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 12
Water and Bridges


..aka “Macao is Still a Better Dad Than Lucy’s”

Chapter Notes:

As promised, here’s the new chapter! Well, we’ve got our third dad now — dun dun dun! Macao! Damn, the kids in Fairy Tail all had daddy issues one time or another, huh.

I’ve always wanted to have a chapter that kinda parallels Gildarts’ in a different way. This time we have Macao. He’s an underappreciated guy, I think — he’s a mentor to the kids and you had to respect how hard he worked to keep the guild still standing during his tenure as master in the 7-year timeskip. This man will always have a special place in my heart because the mission to save him was the first mission that Natsu, Lucy and Happy took as a team. So I decided to give Natsu and Lucy a significant role here.

So there ya go. This chapter is Macao having son issues. And Natsu and Lucy being their dork selves again.

And Romeo. And of course, sweet sweet Wendy.

Track 12: Water and Bridges
..aka “Macao is Still a Better Dad Than Lucy’s”

“And that’s the sign of a solemn man
I’ll make the best of the best I can
and I’ll be better for it if I ever get my chance”
— Dashboard Confessional

The Fire Dragon was having an easy afternoon. Customers were yet to flood in and the ones who came in have already had their orders served. Igneel was resting behind the cashier when the restaurant door opened and two middle school students came in.

“Igneel!” Romeo called out, walking straight towards the counter. Wendy silently trailed after the boy.

“Yo, Romeo!” Igneel greeted with his usual friendly grin. ‘And you have Wendy-chan with you.’ he added as the girl bowed politely. “I must say… been a long time since you used the front door.”

Romeo scratched his head. “Well, I didn’t know if I’m allowed to sneak Wendy in through the back door…”

Igneel snorted, reaching out to pat the girl on the head. “Of course you could! What harm could Wendy-chan possibly do, ne?”

“Igneel-san…” Wendy started, blushing.

Igneel simply smiled reassuringly. “So, what can I do for the two of you? Hungry?”

“Ah, no.” Romeo replied. “Is Natsu in? Lucy-nee said he’s replacing dad this afternoon.”

“Natsu’s in the kitchen.” the man answered. “Go ahead, both of you. Just don’t disturb my cooks that much, alright?”

“Hai!” the students answered obediently before Romeo led Wendy with him to the restaurant’s kitchen. The girl was looking all around her curiously. It was her first time seeing a restaurant’s behind-the-scenes, after all.

They found Natsu focused on cooking along with the other regular cooks. He was frying something and maybe adding too much hot sauce…

“Natsu-san looks so different when he’s cooking…” Wendy whispered.

“Yep.” Romeo nodded. “Guess we can’t bother him right now.”

“Oi, Romeo and Wendy!” Natsu called then, finally noticing the kids. He gave them his friendly grin. “What’s up?”

Romeo stepped forward sheepishly. “Kite update, but take your time. Don’t wanna bother you.”

“Right. Lemme finish this one! Five minutes.” Natsu said, going back to his work. He finished the dish within the promised five minutes and passed it to Cana to be served. He checked the queue shortly and, finding nothing for him, he headed for his visitors. “How’d you guys know I’m here?”

“We asked Lucy-nee.” Romeo answered. “She was going home with Loke.”

“Yeah, she’s been busy with the cheerleaders.” Natsu said, pouting. “And she always goes home late. Happy misses her already.”

Romeo raised an eyebrow while Wendy contained her giggles. “Just go see her after your shift, then. We have news about our kite!”

Over the past few weeks, Natsu had become the unofficial “coach” for the Romeo-Wendy duo. When neither Mysto nor Jellal had given the kids helpful advice (it turned out that a kite-flying contest was a first for the twins as well), Natsu had stepped in and acted as their adviser. Romeo was glad that he was going to be working with Natsu again even though they weren’t partners. Wendy, on the other hand, has been treating Natsu like her third big brother already and was always thrilled to listen to the pink-head’s input on their little project.

Romeo and Wendy took turns in telling Natsu what they had to say, while Natsu simply looked at both of them and nodded, amused that they were very excited about the contest. The contest was going to be held on the following week, after all.

“…and so we’re thinking it’ll be ready for a trial flight tomorrow afternoon!”

“Cool.” Natsu nodded, grinning as usual. “I think I can be there. Just get it prepped tonight and we’ll fly it tomorrow, okay?”

“Okay!” both nodded again, like little soldiers prepared for command.

“We gotta go now.” Romeo said looking at Wendy, who nodded. “We still have homework to do, and then we’re prepping the kite.”

“See you tomorrow, Natsu-san!” Wendy said, bowing.

“Yeah, see you guys!” Natsu said, watching the middle schoolers go back to the counter to say their goodbyes to Igneel. After a moment of watching them, he remembered something, and called out, “Oi, Romeo!”

Both middle school students turned to look back at him. “Yeah?” Romeo asked.

“Where are you going to have dinner tonight?” Natsu asked. He quickly excused himself from the kitchen and walked towards them, leading them to Igneel. “Macao’s out of town and I think Igneel’s staying here until late.”

“I am.” Igneel answered, looking at the kids, then turning to his son. “Your shift ends in an hour, Natsu. You and Romeo can eat together.”

“I was thinking of going to see Lucy though…” Natsu scratched his head. An idea hit him and then he looked at Romeo. “Ah! I’ll cook for you right now and you take it home! What d’you say, bro?”

Romeo shook his head fervently. “No, you shouldn’t bother! I’m sure I can find some stuff to eat at home—”

“Romeo-kun can join us for dinner.” Wendy quickly offered. “If… If it’s alright with Romeo-kun, that is…”

“Of course it’s alright! But… I’ll be a bother—”

“I’m sure mom won’t mind.” Wendy insisted.

Igneel nodded. “And I’m sure Grandine would ask you to join them if she knew that you’re home alone.” He looked at Wendy. “Please take care of Romeo, Wendy-chan.”

“Hai.” Wendy smiled, nodding obediently.

“Well, okay…” Romeo shrugged, having no choice. “But I can just make something myself. I’ll be okay alone, you guys—”

“No, you won’t.” Natsu and Igneel said, at the same time.

Igneel sniggered. “Remember how you broke the stove last time you tried?”

Romeo blushed in embarrassment, then rolled his eyes. “That was a year ago! Geez!”

“Romeo-kun broke the stove?” Wendy blinked.

“It was an accident!” the boy groaned.

Igneel grinned slyly. “I’ll tell you the story, Wendy-cha—”

“NO YOU WON’T!” Romeo quickly cut off, grabbing his friend by the shoulders and proceeding to pull her towards the front door. “Let’s go, Wendy!”


“I’ll tell you myself!”

“O-Okay… Bye, Igneel-san! Natsu-san!” the girl gave the Dragneels one last wave before the kids closed the restaurant door behind them.

Igneel chuckled before turning to look at his son, who was sniggering at Romeo’s apparent embarassment. “So, Natsu…”

Natsu blinked curiously at his father’s tone. “Yeah?”

Igneel grinned, eyeing his son from the side. “Lucy, huh?”

“Well…” Natsu shrugged. “I’ll just… drop by to see her.”

“But you saw her at school a while ago.”

“I didn’t get to go home with her.”


“Yeah. And she hasn’t been eating dinner with us for a while now.”


“And on lunch and breaks, she’s always with Levy or Erza or the cheerleaders.”

Igneel nodded. “…and?”

“Fine, I want to hang out with her ’cause I haven’t done that in ages because she’s always so busy.” Natsu crossed his arms across his chest.

Igneel chortled, looking at his son’s sulking expression. “Son, do you hear yourself?”

Natsu narrowed his eyes at his father and grunted. “Yeah, I do.” — and before Igneel could speak further, Natsu huffed at him knowingly. “No. Not helping you win the bets.”

Igneel pouted. “But what about a hint for dear daddy?”


“C’mon, Natsu! If I win, I’m sharing it with you, so gimme a clue.”

It was Natsu’s turn to grin slyly. “No way.”

Igneel groaned. “We’re all underestimating you, aren’t we?”

Natsu’s grin simply grew wider before he walked back to the kitchen, whistling happily.

“We all think he’s dense.” Igneel mumbled grudgingly, but he couldn’t help a smug smile from creeping on his face. “But he knows what he’s doing.”

Romeo came home to an empty house. The boy turned the lights on and did a quick check — the house was presentable. Not too neat and not too messy — both Romeo and Macao were always out, so what neglect they had on the chores was covered up by the fact that they don’t spend all that much time at home. Romeo picked up several random, misplaced items — a discarded shirt by a dining chair, a pair of indoor slippers under the couch, some toy cars in a corner, a sock that must have fallen on the way to the laundry, old reference books used for one of Romeo’s school projects days ago still stacked by the coffee table — and put them in place before heading for the bath.After taking a quick shower, Romeo went to the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water. He looked at the post-it on the fridge again:

’I probably won’t be back until tomorrow morning, so take care of yourself.
— Dad’

Nowadays, Romeo felt really distant from his father. Macao was a busy man, yes. He has a full-time job in The Fire Dragon as head cook and in its peak days, he can’t help but go on overtime. When he was not too tired from work, instead of heading home, he simply goes to The Strauss to drink with Wakaba and Gildarts. Romeo also knew that Macao has been seeing women at times. They have a typical divorced parent and child relationship, although they were more content than most families.. Romeo kept in constant contact with his mother, but she was overseas and has her own family. After years of being with his dad, no matter how often Macao was absent, Romeo still preferred not to bother his mom.

Aside from being head cook, Igneel also trusted Macao with some business stuff that Romeo knew simply involved buying ingredients from suppliers. Whenever his dad went on business trips, Romeo never really got worried or sad. He was used to feeling alone in the house. Besides, nowadays he had friends to hang out with after school and chat with while doing homework. There was also the internet and he had a PC in his room. When Macao was staying in the restaurant until late, Natsu or Igneel made sure that the boy came over for dinner. Sometimes they watched movies or played games when Natsu was feeling like it. The past few weeks’ afternoons were spent mostly with Wendy and her brothers, making the kite. On weekends, he simply wandered around town hanging around his makeshift older siblings or lazed around reading manga and playing video games like any normal boy his age.

Romeo simply shrugged off the empty atmosphere of the house. He was used to it. He went upstairs to his room to unpack his schoolbag and assess his homework for the night. After a few minutes, he heard the doorbell.

Romeo opened his room’s window and saw Wendy standing by the gate.

The girl smiled as she looked up at him. “Dinner’s ready, Romeo-kun.”

“Ah, coming! Gimme a minute!” he said, quickly closing his window and standing up. He already had a girl pick him up. He better not make her wait.

He was welcomed warmly by Grandine and the twins when he came in. By then, they were all already used to his presence in their home. The dinner was lively and consisted mostly of Wendy and Mystogan, as usual, picking at Jellal.

Romeo really was okay with his father being busy or out or away. He knew many people and he enjoyed their company.

However, that never changed the fact that he still always went home to an empty house.

When Romeo woke up the next morning, the house was still quiet. He briefly wondered if his father has arrived at all. Macao usually never missed making even the simplest of breakfasts. He may miss making his son’s packed lunch because of fatigue, but he always made sure to make the first meal of the day.Romeo didn’t hear any noise from the kitchen so he simply sighed — he would have to go with the usual bread, butter and milk for breakfast.

When he went out his room, though, the boy heard some noises from his father’s room. He was about to walk towards his father’s room when the door opened and Macao stumbled out, barely catching himself and thankfully managing to hold on to the doorframe.

“Ah, Romeo. You’re awake.” — Macao said, voice hoarse, face red and sweating. He coughed, then got out a handkerchief and blew on it.

“Dad?” Romeo raised an eyebrow. “Are you… alright?”

“Just cough and colds.” Macao reassured, although he blew on the handkerchief quite loudly again. “Can’t go to work or cook for you today, son. I just called Igneel. Natsu said he’s gonna cook extra for you, so head on over next door and eat breakfast, will ya?”

“Okay…” Romeo nodded slowly, taking in the sight of his sick father. Macao was a very healthy man and Romeo haven’t seen him sick besides the occasional headaches. “What about you?”

“I can make a simple soup for me. I’ll be alright. You have school today, right?”

“Yeah, but—”

Macao dismissively waved a hand. “This is nothin’ I can’t handle. You’ll be late.”

“Are you sure? Uh… need me to buy anything for you later or something—”

“I’ll be okay, son.” Macao smiled reassuringly. “Just get going.”

Romeo sighed, scratching his head. If he was to be honest with himself, he really didn’t know how to take care of a sick person.

Hesitantly, he simply obeyed his father’s instructions. After grabbing a quick breakfast from the Dragneels, Romeo quickly went back home, changed into his uniform and got ready for school. His father was on the dining room, groggily waiting for his instant noodles to get ready. Romeo slung his bag over his shoulder and looked at his father before going out.


Macao, who had almost dozed off at the table, sat up and looked at the boy. “Uh, yes?”

“I’m going. You sure you don’t want me to get anything for you?”

“No, just go on.” Macao nodded. “I’ll be, uh… here.”

“Okay.” Romeo answered, tentatively.

They heard a call outside: “Romeo-kun, are you there?” Recognizing Wendy’s familiar voice, the boy moved to leave.

“So, I’m… uh… going. Bye.”

“Take care.” Macao said, smiling slightly as his son went out the house. He looked down at his noodles and rubbed his temples. The headache has gotten worse. It looks like he has to check their medicine cabinet, after all.

By the afternoon, Macao was feeling much better. He had informed Igneel that he was taking the day off. So when he got to moving around the house alone, he took it upon himself to clean up.There were the usual stuff to clean — some clothes left from the laundry, old food in the fridge, stray toys, newspapers, manga and school stuff scattered in some places. He cleaned that up first, then got to the cupboards. They were pretty much well-stocked, but Macao knew that it was only because he always ate out and Romeo always ate dinner with friends or the Dragneels. When Macao had enough time to cook more food in the morning, it usually went in the fridge for Romeo to microwave it for dinner.

Next, he went upstairs and headed for Romeo’s room first. Toys, manga, magazines, school supplies and textbooks… Macao then wondered: when was the last time he was in his son’s room? He always did a quick glance every now and then to check if the kid was keeping his room presentable. Romeo always assured his father that he cleans up regularly, too. It was when Macao really took a good long look at the room that he first realized just how much the room has changed. He first tallied the familiar things: the model planes suspended from the ceiling, which still had the glow-in-the-dark stars and planets stickers, the old toy cars and robots on the toy shelf, old school textbooks, the bedsheets and pillows, and the study desk. Then, Macao tallied the new things: there were posters on the walls, more manga and magazines on the shelves, more photos, movie tickets and the occassional fliers/handouts from school on the corkboard by the desk. The toys were neater, as were the clothes. There were some notebooks and an action figure acting as a paperweight for some school papers by the computer. Romeo was clumsy and messy most times, but the boy cleaned up regularly and when he did so, he cleaned up well.

Macao had a lot to be thankful for. Romeo was a good kid — the boy gets into occasional fights sometimes, but what normal teenage boy doesn’t? And even though Macao was always away, Romeo had a lot of other people — decent and kind and welcoming — for company.

It struck him that he didn’t know half of the people in Romeo’s class photos, that he wasn’t familiar with the bands or anime characters in the posters, and that he didn’t know how much manga his son had been collecting.

Macao took a look around the room again, smiling lightly but guiltily and crossing his arms across his chest. There was nothing for him to clean up, and so he had no reason to be in his son’s room.

Half of him felt like he was in the room of a stranger, so he simply went out and headed for his own room. Maybe he should clean up, too.

“Tadaima!” Romeo called out as he arrived home that late afternoon. “Dad? You still sick?” There was no answer. The boy frowned and changed into his slippers before heading straight upstairs. On his way, he noted that he was right to assume that his father wouldn’t be in the kitchen or the living room. Romeo walked towards his father’s room.The door was ajar, so he knocked a few times before taking a peek on the room.

Macao was lying in his bed peacefully asleep. There was a broom on one side of the room and Romeo simply assumed that his father got tired because of cleaning and promptly decided to take a nap.

Romeo took it upon himself to walk towards the bed and put a hand on the man’s forehead. His temperature felt normal. His face wasn’t flushed anymore, too. Shrugging, and assured that his dad was feeling better albeit tired, Romeo went out the room to change. He was going to Wendy’s to prepare the kite for their test flight with Natsu.

Romeo closed the door behind him.

A few minutes later, a shout from outside woke Macao up with a start. The man sat up in his bed, alert.

“You’re moving out?! What did he do?!” — he heard Natsu’s familiar voice from next door, drifting through his open window. Macao parted the curtains a bit to see Natsu’s bedroom window wide open. Natsu and Lucy were sitting face to face on the windowsill, neither teens noticing him.

Macao sighed. Teenagers. He moved to close his window, not wanting to intrude or eavesdrop on the conversation.

He heard Lucy reply, “No, dad didn’t really do anything…”

That made Macao pause. What was it about Lucy’s dad? What was it that made Natsu sound so furious?

“I don’t believe you. What did he do? What did he say?”

“Fine.” A sigh. “Remember that one time I went with you guys to the arcade?”

“What, when Tattoo-face came with us?”


“What about it?”

“Well, dad knew about it. I don’t know how, but he knew and he didn’t like that I’m — I quote — wasting my time with delinquents, not caring about my grades or my future or who I am — unquote — you know, the usual ‘you-are-Lucy-Heartfilia’ tirade…”

“Yeah, and?”

“The usual. Shouting at each other and arguing and he’s telling me that I’m throwing my life away for some good-for-nothing so-called friends. Basically he doesn’t like you guys, or what I’m doing. And I shouted at him and told him that he’s not being a father by being away all the time and never asking what I’m doing, and when he does know what I’m doing, he gets so mad even if he doesn’t know much about it. I told him that he doesn’t know you guys, and that you’re my friends and you’re not delinquents…” — another sigh — “It was a long argument, okay?”

“Did you cry again?”

“A bit. We’ve had worse bouts. Besides, Loke and Virgo were there for me. Really, though. I can take him shouting at me to focus on my studies and whatnot, but when he got to insulting you guys, I just thought that… well, you know, he wouldn’t have said all those horrible things about our friends, he would have known that I have perfectly good friends, if only he asked me about you guys sometimes. If only I had the chance to talk to him without him driving me away because he has work to do…”

Lucy smiled when Natsu looked down and held her hands in his. It was his way of comforting her, always.

She continued, “If only we were together more often and he knew more about me other than the fact that I’m his useless daughter.”

Natsu’s voice turned considerably softer. “Luce…”

“So, I’m moving out. I got a unit in the same complex as Juvia’s—”

“Y’know that if you asked us, me and Igneel can clear up the spare room and give it to you, right?”

“I know that. Thanks a lot, but I have to do this on my own — prove to him that I’m not useless and I can survive without him.”


She chuckled. “Natsu, didn’t you notice that I haven’t gone on my usual shopping sprees in months? I’ve been saving up for a while now. With an allowance like mine, I’ve saved up a lot. I got the rent for the first three months covered. By then I just have to look for a steady part-time job. Gray already told me he’d help me look for a good job. I can’t stay with you and Igneel, not when Loke, Virgo and Aries are paranoid and will probably barge in to ask about my well-being every hour. We’ll be too much trouble.”

“They’re going with you?”

“To be honest, the only thing holding me back from moving out was the fact that those three might lose their jobs. But we’ve settled it — Loke still has his old condo and he can go back to working in the Pegasus anytime he wants. You know how he is.”

Natsu sniggered. “Bob-san loves him anyways.”

Lucy nodded. “And if his sisters get fired, he told me they can stay with him. Loke assured me they’ll be alright and he can find them jobs in no time. I feel bad about leaving them, but I just think… I think that not being in that house will be better for me.”

“You really can’t take it anymore, huh?”

“Being there reminds me every time that dad has never really… cared… about me. He’s never there, and when he is, he just looks at me and tells me to be better. He cares about my grades, and what I’m doing, but he never asked me if I’m really happy…”

There was silence for a few moments.

“It’s just… different, you know. My dad actually being there and talking to me like I’m a human, not his heartless robot daughter. But who am I kidding? I don’t remember him doing that, not since mom died.”

That seemed to hit home on Macao: hearing Lucy’s soft, sad voice talking about an absentee father who never really tried knowing his daughter.

He never reprimanded Romeo about his friends mostly because he knew them, but he was always at work, out drinking with his friends, or seeing some women. While he asked Romeo about how the kid was doing now and then, he simply accepted simple answers.

“I’m good. It’s almost finals. I’m studying.”

“Good. I just hung out the laundry to dry, by the way.”

“I’m fine. I’m going out with my friends tomorrow.”

“I’m having a hard time with my math homework, but I think Levy-nee is online and I could ask her a bit…”

Macao didn’t think of it before, but he could have asked some more. Romeo’s answers were always withdrawn, as if the kid thought that his dad will be fine just knowing that he’s alive and not getting into trouble.

Romeo thought right. Macao was content that the boy was doing fine, not getting into trouble, not in with a bad crowd and getting fair grades. Sometimes the people around town tell Macao that “Romeo-kun dropped by ealier” or ‘Your son was here’ and Macao always simply nodded and said, “Oh? Hope he didn’t cause much trouble!”

It never occured to him to really hear past the usual reply — “Of course not! He’s not that hyper little kid anymore.”

What if Romeo looked and sounded fine to Macao, but in reality, like Lucy, the boy had problems that he felt he could only tell his friends?

Drowned in his thoughts, Macao was only pulled back to the conversation next door when he heard a squeal from Lucy. He pulled the curtains apart slightly to look, only to find Lucy glaring furiously at Natsu, who by then had his arms on the blonde’s waist.

“You bit me!” Lucy exclaimed, rubbing a spot by her shoulder.

Natsu sniggered. “Because you’re so fat I thought you were food.”

“Did you just call me FAT?!”

“Fat Luigi is fat.”

“I hate you-Ah!” — Lucy gave another high-pitched yelp when Natsu pulled her closer and then started tickling her sides. “Natsu, stop! Ahahahahaha! No fair! Let go of-… of m-m-me! Hahahaha!” In seconds, Natsu had the girl trying to stiffle her laughter to no avail.

Macao smiled despite himself and simply shook his head. Oh, to be young and so lively…

“Macao-san?” he heard Lucy say then, and Macao realized that he was just stupidly standing in his room, staring at the young couple shamelessly. Natsu stopped tickling the blonde and the teens stared at him blankly.

“Oh.” was all the he was able to say. “Uh… hello?”

“Yo.” Natsu blinked. “What’cha standing there for?”

Lucy drew away from him. “Stupid, we should have closed the window! We’re being too loud!”

“You were the one laughing aloud.”

“You were tickling me!” Lucy hit the guy on the head, then looked back at Macao. “We’re sorry for the noise!”

“N-No, it’s fine.” Macao said reassuringly. “It’s really fine! You two.. uh… go ahead!”

The teens stood up from their position in the windowsill and had started to grab the window. “We’re closing the window now. Sorry if we were being loud—”

“Actually,” Macao started, effectively drawing their attention back to him. “Would you two… uh, like to come over?”

“For what?” Natsu said, blinking yet again. Macao couldn’t blame him — it was very sudden, after all.

“Uh… tea?” Macao offered, admittedly lamely. He scratched his head and realized he sucked at talking to teenagers despite working with Cana and other young part-timers in the Dragon on a regular basis. “I just… want to talk to you about something-… But only if you want to! I can see you kids are busy and all—”

“Oh, no.” Lucy said, shaking her head fervently. She was blushing as she held her hands up in defense and tried to explain: “M-Macao-san, I know that I’m a girl and Natsu’s a boy and we’re in his room and we’re at that age, but I swear, we weren’t about to do anything inappropriate—”

Macao felt his jaw dropping slowly at what the young woman was trying to tell him. Natsu was looking more and more confused with every word.

“—we’re not even dating, and we’re just hanging out like what normal friends do after school—”

Macao struggled to find the right words to say, but he somehow managed an awkward, “No, I’m not about to give you the talk!”

Lucy stopped and stared, then calmed down. “Oh, thank you very much!”

Natsu let out a confused, “Huh?”

“Last time I was at the police station, Gildarts practiced on me.” Lucy said, shivering. “I swear, I hope Cana’s drunk when he does it, because it was so awkward.”

Macao shuddered as well, and smiled in reassurance at the blonde. “I know that you’re not kids anymore. I know that both of you know what you’re doing and are using the appropriate kind of protection—”

“Ahhhh! Stop there! It’s not like that!” Lucy exclaimed, tugging violently at Natsu’s sleeve. “Natsu, tell him!”

Natsu shrugged, giving Macao his trademark easy grin. Both Macao and Lucy didn’t expect to hear Natsu’s response. “Luigi is being paranoid. I’m sure Macao understands that if we’re going for 30 babies, we really have to start as early as now.”

Macao watched as Lucy hit Natsu on the head again and shouted, “We can still make it to 30 if we start after college!”

“That’s cutting it too close! What if you menopause early?”

Lucy shrieked, “WHAT DID YOU SAY?!”

“But we can make it if we get, like, five twins! Can you do triplets?”

“I don’t know — CAN YOU?!”

They both turned to see Macao laughing loudly at them. The two whined “Whaaaaat?” at the same time, but Macao simply crossed his arms across his chest.

“Alright, I won’t talk about babies anymore, but will you come over? For tea? I think I still have the instant muffin mix here and I can make that for you guys. What do you say? Afternoon snack?”

“Did you get that lonely being at home all day?” Natsu asked. Lucy narrowed her eyes at him, but he didn’t notice.

“It’s…” Macao breathed deeply. “It’s about Romeo.”

“Oh.” they said, looking at each other, then back at the man.

“Okay,” Natsu nodded. “We’ll make Baby 1 while you make the muffins so—”

Lucy slapped a hand over the guy’s mouth, effectively cutting him off, and then she smiled cheerfully at Macao. “We’ll be right there!”

“Hm, these are good!” Natsu said, biting energetically in the freshly-baked muffins that were served before them. Macao made three batches. He will offer for Natsu and Lucy to take some home after their talk, then he will leave some for Romeo when the boy gets home.Lucy nodded as well. “Natsu’s right. They’re delicious, Macao-san. Are these really just the instant muffins from the grocery?”

“I added some cinnamon and other random stuff in it for flavor.” Macao said, inserting the second batch of muffins into the oven and setting the timer. Then, he stood up and looked at his guests. They were standing by the counter and already enjoying the treats straight off the tray. “I’m glad they turned out good.”

“They turned out great! The regular ones come off too plain.” Lucy said. “You should list down the ingredients. I’ll try making them myself sometime!”

Natsu snorted, “Don’t do it. She’ll burn down the house.”

Lucy pouted. “I can bake!”

“You can’t.” Natsu said numbly, then looked at Macao, shaking his head. “She can’t.”

“Don’t be so harsh, Natsu. You almost burned the house down your first time cooking, too.”

Macao chuckled, putting away his baker mitts and serving tea in the dining table, where the teens followed him like obedient puppies and sat themselves down.

“He did?” Lucy asked. Natsu groaned.

“Yep. Woke up the whole neighborhood with that explosion.” Macao said, gathering the first batch of muffins and serving it properly as well. Then he sat down with them. “Romeo thinks you’re his big brother so maybe he thought it fit to follow in your footsteps.”

“Hey, I broke an old cranky unstable oven. I was seven! T’was bound to happen!” Natsu insisted. “Romeo broke the brand new and super friendly stove. He was… what, eleven?”

Lucy laughed lightly and Macao smiled at the young woman, before pouring them tea. “I know I’ve bothered you two with whatever you were doing back there,” — when he saw Lucy’s expression change, he hastily added, “which I know has nothing to do with the promised 30 babies.”

Natsu sniggered.

“Still, good luck with that.” Macao said, smiling an amused smile. “Igneel told the Dragon staff and we all cracked up.”

Lucy rolled her eyes and it was then Natsu’s turn to laugh.

“Lucy,” Macao started. “I’m sorry, I couldn’t help but overhear your conversation… the one about your father.”

The blonde’s expression turned serious as she looked down at her cup of tea. Natsu also fell silent, munching slowly on his muffin. “Oh. That.”

“I’m sorry to hear that you’re not getting along well…” Macao started. “All this time, I had no idea that you and your father are not on good terms.”

“It’s okay.” Lucy tried to smile. “It mostly stays inside the house, so only my closest friends know. We appear perfect whenever there’s a public appearance together, because… well… because it matters. It’s the family business, you know. I can’t let it crumble down like that.”

“We understand.” Macao nodded. “I also heard you talk about the way he was treating you?”

Lucy looked down. “I know he wants what’s good for me. Trust me, I do. What else would he want for me, right? It’s just that… his idea of what’s good for me is me being perfect and successful and cold and alone. Like him. And I don’t want that.”

Both Natsu and Macao nodded.

“He’s a proud person. I’m willing to talk about myself with him, but how could I when he always looks like he doesn’t want to hear anything from me? Ever since I was little, whenever I do good, he tells me to do better. When I do great, he tells me it’s as expected of me. When I do bad, he makes me feel like I don’t have the right to be his daughter. So whenever he asks nowadays, I just say I’m doing fine, and then he leaves me alone, until he learns that I’m doing bad, of course. It’s frustrating, so I thought it best if I separate from him and the reminder of him for a while. It’s gotten to the point when being home made me feel alone because I know that, whether my dad is there or not, it’s just the same.” Lucy chuckled shyly. “What am I talking about? I’m sorry for being so depressing, Macao-san. And after you’ve invited us for snacks, too…”

“It’s alright.” Macao said, reaching out a hand to pat the young woman on the shoulder. It felt awkward, but Lucy saw his effort either way and gave him a small smile. It made him feel some anger for her father — Lucy was a sweet girl, how can a father ignore such a charming daughter? “We know that it’s hard. So if you’re moving out and there’s anything I can help you with, don’t hesitate to approach me, alright?”

“Thank you, Macao-san. Romeo is lucky to have you.” Lucy said, and that made Macao withdraw and look down at his own cup of tea. Lucy and Natsu looked at each other, then the blonde asked, “Macao-san?”

Before Macao could answer, they heard the tell-tale bell of the oven. Macao excused himself to fetch the second batch of muffins. He set the tray on the counter and put in the third batch before going back to the table.

His guests were looking expectantly at him so he simply said, “I wanted to talk to the two of you about Romeo.”

“Why? Something wrong?” Natsu asked. Romeo and Wendy had talked to him just the day before, and Natsu didn’t notice anything wrong with Romeo. But then, he had been partly tired from work so maybe he missed something.

“No, not with my boy, no.” Macao shook his head, smiling sheepishly. ‘It’s just that… hearing Lucy talk about her father, I realized that I’ve been doin’ the same, you know? I’m always out and I don’t talk to him that much — too busy with work, you see. And when I’m not at work, I’m drinking with friends and… and uh, women.’ he turned to see if they were feeling uncomfortable or awkward, but the same concerned expressions were still in their faces. “And he looks all fine to me, but I thought, what if he just doesn’t tell me about his problems, yeah? Lucy can’t talk to her dad about it so she tells you, Natsu. What if Romeo has problems he doesn’t tell me about? I entered his room earlier and I realized that I don’t know him that much anymore.”

“I’m sure that if there’s a problem, Romeo would tell you…” Lucy said, but despite that, she sounded uncertain. ‘He’s a good kid. Doesn’t get into trouble much,’ then she chuckled, looking at Natsu. “Especially for a boy whose role model is already half-delinquent.”

Natsu frowned. “I’m being good, since Gray’s busy working and Elfman’s always away at college… even Gajeel’s bein’ quiet.”

“Still, though. Romeo has more sense than you guys.” Lucy said, looking reassuringly at Macao. “I think he’s doing really well, Macao-san.”

Macao still looked unsure.

At this, Lucy added, “I’m sure if he’s not doing fine, he’ll tell his aniki.” — she looked pointedly at Natsu, and the guy found his companions looking expectantly at him.

Natsu found himself blinking then, and unconsciously scratching his head. “Well, uh… I haven’t heard anything really bad. Romeo has a lot of friends and he’s always around town, you know. I’m sure if he had problems in school, I’d know. He tells me everything…”

“I’m glad to hear that.” Macao said, smiling slightly. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you at first, Lucy… But—”

“Yeah.” Lucy nodded. “It’s better to hear it with a guarantee, right?”

Macao nodded.

“But here’s the thing.” Natsu started. “How much d’you know him right now? I mean, it’s not just the bad stuff you have to watch out for when it’s about your kids, right?”

Lucy raised an eyebrow. Macao blinked, then nodded slowly, seeing Natsu’s point. Why is it that they’re focusing so much on the negative side? It goes without saying that maybe there were some good things that Macao might have missed.

Macao sighed inwardly — had he forgotten how to be a father? As a parent, he should value his child’s happiness first — so why was he content to know that Romeo was doing alright? He should add in an extra — after all, he was a father — he shouldn’t stop with just ‘my son is doing fine’. He shouldn’t stop until it’s ‘my son is very happy’.

He shook his head. Yes, he had been very busy indeed.

“Well, I know about finals. I definitely know about finals.” Macao said, chuckling slightly. “I know that… he’s in a club?”

“Yeah. Computer club. But he told me next year he’s plannin’ to try out for track instead.” Natsu said. “What else?”

Lucy picked up a muffin and contented herself with listening to them talk. It touched her to see Macao, a middle-aged man, struggling to get to know his son but not giving up. Macao was trying hard. She wished her dad tried sometimes.

“He has so much manga in his room.”

“Ah, some of those were mine.” Natsu said. “But yeah, he’s been readin’ a buttload of manga. Didn’t know when he gave up robots, but he’s not collecting them anymore.”


“And he thinks Raijinshuu is awesome. He came with me and Lucy in their last gig.”

“That’s Laxus’ band, isn’t it?”

“Yeah. Well, Romeo likes a lot of rock bands.”

Macao nodded. “Yeah, I think he bought some CD’s a while back. That’s when he worked those chores for Mirajane for a week, right? To buy some CD’s?”

Natsu chuckled. “Yep.”

“And I think his grades are good.”

“His grades are awesome! Well, he’s not the top of the class, he said, but he’s good. Doesn’t need cram school. He’s got Levy and Erza to coach him. They always reply when he asks them online.”

Macao smiled a bit. It was really a good thing his son had decent ‘mentors’ growing up. Then he remembered something — “The Kite Fest! I know he’s building a kite. He told me he’s joining with a friend-… Damn.”

Both teens blinked at him.

“I didn’t even realize that he said he’s going with a friend. I didn’t notice that he didn’t say that he’s going with you! I thought it was just the usual, you and him!” Macao said, head in his hands. “That’s new, and I didn’t notice!”

Natsu laughed. It was then Lucy’s turn to pat the man on the back consolingly. “Macao-san, don’t worry! It’s a small detail! Anyone would miss it.”

Macao was about to say more, but they heard the door open.

“Tadaima!” Romeo called out to no one in particular, but when the boy saw them, he raised an eyebrow. “Natsu-nii?”

“Yo!” Natsu greeted cheerfully.

“Lucy-nee.” Romeo said, blinking. Lucy waved a little. Macao was thankful that his guests didn’t say ‘We were just talking about you!’ — the man wouldn’t know how his son would react to that. “Dad, you’re not sick anymore?”

Macao shook his head. “Not anymore. I invited these two over for a chat. I baked muffins, too. Are you hungry?”

Romeo headed over to the table and picked up a muffin. He took a bite and looked at his father. “They’re delicious.”

Macao smiled.

Romeo then looked at Natsu. “I went to your house but nobody’s home. I was looking for you.”

“Oh yeah, the kite!” Natsu said, grinning excitedly. “You guys are ready?”

“Yeah, that’s why I went to look for you.” Romeo said, munching on the muffin again. “This muffin’s really good.”

“Is it?” Macao asked. It’s been sometime since Romeo was this impressed with something he cooked. The boy was already used to having delicious food because his dad was a veteran cook. As if on cue, the ring for the third batch was heard. Macao excused himself again to attend to it.

“Yeah.” Romeo said, finishing the muffin. “Natsu-nii, it’ll be sunset in an hour. We should test the kite out now!”

“Okay then.” Natsu moved to stand up, seeing the boy’s excitement. “Slow down, man! It’s just next door!”

“Dad, I’ll be back for dinner!” Romeo said quickly, already pushing Natsu towards the door.

“Yeah, yeah.” Macao said. The thought that Romeo and Natsu’s relationship hasn’t changed over the years made him smile.

“Luigi, you should see this!” Natsu called, already outside the house. Lucy simply sipped her tea with a small smile of her own.

“Lucy, aren’t you going with them?” Macao asked the young woman.

“Nah, I prefer to be surprised on the fest. Besides, I have to go home early today, got some homework to do.” Lucy stood up and looked at the dining table. “Need any help cleaning up, Macao-san?”

Macao shook his head. “No, I can handle it! It’s not much.” — he paused for a while, before looking at the young woman earnestly. “Thanks for coming over.”

“I had a nice time.” Lucy assured the man.

Macao nodded. “I’m glad. Are you going now?”

“Yes, I just asked Loke to pick me up.”

“Then let me pack up some of these muffins. You should take some home.”

“Oh no, Macao-san! That’s too much—”

“Please. It’s just me and Romeo. I really made a lot so you and Natsu can take some of them home.”

Lucy smiled. She watched as the man put some muffins on a plastic container and then put it in a paperbag before he handed it to her. “Thanks, then.”

Macao watched as the girl slung her bag over her shoulder and took the muffins with her. He showed her to the door and just before she went out, she turned to him. “Macao-san?”


“You’re a really good dad, you know. I meant it when I said that Romeo is lucky to have you. The fact that you try, that’s already something great.”

Macao nodded gratefully.

Lucy smiled. “Talk to him. It would make a world’s worth of difference.”

“I’ll take note of that.”

Lucy waved one last time and was out. She dropped by Grandine’s to see Romeo and Wendy struggling with their kite while Natsu stood over them like an amused supervisor, Happy and Charle tucked snugly in his arms. She wished them good luck before going home.

Dinner was ready when Romeo came home with a grin on his face. Macao raised an eyebrow and asked, “So, did it go well?”“We need to adjust some things, but our kite’s awesome.” Romeo anwered, sitting down on the table across his dad. He said the customary “Itadakimasu!” before digging in.

Macao simply watched as his son ate energetically — the boy must have been tired and hungry. The man wanted to engage his son in conversation, but Romeo was focused on the food, served hot and un-microwaved, so Macao held himself back. They still have the rest of the night.

Before he knew it, however, Romeo was drinking water and had looked down at his empty plate. “It was delicious.”

What the-…? He ate so fast! And Macao was sure he saw his son put a lot of food on that plate.


Macao blinked. “Uh… yes?”

“I’m taking a muffin.” Romeo said, getting a muffin from the ones served in the table and standing up, carrying his plate with him. He put the plate on the sink and then headed for his room. “I got homework to do but I’ll do the dishes when I’m done so just leave your plate in the sink, okay?” the boy said, already halfway upstairs.


“I promise I’ll go wash them! I just have to finish this homework first before I forget how to use the stupid equation!”

Macao was left alone in the table and staring at the direction his son went. He simply sighed and decided that maybe he would talk to Romeo when his son is washing the dishes. At least Romeo wouldn’t run away from him by then.

“Macao.” Igneel blinked when he found the man standing by his doorstep with a big bowl of muffins. “You feeling better, man?”

“Yeah. Thanks for lettin’ me take the day off.” Macao said, then offered the bowl of muffins. “I made these today when Natsu and Lucy came to chat. They told me it tasted good so here, these are for you and Natsu.”

“Thanks!” Igneel grinned, accepting the bowl. “You should give some to Grandine’s, too. The kids will like these.”

Macao raised an eyebrow. “Who?”

“Neighbor.” Igneel indicated to the house next door. “Romeo’s good friends with them. He ate dinner with ’em yesterday.”

“Oh.” Macao nodded in realization. “Yeah. Damn. That’s the last bunch.”

Igneel laughed. “Alright. I’m takin’ one.” he took one muffin from the bowl and handed it to his head cook. “You give these to them instead.”


“I say Natsu’s had enough, and I’m full — so one will be enough. You give that to the neighbors.”

Macao sighed. “Alright, if you say so.”

Igneel gave him an easy grin before closing the door again. Macao then headed for the house next door.

He rang the bell once and didn’t have to wait long before a young man answered the door. “May I help you?”

“Uh, is this Grandine’s?”

Mystogan nodded politely. “Yes. That would be my mother. Should I call her?”

Macao nodded sheepishly.

“Mom! Someone’s looking for you!” the young man called out, then turned back to the man. “Please come in, sir.”

It did not take long for Grandine to come out from the kitchen and look at their guest inquiringly. “Who is it?”

“Uh, I’m Macao Conbolt, ma’am. Romeo’s father.”

“Oh!” Grandine smiled delightedly. She turned to her son and said, ‘Mysto, call Wendy.’ — and as her son walked off to heed to the request, she approached Macao. “Please do come in, Macao-san! Have a seat!” The man was led to the family room, where he was offered a seat in the couch.

Macao offered the bowl of muffins to the house’s matriarch. “I heard that Romeo always stays over and that he had dinner with you yesterday. Please accept these as my thanks. I haven’t been around much lately to see to my son, you see.”

“Oh, they look delicious.” Grandine said, accepting the bowl and setting it on the coffee table at the center of the room. “Romeo-kun is a good kid. He’s been very accommodating and we’re lucky that he befriended our Wendy. She’s really shy and she has been down ever since we moved here, but Romeo-kun did wonders when they became friends.”

“Really?” Macao said, a smile creeping up his face. “I’ve been really busy with work so I’m not updated about my son, sadly. I hope he hasn’t been causing you too much trouble.”

“Not at all! And he’s a helpful one, too. We’re new around town and when we don’t know our way around, we just ask him and he has some really useful answers for us.” Grandine insisted, taking a muffin and taking the first bite. “This is delicious, Macao-san!”

Macao scratched his head and simply nodded nervously.

“Mom?” Wendy said, entering the room tentatively.

“Wendy, come here and meet Romeo-kun’s father, Macao-san.” Grandine said, gesturing for the girl to walk forward. “He even brought us snacks!”

Macao smiled as Wendy bowed and introduced herself. “Konbanwa, Macao-san! I’m Wendy, Romeo-kun’s schoolmate and friend. He… umm… he’s very nice and kind. He shows me around a lot and we’re even joining the kite fest together.”

“Wendy-chan,” Macao started. He didn’t expect Romeo’s new friend to be a girl — and a very cute girl at that. Macao’s friends who were girls were mostly his ‘big sisters’. Still, Macao thought that his meeting with the girl has been long overdue. “I’m not always around so I don’t know everything about Romeo right now. Is he doing fine?”

“Romeo-kun is doing fine as far as I know, sir.” the girl replied obediently.

‘Damn, she’s very polite.’ Macao inwardly noted. ‘And Romeo’s aiming for Natsu Junior. What do these two talk about?’

Instead, Macao smiled in his most friendly manner and said, “I’m actually having difficulty being a good dad. I feel like he’s gotten very distant to me. What do you think I should do?”

She looked at her mother and when Grandine nodded encouragingly, she continued. “I think that if you want to know more about Romeo-kun, you should simply ask him. Romeo-kun always tells me that you’re busy but he also says that he knows you’re doing it all for him. I think you just need to talk. Even if Romeo-kun doesn’t have problems, well… I think… if he can share all the fun things with you, he’ll be very happy. Oh, but— Ah! T-Th-That’s just my opinion, Macao-san! D-D-Don’t take it… so seriously…”

“Thank you for the advice, Wendy-chan.” Macao said, beaming with pride. His son was doing very well, after all. He just needed to let the boy know that he was very proud of that. “Romeo can be clumsy and awkward at times, but everyone I asked has told me that he’s doing okay. Please continue to take care of him.”

Wendy smiled back shyly. “He is a precious friend, sir. I will do my best.”

When Macao went home, the dishes were still in the sink. He went upstairs to see how his son was doing. The door was ajar, so he knocked thrice and peeked his head in. Macao found the boy sprawled asleep on the bed, still gripping his pencil, with his notebook lying in his stomach.“Romeo, go finish your homework, son.” he said, nudging the boy gently.

“M’done…” Romeo groaned, turning to his side. In turn, the notebook slid from his stomach and to the bed. Macao picked it up and skimmed the equations quickly. Well, all the the items have encircled final answers…

Macao simply chuckled and took the pencil from the boy’s hand, laid it on the study desk along with the notebook, and then put a blanket over his son’s sleeping form.

He missed taking care of his son. Macao was glad that he was given this one rare moment to do something for the boy.

He went back downstairs to do the dishes.

‘Sometimes’, he thought, ‘getting sick does you some good’.

The next day, he went home early. Romeo stared when he found his father already cooking dinner.“What’re you standing there for, Romeo? Clean up — this will be ready soon.”

Blinking and nodding tentatively, Romeo obeyed his father’s order.

Halfway through dinner, Macao inititated the conversation.

The man cleared his throat and said, “You didn’t tell me you’re going with a girl to the Kite Fest.”

Romeo looked up at him.

“Wendy-chan is a nice girl. Very cute, too.”

Romeo looked back down at his food, staying silent.

“She liked the muffins very much.”

“Yeah?” the boy tried. He wasn’t used to this…

Macao nodded. “Yeah. How did you get past those twin brothers, by the way? They looked tough.”

Macao didn’t expect to hear the next statement from his son: “Lucy-nee is on my side, and Jellal-san will always agree with her because Lucy-nee is friends with Erza-nee, and Jellal-san likes Erza-nee.”

Macao stared.

Romeo looked at him with a little smirk.

Macao laughed. “You little smart-ass!”

“I don’t know… I wonder who I got it from?” Romeo said smiling mischievously, making his father shake his head in amusement.

They finished their dinner in twenty minutes, but their conversation went on for another hour and a half. It was the longest time that Macao had spoken with his son in what seemed like years.

After washing the dishes, while Macao was reading the latest issue of his favorite food magazine, Romeo stood by the staircase staring at his father.


Macao did not look up from his reading. “Yes?”


Macao looked up to stare at his son. He raised an eyebrow. “For what?”

“For the time.” was all the boy said before heading for his room.

“Anytime.” Macao mumbled, smiling contentedly to himself.

Life is good.

Chapter Notes:

Some friends thought it would make more sense to make Romeo a rebellious teenage son, but I decided against it. That role’s for Laxus. Romeo has a dozen older brothers and sisters and they wouldn’t let him stray that far. Plus he has Wendy. If your conscience sounds like Wendy, I bet you’d be a decent kid.

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