I really just got caught up in so many things and had to get my head on straight, but I'm a lot better now, and I can hopefully keep up and continue my fanfics, MAYBE EVEN START SOME NEW ONES OOPS. ;)

Some bits of this chapter will be a bit strange, I think, because I probably took too long a break from writing and it will take me a while to get back into the groove, oops. I would very much appreciate it if you guys could give me some notes of sorts if you notice any stark differences on where I went wrong?


Lucy stared at the ceiling, trying to make something of the shapes the flickering shadows cast on the creamy surface. Something had been different tonight, she knew. There was… something… in the way he'd held her face as he kissed her and the way his fingers had dug into her hips. She'd sensed urgency in his actions, and she'd felt it in herself as well. She was usually all up for the way he er, used his… fingers… but she'd practically needed him.

The sensation was foreign.

They'd always been somewhat leisurely and lazy, occasionally a bit rough, in the past but tonight… She sighed, and turned to her side to gaze out of the window by the bed, eyes on the night sky, and she tried to reason with her spiralling thoughts.

He had told her in clear terms that they would tell each other if they wanted to stop or call off their little "arrangement". Or was that her who had suggested it?

She trusted him, and the promise they'd made each other. Things were going to be okay. She was sure. She was overthinking things as usual, and nothing was wrong, really. She scolded herself for it.

I should know better than that.

She slipped into an uneasy sleep.

Natsu woke up the next with a yawn, blinking his eyes open groggily. And remembering last night, and his dilemma and all of it, he sighed. He started to sit up, when he felt a pillow hit his face with an annoyed grunt.

"I'd prefer not to be flashed by you, Flame Brain."

Natsu let out a foreign sounding yelp and pulled the covers up to his waist, muttering a thanks as Gray handed Natsu's boxers to him, making no effort to hide the disgust on his face. Gray turned away, allowing Natsu a moment to slip into his boxers and Natsu noted that his rival (one of his best friends, but he didn't need to know that) looked… well, like, shit.

"Couldn't handle all that liquor, could you?" smirked Natsu. "Where's Gajeel?"

"Shut up." Gray scowled, whipping his face towards Natsu with the intention of telling him off, but wince instead as his head pulsed. "He was up early. Went to see Levy, I'm sure."

Natsu chuckled. "There's some aspirin in my bag," he said, reaching over to his backpack and rolling his eyes when Gray looked at him incredulously, because Natsu and foresight in the same sentence was unusual. "Relax, Luce made me pack them in, just in case," he said, handing over the strip of tablets to Gray.

The thought of her made him sigh internally, and he tugged at his hair in mild annoyance. Apparently his problem wasn't something he could just sleep off, though he had known better. This whole affair was starting to bother him on a deeper level, and it annoyed him to no end that clearly talking to Lucy about it was out of the question. He wasn't sure what to even say to her, because truth be told he didn't know what it was about the situation that bothered him in the first place.

"Of course," snickered Gray, before popping it in his mouth and downed it with water. "Couldn't expect a bonehead like you to think ahead or whatever, could I? You really had me there, for a second."

"Don't test me, Fullbuster," snapped Natsu.

Gray raised a brow. "What're you so mad about? Clearly you had a… good night," he said, gesturing his hand in Natsu's direction. "Was it that brunette making eyes at you all night?"

Natsu looked up at him confused. Brunette? Who? What?

"Someone else, I guess," said Gray, cocking his head as he studied his friend. "Are you guys going to meet again?"

"It was a one-night stand," said Natsu, because 'no' would've been a lie, and 'yes' would mean more questions. Gray could be so annoying.

"Really?" asked Gray sceptically.

Natsu rolled his eyes and leaned against the headboard with a grunt, turning away from Gray, a clear indication that the conversation was over. But Gray couldn't take a hint, apprently. Well, he could but he didn't care enough to. Yeah, that sounded more like him.

"Pyro, I'm serious here," said Gray. "This isn't like you."

"You don't know what you're saying," said Natsu. "What does that even mean? Clearly it is because I'm doing it, aren't I?"

"I do know what I'm saying," retorted Gray. "You're the guy with the 'at least 4 dates' policy. That doesn't scream very one night stand to me."

"Who said it was a one night stand," said Natsu, looking at his friend like he'd just won a challenge, forgetting that he himself had minutes ago, declared it a one night stand.

"You did, you moron," huffed Gray, crossing his arms.

"Tch," he said in irritation.

Gray's brows puckered up before realization crossed his face. "It's... the same girl? From… before?"

"Yes, dumbass," said Natsu smugly. Ha, now that'll shut you up.

"So it's a friends-with-benefits kind of a situation? For four months now?" asked Gray skeptically.

"Yep." The 'p' popped.

"And its just… casual sex?"

Natsu groaned. "Yes, what part of 'friends-with-benefits' did you not understand?"

"And the girl... She's... here? At Akane where we are on vacation?"

Natsu paled a little bit, but shook his head in annoyance, trying different tactic. "Now stop asking me these questions, it's weirding me out!"

"The questions are because you're being weird, what is with you, man?" asked Gray, just a hint of concern in his voice. "Why didn't you tell us? Is it a coincidence that she's here or are..."

"Not your business," hissed Natsu through gritted teeth.

"Well, excuse me for being doubtful, you're a very all-in kind of guy. I don't wanna see this go to shit. Do any of us even know her and-"

"I know her well enough," said Natsu, interrupting him snappily. "And if things were to go wrong they already would have, wouldn't they? We've been doing this for months now, I'd say we're okay. And we will be. Nothing could go wrong. I trust her. She trusts me. We wouldn't hurt each other, ever. I know it. And… just… it's… her, you know?"

Then Natsu shook his head again, repeating as if to himself, "Nah, nothing is going to go wrong."

Gray cocked his head and watched his friend curiously, noting the faraway look in his eyes and the nervous twitch of his eyebrow as he fidgeted nervously.

"It's Lucy isn't it?" asked Gray quietly.

"Jeez, Gray, don't go around spewing lies like that," sputtered Natsu, his entire posture tense. Besides, the slight catch in his chuckle was a dead giveaway. Not to mention the flood of pink in his cheeks.

Gray simply studied him for a moment, tracking his fidgety hands and the way he wouldn't meet his eyes and oh boy-

"You're in love with her," said Gray with wonder, and it was a statement. No question behind it, just a mere statement.

Natsu hopped off the bed with a scowl, now on his feet as he glowered down at Gray, who stayed surprinsingly calm. Observant, and Natsu knew that that look of cold speculation meant he was putting things together and that just made him madder.

"What the hell are you talking about?" he snapped, glaring. "That's absurd. Luce is my best friend. And what does that have any-"

"Oh, you're really going to go down that path, huh? Deny it? What kind of an idiot do you take me for? You said it's the same girl as the last four months, and it can only be her. Natsu, seriously, what were you two idiots thinking! You're in too deep now and you're being a coward about-"

"You really shouldn't be giving me advice on this crap anyway," growled Natsu, arms crossed tightly.

"What'd you say, Flame Brain?" scowled Gray, on his feet as well now, eye-to-eye with Natsu as he glared at his friend.

"You heard me. You not only have not the courage to tell Juvia that you actually like her, but you are too much of a coward to even acknowledge kissing her last night!"

Gray froze. "What? I didn't-"

Natsu felt his temper deflate as he watched a range of expressions on his friend's face before it finally landed on panic. Natsu had a realization as well as he slapped a palm across his face.

"You were drunk out of your mind, weren't you?"

"Yes," said Gray, aghast. "I don't even remember… Oh, god."

"You should talk to her," said Natsu, with a sigh. "I'll bet she's freaking out right now."

Natsu sighed with relief when Gray left the room hastily yelling "This isn't over!" behind him, and lay back down on his bed because Gray was an idiot who had no idea what he was talking about. Sure, Natsu loved Lucy. So much. Of course, he did. But he wasn't... ln love with her. That would be absurd. He couldn't possibly in love with her because that just would not be... feasible. Things were going well now. It was a delicate balance obviously, but they were both handling it quite well.

He couldn't.

Some time around lunch, Natsu showered and putting on a fresh pair of clothes, stepped out of the room squishing every single thought of the conversation he'd had with Gray. As he stepped into the banquet hall where lunch was being served - a buffet! his favourite kind - his eyes automatically scanned the crowd for Lucy and he could almost see Gray's smug face in his mind's eye. So he willed himself to walk slower, plate in hand as he joined the queue and made sure not to keep peeking in her direction as he served himself food. Once done, he - slowly - made his way to where Lucy was sitting, picking at her food with a small frown on her face.

"Hey," he said quietly, startling her out of her musings as he pulled a chair to sit next to her.

"Hi," she said, small smile on her place, which turned into amusement as she saw his loaded plate. "Skipped breakfast, did you?"

Natsu chuckled sheepishly and shrugged. "Even I have days where I skip meals, you know?"

"And thoroughly overcompensate after," she snickered, leaning forward to brush some hair out of his face. Her fingertips were cold against his forehead, he noted.

"Where're the rest of them?" he asked, noting that she was the only one in the hall that he knew.

"All holed up in their love nests, probably," Lucy snorted. "Gray came to our room this morning and I stepped out to give them some privacy." Then she lowered her volume with mock secrecy. "Things got pretty loud after a point."

"About time he manned up," he said, chewing on chicken.

Lucy only laughed. "Yeah, I'm happy for them. It's been a long time coming."

He merely hummed in agreement and they ate in silence for a couple of minutes before Lucy sighed. "Hey, Natsu?"


"Do you..." she trailed off unsurely, drawing his attention immediately as he looked at her with concern. As she worried her lower lip, he placed a hand gently on her arm to make her look at him.

"What is it?"

"I was just..." she sighed. "Do you ever... Sometimes I... I wonder if I'll find someone to love like that. A lasting sort of a love. I like to think sometimes that such a thing is a fantasy but when I look around... I don't know, I'm just being silly, I think."

He coughed a little, hands twitching a little as he dropped his fork and took both her hands in his. "You're amazing, Luce. Anyone would be lucky to love you."

She laughed lightly, bumping her forehead to his fondly. "Well, it's your sacred duty to tell me that, you're my best friend."

"Of course," he said, throat suddenly felt very dry. "And still, I'm right. You'll find someone. He will of course, have to be thoroughly vetted by me. I have to make sure he's worthy of you."

Despite the teasing grin on his face, the idea sounded far from pleasant.

Lucy, oblivious to his mild agitation, laughed slouching in her seat. "What would I do without you..." she sighed, squeezing his hands.

"Get together with a complete honest-to-god idiot, probably," he said, and his own chuckle sounded fake to him.

They sank back into silence, until Natsu excused himself for another round at the buffet table, earning a giggle out of Lucy as she ruffled his hair. Her laughter ringing in his ears, he went to join the queue again, hyperaware of her eyes tracking him.

When he finally felt her gaze tear away from him, he looked over at her and couldn't help smiling a bit at the adorable way she twirled her blonde hair around her finger as continued to nibble on her food, always the slow eater. Her gaze met again and she beamed at him. His chest tightened with warmth at the realization that she'd made him forget all about that really stressful conversation from that morning. He loved that about her. She always managed to find a way to just be there for him without prying or asking too many questions. Her very presence could make him forget the most dreary of things and just being around her was more than...


A/N: OH GOD HOW BAD WAS IT. I'm really sorry for disappointing, ahhhhhhhh I'm telling y'all I just need a little time to get back into the characters' heads and everything.

ANYWAYS. How have you guys been? How's the lockdown and the quarantine and what not treating you? I'm having the time of my life to be completely honest.

I PROMISE I'm working on Mosaic Broken Hearts I already had this chapter half written out so I went ahead and worked on this one first.