I'm alive! (and yes you can put your pitchforks down..)

I'm really sorry for the delay, but it was necessary! Because I finally found a Beta Reader! She did amazing work with this chapter and I'm so happy that she is willing to put up with my grammar/spelling-mistakes!

So that's why I'd like to give a big shout out to her! MWolfe13, thank you so much!

So let's finally continue the story!

Musical Inspiration: Colorblind - Counting Crows

As always: I do not own Fairy Tail.

Well, this seems rather familiar, Laxus mused in his thoughts.

Heat surrounded him, caused by the several fires burning wood and stone. His eyesight was hindered by the constant smoke. His ears were nearly bleeding by the inhuman screeching from the colossal metal bird.

Yes, he was in that stupid town. Its name was already forgotten, along with their dumb as fuck emperor who he couldn't care less about. What he cared about was the huge Phoenix with its glowing red eye that was currently demolishing the whole city. After that, it would have destroyed the whole world if Fairy Tail hadn't come to the rescue.

As he was standing between fighting mages and fleeing citizens, he asked himself; What was he supposed to do?

He couldn't see Lucy anywhere.

If his memory served him right, he remembered fighting on top of a roof besides his team. He'd been shouting at Natsu to get his ass up already, and slay that thing. But then what?

Looking around he searched for something that led him to his favorite blonde.

His gaze shifted around until he saw a certain redhead on a rooftop. She was equipped with a bow, and a glowing arrow. Right, he remembered now.

Seconds later, he heard a desperate wailing from somewhere near. Laxus knew without a doubt it had to be her. He began to run to the source.

Rounding corners, crossing streets, evading being buried by houses that fell apart, Laxus searched for Lucy. He almost missed her as he ran by an alley. There she was, a crying mess, cradling a woman with brown hair her on her lap. Beside her was his grandfather who stood still, a frown on his face.

"Please... She will die if we use the arrow!" The Celestial mage pleaded with gramps, but while he was not happy with that decision, his mind was set. Laxus saw that it wasn't easy for the old man as well. The Slayer stepped forward, and realized that once again, none of them noticed that he was there.

"I'm sorry, my child..." Gramps tried to console her, but it didn't work and she sobbed even harder. Laxus winced, his whole body tensing up by the thought of the emotional pain Lucy must had been feeling in this moment.

"Don't be sad, Lucy. I'm fine. I have lived long enough. I just wish to be with my family again... with Momo ... and my parents." The brunette tried to explain. Her voice was weak, but she was smiling. She grabbed Lucy's arm and Lucy's tears came even harder when she closed her eyes.

"No... Please, stop it!" The blonde mage was still pleading. Meanwhile Erza, unaware of the consequences, released the arrow, letting it soar through the air.

"NOOOO!" Lucy screamed. But it didn't do anything. The arrow hit its mark dead on, and the giant bird screeched in pain. Laxus watched the scene he'd missed in his memories. He was solely focused on Lucy, and the obvious emotional pain she was in. His whole body shuddered, and a cold shiver went violently down his back. Just how much pain had she endured?

A sudden burst of fire in the sky gained their attention. Natsu pushed the arrow right through the glowing eyes, fully activating the eradication magic.

Shifting his gaze back to Lucy and the other woman, the lightning mage saw that the body of the dying brunette started to vanish. It was very clear that the real agony just started for the blonde.

As soon as no trace was left of the woman, Lucy broke down. She laid her head on the floor, sobbing loudly. She clutched her arms around her midriff as if she was trying to hold herself together. Gramps, who was still beside her, closed his eyes and let his head sink. Laxus knew that his grandfather was feeling everything too.

Laxus was desperate to change the situation. He needed to get to Lucy and pull her out of her pain. He stepped forward, but suddenly the flames around him grew. The heat was becoming unbearable. Like magically enhanced fire, the flames spread incredibly fast, and Laxus could feel the heat already melting some of the hair on his arms. He wanted to get to the blonde, to protect her from the fiery death, but the flames closed in on him and after seconds it was all he could see.

"Nooo! Lucy! Dammit, Lucy!" he shouted. Laxus ignored the pain of the burns he got, and stepped through the flames. He knew that he was in Lucy's mind somehow, and therefore was relatively sure that he couldn't get hurt, but the pain felt real.

He bit his teeth, and tried to ignore the pain. He was here to get Lucy back, and he was damned if he couldn't get through some lousy flames. Laxus smirked, this fire was nothing compared to Natsu.

Stumbling forward, while holding his arms around his head, he fought through the mass of flames. Suddenly the heat stopped, and he took his arms down.

Surprised, his eyes widened. The city he was standing in seconds ago vanished, and he was standing in a large corridor instead.

The marble floor and the expensive decoration led him to believe that he was in a mansion or palace, but the scene made him immediately tense up. There were many holes and cracks in the floor as well as in the walls, like a huge fight has taken place. Turning around, he saw what most likely caused this huge mess; Natsu, and he wasn't alone. Wendy, Happy, Charle. Pantherlilly and Loke were besides him. His attention was focused on the two Lucy's standing before him. It should have been impossible. One was clothed like how he saw her sometimes in the guild, but the other one had a large black cloak on. That was unusual for the color loving blonde.

Then he saw another person, and his gut was uneasy immediately. It was Future Rogue. That asshole who caused the whole mess with the dragons, and nearly destroyed the whole world. Why was he here? Laxus had never heard what exactly happened in the castle as Natsu, Wendy, Mirajane, Happy, Charle and Pantherlilly went to save Lucy. Neither had he known that apparently Future Rogue wasn't the only one passing through the time portal. He figured that this was the reason there were currently two Lucy's. Her future version must have traveled back also. Why?

"No way! How can you be Rogue?" Natsu asked, puzzled as the older version of the Shadow Dragon Slayer walked up to them.

"You came from the future too?" The present Lucy asked, slightly scared.

"I'm not the only one then." Future Lucy mused, her voice wary, and confirmed Laxus' theory. Lucy had traveled back in time. Since Laxus knew the story of how everyone thought that ten thousand dragons would attack Crocus and Fiore, it would match that she came back to warn everyone. Why was the older version of Rogue here then? Wouldn't, since Lucy already traveled back and changed the future, his timeline be alright again? Damn time lines. This was way too confusing. So, he stood there and listened to the scene he hadn't been there for.

"Why are you here?" Happy asked the man he found slightly terrifying.

"All I want, is to use the Eclipse," Future Rogue said.

After Lucy asked what it would do, he explained how it can be used in two ways. The first was time travel. The second was to use it as a cannon, the only weapon powerful enough to defeat dragons.

"We can actually win?" Future Lucy asked, unbelieving. Natsu, Wendy and Happy smiled and laughed about the fact, but Laxus wasn't sure. His gut told him that it wouldn't be that simple.

Future Rogue sighed and told them of his timeline, where the dragons destroyed the whole world as well as killed off most of humanity. For a short moment, Laxus could see that this man was truly sad about that. He could somehow understand him. Seven years of Apocalypse, and the constant struggle to survive in such a world... The blonde man could see where the bitterness of Future Rogue came from. While he listened, he saw how the Future Lucy started to shake. Her future must have been like this.

"This canon is humanity's last chance. We stop them now, or die." Rogue finished.

"Then it should be easy, right? We open the gate, and blast it at them! Let's get to it!" Natsu said, meanwhile also uneasy with the future which loomed ahead of them.

"Seven years in my past, something happened. Someone prevented Eclipse 2 from activating." The older Shadow Slayer told them. Laxus eyes widened at that. This was not how the whole mess started.

"I came back in time, to eradicate the life of the person who caused the deaths of all those people," Future Rogue said darkly.

"How barbaric! We can just talk to this person!" Charle complained about this plan.

"Yes, there's no need for bloodshed!" Lilly continued.

"Talking will do nothing. It's destiny that this person will close the gate. It's set in stone. This is the only way." Future Rogue was determined.

"Then who is this person?" Natsu asked him confused.

Rogue remained silent for a moment. Laxus saw the tension in his stance, and would he have blinked, he would've missed it. Rogue suddenly struck, and unleashed a Shadow blade. It was aimed at a specific person.

"It's you. LUCY HEARTFILLIA!" He shouted. Laxus' reflex was to jump, or fight, to just do anything, but his body remained still. He saw how Natsu tried to grab the blade, but his hand went through the shadows. Wendy and Loke were too far away, and Lucy was frozen in fear. Laxus could only watch. As he was sure the blade would strike her, a body suddenly moved in front of her, literally taking the bullet for her. He could hear the slashing sound as it cut deep into her flesh, and see the blood flying around. Both memories were branded into his mind forever.

He was shocked as he saw who that person was; Future Lucy.

With a thud, she landed on the ground, slithering a few inches. Her eyes were closed.

"NOOOO!" Someone screamed. He saw how Lucy kneeled over her, and Happy running and stopping in front of her. Future Lucy herself had a pained expression, but her eyes opened.

"Hang on!" The present blonde shouted at her other self, already crying. The others remained still, too shocked to move or say anything, just like him.

"I didn't do it. I didn't close the gate… I would never do that." The injured female coughed up, her life force already leaking from her.

"I know you didn't! I wouldn't either, I promise! ...But why? Why didn't you protect yourself?!" She asked nearly shouting, while the tear drops ran down her cheeks. Laxus was still speechless. His mind couldn't process what was happening in front of him.

"You're my past. If you were to die, then I would die too. In a way, dying is the only way I can live... It's so strange..." Future Lucy began to smile ruefully, "I never thought I would die in my own arms, you know? It's kind of comforting..." She said, and Laxus' mind finally realized what his eyes were seeing. Future Lucy was dying. This realization had a heavy weight dropping onto his heart, and deep sadness began to spread in him.

"No! Don't talk like that! You're going to make it!" The crying blonde said in denial. She looked up to Wendy, who was crying too, shaking her head. Carla talked for her.

"I'm afraid the wounds are too severe, there's nothing we can do…" she explained, never making eye contact.

"Don't cry, it's ok. I thought that I would never get to see my friends again. But I did, one last time. That's enough to make up for the hell I've been through." The dying woman on the floor tried to console her friends. Laxus remembered what they'd told him. In her future, nobody survived. The way Future Lucy was talking… Did that mean that she saw her friends, her comrades, her family, die? The man had to gulp. That was the worst torture he could imagine. As he thought about it, he didn't realize that he too, shed tears.

"No, Lucy, hang in there. We need you!" Happy said in a childish manner, not realizing the reality yet.

"I'm not the Lucy you know. I'm from a different time, a whole other world. There's no reason for you to cry." she said, touching Happy cheek, trying to comfort him. The big eyes of the cat started to fill with tears.

"The Lucy of your time is still alive. She will be with you and your friends… So you don't have to be sad." Future Lucy continued to console him.

"BUT WE ARE SAD!" He suddenly began to shout. "WE DON'T CARE FROM WHAT WORLD YOU COME FROM! BECAUSE NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE SAYS YOU'RE STILL OUR LUCY! YOU'RE OUR FRIEND, AND WE LOVE YOU! WE DON'T WANT TO LOSE YOU! OF COURSE WE'RE SAD! WHY WOULDN'T WE BE?!" he shouted at her, and Laxus clenched his teeth and let his tears run freely as he heard Happy's words. The cat was right. It didn't matter from which timeline, or world she was coming from. Lucy was Lucy, and she was dying right now.

"Hey, can you let me see your guild mark?" The woman asked her present self. Lucy held her shaking hand over her, so she could see the pink mark on the top of her right hand. Gently the dying woman caressed it with her left hand... Laxus began to wonder why she wanted to see it as he realized about the same time as the present Lucy.

"Where's yours? What happened?!" She asked her with eyes wide in shock. The silence she got as answer was enough confirmation. The Future Lucy lost her right arm. Gone with it was the mark that bound her to her family. By now, Laxus was shaking. Whether it was in fury, deep sadness or frustration, he didn't know. It was all clashing together unbearably in his heart.

"I just wish, I could have...gone on more adventure...Please, protect the future." She exhaled her last words, before she slumped down, unmoving. By now, everyone was crying.

The blonde dragon slayer wailed in despair. He hadn't known that Lucy had died that day. He hadn't known!

Laxus slumped down on his knees. He clenched his fist, and smacked it hardly on the ground. He couldn't believe that something like this happened! Why had this happen?!

His subconscious reminded him about his task here, but he was still unable to deal with the fact that Lucy died. It didn't matter to him which one. Back then, he didn't have his mission to protect her yet, but he still cared about her! How was he not there to prevent this? Was he even capable of doing so? Ever since he'd gotten the mission he'd already screwed up, and she'd gotten hurt on his watch. Laxus covered his face with his hands, drawing in his self-loathing and guilt.

"It's not your fault." He suddenly heard her beautiful and calm voice, while a hand touched his shoulder. Surprised, he turned around and saw the very woman he was thinking about. She had a smile on her face, but that was not the most important fact. It was Future Lucy! The mind of the blonde Dragon Slayer scrambled over this, and he couldn't get what happened here. How is she alive?!

"I see your confusion. I'm still dead, but I'm also a part of Lucy. I'm her Empathy." She explained this calmly to him. Laxus finally got it, but he broke the eye contact none the less. He was not worthy to even look at her.

"Don't blame yourself," She said, taking her hand from his shoulder. She put it to his cheek, pushing his face upwards, so he had to look at her. Laxus saw the warmth and sadness at the same time in her eyes.

"It was destiny that my version of Lucy died. If it hadn't happened here, then it would have happened in my original timeline. You, as well as the others, couldn't have prevented it," She told him. Laxus frowned. Why did Lucy have to die?

"The universe is indeed strange and mysterious, but maybe it had to happen for certain reasons... One of them… I'm here now to help you," She mused mysteriously. Laxus looked at her puzzled as he realized something.

"Why are you the one comforting me? Shouldn't I be the one to put you back together, to get Lucy's soul whole again?" He asked her. Her smile grew a little.

"You see, I'm the part of her soul who was damaged the least. This wound on her soul, on me you just saw, is almost healed. She was almost through it, and would have, if new damages hadn't gotten in the way. This is the worst damage her soul has taken." Her smile faltered.

"What are you talking about?" He asked her. The blonde man tried to remember of what he knew about Lucy's timeline. After they won the Games, was anything important? Then he remembered. The disbanding of Fairy Tail. He looked up to the part of the blonde's soul.

"Then I have to get to the shard of her soul who deals with solitude?" He asked, trying to get the solution. She just shook her head.

"No. Just let me take you to her, and you'll see." She offered her hand. He was confused. What else it could be? He took the hand anyways, and stood up. Lucy took his other hand, and closed her eyes in concentration. Their surroundings shifted like he was looking out of the window of a train, just faster. The sky changed from daylight to night, to the orange of the morning and to the darkness of the twilight. The ground changed with it. From grass, to stone, to sand, to sea.

Then the shifting stopped, and he immediately knew where he was. The sky had the color of an agitating mix between purple and gray, but he only saw it through a window. The window of a flying castle, or Cube.

Tartaros. Laxus flinched. Everybody literally went through hell here. Now he wondered what kind of hell Lucy had gone through.

"This way." The part of the blonde's soul guided him. They went through long corridors, and as he ran he noticed that he saw none of his friends. What he saw was the strange dark red mass that covered the ground and the walls like some kind of slime exploded there. Then he heard a sudden noise, like something exploded.

Lucy was already guiding him towards it, and suddenly they both were floating.

"What the fuck?!" Laxus exclaimed, surprised. Lucy turned around to him.

"This is necessary, in order to watch what happened," She said. Suddenly they fly towards a hole in the ground. Laxus could hear water flowing, like the river and as they went through the rift in the ground he saw actual water flowing. Then he saw a figure… Lucy! ... Surfing on the stream? Besides her was a weird girl with bunny ears also surfing on a wood piece.

"Gate of the Maiden, I open thee! Virgo!" She summoned her pink haired Maid. Virgo poofed into the scene, already surfing. The spirit went to the weird girl and fought her. Meanwhile, Lucy's board clashed against a rock and she flew on her back, but fortunately was still on the board.

Then Virgo shouted towards her.

"Princess, something is coming!" Laxus could see through the water. A big shadow was moving fast towards Lucy, as it jumped above it. A demon from the Nine Gates! Laxus was nervous, but Lucy had already acted.

"Gate of the Lion, I open thee! Loke!" As soon as she finished with his name the Celestial Spirit appeared, blocking the incoming attack with his Regulus Punch. Laxus let out a sigh in relief.

He watched as both spirits fought against their opponent. As it did go on for a few minutes, Laxus noticed how Lucy began to pant. Of course! Keeping two Celestial Spirits in this world, especially strong ones like Loke and Virgo, drained her magic rather fast. It seemed both spirits noticed that, and they went even harder at their fights, trying to protect their master and friend.

Then the worst happened. Another Demon of the Gates appeared. "I found you!" He exclaimed, sneering at her.

Lucy saw him, and frowned. She couldn't summon another spirit. She took out her whip. Laxus was nervous again. While he had no doubt the blonde hat wicked skill and aim with the whip, he wasn't sure it was enough to beat this demon.

Not admitting defeat, she struck him anyway. Meanwhile, Laxus was wondering where all the others were when it dawned on him. They were all stuck in that red mass! Lucy was the only one left!

The whip wrapped itself around the wrist of that wolf like demon, but he only smirked. "You haven't forgotten about my curse, have you?" He asked.

Explosion after explosion went down the length of the whip towards Lucy, who cried out in pain as it reached her hand. She flew off the board as her Spirits called her name, submerging under water. She got up again, and gripped the wood piece in determination.

"What happened to my friends?!" She asked the demons angrily, but the demon said nothing. Instead he threw his explosions her way, hitting her directly. Lucy screamed out in pain. Again, and again he unleashed his explosions. Laxus was about to interfere, but his companion stopped him.

"It's no use. It's a vision she wants you to see. It is Lucy's past. You cannot change it." She explained, her expression sad. Laxus clenched his teeth. Not again! How often does he have to watch her get hurt?!

The fish like demon warned the other one to kill Lucy already, but he only replied that he had to let out his frustration by tormenting her. Laxus' anger rose. Another explosion and Lucy went under water, but the demon didn't stop her and threw his explosion, hitting her underwater.

She rose out of it, screaming, "I won't!" Laxus wondered what she wouldn't do.

Lucy lifted her arm, holding a golden key.

"...Not until I've saved everyone!" she screamed. The key began to glow. Laxus' eyes widened. She would open another gate, right? Her body wouldn't be able to take it!

Her spirits thought the same and shouted at her to stop, but the stubborn blonde went on with her summoning.

"Gate of the Water Bearer, I open thee! Aquarius!" Lucy screamed, her eyes burning with determination. After a few seconds, she slumped down on her knees, exhausted, but her casting was done. Behind her, with a great wave, the blue haired mermaid appeared.

"Idiot," Aquarius said. The mermaid gripped Lucy's shoulder. The blonde smiled as her spirit appeared. Letting go of Lucy's shoulder, The Water Bearer went down to business. She unleashed a huge wave out of her urn and struck down Jackal, and the annoying girl. Her spirits were still worried though, and shouted at her that it was enough. They wanted her to send one of them back.

Laxus' senses caught something moving, and in the water, he saw the big fish guy moving effortlessly underwater. It was like Aquarius' attack was nothing.

He sprang forward, and sliced with the blades on his arms through Aquarius' shoulder. She screamed out in pain and the water flow stopped. Virgo and Loke turned towards her, shocked, and Jackal went between them and simultaneously blew both Spirits up.

"With one attack?! No! Lucy!" Loke said before he completely vanished. Lucy shouted in agony, but her body went limp and she slumped down. This was the consequence of her magic overuse. Laxus was trembling.

Since the water was gone, Jackal and the girl stepped towards her, already sneering. They talked about how pathetic she was. This was bad, Laxus thought. She was in an absolute helpless situation.

Jackal let his curse loose, and set an explosion off on her leg. Lucy screamed before she covered her mouth. Her body shook in pain, her eyes tearing up, and Laxus could still hear her whimpering through her hands.

Torafuzar and Jackal went on arguing about how to proceed with Lucy, the bigger demon eventually left annoyed.

Grinning like a maniac, the demon with ears and a tail turned to Lucy again. After the girl babbled something about exploding Lucy's breast, he let her face explode, killing her instantly. This action showed how cruel those creatures were exactly.

He was about to let loose another explosion, but he was swept back as Aquarius suddenly stood between him and Lucy. The Water Bearer looked like she was in huge pain, and close to her end. This, she also told Lucy. She could only hold the demon at bay for a short time, and the other Celestial Spirits could only do so much. The Demon gates were too strong for the Spirits to defeat them.

"But we still have a chance of winning," Aquarius said to her. At this, Lucy and Laxus were surprised and both listened.

"Listen, if you can open three gates at once, I'm sure you can do this. Summon the Celestial Spirit King," Aquarius explained to her. The eyes of the blondes went wide. Summoning the king of the Celestial World? Laxus had only read about him, but his knowledge was that he was immensely strong.

"But I don't have his key…" Lucy's expression went crestfallen.

"There's nothing "physical" to summon him. Only a certain special key can open his gate; summoning with a price. By breaking one of the gold keys, you can open the gate of the king once."

Lucy's face went pale. Unbelieving, she repeated the bluenette's word to herself quietly. Aquarius used her silence to continue to explain. "It won't just work with any key. If there isn't strong mutual trust between the owner and the spirit, the gate won't open."

Finally realizing what that would mean exactly, Lucy began to shout. "I can't do something like that! No! You're all important, I don't want to lose any of-"

Aquarius interrupted her. "Break my key," She said with a slight, but determined smile. Lucy and the lighting slayer were both speechless. He knew how much the Spirits meant to Lucy. They were her family, and she treated them that way. To sacrifice one… It would break her. And suddenly Laxus knew what would happen, and why he was watching. He clenched his teeth even harder, and balled his fist until his nails broke his skin.

"I'm not sure about trust, but we've been together for a long time, it will work. What are you saying? It's to save your friends." The mermaid wouldn't take no for an answer.

"You're one of my friends, too! I can't sacrifice someone to save the others! There must be another way! I'm not giving up!" She screamed stubbornly.

"I wouldn't suggest it, if there was another way." Aquarius replied calmly.

"No...NO!" Lucy shook her head furiously, very childlike. Laxus could feel his heart breaking.

"Lucy, there's no time... I won't die if you break my key. We just won't be able to meet again." She tried arguing, and Lucy still denied, but by now her head hung low and tears were running down her cheeks. It seemed she realized that this was the only way to save everyone.

"I'm actually looking forward to it," The spirit said. She explained how Lucy's mother was her master before she was passed down to her. She never liked Lucy. She was crying too often, acting like a brat, and was not nearly as graceful as her mother.

"Actually, I've hated you the whole time." She ends her rumble, but Laxus could her that this statement was not entirely true.

"I don't care if you hate me! I love you... You were my first friend...My..." By now, the blonde was heavily crying with her hands covering her face. It was nearly unbearable for Laxus to watch.

Aquarius saw that Jackal came nearer and she pressured Lucy by screaming at her to save her friends, because she was the only one left

"DO IT, LUCY!" She ended her rant. The blonde took out her key and straightened her arm, still crying. Laxus could see how Aquarius' hand gripped her own chest, right above her heart. He wasn't fooled by the act. The mermaid liked Lucy. She was her first spirit, and her only friend in her childhood. She was the only one Lucy had after her mother died.

"Open... Gate of the...Spirit King!" Lucy summoned crying openly. Laxus looked at Aquarius and he saw the tears the mermaid had in her eyes, as well as the gratitude that shone in them. The water vanished, as well as the Spirit. For a few second's it was silent and then suddenly the whole building shook, crashing to the ground.

But that didn't matter to Lucy. She was laying down, desperately clutching the broken key, and falling apart.

"I think that's enough." Laxus was startled as the other Lucy besides him suddenly spoke up.

"Come, we're reaching the end." She took his hand, and flew him out of the building.

They flew towards the sky, and into the endless darkness. Laxus was preoccupied with what he just saw. Lucy had saved them all. She was the one who broke the spell that had everybody captured. She'd had to sacrifice her first, true friend in the process. Laxus could only imagine the pain she'd had to have been feeling. He was sure he couldn't have endured the pain, and not only this emotional damage. Everything she had gone through... Laxus was sure he would've broken a long time ago, if he was faced with such tragedies. He gained new admiration for the blonde female, who had a much stronger heart than anybody he knew, himself included.

They tapped deeper into the darkness, and it didn't take long before they were surrounded by it.

"Where are we?" He asked, confused. He could see nothing, as well as hear and smell. It was irritating and unsettling.

"This is the deepest part of Lucy's soul. Here is where her last soul shard has hidden herself. Find her." And with these words, she vanished. Surprised, Laxus looked around, but she didn't pop up anywhere. He sighed. Might as well finish this, he thought.

He was walking, but he could not see the floor. He searched his surroundings, but there was nothing but black. The time seemed to go on, and his frustration grew. How was he supposed to find her in this darkness? His senses didn't tell him anything, and he felt blind.

He began to run, his legs pumping harder and harder, but he got nowhere. Slowing down, he tried to get air into his lungs. Still, there was nothing.

He clenched his teeth as he sank onto his knees. Was he lost? He tried to work his magic, but the energy wouldn't surface. Magic wouldn't work here.

Then, Laxus realized he was trapped. He would never get home. His body went rigid. His mind going blank.

Was this what hopelessness felt like?

Suddenly, he heard something moving. Not his own body, but someone else's. Startled, he lifted his head to the source. There, a few feet away from him, was a blonde girl sitting on the ground. She wore a white dress. She was hugging her knees to her chest with her head on her arms. She looked so fragile and small.

It wasn't just any blonde girl. It was Lucy.

"Lucy!" Laxus exclaimed. He rushed to her, but she showed no reaction towards him. Didn't she hear him?

Laxus sank to his knees besides her. Slowly, he lifted his hands to touch her shoulder, but he stopped midair. He was afraid. Her body looked so small, so delicate, as if she would break from the slightest touch.

"Lucy?" He asked again, this time in a softer voice. Her body reacted by flinching. Slowly, she lifted her head. Laxus winced. Her eyes were the color of grey, a dull lifeless grey. They were also unfocused, as if she couldn't see, as if she was blind.

"Is someone there?" She asked timidly. She sounded as if she was unsure of herself.

"Yes, Lucy. It's me, Laxus. I'm here for you." He tried reassuring her, but she shook her head in response.

"No, nobody is there for me. I'm alone. Everybody leaves," She said. Laxus' heart broke at the utter defeat in her voice. He tried something different. Cautiously, he put his hand on her shoulder.

"I'm here, Lucy. I won't go. I will never leave you." As he said this word, with the combination of the skin contact, she focused her eyes on him. Suddenly, there was a little bit brown around her iris. Hope settled into his chest.

"Everyone leaves. It doesn't matter. Nothing matters." She spoke those words, confused but convinced. Like it was a fact that she repeated over and over to herself. Laxus put his other hand on the free shoulder, and slightly shifted her towards him. She lifted her head higher. Laxus took that as a good sign.

"To me, it matters. I care about you, and I'm here to bring you back." He announced, hoping it convinced her. More brown color returned to her eyes, and the dull shine lifted itself slightly.

"It's been so long… I don't know how to feel anything, besides this darkness." She said this sadly, and suddenly tears gathered in her eyes. Laxus lifted his hands to her face, and put it on her cheeks in a comforting way, while his thumbs carefully wiped her tears away.

"I will show you how. You must remember your family, you friends, your comrades. Everybody is waiting for you. I am waiting for you. We miss the bubbly, warm, loving, and beautiful you." With his words, more color returned to her eyes.

"Really?" She asked, unsure, like it all was just a fantasy, and after she blinked he would be gone.

"Really. You've been gone too long." He assured her, slightly smiling because of the progress.

"But… If they leave again... I don't know if I can take it. I'm so weak..." She began to sob. Laxus hushed her, put his arm around her, and hugged her to his chest. The hand which remained on her cheek shifted towards the back of her head.

"Never think like that. Nobody truly leaves you. Even those who part with you remain in your heart. I will be there. I promise you here, on the spot, that I will never leave your side. I'll stay there, for as long as you'll have me." He said this into her ear. She shuddered, but nodded, her sobs ceasing.

"Laxus?" Her voice was timid in question. He let her loose, so there was some space between them, but his arms were still around her.

"Yes?" He gazed into her eyes. They were fully brown now, but her usual shine in them was still missing.

"Why would you do this? Why do you care about me?" Her sudden question left him to stuttering. After a few seconds of silence, and him thinking about what to say, he began to explain.

"You're by far the most beautiful person I have ever laid my eyes on. Not only on the outside, but on the inside. Your soul is the kindest, warmest, and most forgiving I have ever met. You brought life to more lives than you will ever know, even to mine. I would do anything to keep that light in this world, to keep you here. You're so important, not only to me, but to everybody from the guild. You had faith and hope, even in your darkest moments. To think of what you have gone through... The fact that I wasn't there to protect you from shattering still haunts me. The truth is... I love you." He finally confessed.

Her eyes went wide. Normally, he would be nervous and embarrassed. He'd opened his heart to her. He'd completely torn down his walls, and let her in. If she'd want to, she could crush him in an instant. He had never been this vulnerable before, but in this moment, it didn't matter to him. He'd fallen so deep, was so in love with this woman, that he had to show her his feelings. He would have burst otherwise.

"Laxus..." She suddenly said, her eyes again tearing up, but a smile was on her lips. Laxus' heart did summersaults in his chest. She was finally smiling. Lucy lifted her hand to his cheek, and softly stroked her thumb over it. Laxus didn't waste any more time. He slowly leaned in, carefully watching her reactions, but as she didn't move back, moved in. He was sure she wanted this too. Closing the distance, he lay his lips on hers in a soft kiss. His heart stilled for a moment before it pounded even harder. The feeling of her lips on his was mesmerizing, the taste of her incredible. He felt like he'd finally come home.

Suddenly, everything around them went white. The darkness was lifted. Startled, he broke the kiss.

"What..." He was confused by the sudden change. Lucy giggled softly. He turned back to her, only to see her body glowing and vanishing slowly into gold glitter. Panicked, he grabbed her tighter, but she shook her head.

"Everything's fine. I'm returning to my home. I'll see you on the other side," She said as her body vanished completely. He felt a pull, as if his body was moved upwards. He started to float. The white around him began to shift into a pink, and the familiar feeling of the magic of a certain pinkette assured him. He was going back to reality, to his own body. He closed his eyes.

After he felt his body no longer under the magical pull, he opened his eyes. There he was, back in his own body. He was still leaning his forehead to Lucy's. He watched, and tried to memorize every detail, as she suddenly opened her eyes. The air left his lungs as he gazed into her eyes. They shone with happiness.

Smiling a happy smile of his own, he spoke. "Welcome home, Lucy."

There you have it folks! I hope you enjoyed it!

I made it extra long as an apology for the long wait.

So let me hear what you think!

And I'd also like to thank those people who wrote me, not to let this story stop. You guys were really encouraging me in a phase I definitely needed that! Next time I will thank all of you beautiful people properly!

Until next time,