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 3
Over the Rainbow

Chapter Notes:

I forgot I was supposed to post this. HEHE. SORRY. I’m not used to updating often anymore. 😀

But here it is! And we finally get to meet Gajeel!

Note before you read: There are countless versions of the chapter song, but for this one, I used Ingrid Michaelson’s cover. Just in case you guys wanna look it up.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow…”
(Way up high, there’s a land
that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.)
— The Wizard of Oz


The events of that particular morning were, for lack of better words, surreal. But a few hours later, after a warm bath and with her clothes and things dried, Juvia had a much better grip on things and of reality in general.

Gray had left Juvia in Levy’s care. Juvia would be lying if she were to say that she didn’t want to spend more time with Gray, the one who made this all possible, but she was not about to complain because she was just thankful of everyone in the Guild. Most of the housemates left right after breakfast, but they all checked up on Juvia in their own little ways.

Mira gave Juvia her number, saying that if ever Juvia got in trouble, she could call. Lucy and Cana wished her the best before they left for rehearsals on whatever their latest show was. As far as Juvia was concerned, their impromptu performance earlier to cheer her up was something she will never forget. Even Bixlow, when he went back downstairs again (more awake this time), took a few minutes to examine Juvia’s soaked phone for her, said that it was gone for good, but told her where to take it so they can salvage her contacts, files and other stuff. Gray left for work early (Juvia had no time to ask what his job was), but made sure she was taken care of. He also made Natsu promise to accompany Levy and Juvia that afternoon.

And so there she was, arm-in-arm with Levy as they walked through the crowded streets of the city with Natsu. It was a good thing that Juvia had written the address down in her planner. She was bad with addresses. She would have forgotten otherwise.

“So this friend of yours, he owns the record store?” Levy asked.

Juvia shook her head. “Gajeel-kun just works there. The plan was for Juvia to stay with him in his apartment, but he said Juvia shouldn’t go straight to his apartment the first time because it’s… in the… more complicated part of the city. So we’re meeting in the record store.”

“More complicated, you mean ‘downtown’ downtown, right?” Natsu smirked. “We know ’bout it. Some of us lived there one time or another. Right, Levy?”

Levy confirmed that with a nod. “We’re lucky the Guild’s in the safer part of downtown, really. Are you sure you’ll be okay at your friend’s place, though? No offense, I’m sure he’s a nice guy, but… we know a lot of people with bad experiences in that part of town. And you’re new, so it’s a bit worrying…”

“Yeah, I mean — if you wanna move a bit uptown, Max knows a lotta apartment brokers, decent ones.” Natsu added.

Juvia smiled, appreciating the sentiment. “Thanks, but Juvia will be okay. Gajeel-kun will take care of Juvia. He always has.”

“You seem pretty close.” Levy remarked. She thought about what Juvia’s friend would be like. Probably all gentle and sweetness too. In the short time that she had known Juvia, their guest has been nothing short of appreciative about every little thing. Or maybe it would be someone more serious and protective, with the way Juvia was so assured that she could count on this person… Someone a bit like… like Freed, maybe?

“Gajeel-kun is Juvia’s best friend. We grew up in the same foster home.”

“Oh.” Levy blinked, then looked at Natsu. “Well, that’s quite a coincidence, is it?”

“Yeah, I guess so.” Natsu chuckled. Then for Juvia’s benefit, he said, “We were all kids from the system too. Well, Mira, Elf and Lisanna aren’t, and Laxus and Bix still have family, but… Levy and me, Gray and most of the others… yeah.”


“Yup.” Natsu continued. “Gramps — y’know, Laxus’ grandpa — was our caseworker. He helped us all out even after we were out of the system. Introduced us to each other and all that. Even landed some of us jobs.”

Juvia nodded. “Mr. Dreyar sounds like a kind man.”

“He’s kind of our dad.” Levy smiled down fondly. “He’s in retirement now, in his hometown, Magnolia.”

“Juvia has been meaning to ask… what is Levy-san’s job?”

“Err, besides taking to the streets to perform sometimes?” Levy laughed shyly. “I do home-based work, mostly. Writing and editorial jobs online.”

“How about Natsu-san?” — because it was the middle of the day on a weekday and it made Juvia wonder what Natsu did.

“I’m a waiter, dishwasher, server person.” Natsu shrugged. “In those big occasions, yeah? Event catering service stuff.”

“How about Gray-sama? It was 3 in the morning when he went home last night, but he also left early again for work…”

“Same as me. There were two events last night, mine just finished earlier. That happens sometimes. But he’s got another job, in this bar thing near the beach. Serving drinks. That’s where he’s at right now.”

“Hey, we’re here!” Levy piped up as they took a turn. Juvia stopped momentarily as the three of them scanned the street for the record store.

Juvia saw it the same time Natsu read the shop’s signage: “For the Record. Your one-stop shop for records. Um, duh. No offense, but… who thought that was a good idea?”

“Juvia is sure that Gajeel-kun was not involved. He would have named it Big Badass Metal Record Store. Or something.”

“Well, it’s witty — let’s give it that.” Levy said, obviously trying to see the bright side as always.

The three of them moved to cross the street, Natsu leading the way. He opened the door for both ladies, and then followed them inside.

The first thing Levy noticed was that the store was empty. The only person she saw was the tall, dark, scary, piercing-riddled man behind the counter.

She stopped in terror when he looked right back at her. Laxus was one thing in the way of big intimidating men, but this one was frowning quite deeply and was… glaring?

But then Juvia exclaimed a joyful, “Gajeel-kun!”

And the man cursed, “Fuckin’ hell.” and-… What in the-… did he just jump over the counter? Levy gaped as he landed on two feet and let Juvia crash against him. Juvia hugged him tightly, her face buried on his black shirt.

“WHERE WERE YOU?!” he sounded angry, but his hands held on to Juvia’s shoulders protectively, even shaking slightly.

Juvia pulled away and looked up at him, beaming. “Juvia found you!”

“About damned time, you told me you were comin’ yesterday but you didn’t show up and I tried callin’ you a shit ton of times but you weren’t picking up! I called back home and they said you already left, what the fuck was I supposed to think?!”

“Juvia got lost and the luggage got stolen—”


“—and it rained and Juvia’s phone is broken—”

“Shit, I told you I shoulda picked you up at the station, but you insisted that ‘noooo, Gajeel-kun you shouldn’t bother!’ Now look what happened!”

“It’s okay, Juvia went downtown—”

“You coulda been killed!”

“—and Juvia met a lot of good people who helped!”

“But you coulda died in the rain and I wouldn’t have known ’bout it!”

“Gajeel-kun should stop thinking like that, what’s important is that Juvia is okay! Seriously, why is Gajeel-kun angrier than Juvia? Gajeel-kun should be nicer! Juvia is sorry she screwed up but there’s nothing we can do about that so please stop shouting at Juvia because after everything that happened Juvia just wants to cry right now!”

It was amazing, how quick his expression changed from angry to desperately pleading — “Aw, shit — don’t cry. You’ll flood the shop.”

Juvia sniffed, but held her ground. “Juvia will not cry because Juvia doesn’t have money to pay for flood damages.”

“Good.” Gajeel sighed in relief. “Look, I’m sorry. It’s good that you’re alright.”

“Juvia knows that.” she smiled. “Juvia is glad to finally find Gajeel-kun.”

Levy and Natsu, who watched the whole thing happen, were both deeply regretting that they didn’t get it on camera.

“Did you see what I saw?” Levy whispered to her companion. “Did that really just happen?”

“Hell yeah.” Natsu answered, also in a whisper. “That’s the best thing I’ve seen since we saw Mira kick Laxus’ sorry ass last week.”


They snapped back to attention when they realized that Juvia had begun introducing them to ‘Gajeel-kun’.

“Gajeel-kun, this is Levy-san and Natsu-san! They helped me get here. Gray-sama was the one who found me last night, but he has work now. They let me sleep over and gave me food and leant me their dryer.”

To their surprise, Gajeel didn’t question his friend’s words and simply bowed solemnly at them. “Thank you for taking care of Juvia. We’re the only family we both have and if we can repay you in any way—”

Levy and Natsu simply exchanged a quick look before Levy raised both hands and smiled reassuringly. “It’s okay! Really! We still remember when we first moved in here, it really was hard settling in — we know what Juvia-chan’s been through. It’s enough that we know she’s safe with family now.”

“Yeah, and… y’know… we were foster system kids too. We gotta help each other out, right?” Natsu scratched his head awkwardly.

Gajeel nodded. “Thanks. Again.”

“Maybe Juvia can… uh… do something for Levy-san and Natsu-san? Um, are you hungry or anything…?”

“Oh, no, it’s all fine, really.” Levy smiled. “Besides, I have to go back home now. A bit of writing to finish.”

“Yeah, and I gotta get to work in a few hours too.” Natsu nodded. “But you know you can visit the guild anytime, right? Can’t guarantee that everyone will be there, but it’s never empty. You’ll always find someone home.”

Juvia nodded in understanding. She didn’t want to burden them anymore. So she simply stepped forward and pulled both Natsu and Levy into a loose hug.

“Thank you, Natsu-san, Levy-san! Please extend my thanks to everyone in the guild… specially Gray-sama… Juvia doesn’t know what would have happened if he didn’t find Juvia. As soon as Juvia has settled, we will pay a visit!”

Levy smiled and hugged the woman back. Natsu blinked, taken aback at first, then relaxed and smiled as well as he pat Juvia’s shoulder.

As they said their goodbyes, Levy sent the other woman another smile and said, “We better see you around, alright?”

“Come visit soon!” Natsu followed up.

Juvia only waved happily as she watched them disappear down the street.

Gajeel, who stood beside her, laid a hand on top of her head and said, “You know how you always say you bring bad luck? That’s bull. You’ve got a hella lot of luck in you.”

Juvia shrugged, contemplating. “Yes, Juvia did get lucky this time.”

The man only scoffed and went back inside the shop. “Alright, now we gotta get your life back in order.”

Gajeel always called his apartment a hole in the wall. It was a small studio-type unit, one room that acted as living room, bedroom and kitchen in one, with a small bathroom on the side. It was right for one person, just enough for two, and simply pushing it for three. Gajeel’s dining table was a foldable one, for two people. His bed was a mattress on the floor. It would be Juvia’s until they bought another one.

As he prepared the takeout food they bought for dinner, Juvia sat down on the mattress and went through her bag.

After Gajeel’s job in the record store, they went to the police station to report about Juvia’s stolen luggage. As expected, they were told not to get their hopes up too much. Juvia accepted this with quiet sorrow — her money and savings, important documents, her clothes and shoes were in that luggage. She didn’t have all that much so losing those felt like losing almost everything.

She still had some emergency money, her ID’s, planner, some notebooks, mp3 player and earphones. There was a bag of some of her lighter clothes that Gajeel had already brought with him a month before she left their hometown. She held on to that — not all was lost. Plus now she was with family. She could make it through this.

As she went through her bag of clothes, she clicked her tongue. “These are all summer clothes.”

“There are lots of thrift shops in the neighborhood.” Gajeel said. “And who knows, the fucker who stole your stuff must’ve sold some of your clothes.”

Juvia sighed and nodded. Maybe she would just buy her clothes back if that was the case. She would pay for it but that would still be cheaper than buying a brand new set.

And there was the other concern — the money.

“Juvia will look for a job tomorrow.” she said. “Does Gajeel-kun know any—”

“You don’t have to do that.” he cut her off before she could finish. “If it’s rent, I’ve got it covered. And the food… well, we’ll manage. You should focus on what you really came here for.”

“Juvia can’t just let Gajeel-kun pay for everything!”

“Look, if you get a job, you won’t have time to practice for your audition.” he said. “You don’t want that. Nail that one, you’re set. Don’t sweat the small stuff before it—”

“But Juvia should—”

“You’re a dancer.” — and his voice was more firm this time. “That’s what you should be doin’. That’s what you left home for, remember? So you wouldn’t be stuck with some job you don’t even give a shit about.”

She sighed. That was the plan. She applied for a slot in the auditions for a prestigious dance company. One of the best. An untrained and self-taught small town girl like her getting that slot? It was more than she ever hoped for. Gajeel was with her on this, he’s got her back like always. The company was in Crocus, the same big city where he worked at. They decided that Juvia would stay with him and prep for the auditions. They’ll split the rent, bills and expenses — Juvia had her savings and Gajeel had his job. If Juvia gets accepted, she can start a dancing career and get paid for performances with the troupe.

“Juvia isn’t even sure about the audition…”

“Seriously.” this time Gajeel rolled his eyes. “You should stop with all the negativity. You won’t get anywhere always thinkin’ you ain’t good enough.”

Juvia looked down. Gajeel had always believed in her. She was lucky to have him. But still, she knew she couldn’t count on an unsure audition too much.

“Juvia will look for work.” she said, this time sure. “Part-time. So there’s still plenty of time to practice. Juvia needs to buy dance clothes, anyway. Juvia doesn’t have enough cash for that right now.”

Gajeel accepted that answer. “Fine. Whatever. Just make sure you know what you’re doin’.”

She nodded as she looked up at him. He knew that look on her face. It was her ‘Trust me.’ look. So he did just that.

“Just get over here and eat. After this, I’m gonna take you up to the rooftop. Plenty of dancing space up there.”

Juvia smiled and finally stood up to join him in the table, eating the takeout food.

As they sat down, Juvia talked about her short stay at the Guild again. She had already told Gajeel everything about it while they waited for his shift in the store to finish. She told him about the big abandoned-looking building which turned out to be a pretty homey place after all, about the kind Gray-sama who let her in, the lively morning with all the different but very fun and caring people, and that unbelievable encounter with Lucy and Cana. At first he didn’t believe her when she said she met them and they performed an impromptu number for her, but he shut up when she showed him the two signatures on her notebook.

“Juvia should go back with… something, right? To thank Gray-sama. And everyone else.” she mused absently.

Gajeel snorted. “Dude, you’ve got a really big crush on this Gray-sama of yours, huh?”

She looked up at him, cheeks flaring red. “W-W-What is Gajeel-kun talking about?”

“Everything ends up being ’bout him. Plus, you’re blushing.”

“J-Juvia doesn’t know what Gajeel-kun is talking about—”

This time Gajeel tried hard not to laugh. “Are you tryin’ to hide your crush? From ME? I know all the signs of you liking someone. It’s useless.”

“And what signs are those?!”

“When I confront you ’bout it, you get defensive, then you deny—”

“Because that’s not what’s happening!”

“Then you deny some more by justifying—”

“Juvia is just thankful because if Gray-sama hadn’t let her in, who knows what could have happened to Juvia—”

“—and then I push it, and then you defend the guy—”

“—besides, Gray-sama is really kind and-… a-a-and handsome and he’s also a dancer, and Juvia hasn’t seen him dance but Juvia’s sure he must be good at it! Also, he was very thoughtful, making sure Juvia was taken care of before he went off to work-… Oh.”


“Gajeel-kun is unfair!”

He sniggered. “Whatever. Gajeel-kun won.”

“Gajeel-kun is mean.”

He just shrugged, very satisfied with himself. “Y’know, pro-tip: when you’re on a debate, maybe don’t prove your opponent’s point?”

“So what if Juvia has a crush?! It’s none of Gajeel-kun’s business.” she pouted, poking at her food and blushing.

“Nah, I don’t care. Really. Just don’t let him distract you or we’re gonna have a serious talk because I’m not lettin’ you bail out just ’cause you fell in love or something.”

“That’s noted.” she huffed. “Gajeel-kun shouldn’t worry. Juvia’s priorities are straight.”

“I know.” he smirked. “Just make sure it stays that way.”

“Gajeel-kun is being a mom friend again.”

He coughed. “Sh-Shut up. Just finish your dinner.”

“See?” This time she was the one who smirked, “Pro-tip: maybe don’t prove your opponent’s point?”

Gajeel simply groaned — he should’ve known better than underestimate his friend. “Fine. Gajeel: 1, Juvia: 1. We’re callin’ it a tie for tonight.”

As promised, they both headed to the apartment rooftop after dinner. Juvia changed into the most practical dancing attire she found among what was left of her clothes: a short loose-fitting light blue sundress and black leggings. She brought her mp3 player while Gajeel had a mini portable speaker.

Half of the rooftop was occupied by clotheslines, while the other was a vacant area. It wasn’t very big, but it was certainly a more convenient practice area compared to Gajeel’s unit.

Juvia stood still for a while as she looked up at the night sky and let the cool breeze tickle her face. She could still hear the city’s noise even from this high up — but it wasn’t as instrusive or disruptive as when she first arrived. It was more comforting now… probably because she knew she was in a safer place.

Finally, she looked down and scrolled through her mp3 player, finding the right song before handing the gadget to her friend. Gajeel, who stood to the side, accepted it and raised an eyebrow. “Why this song?”

“It’s only for practice.” she said, walking away to get a good distance, making space for her dance.

“So this ain’t the audition piece yet?” he asked as he plugged the player to the speaker and turned the volume up.

“Not yet. Juvia wants to go through more options.”

Gajeel just nodded as he looked at his friend. She was now standing several paces away from him, stretching, warming up. “You ready?”

Juvia closed her eyes and took a deep breath before nodding.

He pressed play, the music started and the soft strumming of strings was heard.

((Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high…))

Juvia’s style has always been very lyrical. As the song started, her movements were soft, simple. There were no grand leaps or spins — but she moved her arms and legs with a quiet and graceful expressiveness. It looked dynamic, even when she stayed in place.

((There’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.))

This version wasn’t his favorite, but he knew why Juvia picked it. It was a good fit for her — just a woman’s clear, strong voice against soft strumming. It was a very simple arrangement, befitting Juvia’s style.

Then she started utilizing the ‘stage’.

((Somewhere over the rainbow, the bluebirds fly so high
Birds fly over the rainbow — Why, then, oh why can’t I?))

Gajeel always thought that Juvia moved so fluidly — she could go from a set of graceful pirouettes to a high jump to more grounded movements as if it took no effort at all. He knew that making transitions look effortless should be a standard for any dancer, but when Juvia did it, it was like watching ink in water. Maybe she didn’t watch herself closely enough when she danced, because she still doesn’t realize that she was great at what she did.

((Someday I’ll wish upon a star
and wake up where the clouds are far behind me…))

This time she made a great leap, only to land on her knees — an illusion of falling — and then she got back up just as quickly and continued dancing, not one move looking abrupt.

((Where troubles melt like lemon drops
Away above the chimney tops, that’s where you’ll find me…))

And then she suddenly stopped, even when the music was still playing. Gajeel was surprised at how quickly the woman had run to tuck herself beside him as if she was hiding. It took him another second to realize that she did this because the rooftop door had opened.

They watched as a middle-aged woman carrying a laundry basket had arrived. Gajeel nodded at her and she nodded back in acknowledgement as she passed by on her way to the clotheslines to collect her laundry.

“You gotta fix that.” he told his companion then. Juvia looked down, fidgeting with her hands. “Nevermind worryin’ about your audition piece. What you really gotta do is practice not runnin’ away when someone that’s not me is watchin’ you dance.”

Because that was the bigger problem, they knew. Juvia had never let anyone else see her dance. It was just her best friend. It took them God-knows-how-long to even record the video that Juvia sent for her application.

Juvia knew this all too well. She could come up with a full routine on the spot and still freeze up when unfamiliar eyes were on her.

“Juvia will try.” she mumbled, sighing.

Gajeel knew that she would. This meant a lot to her. So again, he laid a hand on her head and just smirked. “You better.”

The music had stopped now, and they just looked up at the sky. There were no stars in the city, he always told her. Tonight there were a few.

After a few more minutes of silence, they finally decided to go back and call it a day.

Chapter Notes:

It’s kinda funny — because in WAY, Gajeel’s the one freeloading on Juvia. Now’s his turn to be the sensible one.

Fun fact — Half of this chapter and half of next chapter TOTALLY DISAPPEARED AFTER I WROTE IT. OvO
My laptop crashed for some reason and corrupted the file and boom goodbye 4,000 words. So yep I had to rewrite everything in one night. No tears, just rage. Hehee.

Dance/Musical Notes:
— Juvia’s dance style is Contemporary, the very lyrical kind.
The closest match I can find to how I imagined Juvia’s movements is dancer Caitlin Kinney (from So You Think You Can Dance). You guys should watch her solos!

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