Alright! The very first one-shot of Nalu week! There will be three popping up here everyday this week, at least on of them directly related to Natsu, Lucy, or both! The others are just icing on the cake. And I won't be following the prompts. If they happen to line up...awesome. Now, here take it!

*shoves short story at you*

When the Cuffs Come Off

In which we follow Loke, Max, and Laki the morning after the Moon Drip Party

"So the way the shim works is actually pretty awesome. So, handcuffs have teeth that lock into place as they are pressed tighter, and are held in place by a locking mechanism with a key. But you can completely bypass the key with a thin strip of metal that slides down and blocks the teeth…" Loke's voice became muffled then, as he leaned into his closet and dug through the pile of t-shirts and jeans shoved into the closet. Max raised an eyebrow at the girl handcuffed to him.

Laki didn't notice. She was enthralled by Loke's explanation.

" you just whip the little guy in, next to the teeth, press in and hold it in with your thumb while you pull out on the cuff, and bam, you're free! Slick as anything!" Loke finished, turning to look in his desk drawer. He was trying to remember where he had last seen the tiny piece of metal he was describing...Veronica's apartment? No, maybe Denise's...though he had been getting handcuffed to a lot of stuff lately actually… "I used to have two on my keys, but someone borrowed that one and then…" He thought over the last dozen or so times he was restrained…

There was the lamppost in the park with... Maria.

The banister by the stairs to the second story of the Precht Center with...Jenny? Ginny!

The bathroom sink at Satan's Soul...that one really was all his fault...he should have realized he was trying to flirt with a cop.

And then there were the times at Fairy Hills… Loke blanched suddenly, remembering where his handcuff shim was.

"So, uh, guys, I totally forgot! I lost it. Yeah, it's gone. My bad!"

Laki and Max just stared at him.

"Where did you lose it?" Laki asked, curious. When she used cuffs it was usually in the privacy of her own dorm room. Though, looking around his room, she didn't see any really great places to cuff someone to...except maybe the hook in the ceiling... Laki's gaze snapped back to Loke with a new appreciation for the ginger. Max, on the other hand, just pouted and shook his handcuffed wrist.

" Why?! Nowhere! Nevermind! It's not important! Aaaaaaanyway, you guys should probably get going to the police station to get the key for those cuffs or you'll be hooked together for even longer which would be terrible right? Right! Bye!" Loke babbled, conspicuously trying to shove them out of his room before they could ask any more questions. But Laki stuck her foot in the door just in time to keep it from closing.

"Where did you get your handy handcuff freedom device? I don't want to be arrested for liberating some cop's, it really does sound like a useful piece of goods!" She smiled, letting a little of her speculation into Loke's sexual habits show. But, it was a testament to how freaked out Loke was, that he didn't even notice. He just shoved a business card into her uncuffed hand and shut the door.

Laki turned to Max, card in hand.

"Well, it says here they aren't open, um, looks like we'll be cuffed together for at least the rest of the day…" Laki hedged.

Max's ears perked up at her tone and he froze for a second, adjusting his belt subconsciously.


" any ideas of what we" she blinked ridiculously long lashes at him. Max gulped and looked down at the handcuffs still tying them together. That was going to make things a little more difficult...or interesting… Making a decision, Max looked Laki in the eye and offered his cuffed hand to her in as grand a gesture as the short chain would allow. He was, after all, a showman to the core.

"Would you care to accompany me, my la-" Max was cut off as Laki grabbed his hands in hers and pushed him up against the nearest wall, promptly shoving her tongue in his mouth, and grinding her hips into his groin.

Fuck showmanship. Hot girl. Rubbing. Fuck.

Which was pretty much when Max's brain shorted out.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the wall, Loke jiggled his leg as he pressed his phone to his ear and waited.

"Come on, pick up! PICK UP!"


"Oh thank god! Gray! You've got to help me!"

"Loke? What's up? Where are you?"

"Doesn't matter. Here's the thing. You're friends with the Titania, right?"

"Erza? Yeah….dude, what did you do? Because I love you man, but there are only so many things I will take the blame for when it comes to Erza Scarlet!"

"No, nothing like that, I just…"

"..." Gray's expectant silence was so palpable it got its own quotations. "You gonna tell me what the issue is, or am I supposed to start guessing?"

"Ok, so do you remember Kagura?"

"Kagura? The one who gets off doin' the deed in places she shouldn't? Hot? Dark hair? Doesn't say much?"

"Yeah. Her. So, um, we hooked up about a week ago."

"Ok...what does this have to do with Er-OH GOD YOU DIDN'T!" Gray cut himself off as he realized what Loke must have done.

"It's not like it was MY IDEA! She has this vendetta or something against Erza! Something about her brother, I don't know! But she just had to have sex in Erza's bed! And then her bathroom, and her balcony, and using her handcuffs, and it just spiraled out of control from there!"

"Dude! We have ONE RULE. One fucking rule. And what is that one fucking rule?!"

"I know I know! Don't piss off the Titania!"

"That's RIGHT! Don't piss off Erza Scarlet! Don't you like sleeping over at Fairy Hills?! Do you want to be put on her watchlist? BECAUSE SHE HAS A FUCKING WATCHLIST! Please, at the very least, tell me you didn't leave behind any incriminating evidence…"



"The engraved handcuff shim that you got me for my birthday? Possibly? We couldn't find the keys, so I used it, and then we heard her coming and ran, and I must have left it! Gray! You've got to help me. She can't have found it yet, or I'd already be dead. It was fucking obvious that someone was fucking all over her room!"

"Dude, I don't know what I can even do fo-"

"Just make up an excuse to go to her place and see if it's on the floor near the headboard! You're friends, so it won't be as suspicious coming from you! Please dude! My life and future unborn children are at stake here!"

Gray winced in sympathy. He didn't need reminders of how swift Erza's vengeance would be. He had seen it in action too many times to count.

"Please Gray! I will give you anything. Literally ANYTHING if you fix this for me." Something in Gray's brain went off like a lightbulb.

"Anything? Even...that?" Loke hesitated, but only for a brief moment.

"Yes. Even that, ok? If that's what it takes to end this horrific nightmare, then it's yours!"

Gray grinned on the other end of the phone.

"You've got yourself a deal. Give me an hour."

"Done. I'll be in my room."

Approximately one hour later…

Gray knocked twice before entering Loke's room, finding the ginger curled up in the corner of his loft bed, hiding under his comforter. He tossed the shim in question onto the bed next to Loke with a smirk.

"Dude, did you know Max and Laki are making out in the hall right outside your room?"

Loke waved his comment away.

"How did it go? Did she suspect anything?"

"Nope. Piece of cake."

"Really? That easy?"

"What? God no. It was terrifying. Presenting Erza with a piece of cake? Do you know how many ways that could have gone wrong? Shit, I almost dropped the damn thing as I handed it to her. Could've lost a fucking finger. But, whatever, it's done and you're in the clear."

"Thank you Gray! Seriously. You saved me. You are the best of all men. The bro-est of all bros!" Loke jumped down from his loft to clasp him fondly on the shoulder, already beginning to show signs of his usual charm and arrogance.

"Dude, I did not risk life and limb for your thanks. Where is it?"

Loke visibly wilted a bit. He had sort of been hoping Gray would forget, or change his mind. No such luck. Reluctantly, he handed over Gray's spoils of war.

Natsu burst into their room in his usual fashion, dropping his bag wherever and hanging up his scarf by the door. It was unusually dark for the middle of the day, as all of their blackout curtains were drawn. The room was lit by a single lightbulb in the old desk lamp set on the floor next to his roommate. Gray was seated in his desk chair, which had been pushed into the middle of the room and was stroking Happy with one hand while the other rested on a book. A book that Natsu knew all too well. He blanched.

"How do you have that?" he demanded weakly.

Gray smiled an evil little grin to complete the cheesy super villain persona he had carefully staged.

"I gave Loke an offer he couldn't refuse."

"Wait, did you murder a horse or something?"

"No, ti idiote, he called in a life debt and I demanded the book as payment. Jesus, do you seriously think people go around murdering horses and putting their heads in people's beds?!"

Natsu just waved him off, a haunted look in his eyes. Gray knew immediately what he was thinking.

"Yes, I know now."

"Fuck." The Fairy Tail book of secrets was an insurance policy containing the self-proclaimed secrets of its members to ensure their endearing loyalty to the house. The men of Fairy Tail were honor bound to write their most embarrassing secrets on their page in the book. No one seeing them all except the Keeper of the book, who willed the book to a new keeper when they left the house. Loke had been the keeper since Romeo's father had willed it down to his pledge father who had willed it to Loke. It was almost unheard of that the book changed hands during a Keeper's tenure in the house. Only in payment for a life debt or in a winner-take-all, no-holds-barred, mexican-stand-off for the life of an innocent was it acceptable for the book to change hands if not willed on. "And you read it? All of it?"

"Yeeeeees." Gray stroked Happy again before the smushy-faced cat leapt off of him, digging in his claws into his thigh. It took everything Gray had to remain straight-faced. Natsu barely noticed.

" know." Natsu's horror of the situation came through clearly in his voice.

"I do."

"Shit. What are you going to do with it?"

"I will not use this sacred item in petty revenge. Your secrets only have value as long as they are unknown. For now, you're safe. But know, there will be a day when you will be faced with something you absolutely do not want to do, and for the betterment of myself you will do it. Or suffer the consequences."

"Fine. Now, hide that fucking thing before someone finds out you have it and let's go get some food. Attempted social suicide always makes me fuckin' hungry."

Gray waited until Natsu left and lifted up his roommate's mattress. Feeling around, he popped open the loose board of the loft and nestled the book in among the socks he had been stealing and hiding from Natsu to make him believe the house dryer ate his socks as retribution for his picking it up and trying to shake out the quarters freshman year. He put the board back and dropped the mattress, ruffling up the sheets to their usual level of unkept.

Natsu ducked back into the room for his scarf, wrapping it around his neck as he glared as Gray.

"Come on ya icy bastard. Dinner's gonna be cold. Not that you'd care."

Gray just smiled and thought about the possibilities of his hard won spoils.

The pyro was right about one thing. Gray really did believe revenge was a dish best served cold.

ti idiote-'you idiot' in Croatian. Obviously. lol