Levy searched the request board for a proper job, one she thought she could manage on her own, mainly because she was somewhat disgusted with herself for not being able to go on a job without at least one other person. As her soft brown eyes quickly scanned the different papers, she realized with a sigh that they were all too hard for her. Crossing her arms, Levy glared at the board, and before she turned to leave, a voice grumbled behind her.
"Looking for a job, Shorty?" Levy nearly jumped three feet, her skin crawling, hair on edge. When she did turn around, she saw the one and only Gajeel towering over her, his arms, as always, crossed over his chest, his face the never-ending scowl.
"You could give a girl a warning, you know." Levy muttered.
"That takes the fun outta things." He replied, amusement lighting his black eyes.
She looked at him sharply and sighed. "Yes, I'm looking for a job."
"What, no Leaf-head and Fish-tail?"
Levy turned a light shade of pink and looked down at her shuffling feet. "I-I wanted to
to try one by myself
Gajeel snorted and shoved past her, nearly landing her on her butt. He looked over the requests twice and took one, showing it to her. Levy glowered at him and snatched the paper away. It was a job with a reward of 500,000 jewel, plenty to pay her rent for a few months, maybe even buy herself some nice things she deserved, or some gifts for friends. But when she came to the description, which she knew she would dread, her eyes widened and a chill ran down her spine.
"I can't fight off a group of vulcans!" Levy exclaimed, surprised he thought she could take this job on by herself. And slightly embarrassed.
Gajeel rolled his eyes. "Fine, but don't slow me and Lily down."
And he walked away, leaving a very dumbstruck girl behind.
Lucy came up, glaring at the Iron Dragon Slayer as he walked away, and turned to see the surprised Levy-chan staring after him, her mouth slightly open. "Levy? What happened?"
Levy turned to Lu-chan and replied, "I think I'm going on a job with Gajeel."
* * *
Levy pulled her pack over her shoulder for the fifth time in the past hour, her body growing weaker with the falling sun. Gajeel walked as if the past six hours of walking were only a dream, or if he had too much sugar, or some other stupid metaphor that would explain that he looked fresh as a daisy. Panther Lily, on his right, also walked calmly, not at all struggling, his black tail swishing back and forth, almost rhythmically, his face also retaining the constant frown.
"Can we take
a break?" Levy managed to say.
Gajeel looked back at her over his shoulder, his eyes having a new dangerous glint. "If we stop now, you'll fall asleep from how tired you are, and I'm not carrying a bookworm the rest of the way. Pull yourself together, Shorty, we're almost there." He continued walking, but Lily stayed back to help Levy along.
"Jerk." She muttered, unaware that Lily could hear.
"He has your best intentions in mind." Lily said, walking beside her.
Levy glared at the man. "Where? I'd sure like to see some compassion."
"Get in line." The Exceed sighed. "But pushing you will challenge your abilities, so in a
way, he's really helping you." Levy tried to perk up at that, knowing that the Dragon Slayer really wanted to assist her, and that he was being nice by coming with her, even though she never asked him to.
"Why did he volunteer to help me, just like that?" She wondered aloud, almost instantly regretting her always-running mouth.
Lily watched Gajeel for a moment before answering. "He probably has a purpose neither of us could ever understand." At Levy's blank expression, he just shrugged. "Just forget it. We should be arriving in a few minutes."
"Really?!" Levy nearly screamed, and her pace quickened immensely, surprising the cat and scaring Gajeel when she strode past him, humming a tune she just thought of, her smile stretching from ear to ear. Lily had to come up next to Gajeel and practically slap him to get him moving again.
"What'd you say to her?" He growled, his hair standing on end, fists clenched.
"Calm down." Lily replied. "I simply told her we're almost there."
"Is that all?" Lily looked up at Gajeel, who repeated through bared teeth, seriously attempting to keep his cool, "Is. That. All. You. Told. Her?"
"Yes." Lily said simply. "Though I gave some hints."
Gajeel reached out and nearly socked the cat in the mouth, screaming, "Don't, you dumb ass cat! It's my choice if she knows or not!" Panther Lily growled, his form slowly beginning to grow, ready for a fight he know Gajeel won't hold back in. He drew back his paw and it connected with the human's face, causing him to take two steps back. Gajeel grinned evilly and lunged at him, ready to tear his face off.
"Stop!" Levy screamed in horror, watching as the two began to get serious. They carried on, and tears poured down her cheeks at the sight of the two best friends fighting over something unknown. "Stop, please! Fighting just causes things to get worse! Please
" She fell to her knees and began sobbing. She remembered back to that time, with Jet and Droy, and the tears flowed more. She felt as if she would drown in her tears, but if the two would stop, she would gladly do so.
Gajeel and Lily paused, and the cat shrunk to chibi size. Lily reached out a tiny paw, but he was some feet away, so he couldn't reach the crying, broken girl. The Dragon Slayer stood, brushed himself off, glared at the Exceed once more, and walked over to Levy.
"Get up, Shorty." He grumbled. "Crying's for weaklings."
Levy sniffed and rubbed her eyes with the back of her hand. "I
" He watched her as she stood, then began walking again. Lily flew to her shoulder and she smiled weakly at him as he made sure she was ok before setting himself on the ground.
There was a few steps of silence before he asked, "Any reason you broke down?"
Levy winced as the memory filled her eyes. "It's
a long story."
"We've got time." The cat seemed tense and angry, but ready to listen.
Levy sighed and tried to remember back, however painful it was. "Jet, Droy, and I were on a job together."
"Well, we came across this flower on the path to the town, and it was a beautiful white rose, but there was only one. I tried to pick it, but then the boys said they would get it for me. They then began arguing on who was to get it for me, and before I could comprehend anything, fists were flying, and I was watching two best friends fight fiercely, right before my eyes." Levy paused and looked on ahead blankly, then continued moving. "It was horrible. They were so beat up, so in pain, and it was all my fault. I don't know why you two were fighting, but I just feel so
guilty. Friends can fight occasionally, but not duke it out as if they were mortal enemies. It's just so
so wrong!" Levy's palms curled into fists so tight her knuckles were as white as the rose Jet and Droy fought over.
Lily remained quiet for a moment before saying, "That's
Levy wiped her eyes and smiled shakily. "I'm sorry for dumping my problems on you. I shouldn't do that
"But I asked you, and you told me truthfully. Gajeel would've punched me or screamed at me for getting in his business."
"Why are you always with him?"
Lily hid his smiled. "Because we're the same, both with rough edges, both with anger problems, both having a tough time letting emotion show, and only the best of friends fight as much as we do."
Levy looked at the cat and could almost see the respect in his eyes, and she knew there was a bond deeper than friendship going on between Lily and Gajeel. She smiled softly, and was relieved to see a few buildings peeking over the path. She rushed forward and beamed as wind fluttered her face, spilling her blue hair in the air around her, almost as if she were swimming.
Gajeel watched Levy with pure interest, and was surprised when he heart raced at the sight of her hair down and swirling in the wind around her perfect face. Lily came up beside him and nudged his leg. That was all that was needed to tell him that they were cool, and Gajeel resumed watching the bookworm. She was laughing and smiling, causing the corners of his lips to twitch.
a smile?" Lily gasped. "On Gajeel's face?!"
"Shut up, cat." Gajeel grumbled. "Let's get this job over with."
* * *
They were high in the mountains when the next day's night fell. Gajeel and Levy, mostly Gajeel, had taken down the three vulcans that had terrorized the poor town, stealing food, live stock, and sometimes even humans. Now they sat in their tent in a cave, the three giant monkeys down for the count, but sealed in something "unbreakable", according to Levy. She was reading a book, though without her glasses. Lily was sleeping, his crescent scar twitching every now and then. Gajeel was on the verge of sleep, but he would stay awake to keep Levy company. He was somewhat relieved he had accidentally purposefully forgotten the second tent.
"I'll take the first watch." Levy said, startling the Dragon Slayer's thoughts.
"We don't need a watch." Gajeel growled.
She raised an eyebrow. "Then why are you staying awake?"
He looked away, and instead replied, "What book are you reading? And where are those dorky glasses you always wear?"
"It's called 'Beauty and the Beast', and this is my favorite novel, so I don't like to wear those glasses. I like to enjoy this book normally. And they aren't dorky!"
He chuckled his odd "gi hee hee" laugh, then noticed that the bookworm, even on her bedroll and covered by blankets, was shivering. "Cold, much?"
"Studying me, much?" She replied, dripping sarcasm, stinging Gajeel.
"Just wondering." He muttered.
She shuddered, and he noticed goose bumps growing on her exposed arms. "J-J-Jeez! I-I-It must be n-n-negative f-five h-h-hundred d-degrees in h-here!"
Gajeel chuckled again. "You'll freeze to death over there."
I-I-I'm f-fine." She stammered, hugging herself. A breeze rolled in, and he swore she turned the slightest bit blue.
He rolled his eyes and scooted over before dragging Levy on her bedroll next to his and throwing his blankets on her, smothering her in a mountain of warmth. She gasped in surprise and he laughed for the first time in who knows when, surprising both of them. Levy looked up and smiled softly.
"You have a nice laugh." She said quietly.
He blushed, though it was hidden by the shadows. "You sound better not cold."
"Really, though, I don't need your blankets." She began shoving them off.
"Take them." He growled.
"I'll make you."
That made her pause, but she got the blankets back onto him, and he noticed her scarlet face. "I
I don't want you to freeze
He barked laughter. "Please! I'm a fucking Dragon Slayer."
Levy wiggled uneasily and shook her head. "But even Dragon Slayers get cold."
Gajeel blinked and looked at her, and she shuddered again. He sighed and grabbed her by her tiny waist, against her cries of surprise and kicking, and plopped her next to him. He wrapped an arm around her petite body and covered her in both his and her blankets, while he only had on his. She remained frozen for a moment, then sort of relaxed.
"Didn't we talk about warnings?" She asked.
He rolled his eyes. "You would've refused if I hadn't picked you up."
She shrugged and curled up, thankful for Gajeel for doing that. His body was warm and inviting, and she could already feel her body relax and her eyes droop. He was all she needed
Just then she realized he didn't have a shirt on. She shot up in surprise, causing him to react by flailing around.
"What?!" Gajeel barked.
you don't have a shirt on!" Levy exclaimed.
He looked at her oddly. "So? That's how I sleep. You, obviously, sleep with one on."
She glared at him. "Ass."
He chuckled. "Night, Shorty."
Levy didn't feel like she could sleep anymore. Against Gajeel's bare chest, she felt warm, tiny, yet
vulnerable. It quickened her heart rate and caused her blood to warm up immediately. Her chest tightened and she found it suddenly hard to breathe. Stealing a glance at him, she saw he was attempting to read her book, and her heart nearly burst. What's going on? Her mind cried out. What
what are these weird sensations?! Suddenly Gajeel's lips looked very inviting, and his sharp face was smooth with perfection. His fluffy black hair was luscious and she longed for her fingers to intertwine with it. His eyes, darting on the words, were a brilliant black and more alluring than ever before. She became acutely aware of his had at the small of her back, and more so of his bare chest. Levy studied every inch of his chest, to the rock hard abs to his steel pecks. She lightly dragged a finger in a swirling motion around him, and his hand tightened. She looked up to see him staring at her in a "What the hell are you doing?" gaze.
She smiled softly and nestled her head between his own and his shoulder, but it didn't satisfy the growing feelings. Her heart soared, her head burned, and her lips felt very dry. She sat up, shaking her head, and clutched her temples. What. The. Hell. Is. Going. On?!
Gajeel read the book, and he was fairly fascinated by it. The girl, a beauty in her little town, goes to a castle to save her dad, and ends up trading herself for him, then eventually falls in love with the bear-dog-creature thing. Then there was something about a rose, and the villagers attack, and he nearly dies, but the girl saves him by proclaiming her love, and he becomes a handsome prince and they live happily ever after. It was at the part where she was sobbing about her love that he felt a new sensation on his bare chest and looked down to see Levy drawing invisible swirling patterns with her finger. His blood began to race again, and his heart's beating quickened. She looked up with her gorgeous brown eyes and full lips and smiled, blushing, before tucking her head between his chin and his shoulder. He finished the story immediately as she sat up, shaking her head, causing her blue hair to tickle her back. Gajeel felt a longing to rub her back, to pet her hair and comfort her, whatever her problem was, but he knew she was the Beauty, and he was the Beast that everyone hated, even her.
"What?" He grumbled instead.
She looked back at him with pleading eyes. "I'm sorry
I don't know."
His eyebrows knitted together. "That explains everything." She rolled her eyes. Gajeel held up the book and gave it to her. "Quite the sob story, if I do say so myself."
"I think it's very romantic how she loved a kind, but ugly monster like him." She replied firmly.
He raised an eyebrow. "Who are you?"
"In the story, what role are you?"
Levy thought about it for a moment before shrugging. "What would you play?"
"Why does it matter?" He growled.
"Maybe it'll affect what I choose."
He snorted and thought about it, then answered truthfully. "The Beast that everyone hates, except I don't get to turn into a prince."
Levy smiled softly and grabbed his arm before tucking it around her shoulders, forcing him to pull her closer to him. "Then I'm the Beauty."
Gajeel raised an eyebrow. "What're you saying?"
Levy leaned in close to him, nose to nose, and felt his warm, quickened breath on her face. His heart was racing under her hand, and she looked into his hungry black eyes and he looked back into her wanting brown orbs. She finally breathed, when she had the breath, "You're my prince."
That was all she needed to say before their mouths connected, causing their two separate bodies to become one. Their guesses, their strange feelings, were realized. Gajeel got to rub her back and pet her hair and he felt the warmth errupt from her lips into his own. He slowly laid back until she was on top of him, and she was loving it. Finally she realized the strange feelings she had felt, the urging hunger that had swamped her body with each glance at him. Her hand was finally tangled in his beautiful hair and the other was running along his bare chest. His were roaming her body and rested on her hips. When they parted, they stared into each others eyes, breathing heavily.
"Cold now?" Gajeel asked.
She smiled. "Not with you."