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 13
Uptown Funk

Chapter Notes:

Fun. Just… y’know. Fun!

I mean with a song like this, it’s just hard to write drama.


Uptown Funk
( “…gonna give to ’ya,
Saturday night and we in the spot!
Don’t believe me, just watch!”)
— Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars


When Gray woke up on the morning after, his first thought was that he wouldn’t mind it so much, seeing Juvia’s peaceful sleeping face first thing every morning.

But then he caught sight of the time in the wall clock and the next thing he did was bolt upright and curse. “Crap! Aw, shiiiit. I overslept!”

He practically leapt out of bed, looked for his pants and hastily put them on. While he was looking for a shirt, he heard a soft voice calling him.

“Gray?” Juvia said, sleepily sitting up. She pulled consciously at Gray’s oversized button-up shirt that she was wearing. “Is something wrong?”

“Nothin’, I just overslept and Erza will probably kill me for making her cook breakfast alone ’cause we’re on duty today.” he replied quickly. “So I gotta go downstairs and see what I can do ’bout that. You go back to sleep if you wanna, or go join us if you’re hungry. Really gotta run now. Good morning. See ’ya.”

He dropped a quick kiss on her cheek and then he was out the door.

Juvia blinked, dazed and sleepy, then laid back on the bed. What just happened?

Gray got there and found most of his housemates already enjoying breakfast, talking heartily. He took the sight in for one second until a familiar voice called his name.

“Gray! Good morning!” came from Erza, setting down a pitcher of orange juice in the table. He looked up at her expecting a negative reaction to follow, but to his surprise she was smiling brightly. “Breakfast’s ready, eat up.”

He blinked as he walked towards her uncertainly. “Um, I overslept… Sorry?”

“It’s alright. I had help.” the red-head said.

That was when Gray finally noticed Jellal setting a serving of fried eggs down for the others before sitting with them. Lucy, the closest person, thanked him and then asked about the recital from the previous night. The two then started talking animatedly about the event.

Gray’s attention snapped back towards Erza to catch her last words in time. “…and it’s Sunday anyway, there’s no rush.”

“Oh… well. Okay. Good.” he nodded, watching as Erza finally joined the others in the table.

“Hey, Juvia. Good morning.” Gray looked up when he heard Warren’s voice in greeting. Juvia was walking towards them sheepishly, still in Gray’s button-up but having changed into her own shorts. “C’mon, eat up.”

“We didn’t know you slept over.” Laki said, pulling the other woman to sit beside her. “Got back late last night?”

Juvia nodded, then looked up and smiled when Gray handed her a plate and some utensils as he joined them.

“You girls did a marvelous job on Juvia, by the way.” Lucy chimed in. “She looked great last night.”

“Well, we had professionals around.” Laki said, laughing.

“Freed-san and Evergreen-san helped a lot.” Juvia agreed. “Ah, but Erza-san’s dress was really pretty! Thanks for letting Juvia borrow, Erza-san!”

Erza just smiled back and graciously said, “Anytime, Juvia.”

“It’s unfair, I never got to see any of you dressed up yesterday.” Natsu groaned.

“Gray looked like a sir.” Levy said, teasing.

Gray just rolled his eyes as he started eating. “Freed won’t let me go otherwise.” Beside him, Juvia just giggled and began putting food on her plate as well.

Others joined them shortly, all greeting them a cheerful but still sleepy ‘good morning’ as they each took seats in the table. It was a more peaceful morning than usual, with everyone taking their time eating and talking with their housemates, no one rushing off to go to work or do their chores.

Sundays are great. Juvia decided that she liked the Guild most during Sundays.

And then Cana, who had just gone down to join them, pointed out — “Is it me or is it crowded in here today?”

Everyone took a moment to look around. Yes, the table was full. Well, the table has been full for quite a while but somehow more people still managed to squeeze right in and no one was complaining. Although they were all quite sure that Evergreen was practically sitting on Elfman’s lap, Natsu and Lucy were sharing a chair, and Bixlow was sitting on the table top eating while holding his plate up. Meanwhile Laki, Levy and Lisanna had already put two chairs together to cover the three of them. Not to mention Laxus was eating his food from Freed’s plate. That’s… That’s what’s happening over there, right? That’s why they’re having a forkfight over a piece of hotdog in that plate, right?

It actually looked pretty impressive. Cana didn’t know they could get so competitive.

When Freed glanced up and saw the brunette watching them with a weirded out expression, he just blinked innocently. Assuming that he was expected to answer the question, he just said, “W-What? It’s crowded because everyone and their girlfriends are here. Now don’t look at me. I live here.”

This made all of his housemates turn their attention towards him and ask, “Since when?”

“Since last week…?” the man answered, confused. “Why do you guys think I’m always here?”

“Because you’re just… always here.” Natsu pointed out. ‘Like Lucy’s always here but she doesn’t live here, she just sleeps in my bed and eats our food.’ then he faked a gasp. “Lucy, that makes you a freeloader— OWWWW.”

By this time Cana had joined Bixlow in the sitting-on-the-table team, holding her plate of food up and eating while she watched her housemates try to figure out how they missed Freed moving in with them.

There was Lucy hitting Natsu, Elfman quickly trying to assure Evergreen that she wasn’t a freeloader, Alzack and Bisca proudly saying they both pay rent, Jellal saying ‘Do they realize I’m here too?’ and Erza replying ‘Ssshh, yes, you’re my girlfriend.’ — Freed just ignored all of those and looked at everyone with furrowed brows.

“I moved in last week… some of you guys even helped carry my things…?”

“Oh, that’s what it’s about?” Droy asked.

“We just helped you take ’em upstairs because you asked.” Jet continued.


“We thought t’was for work!” the two complained.

Finally, the designer just turned towards Laxus with a concerned frown. “You said you’d tell them.”

Laxus, who had been contentedly eating the piece of hotdog that he won from the other man, turned towards him slowly, expression blank. “I forgot.”

This earned him a bunch of exasperated sighs and shouts of “Seriously?!” from everyone else because “That’s not the sort of thing you forget, Laxus!” — that one was from Evergreen.

He was about to defend himself until someone raised a hand and asked out loud, “Are you getting married soon?”

Everyone fell silent, and the couple paused abruptly. Freed, who had just held up his glass of orange juice to drink, put the beverage down slowly as if to say ‘Thank God I wasn’t drinking for that.’ while beside him, Laxus looked down at the fork on his hand, expression unreadable. Maybe he was thinking about the answer to the question… or maybe simply how to kill a person with a fork.

People might have heard Jellal faintly whisper, “I think if we plan to live together, you know, one of these days—” and Erza whispering back, “-yes, I’ll move in with you instead, that’s… I think that’s… better.”

And finally Laxus looked up to address the brave soul who asked him the question. The blonde merely raised an eyebrow. “Wait. Romeo. Why the hell are you even here?”

Romeo, who was sandwiched between Levy and Jet and heartily eating breakfast with them, just smiled toothily and shrugged. “I was bored at home?”

Freed joined in, squinting at the teen. “It’s 9 AM on a Sunday. Go sleep in like a normal teenager.”

“I’m not normal, I’m badass!” Romeo declared, raised a hand for someone to high-five. Cana humored him, even adding a fistbump.

“It doesn’t make much difference now that you’ve moved in, anyway.” Mira told Freed with a smile. “You’re family. So should I add you to the headcount when dividing rent?”

Freed smiled back at the woman. “Sure. Thanks, Mira.”

Everyone had returned easily to eating their breakfast and resuming their previous conversations. But then, in what felt like deja vu for most of the people in the table, Max came running in screaming again.

“EVERYONE! NEWS! Results are out!” the man exclaimed breathlessly. His was still in his shirt and boxers, his hair was still wet, a towel draped on his shoulders as he held his phone out. “We’re… We’re in!”

Evergreen, being the nearest person, grabbed his phone to confirm. She smiled brightly as she looked at the announcement in the phone screen. “He’s right! These are the upvote counts and we’re on third! The Guild! It even has our logo thing on it!”

The whole table erupted in cheerful celebratory cheers and applause. Their guests congratulated them. There were several hugs, high-fives and victorious fistbumps.

“This calls for a celebration!” came from Cana, raising her glass of orange juice up. “Let’s do this, guys! DRINKS ON ME! Get the beer out!”

“Cana, it’s morning!” Levy replied, laughing along with the others.

“Oh! Yeah!” the brunette snorted, but didn’t put her drink down. “Well, let’s toast to it anyway! And tonight, no one’s stayin’ home, we’ll go out and PAR-TAAAAY! My treat!”

Everyone just raised their glasses and mugs up and clicked them against each other heartily. “Cheers!”

It was afternoon when Levy came into the CD shop, and Gajeel was busy putting price tags on a stack of CD’s. She was about to do her customary cheerful greeting, but the man was in a conversation with two teenage boys.

“Really, sempai?! You’re okay with that?!” Sting was practically bouncing.

“Look, why’re ‘ya even askin’ me about this?” Gajeel rolled his eyes. “It’s yer lunchbreak. Do whatcha want.”

“But I usually just order take-out and eat in the back room…” Rogue said, concerned.

“I don’t care what you do s’long as you’re back on time.” Gajeel replied. “So whatever, go on yer lunch date.”

That made both boys blush. “I-I-It’s not a lunch date! It’s just lunch!”

“Again: I don’t care.”

But Sting leaned closer and pulled out his puppy eyes. “Can we extend for an hour?”

Gajeel narrowed his eyes at the blonde, about to seriously kick him out from the shop — but he looked at Rogue and the kid was looking back at him hopefully. Dammit. He’s such a good and responsible kid (and Gajeel’s only decent part-timer in a while) that Gajeel felt bad denying him a favor. The man just sighed and nodded. “Half an hour.”

“Higher?” Sting pleaded.

“Extra forty-five minutes, tops.”

Sting grinned. “I’ll take it. You’re the best, Gajeel-sempai!”

“I’m not your sempai. Whatever. Just gay. I mean go. Just go. Away. Bye.”

Without wasting a moment, Sting tugged at Rogue’s arm and pulled the other teen with him. They met Levy on the way, and he smiled brightly at her and said, “Hello, welcome to ‘For the Record’! How may that guy over there help you? Just tell ’im!” before proceeding to exit the shop.

Gajeel called back. “Shut up and just go away or I’m firing you!”

“I don’t even work here!” Sting shouted back cheerfully. Rogue, who just helplessly let his new friend drag him out the shop, was mouthing ‘SORRY’ and ‘PLEASE FORGIVE’ and ‘WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN’ in rapid succession towards his senior employee as they disappeared.

Levy watched the boys go with an amused smile on her face. When she turned towards Gajeel, she let out a giggle as she watched him rub his temples and sigh.

“Stop that.” he told her.

“They’re cute.” she said, climbing up to sit on the chair across him, resting her elbows on the counter and looking curiously at the stacks of records he was working on. “Is the quiet one your brother? He looks like your brother…”

“No, he’s just a part-timer.” he answered. “He’s fine, that kid.”

“And the other one?”

“Boyfriend.” came his grudging reply. ‘Or would-be boyfriend. I’m startin’ to regret setting them up now. He just got more annoying and started hangin’ out here more often playing that cat game in his goddamn iPad. He even named one after me.’ Then he looked at her. “Hey, I heard from Juvia. Congratulations on that contest thing.”

“Ah, yes! We’re really… everyone at home’s going nuts over it. Our efforts paid off. It’s great.”

“You guys deserve it. That routine you posted was somethin’ else.”

“Thanks!” she said with an appreciative smile.

He nodded. “Why’re you here, anyway? Need a record or somethin’?”

At this, her smile turned brighter. He didn’t know that was possible, but he wasn’t surprised too much. Since meeting her, she’s been nothing but a bundle of surprises.

Pleasant ones, thankfully.

“Your mix.” Levy started. She breathed deeply before exclaiming. “It was brilliant!

Gajeel blinked. “It is?”

“IT’S TOTALLY AMAZING!” she marveled, leaning forward excitedly. “I LOVE IT EVEN MORE! I ALREADY DANCED TO LIKE HALF OF ’EM!”

“Whoa, take it down a notch, shortcake.” he smirked, leaning back a bit to put some distance between them. She was practically climbing on top of the counter now. It was cute. He didn’t want it to be cute. When she calmed down a bit, he finally said. “I told you they work.”

“Yeah! They actually do! Jet and Droy like them too!” she grinned. “But of course we have to rearrange the instrumentals because sometimes the really good tap parts get drowned out against the original percussions… Nevermind that for now, though! But they’re all really interesting. Those Adele tracks you put in? How did you think of those?”

They spent the next half-hour going through his track list, then after he told her about how he found the songs, he listened as she talked about them for dancing. She told him about coming up with good routines and interesting combos, how Jet and Droy approved and all three of them agreed to use some of the songs for their next routines. She went into details about some tap dance stuff, and he could barely understand more than half of it, but he didn’t dare interrupt. There was something about how she talked so enthusiastically about this thing she obviously loves so much, and he was finding her joy contagious.

She reminded him a bit of how Juvia talks about her dancing.

But more importantly, she reminded him of how he used to be. When they were teenagers, around the time Juvia was being enthusiastic about her dancing, and he was also getting into band. He could talk all day about his guitar, the songs he could play, the songs he could write…

Nowadays, he could hardly come up with good riffs. He just never got into the mood, or didn’t have inspiration, or sometimes he just saw it as pointless. What was the point of playing if nobody would hear it? He didn’t want to get rusty, though… that was why he still volunteered to play with other people, to sub for a missing guitarist with some band or two.

He wasn’t a good enough singer, but he knew he had skills on the guitar and he knew he could write and arrange music. So he needed a band. He knew some guitarists can make it solo, but he knew for himself that he was an accompaniment. For some reason his music and arrangements were written not just for himself. He didn’t know why exactly it always ended up like that.

Or maybe he’s just been alone for too long, and was getting tired of it.

This was why he always told Juvia to find people to dance with. He didn’t want her to end up like him. Stuck. Aimless. Losing that spark he once had with something he was passionate about. He wanted her to be like Levy and those people from the Guild. They might not be making it big, but they were in it together. They danced for each other, with each other.

So he felt a bit jealous, really. He wondered if he could be part of something like that, too.


Shit. He zoned out.

“Uh. What?”

“You stopped.” she said, frowning a bit. He looked down to find that he had indeed just stopped, and had been staring down at the album in his hand, the label gun on his other hand hovering over it uselessly. “I’m sorry, I got a bit too technical, right? I always ramble, always forget who I’m talking to…”

He quickly shook his head, and resumed with his task, applying the price tag sticker on the CD case. “No, that’s fine. I just remembered somethin’ I have to do later. What were you sayin’?”

“Um, I was thinking of how to rearrange some of the songs, because of the percussions. They drown out the tap sounds.”

He raised an eyebrow. “You’ve got a good DJ, right? His remix on that video of yours is sick. Bet he can tone down the percussions on most of those songs.”

“Hmm… yeah, but…” she thought of it for a bit. “Laxus is busy most days. And we usually only bother him about the big stuff.”

“Or you could go with the other option and hire some instrument players to do the custom arrangement and go dance to that.”

“Yeah. You know a lot of those people, right?” she asked, looking at him curiously this time.

He shrugged. “Some. There’s some decent bands out here, y’know. Well, more shitty bands, but there are some pretty okay guys.”

Levy nodded. “Hmm… Maybe we’ll look into it. It sounds interesting. We’ve always wanted to try on something new… but Jet and Droy are so busy with work. I have a bit more free time compared to them, but it’s no fun doing it alone, y’know? I know I could solo, but I don’t think I’m ready for that yet.” she said, ending her statement with a chuckle.

He nodded. He understood completely.

“Thanks again. For the mix.”


They were quiet for a while. He didn’t mind the silence so much as he simply continued putting price tags on the CD’s, while Levy picked one up from the finished stack and looked at it shortly before returning it. He was focusing on his task, so he didn’t see her look around the store, at the CD and record racks, the shelves with speakers, earphones, headsets and other gadgets and supplies, and finally towards the various posters, memos and other stuff behind the counter.

Then she seemed to remember something. “You should join us tonight.”

“Why, what’s happenin’?” he asked, glancing at her before returning to his work. Her eyes were set on one of the concert posters behind him.

“We’re planning to go out, celebrate getting in the finals, y’know. We’re still not sure where, but Cana said she’ll take care of that. I know we should say ‘no’ to her because it’s Monday tomorrow and all, but the past week’s been spent worrying about the votes. I guess we could actually use some real night out.”

“What, like go out drinkin’ and clubbin’?”

“Maybe.” she shrugged. “Well, drinking is settled, because it’s Cana. I don’t know about clubbing, though. We’re gonna wing it, I guess. Just have some fun out on the town. I think Juvia-chan’s coming, too.”

Gajeel nodded, but cocked his head to indicate the black guitar case behind him. “I have a gig tonight. Maybe next time. Thanks for the invite, though.”

“Oh.” Levy let out a frown for only a split second before she smiled again. “You’re playing! Where?”

“Just some bar downtown. This band’s missing a guitarist, said the idiot drunk too much and ended up in jail after doin’ something stupid.” he let out an unimpressed scoff. “They act like jerks, but the gig will pay well. Just hafta endure playin’ their sucky tracks.”

“Aw, try to have a good time, at least?” she sounded honestly sympathetic. “We all get jobs like that one time or another. You know, the sucky ones you just wanna get over with. But hey, if your gig finishes early and you wanna have some fun, just give me or Juvia-chan a call. Maybe we’ll still be out.”

He looked up and was glad that she was now browsing through a music magazine, because that let him freely stare at her for a moment.

She didn’t seem to expect him to reply, because she just continued her reading as she hummed. Nevertheless, he found himself saying, “Sure. I’ll do that. Maybe. If I still got some soul left after playing whatever shitty set list my temp band cooked up.”

He was answered with a sweet smile, before she turned towards the magazine again, humming one of the songs from his mix.

Gajeel inwardly sighed as he continued working. He was spending a whole lot of time with Little Tapper Girl lately, and while she was a ball of energy, many words, sunshine and surprises, he realized that he actually liked her company very much.

Levy returned home in the early evening to find most of her housemates in the living room, all eyes focused on the TV. Laki, Lisanna, Mira and Evergreen were squeezed together in the couch, with Erza sitting on the armrest. Natsu, Max, Jet, Droy, Warren and Bixlow were sitting on bean bags or on the floor. Gray stood nearby. When Levy lifted her head to see what they were watching, she raised an eyebrow. It looked like they connected Bixlow’s laptop to the TV and were watching a dance video from YouTube.

A really badass hip-hop dance video by the looks of it.

They would usually be smiling in awe of the really awesome dancing, and Levy wondered why they were all frowning.

Nobody spoke when she quietly sat between Jet and Droy, her two best friends glancing at her shortly before turning their attention back to the footage.

“What are we watching?” she whispered, leaning against Droy’s arm. In turn, he offered her some potato chips he was eating.

“The competition.” Jet said, frowning.

“Oh.” she turned towards the TV again and gulped. That was some pretty sick dancing right there. She thought it was a professional dance feature of some sort.

Over the past week, while letting their own entry sit in wait and gain views and likes, no one in the house actually tried looking into the other groups’ entries. Levy didn’t remember anyone bringing it up — it was like an unspoken agreement that no one scout out their competitors until they were sure of their place in the competition.

But now — watching another team who got in and who they’ll be competing with…

Damn. They were really good.

Everyone was quiet until the video ended.

“Umm…” Bixlow started uncertainly. “That’s the second one. I’ll go find the third one?”

No one answered, so he looked towards Erza. The red-head nodded grimly. Bixlow turned back to browsing through the site.

“Shit.” came from Max. “They’re awesome.”

“We’re awesome too.” Lisanna piped up, but her voice sounded a bit hesitant.

“Hey, half of our group doesn’t even have hip-hop as their main style…” Warren said, tone hopeful. “But we’re in, so that means we’re just as good as them, right?”

There were some noises of agreement, but also some sighs.

“They’re really good, though.” Gray groaned. ‘Their choreo is solid, everything was on point. They’ve got like five breakdancers. Out of everyone here, we only have Natsu who can do those stunts.’ He paused. “…and Max, I guess?”

“Yeah, but I’m not very good at ’em.” Max grumbled. “Erza?”

“Count on me for flips and stands, but I can’t break on the floor.” Erza sighed.

Laki looked up at her. “We don’t really do anything too hardcore, with only half of us in our actual element…”

Natsu scratched his head. “I can… I can teach you guys those stuff if we all need ’ta do it. Some of ’em are real tricky, though.”

“All of you are great dancers.” Evergreen commented, a small encouraging smile on her face. “You’ll come up with something, even better than those guys.”

The uneasy air among everyone was evident.

“Guys?” Mira asked, concerned. When no one answered her, she continued. “We’ll be fine! I’m sure Erza and Gray can cook up another cool routine!”

Lisanna followed. “We can, like… pool our resources, like that! No big! Right?”

Erza and Gray exchanged looks. They were the main choreographers of the group. But those videos had everything and admittedly, it would be very hard to top that.

Their entry was unique — ambitious with a great concept and choreo — that was what pulled the votes for them, because it was something different. But making a video from a concept was really different with dancing a routine live and on a set stage. There will be limits. Would they be able to come up with something to beat the other groups?

Levy looked around at her friends. They gave Evergreen, Mira and Lisanna their thankful smiles, but everyone was obviously still a bit shaken. The other groups had almost twice as many members, and all of them very skilled street dancers, whereas the Guild was made up of a bunch of dancers in different styles, who just know how to follow hip-hop choreography and make up for it in energy.

“I found the third one.” Bixlow said, although his voice was weak. “D’you guys still wanna watch it, or…?”

Erza took a deep breath. It was Gray who said, “Yeah. Go.”

“Are you guys sure?”

“Yeah!” Natsu nodded. “Bring it. Who knows? Maybe they kinda suck?”

They played the video, and on the first ten seconds, they all gave a collective groan.

“Oh hell. Their intro’s too sick.” Jet complained.

Then they heard another voice. “HEY, EVERYONE, WASSUP! I’ve got— Oh.”

Everyone turned their heads to find Cana squinting at the dance routine on TV. She had just arrived, still in her coat and heels.

“Are you guys watching the competition?” she asked, voice demanding, walking up to them with her hands on her waist.

Gray looked at her. “You’ve seen this?”

“Of course, I checked out a lot of other groups while waitin’ for the final votes.” she said.


“Because-…” she stopped, noting their forlorn expressions before continuing, “Because I knew you guys would act like that!”

“Like what?” Gray demanded, frowning deeply. Behind them, Bixlow hurried to pause the video.

“Intimidated.” she deadpanned. “And maybe… discouraged.”

“So you think they’re better too?” Droy asked.

“Not necessarily.” the brunette sighed, crossing her arms across her chest. “Look, you guys came up with a great concept and routine on your own. These guys got numbers and moves, but they all come from the same place. They all move the same. Hell, they just have different formations for it! But I haven’t seen anyone twirl as good as Laki and Lisanna does, or move their feet faster than our tappers here.”

Laki, Lisanna, Jet, Droy and Levy all looked at each other in surprise. They didn’t always voice it, but they sometimes felt like they were the weak links. The rest of the group hold back so they can catch up, because they weren’t dancing on their preferred style. They knew it wasn’t the case, but sometimes they just couldn’t help it.

Cana continued, “Listen. You guys just got taken aback because you’re just realizing that you did something different, and the others are monsters on this style. But y’know what, we got in the top 5 for being different. Let that be why we win too.”

She shrugged towards Erza and Gray before smiling her winning smile. “Deal? ’Cause I’m running out of pep talk stuff to say. You should go ask Laxus if you want more.” She walked forward and took it upon herself to unplug the connection between the TV and the laptop. “Now all of you stop getting depressed over the teams you’re gonna beat, and finish what you have to finish. We’re going out tonight!”

“That’s still on?” Natsu blinked. “Where?”

The woman grinned proudly. “I’ve booked Era’s top floor. Lights, stage, bar and all! And everyone wear reasonable shoes for dancing!”

“It’s Juvia’s first time going to a nightclub in the city.” Juvia said as she walked beside Gray, looking up at the prestigious-looking nightclub.

The glowing letters on the entrance of the building spelled the word ‘ERA’. It was about four floors high.

“Don’t worry. Cana booked the floor so it’ll just be us.” Gray replied.

“Levy-san told me the owner is from the Guild too.”

“You could say that.” Gray said with a small smile. “He’s one of the old man’s kids too, but he’s not the owner… just one of the bosses ’round here. A lot of people own the place.”

The line outside was short, accounting for the night being on a Sunday. Cana led the group inside. Juvia instinctively clung to Gray’s arm as they entered, taken aback by the high ceiling, the fancy neon-colored chandelier, disco lights and house music playing in the entirety of the floor, along with all the people walking around with drinks in hand. She caught a glimpse of the dance floor before they were led towards the elevators.

There were two open elevators ready for them. One of the club staff stood inside one, holding it open. In the other, there was a tall, raven-haired man wearing a sleeveless black turtleneck. He was wearing an earring on one ear, and had thin scars by his right eye.

“That’s him.” Gray whispered in Juvia’s ear, and she nodded. The group had split into two then. Cana was already talking to the man when Gray and Juvia joined them along with some of the others. “Long time no see, Mest.”

Mest smiled back pleasantly at him. “Gray. Been a while since I saw the whole crew. I was really surprised when Cana came over this afternoon asking me to reserve the whole fourth floor.”

“Nah, I know you’ll come through.” Cana chided. “You always do!”

“A longer heads-up next time, please. We’re lucky it was a Sunday night.” Mest sighed, but smiled at the rest of his guests. “Wow, everyone’s really here. Laxus, how’s your grandfather?”

“Still enjoying retirement.” Laxus snorted, but gave a small smile back. “You should know. You talk to him more than I do.”

Mest laughed good-naturedly. “He likes catching up to everyone, you know that.” Then he raised an eyebrow. “Romeo, Wendy, no school tomorrow?”

“Nope, there’s still classes tomorrow!” Romeo declared proudly. “But we’re not missing this either.”

“That’s why we’re going home at 11 PM sharp.” Wendy continued, sheepish but determined.

Romeo whispered loudly, “I bet we’ll leave at twelve.”

This earned them some laughs, before Mest finally said, “And we have a new face, too. Gray, your girlfriend?”

Gray simply nodded and shifted a bit to let Mest and Juvia get a better view of each other. “Juvia, this is Mest. He’s a big-shot ’round here. Mest, Juvia.”

“Pleased to meet you, Juvia-san.” Mest smiled, extending a hand.

Juvia smiled back shyly, shaking his hand. “Nice to meet you, Mest-san. The place looks amazing.”

Gray then turned towards her with a smirk. “Wait until you see the fourth floor, though.”

“Of course!” Cana backed him up cheerfully. “That’s why I reserved it!”

“It’s our best floor.” Mest explained for Juvia’s benefit.

Just in time, the elevator doors slid open, and Juvia took in the sight of the new place. The walls and the ceiling were all made of glass, with dark colored panels and pipes as support. This made the night sky and the city streets, lights and buildings outside fully visible. The bright neon-colored light balls hanging from the ceiling looked like they were floating. There was a bar on one side, round tables and high chairs nearby, music booming from the speakers, a stage, a DJ already firing up some mixes nearby, and disco lights already casting rays on the empty dance floor.

Juvia held her breath, but not for long because Cana had walked into the floor declaring excitedly, “Hell yeah, this is what I’m talkin’ about!”

The dancing started out pretty tame for everyone’s standards. There were some pretty chill dance mixes, as mostly everyone went to the bar first. Everyone from the Guild was there, including some others — Romeo, Wendy, Evergreen and Jellal. Loke arrived too, and was met with cheers from everyone. Mest himself was making them the drinks from the bar. Juvia had been told that was how he started out, being a nightclub barista before saving up enough to start his own business, and then finding some friends to expand it. Now they were an established place on their own.

One hour into their stay, when everyone has had their fill of the drinks and light snacks, Cana finally requested the DJ to play some upbeat music.

Juvia looked up when she heard Lucy let out a small squeal, and couldn’t help but gape when she saw Natsu carrying Lucy over his shoulder and into the center of the dance floor.

Lucy rolled her eyes and stood with her hands on her hips as Natsu started dancing, just some goofy disco moves. Then he pointed towards his girlfriend, as if to pass the torch towards her. Everyone turned towards Lucy, who looked ready to quit at any second, and then they cheered when she smiled giddily and started dancing with him.

Romeo didn’t waste a minute to join them. Max dragged Laki and Warren with him after. Pretty soon Jet and Droy joined them as well, with Levy pulling Wendy with them. Alzack and Bisca followed, arms linked and laughing together.

Juvia looked beside her when she heard Lisanna laughing, and when she looked around, she saw Evergreen holding on to the bar top for dear life because Bixlow was trying to pull her to the dance floor too. The brunette ultimately came screaming when Elfman lifted her up bridal style and carried her with him. Bixlow ran after them energetically, waving his arms above his head.

The music changed songs then, and they heard a call from Natsu screaming, “LISANNA, IT’S YOUR SONG, C’MERE!”

Juvia was surprised when she heard the usually gentle Lisanna shout back, “WHY’RE YOU SO EAGER TO GET YOUR BUTT KICKED?!” before the other woman looked at her beaming, said “You should join us soon, Juvia-chan!” and then ran to join the rest of the dancers.

Juvia recognized the song instantly when she heard the first lines.

((This hit, that ice cold!
Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold!))

“You won’t dance?” Mest asked from behind her, giving Cana another mug of beer. The woman was already sitting on the bar, watching the others enjoying themselves in the dance floor. “I was told you’re also a dancer.”

Juvia answered hesitantly. “Juvia will… wait a bit.”

Mest simply nodded and went back to fixing another drink.

((This one for them hood girls,
them good girls, straight masterpieces!))

Juvia looked around. The only ones not in the dance floor were Cana drinking by the bar, Erza and Mira who were engaged in conversation on another table, Jellal, Loke and Gray also talking over drinks, and Freed and Laxus who were huddled closely together and watching the others dancing.

She jumped when Cana leaned over to peer at her face. “No way, you’re not having fun! I brought you guys here to have fun!”

Juvia shook her head fervently. “No, Cana-san! Juvia is having fun, really!”

“You should dance!” the brunette insisted, then squinted around until she sighted Gray. “Will you dance if Gray’s dancin’ too?”

Juvia didn’t know how to answer that. “Ummm…”

((Stylin’, wilin’, livin’ in up in the city!
Got chucks on with Saint Laurent, gotta kiss myself I’m so pretty!))

“Got it.” Cana said, setting her drink down and then jumping down from the bar. Juvia watched as the brunette marched towards the guys, said something to Gray, and then dragged Loke and Jellal with her to the dance floor, Mira and Erza just laughing as they saw it all unfold.

Juvia covered her face in embarrassment as Gray walked towards her, while Mest was laughing behind them. “Juvia didn’t tell Cana-san to do that!”

“I know. Don’t worry, she’s done worse.” Gray assured her, smirking. “So why don’t you dance?”

She looked down.

“Oh come on.” Gray deadpanned. “It’s not even serious dancing. Look at them.”

Juvia looked at them. Yep. The group had formed this wide circle and they were all cheering and taking turns on pushing someone to dance in the middle of the dance floor. Right now Bixlow was trying to breakdance. It wasn’t very convincing, but hey, he was clearly having fun.

“Let’s go.” Gray said, grabbing Juvia’s hand, a smirk on his face. “We won’t bite.”

Juvia took another look at the dance floor, saw Mira and Erza stretching as they walked towards the group, and then finally looked back at Gray. She nodded and let him help her off the high chair as they ran to join in the party.

The song was nearing the chorus, and by the time they got there, Bixlow has just finished his hopeless but entertaining breakdance attempt, and Natsu and Lisanna had both walked forward. Both of them somehow managed to find sunglasses to wear. Both were clapping their hands to the beat, waiting for their cue.

((‘Cause uptown funk gon’ give it to ’ya,
‘cause uptown funk gon’ give it to ’ya…))

If Juvia thought the music was loud while she was sitting on the side, it was certainly louder when she finally got in the dance floor with the others. She thought she would have to squeeze in, but everyone automatically moved to make a wider circle so she and Gray can join them. The laughter, shouts, cheers and whistles blurred against the remix. She froze for a while against the unfamiliar sensation of several bodies moving restless around her — the others swaying and jumping to the beats — but Gray draped an arm around her neck and soon she was singing and jumping with the others.

((‘Cause uptown funk gon’ give it to ya,
Saturday night and we in the spot—
Don’t believe me, just watch!))

They must have danced the song together at some point, because the pair launched into a hard, perfectly synchronized, energetic series of moves. Their friends launched into louder applause.

((Don’t believe me, just watch!))

And maybe they couldn’t help it, because Max and Warren soon joined the two, picking up on the steps seamlessly.

“We came up with this choreo for the chorus a few months ago.” Gray told Juvia above the music and noise. She nodded, and Gray sounded so amused at his friends’ antics she couldn’t help but smile widely.

((Don’t believe me, just watch!))

For the last bit, Natsu and Lisanna both made way as Max and Warren broke into a quick animation solo, and the two delivered.

((Don’t believe me, just watch!
Hey, hey, hey, oh!))

That was also when Juvia realized that it was a tag game of sorts, because then all four dancers turned towards Erza, fingers pointing towards her, Natsu miming pulling her towards him via a rope. Erza just laughed at them and let Laki and Levy push her forward before she took the center spot and quickly broke into an impromptu pop-lock routine.

((Stop! Wait a minute!
Fill my cup, put some liquor in it.
Take a sip, sign a check — Julio, get the stretch!))

Erza gestured for Levy and quickly stepped aside as the other woman skid towards her, feet moving fast. Levy did a quick jazz funk-inspired solo, her moves precise but casual.

((Ride to Harlem, Hollywood, Jackson, Mississippi—
If we show up, we gon’ show out, smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy!))

Levy finished her solo off with a split, to which her friends all cheered and whistled. When she got up, she smirked and pointed at Gray.

The raven-head just rolled his eyes but easily went along, letting go of Juvia and striding towards the middle, already doing some smooth hip-hop moves.

((I’m too hot! Hot damn! Call the police and the fireman.
I’m too hot! Hot damn! Make a dragon wanna retire, man!))

Gray’s movements were smooth and snappy. Juvia had only ever seen him do the Smooth Criminal routine, the contest entry video, and some contemporary. She forgot that his hip-hop style was also very lyrical. She also realized that the only times she ever saw him this carefree, enjoying himself, was whenever he danced.

((I’m too hot — hot damn!
Bitch, say my name you know who I am—
I’m too hot — hot damn!
And my band ’bout that money, break it down!))

His finish was just as smooth as the rest of his solo, gesturing towards Mira with a flourish. The woman shook her head in amusement, and then looked beside her. Loke blinked at her once before realization hit him and he offered her his arm as they both stepped forward, Mira’s gait switching from her normal demure steps to a majestic ballroom walk that told everyone she was about to slay.

((Girls hit your hallelujah…))

Mira whispered something quick to her partner and he nodded, extending his arms to hold her hands as she started swinging her hips, her feet picking pace as she started doing the familiar movements of a swing dance routine.

((Girls hit your hallelujah…))

Everyone cheered when Mira spun in Loke’s arms, her back pressed against his chest as she did a high kick. That was followed by some intricate spins and turns where Loke simply followed her lead, hardly keeping up. He had ballroom background but damn Mira was a demon.

((‘Cause uptown funk gon’ give it to ya,
‘cause uptown funk gon’ give it to ya…))

Then she gave Loke quick instructions again, and he stepped backwards and held her hand up as she began a set of fast, multiple spins without stopping, even gradually getting into a crouching position before ascending again. The cheering just got louder for every second ticking by with the woman still moving.

((‘Cause uptown funk gon’ give it to ya,
Saturday night and we in the spot—
Don’t believe me, just watch!))

They lost count of how many spins Mira did, when she finally stopped and the pair ended their short solo with a dip.

She laughed and thanked Loke, who was actually panting more than she was, before they fell back into the circle, tagging Juvia next.

She gaped — there was no way she could dance after all those amazing solos. She was about to back out when Lisanna and Laki both stepped forward, both girls dancing easily and gesturing for her to join them. Juvia blinked. Are they…? They were offering to dance with her so she’ll feel more comfortable! The others were also encouraging her, and Gray gave her shoulder a small squeeze before saying, “Don’t think too much ’bout it. Just go. Have fun.” with a reassuring smile. “They got you. Don’t worry.”

Juvia gulped as she stepped forward, and let Lisanna and Laki pull her with them to the middle.

((Don’t believe me, just watch!))

She stood nervously with the two girls forming a triangle formation, facing each other.

“Have some steps in mind, Juvia-chan?” Lisanna asked, straining to be heard over the music.

Juvia shook her head, biting her lip.

“Alright, just follow our lead!” Lisanna said, nodding towards Laki. She started doing simple jazz funk steps, snapping her fingers. Laki mirrored her quickly enough.

It was different than Juvia’s usual moves but it wasn’t too far from her more modern contemporary routines so she followed easily, managing to let out a small sheepish smile when the others cheered.

“Great!” Lisanna beamed. “Pirouette, moving to your left, then high kick. Get it?”

“Game.” Laki said, and Juvia nodded.

Lisanna gave the signal and the three broke formation, Lisanna first, followed by Laki, then Juvia — their pirouettes impressively coordinated. Their high kicks were all different but matched each other and the song well.

((Don’t believe me, just watch!
Hey, hey, hey, oh!))

Juvia found herself smiling more easily as she followed more of Lisanna’s lead and listened as Laki then took over. Their instructions and steps were pretty basic, but they fired it one after the other in interesting combinations. Juvia somehow barely found any of the instructions difficult to follow, and it was easy to match the beat. By the sound of everyone still cheering, maybe they were going great after all.

((Uptown funk you up, Uptown funk you up!
Uptown funk you up, Uptown funk you up, oh!))

“Juvia, you’re awesome.” she heard Laki say before Lisanna called out what their next steps. Without waiting for the cue, Laki and Juvia moved together to follow Lisanna’s lead, the three of them getting down on an interesting floor twirl before they got up again and Lisanna made some simple pop-lock moves that the other two easily adapted as well.

((Uptown funk you up, uptown funk you up!))

They finished their turn with matching jumps and quick pirouettes. Laki glomped at Juvia and they went back to the circle while Lisanna tagged Romeo next.

That was when they heard a familiar voice over the music. “So are y’all done warming up?”

They were all surprised when the song took an unexpected turn, hearing scratches and some effects on the track. Everyone turned to see that Laxus has taken over the DJ area.

Freed stood beside him, wearing the headphones and manning the laptop, probably queueing up songs. Laxus sent a smirk towards his boyfriend as he put down his microphone and then proceeded to adjust knobs, press buttons and make his way around the different equipment in the booth easily.

Above the noise, Cana shouted, “DROP IT, DJ!”

In turn the dancers all jumped and cheered some more, pumped up that the live remixing was about to start.

Laxus chuckled as he spoke to the mic again. “Alright, let’s get the real party started.”

Gajeel slammed the bar’s back door harshly behind him.

He’s quitting this shit. The shitty temp band ditched him. They actually had the fucking guts to not show up, only calling him about them backing out when he was already in the venue.

What pissed him off the most, though — was the reason for backing out.

“There’s not enough people tonight, anyway. And I’m not feeling up to it, dude. I know we can play on bigger stages! We don’t like the crowd in there.” was the actual words that the vocalist guy told him over the phone.

They don’t. Like the crowd. Hell. They were the one who asked for the gig in the first place! And they were lucky to get it anyway because dammit it’s not like they’re the best players either. They wanna play on bigger stages? They’d have to get used to playing in the small stages with unappreciative crowds first. They’d have to goddamn work for it. Gajeel told them just that before hanging up. Just because they were kids doesn’t mean he’s gonna go easy on them. He had to tell them that’s not how the real world works.

He kicked an empty soda can by his feet, grumbling and cursing. There goes his night. He was used to shitty nights. He can usually deal with shitty nights. But now he was just angry. He wasn’t about to throw a tantrum but he didn’t want to deal with the night being shitty right now. Because fuck, his day started well.

Juvia looked really happy when she came home. Rogue and Sting were noisier than usual but they brightened up the day in the shop somehow, both bugging him about music and cats, which were two of his favorite topics. Then Levy dropped by and was like this travel-sized sun that came down from the heavens to spread happiness in her wake. He usually grumbled about loud, too-happy people, but today they were infectious and somehow made him believe the positivity might just go all the way and he can play a decent gig for once.

Then the band just so happened to ruin that all for him.

He breathed deeply, trying to get his anger in check. Calm. Keep calm. Do something fun, maybe. Play on the streets, whatever. It was a Sunday night, the crowds should be coming home early, but it was still a weekend and he might catch a few coins or two.

Just… he should do something to cheer himself up, dammit.

That was when he got a message alert in his phone. He took the gadget out, saw that it was from one of the shitty band guys, and deleted it without reading. But before he pocketed the device, he remembered something.

Without thinking, he typed out a new message.

[’ Hey. You guys still out? ’]

Chapter Notes:

I wanted to write Mest in and this was the perfect role for him. He’s probably the guy who’ll drive Wendy and Romeo home safely.
And I didn’t mention it but the other owners of the club include some of the other council members and Mest’s bf. Y’know. Lahar. Dude probably handles financials and stuff. Because. Uh. Who else, amirite?

Dance/Musical Notes:
— What do you mean you don’t know Uptown Funk.
— Anyways, my fave dance videos of this song are from the guys at 1MILLION Dance Studio, and from the URBAN DANCE CAMP guys. They’re all so fun and energetic!

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