodded. "We're almost there," she added, pointing. "It's just through those trees."
The bare trees broke into a white clearing. There was a small circle of water in the center, completely frozen, reflecting the silver light of the moon like a mirror. They stood on the fringe and took it in, bundled up in their coats and scarves.
"Are you sure that's not a lake?" Bixlow asked. His babies chorused, "Lake, lake!"
"I'm sure," Lisanna said dryly. She held up the two pairs of ice skates, one pair black and clunky, the other white and dainty. The black pair belonged to Elfman, which Bixlow was using since he didn't own any ice skates and, coincidentally, they wore the same size shoe. "Are you ready for this?"
"I'm ready for anything." He took the ice skates and followed Lisanna to the pond. She sat by the edge and removed her shoes, quickly replacing them with the skates. Bixlow followed suit, discreetly glancing over at her to make sure he was tying them correctly. She stood, balancing on the thin edge of the metal blade.
"Having some issues?" she asked.
Bixlow tied the last knot, glaring. "No."
"Have you ever done this before, Bixlow?"
"'Course I have," he scoffed, struggling to get to his feet. It took him a few tries, but eventually he managed to stand, leaning slightly on the babies as they held him steady from behind.
Lisanna shrugged and skated backward onto the pond, grinning at him. Her sleek hair gleamed like glistening icicles in the moonlight and cast her pale face in shadow. Bixlow noted the challenge in her eye and frowned.
"You know, just because you're not sayin' anything doesn't mean I can't tell when you're mockin' me."
"I'm not mocking you," Lisanna argued. "I'm just waiting to see you skate."
Bixlow swallowed. The babies gave him a little push, and he moved across the ice a few centimeters. "There, ya see? I skated."
"It doesn't count if you use magic," Lisanna sang, spinning in a little circle. Her skates made a scraping sound on the ice and formed slim, graceful grooves in its shining surface. "Just admit you've never skated before and you don't know how. It's okay."
"I'll admit nothing," Bixlwo snapped. He tried to take a step forward with his skate and wobbled, but managed to stay upright.
"You're doing well."
"Stop patronizing me."
"I'm not patronizing. I'm encouraging." Lisanna stopped spinning in front of him, arching an eyebrow and placing her hands on her hips. "You know, if you just admit that you don't know how to ice skate, I could teach you."
"Why do I get the feelin' that you set all this up just so you could rub it in my face that you can do somethin' better than me?"
"It sounds petty when you say it like that," Lisanna complained.
"How else am I s'posed to say it?"
"I just wanted to show you a hobby of mine," she said, sticking her hands in the pockets of her coat. "I figured…well, since you pretty much took me along…I'd do the same."
"So it's a 'show me yours and I'll show you mine' situation?" Bixlow said.
"Pretty much," Lisanna smirked.
"I like the sound of that," Bixlow said, wiggling his tongue at her.
She laughed and held out her hands. "Come on, I'll help you. Get the babies to push and I'll pull. Together we should be able to lug your sorry ass around the pond."
"Oi, leave my sorry ass outta this." Bixlow reconsidered the statement as he took Lisanna's hands. "On second thought, don't. You can include my sorry ass if you want."
"Duly noted," Lisanna snorted. She tugged and guided Bixlow along the pond, skating backward and directing the movements of his feet. Soon they were in the middle of the pond, skating above the watery depths.
"Ain't you worried about the ice breakin'?" he asked.
"No, it's been frozen solid for a few days now, and it's only getting colder. Besides, Elf-nii's fallen on his face more times than I can count. I don't think you have anything to worry about." She smiled. "So, do you feel like I can take the training wheels off yet?"
"I think I'm gettin' the hang of it."
Lisanna released his hands and slowly skated away, watching with anticipation as he clumsily inched along the ice alone. "This ain't so hard," he said, but as soon as the words left his mouth, his feet gave out from under him and he busted his ass on the ice. He blinked up at the fuzzy sky for a moment, stunned, and let out a groan.
"Holy crap, are you okay?!" Lisanna said, gliding over on her skates. Laughter colored her voice—obviously she was quite amused with Bixlow's failure.
"Peachy," he quipped.
"I didn't think you'd fall that hard," she chuckled, lying down beside him on the ice when it became clear he had no intention of getting up right away. "I figured the babies would catch you."
"They tried, but they weren't fast enough," said Bixlow. He reached out from behind him and unearthed Pappa, who was a bit cracked from the fall. He'd have to fix that later. The rest of them had made it out okay, though, and were hovering off to the side. Pappa joined them.
"Sorry," Lisanna giggled.
Bixlow glanced over at her. "Somethin' tells me you're less than sincere. Could be all the freakin' chortlin' you're doin' over there."
"I don't chortle!"
"Oh, rest assured, you chortle."
"Chortle, chortle!" the babies cheered from the sidelines.
Lisanna huffed and looked up at the moon, which was just a big white blur behind the clouds. She ran her hands down the surface of the ice, cold and slippery and gritted with snow under her gloves. "Isn't it weird to think that there's a whole world sleeping under here?" she said, tapping the ice. "We're just skating above all the fish and stuff, and they probably don't even know it."
"Weird," Bixlow agreed. "Are there even fish in this lake?"
"Pond," Lisanna corrected. "And yes, there are. I don't know what kind, but some of them are small and silver, and there are bigger green and blue ones, and then there are brown ones that live in the mud. Do you think mud freezes in the winter?"
Bixlow shrugged. "Dunno. Don't ponder it too hard."
Lisanna snorted and smacked his arm at the sorry pun.
"Ow! What was that for?! C'mon, I came up with that all by myself!"
"I can tell."
They looked up at the clouds for a bit longer. "Do you think," Bixlow said slowly, "that there are giant people above us, walkin' and skatin' on the clouds?"
"I think we'd notice," said Lisanna thoughtfully.
"The fish don't."
"The fish are frozen."
"Yeah, so'm I."
Lisanna rolled her eyes and reached her hands up to the clouds, squinting at them closely. "I don't know, I think we'd be able to tell. The moon would illuminate the people for us, or at least show us their shadows."
They laid in the muffled silence of the snow, watching the snowflakes spin gracefully through the air. Whenever one of them moved, it was a crack like thunder in the white quiet.
"…That conversation got weird," Bixlow finally said.
"Agreed," Lisanna concurred. She sat up, grateful for the segue, and clapped her hands. "Let's try skating again."
Bixlow groaned, but Lisanna popped up on her skates and grabbed his floppy arms, trying in vain to hoist him off the ground. She had gotten him to at least sit up when an evil smile flashed across his face, and with a quick, powerful jerk of his arms he upset Lisanna's balance and caused her to topple on top of him. It was a clumsy, painful topple, not the cute kind from the movies. Lisanna's head hit Bixlow's visor, which really hurt, and they ended up in a homogenous mass of limbs on the ice.
"Ouch," Lisanna said, rubbing the tender spot on her forehead. She hoped there wouldn't be a bruise.
"Tell me about it," Bixlow complained, clutching his ear. "You got my brains rattlin' around in here."
"That's what happens when there's extra space," Lisanna snapped. "You're the one who decided to be a jerk, anyway."
"I ain't a jerk," Bixlow protested. "I just don't really wanna skate right now."
"You could have just said so," Lisanna muttered. Her face warmed when she gouged her position on top of him, but she didn't make any move to get up, and neither did he.
Bixlow grinned and gently pinched her cheek. "You're face is red, babe."
"It's cold," she said. Her face only grew pinker. Bixlow was close enough to see the small snowflakes caught in her eyelashes and threaded through her silver hair.
"I could warm you up," Bixlow grinned.
"I think you're already doing a pretty good job at that," Lisanna muttered into her scarf. Bixlow gave a hearty laugh that Lisanna could feel underneath her. He gripped her scarf in one hand and tugged it down, tipping back his visor with the other. Lisanna didn't resist—she closed her eyes and lowered herself into the kiss.
It was long and moved with frustrating slowness, like sweet syrup, but it did indeed warm Lisanna from head to toe. There was a metal scrape as Bixlow tossed his mask onto the ice, and his hand moved down to her waist, where he held her closer. Lisanna cupped his jaw in her hand and wished that her gloves were gone so she could feel the rough skin on her fingertips.
Bixlow's grip tightened on her waist and without warning he rolled over, pressing Lisanna into the ice. A noise somewhere between a squeak of surprise and a purr of delight escaped her throat. She spread her fingers across the frozen water to test if they had begun to melt it. It seemed like it should have turned to water under her palm, but it remained hard, unforgiving ice.
Bixlow broke from the kiss and ran his lips up her jaw, past her hairline. He kissed her forehead, the place where she'd banged it on his visor, and then her cold nose, warming it immediately, and then back to her lips again, kissing her in such fierce, rapid succession that it left her feeling dizzy.
Bixlow chuckled and moved down to her scarf, burrowing his cold face in the crook of her neck. "Don't forget to breathe," he advised. He ran his tongue along her throat, causing her to shiver.
"You're a little out of breath yourself," Lisanna gasped when she could think again. Their breath came out in puffs of steam, mingling together in the winter night until she couldn't tell whose was whose. Her chest heaved, and the cold air stabbed at her lungs, but even that couldn't penetrate the crescendo of heat inside her body.
She felt cold when Bixlow was suddenly gone, the space in front of her empty and bare without him. He lay back on the ice beside her, head pillowed under one arm. His eyes shined bright green like a cat's when they landed on her, and smiled that tongue-wagging smile when he read the expression clearly on her face. He reached out and took her hand on the ice. "Don't worry, babe, there's more where that came from."
"Shut up," Lisanna muttered, blushing.
"It only gets better, I promise."
"Looking forward to it."
"Yeah, I'm a regular sex god."
"Makin' ladies melt in my very presence."
"Well, you know what?" Lisanna said. "I can ice skate better than you. So there."
Bixlow quirked an eyebrow. "Can you?"
"I think we already established that."
"Yes, we did."
Bixlow flashed her another chilling, slightly crazed grin and stood up, yanking her up with him. He spun her around and put one hand on her waist, skating backward and pulling her along with him. Lisanna gaped as they danced a graceful figure eight around the pond. Bixlow didn't stumble once, and his babies were off to the side, humming a melody and swaying through the air.
"You can ice skate?!" she cried.
"I told you, I've yet to find somethin' I ain't good at."
"Then why did you—" Lisanna froze, realizing. "That was a set up! You…you—!"
"Actually, I was originally doin' it to spare your feelings," Bixlow explained. "You were so excited to teach me somethin' that I couldn't burst your bubble by tellin' you I was already a master. Granted, I was plannin' on makin' out on the way home—I do have money on it, after all—but then I fell and the moment just seemed so right…"
"You have money on it?!"
"Yeah, I entered the poll for when we'll get together."
"There's a poll?!"
Bixlow nodded. "Don't worry, we'll split the earnings."
Lisanna scowled and tried to push him, but ended up just upsetting her own balance. Bixlow caught her by the waist and yanked her flush to him, grinning down at her. He brushed his lips across her cheek. "And then you had to go and brag about how good of an ice skater you are," he whispered, nipping her earlobe. "And I decided I had to keep you humble."
"You're unbelievable," Lisanna muttered crossly, burrowing her face into his coat.
"I know," Bixlow snickered. "But don't worry, I'm sure you'll find somethin' that you're better at eventually."
"Oh? And what makes Bixow the Sexy Beast say that?"
He tugged at her hair until she looked up at him, pouting. He smiled at her and kissed her again. "'Cause you're unbelievable," he said with uncharacterstic softness. Lisanna blinked. Bixlow's soft smile expanded into a grin, and he released her, nearly sending her sprawling onto the ice. "C'mon, let's get off this lake and get some of that tea crap before we freeze to death."
"It's a pond. A pond," Lisanna called after him as he glided his way to the bank. She scooped down and picked up his mask, catching her reflection in the gleaming metal. Then she smiled and hugged it to her chest, heading to the snowdrifts where Bixlow was waiting.