Second day came and Natsu still didn't move from his spot, sitting on the chair beside the bed, holding Lucy's hand gently. His fingers softly trailed along her palm and back of the hand, his own, rough, scarred fingers that have seen so many fights have felt the gentle touch of hers. She didn't move, only her breathing, soft and slow gave away her peaceful nature. Her forehead was wrapped in gauze, to the side there was small red area from the blood. How did it come to this? How could I be so careless?
Doors opened and closed, wizards came and went, each coming to see Lucy who was lying there with Natsu by her side, sitting like a faithful hound that guarded her dreams… if only he could see them.
"You must be exhausted." Gray said, standing behind him. Natsu but turned his head briefly to look up at him and then his gaze turned back to Lucy.
"I'll sleep when she wakes up."
"Natsu… Lucy won't wake up if you keep staring at her."
"She always did when we came to her house." Natsu responded, still gently rubbing her hand and fingers "I figure… if I look at her long enough she'll wake up to yell at me for being creepy."
"That's for when she is asleep, now she is hurt bad." Gray swallowed hard as he looked between two of them.
"She will wake up, I know it…" Natsu's voice was quiet and a smile formed on his face but it quickly vanished and he hung his head down, closing eyes "I am supposed to be on the bed, not her."
"Don't say that." Gray frowned, seeing where this conversation will lead.
"It's true, Gray. That thing was aiming for me, but she… she saved me… She pulled me…" his voice trembled "She shouldn't have… I am supposed to protect her…"
"You know that's now how it works, we watch each other's back. You cannot expect to be only one to take the hit."
"I should be on this bed Gray! Not her!" Natsu turned his head, his eyes were filled with tears and he growled like a rabid dog.
"And what do you think that would change? You think anyone else would feel better if you were like that and Lucy to sit by the bed, waiting for you to wake up?!" Gray's voice rose, he was not growling back, confronting Natsu's rage with his own "You think we would feel more at ease?"
Natsu just looked down, he had nothing to say, no words to bark back and he wanted… he so wanted. Rock that was stuck in his throat just became bigger, pushing down further on his chest. His gaze returned to Lucy and she didn't show any sign of being bothered by this senseless yelling between two wizards. She was still calm, breathing slowly. Gray knew his words were too much, even if true there was no excuse for him to burst like that… he knew well how difficult it was for Natsu to watch this, waiting from one second to another, hoping to just see her open eyes. He couldn't lie, he wanted that just as much. He rubbed his lips, one against another as he watched Natsu continue to watch over Lucy.
"Look, just… take some rest. Lucy won't get better if you push yourself beyond your limits. We'll look through books; maybe there is something that Porlyusica missed, some old remedy that. She isn't perfect… if there is something to help Lucy, we'll find it… In the meantime… well, you know already."
Gray walked out closing doors softly, as if trying not to wake her up or disturb this odd peace, leaving two of them inside. He raised his hands to rub his face, trying to dispel the tiredness that was obviously showing but in truth, something he didn't want anyone to see… it was an attempt not to break down. Maybe it was his fault this happened… if he acted differently, if his ice was better. If only… if only…
"Gray-sama?" Juvia came to him, noticing that he was standing, leaned against the wall. His eyes betrayed him as he looked at her and she couldn't but notice that he was struggling.
"Yeah, I'll… I'll be down in a minute just…" He cleared his throat, trying to stabilize his voice.
"Juvia knows…" she responded, in any other event her mind would race in thousand directions, but now, she couldn't bring herself to even feel a tiny sliver of her jealousy… but what she did feel in Gray was spark of guilt that was rising, ready to burst and rage into full fire.
"I should have…"
Juvia quickly interrupted him, placing two fingers on his lips to shut him up "It is not Gray-sama's fault. No one knew what would happen so please… do not believe it is anyone's fault." He just nodded to her words, taking deep breath and another quick rub of hands against his face. With that done he made his way down along with her.
Natsu tried to remain steadfast, to keep himself awake. He couldn't look away. Every second that passed he expect that in the next she would open her eyes… it is just a matter of time but time was not on his side. Each second that brought him greater anxiety had also drained his strength and he was almost completely out of it. His eyes betrayed him, lids felt as if they were made of lead and he lowered his head, just a minute… just one minute.
He opened eyes and looked up, blue skies with few clouds slowly moving across. He rose up, sitting up to look forward… there was a beach, and he was sitting on it, right there on the sand near the sea as far as eyes could reach.
"Took you long enough." He heard voice and looked to the side, spotting Lucy in yellow summer dress.
"Sorry, I… where are we?"
"On the beach, silly." She smiled as she stood beside him "Don't tell me you already forgot."
"No, no… it's just…"
"It's just what?" Lucy sat beside him.
"I feel as if I am supposed to tell you something but I don't know what."
"Well, if you cannot remember then it is probably not important."
"I guess…" Natsu looked forward and his eyes seem to be fixed in a distant position but after a minute he looked back at Lucy again.
"If you are going to tell me that you have been eating from my fridge again I might have to slap you." She giggled and stood up, extending her hand to him. Natsu took it lightly and stood up, noticing as he was holding it that it grew cold.
"No it's not that. It was something important, I know that for sure." He smiled softly, the breeze and the summer sun felt nice, soothing and in that moment of a short bliss he spoke "I remember now…"
"Can you wait for a little longer?" She asked, making him frown slightly, confused by her request "In fact, tell me that, when you wake up."
"When I what?" he asked.
"Wake up… Hey, wake up!" voice rose and he opened his eyes, rubbing them with fingers. He wasn't sure if he was just dreaming the voice or not but this little confusion soon dispersed as he heard voice again.
"Are you feeling alright?" he quickly looked up and saw Lucy, sitting on the bed, still covered by the blanket. His face lit up as he just whispered Lucy? You are awake…
"Well of course I am awake, although my head feels like Erza practiced inside…" She rubbed back of her head.
"No, I mean you are awake…" he said softly but then he shouted "Hey, she is awake!"
A moment later doors opened, and through them Mira was first to enter. She looked at the bed and covered her mouth with hand "Oh my…" was all she could say before others rushed in, pushing her inside along with them.
"Natsu, why are they all staring at me?" Lucy asked, looking at him.
"Because I was right! I told them you will wake up if I stay beside you and you did!" he said, rather cheerfully, making her blush.
"Go get some sleep alright?" She said, trying to straighten her face.
"I am not that tired."
"Yes you are. Go on, I'll be fine with everyone else."
Natsu nodded and stood up from the chair, walking out of the room but as he did he started walking fast, almost running out. Gray tried to follow but he lost him the moment he left the hall. His eyes searched through the lines of people that passed by.
"Damn it…" he exhaled.
"Poor Natsu, he must be exhausted." Mira added as she stood by Gray. "Is he going to be okay?"
"I don't know, it's Natsu so… I guess…" he sighed deeply before looking at Mira "Come, let's get back in."
Unusual vigor filled Natsu as he ran, barely dodging pedestrians. He was ecstatic, barely holding himself on feet but he kept going straight to his house where he thought Happy would be and he should hear the news, heck the entire story even. Maybe he returned from Carla and went to eat something, yeah, he is probably there. As he reached front of his door he took a minute to catch breath, with little sleep and no food in last two days it was all he could do if he was to continue. His hand reached for doors and he opened, entering inside and noticing that it was in fact empty but he still shouted Happy's name but there was no response. With what little strength there was left in his body he moved to his hammock and jumped right in, it didn't took him long to fall asleep and the same dream on the beach appeared, same lines, same questions, same heavy feel in chest.
Natsu woke up late, slept through entire night and all the way to the noon and as his eyes opened he looked right up the ceiling and then to both sides. Familiar warmth was present on his stomach and he looked down, noticing Happy curdled and asleep. Little guy probably is exhausted. He gently lifted him and placed on hammock and left the house. Day was warm, fresh breeze he could feel on his face… a familiar one. He will tell her today.