(by Yankee-chan and slightly me)
Levy woke up with difficulty an suddenly felt an incredible pain ran through her body. Eyes tightly shut, she was dizzy and had the feeling that her heart was pounding in her head, making her pant in pain with each beat. She grunted and winced as she felt something heavy pressed against her body and half-choking her. She tried to identify her surroundings with her hands. She was lying against something hard and really uncomfortable. And completely collapsed on the top of her, there was Gajeel. Seriously, what a joke! He was so heavy she was choking and he was staying there without moving. What a nerve! What was he trying to do? Kill her? Because it was a good start. By doing this, was he thinking she would forgive him? Never!
Groaning, she tried to move, but her body was so weak and the Dragon Slayer was so heavy that she was using the last of her forces for nothing. And also! That idiot couldn't move over? Suddenly she tensed and groped for the iron mage's face. She relaxed imperceptibly when she was sure he was still breathing. But considering the hot and sticky liquid she felt on her fingers when she brushed his forehead, he was certainly injured and unconscious. It was then that she began to panic. She couldn't see anything, couldn't hear anything, she didn't know where she was, but it wasn't certainly outside. And the heavy silence that surrounded her couldn't be more scary. For now, she just remembered a terrible roar, a green light and an explosion. And then nothing. She ignored if she had enough energy to tempt what she wanted to try because she felt she was about to faint, but she still did it. She weakly wrote the word "Light" and a flickering glimmer made her eyelids flutter and lit the place where she was. Instantly, before she could even panic, she felt her magic drained her last forces. She just had the time to see Gajeel unconscious on the top of her, preventing piles of rubble to fall on her, and to understand that the hotel had collapsed on them. Then the light went out along with her conscience.
When Levy awoke again, this time she was in a bed. She concluded that she was in a kind of infirmary when she noticed several closets full of medicines. She straightened and groaned as she felt every muscle of her body hurt horribly. She turned her head toward the left, got startled when she saw Gajeel, laying in a bed beside her and she narrowed her eyes. He had a large bandage wrapped around his forehead, apparently he had indeed been injured. And the memories of the day before came back in her brain, terribly real, terribly intact, terribly painful. And those about the attack which had destroyed the hotel were nothing comparing to the quarrel which had taken place between the two mages, she didn't even think about it. She turned away speedily, holding back a bitter grimace, biting her bottom lip. And she cried. With pain. With rage. With deception. With sadness. She didn't know what to do, what to think. And Gajeel... what was he trying to do? What game did he playing? At first he spat horrible words on her, and just after he saved her life? If he was trying to obtain her forgiveness, he had failed. Levy wasn't ready to forgive him, not this quickly when the pain threatened to overwhelm her. And him, that Dragon Slayer, comment could he still sleep or watch himself in a mirror after what he'd said? She didn't know what happened to him, but she didn't want to know anymore. She didn't want to see him anymore, the suffering was too huge. And she wanted him to pay, to understand that he couldn't manipulate her without risks.
She grabbed her bag placed at the bottom of her bed, dirty but intact after that everything had collapsed. Plunging her hand inside, she sight with relief as she confirmed that all her books, things and notes were there. Perfect. Determinate, she stood and prepared to leave, leaving the man who had hurt her all alone. "Just keep snoring, I won't be here when you'll wake up."
As she approached the door, an idea came to her mind. A little revenge, that he will never forget. For the first time in her life, a purely sadistic smile lit up her face and she observed the sleeping mage with a devilish look. Seeking her pen on her bag, she prepared the most demonic surprise for him.
Finally, when she finished her work, she opened the door and closed it in a sharp gesture. And she just had the time to turn around before Fiorenzo threw himself on her, yelling apologies, thanks to God and a large amount of questions on her condition. He explained that after the hotel had collapsed, people had found them both unconscious under the ruins and they'd transferred them at the medical center of the town. Levy wasn't able to even answer the half of his questions considering the speed of their arrivals, and also because she wanted to stay alone and didn't want to talk with anyone. But she was trying to spread an enjoying expression on her face and to answer politely, hiding her inwardly distress as best as she could. No one was supposed to know what had happened, she had been too humiliate to just want to talk about it. Then in the middle of the interrogation, the mayor noticed the young girl's bag she was wearing on her shoulder and he stopped talking before adding:
"Leaving somewhere? Please don't think I ask this to feed my curiosity, but this isn't recommended considering your condition."
"Don't worry, I'm okay." The young girl lied as she faked a reassuring smile. "I just wish to have a walk and clear my ideas."
"Very well, do as you wish, I trust you. But, what about your partner? He is not accompanying you?" The mayor asked and glanced at the door behind her like if he was expecting him to come.
At this moment, Levy would have likely replied: "You're wrong, this bastard isn't my partner" but she changed her mind and chose an answer more simple and polite:
"No, he isn't awake yet."
And it was better for him that this day wouldn't happen. With the surprise she left him, he would understand soon enough.
"On the other hand, his wound are more severe than yours, although they remained superficial. If he hadn't protected you, it could have been more dramatic." He added and nodded.
To tell the truth, the young girl didn't even hear the last sentence. It entered in her head and was immediately rejected. So she focused on nodding too and then she left. She had to go, she had to be alone. Far from him. Because all of this made her sick. Now it was his turn to be alone. Except that she wasn't panning to come back before a long time.
She went quickly outside and reached the street. She walked toward the grocery of the city she had repaired earlier and she dug into her pockets to see if she had enough money. Then she bought food for several days and everything she would need to not come back immediately. Once it was done, she passed before the rests of the hotel, evaluating the damages. The word "crumbled" was fitting perfectly and although there had been no severe victim, the spectacle was dreadful. How could such a creature be able to destroy such a large building in such a short time, leaving so few traces and reducing everything to dust? Its power must be colossal. Well, it was Gajeel's work, not hers, so she didn't care after all.
Taking a full breath and clutching her well filled bag now, she left. Toward the forest. A calm and appeasing place, just what she needed. And if the Dragon Slayer was tempted to follow her, he would be greeted by other surprises.
After a few hours looking for a place where she could settle, she found a small isolate clearing. Located on the hillside, the stone was rising nearly like a cliff in her right and a stream was flowing nearby. The first thing she did was drinking, and then washing her face still covered in dust.
Then she sat, enjoying the peaceful calm of the forest to ease herself, even if it was easier to say than to do. And she occupied herself as best as she could, preparing herself to stay alone for a long time and imagining new traps if the Dragon Slayer would try to come nearby.
A little while later, Gajeel woke up in turn, setting a hazy look around him. Considering a clock hanging on the opposite wall, it was nearly two hours in the afternoon. Grumbling, he passed his hand across his forehead and dug it in his hair. He was still annoyed with what had happened the night before. Whether the attack or the quarrel. Concerning the quarrel, he wasn't planning to apologize or taking back what he'd said, because it was the truth. Well, up to a certain degree at least. And concerning the attack, he didn't want to think about it. Because it was because of the one who had attacked them that he was angry.
He stood with a sigh and took a step forward. And at this precise moment, a light burst above him and the word "Water" fell on him properly, like a glacial shower. It woke him up immediately and, gasping and spluttering, soaked from head to toes, he cursed the blue haired mage, knowing perfectly it was her handiwork. Well, he had was he deserved to have been so rude.
He quickly shook himself, not paying more attention than that to what just happened and he walked toward the door. Except that when he passed on the carpet, the word "Move" activated, and Gajeel fell backward before the carpet flew itself on his face. Now he was pissed off, he stood completely exasperate, swearing that he will find Levy and make her understand that she shouldn't have pissed him off. Except she wasn't here. He opened the door and assisted at the same scene with Fiorenzo, before he learned that she had left for a walk. Okay, but where?
Increasingly angry and anxious, he surveyed the whole city, trying to find her smell. He eventually caught it a little outside of the town, by simple luck. With all the agitation, and considering the long time he was searching her, it was a miracle that he had felt it. But now he just had to follow her. And Levy's smell brought him pretty far, in the forest. It was the last place he would have thought about, and an upset snarl spread on his face when he realized that without his enhanced sense of smell, he would have never found her and he would have been alone like an idiot.
He barely reached the edge of the forest that a new word appeared, confirming that he was following the right way, but also that the Dragon Slayer had to worry. So, the word "Rock" brought down stones from a part of the mountain right next to him, and he was buried by the landslide. Then, as he went on gradually, he fell into holes, tripped on roots, got his ankle caught by creepers which sent him flying a little further, walked on rotten eggs, got punch by branches and found himself stuck on the grass by different traps the young girl had left for him. At least he had to admit she had been very versatile. He didn't know that her words could be activated at a certain time. One more thing he didn't know. So he cursed her, but he cursed himself too. And finally, as the end of the day was approaching, he found her.
After he faced the different traps, Gajeel eventually reached his goal. Levy had moved in a small clearing in the middle of the forest, and she was reading one of her books she brought with her. Sat on the ground, near the stream, she was bent on herself and was trying to stifle her sobs. Beside her, her things was spread on the ground. She had tried to keep translating, but her mind was so far from being calm enough that she hadn't succeeded and she had given up, upset. Whereas she wished to just forget what had happened the night before, her memories kept coming back, destroying her inwardly. She felt so betrayed and broken she only wanted to disappear or turn back the pendulum and that nothing had happened.
Gajeel, him, didn't know what he wanted anymore. He had crossed the line and he had yelled all that had passed through his head because he wanted her to leave him alone, even if he had to say nonsenses. However, he hadn't expected her to leave either, even if he deserved it. And with all the spells she left for him, it was obvious that she didn't want to see him. Maybe it was unlike him, but now he wanted to apologize, because he realized he really had been abominable with her. And that wasn't something he wanted to be... she was crying, suffering, and it was his fault, his, because he had acted like a coward and he had returned his anger against her, and not against him. He felt pathetic. He was the weak one since the beginning. So now he must assume his actions, clear the situation, let his fucking pride aside and apologize. Before it was too late. Even if he knew he had crossed the line. Then he stepped forward, decided to tell her even if wouldn't listen to him.
The young girl heard suddenly a small cough break the calm of the clearing and she jumped. Her heart was pounding wildly, making a revived pain pulse in her whole body. She had no doubt about the identity of the person in her back, but she looked over her shoulder anyway, knowing perfectly that it will hurt. But she didn't care, after all, one more, one less, what would it change to the situation? Nothing. Nothing at all. So she jumped up and turned around, determined to face the Dragon Slayer. The silence thickened gradually as their mouths remained closed, refusing to utter any sound, even if their eyes were clashing harshly. The young girl's, cold, sad, filled with distress, and the iron mage's, mesmerizing but expressionless, emotionless, because as the idiot he was, he never stopped hiding his feeling.
"So that's where you were hiding?" He finally spoke with a cold voice.
Without a word and without turning her eyes away from him, Levy tightened her grip on the book she was holding, the coldness of her body was slowly replacing by a hateful heat. And in a violent and fast mention, she threw her book in the Dragon Slayer face as an answer. He opened his mouth with a surprised look but didn't have the time to dodge it and he took it in the head with a funny thud before it fell on the ground. Growling, he rubbed his nose before he continued with a grumpy tone:
"Traps and now a book? You really have weird manners to greet people shrimp."
"Did you expect anything else?!" She burst with a piecing voice, making birds fly away. "And stop calling me "Shrimp" it bothers me! Don't you dare give me nicknames!"
"Hey! Calm down a bit so we can talk about it."
"Calm down? CALM DOWN?! HOW DO YOU WANT ME TO CALM DOWN?! And anyway, how did you find me?!"
"You can't fool my nose. But the surprises you left on your trail had pretty delayed me. I thank you, how nice it was from you." He quipped with the most upset grimace he was capable to give as he gave her a deadly look.
Moreover, his glare didn't scare her. On the contrary, she was satisfied to see that he had been caught and she just wanted to laugh at him as she noticed the leaves stuck on him and the multiple traces from the trials he had to face.
"And despite this you didn't understand I didn't want to see you? What are you doing here? Go away! Leave me alone!" She hissed and clenched her fist, never looking away.
Gajeel had never seen her so enraged before. It was terrifying and sad at the same time since it was coming from her who was usually so calm, sweet and cheerful. Why didn't he realize the extend of what he had broken only now? He'd never be able to heal someone. No, he only knew how to hurt. He was disgusted with himself. Really. And he was in pain, for her, because deep down he felt the same.
"I came to bring you back. And to apologize... about the last night." He declared simply as he looked down.
He clenched his fists and teeth, feeling unworthy to even look at her straight in the eyes. It'd been a long time he hadn't experimented the emotions he was feeling now. This desire to scream, praying that everything would be alright. This pain so sweet but oh-so powerful running through his whole body. For the first time in years, he was sad. Mournful as he realized what he had done. Like her, he remembered everything, each gesture, each word, absolutely everything. How could he have be fool enough to the point to tell her such a thing? All that because he had just found someone he though he would never see again, someone he never wanted to see again. What an ass, dammit, what an ass!
"Because you maybe think that I'm going to forgive you so easily?!" The young girl barked, feeling a rage she never knew before rising in her.
He stepped forward toward her, which had the only effect to make her stepping back with an hoarse groan.
"STAY AWAY FROM ME!" She screamed, letting new tears streaming on her cheeks.
She didn't want him to approach her. It was bad enough like this, she didn't need him to come closer. She just wanted to stay alone and not feel anything. She felt so abandoned... if she could, she would have screamed her pain to the world, but she hadn't enough strength for that. As always she was still too weak. Hopeless. Nothing. Worthless. Like always. A this precise moment, she just wanted to collapse on the ground, to fall asleep and forget everything. To stay alone and to bury this excruciating pain from betrayal and indescribable sorrow. And the worst part was that, no matter the gestures, the arguments, the quarrels, the cracks and the wounds, no matter could happened, no matter he could do or tell, a small part of herself would always love him. So, the fact he could betray her, lie to her, fool her like that, it was hurting her as much as if she was tearing her own her. He had so broken her that it was like she was falling into a black bottomless hole. She loved him, and he had violently rejected her, in a way nearly impossible to match. And for this, she was mad at him. She had never wanted to destroy someone to this point in her life. Her, the calm and kind Levy. But after what he'd said, there was no way she would be kind with him again.
Not even listening to her, he walked toward her again and the young woman eventually stopped against a huge rock, groaning and shaking with anger. Fortunately the Dragon Slayer stopped at a reasonable distance and his red eyes bore into her, his eyes where she loved to plunge hers, once. But it was before, now only pain and sorrow were remaining, she didn't see his look anymore, didn't see he was sorry. As he opened his mouth, Levy slapped him, forgetting who he was, forgetting he could kill her if he wanted to, forgetting he was stronger than her. The iron mage's head left at a right angle to the left with a sharp sound. Strangely he didn't move an inch, he contented to blink as if his brain had been slapped too and was restarting. He didn't ripost nor reply, he turned his head again to try to speak. Another slap rang in the clearing, this time on his left cheek, still without a word from the young girl who was sobbing. But after the fourth slap she gave him without letting him speak a word, he had enough.
With a growl he stepped forward, ignoring her desperate yelps and he placed his hands on each side of her shoulders, breaking her chances to escape or slap him. (yes because, to slap someone correctly, the shoulder had to move enough to give momentum. And there, she had no space). So, she did something else. She kicked him in the legs and hammered his chest with her fists as she fought more and more when she saw it didn't seem to hurt him. Even if it wasn't true. Inwardly, Gajeel had to restrain from growling. Except that it was inwardly, not visible.
"LET GO OF ME! GO AWAY! I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOU! GO AWAY!!!"
Every time she was touching him, it reminded her his words. Every time she was looking at him in the eyes, her pain came back. She just wanted it to stop, and for that, him who was the cause, had to disappear, had to go. He had to leave, she couldn't bear his presence anymore. Did it amuse him so much to harass her? Didn't he had nothing else to do rather to see her cry?
"I won't leave, I have to talk to you." Gajeel's voice was even louder than her cries, although it was surprisingly softer and more muffled.
"I DON'T WANT TO LISTEN! I HAVE NOTHING TO TELL YOU! GO AWAY!!!"
She was trying to push him in vain, or escaping him, but nothing was working. He didn't move, h reminded her her weakness once again. She wasn't even able to protect herself from the others properly, she had always needed the others. With him, she had believed she could be able to cope, she had wanted to impress him, to not disappoint him and to show him she was also strong like him. But if all he said was a lie, where was her strength? Nowhere, it was a lie.
"Listen to me Levy, please. I know you don't want to see me, but I have to tell you"
"SHUT UP! SHUT UP!!! GO PLAY WITH SOMEONE ELSE, BUT LEAVE ME ALONE! YOU'VE DONE ENOUGH!"
She was crying so hard that her words were resonating, whether outside or inside the Dragon Slayer. Was it to late to make amends? Apparently it was. Already the first time, it had been really miraculous that she hadn't pay more attention than that to his actions and that she had accepted him as a friend. A friend... when he found one, he lost him. He broke the bond himself, perhaps unintentionally, but he still did it. In the end... maybe it was him who was right since the beginning.
"Having friends will make you suffer anyway, at some time. When you'll protect them at the peril of your life, or when you'll break apart. If you don't want to be hurt, don't get sentimental. Got it Gajeel?"
Yes, maybe he was right... when he had joined Fairy Tail, he had forgotten this words, and little by little, he'd done the exact opposite of what he had said. Now, he was just hoping to be able to fix the things, and if he couldn't, he could only blame himself.
"Don't react like that, please. Let me explain..."
"But how did you think I was going to react huh? Were you thinking that maybe I was going to congratulate you? That I was going to prostrate myself at your feet and let you spit on my face? No, I'm not like that! How could you even have imagine such a possibility? How... How could you have betrayed your own friends?! Betrayed me, me, when I was trusting you!!! Why did you play with me like this? Was I nothing more for you than just a simple object you could manipulate to reach your goals? Anyway, as long as you get what you want, you don't care about the others, you are nothing but a selfish bastard, I don't even know why I am in such a bad mood because of you when you don't even worth it. GET OUT OF HERE! GO AWAY! I HATE YOU!"
"But let me at least place a word and apologize, shit!"
"I DON'T WANT TO HEAR YOUR EXCUSES! ANYWAY WHO CAN TELL ME IT WOULDN'T BE A PACK OF LIES JUST TO MAKE ME BEND AGAIN HUH? WHO CAN TELL ME?! NO ONE! I CAN'T TRUST YOU ANYMORE! YOU ONLY HAVE WHAT YOU DESERVE!"
Birds left their trees at full speed, alarmed by the deafening noise from the angry young woman. Without stopping she was punching, crying, shouting, shaking, suffering. For years, she felt weak, and when finally someone had managed to give her self confidence, she found out it had been only pure hypocrisy. And her world, her dreams, her ideals were sinking with her.
Noticing that her blows wouldn't make the iron mage leave, and that her pain and hatred were getting worse, never appeasing, she passed to the next level. With a strength she didn't know she had, she leaned on the rock behind her and launched herself on the Dragon Slayer, making him fall on the ground violently with a surprised exclamation. And then she rushed at him. She didn't control herself anymore, she let her anger and her pain guide her gestures. Why should she be the only one to suffer? Why wasn't he feeling anything? He had to pay for the horrible things he had spat on her, he had to be in pain too. So she hit him, wherever she could. And he didn't react, he let her do, accepting her punishment without a sound. Like this time, when he had saved her, shortly after he had joined the guild. This time... was it a lie too? Did he fake it? She didn't know, not anymore, and she didn't even want to know. She only wanted the pain to stop, to disappear... even if it meant she had to die. And still, no matter how many time she struck him with all her might, her sadness wasn't decreasing unlike she had expected.
Suddenly, as she was about to punch him one more time, he countered, caught her small hands which had turned red due to the large amount of blows. Then with his other hand he caught her shoulder and straightened with a grimace, before he gently pulled her closer against him. Instantly she fought more violently again, she didn't want him to touch her, not after what he said, he didn't have the right. What was he hoping exactly? Calm her? Of course she desired to lean against a shoulder to cry on, desired to relax warm arms wrapped around her in a comforting embrace. But although he was trying to make her desire real, she didn't want it coming from him, she couldn't accept it.
"Levy... I'd like to explain, but I can't. Try to understand me."
"What do you mean?" She demanded harshly as she stopped to fight but remained tense.
"You wanted to know why I was gone yesterday. It's not that I don't want to tell you, it's because I can't, that's all."
"And how could I trust you if you don't tell me anything?"
"You can't. And I'm not asking you to do it. I'm just asking you to listen what I had to tell you."
"Well speak, I'm listening."
She moved away abruptly and crossed her arms, glaring at him seriously, attentively and angrily. He avoided her glare when he spoke, hesitating and stammering.
"What... what I said... it's true, I thought it. At first. But... when you... when you began to tell me my plain truths... I understood that... finally... I didn't come here just for myself. In fact... I wanted to... team up with you. But I was an idiot... and I didn't give a sense at what I was feeling. I was obsessed with my idea, without considering the rest. And I know that even if I was angry, it wasn't a reason to tell your those things, and I'm sorry."
Levy didn't answer. She didn't know anymore. She wanted more than everything to believe him, but he might easily manipulate her again. She lost her bearings, she couldn't decide what to do and she began to panic. Gajeel felt it, and he continued, a bit more serious suddenly.
"I'm not asking you to forgive me for what I said, because it is unforgivable. And I can't ask you to trust me either, because I can't tell anything. I just want you to stop crying and being hurt because of me."
His head bowed, his fists clenched, he was trying to calm down and was waiting the young girl's reaction. And to be honest, he wasn't expecting that. She sniffed loudly before she wrapped her arms around the Dragon Slayer's neck and buried her face in his chest as she sobbed. He opened his mouth and his eyes widened with surprise. Did... did that mean she was accepting his excuses? He couldn't believe it, she couldn't, it was impossible.
"Stupid... you are really stupid." She whispered as she began to cry softly.
"I've already heard that somewhere. But you're right. Since the beginning I was an ass."
"I didn't fully forgive you, and concerning the trust, it's the same. However I feel better now that we talked about it and that you came to apologize. I thank you for that. But... I guess it was my fault too. I should have left you alone and minded of my business last night."
"Stop talking nonsenses. Even if I wasn't very well at that time, I didn't have the right to say that. And I'd worried you when I was gone without warning you. You had to make the same thing to me and make me feel the same way to make me finally realize. You did nothing wrong. And I can't understand how you still can be so kind with me after all that I did to you..."
"To be honest, I don't know myself. I guess it's a part of my character and that will probably never change. But there is one fact I'm sure about despite all the things that happened: I want to do this mission with you."
His throat tight with emotion and relief, he merely embraced her timidly, pulled her closer and buried his face into her beautiful blue hair as he whispered a faint "Thanks" and he closed his eyes.
For a long time they stayed like this, without a word, without a move, just happy to have a bit reconciled. Then they eventually went back to Kôkô, wondering something which logic was fatal: now that the hotel had been destroyed... where would they sleep?
Fortunately, they barely had the time to expose their little problem to Fiorenzo that the mayor invited them home and Gajeel almost asked if they could sleep outside. Fortunately for them, Fiorenzo moved at her secretary, too concerned about their comfort, and also because he wanted to be alone with his office employee he found very attractive...
their new home was simple enough, barely more furnished than their hotel room. However, there was a large amount of books, which enchanted to the blue haired mage. And the Dragon Slayer was grumbling because they had to cook by themselves now. The least we can say was that the atmosphere between the two mages had slightly changed. Now, the silences were more tense than anything.
It was about ten hours pm when the iron mage went to bed, in their new king-sized bed (what a surprise!). Levy stayed a little longer, deciding to catch up on her translation. Well, she ignored the information about the dragons and focused on the puzzles. It reminded her she still hadn't tell Gajeel anything about the cat/bird and the two previous enigmas. She'd do it tomorrow.
Sitting at the table, she prepared her stuffs and began to work. Her mind finally emptied of her concerns, she was pleased to translate, and it even help her to relax. Although, with what she had translated, there was no reason to be relaxed...
"Soon enough, the secret will be revealed
And everything will become complicated.
Since only the son could hope winning,
Against the one you have to defeat."
There, it was a problem. If only the son of the "unknown monster" could fight it, Gajeel couldn't do it. Because his father was Metalicana, a dragon.
...Wait a minute... Monster...? Dragon...?
And whether to take the problem in reverse. What if Gajeel was really the son of the one they had to beat, in that case...
At this moment, when she found the answer, she jumped so violently that she made the bed move and her heart began to pound at a furious pace in her chest, as to prevent the danger.
Too much facts were matching. Gajeel's behavior, the attack on the hotel, the roar they heard just before. What if... what if the unknown monster they had to fight was really Gajeel's father? Could it be... Metalicana ?
Things were starting seriously to take the wrong direction, and it didn't absolutely please her.