We Are Young

24 Jun 2015
Part 1 of We Are Young

They’re teenagers, they’re young and they can worry about love and life.

A collection of character and relationship-centric, interrelated stories about some students of Fairy Gakuen.

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 23
Words: 377,513

We Are Young

Chapter 11
Just the Girl


..aka “Ever Just Needs a Man”

Chapter Notes:

I’m back! Sorry for the lateness. Evergreen and Elfman are hard to write. They’re not my most favorite pair, but I pretty much loved how Mashima wrote them. I, however, enjoyed writing the Raijinshuu. I’m still getting accustomed to Mira, though.

This is 11k words long. It’s very lengthy because it has a dun-dun-dun! Backstory! This is the first of the Raijinshuu-centered chapters and I used it to set up the four. So please forgive. There’s ElfEver, a teeny-weeny Jerza, mentioned Gruvia and as always, nobody’s hiding the bets from either Natsu or Lucy anymore.

Slight warning though: this is kinda… charged… with feelings. Um. Yeah. There’s a lengthy conversation about feelings. And girls. And mostly feelings. It’s kinda more romance-centric than usual. Whoops. I always thought that Evergreen’s and Elfman’s best problems would be how to deal with each other.

Thanks for everyone who left a review while I was dead. I won’t keep you guys waiting any longer, so here ya go!

Track 11: Just the Girl
..aka “Ever Just Needs a Man”

“She laughs at my dreams but I dream about her laughter.
Strange as it seems, she’s the one I’m after.”
— The Click Five

Freed Justine was a very disciplined and methodical young man. His morning routine goes like this: get out of bed, look at Laxus in the Raijinshuu’s framed photo in his desk, brush hair, wash his face, brush his hair some more, start making breakfast, look at Laxus in another one of the band’s framed photos in his kitchen counter, brush his hair a bit more, eat breakfast, drink milk, and then start his day…Not before looking at Laxus in the band’s photo in his wallet first, of course.

That one day, his day started as such. He got out of bed, looked at Laxus in the band’s framed photo in his desk, brushed his hair, washed his face, brushed his hair some more, started making breakfast, looked at Laxus in another one of the band’s framed photos in his kitchen counter, but just as he was about to go brush his hair a bit more, a knock on the door interrupted him.

Freed furrowed his brows — who could be knocking at his door that early in the morning?

It was 5 AM. Freed always started his day extra early (Bixlow didn’t dub him ‘Mother Rooster’ for nothing).

‘Maybe it’s Laxus, coming early to greet me good morning.’ Freed thought with a sigh, then inwardly slapped himself. ‘You’re not awake enough, Freed. WAKE UP.’

The green-haired bassist opened the door and gaped at the sight that greeted him.

Laxus stood in front of him with a paperbag and a bouquet of flowers. The blonde greeted with a rough but decent, “Good morning, Freed.”


Laxus shrugged. “Yeah?”

Freed blinked. “Laxus.”

Laxus looked at him blankly. “Hm. What?”

Freed struggled to breathe properly while hiding his obvious bewilderment. “…G-Good morning..?”

“Yeah.” Laxus nodded, raising an eyebrow. Why does Freed look like he’s about to freak? “You alright, man?”


Laxus suddenly stepped forward — why is Freed not alright? “What? What’s wrong—”

That snapped Freed out of his trance and the smaller young man quickly stepped back, raising his hands and smiling widely. “I mean NO, I’m okay! I’m good! I’m-… I just woke up, you know.. a little sleepy—”

“Oh.” Laxus calmed down considerably. “Well, ya gonna let me in, then?”

“Sure, sure. Come in.” Freed said pleasantly, closing the door behind them as Laxus stepped inside his flat. The blonde walked in and set the flowers on the couch, then headed towards the dining area to set down the paperbag he was carrying.

“Um, Laxus, why’re you here?”

“To bring you breakfast.” Laxus already headed to the kitchen, taking out a plate. He navigated the kitchen as if it was his own house.


The blonde then noticed the cooking area. “Oh. You’ve started cooking.”

Freed followed him and simply said, “I made an omelette.”

“Good. I brought bread. From Yajima-san’s.” Laxus said, returning to the dining table to put the bread in the plate he just took from the kitchen.

That only confused Freed further. “Oh, that’s… nice. Why?”

Laxus grunted. “Last night Gramps told me to go to you first thing in the morning and bring you something nice as thanks for letting me crash here for like a year while we were mad at each other.”

“Oh.” Freed nodded, hurriedly fuzzing around the kitchen to cook for another person. He had only made enough for one and he knew that Laxus was a big eater. “You don’t have to do that. You’re my best friend. Of course you can stay over.”

“I don’t mind, though. You make good omelettes. Did I really crash here for a year?”

“It was for only two months and five days. Then you transferred to Bixlow for a week and gave up. You stayed with Ever for five days, too, I think.” Freed said.

“Huh.” Laxus huffed, then took out a jar from the paperbag. “I have chocolate fudge for you too.”

“L-L-Laxus…” Freed turned to look at his companion with sparkling eyes. “T-T-Thank youuuu…”

Laxus smirked. Bixlow was the sweet tooth of the group, but they all knew that Freed would kill for chocolate fudge. “Hey, the old man told me to give you something nice. What’s nicer than breakfast and chocolate fudge, right?”

“R-r-r-right..” Freed was halfway into gross sobbing. The only thing keeping him from hugging the other man was his cooking.

After a few minutes, Freed laid two plates of omelettes (Laxus’ plate containing thrice Freed’s helping) in the table and sat with the other man.

“Itadakimasu.” — and they started eating.

“So what about the flowers? It’s not everyday I see you with flowers, Laxus.”

“Oh. They’re for Evergreen.”

Freed almost spit out his breakfast. “W-What?!”

“Not from me!” Laxus quickly said, shaking his head. “Well, I was on my way here and Elfman was pacing in front of the building. I asked him what’s up, then he shoved me the flowers and asked me if I could give ’em to Ever.”

Freed frowned slightly. “That’s not very manly.”

“I know.”

“But he’s… early…”

“Though I think if I didn’t pass by, he’ll be pacing until noon, so I guess the early hours are justified.”

“Why did you bring it here, then?”

Laxus looked at his companion with a pointed expression. “Freed. You’re the only person who wakes up at five and eats breakfast at five-thirty.”


“Ever’s crazy but she’s usually asleep at his hour. Elfman’s a good guy but I’m not risking my head by waking his woman up before seven. Seriously, you’re not awake enough, are you?”

Freed sighed and simply mumbled “That’s exactly what I told myself earlier.” before taking another bite on one of Yajima-san’s delicious breakfast buns.

Laxus kept eating the omelettes and talked with his mouth full, though. “Why are they fighting again?”

“I don’t know. I’ll never want to know. They’re hopeless.” Freed answered, sighing again, but this time at the thought of Evergreen and Elfman in a lovers’ spat YET AGAIN. “It’s… what, the fifth time this month?”

“More like this week.” Laxus grumbled.

“Actually, yes. They fight like every other day.”

“And I don’t know how the fuck they get back together.”

“Ditto. Bix knows, though.”

“Bix knows your waistline, Freed. He even knows how many strands of hair is on my head. He basically knows everything.”

Freed shrugged. “I don’t want to go to band practice today.”

Laxus, however, shivered. “Yeah. Ever will just rant on us again. You know sometimes I really hate her?”

“Yes. It’s obvious.”

“It’s just that she’s so noisy and all she talks about is the doomed hook-up and the next day she’s really happy and all, but she’s still noisy.”

“Yes. She is.”

“What is it with women and talking?”

Freed nodded. “Preach.”

“Y’know what, if she talks about her fucking lovelife in practice later, I’m telling her to stop being a bitch and make up with Elfman.”

“That’s good.” Freed nodded again, enjoying his breakfast. Yajima-san’s recipes were always the best… “Although I think you should… rephrase it. She’ll slap you for the b-word. You know her, she’s—”

“—a delicate flower?”


“It’s how I show affection.”

“I know. Still, though. Do it gently.”

“But y’know, it’s her fault.”


They ate in silence for a few minutes.

After a while, they said at the same time, “It’s always Ever’s fault.”

“IT’S NOT MY FAULT! HOW COULD YOU SAY THAT?! I THOUGHT YOU WERE MY FRIEND!”Behind the toy store counter, Bixlow cringed and retorted, “You’re gonna scare my customers, man!”Evergreen glared, making Bixlow involuntarily hold on tighter on the stuffed unicorn he was holding. “Man? Did you just call me a man?! Do you know how often he calls me a man?!”

“Man-.. Dude-.. err.. EVER, calm down, bro-.. uh, sis!” Bixlow said, hopeless, trying to look past the woman in front of him to see if he had any customers. For a Saturday, the shop was relatively empty, so he decided to indulge his friend and bandmate for a few more moments. “I’m sorry, okay?”

“Yeah, you better be. I go here looking for a friend to lean on and then when I tell you what’s up, you say ‘What did you do this time?’ and THAT’S NOT OKAY, BIX. I didn’t do anything—”

Bixlow rolled his eyes. “It’s really always your fault—”

The brunette’s eyes flared again. “Strike two.”

“Yeah and I’ll go for strike three because it’s the truth — it’s your fault, Ever.”

“You really said it thrice. Even Freed and Laxus were kinder.”

Bixlow shrugged. “I thought they brought you the flowers. Why didn’t you rant on them?”

“Well, Freed was in such a hurry because he’s going shoe-shopping.”

“And Laxus?”

“He actually told me he’s coming with Freed.”

“Awww…” Bix cooed, while Evergreen sighed a sigh of resignation.

They both wanted to be angry at the two (Ever for them ditching her, and Bix for them practically sending the brunette to him) but they felt so bad for Laxus who, for all his greatness, sucked so much at making up excuses.

“But the flowers were nice, right?” Bix said, absently stroking his stuffed unicorn’s bright pink fur.

“They were.” Ever grumbled, then slumped in the counter and buried her head in her hands. “He got all my favorite flowers in there, even the colors were perfect—”

“So forgive him. I mean it’s enough that he says sorry even if it’s your fault—”

“Strike four, Bix.”

“Look, Ever! A handbag sale across the street!”

Suddenly the woman bolted up and whirled around to look in the direction where her friend pointed, only to see the Blue Pegasus hosts waving flirtatiously at her from across the street. “Where— Ow!”

She got hit in the head by the giant stuffed unicorn. Bixlow said, “Out of the shop, Evergreen, and talk to someone else. My boss would fire me because I have a friend scaring all the customers away.”

Just then, Evergreen noticed a couple of preteens who just entered the shop and were looking over several dolls. They were obviously trying very hard not to stare at her.

The brunette sighed. “And here I thought I could count on you three.”

“You could, really. We have your back, but you never listen to our advise so we just kinda hate you for that sometimes. So go away for now, okay? I’ll see you after my shift. We got band practice later, anyway.”

Evergreen huffed and prepared to stomp out the bookstore. She turned to her friend again. “Bix, is it my fault?”

Bixlow stared and simply moved the unicorn’s leg to make the stuffed animal wave at her. “Talk to Mirajane.” As the woman left the shop, Bixlow sighed and looked down at his stuffed animal. “Y’know, Uni-chan, sometimes I wanna strangle her.”

Evergreen walked down the streets of the Magnolia town square, deep in thought. She decided to heed to her friend’s advice. Maybe Mirajane can help her — Mira helps everyone, after all. She didn’t have to worry about Elfman being there, too. She knew he was busy with college and she knew his class schedule. At this time of the day, he should be in class. She always thought it sucked to have Saturday classes, but this time it was an advantage for her.She was momentarily cut off from her thoughts when a male voice called her name: “EVERGREEN! My, still the beautiful flower I remember from our high school days! Care to stop by for a chat?”It was followed by a younger-sounding one: “Onee-chan, your dress fits you very well, they bring out the color of your eyes…”

Evergreen stopped for a while and then looked back at the Trimens with a lethal glare.

Hibiki’s and Eve’s smiles were unthreatened, while Ren took a step back. “I-It’s n-n-not like I said anything. If you’re turning someone to stone with that glare, I should be counted out… Besides, my… my love is s-s-strong enough to break any curse.”

Evergreen raised an eyebrow at the tsundere’s quip, slightly impressed. That was different. She still wouldn’t back down, though. The woman breathed in, getting ready to say a sharp retort, when another male voice cut her off.

“Ignore them, Evergeen. Just keep going, pretend they’re not here. Also, the club’s still closed. They’re just flirts.”

Evergreen turned to see Gray in just his boxers, dumping several trash bags in a bin before walking back inside the Blue Pegasus Host Club via the back door.

“Hey, part-timer! You work here so don’t drive away our customers!” Hibiki called out to their part-time maintenance employee, annoyed.

“Oi.” Evergreen finally said, catching the three men’s attentions. “Maybe if you guys showed off your goods like he does more often, you’ll catch my eye.”

They stared at her.

When they wordlessly started taking off their coats, Evergreen promptly facepalmed, turned 180 degrees and made a beeline for The Strauss’.

“SHOE-SHOPPING WITH FREED? SERIOUSLY, PAPA?!”Laxus had to put the phone away from his ear because of the sheer volume of his bandmate’s “greeting”. The blonde sighed and simply replied, “I didn’t know what to say, okay? She looked like total hell so I just wanna run away. I mean, shoe-shopping’s the shit compared to what she has in store for us…”“Yeah, I kinda get your point… Why didn’t you guys warn me, though? She went to the toy store looking like Satan. Wait, that’s Mira. Okay. Ever’s Medusa. She went in looking like she was about to pulverize me after turning me to some kinda statue.”

“We forgot. Sorry. Hey, at least you made her go away, right?”

“…Right. But next time, PLEASE send a text that you’re gonna send the abomination my way!”

“Got it, got it! Was it that bad?”

“Well, we’ve had worse-…”

“There ya go.”

“She was evil and I hit her with a unicorn!”


“I still demand candies for my trouble!”

“I’ll tell your mother. He just went to the loo to retouch or something, I dunno what takes ’im forever.”

“Wha-… You’re still with Freed?”

“I thought you knew we were shoe-shopping.”


“I got nothin’ better to do. We’re doin’ his groceries after.”

“Alright. I got it. I’ll just hang up and go back to work so I can stop being a thorn in this marriage. When Mama comes back, tell him I said, ‘Hi, your hair looks nice already so no need to brush it every hour’ okay? Tell him you love him, Papa.”

“Go to work, Bixlow.”

Laxus hung up and turned to see Freed walking back towards him. As soon as the other man got into hearing range, Laxus said, “Candies.”

Freed frowned. “I knew we should have warned him.”

“It’s okay. At least he’s not asking for ice cream.”

The last time Bix asked for ice cream and they got the wrong brand, they swore they thought the guy would hate them for life.

Mirajane was taking it easy that day. The bar wasn’t filled with customers yet, Kinana and Cana were both in, and for once she was not bustling busily around the counter. The silver-haired barmaid was drying some dishes with a towel while engaged in a conversation with Erza when the chimes by the bar entrance rang, indicating the arrival of a customer.She looked up to see Evergreen stepping inside the bar.“Evergreen!” Mira greeted happily, then stopped when she noted the brunette’s expression. Erza had also turned to greet their friend.

Evergreen was standing still by the doorway, looking past the barmaid who greeted her.

Mira turned to see Elfman, carrying a tray full of empty glasses, frozen in spot as well, looking back at the newcomer. When Mira looked at Evergreen again, the brunette nodded politely and quickly moved to get out the vicinity. When the door closed shut, Mirajane looked at her brother and immediately put down the plate she was drying.

“Elfman, what did you do?”

“O-Onee-chan, I really don’t know—”

Mirajane frowned, hurriedly stepping outside the bar counter and heading for the door. “Go away so she’ll come in! Just come out later!”

Elfman meekly nodded and practically ran towards the bar’s kitchen.

“Evergreen!” Mirajane called as she got outside, quickly spotting the brunette already several meters away. “Evergreen, is there anything wrong?”

Evergreen stopped and faced Mira with a small nervous smile. “N-No, everything’s alright! Why would you ask? I… I just remembered that I have to go buy this reference book—”

“Oh, I’m not believing that!” Mira smiled back and walked forward to grab the other woman and pull her back towards the bar.


“Elfman just went out on an errand. He’s not there anymore.”

Evergreen sighed and simply let the barmaid usher her inside the bar again.

“Hey, Evergreen.” Erza said, smiling as the brunette sat next to her.

“Hello.” Evergreen greeted back pleasantly. She wasn’t really close to Erza… or any other girls for that matter, but she knew Erza well as the girl was always there whenever they hung out at Laxus’ house back in high school. “No club activities?”

“Kendo practice is still in the afternoon.” Erza said. “I just dropped by to hand Cana something I borrowed… and well, it’s been a while since I talked to Mira here.”

“Yes! You guys are so busy with school, being seniors and all…” Mira sighed. “Even Lucy and Levy have been dropping by less.”

“Lucy’s busy helping out our cheerleaders.” Erza said. “Levy’s busy with the cultural festival preparations.”

Mirajane nodded understandingly, then turned to Evergreen. “May I take your order?”

“Oh, um…” Evergreen started. She really didn’t come to order anything, but nevertheless, out of politeness, she said, “Iced tea.”

Mirajane turned to ask Cana, but she saw that the girl was sitting with Gildarts, Macao and Wakaba. Two of the men were cheering the brunette on what seemed like her fifth bottle of beer while Gildarts seemed lost on whether to stop or encourage his daughter.

“C-C-Cana-chan, it’s not even lunchtime yet?”

“This is vitamins!”

“But Cana-chan-…!”

As Kinana was also busy serving a young couple on the far side of the bar, Mirajane went to get Evergreen’s order herself. Erza was contentedly eating parfait while Evergreen put down her bag and sighed, slumping against the bar top.

A tall glass of iced tea was served before her.

“Thanks, Mira.”

“So what’s gotten my future sister-in-law down?” the barmaid asked. At the address, Erza looked at them curiously, while Evergreen looked away.

“Your brother, of course.”

“What did he do?”

“Can we please not talk about him today?” Evergreen asked, trying to hide her annoyance — not at Mira, but at herself. Bixlow was right when he told her that she should talk it over with other girls, and Evergreen was doing the exact opposite.

“Well, alright..” Mira said, frowning slightly. Was it that bad? Evergreen seldom came to her to talk. It was usually Elfman who confided in her. Hence, she always heard her brother’s side and it always sounded like it was Evergreen at fault. Mira knew that she hadn’t heard the other side of the story so she always kept her mind open — of course Evergreen would have her reasons. So that day, Mirajane did not know where to start — she knew she should really get to know the other woman better, but at the same time she was relieved that Evergreen wanted to avoid the topic. Mirajane wouldn’t know how to handle her. She knew Erza, Lucy, Cana, Kinana and the others more than she knew her brother’s own girlfriend for two years.

After a bout of awkward silence that even Erza didn’t know how to break, Mirajane simply smiled. “So how’s Freed?”

Evergreen raised at eyebrow. “You want to talk about Freed?”

“Your boys haven’t been dropping by as much.” Mirajane shrugged.

“Laxus is just brooding again.” Erza said simply.

“Freed won’t come without Laxus, and Bix is working part-time in the toy shop because there’s this new action figure coming out, I think…” Evergreen said absently. “You sure you want to talk about your ex?”

Mirajane giggled. “Oh, everyone knows we parted in good terms.”

“No offense but that was two months of awkward. When you were together, it’s like… well… you didn’t even know how to be together…” Evergreen admitted. The conversation was getting easier then. Evergreen was good at talking about other people. She just never wanted to bare herself.

“We’re better as friends.” the barmaid put in bluntly. “Oh, but he was such a sweetheart. That’s why I miss his visits! He always brought these beautiful flowers… He brought some for me the last time he dropped by. He grew fond of me, I guess.”

“Wow.” Erza said. “That’s so mature.”

“Freed is a drama king like that.” Evergreen sighed. “What do you really want to hear about him, Mirajane?”

Mirajane leaned forward and whispered, “Any progress with Laxus?”

Erza blushed. Evergreen groaned and slapped her forehead. “Let’s talk about your brother instead! Watching the two of ’em dance around each other gives me and Bix headaches, we should just put a mistletoe over their heads one of these days!”

Mira blinked. “You haven’t thought of that sooner?”

Evergreen looked down. “Let’s switch topics again. Laxus mentioned Erza’s scholar boyfriend last time.”

Mirajane blinked. “Erza has a boyfriend?” — why has she not heard of that before?

When they both turned to Erza, the girl was hurriedly finishing up her food and trying to avoid all kinds of eye contact. “I think I’ll go drink with Cana.” She started to stand up, but both Mira and Evergreen had pushed the red-head to sit back down on her chair.

Even Cana turned when Erza exclaimed, “Jellal is just a friend!”

For a while, Evergreen forgot about her problem. She knew, though, that she was simply avoiding it.

Gray was just putting his shirt back on after lifting some heavy boxes in the Blue Pegasus’ storage room. His shift was over. He headed to the backroom and then to the men’s room to wash his hands. He was just packing up his things when he heard knocking on the back door.Nobody knocked on the back door. All other employees just simply went in. Knowing this, Gray cautiously opened the door.He found Elfman standing by the back alley, arms crossed across his chest and frowning hard at the ground.

Gray blinked. “Yo, Elf. What’s up?”

Elfman looked up at him and shrugged. “I had a fight with Ever again.”

Gray raised an eyebrow this time. “So… that’s supposed to be new?”

“No, but—”

“Everyone knows you’re gonna make up in a day or two.”

Elfman sighed.

“Whoa.” the raven-head took at step back. “Dude, is it that bad?”

“She came to the bar to talk to nee-chan, that’s why I left.”

“What did you do?”

“I don’t know.”

“No. I mean what did you do to apologize about whatever the hell you supposedly did to upset her that much?”

“Flowers. All her favorites.”


“I had Laxus deliver them.”

Gray facepalmed, the groaned in resignation. “You didn’t…!”

Elfman scratched his head. “I was… too nervous, and… Laxus stopped by just at the right time, and I figured that she wouldn’t yell at Laxus as much.”

“That’s not right! You should apologize directly!” Gray said. After two years of dating one, Elfman hadn’t learned a thing about women.

“I know, but she’ll get angrier! She always gets angrier—”

“Then why do you even try to apologize if that upsets her more instead?”

Elfman thought about it first. “Because it’s the right thing to do?”

“And do you know exactly what you’re apologizing for?”


“Why don’t you ask her?”

“Then she’ll know that I don’t know what I’m doing!”

Gray stopped, then nodded. “Yeah, she will.”

“So…” Elfman started. He didn’t really ask for advise often, but he knew Gray was in the vicinity. He saw the guy working when he passed by earlier. Gray was one of his closest friends. Even though he was several years ahead of Natsu and Gray, the three of them were troublemakers and have been in a lot of brawls throughout middle and high school. He was surprised when he was told that Gray and Juvia got together. But somehow, he knew they would work out really well. Gray can be as dense as Elfman and as brash as Natsu, but Elfman knew that the guy would handle a relationship well — Gray was mature like that. So he thought that he might as well ask for Gray’s input if he was going to do something. “What do you think?”

“What do I think about what?” Gray said, briefly checking his phone and then pocketing the gadget again. “You sure we should go talk here?”

“Yeah. What do you think I should do? To know why Ever’s so upset?”

“Geez, man.” Gray groaned. “Why’d you have to go with such a hard girl, you know? Even Erza will be better to deal with, at least she’s blunt and she only needs cake.”

“Stop lecturing me. You and Natsu told me not to stop coming after her until she says ‘yes’. You guys told me to take it like a man.”

“We didn’t know she would be so… so mean. We knew she’d be hard and cold but we didn’t know she’s be THAT hard and cold.” Gray huffed. “Even the realest of real men will give up. Sometimes we don’t know if you’re really that tough or you’re just stupid. We all knew she can be as nasty as Mira, although she hadn’t changed. Mira did.”

“Look, just help out a friend, will ya?”

“If you can’t talk to her, talk to her girl friends.” Gray simply said. “Juvia always tells me that when she can’t talk to me about it, she tells Lucy, Levy and Erza. You probably know her friends, right?”

“That’s the thing about her, see.” Elfman tried to explain as carefully as he can. “She doesn’t have any other close friends. She tells Freed, Laxus and Bixlow everything, but when I ask them, they don’t understand her too.”

The raven-head stared disbelievingly. After a few moments, he stood straight again. “That’s it, we’re going for our last resort.” Gray said, scratching his head in disdain. He didn’t want to actually offer that one option, but it was the only other way he could think of.

“What is it?”

“You stay away from her and wait until it all boils down and then apologize again and buy her something nice. THEN maybe you’ll be okay again.”

“Does that work?”

“How the hell should I know? I don’t let things get that bad with Juvia.” Gray said, quite too smugly for Elfman but he knew what his friend was trying to say.

‘Lay low and wait a little while. Take more time to really think about it hard.’

Elfman was trying. He knew that he really was. It was just that he hated seeing Evergreen upset, and it didn’t matter if it was because of something he said or did, or something others said or did. He hated seeing Evergreen upset — period. That was why he always did his best right away to fix her up.

Sometimes, though, it really is just not working right for them.

It seldom works out right for the two of them anyway.

Evergreen always hated her eyes. Screw it — she hated many things about herself. As a little girl, she hated how her hair showed off too much forehead. When she tried to cover it up with bangs, it never looked good. She hated how her eyes are too dark and how she always looked like she was glaring or angry. She hated how her lips aren’t as full or as red as the other girls. She always wanted to be pretty. She got teased because of her forehead, or her eyes. She was somewhat of a bookworm as well… and the other girls bullied her often. She had been an outsider when she was young. She thought herself very ugly back then.Then came middle school. Her long brown hair was still curled in the wrong places and her perpetual frown was in place. She still didn’t like her face, or her features — but back then, what she hated most were her eyes. They really, REALLY glared, she always thought. She tried smiling but she wasn’t as pretty as the other girls. She never bothered to befriend them. She has had enough bullying and teasing, she told herself. She can get by without them.She met Freed in the library one time. He was the kid in her class who, like her, always kept to himself. He was a smart boy always buried in books and he was pretty much deaf to the world because his mp3 player volume was always turned up to max. He was her first friend. Even then, when she trailed after him in silent companionship, she always thought that she looked terrible beside her very neat, dignified and good-looking friend. Freed never commented on what she looked like anyway, although he always told her to brush up or wear this color or try some lip gloss…

It was funny, she thought. A few years later they would be commenting on how girly Freed is, but the truth was that Ever owed him her stunning looks, Laxus owed him his love for furcoats and Bixlow would have been called Rapunzel if Freed wasn’t there to demand a regular haircut.

By the end of middle school, Evergreen was still silent and standoffish, but HECK, she had damned good skin from all the stuff Freed shoved at her, really nice lips because Freed told her never to forget her lip gloss (he checks EVERYDAY, like it was class attendance), shiny and silky long hair because Freed would often brush it for her when he was bored or stressed or angry (it was like a coping mechanism — it mystified the whole band sometimes), and glasses that helped her hide her glare because Freed suggested it. She thought that after three years of tagging along beside the school’s token pretty boy, she looked decent. Even pretty in some angles. She thought she did not look ugly anymore…

Still, she stayed unapproachable, silent, and locked up in her shell. Freed helped sometimes, but she seldom opened up to him. She knew he would listen, but really — she just had nothing to say. She thought she didn’t have problems. Everything was enough. Nice hair, skin and face, good grades and one trusted friend.

When she entered high school, she did not know why, but suddenly it seemed like she was really pretty. Freed told her that she just grew. A lot. He so bluntly pointed out that her chest department was particularly blessed, her hips were a nice shape, and her pretty face and hair makes up for the forehead and the cold-hearted glare. By then, Evergreen rolled her eyes and thought that Freed better be gay, because she didn’t think that a straight man could say that with a straight face.

Laxus was Evergreen’s first love. The practical part in her insisted that he wasn’t ideal — he was brooding, had a scar on his face, was a delinquent despite being the principal’s grandson, and he was very rude. But then Laxus made Freed smile when one time the two guys just happened to talk about music. Evergreen had never seen Freed smile like that, so she accepted Laxus in their circle… and the ‘puppy love’ grew from that. Back in high school, Freed was the one who let Evergreen lead the way, simply tagging a few steps behind her even though she knew that she was still the one really following him. After Laxus and Freed became acquainted with each other, Laxus walked behind Freed. When Laxus discovered that Freed plays the bass, they would jam in his place in the afternoons. When they asked Evergreen if she could sing for them, she screamed a big “NO!”. She was never a lover of music. She never really listened to anything except the ones she happened to hear in the radio. The boys looked at each other and then handed her ten CD’s of punk and classic rock.

They told her they’d buy a nice dress for her if she tried singing.

She did not know, even until years of friendship, how they knew that she could sing even before she did.

She never confessed to Laxus. She valued the boys too much to risk their friendship like that. Besides, Evergreen knew that Laxus would have no time for girls — he was always on some kind of fight with his grandfather. She also knew about the possibility of Freed having his own feelings for their leader. The feeling faded into a dull ache over time.

The boys got Bixlow out of nowhere. All she knew was that their drummer was weird, calls his toys ‘babies’ and calls Laxus ‘Master’. The ‘Master’ changed to ‘Papa’ when Freed became ‘Mama’. Evergreen envied how Freed was the Mama, but she always let it pass. Her boys took good care of her. They really did.

Evergreen remained herself, though. Silent, smart, careful, cold and very much content with only three people for regular company. Once, Bixlow asked Freed what Ever was like during middle school. Freed only shrugged and answered: “She didn’t change a bit, except now she’s very pretty and she’s working hard to maintain that.”

Evergreen thought there was nothing wrong with it. And again — her boys took good care of her. She was happy in her own way. Sometimes, though, when she complained, they would oh-so gently say that maybe she should talk to another girl.

She wouldn’t. Not when they were all either much prettier or too patronizing or when the girls who knew her for a long time would simply say ‘she looked terrible back then and it’s all make-up now’ even thought Ever knew that she wore little to no makeup regularly. Not when they were just interested in asking about the boys, or when they were frowning is disappoval because they think that Ever isn’t good enough to hang out with cool, mysterious Laxus, or handsome, charming Freed.

Evergreen agreed to sing for the band’s first performance in the cultural festival because of one reason: she wanted to prove herself.

‘I’m standing here,’ she thought then, ‘because I’m good enough, beautiful enough and loved just enough.’

She always lived by that.

She lived by things being just enough.

“So what really happened was this,” Freed started, sitting with Laxus and Bixlow in the studio as they waited for Evergreen to arrive. “Ever was being mean, Elfman apologized, and Ever got mad because he did so.”“Mm-hm.” Bixlow nodded, busy playing a game in his PSP.Freed looked at the ceiling, confused. “And for some reason, Elfman thought he was doing something wrong, and Ever hated that and got even angrier. Then he asked her if he’s not good enough for her because she never seems to be content and then Ever got upset? Then he really didn’t know what to do and he left?”

“For the third time: YEAH, DUDE.” Bixlow raised an eyebrow. “You’ve repeated the story three times. It won’t change, ya know.”

“What the fuck?” Laxus asked, plucking at his guitar strings absently. “Why was she being mean in the first place?”

Bixlow shrugged. “She was being herself. Which is mean.”

“Yeah, I get that part. That’s Evergreen, alright. But why did Elf apologize?” Laxus asked again. Freed always knew that Laxus can be insensitive, but he himself was confused too.

“Because if you get mad at them, girls think you don’t like them, or you want to hurt them, or you’re being sexist or something, apparently.” Bixlow said, pausing his game and looking at his audience. “But maybe Ever thought he was being weak, apologizing so fast—”

“Well, if he doesn’t apologize, she’ll get angry either way.” Laxus reasoned out. “But she should’ve answered ‘im when he asked if he’s not good enough or something like that shit. She could’ve said ’YES’ and leave the guy and break up, and then Elf will be free again and HAPPY, you know. Less life problems.”

“Laxus…” Freed sighed. “That’s not a very helpful option if you want them to stay together—”

Laxus turned to his friend. “But think, man — when they accept the losses, that’s two less frustrated people in the world.”

“I agree with Papa.” Bixlow said, already back to his game.

Freed looked at Laxus, who looked back at him with his ‘What did I say now?’ expression. Freed simply sighed. “Mama doesn’t exactly agree with Papa’s point.”

Laxus huffed. “Give Papa some credit. He brought you chocolate fudge this morning.”

Freed looked at him reproachfully. It wasn’t fair that he used that card.

Bixlow whistled. “Is Papa gonna get some tonight?” — but before he could chuckle, both his companions had started to strangle him.

Finally, the door opened and their vocalist went in, raising one elegant eyebrow at the sight of the boys in a minor brawl again. “What happened now?”


A few minutes later, as the guys were setting up their instruments, Freed was listening to Evergreen silently retelling a brief version of her latest spat with her boyfriend. He simply nodded when the story finished. It was the same as last time, and the fight before that, and the fight before the fight before that.

Really, it was always the same with Evergreen and Elfman. They fight, make up, stay alright for a few days (sometimes weeks), and then fight again, making up right after.

They don’t even fight like married couples. They just fight like upset teenagers, and they were supposed to be adults: mature college students.

“Can we just start practice now?” Evergreen complained, eager to take her mind off things. She eyed Laxus still bullying Bixlow and sighed, turning to Freed. “Tell your husband and son to behave.”

Freed simply cleared his throat and called out loudly: “Guys, we have ten songs planned today!”

Laxus gave Bixlow one last fake punch on the face before letting go of the guy as if to avoid being caught red-handed. Bixlow smiled toothily, twirling his drumsticks in his fingers innocently. Freed and Evergreen looked at their leader expectantly, and Laxus picked his guitar up.

“Okay, where do we start?”

In their highschool days, most of the student body looked up to their ‘cool’ senpai — the Raijinshuu. They were in a band, and they were good. They play regularly in local bars and restaurants, keep up respectable grades, and didn’t rub their “awesomeness” on the other students’ faces. Yes, Laxus may be a rough, tough delinquent with merciless language, Freed may be a bit too aloof for some people, Bixlow may be very childish and annoying and Evergreen may be cold and unapproachable, but they didn’t act like the school belonged to them, didn’t bully their kouhai and didn’t think that being in a band was anything too ‘special’. The Raijinshuu were the badass kids on their days, even being more adored than the sports clubs and the student council. Mirajane, back in her wild delinquent days, picked fights with them but they made sure to settle it outside school grounds or simply outside school hours.Elfman, with Natsu, Gray and the other boys in their circle of friends, idolized the Raijinshuu very much. One thing has been very clear back then, though: Evergreen was single, available, but off-limits. She naturally gave off the air of a girl that was out of anyone’s league. She was cruel most of the time, only keeping her greetings and statements polite enough not to be rude. Most of the boys were aware of this.It was in a school trip that Elfman first really talked to the girl. There was an activity for the students where they all had to go by pairs. Freed and Bixlow volunteered to go first. Evergreen huffed, instintively turned to pull Laxus with her, but remembered that their leader didn’t go with them on the trip after all. Freed and Bixlow had other friends — one of them could have gone with Evergreen while the other one went with another friend. The girl pouted. Yes, that should have been — but since the two were gone now, she had no choice but to go with someone else. She did a quick scan of the area. She knew most of these kids and had exchanged a word or two with them. Most of them were Laxus’ little sister’s friends.

She found one who didn’t have a partner yet. “Elfman,” she called out. The boy looked at her. She had never really talked with him before. “Do you have a partner yet?”

“Uh… N-no partner yet—”

“Let’s go, then.” she said, adjusting her glasses. Elfman looked around him — Natsu was paired up with Erza while Gray was arguing with Cana about their lunch or something. Most of his other friends were already in pairs. Some of the ones standing alone were very much familiar to him.

“M-Me?” he asked Evergreen again.

Evergreen raised an elegant eyebrow. “Who else? I called your name, right?”

Elfman wanted to turn her down. She asked so abruptly and he didn’t really know her much, but he looked around and realized that nobody would want to go with her.

As a man, it would be rude to let a woman go alone when you’re very much available to help her.

“Right. Sorry.” he said, then walked towards her. He expected her to shove her bag towards him, demanding that he carry it. She didn’t. So he held out a hand and asked, “I can carry your bag for you.”

“No, thanks. It’s not that heavy.”


“I can carry my own bag by myself. I’ve been doing it since the start of the trip. I wouldn’t have brought this with me if I knew that I can’t handle it. So shut up.”

He still insisted, however, saying a dignified, “You’re a woman, I was just trying to—”

“Being a woman is never an excuse to be someone else’s burden.”

He shut up. That was new.

And true — she proved that over the course of their trip.

A few months later, Elfman, to his friends’ encouragements, sent her his first love letter. As per tradition, he told her he adored her and asked if she would kindly meet him after school. At first, the boys practically thought he was insane.

“Are you crazy? Evergreen? THAT Evergreen?!”

“Dude, we know she’s beautiful and talented and smart and all of that is very very nice, but she treats everyone like shit.”

“You’re just blinded by the pretty, Elf. She has no friends. All she has is that band, and they’re… no offense, but they’re major league, and we… don’t think you’re quite ready for that.”

“Have you ever seen her smile? Like, just a simple real smile?”

Elfman made a good point, though. That he just felt something GOOD about this one. He felt that Evergreen was not the all-too-cruel lady with the scary glare. He told the guys that he just wants to try. They were his bros — so they supported him anyways.

That afternoon, Elfman was left standing by the school backyard for three hours. Evergreen never came.

He waited the next day, too. And for three days more.

“Elf, she’s not coming. We’re sorry, man. Accept it. She’s just out of your league right now.”

“Are you really sure she got that letter?”

Neither Evergreen nor Elfman knew which of the boys told Bixlow, who quickly told Freed and Laxus. At band practice, the three looked at Evergreen with disappointed expressions.

“What did I do?” She asked, wondering why they were suddenly so hostile.

“You stood Elfman up.” Freed answered bluntly. “You basically ignored one of the most honest, decent guys in the school. For FOUR days, Evergreen.”

“I’m not interested.” she simply answered.

“You should have heard him out, though.” Bixlow said. He too looked really disappointed. “The poor guy must be heartbroken, thinkin’ you hate him. You were really mean.”

Evergreen protested, “Well, I don’t want him for a boyfriend! I don’t want to date him! He’s always going on about being a man and stuff! I can’t deal with that!”

“Still. You should have showed up.” Freed sighed. “It’s not fair that you do that to him.”

“If I showed up, nothing would change. I still would’ve turned him down.”

Freed kept up the argument: “But at least, he would’ve been able to see you and hear it from you directly. You could’ve told him that there was nothing wrong with him. That’s it’s just you.”

“You stood ‘im up. He must be feelin’ like a failure! Must be thinkin’ that you think somethin’s wrong with ’im.” Bixlow said. “And you really don’t wanna date that guy? Don’t you want flowers? Messages from him in your phone asking how you are? Someone to go with you to movie dates? Someone to walk ’ya home? Someone to propose to you and then you’ll get married and have babies and I’ll be their cool uncle while Freed and Laxus will be the gay uncles—”

The guy stopped abruptly as the “gay uncles” in question glared at him.

Evergreen shook her head, “Of course I want to date — someone… someday, somehow — but not him!”

That was when Laxus stood up and they all looked at him. Their leader looked at Evergreen with an unreadable expression on this face. “Listen to me.” he started, stepping forward to come face to face with their only female member. “You’re going to meet him today. After school.”

Freed stepped forward. Laxus was ordering Evergreen in a tone so authorative that it sounded harsh. “Laxus—”

Laxus ignored the others and only focused on Evergreen. The young woman looked back at him with wide eyes. “If he’s not there, you’re going to The Strauss’ and you’re still talking to him.”


“You will apologize and tell him that he did nothing wrong. And you’re going to answer him with either a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’, and then you will tell him why.”


“Evergreen.” Laxus said with a tone of finality. He was their leader, and he made that point across right then and there. “I suggest you say ‘yes’, because you’re lucky enough that someone grew to like you with your attitude like that. Now go do what I told you to because that guy might me the only guy crazy enough to fall for you. I, for one, know for myself that I’ll never fall for someone as inconsiderate and bitchy as you.”

Evergreen was in the verge of tears. Freed looked at their leader disbelievingly. “Laxus, that’s going too far.”

“No, I’m just saying the truth.”

Bixlow and Freed watched as their vocalist slapped their guitarist hard across the face, and then walked out the room in tears.

Laxus shrugged, turning his back to the other two and sitting back down with his guitar. “She needed to hear that.”

“Ever’s not good at dealing with people—”

“Doesn’t make a difference. Someone had to hand it to her one way or another.” Laxus said gruffly, rubbing his stinging cheek a bit.

Bixlow scratched his head. “But man, the b-word? Really?”

“I’ll tell her I’m sorry when she disproves it.”

“You do know that you hit a really sore spot: telling a girl who likes you that you’ll never fall for her. You know how she feels about you. Don’t say ‘no’ — I know you’re not as insensitive as she thinks you are.” Freed said, sounding torn on whether or not to side with Laxus or Evergreen. He was devoted to Laxus, but he can see that Evergreen had been very upset with what she heard from the blonde.

“I told you,” Laxus looked at his right-hand man. “She had to know. It’s for her own good. It’s just a little kick in the head from me and I hope it works.”

The next day, when Evergreen showed up at their usual meeting place for band practice, the boys went quiet. They didn’t know what to say. They knew that Evergreen went to Elfman that morning — Bixlow got it from one of his many “trusted sources”.

Evergreen, however, stood her ground and directed her gaze to Laxus. “I don’t regret slapping you, you know. I won’t say sorry.”

Laxus turned his back to her and shrugged. “I called you a bitch and you slapped me hard. Let’s call it quits.”

Their vocalist nodded. She simply sighed. “I told him to confess again in a few months. We have finals and entrance exams. I told him I had to focus on those first.”

Freed asked softly. “Did he take that well?”

She nodded.

A few more months later, after the graduation ceremonies, Elfman asked Evergreen again. She reluctantly said ‘yes’.

They had struggled ever since.

“You have communication problems.” Cana said, after drinking a tall glass of beer bottoms up. She slammed the beer in front of a distressed Elfman, who looked beside him for help, but Gray was busy texting.“But we always talk—”“About what?” Cana confronted. “Do you know her favorites, likes and dislikes? Her mood swings? Her schedule and her friends?”

“Cana, they’re not that worse off, I’m sure.” Lucy said, stirring her glass of iced tea absently. She happened to stop by The Strauss’ after doing some grocery-shopping with Loke, found Gray, Cana and Elfman sitting together, and promptly joined them.

Cana shrugged. “Gray thought he and Juvia weren’t that worse off until he started falling really in love and became a puppy who wants all her attentio—”

Gray quickly pushed his still-full glass of beer towards the brunette. “Here, drink some more.”

Cana wordlessly took the drink and started gulping it down right away.

Gray looked at his companions, who were looking at him curiously. “She’s just drunk.”

“Yeah, right.” Loke chimed in, carrying two plates of dinner. He set down one plate on his space on the table and the other in front of Lucy, who thanked him with a bright smile. “But Elfman, when did you last talk to your girl?”

“Last I heard of her was… well, she was telling me to get out of her sight because she never wants to see me ever again…”

“Ouch…” was the collective reaction of his friends.

“Did you know why she was upset?”


“Did you do anything wrong?”

“Not that I know of, but—”

“But,” Gray cut them off. ‘For every male action, there is a female overreaction, so— “— he stopped when Lucy’s eyes narrowed at him —” Wait, I’m not generalizing, Lucy.’ The blonde rolled her eyes and went back to her food. “So, as I was saying, Evergreen’s very blunt, we all know that. She should’ve told you what you did wrong right away.”

Loke nodded. “If she hasn’t told you anything you did wrong, I think she… well, she simply can’t say it. It’s either you did something very wrong she can’t handle it, or she’s upset for a different reason.”

“I have a problem with that.” Cana said, slamming her glass on the table again. “Not taking sides here, but how would you know if it’s not Evergreen that did something wrong? We’ve been bearing with the two of you for two friggin’ years.”

“Yes. I know we’re supposed to take her side, ’cause she’s a girl and all…” Lucy started, smiling guiltily. “But Elfman, you’re a really good guy, so if you’re sure you’re not doing anything wrong, you should stop feeling guilty all the time. You should ask her too. Us girls are not always right.”

When she looked at them, she found the boys looking at her as if she was heaven-sent, while Cana was trying her best not to laugh out loud.

“Lucy, I love you.” Loke declared, staring at his mistress with sparkling, teary eyes.

“What he said.” Elfman nodded.

“Same.” Gray sighed.

“WHAT DID I DO?!” Lucy practically screamed, looking at her friends.

“You’re a girl and you actually admitted that you can be wrong.” Loke sniffed.

Gray poked at his food numbly. “Natsu’s a lucky bastard.” He quickly avoided the incoming punch from Lucy and mouthed, ‘Whaaaat?’ at the blonde.

Cana laughed loudly and rowdily hit Elfman on the back repeatedly. “You should’ve looked for a girl like Lucy, ya know! She totally explained my point! Maybe it’s Evergreen’s fault after all!”

“And it’s hard to apologize, so maybe that’s why she’s upset?” Loke said. “Really, all you guys need is just a simple, open talk. How do you make up with each other on the other times this happened?”

“Well, I apologize and then we text each other if everything’s alright, and of course we reply with ‘yes’. Then we’re alright again.”

“That’s very vague. And you never even get to know why you fought in the first place?”

“We figured it’s just our differences. You know, me saying a wrong word, or voicing out an opinion or something, forgetting something important, me being inconsiderate when she’s specially moody… those kinds of things.”

“You’ve already apologized this time, right?” Lucy asked.

“She got angrier.” Gray explained for their benefit. “Told you guys, she’s a terror.”

“Hey.” Elfman frowned. “She’s not always like that. Her laugh sounds really good, you know. She loves all these sorts of books and she looks really adorable when she’s focused on her favorite ones. She re-reads them when she has time. She’s also a very good cook, although she doesn’t like preparing desserts. She’s really kind when she wants to — one time she adopted six stray kittens at the same time. When I told her it made me remember Lisanna, she smiled and listened to me being all gloomy. She’s funny, too. She jokes around a lot when we’re together—”

“I can’t imagine Evergreen joking. I can just imagine her laughing like an evil witch.” Gray pouted, looking at his friend. “No offense.”

“She laughs like that, too, but that’s when she’s happy with a prank pulled successfully on Bixlow.”

Lucy laughed. “She pulls pranks?”

“My girlfriend is not a heartless rock.” Elfman insisted.

“Yeah.” Cana shrugged. “Laxus, Freed and Bixlow won’t be friends with her if she was. I’ve known Laxus since I was a kid. He picks his friends carefully, and Evergreen’s, like, his head girl.”

“I just really want her to not be upset now.” Elfman said.

“No proper boyfriend wants his girl to be upset.” Loke nodded. “But sometimes you really have to tell her that you don’t think you’re at fault.”

“When are you going to see her again?” Lucy asked.

Elfman looked down. “Raijinshuu’s playing tomorrow. I’ll be waiting tables. It won’t do if we ignore each other, so I really want us to make up by then.”

“We’ll be watching, then.” Lucy said, smiling slyly, then turned to Gray. “Right, Gray?”

Gray blinked. “What? Why me? I have work—”

“Elfman needs his wingman.” Lucy said.

“Ask Natsu.” Gray retorted. “Tell him you’ll watch Raijinshuu play. Tell him you WANT to watch them play. He won’t say ‘no’ to that. He gives you everything.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Prompted, Cana quickly turned to Elfman. “By the way, Elf — the bets have updates. There are some new stuff on the pool.”

Elfman looked at her, distracted. “Really? What’s new?”

“Oh, they’re not even hiding it anymore.” Loke chuckled, patting his mistress on the head when Lucy buried her face in her hands in defeat.

The band was on the sixth song on their setlist for the rehearsals when, just several beats into the intro, Evergreen felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. She quickly lifted her hands from the keyboard and that got her bandmates’ attention. They stared at her as she checked her phone.“It’s him.”“Answer it.” — was a chorus among the three guys.

Evergreen glared at them.

They merely stared back unperturbed.

Evergreen shook her head and pressed the answer button. She quickly said, “I’m on band practice. Call later.” and hung up.

Her bandmates looked at her disbelievingly.

“That’s the same fucking thing as hanging up.” Laxus said.

Bixlow quickly added, “And that was so mean!”

“And very inconsiderate.” Freed backed his friends up. “He didn’t do anything wrong, why give him the cold shoulder when you’re supposed to be apologizing?”

“We were practicing!” Evergreen insisted.

“We’ll still be here after you talk to him on the phone.” Freed said, very obviously scolding the brunette.

“We’ll still be here while you talk to him on the phone.” Laxus said then, crossing his arms across his chest. “Evergreen—”

Ever stepped back. “No, you’re not berating me again. You did this long ago too. Save it, La—”

“Pick up your phone and call him. Now.” Laxus ordered. He remembered doing this long ago. He got slapped across the face but it ended up all well…

Evergreen glared hard at him as she did what he said. She put her phone by her ear as she waited for a pick-up.

“He picked up.” she said lowly, eyeing her friends with her ‘Are you all happy now?’ expression. “Elfman.” she addressed the person on the other end softly.

[ ’Ever. Uh, listen—’ ]

“Ask him how he’s doing.” Laxus dictated. Freed moved to stop him, but he raised a hand to indicate that he knew what he was doing.

Evergreen complied, but her stare indicated that once Laxus goes too far, he was going to get a slap in the face again. “How are you doing?”

[ ’I’m fine, I have something to tell you…’ ]

Evergreen sighed. “You’ve already said you’re sorry. I’m not deaf—”

[ ‘I didn’t call to apologize again.’ ]

The rest of the band looked on as Evergreen paused and looked down, pursing her lips. She furrowed her brows and whispered a silent, “Excuse me.” and then went out the room.

“I just…” Elfman started, considering his words carefully. Everybody told him to just talk to her. He had never done this before. It was a miracle they lasted this long without exploding on each other. “I just want to ask you something…”[ ‘What is it?’ ] — her voice was softer than usual, he noticed.He was sitting on a stool in The Strauss’ kitchen. The only other person in the room was Kinana, who was silently washing dishes. He glanced at her and the girl was focused on her work. Kinana was a good girl, he knew — she respected privacy. Encouraged that he had a good chance of trying to get things right, Elfman went on. “Was I right to apologize?”

She did not answer.

“I mean, I said ‘sorry’ on instinct, and I didn’t even know why you got mad at me in the first place. I just realized that half the time we were together I don’t know what I’m sayin’ ‘sorry’ for.”

He didn’t know if it was just her voice over the phone, but he thought he heard a little shake in her reply, [ ‘Really?’ ]


[ ‘Why do you keep doing it then?’ ]

“Because… well, you’re smart and sensitive and quick and… and I’m slow and stupid and dense, and I always thought that if one of us is gonna do something wrong, it’ll be me for sure.”

[ ‘So you just always automatically thought you’re wrong because I happen to always be right?’ ]


[ ‘You really are stupid, huh.’ ]

“I know. You’re always so perfect—”

[ ‘Who told you that?’ ]


[ ‘Who told you that I’m perfect?’ ]

“I… I just saw it, I guess. Because I always thought you were cold and mean, but when we’re together, you laugh and cry and smile and you know exactly what you want… and how you want it and-… Shit, I’m saying too much, but I swear, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I asked you out. It was a hunch. You were pretty and mysterious and smart, and that’s about all that I would want in a girl, then in two years, I learned that you have a heart after all, and it’s really frustrating how much I got to know you but how closed up you still are and I don’t know why you get so upset everytime I try to tell you how wonderful you’re being—”

[ ‘You’re rambling.’ ]

“I know but—”

[ ’Thanks. For thinking I’m wonderful and all that, but—’ ]

“Ever, I just-… Please tell me what I did—”

[ ‘It’s me.’ ] — he heard her say that as if she was also surprised at what she was saying. [ ’It’s just me, Elf. I’m not as perfect as you see me, and you frustrate me too, and that’s why I get mad—’ ]

“W-What? Why—”

[ ‘Because I’m always alright by myself, but being with you makes me want to change, because I’m cold and insensitive and I always think that if I have enough of some things, I’ll be okay.’ ]

“I’m sorry—”

[ ’There you go, apologizing when it isn’t your fault. Have more backbone, will you? You always say you’re a man. And you are. And you’re not stupid, you’re sweet and everything, but I have to change so much to make you happy, to make myself feel actually good enough for you! And I’m finding it so hard to care about more people, talk to more people, actually HELP people I don’t really know — that’s what you do. You know so many people and you feel so much and you live around so much life and I screw up in those departments—’ ]


[ ‘Let me finish!’ ] — a pause — [ ‘I’ve always been okay with the boys, but you came and I feel like all of a sudden, I’m not good enough for anyone.’ ] — and then it happened. Elfman heard her voice break, and he thought he heard her sniff a bit. [ ’Because you’re doing so well. So when I screw up at NOT being a cruel, heartless bitch, I get upset — and you apologize — and I can’t admit that I’m the one responsible. You know why? Because I’m so insecure… I always think that the moment I screw up, the moment you realize that I’m not the perfect girl you always see me as, you’ll leave me. And right now I know that I can only say these things because you’re not in front of me. I can’t do that. I suck so much at telling people how I feel, and I…’ ]

Elfman did not know what to say to that. He’d been so silent that even Kinana had glanced worriedly at him.

He listened to the sound of Evergreen trying to talk shakily, stiffling her sobs.

[ ‘I know that I’m never going to find someone else who will like me like you do, even when I have to try so hard to be what you think of me to be. Because I’m lucky enough that you liked me in the first place.’ ]

“Why didn’t you tell me I was making everything so hard for you?”

[ ’Because you make wanting to try hard easy, and I thought I could do it. Until I couldn’t, and I get so upset at myself for making you take the blame every single time. I hate myself so much but I don’t want you to know WHY, because I was afraid… and… and…’ ]

She trailed out there, and Elfman sat alone. When did Kinana leave? He didn’t even notice. He was thinking about all the times they fought. When were the times that he actually did something wrong? When were the times that she was pretending to be cold and strong when actually she was struggling because she thought that she was ruining everything?

Why had he not noticed before?

After summoning up enough courage to speak again, Elfman asked, “You think I will love you less just because of that?”

[ ‘Yes!’ ]

“But… But I won’t.”

[ ‘I know.’ ]

“So why do you still feel so bad?”

[ ’Because I always forget. Because I’m selfish and I think of myself first and I end up not trusting you to accept me just the same—’ ]

“When you forget, you can just ask.” he said, cutting her off quickly. “I’ll always answer. I can be dumb, but if you ask me if I still love you, I’ll always know what to answer.”

He heard a guilty but relieved chuckle from the other end. [ ’…Thanks. That’s why I love you, you know?’ ]

That was all they both needed. Elfman realized with a sigh that they had been keeping so many things from each other ever since they started trying to make the relationship work.

“You’re always welcome.” Elfman said, scratching his head sheepishly. That was the first time that he heard such honesty from her. The was the first time, in two years, that he heard the words straight from her lips.

[ ‘Crap, you really made me say all of it.’ ] Evergreen was, for some reason, laughing over the phone. Elfman simply smiled to himself and chuckled. [ ‘Are we okay now?’ ]

And for the first time in their relationship, Elfman heard that question directed at him. It took them two years to really know each other better — ‘But’, he thought, ‘Better late than never.’

Elfman never knew that such relief could come from answering, “Of course we are.”

Evergreen never knew that it felt so good — so.,. alright — to hear that answer from someone.

Evergreen came back gripping her phone in one hand and trying to wipe her tears with the other.The boys looked at her.“Can… can someone hand me my bag? My hanky’s in there.” she asked, standing sheepishly by the doorway.

“Are you okay?” Freed asked tentatively.

“We’re okay.” she said, smiling lightly.

“To hell with your bag.” Bixlow said bluntly, then stretched his arms wide and said, “C’mere.”

Evergreen was a sobbing mess the moment she crashed herself in the drummer’s arms and hugged him back. Laxus scratched his head and Freed chuckled lightly as Evergreen buried her head on Bixlow’s shoulder. After a few moments of sobbing, the brunette reached out a hand to grab Freed by the arm and pull him into the hug.

“Holy shit, you guys look so lame.” Laxus said, looking at his band huddled in a dramatic three-way hug. When they laughed at him and huddled closer together, he exclaimed, “Stop that!”

“You know you want to.” Bixlow chimed. “C’mon, Papa.” Freed looked at him with a small amused smile, and Evergreen with a grateful grin.

“No way. In absolute hell.”

He got tackled.

“This is our last song for the night.” the brown-haired vocalist of Raijinshuu announced as the band stood on the small stage of The Strauss’. “We want to thank everyone who came to see us. We can see familiar faces around and we’re very happy that you like our music.”There was a special drumroll from Bixlow to accent the end of her statement.“Now, I don’t usually dedicate my performances to anyone…” she started, wringing her hands nervously, stretching her fingers for one last round on the keyboard. “But this one is for my boyfriend.”

There were some wolf-howls and whistles from their audience, along with a lone shout of “YOU GO, ELF!”

By the bar, and beside his giggling sister, Elfman groaned and made a mental note to maybe kick Natsu on the head before he leaves with Lucy and Loke. Cana, who was standing on the other side of the bar, by one of the tables, caught his eye as she gave him a thumbs up before drinking her usual beer. Lucy, somewhere in one of the tables, had gagged Natsu to stop the guy from shouting some more.

“Elfman,” Evergreen said softly to her microphone. “I was being a horrible bitch these past few days. I’m sorry, and thanks for bearing with that.”

A collective ‘Awwwww’ was heard from the bar’s patrons.

“So here goes.” she said, before her fingers hit her keyboard softly. The crowd held their breath as the rest of the band stood back and let their vocalist sing the last song alone with just her keyboard.

Raijinshuu was a punk and rock band, and the audience weren’t used to a rock-and-ballad piano solo by their usually soft-spoken vocalist.

As he listened to the brunette’s lovely voice, Elfman felt warm arms wrap around him from behind and looked down to see his sister looking at the singer on the stage with a small fond smile.

“You okay now, little brother?” Mira asked, only loud enough to be heard above the music.

“We’ll be.” Elfman answered, placing a hand on top of his sister’s. “Thanks for not fussing over, nee-chan.”

“Aw, I know you can take it. You’re a big man.” Mirajane smiled, giving his brother a little squeeze. “Taking care of a wonderful woman.”

Elfman smiled back. “Yeah, I am.”

Chapter Notes:

I’m very much like Evergreen in a way that I can be one of the boys and still proud of my skirts. Except I’m the one lecturing the boys on their life choices. There will be a chapter on Bix, Laxus and Freed too. And if you can’t already tell, I ship Fraxus like BURNING~!

If you think that’s long, then let me tell you that the Gajeel chapter is 17k words. But first…

expand_less expand_more