Chapter Ninety-Six: School's in session

"That's really cool," Lisanna said, clutching her notebook to her chest. "I'm jealous. I've never been on a plane before. Mira has, but me and Elfman haven't."

"It was really awesome!" Natsu grinned, lacing his fingers behind his head. He didn't bother bringing anything but a pen to school, figuring he wouldn't need anything for the first day. If he did however, he could always ask to borrow something from his friends, seeing as he had at least one friend in every class for his senior year.

It gave him a great deal of relief knowing he wouldn't be alone, always having someone familiar around. It would surely help him survive his last year at Magnolia High.

"How did it feel?" Lisanna asked, the girl walking beside him on their way to school. They hadn't meant to run into each other, but it turned into a happy accident a few blocks back. They hadn't spoken since the last school year, so they filled each other in on their summer adventures.

Of course, Lisanna grinned when Natsu mentioned he was still dating Lucy. He had quickly switched the subject so she couldn't tease him, mentioning his ride on a plane since it was a big deal for him.

Who would have thought Natsu Dragneel would survive that type of mode of transportation? He chuckled just thinking about it.

"Hmm, I think the best way to describe it was it felt like I was going up in an elevator, but I couldn't really tell we were moving when we were up in the air."

Natsu turned with Lisanna as they made it closer to the school, cutting through the grass to save some time. He didn't notice the guys standing under a tree nearby, too engrossed in his conversation.

"I think riding in a plane was probably one of the coolest things to ever happen to me," Natsu said, almost smiling before someone shouted.

"Pukeneel rode on a plane?" one of them asked, finally catching Natsu's attention. He looked up, wondering who the heck still used 'Pukeneel'. He hadn't heard that since middle school. "I call bullshit."

That stopped Natsu dead in his tracks, his mood shifting as he reached for his back pocket. He intended to show a selfie he took in the jet, but before he could touch his phone, he stopped himself, deciding against it.

"Nope," he mumbled, taking control. "You're above that. Just ignore 'em." It wouldn't matter if he had proof or not. Bullies typically didn't care about the facts.

As soon as Natsu went to turn away from them, the other guy shouted, "Aw! Is little Pinky scared?"

"Are you two seri—" Lisanna started, turning towards the boys, but Natsu whirled around faster as his eyes narrowed.

"How about you two shove it? There's more to life than being an asshole!"

"What did you just say to me?" Before the two could move, Natsu took a few steps closer, nothing but determination burning in his eyes.

"I said, you two need to shut up and leave people the hell alone!" He threw out his arms in exasperation. "Are your lives so pathetic you have to pick on other people? Yeah, I puked when I got sick! Like that's some big fucking deal! Get a life and stop messing with mine."

He didn't say anything else, walking away while leaving the two boys stunned. Although he sounded confident, Natsu's heart beat wildly, sweat building under his arms despite it not being hot out yet.

"Keep walking," Natsu muttered as he passed Lisanna. She didn't need to be told twice, giving the guys one last look before chuckling.

"Did you really just say that?" she asked, seeing red creep over his skin, starting at his cheeks before reaching his ears.

"I kinda wanna make sure they're not about to come kick my ass," Natsu whispered, his body rigid.

He didn't know what had come over him. Never before had he gotten that angry so fast from a simple teasing. He didn't know if he should be proud of himself or embarrassed for taking the low road, but he had to admit, it did feel good telling them off.

"If they do come after us, just run as fast as you can," Lisanna teased, elbowing Natsu in a playful manner. "But seriously, what was that?"

He shook his head, still dumbfounded. "I honestly don't know."

"Well," she started, stealing a peek over her shoulder before looking at the school. "Whatever it is, I think I approve. There's no reason they should be bullying anyone, especially about motion sickness."

When Lisanna noticed Natsu hadn't released his tension, she said, "They're not following us."

As if melting, Natsu's body relaxed, especially his shoulders and fists. "Can I be honest?" he asked, earning a nod from Lisanna. "That scared the hell outta me."

"You were scared?" she asked with wide eyes. "I thought I was going to witness a fight or something. Maybe I don't approve!"

That got Natsu laughing. He scratched the back of his head before ruffling his hair, refusing to let it lay flat against his head. "Maybe I could tone it down, next time."

Lisanna took a deep breath before offering him a wane smile. "Hopefully there won't be a next time."

Natsu kept his mouth shut, knowing in his heart it wasn't a question of 'if'. There would be a next time, he just didn't know when.

"So I'll see you in English," Erza said, handing Natsu back his schedule. "And AP Calculus BC."

"Y'all are gonna wear yourselves out," Gajeel muttered, scrolling through his phone while he kept one hand on Levy's thigh. He glanced at her schedule before shaking his head. "Who takes three AP classes?"

"Me," Natsu said without looking up. He was taking AP Calculus BC, AP Chemistry, and AP Government and Politics. Sure, his classes would be tough, but he had a few easy ones to help balance it out. Lucy happened to share two of his easy classes, making it all the better.

"I'm so excited for Mythology," Lucy almost squealed. She wanted to learn more and possibly apply some of that knowledge to her story telling, but also she wanted to learn about some badass goddesses.

"Should be fun," Natsu said, smiling because it was one of the classes they had in common.

"It sucks I don't have any classes with you," Levy drawled, reaching across the table to offer her hand.

Lucy took it, giving her two squeezes. "I wish I got Creative Writing with you. That would've been great."

Levy told her seniors got first pick on electives since it was their last year, and unfortunately for Lucy, too many people picked that class, meaning she had to try again next year.

She sighed before managing a smile. "But at least we all have lunch together."


As Lucy let go of Levy's hand, she asked Erza, "What do you think your favorite class will be?"

"That's easy!" Erza said, her eyes twinkling like stars. "Drama!"

"Hope you don't get stage fright like you did in that play," Gray mumbled, but Erza didn't look discouraged.

"That was years ago! I'm much better now!"

Lucy admired Erza's confidence, wishing she could be like her in that aspect.

"Do you have any classes with Juvia?" Erza asked Gray, who was currently pouting at the end of the bench.

"I'm not sure. I haven't talked to her in a week."

When Erza raised a brow, Gray deflated. "The swim team's been taking up all her time. If she's not with them, she's exercising or swimming on her own."

"Why don't you try working out with her?" Erza suggested, but he shook his head.

"Tried that. She said I'm too distracting."

Lucy refrained from laughing. Juvia hadn't mentioned Gray the last time she saw her, which was two days ago when she was using her pool.

"It's weird not seeing Jellal here," Natsu said, Gray and Erza both nodding. Their friend had graduated and started a part-time job to keep him busy until his big move overseas. Natsu couldn't imagine how strange it would be moving so far away, even though that had been his goal for so many years.

He had wanted to escape Magnolia and all the awful memories associated with it, but now that his last year of high school was about to start, he was more wary* to leave.

"How many AP classes did Jellal take his senior year?" Levy asked, surprised with Erza's answer. "Four? How did he even do that?"

"He's very smart," Erza said, a small smile resting on her face. "He knew it would help with getting into his first choice, and it worked."

"Are you going to apply for the same school?" Lucy asked, seeing Erza's smile fade.

She shook her head, grabbing a few locks of her long red hair before mindlessly braiding it. "No. The school I want to go to is in Oak Town. It's competitive, but I think I have a shot."

"That's so far away," Lucy said, unable to stop herself from frowning. "Are you all going to college next year?"

"I am," Gray said, while Gajeel shook his head.

"That's why I tried taking easy classes this year. I'm looking forward to Mr. Hyberion's class the most."

"I have his class too!" Lucy exclaimed, not needing to look at her schedule since she committed it to memory. "Is your World History class third hour too?"

Gajeel shook his head. "Second."

She resisted the urge to pout, wanting another class with a friend. For a moment she wanted to laugh, remembering she didn't care much for hanging out with Gajeel when she first met him, but he had grown on her.

"That class is too damn easy," Gray said with a laugh.

"Is it really?" Lucy asked. She wasn't terrible at history, but she couldn't see both boys saying it was a breeze.

Erza nodded, much to her dismay. "Mr. Hyberion just plays videos for his class. However many days it takes to show the video, that's how many pages your essay over the topic needs to be. The essays don't even have to be good or well worded, just lengthy enough to pass."

Levy shivered despite the temperature getting warmer as the sun rose higher in the sky. "I made the mistake of taking that class before. It was soooooo boring. I tried for three weeks to transfer out, but there was no other history classes open at the time. Then I got stuck with it."

"That sounds awful." Lucy expected an elective class to be like that, but not a core class required for graduation. "Well, I'll see if I can switch out before it's the cutoff time."

"The sooner the better," Levy said, perking up. "Maybe you can try taking AP Biology since your third hour will be free! Then we can have a class together!"

Lucy laughed, shaking her head. "Then I'd have to switch my second hour too. Remember? I'm taking Pre-AP Biology, and honestly I'm not sure I'll even do well in that one, let alone the real deal."

"I can help you! I'm a good teacher!"

Lucy clenched her teeth, worried about taking on more than she could handle. However, Levy's puppy dog eyes were persuasive, and the thought of sharing a class with her did sound fun. "I'll see what I can do."

"Yes!" Levy clapped her hands before leaning against her boyfriend's side. "I'm excited!"

"Don't get too excited yet. Nothing's official." Lucy wondered when she should talk to her counselor, but that thought vanished when Natsu and Gajeel started talking about electives.

"I'm gonna see if I can switch my schedule. I'd love to get Basketball again," Gajeel said, causing Lucy to tilt her head in confusion.

"Wouldn't it be hard with a broken toe?"

Gajeel shook his head, but it was Gray who explained. "Basketball's a huge joke. At least the class is. You don't actually do anything there."

When Lucy said nothing, Natsu took over. "They cram you in the small gym, everyone's sitting against the walls talking while a few kids play basketball in the center. I mean, anyone can join, but it's always the same kids playing every time."

Natsu gave her a toothy grin before pulling out his phone. "Which is why I installed the Funimation app! We can watch anime during."

"We can do that? In class?" Lucy asked, her eyes growing wide.

He nodded. "Yeah! It'll be awesome! We'll have to use headphones though."

Gray snickered from across the picnic table. "Don't want people finding out you're a weeb?"

As Natsu raised his middle finger, he said, "I was gonna say you can use my splitter to watch too, but never mind!"

Gray barked out a laugh at his friend's reaction. "Sorry, not as into anime like you two!"

Lucy almost commented on being lumped into that category, but she decided she didn't mind being associated with liking anime. So far, she hadn't found anything she didn't really like. "What'll you be doing then?" she asked, assuming he shared their class judging by the conversation.

Gray opened his mouth, but Natsu cut him off. "He's one of those guys playing basketball the whole time."

"You say that like it's a bad thing! That's literally the point of the class!"

Natsu leaned over to Lucy, putting a hand over his mouth. It appeared like he was going to whisper, but he loudly said, "He just wants to pretend he's one of the cool kids."

Gray's eye twitched, taking the bait. "You're just too scared to play in front of other people!"

Erza sent a glare his way, expecting Natsu to shy away like he had when it came to putting himself in the spotlight outside of their group, but he surprised her by shouting back.

"Alright! You're on! I'm gonna kick your ass today!"

"Bring it on you Pyromaniac!"

Lucy couldn't help but think if they were in an anime, that was when a giant sweat drop would fall down the side of her head. "So... No anime then?"

Natsu looked over, gaping as all traces of anger left his face. "Oh shoot!. Um, raincheck?"

Lucy stifled a laugh as she nodded, not minding. The idea of watching Natsu play sounded fun as well.

"You can still watch it on my phone while I play?"

Lucy shrugged. "Yeah, that'll work." She smiled before teasing, "But tomorrow you better hang out with me."

Natsu's grin was back, his eyes lighting up. "Deal!"

Lucy turned her attention to Gray, thinking about another class they would be sharing right before gym. "Are you any good at Calculus?"

Gray shook his head as he laughed, but it lacked any humor. "Nope. Not at all."

"Why are you laughing then?" Lucy asked, her brows furrowing as her forehead wrinkled in confusion.

"Because what else am I gonna do? I gotta take a math class this year to graduate, and my counselor said if I wanna prepare for college I can't take an easy one like I planned."

"I guess that makes sense." Lucy thought about her first class of the day, sad she wouldn't share it with any of her friends. She was taking English III for juniors, and all of them were seniors.

She held back a frown so she wouldn't alarm anyone, but it still bothered her. Gravity felt stronger as her body pulled down, her heart dropping at the thought of being alone next year. Wendy would be there, but Lucy didn't want to impose on the girl too much, especially since Wendy would have her own set of friends coming with her from middle school.

It would be nice if Lucy could make friends her own age, and just like that, she decided to make it a goal. 'I need to make at least one friend who is also a junior, then I won't have to worry so much next year.'

However, even if she did that, she knew no one could replace the friends around her now. They were unique and comfortable, and she already missed them despite them being right there.

Lucy decided to take a step back, listening to the other smaller conversations around her. She smiled when Gajeel explained he was taking a gap year after he graduated before attending Magnolia Community College.

"My plan is to run the shop one day, and I don't need some fancy degree to do it."

Lucy looked over at Gray when she heard Erza ask him about filling out applications to colleges, surprised when he said, "I might be going to the university in Clover Town."

"You've never mentioned that one before," Erza said, resting her cheek on her fist. "I thought you wanted to go to Hargeon?"

Gray cringed before shaking his head, barely holding back a gag. "No way! I said that's the last school I'd wanna go to."

Erza didn't take offense to his reaction, instead softly smiling. "Oh, I must not have heard you right then. I thought you'd want to go to the same school as your sister."

"That's exactly why I don't wanna go there." Gray made a face that had Lucy laughing, unable to contain it.

"Sorry," she said, finding his pout out of character but hilarious.

Gray brushed it off, collecting himself before sitting up straighter. "I'm not sure if I wanna go to Clover Town, but this bozo invited me to check it out."

That had Lucy's laughter die out, surprised he was looking at Natsu. "You're thinking about going there?"

Natsu shrugged, looking indifferent. "Me and Gray are going on some different college tours. I think Clover Town is a month? I dunno."

"I didn't know that," she said, wondering why Natsu never mentioned it before. "Cover Town, huh?"

Nodding, Natsu said, "Yeah. At first I wasn't into it, but Beth said it's got a great science program. From what I've seen online, it does sound pretty good. There's a few others though."

Lucy struggled to focus, her stomach knotting up at the mention of Natsu's old lab partner. 'Well, there's a name I didn't miss over the summer.'

She had no idea they were even talking outside of school. 'Has it been going on all summer? Or just recently?'

"That sounds like fun," Erza said, carrying on the conversation when Lucy couldn't. "Maybe I could tag along? Just for fun?"

"You mean to watch over us and make sure we don't cause problems?" Gray asked sarcastically before his eyes widened. "Actually, yeah, that might be a good idea."

"We don't need babysat!" Natsu protested, but Erza had already made up her mind.

Lucy bobbed her knee under the table, her teeth catching the inside of her cheek to chew on before she took a deep breath. 'Just relax. There's nothing to worry about. Beth is just Natsu's friend. There's nothing wrong with him texting her.'

Despite telling herself that, Lucy couldn't calm down. She had forgotten how bad jealousy felt. It was a feeling she wanted to live without, but it wasn't fading.

"Beth's going too?" Lucy asked, hoping her voice didn't sound as tense as she felt, her shoulders stiff and throat tight.

Natsu nodded before sparing her a glance. "Yeah. It was her idea after all."

"Is anyone else going? Besides Gray, and I guess Erza too?"

Natsu shrugged. "Dunno if I know anyone else, but I'm sure other people are going too. It's open to any seniors who wanna make the trip." He looked over at Erza and Gray before grinning. "I finally tried those Troia pills and they work! I don't get sick at all! So we can actually hang out on the train ride!"

"That's great!" Erza beamed at him while Gray gave a thumbs up.

Lucy hesitated before softly asking, "Why didn't you tell me you were talking to Beth?"

Natsu's excitement faltered as he turned towards her, cocking his head as a brow arched. "I didn't think it was worth mentioning."

Lucy slowly nodded her head, realizing she was being silly. "You're right," she said, forcing a smile before putting her hand on his back. Natsu grinned, too distracted by the touch to notice her discomfort.

Natsu scooted closer to her, causing Lucy to smile. She was being silly. There was no reason to worry about Natsu's friendship with Beth. He was a friendly guy, if people gave him a chance to be.

Besides, they made an agreement to not bother each other with harmless stuff unless they couldn't handle it. If Natsu hadn't mentioned anything thus far, it wasn't important. Though, she did wish he had talked to her about possibly wanting to go to college. That seemed like a big deal, and she wanted to share news like that, no matter what the outcome would be.

"What will you be doing on the tour?" Lucy asked, hoping that would invite Natsu to include her more.

"We should be looking around the campus," he started before looking at his friends in case they wanted to know as well. "They have a lot of different degree programs available, and we'll be able to check out the dorms too since freshmen have to live on campus their first year."

Lucy allowed the tension to ease from her body as she leaned over to rest her head on his shoulder, relishing in the softness of his scarf and the scent that was undeniably Natsu. She couldn't pinpoint what the scent was, but he sure had her melting against him.

"It's only two hours away, and there's a train that runs from Magnolia straight to Clover Town, so if I went there I could stay with my mom and dad on the weekends. I also heard the campus has—"

Lucy listened as he rattled on about the college before switching to another nearby college, though it was three hours away.

While Natsu continued, Levy caught Lucy's attention, asking if she wanted to try to change her schedule. She knew it would be a risk taking on a hard class, but after Levy promised to help her if she got stuck, Lucy agreed.

"I'll see you in fourth hour," Lucy said, giving Natsu a kiss on the cheek before pulling away.

He pouted at her retreat, but still told her, "Good luck!"

That brought a real smile to Lucy's face, seeing the softness in his deep green eyes. Natsu would never do something to hurt her. He was too kind, too good of a person.

Her heart beamed as she leaned in to give him a peck on the lips. She didn't think she could ever grow tired of kissing him.

Gajeel protested being left behind, but Levy merely gave him a wave. Hooking her arm with Lucy's, the two headed towards the school to see what they could do about her schedule.

Despite the hassle of trying to change her schedule, Lucy's day seemed to fly by. She did manage to change her classes around, but only because kids were already getting out of the AP Biology class. That alone filled Lucy with a sense of dread.

However, she had made the decision, even if she feared she was making a mistake.

With her second and third hour switched, Lucy had the pleasure of sharing a class with Gajeel. He didn't invite her over, but Lucy took it upon herself to sit next to the brute of a man, who seemed way less scary than when she met him.

After all the times she spent around him, she knew he was all bark and no bite.

Just like her friends said, World History was a joke. The teacher explained the rules of the class, and before she knew it they were watching a documentary and made to write an essay over it.

Considering how well she did when it came to writing, she was sure she would ace the class. That thought was proven correct when even Gajeel muttered, "This is too easy."

After they were dismissed, Lucy and Gajeel went their separate ways. His next class was down the hall, but Lucy had more of a walk, but it was worth it.

Levy had been so excited when Lucy walked into her class, the girl sitting between her and Erza. The only thing giving her a shred of confidence was she had two friends also taking the class, meaning if she needed help, she knew where to go.

However, once the teacher started going over the basics of the class, Lucy started panicking.

'What was I thinking? I'm not good at science! Why would I even take this class!?'

That question echoed in her head the entire hour until the bell rang, dismissing Lucy. She waved goodbye to her friends before walking down a hall, thankful her Mythology class was less than a minute away.

Unfortunately for her, Natsu barely made it into the classroom on time, meaning they wouldn't be able to visit before class, but at least he sat next to her. The teacher went about introducing herself as books were passed out, Lucy frowning at what she was given.

The spine of the book was broken, the edges of the cover worn off and doodles written on a good portion of the pages. The class was also crowded, though that wasn't as surprising to Lucy given how busy the halls had been.

Magnolia High had consumed a portion of the students from a closing high school, making the classrooms and halls quite full.

As Lucy looked over the book placed on her desk, the teacher explained they would start out class by grabbing a book off the shelf. Unfortunately due to budget cuts, there was no money left to purchase new copies.

That had Lucy frowning, wondering if there was something she could do. Her father made charitable donations to hospitals sometimes for tax stuff. Maybe he could throw some money Magnolia High's way?

Lucy tucked the thought away for later as the teacher began telling them what they would be covering and what to expect in the class.

When they were dismissed, Natsu and Lucy made their way to lunch to join the rest of their friends. Natsu had surprised Lucy by going on and on about his classes so far, sounding somewhat excited.

Lucy knew he didn't have the best time at school, so to hear him speaking in a positive manner, it had her hopeful. 'Maybe his senior year won't be as bad as the rest.'

She didn't mind Natsu talking the entire time, enjoying the spark of life that seemed to be within him. He had seemed so bummed about school starting again, but from what she could tell, he was off to a great start.

Lunch went by too quickly, but that was how breaks normally went. She listened and occasionally commented on her friends' stories about their first few classes, smiling when Levy told them Lucy had managed to change her schedule so quickly.

The counselor hadn't wanted to do it originally until Lucy said she wanted to take a more advance course, then they were willing to accommodate her.

Lucy still worried she was taking on too much, but considering her friends were taking more advanced classes, she could handle one hard science class.


After finishing lunch and Calculus, Lucy walked with Gray to the gym, where she found out they weren't kidding. Students lined the walls, all talking or doing their own thing. The majority weren't even dressed for exercise, not that Lucy was that prepared either. She had a pair of shorts in her purse in case she had to change, but no teacher gave them instructions, allowing them to do whatever.

Unlike before, Natsu was already waiting in the class, waving to Lucy and Gray when he spotted them. They walked to the far side of the gym, Lucy taking her seat while Natsu got up, determination written all over his face.

"Ready?!" he asked, his grin forming.

Gray merely chuckled, setting down his books before nodding towards the court. "Come on."

Natsu was ready to charge for the court, but before he took a step away, he pulled out his phone and headphones for Lucy to use. "I won't play the whole time," he said, giving her a soft smile before running out towards Gray and the other kids actually willing to play basketball.

Lucy settled into her spot, not surprised by the noise in the gym. It wasn't a large space, and most people were talking. All that noise added up. She put one headphone in just in case the teacher needed to get anyone's attention, but they never did.

Lucy found herself smiling as she started a new anime, loving the part where she learned about new characters and how they react around others. Reality seemed to slip away, Lucy's mind finally at peace.

However, it was only fifteen minutes into the first episode before Natsu's phone vibrated, a notification popping up across the top part of the screen.

Beth: Sounds perfect. :) I'll ask if we can try that next week.

Lucy's stomach dropped as her eyes widened. 'What the heck does that mean? What sounds perfect? What do they want to try next week? And what's with that smiley face?'

Lucy felt herself sinking as she struggled to remain in control of her emotions. She took a few deep breaths before pausing the anime, needing a moment to collect herself.

'Don't jump to any conclusions. It's probably about the chemistry club. Yeah, that has to be it. Nothing to worry about. You're just being paranoid. Beth is harmless... Natsu... he isn't that kind of person.'

Lucy wanted to believe Natsu would never deceive her, but she couldn't help but think back to the camping trip. Natsu had lied so easily to her about Wendy, saying their mom wanted to wait until Wendy could swim before she came with them, but Wendy had called him out on the lie right then and there, saying she was just scared.

Lucy hadn't been able to tell he was lying then. How would she possibly know if he was lying now?

'He hadn't said anything that could be a lie,' Lucy reminded herself, frowning when she realized she was doing exactly what she shouldn't be. 'I need to stop jumping to conclusions. Natsu hasn't done anything and I'm already doubting him. That isn't how this is supposed to go.'

To be fair, Lucy had little knowledge on relationships. She vaguely remembered how her mother and father interacted when she was a child since he worked so much, and Virgo wasn't exactly the dating type. Most of her romance books focused on, well, the romance aspect of the relationship, barely ever getting into the real parts of a relationship like fighting, compromising, and jealousy. Those books were just filled with drama and grand gestures, but Lucy wanted the real stuff.

'I need to talk to him about how I'm feeling,' she thought, the ill feeling inside her doubling at that idea. Confronting the problem seemed much worse, but Lucy didn't know what else to do.

'I... could find out myself,' she thought, exiting out of his Funimation app before clicking on his messages.

Lucy bit the inside of her cheek when the app loaded, showing her the countless threads from everyone he had been texting. The top thread was Beth, showing a preview of that last text she had sent him.

She bit harder, trying to keep her rational side in control, but it was slipping. Her thumb hovered over the message as her hand began to shake. Just the smallest press would give her the answers she had been wanting, but at the last second Lucy exited out of the app to put her anime back on.

She breathed deeply, surprised how winded she felt. She never thought she would be the type of person to go through someone's phone. It disgusted her how close she had become, her anxiety high enough that she thought she might throw up.

Lucy didn't like the type of person she was heading towards, didn't sit well with the insecurities eating her alive.

So, as soon as Natsu stopped playing basketball to join her, she said, "I need to talk to you."

Natsu didn't catch the seriousness in her tone, wiping the sweat from his face with his shirt before taking the free spot beside her. "What's up?"

As he pulled out some deodorant from his pocket to apply, Lucy said, "I'm worried."

Natsu's demeanor changed in an instant, going from carefree to tense. "What's wrong?"

"I don't want to sound... I don't even know, but it's... about Beth."

That had Natsu's eyes rounding before he furrowed his brows. "Why're you worried about her?"

Lucy could feel heat rushing to her face, but it felt different from when she was blushing. Embarrassment flooded her, Lucy suddenly feeling too vulnerable. "I'm just... I'm feeling insecure again."

When Natsu didn't say anything, she frowned, her chest tightening as she struggled to find the words. "Like, logically I know there's nothing to worry about, but it still bothers me. It feels, I don't know how to describe it. My insides feel twisted and icky when I think about her. I—"

Natsu frowned, cutting her off. "She's not icky."

"I didn't mean it like that," she said, watching as Natsu relaxed.

"Oh, okay." His frown stayed, Natsu reaching out to grab her hand. "I'm sorry you're feeling, um, icky about it. Would it help if you got to know her? She's pretty nice."

Lucy swallowed, not too keen on that idea. "That's not necessary. I just don't like feeling jealous." If they weren't surrounded by other students, she knew she would have gotten louder, but the fear of people knowing their business kept her quiet.

She didn't want to start the school year off with more rumors.

Natsu didn't respond, forehead creasing as he thought over what to say. Lucy took a deep breath, taking comfort in his hand on hers. "I don't want to be jealous," she said, causing Natsu to nod.

"It sucks," he agreed, looking into her eyes. "You know I'd never do anything, right?"

Lucy nodded, though he wasn't who she worried about. Beth was the one sending smiley faces and such. If there was anyone who made Lucy uncomfortable, it was Beth. Though, she didn't like that Natsu didn't tell her he was texting her, but it wasn't his fault.

He didn't see it as a big deal, so he didn't think to mention it. If Beth had gotten inappropriate she had to trust Natsu to put an end to it.

'I have to trust him,' she told herself, knowing there was no point in continuing a relationship if she couldn't do that much. 'Sure, he's good at lying, but he wouldn't lie to me about something serious.'

Lucy ended up with a soft smile on her face, almost snorting when she thought, 'Come on Lucy. This is Natsu we're talking about. Now way would he keep something important from you.'

She swallowed before squeezing his hand. "I'm sorry."

Natsu shook his head. "Don't go apologizing for that," he said, letting out a strained laugh that didn't carry any humor. "If I had to apologize every time I got jealous, well, I'd have to do it now."

When Lucy furrowed a brow, Natsu let out a puff of air. "There's a kid who keeps lookin' over at you. And in Mythology I saw someone checking you out."

Lucy flushed, unaware she had been getting attention. "Oh."

"We still good on our agreement?" Natsu asked, offering her a smile. "We only bring up stuff if we can't handle it?"

Lucy nodded without hesitation. She knew without a shadow of a doubt she wouldn't be unfaithful to Natsu, but he still got jealous of the attention given to her, regardless if she wanted it or not. It was possible she was reading into things when there was nothing to read.

Beth was just his friend. His friendly, smart, cute friend, but that was okay.

Beth being a good catch didn't mean Natsu was fishing for her. He already had someone on his hook, Lucy letting out a chuckle at the thought of Natsu fishing for her. She bet he would be pretty good at it, but it didn't matter.

They say there are plenty of fish in the sea, but Natsu chose her, and she only wanted him in return.

"I'm being silly," she said, eyes nearly doubling when Natsu leaned in to kiss her.

She giggled as she swatted at his chest, her whispers shaky as she said, "What if we get caught?"

Natsu shrugged, green eyes pulling her in. "Worth the risk."

Lucy squirmed in place before moving closer, pressing a kiss over his bandaged cheek before letting out a sigh. She was ready to get over her insecurities, and what better way to do that than spend quality time with her boyfriend?

Lucy eased back against the wall, never taking her eyes off Natsu. "I'm glad we can talk about things," she said, not realizing their line of communication wasn't so smooth considering they made that agreement.

But, they were young, still figuring things would. They were bound to make some mistakes along the way.

"Me too." Natsu paused before frowning. "In the interest of being completely upfront and honest, I do have three classes with Beth. My last class and my first two classes."

Lucy didn't have to ask, Natsu offering up the information. "And yes, in case you were wondering, I did walk with her from my first to my second, but I figured it wasn't a big deal since we're just friends."

Lucy felt the urge to retort, but calmed herself before she could speak. She had done the same with Gray, the two walking from their Calculus class to Basketball.

They were friends, there was nothing going on between them, and she didn't think to tell Natsu because he trusted her.

"Thanks for telling me," Lucy said, still feeling vulnerable but satisfied Natsu wasn't trying to withhold information.

If anything, he just didn't think it was important. All she had to do was ask, and Natsu was like an open book, telling her anything she wanted to know.

"No problem." As if reading her mind, Natsu said, "If you ever wanna know something, just ask. I don't mind."

"I appreciate that, b—" Lucy stopped herself, not wanting to come off as needy. She was about to tell Natsu she would like it if he included her more in his life, especially when it came to stuff like college and texts from girls she was wary of. She held her tongue, knowing she had to have faith in him.

What was a relationship without trust?

Natsu gave her a wane smile, hesitating before saying, "I don't have a lot of friends, and I don't wanna lose any of 'em, but if Beth ever makes you too uncomfortable—"

Lucy shook her head, not wanting him to consider that. "I won't make you stop being friends with her," she said, seeing the way Natsu relaxed. "I'll be fine, promise."

With a teasing grin, Lucy grabbed his hand, pulling it up to her lips. "As long as I'm the only one for you?"

Natsu smiled back, twisting his hand to cup her cheek. He began leaning in, but stopped once the teacher yelled, "Cut it out!"

Both Lucy and Natsu ripped away from each other, unsure if the shouting was directed at them or not, but they weren't chancing it to find out.

With a shared awkward laugh, Natsu said "I really like you." When Lucy's blush darkened, he added, "Like, I think about you all the time. Almost a creepy amount of time."

Lucy laughed, shaking her head. "You're ridiculous."

"But you like it?" Natsu asked, grinning when she nodded. "Yosh!"

"In case you were wondering, you're the only one I like too," Lucy said, wanting to cheer when she finally got him to look flustered as well.

Natsu grabbed her hand, taking a moment to simply gaze at Lucy. She didn't mind, enjoying the calm moment. It was creepy when other guys stared at her, but Lucy seemed to melt under his deep eyes.

"You two are gross," someone said, snapping both of them out of their daze. They looked up, seeing a sweating Gray standing over them. He wasn't wearing a shirt anymore, but to be fair, half the people on the court were shirtless as well.

'At least his shorts are still on," Lucy thought, watching as Gray and Natsu bickered for a moment before he was coaxed back out to the court for a rematch.

Lucy laughed as she leaned against the wall, grabbing Natsu's phone to resume her episode.

While she would have loved to spend that time with Natsu, she had to admit it was nice seeing him so happy with others. He wasn't that shy, scared boy she met six months ago.

She hoped he continued growing confident. It looked good on him.

Erza waited until the hostess sat them down at their table before beginning, pulling out a manila envelope and some flashcards. "So, we usually do this in the morning before school, but we weren't all together, so here we are."

Erza passed the cards around the table while Lucy gave hers a puzzled look. "What's this for?"

"To write down your goal," Erza started, wondering why Lucy looked confused. "Remember a few months ago when we all looked at our cards on the last day of school? We're going to write down our goal for this school year. Didn't Natsu remind you?" She looked at said boy. "Natsu? Didn't you tell her?"

He cringed, sweat beading on the back of his neck when Erza glared. "Shoot! I dropped the ball on that one. Sorry."

"It's okay," Lucy assured, moving to grab her purse to retrieve a pen. She ignored her menu for the time being as she pondered what her goal for the school year would be, a smile gracing her lips as she thought of the perfect one.

I want to make more friends.

She hoped her friends wouldn't be offended by her goal. Surely they understood, seeing as they were all seniors while she was just a junior. She didn't want to spend next year alone, so she would make it her mission to befriend some more people.

She resisted the urge to peek at Natsu or Levy's card, the two sitting on either side of her. When everyone was finished, they passed their cards to Erza, watching as she sealed the envelope before passing it around the table.

Everyone signed their initials on the seal, making sure it wouldn't be opened prematurely. Lucy listened as the group discussed their previous years with their tradition, Lucy, Levy, and Gajeel joining for the first time that year.

"Alright, we'll see these again next year," Erza said, tucking the envelope into her bag for safekeeping.

"How was everyone's first day?" Levy asked, starting a round of conversation over their different classes, only pausing when the waiter came to take their orders.

Natsu frowned when the waiter gave Lucy more attention than everyone else. He knew it didn't matter in the end because nothing would come of it, but it still bugged him.

'That's probably how Lucy felt earlier.' He wasn't a stranger to jealousy or insecurity. However, he didn't know why Lucy was worried about Beth. The girl was harmless, and she didn't even like him, so he didn't understand her concern.

At least what happened earlier didn't become a bigger deal than it needed to be. Lucy hadn't tried to end his friendship with Beth, and Natsu was able to ease Lucy's worry.

Which was good, because absolutely nothing had happened, was happening, or would happen with Beth. Just the thought of it made his skin crawl. He didn't see her that way, Natsu only interested in Lucy.

He looked over at her, mesmerized by her bright smile all over again. He swore his heart yearned to be closer to her, his eyes hooded as he imagined having her in his arms.

It had been a while since they had tried getting physical. A peck here. A hug there. He didn't want anything crazy, but it would be nice to hold her and spoil her with kisses, maybe even soon.

Natsu felt heat rising to his cheeks as he remembered a good idea for a date they could try. It involved movies, outdoors, and the newest present he had parked on the side of the road in front of his house.

Taking a deep breath, Natsu spoke up, seizing the chance since there was a lull in the conversation. "Hey, so uh, I know it seems kinda sudden, but my family got me something the other day."

Natsu's eyes connected with Gajeel, seeing a knowing smile on the boy's face. "I'm guessing you already know?"

When Gajeel nodded, Natsu glanced at Levy. Without having to ask, Gajeel said, "I didn't tell anyone. Figured it'd be better comin' from you."

He saw the curious looks thrown his way, Natsu deciding not to leave his friends in suspense. "I um, got a... a car."

Even though he had sat in it, turned the engine on and driven it around the neighborhood once, Natsu still had a hard time believing it himself. Natsu Dragneel with a car. He almost snorted at the notion.

"Really?!" Erza's eyes widened, leaning against the table. "Your medication works that well?"

Natsu nodded, a sheepish smile surfacing on his face. "I actually started practicing driving in Crocus. Zeref taught me the basics."

"You got a car?" Lucy asked, as if the news finally hit her. "Where is it?"

"Yeah Flame Brain. Why'd I have to drive ya here if you have your own set of wheels?"

Natsu didn't bother throwing an insult Gray's way, chuckling as he cupped the back of his neck. "I uh, don't have a license yet."

"Oh," Erza started, sitting back in her chair. "I suppose that makes sense. When are you going to get it?"

"Not for a minute," he confessed, face getting warmer. "I still need to practice more, but I— Well, it's not my goal I wrote down, but I'm hoping to get it before fall break this year."

"That would be really cool," Lucy gushed, reaching over to place a hand on his arm.

Natsu welcomed the touch, returning her grin before looking at the rest of his friends when they asked if he had any pictures. He pulled out his phone, flipping to the best one he had before showing it to them, earning some nods in response.

"Nice, I bet it can get up there." In a whisper, Gray added, "Hey, one day me and you need to hit the highway and—"

"Don't you dare think about having an illegal street race," Erza warned, causing the two boys to cower at her tone.

"I-I wouldn't dream of it!" Gray lied while Natsu nodded frantically.

Erza held her glare for a few more seconds before humming, satisfied by how quickly they backed down. It turned out violence wasn't needed to solve that problem.

"That's awesome about the car. I wanna come over this weekend and check it out. Or maybe after this? Juvia and I are going to my house to watch a movie, but we can swing by your place first?"

"That could work," Natsu said just as Gray asked who all wanted to come see the movie afterwards.

"I'd be interested," Erza said before looking at the others. "What about everyone else?"

"Well," Levy started, holding back a smile. "Gajeel and I are, um, we're—"

"Getting some piercings," her boyfriend finished, not looking the least bit fazed. "Short-stacks over here is getting an industrial while I'm getting my tongue done."

"Do you need any more piercings?" Natsu asked, unable to figure out why his cousin wanted that many. His eyebrows and ears were filled, but that didn't seem good enough.

"Don't need 'em, but no one can stop me from gettin' 'em."

"What's an industrial piercing?" Lucy asked, causing Levy to pull up an example on her phone. "It's the bar piercing on the top of your ear. I already called. They're going to do two individual hoops, then when it heals I can put a real bar in it."

"That'll be really cute!" Lucy grinned. "Can I come?"

Before Levy could nod, Natsu said, "I wanna go too." He looked over at Gray before asking, "Raincheck on seeing the car?"

"I guess it'll just be the three of us for movie night," Gray mumbled before Erza shook her head.

"Oh no, I'm not getting suckered into that one again."

"What do you mean?" Juvia asked, earning a groan from their red haired friend.

"I remember the last time I played third wheel to you two. Halfway through the movie you ended up making out on the couch while I had to try to pretend I couldn't hear you."

Juvia and Gray's faces were naturally pale, but they lit up like tomatoes at the mention of being caught. Unable to conjure a good excuse for their behavior, Erza sighed, letting them off the hook.

"I think I'll go home instead. It's never too early to get a start on my campaign."

"For the senior president thing?" Lucy asked.

Erza nodded, her shoulders straightening as a prideful look came over her. Speaking as if she were campaigning that moment, she said, "Yes. I think I'm the only logical choice for the job!"

"Well, you have my vote," Lucy said, seeing her friend's eyes sparkle. "Though, I don't know if I get to vote for your grade."

"You don't, but it's the thought that counts."

"She's obviously going to win," Natsu said, half-grinning when he saw their food approaching the table.

"No doubt about it," Gray added.

"Can I still count on your help this year?"

"Absolutely!" Juvia said, everyone else nodding as well.

"Excellent," Erza beamed before receiving her cake, which she ordered instead of an entrée. "This year is going to be great! I can just feel it."

"How much do you think it's gonna hurt?" Natsu asked, trying to keep his tongue from touching the roof of his mouth, not wanting to imagine the pain Gajeel was about to endure.

"I don't know. I've only gotten my ears done, but the tongue..." Lucy shook her head before glancing over at Levy, the girl picking out which hoops she wanted for her industrial piercing.

Her eyes flitted around the lobby of the tattoo and piercing shop, seeing the odd decor hanging on the walls while soft leopard-print carpet rested under her feet. The place was strange, but it didn't seem scary or unsanitary like Lucy had been expecting.

Natsu stood up, catching Lucy's attention. He grabbed a binder off the counter, returning to his seat before thumbing through the pages. Artwork adorned each sheet, sometimes multiple pieces, sometimes large ones taking up a whole page.

Lucy watched, intrigued when Natsu paused on a particular page before moving on. She smiled softly, resting her cheek on her hand as she leaned towards his chair. "See anything you like?"

He shrugged before glancing her way. "When I get one I'd wanna draw it myself."

'When, not if,' she noted.

Lucy nodded, asking, "Anything in mind?"

"I have a few ideas, something with fire for sure."

She resisted the urge to roll her eyes, not surprised. "Obviously, what else?"

"Maybe a dragon?"

"Maybe?" Lucy asked, tilting her head.

Natsu's lip twitched before he smiled, eyes leaving the pages to rest his gaze on her. "I wanna be sure before getting anything permanent."

"A tattoo's a big commitment. That can be pretty scary," she said, only to see determination flash in Natsu's eyes, his voice unwavering as he spoke.

"I'm not afraid of commitment."

Lucy's blush started just as she leaned in to kiss his cheek, skimming the edge of his bandage. She pulled back, seconds away from leaning into a real kiss before he whispered, "Kinda wish we were alone."

"If only you had a license," Lucy teased, batting her eyes at him. "Then we could go hang out alone all we wanted."

"About that," Natsu started, his palms feeling clammy as he put the idea out there. "I was thinking, maybe when I get my license, we would start going to drive-in movies?"

"Oh yeah?" Lucy asked, intrigued by the idea.

He nodded. "We could watch them in peace, or we could..." His eyes flitted away as his voice trailed off, but Lucy knew where he was going with it.

"As long as you're comfortable, yes. I'd... I'd love to."

She didn't know exactly how far Natsu was suggesting, whether the drive-in movie experience would end in a heavy make out session or something more. Either way, she was excited to find out, but first he had to pass his driver's test.

"I honestly think I'm ready... for—"

For a split-second Lucy thought he was going to say 'sex', her heart beating erratically when he ended up saying, "More."

She released her breath, feeling a little jittery as she whispered, "Yeah?"

He nodded, eyes falling to her lips before glancing over her body. Lucy didn't think her face could get any hotter, wondering if Natsu was actually checking her out. She didn't get a chance to ask, Natsu's lips curving into a devious smile as he said, "I don't think they'd notice if we ditched them. The regular theater's not too far away."

Before either could execute a plan, Gajeel's laughter filled the lobby. "That didn't even hurt!"

Lucy didn't bother holding in her sigh, pulling all the way back into her seat. "Never mind."

"I still think we have a chance," Natsu whispered, but neither made an attempt to leave, especially when Levy came in right afterwards. They couldn't see the two new additions to Levy's ears, the girl holding a napkin to the fresh piercings to stop the blood.

"So what's it feel like?" Natsu asked, perking up when he saw Gajeel moving his cheeks as he played with the new piercing in his mouth. "Does it taste like you're sucking on a quarter?"

"Why don't you get your punk ass in there and find out yourself?" Gajeel fired off, smirking when Natsu couldn't come up with a response quick enough.

"Whatever," Natsu started, loosening the scarf around his neck before standing up. "So, did you guys have anything else you wanted to do?"

Lucy almost hoped there was nothing else planned, that way her and Natsu could sneak away for some much-needed alone time, but that idea was thwarted as soon as Levy suggested something that actually sounded a little better than lip-locking with her boyfriend.

"Anyone up for laser tag?"

After a fifteen minute drive, the group arrived at an entertainment venue which housed bowling, indoor mini golf, laser tag, and many various arcade games.

"You'll love it," Levy said as they strapped on their vests, sensors all over their chests and backs. The gun was attached to a belt that plugged into the vest, neither activated until one minute after the game began, or so said the instructor as they lined up.

"You sure you can play with your toe like that?" Natsu asked, earning a nod from his cousin.

"I'll be fine. I'm just gonna stick to the bottom floor and walk. Ain't no way I'm sitting out on all the fun."

"Alright, but don't go complaining when you hurt yourself worse."

"Let's go," the instructor said, opening a door.

"This is exciting," Lucy all but squealed as she stepped forward with the others, walking into the dark arena. The walls, stairs, and floors were outlined with neon paint. The place was lit with blacklights, causing the paint to glow so they would know where to go.

"Have fun!" Natsu yelled as he patted Lucy's back before running away, afraid he would end up on opposite sides of her or his friends. They wouldn't know which team they were on until the game began, meaning no one could be trusted.

"Bye Lucy!" Levy shouted as some music started playing all around them. It was faint, but the volume increased just as a woman's robotic voice started counting down from ten.

"Nine... Eight... Seven..."

Lucy ran upstairs, her heart pumping quickly despite them not starting yet. Some parts of her clothes glowed, making her stand out, but most of the others around her glowed as well.

"Six... Five... Four..."

She took a deep breath before stopping, finding herself in the corner of the room, able to see to the other side of the area. It surprised her how massive it was considering it didn't look like the building could hold such a place, but her thoughts quickly disappeared until only one objective was left.


"Three... Two... One..."

The music stopped, the hairs on Lucy's neck and arms raising as the voice overhead said, "Let the game begin."

Something that sounded like electronic dance music blasted immediately, riling everyone up as bodies scattered around the arena, their guns and vests lighting up either blue or red. Lucy had blue, her eyes sharp as she scanned around her for anyone wearing red as she dashed through what felt like a maze.

"Oh shoot!" a guy yelled when she got him, his vest flashing for a second before his colors turned yellow, signaling he was in cool down mode. He couldn't shoot or be shot for the next ten seconds, giving him a chance to escape.

Lucy didn't bother with him, taking off before he could try to get revenge on her. Her teeth glowed as she grinned, hooked on the rush as she shot at more people, not even taking it that badly when she was shot back a few times, her vest vibrating with each hit.

The first game lasted fifteen minutes, but Lucy swore it felt twice as long. By the time the lights came on and everyone was directed towards the exit, she was sweating and panting.

"There she is!" Natsu grinned when Lucy made it to the room where people were discarding their vests and guns. "How'd you do?"

"That was amazing!" Lucy shouted, ignoring the question. "I didn't see any of you though. What team were you on?"

"How did you not see me?" Levy asked as she pouted. "You shot me like three times!"

"I did?" Lucy gaped, stunned when Levy nodded.

"The last time you laughed as you ran away. You don't remember that?"

Lucy's eyes widened, unable to say anything except, "I'm sorry."

Levy shivered, exaggerating as she said, "I think I'm going to have nightmares about it."

"I saw her, but she passed right by me since we were on the same team," Gajeel laughed. "I told her to save some for the rest of us."

"Now I do remember that," Lucy said, blushing when Natsu grinned at her. "What team were you on?"

"Red. I tried shooting at you once, but you wouldn't stay still."

"I didn't see any of you, or I thought I didn't." She could be competitive, victory distracting her from the little details. Lucy sighed before jolting, the instructor's voice catching everyone's attention.

"The scores are on the screen right outside. If you're playing again get in line like before. If not, thank you for joining us today!"

"Come on! Let's see how we did!" Natsu shouted, grabbing Lucy's hand before jerking her out of the room, leaving Levy and Gajeel behind.

As soon as they found the screen, Lucy started reading down the list, finding the number associated with her vest. Her eyes crinkled as she smiled, seeing she came in third place overall and second place on her team. "I did really good!"

"Yeah you did," Natsu whispered, snaking an arm around her waist to give her a sideways hug. "Great job!" He came in second on his team as well, but he got fifth overall.

"Awww," Levy whined when she saw her score. She came in last on both, but when Gajeel gave her a hug from behind and told her she still got three points, her face lit up with a smile.

"Who's ready for round two?" Natsu asked, making a gun with his finger. "Now I know who I'm competing with!" He eyed Lucy, the girl laughing in response.

"Hopefully we're all on the same team next time, that way we can just help each other."

"Nah, I'd rather us fight!" Natsu grinned, enjoying the sparkle in Lucy's eyes. "You ready?"

"As ready as I'll ever be," Lucy said, letting him lead her to the line again. Gajeel and Levy followed, the four waiting for another game to end before they could play again.

"I'm going to the bathroom to dry my armpits," Levy whispered while Lucy held back a laugh. The guys were already in the bathrooms, cleaning up after the third intense round.

Lucy pushed her bangs out of her face before pulling out her phone, getting comfortable on a bench while she waited for her friends. She scrolled through her social media page before clicking on her internet app, planning on looking at the newest things from HK.

It wouldn't be long before she received her allowance, and Lucy wanted a new outfit for the upcoming pictures that would be taken for the yearbook. She had time seeing as it wasn't until October, but she wanted to be prepared and look her best.

She had never had a picture in a yearbook, and she would be lying if she said she wasn't excited for the opportunity.

However, that excitement vanished as soon as the website loaded. Her smile quickly dropped, brows furrowing when she saw an unexpected face on the home screen of the HK website.

"What the..."

Lucy's face fell when she read the headliner, her body weighing heavier as the words sunk in.

"She's... no..." She couldn't be sure if she spoke or not, her whispered words drowned out by the racing thoughts in her head.

There, adorned in HK's latest dress, was Jenny Realight. Lucy didn't want to believe it, but the girl who helped destroy Natsu's confidence was now signed on as an HK model.

'Are you serious?!' She wanted to shout, her eyes narrowing as heat swept through her veins. It wasn't fair. Someone like Jenny didn't deserve to be in the spotlight, especially modeling for the most famous brand in Fiore.

The first thought that crossed Lucy's mind was to call Jenny out, to go public with what that hateful girl had done and see her world crumble around her, but she stopped herself, taking a few breaths while focusing on the consequences of such an action.

Not only was there a good chance no one would believe her, she couldn't do that to Natsu. It wasn't her place to expose the truth, and she didn't know if Natsu even wanted that. It seemed he preferred to bury it so it could never see the light of day, and she couldn't risk hurting him like that.

The thought of causing him pain made her heart sting, Lucy's anger fading as reality set in.

'This... isn't so bad,' she thought, taking a few mindful breaths to ease into the news. 'It's not like she's going to be modeling everything, and Natsu's probably not going to see because I doubt he even cares about fashion. Not to say he dresses poorly, just that he's not out there dressing like Loke or something.'

A small chuckle escaped as Lucy tried imagining Natsu's dressing up in a suit every day for school like Loke did. While he did look good during the dance in his suit, she thought his current style fit him much better.

"Whatcha looking at?"

Lucy jumped, literally jumped out of her seat as she yelped, startled by Natsu's sudden appearance. He covered his mouth and laughed as she struggled to catch her breath, amused by her reaction. "You okay?"

"Oh my gosh!" She pressed a hand to her chest, feeling the rapid pulses. "You almost gave me a heart attack!"

"It might run in the family," Natsu started, his demeanor changing as he realized what he said.

Lucy watched as the color drained from his face, his mouth gaping as he struggled to redeem himself. "I'm so— Oh fuck I promise I didn't mean— Shit. I'm sorry!"

Lucy shook her head as she patted her chest, still recovering from her scare. "You're fine, promise." She breathed out, relieved when her heartbeat calmed. "Are you done?" She looked over his shoulder, wondering where Levy and Gajeel had gone.

"Yeah, but Levy and Lughead are looking at the arcade games. I came over to see if you wanted to join? Or maybe do something else?"

Lucy smiled, the disturbing news about HK fading as she nodded. "I'd like to do mini golf, if you're up for it?"

"Sure! Sounds great!"

Natsu gave her his signature grin, extending a hand out before leading her to the other side of the building where the two would finally get some alone time, just not in the way they originally thought.

It didn't matter in the end though. Whether they were watching TV, playing Pokémon Go, or finding comfort and pleasure in each other, it was always more fun when they were together.

School's back in session! And with that comes classes, homework, bullies, and of course, more side characters that occasionally make an appearance.

I got an industrial piercing early 2019, but took it out after about 3 or 4 months because it got infected and it didn't seem worth it to try to save the piercing, so I took them out. I like piercings, but they take too much constant upkeep. I'd rather get tattoos. Take care of them for a few weeks, then afterwards slap some lotion on every once in a while and you're good, haha.

Thank you so much for your feedback last time: valerioux(x2), Bookwork129, Wadeparker, Stubenhocker, Tamora Marx, Guest, Guest, and ottermadness(x4)! Thank you!

Up next, Chapter Ninety-Seven: Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

Thank you again for reading! Have a great day/night, and let me know what you thought of this chapter!