CHAPTER 1 : A strange mission
(by Yankee-chan and a bit me ^^)
It was another day like the other which rose in Magnolia and at Fairy Tail, punctuated by the incessant fights and the simple joys announcing a good morning. As always, Levy was sitting at a table with other guild girls and was talking about girly topics with a beaming smile. After the winter they spent partly under the sun on Tenrou Island, spring had regained its right.
Everybody's attention turned toward the request board when Mirajane came to update new missions and everyone rushed over. Levy sighed. Before the S-class exam they rushed toward it with even more enthusiasm... and after this there wasn't anything left for Shadow Gear. When finally all the mages in lack of work left the board, more than the half of the missions had disappeared, but there was still a few ones. The young girl stood and dragged her feet toward it to choose a job. She needed money, it was hard to pay her room at Fairy Hills right now, she had to move. With a jaded look on the few remaining missions, she weakly searched the one which could suit her. And she had to restrain herself to not cry with happiness when she found one. Amongst the thieves to beat, the stuffs to find, the important people to protect, there was an original mission. And it was perfect for her. Since Gajeel had told her she had to trust herself when he'd become her partner, she often looked for a mission she could do alone, to convince everyone (and herself too) that she wasn't only a sweet and kind girl, that she could manage to do it.
By the way, speaking of the exam, Kana had won and become an S-class mage. Much to Gajeel's greatest displeasure. He had snubbed for nearly a month. Partly because he hadn't been chosen from the start and also because he hadn't fight anyone. Levy was happy for her friend and it didn't matter if she had lost. It certainly had been too early for her, and working alone was a good training if she had to be chosen again. She'll try next year. Except the Dragon Slayer was even more mad at her because she had "given up" and he didn't miss the occasion to tell her. Of course they were closer than before, but their relationship had become tense after that.
Promptly shaking her head to chase this bad thoughts from her mind, she quickly caught the paper before her with a satisfied beaming smile. An attractive reward, and it was suiting her, it was perfect! She already imagine what would happened and a shiver of excitement ran through her spine. She was enjoying herself by reading and re-reading it, happy to have found a mission she could realize alone.
But when she looked at the paper closer... there was something else. Written in small prints at the bottom of the page, there was an inscription. So small that Levy nearly failed to notice it. She narrowed her eyes and approached the paper to have a better look.
Mission: Translate a unique book written in an unknown ancient language.
Reward: 950 000 Jewels.
You will have to kill an unknown monster in addition to the translation. (? written in very small prints)
Kill an unknown monster? What did that mean? It compromised the whole mission! She could never beat such a creature! Now her head was filled with hideous creatures all the more gigantic, slobbering, slimy, sticky and horrible than the last. What should she do? She couldn't go alone anymore like she wanted... and why "unknown"? It was a joke or what? Why couldn't the client identify the creature which had attacked him? Her excitement quickly decreased to be replaced by frustration and great disappointment. She stayed before the request board like an idiot, staring at her request stupidly and muttering. Now that she had taken it, it wouldn't be polite to give up, she couldn't do that. What a foolishness, she should have paid more attention. She sighed and dropped her head, defeated and desperate, wondering if she should go or give the request to someone else.
To be honest she was a bit tired of missions with her teammates. The same scenario was repeating relentlessly: Mission, fight, Jet and Droy try to protect Levy but Jet and Droy get beat up so Levy has to care about the work alone and in the end her two friends compliment her. How exciting. And annoying too. She hated fight even if it was self-defense, and her friends always took missions consisting to beat someone, without considering what SHE wanted.
Desperate and seeing that her request was already over before it even began, she dropped her head and sighed loudly. She could be heard by everyone, but she didn't care, she felt depressed.
"Is something wrong Levy?" Nab asked suddenly as he approached her to observe the request she was holding.
"We can say that. It's just that I found a mission that could suit me, but actually I missed a spot on the paper and it is definitely not for me... but I can't give up now that I chose it! And I don't know what to do."
"I see, I see. You can always give it to somebody, or go with Jet and Droy."
"This may be a bit boastful, but beside me I can't see anyone who might be able to translate a book. And I chose it because I wanted to do it alone, I wish I go without Jet and Droy for once."
"Then ask someone else."
Ask someone else? Why not? If she really wanted to translate this book, there wasn't other option. She studied the people in the guild, searching the one she should pick, when her eyes locked on a certain mage, eating loudly some pieces of metal in a dark corner, and a little black cat with round ears. An idea popped in her mind while a beaming smile enlightened her face and she walked toward them.
Levy sat quickly at the Dragon Slayer's side, who had his mouth full of bolts and he stared at her like she was an extra-terrestrial.
"Good morning Levy!" Pantherlily greeted. He was sitting cross-legged on the table and was holding a kiwi.
When he noticed that Gajeel wasn't answering, he gave him a nudge on the arm and the iron mage glared at him with a look that meant: "let me swallow!" before he did so and growled a fainted hello to the young girl. The cat rolled his eyes, exasperate by his cruel lack of politeness and decided to continue.
"Are you okay?" He asked.
"Yes, yes. Everything's alright. But to tell the truth... I need help for something." The young girl admitted as she stared at the wooden table.
"What for?" Gajeel inquired finally without taking his eyes out of her.
Without another word, Levy handed him the request description, observing his reaction. The Dragon Slayer raised an inquisitive eyebrow, caught the paper and finally looked away from the blue haired mage to read. When he read the passage with the "unknown monster" he narrowed his eyes.
"What the hell is that? They're kidding us?"
"Well... I don't know. But when I took the mission, I didn't see it and I know I can't fight a monster, no matter what it is."
"Don't say that, I'm sure you can succeed. But that's true, this story's strange. The "Unknown" word seems weird." Lily declared after he read the paper over his partner's shoulder.
"Tch, that's bullshit! And by the way, why did you show me that?" The Dragon Slayer growled as he gave her the request back.
"Well... I was thinking you could join me... like you did the last time." She risked as she half-hid behind her paper.
Gajeel's eyes widened, more surprised than ever. Everything didn't really go as planned on Tenrou Island, and despite this she was ready to leave with him again, to trust him again, to be around him again. Even after all this time spend in Fairy Tail, he didn't know a thing about her, he didn't understand her. And it was annoying him greatly, he didn't like when he didn't understand something. What if... what if he couldn't protect her this time either? What would happen? They nearly died last time, he didn't really want this to happen again. He locked eyes with the young girl, searching for an answer. She stared at him with a undecided expression, waiting for his answer with hope and anxiety. On one hand he wanted to reject her, he didn't want to work, but on the other hand he knew he needed money, and 950 000 Jewels to share couldn't be rejected. Defeated, he sighed.
"Huh... Okay, because it's for you."
The young girl jumped out her chair a gave him a beaming smile, tears of happiness in her eyes.
"R-really? I... thank you Gajeel!"
Without being able to hold back, she threw herself into his arms, shaking with joy. The Dragon Slayer blushed and roared :
"Let me go! I still can change my mind!"
The cat next to them nearly choke with his kiwi when he saw his friend so embarrassed, and with that he won a glare from the dragon. A bit troubled by her excitement, Levy released the Dragon Slayer and smiled as she watched him.
"Well, I have to go to prepare my stuffs then." She declared as she stood.
"Yeah, me too. You're comin Lily?" The mage grunted as he stood too, looking at his cat who didn't move yet.
With a smirk Lily watched the two mages standing in front of him. He already noticed the strange connection between them when Gajeel had declared himself as Levy's partner during the S-class exam. And also during the week they spent together, just before they left for Tenrou island. Even if both of them were quite distant from one another. It wasn't distance because they didn't liked each other. It was quite difficult to explain, it was rather like they wasn't able to control what they felt, or like they didn't understand it. Lily had noticed. And fortunately, this mission was a chance for them. So he refused.
"No I'm not coming with you Gajeel. You two go." He stated and returned his attention back to the kiwi.
"What?" Gajeel shouted. He didn't want to stay alone with the blue haired mage apparently.
"You heard me, I don't wanna come with you this time, I want to rest."
The Dragon hissed an insult between his clenched teeth, snarled and glared at his cat who kept smirking and then he stormed out furiously. Levy followed him immediately and gave the kitten a small smile and waved at him before she disappeared with Gajeel.
Barely out of the guild, Levy began to speak in a cheerful way, happier than ever, ignoring the frustrated expression the Dragon was wearing.
"Lily's got a lot of freedom with you. About Natsu, Happy would have followed him certainly, I think it's kind from you." The young girl commented and had to quickened her pace to walk at the iron mage's side.
He answered by a growl and dug his hands in his pockets, sulky and annoyed.
"Can we go to my place first so I can gather my stuffs? It's nearby, we won't lose too much time."
"As you want."
She walked toward Fairy Hills, the Dragon Slayer on her heels, still grumbling incomprehensible words. After a few silent minutes they reached the grids of Fairy Hills, the girls dormitory where Levy was living. She stopped suddenly, apparently meditative. Gajeel imitated her and stared at the building before his eyes. He had never come here before, he hadn't the right to enter usually.
"I guess you can come if I invite you, Erza won't be against it. If she finds us, we will just have too explain the situation. By the way Jet and Droy come here sometimes." Levy announced as she opened the dormitory door.
Gajeel didn't seem convinced but he followed her, dragging his feet, an annoyed grimace stuck on his face. The blue haired mage brought him quickly in her room and shut the door behind him after having checked if there was still nobody in the corridor. Then she began to gather her stuffs in her bag which swallowed them without complaining, and she took a large amount of different books.
"What the fuck are you doing with ALL these books?" Gajeel asked bluntly as he watched her, leaning against a wall with his arms crossed.
"In the description, they didn't precise what ancient language I'll have to translate. So I take all my manuals to be sure. I don't want to be unable to do my job because I haven't the right book. Instead of asking questions, could you give me the red covered book on the shelf on your right?"
The Dragon Slayer grunted but obliged. He turned around and used the ladder and threw the big book she asked for toward her, before he repeat the action for the three others she needed. She gathered thirty different books, all written in a different language. Gajeel tried to imagine her reading all those big volumes and it gave him an headache. Finally the young girl closed her bag and they were about to leave when suddenly... Jet and Droy arrived in her room.
"Levy ! What a nice weather today, do you want to go in a mission?" Jet sang happily as he opened the door in a quick motion.
"Yeah let's go! Let's enjoy it!" Droy added as he followed his friend.
...That was precisely to not leave with them that Levy had chosen Gajeel. And because she asked Gajeel to come with her, she didn't want to tell them before she left. Failure.
The silence fell to the point that the flies could be heard. Until the situation made finally its way to the two boys' brain and the astonishment on their faces was replaced by an horrified and suspicious look.
"What is he doing here?" Jet suddenly wondered. Considering his expression, he was imagining the worst things.
Well, time for the confessions.
"He comes with me for a mission." Levy announced with a neutral voice, knowing already what would happen in the next second.
"WHHHHAAAAAAAAAA?" Both mages screamed in a perfect synchronization, their back plunging slightly toward the floor.
"You heard her. She asked me to join her and I said yes. Say it if you have a problem with it." The iron mage muttered with an half-amused half-annoyed grin spread on his lips.
"Yes that's a problem! We didn't agree for the exam in the first place! But now that crossed the line!" Droy bawled as he jumped forward.
"I'd like to see you try to prevent her to leave with me." The Dragon Slayer sneered, knowing perfectly what kind of words could make people angry.
"Stop! You won't fight in my room!" The blue haired mage yelled and jumped between them.
"And why not? If they asked for it I'll give them what they want." Her new teammate snarled back without looking away from the two mages who turned red with anger.
"Because this is MY room, MY stuffs, and I don't want them to be damaged, so go fight outside." The young mage demanded coldly.
However Gajeel turned around and was growling lowly, only a few inches away from the boys who were doing the same, fists clenched, ready to fight, with a threatening aura surrounding them all.
"Come, we leave." Levy decided suddenly as she caught the Dragon Slayer's wrist and pulled him in the corridor, ignoring royally her friends' complaints who gave the impression to burn in hell.
She didn't want that a fight began in the building, she would be the responsible, so she'd better leave immediately to calm the situation.
Ignoring the disgruntled growls coming from the iron mage who couldn't have a fight, she ran outside and quickly and violently slammed the grids behind her, frustrated and disturbed because of her friends who still acted like children. When would they change? And after that they were still wondering why she didn't want to go out with them. How despairing. Gajeel meanwhile was walking silently beside her, understanding he better shut up for now, even if he wanted to spit a large amount of derogatory comments about what had just happened. After a long moment spent in silence, Levy noticed they were walking toward the train station and she asked :
"Don't we stop to your place to take some stuffs?"
"No it's okay."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes!" He half-roared exasperated.
He wasn't a kid anymore Goddammit! She didn't need to ask him twice for a confirmation. Apparently Levy understood because she turned away and walked as she stared straight in front of her. Crossing the town in the opposite direction, they reached the train station where the young girl bought two tickets for Kôkô, the destination written in the description while Gajeel was grumbling against the tourists' children who dared to glare at him. Then they reached the dock and waited for the train in silence, in the middle of an overcrowd train station full of noises. And several minutes later, they had to go to the toilets because a pigeon decided to "release himself" on our dearest Dragon Slayer. We better not talk about noises and insults which followed. And finally the train arrived and both of them embarked quickly and sat in a free compartment. Unknowing for them, they approached more and more the place which will change their whole life.