Hey Hey! It's an update! So I'm back in school now and that means updates will be infrequent. I promise I will update when I can and I won't forget this story. Also, I'm working on new chapters for Saving Avalon and THSL so be patient with me.

Enjoy this chapter!

Chapter 23

The guild was, for once, sitting in groups and focusing on their individual battle plans for the attack they were launching the next day. It was not quiet since they were all talking amongst themselves but for once nobody was fighting. Mira continued to serve everybody their drinks and their food since Laxus (who had insisted that she be on their team) was going to fill her in later on all the goings on. Natsu was with a table of other males in the guild, for once not right by Lucy's side. She was in a group with Levy and Wendy discussing their own strategy. Lucy wanted to directly confront Ivan and try to get some answers for her own closure. However, she knew Natsu was going to be completely opposed to her idea so she was glad to get the opportunity to discuss this with others. The two girls agreed to help her get close enough to talk with Ivan but made her promise that she would take every precaution so that she wasn't captured or hurt by the horrible man.

In the middle of all these talks, the doors to the guild slammed open and everyone stared towards the figure in the doorway, ready to attack if it was someone from the Heartfilia or Dreyar camp. They relaxed when they heard a familiar, "Gihi!" A big man wearing black and gray with many piercings came sauntering into the guildhall. "Almost didn't recognize the place!" he said loudly. "None of ya pansies were fighting! What's wrong? Scared of a couple of big men?" he taunted. Lucy decided she really didn't like this new arrival but the rest of the guild just seemed to ignore him. Well, except Natsu, that is… He leapt forward and was about to land a punch when a giant hand swatted him into the wall opposite the towering man. "Natsu!" Lucy cried. She knew he would be fine since Master was the one who swatted him but she still ran to check on him just in case. "Gajeel!" Master said sternly from his place on the balcony. "This is no laughing matter! Those two men have threatened and hurt one of our own. You of all people should know how bad Ivan is!" Gajeel rolled his eyes but he made no more comments. His eyes had found the person he'd been looking for since he got to Magnolia.

Levy was standing still and in a state of shock. She had known of Gajeel's assignment and she knew what he did was dangerous. Somehow, through all of that, the two of them had gotten close. Even though Levy knew more about Gajeel than most of the guild, she still only got so far with him. Gajeel had deep seated trust issues stemming from his rough childhood so he never let anyone all the way in. Levy had been getting frustrated with waiting for him to trust her enough to let her in and she confronted Gajeel about it one day. They had fought about it and the fight left Levy heartbroken. The next day Gajeel left to join Ivan and ingrain himself deeply in the gang to further help the guild. He never said goodbye nor made up with the small blunette. Levy had decided that he obviously didn't feel the same way about her that she felt about him so she gave up on him. However, giving up did not mean the feelings went away. She felt as though her heart had been ripped out of her chest and thrown on the ground to be stomped on by everyone who passed by. Seeing the man responsible for this pain only brought it back tenfold. Levy felt tears sting the back of her eyes and she flinched visibly when his gaze landed on her. Levy took one step backwards and then another; then she darted off to her favorite refuge, the library.

Gajeel felt a searing pain in his chest as the small girl ran off towards the library. He regretted every day the fight they'd had and how hurt she looked. She hadn't come to the guild the next day so he never got to tell her how sorry he was or that he was going to be gone for a while. The truth is, everything she said about him was right on the money. He was terrified of being hurt if he let her all the way in. She had wormed her way into his heart and carved a place for herself and as much as he'd tried he could not get her to leave that place! During his long tenure with Ivan he had a lot of time to do some soul searching and he realized just how much she meant to him and how he couldn't afford to lose her. When the Master asked him to come home and told him that the petite blunette missed him, a small bit of hope rose in his chest. If Levy had missed him that that means he still had a chance. Gajeel now saw that any chance he had was a slim one and he needed to take it as quickly as possible. And so, he followed her to the library just as fast as she ran to escape him. He didn't even notice the knowing looks and small smiles of the rest of his guildmates.

The library was quiet so it wasn't hard to follow the sound of Levy's broken sobs to a table in the corner. However, she was not sitting on the table, she was curled up under it. Gajeel cracked the tiniest of smiles at this action. Levy always had been smart and she figured he would come after her so she hid, albeit badly, from him. This also caused a new welling of hope in his heart. "Come on Shrimp…" he said quietly to the top of the table. "We gotta talk. Don't go assumin' things you don't know." He added. She only continued to sob into the comfort of her knees and Gajeel knew she wouldn't be coming out any time soon. He got down on his hands and knees and looked at her shaking form under the table. Even though this was a sticky situation, he couldn't help but think how cute she looked in that position. Gajeel contemplated crawling under there with her but he was way too big and so he stood and did the next best thing. He lifted the table right off the ground and set it down behind him. Levy didn't notice this action as her head was buried in her knees but she did notice when he picked her up and sat down with her in a huge chair, putting her on his lap.

"No! Let go of me you monster!" she yelled, stinging his ears with her piercing voice. He only held her tighter, letting his head drop to smell the scent of her shampoo and body wash, a smell he always associated with her. She continued to fight him and demand that he let go but he squeezed her to his chest as his own tears began to surface. He'd hurt this girl so much and the pain she felt was causing him pain along with his guilt. "I'm not ever lettin' go of ya Levy. Never again! I was wrong! About everything and I… I'm so sorry." He said roughly in her ear. Levy froze. Never, not in a million years did she ever think she would hear him apologize or call her by her given name for that matter. However he had more amazing things to say now that she was listening to him so he didn't stop speaking. "All those months were hell! Bein' away from you and knowin' you were mad at me! I hated it and all I could think about was comin' back and makin' things right again because I can't go on without you! I did some thinkin' and I realized that. I realized that I love ya Shrimp and I wanna do all that relationship stuff with ya and I just thought you should know that."

Levy was quiet for a full minute and Gajeel loosened his grip on her when he briefly wondered if he'd suffocated her. She pushed away from him and stood turning her back and crossing her arms over her chest. "It'll never work." She said. Her voice was rough from crying and he could smell the tears that were still coursing down her cheeks. "But you want this too." He pointed out quietly. She turned on him with fury in her eyes like he had never seen. "Yeah! Yeah I want this! But you don't trust me even though you know I would never betray you! And you get so mad and yell and you hurt me so much with your words! Then you left and didn't bother to say goodbye to me even though I ran all the way to the train station to say I was sorry and that I would leave you alone so you didn't have to worry about me! A relationship not built on trust won't last and I would rather deal with the pain of getting over you than get my hopes up for nothing." She finished.

Gajeel felt like knives were stabbing his heart with each word she screamed at him. He watched her catch her breath after her rant while tears still made their way down her face no matter how much she tried to wipe them away. "I know." He said softly, making Levy look at him surprised. There was pain in his eyes which shook her to her very core. "I thought maybe I smelled you at the station but I couldn't find you and I figured it was too good to be true that you'd be there since I'd said so many horrible things to you. And I do trust you but I if I tell you my long awful story and all the things I've done… I am afraid you won't want to be with me. Because I'm a horrible person Levy and I try to hide it but apparently not good enough. I'm sorry I hurt you by even mentioning the possibility of us. I'll leave you alone now." He began to stand up when he was shoved back down by two small hands. He looked up with wide eyes as Levy climbed up onto his lap and straddled him. She didn't seem to notice the position she'd put them in as she put her hands on his cheeks so he was forced to look into her eyes.

"Gajeel Redfox you're an idiot!" she said to him. "I know you've had a rough life but I can't help but think it wasn't possibly your fault! I mean, you don't bully anyone in the guild. Sure you tease and taunt and sometimes it hurts but you don't mean any harm. And yeah, when you yell it hurts me but only because I feel like I've failed you in some way and I don't like failing the ones I love. I would never run just because of some stuff you did in the past! It's the damn past you dumbass! What I care about is the future! I just need to know you trust me and that you won't lie about something just to keep me safe. If we pursue this then we need to be in it together! That's why it hurts when you keep things from me. And for the record, I don't think you're a horrible person and nothing you tell me can change my mind." She finished.

Gajeel was stunned by her second speech. His mind was slowly going blank and he was confused as to what she meant. Levy noticed this and giggled. She made her thoughts and feelings clear when she leaned down and claimed his lips. It took about five seconds for Gajeel to kiss her back. His arms came up to support her waist while her hands slid back into his long hair. The kiss was full of the pent up passion the two had been feeling and yet it also held their mutual apology. They pulled away for air and Levy sank down onto his lap again. She leaned her forehead against his chest as they both sucked in some much needed oxygen. When she looked up at Gajeel's face again he began to talk. For the next three hours, his long and painful past poured from his lips like water from a broken dam. He told her absolutely everything and she listened patiently and happily. When he was done she kissed him again and said, "There. Was that so hard?" He looked at her in shock. "You… You're not scared of me?" She giggled. "Nope! I told you nothing you say could change my opinion of you. I love you Gajeel and I always will." He crushed her to his chest and she sank into him with a smile and a sigh of contentment.

Natsu was walking Lucy home with a frown on his face. She had forgotten about his superior hearing and had been surprised when he confronted her earlier about her plan to get close to Ivan. Lucy sighed and reached for his hand. "Natsu please stop frowning." She pleaded with him. "Even you can't argue with my motives." She pointed out. Natsu stopped walking and turned to face her. "Yeah but Lucy I…" he trailed off and she sighed. Reaching up, she placed a hand on his cheek and said, "I promised the girls I wouldn't deliberately put myself in danger. You just have to trust me Natsu." He pulled her into a warm hug and whispered, "I just don't want to lose you. I'd rather you not fight at all but I know that isn't going to happen so I figured I'd just protect you but if you go and do this…" She pulled back and kissed him softly. "Baka. Who said I was going to do this on my own? I mean, I'm not going to be able to fight my way to Ivan by myself. Unless you are so against this you don't want to help me."

Natsu shook his head. "I'm not leaving your side." He said firmly. Lucy nodded with a smile on her face. "Yeah. I thought so." Then her smile got even bigger and she said, "Natsu after this we can get married!" He grinned and tugged on her hand to continue walking home. "I'm glad that makes you so happy." He said. She danced in front of him and grabbed his other hand. "Well yeah! I mean, I'm marrying you! And I think I found the perfect dress in one of the stores we passed and Erza said she would buy it for me! Oh and there are decorations in a magazine that I'm looking at and Mirajane said she has the menu all figured out!" The rest of their evening was spent talking about the wedding. Lucy did most of the talking but Natsu didn't mind. She looked so happy and he vowed he would do everything in his power to keep that smile on her face.

And that's it for today! Didja like my GaLe? Let me know what you thought! The next chapter starts the battle which is why I ended it here.

Leave a review to let me know what you think!
Until next time,

CC22