After that, there was a confusion of shouts, someone took the bet book and the thing almost got burned. At the end, they decided to give most of the prize to Evergreen who betted on a date surprisingly closed to the truth, and the small share to Happy and Natsu, just as a consolation prize - according to Gray, this money should be reverted to Lucy, since she was the one who had to deal with Natsu. She might as well use it to treat her brain.
Once the matter was settled, Natsu found himself grinning and looking around. Out of the blue he felt a stab on his chest and the feeling of missing Lucy was blinding. Without realizing it, Natsu turned to the door - he needed to see her. Suddenly he felt someone grabbing him, lifting him up. and smashing him in a nearby table
"What was that for, Iron Breath?"
Gajeel stood in front of him giggling.
"Where do you think you're going, Salamander?"
"What do you mean? I'm not going anywhere! You attacked me out of the blue! You will pay, Iron Head". With that they exchanged a few blows.
After growing tired of the fight, they were sitting side by side, at Gray and Juvia's table. She was concerned for her friend too.
"I miss her". Natsu said softly.
"I know. Well… I told you, when Levy and I mated, every time I was not in her presence, I felt this stab of pain… And we were together all the time. It goes away after a while…"
Natsu grunted. "It is that and…" he grunted again… "How is this fair? We just got together and now… now she had to leave… and we just started… !" He slammed his head on the table and pulled his own hair, but didn't finish the sentence, to his friend's appreciation.
Gajeel and Gray grimaced, as the thought of Natsu having sex with anyone was unappealing enough, with Lucy involved, then it was even worse. Juvia was furiously blushing. But they knew he was suffering, so they just ignored the revolting parts and Gray laughed at his face.
"Hehehe… your fault you didn't start doing it sooner, she was very much into you".
"You knew that too?" Asked Natsu surprised. It was understandable that Mira knew, but he didn't expect it from Gray too.
"And he was a virgin." Gray ignored him and Natsu's face became an aggressive shade of red. "Poor guy. You have a taste of sex and it is taken from you. You are still an idiot, but I feel for you. Now…", Gray said with a stern expression. "If you think about hurting Lucy, I will carve your eyes out, then I will give what remains for Erza to deal with. Then probably Mira will do something too."
"He can't hurt her. He is lucky she was receptive to him", Gajeel interjected "... don't know why, poor girl…", he shook his head in disbelief, "because if she were to reject him, he would pass out of the pain... It happened to me once" he added in a dark tone.
"Oh…" Everyone at the table looked at him with surprise.
"But I thought you only had one mate in life", Juvia said.
"No… that is actually a sad perspective, isn't it? Only one person in a lifetime? What if you never meet this person, because you are in different parts of the world? What if the other person doesn't accept you? Nah… you have elements there since the beginning, when you meet a potential mate and it grows in time, or not".
"Hum… yeah… I felt connected with Lucy since the beginning".
"Tsc… you were glued to her on the hip as soon as you met her", Gray said. "Lucy is an angel to tolerate you".
"You always ran to her place for a nap, Natsu", added Happy.
"Well… yeah… her smell was always calming for me".
"You know, you always said that about Lucy's smell, but you know this is only for you, right?", said Gajeel. "Neither me or Wendy or any of the other slayers feel the same. For us, her smell is nothing special. I think this might be one of the elements Metalicanna explained to me… the instinct to mate with her can either grow from there or not. It clearly did. But you are so dense you didn't realize it".
"And what happened to you after the person rejected you, Gajeel-kun?", asked Juvia, worried.
"Well, I got into a bad path… it was ugly and I ended up at Phantom Lord. I don't like to remember those days, so I'm just gonna say: you are lucky it is reciprocal".
"You are lucky too, Gajeel-kun. Levy-chan also accepted you, right?"
"Yes, she did". Gajeel answered with a smile on his face that made Natsu grunt.
"Ewww… don't speak of Levy like that!"
"Hey, you were just now talking about Lucy".
"Yeah, but we know Levy since we were kids, and she was the baby of the group"
"She was so small", added Gray.
"Was?" Gajeel jokingly asked, but then his face contorted in pain. "Ouch"
"What is the matter, Gajeel-kun?"
"I felt it too.. the pain of separation. Damn it, I thought it would be ok"
"Welcome to the team".
"You know.. why don't we go say hi to the girls?"
"That is a brilliant idea. I can bring some food to Lucy, too. She didn't eat at all this morning and I did wear her out". Natsu answered and started to get up to follow Gajeel out of the guild, to Juvia, Gray and Happy's surprise. That didn't last long, as Gray froze them in place.
"What the hell?"
"First of all, shut up talking abt Lucy like that - and Levy too, Gajeel. It is disturbing! Second, you are not going anywhere"
"Let us go!" And then another fight started, with fire, ice and iron bolts flying everywhere.
At night, still at the guild, amist attempts to cheer the slayers up, Happy asked:
"Are we going fishing tomorrow, right Natsu?"
"You bet, buddy! Gajeel and Panterlilly, you should come with us too!"
"Good! The girls wouldn't like you two to be sad and moppy", Erza said, when she saw Gajeel nod his agreement to the invitation.
Natsu smiled and waited for the pang of pain that surged through him at the mention of Lucy's name to go away. Erza saw his sad expression and hugged him to her chest, eliciting a different type of pain.
"Ooouch!" exclaimed Natsu with his face smashed against the plate of armor she was wearing.
"Everything will be ok. Why don't we get a simple mission when you are back from fishing?"
"But what if Lucy comes back earlier? I don't want to miss her".
"If she comes back earlier, you will be able to smell her, won't you? We won't be far." Erza said with finality in her voice. "What are your plans Gajeel, wanna come with Natsu, Wendy, Gray and me?"
"I'm not going!" Said Gray angrily.
"What do you mean, you are not going?"
"I don't wanna be close to a lovesick Natsu. He is even worse than usual".
"I have some chores at home that Levy left me. And I can't stand Natsu's stench… also I don't think it would be wise for Wendy to be around him either… she is not old enough for those things".
"Mmm… maybe you are right. Carla would beat Natsu up if he made one more inappropriate comment in front of Wendy…"
"Hey! Stop talking about my smell. I smell of her and that is the best… and I don't make inappropriate comments… Wendy has to come with us too, she is part of our team!". After a brief heated discussion, it was agreed that Team Natsu, minus Lucy, was going on a mission, as long as Natsu took a long shower to remove any 'inappropriate' smell to Wendy's poor nose.
Natsu slumped on the table again. "This is the worst! You know… maybe I should not have mated with her. Maybe the pain would have been less now".
"Well, if you are thinking of what you should have done, you should have mated her years ago, dumbass".
"Yeah. True". He facepalmed in frustration for the situation and for having to agree with Gray. "I asked her why she didn't say anything and she told me I wasn't ready yet".
"Well, she was right, right?"
"Yeah, she is always right".
"Not always, Natsu! Sometimes she is not in the mood to eat fish!", said an exasperated Happy.
"Hehe… ok ok… most of the time, then… You guys know she broke Aquarius key to call the Spirit King to save our asses in Tartarus?"
Shocked faces around him. "That is why she hasn't called Aquarius in a while?", asked Juvia surprised.
"Yes…She did that…"
"She saved your ass, Fire Brain. You should kiss the floor that girl steps on. You were dying and she rewrote that stupid book, almost killing herself in the process!".
"True! Some letters vanished, but she had them memorized… And it was in a language no one spoke too!", added Happy. "But you helped, Gray. Lucy was being poisoned by the magic in the book and you used your ice demon slayer to help her".
"Yeah… Lucy is the best".
"They are talking abt me now, Flame Brain".
"I don't care about you, I'm thinking about her".
Then, for everyone's surprise, Gajeel started sobbing and covered his face with his hands, elbows on the table.
"Levy saved my life too, you know… she…"
And then, they spent the next 40 min prasing the girls, repeating stories they all knew and didn't mind hearing again for the sake of the two slayers, in the middle of tears, shouts and Happy and Gray''s laughter at their friends' stupidity. That is how Sting and Rogue found them.
"What is happening here?!" Exclaimed Sting, surprised by the outbursts from Natsu's table and seeing his mentor crying.
Mira was the first to greet them, and said, while leading them to the slayers table. "Hi guys! Welcome! Would you like something to drink?"
"Sure, thanks… What is happening to them?", asked a bewildered Rogue.
"Oh… Lucy and Levy went on a mission, that is going to last for about a week, and they weren't allowed to accompany them. Now they are like this."
"Okay…", said Sting, still looking at them without understanding the situation very well.
Gray was kind enough to step in. "Their ladies left, and now they can't behave".
"Shut up, Gray" Natsu said with his face on the table and not too much energy to spare.
"Natsu-san finally mated with Lucy-chan", Juvia kindly explained. "Gajeel-kun is also mated with Levy-chan for a while now".
"Ohhhh…" Sting and Rogue said together, now understanding better what was happening around them.
"Yeah, and now that Flame Brain knows what sex is, he's been in bad shape".
Erza stepped in. "Well, the girls left this morning, it is normal to take it a bit hard on the first day".
"Oh, wait… is that what I am smelling?" Rogue pointed out.
"Ahan... Like bunnies all night long. And now, he had to stop cold turkey". Gajeel added, really unable to not poke fun at Natsu.
"I'm surprised you only got together with her now, Natsu. Back in Sabertooth we all thought you and Lucy were already an item", said Sting.
"Tell me about it", said Natsu, really tired to go into this point again.
"The idiot thought he was already with her. He didn't know physically mating with her would make any difference", Gray was kind enough to elaborate on his behalf. Natsu shot daggers with his eyes, which only made Gray laugh.
"Ohhh… hum… and does it?", asked Sting, bringing everyone's attention back to him.
"What?" they exclaimed as one, in equal surprise.
"You too, Sting? Rogue, why didn't you tell him?", asked Gajeel.
"Because it would be funnier to see him learning it on his own".
"Rogue! Rude", Sting said with mock hurt in his voice. Then he turned to Natsu, his mentor since they were kids - unsurprisingly, both were pretty dense. "So, wait… does it make a difference?"
"Why? Thinking about making a move on Yukino?" Rogue interrupted.
Sting shifted embarrassed on his seat. "Well…"
"Wait, aren't you together?, asked Natsu, interrupting the conversation yet again.
"No, the idiot is shy", said Rogue with a snicker.
"Shut up. I didn't see you making a move on Rufus. He was the one who came to you, finally".
"Rogue, please tell us how you got together! I always thought you would make a beautiful couple!", said Mira, with her hands in front of her face. Juvia was beaming behind her.
"No, wait!" Sting interrupted yet yet again, "is the difference that great, Natsu?"
Natsu nodded his head again and put a hand on his chest. "Yes… I think there is a part of me that will run to her at any moment if I don't control myself".
"Hihihi… Idiot slept with Bunny Girl one night and had to let her go... This doesn't stop being funny." He said to Gray, who grinned at Natsu's expense.
"Yeah… because you also are ok with Levy being in Crocus, Iron Breath."
"Humphf … I'm fine".
"... he said not fine", added Rogue in a sarcastic low voice. He was really happy to be able to joke around with Gajeel, whom he always admired.
"Anyways, what are you guys doing here?", asked Erza.
"We got a message from Levy last night, to come here and hang out with Gajeel and Natsu. She didn't explain why, but we figured it would be fun, so we came".
Natsu and Gajeel looked at each other and quickly reverted their gaze or they would start crying again, at how considerate Levy was.
The next few days, Natsu and Happy went fishing and on a few quick missions around Magnolia with his team. Sting, Rogue and Gajeel would occasionally meet them. He also sparred with his friends - maybe more than usual.
"Fire dick is letting go of all of his sexual frustration lately. Lucy better come back soon, or he will hurt someone or himself", said Gray after sparring with Natsu.
"Are you saying he is stronger than you?", teased Cana.
"Tsc…as if! Idiot is desperate. He is getting sloppier. He is hitting hard, but getting hit hard too".
They looked at Natsu being nursed by Wendy.
"Natsu, go home and sleep a bit. Today it was a bit worse than before. I know you miss her, but you have to be in top condition for when she comes back. It is just a couple more days", the girl told him.
Gajeel wasn't fairing well either. When Natsu and he would spar, they would faint out of sheer exhaustion... Or because they broke half the building and Erza would take them down.
Natsu would beg to spar with Laxus and Erza, but they always refused, as usua. They knew he was being reckless and his heart wasn't in it.
Natsu would still feel the pain of not having her with him. Sleeping in her apartment helped, for sure, but also brought memories of their one night together. He sure hoped she would be back soon.