Six Months Later

"Lucy…. Lucy wake up!" Natsu called hesitantly. "Five more minutes Natsu!" Lucy mumbled. "Lucy I gave you an extra hour! Emily is all ready to go to school with Tetsu and I have to leave for a business meeting about promos for the team. You made me promise to get you up before I left!" Natsu said, shaking his wife awake. She was now six months pregnant and it had been a bumpy ride. The baby was going to be a boy and he was going to be big judging by the size of her stomach. Oh and she was grumpy half the time but the other half she was either crying or very happy. Natsu was exhausted just trying to keep up with her. And the other thing was because Emily was "just a little girl" Lucy took all her emotions out on Natsu. "I SAID GIVE ME FIVE MORE MINUTES!" Lucy yelled at him. Natsu jumped back and said, "Aye sir! Five minutes it is!"

Natsu grabbed a briefcase and ran out of the house. He couldn't afford to be late for this meeting and he just hoped angelic Lucy would be the one to greet him when he came home. Emily, meanwhile, was being walked to school every day with Tetsu which was a huge load off of Natsu's mind. Because he was kinda like a single father while Lucy was nearly bedridden. Many times, Emily's amazing babysitter came over and helped her. Wendy Marvel was the sweetest possible college student. She went to Magnolia University which was located in the city and had a car. To make so extra spending money, she baby sat for families but now she worked primarily for the Dragneels. They paid well and she loved Emily. Lucy also made food for her to take back to her dorm room and took her out for manicures and movies. The Dragneels were like Wendy's family when she wasn't at home. Lucy also gave Wendy advice about boys, particularly one named Romeo Conbolt.

Emily was unusually quiet on the walk to school. Tetsu noticed but he tried to ignore it. And then he couldn't ignore it anymore. He stopped and she looked up at him curiously, wondering why he stopped. "Ok Em. What's wrong?" he asked, sounding exasperated. Emily could tell he really did want to know. "Mommy's having a baby." She said. Tetsu raised one eyebrow. "Daddy is getting a baby." Emily continued as if this were obvious. Tetsu still didn't get it and he just shrugged then continued walking. He stopped when he realized that Emily wasn't following. Turning back he motioned her to catch up. She did but when she reached him again she said, "Daddy doesn't need me anymore. Daddy has a baby now." For a second, Tetsu didn't get it and kept walking. Then he understood and froze. He recovered quickly and kept walking. The school came in sight and they entered the gates. Tetsu walked with Emily to her hallway and just before parting he said, "Don't be stupid Em. Your dad loves you. You're lucky so stop making up stupid stuff like your dad not needing you." Then he turned and headed off towards the second grade hallway.

The thought kept bothering Emily. It had been for a while actually. Emily knew that Natsu had adopted her but… now he was getting his own baby so he wouldn't need to be her Daddy anymore. He was always with Mommy talking about the baby and what to do when he came and wouldn't it be great when there was a new baby in the house. He didn't even mind much when Mommy got mad at him or cried. Emily was still thinking about that when Tetsu dropped her off at home. When she walked back into her house, Mommy was on the couch with Daddy talking to her. They were again talking about the baby. Emily sighed and walked up to her room. Then she decided that she wanted to see Tetsu because she was lonely. Daddy never wanted to play anymore because he was getting ready for the baby. So she got up onto her little five year old legs and toddled all the way down the two blocks to the Loxar residence. Ringing the doorbell, a very startled Gray answered.

"Emily? Is everything ok with Lucy? Is she having the baby? Oh my gosh is she alright? Where's Natsu?" he asked in a rush. This was just a tad more than Emily could handle. Her eyes watered and she yelled, "I hate that stupid baby!" and turned and ran. Tetsu had been coming down the stairs to see who was at the door and heard the last part. Glaring at Gray, he ran after Emily before she went and did something dumb like get lost. "Wait Tetsu! What happened?" Gray called. He didn't get an answer and Juvia came running down to see what he was yelling about. "Emily was just here but I asked what was wrong and she started to cry and ran off yelling something about hating the baby. Now Tetsu is chasing her and I have no idea where they're going." Gray explained. Juvia's eyes widened and she grabbed her phone.

"Lucy? Yes, yes she was here but she ran off again. Tetsu followed her. Yes, we'll look. Please don't get worked up you might go into labor. It's going to be fine, Juvia promises. Ok, Juvia will call as soon as she finds them." Juvia hung up and turned to Gray. "Natsu and Lucy are frantic. They were calling for Emily to come down and when Natsu went up to check if she was in her room she wasn't there." She explained. Gray was grabbing a few coats and said, "I'll find her. Hopefully before dark so that it doesn't get too cold." He ran out the door and began to search.

Emily ran all the way to the woods where it was rumored that a kidnapper held a child in an underground bunker. Usually, kids stayed away out of fear but it was the only place little Emily knew of where she could be alone. Except she wasn't alone. She was stumbling and sobbing and it wasn't long before she fell and when she did, Tetsu caught up. "Em stop!" he cried. "Jeez you run fast for a five year old!" he exclaimed. She just kept crying and Tetsu pulled her up. "You aren't still thinking that stupid idea you told me about this morning are you?" he asked. When she didn't answer he knew he was right. "Em look, I don't have a father. But you do. That guy really loves you." He said. Emily didn't answer him and so he just grabbed her hand as they sat against a tree. After a while, Tetsu said, "If he doesn't want you, you can stay with me." Emily looked up at him. She didn't bother to ask him if he was serious because the way he was avoiding eye contact told her everything. She leaned across him and hugged him. He stiffened but after a second he patted her back.

Emily leaned back and said, "Can we go back now?" Tetsu nodded and stood. Taking her hand again, they began walking. The problem was, neither knew which way was out. They had been walking for a while and both knew they were lost but neither wanted to admit it. It was getting darker and harder to see and Emily was very tired. In truth, so was Tetsu but he didn't want to show it. Emily was also getting scared and clung to Tetsu's hand desperately. Finally, neither could keep going and they collapsed under another tree. Emily was shivering and so Tetsu pulled her onto his lap and she snuggled into his body heat. Neither brought their coats so both were getting colder. "Tetsu… I'm sorry I got us lost." Emily said. "When are you going to stop saying stupid things Em?" he responded.

Both were starting to fall asleep which would not have been a good thing when Emily heard it. "Emily! Tetsu! Kids! Yell if you can hear me!" She sat up with a start. "Daddy…?" she mumbled. "Tetsu!" the yelling continued. "Gray…?" Tetsu wondered. Emily, however, was sure. "Daddy!" she screamed. The fear was evident now. "Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!" she kept screaming until the beam of a strong flashlight fell on the pair. Tetsu's arms were still around her and he had pulled her as close to his body heat as he could. Natsu turned and yelled, "Gray! Juvia they're over here!" Two more figures came running. Emily was crying again as Natsu lifted her into his arms. He took one of the coats from Gray and wrapped her in it.

They got to Natsu's car which was very warm compared to the outdoors. Speaking of doors, once the ones on the car were closed Natsu turned to his daughter and said, "Emi what in the world were you thinking? Do you know how scared I was?! How scared Mommy was?!" he asked. Emily looked down at her lap. "Daddy was… scared?" she asked. This confused Natsu. "Of course I was baby! We had no idea where you were and if you were ok!" he said. "Daddy…? Do you still love me?" she asked, tears brimming in her eyes. Natsu's eyes widened. He lifted her off of the seat next to him and put her in his lap, the coat still wrapped around her. "Emily what is going on? Why would you ask something like that?" he asked her seriously. Emily began to cry. Between her tears she said, "Daddy doesn't need me! Daddy has his own baby now!" Natsu gasped as he understood what she was saying. "God Emi!" He pulled her into his chest and let her cry. She let all her fears out and was pretty well spent when she finally stopped crying.

Natsu pulled her away from him and looked at her. "Emily we're going to go home and see Mommy and then I have something to show you ok?" Emily nodded and they drove home. Lucy was frantic and embraced her daughter fiercely for a while. When Lucy was sure that her child was perfectly fine, Natsu helped her to bed. He came back downstairs to see Emily right where he left her. He placed her on the couch then went over to a desk. Opening a drawer, he pulled out a paper and sat down with Emily. He pulled her onto his lap and said, "This is a very special paper Emily. See that right there?" he asked, pointing to his signature. "That means that you are my daughter. You are my baby. But it goes deeper than this piece of paper. Even if it never existed you would still be my baby. Do you know why?" Emily shook her head. "Because I love you. I will always love you. Just because there's going to be a new baby doesn't mean that I don't love you anymore. I love both of you, equally." Natsu explained.

Emily took all of this in. "Emily I'm sorry if we've been ignoring you. Babies are a huge deal and I'm not too experienced with being a Daddy. Really Emi I think maybe I've been so focused on the baby because I'm scared that I won't be a good enough Daddy for the two of you." Natsu confessed. Emily turned in his lap to face him. "I love you Daddy." She said simply, grinning just like her mother. Natsu's breath caught in his throat. "Daddy is good. I can help Daddy with the baby!" she proclaimed, giving him a look similar to her mother's stern, no room for arguing, look. Natsu grinned and tickled Emily's tummy, making her giggle. "Thank you pretty girl. If you help me then I can't do anything wrong!" He pulled Emily into a hug. When he tucked her in a few minutes later, he said, "Emily please don't run away like that ever again. If something is wrong I want you to tell me. I don't want to ever think I might have lost you ever again." He brushed some hair off of her face as she slowly fell asleep. "I'll stay. Because Daddy wants me." She whispered. Natsu kissed her forehead and said, "I always will."

Natsu slid into bed beside his wife and sighed. "Everything ok now?" Lucy asked. Natsu was quiet for a minute before he said, "She thought I didn't want her anymore because of the baby." Lucy gasped softly. "Oh Natsu…" she whispered. "I can't believe I made her think that!" he said fiercely. Lucy knew he always blamed himself when something went wrong with someone he loved. "Honey it isn't your fault. Emily has been abandoned and hurt by the only other father in her life. She has some insecurities she has to work through. But she loves you and it sounds like you fixed it." Natsu nodded and turned to face her. "You know I love her as if she was mine right?" he asked. Lucy cupped his cheek and kissed him. "Of course I do silly. Now go to sleep before I start snoring." She said. Natsu chuckled and said, "Good point." He said, receiving a light slap on the arm. He placed his hand over her swollen stomach and grinned when he felt the baby kick. "Goodnight baby." He whispered.

The next morning, Natsu came out with Emily when Tetsu stopped by to pick her up. "Tetsu come here for a second." He said. Tetsu did what he said expecting to be told off for putting this man's daughter in danger. Natsu knelt down and placed his hand on the young boy's shoulder. "I wanted to thank you. You followed my daughter and you stayed with her. You tried your best to keep her warm and safe. So thank you. Emily means the world to me and I don't know what I would have done if I'd lost her. Lucy wanted me to hug you but I know you aren't that kinda guy. So if there is anything you want, you let me know and I'll try my best to help you get it." Natsu said. What he said both surprised and embarrassed Tetsu. He turned his head to the side. "It's fine." He mumbled. Natsu inwardly smiled, remembering when he was afraid to like girls. "Alright, have a good day at school you two! Emily, have fun with learning to read ok? Maybe you can read the baby bedtime stories!" Natsu said, standing. Emily grinned at her father. Natsu was already making an effort to include Emily in the baby preparations and he had been very attentive that morning making sure that Emily knew she was still part of the family.

As the two walked to school, Tetsu looked down at Emily's smiling face and said, "You're good now right?" Emily smiled up at him and nodded. "My class is supposed to help your class read." Tetsu added. "We have partners." Emily looked up at him again. "The second graders always help the kindergarteners learn to read. And we have to stay buddies for the whole year." Tetsu grumbled. He didn't really like the idea because he wasn't partnered with Emily and he hated social interaction. His teachers had always been rather scared of him because he never smiled at school and he didn't speak to anyone. They usually left him alone which he used to his advantage. Emily had a hopeful look on her face. "I want Tetsu as my buddy!" she said. Tetsu didn't shoot down her hopes. They arrived at school and went their separate ways.

It wasn't more than a few hours before they saw each other again. Emily's teacher had just finished explaining how these second grade students would read books with them for an hour each day and would act as buddies for the entire year. Then Tetsu's class filed in. The two teachers talked about how they wanted to organize the partnerships for a few minutes. Tetsu's teacher began to call her students forward one by one and then read out who they were partnered with. "Tetsu, you are going to help-" the teacher started when Tetsu interrupted her. "Emily." He said. The teachers were startled and stared at him. Emily grinned widely and stood, rushing over to him and grabbing his hand. Her teacher was going to say something when Tetsu's teacher shook her head.

Once everyone was paired, they were allowed to go anywhere in the classroom to read a book of the kindergartener's choosing. Emily chose a book about a family of bears. Tetsu led her to a corner of the room with some cushions for her to sit on. His teacher watched in amazement as the little girl's head fell on his shoulder and he pointed out words to her. She giggled at things that he said and sometimes the teacher swore Tetsu almost smiled a few times. The pair finished their book faster than any other group and the teacher watched as Emily talked animatedly to Tetsu. She had a big smile on her face and she laughed frequently. Emily's teacher approached and saw the direction of the shocked woman's gaze. "He's the one that drops Emily off every morning. She seems to have formed an attachment to him which is good because there aren't many that can keep up with her." She said. "I don't get it." The other teacher responded, "Tetsu is so introverted and withdrawn. He never talks to anyone and I have never seen him smile. Yet when he is with Emily he's like a totally different person. How does she do it?" Neither teacher could find the answer to that question but both agreed that the two children were good for each other.

That day, when school was over, Tetsu appeared outside Emily's classroom to walk her home and found her tugging on her stuffed bunny with another boy. "Give it Link! It's mine! My auntie gave it to me!" she cried, her brows furrowed in frustration. "No! I found it!" the boy yelled. The teacher was out talking to a parent momentarily and didn't know this was even happening. Tetsu walked into the room and snatched the bunny from both of them. "Hey!" Link yelled. Tetsu turned and gave Emily her bunny. Emily hugged it and glared at Link. Tetsu turned back to Link and growled, "Leave Em alone or I will hurt you." Link's eyes grew huge and he began to yell for the teacher. Tetsu grabbed Emily's hand and pulled her after him. "Come on Em!" he cried as they both began to run. They stopped when they reached the playground and were hiding at the top of the slide. Emily began to giggle uncontrollably. Tetsu peeked around the slide and when he didn't see anyone coming he started to laugh with her. He hadn't laughed in a very long time but he found it felt good.

Tetsu finally stopped laughing to catch his breath. Emily had her small arms wrapped around him as she leaned against his side for support. He had his arm around her and she had a huge smile on her face. Amazingly, so did Tetsu. "We should go Em. Your mom and dad will worry if you don't come home soon." He said finally. Emily nodded. Tetsu slid down the slide then turned to catch Emily when she came down. Something had changed that night in the forest. Tetsu had felt how small Emily was and how fragile she could be. He'd only ever seen the brave or fearless side of her. She was always fighting for what she wanted and she was very headstrong. But that often leads to recklessness as it did in her and that recklessness could put her in danger. Like the previous night in the kidnappers forest. Emily was shaking so bad and was pretty scared of what might happen. The way she'd clung to him with her tiny hands told him just how scared she was. That night, Tetsu had promised himself that he would protect her. He wouldn't let anything happen to her.

But then today, she had completed the process into his heart. He had no idea how she'd done it but somewhere between the smiles, giggles and shameless babbling she had crawled into the void left by the story of his birth and filled it up. When he was with her, he didn't think his birth was a horrible mistake. He knew his mother loved him even though the circumstances of his birth were less than perfect but he still felt that sometimes he gave her pain. He never gave Emily pain. She only ever smiled when she was with him and that made him feel happy. Reaching down, he grabbed Emily's hand as they walked. She glanced up at him but said nothing, wrapping her fingers around his.

And that, my friends, is how it all began. A new family was created and a new friendship was forged. Finally, the first step on the road to redemption was taken. More must be done before it can be attained but the groundwork has been laid.

So technically, this is the last chapter. There will be an epilogue though so stay tuned for that! I will hopefully be posting that next weekend but no promises. Life is busy right now and its a wonder I'm able to post anything. I'm currently in another transition period in life where I'm trying to figure out where I want to go next and trying to make it happen. So there's a lot of stress and worrying involved until I know where it is I'm going next.

Thanks so much for reading! Please leave a review!