Hey guys and gals! Wow that sounded better in my head... Anyway! Here's the next chapter of Redemption! I've had so many people continue to follow and favorite this story which makes me so happy! This one has some drama in it so please enjoy.
One Week Later
"Mommy hurry!" Emi cried as she waited by the door. Lucy smiled and grabbed her purse. It had only been a week and Emi was already excited to see the team who was like her new family. There were still many members that she was scared of but with Natsu, Gray and Jellal protecting her, Emi had begun to open up. Lucy had given her boss a teaser for the article and her boss loved it so much, he'd told her to get the team to agree to be profiled. Which meant that she was going to be spending a long time following the team around. Possibly a few months. This thought both scared and excited her. She'd been having conflicting feelings for the entirety of this week. Natsu was the main cause. Right now, it seemed like he was just trying to be her friend which she liked but sometimes she found herself wishing for more and that thought scared her. The last time she had thought moving fast through a relationship was the right thing to do, she'd been scarred, literally. Granted, these were different circumstances but- "Mommy!" Lucy snapped out of her thoughts and joined her pouting daughter at the door, giggling. "Don't worry Emi. Everyone will still be there." She said, running her hand down her daughter's hair.
Emi looked at the soft smile on her mother's face as her mother knelt to face her. "You know Mommy loves you right Emi?" her mother asked. Emi knew. Oh did she know. Mommy got hurt because she loved Emi. Because Emi wasn't big enough to help Mommy. And there was nobody around to help Mommy then either. Yes, Emi knew Mommy loved her. And she loved Mommy more than anything in the world. "Yes Mommy! I love Mommy too!" Emi replied, a huge smile on her face. Emi smiled in spite of the bad feelings in her tummy. She smiled because it made Mommy smile and since Emi couldn't help her mother back then, she was going to do everything she could to help her Mommy now.
They got to the stadium and Emi started to get fidgety. She wanted to see her "Aunties" and let the attention begin. Lucy opened her door and got Emi out of her car seat. Over her shoulder, Emi could see Auntie Levy waiting for her. Squirming, she was set down only to run to Levy who scooped her up and gave her a loving squeeze. Lucy joined them a minute later and was also enveloped in a hug from Levy. The two had become fast friends. "Levy guess what? My boss loved the teaser I wrote and now he wants me to write profiles on the whole team!" Lucy exclaimed. Levy squealed in excitement and squeezed her friend's arm. "Oh Lucy that's great! I know they'll do it! Once you've been accepted you're a member of the family and we do anything to help our family." Levy said. Lucy blushed a bit and said, "Even Gajeel?"
Gajeel was Levy's husband. They were the most recently married of all the couples on the team. Levy was a cheerleader as well and since she was the smallest she was the one flying through the air most times. Gajeel was big and muscular and looked quite scary the first time Lucy had met him. Emi was still very nervous around him. He didn't like to talk much and he didn't like to express emotion either. To tell the truth, Lucy was a bit nervous about interviewing him. Levy didn't seem fazed by her question. "He will if he knows what's good for him!" The smile on her face was sinister and Lucy decided she never wanted to be on the receiving end of that smile.
The two women and child made their way into the stadium and the smell of freshly cut grass hit Lucy's nose, making her sigh in content. She had always loved that smell. The team was in the midst of a game which looked more like backyard football than the actual game. Their first preseason game was four days away, on Friday. They'd been training hard and today, Natsu had decided they should just have fun. And of course having fun meant playing football and hanging out with their friends. The girls had spread a blanket in one end zone and that was where Lucy and Emi went. They chatted about things girls normally talk about and the feeling it gave Lucy was beyond compare. The boys eventually stopped playing and some joined the girls but Natsu stayed back, laying on his back in center field. Lucy noticed and asked Mira about it. "Oh he does that sometimes. He is probably thinking about the upcoming game. For some reason, the field is where he does his best thinking." She said, looking over at the quarterback.
Emi saw Natsu laying there and figured he was lonely. She never liked being all alone: it scared her. So, while most of the others were distracted, she got up and began heading to him. Lucy, luckily, saw her daughter go and let her go. She trusted Natsu with her daughter. Natsu looked up when he heard unsteady footsteps coming towards him. He couldn't help the smile that spread across his face when he saw that it was Emi. "Hey pretty girl!" he said. Emi giggled at her nickname and plopped down next to him. Natsu sat up and let her crawl into his lap. His arms loosely wrapped around her tummy. He watched the group in the end zone as they laughed and talked together. Specifically he was watching Lucy. Emi patted his big hands with her tiny ones, gaining his attention again. "Mommy is smiling." She said. Natsu nodded. "She is. She's pretty when she smiles." He said. Emi looked up at him. "I want Mommy's smile to stay." She said. The way she said it concerned Natsu a bit. "Emi why are you scared of men?" he asked quietly.
Emi was quiet for a long time and the look on her face was a look better suited to a girl much older than her. It was a look of suffering. It disappeared quite rapidly when she noticed who was coming towards them. "Mommy!" she cried, getting up to receive the hug Lucy was offering. Lucy sat down next to them with her daughter now in her lap. "Hey." She said in greeting. Natsu smiled at her. "Hey yourself. You looked like you were enjoying yourself over there. Why bother leaving?" Lucy's face turned a tad bit red which Natsu found adorable. "They were teasing me so I left." She said, concentrating on her daughter's hair. "Teasing you? About what?" he asked. For some reason, this made her blush deepen. "They… they said you liked me and were teasing me about it." She said, not looking at him. Natsu started laughing and she looked up. "Yeah well they aren't wrong and you already knew I liked you so…? Ah forget it Lucy. Anyway, let me take you and Emi somewhere tonight." He said. Lucy gasped and looked at him. "What?!" she said incredulously. "Not like dating or anything, just like friends. I was driving out to see my dad and I passed this fun house and I thought maybe Emi would like it." He said quickly.
Lucy's eyes widened while Emi got rather excited. "Mommy please? Emi will not go to the park!" Emi said, pleading. Lucy couldn't fight both of them and their pleading faces so she caved.
Later that night Lucy unlocked the door to her apartment and stumbled in, exhausted. Behind her came an energetic Emi followed by and equally energetic Natsu. She'd been had. Emi had just been a cover for Natsu to get her to pay for countless sweets and he refused to listen when she said Emi needed to stop eating the sweets. He kept telling her to lighten up and now Emi was racing around the apartment laughing and giggling. "Emi, honey it's bedtime!" Lucy cried above the din. "Don't wanna!" Emi cried. "Emi I will not say it again! Go to bed!" Lucy said sternly, patience wearing thin. "Oh come on Lucy lighten up! Let her stay up a little bit." Natsu said. That was it. He'd been pestering her about lightening up for the entire night. "You stay out of this! You've caused me enough trouble tonight!" she said sharply. "Lucy seriously! She isn't going to be able to sleep yet for a few hours you might as well let her stay up!" he said. Lucy glared. "She needs to do what I say. Emily go to bed." Emi ducked around her mother's arms. "Nice man says stay up!" she cried gleefully. "Lucy see she wants to stay up with me!" Lucy had had it then. "Emily Rae you will go to bed now or so help me I will be sure to leave you with Grandma tomorrow and you won't see any of the aunties tomorrow!" she yelled. "And as for you Natsu you have no right to tell me how to parent my child! I have reasons for the things I tell her and you can just stay out of it!"
Natsu hadn't thought this was very serious but the glare on Lucy's face said otherwise and her yelling indicated the same thing. "Hey Lucy I just think you should loosen up a bit." He defended himself. "I don't think you understand! Emi is my child and I will parent her as I see fit. You are not her father so you have no right to make decisions!" Lucy cried. Now Natsu was angry. "Yeah well from what I can see she needs a father and you're first choice of one was pretty lousy! Maybe you should rethink your decision making skills!" he yelled. Lucy gasped and Natsu immediately regretted what he said. "Lucy-"he took a step towards her but she flinched back. "Get out." She whispered. He didn't move. "You think I don't know that?! Get out!" she cried, tears springing to her eyes. "Get out! Get out! I never want to see you again! Go!" she yelled, pointing to the door.
Emi put her hands over her ears as flashbacks flew across her mind. Yelling, screaming, thumps and screams for her to get out, to run, to escape. "No! Mommy I'm sorry! I'm sorry! I go to bed! I'm sorry!" she cried, bursting into tears. She ran to her bedroom and jumped into her bed, sobbing all the while. Natsu was stunned at this reaction from Emily but it made him hope that Lucy would listen to her daughter's pleas. She didn't. "Don't make me call the police. Get out." She said, her voice now strained with exhaustion, grief and something else Natsu wasn't sure of. "Luce-"she just jerked her finger at the door, not even looking at him. Natsu knew if he left he really would never see her again. "I can't." he said. "Not knowing what I've done." She turned her back on him and began to walk towards her daughter's room. "Lucy please! I'm sorry! I didn't mean any of it! I just said it without thinking. I regretted it right after it left my mouth and if I could take it back I would!" Lucy picked up her phone which she had put on the table next to the couch. Knowing what she was going to do, Natsu held up his hands and backed towards the door. "I'm going alright? Don't call the cops I'm going." He reached her door and turned with a desperate look on his face. "I really am sorry Lucy."
When the door closed, Lucy collapsed on the couch and began to sob. He was right! Her first choice in a father for Emily was a horrible choice! But she knew that already so did he really have to point it out? The awful memories flew across her mind as her sobs increased in volume. Natsu heard her from the other side of the thin apartment door; he slid down the door to sit on the floor, his head in his hands. "Dammit Lucy! I'm an idiot!" he said, knowing she could hear him through the thin door. "My mouth gets me into so much trouble. I get caught in the heat of the moment and I say things without thinking first! It always ends up hurting me in the end but nothing hurts as bad as knowing what I just did to you!" His hands fisted in his hair. "I'm no better than he was aren't I." he said. Lucy's sobs increased in volume again and Natsu could no longer take it. Even if the cops had to drag him out of that apartment, Lucy needed comfort whether she knew it or not and he'd be damned if he left her like this. Standing up again, Natsu burst back into the apartment and made it to the couch in a few strides. Lucy was surprised when he lifted her off the couch only to set her in his lap and press her to him desperately. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry." He repeated, rocking her back and forth while she sobbed, clinging to him.
After a few minutes, she began to calm down. Natsu had buried his head against her neck and was still holding her tightly against him. She… felt safe. He wasn't going to let her go for anything and even though he had been cruel a few moments ago, he kept repeating his apology and his voice held such desperation in it that she couldn't help but believe him. "Lucy I'm so stupid!" he whispered into her ear. Lucy nodded. "You are." She agreed shakily. "Can I fix it? Please let me fix it!" he begged. Lucy was quiet and Natsu pulled back far enough to see her face. "Okay." She whispered softly. Natsu's grip on her tightened as he buried his head back into her neck. "Thank you…" he said. Then he let her go and stood, heading for Emi's room. "What are you doing?" Lucy asked, yawning. "I'm going to fix things with Emi if I can. I think I scared her." Lucy's face softened into an expression that was almost a smile.
Natsu peeked through the door to find Emi crying quietly in her bed. "Hey, hey it's alright Emi." He said, coming into the room. Emi looked up and her crying grew louder. Her arms stretched out and Natsu picked her up before sitting down on her bed while she cried against him. He shushed her quietly and stroked her back. Just like Lucy, his calm strokes made Emily calm down faster. "Mommy's smile gone!" Emi said. "Emi's fault!" she said. "No, no Emi it was not your fault!" Natsu said, surprised. "It was all my fault honey. I didn't respect your mommy and I said something very mean. She was right to be mad at me and I'm surprised she let me come back." He said. Emi shook her head. "My fault." She said. Natsu looked down at the girl in his arms. "Emi it isn't your fault. Why would it be your fault? Mommy loves you more than anything." He said. Emi nodded. "Mommy saved Emi. Emi's fault Mommy hurts." She said. Natsu stiffened, his suspicions rising again. He had to be careful though, he didn't want to scare Emi. "Saved you? From what Emi?" he asked. "Daddy." Emi said. His suspicions had been confirmed and Natsu almost wished he'd been wrong. Natsu tightened his grip on the little girl in his arms. "Emi… did Daddy hurt mommy?" he asked her. Emi's grip on his shirt tightened as she nodded. "Mommy made me hide. She said we play hide and seek. She finds me when it's over. Daddy looks too but Mommy makes sure he can't find me. Daddy wants me not mommy. My fault Mommy hurts." She repeated.
At this point, Lucy, who had been listening at the door, came rushing into the room with fresh tears in her eyes. "Emi! Is that what you think?! That it was your fault?! Oh baby…!" Emi saw her mother and started to cry again. "Emi sowy!" she sobbed. Lucy took Emi from Natsu and held her. Natsu knew they needed some space and so he left them alone and headed back to the living room. "Emi it is not your fault. Daddy was a very bad man. You are my good girl and you did nothing wrong. Mommy knows you didn't want me to be hurt. I did it because I love you Emi. I will never let anyone hurt my baby girl. Ever. So don't you say it was your fault because it wasn't. Daddy was hurting me before you were born." Lucy confessed to her child.
Natsu heard because the door was open and his hand clenched into a fist. "Why didn't Mommy hide?" Emi asked, having calmed in her mother's arms. "Because I had you. I wanted you to have a father and Daddy loved you. But Daddy had a problem Emi and that's why we left together. Daddy has a problem in his head and he is broken." She said. Emi considered this and said, "Emi doesn't want bad Daddy." Lucy smiled slightly at her daughter. "I don't want him either. I want you to have a good Daddy who loves you very much." She said. "Like nice man?" Emi asked. The question made Lucy's breath hitch. "Nice man not hurting Mommy! Nice man say mean things but he sorry Mommy. He say sorry!" Emi's eyes were bright with determination as she defended Natsu to her mother. After all, "Nice man hugged Emi. Nice man give Emi kisses. Nice man say he loves Emi." She said. Lucy's eyes widened and she suppressed a gasp. "He said that?" she asked.
Natsu remembered. He'd been with Emi for a solid three hours playing with her and tickling her and getting her to smile or laugh in any way he could. Finally, he'd made her so tired she was ready for her nap. She had fallen asleep on his chest, or so he'd thought, when Jellal made some sort of comment about him being good with kids. He'd said normally he didn't like kids but he loved this one. He had thought Emily was asleep but she must not have been. Lucy kissed her daughter and said, "Well I will give it some thought Emily. Now, let's try to get some sleep ok? I will see you in the morning." She pulled the covers up to Emily's chin and smoothed her hair back from her forehead. Emi smiled at her mother and closed her eyes, falling asleep in moments. The sugar had run its course and now she was crashing from the high.
Natsu was on the couch when Lucy walked back in. Lucy plopped down next to him and he said, "So he beat you. Your lousy husband beat you. Even before you had Emily he was hurting you." His fists were clenched tightly and he looked like he wanted to hit something. Hard. Lucy knew it sounded bad. "It's a long story." He looked at her, indicating he wanted to hear it. "I… I'll tell you tomorrow. You're falling asleep anyway. I can't possibly let you drive home so you can stay here but you're sleeping on the couch." She said sternly. Natsu grinned impishly and said, "Yes mother!" She swatted his arm but went to a closet to grab a blanket. Natsu waited until she was pulling it up to cover him before swiftly grabbing her and pulling her down next to him. She squeaked in surprise but he rolled her to the other side before she had the chance to react and pinned her against the back of the couch. "So Emi wants a real father huh? And it sounds like I'm her favorite choice for that job." He said, grinning at her. Lucy blushed but sighed in defeat and said, "I said I'd think about it but you have a lot of ground to make up based on that performance tonight." Natsu grew serious again and drew her against his chest. "I know, and I promise I will." He said softly. He was so warm and Lucy was so tired from the big day and the crying. She knew she should go back to her room but she was pinned and Natsu's arm was heavy and he was just so warm! She felt her eyes slowly close as she fell asleep next to him on the couch.
Tightening his hold on her, Natsu smiled.
Whew! So much drama! So now we've learned... sort of... what happened with Lucy's previous marriage. I bet none of you were expecting that huh... what, no takers? Eh, whatever. Leave a review and let me know what you think.
I think I need to finally finish the paper I'm procrastinating about writing. I know what I want to say just not how to begin saying it. I'll see you with the next chapter!