Disclaimer: I do not own any of the following characters, I'm just borrowing them.
"Hey Gajeel, how many changes of clothes do you think I should bring?" Wendy asked, nibbling on the end of the pen Mirajane had given her. Tomorrow she was heading out for her first big job, and she was trying to put together a list of things to pack so she wouldn't forget anything.
Although, she probably could have chosen a quieter place to do it.
"YOU SHOWED BLATANT DISREGARD FOR PUBLIC PROPERTY-"
"Isn't it only a day-long mission?" Gajeel asked, arms crossed.
"-COULD'VE PICKED ANY TREE IN THE DAMN PARK, BUT NO, YOU PICKED THE CITY'S PRIZE-WINNING RAINBOW SAKURA-"
"Well, yeah," she said with a shrug, tucking a few strands of hair behind her ear. "But still. Do you think I should?"
"-I DON'T CARE HOW EMBARRASSING IT IS, TELL ME WHY YOU FELT IT WAS NECESSARY-"
"Bring an extra change just in case, if yer so worried about it then. Just don't pack too much, because no one's gonna be around to carry it for ya."
"GAJEEL!" The Iron Dragon Slayer looked quickly back at Makarov, eyes wide.
"You're in charge of him, you scold Natsu!" Makarov snapped, pointing at the wilted young man and cat sitting on the bench in front of him, both refusing to look up from the ground at the master and Gajeel. Makarov had overheard Happy saying something about his and Natsu's recent tree caper about an hour ago, and the ensuing scolding had scared several mages to either the outdoor cafe or the second floor. Some had stayed just to watch the show (Was that popcorn she smelled?).
Wendy pressed her lips together to hide her growing grin, looking at her notepad when Natsu looked to her for help. Last time Natsu had used her to get out of a scolding, Gajeel hadn't spoken to either of them for three hours while he sat in the corner, and she really did need his help. Normally, Charle helped her with packing, but seeing as she and Charle weren't speaking...
"Oi, being Drake doesn't mean I'm responsible for all the dumb shit Salamander gets into," Gajeel said, hands low on his hips.
"But you are responsible for punishing him," Makarov said, giving the younger man a Look. Gajeel groaned, turning to face Natsu.
"Have you learned yer lesson?" he asked flatly.
"Yes," Natsu grumbled. Happy nodded next to him.
"Did ya take steps to make up for yer actions?"
"Do you know not to do it again?"
"But it was for Lucy!" Natsu said suddenly, looking up with a fierce expression. Wendy tilted her head curiously at his reaction, but her attention shifted when Gajeel groaned, pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Ya've got to be kiddin' me," he said under his breath, but both the other Dragon Slayers heard it. Wendy hummed thoughtfully, about to ask what he meant, when a sudden thought of toothbrushes hit her and she went back to working on her list.
"The trees will still be in bloom for another 6 weeks," Makarov said, a vein ticking at his temple. "You could have just taken Lucy to see them once she got better, you nitwit!"
"Hey, Gajeel?" Wendy asked, not looking away from her notepad. "Should I bring some food?"
"Yer goin' straight from a train to Onibus, you'll have plenty of places to get food," he said, ignoring Makarov as the guild master continued to chew Natsu and Happy out. "Just bring some extra jewels and you'll be fine."
"Would you focus on the situation in front of you?" Makarov asked, and Wendy saw irritation flash across Gajeel's face before he took a deep breath, turning back to Natsu.
"How old are ya?" he asked, and Natsu's eyebrows climbed towards his hairline.
"What does that have to-"
"Answer the question."
"Language, Gajeel," Mirajane scolded gently as she passed, a tray under her arm.
"Like she hasn't heard worse!" he said, gesturing to Wendy. Mirajane turned to look at her and Wendy shrugged.
"Not many people here have a very good filter," she admitted. The other mages in Cait Shelter - she still couldn't think of them as ghosts - had been very careful about what they said around the young Dragon Slayer, but no one in Fairy Tail seemed to care. They treated her like an equal, and Wendy appreciated it more than they could understand.
She saw Charle curled up by one of the windows and quickly turned back to Mirajane, filled with determination. She would prove to everyone that she had earned her spot in the guild, despite what Charle thought!
"Mirajane, do you think I should bring my toiletries with me on the job?" she asked, and Gajeel looked at her out of the corner of his eyes.
"Kid, it's a one-day mission."
"I think that's a good idea!" Mirajane said, ignoring Gajeel. "You never know what could happen, and you want to try and look your best when you represent the guild!"
"Why does his age matter?" Makarov asked Gajeel, cutting off his response to Mirajane. The Dragon Slayer growled, dragging his hand down his face. Concentrating on several different conversations was clearly taking its toll, and Wendy felt guilt curl in her chest. Maybe she should have waited to ask him for his help, but it was already late in the afternoon, and she wanted to have her packing done before she went to bed.
"It's a dragon thing," Gajeel explained, his strained patience clear in his voice.
"That doesn't excuse his actions!"
"I ain't sayin' it does!"
"You may want to bring some nice clothes with you as well," Mirajane continued thoughtfully, tapping a carefully manicured fingernail against her chin. "Since you're going to a theater and everything."
Gajeel snapped his head around, glaring at Mirajane and ignoring Makarov's yelling. "She's goin' to work, not watch a play! Seriously, a small bag with the basics is all she needs."
"Gajeel Redfox, would you please focus!"
"You never know what she's going to need!"
"Am... I still in trouble?"
Wendy watched as everyone started talking over each other, all demanding Gajeel's attention, and she could pinpoint the exact moment when his patience snapped.
"Would ya all SHUT UP!?" he roared, and all activity in the guild came to a dead halt with his outburst. "You," he said, pointing at Makarov. "Stop yellin' at me because Salamander did some stupid shit and you're frustrated. I don't tell ya how to run the guild, and you will let me handle my nest in the way I see fit." He turned on Natsu. "Think with yer head for once in yer fuckin' life and think about the effect of yer actions. I get that it was for Lucy, but ya still ruined public property, and ya have to try and fix yer mistake. Mirajane," he continued, his voice slowly raising in volume as he kept talking. "I get that yer trying to help, but it is a one-day job and she ain't gonna get shit done if she has to drag a bunch of crap around with her!"
Gajeel turned to face her and Wendy immediately sat straight up in her seat, looking at the older Dragon Slayer with wide eyes. "And Kid, why don't ya ask the fucker yer goin' with for help instead of someone who isn't even directly involved!?" he snapped, and Wendy flinched at his tone. Gajeel made a frustrated noise low in his throat before turning on his heel and storming away, heading first towards the stairs to the second floor before changing his mind and instead going towards the guild's library. Pulling the door open with more force than necessary, Gajeel didn't look back before heading into the softly lit room, slamming the door after him.
Silence hung thick in the air after his outburst, everyone staring with wide eyes at the door the Iron Dragon Slayer went through.
"... Well, that was uncalled for," Makarov huffed, crossing his arms.
"We were really testing his patience," Mirajane admitted, frowning. "And he's been in a bad mood since this morning."
"He has?" Wendy asked softly, still feeling squirmy after being told off. She didn't like when people were mad at her, especially Gajeel. Mirajane turned towards her, and her expression softened.
"I think he was upset that Freed got chosen to accompany you instead of him," she said gently.
"Why would Metalhead care?" Natsu asked, seemingly forgetting that he was in trouble. Happy had already made his escape while Gajeel was yelling.
"He is basically like her older brother," Mirajane said. "Wendy's going on her first job, and that's a pretty big deal! He probably wanted to go with her so he could make sure she was safe. Remember when Elfman went on his first solo mission and Master wouldn't let us go with him just to observe?"
"Didn't you and Lisanna end up following him anyways and putting the guy he was supposed to be protecting in the hospital?"
"It's not a perfect example."
Wendy tuned them out as she thought, fiddling with her notepad. Was Gajeel really upset that Freed was coming with her instead of him? She hadn't been the one to choose; that was Master's choice, and Gajeel hadn't even been in the guild at the time.
Honestly, Wendy would have prefered for Gajeel to come. She barely knew Freed, and though she knew she could trust most of her guild mates, now that the thought of going with Gajeel had been put in her head she knew she wouldn't be quite happy with anything else. Because he was Drake, Wendy instinctually trusted him more than most. Natsu would deny it, but she knew he did too. She could see it in the way he gravitated towards the Iron Dragon Slayer during guild brawls, the two always trading insults as they watched each other's backs.
Her mind made up, Wendy stood up in a sharp movement that starled Mirajane. She shot the older woman an apologetic smile before quickly heading towards the library. Passing the bar, Wendy stopped before backtracking to stand behind the green-haired Runes Mage. "Mr. Freed?" Wendy asked, catching his attention easily. He spun the stool around to face her, bending over slightly so she didn't have to crane her neck back to look him in the eye.
"Yes, Wendy, do you need any assistance?" he asked, and she smiled apologetically.
"Would it be alright if someone else accompanied me on my mission?" she asked, pulling on her fingers shyly. "I really appreciate you offering, but I think I'd just be more comfortable going with someone I know a little better. Not that you're not trustworthy!" she added quickly. "I'm just-"
Freed held up a hand and gave her a small smile. "If it serves to make you more comfortable, I would be happy to step aside for the Kurogane," he reassured, and Wendy beamed at him.
"Thank you!" she sang, giving him a quick hug before continuing to head to the library. She made sure to close the door after her softly, wincing at the thought of Gajeel slamming it closed. Maybe she should wait to talk to him, give him more time to calm down. What if he was so frustrated with her that he didn't even want to go on the job with her anymore? She should have asked Gajeel if he wanted to accompany her before telling Freed that he didn't need to come with her.
Wendy yelped in surprise, turning to look at the young woman who had called her name out and effectively shaken her out of her thoughts. Levy looked up at her curiously, a small smile on her face. She was curled up in one of the chairs, a book in her lap and glasses perched on her nose. Wendy smiled shyly back, descending the stairs carefully.
Might as well say hi to Levy, even if Gajeel didn't want to talk to her right now, right?
"What's up?" Levy asked, holding her hand out for Wendy and pulling her into a one armed hug.
"Not much," Wendy said, happily returning the hug. "Trying to get ready for my job tomorrow."
"Oh yeah, your first big job! I'm so excited for you!" Levy said, smiling brightly. Something about Levy always made Wendy feel relaxed; whether it was her readiness to give Wendy all the hugs she could ask for, or the way she smelled like an ocean breeze. "Did you already pack or do you need some help?"
"I think I left my list out in the guild hall," the young Dragon Slayer admitted sheepishly, remembering how she had left both her list and her borrowed pen behind in her rush to find Gajeel, and Levy winced.
"Quick note about Fairy Tail and paper anythings;" she said, "if you leave it unattended, it will vanish. Trust me, I would know." Wendy deflated, thinking about her apparently lost list. "What were you in such a hurry about that you left it?" Levy asked, though her sly grin told Wendy that she already knew. She jerked her head towards the back corner of the library, beyond several rows of bookcases. A quick sniff of the air revealed that Gajeel was, in fact, hiding back there, the smell of metal ore giving him away. She gave Levy a grateful smile before heading carefully to the back.
There was no way to sneak up on a Dragon Slayer, at least not in a place this quiet and with so few scents to block her own. So Wendy didn't try to sneak, instead just quietly coming around the last bookshelf. Gajeel was sprawled out on his back on top of what looked like a beanbag chair that was several sizes too small for his large form to fit on, his head thrown back over the edge so Wendy couldn't see him. But she knew he knew she was there, and after a moment his arm closest to her raised, gesturing her closer.
Well, at least he wasn't mad enough to send her away without talking to her at all.
Wendy carefully sat down on what was left of the beanbag, leaning back against the curve of his waist. He inhaled deeply, the action pushing against Wendy's back, before propping himself up on his elbows, looking at the younger Dragon Slayer.
"So, ya lost yer packing list?" he asked quietly, and Wendy nodded. He sighed, rubbing a hand down his face, and it suddenly hit Wendy how tired he looked. Was that just from dealing with everyone upstairs? Guilt made her feel squirmy again, but Gajeel's hand found that spot between her shoulder blades that when scratched, instantly made Wendy relax.
"Kid, I'm serious about asking the guy who's accompanying ya," he said wearily. "It wouldn't make sense for me to help ya, only for ya to find out that he's bringing the same stuff-"
"I am," Wendy said quickly, and Gajeel stopped to look at her with a quirked eyebrow. "I mean, I'm asking the person I want to come with me," she said shyly, looking at her hands. "Master's the one who asked Freed to go with Happy and I, not me." She slid off the beanbag chair, kneeling with her hands fisted on top of her legs as she looked at the shocked Gajeel.
"Would you come with me and Happy on my mission, please?" she asked nervously.
Gajeel stared at her for a few moments, clearly shocked that she had asked. "I, uh," he started, only to glare behind Wendy when he heard Levy cough "Say yes" into her fist. "I'm gettin' there!" he snapped, and Wendy couldn't help but giggle. When she looked back up, Gajeel was grinning at her. "I'd be happy to go with ya'," he said, holding his hand out for her to shake. Ignoring his hand, Wendy instead tackled him with a happy squeal, hugging him tightly.
It took him a moment, but he returned the hug with a chuckle, wrapping his arms around her. Wendy felt herself start to purr low in her throat, which made Gajeel laugh even more. "Now, um," she said, pulling back from the embrace so she could meet the Drake's eye, smiling sheepishly, "about my list?"
Gajeel snorted, ruffling her hair. "We'll figure something out," he reassured. Both Dragon Slayers looked up when Levy coughed from where she leaned against one of the bookcases, hands in her back pockets.
"I'm sorry to interrupt," she said with a smile that wasn't very sorry at all, "but if Wendy needs help packing, I wouldn't mind helping."
Gajeel regarded her warily. "Ya don't pack like Mirajane, do ya?" he asked, and Levy snorted.
"God no, she has Elfman to carry her bags for her so she always packs too much. It's only a day-long job, isn't it?" she asked Wendy, who nodded. "So just a bag should be fine. Simple!"
"Finally, someone gets it," Gajeel sighed in relief, making both blunettes laugh. Levy held her hand out towards Wendy, and she was halfway to the older woman before she remembered something. The young girl quickly spun around and went back to his side, throwing her arms back around Gajeel's neck and nuzzling his cheek like Grandine used to do to her. Gajeel seemed to freeze for a moment, before a content sound rumbled in his chest and he nudged the bridge of his nose against her cheek.
"Go get ready, Hatchling," he said with a teasing lilt to his voice, gently nudging her back. He didn't look quite as tired anymore, more at ease, and Wendy felt proud that she had been able to make him feel better.
Wendy stuck her tongue out at him before trotting over to Levy, taking the older mage's hand and dragging her out of the library, already rambling about her job to the grinning Solid Script Mage. From the corner of her eyes, Wendy caught Levy smiling warmly back at Gajeel, and decided that it probably wasn't a very good idea to tease the woman that had kindly offered to help her pack.
Didn't mean she wouldn't later, though. After all, it was her brother Levy was smiling at.
I'd like to make a quick shout out to pansariri on tumblr, who has been such a big help with not only this fic, but with "Coming Off the Page" as well. A lot of this fic is the result of us throwing headcanons at each other, and I wouldn't have been able to do this without her kicking my butt into writing. She's a phenomenal writer (she's still Lionus on here, I believe), and a wonderful friend, and I'm super grateful for all her help.
So here's to you, ya nasty chicken leg. You're the best! (I'm gonna get smacked for this).
do-fairys-have-tails . tumblr . com