Couple of things first!:

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A/N: Okay I hope you guys don't get mad that I'm getting too much into the characters' heads. I am just trying to sort of show how she was struggling between parallel trains of thought, something I struggle with myself. Basically the struggle of duality in thought. Kind of like… you believe something because it seems that way vs what you know vs the guilt of what you believe in. Idk if I'm making sense but um.. that's what it is ?


Chapter 2: Clarity


Hey Mom!

I'm sorry for writing to you after so long, but I've been struggling with things. I wish I could talk to you right now. But despite everything, now I'm sitting by the window and feeling the sea breeze; I feel like things might just be okay.

I had a good time last night. After many days, I felt good. I had dinner with Hibiki (he's a member of the Blue Pegasus guild and we already do know each other, but this is the first time I'm meeting him outside of "work".

If I'm being honest, I didn't think Hibiki could be so sweet. I should've known better than to judge, but he's full of surprises. I was half expecting him to make a lewd remark about… well something, but he did not. He also surprised me by having waffles for dinner; he really doesn't seem the kind to have breakfast food for dinner.

I also felt at ease after a long time. He listened while I babbled, not asking me to shut up even once. And I could tell he was listening to me carefully because he also kept asking me questions. Which is surprising, given that he can just access any information he wants about me. Not a single interruption. It felt good to be doing the talking and have someone listen.

Well… now that makes me feel guilty. My friends aren't the kind who don't listen. They do. And I think what I'm afraid of is that they might just be a little too insightful. I feel ashamed for the way I feel and I'm scared they'll know. And that could either make them hate me or worse, hurt them. I don't want either.

I like it here. I think I should stay here a while. Maybe.

Lucy folded the letter carefully and slid it into her backpack, mentally making a note to remember to put it in that little chest where she kept her letters to her mother. Her heart ached a little; she could really talk to her mother right now. Which reminded her that she should visit her father soon. It had been a while, and he was bound to be worried about her. She would've doubted it a couple of months ago, but her hopes had been up since she'd last met her father at Love and Lucky.

I'll visit him, she thought determinedly.

She walked over to the bed and slid under the covers, letting the sound of the splashing waves lull her to sleep.

Lucy woke up the next morning, feeling really good. Last night had been refreshing. It had offered reprieve from the constant flow of nasty thoughts that she couldn't seem to ward off. Once again, she considered staying here another night. Wouldn't hurt, right?

A few minutes later, she put on the same outfit she'd had last evening, having had it cleaned and delivered this morning. If she was to stay another night, clothes would be a problem; she'd hardly packed for one day let alone two nights. Deciding she had till at least this evening to make that decision, she left for breakfast.

Breakfast, to her pleasant surprise, was served in a cordoned off area on the beach itself. Plate in hand, she opted to sit on the sand instead of at the tables to one side of the are, digging her toes into the warm sand.

Chewing on her pancakes, she wondered what her guildmates were up to as she gazed out at the sea. She wondered if anyone would notice she was gone. She sighed. Of course, they would notice she was gone and they wouldn't make much of it. She'd just taken a job, a simple one at that. She concluded that she was, in fact, being a little harsh on her friends. They didn't not care about her anymore; it wasn't like that.

"Sleep alright, Lucy?" came a voice from next to her, making her jump. She turned to see that Hibiki had joined her, munching on some fruit as he settled on the sand next to her.

"Good morning," she said smiling. "And I slept like a baby, thank you for asking."

Hibiki nodded. "Good to hear that." Pause. "If… you don't mind me asking, what the hell happened to Magnolia?"

Lucy frowned and looked at him questioningly.

"Well, a couple of weeks ago Master Bob wanted to ask Master Makarov for help but when he didn't get a response, he sent Ren and…." he trailed away, when he saw understanding cross Lucy's face.

That's right, she thought. The entire town had just vanished.

"Right…" she said, debating whether or not it was something that was to be revealed. She looked at Hibiki, his eyes filled with genuine curiosity.

Maybe there was no harm…

"I…" she started, trying to speed up the debate in her head when Hibiki cut her off.

"Hey, it's okay if it's something you can't tell me," he said earnestly. "I was just worried. We all were."

"Oh," was all she said, as she started to relax, then looked at him apologetically. "I'm sorry. I just don't know if I should say anything because things were-"

"It's okay, Lucy, I mean it," said Hibiki again. "It's magic stuff. Not all of it can be good and some things are just… best kept a secret. I'm just glad you guys are okay," he said shrugging.

Lucy smiled at him, grateful for not pushing further.

"So, was this your first solo mission?" asked Hibiki after a couple of minutes.

Lucy blinked at him, trying to quell the sudden sadness that was threatening to take over her. "Yeah," she muttered softly.

"I take it it went well?" he asked, cocking his head at her.

She chuckled lightly. "Well it was pretty easy from the start," she said, shrugging.

They talked away the rest of the morning, parting ways briefly to bathe and change for lunch at a quaint little cafe that Hibiki was sure Lucy would love. During lunch, Hibiki promised to show her some of the best places to visit in the town. He mentioned that there was great hiking route that led to a hilltop, and was the best viewpoint in the town for a sunset.

Lucy was up for it until Hibiki got a little thoughtful. "Hey, wait, aren't you leaving this evening?"

"Oh, right," said Lucy sheepishly, still indecisive. She knew she was being an escapist, and that she was running away. It just wasn't healthy.

"That's a shame," said Hibiki, smiling a little bit, looking doleful. "We'll just have to skip the hike then. We won't be able to make it back in time for you to be able to leave at a reasonable hour."

"I… I suppose… I can stay another night," she conceded. Darn it. Truth be told, she wanted to stay away, run as long as she could. At least till she figured some things out and could get her emotions and thoughts under control. "For the sunset!" she added, giggling as Hibiki looked at her excitedly.

"Alright! Then we should hurry so we'll catch it!"

Half a day extra wouldn't hurt, right?


Erza's eyes narrowed as she watched the sun set. Natsu pacing up and down Lucy's living room was not helping her calm her nerves.

"She was supposed to be back by now," she said to no one in particular. She doesn't get a response and she wasn't expecting one.

Gray was quiet, brooding as he sat cross legged on the chair by Lucy's desk, elbow on his knee and face resting in his hand.

The three of them had let themselves into Lucy's apartment a couple of hours ago, waiting for her to get back. That way, they could discuss the job Erza had picked for them immediately; at least that's what they told themselves. All the three of them were worried about their friend. Being here, in her apartment, made them realize that they hadn't actually seen much of her lately. The realization didn't do anything to satiate their worry.

It was troubling.

"Maybe we are overreacting," muttered Gray at last.

Natsu stopped his pacing to exchange a look with Erza, who had turned around and was now leaning against the window.

"I mean, come on, guys," continued Gray. "She went on a solo mission. So what, we do it all the time!"

"Yes, but we let each other know," frowned Erza.

"Maybe she just forgot," piped in Natsu uneasily.

"It makes sense for Natsu to forget," she said pointedly, ignoring indignant looks from him. "Lucy would at least leave a note. Like the time she went to see her father."

An uncomfortable silence fell on the group.

"We wait till tomorrow evening," declared Erza finally. "If she isn't home we go looking for her."

"She's going to get mad about that," mumbled Natsu. "She likes handling things herself, ya know?

"Well, I'm mad now. And worried," grumbled Erza. "I'm leaving tomorrow morning, with or without you."

"I want to come," said Gray firmly.

"Me too," agreed Natsu, worry gnawing at him.


Hey Mom!

I decided to stay after all! It's my second night here and I am glad I decided to stay. I am ready to go home now! It's somewhat unexpected that the clarity I wanted, I found here, in this small town. The mission of taking up behind this job accomplished, I suppose.

As I watched the sun set today, from the viewpoint Hibiki took me to, it was just ocean waves as far as I could see. The sunset might just have been the most beautiful one I've seen in my life. Being at a higher vantage point probably made it better, because in that moment, I felt like my senses were on overdrive. The breeze, the smell of the salt and the faint scent of coconuts, the birds…

I want to live and do things I've always loved doing. I want to learn more magic, and get better. I want to write my novel.

And honestly…

I'm young. This is my first heartbreak. That's all this is. My very first heartbreak. It's not the end of the world. I've been pushing my friends away over this, though they gave me a family when I was alone. I realised today that I've been doing to them exactly what Dad did to me. I don't want to do that anymore over my feelings for… Him.

I know it's not going to just miraculously get better now and it won't not ache when I see him with her. My feelings for him won't just go away, obviously, but I need to be able to see beyond this. I want to be able to move forward. If not him, there's bound to be someone else. There has to be. I need to believe that for this to work.

I'm still feeling hurt, and somewhat upset. I know that my sense of loneliness will not just go away. But I have to try. I'll be back to Magnolia tomorrow, wish me luck!

I wish you were here.

Love,
Lucy.


On her way back to Magnolia, Lucy found herself smiling genuinely for the first time in days. She closed her eyes, letting the rays from the setting sun warm her face as she started to feel excited about going back home and seeing all her friends again. She did not allow the thought of seeing Natsu again dampen her newfound happiness; all said and done, he was still her best friend and she had decided she would be happy for him. Happy that the girl he loved was alive and well, happy that he didn't have a broken heart like hers. It made her eyes tear up a little, but that was okay.

She knew she'd get over it.

With that thought, she slipped into a pleasant nap and was woken by the loud sound of the train whistle as it pulled up at Magnolia station.

She hopped off the train, happy and ready for the day, hoping that she could go out on a job with the team. The whole team. She wasn't sure if she was ready to go on a job with just Natsu yet. And that's okay, she told herself. As she started to walk towards the exit, she heard a familiar voice call out her name and she turned in the direction to see three pairs of eyes looking at her, all carrying a similar mixture of worry and anger.


A/N: Gosh was that a little weird? A little…corny? [ I promise the rest of the fic won't be this corny ] Idk but I have the weirdest epiphanies while I'm smack in the middle of nature so I just had Lucy have her moment of "clarity" then. For me it came because I'd realise how insignificant my issues were in the bigger scheme of things and it helped ease my sense of worry and burden.

I have a feeling some of you may not like where this is going but I beg you to please be a little patient. It will get real exciting, dramatic and angsty soon. Ish. I hope I don't irritate you all off this story.


Reviews:

xMuffinsx: Totally. Natsu actually asking someone out? Not in the canonverse. I like to think that with Lisanna, it came with ease because of their shared history and sense of familiarity. Emphasis on sense of familiarity. ;) Thank you for liking the story!

am I: Thank you! It makes me happy when people notice the smaller things! Other characters are definitely coming, and so will Levy. It'll take a couple more chapters to get there (Chapter 5, to be precise) but it'll happen! I hope you stick with this story and I really appreciate you leaving a review! I can't wait to read what you think of next!

Guest: You, the one worried about Lucy staying with another man... I could literally never, so don't worry. NaLu is endgame. For sure. But it's going to take a while and I hope I don't irritate you off this story. I promise it gets better 3

Ember Reverie: Literally couldn't agree more. This fic was actually inspired one of the fics I read where everyone just replaced Lucy with Lisanna, who was a bitch. I really hate that cliche with a passion because first of all, these are the same people who were ready to tear her house down when they thought Lucy left the guild back in S01 and Lisanna is a sweetheart. None of them would every be a complete asshat to Lucy! I'm so glad you noticed this change! And yeah, I had a difficult time picking who the guy was gonna be, and I'll explain my reasoning for it not being Gray or Loke later, although I am on board, 100 percent with that order, hehe.

savwafair: Thank you! I crie. I hope you like where this goes!

ipromiseimnotatotaldweeb: Thank you so much omggg. I really appreciate it.