Hello! I've been toying with this story for a bit, but decided to finally take the plunge! It's a little cliche and I'm sure similar stories have been written endless times, but I hope you read and enjoy my version as well!
Quick disclaimer, I do not own Fairy Tail. If I did, Gildarts would be the main character and it wouldn't be a family rated show. I just own the plot!


"Natsu! Look out!" Lucy shouted, and Natsu instinctively ducked, swiveling around just in time to see a rock being hurled through the air.

"Thanks, Luce," he called, as he jumped forward, driving his fist into the monster's stomach.

Natsu, Lucy, and Happy had taken a job requiring them to stop a monster that was breaking down homes and injuring the residents of a small village. The bastard had been one ugly sucker, towering several feet into the air, but in typical Natsu fashion, the pinkette hit first, thought later. And he was now dodging rubble that the monster was lobbing at him.

Lucy pulled out her Gate Keys and retrieved Loke's.

"Open, Gate of the Lion! Leo!"

With a burst of golden light, Loke appeared, dressed in his trademark suit. He adjusted his glasses with a smirk.

"Loke, Natsu needs some back up!" Lucy called to her celestial spirit.

"Right on, Princess. And maybe later, I can back you up ag-"

"LOKE! Now is seriously not the time to be hitting on me!" Lucy screeched.

Happy floated next to Lucy and began sniggering.

"I seriously need to have a conversation with some of my spirits," Lucy sighed and looked over to Happy for some sympathy.

Happy had both hands plastered over his mouth and was giggling maniacally. "He looooves you!" Happy finally burst out, a cheeky smile painted on his blue face.

While Happy continued to chortle, Natsu and Loke were engaging the monster. They both got several quick punches in, working in beautiful synchrony. Loke came down on the monster's shoulder as Natsu sent a punch up into its chin; Loke kicked the monster's legs out from under it while Natsu threw his foot in the beast's stomach. The monster began to sway.

"Regulus Impact!" Loke shouted, hitting the monster square in the chest. That brought it to its knees.

"Thanks, Loke," Natsu grinned.

"No problem, brother," Loke nodded back. "Princess, I'll see you very soon," he threw a wink at Lucy before disappearing.

Natsu stalked up towards the monster. "Listen up, ugly. If you somehow manage to climb out of this mess, you're gonna head straight back to the cave you came from. Because if I ever get wind that you're causing some damage, I'll make you pay," he said dangerously.

The monster lurched forward, attempting to swipe at Natsu. He deftly dodged it before leaping towards the beast.

"Fire Dragon… Wing Attack!" He lashed at the monster, who collapsed sideways.

"Great job, Natsu!" Lucy and Happy shouted in unison. Natsu turned around to smile brightly at them.

Lucy saw everything that followed happen in slow motion. The monster lifted one enormous, clawed hand and sent it flying into Natsu. Lucy screamed, but it was too late. Just as Natsu turned to see what Lucy was screaming at, the claw hit him heavily in the chest. It was a surprising display of force from a monster who passed out immediately after delivering that blow.

Natsu had already been tired, and now, caught off-guard by an extreme impact, he was sent flying into the rock wall. His head snapped back against the hard surface with a loud crack, and Natsu crumpled to the ground. A jutting out piece of rock had hit him in the spine, and he lay in a heap, unmoving.

The monster was finally down, but Lucy wouldn't have cared even if it sat right back up. Her only focus was now Natsu. Happy and Lucy rushed over to the unconscious man. Lucy sat on the ground next to him and collected his head in her lap. Happy stood to his side, one small blue paw on his shoulder.

"Natsu! Natsu, please! You have to wake up!" Lucy's eyes were brimming with tears.

"Natsu, open your eyes," Happy said softly, tears streaming down his face.

Lucy turned to the blue Exceed, "You need to fly back to Magnolia, Happy. You'll get there faster than I'll be able to. Go to the guild and bring Wendy back!"

Happy began shaking his head, "Lucy that will take at least a full day, if not more. I can't leave Natsu!" He put his head on Natsu's chest, throwing his little arms around the Dragon Slayer.

"I know, Happy," Lucy stroked his head as she cried, "but Wendy is our best chance. I'll keep Natsu safe until you come back, I swear," she vowed.

Happy sat up sniffling and rubbed his eyes. "Okay," he whispered, before leaning down to Natsu, "You gotta stay strong, buddy. You gotta wake up soon." With that, Happy flew off, beating his wings furiously.

Lucy summoned Horologium who carried Natsu as the group made their way back to the inn. The spirit placed Natsu on the bed before disappearing.

Lucy hurried to the bathroom and filled a bowl with warm, soapy water. She grabbed a rag, and then, sitting beside Natsu, gently wiped at his body. She carefully removed his top, and dabbed his chest and sides with the soapy water. Very carefully, she turned him onto his stomach, and finally saw the impact that the rock had made. A deep purple bruise originated in the middle of his back, before extending across it like a spider's web. She took the rag there and tentatively wiped his back, which elicited a wince and a small groan from the unconscious man.

Not knowing what was wrong, Lucy thought it best to leave the area untouched. She moved to sit by his face, and her gut wrenched everytime a flicker of pain crossed his features. She reached out and ran her fingers through his hair.

"Oh, Natsu…" she began crying in earnest.

She sat with him, unmoving, for hours. She didn't so much as get up to get water. She stayed awake through the night, and into the next morning. She knew Happy would be back very soon, and she sat with bated breath, stroking his pink hair.

His eyes began to flutter. Lucy was so sleepy that she thought she'd imagined it, but then they cracked open.

"Luce?" His voice was raspy.

"Natsu!" she exclaimed as she sobbed.

"Luce… why am I in so much pain? My back… Lucy!" Natsu fisted the bedcover and screwed his eyes shut. Lucy saw tears prick the corners, and that scared her more than anything.

If Natsu, this bull-headed, fearless, brave man, is crying from pain… Wendy needs to get here soon, she panicked.

Natsu drew in ragged breaths, his eyes pressed shut, before they relaxed as he fell unconscious again.

Just then, the door burst open and Wendy, Erza, and Gray rushed towards Natsu.

"Natsu!" they all cried in unison. Behind them, Happy, Carla, and Lily flew in. Lucy came to the conclusion that the three Exceeds had carried the three mages.

Wendy immediately got to work, while Erza and Gray turned their attention to Lucy.

"Happy filled us in on some of it, but I'd like to hear it again from you," Erza requested, her sharp voice full of concern.

Lucy narrated the events of everything that had transpired up until the moment they arrived.

"You haven't slept?" Gray reconfirmed.

Lucy shook her head. "I'll sleep when I know he's okay."

Gray shut his eyes, before quietly whispering, "I'm so sorry Natsu. We should have all been here."

"You have nothing to apologise-" Lucy began, when a look from Gray shut her up.

"We're a team, Lucy, and more importantly, we're a family. Especially the people in this room. We," he gestured across the room, "are one family. And I wasn't there for him." Gray's face fell into his hands and he groaned.

Erza echoed his sentiments silently, the tears in her eyes conveying her agreement. Lucy pulled both Gray and Erza into a hug and the three stood there mournfully while the young Dragon Slayer ran her hands above Natsu.

"He's damaged his spine, and he has a concussion, but I can fix him," Wendy said confidently.

The three older mages let out a collective sigh of relief.

"What happened to him?" Erza asked.

"He's hurt his spine pretty badly. He's cracked his spinal column, and I suspect that's caused some injury to the nerves as well. If he was awake, I don't think he'd be able to move anything below his knees, but I can fix that. He'll need about a week of rest, but he'll be back to normal, with full movement. His dragon slayer magic helps him heal faster. I've already taken care of his concussion. He'll just wake up with a headache."

The other three grabbed Wendy and pulled her into their hug, all four of them now shakily laughing with relief, as a few errant tears slipped from their eyes.

Lucy turned to face Natsu, and saw a sight that made her heart twist in affection. Happy was curled up by Natsu's face and was stroking his cheek while whispering, "You did it, buddy. You stayed alive for me. I love you, Natsu."

"I love you too, buddy," Natsu croaked, his eyes still firmly shut.

"Natsu!" everyone in the room shouted.

Natsu tried to sit up, and Wendy rushed to his side. "Not so soon, Natsu. You need your rest."

Natsu debated arguing with her, but he was exhausted. He nodded and crashed back down, asleep before his head hit the pillow.

"You too, Lucy," Erza commanded.

"I'm fine!" Lucy tried to wave away Erza's concerns, but when the red haired wizard shot her a withering look, Lucy lay down on the couch.

"We'll spend the night here, and take the train back in the morning. Gray, Wendy, and I will take shifts keeping an eye on Natsu. Lucy, you sleep." Erza delegated in true fashion.

"Happy, I assume you will not leave Natsu's side?" she asked the blue Exceed, who nodded his head. "Alright then. For now, Wendy and I will stay here. Wendy, you may resume your healing spells whenever you're ready. Gray, Carla, Lily, please go get us all something to eat. It has been a harrowing few hours, and we could all use a pick me up."

Everyone did as Erza asked, but Lucy had been oblivious to the entire thing, already fast asleep.

A/N: I'm uploading the second chapter right away, because that's the build up to their week together, and after that, I'll hopefully clock one chapter a day. Fingers crossed!