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 9
Ready for the Weekend

Chapter Notes:

Happy New Year! The first week of the year got really busy, and there were a lot of stuff to do so this came late. 😛

Writing this part was tricky! But really fun! My dad’s a DJ and one of my childhood friends is an aspiring film director so I asked them a bit about how things get done!

There might be some technical shenanigans, but I think most people would get them. But mostly, it’s just Fairy Tail being badass and mighty creative, making stuff together.

( “Grab somebody, go live it up,
Yeah baby come on!
Get ready ready—”)
Ready For the Weekend
— Icona Pop


Erza was on her way downstairs for breakfast when she stopped by the fourth floor because she heard two very familiar voices on a shouting match. Erza just stared as Cana walked away from Gray and towards the staircase.




Cana disappeared downstairs, and Gray just grumbled a few more curses under his breath before he noticed Erza watching.

He quickly looked down. “Um. Yo. Morning.”

“Good morning.” Erza replied awkwardly. “You and Cana still fighting?”

“Ah, no.” he replied, surprisingly brightly. “We’re good, actually. We talked it out.”

“You were shouting.”

“We’re always shouting.”

“It kinda sounded like a fight.”

“Well… we were arguing.” he considered. “But we’re not fighting.”

Erza couldn’t help but chuckle softly. Of course. Gray and Cana’s friendship has always worked in mysterious ways.

They just stood there, uneasily still, waiting for someone to bring up the conversation they both knew they should get over with.

After a few moments, Gray finally looked at her directly, the expression on his face turning sheepish. “Uh, listen… Yesterday, I—”

“Sorry.” she said, beating him to it. “You were right to call me out. I was the leader, and I was distracted. That’s never good for the team. Sorry for snapping at you.”

“Still, I shouldn’t have been such a jerk about it.” he replied. “So… sorry for that too.”

“It’s fine.” Erza replied, finally smiling at him.

Gray smiled back lightly. “So… we’re good now, yeah?”

She nodded. “Yep. We’re good.”

“Alright.” he said, letting out the breath he didn’t know he was holding. “Well. I’m gonna go get breakfast, I think we have to catch up on a lot of stuff today.”

She simply nodded, and they made a point of walking to the dining table together to let everyone know that things had been patched up.

Only Cana, Levy, Jet and Droy were there so far. Behind them, Max and Warren were busy cooking and serving breakfast. It was their turn that day. As Gray and Erza took their respective seats, Gray was grateful that the topic of conversation was not him. Maybe they’ve all moved on from bullying him into dating a girl he just met.

Well, Juvia was nice, and she was a great dancer and— Crap, she texted him ‘Good morning’ and he hasn’t replied yet! How rude was that, right? He quickly took out his phone and started tapping, tuning off the conversations around him as background noise until…

“So was it a date?” Jet asked Levy. Gray looked up to see both Jet and Droy sporting very concerned expressions on either side of their best friend.

“What? No! It wasn’t a date.” Levy said, laughing.

“What’s this about, again?” Gray asked, feeling like he missed something big.

Turns out he actually did.

“Your girl Juvia’s friend, he was with Levy yesterday.” Jet answered. “Haven’t met him, but Levy says he’s cool.”

“He’s… uh… yeah, he’s cool, I guess?” Gray shrugged.

“Dude’s face scares small children.” Max provided helpfully.

“Max, that’s rude!” Levy said, but laughed a bit. She turned towards Gray. “I was out on the streets yesterday. Going solo. Someone almost stole my hat but Gajeel swooped in and saved it.”

“Yeah, okay? What’s the big deal?” Gray asked.

“They had some kind of straight-out-of-a-corny-movie musical number right there.” Cana provided, trying not too laugh.

“Why, what happened?”

Levy just rolled her eyes. “Well, he volunteered to play his guitar to accompany me, he was planning to play that night anyway. So he played guitar while I danced. That’s it.”

“You said you made your audience sing.” Droy said.

“Oh. Yep! We all sang. It was fun!” Levy cheered.

“Wow, okay.” Gray leaned back on his chair, raising an eyebrow. “So why’s everyone askin’ ’bout a date, then?”

“I don’t know. Honestly.” she frowned at her best friends. Jet and Droy both shrugged. “It’s just that after performing, because I have to give him a percentage of what we earned, I asked him if he wants to grab some dinner with me, count the money while at it. That’s it! Does it look like a date that much?”

She looked at her housemates and just gaped when they all nodded.

She thought about it now. It didn’t look like Gajeel thought it was a date! Well, yeah when she asked him, he did stop in surprise and looked at her weirdly, but then he just nodded and agreed with her. She thought that was nice of him to agree. She’s not sure if they were already ‘friends’ by that time, but they went to the restaurant together, took a table for two and enjoyed a really great conversation—

“Oh.” Levy said, realization dawning on her face. “Yeah. Oh, wow. It does sounds like a date, huh.”

Then after the realization, her expression shifted into horror.

“Do you guys think he thought I was asking him out?” she asked, blushing furiously.

The answer was a mixed bag of ‘Yes?’, ‘No?’ and ‘Maybe?’ — all actually ending with question marks because they weren’t even sure.

But before things could get really interesting, they stopped talking because Laxus had joined them.

The blonde hasn’t even sat down yet and he already declared, “Mira told me we’re stuck.”

Everyone fell silent. Freed and Bixlow also joined in, sitting with them. Natsu and Lucy followed closely behind. Natsu was about to greet them all in his usual jolly manner, but Lucy stopped him quickly, seeing that everyone else had serious expressions on their faces.

Laxus looked at them shortly before continuing, “Someone tell me we’re not.”

It took only a second, and the answer came from Gray and Erza in unison: “We’re not.”

The two of them looked at each other in surprise, while the others looked on in concern.

“We’ve got it covered.” Erza said. “I have a concept now, more solid than the first, and it’s a good one — I’ll need to consult with you guys to pull it off, because I think it’s pretty technical. We’ll still be using the same song, and I picked another one to mash up with it. You can start remixing. Gray’s helping me with choreography. We both have a lot of free time, I’m sure we can finish a great deal by the time the rest of the group goes home after work today. We can show them what we’ve got and start rehearsing.”

Gray didn’t miss a beat on backing her up. “She’s right. I can work on this full-time. You’ve got two choreographers now, we’ll make it.”

“And I can help too.” Levy added. “I’ve finished most of my work early. I don’t have to worry about deadlines for a week or two.”

“A question.” Freed spoke up. “We’ve only got less than two weeks left for this. You said it’s pretty technical… How technical, exactly? Because if it would take a lot of time to edit the video after shooting it, you have to consider that Bixlow’s schedule is not fixed. The editing part might get passed between Bix and Laxus and… well, me, if it comes to that.”

As he was speaking, they’ve been joined by the Strauss siblings and Evergreen, as well as Laki, Alzack and Bisca. Everyone was there already.

“Oh, it’s not the editing that’s technical… Uh…” Erza answered, earning curious looks. She caught Mira smiling at her and held the other woman’s look for a second. Mira nodded encouragingly, and Erza took that as her cue to continue with more determination than before. “It’s the shooting that would take time. Or more specifically, the planning on how to shoot the video. After that, there would be barely anything to edit. We won’t need special effects or stuff like that.”

“Alright, hold up.” — that came from Bixlow. “Long prep time for the shoot? What’s the catch?”

Erza glanced at everyone, catching their intrigued expressions, before she answered, “We’re going to do a single-shot dance video.”

The others exchanged looks. They’ve always done single-shot videos. That shouldn’t be such a big deal…

Laxus was the first to really get that there was still another catch. He asked, “Where and when?”

“The Guild.” she said simply. In her peripheral vision, she saw Gray looking at her with furrowed brows — he was probably catching up on her idea.

“The Guild.” Laxus repeated. “And?”

She nodded. “We’re going to dance our way from the bottom, to the top. And I’m hoping to catch the sunset by the time we reach it.”

The house was mostly empty, everyone who had work had already gone out. They all mostly went out of their way to shift their schedules so they can all practice together in the evenings. Meanwhile, Laxus and Bixlow both opted for afternoon-to-evening schedules so they can work the technicalities out with Erza, Gray and Levy while they’re not yet busy teaching the choreography to the others. It seemed the most efficient way to balance everything out.

That day, Erza, Gray and Levy stood with Laxus, Bixlow and Freed (who luckily had the day off) in Laxus’ activity area, all of them busy planning the routine and the video. There was a large sheet of paper in the table. Gray had drawn a simple makeshift map of the building, only indicating the floors, the stairs and the doors.

“So. Single shot vid, starting from first floor to rooftop.” Bixlow started. He and Laxus exchanged looks before he breathed deeply, concentrating. “That’s gonna take some tricky camera work and on-point pacing.”

Laxus nodded. “And that means whoever’s workin’ the camera has to climb the building bottom to top in 4 minutes max. Not to mention the work on the dancers…”

Gray and Levy shrugged helplessly, understanding the point.

“Think it’s too complicated?” Erza asked, biting her lip.

“YEAH.” Laxus and Bixlow said in unison.

“You’d hafta time it perfectly.” Bixlow said, thoughtful.

Then Laxus shook his head and crossed his arms across his chest. “But shit, if we pull it off, it’ll be one of the best routines we’ve ever done.”

The three dancers looked at him expectantly.

The blonde grunted. “Whatever, let’s hear it.”

Erza smiled, then began explaining her plan to everyone, holding a marker to point out various areas in the map.

“We can start the routine out with someone walking towards the building. Of course the garage is the first stop. I was hoping we could use the cars parked in there for the routine too…”

Freed grabbed another sheet of paper and set it beside their map. He grabbed a pen for himself.

“Storyboard.” he said as he quickly started drawing small rectangles side by side in neat rows. “So we can get a grip of how everything should look like.”

Laxus also booted his laptop up, loading the song that they were working on, ready to play it for their reference.

Erza looked at Gray and Levy. “Tell me if you have any ideas.” They nodded, and Erza turned back to the table again. “Alright, so, first shot…”

They spent the whole morning and until past lunch brainstorming.

When the others came home from work that afternoon, they managed to get the everyone in the dance floor for briefing. The storyboards that Erza, Gray and Levy showed them were messy, with lots of notes and annotations all in differently-colored pens, both from them and from Freed and Bixlow. They thought it would be tough to explain how it goes, but everyone mostly got it, just with some questions on the side. Everyone was quiet — the three took that as a good thing, that means they were focused on the task at hand.

“…and that’s when we get to the rooftop, on a big dance break to finish it off. We’ll use the sunset as background first, then turn the shot around to use it as lighting then. It should look really good, if we get the right timing. Then cut. End of video.” Erza finished.

“Profit.” Levy chimed in with a cheerful smile towards everyone. The others have been so quiet so far, she was starting to think that they didn’t like what they were hearing.

The consensus was that is was really cool — but would be very, very tricky to pull off.

“But we’re gonna do just that, right?” Erza asked.

And of course, it was Natsu who answered — “HELL YEAH, I’M ALL FIRED UP!”

That broke the ice, as the others similarly cheered, eager to start. Erza, Gray and Levy exchanged relieved looks. They’d rallied the team with them now. This is when the hard part really starts.

This is when they’d have to delegate parts.

“So, first up.” Gray asked, stepping forward, “Who wants to be our lead? The one who’ll start dancing from ground floor to rooftop?”

They set a deadline of six days to achieve everything. Six days to polish the performance, film the whole thing and post it on the internet. They wanted a seven-day period to spread the word and gather likes. No matter how good their entry turns out, they can’t win enough votes if they don’t give it enough time to do so.

Energies were running high in the Guild. It seems that having Gray, Erza and Levy working together full-time on something was some sort of dream team. No one knew why they never thought of it before but the three of them were actually easily their most innovative members.

Day 2: Morning.

Erza went up to the sixth floor on a mission to pull Laxus early out of bed so they can work on finishing the music remix. (Hey, he told her to do that, to wake him up.) That would be a great leap because that means they’ll be able to finish, polish and adjust the over-all choreography in the afternoon.

To her surprise, he was already up and about, earphones on, focused on the computer screen and DJ equipment in his table. He was only wearing loose cotton pants and drinking a mug of coffee as he listened to his mix. Freed was also in his usual place on the couch, a blanket on his shoulders, thick glasses on and hair messily tied up in a bun as he drank some tea and looked over his tons of scratch papers and coloring materials again. He was spinning a pencil on his hand.

They were obviously both straight out of bed.

“Hey, Erza.” Freed greeted with a small smile.

“Good morning.” she replied, walking towards them. To add to her surprise, Freed was not working on job-related fashion sketches like what she initially thought. She recognized a smaller copy of the rough storyboards they finished the day before, and some familiar colors and figures in the fashion sketches that the designer was making.

“What’s that?” she asked, blinking.

“Oh, I was just thinking… well, our main song is ‘Ready for the Weekend’, and you said you’ll be wearing some everyday working clothes for the number… I’m trying to find out a good fit for everyone so they can dance easily. Oh, and also this…” he set aside some of the clothes designs to pull up a paper with a rough sketch of what looks like one of the hallways in the house. “I was thinking, maybe we could add some things in the halls since they’re all mostly plain? It’ll add some color and it’ll match the whole shoot better as a background.”

Erza nodded, fully appreciating the extra work that the man was putting in their project. “Will we be able to make those outfits and get those props ready in time?”

“These designs are pretty simple, mostly everyday clothes — I’m sure we already have most of these on hand.” Freed explained. “As for the backgrounds, they’re pretty common objects too. They’re no big deal.”

“Great. You need anything, I’m sure Mira and the others are up for it.” Erza said.

“Sure. I’ve already consulted her about this too.”

“You don’t have work today?”

“It’s not really show season in the theatre district.” Freed said. Erza knew that. That’s why Cana and Lucy were busy with guestings and small concerts instead of live stage shows. “So the designers and other artists have some free time.”

Erza smiled, then this time turned to Laxus. He hadn’t done anything to acknowledge her presence, and his back was still turned to her. Maybe he didn’t know that she was in the room. “How’s the mix going?”

“He seems to likes it.” Freed shrugged, but smiled back. “I haven’t heard any form of cursing for a while. You should ask him, he needs your input anyway.”

So the red-head went over to the DJ and gave him a light tap on the shoulder to get his attention. Laxus stopped working for a while, looked at her, and then took his headphones off.

He said, “You better dance the hell outta this one ’cause I’m actually happy ’bout it.”

Erza chuckled. “Well, that’s always good news. How long are we getting?”

“3 minutes, 30 to 40 seconds.” he answered, then he configured his computer to redirect the audio to the speakers. When he pressed ‘play’, they fell silent to listen to the remix.

“I’ve only done like 70%, I should finish before I go leave for work. You should finish up your choreo to it and tell me if you need some parts changed. I’ll see what I can do.”

Erza only nodded quietly as she started listening. It was a mashup and remix of 3 songs by one artist. The songs weren’t their usual affair, really — but they seemed great for the concept and had some amazing beats.

It was amazing, as usual. Laxus really had a good hand in this, and what Erza liked most about it was that he paced some slower parts obviously to give breathing room to the team. Also, in the parts she noted were for some stunts and breakdance moves, he added some extra effects and dynamics that would fit the steps better. He knew that genre well, after all.

“It’s perfect.” she concluded. Then, knowing what Laxus would say, she added: “So far.”

He shrugged, stopping the music and starting to continue his work. “Well, go away now. Lemme finish my shit.”

Erza knew that was code for: ‘Let me focus on this so I’ll have something to give you.’ so she happily obliged.

Afternoon. When Erza came back from her morning job in the fitness studio, she found Gray and Levy busy working on choreography. They didn’t stop when they saw her come in, already too focused on dancing in tandem along with the mix that Laxus must have left with them before he went to work.

Erza was pleasantly surprised when they suddenly strayed from her original choreo. On that part, they were supposed to do a chorus, coordinated movements — but instead they suddenly switched formations, Gray sliding in front of Levy and getting down on one knee, both did a short pop-and-lock section full of precise, intricate hand and arm gestures — Gray’s touch — then Levy used Gray’s knee as leverage, a foothold as she then launched herself in a high, graceful backflip. Matching her pace, Gray did a quick six-step and as soon as Levy landed on her feet, he was also back up standing.

Erza gaped. She had never seen them do anything like that before. If there was someone who did fancy, dangerous flips, that would be Natsu and Lisanna. And for Levy to catch up perfectly with Gray in his genre… well, maybe they underestimated her versatility a little.

Levy and Gray looked at Erza, part in challenge and part in acknowledgement. Gray was panting as he said, “We’re gonna make Natsu do that last part, t’was supposed to be an Air Flare but I’ll probably kill myself if I tried that.”

Erza didn’t wait for the coming question. She threw her hands up in surrender, shaking her head and chuckling — “We’re keeping it. You two are awesome.”

Levy and Gray jumped up and shared a merry fistbump. Erza held her breath in exhiliration — she had a feeling that they were going to finish the full choreography for this routine today.

“So…” Erza started, placing her hands on her hip. “Let’s take to the stairs?”

Evening. No one asked how the three of them finished the choreo in one afternoon — the group went straight to learning their respective steps.

All they knew was that it looked totally awesome.

Nobody went to bed until midnight.

Day 3: Afternoon. Levy followed Gray and Erza as they ran and emerged through the doors to the rooftop, carrying the portable speakers in her hands. The two did several impressive flips before continuing to dance the choreo — it was the last 40 seconds of the mix — and they were giving it all they got.

Levy doesn’t know where they get their energy. They’ve danced from bottom to top of the building, just the two of them, with Levy holding the speakers and her phone as a camera as they tried to polish how their choreography would glue together with their shooting plans.

For the third time now.

But at last, the song was finished. The three of them dropped down on the floor at the same time, panting.

“I want a pole.” Gray said, lying down on his back.

“A pole?” Erza asked.

“A pole. That goes from sixth to ground floor. So we won’t have to climb the fucking stairs down again.”

Levy laughed, while Erza shook her head in amusement.

“Or we can make it so our stairs can be slides. So we can slide down instead.”

“Gray, you’re losing it.” Levy teased.

“We just had 3 round-trips all over the goddamn place! Of course I’m losing it!” he reasoned out. That was when the sound of a phone’s message alert ringtone was heard and he blinked before saying, “Holy shit, I had my phone in my pocket?”

How did it survive? Thank God for small miracles.

He took it lazily to check the message while Erza also laid on the floor haphazardly and Levy stretched and then massaged her very tired legs.

“Great.” he grunted, and when his two friends looked at him he had a bright smile on his face. “Juvia’s asking if she can borrow practice space again. Today.”

Erza and Levy looked at him. “You look happy.” the red-head remarked.

“That’s ‘cause we’ll have an excuse to freakin’ call it a day and rest up. Let Juvia have the rooftop when she arrives. Y’know, save some energy for practice tonight with the others.”

“Oh.” Erza breathed out. “That’s fair, I guess. Tell her to come over, she can have the roof ’till 8 or something.”

Evening. While everyone had nailed down their parts in the choreography, they were undoubtedly in the tricky part. Levy called it ‘How to Dance and then Run to Avoid the Camera To Get To Your Next Scene 101’.

“You mean…” Natsu started, sitting on the floor in the middle of the dance floor. He was the one who would come in at the second floor in their video. “After doing like the five toughest break moves in history here, you want me to just stand up and run for my life to the fifth floor and wait ’till the camera catches up and then dance again?”

Erza, Gray and Levy nodded in unison. “Basically.”

“That’s crazy, man.” the B-boy breathed out, then shrugged easily and grinned. “But hell, I’m game.”

“They’re insane.” Lucy commented. She sat on one corner of the studio, watching them all practice.

Beside her was Juvia, who also watched intently. She had finished her practice session in the rooftop just earlier. Everyone was happy to give her some privacy while she did it, and she appreciated that very much. But this was all so new to her — group choreography and taping dance videos — so when they started, she finished up her practice and decided to watch them instead.

Erza just smirked at Natsu. “Okay, so after your part, the camera will then turn to… me. Right?”

“Yup.” Levy said — she was the one holding the by-now-crumpled storyboards. “Camera pans to the stairs, you got a solo. Natsu’s next position is the… stairs from 3rd to 4th.”

“There, so while I’m dancing, you dash to get there.” Erza continued.

“Where are you dancin’ again? What side?” Natsu asked, and they all watched as Erza positioned herself by the steps, keeping to one side of the staircase, near the wall.

“Camera’s gonna be here.” Gray added, positioning himself to where the camera should be while Erza was dancing.

“Okay, just gotta keep to that other side then, right?” Natsu said. “So cam won’t catch me?”

“Yeah.” Gray nodded, then addressed the rest of the team. “That’s basically how everyone will go.”

There was a general noise of understanding from everyone else.

Erza then continued. “Okay, getting back on track. Camera will follow me up the stairs and then…”

“Third floor. So that’s me, right?” Lisanna piped up.

“Mm-hm, with Max and Warren. While Erza would disappear for a while and come back on 5th.” Levy answered. She looked at her friends then. “Let’s go?”

“Right!” Lisanna exclaimed, cheerful as she grabbed both Max and Warren and dragged them to the next floor.

The other dancers followed, leaving Lucy and Juvia to trail after them more slowly.

Juvia turned towards the blonde. “It looks really complicated…”

Lucy chuckled. “It does.”

“They have to finish this by the next three days?”

“They do.” the blonde smiled at her companion. “But they’re in their turf, and they’re telling their story.”

Juvia nodded, and watched curiously as Lucy looked forward, watching the backs of her friends walking ahead.

“If there’s a group that can pull this off, it’s them.”

They caught up to the others just in time to see Natsu trip over something and land on his face while running up the next set of stairs. As the others screamed and asked if he was alright, all he shouted back to them was, “YEAH! PARKOUR!”

“That is,” Lucy followed up, trying to stifle her laughter. “If they don’t kill themselves first.”

Day 4: Morning. When Erza went up to the sixth floor, she was surprised to find Gray and Levy already there, helping Freed and Evergreen sort through a ton of clothes.

“Are those the costumes?” she asked.

Freed nodded. “Yep, everything looks good. Plus, Gray’s got some ideas for the choreo for the guys wearing the suits. Also, update on the sets: we can start decorating the floors this afternoon while everyone’s out. Ever’s staying to help too.”

“That’s great.” Erza said smiling lightly.

“Oh, and Elfman already got cleared for three days off starting tomorrow.” Evergreen added. “You’ve got your cameraman.”

“We’ll owe Elf big time.” Levy commented. “I mean, I don’t know who else can manage that, run up the whole building keeping up with our pace while holding a camera steady.”

Gray nodded at that. “We’re gonna give him all the help we can give. Alzack’s also up to assist him, and Mira and Bisca memorized the whole routine enough to direct everyone while we shoot.”

“And the camera?” Erza asked, looking around for Laxus. He had told them not to worry about the equipment, that he’ll get them the best he could get his hands on. Laxus and his friends have many acquaintances in the entertainment industry, and he also knew a lot of indie filmmakers whose equipment he could rent for a cheap price, or even let him borrow, free of charge, if they owed him something.

“He’s still sleeping.” Freed answered. “But good news, he found two cameras. He said they’re really good ones — wireless with a live feed and all that. And we only have to pay for using one of them. He started to dig up some of our old lights last night too and he thinks they can do us good.”

Erza breathed in, watching her friends continue to work. They’ve finished the blockings and the over-all plan last night. It was looking good, and everyone was eager to give it their all. That was great, she thought brightly. They’ve got a real fighting chance of having things go smoothly.

Afternoon. When Juvia dropped by, she was met with activity in the third floor hallway.

Freed, Evergreen, Erza, Gray and Levy were busy decorating the hallways.

Gray, who was busy helping Levy stick wallpaper on the walls, greeted her quickly. “Hey, you’re here. The rooftop’s free right now, you can use it ’till practice starts tonight.”

“Um… thanks…” Juvia blinked, approaching them as she asked, “Is this part of the preparation for the video?”

“Yup!” Levy answered. “It’s supposed to fit the concept more. Freed thought about it, he’s brilliant as always. And it’s about time we do something about these plain ol’ walls anyway. I mean, on a bad day, this looks just as bad as the outside of the building, right?”

Juvia nodded quietly, watching them continue the activity. She looked around to see the others who were either setting up some small hallway stuff — umbrella stands, frames, some stickers in the doors… “Can Juvia help with anything?”

They all looked back at her.

“But… you came to practice…” Gray said.

She shook her head. “Juvia will be honored to help everyone.”

“You really shouldn’t worry about—”

“Juvia wants to.” she said, voice firm.

He looked at her for a moment, then turned towards Erza and shrugged.

The red-head only smiled and said, “Levy, let Juvia help Gray, let’s get the next floor started. That should speed things up.”

Evening. Laxus came home while everyone was having dinner, he was carrying a large suitcase and he had a confident smirk on his face.

“You look happy.” Mira remarked cheerfully. “Brought something home?”

“Camera one.” he said, before setting the suitcase down and opening it to reveal a very expensive-looking professional video camera. “You guys can start test-filming tonight.”

There were cheers around the dining table, and as Laxus sat with them, he sent Elfman an expectant look. “You up for a run, Elf?”

“Six floors and a rooftop in four minutes, it’s on.” Elfman smiled heartily and nodded, then he turned to Alzack. “Don’t fall behind, man.”

“I’ll try my best to catch up.” the raven-head replied with a smirk of his own. He was the backup, the one who would help Elfman maneuver everything to keep their single shot perfect.

Day 5: Morning, and everyone was up eating breakfast, but quietly this time.

Yes, they stopped dancing around midnight the previous night, but it took a greater toll on everyone because they were already dancing the whole routine — and they kept repeating some parts to perfect the sequences for the camera — and for Elfman and Alzack to really get a grip on how to shoot the whole thing.

So everyone was still tired. It was only a day before the big day, but most of them still had to go to work. Some of them were only able to secure a day-off on the shooting day itself.

But the good news was that there were more people in the house, including Elfman and Alzack, and they can practice the routine all they want.

So the whole day was dedicated to perfecting the whole thing. If Levy, Gray and Erza ever thought that their team won’t be game with the starting-from-the-bottom-and-dancing-to-the-top part, they quickly forgot about it. Everyone in the house were clearly willing to do round trips just so they can nail down their parts.

The best part in this was that now that everyone had a better bearing on how their choreography and routine would look, they were all approaching the three leaders and suggesting some tweaks and additions to their parts.

“I can do a higher flip.” Lisanna had suggested, referring to the assisted backflip that Gray and Levy added to Erza’s original choreography. Erza was surprised at first — when did the other girls get so good at stunts? It looked impressive when Lisanna demonstrated, so the red-head instantly gave her go-signal.

“D’you maybe want me to do this part faster? I can do that, no big.” Natsu said, and Levy blinked because the part in the choreography was already fast. But yes, speeding it up matched the tempo better. She just didn’t know that Natsu already had such a good hold on that move.

“We’re just saying, we can add a few more isolations on this part, make it more solid.” came from Warren, with Max nodding beside him. Gray raised an eyebrow because they usually weren’t keen on moves like that. They must have grown more versatile.

This was when Erza realized that while they choreographed the whole routine so that most of the parts can be done by anyone in the team, they forgot to highlight the individual strengths of their members. Some of them were better at specific moves than the others. Lisanna was very acrobatic, Laki excelled in turns and quick footwork, Natsu always picked up on breakdance stunts scarily fast, Jet and Droy never missed beats moving in perfect sync with each other, while Max and Warren were extremely good with subtle, intricate steps. They only got better while Erza wasn’t looking, and they’re letting her know because they want to bring in their own stuff to the table.

For a bit, Erza doubted her leadership again — how could she fail to utilize the best of everyone’s abilities? But then she recalled how they all consulted her and realized that none of them looked upset or disappointed when they were talking to her. They were just eager to add in their own touches in the choreo that Erza, Gray and Levy came up with. They were just making sure that they gave their best to the routine, making it stronger.

Throughout the day and into the night, they polished an even better routine, with Elfman and Alzack not letting the team down with their camerawork.

When everyone watched the latest practice video — the one with the full single shot of the whole routine short of the sunset and costumes — there was a general awestruck air among the group.

“Holy shit.” came from Laxus, and on either side of him, Mira laughed in delight while Freed let out a relieved breath and leaned against his shoulder.

“Same.” Bixlow mumbled, already clicking the replay button to estimate whatever editing or effects he should add when they shoot the actual, final video the next day.

Laxus just looked at the rest of the team. “If you guys dance even better than this tomorrow, with your costumes and the sunset and everything, it’ll kick major ass.”

“Yeah, well…” Natsu said, a proud grin on his face. “That’s kind of the whole point, right?”

When Juvia arrived in the record store, she was met by Rogue busy organizing CD albums on the shelves.

“Good afternoon, Juvia-san.” the teenager greeted pleasantly.

“Afternoon, Rogue-kun!” Juvia smiled quickly at him before rushing towards Gajeel, on his usual perch by the counter reading a music magazine. “Gajeel-kun! Do you have internet access on your phone?”

Gajeel looked up at her and raised an eyebrow. “You know my phone’s practically a burner, right?”

Juvia stopped abruptly, and her friend watched as she looked down, her shoulders slumping in misery. “Juvia totally forgot…”

“What’s the deal?” Gajeel asked.

“Juvia went here because there’s wi-fi—”

Employee-only wi-fi.” he reminded her.

“Employ—” the woman bolted upright again and looked around. “Rogue-kun, can you access the internet on your phone?”

Rogue tensed and Juvia wondered why he was so slowly looking up at her… before he smiled in what looked like embarrassment and said, “I… I actually don’t have a phone…”

Both Gajeel and Juvia stared at him.

He scratched his head. “I have a Kindle, it can connect to wi-fi, but only for browsing…”

Then out of the blue, a new voice joined in, “I have an iPad, but I don’t have the wi-fi password.”

Juvia turned to see a blonde teen standing on one corner of the store. He was standing by the turntables, and appeared to have been listening to one of the vinyl records via headphones. She didn’t notice him there when she arrived. It took her a moment to realize that he was the ‘annoying blonde skateboard kid’ that Gajeel had told her about.

“Um… hi, I’m Sting.” the kid said, smiling a toothy smile. It vaguely reminded Juvia of Natsu. “I see you here often! Are you Gajeel-sempai’s girlfriend?”

“I’m not your sempai.” Gajeel huffed. “And I have no girlfriend. And for the last freakin’ time, Rogue is not for sale, get out of my shop.”

“S-Sempai!” Rogue stammered, blushing. “Sting-kun is not here for me—”

“Yeah, I’m still, uhhhh, saving up to buy this record, alright?!” Sting pouted, but was also blushing. “Anyway, the pretty lady over there needs the internet!”

“There’s no way in hell we’re givin’ you the password.” Gajeel deadpanned.

“Gajeel-kun… Please?” Juvia pleaded, clinging to the man’s arm.

“No.” he grumbled.


He looked away when she decided to use her puppy eyes. As he did this, he saw that Sting had sidled up next to Rogue with his iPad and was having the raven-head tap in the wi-fi password. And Rogue was actually cooperating. “Oi, Rogue, you little-!”

Sting sent Gajeel what the man called a ‘shit-eating grin’ while Rogue tried to reason out, “But it sounds like a really urgent matter for Juvia-san…”

Juvia let out a small delighted squeal and ran across the store towards the boys, who quickly made space for her to squeeze in between them.

Gajeel growled. “You tap that thing one more time—”

To his dismay, Juvia was the one to smirk at him this time and tap the iPad. There was a soft chiming sound before Sting happily announced, “…And we’re connected! Where to?”

“YouTube, please.” Juvia answered.

“Oh, what’re we watchin’?” the blonde asked as he navigated the gadget for the three of them.

“Gray-sama said they already uploaded their entry for the dance contest.” the woman replied. When Sting held the gadget out for her, she quickly thanked him and began typing in the search box.

Upon hearing this, Gajeel put his magazine down. “You three get your asses over here, I’m watchin’ too.”

Juvia, Sting and Rogue quickly shuffled over to the counter. There was no customer in the shop (no one considered Sting a customer anymore, at least) so they didn’t have to worry. As soon as they were all settled, Sting played the video they found and set it to full screen.

The video started with a black screen, in the middle of it a symbol, something that vaguely resembled a bird in flight, with some kind of pointed, arrow-like tail. It was plain white against the black, and then the sound of footsteps were heard… on top of light music, distant voices singing softly…

The first shot followed a pair of red heels, and zoomed out to show a familiar woman with her back turned to the camera. Erza was walking towards the guild’s garage, wearing a white button-up blouse and black suit pants, her hair on a loose but neat bun behind her head. She was wearing thick red-rimmed glasses.

As soon as she stepped in the garage, the remix started — in full dubstep. The doors of the two cars parked in the garage suddenly swung open.

((Grab somebody, go live it up—
Yeah baby c’mon…
Get ready ready ready for the weekend…))

Max and Warren, both also in business suits complete with coat and tie, came out from the cars while doing animation and pop-and-lock steps.

“These people are your friends, Juvia-san?” Rogue asked quietly.

Juvia proudly nodded.

Max and Warren’s intricate animation moves involved them taking off their coats and loosening their neckties.

((Grab somebody, go live it up —
Yeah, shawty get rough…
Get ready ready ready for the weekend!))

Then as the music picked up a more techno sound, Erza suddenly let her hair down and threw her glasses away, and the three of them started dancing in a flurry of hip-hop choreography.

((The weekend is comin’ up, wanna go loud…
The way we make this stripper shake when we go off!))

Max then ran forward to climb on the first staircase, Warren and Erza following close.

The camera tailed them seamlessly until they burst through the door, when the three dancers disappeared from the shot and they saw Natsu was standing alone in the middle of the dancefloor.

((The weekend is comin’ up, wanna go loud…
East, west, downtown, ready all around!))

He was wearing a tight black sleeveless top, baggy dirty white pants and a white scarf wrapped like a towel on his head. He was leaning against a mop, a bucket by his feet. When the three passed by, he jumped up, seemingly surprised, and began mopping the floor.

((Come out and play — I’m ridin’ my wave,
Crashin’ like we got just one day!))

Then he kicked the bucket away and launched into intricate break and krump dancing using the mop as a prop. He was clearly in his element, showing off on a series of really complicated floor work with rolls, stands and spins before jumping up to his feet again.

((The harder you go, the better you feel—
C’mon and grab somebody, get ready for the weekend!))

“I wanna be him when I grow up.” Sting declared. He was met by three different voices telling him to be quiet.

Then Natsu slid across the floor as an exit just as the camera quickly panned towards Erza, who was doing a hip-hop solo on the stairs, all the while climbing it as the camera followed her. The music had done a minor shift — it was a remix after all.

(( — We can live fast, die young.
Everyday we celebrate just like we won…
Only you and I, DIY.
We found a way to live the dream until we die…))

They reached the next floor, it looked slightly different than how Gajeel remembered it, but he had no time to nitpick as suddenly there was Lisanna, in a collared shirt and beige shorts, a dark green apron on her waist — a waitress or barista costume, doing several impressive flips and somersaults. She landed neatly in between Max and Warren, and they continued the hip-hop choreography.

((Just come into my arms…
I will get you love drunk…))

This time their moves were snappy and precise, a series of well-calculated arm and leg movements all while switching formations so often.

((We’ll be burning bright—
Us against the world tonight!))

Then all of a sudden, Natsu was seen again, sliding across the floor with his mop and bucket running towards the staircase in a hurry. The shot focused on him as he jumped and did a few more tricks as he climbed the stairs.

“Shit, that’s life-threatening.” Gajeel mumbled.

((They say, “You’re a freak,” when we’re having fun.
Say, “You must be high,” when we’re spreading love.
But we’re just living life and we never stop,
We got the world… We got the wo-wo-wo-wo-wo…))

When they got to the fourth floor, they were greeted by an empty hallway, the walls in differently-colored wallpaper. After just a beat, four doors opened at the same time.

((I’m waking up, up on the floor, still looking perfect…
I’m walking out, out through the door, into the circus…))

Erza, Levy, Jet and Droy stepped out in sync and closed the doors behind them as they moonwalked backwards. Erza was still in her business attire, but with her buttons undone to reveal her black tank top underneath, and her heels replaced by dancing shoes. The other three were all in what looked like construction site jumpsuits with the top parts undone and tied around their waists instead. Levy was wearing a bright orange tank top, while Jet and Droy wore neon-printed shirts.

((I jump the train, I never pay ’cause I’m a rock star!
You go with me, there will be drink in a tea, ah-))

The four of them made great use of the somewhat restrictive dancing area — utilizing the walls for their choreography and the length of the hall for their formations. Then the camera started zooming in on the three tappers and Erza disappeared from the frame. Gajeel had seen the three dancers tap-dancing, but man, they danced good hip-hop, too. This part seemed to focus on complicated footwork… and how well Jet and Droy danced like twins while Levy danced a killer solo.

((I know you like, like what you see, well I can’t help it…
Sit next to me, buy me a drink, let’s not be selfish—
Hey now our friends don’t wanna dance, just drink at your expense!
So good to be, so so so good to be me!))

The camera also stepped back and followed them when the three ran forward, heading for the next floor.

This time, the hallways weren’t empty, because as soon as the shot focused on them, Gray, Natsu and Laki started dancing. Gray, ironically, was wearing his waiter’s uniform — Juvia thought this must be his way of sticking it to the man or something. Laki was wearing dark red scrubs. It was an interesting mix, Gray and Laki on a high-paced pop-and-lock sequence while Natsu breakdanced just in front of them.

((Come out and play, I’m ridin’ my wave!
Crashin’ like we got just one day!))

They each looked very much in their element — and the four watching held their breaths as Gray stepped forward and did a show-stopping hip-hop solo, before he swiftly stepped aside. Natsu slid forward past him, quickly rolling on the floor, spinning on his arms and shoulders several times with his legs in the air, finishing with a handstand.

((The harder you go, the better you feel…
C’mon and grab somebody, get ready for the weekend!))

Then it was Laki who strided past him. On her way, she grabbed the towel that was tucked in Natsu’s pocket, and after several spins and a graceful pirouette, threw the item towards the camera.

The shot shook and blurred for a while, and when it cleared, the camera was following the three as they ran up the stairs, doing more jumps and flips as they did so. From there, the music was all instrumental dubstep and techno sounds and effects.

When they got to the sixth floor, Laki, Gray and Natsu disappeared from the shot as they continued running — and then the door of Laxus’ studio burst open — out went the rest of the crew, all carrying various items. Max went out first, holding out a party popper and raising it high as he let the confetti fly. As the colorful strips fell, the others followed him to the rooftop. Lisanna was holding a megaphone and Warren was carrying an old but colorful cassette player. Levy, Jet and Droy had two glow sticks each. Last in line was Erza, who kept pace with the camera.

The music suddenly seemed to slow down, and so did the shot and the movements of the dancers. When Erza arrived in the rooftop everyone was moving in slow motion, and the camera captured a shot of everyone dropping their things scattered around the floor as they moved to stand side-by-side in a neat row, their silhouettes pitch black against the setting sun.

Then from left to right, they each raised their right hands, one after the other, their fingers forming an L shape like some kind of group symbol. As the last person raised their hand, the remix kicked in again, the music picking up its quick tempo in one beat.

The camera then panned to capture the view from the front as the team broke into a new formation.

((I’m out again, I’m ridin’ my wave!
Crashin’ like we got just one day!))

They formed a triangle — Levy in front, the second row with Laki and Lisanna, the third being Natsu, Erza and Gray, and the last Max, Jet, Droy and Warren. The shot was breath-taking, everyone dancing in unison bathed in orange light turning to light purple, the sky behind them slowly turning from orange to evening blue.

((The harder you go, the better you feel—
C’mon and grab somebody, get ready for the weekend!))

Juvia recognized some of the Smooth Criminal steps in this last sequence. It was very similar, the pop-and-lock emphasis, fast footwork, intricate arm and hand gestures, and snappy movements. But unlike that one, with everyone approaching the choreography with their own touches, this one looked very polished, everyone dancing in sync and each of them looking like masters of the style. It was very clear that they practiced with perfect unison in mind.

((Grab somebody, go live it up!
Yeah, shawty get rough!
Get ready ready ready for the weekend-!))

The dance ended up with the crew in one row again, raising their hands with the Guild’s hand symbol, but this time facing the camera, with everyone’s features visible. The shot faded to black, with a simple message in the end.

‘The Guild will return in the Street Dance Battle.’

Sting hit the ‘Like’ button before he even realized it. He turned to Juvia. “THAT WAS BADASS! Are there more of these guys? When’s the contest thing? I’m sooo watching!”

Juvia was too busy clapping her hands, practically choking back her tears. Gajeel sighed and answered for her. “They hafta get in the top five first, kid. ’Cause only the five best teams will get in the battle portion.”

“How are they judged?” Rogue asked, curious.

“By likes.” Gajeel said. “Am I right?”

Juvia finally got her composure back and nodded. “This is the elimination round, every dance crew may post their video in the site, and the five teams with the most upvotes will go on.”

“Oh well then, I voted already.” Sting grinned. “You guys should totally go online somewhere and vote too. Wait, maybe I can log out my account so you guys can log in and Like it yourself.”

Juvia practically tackled the boy. “Please do that!”

“Alright, alright!” the blonde laughed, tapping away. “Hell, I’m gonna share it on my Facebook too. Who was holdin’ that camera, man? Also the mop dude is my role model. D’you know him, Juvia-nee-chan?”

Juvia was not phased by the teen’s sudden familiarity. Sting-kun was nice lending out his iPad and now helping her vote for Gray-sama’s team. So she just smiled at the blonde. “His name is Natsu Dragneel. Juvia will tell him you liked his dancing.”

“Alright! Natsu-sempai!” he whistled, handing the iPad to Juvia so she can log in herself. Then he peered at Rogue. “You gonna vote too, Rogue?”

The raven-head smiled and nodded. “Of course.”

“Juvia helped decorate those hallways.” Juvia said proudly.

“Oh man, I’d kill to just… like, hold their towels for them or somethin’!”

Gajeel sighed as he watched the three of them talking excitedly about the dance video, leaving comments, sharing it on other sites and sending links to friends… Then they watched it again. And again. And again. Never running out of commentary about the different parts of the vid.

It was never this loud around the shop. But looking at his companions again, Gajeel concluded that he didn’t mind too much. It wasn’t so bad.

Chapter Notes:

This AU will be the death of me.

All of them are so talented. How.

Dance/Musical Notes:
— The dance video music is a mashup/remix of ‘Ready for the Weekend’‘On A Roll’, and ‘We Got the World’ by Icona Pop. I love them okay? They’re not exactly the usual hip-hop affair, but they’re techno enough and the guild crew could get down to that — and street moves go well with them too. I don’t have an exact remix of these songs, but they all sound compatible enough. Told my dad about it. He agrees.
— And single-shot dance videos are freakin’ awesome. I think the most popular ones on YouTube are those song cover videos by Max and Kurt Schneider, they have one (i think it was a Maroon 5 medley) where they go around the house in one take and that’s basically the same concept.

expand_less expand_more