A/N: This idea actually came to me after reading a fic in which Lisanna is cuckoo. Like, full on evil. And the guild kicks Lucy out on her return. I find this personally a very strange trope in the fandom because that's majorly out of character for everyone involved. And say it ever happens, I personally don't think Lucy would ever get with Natsu after breaking her heart like that.
So this, is my version of what happens when Lisanna comes back, and a lot of it has to do with Lucy's own insecurities and abandonment issues!
PART I - HER
Chapter 1: Return From Edolas
Natsu asking Lisanna out when she came home felt like the natural order of things. It had been the day after she'd come back, and no one in the guild was surprised when Natsu had walked in to the guild one day, arm thrown over a blushing Lisanna's shoulder, before he declared that they were dating. There were cheers and everything. Lucy cheered, but not as whole-heartedly as she wished she could have. She would be lying if she said she hadn't seen it coming, but that didn't mean it hurt any less. She didn't blame anyone of course, it was nobody's fault but her own that she got carried away with her feelings, all wrapped up inside her own had been so sure that there was… something between them.
That was okay.
It had to be.
And then the two of them had walked over to where she was sitting and sat across her. She noticed how he didn't let go of Lisanna's hand even once, and she hated herself for it. She didn't want to be that person, flinching every time they touched. It didn't help that everyone hovered over them all the time these days, all wanting some time with Lisanna.
She didn't envy all the attention Lisanna was getting. She couldn't, and didn't hold it against her friends that they were happy. It did make her feel invisible sometimes, but she couldn't hold it against them. The sense of isolation and abandonment had crept in, despite her best attempt at fighting it off. It came when she felt herself having to make space for people who wanted to join them, edging further and further away from her friends. It came when they went on this one mission on which Lisanna had come along, and she could sense the familiarity between the teammates; it made her feel like an outsider. It came when Natsu didn't sneak into her apartment as often anymore, and the few times he did, he didn't stay for as long.
She knew it was too much to ask, but the glaring changes she could sense, made her uneasy. No matter how hard she tried to fight it, the feeling wouldn't go away. It made her want to run away, because she hated that this feeling was familiar. It was the same as what she'd felt before she'd run away from home. The circumstances were different, way different, but she found herself unable to think anymore.
Despite it all, she didn't resent Lisanna, not one bit. At all. It wasn't her fault that people were happy she was alive. It wasn't her fault that the people who loved her, who were heartbroken when she'd thought she died, were so happy that she was alive. It was nothing short of a miracle. She knew she'd give anything for her mother to come back to her.
If anything, she resented herself for feeling this way. It made her feel guilty and selfish. She'd never imagined she'd be in a position like this. It was so new to her, the mix of emotions she was feeling made her want to not get out of bed. She wanted to be able to think.
Struggling to find clarity within her own head, she found that she had less to say everyday. She got quiet, and wanted quiet around her. She started to eat faster, trying to finish her meals as quickly as possible and get away from the din of conversation around her. She was so caught up in her own head that she didn't recognise that her friends noticed, nor the concerned looks they exchanged as she downed her food before darting out of the guild on the pretext of work.
The one time she had chosen to sit at another table altogether, Natsu had wordlessly left where he was eating, walked over to where she had started sit to grab her elbow and bring her back to where everyone else ate. No words were exchanged as Lucy stared at her friends as they looked at her questioningly.
Feeling the guilt start to eat her up again, she shrugged with a half-hearted smile. "I didn't see you guys."
Unconvinced, they went back to their meals but didn't pry. Natsu narrowed his eyes at her, a small frown on his face and unable to stand the awkward tension anymore, Lucy cut him off. "The stew is great don't you think?"
Lisanna smiled proudly. "Mira does make the best stew."
"She sure does," said Lucy, chuckling, hoping to diffuse… whatever that was.
She succeeded but only because everyone thought that it was best to let it go for now. They could hear the strain when she just tried laughing. Thankful that no one said anything again, she finished her lunch in peace, as peaceful as she could be at least, trying to listen in to whatever her friends were talking about now.
But her mind wandered...
She still couldn't shake that feeling of suffocation; she needed some… space to gather her thoughts. She needed to talk herself down because she was going to end up pushing away her friends this way. She knew they cared for her, but she couldn't manage to get a grip on her thoughts. More than anything, she just wanted to stop being her own enemy. It felt silly some to her sometimes, the way she was reacting. It made no sense for her to get this worked up. And here she was anyway…
All she wanted was one moment of clarity.
And so that evening, she took off on a solo job without telling any of her teammates.
Erza stood in front of the job board, a job pamphlet in her hand. "This is perfect for us," she announced to Natsu and Gray, and then frowned. "Where's Lucy?"
"I haven't seen her all morning," said Natsu, mirroring Erza's frown.
"We shall go to her house and find her then," said Erza, tucking the pamphlet into her belt and about to lead the way to Lucy's house.
"No, she was here," said Natsu again, his frown deepening. "I can smell her scent. She was here…"
Gray looked around, before grunting. "Any of you notice she's been acting weird lately?"
"Yeah she hasn't screamed at me in ages," said Natsu, pouting and Erza nodded in agreement. "I haven't heard her say a thing to Happy either."
Natsu was about to add something when Mira came by, humming a soft tune, to look at the board.
"Planning to take a quest, Mira?" asked Erza, smiling at the silver-haired mage, who had been in better spirits than she'd seen in a long time.
"Yeah, it's been a while!" said Mira. "Lis, Elfman and I were thinking of going on one. Just the three of us. It's been so long," she sighed happily.
"Oh, yeah, Lisanna told me about it last evening," nodded Natsu. "She hasn't had magic practice for two years now, so go easy on her," he said wryly.
Mira chuckled. "Of course, don't worry. We'll get you your girlfriend back in one piece."
Girlfriend. Though it had nearly been a week since he'd asked her out, it still felt… strange that Lisanna was his girlfriend. Perhaps it was a matter of getting used to. It was not everyday that the dead turn out to be, well, not so dead.
"Are you three headed off on a job as well?" asked Mira, as she finally decided on a job and grabbed a flyer.
"We found the perfect one," nodded Erza. "We're just looking for Lucy before we head out."
"Lucy?" asked Mira, looking up, surprise clear on her face. "She went on a solo mission this morning. She was the first one in today."
"Lucy went on a solo mission ?" asked Gray disbelievingly, knowing how she detested those.
"I'm sorry, I thought she would have told you," said Mira, brows knitting in concern.
The three of them exchanged looks, worried. Sensing the tension, Mira continued. "I wouldn't worry, it was a fairly simple job. She should be back by tomorrow afternoon."
"Shall we wait for her then?" asked Erza, waving the flyer as she looked at her teammates, both of who nodded sombrely.
This was so unlike Lucy. She would never just go off like that, especially not on solo missions. At least not without telling one of them.
The job had been simple enough. It had only taken her a couple of hours to finish it. For the first time, that was disappointing. She needed more time to sort through her thoughts and feelings. She hated feeling sad, and hated that she felt the need to isolate herself from her friends when how she was feeling was not on them, along with the guilt she felt over the way she was feeling. Then there was the fact that it hurt to look at Natsu, and it just wasn't fair to her, him or her friends. It wasn't anyone's fault that she had imagined something and got too caught up in her own head.
She stopped walking, pausing to admire the sunset. The job was over, but there was no harm in spending a night here, was there? This was a small village and she was sure staying her was something she could easily afford. She did have rent to pay, but she'd just take more jobs next week to make up for her indulgences today. She needed it.
And so she retraced her steps, going back to the street of the village that ran along the beach to look for an inn. Blue Sand Inn. It looked quaint, with white walls and blue trimmings around the windows.
Well, this is the one.
The inn was the prettiest she'd ever been in. When she saw the Blue Pegasus guildmark on the decor, it made sense, and being from Fairy Tail had worked to her advantage when she was offered complimentary breakfast the next morning and a discounted lunch owing to the alliance between the two guilds. A gesture of goodwill, the receptionist had called it.
Lucy couldn't have been happier. She'd saved more money than she'd thought she would, and she was already considering staying there another night because she could afford it now. Pleased at the idea, she sat at the window seat of her apartment, gazing out at the beach. The water was dark, shimmering in the moonlight and she inhaled the salt-tinted air deeply.
She could stay here forever. Away from… everything.
In the back of her mind, a voice was telling her once again that she was making a big deal out of nothing. But her insecurities… damn, they were hard to get past. She sighed, rubbing the back of her neck and willing herself to focus on the way the moonbeams glinted off the inky blue water of the sea.
She was considering writing a little something when there was a knock on her door. Wary, she walked slowly to the door, a small frown on her face as she wondered who it could possibly be.
But I didn't order anything.
When she finally opened the door, she was very surprised. "Hibiki!"
"Lucy! Hey!" he said, smiling at her. "I was stopping by here to check how things were going and the receptionist told me someone from Fairy Tail was here and I thought I'd drop by and say hi!" he paused, slightly awkward. "So, er, hi!"
Lucy chuckled softly, amused. "Hi!"
"It's good to see you," said Hibiki, now looking somewhat sheepish.
"It's good to see you too!" said Lucy, smiling at him. And she meant it. It was nice, being with a friend that was very removed from the non-situation 'situation' she was in.
"Have you had your dinner yet?"
Lucy's eyes widened in realization. "Now that you mention it… No, I haven't."
Hibiki hesitated for a second, before asking her. "Would you… care to join me for dinner? We have a rooftop restaurant," he added.
"That does sound nice," she admitted, biting her lower lip thoughtfully, and then looking up at him she shrugged, a small smile on her lips. There possibly couldn't be any harm in trying to make new friends, right? "You know what, why not. Let's go!"
Hibiki smiled back at her and was about to lead the way when she frowned, remembering that this was a Blue Pegasus establishment. "Can I come like this? In my pajamas, or do I need to change?"
Hibiki chuckled. "Well, the restaurant does have a formal dress code. But seeing as you're my guest, I don't think anyone will say anything."
"Perfect," said Lucy as she stepped out of her room, closing the door behind her.
It was strange, seeing Hibiki like this. There was a certain ease to his demeanour. She thought back to the time when he had tried to help her with the Orecion Seis during their fight against Nirvana. She realized that when he was by himself, he was much easier to be around, less obnoxious, more friendly than flirty. It was nice…
A/N: Okay so I hope it doesn't seem like an overreaction on Lucy's side. Remember that a lot of it is in her head and it's basically anxiety. Remember that she needs a moment of clarity regarding some feelings ;) I hope you're patient with this one.
Thoughts? Please leave reviews. I really appreciate those, thanks.