21 Mar 2016

Juvia came to the big city to get a spot in a prestigious dance company. But not everything goes as planned as she meets a ragtag crew of performers struggling to make ends meet, shooting for an opportunity to show the world what they have to offer.

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 17
Words: 117,566


Chapter 11
Sixteen Going On Seventeen

Chapter Notes:


We have singing again! And this time, it is a classic!

Sixteen Going On Seventeen
(Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet
and willingly I believe!”)
— The Sound of Music

Gray was making a sandwich. Just a simple one. He stood by the kitchen counter, took out some bread, spread peanut butter over it… and voila, it was done.

It was a quiet afternoon and he was alone in the house so he took this time to just lounge by the living room with the newspaper’s classified ads section and Levy’s trusty laptop that she lent to him before she went out earlier in the day. She actually asked him if he wanted to tag along — she felt like taking to the streets to perform something — but he wasn’t really feeling up to it so he told her to go ahead and enjoy.

But as soon as Gray finished making his snack and was about to go back to job hunting, he heard the familiar sound of heels against the floor to signal someone approaching.

Lucy’s face brightened as soon as she saw him. “Gray! Perfect timing!”

He didn’t understand why the blonde was so happy to see him so he came up with the most logical reason. “Um, no. Make your own sandwich.”

“Not that!” she laughed her usual good-natured, cheerful laugh before striding towards him and latching on to his arm. “C’mon, c’mon, we have to talk!”

Gray also hadn’t figured out how she always sounded like she was singing. But hell, she sounds great so he never complained much. He just raised an eyebrow as he took a bite of his sandwich while she dragged him back to the couch and made him sit with her.

Then he remembered what everyone was bugging him about these days. “Oi, if you’re gonna go off like the others and tease me about Juvia again—”

“Not that either. Don’t worry.” she assured him, then paused. “Well, maybe a bit.”

“See? I swear—”

The blonde rolled her eyes. “Gray, just shut up and let me finish.”

He shut up, but looked at her pointedly, meaning business.

She beamed. “Saturday night this weekend. D’you have plans?”

“Uh, not that I know of. Why?”

“See, I’ve got this little concert on that night…” she started, and he waited curiously while she rummaged through her bag. “Cana asked me to get a couple tickets for her, she was planning to go with her dad and a couple of friends. But they had to cancel, and now I’ve got…” she finally found what she was looking for, and took out a set of familiar-looking black envelopes. “Four spare tickets!”

Gray stared at them.

“Oh, but one’s taken already. So three spare tickets!”

He raised an eyebrow. “You want me to go?”

“If you want to.”

Gray frowned. “I’d love to go, you know that. But I don’t exactly have money to pay for tickets right now.”

She laughed. “Silly, it’s my treat.”

This time he raised an eyebrow. “What about Natsu?”

“He’s got work that night.”

Gray looked at the tickets she held in her hands. “You’re seriously giving me those? For free?”

“Cana treats me tickets to her shows all the time anyway.” the blonde shrugged. “This time, I was thinking… you know WHO would be really happy to finally see a live performance on stage? It’s not a big musical production, but I’ll be singing a ton of songs from my previous shows, so…”

He needed no further explanation. “Juvia would literally faint, you know.”

“Mm-hm, so better be there with her to catch her.” Lucy said, a knowing smile on her face as she offered the tickets to him.

It sounded too good to be true, really. But then this was Lucy. Gray never doubted anything happy and nice when it came from Lucy. She’s just that kind of person.

He took the tickets and looked straight at her with a small smile. “I owe you one.”

Lucy just chuckled. “Have a great time and you owe me nothing.”

With that, she leaned over, kissed him sweetly on the cheek, stood up and was on her way to Natsu’s room, humming.

Gray just scratched his head gingerly as he looked at the four tickets in his hand.

Wait — four?

“Hey, Lucy, I thought one’s taken?” he called after his friend.

She stopped by the bottom of the staircase. “Oh, yes — please give that one to Levy-chan when she comes back. I just have to grab a couple of things here and I’m off again. I’ve got dinner with dad tonight.”

“How ’bout the other one?”

The woman shrugged, already well on her way up the stairs. “You guys find someone, I guess?”

Their fourth person ended up being Gajeel. Gray dropped by the CD shop to bring the tickets, and Gajeel vehemently refused when they first asked him. Juvia threw him the puppy eyes, and Gray told him that the ticket will go to waste, and that everyone else had plans on Saturday night. Gajeel still refused.

That was until Gray shoved his phone towards the guy’s face to show him a message. “Here, Levy has something to say to you.”

It read: ‘Kindly tell him to be a dear and please don’t let me third-wheel alone.’

Gajeel finally, grudgingly agreed.

Problem solved. Until another one popped up.

“Saturday night…” Juvia started. “That’s tomorrow!”

Gray blinked. “Yeah, you have somewhere to be?”

“No, but…” then the woman looked down, her expression that of misery. “Juvia has nothing to wear.”

Gajeel also scratched his head. “Yeah, it’s gonna be one of those rich people concerts, right? I don’t have clothes for that.”

Gray just sighed. “Y’know what, don’t worry ’bout it. Just go to the Guild tomorrow. Juvia can borrow from the girls. They’ll be very happy to help you, and most of ’em should be your size.”

Juvia looked hesitant. “Is Gray-sama sure?”

“Yeah. I’m pretty sure.” When he caught Gajeel casting him a suspicious look, he rolled his eyes. “I don’t go through their closets, man. It’s just that I’ve danced with all of ’em, most of which require me lifting or holding them, so I have a rough idea of their size.”

“You don’t say I borrow from them too, right?” Gajeel deadpanned.

“Just wear a plain shirt and your darkest jeans. Without the rips. We’ll find a suit jacket in the house somewhere.” Gray shrugged. “Don’t sweat it too much. Just turn up at the Guild and we’ll do something about it.”

That was how Juvia found herself in Erza’s room that Saturday afternoon, sitting in front of the dresser mirror, with Erza busy applying make up on her face while Evergreen brushed her hair.

They found her a nice white strapless dress that fell in little frills a few inches above her knees. The women thought it was perfect because of the shiny blue flower-shaped rhinestones that shone in the edges of the dress. It took only some minor temporary adjustments with Freed’s help for the dress, which was one of Erza’s old dance outfits, to fit snugly on Juvia.

“Your bangs are pretty, we’ll leave it like that.” Evergreen said, running her hands through the strands of blue hair framing the woman’s face. “Now about the rest… I think a nice plait would look good on you. How ’bout that?”

Juvia only said, “That would be wonderful, Evergreen-san.”

“Hm… you have great eyelashes…” Erza commented absently, looking closely at Juvia’s face as she contemplated on the make up.

Juvia blushed. “Thank you, Erza-san…”

Erza herself was wearing a long dark blue cocktail dress. She wasn’t going with them to the concert, but she would be attending a ballet recital. Erza’s boyfriend was one of the choreographers and also a principal dancer. Also, one of her friends will have a solo number. Juvia would love to meet those people someday, too.

Behind them, Levy was sitting on the bed and trying to pick a nice cardigan, scarf or jacket for Juvia among the ton of clothes almost everyone contributed. She was ready, wearing a black blazer on top of an orange and white dress, black stockings and black shoes. Her usually messy hair was tied up into a neat ponytail.

During the full hour that they’ve been fussing over Juvia, the woman had thanked them all profusely for their help. She felt a bit like a charity case at first, but then Levy, Erza, Evergreen and the others were just genuinely happy to dress her up.

As Evergreen started styling Juvia’s hair to make an elaborate braid behind her head, the blunette spoke up. “May Juvia ask something?”

“Shoot, girl.” Evergreen said.

“Everyone here are such good friends and they met through Laxus-san’s grandfather, right?”

“Mostly everyone.” Erza said.

“Including Lucy-san?”

“That’s different.” Erza answered patiently. “Lucy’s not a foster child. You know about her parents, right?”

“Jude Heartfilia-sama is a music producer of a lot of major artists.” Juvia answered.

“Owning Fiore’s biggest music production company gives you that credit.” Erza added.

Juvia continued, “Layla Heartfilia-sama was also a stage actress and singer. She worked with Aquarius-san, right? For that one musical… Everyone said she would have been really successful with more big projects if she didn’t… pass away too soon.”

“Yup.” the red-head had taken it upon herself to continue the story, since both Evergreen and Levy were occupied. “So Lucy and her dad are always in a lot of galas and high society events. That’s how we met her. How Cana and Natsu met her, anyway.”

“Cana-san and Natsu-san?”

“Before Cana made her debut in Glitter, she was just like us, you know. She had a day job while she keeps auditioning for a part in all sorts of stage plays and musicals. Back then Cana was still working with Gray and Natsu in a catering company. So one time, Cana and Natsu were working for one of the events that Lucy was attending with her dad. I don’t know the whole story, but somehow she escaped to the kitchens where Natsu was working, and he helped her hide out for a while and they talked a bit. Then Lucy had to go back, but before she could return to the party, there was an accident and someone spilled something on her dress. Natsu asked Cana to help.”

“So it really was an accident?” Juvia blinked.

Erza had a small fond smile on her face as she nodded. “And… well, because Lucy was a regular at these events they eventually met again. This was around the time she was having disagreements with her father, I think. So I think she found their company comforting. Then finally one time Cana and Lucy met when they were auditioning for a show. It was a long line. They recognized each other and I guess it just sort of clicked. They didn’t get the parts, but after that, Cana took Lucy here and that’s how she met everyone. I guess she liked this place so she often came over to hang out. She auditioned with Cana for a lot of roles, and eventually they saw the casting calls for Glitter.”

“Lu-chan always told me they probably wouldn’t have gotten the parts if they didn’t audition together.” Levy added. “It was known that the show’s gonna have two leading female roles, so they thought that instead of auditioning separately like everyone else, they’ll perform at the same time, because that way they can show that they already have chemistry and they can work together.”

“It worked like a charm, as you know.” Evergreen said, as if to cap the story at the same time she finished doing Juvia’s hair. She was grinning approvingly at her work. “And the rest is history.”

Juvia nodded in awe. All the articles and interviews out there always started with how the Cana and Lucy auditioned together, that they were very different people but worked together with a common goal. Now that Juvia knew them, she always wondered how they met. They had very different backgrounds, after all.

They were both legacies, though. Juvia knew that much from the media. Lucy never made her family background secret although she admitted that it was very much a source of pressure. Cana readily confirmed the rumors when the media revealed that she may be the daughter of famous theater actor Gildarts Clive. She simply stated that it was true, she has a good relationship with her father, but simply avoided advertising it since she wanted to start her career without the expectations that come with being a legacy.

Juvia thought that they both didn’t have to worry about that, though. Their stage debut and their fruitful careers after that was proof enough that they were capable of making a name for themselves on their own.

She was snapped out of her thoughts when a knock on the door was heard before it was opened.

“We found it!” Freed announced his arrival with that, holding up a cropped dark gray fur jacket. Evergreen and Erza made way for him to drape the item across Juvia’s shoulders and help her slip her arms through the sleeves that ended exactly by her elbows. He smiled in satisfaction as he made sure it fit comfortably on Juvia. “I knew Mira had this. Lisanna just didn’t know where she kept it so it took us a while to find.”

“I’d say it’s worth the trouble.” Evergreen remarked.

“It’s perfect, Freed!” Levy marvelled.

Juvia nodded. She hardly recognized herself now. “Thank you for this, Freed-san!”

The man shook his head and smiled. “It’s no big. We don’t always get to dress up around here. Nice work on the hair, Ever.”

As the women went back to finishing up, there was a knock by the open door before Gray curiously peered inside, already decked in semi formal wear. A dark gray blazer on top of a white shirt, black pants and leather shoes. As usual, he wore his silver cross necklace.

“Um, hello?” he greeted tentatively. When they all looked at him, he caught sight of what they’ve done to his girlfriend, and he raised an eyebrow, impressed. “Okay, that’s… I just thought you ladies are gonna put her in a dress and shoes but that works, too.”

“Really?” Evergreen demanded, eyes narrowing behind her glasses. “‘That works too’, that’s it?”

Gray backed away a bit. “What I mean is, you’re all doing God’s work here, thank you. Juvia, you look wonderful. With… the dress and fur and whatever happened to your hair it looks impossible and all.”

Erza had to support Juvia so she won’t fall off the chair as she tried to hide behind the red-head.

“Is it time to go already?” Levy asked, checking the time on her wristwatch. “I thought we’re leaving at 7?”

“No, uh. There’s just a tiny issue…” Gray started, then stepped inside.

Gajeel walked out from behind him gingerly. He was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt with a wide collar, dark-colored pants and combat boots. In short, he was still wearing the same stuff from when he arrived with Juvia to the Guild.

“I might’ve underestimated his size.” Gray admitted. “Our suit jackets are too small for him. Except Elfman’s. Too big.”

“They won’t let me wear my leather jacket.” Gajeel grumbled.

Everyone said, “NO.”

He rolled his eyes and cursed, then stopped when he caught Freed looking at him critically. “W-What?”

The designer walked over to the raven-head and placed his hands on the man’s shoulders.

“What’re you doing?” Gajeel asked, and when Freed just proceeded to pick at his clothes, he looked towards the others for an explanation. “What’s he doing?”

“Measuring you.” Evergreen provided.

Then Freed sighed, before saying, “Alright, you come with me. Sixth floor. Laxus has several button-ups about your size, and I know he’s got a nice blazer. I put it there.” and exiting the room.

Gajeel looked at the others and when they all practically shoved him out the room, he just decided to follow the other man as instructed.

Gray was about to say something when they heard Freed’s distant call. “You too, Gray!”

“What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?!” Gray shouted back. He looked honestly offended as he quickly left the room to follow the other two men.

Meanwhile, the women exchanged amused looks as they listened in to Freed’s lecture.

“Levy and Juvia look gorgeous and I won’t stand for their dates looking like peasants!”

That was followed by “I’M NOT A PEASANT!” and “We’re third-wheeling together, that’s NOT dating!”

And then Laki arrived, a proud smile on her face as she raised a pair of silver strappy heels. “Did someone ask for nice shoes on my size?”

Things were, strangely enough, less hectic in the concert hall’s dressing room. Lucy chose to keep things simple. She insisted on no fancy make ups, going for a natural look. Her long blonde hair wasn’t in an updo, she just had her bangs styled and the rest of her hair curled into soft waves falling on her shoulders, one side tucked behind her ear. She had three outfits for the night, her first one a strapless midnight blue evening gown with light silver accents. She thought it was a nice callback as it was reminiscent of her character in ‘Glitter’, too.

Tonight’s concert was far from being Lucy’s biggest event. It was actually quite a small affair, with barely 500 people in attendance. She just had a small band and her pianist, Capricorn, for accompaniment, and a single microphone on a stand for her and her songs. She was to sing a selection of pieces from her musical roles, a few originals, and some pop songs — mostly ballads because those were her forte. This was already the fourth event in a series of six small concerts. She had her set list down by now.

So a few minutes before the show started, she just sat alone in the dressing room, trying to keep calm and breathe easy because after all this time she still got nervous before performing. There was already a bunch of flowers and gifts in front of her, but it paled in comparison to musical performance nights, where the whole dressing room would be brimming with the things.

Her meditation was only interrupted by her phone beeping. She picked the gadget up to check, and smiled when she saw Natsu’s name in the alert.

‘is the show starting yet? go get ’em tonite lucy!’

The blonde just chuckled as she typed in her reply. Just as she hit the ‘Send’ button, there was a knock on the door.

“Come in.” she called out.

The door opened to reveal one of the show’s organizers. “It’s time, Miss Lucy.”

Lucy nodded as she stood up and took a deep breath. “Alright. Let’s start.”

“Ah, there. I found Cana.” Gray whispered. They arrived just in time and easily found their respective seats in the concert hall.

Juvia and Levy sat beside each other, busy talking about the concert, while Gray and Gajeel sat on either side of them. When Gray spoke, Juvia and Levy turned towards him and he subtly pointed towards one of the private upper boxes. Just as he said, Cana was there, in a daring red dress. She was sitting with a familiar man with dark orange hair and wearing an expensive-looking suit.

“Is that Gildarts Clive?” Juvia asked, starstruck. The man was a household name in Fiore, a well-known actor in both stage and television, and now a reknowned producer and mentor to younger celebrities.

“You know he’s her dad, right?” Gray replied.

Juvia knew that, but she was still awed, watching the two laughing easily with each other. That was when another man came in, this time with slicked blond hair and a moustache. Juvia recognized the signature brown suit and the uptight expression.

Before she could ask, she heard Levy say, “Oh, there’s Lucy’s dad. It’s good he can make it.”

“You guys know a lotta famous people.” Gajeel remarked, picking at his hair. Freed hadn’t let him go until he had it sleeked and tied back. Gray watched the whole scene with a smug smirk on his face and Gajeel would have punched the guy if Juvia didn’t like him so much.

Then as Cana was looking around the audience, she spotted them and smiled widely. She tugged at her father’s sleeve and pointed towards them. Gildarts squinted a bit before both father and daughter waved happily to their group.

“And they saw us.” Gray said, raising a hand back in greeting. Juvia looked around and saw Levy waving back at them as if this was the norm, so she simply did the same, albeit gingerly. They watched as Cana said something to Jude, and the man eyed them shortly before nodding towards them in acknowledgement.

Then the lights slowly dimmed, and there was a general hush among the people in the hall. There was an announcement that the show will start soon, followed by the usual reminders — keep phones on silent, recording was not permitted, the locations of the emergency exits and the like.

As they waited for the curtains to open, Gray felt a soft tug on his sleeve and looked beside him. For the umpteenth time that night, he caught himself thinking that Juvia looked downright stunning. “What is it?” he asked in a whisper.

She was fiddling gingerly with the fabric of his jacket, looking up at him with a light blush on her cheeks. “Juvia just… wants to thank Gray for taking Juvia here.”

He blinked, wondering where that came from, but didn’t think too much about it and just twined his fingers with hers. Was this how Lucy felt when she gave him the tickets? “Just enjoy yourself, that’s enough for me.”

She smiled at him, and he got a great view of it as the curtains opened and light from the stage streamed in. Then her eyes were on the stage, taking it in — the small concert band, the conductor, the grand piano, and the spotlight trained on the microphone stand in the center of the stage.

There was silence from the audience as the conductor counted down and the band started playing. Juvia drew a breath, recognizing the song as one of the pieces from ‘Glitter’ just as Lucy walked in, seemingly glowing under the spotlight, her blue dress shimmering like a starry night sky.

“Lu-chan, you’re so pretty…” Juvia heard Levy whisper.

“Good evening everyone.” Lucy said, her soft but strong voice clear above the music. “I am Lucy Heartfilia, and I hope you all enjoy tonight.”

The show was even better than what Juvia expected — and she expected it to be great. She recalled the articles about Lucy and Cana when they first completed their run in Glitter — a lot of critics stated that the two might not be as good when they go their separate ways, or they might fall short on their endeavors after their first show. They were proved wrong, obviously.

Lucy was nothing short of brilliant that night, carrying herself with grace as she offered the audience her strong vocals and great performance, even when she sang alone on the stage with only the band behind her. She was also a great hostess, entertaining her guests with little quips, jokes and anecdotes during short breaks.

Juvia thought that maybe it’s just her, being overwhelmed on her first time in a musical diva’s solo concert. But both Levy and Gray on either side of her kept saying that Lucy’s performance was something else this time around.

There was a short twenty-minute intermission in the middle of the event. When the curtains opened up again, there were now two microphone stands and two matching high chairs in the middle of the stage.

On one of the chairs, Lucy sat, her legs crossed. She had changed into another outfit, this time a sleeveless vintage rose-colored dress with black lace designs, ending by her knees. It was a classic but more casual look, reflecting the more intimate and laid-back part of the show.

“Hello, everyone!” she greeted cheerfully. “We’re back, and on the second half of tonight’s show. Again, thank you all for coming to see me.”

There was a general murmur of appreciation from the audience, and Lucy bowed her head gratefully as they clapped their hands.

“Since this is the fourth session now, I’m guessing quite a number of people have posted about it already, so it’s not such a big surprise anymore…” she continued, looking thoughtfully at her audience. “Every week, I invite a special guest over to spend the second half of the show with me. Actually, last week it was my dear friend, the very wonderful Cana Alberona, who is also in the audience tonight. Hey, Cana!”

There was a round of applause, and Lucy extended an arm to acknowledge the other woman. Cana stood up and took a gracious bow to the audience before sitting down again.

In their seats, Gray leaned over a bit to whisper to Levy. “Do we know who it is tonight?”

“I didn’t check.” Levy answered. “I’m not even sure there’s something to check. Lu-chan didn’t tell me about it either so maybe it really is a surprise thing.”

Lucy went on, “Now tonight, I’d like to call on this special person… very dear to me, because we spent quite a time working with each other while doing ‘Glitter’, and a few other projects after that.”

“Ah, I think it’s him.” Levy said then, earning her questioning looks from Juvia and Gajeel while Gray just shook his head, bemused.

“So without further ado… everyone please welcome to the stage, none other than the very handsome and talented Loke!”

There was a roar of applause as the man stepped out from the side of the stage, in his trademark tailored suit and tie, carrying a large bouquet of red roses. He had his dazzling smile on as he walked across the stage. Lucy met him in a hug as he gave her the bouquet and a kiss on her cheek. Then he helped her back on her high chair and bowed to the audience.

“Good evening, everyone!” Loke greeted as he sat on the empty chair beside Lucy’s, and if it was even possible, the applause just grew louder.

“I knew you guys would like that!” Lucy said mischievously, making her guests laugh.

“It’s my pleasure to be here with all of you tonight.” the man continued after the laughter had died down. “And Lucy, you look absolutely beautiful, my love.”

“Stop it.” she warned.

He raised an eyebrow teasingly. “Is it working?”

Lucy rolled her eyes. “It is.”

That earned another around of laughter. Everyone who had watched interviews with the two would probably know right away that the two always shared a playful and flirty working relationship.

“Okay! So back to the show… during the break, my staff asked some of you to suggest a song that you would like me to sing. There are lots of nice suggestions! But there’s something that caught my attention. Because someone requested me to sing anything — anything at all, as long as it’s from a classic Broadway musical.” she exchanged a look with Loke, and he nodded. “So I brainstormed with Loke a bit, and we came up with something.”

“It’s a pretty special song.” Loke added. “For both of us.”

“And… Would you guys mind if we tell you a really… really short story?” Lucy asked. There was a general chorus of encouragement from the audience, and she smiled. “I don’t think we ever told this to anyone before.”

“That’s right.” the man nodded. “You heard it here first.”

“So… we’ve done a lot of interviews together. And we always said that we met each other through ‘Glitter’. We don’t usually count the gala events we both attended when we were about seven, ten years old because we don’t remember most of that… What we’ve never told anyone is that actually we’ve met before we worked together on ‘Glitter’.”

Loke added, “And fun fact, we only recently remembered it ourselves. It’s been a few years, and it’s a really short encounter.”

“I was sixteen.” Lucy said, voice shaking a bit. It was obvious that she was feeling slightly embarrassed. “And you were…?”

“Nineteen.” Loke provided. He was also smiling a bit bashfully. It made the audience more curious about their story.

“So around then, there was big news about a revival of this Broadway musical. There was a casting call, and of course I was a hopeful so I went in line.” Lucy glanced at Loke for a moment before continuing. “Turns out, Loke was also auditioning for a part, and we came on the same day. So there I was, all day in the really long audition line, and I was watching some of the guys on the other line. There’s a big buzz among the girls, see. Because the two roles being auditioned for that day were each other’s romantic interest. So…”

Loke picked up where she left off. “Both sides were picking out who they want to be paired up with if they ever get the part. Room full of hopeful teens, bored and waiting for their turn, it was unavoidable. Anyway, pretty soon both sides started chatting each other up. I… well, I went with the flow, of course. There was this pretty blonde auditionee and she was a bundle of nerves. I thought I’d talk to her.”

“He was already in a ton of magazines and movies back then.” Lucy said, exasperated. “And on a normal day, I would’ve recognized him but that day I was very distracted and feeling all nervous about my piece, and he was wearing these nerd glasses and a really tacky beanie. He didn’t look like his normal self. At all!”

There were already several chuckles from the audience by then.

“I just tried not to draw attention to myself.” he said, trying to hold back a laugh. “I remember there was a big billboard of me advertising a clothes brand or something right outside the place.”

To most of the audience, the two of them looked very much like friends recalling an embarrassing memory.

“And I guess it worked, because he just… didn’t look the part, what with that disguise. But then we started talking, and going over stuff like childhood memories of the old run of the show we’re auditioning for and then…” At this, Lucy chuckled, covering her face with a hand. “Then I got called in, and of course my name was mentioned, and he looked at me like ‘What? I know you!’”

The audience were cheering now, as Lucy just shook her head at the memory.

Loke chuckled. “Then after she got out, I just told her that, y’know, I worked with her mother once.”

“No really he literally said, ‘Hey, I worked with your mom once.’

He continued, trying to stifle his laughter. “So she said she doesn’t remember me. Then it was my turn to get called in. And yeah, I guess my name was familiar, there were already all these people looking at me so… I just took off my beanie and the glasses… and just sorta told her that… it’s nice to meet her and I gotta go.”

“So I just stood there wondering what the heck happened. Because… like, the guy transformedAm I in a TV show? Where are the cameras?” Lucy continued as their audience laughed. Even the band and the conductor were all in various degrees of amusement. Both Lucy and Loke just shook their heads in embarrassment.

As soon as Lucy got her composure back, she continued her spiel. “Anyways, we didn’t get the parts, obviously. I guess we still had a lot to learn back then. But! The key take-away was that, funnily enough, I actually thought it’d be nice to have Mr. Glasses-and-Beanie as my partner. Even before I knew he was the same guy in the billboard outside. Who I had a huge crush on, by the way.”

“And then,” Loke followed, smoothly taking his microphone from the stand and hopping off his chair. “Years later, she’s a lead actress and I’m her leading man.”

The two looked at each other and laughed as the audience launched into a cheerful, happy applause, complete with cheers and whistles.

“So! Without further ado… here’s the song we could have but never got to sing together.” Lucy said, chuckling, also taking her microphone. Two staff members carried the stands away from the stage.

Loke nodded graciously. “Because really, if she got to play Liesl…”

“…I would have wanted him to be my Rolf.” the blonde finished sweetly, then gestured towards the band that they were about to start. She stage-whispered, “I feel really silly singing this song now.” The audience laughed shortly but turned silent again as soft piano music began playing. “But here’s a song from the classic, ‘The Sound of Music’.”

As the rest of the band slowly joined the instrumentals, Loke lifted the microphone to his lips. He breathed deeply and waited for the band conductor to give him the go-signal before he started singing, his deep, rich voice filling the concert hall.

“You wait, little girl, on an empty stage…
for fate to turn the light on.”

The man walked leisurely towards the blonde woman in her seat, smiling charmingly as he sang.

“Your life, little girl, is an empty page…
that men will want to write on.”

He smirked and casually leaned close to Lucy, who then returned the grin and poked a finger to his chest to get him to step backwards.

Her voice matched his perfectly as she replied in song.

“To write on…”

Then he shrugged, and launched into his half of the song.

“You are 16 going on 17, baby it’s time to think.
Better beware, be canny and careful.
Baby, you’re on the brink!”

There was a short appreciative round of applause from the audience as he sang while walking around Lucy’s chair.

“You are 16 going on 17, fellows will fall in line!
Eager young lads and grueways and cads will offer you food and wine.”

Their connection was very visible, with Lucy raising an unimpressed eyebrow while he strolled nearby, projecting, expression all-knowing.

“Totally unprepared are you to face a world of men…
Timid and shy and scared are you of things beyond your kin!”

It was obvious that Loke was giving it his all, even making a show of comically puffing his chest in confidence reminiscent of the original scene.

“You need someone older and wiser telling you what to do…”

He walked towards her then, tucking her hair behind her ear before reaching out and taking her hand.

“I am 17 going on 18, I’ll take care of you.”

Lucy made an exasperated look and shrugged towards her audience before humoring the man, letting him help her down her high chair as she sang.

“I am 16 going on 17, I know that I’m naive.
Fellows I meet may tell me I’m sweet and willingly I believe.”

This time she was the one to lead him around the stage by his arm, expression teasing and at times challenging. She paused walking for a moment to give him a light tap on the nose, her smile cheeky.

“I am 16 going on 17, innocent as a rose!
Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies, what do I know of those?”

Lucy was an actress, so of course she captured the youthful playfulness in her acting, taking her partner’s hand and swinging it back and forth.

“Totally unprepared am I to face a world of men…
Timid and shy and scared am I of things beyond my kin!”

She made a show of straightening his already pristine coat and tie for extra effect as she appeared thoughtful and worried.

“I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do…”

Lucy leaned forward and stepped forward, daring, and Loke took steps back as she continued to advance.

“You are 17 going on 18, I’ll depend on you.”

They both blinked when their accompaniment didn’t stop playing the instrumentals, and Lucy asked out loud, “Oh, are we doing the dance part too?”

There were loud cheering and sounds of agreement from their audience.

The two looked lost for only a beat, but Loke whispered something quick to the blonde’s ear and Lucy nodded. Both put their microphones down on the nearby chair and seemed to automatically fall into a classic closed position.

Lucy let him lead her into a graceful waltz in the middle of the stage, the spotlight following them. She laughed as he twirled her around, but didn’t let him win that easily, also leading him into a turn. Loke said something that the audience didn’t catch, and Lucy easily latched on to his neck as he hoisted her up by her waist in a half-carry and turned around several times. He stole a kiss on her cheek before he put her down. This earned them another round of applause.

Juvia watched the exchange as closely as she could. She hoped she could dance with someone like that someday. The pair were making things up as they go along while also making it look effortless, with the ease of experienced dancers who are fully comfortable with each other. They were talking as they danced, both of them giving instructions and cues. Juvia can see the level of trust they had between them as Lucy let him lift and carry her a few more times and Loke followed her lead navigating the stage. When it came for the number’s signature ending, instead of going in for a kiss on the lips, Loke simply stepped back and kissed the blonde’s hand as she curtsied graciously.

Then Lucy gave a quick queue to the conductor, and she and Loke managed to grab their microphones again just in time. The accompaniment slowed down, to finish the number with their own special version of the song’s reprise. The pair faced each other in the middle of the stage.

Loke sang, not even sounding like he was catching his breath from the dance.

“You are 16 going on 17, waiting for life to start.
Somebody kind who touches your mind will suddenly touch your heart…”

Lucy followed, her voice just as clear.

“When that happens, after it happens, nothing is quite the same.
Somehow I know I’ll jump up and go if ever he calls my name.”

He held out a hand and she accepted it. He assisted her as she did a single slow pirouette while he sang.

“Gone are your old ideas of life, the old ideas grow dim.
Lo and behold you’re someone’s wife…”

Lucy sang the next line with a wistful smile on her face.

“…and I belong to him.”

Loke nodded proudly as he led her back to her chair, then helped ease her up to it.

“You may think this kind of adventure never may come to you.
Darling, 16 going on 17, wait a year…”

Lucy laid a hand on his shoulder as she continued.

“I’ll wait a year…”

They sang the last line in unison, their voices blending perfectly, a testament to how they’ve perfected singing with each other during the time they worked together.

“Just wait a year… or two.”

There was a loud and appreciative round of applause as they finished the song. The two looked at each other before thanking their audience and taking a bow. Then Lucy took the microphone again and spoke up. “Alright, now who wants to hear a song from ‘Glitter’?”

There was quite a bit of mingling among some of the audience members after the show. For their part, Gray, Juvia, Levy and Gajeel stayed because Cana had told them to. Juvia clung firmly to Gray’s arm as she looked around, recognizing a number of familiar faces in the crowd. There were some famous models, actors, actresses and singers she was familiar with. Meanwhile, Levy and Gajeel stood behind them, mostly trying to keep out of their way, but also engaged in an easy conversation about the show.

Lucy had taken it upon herself to come down and greet some of the guests. She signed and took pictures with some fans, before her father walked up to her.

“Dad!” she welcomed the man with a warm hug. “I know you were busy… I hope you enjoyed it!”

Jude hugged his daughter back with a small smile. “Of course. You were wonderful tonight, Lucy.”

“Thank you!” she said, smiling brightly.

He nodded, stroking her hair as she wrapped her arms around his torso. She only withdrew when Gildarts walked up to her.

“Brilliant as always, Lucy-chan!” the actor said in greeting. He laid a hand on top of her head. “I wanted to come last week, to see you and Cana-chan together, you know. My schedule didn’t allow it. But I’m glad I went with her to see you tonight.”

Lucy laughed lightly as they shared a short hug. “Thanks, Gildarts.”

Across the room, Juvia let out a surprised squeak when Cana practically glomped at her. “Giiiirl, you look so pretty!”

“T-T-Thank you, Cana-san!”

The brunette grinned as she eyed the other woman’s attire. “Let me guess, Freed and Ever?”

Juvia nodded gingerly.

Cana turned towards the others as well. “And Levy, you’re killing it.”

Levy simply smiled back at her friend and did a small mock curtsy.

Next came Gray and Gajeel. “Oooohh. You two look like sirs over there!”

Gray shrugged, while Gajeel just crossed his arms across his chest and looked away.

“We have to take a photo.” the brunette said as she rummaged through her purse for her phone. “And yes, that includes YOU — Big Guy Levy’s Date I Forgot Your Name — stop tryin’ to escape because you’re gonna hold this phone.”

“Why me?” Gajeel grumbled.

“Because you’ve got the longest arm, duh.” she answered, shoving the phone towards the man and pulling Juvia and Levy close. Gray knew there was no winning against her so he just joined their little huddled crowd. Gajeel did the same, grudgingly, but smiled a bit when they took the shot.

“Hey, no fair! What about me?”

They all turned around to see Lucy watching them, an amused smile on her face.

Levy was the first to snap out of it, walking forward to give her friend a hug. “Lu-chan! You were brilliant!”

“Thanks, Levy-chan.” she said, hugging the other woman back. She looked at the rest of the group. “I’m glad you guys could make it.”

When she stepped back, her friends all congratulated her on the successful show. Juvia thanked her for the tickets, and the blonde waved it off, saying that she was just glad that they enjoyed the concert.

Shortly after that, Loke also joined them, standing beside Lucy. “Well, here’s a nice crowd. Cana, lovely to see you as always. And Levy! Been a while since I saw you in one of these shows.”

“You were a surprise yourself!” Levy laughed as she shared a quick hug with the man. “Well-played, both of you.” she said, eyeing both him and Lucy.

“Gray.” Loke then nodded towards the other man, then finally noticed Juvia blushing beside his friend, starstruck. He blinked, surprised. “And am I seeing things, or did you really come with a beautiful lady by your arm tonight?”

“Funny.” Gray rolled his eyes, but introduced his date anyway. “Loke, this is Juvia.”

Juvia blushed and stammered as Loke took her free hand in his. “I-It’s… It’s a pleasure to meet you, Loke-san! Juvia is a fan of your work!”

“The pleasure’s all mine, Miss Juvia.” Loke said, sending her his best smile before kissing her hand. “Your escort has quite a reputation, so I’d have to ask my friends for details later.”

Juvia blinked and looked towards Gray, who just scratched his head gingerly and shrugged.

Then Loke was also introduced to Gajeel. The taller man looked a bit awkward — Loke was just too suave and had all-too-flawless manners — but he kept it formal and polite.

“Levy, your date?” Loke asked as he shook hands with the man.

The answer from both Levy and Gajeel was automatic. “We’re just third-wheeling. Together.”

Then Cana raised her phone again. “Alright, another picture! With Lucy and Loke this time!” she declared, handing her phone to Gajeel again. “Sorry, big guy, I don’t make the rules.”

Gajeel rolled his eyes, but accepted the gadget anyway. “Alright, huddle up real close or else we won’t fit.”

They did as instructed, Cana and Lucy pulled Juvia to stand between them while Gray and Loke positioned themselves behind the women. Gajeel joined them in the huddle, Levy tucked in front beside him, and he held the camera up.

“Alright!” Cana said. “Everyone say ‘Lucy’!”


For Juvia, that photo would be the best souvenir of the night.

Chapter Notes:

Look at him, there’s my boy Loke. So proud of my son.

I think some people read the teaser for this chapter from the previous one and thought that I’m gonna have a Lucy-Gray-Juvia love triangle. Sorry, guys. I don’t do love triangles. See, teasers can be misleadiiiing~ Never believe theeeem~

Dance/Musical Notes:
— Before you guys bash me and tell me that NOOOOO the reprise of 16 Going On 17 was actually sung by Liesl and Maria NOT ROLF! — I know. I know that. But as said above, it was a special version. It just felt like a nicer way to finish the song rather than the kiss. And it kinda worked?
— For this one, I think everyone is familiar with the version in the classic movie, but may I also point you to the rather adorable version by Ariane Rinehart and Michael Campayno that they did for the Macy Thanksgiving Parade 2013. IT IS CUTE. And was the primary inspiration for the number in this chapter. There’s a video in YouTube. It is very LoLu.

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