Titania and The Hunter
Chapter 76: Tripping Down Memory Lane
Well, another birthday Bananza upload month is done! And I'm ending it with my eldest!
Thank you everyone for all your love and support!
And special thanks to 20Cruz02 for the new cover art for this story!
Gracias de nuevo amigo! Hiciste un gran trabajo!
Rough translation job but I hope it gets through.
A bunch of Fairies greeted them as Naruto walked in with Koyuki propped up on his shoulders for fun. The little Senju giggled from her perch as she patted his hair, "Onii-chan, are you going on a job today?"
"Nah, we're staying here today." Naruto said with a smile as he made his way over to a table. He lifted his little sister off his shoulder and plopped her down on the seat, "Actually, me and the others have a chore to do. See we got in some trouble wrecking up part of the town so we've got to clean out the storage."
Koyuki giggled, "You're kinda dumb sometimes, Onii-chan. You'd think you and the others would learn by now."
"You'd think, but we never do." He snickered with a grin before making his way to the storage area to clean. But as he walked along he saw his youngest Dragon Slayer friend and her Exceed looking around, "Hey Wendy. Hey Carla. What's going on?"
"Oh, Naruto-San, perfect timing." The young Dragon Slayer looked up at him with a familiar scale scarf loaded in her arms, "I found Natsu-San's scarf lying outside and wanted to return it to him."
Carla scoffed, "I didn't think the blasted thing ever came off his neck. So imagine our surprise when we found it lying out there in a heap."
"Seriously? It was just on the ground?" He scratched his head, "Yeah, I don't think I've ever seen Natsu lose track of it." The whiskered Mage shrugged and started walking, "Well, he and the others should be cleaning out the books and storage. You'll find him down there."
"Oh, that's good." Wendy and Carla quickly followed after him as he made his way downstairs. As they stepped into the large library of books and tomes collected for Fairy Tail over the years, Wendy marveled at the shelves filled to the brim with knowledge, "Wow, I didn't know Fairy Tail had a collection like this."
"Honestly, with how some of our members act, I'm skeptical they can read." Carla extended her wings and started floating over the room, "A lot of these seem to be out of place."
"Yeah, we're supposed to be cleaning and shuffling and moving everything." Naruto stopped in the middle of the room and looked at the floor where a huge number of disheveled books were laid everywhere, "But it looks like they kinda dropped the ball halfway through."
Wendy looked around before tilting her head in confusion, "Where are they?"
Naruto blinked and looked around as well. He bent over and looked through the cracks of the shelves to see if anyone was on the other side to no luck, "That's weird." He cleared his throat and yelled, "Erza! You here?" He waited for a response but got none, "Gray? Natsu? Lucy? Happy? Anyone? Hello!"
"Did they leave?" Carla questioned, "Did they see the job they had to do and turn around?"
"No, they wouldn't." Wendy shook her head, "I'm sure they were disheartened at the workloadbut they wouldn't leave it undone. Especially if Erza-San was around to enforce it."
"Yeah, Erza wouldn't let them off that easy." Naruto knocked some of the books around with his foot, "I'd almost think Natsu and Gray were fighting each other throwing these things but there isn't any damage." He scratched his head in confusion, "That makes no sense."
"It is weird. And I can't give Natsu-San his scarf back either." Wendy sighed and looked up at Carla, "I guess we should go upstairs and wait for them to come back."
"I suppose." Carla looked down at Naruto, "Are you going to be alright sorting all of this yourself?"
Naruto flinched and started to sweat as he looked around. It was a very large storage area with lots of books to move. Too much for one guy to handle by himself. He let out a nervous chuckle and then followed them up the stairs, "Y-You know what? I'm sure they'll come back any minute! It'd be no fun to handle this all by myself!"
Wendy blinked and Carla sighed, "Reneging on your punishment, eh?"
"It's not fair to dump it all on me! They'll be back soon I'm sure!"
Just minutes ago, the majority of Fairy Titans were down in the storage of the guild sorting through everything as part of their punishment. It was all going rather well and efficiently until Lucy spotted a book that seemed older and different from all the others in their catalog. She grabbed it while still talking with the others-
And slipped off the ladder to fall towards the floor.
Natsu, Gray, Erza, and Happy dove in to catch her before she could hurt herself.
And the book in her hand flew out and bounced off Natsu's head before they were suddenly engulfed by a bright shine of light. Once it had settled down, the present members found themselves outside of the Fairy Tail guild…
When it was still in its old design…
And saw themselves fighting each other…
When they were just little kids.
They all stared at the unbelievable sight of them as their past selves as Happy summed up their confusion quite well…
"How hard did we hit our heads?"
"Naruto, aren't you supposed to be downstairs cleaning the storage as punishment?"
"Y-Yeah, but no one else is down there, Jiji. And it wouldn't make much sense to let just one person to the punishment when it's something for all of us."
Makarov blinked in confusion, "They aren't down there?" The old Fairy master looked over at Mirajane, "When did they leave? I didn't see them come up at all."
"I'm not sure, Master?" Mira shrugged while cleaning up some glasses and dishes, "Unless they knocked a hole through the wall to escape, I think I would have seen them come up here."
Wendy sighed, "We're so confused. And I still haven't given Natsu-San his scarf back yet."
"What? Natsu lost his scarf?" Lisanna walked over hearing part of the conversation and spotting the article of clothing Wendy was holding onto, "But he never takes that off. It's his last memento from Igneel from when he was a kid. He pretty much sleeps with it on."
"Yeah, and god forbid you try to touch it." Naruto chuckled, "Remember my first winter here in Magnolia? And I tried to borrow it?"
"Brrrrrr!" A young Naruto shivered as he stood at the guild entrance and looked at the snow falling outside and filling the street, "It's so cold! How did it get so cold so quickly?!"
"I told you there was going to be a cold front coming through." Erza said with a warm jacket over her body, even the small breastplate she always wore, "Why did you think to come to the guild in your usual clothes if it was going to get this cold?"
"I didn't think it'd snow!" Naruto whined while sniffling and rubbing his arms. His metal arm was especially brutal touching his skin in this temperature. He stepped away from the entrance before looking around and spotting a head of pink hair, "Natsu!"
The little Dragon Slayer looked up as the whiskered blond boy came over, "What's up, Naruto?"
"Hey, it's getting real cold out there. Can I borrow your scarf?"
"What?! No!" Natsu quickly gripped his scarf defensively, "It's mine and you can't have it!"
"I just need to borrow it real fast. Pop over to my house and get some warmer clothes and I'll come right back."
"I said no!"
Naruto frowned, "Natsu, I'm not gonna take your scarf! Just let me use it for a little bit!"
"No means no!"
"Ah, you little!" Naruto grabbed the scarf and yanked. Natsu cried out and pulled in the opposite direction, "Stop being a greedy little turd and let me use it!"
"Stop being a jerk and let go of my scarf!"
Gray scoffed and shook his head, "Such babies. I can't believe they're this worked up about a little cold."
"Gray, maybe you can critique them after you put on some pants."
"I have my pants - OH COME ON! WHEN?!"
"Aha!" Naruto cheered triumphantly as he pulled off the scaly scarf and started wrapping it around his neck, "Now I can go out and - GAH!"
"NO! IT'S MINE!"
Erza stared back at the ensuing fight and looked down at the extra scarf she had brought. She shrugged and wrapped it around her neck for extra warmth.
Lisanna clicked her teeth, "That wasn't nice of you, Naruto. Natsu loves that scarf."
"THE KID LIT HIMSELF ON FIRE! DURING THE COLD SEASON! SORRY I THOUGHT I COULD BORROW THE DAMN SCARF FOR A MINUTE!"
Wendy looked down at the scarf thoughtfully, "So this means a lot to Natsu-San, huh? It's kind of like my shoes." She looked down at the feathered shoes she had worn since she was a child, "A gift from our parents that is our keepsake of them."
"That's sweet…" Carla said before sighing, "But it'd be more thoughtful if he didn't leave it lying outside! Where is the buffoon?!
"How can we be in the past?!" Lucy screamed in disbelief as she tried to wrap her head around what she was looking at. An older version of the guild with younger, smaller versions of their friends walking around clear as day. The blonde Mage pulled at her hair, "This can't be possible! I-Is it an illusion?!"
Gray patted the ground, "Feels pretty real."
Natsu sniffed at the air, "Smells like home."
"And my eye would have seen through it by now." Erza gently touched her blue eye, waiting for any kind of illusion to fade and falter with her prosthetic eye like it had before. But when nothing changed, she knew it wasn't just some trick or illusion they were looking at. She nodded and looked down at the book called Memory Days, "I think we might be back in time."
"The way that little Erza beat up Natsu and Gray was too real to be something made up!" Happy cheerfully piped up, earning glowers from the Dragon Slayer and Maker Mage in turn, "Hey, if we've gone back in time, does that mean we can change things? Like if we made bets or placed money-"
"No! We can't meddle with time!" Lucy quickly grabbed the Exceed and pulled him down, frantically looking between her friends in fear that they might run off and do something irreparable to the timeline, "If we touch anything or mess with anything, we might destroy the present and make it completely unrecognizable!"
The others shared a look of confusion from the blonde's wild words, "Why do you say that, Lucy?"
"Have you never read a book before?! You step on a butterfly in the past and monkeys become the leaders of the future!"
"Monkeys?! That sounds cool!"
"Why would we crush a butterfly? That seems cruel."
"What did butterflies do to you, Lucy?!"
"It's an example!"
Erza ignored the devolving argument and instead sent a look back at the street she'd seen her younger self fight and argue with Natsu and Gray. Something about it felt so familiar…
She fought them about her missing cake. But it turned out Mira had been the one to swipe it. And she felt bad so she went to find them and apologize. She didn't find them by the end of the day and went to bed in a huff. And after that night she heard…
Her eyes widened in shock…before slowly softening with warm relief.
"That's right…" She looked up at the sky, "Today's the day he finally arrived."
"Wow," Kinana walked over with a tray of drinks as she saw a large group of people gathering around the table. She approached carefully, "What's going on?"
"Oh, Kinana-chan, come on over!" Wakaba motioned the new barmaid over, "We're talking about some old memories from our time in the guild!"
"Oh? What have you been talking about?"
"Yeah, can't look back on our sweet memories without most of them being about cracking heads."
"Obviously!' Elfman exclaimed with a puffed-up chest and crossed arms, "That's what it means to be a man! How can you look back and not remember your most triumphant, inspiring moments?!"
"Eh, I don't know, Elfman. Remember the rough start you had when you started on this whole manly schtick?"
"Yeah!" Elfman cheered as he charged into the guild hall, drenched in sweat and a sleeveless shirt after several hours of intense working out, "That was a good workout!"
Mira, who had started to work behind the counter as a barmaid for the guild, grimaced when the stench from her sweaty brother wafted into her nose, "Ew, Elfman, go take a bath."
"No can do, Nee-chan! This is the musk of a real, working man you're smelling!" The eager middle Strauss sibling announced, "I promised that I'd change for the better after that mission, and I'm going to follow through with that promise! Because that's what a man would do!"
Lisanna noticed her family bickering and walked over to see what the commotion was about. When she got a whiff of her brother's smell, she nearly recoiled, "Oh, Elf-niichan! That's so gross! Why won't you get washed?!"
"Because a man needs to push through the hardships and necessities! No need for baths! No need for rest! No need for regular water breaks! Just keep pushing on and on and-"
Elfman's eyes rolled up as he fainted forward, slamming into a table face first and shattering it in half as all the food and drinks on it clattered over his unconscious body.
Mirajane and Lisanna palmed their faces at their brother's ridiculousness.
Eflman blushed at the laughs being shared at his expense. Cana scoffed while sipping from her mug, "Man, you were such a loser. Still are pretty much."
The large Take Over Mage glowered at the drunkard, "You're one to talk, Cana! Need I remind you of your less than glorious moments!"
Cana scoffed, "I've got no idea what you're talking about. In case you haven't noticed," She waved a hand over her entire body, "I'm pretty much glorious 24/7."
"Not always. Remember when you started drinking?"
The bikini-clad woman nearly choked on her drink and struggled to clear her throat before turning to everyone in a panic, "D-Don't go bringing up stupid shit from the past we don't-"
"Master Makarov, we can understand that Mages can be rowdy, and Magnolia has long since accepted that Fairy Tail members like to party, but this is crossing a line. This girl drank too much and is too young."
"S-Shut up! Y-You don't - you can't - w-what do-" A young Cana slurred as she stumbled along the street, away from Makarov and the authorities, "I-I can handle it! I-I can - this is nothing! You watch I'm gonna-" She toppled over the street and splashed into the water below. Makarov and the officers heard some splashing down in the river below before it calmed down, "I went splash!"
Makarov sighed and stretched his arm out over the side of the road and grabbed Cana. He lifted her out of the water and nodded to the authorities, "I'm sorry about this, officers. I promise when we get back to the guild I'll give her a stern talking to. I'll make sure this doesn't become a habit with her."
Several people turned and looked at Makarov as he scoffed and shook his head, "Damn, I dropped the ball on that one, didn't I?" He took a sip from his mug and shrugged, "Oh well, live and learn."
Cana blushed and muttered some truly obscene curses as she drowned her embarrassment in booze. Everyone laughed at her expense, but no one's laughter was more raucous and obvious than Gajeel's. The Iron Dragon Slayer boisterously guffawed at the Card Mage's expense, "Hahaha, way to look like an idiot, drunkard! Sucks when people point out your worst parts, isn't it?"
Lily looked up at Levy's unamused expression and sighed, "How bad was it when he started here?"
Gajeel casually knocked several people out of his way and stepped up to the bar counter, "Hey, I'm hungry! Serve me up something!"
"Sorry Gajeel, but there's a line-"
"I don't care! I'm starving!" The Iron Dragon Slayer noticed a plate full of food prepared just a foot away. He shrugged, picking it up and tossing a fry in his mouth, "Hey, this works."
"Don't see your name on it."
Gajeel fixed his glasses and pulled out his guitar, "You're lucky because this is my new song and you lot are the first ones who get to hear it. Be grateful. And a one, and a two, and a-"
Naruto stepped over and saw Gajeel chomping on a sword like it was a kebab, "Gajeel, did you eat the sword I put aside?"
"Yeah, that's what happens when you leave tasty food out in the open like that." Gajeel took another bite, "Seriously, it's your fault." He bit down to the hilt and smirked up at the blond with a full mouth, "It's quality metal by the way."
"Alright, if you say so."
Gajeel looked at the S-Class Mage in confusion, expecting to see him get riled up or angry at his provocation. But instead, he was perfectly calm and composed, "What the hell? Why aren't you pissed off? I ate your sword!"
"Well that answer should be super easy," Naruto gave a disarming, bright smile and patted the Dragon Slayer on the shoulder, "That's not my sword."
Naruto walked away without saying another word.
And Gajeel slowly turned around when he felt the immense bloodlust emanating from the red-haired demon standing behind him.
Gajeel whimpered, "Oh dear god."
The rest of the guild agreed that Gajeel's bloodcurdling screams of agony and fear were a lot more pleasant than his awful singing.
Naruto giggled, "Hehehe, I like that last one the most."
Gajeel scowled, "I didn't."
"That's why I liked it the most!"
"Remembering things is so fun!" Juvia smiled, "Do you all remember that time Gray-sama finally confessed his undying love in return to Juvia!"
It was on some sunny day - or rainy - doesn't matter.
And there were people along the way. They didn't have names, or if they did that wasn't the point, just imagine stick figures littering her way as she finally spotted the hunk that stole her heart.
And he was naked. As if he needed another way of stealing her heart so effortlessly.
"Juvia," The sun seemed to shine down and illuminate him specifically as if realizing he was the most extraordinary thing around and deserved all the light to emphasize his greatness. And as a bonus it made him sweaty and his chest started to glisten, "I've been a fool. I should have realized my true feelings for you sooner and ditched that blonde hussy. Can you ever forgive me?"
"Oh Gray-sama, Juvia will always-"
"Juvia no!" Lisanna quickly shook her shoulder, "You can't make up false memories like that! We have to stick to reality! Live in the real world!"
"No! Juvia can manifest it! She can make it the truth! She just has to think hard enough!" She tried to close her eyes and drift off into her thoughts but some of her friends grabbed her and pulled her away, "LET JUVIA DREAM! LET HER IMAGINE A PARADISE!"
Makarov clicked his lips, "I wish I could say I made girls wild back in my day like that…but that seems more clinically insane than anything."
Erza rubbed her head and tried to ward off the stress migraine building up behind her eyes. Reading this stupid book and trying to glean any kind of information they could use to get home was getting nowhere.
Ugh, if only Levy was here. She could read the whole book in a matter of minutes and spot the subtle clues or descriptions that could give them an answer.
Instead, that job fell to Erza as the others were too busy. Lucy was currently scouting out the old Fairy Tail, being the one member that wasn't recognizable by the current generation of members. And Natsu had run off to do something stupid while Gray and Happy followed after him.
Thankfully they had at least taken precautions to make sure they were unrecognizable in this period. The boys had dressed up in wildly different outfits with wigs and Lucy had gotten into a sexy bunny outfit. Erza didn't want to be left out so she put on an adorable white kitty outfit to match.
So even though this damn book was giving her a headache, at least she felt cute and stylish while reading.
"Ugh, no use." Erza sighed as she sat up, crossing her paw-wearing arms under her chest as she frowned at the book, "I'm not finding anything about getting home. And at this rate, we might just be stuck here if we're not careful. I have to-"
"Hey, white cat."
Erza blinked and looked back after hearing someone call her out.
And looked back to see her younger self staring at her intently.
Erza's eyes widened and she immediately turned back around before her younger self could get a clear look at her, 'Oh shit!' She cursed in her mind, 'She - I-I mean me - my younger self is here!' Erza quickly fixed her hair over her eyes, covering her blue one while partially obscuring her brown one, "Y-Yes, young lady?"
"I'm looking for two boys about my age. They must have walked by here recently?" The young Erza said, "A half-naked boy and a pink-haired one?"
"Gray and Natsu?"
"You know their names."
Erza quickly clamped a paw over her mouth in regret. Why did she say that?! She nearly bit her lip before nodding, "Oh yes, they were yelling at each other so loudly and they threw their names out a few times. I think they went that way. I'm sure you can catch them if you go looking!"
"Hmm, I see." The young Erza nodded and looked in the direction she offered. The young redhead sighed and rubbed her brow, "Ugh, there's so much happening."
"Are you alright?"
"Yes, just today has been one thing after another. The boys ruined my cake. Mira was on my case all day. And now I feel a need to find them and…I'm not sure. Make things right? And it feels like a pressure building up between my eyes."
"That's a stress headache. So many things happening at once can cause that." Erza smiled knowingly, "I'm sure you'll be dealing with more of those in the future."
"Wonderful." The young armor girl started making her way down the street to find her errant friends. She mumbled as she walked along, "I don't know whether I'm going to apologize or kick their butts so hard-"
"Hey!" The young redhead paused and looked back to see the cat woman standing out in the street watching her leave. The older woman smiled warmly at her as she nodded her way, "Enjoy the rest of your day."
"What? Why would I? Today has been a terrible day."
"No," She shook her head, "The day's not over yet. I'm sure today is going to be very special for you. Just wait."
The young Erza stared up at the older woman in confusion before puffing out her cheeks with a pout. She turned and mumbled something about strangers being weird before making her way down the street.
Erza watched her younger self walk away and smiled fondly as she disappeared. The older redhead laughed and shook her head, "I was hardheaded as a kid. Although I guess I'm not too different now." She looked back inside the tent at the book that brought them here and narrowed her eyes, "Time to find a way home."
"Okay, that's enough reminiscing." Makarov sighed, "I don't know where Natsu and the others are, but there's a job to be done. Naruto, stop stalling and start organizing the library."
"What?!" Naruto balked, "But the others haven't gotten back yet! All the work shouldn't fall on just one guy!"
"That's true, but I also realize that just standing around means no work is getting done at all. And you got us all distracted thinking back on our memories and junk." The old man waved him off, "Now get done there and start sorting."
The S-Class blond looked affronted by the order before he blew a raspberry and stood up, "Aw man. This sucks."
Gajeel guffawed, "Hahaha! Everyone, point and laugh at his misfortune! HAHAHAHA!"
Naruto scowled as he stomped away followed by the mocking laughter of his guild. As he made his way out, Wendy quickly collected Natsu's scarf and followed after him with Carla trailing behind, "Naruto-San, wait up!"
"You should probably stay upstairs, Wendy," The older blond groused, "I'm sure Natsu will show up with the others soon enough and you can return the scarf."
"Y-Yes, but wouldn't you like to have company while you're working?" Wendy offered innocently, "And maybe I could help you sort through some of the books?"
"Wendy, no!" Carla quickly refused, "You shouldn't have to help these bums work on their punishments! This is their chore and they should handle it!"
"Now, don't be so quick to say that." Naruto sneakily said, "Wendy's generosity and kindness are very good characteristics that we should foster. If she wants to-"
"No!" Naruto flinched and they looked up the stairs to see Mira and Koyuki walking down with them, "Bad Onii-chan, bad!"
"Master thought we should come down and supervise." The white-haired barmaid looked at her old friend with a cheeky smile, "A good call considering that you were about to take advantage and get Wendy to work for you."
"N-No I wasn't! I-I was just - she was offering! A-And it's a lot of-" The whiskered blond fumed for a moment before throwing up his arms in annoyance, "Fine! Whatever! Just watch! God, I'm gonna slap the rest of them when they finally make it back down here!"
As the girls stood by and watched Naruto petulantly gather up the books and try to organize them with no plan, Wendy looked up at Mirajane, "I'm impressed you could talk Naruto-San down so easily, Mira-San."
"Oh, that's nothing special. I've known Naruto for years." The S-Class barmaid smiled innocently, "Other than Erza, I think I might have the best hold on his mentality and how to exploit it."
"Mira shut up! I'm already working you don't have to rub it in!"
The former Cait Mages spared a look between the grumbling blond and the innocently giggling barmaid. Mirajane always seemed so charming and kind-hearted when she interacted with everyone else in the guild. But it was in these moments when she talked with Erza or Naruto that her devious, cheeky side was exposed for others to see. It was something that made Wendy glad she hadn't earned the S-Class Mage's attention and Carla thankful that Wendy wasn't asking her for guidance and teaching.
The young Dragon Slayer nervously laughed, "Um, you and Mira-San get along very well, Naruto-San."
"Well, we've known each other a long time and have been through a lot." Naruto said as he dropped a large stack of books on the table with a huff, "Hell, we took our test to become S-Class Mages together."
"Yep. We both advanced at the same time."
"Because Master couldn't make a decision and decided to cop out."
Naruto looked at the pouting Take Over Mage oddly, "Are you seriously still bent up about that? It was years ago! Get over it!"
Mira shook her head, "It's just so dumb. I've never heard of an S-Class exam having two promotions. I'm sure Master just did it so he wouldn't upset us. But that's not important when choosing who will step up to the next level!" Mira's nose scrunched up as she pouted, "He should have just picked either you or me and left it at that!"
"You are…so weirdly hung up about that."
"Didn't you feel jibbed?!"
"Yeah – for like a second! Then I started celebrating with the rest of the guild and I thought 'Fuck yeah I'm finally an S-Class Mage!' And that was the end of it for me!"
Mira blew a raspberry and crossed her arms like a child having a tantrum. Wendy and Carla looked between the two and the strange argument they had just been witness to. It… felt like some context was needed for better understanding.
"I remember everyone being so happy!" Koyuki piped up with a giddy smile, "They were so happy and cheering for you both! And you were happy to go on the big missions with Onii-chan and Onee-chan, remember Mira-neechan?"
The eldest Staruss sibling looked up fondly as the memories of their early S-Class days came back to mind, "Oh, that was so much fun. I wanted to celebrate so I convinced Erza and Naruto to join me on a joint S-Class mission." She gently touched her cheek and giggled, "It was a blast~."
"Okay, time to tackle these jobs and show them what Fairy Tail's new best can do!" The confident Mira exclaimed as they walked out of the guild, "Since this was my idea I'm going to take the point, okay?"
Erza gave a small hum, "I suppose I can accept that. But as the senior S-Class Mage in this team, I'll give some advice when the time arrives."
"Alright!" Naruto pumped his fists, "This is gonna be awesome! Wish us luck guys!"
Everyone waved the trio off as they went out on their mission. Makarov smiled fondly and nodded, "They may just become the strongest team in Fairy Tail's history."
Mirajane beamed a proud smile, "We finished our job in record time, saved a village from rampaging beasts controlled by Dark Mages, and earned quite a bit of fame. I remember it all very fondly."
Naruto scoffed, "You must not remember all of it then."
"We got called in when the forest started to burn and the damages encroached on the village." Mahiro, dressed in her Rune Knight attire, said while facing Makarov. With a guilty expression, she handed the stunned old man the papers, "Here's the damage reports and the…reimbursement request."
Makarov weakly reached up and took the paper. His breath immediately rushed out when he saw the numbers. And his blood ran cold as he realized it carried on to the next page. He gulped and looked up at Mahiro with a fragile smile, "Y-You think you can talk this down with your new position, Mahiro?"
The older Senju looked down at him sadly, "Master…this was the talked down amount."
Tears started to fill his eyes and he wept quietly. Mahiro patted his shoulder, "T-These are Gildarts level costs! Gildarts level! How did this happen?!"
"It's Mira's fault!" A bandaged and grimy Erza complained, "She had no idea what she was doing! There was no plan and no contingencies and things only seemed to get worse!"
"It's your fault, bitch!" An equally dirty and bruised Mirajane yelled and grappled with the redhead, "You had to keep butting in and ignoring my orders! Ever heard of the chain of command you uppity skank!"
Besides the two arguing girls, a disheveled Naruto hung his head and sighed, "The Dark Mages and monsters looked so terrified while they were arguing. Their eyes…t-they said why!"
It was decided that it would be for the best if these three didn't work on a job again for a while.
Koyuki giggled, "That was funny! And I got to see Mommy!"
"I still think you guys were exaggerating things."
"I think you're crazy."
"Sounds to me like all of you have a screw loose." Carla bemoaned to the older Mages before frowning, "And the longer we're around you the more likely we are to catch your madness! Where are Natsu and the others?!"
She had figured it out finally! The reason they came here was because Natsu touched the book and thought back to the day he was scarred! The only way to get back was to have him with them or they would be stuck in the past! It wasn't an easy secret to decode but she had finally done it. The only problem now was…
She didn't know where they were!
Natsu and Gray had run off like total idiots and they were the only way to get home!
"Dammit! Where are those idiots?!" She cursed, taking a moment to stop and wrack her brain. She placed one hand on her waist and let the other hang at her side with Memory Days in her grip, "If I don't find them fast, we'll be stuck here! And I am not going to be left here just because of those dumbasses!" If she could maybe find a higher vantage point-
"Huh? What now-"
She turned around, hearing a strangely familiar voice call for her so late at night. She looked down-
And found a distressed young blond boy with whiskers and mismatched eyes looking up at her.
Erza's brain worked in overdrive to try and figure out the best way to deal with such an unprecedented situation like this.
Her answer was to immediately drop to her knees and curl up like a ball to try and hide herself.
Of course, it had to be him! If there was anyone in this time that could tell who she was even through her disguise, it would be him!
"Are you okay?"
"Y-Yes! I-I'm just-um-" She was panicking and trying to figure out the best way to avoid his gaze, "I was checking the condition of the street pavement!" She started patting her hands against the street and crawling away. Honestly, her face was starting to burn with just how stupid and embarrassed she felt, "Yep. Seems good."
"Whatever. Listen, do you know a girl in your guild?" He noticed she was in the guild. He must have spotted her tattoo, "Her name is Erza! Erza Scarlet!"
Oh, so this is how he ended up at the guild. He asked someone he found from the guild and wondered if she had made it to Fairy Tail after they separated. Giving a small nod in his direction so he could see it, she continued to try and make her way out-
"Is she happy?"
Erza stopped then. Something about the reserved way he said that triggered a feeling of unease in her belly, "I-I mean is she happy? With what she has now? The people in the guild! Her new family! Does she seem happy?"
"Yes. She is very happy." Erza recognized his sigh of relief as one he gave when he felt a great weight lifted off his shoulders. A weight he probably shouldn't have had on there in the first place. She didn't turn to face him but narrowed her eyes, "Why?"
"So you were no longer going to work together after the damages you caused. I-I guess I can see that." Wendy meekly laughed while scratching her cheek, "So is that when you started to partner up with Erza-San, Naruto-San?"
"U-Uh, not yet-"
"Oh Wendy, you have no idea how long it took." Mira sighed and shook her head, "It was nearly half a year after we graduated before they revealed their feelings for each other."
"It was awkward! After we got back and celebrated our promotion, Erza kissed me on the way back home! We didn't know how to interact after that!"
Erza smiled fondly as she made her way back to her table with her strawberry cake prepared. The delicious treat looked so nice and tasty and she was going to enjoy every-
It slipped out of her hands when she found herself faced with Naruto. Both young S-Class Mages looked at each other in silence before their faces started to steadily turn pink to red.
And the crashing of her plate drew the attention of everyone in the guild and left the whole hall silent.
Erza frantically looked around, "U-Um – Natsu!" She quickly spotted the young Dragon Slayer and grabbed him, "Come along! We have things to do!"
"W-What? What?! It's not my fault you dropped your cake! Erza?! ERZA! HAVE MERCY!"
"Erza, no!" Happy quickly followed after them, "Natsu's sorry for whatever he did!"
"Y-Yeah, I got to do things too!" Naruto turned around, "A-A job or – oh! Hey Laxus, remember when I called your headphones stupid!"
"What'd you say you little shit?!"
Mirajane watched their odd behavior and narrowed her eyes, "Hmmm."
"I didn't even know they'd kissed yet but I could tell something was wrong between them."
Wendy's cheeks turned red with intrigue and excitement at the scandalous story, "O-Oh my."
"It's not that impressive." Koyuki frowned, "When you see them kiss all the time it gets kinda gross. They're not even that embarrassed anymore."
"Yeah, tell me about it. The closest time after that was-"
"Mira!" Naruto slams the books on the table, "There are children present!"
"I wasn't going to say anything." The barmaid defensively stated before giving a sly smile, "Plus I'll always remember the most embarrassing moment between you two."
"What?" The whiskered blond paused as he struggled to think of any moment between them that was more embarrassing. He tilted his head, "I don't-"
"Remember? Your moment of complete and total ignorance?"
"No, I - oh."
"Erza! Erza, talk to me!"
"Not right now!"
Everyone in Fairy Tail watched as the two young teens marched through the hall. The redhead angrily stomping away and keeping out of the blond's path as he chased after her. Naruto called out to her, "Please! I-If I made you angry then just tell me what I did wrong!"
Erza fumed, "The fact you keep pestering me is only making me angrier!"
"But you yelled at me earlier and I don't know why! Did I do something to-"
"I don't want to talk to you for a few days! Can you just accept that please?!"
"No! What's wrong with you?!"
"Naruto!" She yelled, her face a mix of anger and mortification, "I just - I need some space for a bit! Can you leave me alone?!"
"Hey Naruto," The black-clad young Mirajane called out over the hall with a cheeky grin, "You need to let her be! From the looks of it she's getting a pretty rough visit from her Aunt Flow!"
"What? Erza doesn't have an Aunt Flow! That's stupid! Don't talk stupid, Mira! Erza, whose Aunt Flow and why is she-"
A swift strike to his gut caused the air to rush out of his lungs and cause him to topple over beaten. Erza stomped her way out with a burning red face of mortification as the others watched her walk.
Natsu sniffed the air, "Erza must be fighting her aunt pretty hard, because I definitely smell wounds or something."
Lisanna smacked his arm and didn't give him an answer as to why.
Wendy looked over at the blond with a pointed, disappointed expression as Carla just sighed exhaustedly. Naruto floundered under their gazes, "I-I've learned a lot since then! Believe me, I won't be making that mistake again in the future!"
"Again?" Koyuki innocently tilted her head, "Why would this aunt lady show up again in the future?"
"Oh," Mira dropped to a knee and gently coddled the confused little girl, "Sweet child."
"I've gotten a lot better at understanding Erza after all these years." Naruto quickly defended. He didn't want Wendy and Carla to think he was too ignorant and stupid, "We can figure each other out with just a few words and a look between us. And if there is anything we gotta work out, we can reach each other easily."
She was furious at this little bastard! And she was angry at her Naruto too! How did she never know he hesitated to come to Fairy Tail like this the night they reunited?! One wrong move and they would have never found each other again!
Agh! Why did he always take the blame on himself like that?! She thought he had gotten over the worst of these feelings and – oh right, this was a younger version of him. Still, that was no excuse!
Erza glared down at the young blond she was berating as she covered his eyes and went limp while she swung him around. She almost started seeing red with rage at his attitude. He wanted to turn back and leave just because he feared breaking the new of her lost parents to her? That walking away and leaving her to be in Fairy Tail without him or the life they lived together in the Tower of Heaven haunting their every thought was some kind of kindness?
Was he braindead?!
Erza felt like thwacking him a few more times to get it through his thick skull…before she saw his youthful face again. A flood of their earliest memories together came back to her as she remembered how he grew up once joining the guild. What he had been through and what they had learned together.
This was such a young version of him. Someone she hadn't seen in years. And although she could tell he wanted to go to the guild and see her, there was a part of him that was scared that he wouldn't be accepted. That he would become the monster he was forced to be by others and somehow ruining everything for her.
A fate she refused to ever allow happen as long as she lived.
"And this feeling that you're going to hurt people? This past you are running from?" She spoke softly and lowered him to his feet, "It's natural to be scared of hurting people. When you start to become stronger, you always have to worry about if this new strength will help or hurt the people you meet. But the difference is if you face that fear and use that power to make you strong. Or you run away from it and kill anyone who crosses your way. Don't let it control you. Don't ever lose to it. You won't just be hurting yourself if you lost. The people who care about you; your friends and family will be heartbroken if they see you suffer like this."
She knew the path ahead of him after this. She had seen it with her own eyes. A long path with quite a bit of strife and hardship and loss still ahead of it. But still filled with so much more to offer, "So now you have to choose. Run or face it? No one will think any less of you for your choice. If you want to see that girl, go one mile west of the guild and you find a building she is staying at. If you want to let her stay like she is, then you can leave the town and build a life you can be proud of. But…"
She gently held his head between her paws and left a gentle kiss on his forehead. She saw the pinched expression and worry in his face fade even with his eyes still shut. Erza knew Naruto well enough to tell her words were getting through to him. And she hoped he could feel the warmth and love they fostered together in this kiss she gave him.
"I know that you will make the right choice. You always make the right choice. It's you, after all."
Erza quickly stepped away before the young Naruto could open his eyes and see her. She continued walking, sensing that he stood still for a moment before making his way along the street and to the guild.
Erza smiled knowing where he was going.
"Erza!" She looked over and saw Lucy running her way dressed in her bunny outfit, "There you are! Did you figure out anything from the book?"
"I did. Now if we just could find the boys-"
"Hey," The two Fairy women looked over as Happy and a roughed up Gray finally found them. The Maker Mage wiped his bloody nose and smirked, "What's got you two all dressed up?"
"We were trying not to get recognized." Lucy frowned, "Where have you been? And where's Natsu?"
"We followed our younger selves to see how our fight ended. And history repeated itself as I totally kicked his ass." Gray said with a grin.
"I hope it was worth it-"
"It totally was."
"Because if we can't find Natsu before midnight, we'll be stuck in the past forever."
Naruto exhaled in relief as he finished the last of the shelf at the top of the bookcase. He slid back down the ladder and stretched his arms, "Okay, I think that's most of them from that table. Now all that's left…" He looked in the other direction at the others tables stacked with books, "Is the rest."
Wendy, Carla, Koyuki, and Mira enjoyed an assortment of snacks and tea at the now empty table he had cleared. The young Dragon Slayer at least had the decency to look uncomfortable and ashamed to be relaxing while he was working. She nodded, "You're doing a great job, Naruto-San."
"But you should probably pick up the pace."
"Shut up Carla."
"Hey, you're not asking for our help anymore."
"Burn in hell Mira."
"You can do it, Onii-Chan!"
"Don't enjoy this Koyuki."
Naruto groaned, "This is not fair! I shouldn't be doing this all alone! It's a punishment for all the Fairy Titans!" He pulled at his hair and threw his head back, "Where is everyone else?!"
There was a bright shining light midair above Naruto before several bodies suddenly popped into existence. And they all suddenly dropped on top of the whiskered blond as he was smothered by their collective form.
The others stared at the sudden arrivals of the rest of Fairy Titans in disbelief as Happy pulled himself out. The blue Exceed groaned after he was finally free and looked around, "Hey! We're back! We made!"
"Oh thank god!" Lucy groaned before she noticed the other girls looking at them, "Mira-San, you won't believe it! We traveled back in time! This book took us back a few years and we saw a bunch of young versions of everyone!"
"And Natsu and I followed our younger selves to see who would win a brawl we had years ago! I did! Obviously!" Gray slyly added.
Natsu growled, "And I got mad and started beating my young self up! And he attacked back and I smacked his hand away! And his hand cut his neck, so I'm the one who gave me my own scar! I traumatized myself as a child! How messed up is that?!"
"I'm glad we at least made it back in time." Erza stood up and stretched her arms after crawling out of the pile, "If we were late by even a second we could have been stuck in the past and had to relive all those years. But we're back now and…" The redhead stopped when she noticed the others looking at them oddly and with concern, "What is it?"
"Well, the general outfits and costume choices are interesting. I want to ask more," Mirajane honestly answered, "But I guess the more pressing matter is-"
"E-Everyone! Naruto-San!" Wendy exclaimed, "You're on top of Naruto-San!"
They looked down and finally noticed the broken blond underneath their pile who had been reduced to a moaning mess.
"OniI-chan! Hang on! You'll survive!"
With one last cute yawn, Koyuki huddled up in her bed and drifted off to sleep. Naruto smiled and gently rubbed her head before pulling her blanket up so she was covered. He watched his little sister nuzzle up under the covers as she quickly drifted to sleep after the wild story they had heard today.
It was kind of crazy to think that the others had traveled into the past earlier today. And it was also insane to hear that Lucy and Erza had interacted with his younger self. Thinking back he did remember a woman in a bunny costume the day he first arrived in Magnolia. Plus if Erza was the Fairy Tail member in the cat costume that spoke to him…
Oh wow, he was starting to get a headache trying to figure this all out.
Naruto quietly made his way out of the room and back towards his own bed. He yawned and stretched his arms as he walked in-
And was surprised to find Erza sitting on the bed with a stern expression…and also her white kitty outfit still on. The allure of the outfit and the way it hugged her body was mitigated by the fact she did not look amused.
"Uh, why are you still-"
She patted the spot on the bed next to her, "Come here." Suddenly feeling like he had been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Naruto gulped as he walked over and dropped down at her side. Erza closed her eyes and nodded, lacing her arms together under her chest and causing Naruto's breath to hitch when he saw her pronounced cleavage. But his mind quickly got out of the gutter as she leaned into his shoulder, "I never thought I would have had a direct hand in getting you to the guild."
"Heh, I always wondered who that cat lady was after I arrived at the guild. She had a tattoo but I never saw her around. I thought maybe she was just some cosplayer that had our sigil on her arm." He smiled fondly and chuckled, "You hit me pretty hard that day."
"I had good reason. You were being a little idiot and it was pissing me off." She grumpily mumbled with a pout. They sat together for a moment, Erza gently rubbing her head on his shoulder before looking up at him. Their mixed eyes met, "You don't think like that anymore, right?"
He blinked in response, "Uh…honestly, I'm not sure what you're talking about. How exactly did I think that made you mad?"
Erza's expression was pinched for a moment before she closed her eyes and sighed, "Well, if anything it's a good thing to know that mindset is so foreign to you now." She nudged his shoulder with hers, "I'm talking about the idea you had to walk away from the guild without ever coming to find me. Because you were worried I moved on from you and everyone else. And that I would hate you for telling me about my parents."
"Oh…oh…" Realization crossed Naruto's face as he started remembering what his girlfriend was talking about. He let out a tired sigh and nodded, "Now I remember. Yeah, I was worried about that before, wasn't I? Heh, kinda silly."
"It's stupid is what it is." Erza sternly said, "I'm glad you don't think like that anymore. Although there are certainly traces of it that peek out once and a while."
"Oh, you're one to talk." He said through a smirk. When she looked at him quizzically, he scoffed, "Do I have to remind you that only recently you offered to give up your arm before it was poisoned?"
"That was a certain circumstance." She said petulantly, "And I can name several times off the top of my head where you pushed even further."
"Same to you."
The couple seemed to frown at each other at their competitive recalling before they both smiled and laughed at the ridiculousness. Erza sighed contently and leaned back into his body, "I'm glad I found you that day."
"I am too. Glad you knocked some sense into me - literally."
He earned a cute chuckle from her before they sat in silence again. Erza let out a small, tired moan before she shifted her head along his shoulder. She leaned in towards his neck and gently breathed on it. Without a warning she turned her head up and ran her tongue along his neck and earned a quiet gasp from him.
He felt Erza shift over the bed so she was pressed into the side of his chest. All the while she continued to gently lick and nibble on his neck and ear. The only sounds between the both of them were the moans Naruto let out and the soft grunts Erza made while tasting him.
Naruto opened his eyes and looked down at Erza's soft and alluring body pressed up against his, her paws rubbing against his chest. The warmth and feel of her pillowy body against him was stirring him on. And he could feel his hardness press and struggle against his pants begging for release.
"Ah~." Erza moaned as his hand reached up and grabbed her breast, gently squeezing the massive mound in the confines of her cat costume. The redhead gasped and breathily moaned as her tit was gently rubbed and rolled around in his hand, kneaded and squeezed every few seconds to illicit a gasp from the armored Mage. She shuddered and leaned back from the wet spot she left along his neck before looking into his eyes, "Didn't like me getting a taste?"
"Oh I did," He lowly muttered while still groping her, "But I didn't want you to have all the fun."
"You used to be so cute as a kid," Erza seductively smiled, "Now you're a big boy, all rough and gritty. And my," Her paw reached down and gently rustled the tent sticking up in his pants, "How you've grown~."
"You know, I never told you this, but that cat lady I saw that day I came here…I found her so fucking sexy." He groaned as he stopped fondling Erza and pulled her in, grabbing her ass and scooting her in closer so she was pressed to his chest, "I think she was the first person I ever touched myself to."
"That's a hell of a thing to admit." Erza's husky voice stirred Naruto on as she licked her lips and purred by his face, "So want to take a chance to take this kitty yourself? Meow~."
"Can you promise to stay quiet so we don't stir Koyuki awake?"
They leaned in and intertwined tongues before their lips crashed together in a heated moan of passion.
########Omake: On The Outside 3########
"I can't believe we get to see Er-chan and Na-chan again so soon!" Millianna swooned while holding up the copy of Sorcerer's Weekly Magazine they picked up with the S-Class Fairies' photoshoot plastered across it. The cat lover happily giggled as she looked over the pages, "I'm glad to see them doing so well! And a lot of people like their pictures too!"
"Blue Pegasus seemed to really admire them. Said they couldn't lose in the…what was it? 'Erotic display'? I'm not sure what that means." Shō scratched his head, "Do you know, Millianna?"
"Nope! But I like looking at these pictures! It makes me feel - I don't know - tingly?"
As the two younger members continued to talk, Wally noticed Simon staring out the window of the train. He nudged his scarred friend with his foot to get his attention, "Hey, you okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine."
"Because I can imagine what's going through your head right now."
Simon nodded, "I imagine it's the same thing going through yours. Are you really okay with putting off your search? Finding your brother-"
"We've got plenty of time for that." Wally nodded, "Plus we don't have a lead on my brother…but you…"
Simon looked down at the Sorcerer's Magazine he picked up and opened the page to the one he'd been looking at. Not one with any photoshoot pictures of his friends or their guild. But an article about some promising young Mages coming up in the magical world…
And a picture of a girl he hadn't seen in years…
I hate clip shows, but if there are any clip shows I love, it's the one done in the vein of Community, Rick & Morty, and Always Sunny. I.E. a clip show showing things we've never seen or misremember. And it's all dressing so that I can finally close the loop for the Erza Memory Days visit from years ago.
Plus a little setup for something in the future with Simon.
So, in all honesty, I wanted to add a lemon this chapter, but the more I thought about it the wilder and more extravagant it became. And this chapter would've just gone on and on and I never would have focused. So I'm thinking I'll write that Lemon as a separate chapter and upload it to GLC instead.
THIS IS NOT A REGULAR THING. ALL LEMONS IN THE FUTURE WILL NOT GO TO THAT STORY INSTEAD. THAT IS TRUE FOR ALL OF MY OTHER STORIES AS WELL. I JUST WANTED TO WRITE THIS LEMON REAL BAD BUT HAD NO SPACE LEFT IN THIS CHAPTER.
Just wanted to clarify that. Anyway, hope you all enjoyed! I have one last chapter for this little breather arc to post and…
Well, let's just say I'm excited and nervous for you all to see it.
Thank You and Bye