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 13
New Perspective


..aka “Gajeel Never Runs”

Chapter Notes:

Presenting the longest chapter I have ever written.

This chap is basically Gajeel. This awesome guy is one of my favorite bad-guys-turned-good characters ever. Now this chapter has mostly everything: NAKAMA! power, hints of romance, some funny scenes and a wee bit action. And angst.

One of the early drafts for WAY already has Gajeel as one of the darker characters. I knew I promised to keep things simple and less dramatic in this universe, but for Gajeel and Juvia, I want their backstories in the canon reflected in here as much as possible — simply because their backstories have a lot to do on their character quirks. So yeah. This chapter is kind of heavy, but I swear it’s still the We Are Young you guys know and love.

So here: Gajeel deals with being the new guy in a circle of insane friends. And Levy. For me, Levy has always been the turning point for Gajeel. So it’s just fitting that she gets her role here.

And a little note: Relax, guys — I’m trying to balance the main characters in the chapters as much as possible. This has lots of Gray, Levy and Cana because the previous one had a lot of Natsu and Lucy. It’s hard to have an ensemble main set, dammit.

I won’t keep you long now. I just hope you like it. Enjoy the ride~ ;D

Track 13: New Perspective
..aka “Gajeel Never Runs”

“Taking everything for granted but we still respect the time.
We move along with some new passion knowing everything is fine.”

— Panic! At the Disco

Gajeel grunted as he climbed up the numerous flights of stairs to get to their apartment. He clutched at his side — ‘Fuck, that hurt. Shit. Fuck. Ouch.’ — as he did so. But nevermind his sides. His whole body ached. He stifled his groan of pain in his last few steps, when he was finally on the right floor.

He stumbled towards their unit. The lights were on, he noted — was Juvia staying up late talking to Gray again? Waiting for the ice queen to get home so she could greet him goodnight before going to sleep himself? Gajeel couldn’t care less. What really bothered him was the fact that Juvia would see him in his current state.

He shortly contemplated staying outside until he was sure that his flatmate was asleep, but he decided against it. He could and would deal with Juvia. He needed a nice place to collapse on and rest for the night. That nice place, he knew, was Juvia’s couch — his bed.

Gajeel struggled with his keys for a few moments but he managed well enough to open the door.

“Tadaima…” he said lowly. There was no answer. Maybe Juvia was in her room. As he kicked off his shoes, Lily bounded towards him. The black cat looked up at him silently. “Yeah, I know. I look like shit.”

Lily was a very expressive cat — he blinked and then cocked his head to look at the couch.

Gajeel followed the feline’s gaze and groaned at the sight that welcomed him. Juvia was lying on the couch, fast asleep.

‘Great. Can’t walk by myself and now I gotta carry you to your room.’

He sighed as he walked towards his sleeping flatmate. That was when he noticed that she was hugging his pillow (the black-and-red one that she made for him) while gripping her phone in one hand. She was frowning deeply as she slept.

“Juvia.” he said in a whisper — he had to wake her up because if he tried wrestling for the pillow, he knew he will end up with an additional bruise on his face. Juvia punched in her sleep sometimes.

“Gajeel-kun…” he heard her mumble, snuggling closer to his pillow and sniffing a bit. “Come home…”

“I’m home.” Gajeel said, finally deciding against himself and ruffling the blunette’s hair. “Wake up.”

The young woman opened her eyes and looked up at him sleepily. “Gajeel-kun-…” — then she bolted up, wide awake. “Gajeel-kun!”

Gajeel simply said, “Get off my bed. You have your own.”

Juvia’s brows then furrowed and she frowned at him, tears forming in the corner of her eyes. Gajeel readied himself for the dramatic sobbing he knew was coming, but instead he got a furious scolding: “Gajeel-kun was gone for hours and didn’t leave a note or a text and won’t answer Juvia’s calls and does Gajeel-kun know what time it is?!”

“It’s 2 am.”

“Where were you?!”

Alright. That was new: Juvia abandoning third person. Gajeel scratched his head. “Just… out.”

The blunette clutched the pillow closer against her chest. “Last time Gajeel-kun was out this late, Gajeel-kun came home with a knife stuck on his back.”

“You’ve seen me worse and you didn’t go crying worried then.” Gajeel said. Juvia was still frowning, so he simply sighed. “I’m sorry. Okay? Check me now. No knife.”

Juvia’s expression softened considerably. She set aside the phone and the pillow before shifting to move over to one side of the couch, making room for her companion. “Sit down.” She looked at Gajeel as he slumped down tiredly beside her. Juvia bit her lip when she noticed the bruises on Gajeel’s arms, a bad black-eye, and some blood on the side of his lower lip. She knew that there were definitely worse bruises under his school uniform. “Shirt off. Juvia will get the first-aid kit.”

“I’m okay.” he grumbled, grabbing his pillow and starting to prepare for sleep, but Juvia was already in the kitchen fetching the kit. He sighed again and ran a hand through his unruly hair before simply unbuttoning his shirt and taking it off.

Juvia frowned when she saw the damage, but Gajeel was right — he’d been through worse and she had seen worse on him. This one could be called kind. She handed him an ice pack that he obediently pressed against his black eye.

For the next few minutes, Gajeel let his flatmate put bandages on the cuts and tend to his scrapes and bruises. Juvia did this with silent precision. They’ve been together long enough for her to get used to dealing with Gajeel when he got home from a fight. When she said, “Piercings.”, he simply complied and took off his piercings. After all, they stung when she applied the first aid for the bruises on his face.

“What happened?” Juvia finally asked, starting to dress a minor cut on his side.

’So that was what hurt like fuck…’ Gajeel thought, looking at the cut. Then, aloud, he answered: “I was down at Metallicana’s.”

Juvia looked at him, involuntarily gripping his arm. He almost winced, but he was too busy avoiding her look. “What was Gajeel-kun doing there?”


“Gajeel-kun…” Juvia started, but ultimately did not know what to say.

“I just… felt like comin’ over.”

Juvia sighed, going back to finishing up his wounds. “Why is Gajeel-kun beat up, then?”

“I took the shortcut. Figured I’d get home sooner—”

Juvia looked at him with an expression of firm disapproval. “Gajeel-kun should know very well that the shortcut is the worst possible way home.”

He rolled his eyes. Of course he knew. He used to be one of the thugs that hung out in that route to beat people up and mug them. That night he was alone, familiar and not one of ‘them’. He should have known what was coming. “I already said sorry.”

“Juvia is not mad.”

“Suit yourself.”

When Juvia finished up and started cleaning up the first aid, Gajeel stood up and headed for the bathroom to wash his face and brush his teeth — ‘My mouth hurts too.’, he thought, but he ignored it. He headed straight for one of the cupboards that he used as a closet to get himself a clean shirt (Juvia insisted that he can use the closet in the spare room, but he insisted that the cupboard was enough. He still had some of his things in her room, though. One time she got fed up with him and shoved the rest of his things to her room and set them up there.).

Juvia was yawning as he watched her put the first aid kit away. When she turned to look at him, he quickly pressed the ice pack back against his eye.

“Go to sleep.” he said, walking towards the couch, noting that Lily had already fallen back asleep in his basket.

“Is Gajeel-kun going to school tomorrow?” Juvia asked, standing by her bedroom door.

“Yeah. We have a test.” he said, settling his back on the couch and making himself comfortable. He grabbed a blanket and draped it over himself.

“Juvia will change Gajeel-kun’s bandages tomorrow morning, then.”


She didn’t close her bedroom door, but he heard the familiar click of the lights off as well as the creak of her bed. Juvia had gone to sleep. He could hear her toss and turn for a few minutes but as soon as it stopped, Gajeel fell asleep fast enough.

“Alright, what got you down?”The question made Juvia look up from her knitting the sweater that she planned to send to her father for his birthday. Across her, Gray was focused on an ice sculpture on the table. He caught her looking blankly and raised an eyebrow at her.

“Well?” he asked again.

Juvia furrowed her brows in question. “Did… did Gray-sama say something?”

“You’ve been awfully quiet today. Just yesterday you were talking about Lucy moving out. Now you’re pouting.” Gray continued, looking back down on his work. “If something’s got you down, you can tell me. If you want to.”

Juvia continued her knitting and simply said, “It’s Gajeel-kun.”

Gray nodded. “What about him?”

“Gajeel-kun went home last night all beat up.”

“What happened?”

“Gajeel-kun went to Metallicana-san’s and then took the route on Phantom’s turf. Juvia would think that Gajeel-kun was really asking for a beating if Juvia didn’t know better.”

“Why was he there?”

“Juvia didn’t ask. Gajeel-kun might get angry.”

“Hey, you patched him up. He owes you an explanation.”

Juvia sighed. That made Gray look up at her with one raised eyebrow. He watched as his girlfriend put down her knitting and laid her chin on her hands, pouting down at the table.

Gray chuckled. “Hey, waterworks. Cheer up.”

Juvia looked away. “Juvia feels frustrated. Juvia doesn’t know why.”

Gray shook his head, going back to his sculpture. “Relax. Go back to your knitting. You’ll forget about it. Besides, Gajeel is a big boy and he should’ve learned his lesson. No need to worry too much.”

The blunette groaned but obediently picked her project back up. She didn’t want to ruin a peaceful afternoon with her Gray-sama. She was already feeling lucky that Gray had taken to have an afternoon off once in a while to be with her — and to top it all off, he almost always took initiative.

After a few moments of peaceful silence, she sighed and stood up. “Juvia will cook.”

Gray looked at her, glanced at the nearby wall clock and then asked, “This early?”

“Juvia wants to cut things up.”

Gray paused, then simply nodded, watching his girlfriend head to the kitchen. “Okay.”

Gray had never known that the sound of chopping vegetables could be so terrifying. When Juvia had chopped down three dinners’ worth of meat and vegetables, he pulled her away from the kitchen and sat her back down on the table. He took out his phone, tapped it a few times, and then handed it to her. “Um, just… play some games. It helps with the stress.”

Juvia looked confused, but took the phone anyways.

After the first few minutes, Juvia spoke up. “This game is very satisfying.”

Gray smiled. “Yeah?”

After an hour, still engrossed at slashing furiously at Gray’s phone, she said, “Can Gray-sama put the water to boil? It’s almost dinner. Juvia will just finish this one.”

“Sure.” Gray said, looking at her shortly before obeying.

Gray ended up cooking dinner while his girlfriend played Fruit Ninja. He has yet to decide if he would regret letting her play that game or not. At least, Gray thought, she was happy.

“Juvia should get one of these phones.”

“…Yeah, well… okay.”

The next day was a Saturday. Gajeel woke up to an empty flat early in the morning. That was odd. Juvia usually didn’t go out until the afternoon, and Lily was usually still asleep in his basket.The pains in his body had lessened considerably, but he still struggled to get up.

When he sat up, he noticed a plate of a very delicious-looking stack of pancakes on the table in front of him. Gajeel blinked. ‘What the fuck. Last time I checked, Juvi’s mad at me.’

A small sticky note was partially tucked under the plate.

’Ohayou, Gajeel-kun!

Please eat the special breakfast Juvia prepared for you!
Juvia and Lily went to help Lucy move in her new flat and will be in the third floor if you need them.
Eat up!’

Gajeel re-read the note three more times and then stared at the watermelon doodle under it. What the fuck is up with that watermelon? Why is it stabbed with a katana?

With that, he came to a logical conclusion: ‘The pancake is poisoned. Juvia has had enough of me.’

He stood up, scratched his head and headed straight for the shower. He was not awake enough for this shit.

After his bath, Gajeel grabbed a fork, poured himself a glass of milk, and then ate the breakfast anyway. He simply told himself that if he dies from the pancakes, at least he didn’t die hungry. When he finished the meal without dying, he blessed Juvia for her kind soul. ‘She’s in the third floor waiting to kill me.’

He headed to his death.

“Lucy, what the hell do you have in here?”Gajeel stared as Gray complained while helping Max carry a particularly large box towards an open apartment unit. Gajeel saw Lucy peek out her head from the unit and smile apologetically.

“Oh, those are my books! Sorry!” the blonde said before going inside again.

Max noticed Gajeel and said, “Hey, man. G’morning. Come to help?”

Gajeel shrugged. “If you guys need it.”

“The truck’s down there. There are still some boxes left.” Gray said, before the two went on carrying the box to Lucy’s flat.

Gajeel decided to drop by the flat first. It was chaos when he entered. Erza was shouting at Natsu to get off the bed, Cana was already raiding the fridge, Elfman was shouting for someone to tell him where to move the couch but no one was listening, and Mira was concentrating with listing something down in a notepad. Jet and Droy had just put down a box of Lucy’s things. Both gratefully accepted the drinks that Virgo handed them. Gray and Max were peering at Mira’s notepad and were both frowning deeply. Lucy, Juvia and Bisca were dusting out the built-in shelves in the living room.

Gajeel noted that the unit was one of the smaller ones. It only had a single bedroom, a living room, a kitchen and a bathroom. Just enough for one person. He would have expected something bigger, knowing that Lucy was a rich girl, But then, Juvia had told him that Lucy basically ran away from home, so maybe it was just reasonable.

“Gajeel-kun!” Juvia greeted, catching Lucy’s attention as well. “Did Gajeel-kun eat the breakfast Juvia prepared?”

“Yeah, it was great.” Gajeel said, then looked at Lucy. “Nice place.”

“Thanks.” Lucy smiled cheerfully.

“Gajeel-kun came to help.” Juvia offered. Gajeel simply nodded.

“Oh…” Lucy quickly looked around and, seeing everyone else busy, she turned to Gajeel and said, “There are still some boxes back in the truck. Loke should be there. I promise the heaviest ones have been brought up.”

“Right.” was all Gajeel said, exiting the flat and heading for the truck downstairs. He met Alzack and Warren, carrying a TV and a microwave oven respectively, on his way. On the parking lot, he found Loke talking to the truck driver. He noted that the truck was the Fire Dragon’s delivery and supplies truck. Igneel and Macao must have volunteered, after all.

“Anything else I can carry?” he asked the bodyguard.

“There are still some things at the back.” Loke answered. “Thanks for the help.”

“Ah.” Gajeel waved him off and headed for the back of the truck.

He found a familiar blunette stumbling backwards as she heaved a large box off the truck. Gajeel moved quickly to grab the box, and Levy regained her footing, looking up at him, surprised.


“Pick up something your own size, short stuff.” he said, easing the huge box in one of his shoulders. “What the hell. This weighs nothin’. What’s in this?”

“Pillows.” Levy giggled. “I can handle it. Let me carry it up.”

“You won’t see where you’re goin’ with a box this big.” Gajeel said. Instead, he grabbed a small box of what looked like stationery supplies and handed it to her. “There. Better for ’ya.”

Levy rolled her eyes as she accepted the box. “Gee, thanks.”

Gajeel carried another box — heavier this time — and then wordlessly walked away to carry the boxes upstairs . Levy grabbed another smaller box and stumbled after him. “H-Hey, wait!”

“Walk fast.” Gajeel smirked. “Your feet are small so y’have to run.”

“That’s mean.” Levy said, but followed him as they walked up the flights of stairs. On their way up, they came across Natsu and Gray, who were running frantically from Erza’s wrath. (‘Who are you calling a monster?!’ — “Tattoo-face won’t like you because you’re so scary!” — “Ooooh, is that a blush I see? Erza’s a lady now!”) Gajeel and Levy got out of the way just in time before the three could tackle them. In the process, Levy found herself scooting closely behind Gajeel, who automatically stood before her protectively.

“Thanks.” Levy said, as he drew away from her and kept walking again.

“It’s nothin’.” Gajeel replied roughly. He waited for her to catch up to him again before they continued walking together.

“Gajeel, uh…” Levy started, cocking her head to look at him. Gajeel raised an eyebrow at her. “Something’s different.”

“What? I got into a fight. Big deal.”

“No. Not the black-eye. It looks bad, though.”

“It doesn’t hurt anymore. Got an ice pack on it fast enough.”

“That’s good. But something’s really different.”

“Yeah, don’t stare at me. It’s creepy.”

Levy laughed, withdrawing her gaze from him as they reached Lucy’s flat. Without Erza, Natsu and Gray chasing each other, things looked relatively peaceful. Elfman had somehow managed to put the couch down. The living room was looking like a proper living room by then. Jet and Droy had successfully set up the TV and were already watching a baseball game on it. Alzack and Warren were in the kitchen, being helpful to Virgo and Cana, who were arranging things and filling up cupboards. Bisca and Juvia were placing the books on the newly-cleaned shelves. Mira was still busy with her notepad and for some reason, Max was looking very troubled.

Levy and Gajeel both headed straight for the bedroom. He was carrying the pillows and she had Lucy’s study desk supplies, after all. Lucy was just setting aside the boxes that contained her shoes and clothes. She would arrange her closet when the ruckus was over.

“I got the pillows and the sheets.” Gajeel said, setting down the boxes. Lucy quickly thanked him for his help and told him to grab some snacks in the kitchen if he wanted some. Levy set the supplies and the papers on the study desk.

“Let me help you with the sheets, Lu-chan.” The blunette offered. Lucy thanked her as well and they both started dressing up the bed.

Gajeel left the girls to their work and headed for the kitchen, where he was, indeed, offered some snacks. He declined and settled for the drink that Cana handed him. He almost choked when he realized that it was beer. Gajeel glared and Cana winked at him. The raven-head simply resolved never to trust Cana again as he handed her the drink back and went to get his own glass of water. She muttered “killjoy” before drinking the beverage herself.

“I got the curtains…” Loke chimed in, carrying a box. Natsu, Gray and Erza, all panting, trailed after him. Natsu and Gray both looked battered.

Since almost all the girls were arranging things while the guys either ate, drank or watched TV, Gajeel excused himself to stand outside the unit, by the hallway, to get some fresh air.

He watched the happenings inside the flat unfold. Mira declared that the bets will be drastically affected by Lucy’s move, with Max sighing in defeat and trying to change his bet while the others who were bumming around turned to her and complained. Cana declared that the kitchen was all done and ready for use, with Alzack and Warren applauding her ability to accomplish the task while half-drunk. Virgo remarked that there was alcohol in the fridge and she did not remember packing that for her princess. Loke had taken to setting up the curtains with Elfman’s help. Bisca joined the boys who were watching the TV while Juvia ran to the bedroom to announce that they’ve finished setting up the shelves. After setting up the bed, Lucy and Levy shouted angrily when Natsu practically dived in it. Back in the kitchen, Gray was commenting about the fridge’s perfect freezer. Erza was holding her phone while glaring at Cana, who was giggling teasingly at her. Cana was about to say something when she tripped over a peacefully sleeping Happy. The cat jumped and dashed towards Gray’s arms. Gray caught the blue cat and tried to calm it down as best as he could. Natsu’s cat acted like it belonged to everyone most of the time.

‘They’re all crazy.’ — was Gajeel’s conclusion after watching them long enough. He always knew that they were a really wild, tight bunch. The several parties in The Strauss’ that he was able to attend proved that the scene in the flat was even pretty tame for them. Gajeel again questioned why he was stuck with these people, but then he simply sighed and thought, ‘Because this is my life now. I’m one of them now.’

He didn’t notice that Levy had stood beside him, leaning by the balcony and holding a tall glass of cold water while Lily was also snuggled comfortably in her arms.

“I know what’s different now.” she chimed cheerfully.

Gajeel looked at her shortly and then back at the scene inside the flat. “Shoot.”

“You don’t have your piercings!” Levy said, cheerful.

“Oh.” — he forgot about that. Ever since Juvia made him take them off, he hadn’t had the time to put them back on. “Do I really look that different without ’em?”

Levy shrugged. “At first I didn’t notice because of the bruises, but yeah, it makes a lot of difference.”

Gajeel paused for a while. Then, he asked, “Good different, or bad different?”

Levy looked at him for a long while then. Gajeel felt uncomfortable under her studying gaze, so he was inwardly relieved when she finally withdrew and looked inside the flat as well. “I don’t know, really. ‘You’ different, I guess.”

He raised an eyebrow. “What’s that mean?”

“Well,” she started, smiling sheepishly. “I can’t say it’s ‘bad’ different — those piercings make you look scary sometimes so without them, you look less scary, you know? I can’t say it’s ‘good’ different either — they’re pretty much part of you and well, they look good on you…”

He couldn’t help but notice a little blush on her face, but he credited it to the heat. They were outside, after all, and the sun was high in the sky.

Instead, he simply listened to her as she continued, “So, it’s ‘you’ different — because you’re still you, with or without them. Doesn’t really change much…” — she chuckled, looking at him shyly. “I’m babbling nonsense, am I?”

Gajeel smirked and looked away again. “Yeah. Hold back on the weird a little, will ya?”

“Sorry.” she giggled. “Why did you take them off, anyway?”

He shrugged. “Juvi made me take ’em off when I got beat up. They hurt like hell, ya know.”

Levy nodded. “So… um… you got beat up?”

“Yeah. Walked into the wrong alley alone.” he said, putting his hands in his pockets. “I survived. Gave Juvi a heart attack when I got home, though.”

“You still walked home? You’re on the seventh floor!”

“Yeah, well… I’ve had worse. I can walk home with a knife on my back. Ask her.”

Levy stared at him blankly. “Did she faint? When she saw the knife?”

“No!” Gajeel threw his head back and laughed. Levy pouted at him and he looked at her in amusement. “She was too busy patching me up to faint. Got me a good scolding when she finished, though.”

“You’re lucky to have Juvia-chan.” Levy said, looking at the blunette in the room, who was sitting in the couch enthusiastically tapping away on Gray’s phone while her boyfriend was slumped beside her looking at her warily, absently stroking Happy’s fur as the cat lounged on his lap. She almost dropped the phone when Gray yelped as Cana pressed a cold beer bottle on the back of his neck and Gray realized that he had stripped again and he was only wearing his boxers. Levy smiled at their friends’ antics. “If I was her, I wouldn’t have known what to do. I would just cry there and you would have to tell me to call the ambulance for me to even think that I had that option.”

“Don’t like blood much, huh?”

That set a halt in the conversation as both of them tensed up. It triggered a horrible memory in Levy’s mind and she involuntarily tightened her grip on Lily. They snapped out of it when the cat withdrew from Levy’s arms and looked expectantly at Gajeel, who numbly reached out as the feline transferred itself to his hold.

He mumbled, “Sorry.”

“It’s okay.” Levy tried to laugh lightly. “Anyways… Y-Yeah. I’m pretty useless with wounds.”

“Juvia can stitch.” Gajeel said, as if showing off his flatmate proudly.

“She can?”

“Don’t ask me how, though. She’s been doing it for me ever since we were in Phantom.”

“Oh.” Levy nodded. “Wow. And you? Being stitched up ever since you were in Phantom?”

“Yeah. Two-digit stitches too.”

“No way.”

“Yes way. First digit is three.” He nudged her by the elbow lighly.

“More than thirty-…?! You’re just trying to scare me!” Levy stepped back, pouting.

“Yeah?” Gajeel challenged, smirking at her expression. “You scared?”

“You’re mean!” Levy hit his arm lightly.

“I’ll show you the scar.” he challenged confidently. “Bet ya you’ll run away.”

She pouted. “I-I-It’s not true!”

“You really that scared, huh?”

“Even Juvia-chan will run away from… w-what, thirty stitches?! That’s impossible!”

Gajeel laughed again and raised a hand towards her. Levy closed her eyes and tensed, but he simply ruffled her already messy hair. “Fine, I was kiddin’. You might cry and the others will kill me.”

Levy looked away and huffed, but didn’t draw away from him. Instead, she stepped back to her place beside him and said, “I wouldn’t cry. I’d be scared but I wouldn’t cry.”

“Yeah, nice try.” Gajeel said, pocketing his hand again while the other held Lily close.

Both of them looked up when Erza called loudly from inside the flat.

“Hey, guys! Your attention, please!”

Everyone looked at her. Erza had her phone pressed against her ear as she talked to the rest of the group. “Mysto just told me he’ll buy some pizza before going here. He’s asking us what flavor we’d like.”

There was a general uproar when the people inside the flat applauded and praised their kind pizza benefactor.




“Double cheese!”

“Garlic cheese!”


“Double bacon!”

“Triple bacon!”

“Can’t they just make the crust out of bacon?”

“Cheesy bacon crust!”


Erza sighed and muttered her apologies on the phone before shouting again, “Three flavors, tops! And we’re all pitching in on this! Now make up your minds!”

Someone brave enough shouted “Tell him you’re in love with him!”

The red-head shouted back a furious, “Wrong twin!”

The flat fell silent.

And there was another brave soul who said, “Oooooh, she didn’t deny it!”

Erza blushed a shade that matched her last name very well as she ignored the loud cheers of her friends and said to the phone, “M-M-My apologies for the noise. Ummm, we’ll have hawaiian, bacon and the one with vegetables, please-… Shut up, not you too!”

Natsu cooked dinner. On Lucy’s first night in her own flat, she had Natsu, Loke, Virgo, Aries, Juvia and Gajeel eat dinner with her. Happy and Lily ate cat food retrieved from Juvia’s flat.Juvia, Gajeel and Lily left shortly after dinner. When they got back to their flat, Gajeel closed the door behind him and Juvia sat back cheerfully on the couch.

“Lucy looked so happy.” the blunette said, letting Lily jump onto her lap and absently stroking the cat’s fur. “Juvia knew that things were bad between Lucy and her dad, so maybe this is really what’s best for Lucy…”

Gajeel shrugged, slumping on the other couch across her. “More chances for Salamander to step it up with Bunny Girl. D’you see how excited they were with the bed?”

Juvia raised an eyebrow. “Juvia doesn’t think they’ve gone that far… The bets are not even over…”

“Betcha we’ll have that idiot having sleepovers in there soon.”

“Gajeel-kun is really supportive.” Juvia said, looking down at Lily, who was snuggling warmly against her.

“Just statin’ the obvious.”

Juvia giggled softly and kept stroking Lily’s fur. After a few moments of companionable silence, she spoke up. “Gajeel-kun…”

Gajeel was fiddling with his phone distractedly. He managed to get out a simple “Yeah?”

Juvia breathed deeply before starting, “Juvia was with Gray-sama yesterday… and…”

“Do I have to know about this?”

“No, not like that!” Juvia blushed, but quickly regained herself and continued. “Juvia was with Gray-sama yesterday and Juvia realized that Juvia is very upset with Gajeel-kun.”

Gajeel blinked, finally looking up at her. “You were upset?”


He sat up straight. “So why am I still in one piece?”

Gajeel didn’t know that his question had been very fitting for the situation. He didn’t expect the answer that came from his flatmate. “Juvia chose to slash fruits instead.”

“Oh.” — so that’s what the watermelon was about.

“And after Juvia calmed down, Juvia decided that today, Juvia will ask Gajeel-kun for an explanation.”

Their eyes met for a brief second before Gajeel sat back against the couch lazily and looked up at the ceiling. Juvia stayed silent, watching as her companion closed his eyes and breathed deeply. Lily, who seemed to sense the tension between the two, promptly left Juvia’s lap and headed for his basket.

Gajeel said, “I went over to Metallicana’s. It was a wreck. Looks like the old gang was there.”

Juvia swallowed before asking, “Were they looking for Gajeel-kun?”

“Hard to tell.” he shrugged. “I haven’t been there in months. Maybe they were just there for the usual. Stealing from houses. Scavenging on the abandoned ones. You know the drill.”

“How did Gajeel-kun know that it was… them?”

“They marked the place with their stupid ugly sign.” — and inwardly, he added, ‘Our former stupid ugly sign.’ He continued, “The fridge, actually. Spray-painted. The walls were still clear. Dunno why. I think someone spotted me coming in. I was still inside when I heard the rustles. So I went out to look, but there was no one. I forgot myself when I took the back alley home.”

“They beat Gajeel-kun up.”

“Funny, they didn’t take my money or anything. Just plain beat me up. They were asking me why I left, askin’ stupid questions like if it’s fun hanging with the fairies, or if I’ve gone good and soft, or if I liked the people pretending to be nice to me. They asked me where I hid you. ’Course I’d rather die than answer any of their bullshit so I just told them to go fuck themselves. Probably was the wrong decision.”

“Gajeel-kun should have ran the other way.”

“It was their turf. There were about ten of ’em so they were gonna catch up either way. ’Sides, that was one wrong decision I didn’t regret. I don’t run. Rubbed it in their face good that there’s no way losers like ’em will win me back. They only won because there were a lot of ’em. I beat each of them up nicely too. Just that I was the one who got the worst beating.”

Juvia sighed. “Why did Gajeel-kun go over to Metallicana-san’s?”

Gajeel looked away grudgingly and cross his arms across his chest. “I don’t know. I just… felt like looking again. I really dunno. Fuck if I know—”


“I know what you’re gonna say. And yeah, I get it! Alright?” he cut her off, tone accusing. He obviously felt betrayed, which made Juvia look down at her lap. “The sick bastard’s never comin’ back. No matter how many fucking times I drop by. He left and I’m freakin’ fine with that. I really am. Don’t think that I’m not over it because I am. I really am. I just-…” he trailed off, seeing the hurt look on his best friend’s face. “Nevermind. I’m going to sleep.” He finished abruptly, grabbing his pillow and starting to put it in place before he turned his back towards the blunette.

After a few silent moments, Juvia spoke. “Juvia was about to say that she wants to ask Gajeel-kun to take someone else with him whenever Gajeel-kun goes there again. Juvia doesn’t and wouldn’t understand how Gajeel-kun really feels, but Juvia wants to ask him to stay safe. Juvia is fine with Gajeel-kun looking for Metallicana-san. It’s Gajeel-kun’s decision anyways.”

Gajeel didn’t answer. Juvia sighed, standing up. She walked over to him and sat on the coffee table between the two couches. Gajeel was reminded briefly of the way he sat down on the same table when he talked to Levy a few months prior. He quickly shrugged that off, feeling his roommate’s presence closer behind him.

“Juvia and Gajeel-kun are not alone now. Not anymore.” Juvia said patiently, running soft hands gently through her roommate’s long black hair. Gajeel stayed still. “Juvia and Gajeel-kun have friends now. Juvia and Gajeel-kun… belong somewhere now. So please… trust in other people more? Doesn’t Gajeel-kun like our friends?”

Gajeel mumbled something that Juvia didn’t quite catch.

“Yes?” she asked, encouraging him to speak up louder.

“I said they’re insane.” he said, a little more coherently this time.

Juvia smiled. “Juvia is sure that the boys wouldn’t mind going with Gajeel-kun somewhere. Gajeel-kun just needs to ask nicely.”

“I don’t know how to be nice.”

“Gajeel-kun is just saying that.” she insisted, ruffling his hair slightly before going back to stroking it gently. She did it absently, as if he was a cat curled up against her. Juvia always knew that Gajeel and Lily were very much alike. “Gray-sama and Natsu-san and the others all enjoy being with Gajeel-kun. They’re not mad at Gajeel-kun anymore.”

“How do you know?”

“The moment Levy-chan chose to forgive you, they all decided to do so as well. They thought that if Levy-chan could, why couldn’t they?”

She saw his shoulders tense. Then, he repeated his question: “How do you know?”

“Juvia asked.”



Gajeel stopped speaking again.

It was Juvia’s turn to ask, “Does Levy-chan know?”

“Does Shorty know what?”

“About Gajeel-kun.”

“What about me?”

“Gajeel-kun and Metallicana-san, about Phantom?”

“Only you do, you know that. Why d’you think she’d know?”

“Gajeel-kun and Levy-chan were talking a while ago.” Juvia smiled lightly, continuing to run her fingers through his long hair. “Levy-chan is kind, Juvia thought she forgave Gajeel-kun too quickly… even for someone as kind as her — not that Juvia thinks that’s a bad thing. Juvia just thought that maybe Gajeel-kun might have shared or told Levy-chan something to make her accept things that fast… But maybe Juvia is overthinking things—”

“You are.”

“Mm-hm.” she nodded absently. “Still, it was nice to see Gajeel-kun and Levy-chan comfortable with each other.”

“You’re starting to talk weird like her now.”

“Is Juvia? Hm…” she hummed a bit, before giggling. “It’s just that Juvia hopes that someday Gajeel-kun can share his story to someone. Even if that someone is not Juvia.”

The raven-head had stopped talking as he dwelled on what his best friend had said. Juvia accepted the companionable silence and simply kept stroking her roommate’s hair. She had been doing it for quite a while and her hand was getting somewhat tired, but it seemed to calm Gajeel down — like a cat, she thought again — so she simply enjoyed the little peaceful moment.



“That feels good. Thanks.”

Juvia simply smiled and whispered, “Gajeel-kun is welcome.”

After a few more minutes, she heard her companion snoring lightly. She tucked his hair behind his ear and finally stood up to head to her own bed.

The following Monday was marked by hectic school festival preparations. All classrooms were filled with students decorating the place and making costumes.Class 3-C was about to make the typical horror house. Jet and Droy were very enthusiastic about the project because Bisca, the class rep, told them to ‘do your computer stuff’ to spice things up.

As such, Gajeel ended up quite busy sloppily helping some of his other classmates sew together yards of black fabric for use on their horror house. He honestly thought that he wouldn’t get a task because most of his classmates were still wary of him, but Bisca was a fair person and was a member of the circle of friends that took Gajeel in — she made sure that no one would get left behind. With that thought, Gajeel remembered Juvia’s words the previous night: ’Juvia and Gajeel-kun belong somewhere now…’

Gajeel had just finished with sewing two yards of cloth together when a piece of paper with messy handwriting was shoved to his face.

He looked up and saw Cana standing over him. She was wearing a gypsy costume. He knew that she will be playing some kind of scary tarot-reading fortune-teller or something. “Yo, Redfox.”


“That sounded awkward.” she remarked blankly.

Gajeel shrugged. “Clive.”

“Shit, just call me Beer Queen.”

“Beer Queen.” he replied, rolling his eyes. “What is it?”

“We need more stuff.” the brunette said, shaking the paper in front of his face again. “Everyone else is busy, and you suck at sewing anyway, so… will you get these for us?”

Gajeel took the paper and read the short list three times before folding it and tucking the note in his chest pocket. He then extended an open palm. “Cash. What time d’you need ’em?”

Cana smiled and dropped a couple of bills in his hand. “You got two hours max. We’ll probably be needing those by then.”

“Got it.” he said, grunting slightly as he stood up. He put the money in his wallet and grabbed his bag to get his phone. “I’ll just send a text if I get confused or something.”

“Go do that.” Cana nodded. “Thanks. You need someone else to come with you?”

“Nah, I’m good.” he waved her off, starting tow walk out. “See ya, Beer Queen.”

As he exited the room, he heard her call out, “Two hours, okay?!” and he simply raised a hand to indicate that he got the message.

Gajeel hated his weak foresight. That said, he might as well lump Cana in with him on the foresight department.He doesn’t know where the hell to buy face paint, powder, eyeliners and freakin’ red lipstick. And cheap wigs. Cana put in a note saying to buy the cheap ones because they’ll be using them for just a couple of days. He can handle the threads and cloths and sewing supplies — Juvia makes him run those errands for her sometimes… but he really had no idea on where or how to get cheap costume stuff.

He walked around town aimlessly for a couple of minutes, trying to remember if he saw a novelty shop somewhere on the few times he wandered around the lively part of the Magnolia market square. He finally found a shop that looked like a costume supplies store. It was just beside — he rolled his eyes at this — Juvia’s usual craft store. He could be so unobservant sometimes.

As he stood in front of the shop, he encountered his next obstacle.

No way in hell is he going to get caught entering that blasted colorful sparkling shop. He had a reputation — he was Fairy Tail’s “Iron Dragon”. He was clad in black and metal and piercings and chains…

…and he’s not going to enter a shop that has like fifty different wigs of different colors on display. There were even some toy swords, wands, funny hats, goofy masks and… shit, are those GLITTERY FAIRY WINGS?

He tried to be reasonable.

“I’m not buying for myself.” he mumbled. ‘These are for Beer Queen. On sharp-shooter class rep’s order. And the rest of them. I can just hand over the list and then look over at prices and get the items. I’m on an errand.’ — and for the last time, he repeated, “It’s a fucking errand.”

After taking one step forward, he stopped.

“No fucking way, those glitters are probably toxic. I’m not stepping into fucking wonderland.”

And then it happened.

When he was about to turn around and find another less-sparkly and colorful shop… there came the moment that Gajeel thanked the Gods for.

The shop doors opened and a familiar figure stepped out, carrying paperbags all too large for her size.

Levy McGarden took a step back when she saw him just standing there stupidly. She raised an eyebrow, “Gajeel?”

It was becoming a habit of him nowadays, to automatically take the girls baggage from her because she was always — and he meant ALWAYS — carrying stuff too big for her. He did just that, sighing, “Who the hell actually trusts someone like you to carry all this?”

“Me.” the girl said defiantly.

“Figures. Everyone but you knows you’re too puny to actually hold anything other than your candy.”

Levy looked at him, cheeks flaring red and attempting to look dangerous while glaring. “That was rude!”

“Truth is rude.” he said, a hint of a grin spreading across his face as he saw her roll her eyes and give up on trying to act angry. “Now go turn a hundred-eighty and walk back inside that place.”

The blunette blinked. “What?”

He took Cana’s note from his pocket and shoved it to her face. “I’ll carry your stuff, so help me buy mine.”

She took the paper and read the contents, glancing at him quickly before sighing. “Say ‘please’.”

She wanted to chuckle because of course he wouldn’t say—

“Please, Levy.”

The blunette paused, looking up at him. He was looking down at her with his normal nonchalant expression, as if he just said something normal. Well.. normal for him.

And she knew that ‘Please, Levy’ was not normal for him.

Levy looked behind her, gazing at the colorful shop before looking at Gajeel. His expression hasn’t changed. She looked at the costume shop again and then back at Gajeel, who had raised an eyebrow at her unusual behavior.

Then, to Gajeel’s horror, the blunette grinned up at him slyly. “Ohhhh, Gajeel cares about his tough guy reputation, hmmm?”

He rolled his eyes. “Look, the shop freaked me out. It’s like a freakin’ magical rainbow unicorn or somethin’. I don’t do unicorn.”

“Could it be…?” Levy faked a gasp. “Gajeel’s scared?”

“Fuck, no—”

“Oh, he is!” she laughed, earning a miserable grumble from her tall companion. “Gajeel’s scared of a costume shop!”

“Look, all the colors and glitters will creep any guy out!”

“But you’re the toughest guy in FairyGaku!”

“Exactly, and those pink, sparkling toy wings over there are for the weak!”

Levy laughed at him again and he stared at her — maybe he should have gone in himself. Now people were looking at them.

“Fine, fine, I’ll get these…” she finally said, smiling cheerfully at him. Then, just as he was about to sigh in relief, she grabbed his arm and smirked. “…and you’re going with me!”


He was too late.

“So how did you end up alone?”Levy was surprised to hear her companion start the conversation. They were walking peacefully back towards FairyGaku grounds, Gajeel carrying the majority of their loot while Levy simply carried a small paperbag containing supplies Gajeel bought from Juvia’s usual crafts store. The people in there know the roommates so he got a discount. That bit impressed Levy.

“Same as you. Everyone else was busy. That’s what happens when most members of the class are either in the student council or important members of the school clubs.”

“Hn.” Gajeel thought for a bit and tallied everyone he knew from 3-A. Bunny Girl was always helping with the cheerleaders. Titania was student council president. Juvia is the swimming club’s best member. Some other students are indeed popular and would be busy with their own clubs…

That left, in Gajeel’s head, Salamander and Frosty.

He could see why Levy volunteered.

“It’s quite nice, though…” Levy mused absently, making her companion look at her. ‘You’re getting along fine with everyone now. Just a few months ago, they were all telling me to stay away from you.’ she laughed guiltily. “And now you’re picking up supplies for them.”

He shrugged. “Sharpshooter’s playing fair.”

“Most of us grew up together playing fair.” Levy smiled. “Principal Makarov doesn’t call us his ‘children’ just because we’re FairyGaku students. Most of the group stuck together mostly because we all have our own problems. Our group is the problem bunch. We’re notorious!”

Gajeel glanced at her and saw that her smile had turned wistful.

“Natsu’s mom died giving birth to him, and his dad had to raise him alone and run the Dragon by himself. That’s why he thinks his friends are important, because we’re his family whenever Igneel falls short.

“Gray’s parents died and left him with his cousin and aunt. His aunt died too, and then he was passed to the next relative in line. There he was old enough to actually feel like a burden so he left as soon as he can manage to be independent. It hadn’t been easy. Sometimes he still asked them for support and we knew how hard that can be for him…

“Cana lost her mom quite young and she struggled with whether to tell Gildarts that he was her father or to keep silent. Not to mention, because she was always around town, there had been really nasty rumors around her back then. That was a really tough time. We always had to tell her that she wasn’t alone.

“Erza was an orphan and she would have been moved to another orphanage if the principal hadn’t decided to take her in. Laxus always had a problem with his dad, and now with his grandfather. Actually, he still has problems right now, I think… But he really is a good guy. We all know that. He just… doesn’t show it a lot.

“Mira and Elf had a happy and normal family, their parents didn’t leave them really early, but what happened with Lisanna struck us all hard.

“When Lucy joined us, we thought: ‘Good, there’s someone happy and normal in the team!’, and then we learned that even she has problems with her dad… Really, it’s no wonder why we stuck together fast even though we’re all so different.”

Levy paused to breathe. Gajeel took everything in slowly. He always knew that their friends came from really different backgrounds and families. Hearing from Levy, he thought she made it all sound sad but simple, but he knew that there really must be so much more to those few sentences for those people to naturally gravitate towards each other and stick together for good despite their differences.

Gajeel asked. “How ’bout you?”

The girl answered very willingly. She was open like that. “Well, I was a bookworm and I was small and shy… I didn’t have friends before Jet and Droy. Even though I got bullied for a while, I had protective friends. I have a really supportive and normal family… I’m one of the lucky ones, I guess.” Levy sighed. “I think that’s why I saw through all them… because they had problems I knew I didn’t have. I think that’s what brought me close to them, you know? They knew that I knew, and I… well, I just tried my best to understand. The others who were also… well, let’s say ‘luckier’… I think they feel the same way. They just know and understand, and that has always been enough for everyone…”

Gajeel nodded, looking ahead as they continued walking.

Levy chuckled uneasily. “Ugh, it got so dramatic! I’m so sorry I’m talking about depressing things!”

“Don’t they get offended or anything?”

She looked at him. “Hm?”

He continued to look ahead, avoiding her gaze. “You’re just blurting out their stories and you make it sound so easy and so… over.”

“It’s not easy, it’s very far from that!” she quickly answered. “But… they never get offended when I share something about them from others… And yes, it sounds ‘over’, because it is. Those things were in the past. We’re all better now. Some of them still struggle sometimes, but I think they’ve all accepted it. It’s part of them now. It will always be a part of them, but I don’t think… I don’t think that they would allow those problems to ever drag them down, not after all these years.”

When he didn’t answer, she continued, “Anyways, that’s how we roll! So… yeah, after saying all that, I’ve come to think that I really shouldn’t have been surprised that we took you in so easily…”

“Juvia’s parents worked abroad.” he said, all of a sudden. Levy looked at him, blinking. The raven-head cleared his throat and went on. “Her dad left even before she was born and he goes home like, only every five years. Her mom also left as soon as Juvia can handle herself alone. They bring in plenty of money and Juvia can have everything she wants. They stay in touch. They call her almost every night. It’s a good arrangement, Juvia doesn’t feel neglected… but a few years ago, even those weren’t enough.”

Levy nodded, realizing that Gajeel had taken it upon himself to give her something back. She shared and now he recognized that it was his turn.

“She’s a weird one, ain’t she? She talks weird and likes coloring, painting, threads and making stuff… a little too much. She always got teased because of that. She had scary eyes and always kept that pink umbrella her dad gave her that one time he went home… so before you guys, she didn’t have any friends. Odd duck. When her mom left her, even though she always sounded happy to them, she was really lonely so on afternoons after school, she sat by an alley full of little cats, always feeding ’em and talking to ’em.

“One day the Phantom Gang went in that alley and hung out there. We were delinquents and we tried to get her to leave the alley because we’re makin’ it part of our turf. We tried driving her away, but she wouldn’t budge and she just sat in her usual dump. She promised to keep quiet and stay out of our business. Thought she was a freak so we just ignored her whenever we hung out there. Other gangs thought she was part of us. We didn’t really say anything about it ’cause they all thought we had this scary rich girl and they thought it was cool.

“The gang tried to hurt her once but fuck she got a hell lot of stubborn on her ’cause she just glared. I told ’em to cut it and ignore the freak, so they backed off of her. Then one time, this shitty jerk, one of us, tried being mister lover boy and told her all sorts of sweet stuff. She was stupid to believe in all that, really, but she was shy and lonely and there weren’t many people who were nice to her, so she just straight on stuck herself to the bastard. She was officially one of us, then, because she was the jerk’s girl.

“Then he hurt her really bad and made her cry really hard when he cheated on her. I think I punched the fucker for that, but they just laughed at me and she ran away. Pretty soon the loser was out the team, I still dunno why… and then one time I met her in the streets I told her that the jerk who hurt her is gone. The next day, she was back in the alley with the cats.

“I asked her why she was hanging out with jerks and delinquents like us. I told her that if it’s for the cats I’ll just give her a hand and take ’em somewhere else, right? And then she told me that at least when we talk shit about her, we do it in her face. The ones at school do it behind her back. So we might not have treated her all that nice, but at least we never lied to her.”

“I never knew any of this.” Levy said. “In fact, Juvia-chan never told us anything before Phantom—”

Gajeel sighed. Juvia had asked him to share his story with their friends when she herself hadn’t said anything. “It was a bad memory, so maybe she chose to keep it to herself. Or maybe Frosty’s keepin’ her secrets for her.”

“Gray told me Juvia gave him a hard time on the fight. She learned to fight while with you guys?”

“She already knew basic karate. Looks like she had some lessons as a kid.” Gajeel answered loosely. “But what she knows with the knife, I taught her. Couldn’t help it. Some shits went in our turf once and if the gang hadn’t been there on time, they would’ve done something really nasty to her. Still funny though, we always said she was the freak girl who hung out in a corner of our alley but some of us got really mad. Guess she just rubbed off on us.”

Levy chuckled. “That’s Juvia-chan for you.”

“She went really easy on Frosty, though. She had a crush on ’im that time so she really wasn’t giving a fight. And stupid Frosty just didn’t want to hit a girl so maybe they were just being stupid on each other.” Gajeel shrugged. “So then, I taught her a few tricks, she really didn’t see the use for it, but damn, was she good at it whenever she had to defend herself. That’s also around the time I got Lily.”

Levy couldn’t help but smile. “So Lily really was yours?”

“I came in the alley one time and Juvia wasn’t there yet, but one of her usual cats was being noisy. There was this kitten calling for its mom to wake up, but the cat ain’t waking up. It was bloody. Betcha one of the bastards in the gang did a number on it. Lily was a fighter, though… I tried to take away his mom and he scratched me. I tried to take him away and he scratched me harder. So I just… fed him — because that’s what Juvia always did. When she got there she told me the kitten likes me. But Lily still scratched me whenever I tried touching him… but he followed me everywhere after that.”

“That was cute.”

“She thought so too.” Gajeel scoffed. “There was one time when things got really bad.”

Levy thought he heard his voice drop and she looked at him. “..What happened?”

“I got into a fight and got a really bad cut. Went back to the alley because I don’t know where else I can go. Juvia was there. She said it looked bad. It felt pretty bad, too. She asked me if she should take me to the hospital or call the police. If she did either, I’d be interrogated and I’d go to jail or juvie or… well, ya know. We didn’t like the authorities. Any authorities. I told her I’ll just go get it cleaned up but she took one look at it and said it needed stitching. It actually really felt like it really needed stitching, so… maybe she was right…”

“That’s when she stitched your wounds?”

“She took me to her place — she was living alone then and she patched me up. She said it was her first time stitching a cut.”

Gajeel could still remember that very day. That was the day he first felt that he and Juvia were really friends. She was crying and she sounded so damned afraid and nervous, but her hands did not shake a bit because she knew that she should do it properly or else he’ll get worse. She did twelve stitches on her first time — it was that bad. But she managed it. She had been very brave for him. That was the first time in a long time that Gajeel truly felt that he wasn’t alone.

“She just knew what to do because her mom’s a doctor and they had a small clinic way back. That’s also why she’s good at all this medical stuff.”


“She let me sleep on her bed and watched over me because I burned up with fever too. She skipped a school day for that. I asked her why she was helping me that much. Ya know what she said?”

“What did she say?”

“She told me she didn’t know. She didn’t want to lose a friend. I told her that we’re not her friends. She trusted us too much and we talk shit about her and we’re not afraid of hurtin’ her. I told her no real friend will get her involved in all this shit. And ya know what she told me? She told me that I tried to make her stay out of our bullshit as much as I can and that’s why she considered me a friend. She’s a drama queen, that one. Stupid stupid drama queen. But after that, I knew I should start treating her right. Because nobody ever told me that I’m doing ’em good, and then there she was.”

Levy let out a small smile as his story finished. She felt like she got to know two of her friends all over again. She knew that Gajeel and Juvia share a close friendship, but she didn’t know it went that deep. Thinking about it, it was really sweet. She wondered if Gajeel ever loved Juvia as more than a friend and just simply stood back because Juvia was very obviously taken with Gray. But then, that would be asking for too much. She was also surprised at just how difficult it had been for some people, and how easy it was for others. They all had a story, she knew — and this one was one of the darkest she had heard. She was lucky enough that Gajeel was willing to talk to her about their past. Both Gajeel and Juvia were “late-comers” in their circle of friends and thus they were more private than most. “You two really go way back, huh?”

“You can say that.”

“How about you, then?”

“What about me?”

“Your story.”

“That was my story.”

“No, that was Juvia-chan’s!”

“That was Juvia’s and mine. And Lily’s. You got three, shorty.”

“But it didn’t have much about you!” Levy insisted. “Why did you join Phantom?”

Gajeel smirked. “Sorry to burst your bubble, bookworm, but I don’t do backstory.”

“Eeeehhh?” Levy whined.

“Don’t wanna tell ’ya.”

“Fine, be like that!” Levy pouted.

“We’re here, anyway.” Gajeel shrugged. “Beer Queen’s waiting for me because she needs these stuff so I can’t tell you more.”

The blunette sighed as they entered school grounds. “Alright, alright. But one of these days, I want to hear your story!”

He shrugged again, this time huffing a bit. “Not happening.”

Gajeel walked the lithe blunette to her classroom, carrying her shopping loot with her. Gray was the first one to notice Gajeel trailing after Levy when she got back and he quickly ran to get their class’ supplies from the other guy.

“Thanks for helping, man.” Gray said, taking the large package and then setting it down on the table.

“Yeah.” was all Gajeel said, taking the bag that Levy was holding for him before stepping out the room again. “See ya ’round, shorty.”

“Thanks again!” Levy called out before Gajeel went out of her sight. When she peeked on the hallways, Gajeel was already a few meters away. “Hey, Gajeel!”

“What?” the raven-head asked, stopping to look back at her.

“I… uh… I need my notebook back!”

“What notebook?”

“The study guide I lent you on our last study group?”

Gajeel thought for a second and then nodded. “I have it in my bag. I’ll give it back before I go home.”

“Thanks!” then she went back inside the classroom to attend to her classmates. There was work to be done.

Gray was already taking out the supplies when she walked towards him. She sighed and said, “Gray, where’s your shirt…?”

“Crap.” It took him a few minutes to find his shirt around the classroom. The others were busy on their preparations and didn’t really notice him looking for it. When he got back to Levy, he said, “Y’know, if you told me you’d be buying this much, I would’ve gone with you. You told me you’re just buying a few stuff.”

Levy smiled. “You were pretty busy with Natsu…”

Gray rolled his eyes. “Point. But feel free to interrupt. You know we’d help you out.”

“I know.” she nodded.

“So…” Gray obviously didn’t know where to start, so he simply said, “Gajeel, huh?”

“He was buying too. Bisca asked him.”

“Hm. How are… things between you guys?”

Levy looked up and saw him shuffling awkwardly, focused on unpacking colorful streamers from the bag. She raised an eyebrow at her friend’s out-of-character behavior. “…Gray?”

“Just asking.” he said quickly.

“We’re doing fine.” she said. Then, smiling, she changed that to “We’re doing really great. Anything you should be worried about?”

“Nah, we’re good too.” Gray said, smiling a bit. He looked really relieved. “Just a bit curious on you two, is all. It’s good that you guys are fine.”

“Yeah.” Levy nodded. “It’s good.”

Gajeel cursed as he slammed his locker shut. He rubbed his aching temples and absently rummaged through his bag again, not finding what he had been looking for for roughly an hour.He must have forgotten it at home.

He grumbled frustratedly, shaking his head — he couldn’t have. Juvia cleans up every morning and she would have put it in his bag — because she acts like his mom like that. There was still a small chance that it was at home, so he sent Juvia a text. She said she didn’t notice anything — she was a neat freak so he was then sure that the chances of Levy’s notebook being at the flat just got so much smaller.

‘Shit’, he thought. ‘I must have dropped it at Metallicana’s.’ He was sure that the gang didn’t take anything from him. He was sure he didn’t drop anything when he was limping back towards the flat. He recalled, though, that he opened his bag, took out his stuff and rummaged for his lighter, when he was inside the old abandoned house. He must have missed it when he was packing back up because he was in a hurry — he knew he was being watched and had to get out that house as soon as possible.

He owed Levy that notebook. She told him to take care of it because she didn’t have time to make him a copy and she would need it real soon. ‘Real soon’ was the end of the day.

He cursed again. He didn’t want to go back there, not when he’s not in the best condition if he ever got into another fight. Not when he was still trying to stay away because he knew that his old gang were probably waiting for him there. He used to be one of them. He knew how they thought, how they moved, and how they planned.

Maybe he could outsmart them, but he was not going to risk it. He will survive anything they put him through, he knew — what he was actually worried about is how Juvia would skin him alive because he had been so stupid going alone and getting himself hurt. Again.

Maybe he can take her advise and ask someone to go with him—

“There you are.” he heard a familiar voice behind him. “I went to your classroom but Bis said you left to go get something.”

‘Crap.’ he cursed yet again, turning to look at Levy, dressed in warm clothes, her bag slung in her shoulder. She was ready to leave. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” she said, scratching her head. “I’m going home early today and I didn’t want to bother you, so I figured I should just pick up my notebook… May I have it back now?”

Gajeel closed his eyes and thought of an excuse — ‘A lie, you mean.’, he added inwardly. What could he possibly say? He misplaced it but he’s going to find it realy soon? He left it at home? He still needs it? He’s not done copying the notes he needed? Gajeel wracked his brain for more reasons — ‘A lie, you mean.’, he added again, as an afterthought.

“I think I lost it.”

After a few months of being ‘one of them’, Gajeel concluded that he had completely lost the ability to defend himself.

Levy stared, then asked, in a very understanding voice, “…When?”

“I just realized a few minutes ago. That’s what I was looking for. I can’t find it.” he said, trying to keep calm, because the girl in front of him was trying to be calm too.

“Alright.” Levy said, breathing deeply — she was obviously trying not to be angry. “Um… can you still find it?”

“It’s not at home, not in my bag, and not here.”

“Oh dear.” now she looked ready to be angry, but she was still trying to calm herself down. Gajeel didn’t know if he looked pathetic or what, but he definitely knew that whatever his face was doing, it was causing Levy to be extra considerate. “Anywhere else?”

“I think…” — he paused for a while. Will he tell her? Blast it — he’ll go answer her when she asks anyway, so it’s better if he just told her straight out. “It was at Metallicana’s place. I went there last week and I had the notebook then I got beat up. I think I left it at the house I visited.”

Her face brightened up. “Great! Does the house have a phone? We can call and tell them we’ll go get it back—”

“No one’s in that house. It was abandoned.”

“But who—”

“I dropped by to just… spend some time alone. It’s kind of a hideout.”

That didn’t faze her. “Okay. It’s your hideout thingy, so maybe we can just go and get my notebook!”

It sounded so simple. Gajeel groaned. “Didn’t you hear me the first time? I got beat up because I took the wrong alley on my way home last time—”

“Then we’ll take a different alley or just go back the way we came.” Levy suggested, still making everything sound very simple. However, Gajeel saw her point. If they just go back the normal way, they can—


He raised an eyebrow. “What makes you think you’re going with me?”

“Well, it’s my notebook. It’ll save you the time to go to my house to return it to me if we go together when you go get it.”

“No way, you’re either going home or waiting here. I’ll get that notebook and bring it to you. It’s too dangerous in there.”

“All the more reason not to go alone. You just said it’s dangerous.”

“But you can’t fight back—”

“We’ll run.”

“I don’t run.”

She gave him an innocent shrug. “I’ll run. And get help.”

‘WHY IS SHE SO LOGICAL?’ Gajeel inwardly groaned. He just couldn’t argue. She always had a point to counter him.

The day was slowly drawing to a close. The late afternoon sky was a brilliant orange and Gajeel knew that if he won’t hurry up, it’ll be dark when he arrives in the abandoned house. It will just get more dangerous.

“Fine, let’s get it now. But when I tell you to stay a few blocks away or run or hide, you do it, okay? Those guys don’t care if they hurt girls or kids.”

Levy nodded obediently. “I trust you.”

As they made their way out the school gates, Gajeel could only grumble. “We better stay safe or everyone will kill me.”

They got to the abandoned house before sunset. As they stood beside each other in front of the old rusted gates, Gajeel looked around. There was no one suspicious nearby. They were in a quiet area of Magnolia. People were scarce. Most of the houses were empty. They were in the far side of a residential area and they did not see too many people walking by.Gajeel opened the rusty gates and Levy followed him as he headed for the door. The raven-head gripped the door knob but paused just before he opened the door. He looked at Levy.

The blunette blinked up at him. “Gajeel?”

“You’re small so if I lose you, I’ll have a damn hard time lookin’.” he said, watching her adjust her bag on her shoulder consciously.

She frowned. “Geez, it’s one small house. What could happen?”

“Shit can happen. So don’t leave my side.” he said, finally opening the door without another word to his companion. Levy stopped for a while, staring at his back, before smiling lightly to herself and following him inside the house.

The inside of the house looked very much abandoned. There were broken windows, cobwebs everywhere and dust all over the place. The couch looked very dirty and worn out — scratch that, the couch was damaged. The small television screen was cracked. Chairs were overturned, while the sink and dining table had grime. The walls were filled with spray-painted juvenile grafitti that weren’t there the last time Gajeel came. ‘Finally they thought to decorate the walls too.’

“They raided it after beating me up.” he said.

Levy was looking around, inching closer to her companion. “You… hang out here?”

“I lived here.” he said, absentmindedly righting up a chair that was in their way. Levy yelped and instinctively clung to his arm when a small rat passed by on the floor by her feet.

“This was your old house?”

He glanced at her. She looked smaller, gripping his arm nervously. He simply looked away. “I used to stay here. There’s a difference.”

Levy looked around again, reading the foul graffiti by the walls. “Who would do this? It’s awful.”

“Phantom.” he said simply, then felt her grip on his arm tighten. He decided to choose his next words carefully. He could tell very well that she did not expect such a mess — it scared her more than she thought it would. He continued, “Not that they had much to add. This hellhole’s already a mess when I came here last time.”

“It already was?”

“Yeah, they just added a couple broken windows and upturned chairs and decorated the wall.” he said smoothly. It was an understatement, though. Gajeel knew that they had done so much more. The last time he was in the place, everything was very dusty and worn out and practically crumbling, but it still looked habitable. The place right now was practically a wreck. It looked like a crime scene.

“But… you still came here…? What… what do you do?”

“I just… stay. Hide from all the noise for a while.” he gave her an uncertain shrug before glancing at her. She was trying to study him. ‘Nerd.’ — he thought. ‘Stop studying everything.’

She nodded, then finally realized that she was clinging to him and let go. “I’m sorry if I’m being too whiny.”

“It’s fine. Bet ya didn’t expect this too, huh.”

“I expected a… more… normal house.” she laughed uneasily. “So even if it’s like this, you can still chill down here?”

“Yeah. Find that weird?”

Levy simply shrugged. Any signs of fear he saw in her before was gone. “Not really. I mean, we’re all weird and crazy in our own ways, anyway.”

“Hm.” he grunted. “You’re used to weird.”

“Yep. What do you do when you go here? Listen to music? Something like that?”

“I look for stuff.”


“Just… stuff.” he said, finally walking towards the vandalized kitchen table. He looked around for any more signs of damage. There were scratches in the wooden table that weren’t there when he last laid down his things.


“I’m looking for a message or note or something.”


“From—” he paused abruptly. He was giving away too much. He had been distracted with looking around to see what else the Phantom Lord gang had done that he didn’t notice that he was giving out answer after answer.

Levy looked at him curiously. “From..?”

“Metallicana.” he said lowly, looking away. “The bastard.”

“He owns this house, right?”

“He used to.”

“So… a friend?”


“Oh. Brother, then? Or cousin? A relative?”

“Not a relative.” — he cut her off roughly, making her stop and look at him, slightly startled. ‘He’s not a relative,’ he thought. ‘But he was family.’

Levy looked down. “…I’m sorry, am I being too nosy?”

“Look.” he started, weighing his next words carefully. He knew he could trust her. Heck, for what little time he’d been with his new friends, he knew for a fact that they all got each other’s backs. This was Levy — the girl who almost died by his hands but still forgave him and now she was one of the people he was closest to. Juvia had always told him to tell someone — give himself a confidante, and Levy might just be the best candidate for it.

It wasn’t a matter of trusting others, he knew — it was a matter of baring himself. Gajeel was the “Iron Dragon” — he was cold and closed, with a wall of steel built up around himself. He was the only one who could break it down.

“Yes?” Levy asked softly this time, bringing him back to the situation at hand.

“My mother left us with our drunk father and started her own family. My old man was a drunk and a shit person. I let Social Services take my sister because she’ll be in better hands there. I haven’t seen her since. That’s fine, though. She’s better off there than with me or our shit dad.”

“You had a sister?”

“I have a sister.” — he corrected. “Juvia doesn’t know.”

Levy breathed deeply. If Juvia didn’t know, then she was being trusted with something really heavy. “And your dad?”

“Drinking, gambling and fucking around, and barely gettin’ to keep a job that actually pays decent. Told me to steal a couple times and that was just the first year of middle school. I didn’t know where my mother was, and I don’t know why I stuck with the old man. Maybe because I pitied him. He was good before shit went down. I dunno how shit went down too. Was too young to understand and before we knew it, the family’s broken.”

“I’m… I’m sorry.”

“What for?” — he scoffed, but quickly continued, “So the old man was being shit and sometimes he was hurtin’ me too. I was foolin’ around makin’ a habit of stealing and mugging people because that’s what I knew how to do. Second year of middle school, I met Metallicana.

“I tried to mug him one time, and he beat me up and I spit in his face and I think I broke his nose but at the end of it, I was the one who had it worse. I dunno why he dragged me here. But he gave me an icepack and got us both dinner. He did shady stuff. Dealt with drugs and the big gangs… Phantom looked up to ‘im but he never looked at ’em twice. Says real gangs don’t have stupid children as members. He never got me involved in his stuff, though. Sometimes he’d ask me to collect somethin’ from this guy, or deliver stuff for that guy, but he made sure it’s safe for me. Sometimes he’d punch me in the guts because I tried to shoplift. He said if I’m gonna do shit, I better do it in a way I won’t get caught easy. He was a right bastard and he’s the scum of the Earth but I learned my tricks from him. From hiding to fighting. There was a time I stayed here with him for weeks. He’s a bastard like my old man but he’s a better bastard, so I liked him better too. I… I looked up to ’im, too — I stuck to him for months on end because he treated me like I’m not trash.”

“What happened to him?”

“He left. Didn’t say anything. One time I came here and he was gone. Some of his things were still here, but no message. Nothin’. I knew I shoulda known better than to hear anything from him — I mean, who am I, right? Just some kid who hung around. I dunno if he just up and left or if he was arrested or if he left and died in a ditch. That’s when Master Jose scouted me for Phantom. I rejected ’em for a few months but when I realized I can’t do shit to find Metallicana, I finally went with ’em. They offered some cash and they respected me ’cause they think I’m Metallicana’s protege or something. So I was Phantom’s special boy because of that reputation.”

Levy nodded slowly, looking up at him with a small shy smile. She didn’t know exactly what happened, but she was glad that he trusted her enough to share something to her. “And the rest is history?”

“Yeah. My old man hit the bucket around my first year of high school. My mother popped out of nowhere trying to take me back in but I didn’t want to ruin her happy family. ‘Sides, she looked like she was just feelin’ obligated so I chose to stay back. By that time I already had Juvia and Lily and that’s enough for me. I got by on what little cash they left me. She still asks me from time to time. Still sends money. She chose to cover that much, but I’m not livin’ with her. Not when I’ll see her face everyday and see her scared of what I am.”

Levy nodded again.


The blunette blinked. “…What?”

“Your notebook ain’t here. I bet my best knife that they took it and then threw it away.”

Levy sighed, looking around the wreck again. Gajeel was frowning deeply at the table. He was sure that if he left the notebook, it would’ve been there on the scratched-up, beat-up dining table, or around it. It wasn’t. He had been looking around and there were no signs of the item.

“It’s okay, I guess… You left it because you were in a hurry and I can’t blame you for that.” she tried to cast him a reassuring smile. “It was dangerous, right?”


Levy simply nodded. “Your life’s worth a lot more than my reviewer.”

“I told you all that backstory crap because you probably won’t be seein’ that notebook again. I was stupid. Stupid for takin’ it out ‘round here and stupid for even comin’ in here.”

The young woman shook her head. “It’s alright. Really. It’s just a reviewer, I can do it again. Besides, I’m sure Lucy or Erza would have something too. I just have to ask them.”

Gajeel ran a hand through his hair and avoided her gaze. “Sorry for bringin’ you all the way here for nothing.”

“No, it’s okay. It’s really okay. Stop apologizing!” she insisted. “You’ll ruin your rep!”

“Sit down. I’ll go look around some more.” he stated gruffly, walking away and heading for the stairs.

Levy, feeling more timid than usual, simply nodded and sat down on the nearest chair as she watched him disappear by the staircase.

She was glad that she came with him. In one day she got to hear both Juvia’s and Gajeel’s stories and she was grateful to be trusted like that. Granted, Gajeel probably told her his story as an apology, but she still thought it was too much. She could forgive him for losing that notebook right here in this place. She knew why he insists on coming back and looking. Gajeel didn’t let on much about how he really felt about Metallicana’s disappearance but she knew that he must really be broken by it. Up until now, he still hasn’t given up hope that perhaps there will be a sign or message to tell him where that mysterious man went. Levy felt bad leading him back to a place with so much painful memories, so she simply decided to smile and offer to get some snacks with him before they both went home. Maybe they can have some takoyaki or something on the way, just to loosen up the mood—


She stood up in surprise when she heard Gajeel call her from upstairs. “Y-Yes?”

“Are you alright?!” his voice sounded strangled, and she can hear faint cursing from him.

She blinked, quickly looking around. “Y-Yeah, why won’t I be?”

His footsteps were loud as he ran downstairs, gripping his bag tightly. “Grab your bag, we’re gettin’ outta here. Now.”

Levy was quick to sling her bag over her shoulders, but she was hesitant. “W-Why? What happened? Did you find anything—”

“We’re being watched. Someone’s sneakin’ around the house. Let’s go.”


“Probably Phantom. Stop talkin’. We have to get back out on the open.”

She nodded quickly and wordlessly, then followed him outside the house. She closed the door behind her and clung to the hem of his school shirt as they started to walk out the gates.

Just a few steps from the house, Gajeel felt a sharp tug on his shirt shortly before hearing his companion’s muffled yelp. He whirled around to see two rugged-looking young men dragging Levy roughly towards the nearby alley.

“Shit.” — he cursed automatically. “Levy!” Not wasting any second, Gajeel dropped his bag and ran after them.

Lucy knew that being rich with a famous name, she will always be a target of kidnappers and other criminals. There had been several attempts on her as a young girl, but all those attempts failed. Her father had always assured her the best security. She could safely say that her father was too strict and suffocating, but her assured safety was something she appreciated.That afternoon, as they got shoved roughly back against one of Magnolia’s dark and empty alleyways, Lucy wished she still had Loke trailing after her everywhere.

‘Four girls against five… six… seven… eight… oh there’s the last one. Hopefully. Nine guys with baseball bats and pipes and daggers and… is that a brass knuckle? This is a nice day.’

Lucy was trying to keep her calm, pressed against Cana, Juvia and Erza. ‘Erza might be able to take all of them down’, she thought. ‘But what if she couldn’t?’

“What do you guys want?” — the red-haired student council president asked in a low voice. Erza and Cana were standing protectively in front of the other two girls. Lucy had never seen Cana fight before, and Juvia was trembling beside her. The blonde herself knew that she was in a state of panic. What do they do? Scream? They’re way past the town square and the nearest police station was Gildarts’s booth — both places were far now. The streets were relatively empty, and if there were people passing by, the alleyway was way too dark for someone to really notice what was going on.

“We’re here to see how Juvia-chan is doing!” one of them said, in a falsely cheerful tone. The girls paused. Juvia cocked her head to look at them nervously.

“Who are you?” Cana snarled.

“We’re from the Phantom Lord gang.” the same guy said, stepping forward with a sly smile on his face. “We came to see our old friend—”

“Juvia’s doing fine. And you’ve seen her now.” Erza cut him off quickly. “Now may we go?”

“We hoped to talk to Juvia-chan, just us old friends, but then… you pretty ladies won’t leave her side so we just figured you might as well join in.”

“What do you want from Juvia?” — this time, it was Juvia who stepped forward, standing in front of Erza and Cana. She studied the guys carefully. “Juvia doesn’t know any of you.”

The leader shrugged. “We’re… kinda new. Master Jose sent us to talk to Juvia-chan.”

“Juvia fails to see what Master Jose could possibly want from Juvia.”

“The Iron Dragon won’t answer our questions. Master Jose figured Juvia-chan would know.”

“You’re the ones who beat up Gajeel-kun the other night?” — the girls noted a change in Juvia’s demeanor. Up until Gajeel was mentioned, the girl was timid and afraid — now they sensed a hint of anger.

“Well, like we said, he wouldn’t tell us what we want—”

“What do you want?!”

Instinctively, Erza and Cana made to touch either of Juvia’s arms.

“Where are the rest of the Element 4?”

“Juvia doesn’t know.”

“They all left. After Gajeel Redfox took off with you, the other three also defected. Master Jose wants you kids back. The four of you and Redfox, you were his best kids. We think Juvia-chan knows where the other three are. After all, they were your friends…”

“Juvia hasn’t heard from Totomaru-kun or Sol-san or Aria-san since Juvia left. Juvia cannot answer your question.”

“Master Jose was pretty confident that you’d know. We trust our leader.”

The girls took another step back as they saw the men ready their weapons and flex their kunckles. Lucy observed Erza balling up her fists and Cana slowly moving her hand towards the nearby trashcans.

“He told us not to hesitate to use force if asking doesn’t work.” the leader of their captors continued.

“I’m warning you.” Erza said, stepping forward to stand beside Juvia again.

Cana continued, “If you lay a hand on any of us, things will get ugly.”

The guys laughed.

“You’re four pretty and helpless ladies!” one of them mocked. “You wouldn’t want us to hurt those gorgeous faces, wouldn’t ya?”

“Lucy,” Cana whispered. Lucy didn’t move her head, but she glanced at the brunette. “On three, scream. We charge. Use anything to hit ’em, take ’em out, out of the way. We’re running and we’ll head straight to Gildarts.”

Lucy simply nodded. She caught Erza’s glance. A reassurance. Erza would do anything to get them all out. Everything will be fine.

“One.” Cana whispered. “Two. Three.”

Lucy screamed — a shrill, scared scream — “AAAAAHHHHHHH!”

The guys immediately charged towards them to silence her.

The leader of the group of guys swung his metal pipe down and Erza stepped forward and gripped it before it hit her, effectively catching the guy by surprise. She used the weapon to shove her attacker towards a nearby wall.

This caught everyone else in surprise. Erza claimed the pipe for herself, letting the first guy fall to the ground in an unconscious heap, then said, “Anyone else?”

All at once, the other guys stepped forward to attack. On instinct, Cana pulled Lucy with her and ran forward, hoping to dash through any opening. Erza, still holding the metal pipe, shielded the two girls from a baseball bat. She struggled with the guy and Lucy and Cana quickly slipped past them. Juvia quickly got down and stuck out her leg to trip two guys at once, then just as quickly, the blunette twisted one of the guys’ arms painfully behind his back and took his dagger. She used the handle to knock him out, while Cana hit the other one with a trash bin lid she grabbed before they came running.

‘Four down.’

The girls found themselves standing side by side and huddled closely together, while the rest of the guys were looking at them tentatively, weapons raised. There were only five of them then.

Erza was holding the pipe as if it was her bamboo sword, Cana and Lucy were holding the trash bin lid protectively in front of them, and Juvia was poised to utilize the dagger.

“Are you guys sure you still wanna do this?” Cana said, smirking.

The guys seemed to act the exact opposite of what Cana intended. They all just charged at the same time, determined not to be beaten up by “helpless” girls.

Lucy and Cana were quick to move. Cana hit her attacker on the head with the trash bin lid to knock him out of the way, then pulled Lucy with her. Lucy hit another guy with her school bag, but got pulled back when the guy grabbed Cana’s shirt. The girls shrieked and when a fist braced with brass knuckles charged towards them, but Lucy grabbed the trash bin lid just in time to shield themselves.

Erza was trying to hold off two guys with baseball bats, visibly struggling because of their size and because the metal pipe’s weight was taking a toll on her arms. Juvia was also struggling to incapacitate the last guy — she was holding him in a headlock but he was strong and Juvia hadn’t fought in so long.

Then, as if it was on cue, Juvia managed to knock the guy out just as Lucy threw a bottle of hot sauce towards their attacker’s face.

“Holy shit, you bitch!”

“WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?!” Cana cried as she helped Lucy kick away the fumbling guy.

“I don’t know! It was in my pocket so I threw it at him!”

“Does Natsu wear your skirt?!”

“Maybe!” — then Lucy screamed again as the last two guys ran towards them.

“Run!” Erza shouted, just as she managed to fend off the two guys she was fighting with. Cana and Lucy took off separately, sticking to opposite sides of the alleyway. Just as the guys who were attacking Erza stepped back to deliver another blow, Juvia knocked one of them unconscious with her folded pink umbrella and then bodily charged against the other one, crashing the guy towards the nearby wall.

The girls stood panting above the mostly unconscious and struggling bodies of their attackers, all looking at each other disbelievingly.

Cana chuckled. “Lucy, tell Natsu I’ll pay for that hot sauce.”

Lucy nodded shakily. “Put back that lid. It’s probably government property.”

Cana threw away her ‘shield’ and straightened her skirt.

Erza looked around, panting. She put down the pipe she was holding. “Good job, everyone. I don’t know how we did it, but they’re down.” The red-head sighed. “Cana, I can see your bra.”

“Oh, please. When can’t you see my bra?”

Lucy laughed, while Cana simply clicked her tongue and tried to fix her school shirt.

Juvia, however, was gripping her umbrella, trembling silently.

“Juvia?” Cana said. The other two girls also looked at the blunette. “Hey, it’s okay. They’d probably hurt us if we didn’t try—”

“Gajeel-kun.” she mumbled, voice shaking badly.


“O-One of them said they have Gajeel-kun right now. Back in the old turf.” she was trying not to sob and was failing badly. “T-They have Gajeel-kun! Juvia has to go there—”

“No, you’re not.” Erza said firmly, already walking past them. “You handled these guys here but there could be more of them in there. We’re going to Gildarts. Now. He’ll help us.”

Cana and Lucy each gave Juvia a comforting squeeze on her shoulders.

“Gajeel’s strong. He’ll make it until Gildarts gets there.” Lucy assured, still shaken by what happened.

Juvia nodded. The girls practically ran back towards the police station, Cana already calling her father on their way.

“Gajeel-kun!” — everyone looked at Juvia when the blunette stood up, holding her phone to her ear.She had been trying to contact her roommate for half an hour. Gildarts had sent police officers to the gang’s turf with Juvia giving out the exact location, but the officers found neither the gang nor Gajeel. They even searched Metallicana’s house because Juvia thought they might have used the abandoned place.

Cana was sitting on Gildarts’ chair, her father’s coat draped on her shoulders to cover up for her torn shirt. Lucy, Erza, Loke, Gray and Makarov all sat nearby.

“Gajeel-kun, are you-… Juvia’s alright. Yes, Juvia was attacked too… Juvia’s okay. Juvia is in Gildarts-san’s station with Lucy-san, Cana-san and Erza-san… Is Gajeel-kun alright? Where is Gajeel-kun?”

Everyone listened as the blunette talked with her roommate over the phone. They all breathed out in relief upon seeing Juvia sigh and smile reassuringly at them, then hung up.

“Gajeel-kun’s alright. He’s on his way here.” she said, wiping her tears. Gray stood up, rubbing her back comfortingly. Juvia sniffed once and then leaned in to her boyfriend’s embrace.

“That’s good, Juvia-chan.” Gildarts pat the blunette on the head. “What did he say about Phantom?”

“Gajeel-kun said he’ll explain when he gets here.” Juvia said, fidgeting. “Will Gildarts-san tell the other officers to go back?”

“I’ll tell them to stand by. We’ll have to hear Gajeel out first. He might know where they are.”

After a few minutes, Gajeel came in, panting, Levy clinging to him. Levy’s clothes were rumpled, while Gajeel’s uniform was dirty and slightly torn. He was sporting another set of bruises, but there was nothing that looked too bad.

“Gajeel-kun!” Juvia exclaimed, quickly running towards her roommate and throwing her arms around him. Gajeel flinched slightly but didn’t draw away and simply let her hug him. “Juvia was so worried!”

“Levy-chan?” Lucy voiced out what everyone was thinking — why was Levy there?

Instead, Levy simply ran towards the blonde and hugged her. “Lu-chan! I’m so glad you’re all okay! We were so worried! We rushed here as soon as we could.” Before Lucy could ask her anything, the lithe blunette launched herself towards a very confused Erza.

“Gajeel, are you alright?” Gildarts said, finally taking charge. The raven-head nodded timidly, looking down and avoiding everyone’s gaze while his roommate checked him for injuries. “Take a seat, son.”

Gajeel sat on the chair by Gildarts’ desk. Cana offered him a glass of cold water, but he simply shook his head. Juvia sat right beside him while Levy took Juvia’s previous seat next to Gray.

“Juvia-chan was attacked. She was with Lucy, Erza and Cana.” Gildarts explained carefully. The others stayed silent. Gajeel nodded. “There were nine guys and they said they were from Phantom.”

“Nine?!” both Gajeel and Levy exclaimed.

“Thankfully, the girls got out mostly unharmed.” Gildarts said quickly. Gajeel looked towards the girls. “Well, they broke a nail or two and got some bruises… Cana-chan suffered some wardrobe malfunction…”

Cana huffed, pulling her father’s coat closer around herself.

“They managed to… incapacitate… their attackers enough to be able to run away. Don’t ask me how they did that—”

“Juvia and Erza knocked them out.” Cana supplied. “Juvia said they’re probably new recruits. We’re just lucky.”

Gildarts nodded. “But before they left, they told Juvia-chan that they have you, Gajeel. Was that true?”

“Yeah.” Gajeel nodded, balling up his fists. Beside him, Juvia was rubbing his arm worriedly.

“Where did they take you?”

“The old Phantom turf.”

“I sent my officers there. They found nothing in the old Phantom turf and Metallicana’s house.”

“I don’t care. I’ll find them and beat them all up into a pulp.”

To everyone’s surprise, the raven-head stood up and headed for the door. Almost everyone stood up as well and shouted his name, asking him to stop.

Gildarts was quick to place a hand on the young man’s shoulder, but Gajeel shoved him off roughly and shouted, “DON’T FUCK WITH ME!”

“We’re trying to help you!” Cana shot back.

Gildarts raised a hand for his daughter to stand back and this time he gripped Gajeel’s arm more firmly. “Sit back down, son. You have to trust us here—”

“I do, but this is MY fight!” Gajeel said, brushing the police officer off again. Everyone else was looking at him with startled expressions. “They beat me up last week because I happened to pass by — fine. That’s fucking fine. But today they almost got Levy and now they attack Juvia and these girls and that’s just fucking low. And that’s all because I refused to give ’em some fucking information.”

“You won’t be able to give those information because you don’t know either.” Erza pointed out.

He shook his head. “Juvia wouldn’t know shit about the others — but I do. I know where the other three are and no one’s getting that out from me. I’m going back in there to kick those bastards’ fucking teeth in and make it fucking clear to them that no matter what they do, I’m not goin’ to give them the satisfaction. I’m gonna beat them all up until they can’t move because they touched my friends.”

After a beat, Gray stood up. “I’m going with you.”

“Gray!” Erza exclaimed disbelievingly. “You’re not going in there!”

“Nobody’s going in there.” Gildarts interrupted.

“They hurt my girlfriend, my roommate, and my best friends!” Gray shouted. “I’ve been sitting here for an hour trying to help myself but now that Gajeel’s going back in there, I’m going with him to give them a piece of my mind—”

Loke tried to reason out with his friend. “Gray, dude, that’s really not—”

“You’re angry too, Loke. You can go with us. Someone tell Natsu and I tell you he’s gonna give them hell—”

“Don’t you dare stand up.” Lucy said lowly, grabbing her bodyguard’s arm. Loke laid a hand on top of hers to reassure her that he wasn’t leaving her.

“And nobody calls Natsu until all of this is over because God knows what he’s going to do.” Erza followed up firmly.

“Gray-sama, Gajeel-kun, please.” Juvia begged.

Both raven-heads turned to Juvia and said, “They hurt you!”

“Both of you kids will sit down right now or I’m going to suspend both of you.” — they all tensed when, for the first time after he arrived, Makarov spoke.

It took a few more seconds before Gray grudgingly went back to his seat, Levy gripping his shoulder tightly. He looked down, still frowning, avoiding his girlfriend’s scared look.

“Gajeel.” Gildarts repeated, this time placing his hands on the young man’s shoulders. “You don’t have to do this alone, son. I know that you don’t want this to happen again. I feel the same. My daughter was hurt too. Now I’ve sent my men in there and I personally won’t stop until these guys are arrested or put into probation for attacking our girls. Trust me. Let us grown-ups handle this.”

Gajeel refused to look into the man’s eyes. He was still furious — his fists were balled up and he was breathing heavily.

“Gajeel.” Makarov said, watching Juvia reach out to grip her roommate’s fisted hand. “You can trust Gildarts.”

Finally, the young man nodded and Gildarts let him go, patting him on the back. “Good man.”

Everyone else relaxed considerably. Gildarts made a move to call his colleagues to update them and Gajeel was about to sit down when they heard the roar of a motorcycle outside the station. They all turned towards the entrance as a huge figure stepped inside.

“Yo.” Laxus said, looking around the police station. “Didn’t expect everyone to still be here. Don’t you guys have class tomorrow?”

“Laxus?” Erza blinked.

The blonde looked at Gildarts. “Reporting that I beat twenty or so guys to a bloody pulp.” he said, making everyone pause abruptly. “Maybe your friends can pick them up now.”

“You did what?!” Gildarts asked, gaping at the young man.

“Beat them all up. I was having a shit day and then gramps tells me the girls were attacked. I figured I can relieve some stress and when I got there—”


“The Phantom turf. They never transferred, those idiots.”

“My men are there, the place is empty.”

“Well they must be strong, to be able to run away after that.” Laxus shrugged, taking out a cigarette. He turned to the girls. “Those guys were pretty bruised when I got there, though. Did you girls do that? They said you did.”

“You went there?!” they exclaimed.


“I knew I shouldn’t have informed you.” Makarov rubbed his temples and sighed.

Laxus shrugged again. “Those scums picked the wrong girls to hit on. And I was in a really bad mood. Of course I’m gonna go there and beat ’em up. They hurt my little sisters.”

“Your little sisters hurt ’em too.” Cana pointed out.

“Your shirt’s ruined.” Gray said.

Cana argued, “I’m alive.”

“You still got hurt — it still shouldn’t have happened to you girls.” Loke continued, then looked at Laxus. “Thanks, Laxus.”

“That’s it?” Laxus looked around, then at Gajeel and Gray. “You guys aren’t complaining that I didn’t take you with me to fight?”

“I was going to complain but I might get expelled.” Gray grumbled. He was still angry at what happened. He looked across the room towards Juvia, who was wringing her hands — hands that were still trembling. She shouldn’t have gone through what just happened.

“You shouldn’t have done that.” Gajeel said lowly, glaring at Laxus. ‘They were after me. They attacked Juvia because of me. I should have done what you did!’ They all looked on dumbfounded as the guy grabbed the blonde’s collar and shouted angrily. “I should’ve been the one to fucking beat ’em bloody and—”

“Why didn’t you?” Laxus cut him off roughly. “They told me they had you. You were right there and you could’ve beaten them right then and there too. Why’re you here and unharmed — did you run away?”

Gajeel swallowed before saying a definitive: “Yes.”

“So the next question here is this: Why?” Laxus said, challenging the younger man. “You’re a coward. Why’d you fucking run?”

“Because Levy was there. They got her and I went after them and as soon as I got her back, we ran.”

“You should’ve let her go. She can run by herself. You should’ve gone back and gave them what they deserved—”

“I figured that what they deserved could wait!” Gajeel withdrew his hold on the man’s shirt and stood back. “I’m not risking her! I never run. I fight back until I fucking bleed to death in the gutter but it’s different now! I have her, and I have them — what mattered the most was to get to them. When they told me that they sent more to get Juvia-… I’d always fight back, but not when I have to-… when I have to protect—”

“You did good.”

Gajeel stopped, looking up at the guy who was smirking down at him knowingly.

Laxus punched his shoulder lightly and exchanged a look with Gildarts, who simply shrugged. “Got Levy as safe as possible and rushed to help Juvia and the others. I’d have done the same. ’Sides, don’t get involved in too much bullshit. You’re graduating. You don’t want to spoil that, do you?”

Gajeel was still startled by the blonde’s sudden change in demeanor. Was Laxus… Had Laxus been… testing him? “Y-Yeah…”

“Don’t act like you can do everything.” Laxus said, also directing his look at Gray. “You’re not the eldest and strongest of this bunch. We can take care of things better than you can.”

“Same goes for you, doing my job.” Gildarts said.

“Shit day and boredom. Next time I’ll call sooner.” Laxus huffed arrogantly at the cop, but Gildarts simply shook his head. Some things never change. The blonde paused when his phone rang and he checked the message. “I gotta go.”

“You really have no idea where they scampered off to?” Gildarts asked, letting Juvia pull Gajeel back to his seat.

“Couldn’t care less.” Laxus said. ‘But if you ever find them, let ‘em know that next time they try and touch a hair on these girls’ heads, I’m gonna find the new hideout or whatever and I’m taking these girls’ boyfriends with me.’ — he glanced at the girls, who were smiling at him. Gray also looked satisfied with that proposal. “In speaking of-.. Where’s Natsu? Nevermind.” Turning back to Gildarts, he said. “And tell ’em maybe that the best part of that is I’m gonna invite Mirajane to come join the party.”

Gildarts laughed, while the others looked at Laxus, scandalized.

Bringing Mirajane along — now that’s how you make a legitimate threat.

Laxus looked at his grandfather, who was looking at him measuringly. “I’m sleeping over at Freed’s. See ’ya.”

They all watched silently as the blonde went out the little station.

“Use protection!” Cana called out, just as the motorcycle roared to life.

“Gildarts, your daughter’s drunk again!” Laxus announced, before speeding off.

“Are you drunk?” Gildarts asked.

Cana shook her head, smiling innocently.

“Well then,” Makarov said, finally standing up. “Erza and I will go home now. Gildarts, please keep us posted.”

“Roger, principal.”

The old man looked at his students. “You children stay safe now. You all need rest. We’ve all had a long day.” — then, looking solely at Gajeel, “Gajeel, we’ll talk tomorrow.”

The student nodded timidly.

Erza waved goodbye to her friends and bowed politely at Gildarts as she followed her guardian to head home.

Levy also took her leave shortly afterwards. Gildarts asked Gray to walk the blunette home just to be safe, and the raven-head quickly relented. He promised Juvia that he would call later in the night. Lucy and Loke also left after receiving an impatient call from Natsu telling Lucy to go home because dinner was ready and he ahd Happy fell asleep waiting for her in her flat.

“So that’s why he wasn’t picking up.”

“Give him some slack. We’re having good dinner tonight.”

“Gee, thanks, lion.”

Lastly, both Juvia and Gajeel thanked Gildarts for his help and patience before the roommates headed home.

“You’re not going yet, Cana-chan?” Gildarts asked, when he was finally left alone with his daughter.

Cana sighed, slumping down on the desk and closing her eyes. “Not yet.”

“Are you alright, dear?”

“I’m okay.” she said silently. “I was just thinking back to what Gajeel said…”

“Hm?” Gildarts asked, looking down at the brunette.

“We’re lucky to have him.”

“You are.”

“We are.” she repeated, smiling at him more sincerely, and then looking out towards the street again. “I’ll have to buy a new uniform top.”

“If you need money for that, just ask. I wouldn’t want Cana-chan to go to school… err… baring her assets.”

“Oh. You’re afraid of my boobs.”

“I’m not. I’m afraid that other boys would oggle Cana-chan’s… yeah.”

The brunette chuckled. “Also… I want dinner at Yaji-jii’s.”

“Hm… I still have to talk to those officers looking for the Phantom guys…”

Cana pouted. “But I wanna go eat dinner with Papa.”

Gildarts paused abruptly, a bright red blush on his face. “F-F-Five minutes, Cana-chan!”

At that, Cana laughed rowdily, even making a random passerby look towards the police station in curiosity. “You’re so easy!”

He ruffled her hair. “That’s ’cause you know how to operate me.”

The next day, Gajeel found himself knocking on the door to the principal’s office. The old man was sipping tea calmly when the student went in.“So am I in trouble?” Gajeel asked, straight to point as he slumped down in the couch, not looking at the principal. “You never call me out here except to talk to me about how I’m doing. And our schedule’s still next week. So I’m in trouble, right?”

“Of course not.” Makarov said. “Are you feeling calmer now? About what happened yesterday?”


“How about Juvia-chan?”

“She’s not really a fighter. She felt upset hurting those guys yesterday but Frosty talked her into feeling better.”

Makarov nodded, putting down his cup and folding his hands neatly in his desk. “Let me tell you something, child.”

Gajeel looked up at the man.

“What you did yesterday was important, Gajeel. For you and for those girls. Laxus was right. He would’ve done the same. It was the right thing.”

“I’d sleep better if I did the revenge thing myself, though.”

“You wouldn’t sleep at all if something had happened Levy or Juvia or any of those girls.”

The young man grumbled inaudibly. The principal had a point. “So why am I here?”

Makarov finally came to his point. “What are your plans after graduation?”

Gajeel stopped. The question caught him off guard. He’d never thought about that… well, he had, but just as passing thoughts. He always brushed them off and kept himself busy with what was happening at the moment.

“I got no plans. Never looked that far.” he said. “Got no family to ask either and—”

“This… Metallicana person.” Makarov started. “He was your family.”

Gajeel gave a momentary paused before nodding. “But he left and he’s gone. So like I said, I got no family—”

“We’re your family, Gajeel.”

The student looked at the man with wide eyes.

Makarov grinned with his trademark easygoing smile. “Well?”

“But you’re—”

“I’m quite sure Juvia-chan has plans of leaving town for college.”

“She doesn’t talk about it, but I’m sure she’ll go to university and take art or something.”

“Where would you go then, when she leaves that flat? Are you going to follow her?”

He shook his head, looking down. He really hadn’t thought too far. It even slipped his mind that he and Juvia will probably go separate ways soon. No more tasty meals and fleece blankets and errands to buy crochet thread — no annoying weird best friend to bug him and take care of him. It left a bitter feeling in him that he tried to will away.

Makarov looked at the young man, who suddenly grew silent. It seems that it was the first time that Gajeel let the facts sink in.

“I just called you here to tell you that you can think of us as family now.” the old man said, catching the student’s attention. “Your friends are willing to help you in any way they can. We all are. And—”

Gajeel quickly argued, “I don’t need—”

“It’s not pity, son.” Makarov cut him off, already expecting the raven-head’s retort. “We just care. We know, too — and we understand. Just say the word and we’ll try to work things out. You’re one of my children, and I do my best for my children.”

Gajeel simply stared.

“Is that understood, Gajeel?”

Slowly, he nodded.

“What do you have to say to that, then?”

The student sighed, disgruntled. “I’ll probably be a bother.”

Makarov chuckled. “Probably.”

“But I’ll try hard, too.”

The old man smiled lightly when he saw a rare grateful look on the young man’s face. “Very well.” he said, picking up his tea again. “I don’t want to keep you in here. You have festival preparations to worry about. Off you go, child.”

Gajeel stood up and headed for the door, pausing on his way out to look at the old man. “Principal.”



Makarov smiled. “For what?”

“For… letting me in, I guess. The family thing is crazy, but it’s kinda working, so damn.”

And then he was back in the hallway. Just as he was closing the door, he heard Bisca’s voice ring across the corridors, calling out to him from their classroom’s doorway.

“There you are, Gajeel! We need someone tall enough to stick the cloth to the ceiling!”

Gajeel smirked as he answered. “Yeah, yeah — stop bossing people around!”

He saw Cana peek her head out too. “Get your ass back here! Poor Mysto’s struggling!”

He put his hands back in his pockets and walked back towards his classroom. As soon as he got there, he saw Mystogan having trouble following Bisca’s instructions. When Mysto noticed Gajeel, the blue-haired young man cast a relieved sigh.

Cana shoved a bunch of stuff on the the Iron Dragon’s arms and started rattling out instructions, all the while ranting about Jet and Droy going to help the computer club just when they were needed most.

‘Some kind of family you gave me, old man. I mean, look at this drunk bossing me around.’

“Hey, are you listening?”

He blinked, looking down at Bisca. “Not really, no.”

“I said we’re going to Mira’s tonight to watch Raijinshuu play. Are you coming?”

But then, Gajeel knew, while he flinched at all their crazy antics, he really wouldn’t have this family any other way.

Chapter Notes:

How’s that?

The Fruit Ninja joke with Juvia was from a something I shared with a friend while she was playing the game on her phone: “Juvia should have a game like this that will let her slash all her love rivals. I mean just the sound of this shit is satisfying.”

I almost had Mira team up with Laxus right then and there but I kinda felt bad for those Phantom guys, so I gave them just one for now. And yeah, I suck at writing action scenes.

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