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 14
Wipe Your Eyes


..aka “Levy’s Boys”

Chapter Notes:

It’s time for Jet and Droy to get some love, y’all!

I’m back and I have a nice little chap for everyone. For Jet and Droy, let’s not deny it — the guys’ problems in the FT universe can just as well be the problem of many good guys in real life. What I call the bestfriendzone. There’s that one sweet girl they’ve always cared about since elementary school, who they eventually fall in love with but ultimately will never have.

But more important than that, I want to highlight the friendship between team Shadow Gear. I want to highlight the friendship between everyone, actually. This chapter is about best friends. And how they’re the actual best. Like really. They can be overprotective, overbearing jerks, they can be sweet cutie-pies always there to hang out with and be stupid with you, or they can be your annoying twin out to destroy your life plans, but they really are the best.

This is dedicated to my own best friend who just got out of the hospital last weekend — the idiot almost died and might as well have killed me from heartbreak too. He’s okay now — ruining my life as per usual. Wouldn’t have it any other way.

And a shout-out to adryanna’s echo, my lovely beta. I missed her and I’m glad she’s back because that means I get to make a lesser fool of myself~ VICTORY!

Won’t keep you guys long. Here’s the chapter and I hope you like it.

Track 14: Wipe Your Eyes
..aka “Levy’s Boys”

“Your broken heart requires all of my attention,
’cause something isn’t right — I don’t wanna fight you.”
— Maroon 5

The bookstore was a quiet little spot in the Magnolia town square. It was much like a school’s library, except it was relatively livelier. That afternoon, Lucy was standing behind the cash register, absently watching the few students who came in to browse the shelves. It was quite the boring job because the establishment wasn’t exactly the best-selling place in the town square and the people who frequented it were not the most social of folks, but Lucy was grateful enough that Gray had found her an easy part-time job with a respectable pay so she decided not to complain. She owed Gray and Cana too much for finding her jobs.

She sighed for the umpteenth time during her shift. A few seconds passed before her cellphone rang. It was Erza. Lucy simply assumed that it was another student council concern. They were quite busy, after all.

“Moshi mosh—”

[ ‘Lucy! What should I do?!’ ]

Lucy blinked. “Yes, Erza?”

[ ’I need your help! I… I just noticed it now but… but since the Phantom thing, I…— Jellal—’ ]

The blonde tensed upon hearing “Jellal” and ‘Phantom’ in the same sentence. “Why, what happened?!”

Lucy heard Erza breathe deeply before speaking again. [ ‘I lost Jellal’s present! The rose isn’t here anymore — I think-… I think I dropped it while fighting those guys…!’ ]

Lucy sighed. So it was just that. Leave it to Erza to panic about the little things. If it was Phantom attacking Jellal, Lucy was sure that the red-head would just barge in there clad in shining armor and rescue the guy. “You’re sure?”

[ ’Pretty much. I mean, it was on my pocket while we were fighting, so—’ ]

The blonde was patient. She had to be, as the constant company of Natsu, Gray and the red-haired student council president. “Erza, I’m sure Jellal wouldn’t mind. What matters most to him is that you’re safe.”

[ ’But that was the first present he gave me after coming back here and I just lost it like that—’ ]

“While defending yourself. Remember?” Lucy reassured.

[ ’…Y-Yeah…’ ]

“Now calm down. It doesn’t suit you.”

[ ’It’s just… I liked that dangle and it’s… um… sad to lose it that way…’ ]

“I know, but I’m sure he’ll understand.”

[ ‘You know, now I actually kinda feel that those guys deserved what Laxus did to them.’ ]

Lucy chuckled. “Yeah, they had that coming. Are you calm now?”

[ ‘Yeah. I p-p-panicked. That’s so embarrassing. Thanks, Lucy.’ ]

“Anytime.” Lucy smiled lightly. “Oh, I have to go back to work. Bye now.” She hung up and quickly pocketed her phone just as a student walked towards her and laid several books on the counter. Lucy kept the amused grin on her face, still thinking about Erza’s mini breakdown. The red-head’s voice had been panicked and Lucy could just imagine the other girl’s flushed face. It was so adorable and silly that Erza, for all her strictness, could be so innocent and fidgety with certain things.

After several other people lined up to pay, Lucy focused back on her work. By the end of her shift, only a few more people had purchased books. It was an easy day for her. The blonde bid her goodbyes to her manager as she was getting ready to leave. She put on her jacket, slung her bag on her shoulders and stepped out of the shop. Natsu was standing by the sidewalk, engrossed in a game on his PSP.

“Hey, flame-brain.” she greeted, smiling as she approached him.

Natsu stayed focused on his game. “Yo, lemme get to a save point, ’kay?”

Lucy shrugged and crossed her arms across her chest and stood by patiently. After a few moments, Natsu finished up and put his console back in his pocket. “All done?”

“Yep.” he grinned, offering his arm to her as he adjusted his scarf on his neck. “Let’s go!”

The young woman simply smiled back and wrapped her arms around his sleeve as they fell into step and started the walk home. “Did you wait long?”

“Not really. How’s work?”

“Boring.” she rolled her eyes. “I thought I’d get to talk to more bookworms but nope, they just go in, look at the shelves, and buy…”

“Not all bookworms talk a lot, not like you and Levy, ya know.” he said.

“I know.” Lucy said promptly, then grinned. “Hey, listen to this. Erza called. She was panicking.”

“Erza?” Natsu blinked. “Why, what happened?”

“Apparently, during our little skirmish with the Phantom guys, her phone dangle got lost, and she’s quite upset.” she said in an amused tone.

“The phone dangle as in the tiny flower thing?”

“Yup. The one Jellal-kun gave her.”

Natsu laughed. “And she panicked?”

“Yes. She was very distraught.”

“Damn, she’s got it bad, huh?”

She giggled, clinging closer to him and leaning her head on his arm. “One of these days, I bet she’ll come to us in a panic asking what dress to wear for a date.”

Natsu sniggered. “Promise me you guys will take a picture. Or a vid.”

“Okay.” Lucy nodded, looking at him. “You guys should stop teasing her, though.”

“That would take all the fun out of it!” he pouted at her.

“C’mon, it’s fun but give her some slack.”

“We’re not teasin’ her that much now.” Natsu reasoned out. “Hey, I’m hungry. Igneel said the dinner’s getting cold.”

“He’s waiting?”

“’Course he is. I was cooking at the Dragon and you’re at the bookstore—”

“You should’ve told him to eat already!”

“He insisted. Ya know how he is.”

Lucy rolled her eyes and was about to say something when her phone rang again. They momentarily stopped walking as she got it out to check. “Oh.”

“Loke?” Natsu asked.

“No, it’s Droy.” Lucy blinked while the pink-head raised an eyebrow. As she answered it, they both kept walking. “Moshi moshi. Lucy speaking.”

[ ‘Err… hi, Lucy. It’s Droy.’ ]

“Hey. What’s up?” she asked in her usual cheery tone, while Natsu listened silently.

[ ‘Um, has.. has Levy called you or anything?’ ]


[ ‘Yeah. A call or a text or something?’ ]

“No, not really. Haven’t heard from her since I left early after school. Why? Something wrong?”

[ ‘Oh. Nothing’s wrong, really. Just checking.’ ]

“Checking on what?”

[ ‘Um, stuff. But she hasn’t called you so… yeah. Thanks anyway, Lucy.’ ]

“Okay..?” she said, tentative. She glanced at Natsu and he was still watching curiously. “If there’s anything else I can help you with, just call me later, okay? I’m still on the way home with Natsu.”

[ ‘Got it. Take care on your way. Natsu too. Bye, Lucy.’ ]

“Bye.” She waited until he hung up. She quickly turned to Natsu. “He asked if I had heard anything from Levy. Then said it’s nothing. Weird.”

“I’m sure if something happened, they’ll tell.” Natsu shrugged. “Maybe Levy’s just busy.”

“Maybe.” Lucy nodded. They walked in silence for a while until Natsu’s stomach growled.

“Should’ve brought the bike.” he mumbled.

The blonde rolled her eyes. “Should’ve gone home early and shouldn’t have waited for someone…”

“No way! You guys got attacked last time and you were just lucky that there were stuff lyin’ around for you to hit those guys with. Gildarts says they haven’t caught all of the jerks yet so I’m not lettin’ you outta my sight.”

She sighed, patiently patting his arm. As much as she hated being doted upon, she wasn’t about to complain when Natsu was being especially considerate. It made her feel safe without feeling strangled. It was a nice feeling, Lucy thought. “Thanks.”

Natsu raised an eyebrow. “Luigi, don’t be weird. Resist a little and get mad.”

This time, she ‘patted’ his arm again. Hard enough to make him yelp in pain. “OW!”

“You’re the one being weird.” she said.

“Your weird is contagious.”

They spent the rest of the way home bickering like usual.

“Laxus kept teasing me last night.” Erza complained with an annoyed expression on her face as they ate lunch in their classroom. Erza, Lucy, Juvia, Gray and Natsu had pushed their desks together to make a makeshift dining table. “Apparently he heard everything I told Lucy.”Juvia giggled while Gray and Natsu laughed loudly at their childhood friend. Lucy simply shook her head in amusement. “Well, you were kinda shouting so it’s hard not to hear you, Erza…”

“Still. He’s no different than Natsu and Gray.” Erza huffed, adjusting her glasses.

“Hey!” the boys whined.

Juvia and Lucy contentedly ate their lunch as they watched the other three bicker, call each other nicknames, and even recall embarrassing childhood memories. Even when Levy walked towards them with her own lunchbox, the three did not stop, so Juvia and Lucy took it upon themselves to shift their positions and make space for the blunette.

“Some things never change…” Levy said with a small smile in her face. As she opened her lunchbox and picked up her chopsticks, she asked the two girls, “What is it this time?”

“Oh, they’re teasing her about being a lady.” Lucy said, grinning.

Juvia sighed. “Gray-sama and Natsu-san really won’t leave Erza-san alone…”

“At least they’re not chasing each other.” Levy said.

Then the three girls watched as Gray tapped Erza’s head and smirked, “Tag, you’re it!”

Before Erza could tag Natsu, the pink-head stood up and ran away, followed shortly by Gray, and Erza put down her chopsticks and chased the boys.

Levy breathed out. “I spoke too soon.”

Levy, Juvia and Lucy ate in peace and ignored the shouting and crashing noises in the background. After a few minutes, however, the crashing noises became unbearable and other students had started complaining, so Lucy said, “You three, the break’s almost over! You might wanna eat your lunch!”

The addressed students stopped and automatically looked over at the nearby wall clock. True, there were only roughly ten minutes left until classes would resume. Coming back to her senses faster than the other two, Erza managed to hit Natsu on the back and say, “It.” before rushing back to her table. The boys quickly followed and the three hurried to finish their meals.

“Oh, I just remembered.” Lucy said, looking at the girl beside her. “Levy, Droy called last night. Asking if I’d heard from you.”

“They called me too.” Erza followed up. “Same with Lucy. Asking for you. What was that about?”

The rest of the group looked curiously at Levy.

Levy paused for a moment before laughing uneasily and raising a hand to wave dismissively. “Ah, that was nothing! I.. Well, um, maybe he was about to ask for the usual, you know.”

“What’s the usual?” Juvia asked curiously.

“CD’s!” Levy quickly said. “I borrowed some of his CD’s and maybe he was about to ask me to give ’em back and… well… yeah…”

“Oh. Why does he have to ask Lucy and Erza?” Natsu asked.

Levy simply shrugged. “I slept early last night so I wasn’t answering my phone.”

Her friends simply nodded and dismissed it quickly. Pretty odd things really happened to them all sometimes.

“Did he reach you, then?” Everyone turned to Gray when he spoke. He was looking at Levy directly. “You know, did you get to talk to him?”

She stared back at her friend uneasily for a while, before nodding silently. “Y-yeah.”

Before they could start up any other conversation, the bell rang, andNatsu, Gray and Erza went back to gobbling up what was left of their lunch.

Lucy and Juvia might have caught Levy frowning, but maybe that was just their imagination.

“Mira, what should a person do when that person has become a real jerk and shouted angrily at his small, helpless, gentle and kind best friend even though this small, helpless, gentle and kind best friend did nothing wrong and the person REALLY is a jerk for making the best friend cry and then didn’t go after said best friend to apologize and hasn’t said anything to the best friend for like 24 hours now?”Mirajane stared at Droy, who had said it all in one breath before moodily eating another spoonful of parfait. Jet, sitting beside his best friend, sighed as he looked down at his iced coffee.

The barmaid frowned. “Oh my. Which of you did that to Levy?”

They both looked up at her.

Jet whined, “How did you know?”

The woman laughed lightly and patted the guy on the shoulder. “Instinct.” — she said, although she meant to ask them if they really thought they would get away with such an obvious statement. Who else would both of them refer to as ‘small, helpless, gentle and kind’ except their best girl friend?

Both boys sighed.

“So,” she started, resting her chin on her hands and smiling her usual gentle and encouraging smile. “What happened? I knew something was up when you showed up incomplete. You’re missing your third piece.”

“Jet shouted at her.” Droy sighed, looking at his friend pointedly. “Why would someone shout at Levy?”

Mira looked at Jet, cocking her head to the side to indicate that she was listening.

“She was reckless and inconsiderate for that one time.” Jet reasoned out. “But yes, I feel like shit for shouting at her. I got carried away, okay?”

“Still, man.” Droy insisted. “You were too… rough.”

“Well, why didn’t you back her up?” Jet retorted, looking back at his friend. Mira’s gaze trailed back to Droy as well. The guy was frowning deeply and avoided both his companions’ gazes. “It’s because you agree with everything I said and just didn’t have the heart to tell her, right?”

“…Y-Yeah. I didn’t think you had it in you to go at her that way, though—”

“I’m not angry at her! Geez, I told her so too but she thinks I’m mad at her anyway—”

“Because you raised your voice!”

“Heat of the moment!” — Jet reminded his friend. “I was so frustrated.”

“Okay, wait up…” Mirajane raised both her hands before the two could start arguing too loudly. “Let’s all calm down, okay? What really happened? Why were you two mad at Levy?”

“We’re not mad!” the two corrected her.

The silver-haired barmaid smiled uneasily. “Um, okay… but well—” She was interrupted, however, when a new customer came in. She smiled apologetically at the two boys. “I’ll get back to you, okay?”

They simply nodded and watched as Mirajane attended to the other customers.

“So what do we now?” Droy asked, when it became apparent that Mirajane would be occupied as more people filed inside the bar.

“You sure she hasn’t told Erza or Lucy?”

“And Juvia. Well, they tell me they haven’t heard anything from Levy but what if they’re just covering up for her? You know girls.”

Jet stirred his iced tea absently. “We should ask Gray.”

“Gray?” Droy blinked.

“He’s in the same class and he knows how to be discreet. If we ask Natsu, we’re doomed.”

Droy nodded. “That makes sense. What do we ask him?”

“How Levy’s doing.”

“She’s doing fine.” — at that, both guys turned to see Gray smirking at them, arms crossed across his chest. Behind him, Cana was also staring at them curiously. “But she’s sad.”

“Sad is not fine.” Cana told him bluntly. “Sad is sad. It’s never fine.”

Gray rolled his eyes and then greeted the two other guys. “Yo.”

The four friends bid goodbye to Mirajane and left the bar to head over to Yajima-san’s. The teens ordered dinner and sat down on a table.Jet and Droy watched as Cana and Gray argued about their food (said argument involved the use of sauces and pepper and even went as far as their electric bill) for five full minutes before the two finally started eating.

“So…” Jet started, glancing at Droy before looking at Gray again. “Why are we having dinner together?”

“I promised Cana I’d treat her to dinner today.” Gray rolled his eyes while his roommate simply smiled innocently. “I lost a game or something, I don’t even remember now.”

“Yeah?” the brunette raised an eyebrow.

Gray sighed, then complained at the other two guys. “See, I was having a peaceful night and doing homework and she just goes ‘Hey Gray, I’ll toss a coin and if it’s heads, I’ll treat you to dinner. Tails, you treat me.’ and I’m just like ‘Where did that come from?’, right?”

“Okay…?” Jet nodded, uncertain.

“But I was doing homework so I just said yes so that she’d shut up, and now here we are.”

Cana smiled in self-satisfaction as she ate her dinner.

“So why did we have to come with you?” Jet asked. Beside him, Droy was eating happily.

“Actually, we just dropped by to say hi to Mira but then we found you two in obvious distress.” Cana said. “And Gray wanted to take you along. Ask him.”

Gray was busy chewing his food and he simply shrugged.

Jet, putting down his spoon and fork, finally said, “We have a problem.”

“Oooh, ooooh~ Let me guess! Let me guess!” Cana said, grinning giddily. “Does this problem start with the word Levy?”

Jet looked at her pointedly while Droy nodded.

Gray was still busy eating. Cana took it upon herself to interrogate. “What happened?”

“Well, yesterday, I.. kinda shouted at her—”

“Kinda?” Droy repeated.

“Okay, I shouted at her. Droy wasn’t any better. He didn’t do anything—”

“Why would anyone shout at Levy?” Cana asked, exasperated.

“It’s about what happened with Phantom last time.” Droy answered. “She went with Gajeel to wherever that place is—”

“Gajeel’s old place.” Gray supplied.

“Yeah. There. It’s like… it’s like nothing happened, you know?” Jet said. “It’s like we were never hospitalized for close to a month. Now I know we should forgive and forget. Fine. That one time Droy and I ganged up on him was wrong. She got mad. I can understand that. Yeah, we weren’t any better. So… well, we forgave, okay? He’s one of us now and that’s fine now. But let’s not forget the fact that the guy’s still dangerous.”

Cana raised an eyebrow. “Dangerous how?”

Jet answered. “Well for one, there are still so many people who have grudges against him. He still gets into fights regularly, right? We know he doesn’t pick them, but that’s still pretty risky. And then last week, Levy went with him. Alone — just the two of them. It was pretty reckless on her part and she actually knew that they’ll be going to that place. She also knew that Phantom might be after them.”

Droy continued for his friend. “We’ve been telling her that she should… well… keep her distance until most of the ruckus has died down. She was telling us about how Gajeel’s her friend now and it helps him to be with all of us. We get it. We really do. But if she’s hanging around him all the time, with just the two of them outside school, we can’t help but worry because that’s usually when people go after him, you know? When he’s off school and in the town and mostly alone. Last week, she knew it would be dangerous and they both got lucky that Gajeel was able to handle the guys who took her. She should have told us before she went with him. Maybe we could’ve gone with them.”

“We would have gone with them.” Jet said more firmly. “So yesterday, when she told us about what happened… I couldn’t help but think that she was reckless and inconsiderate. Going in there knowing it was risky and not telling us about it. We didn’t even know what really happened until Cana told us yesterday morning. She was acting normal for the whole weekend.”

“When we asked her if she had gotten hurt, she just said that Gajeel managed to get them out fast. So we shouldn’t worry.” Droy sighed. “How could we not worry? What if Gajeel hadn’t been enough?”

“But he was. That’s what matters.” Gray finally spoke up. He had finished his meal.

Cana also nodded. “Yeah, it was kind of a dick move to shout at a girl who might be traumatized for all you know.”

The whole table fell silent for a while before Jet spoke up again. “But what if—”

Gray interrupted quickly. “I know. It makes me wanna kill all of Phantom when I think ‘What if Juvia or Cana or Lucy or Erza were alone that afternoon?’ — I know they’re fighters but there were nine armed guys. So you can’t tell me off for not worrying about the ’what-if’s.”

That made the other two guys stop.

“You should thank Gajeel.” Gray added.

“We know that. It’s just that if Levy hadn’t gone with him at all—”

“You can’t blame her for wanting to accompany the guy. This is Levy we’re talking about. She sticks with people if she thinks she can help. You should know that by now. She can’t help but want to help people.”

“And that gets her into trouble!” Droy insisted.

“We all get into trouble one way or another because we stick around each other.”


“You’re not her bodyguards.” Gray said, this time stern. “You guys are not eight anymore — she doesn’t need you two to look out for her every second. There are no bullies anymore. She’s gotten past that.”

They looked down. Cana, even after finishing her meal, also stayed silent.

“I get it, though.” Gray smiled, this time reassuringly. “Back in junior high, I used to punch the living daylights out of guys who were mean to Cana and it felt so damn good every single time.”

That made Cana laugh while the other two looked at Gray, surprised. After a while, Jet and Droy also started to laugh with the brunette. They remembered those days, especially the months when the rumors of Cana sleeping around spread. One could consider Natsu and Erza kind, because if Gray ever heard it directly from anyone, they got hell handed to them. Those were the days when other kids bullied Levy for being a nerd, too. Jet and Droy were never fighters but they drove the bullies away.

In high school, they all pretty much stuck to their circle of friends so there was less trouble. Cana and Levy in particular, the ones who had gone through rough junior high school years, got to be laidback and be normal students for once. The boys still got into brawls and fights but that was just their natural penchant for trouble.

It was true that over the years, the girls had needed less and less protecting. They really weren’t eight or ten or twelve anymore. In fact, on their first year of high school, Jet and Droy had a short falling out after they both decided to confess to Levy. Both were rejected, but for the sake of the girl they both cared so much about, the boys had also decided to resolve their differences. Of course the three of them could always stay friends. They cherished that. Jet and Droy still had a rivalry going on in between them, but they acknowledged that they both wanted the same thing — to make Levy happy. Although inside, both Jet and Droy knew that they wished that Levy had seen them as something more.

“How do you two do it?” Droy asked, after the laughter had died down. Cana and Gray looked at him. “Stay just best friends?”

Even Alzack and Bisca had crossed the boundaries. Natsu and Lucy still denied it, but they all knew that there was something there. That was why Jet and Droy thought it was okay to to fall for Levy. It was always bound to happen. They always thought that it was natural that when a guy and a girl were good friends — best of friends — they would see the other one as special. The rest would come after. The acknowledgement and the falling… Yes, not every love could be requited, but wasn’t it natural at some point or another—

“The question’s not ‘how do we do it’,” Cana said. “It’s ‘how do we undo it’ or something…”

Even Gray turned towards her.

The only girl in the group didn’t look back at her roommate and instead looked directly at Jet and Droy. “When we first started living together, I always thought, ‘Hey, why don’t I marry this guy when I grow up?’”

“Seriously?” Gray asked, narrowing his eyes at her suspiciously.

“Yes!” Cana said, as if it was the most natural thing for her. She grabbed the guy’s face and looked at their two companions. “I mean, look at him, guys — he’s hot, right? Good genes. And he doesn’t treat me like a piece of shit and he loves me and he cooks better eggs and hotdogs than me, and to top it all off, he brings money home! Plus he has no problems getting naked.”

“You’re creeping me out.” Gray said, although he didn’t pull his face away. “Is she creeping you out?” The other guys nodded.

Cana finally let go of her best friend’s face and shrugged. “Then well, I realized that… ewww, it’s Gray! He’s basically me but without boobs and with that thing down there that’s not my thing down here. You get me?”

“No.” — they all answered.

“It’s a prolonged exposure kind of thing, I guess.” she tried explaining again. “We’re so young and we spent so much time together — heck, we’re basically playing house — that I couldn’t imagine leaving him, you know? It’s like I always think… who will cook the eggs? Because I can’t cook eggs to save my life.”

“She can’t crack the shell.” Gray explained. “It’s almost sad.”

Cana ignored him. “It’s just that. I’ll be really sad without him because he’s kind to me and he makes me feel… well, at home. So I always think that maybe I’ll just follow him around for a long time. Like, maybe forever. Who wouldn’t want to feel safe forever, right? And then we had this fight one time and after that, I don’t want to marry him anymore. It’s weird.”

“You’re confusing them.” Gray sighed.

“Well, can you explain how we’re still best friends?”

“Um…” Gray started. “So… how am I still friends with Cana, huh? Um…”

“See?” Cana said, before continuing. “And it’s true — one day I just stopped… was it being in love with you? I don’t even know, but yeah, one day it just kind of stopped happening. I think I just realized that I just don’t want my best friend to leave because it feels good having him. Because he’s like this blanket of protection on me. Then I realize—”

“You realized so many things—”

“Shut up. So, I realized that even if we leave each other, it’s not like I’m losing him or anything. I think by that time it finally struck me that he’s not a friend for me anymore—”

“You’re in love with him already!” Jet said, guessing confidently.

“No. He’s family.” Cana answered firmly. “That. And I thought one day I’d like to watch him get married and change diapers and mess up and stuff like that — and I’ll bring popcorn and enjoy because it’ll be hilarious.”

Both guys turned to Gray for his reaction.

Gray frowned. “I thought I told you to drink after dinner.”

“I’m not drunk.”

“Figures. You sound better when you’re drunk.”

“I was trying to explain.”

“You’re embarrassing.”

“You try.”

“Uhhh…” Gray started again. “Well, yeah. Well, I never thought of dating or marrying her—”

Cana huffed. “Wow, really?”

Gray gave up easily on that one. “Okay, I did. She’s cool—”


Gray simply shook his head and covered the brunette’s mouth with his hand and continued, “She bullies me every damn time and bosses me around, okay? This… creature… looks very pretty and cute — did I just say that? — but yeah, she’s pretty and all… but she’s evil. There, I said it.” He withdrew his hand when Cana stopped struggling. “I know why you guys would fall for Levy. She’s wonderful and she’s basically an angel, yeah? But Cana’s different. Evil.”

“You’re an ice king.” Cana declared.

“Well, she has her redeeming factors, but she drinks and she stinks when she drinks and is really just pure evil—”

“Oh come on.”

“But it’s just the same with me. The prolonged exposure thing. Too much time together that I almost thought it wouldn’t be so bad if we stayed like that always, or if we step it up from the best friends level—”

“But he fell for Erza—”

“Yeah, that was one month — get over it!”

Cana stage-whispered. “He kept it really well-hidden—”

“Then,” he emphasized, interrupting the young woman. “Then, it was you. Didn’t know that, did you?”

Cana huffed again. Yes, she didn’t know that indeed.

“The fight she mentioned earlier, I remember telling her that she sucked and that I didn’t want to see her again. To be fair, she told me the same thing. It started when she told me to stop looking out for her because she could stand by herself and shit. The ‘I am an independent woman’ speech. She told me she could live without me. You know, that hurt.”

“You told me I was being difficult so I told you leave me alone to deal with my difficult self. Duh.”

“And then we hated each other for like 2 days but we couldn’t take it so I brought her a stuffed bunny and she cooked me dinner. Those fried eggs had so much eggshell you’d think she just dumped the whole egg in the frying pan and let it cook itself… But yeah. Those times when I thought I’d like to be with her always was just me feeling good about having her near me. And she’s right. That’s because… by then we’re family. Get me?”

“No.” — both Jet and Droy answered.

Gray attempted a simpler statement. “It’s the same as her. It feels really good to have someone to always fall back on. That’s what we have, I guess.”

“So that’s it?” Jet asked. “There was a period when… when you both considered each other but it just stopped?”

“Separate periods.” Cana added.

“What if it happened at the same time?”

That made Cana and Gray look at each other and then back at their plates, thinking.

After a few moments, they both simply chuckled at their friends.

“What?” Droy asked.

“I don’t know.” Gray said, smiling uneasily.

“Same.” Cana scratched the back of her head. “It would’ve been awkward.”

Gray nodded. “With plenty of plate throwing and stuff.”

“It would’ve worked though, would it?” Jet insisted. “The two of you?”

“Well, we’ve done the living with each other part, so maybe yes. Most probably yes.” Cana shrugged. “Still, though… it would be like…”

“Like dating my twin sister.” Gray said. Among his closest female friends, he had always considered Erza as sort of a big sister, Lucy and Levy as his little sisters, and Cana as his annoying twin. “And nobody tell Juvia about this conversation or she’ll be out for blood.”

“So that really is it. It just fades.” Jet said, still confused. “But we never felt like Levy was our twin sister. Little sister, maybe. From the start, I just thought that I would like to take care of her and protect her because she’s kind and—”

“Of course it’s different with you guys. We’re not a template or anything.” Cana said, smiling amusedly. “And I get it, she’s perfect, right? Kind, loving and smart with all that fragile little angel stuff. If I was a guy I’d pretty much consider her ideal, too.”

“Are you guys still content being just her best friends?” Gray asked.

“Of course we still want her to see us differently. Like you said, step up from the best friends level. May the best guy win and all that.” Droy said, looking down sadly. “But we got used to the friendzone, I guess. We’re still lucky that there’s no awkwardness between the three of us. We can live with being just her friends and protector… It’s just-… We had that place secure and—”

“—and now she’s trusting Gajeel too much and she feels perfectly comfortable with him… I just… I somehow feel like I’ve been replaced.” Jet sighed. “Not going to blame her though, the guy’s stronger than the two of us combined and—”

“She’s not replacing you.” Gray said quickly.

“But I just can’t help but feel—”

“You’re not her bodyguards, you know.” Cana said. “There, that’s the second time that’s been brought out. See, if you ask her, she’ll say you’re her best friends. You always have been. Maybe she’ll say that you two protect her, but she won’t say you’re her bodyguards. You’ll always be her best friends.”

Jet and Droy both looked down repentantly, as if they had been scolded. That’s pretty much what happened, anyway — Cana and Gray were both scolding them.

“So what happened yesterday, really? After you shouted at her? How did she react?” Gray asked, this time more curious than accusing.

“She ran away.”

“And? Did you get to talk to her at all after that?” Cana said, brows furrowed. She wasn’t in the same class as Levy so she didn’t have a clue as to how the blunette was doing.

Droy answered. “We haven’t talked to her yet. That’s why we were thinking of asking you.”

“Well, good job, guys. She’s pretending to be fine. The girls don’t even know about it.” Gray said.

“Even Lucy?” Jet asked. Lucy was like Levy’s third best friend. They were both bookworms and they were in the same class. Lucy should have been Levy’s confidante…

“Even Lucy.” the raven-head nodded.

“But they’re her friends. Levy always tells us her problems—”

Gray shrugged and very bluntly said, “Lucy’s not you two.”

Before the two guys could react, Gray’s phone alerted him of a message and he checked it.

“Crap. I almost forgot I have to pick something up at the Pegasus.” he said. He quickly checked his things and then looked at his friends. “Good luck, men. I have to go.”

“Thanks, dude.” Jet said, sending a grateful smile at Gray.

“No problem.”

Cana also pat down her skirt and moved to follow her roommate. She ruffled Jet’s hair and winked at the two. “See you tomorrow!”

They nodded. After taking her first few steps, Cana heard Droy’s remark: “We really shouldn’t have shouted at her—”

“What’re you talking about?” Cana asked loudly, making them look back at her. “She was reckless and a tiny bit inconsiderate. That scolding was the right thing to do.”

“Then what—”

“It just sucks that you didn’t try to comfort her after. That’s probably why she thinks you’re angry.”

“Cana!” Gray called, already by the restaurant doorway.

“Coming!” the brunette said, pouting. She waved at the other two before running after Gray.

Jet and Droy looked at each other, blinked and then looked back into their plates.

Jet cleared his throat. “That was… weird.”

Droy nodded. “I know we always say this about Natsu and Lucy… but Gray and Cana are insane, too.”

“Think about it, I can’t imagine them dating.”

“It would be funny.”


“So what do we do now?”

“We apologize.”

“You’re calling her now?”

“…No, I’m making a speech tonight and then I’ll say sorry to her tomorrow.”

“Why tomorrow?”

“’Cause I still don’t know what to say and I might ruin things. So I better make a cheatsheet.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Jet was a runner. He loved running, and he was the fastest in their group. Natsu was the ace of the track team because he was the one with the loud personality and the charisma that carried the team together, but Jet was the fastest and most efficient member of the team. Everyone knew that. The time that Natsu got kicked out from the team was also the period that Jet, Droy and Levy spent in the hospital. Jet had returned to the team for that year, but in their senior year, he had transferred to the computer club. It was his second hobby — and the career path that he was intent on taking.He was never a fighter. He always preferred to outrun the other kids he got into fights with, or the bigger kids who bullied him.

He only ever stopped running when Levy was involved. Instead, he always took a step forward, standing protectively in front of the little blunette. Levy and Droy were both soft-spoken and gentle people — he was the one with the brave streak. He always thought that he had to be their protector.

He had been their protector until the day he wasn’t — when Levy had bloomed from a timid girl to a smart and confident model student, and when Droy turned from being the socially-awkward lanky kid to a terrifyingly normal teenager.

One day, though, he found himself the one behind Levy. Gajeel of Phantom Lord gang had picked her up by the collar of her uniform and she said, “Do your worst — just please leave them alone.”

Jet had thought, when Gajeel let go of the girl as if she was a ragdoll and picked him up instead, that maybe the guy would just have her watch. Maybe the “Iron Dragon” would beat him and Droy up and make Levy watch because that’s what she pleaded — ‘Leave them alone’ — just how much satisfaction would it bring the guy to do the opposite of what was begged of him?

Instead, Gajeel punched and kicked the smaller young man in the gut andrendered him unable to stand up, and did what was asked of him. He did his worst. Jet had to watch as Droy went next.

Roughly a year later, Jet had forgiven Gajeel — the times were hard and there must be reasons behind what the raven-head had done to his friends. Besides, the guy was one of them now. They all played fair. They gave the guy a second chance and so far Gajeel was proving his worth.

It was just that it had been long since Jet had protected either Levy or Droy. And that one time he should have stood protectively in front of them and taken the beatings, he failed.

He could not help but think that that was the reason why Levy didn’t need his protection anymore. He wouldn’t be able to give it, anyway.

Droy’s family owned a flower shop. He always prided himself on the fact that on Levy’s birthdays, Jet was never able to beat Droy on the flowers department. He gave their girl the best.He was an awkward kid. He got depressed easily and ate a lot when he got depressed. It took some time before he grew social skills and managed to be one of the “normal” kids in their circle. With all the colorful characters of his friends, he knew he should at least bring some normalcy in.

If Jet was the shield that fought back, Droy was the shield that stayed and didin’t budge. Jet might shout back at the bullies, but Droy would just stand firm and attempt to be strong.

He didn’t run like Jet. He didn’tfight back like Jet, either. He just stood. Firm. As if he was rooted to the ground, as if he was one of the many trees and plants he knew so much about.

He laid on the ground with Jet when Levy was being beaten up by Gajeel. He watched as Jet pounded on the guy’s leg, cursing at him to stop, almost begging for the raven-head to put Levy down and just deal with him.

‘It’s amazing’, he thought then. ‘Jet can still move.’ Droy couldn’t. Droy just laid there. And as he was getting beaten up, Jet shouted his name.

Jet was the protector. Droy was just the unecessary middle wall. Walls crumble. He wasn’t about to offer his protection when he was bound to break down as well. So maybe it was really about time that he accepted the fact that Levy would never see him as her protector. It was about time he accepted the fact that he was never really her “bodyguard”, even when as kids, the three of them playing pretend made it sound real enough.

It didn’t change the fact that she was special, and most probably she thought he was special too. That was the way Levy grew to view people over time. They were all special — and she loved them all.

Droy just had to get used to being one of the ‘all’.

“How did you know that they had a problem with Levy?”Gray looked up from his homework to stare at his roommate. Cana laid on the couch, drinking what looked like her fifteenth can of beer while watching TV. He shrugged and looked back down at his notebook, answering, “I guessed.”

Cana was unconvinced. “You didn’t. You’re a dense idiot. Something must have given it away. Did she tell you?”

Gray shook his head. “I walked her home after what happened last week.”

“Mm-hm.” the brunette said, nodding. She remembered that. She stayed with Gildarts on the station while Gray walked Levy home as per the cop’s request.

“On the way, she talked about how scary it was.” Gray stopped writing and simply stared at his notes blankly. “She told me that she and Gajeel had to pick up a notebook he forgot in there last time. I got her point. Then she said that she didn’t know how to tell Jet and Droy.”

“She knew, huh.”

“She knew they’d be furious if they knew. I told her we could keep it a secret and I could talk to the others if she needed me to, but Levy just told me that she doesn’t keep secrets from her best friends.”

Cana smiled lightly, taking another swig of her beer.

Gray shrugged and touched his pen to his notebook again. With his concentration on the homework broken, he started doodling absently on the corner of the paper. He spoke up again, still drawing. “You know what hit me most about that?”


“Levy told me she wished Jet and Droy were with her.”

He remembered the blunette’s exact words — ‘It was crazy. Gajeel was holding me, and I felt safe but I was very very afraid and even when I was holding on to him, I couldn’t help but want to scream for help and… well, I wanted to call Jet and Droy. Because I was so scared. And I know they wouldn’t always be there so I should stop being so dependent, but the fact is they really always have been. I think that was the first time they weren’t there and even when I knew that Gajeel would keep me safe, it’s just different. With those two… there’s just something extra, you know?’

Gray remembered telling Levy that he could drop her off at Jet’s or Droy’s if she wanted to see them, but she was too shy to do so. She said they’d surely be mad at her and she must have worried her parents enough. In the end he ended up having dinner with her family before heading on home.

“So when we asked her about Droy at school a while ago and she was uneasy, I knew something must’ve gone wrong.” Gray finished. “But then that always happens. Friends fight.”

“It sucks to see them fight, though.”




“You really should teach me how to cook eggs before you go.”

He blinked, his hand stopping abruptly as he looked up at Cana again. “Go where?”


“I’m not going away—”

“You are.”

“You’re drunk.”

“You’re naked.”

“I can put clothes on and you’ll still be drunk.”

“Yeah. I’m drunk. That’s why I sound good. Haha…” Cana laughed sleepily, burying her face in her pillow. Then she sang, “M’gonna miss ’ya when you’re gone…”

Gray sighed, going back to his homework. “Yeah, right.”

“No, really.”

“Where do you think I’m going, anyway?”

Cana pouted. “Does that matter? Away.” She took another swig of beer and sighed. “And I’m staying here.”

“What are you talking about?”

He was left with silence. Gray focused on his work to let his roommate think, scratching his head for a while when he realized that he had drawn a rough sketch of Juvia on a corner of his math homework. ‘To hell with it.’ he thought, letting the drawing stay. After a few minutes, he heard light snoring.

The raven-head looked at the young woman on the couch and saw that the brunette was fast asleep, holding loosely on to a half-empty can of beer.

He groaned, rubbing his temples. “Goddammit, I’m gonna have to carry you to your bed again.”

He did not mind, though. He would just tuck her to bed whenever she needed it. He would do it while he still can, because she was right. He was going away soon.

The next day, Gray and Natsu watched in boredom as the girls once again gushed over what Erza was saying.“..So then, when he came over, he… h-he had a new phone charm with him. I didn’t even t-t-tell him that… that I… I wanted a new one but he just.. well he b-b-b-bought it already and I had no choice but to… to accept it, y-y-you know—”

“Let us see! Let us see!” Juvia and Lucy were gripping each other’s hands while promptly ignoring their lunch, while Natsu and Gray looked at them warily.

Erza blushingly took out her phone. In place of what used to be the red rose charm was almost an exact replica of it. Keyword: almost.

“Oh my gosh.” Lucy said.

“What your gosh?” Natsu asked, squinting to see anything strange with the item. It really was the same one, except…

“He said he couldn’t find red ones anymore, so—”

“It’s the exact color of Jellal-san’s hair!” Juvia squealed, almost melting against the blonde. Lucy held her tightly and squealed with her. Gray and Natsu inched away, busy chewing their food and protecting their eardrums.

“That’s so sweet!”

“Erza-san is so lucky!”

“What did you tell him? What did you tell him?”

Erza was blushing as she answered. “Uh… Of course I-… I thanked him! What e-else should I have s-s-said?!”

“You should have kissed him!” Lucy practically shouted, which made Natsu and Gray both choke on their food.

Erza blushed brighter and she scolded her friend. “L-LUCY!”

Juvia sighed dreamily, even ignoring how, beside her, Gray was choking to death and was gesturing frantically for water.

The moment was interrupted when they heard a knock by the classroom doorway. The group turned, finding Jet and Droy standing by the door tentatively.

The boys did not need to say anything. All five gathered for lunch automatically turned their heads to look around the room, towards the direction of a certain person’s desk.

Levy was nowhere to be found. Gray gave Jet and Droy a meaningful look, while Erza answered for the group. “Levy hasn’t come back since she went out when lunch started.”

“You guys know where she went?” Jet asked.

Erza shook her head.

“Okay. Thanks, guys.” Droy said, waving at his friends, who all nodded at them. Jet and Droy left. Lucy and Juvia resumed interrogating Erza, while Natsu and Gray started eating again, more cautiously this time.

Jet and Droy trudged back to their classroom, sighing heavily.

“She’s not there. Let’s look for her again after classes?”

“Do you think she’ll pay attention to us?”

“We just need to ask for a chance to talk to her.”

“You think we should’ve waited for her on their classroom?”

“I don’t know, man.”

As soon as they got back to their classroom, they found a minor commotion on one corner of the classroom. Cana had decided to sit on Mystogan’s desk, showing off the sleight-of-hand card tricks she would use for her role as a gypsy fortuneteller back in the cultural festival. The brunette had somehow convinced Mysto to be her assistant while Laki, Bisca and Gajeel were her audience.

Not missing the opportunity, Jet stepped inside the classroom and called their classmate. “Hey, Gajeel.”

Gajeel turned to look towards them and answered in his typical gruff way, “What?”

Jet cocked his head to indicate that they should talk outside. Gajeel frowned, but remained complacent and quickly excused himself from the group. Cana glanced shortly at them before turning back towards Laki and Bisca.

As soon as all of them were outside the room and in the relatively empty hallways, Jet sighed. “Look, man—”

Gajeel cut him off automatically. “I’m sorry I took her out there. I knew it was dangerous but she insisted and I thought I’d be enough but we almost didn’t make it out. I shouldn’t have given in when she used her smart-ass puppy eyes. It’s on me. Don’t get mad at her.” He said all that in one breath, voice rough and monotonous, as if his answer was the only answer to a very common question.

Jet and Droy stared at FairyGaku’s Iron Dragon, both of them dumbfounded. Gajeel — Gajeel Redfox — just apologized to them and asked them to put all the blame on him… and they didn’t even ask for it.

“Uh—” Jet started. It all got so awkward all of a sudden. “Actually… uh…”

“…Thanks.” Droy managed. “For… err, getting her out of there safe.”

Gajeel shrugged. “Don’t take it personally. I did it because everyone would’ve killed me otherwise.”

“Yeah.” Jet said, chuckling. “Actually, we just meant to ask you… um… if you know where Levy is?”

Gajeel blinked at them. “What?”

Droy repeated for them both. “Do you know where Levy is?”

That only seemed to confuse Gajeel more. “What, like, where she is right now?”


“What the hell, why’re you askin’ me?”

Jet knew that they were just taking chances, but he still pushed through with it. “Well…”

The raven-head shrugged at them. “Isn’t that your job? To know her best?”

Jet and Droy stopped, unable to think of what to say next.


They were supposed to know.

They were Levy’s boys — her best friends. They were a trio, despite many school years of being from different classes, the three of them were the closest to each other.

So why were they asking other people?

Why where they doubting themselves and how much they knew Levy?

Just then, the three heard a call from inside the classroom. “Hey, Gajeel, we need you back here!”

Gajeel looked at them both again. “Well, uh, come back if you wanna know something about Juvia. I can deal with that.” Without another word, Gajeel went back to the room, leaving Jet and Droy staring after him.

“So,” Droy started. “We’re stupid.”

Jet looked at his friend. “Yeah. Very stupid.”

Of course they should have known.

They knew Levy best, after all.

In perfect sync, they simply declared, “She’s definitely in the library.”

“Levy?”The blunette looked up when a familiar voice called her name. She had been writing down on her new reviewer, using several textbooks along with Lucy’s notes as reference.

She put down her pen when she saw Jet and Droy standing by a nearby bookshelf.

“Can we… talk?”

Levy swallowed. “Jet—”

Droy was quick to step forward and back his friend up. “Give us five minutes?”

Levy attempted a nervous smile, then nodded. Both boys sat themselves across the table. Levy looked down at her notebook, avoiding their looks.

Jet and Droy looked at each other shortly before Jet cleared his throat and said, “We’re sorry.”

Levy quickly looked up and shook her head. “No, it was really my fault. I get it—”

“I’m not sorry I shouted at you.” Jet interrupted. He always was gentle with Levy, but there were times when there was no other way to put things. “I’m glad I got all of that out.”

“Then what—”

“I’m sorry I didn’t try to make you feel better after what happened.” Jet said.

Levy looked from him, and then turned to Droy, who scratched the back of his head. Droy said, “I’m sorry I was too focused on wanting to protect you that I couldn’t be the friend you needed when it really mattered…”

Jet also nodded. “What he said.”

“But you didn’t do anything wrong. I… I…”

They watched as their best friend — the girl they both cared most about — slowly tear up. Levy laughed shakily, trying to wipe her tears with her hands.

“Levy…” Droy called out, almost reaching out to ruffle the girl’s hair comfortingly. Jet struggled to take out his handkerchief.

“I… I feel so bad…” Levy sniffed.

“Why?” Jet asked.

“That day I was so scared and more than anything I just wanted you two to be there and… and I know it’s my fault for not telling you… and you care so much about me I felt so bad because I just… I just knew that if you were there you would have gotten hurt and yet I really really just wanted you to be there-… I was just so scared-… And I knew I shouldn’t have come at all, made you guys worry and all that-… So sorry…”

That was really all they needed. They had to hear from her that she still needed them.

Cana and Gray had mentioned that having a best friend was like having a security blanket: someone to fall back on. Whatever it was that made them almost cross the line they drew, it was just the need to always have that comfort and security with them.

What Jet and Droy asked was “So it just fades?” — and Cana and Gray simply shrugged and said “Yes, it does.”

Jet and Droy forgot to ask where the fading ends, but they didn’t need that now. They were different. They weren’t following a template. For Cana and Gray, the next level from being the best of friends was being a family. They were both orphans in a sense and they found home in each other. Same went for Juvia and Gajeel. They’d gone through similar struggles and had to stick together to stay strong. Juvia gave Gajeel a place to call home and in turn Gajeel held her dear to him. That was how they worked. For Alzack and Bisca, they fell in love because they complimented each other in a way nobody ever could. They balanced each other out and in that way they both became a half of a whole. How Lucy and Natsu saw each other was still a mystery for almost everyone, but it was clear that they made each other happy and feel really comfortable together — and all of them were yet to see what would come from that.

It was all very different. It was like Jet’s and Droy’s “computer club stuff”. When they coded a program, the flow of everything depended on input, process and output. There can be more than one output from a single input, all depending on what happened in the in-betweens. It was all in the transitions — the fading from one process to another.

Maybe their romantic feelings for Levy would fade someday, but the fading would surely just end at a dull, silent assurance. By the end of it all, they would know that they’d gone through toomuch as to let conflictingfeelings break their friendship. They would always be best of friends. They wouldn’t have to ask. That’s what being someone’s best friend meant — you just know when to give. Most of all, when to shout — because this was stupid and that was reckless and do you know how worried I was?

Maybe someday Jet and Droy would accept that they would always be just best friends — that they might all go separate ways and not be able to talk to or see each other as much as they used to.

But they would always know that somewhere, sometime, when they get to see each other again, things wouldn’t change that much. Jet would still be their protector, Droy would still be their firm shield, and Levy would still be the girl they grown to care about so much.

Jet finally managed to offer her his handkerchief. Levy accepted gratefully, sniffing.

“You’re such a drama queen.” Droy said.

“I know! I don’t know why you guys put up with me.” Levy laughed, wiping her tears with the hanky. “I’m sorry for being a crybaby.”

“It’s okay.” Jet smiled. “It gives us an excuse to dote over you again. You hardly need us these days—”

“Shut up, I’ll always need you.” she rubbed her eyes and sniffed one last time. “You’re my boys.”

“Are we okay now?” Droy asked, smiling hopefully.

Levy laughed. It sounded like geniune happiness and Jet and Droy could not help but smile.

“I can’t say ‘no’ to you two, anyway. Not after all that.” the blunette said.

They were only interrupted by the ring of the bell. All three of them were running late for their respective classes, but they were laughing carelessly because everything was fine.

That afternoon, for the first time in a long time, the three of them walked home together.

Chapter Notes:

Cana is my spirit animal. Hands down. The girl knows how to give good advice. The girl knows how the world works and will solve all of our existential crises.

Plus, it’s always good to see Team Natsu being Team Natsu.

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