Wendy sat on the railing of the balcony outside the room at the inn. She knew that behind her, inside the room, she'd left Lucy and Charle sleeping as it was very late. Lucy herself was tired after the fight with that weird guild that had some sort of grudge against Lamia Scale. Wendy had a lot on her mind both from the fight, where she'd witnessed how powerful Natsu had become in a year, and from her conversation with Chelia. The thoughts wouldn't leave her alone so she left the room before her tossing and turning disturbed Lucy or Charle. A noise to her right made her turn to look as Natsu came out onto his own balcony. He turned towards her and a look of surprise flashed across his face before melting into confusion. "Having trouble sleeping?" The older slayer asked.

Wendy sighed. "I can't stop all the thoughts in my head. So much happened today and so much has changed since I last saw you or Lucy. It's a lot to process and I can't sleep."

Natsu climbed over onto her balcony and leaned against the corner, regarding her with a neutral expression on his face. "I'll listen if you wanna get any of it off your chest." The offer was genuine and so Wendy found herself beginning to explain.

"I guess it's mostly the talk I had with Chelia before we left Lamia Scale. She was telling me how it was fine that I come back with you. She said you came to get me and to reunite all of Fairy Tail because you loved me. She said I loved you too." Wendy began. She had to hold back a laugh as all the color drained from Natsu's face and he began to sweat and stutter.

"U-Um…. I…. Well…" Natsu could not form a coherent thought to save his life! But he didn't want to give the younger girl the wrong idea! He looked up to explain himself when he saw Wendy giggling behind her hand. Frowning, he questioned whether this was all some cruel joke.

"I reacted much the same way you did Natsu-san!" Wendy exclaimed when her giggles subsided. "I told her I look up to you as a brother, which is the truth. But then, she pointed out, that's love too isn't it? So I guess I do love you Natsu-san, just not in any sort of romantic way."

Natsu calmed down considerably at that. "Oh thank Mavis! I'm no good with girls and feelings. But I guess ya are kinda like my sister. We were both raised by dragons and we're both slayers. Heh… your older brother figure? You sure know how to pick 'em!" Natsu began to brag. He flexed his muscles and grinned at her, making her giggle again. Leaning forward, Natsu ruffled her hair as she squeaked in protest. "I can teach you all the new stuff I've learned in my travels while we look for the others!" he offered happily.

Wendy grinned and nodded. They sat in companionable silence for a few minutes before Wendy spoke again. "What Chelia said though… she wasn't completely wrong was she? Your whole plan to get the guild back together was because you love her wasn't it?" Wendy watched as Natsu's cheeks turned pink. "Lucy told me about the note you left for her. You didn't tell any of us that you were leaving and we were all very surprised when we found out. Then everyone started going their own ways but Lucy… she stayed behind. Eventually, I found out she got a job for Sorcerer Weekly but she was the one who stayed behind in Magnolia the longest. And then you crashed the GMG but you knew that Fairy Tail was the strongest. Ever since the GMG we participated in, that event has become insignificant. Not even Quattro Cerberus entered this year. There's no way you went there to fight the strongest guild." Wendy guessed.

Natsu could feel a bit of sweat gathering on his forehead and he tried to breathe deeply to calm down. He didn't think anyone would be able to see straight through him. Lucy hadn't and if she didn't then surely nobody would! Lucy was the smartest person he knew.

"I'm a dragon slayer too, so I'm willing to bet you tracked her down. You smelled her scent in the stadium and you decided to make an entrance like you always do. I bet you also didn't want her asking any questions you don't have the answers to. I've been thinking about all of that stuff ever since Chelia spoke to me about it. But I still don't understand why we have to reunite the guild. Is there some crisis that we need to fight? The master is missing so I think it will be hard to convince some members to come back." Wendy pointed out.

Natsu latched on to her question and crossed his arms over his chest. "Fairy Tail never should have been disbanded." He said crossly.

Wendy frowned, "Do you have any right to say that? You left without saying anything to anyone except Lucy."

Natsu deflated. He'd been holding onto his true reasons for his actions for a while and for some reason he felt that explaining them to Wendy would be alright. She was a sweet girl who didn't judge others for their actions unless they hurt her friends. She was also very forgiving, unlike Erza… "I had a lot to work out. It felt like Tartarus was a huge waste of time and energy. We were all hurt and for what? Yeah, we took down some demons but so much more was lost. Lucy lost Aquarius, we lost our parents and we didn't even get to beat that bastard Zeref! I felt like it was all useless and I knew that if my father couldn't beat up Acnologia, then I don't stand a chance. I left to get stronger. If I had known that Fairy Tail would disband I never would have left her alone. I thought she would still have the guild so she could get through her own pain together with everyone else. I never meant to leave her alone."

Wendy sat up straighter at his answer. He looked angry but more with himself than with her, she knew. "Tartarus wasn't useless. We saved the world from slavery and destruction. We did lose a lot, but all of us lost a lot Natsu. Lucy has been worried about you, I can tell. She hasn't been sleeping as well as she should and I think she needs to eat more. Lucy told me she has been keeping track of everyone but she never mentioned you so I don't think she knew where you were. Why didn't you contact her at all?" Wendy questioned.

"You know me Wendy. I was training really hard in the wild and I just didn't really come back to towns. I guess I wanted to stay away from people for a while and before I knew it, it was time for me to come back." Natsu explained.

Wendy yawned and stretched suddenly. Natsu chuckled and watched her wipe the moisture from her eyes after the yawn. "I guess I should go to bed then. I think you should tell her all the stuff you told me Natsu. She deserves to know. Goodnight." Wendy said with a tired smile and a wave.

Natsu sighed and headed back to his balcony and into his room. He wasn't surprised to see the blond sitting on his bed waiting. He clenched his hands and braced himself for whatever was going to come next. He'd seen Lucy's shadow as she woke when he and Wendy began to talk. He'd heard her come closer to the door and knew she'd listened to the entire conversation. Now, he hoped she wasn't too angry with him.

Lucy stood and faced him head on. "Even if we manage to get the guild back together, will you stay? Or are you going to leave again?" she asked quietly. In truth, she didn't know how to feel about reuniting the guild. She desperately wanted to see those she considered her only family again. But if it meant she was going to lose Natsu and Happy again, she didn't know if she wanted the guild to come back together.

"I have to beat Acnologia. I promised my dad that I would. And I promised myself that I would avenge his death." Natsu said, not quite answering the question.

"So that's a yes? You're going to leave again?" Lucy asked in a hushed voice. Natsu could hear in it the tears that were gathering behind her eyes. She hadn't cried since he had returned and he didn't want her to start now.

"I can't ask you to come with me. I'm not sure I'll make it out alive either. But I wouldn't be able to forgive myself if I let that overgrown lizard take away any more of the ones I love." Natsu answered honestly.

"What if I said I wanted to come with you? That it was my choice and that I wanted to kill that lizard just as much as you do. Don't forget that if it wasn't for him I would have had time with my own father before he passed. I'm not as strong as you but I have been training and I'm much stronger now than I was a year ago. What would you say to that?" Lucy asked, not looking at him. She was afraid of what she would see if she did.

"See this is why I left a note. I can't argue with you in person, you always win and you always get your way. Even if I want to protect you when you say that… How can I say that it's fine if I want to risk my life to avenge my father but you can't do the same thing?" Natsu sighed. He saw some of the tension leave Lucy's shoulders as she let his words soak in. However, Natsu could tell that this wasn't the last of her questions.

"When we defeat Acnologia… what then? I know that you made it your reason for living so once he's gone what will happen to you?" Lucy asked.

Natsu's face took on a wistful look as he imagined a world where Acnologia no longer threatened anyone. "I'd go somewhere quiet, peaceful. Somewhere away from all the fighting and the people. I'd sleep in late and when I wake up I would eat some of your yummy food. And then me and Happy would go fishing while ignoring you complaining about how boring fishing is. And we could tell stories about our adventures and have fun until the next adventure comes along."

Natsu was pulled out of his daydream by the feeling of slender arms wrapping around his torso. Lucy's blond head tucked itself under his chin as she hugged him tight, gripping the fabric of his vest in bunches on his back. She was slightly trembling and he could tell by her soft sniffles she was crying. "Idiot! Why am I doing all the cooking when you're the one who deals in fire? And don't ignore me!" she scolded against his chest. Natsu let his arms wrap around her shoulders; he reached one hand up to stroke her hair as his head tipped down to bury his nose in the long blond tresses.

"Fine, I'll help you cook. But that means you have to tell the stories. You're really good at that." Natsu compromised. He continued to comfort her until her quiet sobs dried up and she pulled back.

Lucy wiped at her face, knowing she was puffy and red. For the first time in a long time, she felt sated. Crying had released the tension that had built up upon Natsu's return and she finally felt like she could start living again. Her life, though it went on, felt like it had stalled when he left her. Now that Natsu was back, and he wasn't leaving again, she felt that she could get back to normal. "I'll look forward to it!" Lucy said with a smile.

Natsu stared at her smiling face and felt the relief wash through him. She hadn't smiled, really smiled, since he came back. He knew it was his fault. "Lucy! Let's reform the team! What do ya say? Partners?" Natsu held his fist out and waited anxiously for her answer. Her fist came resolutely down on his as they pounded and high fived.

"Partners!" Lucy declared, a broad grin on her face as she looked into his onyx eyes.

"Aye sir!" The blue cat said as he flew between them with a smile of his own.

Both partners turned pink and jumped back, surprised. "Happy! You were awake this whole time?!" Lucy exclaimed. When she had come into the room initially, Happy had been sleeping soundly on Natsu's pillow.

"Aye! You two don't know how to whisper!" the Exceed chirped. Then an evil look bloomed on his little kitty face, "You looooooooooooooooove each other!" He teased.

"You shitty cat! Get back here!" Lucy cried as she chased the flying menace around the small room. Natsu couldn't help but laugh as he watched the two of them. In a way, they were all he had left in this world. And now he knew that he was all Lucy had left. There was no way he was leaving her behind again. Natsu knew it would be difficult to get everyone back together and it would be even more difficult to face Acnologia. But for now, he allowed himself to bask in the peace and happiness that swelled in his small room at an inn along their journey.

Thanks for reading! This is going to be my dumping spot for one-shots. I don't like posting them all individually and I am constantly coming up with new ideas. I have a bunch on my computer that I haven't posted because I didn't want to crowd up my doc manager or anything. So I figured I'd post them here. This is what I think should happen behind the scenes of the manga. I can't reconcile Natsu just showing up and Lucy being totally fine with it. And what Chelia said to Wendy in the most recent chapter struck a chord with me. What if it wasn't really that Natsu is reuniting the guild for love of Wendy but more for love of Lucy? He only left that message after he saw Lucy's board and the look on his face as he regarded her sleeping form was pretty serious. He knows that Fairy Tail is literally the only family Lucy has left and it would make sense that he wants her to be happy. Also, he left her alone without talking in person! Every time Lucy has left the guild without a personal explanation, he's chased after her and brought her back. I just don't think Natsu can feel guilt free for what he did! I also don't buy the "defeating the strongest guild" BS Mashima! Lamia, Pegasus, heck, nobody of any significance was in that GMG so obviously they aren't the strongest guild. I think Natsu tracked her down! Maybe he was heading through Crocus and got lucky when he picked up her scent. I don't know, I just can't see the whole "Challenger" chapter as serious.

I loved Lucy's new outfit when fighting with Leo but the improved "Lucy Kick" kinda made me angry. I wish she could get some real powers or spells like Urano Metria. I know she's a Holder type mage but there has to be something else she can do! It doesn't seem yet like she got a real power boost. Unlike Natsu who easily defeated Bluenote for plot convenience to show he is at least at Gildarts level back on Tenrojima. Gah! I'm not sure if I should be disappointed in these new chapters. I'm waiting to see what happens and then I'll make a judgement. Thanks for reading my rant, or not reading it, whatever! If you did read it, let me know what you think! Opinions on the anime are welcome too! I'm all caught up so don't worry about potential spoilers, you won't spoil anything for me! Hope life is good for all of you!

CC22