Natsu collided with someone carrying a huge pile of books. For the first time that day, books flew around him as he stumbled back and he saw a blonde woman falling on her behind.
"Oh God… I am so sorry, I was distracted looking around and didn't se… Hey!" Natsu interrupted his own rambling, in surprise, as he was helping her stand up. "It is you!" He recognized the woman now. She still looked gorgeous as he remembered from two weeks ago and he felt his heart skipping a beat at the sight.
"W-what… N-Natsu?" Lucy asked, a bit shaken from the tumble and from seeing him. She never expected to find him again after that night. She left him a note, but he never called her, so she figured he was not interested in continuing what they had started then.
"Do you need some help with those?" he asked, pointing at the books she was carrying and were now scattered on the floor. He had that smile that made her melt from the first moment she laid eyes on him.
"Oh… yeah, please. I think they should put a little basket in book stores… just like the ones in supermarkets, you know?" she rambled on, as she handed him half of the books she had gathered so far. She was still a bit sore from his rejection and wasn't sure how to react now, after bumping into him in the mystery session of her favorite book store.
"I don't think people buy this many books at once, though. Heheh…" said Natsu.
After that night, he came back to the hotel where he had left her, but there was not even a trace of her. They hadn't had time to exchange last names or phone numbers, so he couldn't find her. He was scared she got frightened of him and regretted what they did, so she decided to run away. Natsu had been wishing for a chance to meet her up again, so he could see her at least one last time, and apologize for anything that might have hurt her.
"This is research… I'm going to write a piece about psychopaths and I wanted to read a bit to get into the mood of the subject." She said, feeling awkward with the encounter and trying to think of a way to leave without embarrassing herself.
"Oh, you did mention you were a journalist."
"Yup… and by the way, are you ok? I was worried about you that night… I hope you didn't get hurt". She mentally cringed: that was the one thing she was not supposed to bring up in front of him, but, apparently, her brain and mouth had different plans, since she could only think about it for the past 2 weeks. Lucy desperately wished for a hole in the floor to open and swallow her up.
"I'm ok, I'm ok… that fire was almost under control when I arrived, so it was just a matter of finishing it up and helping with the paperwork. I did kick my friend's ass for calling me out that way… specially because I was not supposed to be at work at all" He looked at her with that intensity she remembered from the last time they were together, and she couldn't help but blurt out:
"I-I'm happy to see you again", she said with a blush on her face. "I wanted to apologize in person for leaving the hotel like that". He seemed like he was going to say something, so she continued in a rush:
"I hope the cash I left with the note helped pay for the room". She was looking at his shoes now, unable to face him.
Once again, her mouth and brain took over and mentioned the damn note! Obviously he would feel pushed into acknowledging it and reject her in person. Immediately, her agile brain, which was not working in tandem with her intentions today, painted the beautiful scene of her as a stalker, and Natu's holding a restraining order as a shield. Before she fainted out of embarrassment at the prospect of this image becoming reality, she exclaimed in a desperate squeak:
"I'm going now. Thank you for picking up the books for me. Bye!" She rushedly put down the pile of books she was holding and turned to leave; her purchase wishes were forgotten for now. Suddenly, there was a hand on her shoulder holding her in place - a warm and big hand she could not stop thinking about.
"Note? What note?" Came that dark voice that lived in her dreams for the past two weeks.
Natsu couldn't believe what she was saying. What note? What money? After two weeks of only thinking about her and what would be the reason for her to leave the hotel without a trace, she was finally in front of him, and what is more, talking about a note and money. He couldn't care less about the money, but he wanted to know more about the note. Natsu didn't want her to leave again without an explanation.
The blonde looked over her shoulder with an embarrassed expression. Natsu's face showed a mixture of confusion and seriousness. He had also put down the pile of books he was carrying.
Before she could say anything, there was a loud noise from the side and, for the second and final time that day, books flew in every direction and people screamed. Natsu's reflection was to hold the woman in front of him in his arms to protect her, and they were pushed down on the floor by an unknown force.
"What the h…?" Natsu's outburst was cut short by the book shelf collapsing on top of him, and he lost consciousness.
Natsu woke up and could only see that he was in what looked very much like a hospital room. His body felt tender and sensitive, as if he could break if he made any sudden movements.
Being a trained firefighter, he had some experience with injuries and how to deal with them, so he tried to remember the last moments before he lost consciousness. He remembered the loud noise, the screams and books everywhere… books… yes! Lucy was with him! Was she hurt? He remembered shielding her body with his. Where was she?
He frantically looked around the room, and when he tried to sit up, he felt something on the left side of his stomach, it was a blonde head resting on folded arms. When he moved, the head was raised to reveal to be none other than Lucy herself.
She slowly opened her eyes and rubbed them. She tilted her head and stared at Natsu, who stared right back at her. Slowly, the blonde raised a hand to touch his arms and furrowed her eyebrows. Natsu quietly observed the beautiful woman in front of him. He noticed she was disheveled, the bags under her eyes also indicated she hadn't slept so well for a while now. They were also a bit red and swollen, as if she had cried at some point in the recent past.
Suddenly, she let out a little squeak and jumped on him to touch his arms, shoulders and face; her eyes were wide open in surprise and he noticed relief and happiness there too.
"Y-you a-are awake! You are awake! It is not a dream! Hold on, I'm gonna call the nurse". Before she could turn and run out of the room, he grabbed her arm.
"Stay, please. Don't run away from me again" he asked her in a hoarse voice. He wondered how long he was out, and he didn't really think about what he was saying. "We can call the nurse in a moment, I want to talk to you".
"Oh…", she sat down, and he let go of her arm. "I'm not gonna leave the room, but let's call the nurse now. You have been coming in and out of consciousness for 3 days, and they told me to call them as soon as you woke up, however many times that would be". She delicately put a hand on the other side of his stomach, where he was bandaged, a bit of hair fell in front of her face with the movement.
"What happened?", he finally asked, holding back the urge to put her hair behind her ears.
"There was a small explosion in the book store's cafe's kitchen… something involving a gas leak." She impatiently put her hair behind her ear. "It was big enough to cause a commotion. Someone ran into the book shelves and they started falling. The one nearest to us fell and you used your body to shield me, but it hit you in the head hard enough for you to faint, and this weird ornament pierced your stomach when we were on the floor". She quietly explained, as she pressed the button to call the nurse. He raised his eyebrows at the explanation. That was surprising and it got even more once her eyes started brimming with tears.
Before he could ask her why she was crying, the nurse arrived.
"Good morning, mister!", said the nurse with a smile on his face. "You gave your girlfriend a big fright when you wouldn't stay up".
As he proceeded to look into Natu's pupils and check his vitals, Lucy quietly said:
"I'm not his girlfriend".
"Of course you aren't. Many non-girlfriends spend their days at their non-boyfriend's side, when they are sleeping. Happens all the time", he said with sarcasm dripping from his voice.
Lucy furiously blushed and Natsu suppressed a smile at how adorable she looked. The nurse saw it and added:
"You seem well enough, if you can smile after just waking up after three days, Mr. Dragneel".
"W-what?" Natsu now felt embarrassed at being caught staring at Lucy.
"Well, it seems like you recovered well. Of course, being unconscious can be scary, but sometimes, it is just your body's indication that it needed time to heal itself. You have a good constitution and are strong, so I'm sure you will have no trouble getting back on your feet. The doctor will want to run some tests before discharging you, but it should not be long now." He looked at Lucy. "You can go home now and rest a bit, Miss Heartfilia. He is fine. Well, see you later, I'm going to report this now to your doctor". The nurse said leaving the room.
Lucy shifted in her seat, uncomfortable with Natsu knowing that she had stayed by his side all this time. Also, with the fact that her hair and face were a mess, and she was wearing scrubs someone in the hospital lent her when she refused to leave his side.
"Were you hurt?", he asked, concerned with her.
She quietly shook her head. And looked up at him, "you saved me. I don't know how hurt I would get if that shelf had fallen on top of me instead. Thank you", she added with tears brimming her eyes again.
Natsu blushed. He was a firefighter and was used to people thanking him for helping them out. But there was something so vulnerable in her words and demeanor that pulled the strings of his heart.
"If it takes being smashed down by a bookshelf for you to be unharmed, it will have been worth it".
Her eyes lit up at his words.
"You remembered", she gave him a shadow of the smile he missed so much, with a sparkle on her beautiful brown eyes. The night they met, he overheard her quoting Hamilton, a musical he also secretly loved, in loud voices to her friends.
"I remember everything about you".
"I'm glad to see the impact didn't hurt this silver tongue of yours, Mr. Dragneel", she laughed, feeling lighter than she remembered for the past few days, now that he was awake.
"So you know my name, afterall"
"The first responders who brought us to the hospital looked through your wallet and found your firefighter badge". Then, she remembered.
"Speaking of which, the hospital contacted some people in your unit. This Erza lady came by and brought you a few things you might need when you wake up.", she pointed to a duffle bag, with his unit seal stamped on it, that was laying on a corner and Natsu hadn't seen yet. "She asked me to tell you to call her as soon as you woke up and that you just need to get better soon. Your phone, wallet and keys are on the bedside table, by the way".
"Thanks! Erza is great".
"She was amazing. I immediately understood why she became captain of your unit so young. She also stopped by for a few hours everyday."
"Ha! Did she say she was the youngest to become a captain?", he asked, amused by his friend's lack of modesty.
"No no! I figured that on my own. She had a captain's badge and she is young, so it was an easy assumption".
"Hehe… Erza is really confident, I wouldn't be surprised if she told you as soon as you met her"
"She was worried sick about you. She was really upset when she had to leave after visiting hours".
"Oh, so this isn't the visiting hours?"
"Well… not really… I begged the hospital staff to let me stay by your side, even if we are not family. The nurses even lent me these scrubs and let me use the shower. I didn't want you to be alone when you woke up", she looked him in the eyes with what he identified as a mix of remorse and determination. "This is a private room, so they figured I would not be a bother, but the nurses kept teasing me that I am your girlfriend, it didn't matter how much I explained that we are not like that."
"Yet", he mumbled to himself.
"Nothing… Do you want to go home for a bit and rest? It looks to me like you have been sleeping on this chair for the past 3 days".
"I-I didn't want you to wake alone and confused, so…"
"Hehe… did I put you under the spell of my silver tongue, or are you acting out of a misplaced guilty conscience?"
Lucy's pained expression let him clearly know the truth: it was guilt, or at least mostly guilt.
"I think I feel a bit hurt that a beautiful woman would only want to stay by my side out of guilt", he teased her.
"W-well, you got hurt protecting me, I wanted to do something in return for you, even if it was just this", she blushed and cursed herself for not being clearer.
She wanted to convey that she would want to be by his side even if he hadn't protected her. How could she explain that? Especially since she was sure he didn't want anything to do with her… although she still remembered his last words before being attacked by a bookshelf and the ugliest, stupidest ornament in the world. Maybe after going home, showering and sleeping a bit, she would be able to talk to him calmly, if he still wanted to see her.
Natsu saw the truth in her eyes and a bit of confusion. He remembered her mentioning a note on the room, so maybe she didn't run away from him as he feared… Even worse, maybe, the blonde thought he found the note and chose to not contact her in the first place.
Throwing caution to the wind, he extended an arm to delicately touch her and make her face him. Just that simple touch sent a shiver down his arm. He really missed her and, even though he was in a hospital bed, fresh from a coma and bandaged, he could not be happier.
"If you feel guilty over this, I will feel really bad. It was an accident, and no one's fault. But I'm very grateful for having you by my side during this time".
"I'm sure anyone would do that", she answered with a blush at the intensity of his stare.
"I'm just happy it was you.", he said emphasizing the pronoun, and softly caressing her face, which she leaned into his hand and closed her eyes in relief for him being okay.
"Flirting with your girlfriend is certainly a sign of improved health", said a voice behind them and they quickly jumped apart. Lucy stood up and walked away from the bed to cool down her flushed face for a bit. Natsu blushed a bit and faced the doctor, who just walked in the room and on them, "I will schedule a few tests for tomorrow morning to make sure your head is ok, is that good for you?"
Natsu nodded and said:
"Thank you for taking care of me, and letting Lucy stay too".
"You are most welcome. I just want you to get better soon so I can treat my next patient." The doctor briskly said. "It would be better if you would sleep a little bit, Mr. Dragneel. You just woke up today. It is better to not overexert yourself. You will have time to hang out with Miss Heartfilia later".
Lucy approached his bed.
"Yeah, I think I will go home for a bit… I have a few things to do, and now I'm relieved that you woke up. But I will be back tomorrow morning".
"Can you give me your phone number?" Natsu muttered without looking at her, not wanting the doctors to hear him.
"Sorry, what did you say?"
"He asked you for your number", answered the nurse. "Here, take note in this paper". He handed her pen and paper.
"No", Natsu said. Lucy looked at him in surprise, with her hands raised to take the items the nurse was handing her.
"I don't want to risk losing your contact information again. Here". He picked up his phone, and searched the contacts app. "Tell me your number, I will call you right now so we will both have them on our phones".
"How come you don't have your girlfriend's phone number?"
"I'm not his girlfriend", Lucy said with slight irritation looking at the nurse. She really wished she wouldn't have to do this with the doctors around the two of them.
"Yet", Natsu repeated louder, Lucy looked at him surprised, but he continued in a matter of fact tone, "I'm ready now, your number?"
Lucy blushed, but told him her number and he called her. They made sure to save the information and she took her leave. Before she could, though, Natsu grabbed her hand again and made her look at him.
"You will be back in the morning, right?"
"As long as the hospital allows it, yes", she answered looking at the tall and pink haired Dr. Porlyusica.
The doctor gave a sigh and said in resignation, "sure, I'm afraid he will not get better without you by his side".
They shared a smile and he asked, "text me when you get home, ok?". He quickly kissed her hand, before letting her go.
"Sure", she said with a smile and a blush. With a quick wave to the doctors, the blonde exited the room. Natsu kept looking at her with longing in his eyes.
"Wow", said the nurse with an amusing gleam in his eyes. "To bed now with you, sir. You are still under observation and you need to sleep".
Natsu laid down on the bed with a heavy sight.
"I didn't realize I was this tired from just being awake", he said with an arm across his brow.
"Your body is not ready yet, you need to rest, Mr. Dragneel. If you don't obey me, I will certainly tie you to this bed and not let Miss Heartfilia visit you anymore".
Natsu widened his eyes in fear of the doctor. "Ok, ok… I'm resting, I'm resting".
"I will turn off the lights, please do not go through your phone just now. If you have trouble sleeping we can help you with some medicine"
"Ok, thank you".
"Good night, Mr. Dragneel. I will see you in the morning". Dr. Porlyusica said as she exited the room, with the nurse behind her.
A/N: I know where I want to go from here, but I haven't written anything yet. Let me know if you like it, so I can incorporate your ideas to the continuation of the story. Tks!