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 17
Still Into You


…aka “Erik Hears Voices” / “Jellal the Brave pt.2”

Chapter Notes:

Surpriiiiise~! Okay, it’s late again. I suck at this updating on time business and I even put it as a New Year’s Resolution.

I know that most manga readers are still under a meltdown right now from the latest chapter. This got delayed because I had to add some details and because I was trying to cheer myself up…

But mostly because I couldn’t quite get AU!Cobra and AU!Kinana right. But y’know what, Cobra is a jerk but he’s freakin’ downright honest and sweet when it comes down to it and I worked around that.

So here. This chapter has alive and happy Ultear, alive and happy Jellal, happy Erza, happy Cobra, happy Kinana and most importantly happy cheerful bouncing bubbly Meredy. Because Mashima won’t give my pink princess a break, and pretty much uses Jerza as a chew toy. So screw it we’re gonna write them all happy and alive.

FYI. A more fitting alternate title for this chapter is ‘ERIK PLS’ and ‘LOL U OK JELLY’ — because they’re both dorks.

Track 17: Still Into You
…aka “Erik Hears Voices” / “Jellal the Brave pt.2”

“I should be over all the butterflies, but I’m into you.
And baby even on our worst nights, I’m into you.
Let ’em wonder how we got this far
’cause I don’t really need to wonder at all.
Yeah, after all this time — I’m still into you.”
— Paramore


The student council office of Sorciere Academy, like any normal school club room, was bustling with activity after school.His usual work was going normally, Jellal thought. At least as normal as it could get, as he leafed through pages of paperwork about the student council funds, while very consistently ignoring the occasional glare that their vice president sent him.

He knew that by now, he should be used by Kagura’s hostility towards his existence but Jellal really couldn’t help but grow uncomfortable after an hour of minute accusatory staring towards his direction.

Meanwhile, the other members of the student council were either buried in their own paperwork, or doing their homework. Jellal turned to Ultear, reading through a thick review book using one hand while Meredy painted her nails on the other. Ultear noticed his look and raised an eyebrow. Jellal tilted his head on Kagura’s direction as discreetly as he could.

The president rolled her eyes and finally announced, “Kagura, we would all appreciate it if you stop sending murderous signals in Jellal’s general direction.”

Kagura didn’t say anything, but she went back to what she was supposed to be doing.

Jellal could then breathe a little easier.

Their afterschool work went on as usual: peacefully.

That was short-lived, however, as the door was slammed open and the familiar figure of Sorciere’s resident delinquent student stood by the doorway. He was wearing the standard Sorciere uniform with the vest unbuttoned, his black undershirt visible. He had his hands on his pockets as he stood high and mighty before the student council. He looked around the room and immediately set his sights on Jellal.

The blue-haired young man instantly began thinking of whatever he had done to offend the other guy in any way, shape or form.

“Cobra, those hinges will finally give up one day and we’ll make you pay for the repairs.” Ultear said nonchalantly, eyes still on her book. “You might want to teach yourself how to use the doorknob.”

The delinquent rolled his eyes and shrugged the warning off. “Yeah, yeah whatever.”

“I thought you were suspended.” Meredy said conversationally. She was, like Ultear, unruffled by the violent student who barged in their office.

“That was last week. Aren’t you guys supposed to know that shit?”

The secretary beamed cheerfully at him. “Oh, you’re always suspended and it’s hard to keep track so we just generally ignore you.”

Everyone else with the exception of Ultear and Kagura gaped at the secretary’s reply, but Cobra simply said, “Yeah, that saves you trouble. Keep at it.”

Meredy returned to painting Ultear’s nails as the delinquent walked in and slumped himself on the chair across Jellal’s. He looked at the other student council members cowering in fear and said, “Everybody get out. I’m havin’ a talk with pretty boy here.”

“Don’t be rude.” Ultear scolded mildly.

Cobra snorted. “Fine, I’m havin’ a talk with pretty boy here and y’all should get out or you’re dead, but the president may stay.”

“Still rude.” Meredy commented.

“The president and the cute pink girl.” then he turned to Kagura. “You wanna demand, too?”

Kagura huffed and piled her papers neatly before standing up and getting her bag. “I’m going home.”

“You heard him.” Ultear announced to the rest of her staff. “Don’t worry, you can just take your work home or leave it there and continue tomorrow. Good job today, guys.”

One by one the rest of the council filed out, all of them thanking their president for her graceful handling of the situation. Ultear gave Kagura a dismissive wave as the young woman got out last and closed the door behind her.

Jellal was sweating in his seat and praying fervently that Ultear will handle their guest. She knew that he was no good with the more… violent students, after all.

Instead of handling the situation, though, Ultear simply shrugged and said, “Go on, pretend we’re not here.”

Cobra grunted and then turned to the only other guy in the room. Jellal tensed and avoided his gaze.

“So you’re Titania’s boyfriend.” Cobra started with that.

Jellal quickly raised a hand to correct him. “No—”

“Yes.” came from both Ultear and Meredy, who didn’t even look up from their manicure session.

“Good.” Cobra said, while Jellal leaned back in his chair and sighed hopelessly.

Jellal prayed that Cobra wasn’t one of Erza’s sworn enemies (though he has heard some passing stories about Cobra and his friends clashing badly with Natsu and co.) because he didn’t want to be hostaged for that. He also prayed that Cobra wasn’t one of Erza’s admirers because the ones who knew his relationship with her were all too eager to send nasty glances his way. There were a dozen other possibilities, but Jellal just wished that their ‘guest’ didn’t come to beat him up. Granted, he wasn’t a coward, but he never liked fighting…

When Cobra opened his mouth to speak, Jellal braced himself.

“If you invite a girl to go out with you on a date and time you know she’s available and she declines and won’t tell you why, and she’s never ever done that before, EVER, because she always tells me why — does that mean she hates you or she’s mad at you or something?”

The room fell silent and his three companions stared at him blankly.

He looked back at them, face obviously trying to be smug. “What?”

Ultear cleared her throat and withdrew her hand from Meredy’s hold, catching her companions’ attentions. She blew on her nails for a bit before feigning nonchalance as she asked, “Does she know she’s your girlfriend?”

Jellal gaped when Cobra shrugged and answered, “No, but she’s as good as.”

“It’s really rude to assume.” Meredy said, capping the little bottle of nail polish.

“Well, okay. No.”

Jellal finally decided to speak. “Wait, was that question directed to… me?”

“Yeah, who else?”

“Why me?”

“’Cause Titania has rejected every male on the planet except you, so you must be good at… these… stuff.”

“By stuff, you mean..?”

“Understanding how girl logic works?”

“We’re right here.” Meredy chimed in.

Jellal agreed with that. “They’re right there.”

Cobra turned to the girls. “You said to pretend you’re not.”

“No way, this is too good to pass up.” Ultear stood up and pulled up a chair to sit beside Jellal, while Meredy also headed over to them and promptly sat herself on the desk.

Cobra stared at them and then looked at the other guy. “Seriously, how do you deal with them?”

“I don’t know.” Jellal sighed, defeated, burying his head in his hands. “And you misunderstand, Erza is just a close friend…”

“He says that everytime.” Meredy supplied, as if correcting a common mistake.

Cobra raised an eyebrow. “So… what? D’you guys think she’s mad at me?”

“Let’s set this straight.” Ultear said. “You said she declined?”


Meredy asked, “Has she ever done that before?”

“Yeah, but she tells me why. Family outing, a date with her girlfriends, projects, part-time job…”

“This time she didn’t tell you?” the pinkette continued her inquiry.

“Not a word. She just said she couldn’t come. That’s it.” Cobra grumbled, then took out his phone and started tapping. “She wasn’t answering my call so I left a voice mail, then she replied that she ain’t comin’. She always answers, though. Or calls back. And tells me stuff. She talks a lot, and I mean REALLY a lot. Tells me everythin’, really. Tells me why she couldn’t come-… Why are y’all lookin’ at me like that?”

The three looked at him for a while before exchanging looks before shrugging and saying all at once:

“She’s mad at you.” — Meredy.

“What did you do?” — Ultear.

“Maybe she’s just too busy.” — Jellal.

The girls looked at him in disappointment.

“What?” he asked, clueless.

“But I must say,” Ultear turned towards Cobra again, crossing her arms across her chest. “I didn’t know you had a… special girl, Cobra.”

He snorted and looked away. “I thought you knew everything.”

“My sources catch most things, yes.” the student council president said, proudly. “But not everything. So! Who is she?”

Before he could help himself, Jellal had said, “Don’t tell them, they won’t leave you alone ever again.”

Everyone then looked at the blue-haired young man. Jellal would curse himself for launching headfirst heroically but it was too late. The girls had looked at him in disappointment AND frustration.

“I’m going to have you face the wall for 30 minutes.” Ultear warned. “So cooperate.”

“Jelly, stop being a killjoy!” Meredy complained, then turned to Cobra to assure him, “Don’t worry, he’s just paranoid.”

“You guys are psychos. You know that, right?” Cobra commented.

“We don’t have problems, but you do. You know that, right?” Ultear shot back.

The young man simply groaned, leaning back against his seat. He knew he shouldn’t have trusted those two girls. But then, he kinda owed them for the couple of times they saved his ass from suspension and insisted that some mandatory services around campus will do. It was never a good thing for the student council to let students face suspension because that always meant that they didn’t do a good enough job of keeping everyone in check.

“Fine.” he grumbled.

“Who’s this girl?”

“I don’t want to tell you.”

“Okay, but at least tell us some details. Is she a student? Is she one of ours?”

“She’s from FairyGaku.”

“Ohhh…” Meredy said, leaning closer. “Do we know her?”

“How the hell would I know if you know her?”

“Does Jelly know her, then? That’s why you’re askin’ him?”

Cobra looked shortly at the blue-haired young man, who blinked at him, then looked back at the pinkette. “I think so.”

Jellal quickly did a tally of his female acquaintances in FairyGaku. Well, there was, first and foremost — Erza. Then, her closest friends: Lucy (might explain why he hates Natsu, but Cobra did say that she talks to him all the time, so maybe not the blonde?), Levy (but as far as Jellal knew she already had two guy best friends), Juvia (has Gray. Period.), Cana (maybe? She seemed like someone who never stopped talking, drunk or otherwise.)… Mystogan’s classmates Bisca (has a boyfriend) and Laki (not much info)… That was about every girl from FairyGaku that Jellal knew…

“But hey, don’t think too much about it.” Cobra quickly said. “Just… help me think up of what to do now.”

“Well, what do you really want to do?” Meredy asked.

“I just want to know what’s up and why she’s keeping stuff from me.”

“Everyone has a secret or two. Or maybe it’s just too private.” the girl said. “Or maybe she’s just shy, or… or she’s not ready to tell you yet. There are countless reasons—”

“But maybe,” Ultear said, smiling a small sly smile. “We could narrow those reasons down if we knew her — you know, it’d be easier if we knew what kind of girl she is.”

“She’s…” Cobra started, glancing at Jellal who shook his head cautiously, practically screaming ‘NO DON’T TELL YOU’LL REGRET IT’, and then looked back at the girls. “…cute?”

They rolled their eyes heavenwards before Meredy facepalmed and Ultear rubbed her own aching temples.

“Elaborate.” Ultear said, trying to sound patient but obviously failing.

“She’s… quiet, most of the time, but she talks a lot when she’s with me. She has many friends, though, and they’re all noisy. She… works hard, I guess. ’Cause she has a part-time job and all. She’s kinda clumsy and shy around most people, easily scared and and is really really helpless — she got bullied a lot back then.”

Meredy was back as the interviewer: “She’s a childhood friend?”

Cobra shrugged. “Not really, she’s more of a… clingy little kid that I keep around.”

“She’s younger than you?”

“She’s a freshman.”

The girls made a show of shrieking in mock surprise.

He quickly added, “It’s just a three-year gap!”

The girls were giggling by then. Ultear still managed to taunt him, “D-D-Does she call you sempai?”

“No!” he shot back. “She… she doesn’t even go here, remember?”

“Onii-chan, then?”

He shook his head in defeat. “You guys are crazy. Of course she calls me-… Well… she calls me…” he trailed off, looking away.

“She calls you what? Sweetie? Baby? Honey? Sweetheart? We called dibs on Jellybeans, though. Don’t steal that.”

They ignored Jellal’s unamused groan.

Cobra cleared his throat and said, in almost a whisper, “…She calls me Erik, of course.”

“Awwww!” the girls said, in perfect sync, making both boys want to cover their ears at the fake sugarry tone.

Meredy reached over to pat his head. “That’s sweet! We barely even remember your real name!”

He leaned away from the pinkette’s hand ruffling his hair. “That’s ’cause you guys are rude.” He looked at Jellal: “How do you stand them?”

The other guy looked clueless. “I don’t know.”

“Stop that, it’s fuckin’ creepy!” Cobra snapped at the girls, who were still busy teasing him. They simply laughed at him some more, and he decided that they weren’t going to help him. Cobra promptly slammed his hands against the desk and stood up to leave, but the girls had grabbed both of his arms and quickly apologized.

“No, we’re sorry! We were just messing around!”

“C’mon, stay! We’ll make you tea!”

He sighed and sat back down. “Just stop giggling.”

“Fine, fine. It’s just that you’re so… y’know… tough and scary.” Meredy said with a small smile.

“And…?” he asked, frown etched in his face, as if challenging whatever their point was.

Meredy continued, “We didn’t expect you to have… a girl.”

“I’m that worse off in your book?”

Ultear then said, “Well, we thought that if you had a girlfriend, she’ll be… well, just as scary as you.”

Then Meredy chirped, “Like your ex, Midnight!”

Cobra rolled his eyes. Midnight. Again. Midnight is not even female (granted, the eyeliner and black lipstick were misleading at first). “Shit, dude I’m gonna say this again: Midnight and I were never a thing—”

“Really? We all thought otherwise—”


“He kissed you in front of the whole school—”

“—to piss his dad off—”

“—you kissed him back though—”

“—no I didn’t—”

“—yes you did!”

“I didn’t!”

“Aw, but he kissed you~”


“Yeah no, never~”

Ultear watched the exchange with a smug grin, looking proudly as her little pink-haired protege talked back to one of the school’s toughest students. Jellal then leaned towards her and whispered, “Really?”

Ultear nodded and whispered back, “Yes, it made the school paper headline.”

“Why him, though?”

“Apparently he was the ideal choice.”

“But… there’s Angel, right?”

“Wouldn’t have caused Midnight’s dad’s blood to boil as much, which was the point of the whole thing.”

“Did it work?”

Ultear shrugged. “Yeah, his dad didn’t talk to him for a month. Midnight was really satisfied.”

Jellal sighed. For all Erza always told him about how crazy her friends were, he sometimes thought that the people of his school were crazier.

He looked back towards the two arguing students. Cobra was practically… well.. hissing at Meredy.

“We. Didn’t. Date! I’M STRAIGHT. Y’know what, you’re 2nd on my annoying people list.”

“Really? Who’s first?” Meredy asked innocently.


“Wow, great! We both have pink hair!”

Cobra groaned, rubbing his temples.

Meredy giggled. “Does this mean I win?”

Cobra just grumbled something very colorful about pink-haired people and how Ultear breeds evil things, then finally told Jellal — “We were just on the same gang, okay? He was going through his I-Hate-Dad phase and I happened to be conveniently within his reach.”

Jellal blinked, unsure about why Cobra wanted to reassure him. “Uh… yeah. Sure.”

Ultear chuckled, “So your special girl is not scary, unlike Midnight.”

“I SAID WE WEREN’T— Y’know what, fine. I give. Yeah, this girl’s… not scary. At all. Not like Midnight. Told ya, she’s completely harmless. And for starters, as batshit insane Midnight is, the dude likes little puppies and fat hamsters and stray kittens. He cuddles with ’em while he sleeps.”

“He does?”

“Yeah, he’s got dozens of ’em in his house, but that’s not the point here—”

Ultear quickly turned to Meredy. “Are you taking this down?” The secretary was already scribbling furiously on what Jellal realized was his Physics textbook. He opened his mouth to protest but Cobra spoke up again.

“Hey, you guys mark that as confidential. He’ll kill me.”

“Noted.” Meredy chimed sweetly. “We protect our sources.”

Jellal then agreed with Cobra that Ultear does breed evil…

The president, unfazed, continued interrogating their guest. “Are you sure this… girl of yours… She’s not afraid of you? You’re… y’know, notorious.”

“I never scare her off! I don’t curse at everyone and kick everything and act like a jerk all the time—”

Ultear and Meredy both said, “Oh, you do.”

Cobra paused, then shrugged irritably — there was no winning with these girls — “Yeah, I do. But not to her.”

“Well, I guess we just didn’t expect that such a, I quote you, ‘harmless’ young woman would be able to tame you.”

“She didn’t tame me, I just… she’s just… I… don’t hate her.” he said, struggling to be reasonable while trying to maintain his reputation. “She’s-… Let’s just say I like her.”

“Well, why is she not your girlfriend yet? Don’t tell us she has someone special that’s not you?”

“She doesn’t.”

“How sure are you?” Ultear challenged.

“She would’ve told me. ’Sides, she’s too shy for other boys.”

“But not too shy for you, huh?”

“Not too-… Look, she’s… she doesn’t have anyone right now.”

“You’re really sure?” the council president tested again.

He breathed. “Y-Yeah.”

Meredy gave him a sly grin. “Girls get really secretive when they like someone else, y’know. And even if you’re just close friends, I don’t think she’ll tell you right away that she likes someone. Not to you, at least. We don’t really tell boys, we tend to tell our girl friends.”

“Wait, you think she doesn’t want to go out with me because she likes someone else?”

“Duh. That, or she’s upset with you or something else and we can’t really know. There are countless reasons and we don’t have enough info to narrow them down, really.” Ultear said. “What do you two do when you go out?”

The delinquent groaned and looked away. “We… take long walks. Eat stuff when we get hungry… Sometimes we watch a movie, but that’s when she really wants to see something. Take her to places when she wants to. I just… go with her. Mostly.”

“Are those counted as dates?”

“No, not really.” he shrugged. “I just tell her that I’m around and maybe we can take a walk or something. Or when she’s talkin’ ’bout the movie or going somewhere, I tell her I can take her if she’s not going with anyone. And she’s happy with that, I think. Those sort of things.”

“If I may?” Jellal finally spoke up, after staying silent for the past couple of minutes. The others turned to him. “If you think she doesn’t have anyone she likes and you’re fairly sure of how you feel about her, why haven’t you told her you like her yet?”


Ultear mumbled, “You should ask yourself that question.”

Jellal looked at her pointedly, while Meredy sniggered behind her hand.

Meanwhile, Cobra was looking at the ceiling and was seemingly thinking of an answer. “Uh…”

They waited.

“I… can’t?”

That answer caught all their attentions. The reactions were simultaneous “What?” in varying degrees of confusion from all three council members.

“I said I can’t.” — and before they could ask, he continued. “I don’t want to.”

“Please elaborate.” Meredy said, frowning. They’ve been turned down so easily all of a sudden. For someone who already went as far as asking for their advise, she didn’t see why he would hold back now.

“I can’t do that.”

“Why?” the girl whined, while Ultear and Jellal exchanged looks and shrugged at each other.

Cobra didn’t show any intention of giving in to the younger girl’s insistence. As Meredy continued to bug him, the delinquent eyed Jellal and changed the topic of conversation. “So have you finished guessing who she is?”

The blue-haired young man shook his head. “No, I’m afraid not.”

Cobra grumbled, rolling his eyes while Meredy was still tugging at his sleeve asking her questions. He sighed. “I don’t even know how you scored Titania.”

“As I said, Erza and I don’t—”

“He’s going to see her tomorrow.” Ultear quickly butted in. “Why don’t you come with us?”

Jellal looked at her. “Us?”

But their guest had ignored him. “Why?”

Ultear shrugged, “I don’t know, give her a surprise visit… or something. Then she can tell you ‘Hey why’re you here? I’m sorry I can’t come with you on Saturday or whenever that is, I got a date with this hottie I met in my part-time job…’ Or you can say ’Oh yeah I remembered! Why won’t you go out with me, DO YOU HAVE ANOTHER GUY?’ except you put on more tact in it, obviously.”

Cobra squinted at the student council president. Jellal appeared to want to protest beside her, but the delinquent ignored the guy for the meantime. “Are you serious? That’ll work?”

“Yeah, you just have to ask nicely. Though I doubt you’ve ever done that, since you don’t even know how to use a doorknob…”

“I know how to use a doorknob.”

Meredy chimed, “Yeah, demonstrate!”

Cobra glared at her. “I hate you.” then, at Ultear: “What time?”

Jellal gaped, “Hey, you guys aren’t going—”

“If you’re taking him with you, take us too.” Meredy said. “Don’t be unfair, Jelly.”

“But what will you do there?”

Ultear grinned her deceptively friendly grin, which made Jellal back away everytime. “Oh, we won’t disturb you and Titania. We’ll just go with Cobra-kun here to meet his special girl.”

The other guy looked at them too. “Say what? No, you’re not meeting her — you’ll pollute her mind.”

Ultear groaned. “Fine, then. I’m going to give my favorite cousin a visit because I miss him so much.”

Jellal argued, “But you just saw Gray yesterday. You came with me to buy bread—”

Ultear smiled at him again, this time threatening. “I said I miss my cousin, Jelly. Did I stutter.”

“She didn’t.” Meredy supplied.

“Yeah, she didn’t.” Cobra nodded.

Jellal looked at each of them and knew then that he had no way to win.

When Jellal arrived home, he found his siblings lounging peacefully on their living room. He squinted as he saw what they were busying themselves with. Wendy was sitting between her big brother’s legs, painting his toenails with brightly-colored nail polish, while Mystogan was braiding his sister’s hair, complete with colorful clips and elastics.“Uh…” he started. “Tadaima?”

“Okaeri.” both replied.

“Why is there a slumber party?”

“Chelia-chan gave me some clips.” Wendy said with a small smile. “I asked Mysto-nii to help me with my hair.”

“…and he asked you to help him with his toes?”

“No, these are mom’s old nail polish. She gave them to me last night. I’m testing which ones are still usable.”

Jellal simply didn’t question why his sister decided to use his twin’s toenails for testing. He knew that his twin and their sister always had some weird ‘bonding’ activity going on anyway. Jellal simply took off his coat, dumped his bag on the floor and slumped on the couch across his siblings.

Mysto looked up. “You can braid her hair too if you want. You don’t have to sulk.”

“Shut up.” Jellal grumbled, grabbing a throwpillow and burying his face in it.

“Someone’s grumpy.” Mystogan remarked, absentmindedly braiding his sister’s hair.

“Hey.” Jellal said, peeking at his siblings, who were busy with their… makeover… thing. “If you ask someone out and you know she’s available for it, but she declines but won’t tell you why—”

He wasn’t even finished with his question but his siblings have already answered simultanenously.

“Erza dumped you?”

“Jellal-nii, what did you do?”

Jellal groaned. “It’s not Erza! It’s not us, it’s… uh, a friend.”

“You have friends?” Mystogan jabbed.

“You’re no better.” the other twin sighed. “Hey, in speaking of friends, do you know a girl from your school who’s… uh… dating someone from Sorciere?”

Mysto did a mental tally of his female friends from FairyGaku. His siblings went silent for a few moments before he finally looked at his brother and said, “There’s one.”

Jellal looked up. “Really?”

“She’s quite famous around campus. A real beauty, you see, and very talented…”

“Yeah, who?”

Mystogan shrugged. “Erza Scarlet — you know her? I heard she’s dating some bloke from Sorciere, this Jellal guy—”

“Wendy?” Jellal called.

The girl looked up. “Hai?”

“Paint his fingernails too. You wouldn’t happen to have anything permanent in there, would you?”

It was lunchbreak at FairyGaku when Erza found three people waiting for her on the school building’s rooftop. She smiled lightly as she watched Natsu and Lucy took turns at teasing a grumpy Gray, who was sitting between them. It’s been a while since the four of them all ate lunch together in the rooftop. When they were second years, they used to do this everyday.Natsu saw her first and shouted at her to hurry up because they were all starving. Erza adjusted her glasses first before heading over to her friends.

“There you are. Erza, you go tell these two.” Gray said as he inched away from Natsu to make a spot for the red-head. “They were so convinced that I fucked up the thing with Juvia’s mom.”

“’Cause you don’t wanna talk about it!” Lucy complained. “Details, Gray!”

Erza chuckled as she handed Gray a school shirt she picked up on her way. He accepted it wordlessly, knowing it was his since he was topless already. “Why don’t you just answer their questions?”

“I did already. I said it was fine. I didn’t fuck up. The dinner was great. Juvia’s mom is cool. That’s it.” Gray answered, taking out his bento and opening it to look at his girlfriend’s usual delicious cooking inside.

Natsu handed Lucy a bento and the blonde accepted it excitedly, mumbling about what Igneel cooked for lunch. Since Lucy moved out, Igneel has insisted that Natsu bring two lunches. Erza took out her lunch as well, raising an eyebrow at the fancy meal. She should tell Laxus to have Freed to sleep over more often. She woke up that morning with the green-haired gentleman already bustling in the kitchen, her bento set neatly on the counter.

“I still can’t believe you managed not to strip, man.” Natsu said, a look of clear confusion on his face.

“Lucy practically drilled it into my brain that day.” Gray said, side-eyeing the blonde beside him, who stuck her tongue out at him.

“Alright, alright. If Gray wants to keep his silence, we’re letting him.” Erza said. “Let’s just eat our lunch.”

The four chorused a cheerful “Itadakimasu!” before digging in their respective lunches. Erza looked at her friends. Natsu was gobbling up his food as usual. Gray was calmer, but he was enthusiastically eating as well. Lucy herself was clearly enjoying Igneel’s cooking very much. Erza finally started eating, enjoying the quiet mealtime company.

They all ate in silence and finished quickly. As Lucy gathered her and Natsu’s lunchboxes and stacked them neatly, Erza stood up and leaned against the rooftop’s railings, looking out at the view of their school. “We never eat lunch up here anymore.”

Natsu grinned as he stretched his arms out and then laid on his back on the rooftop floor. “Heh, that’s because you guys are always busy. Council stuff. Cheerleading stuff.” — then he looked at Gray. “Whatever stuff.”

Gray huffed, crossing his arms across his bare chest. “You’re the only lazy ass in here, anyway. We all have things to do while you slack off.”

By then, the girls knew what was next.

“Ya wanna go, Ice Queen?”

“Like I wanna waste my time on you—”

He was interrupted when Lucy’s phone rang, indicating a text message. The blonde looked at the message once and then smiled apologetically at her companions. “I’m sorry, guys. I have to go.”

“Exhibit A.” Natsu chimed in. “Cheerleading stuff!”

“You’re always complaining.” Lucy rolled her eyes, standing up.

“But Lucyyyyy…!”

“I’m taking these bento with me and I’ll leave them on your desk, ’kay?”

“’Kay.” the pink-head grumbled.

“See you later, Erza, Gray!” Lucy said, waving at the other two as she left them.

“Go on, both of ’ya. Leave me alone too.” Natsu said, pouting.

“Geez, you’ll see her in half an hour, stupid. Classes will be back by then.” Gray shook his head, looking at his rival-slash-friend hopelessly.

Erza laughed as she sat back down between the boys. “We should do this more often, though. Hang out in here, like how we used to.”

“Team Natsu!” the pink-head said, raising a fist on the air.

“Yeah, we didn’t have the patience to argue with you on that name.” Gray said.

“I’m serious.” Erza cut them off, getting back on track. “I hardly get a break these days. Lunch in the classroom is nice, but it’s more peaceful up here.”

Gray nodded. “Yeah, maybe we should do this more often.”

“Yup. While we still can.” Natsu said absently.

The statement made his companions pause the carefree conversation. Natsu looked at them curiously, then realized what he had just said and quickly looked back up at the sky.

“So…” he started. “Erza, you’re really gonna go to that really fancy university, huh?”

Erza glanced at him and smiled as she hugged her knees to herself. “Well, we did take the exam. The results aren’t out yet, but… we all studied hard for it so we have our hopes up.”

Gray scoffed. “As if you’ll fail. You girls didn’t sleep for a week reviewing for that. I’m sure you’ll pass.”

“We better.” Erza said, chuckling. “But I’m really aiming for a scholarship. I don’t want Master to worry about my fees on top of Laxus’.”

“Dude. You’ll get it.” Gray pointed out. “You’ve got perfect grades and if that won’t cut it, they can bank in on your kendo.”

Natsu nodded. “Yeah, they got those athlete scholarship thingies too, right?”

Erza shrugged. “Well I guess I can work with that, too.” Then she asked, “How about you guys? I’ve been busy so I don’t know what your plans are after high school.”

“I don’t know, man.” Natsu said. “I just wanna cook with Igneel, y’know.”

“Will you study?”

The pink-head snorted. “I’ve been doin’ it all my life. What’s there to study?”

“But there are culinary courses. You could… well, expand your horizons or something like that.”

“Yeah.” he yawned. “But I dunno, I think it’s boring? I haven’t talked to Igneel about it.”

Erza had expected that. She knew Natsu would eventually make his mind up on something. They just had to give him time. She turned to Gray. “How ’bout you, Gray?”

Gray shrugged. “Juvia’s going to art school. She’s… uh, gathering her portfolio and stuff.”

“That’s great. Are you going with her?”

“That’s the thing, y’know.” he grumbled. “I haven’t thought of it. I didn’t even expect her to have plans already.”

Erza frowned. “Is that why you’re sulking?”

“No, crap. I’m fine. I just… When her mom asked me what my plans were, I couldn’t say anything. I didn’t have any.” he said, looking down at the closed lunchbox in his lap. “So it’s me, really. It sucks.”

Erza was about to say something to reassure him, but then he suddenly smirked and looked at her.

“But I guess you won’t have any problems like that, huh?” he said, nudging her lightly. When she simply blinked at him, he continued, “Jellal’s goin’ with you, right?”

Erza inched away from him. “W-What?”

“Didn’t he transfer to Sorciere to get some good credits? He’s going to Fiore U., right? You exchange reviewers — don’t think I don’t know ’bout that.”

“Well, yes—”

Natsu cut her off, “Ah, Erza-chan is going to elope with Tattoo-face the Brave!”

“We’re not eloping-!”

“Dude, you can totally live together.” Gray followed up.

“W-What are you talking about—”

Natsu was giving his best impression of the girls whenever they tease Erza. “Kyaaaa, so romantic! Together in university!”


To Erza’s dismay, Gray had followed the other guy’s lead. “He’ll walk you to your classes and he’ll take you out to a fancy restaurant to eat cake…”

Natsu picked up without fail. “…and then a few years later, he’ll take you to the same place where you had your first date…”

“…and then while you eat your favorite cake and while your favorite song is playin’ in the background, he’ll get down on one knee…”

“…and he’ll say ‘Erza Scarlet, will you marry me?’”

“…then you’ll cry and say ‘yes’!”

Erza could only look at them, terrified. “You guys…”

Natsu looked at her. “Yeah, what?”

“Whose stash of shoujo manga have you been reading?”

“It’s actually from a novel…” Gray mused.

Natsu nodded. “Yeah, that scene was dope, man.”

“No wonder Iris cried.”

“Gabriel’s an awesome dude.”

Erza looked at them in confusion. “Who—”

Gray cut her off quickly. “No, you can’t tell Lucy that we read her novel.”

Natsu backed his friend up: “Now see, you have to invite us to your wedding.”

Erza rolled her eyes. She was about to knock them back to their senses until they laid out that incredibly cheesy classic scenario to her. Maybe she was too shocked that they actually thought of those things (or read those kind of books), because she just forgave them on the spot and simply gave Gray a playful punch on his arm. “Shut up already. I told you guys, Jellal and I are friends.”

Natsu replied enthusiastically, “Yeah! So were Alzack and Bisca until they weren’t!”

Erza sighed. She was about to protest when her phone rang. Another text.

Natsu took that as his cue. “Exhibit B! Council stuff!”

“It isn’t.”


“It’s Jellal.”

“Boyfriend stuff, then.”

Erza ignored him and turned to Gray. “He’s asking me if it would be alright to bring company when he visits.”

Gray raised an eyebrow. “Yeah? Who’s he bringin’?”

Erza looked at the message again. “He just said Ultear and the others are coming with him.”

Natsu said, “Last time I saw them, they wanted to hostage Tattoo-face the Brave so they could get you to spill your secret to bein’… uh, awesome at everything.”

Erza looked at him, eyes narrowed. “Is that also when you told them that I’m marrying Jellal?”

He shrugged. “Yeah. ’Cause you are.”

“Come to think of it, I still haven’t gotten back at you for that.”

Natsu stopped, looking at the red-head in alarm.

Gray looked at him. “Run, stupid.”

He watched Erza chase Natsu around the rooftop and shook his head. He ignored them for a while, looking again at the blue bento on his lap, catching the details on the cute lunchbox: little raindrop and teru-teru bozu prints.

Maybe it was high time he sit down and have a talk with his cousin, after all.

Jellal wouldn’t say it out loud, but he was glad that Cobra came with them. He always had both Ultear and Meredy ganging up on him, so it was a nice change of pace to walk beside Ultear as they watched Cobra and Meredy in front of them engaged in a verbal battle.“Why did you have to ask Jelly about your problems? You have your other friends, right?”

“Yeah, well I couldn’t find Racer and he’s stupid anyway, Hoteye’s talking about love and bein’ creepy, Angel will laugh at me and Midnight wouldn’t go to school, says he wants to sleep.”

“Wow, you have nice friends. Hey, how does Midnight ace every subject when he sleeps in all the classes?”

“I don’t fucking know.”

“If we meet Salamander, would you fight him? ’Cause you always lose.”

“I don’t!”

“You always lose to him.”

“What are you talking about, that weakling is no match—”

“You never win.”

“I always win.”

“Really, so lying on the ground beaten is winning?”

“I don’t lie on the ground beaten. I can punch the hell out of that stupid moron’s face any damn time I want—”

“I’ve never seen you do that. He always wins.”

“No, I always win.”

“That’s really hard to believe.”

Meredy was fearless, Jellal decided. She was clinging to Cobra while testing his patience and temper — it was a real feat of courage.

For once, Jellal was not being bullied by the girls, and he was happy. What happens when they arrive in FairyGaku, however, will be a completely different story, he knew.

But at least he had plans. Or what would be a fairly lame excuse for a plan, but hey, he tried.

See, bringing Ultear and Meredy with him just plain screamed ‘We want to meet the girl you like so we can embarrass you because we’re your greatest friends!’ and while he knew that that’s just what friends do, he doesn’t think he’s ready for that kind of embarrassment right now. He had a different plan for today. He has been planning to tell Erza something really important, and he couldn’t have Ultear and Meredy tear that plan apart. After that, maybe he can let them have their evil fun to make up for being a killjoy. He knew that the two pushed him around a lot but when it comes down to it, he can count on them too.

So it was a good thing that he took a few minutes off his lunchbreak earlier in the day to go look for Cobra and tell him the plan.

“We’re here!” Meredy exclaimed as they entered the gates of the neighbor school. She turned to look at Jellal. “So, do we go to Erza first?”

It was a lame plan, Jellal knew, but he went with it anyway. He pointed at a random street and said, “Hey, look there!”

The girls did. The guys dashed on opposite directions, to either sides of the school building.

“HEY!” Ultear gaped as she looked after them. “What the—”

Meredy clung to her. “They ran! What do we do?”

Ultear debated for about five seconds before saying, “We follow Cobra! Go! Those two are soooo dead when I get at them!”

Jellal knew it would happen — those two would probably choose just one of them to follow. He prayed to the Gods that when Meredy was telling the truth when one time she let it slip that Ultear keeps her around because of the raven-head’s hopeless sense of direction.

It was a good thing that most of the students have already gone home. The only few remaining were the ones on cleaning duty and the ones who were doing afterschool club activities. He navigated the hallways easily, thanks to Wendy for once helping him coax Mysto into laying out a good, quick route to go around the school for him. He just wished that Cobra remembered the instructions he gave him as well.

Jellal was the faster runner, so he gave Cobra the shorter, easier route. FairyGaku was a larger school that Sorciere due to its population, so the students had more ways to navigate the building.

By the time he arrived in front of the student council room, Cobra was also panting at the other end of the hallway.

“I think I lost them.” the other guy said, walking towards him. “Why was that necessary again?”


“Nevermind, let’s just do this.” Cobra grumbled, lifting a leg to kick the door open—

“Cobra-san, please use the doorknob!”

The other guy clicked his tongue in annoyance but did as he was told. He turned the knob…

…and kicked the door anyway.

Jellal heard the uproar in the room and quickly followed his schoolmate. “It’s alright, he’s with me!”

“Jellal?!” — came from more than one person in the room. Jellal looked to see the familiar faces staring at him. They were all obviously taken aback by Cobra’s very random appearance on their doorstep. There was Erza, who had stood up from her chair, Max and Laki in their respective desks, Lucy and Levy working on some papers, some other students who for some reason had tried to hide behind Gray.

Cobra scoffed. “Calm your tits. I’m not here to fight.”

“You almost broke our door!” Max complained.

Laki backed her partner up. “Do you know how much repairs will cost us?”

Cobra shrugged, then said under his breath, “I like this school better. At least more people have actual guts.”

“Max, Laki, calm down. What matters is that the door isn’t broken.” Erza said, trying to bring order into the room. She adjusted her glasses and tried to smile at her fellow students. “They’re, uh… our guests! Um, Lucy, if you can prepare some tea? Gray, please put some clothes on.”

The two Sorciere students walked inside the room, Jellal closing the door behind them as he shot an apologetic look towards the red-haired student council president. Erza indicated for them to sit on the couch while Lucy rushed over to prepare tea, Levy quickly assisting the blonde. Gray looked suspiciously at Cobra before turning to Jellal. “I thought you said Ultear was with you?”

Jellal answered guiltily. “Yes, she is. Uh, Ultear and Meredy are… on their way… Yes. They are. We just came here first and… if you want you could… go and greet them?”

Gray squinted at the blue-haired young man’s expression. Jellal was clearly trying to tell him something. When the guy discreetly cocked his head towards Erza, Gray was only able to utter a pathetic ‘oh’ in realization before quickly standing up.

“Don’t worry, I got this.” — (‘Seriously. Calm down; I’ll try my best.’)

“Thanks, man.” — (‘You’re a lifesaver. I’m sorry for making you do this.’)

“Yeah, it’s nothing.” — (‘Just don’t screw up.’)

For some reason Jellal liked Gray more than he did his own brother. He sighed in relief as the raven-head exited the room.

“So,” Erza started. “I was expecting Jellal and Ultear, but…”

Cobra interrupted her “I’m only here for…” — he looked around the room shortly and then settled on one person. “…her.”

Laki blinked. “Me?”

“Yeah. Mind talkin’ outside?”

“N-Not really—”

Max narrowed his eyes. “If you want to fight Natsu, you should probably hostage—”

Lucy didn’t need any prompting. “-I’ll text him. No need to hostage me.” Everyone looked at her. “What?”

“I don’t care about that idiot.” Cobra groaned. “Just wanna ask Glasses a question.”

“Well, you can ask her here.” Max huffed.

“Look man, I won’t lay a finger on your girl—”

“It’s not that—”

“Well if this is about the door—”

“It’s just partly about the door.”

“Everyone is rude to me.” he told Jellal.

“I wonder why.” Lucy mumbled under her breath as she and Levy sipped some tea.

“You almost broke down our door.” Max repeated, not bothering to keep his volume down like Lucy did. “Our broom was behind that door.”

Levy shook her head, mumbling “Never mess with the broom.”

Jellal tried to back his companion up. He did help him escape from Ultear and Meredy, after all. “Don’t worry, guys. It’s just one harmless question.”

Laki finally sighed and stood up. “Fine, let’s go.”

The others watched them exit the room. Lucy set down a tray of tea on the table between Jellal and Erza. “I’m sorry, you do know that Cobra and his… friends have some… let’s say ‘history’ with some of ours. It doesn’t help that Max is very protective of that broom.”

“It’s alright. He won’t take too long here.” Jellal assured. “I think.”

“Why is he here anyway?”

“He wanted to go visit a friend.” Jellal answered. It was a safe answer and he was sure that Erza noticed.

She simply sighed. “Just promise me he isn’t here to cause trouble?”

“I promise.” he smiled.

“Do you even know my name?” was Laki’s first question as she closed the door behind her. Cobra stood in the corridor, his arms crossed across his chest.“Not really.” he shrugged. “Lara. Lilly?”

The girl simply rolled her eyes. “So… what is this for? What is it you want to ask me?”

“D’you happen to know where I can find Kinana at this time?”

Laki looked at him blankly. “…Excuse me?”

“Kinana. You’re her friend, right? I saw you in a photo on her room—”

“Wait, when you say Kinana, as in Kinana-chan — purple hair, green eyes, Strauss waitress, sweet kind Kinana-chan?”

Cobra raised an eyebrow. “Uh, yeah?”

“And why are you looking for her?”

“Look, I was dragged here by Tattoo-face and that evil president, I don’t know anyone-… well, I do, but they all want to kill me, ’cept her. I figured I’d greet her while I’m here.”

“You know her?”



He rolled his eyes. “Is it that important? C’mon, just tell me where her classroom is.”

“I have a hard time believing that Kinana-chan would like a visit from someone… of your reputation.”

“Well, clearly you don’t know her that well.”

Laki squinted at him, and he held her look down without flinching.

She sighed. “She’s probably at the clubroom. They usually take one or two hours after school for club activities.”

He nodded. He knew that she was in the tea ceremony club. Something about most of her friends inviting her, he remembered. “Well, where is it?”

“If you’re up to no good, we’ll really hunt you down. You know that, right?”

He clicked his tongue. “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Something about how friendship is magic or whatever.”

Laki finally told him the directions.

Jellal and Erza were having a nice, peaceful conversation as Erza worked on her usual tasks, her guest ever-so patiently sitting across her and watching her work. Lucy and Levy were also focusing on whatever they were doing at Lucy’s desk, while Max had gone back to his budgeting. Jellal noted that no one in the room looked like they were about to leave any time soon, so he decided to take matters into his own hands.“Erza?”


“Uh, what time will you finish council activities and head on home?”

She looked up at him. “Um, another hour or so. I’m sorry. Are you getting bored?”

“Ah, I was just thinking that maybe I could wait for you.” he smiled reassuringly.

He failed to notice several hands pause their writing abruptly, before the others exchanged glances and tried to look busy again.

“You don’t have to do that!” Erza raised a hand to wave him off. “I’ll waste your time, and… and I’m not even done with all this—”

“It’s alright. I can wait.”


“Uh… maybe… we can go out for cake, since I forgot to bring one today—”

“Oh, it’s alright! It’s just… it’s just cake, you know—”

“But uh… I… err, need to ask you something, see.”

“Really? What is it? Is this about the exams? The notes I lent you—”

“It’s not that. It’s… uh, well, I wanted to ask you that… preferably when we’re alone—”

He knew he must have been looking so stupid. Jellal knew that if Mysto was present, he would have said, “Game too weak, brother.”

“Oh.” Erza was clearly confused then. Maybe Jellal has a problem that he wanted to share to her? Jellal wanted to slap himself when her expression became worried. Clearly he was sending the wrong message. “Is everything alright?”

“Yes. I’m good, but… I really want to tell you something. Later, so I’ll wait—”

“I’m sure the principal can wait for that report, Erza.” Lucy piped up. “It’s not due until next next week.”

“Yes, but…” Erza looked down at her report with a frown, missing the blonde’s wink when Jellal looked her way.

Lucy continued, “C’mon, I read that a while ago and I say you’re 80% done. You still have two weeks to turn that in — give yourself a break!”

“I second.” Max said. “And you wouldn’t be able to finish that today, anyway. I’m not yet done with my part of the report.”

Erza nodded. She was going nowhere with her report today, anyway. There were too much info that she still needed from the other members. “…Yeah, maybe I should leave this as is for the meantime.”

“You should!” Lucy urged. “Jellal’s buying cake. You should treat yourself for the hard work, y’know.”

Erza thought that she shouldn’t let her friends exploit her weakness for cake too much…

But then they had a legitimate point anyway, and Jellal was smiling so so so convincingly in front of her, so how could she even bear to say ‘no’?

In the meantime, Cobra found himsef sitting on a bench outside the tea ceremony clubroom. He checked the time on his phone and did some quick math. Yep, maybe another half-hour or something before the club members go home… if Glasses was right.He totally forgot to catch her name. Her correct name, anyway.

He heard shuffling and muffled conversation sounds from the clubroom, so he was quite sure that activities were still going on. He decided to wait patiently, hoping that Gray will provide enough distraction for his favorite cousin and her pink-haired minion.

“Cobra-kuuuun~! There you are!”

He winced. The little devil had found him, just when he thought he was safe.

Meredy skipped towards him and said, “Ultear is mad at you guys for ditching her.”

“Yeah, bite me.” he grumbled. “Where is she?”

“Gray wanted to talk to her, and it’s kind of a cousin thing so I had to leave ’em” the pink-head pouted, sitting herself beside him.

“So you just walked around ’till you found me?”

She huffed. “Of course not! You’re not the only one with friends here, you know. I do too! Gray told me where to find her.”

“She’s in the tea ceremony club too?”

“Nope. Swimming club. On the end of the hallway, but well, there’s this bench here, so it’s just as good.”

He simply shrugged. At least she wasn’t asking annoying questions.

“So your girl is the tea ceremony kind, huh? Score, Cobra-kun! She must be a real lady!”

“God, just shut up.”

His wish was granted — she shut up as the clubroom door swung open and several students went out to the corridor, all saying goodbye and ‘nice work today!’ to each other.

Among the group of students, Cobra saw his friend. Kinana was talking with a bunch of girls when she saw him and stopped, clearly surprised. She quickly said her goodbyes to her friends and ran towards him.

“Erik!” the girl called, waving.

Meredy watched Cobra try not to smile too brightly and she had to bite her lip to keep herself from giggling. She never thought he’d be so smitten that he’d struggle to keep up the badass grumpy act.

Then another thing happened. The girl reached out her hand when she stopped in front of them, and Cobra caught it, twining their fingers together. “Hey.” he said.

Meredy then realized that Cobra wasn’t lying when he said something like ‘She’s not my girlfriend but she’s as good as.’ They looked so cute together, too. Meredy wanted to squeal.

“What’s this? Why are you here?” the girl asked, then finally noticed the pink-haired student sitting beside her visitor.

“Hey!” Meredy greeted cheerfully. “I’m Meredy! Um, we’re together!”

The girl blinked.

“Wrong word choice.” Cobra said pointedly. “Eh, she’s from my school. We’re not together.”

“Totally not.” Meredy followed up.

“Nice to meet you, Meredy-san.” the girl said with a polite smile, extending her other hand. “I’m Kinana.”

“Kinana-chan! How cute!” Meredy grinned as she shook the other girl’s hand.

“I don’t always get to meet Erik’s friends.” Kinana said, looking down shyly.

Cobra side-eyed the pink-head. “I wouldn’t call her that.”

“Nah, I’m his kouhai!”

Kinana turned to Cobra again. “So why are you guys here?”


“We dragged him with us.” Meredy said. “Err, council stuff. We came with our president. And well, Cobra-kun thought that he’d greet you since he’s here and all…”

Cobra has to commend the pink-head for being quick. And a good liar. He was sure it always comes in handy.

“Oh.” Kinana said. “Did you wait long?”


“He doesn’t mind.” Meredy said.

Cobra’s eyes narrowed. She really was quick. He continued, “So, I was thinking we can.. uh, chat a bit, since I don’t have anything to do here while the president’s busy.”

Kinana’s expression dropped as she looked at Cobra. “I’d love to stay, but I have to head over to my part-time job now.”

He frowned, tugging lightly at her hand. “Did your sched change?” — because he knew her schedule.

“No, but Mira-san called earlier and asked if I could fill in for someone else today. She said that the other part-timer called in sick. I already said ‘yes’…”

“Guess it can’t helped then.”

“You should just go with her.” Meredy piped up, catching both of their attentions. “Ultear won’t mind if you leave early.” — then came the tell-tale wink.

Cobra looked around. Well, it was true that he couldn’t wait to get rid of the pink-haired annoyance, but she’s been really helpful for the past few minutes and it was kind of a dick move to just leave her all alone in the empty hallway of another school… Yeah, Cobra knew he was always rude, but he didn’t want to ditch an innocent-looking pink-haired girl in front of Kinana.

“How ’bout you?” he asked.

“Toldya, I’m waiting for my friend.” she said, waving them off. “Go on. Kinana-chan will be late for her shift!”

“No, Erik! You don’t have to do that.” Kinana turned to the young man. Meredy approved of her politeness. Damn, Cobra has good taste.

“Sheesh, there’s no satisfying both of you.” he said, standing up and taking Kinana’s bag from her. “Let’s go. Pinky’s right. You’ll be late.”

“But Meredy-san—”

“Don’t worry ’bout me!” Meredy insisted, going as far as literally pushing Cobra away. “Ultear and Gray will come get me soon anyway!”

Cobra shook his head. “Alright, already! Don’t cause too much trouble for whoever your friend is, get it?”

“Hai, hai!”

Meredy waved at them as they left, still hand-in-hand. Ugh, she’s gonna get cavities. She simply giggled to herself. She totally didn’t expect them to be that close already. She thought it would be either Cobra scaring the girl or the opposite. Their resident school delinquent looked like a different person for a while there.

She sighed, looking around at the empty corridor. “Now I’m alone. Geez, Gray just totally stole Ultear.”

Just then, she heard several FairyGaku girls laughing together after swimming practice. From the group, Meredy was able to single out a particular blunette.

She grinned to herself. “Hah, revenge! I’m stealing Juvia-chan.”

Kinana knew that they were catching some attention. While it was normal to see students from FairyGaku mingling with students from other school’s, including Sorciere, it was unusual to see a Sorciere student wearing their uniform very informally. Cobra’s black shirt was untucked, his sleeves rolled up, his white jacket wide open. Sorciere students were known to be proper (as most of them were scholars or rich children) even outside their campus.When they passed by the police booth, Kinana was aware of Gildart’s narrowed, suspicious eyes — she wasn’t sure if he knew the delinquent (Oracion Seis was quite notorious) or if he was surprised to see her walking with a guy — but he relaxed when she waved at him cheerfully, like the usual. Kinana could feel his gaze follow them curiously, though.

Erik knew where she worked, so she let him walk a few steps ahead of her in silence. He was a loud, brash, kinda overconfident guy when it came to his gang and the people he messes with, but he was mostly a peaceful guy around her.

“You’re quiet.” he said, glancing at her. “Something the matter?”

She shook her head.

“You’re not talking. Something’s up.”

She looked up. “N-No! Umm.. I’m just.. well…”

Cobra wasn’t used to the girl stammering like that when she was talking to him. She was shy and quiet, but around him, she was usually very open. He recalled some of Ultear’s and Meredy’s words: maybe she has a problem that she couldn’t tell others, even him.

“Hey, if you have a problem, you know you can tell me. Right?”

Kinana looked down. “R-Right…”

They stopped walking. “…So?”

She stared.

“…Why’re you upset?”

A blink.

“You’re not upset?”

“Well, not exactly…”

“You’re not telling me?”

“I-It’s not like I can’t tell you, but.. I… don’t—”

“You’re not telling me.”

She sighed. “It… It might make you angry…”

“I won’t get angry.”

“You will. You’re like that.”

“I’m like what? You gotta give me something to work on here.”

He saw her open her mouth to speak, but stop herself just in time. She sighed. “…It’s nothing.”

That made his stop and simply stare at her.

She tried to smile. “Let’s just go.”

He stared after her as she started to walk again. “W-Wait, what?”

“I told you, it’s nothing.”

But he knew that it was never nothing. She had never told him that something was ‘nothing’ before, ever. She always opened up to him. They never had secrets…

Maybe Ultear and the others were right — “Kinana, are you mad at me?”

He looked at her, back turned to him, as she shook her head, staying silent. He had never seen her legitimately angry, and he had known her ever since they were children.

“Well, you’re quiet, and you’re not talking to me. You’re telling me something’s nothing. What else am I missing?”

“Erik, please let it drop.” she sounded so defeated.

“Not until you tell me that everything’s fine — that I didn’t do anything, you’re not mad at me, and you’re not upset about something you’re not telling me about.”

She stopped walking and Cobra realized that they were in front of the Strauss’. Kinana smiled at him and said, “Everything’s fine.”

“Really, ’cause it doesn’t sound like it—”

He was cut off when she gave him a quick hug and said, “I’m late for work. I’ll talk to you later, ’kay?” before quickly escaping inside the cafe.

Cobra groaned. That didn’t go well.

She was five and he was eight when they first met.Back then, he didn’t understand why the purple-haired, crying girl had to stay with him and his family. She was clinging to her mother, who was explaining to her that she will have a new family for a while, that ’Mommy would come get you soon, you just have to wait…’

Erik couldn’t understand why the girl was still crying and didn’t want her mother to leave — didn’t the lady say she’ll be back? And her crying was really loud and annoying. Erik then watched his own mother take the girl in her arms and comforted her and his father said his goodbyes to the woman.

Later, they explained to him that Kinana’s family was going through a tough time. The girl’s mother couldn’t contact her ex-husband, and she had been struggling with her job and her role as a single mother. She was close friends with Kinana’s parents in their time in university. When an offer came — overseas, one that promised her a good pay but wouldn’t lend her time to take care of her girl — she asked Erik’s parents for a huge favor.

Erik was an only child and his parents were very willing to take the girl in temporarily, at least until her mother is settled and stable enough to be able to take care of her again.

Kinana stayed with his family for four years, sometimes taking a week or a month off when her mother was in town. Unlike some parents and children who grew apart, they stayed strictly in touch and were always very close.

Within those four years, Kinana was perpetually glued to Erik’s side. They weren’t close at first. Erik thought that the girl was too quiet and that she looked out the window too much. His parents, however, always told him to do the odd jobs: call Kinana-chan ’cause it’s time for dinner, if he was getting his snack he should get something for Kinana-chan too, help Kinana-chan with her homework, tie Kinana-chan’s shoelaces for her…

Pretty soon, he was automatically looking after her. He didn’t let her call him onii-chan or anything of the sort, though. He always thought that it was weird, so he told her to just call him Erik. Needless to say, it stuck.

Erik was already mischievous and had a violent streak even as a kid. Come playtime when he was allowed to go out the house, he would look back and see Kinana staring out her window, looking at him as he left to go play with his friends. He ignored it in the first few months. She already had her dolls and her picture books, right? There’s no way she’ll enjoy catching bugs and frogs, and then throwing them on those rich kids on the other block… Nope, no way she’ll fit in with the rest of his “gang”.

But his parents — as usual — seemed to dote on the girl, so they told Erik that he should go play with her, take her with him to play with the other kids. Yeah, he thought she looked kinda sad playing alone because she didn’t have friends in the area, but he didn’t want to take her with him either. There were other girls in the playground, but well… Cobra and his friends tend to throw bugs at them to scare them too, and he didn’t want to make Kinana cry. He couldn’t exactly tell his friends to stop, either.

So what he did was a compromise. He took some time to play with her too. It was awkward since all she had were her dolls and tea sets and he flat out rejected the tea party before she could suggest. The little girl looked down then, asking him what he wanted to play.

He plugged up his PlayStation and tossed her a controller. She initially didn’t know what to do but after a few easy games, he got her engaged quite well. She was laughing with him by the end of that day, and Erik thought that not going out to play with his friends for one day wasn’t all that bad.

The next day, as he left the house, he looked back at saw her watching him again.

When she caught him looking, she smiled and waved.

He scratched his head. “Hey, I.. err… I’ll try and go home early, maybe we could go play something again.”

He watched as her face lit up and she nodded excitedly. “Okay! Take care!”

“Yeah.” was all he said, trying not too smile too widely as he turned and started to run towards the playground.

He started to divide his time between Kinana and his other playmates. Yeah, it was fun to scare the weak kids and to run around and play soccer and tag, but it was also nice to spend time with his young housemate playing all sorts of video, board and card games. Sometimes they played hide and seek — he had to admit it was challenging with just the two of them and a whole house to utilize.

Then came one time when he had to leave her alone in the house. Usually, his mom stayed at home, but this time with both parents gone and with him going out to play with his friends, Kinana will be left alone. She assured him that she will be fine ( “I’m six now!” — “Yeah, right.”) but he wasn’t having any of it, so he told her to put on her shoes because she was going with him.

She was so excited.

His friends were surprised when he arrived with a girl latched into his arm.

“What’s this, Cobra?” — he’s had that nickname since forever. Everyone in his ragtag bunch had codenames. They said it made them sound more like a real ‘gang’. “I’ve never seen her before.”

“This is Kinana.” he simply replied. “She’s… uh…” — what, his little sister? Cousin? Friend? “…she’s with me.”

“We can see that.” Racer said. “Why’s she with you?”

“My parents are out, I didn’t want to leave her alone in the house ’cause she might break something.” he explained quickly. He glanced at the girl holding on to him and saw that she was pouting at him.

“Is she your sister?” Hoteye peered closely as the girl, trying to see a family resemblance. Kinana squeaked and hid her face behind Erik’s arm.

Erik tried to shoo away the bigger boy. “No, she’s… uh, we’re just looking after her. Lay off, man. You’re scaring her.”

“So she’s going with us?” Racer said, looking sceptical.

“Yeah.” but when Erik looked at the girl, her gaze was glued to the metal swing set nearby. “Hey, d’you wanna go play in those?”

She nodded meekly, still wary of the other kids. She might have learned to talk a lot around her housemate, but the others intimidated her.

“Go. I’ll follow.”

Hoteye and Racer watched as the girl ran towards the swing, then looked at Cobra. Racer said, “I was thinking we can prank those girls next block, they’re playing tea party right now.”

Cobra looked at Kinana, who was happily sitting in the swing, obviously trying to maneuver herself but failing as her feet couldn’t even reach the ground. “I say we just play ball today.”

“But dude, it’s that annoying Sorano girl—”

“I’m good with playing ball.” Hoteye said, and before Racer could argue, he continued. “I’ll wake Midnight up.” The boy headed towards a bench, where their fourth playmate was sleeping even in broad daylight.

Meanwhile, Erik had headed over to Kinana and started pushing the swing for her. The girl laughed and he pushed harder, making her swing higher. After a few more swings, she told him to stop, that her sandal flew off.

As the swinging settled down, the girl looked at him. “Erik, am I bothering you and your friends?”

“Eh, not really…”

“I can stay here and just watch.”

“Who’s gonna push your swing?”

“I’m okay.” she said, smiling.

But before he could speak, another boy had appeared beside him, “Your shoe woke me up.” he said, holding Kinana’s fallen sandal while rubbing his eyes.

Erik quickly took the item from Midnight and then crouched down to put the sandal back in Kinana’s foot.

Kinana flinched when Midnight brought a hand down on her head, but relaxed when the boy simply ruffled her hair. “Cobra, your girlfriend is cute.” the other boy said, making the housemates look up at him.



“Hoteye said we’re playing ball.” was all Midnight said, looking down at the girl again. “Can you catch up? You’re so tiny.”

The girl blinked up at him. “I… I’m playing..?”

Erik scoffed. “She can probably run faster than you, ’cause you have to sleep like every five minutes.”

To this day, Erik still remembered how everyone, even Racer who was always going on about his being the master of speed, ran at half their usual pace when the little girl was ‘it’.

Erik still preferred to play with Kinana indoors, still for the same reasons — that they were boys being boys, bullying annoying rich girly girls and crybabies — but Kinana never asked to come with him either. Still, when he knew it was a lazy day and they were probably just going to climb trees, play tag or hide-and-seek or fly kites, he took the initiative to ask her if she wanted to go. The little girl always said ‘yes’, of course.

Even after Kinana moved out permanently as he mother had enough savings to go back home and look for local employment instead, Cobra always dropped by to hang out with her. He was twelve — he still walked her home from school, let her into his room to play some video games and helped her out with her homework. They always talked on the phone, her telling him about her day as usual, and him just listening to her happy voice until their parents complained about the phone bill and that it’s way past their bed time.

They always kept in touch, even when Kinana was old enough to realize that Cobra and his friends were getting into some messy business and even when Cobra knew that the girl who had used to hold on to his hand all the time had gained her own friends and hardly needed his help anymore. They talk all the time — well, Kinana talked all the time because he always asked her about her day and about her friends and school activities. Cobra always listened and just… looked after her. Just like always, like back when they were children.

He has had a lot of teasing and jabbing from his gang members (the ones who just came in, the ones who weren’t from way back) about his cute girlfriend. That pissed Cobra off, since he always tried not to involve Kinana on matters about the gang. He was only ever comfortable about her meeting his other friends if those friends were Racer, Hoteye, Midnight or Angel who had known him and the girl since they were children. Even then, he still had qualms.

But yes, he knew he and Kinana indeed do a lot of couple stuff. Cobra goes with her to see any movie she wants, he accompanies her on trips to see whatever was the latest attraction in town, he always dropped by her place if only just to be there and hang out peacefully…

That was it, really. He was just doing the usual “looking after her” things. Nothing he’d never done before, and he had been doing it ever since he was eight — so he was quite sure that he had gotten really good at it.

So how the hell can he, at 18, flunk and not know what he did wrong?

Cobra was brought back to the situation when a familiar voice rang out behind him. “Look at you two, fighting like a couple…”“Angel.” He turned his head to see a fellow gang member and a classmate grinning smugly at him. “What’re you talkin’ about?”

“I heard everything.” the silver-haired student chimed, “Well, not exactly everything, but I saw the two of you walking so I decided I’d greet you guys. But when I got close enough, it seems like there was a problem… You better fix it, snake.”

He huffed.

“Are you going in?” Angel asked, peering at the inside of the cafe.


“You’re kinda just stupidly standing there, see.”

He rolled his eyes, then started to walk away. “I’m going home.”

She called after him. “Hey, we have a meeting! You promised Racer you’ll be in this one!” — see, this is why he didn’t even know why they recruited Angel in the gang. She was that girl with her girly tea parties that they always crashed by dropping or throwing little frogs and squirrles in their fancy table.

“Can’t come. I’m sick or something. Tell ’em that.”

“Fine, I’ll tell them you’re lovesick!”

He glared. “Try.”

She scoffed, crossing her arms across her chest. “Watch.”

Erza and Jellal ended up at Yajima-san’s. It was already late when they reached the town square, so Jellal offered an early dinner instead, assuring his companion that they can still have cake for dessert. Erza looked really embarassed and insisted that they can split the bill. She didn’t let Jellal say no.Yajima-san himself brought their orders to them, which made Erza blush profusely as the old man complimented her “finding a decent and polite young man” before leaving them to start their meal.

“I… I’m sorry about that.” she told her companion.

“I get it more than you do, you know.” Jellal said, chuckling.

Erza blinked at him.

Jellal explained, “Everytime I buy a cake for you, Yajima-san always seem to think that I’m bringing it as a treat for a girlfriend, and he always asks ‘How are things with Erza-chan’ and the like.”


“Yes, well I’ve told him many times that we’re not… together, but he always seems to ignore that bit so I’ve grown kinda used to it.”

“I’m so sorry, that must be really troublesome!”

He shrugged good-naturedly, “Not really. As I’ve said, I’m used to it.”

“Still, they should listen to us once in a while, you know.”

He chuckled again. “I know.”

They both started their meal then, eating the delicious cooking that Yajima-san’s restaurant was known for, talking between bites.

“So, what did you want to talk to me in private about?” Erza asked.

Jellal glanced at the young woman across him. She was chewing her food while looking at him, and only blinked when he looked back down.

“Jellal, anything wrong?” she said, softly this time.

“Ah, it’s not really anything too important.”

She nodded encouragingly. “What is it?”

He breathed deeply. “There’s this little event for the student council. Kind of a celebration because most of us managed to pull off the school festival successfully, also we had just taken the entrance exam for Fiore U. and everyone is quite positive about it. So it’ll be a gathering of us members and other graduating seniors next week…”

“That’s great. You should go.” Erza encouraged, smiling.

“Well, yes. Of course I will.” he nodded. “And well, they said that we can take one or two people each. You know, it’s for fun and some of them have friends who want to celebrate with the rest of the group.”

“You’re taking Mysto with you?” Erza laughed. She could already imagine how Mysto would try to embarrass his twin.

“No way!” Jellal shook his head, squirming uncomfortably at the idea. Despite being the more cool-headed and quieter twin, Mystogan had the bigger mischievous streak. His cool and quiet reputation just covered that really well. “But I do want to invite someone.”

She simply nodded. “If you want to go with one of the guys, you’ll be good asking Gray, he’s really reliable—”

“I actually want to ask you.” he admitted, meeting her gaze.

She paused, swallowing her food first before asking. “…Me?”

He nodded. “Yes. Will you go with me to the party?”

She looked down, thinking hard. “I… I’m not quite sure if I’ll be able to keep up…”

“It’s just a small party, I promise there’s nothing too.. uh, lively, or anything. They’re all celebrating for luck on the Fiore U. exams. I think you can relate to that.”

“W-Why me, though?” she asked, laughing uneasily. “I’m not too good with strangers.” But that wasn’t her real reason. Erza was quite comfortable with dealing with most people formally, given her status as student council president and her long-standing involvement in various kendo tournaments. She was also quite sure that Ultear will be there, knowing the other council president, and they get along quite well despite the raven-head’s competitiveness.

What Erza was worried about was that it was a very… couple… thing to do, to go to events together. She blamed her being really old-fashioned and conservative, but the last time she took Jellal with her on an outing with her friends, they all teased the two about their relationship. Now Erza knew that her friends were simply like that and that they always joked around. She was worried about what Jellal’s friends will think. They might assume that they were a couple too, like how Yaji-jii and Mira and the others did… Jellal never told Erza about any girl he potentially liked in his school, but what if there was one, and what if she was there and she takes it the wrong way? What if it was the opposite? What if one of Jellal’s friends like him but gets discouraged because of Erza’s presence? What if—

Jellal wanted to punch himself in the face again, because his companion was very visibly internally freaking out. He was quite sure that Erza didn’t know that her face was turning as red as her hair and that she was gripping her spoon and fork too tightly, shaking a little bit…

He really wanted her to go with him. It was the least he can do for everything she did for him since he had gone back to Magnolia… She helped him make some friends, accompanied Wendy a couple times on one of those girl outings, gave him some useful tips about the town like where to find the good books or which restaurants served great food…

He was about to tell her exactly that, when his phone rang. He winced, seeing Ultear’s name, but answered anyway, clearing his throat before speaking. “Um, yes…?”

Erza stopped her momentary freak-out session as they both heard a loud screech of “YOU ARE SOOOOO GOING TO DIE MULTIPLE TIMES WHEN I SEE YOU!”

“I’m so sorry, Ultear.” Jellal sighed. “Gray said he wanted to talk to you, so I told him you were coming…”

Erza knew that Ultear must have calmed down then, as she didn’t hear anything more besides Jellal’s side of the conversation.

“No, I didn’t hear anything from Cobra-kun. Why?”

Erza silently continued her meal, trying not to listen to her companion.

“…Alright. What was that?… Of course I got your flowers.”

Wait. Flowers?

“…I’ll bring them tomorrow. All of your favorites, just as how you want them.” — a sigh. “I didn’t get the chocolates because I know you don’t like sweets.”


“Yes. Oh, I never got to thank you for the lunch a while ago. It was great.”

She cooks his lunch?

“Me? Ah, I’m with Erza right now… Okay. Got it. I promise I’ll be on time tomorrow.”

On time for what?

“Yes, yes. Anything for you, Ultear. -…I’ll tell her. You too. I’m hanging up now.”

He turned back to see Erza looking at him, face still flushed.

“…Uh. That was Ultear. She says ‘hi’ and… err… for you to call her if I do something weird. Don’t listen to that last part.” he sighed, pocketing his phone. “She’s a handful, but that’s just her, I guess.”

Erza nodded slowly. “…Y-Yes. I’ve met her a few times, and she really comes off as… uh, a bit intimidating.”

“She’s scary, yes.” he chuckled, but found himself smiling lightly. “But she has her moments.”

“So… about the party…”

“Ah, yes. That. Will you go with me?” he said, peering at her face. Erza looked back down at her food.

“I… I’d love to, but… but why me, exactly?”

Jellal was glad he could finally say it: “I just want to repay you. You introduced me to a lot of wonderful people who are now my friends. That meant a lot to me, and I was thinking… maybe I could get you to meet my friends, as well. Since you’re planning to go to Fiore U. like the rest of us, I think it might be a bit of help for you, to know some familiar faces when we get there. It’s… it’s that.”

Erza nodded. What he said made a lot of sense.

“Besides, I’m pretty sure they also want to meet you. You’re a pretty famous student, you know.”

Erza nodded again. It was also really nice of him to want her to meet his friends just as she had wanted him to meet hers. She didn’t have to worry about the others possibly thinking that they were a couple. Jellal wanted to take her to that celebration as a friend, nothing more.

The red-head finally smiled and said, “Alright, it’s not like I can deny you anything when you’re treating me to cake, anyway.”

His face lit up. “Really? You’re going with me?”

“I am.” she said, unable to stop her laugh at his bright expression.

“Thanks. You won’t regret meeting them, I swear. They’re all big fans of yours.”

“Alright, tell me about who’s going to be in this party— Wait. Will Kagura-chan be there?”

They finished their meal with Jellal talking about the various members of his student council.

Erza was happy to be invited, to be asked personally by the young man she considered a very special friend. For some reason, she wasn’t worried about being seen as his girlfriend anymore, but there was a little nagging feeling on the back of her head. However, she knew that Jellal was really having fun telling her about his own friends (she remembered being the same just a few months back when she asked him to go with her on a group outing) so she pushed that odd feeling back for a while and focused on her friend.

Kinana’s shift in The Strauss’ started during the dinner rush hour. She was used to this shift. Mira only had time to briefly thank her for being reliable and taking up the vacant shift before the barmaid had returned to attending to the other customers. Cana also gave her a quick pat on the shoulder when she passed by her fellow part-timer before rushing to the dishwashers, both hands occupied with two trays full of dishes. This was the cafe-slash-semi-restaurant during this shift, Kinana knew. They were all focused on keeping things running. The breather came later. It kept her occupied enough to forget about Erik for a while.But after an hour or two, as the flood of customers died down and the employees were able to take a breath and take on a more relaxed pace, Kinana quickly remembered her little predicament with her friend.

As Cana and another waitress cleaned up the empty tables, Kinana found herself helping Mira in the bar, wiping some plates and glasses dry.

As the purple-haired girl focused on her task, she thought of her friend’s face as she refused to tell him the problem. He looked really confused and… well, he looked pretty disappointed. She knew that he wasn’t used to her denying him anything. She always told him everything and he always listened. Whenever he asks her if she wanted to go somewhere, she will always try hard to go with him as much as possible. It wasn’t like the both of them to keep secret. Well, Cobra kept a lot of things from her, but Kinana knew that it was for her own good.

This time, however, was the first time that she kept something from him. It made her guilty, but she couldn’t exactly tell him outright either — because it was about him.

“Kinana-chan… Kinana-chan?”

Kinana suddenly cut off her train of thought when she felt Mira poking her cheek gently.

The girl stammered, looking at her employer. “H-Hai?”

“Girl,” Cana started, making Kinana realize that the brunette had been sitting in front of her for God-knows-how-long now… “If you wipe that glass any longer, you’re gonna set it on fire.”


“Kinana-chan, you’ve been wiping the same glass for the last five minutes.” Mira said with a small worried smile. “Is everything okay?”

“Oh.. I’m… I’m sorry, I was just thinking…”

A customer entered. It was a patron and Cana got up quickly and greeted the familiar man, leading him to a table and taking his order.

Mira watched the interaction with a small smile before turning to her part-timer. Kinana was one of her best girls. She was shy and clumsy at first, but she worked very diligently and very seldom failed at anything handed to her. “So what’s the matter, Kinana-chan? You can tell me if you have problems. You know that, right?”

She remembered Erik asking her the very same question — “Hey, if you have a problem, you know you can tell me. Right?”

She answered just the same way. “R-right…”

When the girl kept quiet, Mira decided to urge her. “Is it something really bad?”

The answer, however, made the barmaid blink. “Mira-san, do you think I’m boring?”

“…Uh… what was that, sweetie?”

The girl looked down, making sure to set aside the glass and pick up another. “I know I’m quiet and… and I’m not good at sports or arts or anything. I’m not pretty and I don’t wear flashy dresses… I’m… I’m really really ordinary and there’s just… just the tea ceremony club thing, and I know that’s not really exciting and all… So do you think I’m boring?”

Mira laughed lightly. The girl reminded her of Lisanna far too much. “Oh, honey. You’re sweet, cheerful and hard-working—”

“—but boring. Right?” — she was legitimately very worried.

“No, not at all. You just haven’t found anything worth really investing your time in. You just started high school. There are lots of thing to try. Why are you so worried about this all of a sudden?”

The girl sighed. “There’s… uh… Erik—”

The barmaid’s face lit up. “A boy! I knew it!”

“Mi-Mira-san! It’s not like that!”

Mira laughed, stroking the blushing girl’s hair. “I’m kidding, Kinana-chan! So what is it?”

“Well, the other day, we were talking over the phone. Well, it was more like I was talking and he was listening, and then… then I realized he fell asleep.”

“Oh, that’s… kinda rude, I think.” Mira said, blinking. “Were you talking about something important?”

“Not really. But it’s just…” she cut herself off, looking away with a little blush. “Okay, this is really stupid, but…”

“Come on, I won’t laugh.” the woman encouraged.

“Well, we’ve known each other since we were kids, and I just only noticed that… well, for years, it’s always been me talking and he usually doesn’t say anything, just telling me to keep on talking. I don’t know if he’s really listening, though. And I feel kind of like… like a burden. Like he’s just looking after me because he feels like he has to. He never talks about his other friends or himself and when I ask, he just says they’re fine and that I don’t have to know about them anyways…”

“He’s a really secretive person, this Erik of yours, hm?”

“Kinda. So a week ago, he asked me if I wanted to go somewhere, and said I couldn’t go.”


“I don’t know. I just… didn’t feel like going. I was thinking that maybe he might have more fun if he didn’t waste his time on me… then I regret it because I realized that I miss him because he’s been too busy lately… Then he goes and visits me at school and he thinks I’m upset, but I didn’t want to tell him what’s wrong, and I… I think now he’s mad at me.”

Mirajane blinked. “Well, that’s… um, quite confusing. So you think he doesn’t like you anymore, so you try to stay away for a while, but you didn’t know what to tell him, so you just said… nothing?”

Kinana nodded guiltily. “That was wrong. Right?”

“…You should have at least told him.. something.”

“I was thinking he might get angry, but I think I made him angry anyway.”

Mira sighed. “He’ll come around, Kinana-chan. If he really cares about you, he shouldn’t be mad for too long…”

“…You think so?”

“Positive.” the woman said, complete with a reassuring smile. “But remember, you have your own share of apologies to make, too.”

Kinana knew that. That was why she made a mental note to call him right after her shift. She didn’t want to dwell on her insecurities much longer. She missed him too much despite thinking that he was better off looking after her less.

She will ask him if they could talk. He always had time when she wanted to talk.

Lucy’s shift was almost finished when a familiar red-head entered the bookstore. She had just bid a customer goodbye and wished them a good day when Erza settled herself on one side of the counter. Enought to indicate that the cash register was free, but near enough to chat with the blonde cashier.“Hey, Erza. What’s up? Need a book or anything?” Lucy said.

Erza shook her head. “No, I was just going home after dinner with Jellal. I remembered you work here now so I thought I’d drop by.”

“Oh. Thanks. My shift’s almost finished, anyway. Do you want to go home together?” Lucy offered.

“I can’t see why not.” the red-head shrugged. “I already told Master that I’ll be going home late anyway.”

“Great. So how was Jellal? What did he ask?” the blonde smiled slyly. “Did he ask you out on a date?”

“No, silly.” the other girl chuckled. “He wanted to take me to this party.. celebration thing with his friends—”

“It’s a date.”

“It isn’t. It’s for the Sorciere student council and some seniors… they’re celebrating their successful cultural festival and taking exams for Fiore U. Something like that.”

“It’s a date.” Lucy repeated.

“It isn’t. We’re going as friends. Besides, he told me that Kagura-chan will be there, and I’m excited to see and catch up with her.”

“But you’re going as his date. Right? That’s how those parties go…”

“Lucy, stop it.” Erza rolled her eyes. “He just wants me to meet his other friends. Much like how I dragged him to meet you guys.”

“Fine, fine. It was worth the try.” Lucy said, shaking her head. “Still, though. You’ve met his family, then his friends, and he’s met yours too. You two are absolutely getting there!”

“Getting where?”

“You know where.”

“Lucy…” Erza sighed. “Please.”

“Okaaaaay, I’ll stop.” the blonde finally gave up. Just then, a customer went up to them with a stack of books and magazines. Lucy quickly and efficiently did her job, and Erza watched her friend with a small smile on her face. She could see how hard the blonde worked to keep herself independent as much as possible.

As the customer left, Erza sighed and spoke up. “Lucy?”

“Hm?” the blonde turned to her with a smile. “Getting bored? Last five minutes, then we can up and leave.”

“No, I don’t really mind.” Erza said, smiling back shortly, then looking down at the countertop. “You know… Um, it’s about Jellal.”


“I… I never noticed that he has a girlfriend.”

Lucy stared.

Erza looked at her expectantly.

“You’re his girlfriend.” the blonde said, certain of her statement.

Erza rolled her eyes. “I’m not. Look I’m serious here.”

“Okay. He told you that?”

“Not exactly, but… It’s Ultear.”

“Ultear. Milkovich? Gray’s cousin, that Ultear?”

“Yes.” Erza said, looking down. “And I never.. knew. Or noticed. Jellal always talks about her and their other friend Meredy, but I never caught that… they’re together. Well, granted, he doesn’t have to tell me everything but—”

“Whoa, whoa wait a minute. They’re together? Officially? He said so?”

“Not outright—”

“How did you come to think… that?”

“Well, I heard them talking, and… apparently he’s bringing her a bunch of flowers—”

“It could mean anything. To congratulate her or something—”

“—well, he said he’s not giving her chocolate but only because she doesn’t like sweets—”

“Umm… okay. But still vague. Anything else?”

“She made him lunch.”

“Natsu makes me lunch.”

“His dad makes you lunch, Lucy. Because Igneel basically wants to adopt you.”

“Yeah, so maybe… Ultear’s parents — I’m sorry — guardians want to adopt Jellal too, because he’s a nice boy, y’know.”

“Um… he said he’ll be on time for something tomorrow—”

“It could be a meeting or a class or something.”

“Okay, but he said ‘anything for you, Ultear’, and what do you say about that?”

Lucy had to stop there. “Fine, that is really sweet, specially if I imagine that it comes from Jellal-kun…”

Erza sighed and looked down. “And he was talking about her with this fond smile on his face and I just… feel really upset all of a sudden.”

“Oh. My gosh. Erza, I’m sorry…”

“No, I mean… he always gets teased when we’re together. But he’s already got himself someone. That’s not me. And it’s you guys teasing him, and I can’t even do anything to correct you people…”

Lucy peered at her friend. “Wait, you’re not upset because you’re not the girlfriend?”

“Of course not. Ultear must be a wonderful girl… Well, she’s kinda intimidating, but Jellal clearly likes her.”

“It’s weird, though. Why did he still invite you to that party, wouldn’t he be going with Ultear if they’re dating.”

“I told you, it’s not a ‘date’ thing, he’s inviting me as a friend, to meet other people that I might meet when I go to Fiore U.”

“Well, that makes sense.” Lucy said, leaning on the counter and resting her chin in her hand. She pouted. “We were all rooting for you two.”

Erza sighed. “That makes me happy, but I guess it can’t happen know, huh.”

“But you do like him. Right?”

“He’s really special.” Erza said. “I admit that, but… well, I don’t like him that way, alright?”

“Then why do you look so down?”

“I don’t know why exactly.” Erza admitted, smiling guiltily. “But I guess that after months of catching up nonstop, I’d… you know, know about something like that.”

“Hm. Yeah, I get you.” Lucy said, looking down at the counter. “I mean, if I suddenly found out that Natsu has a girlfriend, I’d send him flying, ’cause why didn’t he tell me sooner, right?”

Erza laughed. “Really? Just that?”

“Mm-hm. That would be a very unlucky girl, having to deal with that guy…” Lucy shook her head, brows furrowed as if in pity for Natsu’s hypothetical girlfriend. “But I guess I’d know, you see? I mean, he’s always… around me lately, so it would be impossible to miss something like that.”

“He is always around you lately.” Erza agreed, then chuckled. Lucy looked at the red-head, then saw that the other girl was looking at the book store’s window, trying not to laugh.

From outside the store, Natsu had pressed his face against the glass, making a funny face in an attempt to catch Lucy’s attention.

“See what I mean about the unlucky girl?” Lucy asked, voice in monotone.

“Very clearly.” Erza nodded.

Erza watched as the blonde informed her manager that she was leaving and packed her things up. Natsu was waiting by the sidewalk when the girls exited the bookstore.

Natsu grinned teasingly. “Eh, what is Miss President doing out here in the late hours of the night?”

“She had dinner with Jellal. Shut up about it.” Lucy explained shortly and precisely, for that Erza was thankful. Natsu pouted, but did as he was told and shut up about it anyway.

As they started walking home, Erza watched as Natsu wordlessly offered his arm to Lucy, while the blonde simply smiled and accepted, snuggling close to the boy’s shoulder. Natsu offered his other arm to Erza, and she simply sighed and took it anyway as the three of them made their way down the sidewalk, huddled closely together.

“Hah, I get all the pretty girls!” Natsu bragged.

Lucy hit his arm playfully. “Shut up, you probably look like the gay best friend.”

Erza laughed at that, and Natsu claimed that he was a manly guy who was nobody’s gay best friend. When Erza and Lucy just snuggled closer, the pink-head simply screamed, “Ugh, GIRLS ARE SO WEIRD!”

When Jellal got home, he found his siblings on an intense game of Monopoly.“Okaeri.”

“Tadaima.” both Mysto and Wendy called out, not taking their eyes off their game.

He knew better than to ask to join the game in the middle of it, or to ask either of his siblings on who was winning. He simply sat down with them and volunteered to be the new banker.

After a few turns, Mystogan looked at his twin. “You know that we really really really like Erza, right?”

Jellal raised an eyebrow, looking back and forth at his two siblings. “…Um. Yes. You make it… very obvious.”

“Well, just so you know,” Mysto continued. “If you screw this up, I—”

“We.” Wendy corrected.

“…We. Sorry. We are going to be very disappointed, brother. I shit you not.”

Jellal blinked several times, then looked down at the stack of fake money on his lap. “Uh. screw what up, exactly?”

“This thing with Erza.”

“…Okay.” — he didn’t bother telling his twin that he had no plans to pursue that ‘thing with Erza’ anytime soon. It was clear that his siblings think that he did something wrong or stupid or both. “What did I do?”

“He doesn’t know.” Wendy said.

Mysto clicked his tongue and picked a few bills from his own stack of money and handed it to his little sister, who was grinning proudly at herself.

Jellal watched the scene unfold before exclaiming, “You can’t use Monopoly money for bets!”

“Yes, we can.”

“…and stop making bets about me!”

“Can’t stop, won’t stop.”

“…and just tell me what the hell I didn’t know I did!”

They didn’t tell him.

The next day, Jellal found the student council clubroom mostly unoccupied. There were two other students on their respective desks, while the president’s chair was empty. Ultear had informed them earlier that day that she will be absent from school.Because Kagura wasn’t around, Jellal was able to work on his papers more comfortably until he finished them. He had just opened his notebook to work on his homework early when Meredy entered the room with a stack of papers that she left neatly in Ultear’s desk. After the pink-haired girl made sure that the president’s desk was neat and tidy, she skipped excitedly towards Jellal.

“Cobra-kun’s girl was very cute.” Meredy said as she sat herself on the young man’s desk. “Her name is Kinana-chan, and she was really polite and stuff. Tea ceremony club and all.”

“Kinana-chan, the girl who works at the Strauss’?” Jellal asked, ignoring the girl’s fingers playing idly with his hair and focusing on his homework.

“Probably that one, yeah.”

“I’ve met her. She is a nice girl, yes.”

“Cobra-kun was all nice and fluffy like.” Meredy giggled. “It was so adorable.”

“So did they make up?” Jellal asked, looking up from his work.

“I don’t know, they seemed okay. Maybe Cobra-kun was just being paranoid? But-.. What’s this?” Meredy found herself looking down on a little pink bag that Jellal had settled on her lap. She picked it up and opened it. “Jelly beans! What for?”

He shrugged, looking back down at his homework. “I kinda ditched you yesterday.”

“Aww, this is the sweetest!” the girl squealed, wrapping her arms around his shoulder and giving him a tight hug. “You’re the best, Jelly!”

He knew it would work. Wendy always cheered up with some candy, so he figured that it could be an apology token, as well. He just didn’t expect the pink-haired secretary to have a death grip. The next thing he knew, she was pressing her cheek and the bag of jelly beans against his face and they were both looking up at her phone—

“H-Hey, what’re you—”

“C’mon, I’m putting this on Facebook.”

“What? No—”


He did it anyway.

After Meredy had finished her post on Facebook, she turned to Jellal again. “But seriously, it didn’t look like there was anything wrong with ’em, Cobra-kun and Kinana-chan, I mean. If you ask me, they’re closer than I expected. I really thought she’d be this cute girl he scared into liking ’im, but they were totally sweet and stuff. Did you see Cobra-kun today?” The girl asked, popping a piece of candy on her mouth.

Jellal nodded. “I asked him about what happened yesterday, and he just said that they made up last night.”

“Eh, so it’s done?”

“I guess so.”

Meredy pouted. “And I was having fun with him, too.”

Jellal flinched when a piece of jelly bean was repeatedly poked on his cheek. He sighed before opening his mouth to let the girl drop the candy in it. “Yes, you did do a good job getting on his nerves.”

“No, not that way.” the girl said as she sat on a chair beside him and leaned on his shoulder. “I mean, he can be a pretty fun guy. Imagine that, huh. He’s always out with his gang getting into fights and wrecking things. He’s like a different person when he’s with Kinana-chan. Even when he’s just talking about her. I never thought I’d see him struggle to be mean.”

Jellal raised an eyebrow at the girl. “Struggle to be mean? Really?”

“Really.” she said, offering another piece of candy.

He accepted it this time, knowing better than to complain. “Well, if they’ve made up, I think we should just be happy. Kinana-chan seems like a really sensitive person and even if I don’t know her that much, I’d hate to see someone like her upset.”

“Yeah, you’ve got a point.” Meredy sighed. “We should hang out with Cobra-kun more, though. He so easy to tease… Not like you, it looks like you’ve given up…”

Jellal simply rolled his eyes. Yes, he has given up, what with the constant bullying that the president and secretary put him through…

“Hey, you got that part wrong.”


She pointed at an equation on his notebook.

“Oh. Yeah.”

“Well, that’s weird.” she mused. “Boy genius getting simple algebra wrong. New headline much.”

“Meredy,” Jellal said, tone careful. “Did Mysto tell you anything… strange?” Because he knew that Meredy talked to anyone and everyone, and it was possible that she might have let some weird info slip while talking to his twin.

“Huh? I haven’t talked to Mysto-kun in a while. Why?”

Jellal shook his head. “Nothing too important.”

“Are you having Titania troubles?”

“Please don’t call it that.”

“Are you taking her to the senior party? Ultear said I can go with her, but I don’t feel like going because you’re all seniors. But I’ve always wanted to really meet Titania, so…”

“Yes, I am taking her to the party. I asked her yesterday…”

“Yay! I’m coming after all!”

He sighed. “Can you… not?”

“I can’t. It’s fun teasing you.” then the girl looked at the pink candy bag again and raised an eyebrow. “Hey, where did you buy these? They taste really great.”

Jellal questioned his life choices. Why did he end up with friends that were mean to him?

Cobra was cutting classes. Well, that wasn’t exactly a new thing. He skipped whenever he got bored. He didn’t like attending classes, anyway. He studied on his own and was able to answer the exam questions, so he didn’t give a damn about his attendance too much.“I heard you went to FairyGaku.”

Cobra didn’t look away from the sky when he heard that voice. Of course Racer would know that the other teen would be in the rooftop. “Yeah, a few days ago. What’s it to you?”

“Angel told me you were there instead of attending the meeting.” Racer explained, sitting down beside his friend.

“That little-… she got it wrong again. I just picked Kinana up from school and walked her to work. Then it was time for the meeting and I don’t give a shit so I didn’t go.”

“Kinana-chan, huh.”


“Haven’t seen her in a while, but I bet she’s a beauty.”

Cobra paused before simply saying, “Yeah, kinda.”

“Ya ask her yet?”

“Ask her what?”

“Be your girl?”

Cobra scoffed.

“What’s that? Or is it really just the little-sister kinda thing?”

“Not really. Just not yet sure if it’s not the big-brother kinda thing on her side. Haven’t checked properly yet.”

Racer chuckled. “That’s our good ol’ Cobra-kun. So considerate.”

“Shut up.”

“Last time ya mentioned her to me, you had some falling out or something. That fixed now?”

“I think so.”

She called him that same night after her shift, saying sorry for keeping a secret from him. She sounded like she was blaming herself and that she was sure that he was mad at her. But he wasn’t, and he simply told her to forget about it. He told her that he didn’t care about whatever it was that she didn’t want to tell him, but that she shouldn’t do that again because he was worried. He could feel the relief in her voice when it dawned on her that he wasn’t about to push the issue.

So they made up. She was talking to him again, and he promised to take her that weekend to that movie she wanted to watch. He listened to her talk about tea ceremony club until they both got sleepy. All was right in his world again.

He wasn’t really concerned about her seeing him as a big brother. She never called him as such because he explicitly told her that he found it weird. Ever since they were children, even when he looked after her like an older sibling would, they were both aware that they weren’t siblings. Besides, she had always called him Erik. They were simply close friends. He never felt like she saw a big brother in him, really. On that department, they were safe.

But he wasn’t about to ask her to “be his girl” anytime soon, he knew. He liked things the way they were. No complicated shit like anniversaries and date nights — they went out and got together whenever they pleased. Erik liked things like that. There was him and there was her, and they like being together. He really never felt any need to lay claim or ownership of anything. He never felt like putting a label on the two of them.

Between the two of them, they just knew. That’s what made them different, and Erik didn’t want that to change.

“Ya know we won’t mind if you quit the gang for Kinana-chan.”

That statement made Cobra look at his companion. “What?”

“Hoteye’s been sayin’ that for years now, ‘ya see. Says we all know ’bout you and Kinana-chan anyways and we shouldn’t stop ’ya and you wanna focus on her or somethin’.”

“No, man. Why’d that big idiot think I would have to quit?”

“Y’know, we’re not kids anymore. We won’t give you shit just ’cause ’ya choose to play with her all day and ditch us. ’Ya can’t go to her after a fight and tell ’er about every bastard you beat up, either. Not exactly a good answer if she asks you ’bout your day.”

“That’s bull.”

Racer shrugged. “C’mon, ‘ya said it yourself. She’s real pretty. And it’s high school so she’s probably gonna get all them boys wanting to go out with her. Don’t ’ya think she needs a reason to turn them down? ’I already have a friend’ won’t cut it, y’know.”

Cobra fell silent for a while. “You come all this way to give me love advice?”

“Just puttin’ that out there.” then the other student stood up and dusted his pants. “Had me worried a bit when I heard you were havin’ a little spat, ’cause we really like Kinana-chan, y’know.”

“You goin’ to class?”

“Nah, goin’ for a ride. It’s boring here.”

Cobra grunted his agreement.

“Hoteye’s gonna be in town tonight.”

“I know.”

“You comin’?”

“’Course I am.”

“That’s what you said ’bout the meeting last time.”

“I’m going this time. Just fuck off.”

Racer shook his head and raised his hands in defeat, before leaving his friend alone in the school rooftop again.

Cobra took out his phone and checked his messages. There was Hoteye’s message, inviting them for drinks that night, his treat. Something from Midnight, but it was probably a message sent accidentally when the guy fell asleep on his phone. Racer asking where he was (Cobra didn’t reply, but Racer found him anyway). Then some messages from Kinana, asking him if they could drop by the crafts store after the movie (Cobra replied to that; of course they could.).

They did go out on the weekend. The package included the movie and the crafts store as promised. It has been exactly a week since their minor fall-out, and as they walked together in the town square, both of them carrying bags of colored paper and cardboard for one of Kinana’s school projects, Erik thought that maybe everything was indeed back to normal. Whatever it was that Kinana kept from him, she was willing to tell him when she apologized — and that was enough. He didn’t ask her further and let it pass just like that. It was enough that she knew that he was always willing to listen.Kinana was humming as he walked her home that afternoon. Erik wasn’t familiar with the tune, but then he didn’t listen to music much. He smiled a bit as he listened to his friend’s voice in the quiet sidewalk.

A little while later, the humming faded into silence. He looked at his companion. “Hey, why’d you stop?”

Kinana blinked up at him. “Stop what?”

“That. It sounded… good.”

She smiled. “Right? That song’s been stuck in my head for days! My friends play it all the time, too…”

“Yeah? Keep singing.”

“I was humming.”

He shrugged. “Sing it anyway.”

“But I don’t sing.”

“Your voice is pretty.” he said.

“No, it’s not.”

“It is. And you sing a lot.”

“I-… I don’t!”

Erik scoffed. “You sing in the shower all the time.”

“W-What-… I don’t!”

“You do.”

Kinana knew that she does. “You listen?!”

“I like your voice.” he said innocently. “At least I don’t peep while you shower.”

The poor girl was blushing furiously by then. “E-Erik—!”

“What?!” he asked, trying not to laugh. “Shit, look at you. Calm down.”

She looked down and practically buried her face in the paperbag of art materials in her arms. “I… I must have… sung really badly.”

“No, it sounded really nice.” — at least, Cobra thought, much much much better than Angel or the others whenever they drag him to a karaoke bar.

“But I really don’t sing.” she insisted, pouting. “My voice is nothing compared to Evergreen-san or Mira-san…”

“Heh. Don’t put yourself down.” he said, raising a hand to pat her head. “I still like your voice the best.”

“Is that why I’m the one who always does the talking?”

He stopped, taken aback by the question and the tone of his friend’s voice. He looked at the girl’s face. Kinana was looking at him with wide eyes, a hand over her mouth, obviously surprised at what she said, as well.

Kinana quickly stepped back, looking down at the ground as she tried to explain, “I-… That must’ve sounded-… I’m… I’m not angry, or upset, or… or anything, I just—”

Erik looked at her. She sounded… bitter… when she asked him. Like she was tired of something. It didn’t sound like her usual cheerful, gentle self at all. “You just what?” he asked.

“I just… thought that…” she avoided his eyes. “I just thought that I’m always the one talking and that I tell you everything, and that’s great. I really think it is, but… but you hardly tell me anything about you and… I mean, it’s really nice that you always like listening to me, but I can’t help but feel like I might annoy you with that, ’cause it’s not like I talk about interesting or special things. I-… I’m worried that you might be bored with me, so I always think about asking you too, but… but you might get angry or maybe I’m just prying too much…”

She trailed off, and he simply chuckled. “Keep talking.”

“See, that’s what I was saying—”

He cut her off by taking her hand in his and saying, “Look, I didn’t stutter, and you heard me — I like your voice the best.”


“It’s just like how your friends keep playing that song. They like it, so they keep listening. I like you, so I don’t mind if you keep talking, I’ll always listen.”

He got her to cheer up again after tha, and they resumed walking home.

That really was how fights go between them. It always passed by quickly. Kinana was a person who forgave easily, and he was someone who apologize fast if it came to her. It kept their relationship working out, they both knew.

Perhaps it came from when they were living together as children. It was always easier to just get it over with and swallow their pride, than trying to give the other a cold shoulder or the silent treatment while under the same roof. As close as they were, they found it hard to stay angry at each other. They carried that attitude until the present. It complicated things less. Erik never liked complications.

Both of them didn’t know, however, that the other one always took those little fights to heart. They never want things like that to happen again, so they work hard not to make the same mistakes.

“So she said that?”“Oh, you really don’t know how to balance things out, huh?”

“It’s really sweet, but really stupid, y’know.”

“If someone told me to keep talking ’cause they like my voice, I’d think they’re a real weirdo.”

Erik sighed in exasperation. Why did he go and try to ask help from these three again? Right, because Hoteye was nowhere and Racer’s being all nostalgic matchmaker and Angel was hanging out with her squad of girls and Midnight was somewhere, sleeping.

Now both Ultear and Meredy were scrutinizing him again, and Jellal was sitting in his desk, sandwiched helplessly between the two girls, unable to give any good advice.

“Well, I’m sorry for being stupid, then.” Cobra hissed. “But hey, she accepted that, so I guess I did alright.”

Both girls whined variations of “Noooooo!” despairingly while Jellal sighed and Cobra winced.

“You can’t just tell a girl you like her voice when she’s worried about you not liking her and stuff—”

“She has insecurities and you’re doing little to quell that—”

’—and maybe you told her you like her but you have to do something so she won’t think like that again—”

“—she thinks she’s prying but she’s not, you’re just emotionally-constipated—”

He finally snapped. “HEY—”

“If I may?” Jellal quickly cut off, saving the day. His companions looked at him. He looked at Ultear pointedly.

Ultear shook her head. “No.”


“What’s happening?” Cobra asked Meredy, although the girl was also looking at the other two, trying to catch up.

Jellal pleaded again. “Ultear?”

The woman finally sighed, rolling her eyes. “Fine, but this is the first and last time that smoulder is going to work on me.”

“What?” Cobra asked again.

“Let’s go, Meredy.” Ultear said, standing up and gesturing for the pink-head to follow her. “Leave the boys to sort out their problem.”

“Aww, bummer.” Meredy complained, but followed after the raven-head anyway.

As soon as the room was empty save for the two young men, Cobra looked at Jellal and clicked his tongue. “You should’ve done that the first time.”

“Sorry.” Jellal said, chuckling. “It doesn’t work often, though. Only when she’s in a good mood.”

“I can’t tell the difference from their good and evil mood.” Cobra said. “So, you got anything for me, genius?”

“I admit I didn’t really get everything.” Jellal started. “But I think… you’re relying on Kinana-chan too much.”

Cobra raised an eyebrow. “What?”

“I get it.” Jellal said. “I can listen to Erza talk all day. Specially when her face lights up and she’s really happy with what she’s telling me, so it’s kind of… breath-taking in a sense when I watch her do that.”

Cobra nodded.

“But you see, well… maybe it’s far-fetched in your case, but… I want her to know about me too. I’ve known her friends and family, and… somehow, I want her to know mine as well. It’s all good keeping something just between the two of you, but sometimes, you just have to share these things with the other people you care about.”

“But that’s the thing, see.” Cobra said, avoiding the blunette’s look. “I don’t want to tell her about the stuff I do. She’s… she’s out there, and doing so well, and I’m stuck with these wreck of a bunch of troublemakin’ friends, and it’s shit right now ’cause the gang’s… well, a gang. I can’t get her involved. I can’t take her to meet those bunch of idiots—”

“But you can’t keep on that forever, right?” Jellal asked. “You can’t continue to lead like, two lives with a clear line in between, keeping just selected people on either sides, choosing for them. It’s like… you know, I think you couldn’t fully start something with someone unless… unless they really know you. Maybe it’s enough for you to keep these things separated, but she will always wonder what kind of person you are when you’re not in front of her.”

“I used to do that.” Cobra admitted. “When we were kids, I’d go out and play with the others, and then go home and play with her. I only ever take her with me when we’re going to be with Racer, Hoteye and Midnight. Those idiots like her enough even back then, but sometimes they gave me shit for always putting her first. Not like I can choose between her and my friends, that’s utter bull—”

“You can’t, of course.” Jellal nodded. “Are they making you choose now?”

Cobra then remembered his talk with Racer, Hoteye’s regards, Angel saying that he ‘better fix it’…

Racer was right — they weren’t children anymore. They understood it when he ditched them to go be with Kinana, they’re even telling him not to screw up…

“I really don’t think real friends would make you choose. I haven’t experienced that before, so I’m not in the position to say anything. However, I do think that… there’s no way you can call people your friends if you can’t even trust them to take care of something or someone special to you. The same goes the other way… I don’t think someone deserves all your affections if they can’t accept the people important to you. It’s not a mater of choosing which people go to which side. I think it’s a matter of—”

“—which people can step over the line?”

Jellal nodded again, smiling lightly this time. “…and still care about you all the same.”

Kinana was walking home alone that afternoon. The tea ceremony club activities have finished and Mira said she can take the shift off since the part-timer she filled in for last time wanted to make up to her.She hummed as she walked — the same song she was humming a week ago after watching a movie with Erik. After a while, she started singing softly, the sound barely audible.

She was two verses in when she heard a familiar voice.

“Hey, it’s Cobra-chan’s pet.”

She stopped walking and was surprised to see a black-and-white haired young man lying on a nearby bench by the sidewalk.


“Cubellios-chan.” the young man sent her a little grin.

Kinana couldn’t help but smile back warily. That was a codename they gave her on the few times she played with them as a kid. The boys were playing a game where they pretend they had powers, and when she didn’t know what powers to have, Midnight suggested she can be Cobra’s flying pet snake or something. So the boys ran around shooting each other and their imaginary enemies with their imaginary power beams while Kinana was riding on Erik’s back and the boy insisted that they were flying. Midnight soon got jealous so the next day he brought a “flying carpet” that was a pillowcase he snitched from home.

“You’re walking alone?” he asked, yawning.

“Hai. I’m going home now.” The girl said, walking towards the other student, who sat up on the bench to talk to her properly.

“Eh. I was going somewhere but I wanted to sleep so I slept. Now I can’t remember where I’m supposed to go.”

Kinana smiled lightly. Some things never change. She blinked when the guy pat the bench next to him, telling her to sit down. She thought that it was early, so she sat beside him anyway.

The instant she was settled, Midnight laid his head on his lap.

The girl shrieked. “M-Midnight-san?!”

“I like you. You’re a good pillow.”

The girl blushed. “E-Eh…?”

Midnight grinned slyly. “Kinana-chan is a lady now. Blushing around Midnight-onii-chan.”


“Hey, Angel said you and Cobra-chan had a fight.”

“Oh, that’s…” the girl shook her head. “That’s over now.”

“Eh, you’ve made up?”


“Hm. You never fight anyway.”

“I… I guess so.” Kinana sighed, looking at the road. She shouldn’t have sat down… Now Midnight was using her as a pillow and was going through her phone contacts—


How did he get that anyway?

“Midnight-san, that’s my—”

“I forgot my phone. Somewhere. Whatever. I have to ask someone where I’m supposed to go.” he said, swiping at the touchscreen mercilessly, obviously trying to find someone’s number.


“Where the fuck is Cobra’s num-… Oh. You call him Erik, right?”


He sniggered. “Erik, huh. Doesn’t sound badass at all. Yo, pat my head, it feels nice.”

Kinana simply sighed and did as she was told. Erik always told her that Midnight had a screw or two loose, but he simply seemed like a really honest guy. If not too frank… “Midnight-san?”

“Yeah, what?”

“Does Erik do… bad things?”

Midnight turned his head to glance at her, then went back to the phone. “Not lately. That moron really never tells you anything, huh.”

“I want to ask him, but it’s obvious that he doesn’t want to talk about it. But he asks me, and I don’t mind so I tell him about what I do and all that…”

“That weirdo and his thing with voices. I’ll never get ’im.”


“He says something ’bout everyone’s voices. Like how Racer sounds annoying and Angel’s voice was pretty but she’s bitchy, and Hoteye… something. Yeah. That bastard told me once that I sound like a loser. How can you stand him.”

It wasn’t a question, she knew. Kinana simply nodded. “He said he likes my voice.”

“He means that, y’know.” Midnight said. “Cobra-chan loves you so much he won’t let us touch you. So I wanna take a pic of us being all touchy right now and send it to him, but I might make you cry, so I better not.”

“But…” she started. “Nevermind.”

“Eh? C’mon, say it. I won’t tell him.”


“I’ll probably just sleep.”

“Erik doesn’t talk much.” Kinana sighed, absently stroking black and white locks — how did Midnight-san even manage to keep them this way? — “I want to know him better. I know he cares about me and just wants to look after me, but… but I always feel like… like, there’s me, and then there’s the rest of his world. And ever since I can remember, we’ve been together. And I… because he never tells me anything, sometimes I feel scared… like, what’s out there? What is he like out there with other people? Why does he treat me so differently? Why can’t I know him? I always end up thinking it’s either really bad out there or I’m just really not good enough. He’s my best friend and I… I never have a clue about what he’s thinking because he simply won’t tell me—”

Kinana abruptly stopped talking when her companion’s voice spoke up and she saw that Midnight had pressed her phone to his ear. “You finally picked up. Hello, boyfriend? It’s me, Midnight.”


“Yeah, yeah. Uh, can you text Racer? I need a ride, I dunno where I’m going. I’ll text you where I am, pass it on to him. I’m holding Kinana-chan hostage, okay?”


“Bye-bye, Erik-kun!”

Kinana watched as the guy tapped her phone a few more times to send their location to Erik, then gave her back the gadget. The girl accepted it warily. “Um, Midnight-san…”

“I’ll take a nap. Don’t worry, we’ll make Racer drop you home.”

A few minutes later, a sportscar skidded to a stop right in front of them. The passenger seat window rolled down, revealing Angel’s pretty face, frowning deeply. “So there you were. What, if Kinana-chan hadn’t found you, you’re going to wander around until morning?”“Shut up.” was all Midnight said, getting up and stretching.

Angel then looked at Kinana, smiling cheerfully. “Get in, Kinana-chan. We’ll drive you home.”

Midnight absently offered his hand to Kinana, who meekly let him lead her inside the car.

Racer’s reputation was legitimate, Kinana discovered. She clung both to the car seat and to Midnight as their driver sped down the road. She was quite sure that he was breaking some laws here…

“Why’re you driving so slow?” Midnight complained, to which the girl beside him gaped. That was slow?!

“Cobra threatened me, said to drive more slowly if we’re taking Kinana-chan with us.”

In no time, Kinana was standing by the gates of their house, bowing deeply at the three people in the car, still slightly dizzy from the ride.

“Thanks for taking me home, everyone. Please take care on your way.”

Racer gave her a salute and Angel simply nodded, smiling sweetly.

“By the way, Kinana-chan.” Midnight said, just as Racer started the engine up again. “A while ago, Cobra-chan’s been on the line for a while before I started speakin’. Just so you know.”

The girl looked at him cluelessly before realization slowly dawned on her face and a blush crept to her cheeks. “B-B-But you said he wasn’t p-p-picking up…”

The guy nodded. “I lied.”


They left her standing there as the car sped down the road, Angel sending a flying kiss and a wave towards the girl’s direction.

Jellal stood by the gates of FairyGaku, tapping his foot impatiently and glancing at his phone every now and then.He was waiting for Erza. The last text he got was that she was packing up and will be meeting him outside. Maybe he surprised her by suddenly asking her to talk after school. They didn’t have any plans for that day, after all.

Ultear and Meredy very brutally broke the news to him. Just before he finished his little conversation with Cobra, the two girls barged in the club room again, grins on their faces.

“Oh my gosh, Jelly! You total loser, you!” Meredy said, giggling uncontrollably.

Ultear laughed. “What the hell did you tell her?!”


“Mysto-kun spilled it.” Meredy explained, raising her phone to indicate a text. “Titania thinks that you’re with Ultear!”

“What?! HOW?!”

By then, Cobra was chuckling as well. “You fucked up.”

“How would I know?” Ultear said, still laughing. “Hey, you better fix that, you hear?!”

And now he was preparing to fix it.

“Jellal?” He turned to see Erza standing a few feet from him, school bag and red blazer in her arms. “What’s wrong? You texted so suddenly—”

“I’m sorry, did I… interrupt something or-?”

“It’s okay. I was just going home.” she reassured.

“I-…” he started, then quickly cut himself off. God. Jellal wanted slap himself for not even coming up with anything… “May I walk you home?”

Erza blinked. “Um… I suppose so.”

He smiled a curt smile, letting her fall into step beside him as they walked together. They nodded politely at Gildarts as they passed by and the man simply waved a bit before talking to the other kids who hung out in his station.

“Jellal?” Erza asked, trying to peer at the young man’s face. “Are you sure this is just… walking me home?”

“I actually want to talk to you about something.” Jellal said. “It’s about… Ultear.”

Erza nodded. “Yes?”

“Uh, I don’t know how to say this without sounding weird, but… Ultear and I are not dating.”

“…You… you’re not?”

“Yes, it has been… err, brought up to my attention that you are under the impression that I am going out with Ultear—”



“Calm down.”

“I am calm.”

“You speak so formally when you’re nervous, do you know that?” she asked, trying not to laugh.

“Eh? I-… I do?” Jellal scratched his head and breathed deeply.


“Better. Anyway — it’s that. We’re… uh, not. A thing. Or… yeah.”

She looked down trying to avoid his gaze. “O-Oh.”

“What made you think we were?” he said, conveniently skipping over how exactly the news got to Erza or to his siblings.

“Um, well…” she said, laughing nervously. “Y-You were… err… talking to her on the phone and there was mention of… f-f-flowers and chocolates and lunch—”

“Oh. That.” he chuckled. “The flowers were for a school event, for a guest speaker, and Ultear is very meticulous about those things… The chocolates were a promo from the flower shop but I chose not to get it… The lunch… well, Ultear cooked lunch, but it’s not just for the two of us, it’s also for Meredy. She does that once in a while. Meredy loves her cooking.”

By then it was quite obvious that Erza wanted to dig a hole and hide herself in it. “O-oh… I guess I… assumed too much.” she said, then bowed deeply in apology. “I’m so sorry!”

“No, it’s fine! Erza, please, don’t apologize. It was all a misunderstanding. I… It’s alright.”

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t help but tell Lucy because I was kinda upset, so she must have told other people…”

“Nah, she just asked Mysto for clarification.”

“R-Really? No one else? ’Cause I’m afraid Ultear might get angry or something…”

“No one else. And Ultear doesn’t mind. I bet she’s laughing evilly with Meredy right now…” he sighed.

Erza also breathed a sigh of relief. Thank goodness if wasn’t any big misunderstanding or anything…

“Erza, why were you upset?”


“You just said you told Lucy because you were upset.”

“I-… I did? Oh. Um. I was upset because uh… not really upset as in… well, I was upset.”

“Erza, calm down.” Jellal chuckled. Now it was his turn to calm the young woman down. “You stammer a lot when you’re nervous.”

“Okay.” the red-head said, smiling warily. “I just thought that what with how much we talk to each other, I’d know if you were going out with someone.”

“Ah.” he nodded. “Don’t worry, I’ll… uh. Make sure I will tell you if anything like that comes up.”

Erza simply said “I know.”, looking down at their feet as they walked.

“So I just said that,” Jellal started, gulping nervously. “I just did.”

She looked up at him, blinking.

“And well, I guess… now’s a better time than any.” He was looking ahead, obviously avoiding her gaze. “Maybe I could tell you. Now. Err… I’m not exactly prepared, but… ah. I’ll just man up and do it, I guess.”

“Jellal, now you’re kinda rambling—”

“I like you.”

And with that, they stopped walking.

Erza looked at her companion. Jellal was looking back at her with a small nervous smile on his face.

He was saying the truth when he said that he wasn’t prepared. Jellal was speaking really carefully and slowly and… “What they all say about us, well that’s partly true. I like you—”

She looked down, blinking repeatedly, obviously confused. “Wait, you can’t possibly mean—”

“—as more than a friend, yes.”

She looked at him, mouth dropping open. “M-M-More than…?”

Erza knew she must have looked really stupid, blushing furiously and gaping.

Jellal stepped back a bit, smiling warily. “Please don’t look at me like that.”

To be accurate, Erza was trying not to look at him AT ALL. She breathed out and quickly ran through stock lines in her head. She had been through this how many times now? Countless. Maybe it’s her reputation as the pretty student council president, or the graceful kendo champion that gathered her a lot of admirers, most of them brave enough to approach her and ask if she would do them the honor of going out with them. Some went as far as giving her flowers and all sorts of gifts… She even remembered one or two boys who offered to walk her home and then confessed to her on their way, just like Jellal just did…

She had turned them all down — she should be used to this.

But now she had nothing. Absolutely nothing to say.

“Erza?” he called softly, frowning a little this time. The red-head was looking down at the ground, her bangs obscuring her face from view. She was gripping her bag and blazer tightly. “I’m sorry for surprising you like that. I really am. I just… wanted to clear things up.”



“You just got back.” she said, looking up at him, eyes conflicted. “We were just catching up. I was just getting used to having you around again. Yes, it’s been months, but it’s all still new for me. You just came back and we were just… trying to… you know, be in each other’s lives again and… and for you to suddenly-… that shouldn’t happen, you’re not-… I’m not even-… this is too fast—”

“Exactly.” he said, patiently cutting her off. He was still choosing his words carefully. For all the times they spent talking in perfect comfort of each other’s company, he was being very cautious. “I’m not saying that it’s impossible to feel those things for you in so short a time. I mean, you’re beautiful, talented, strong and… and everything—”

“Jellal, please—”

“And yes. Yes, I know that a dozen or so other guys must have told you that when you asked them why they like you, but… But I agree with you. I know. I think I… fell too fast, too. I guess I couldn’t help it.”

“So why—”

“I just wanted you to know.”

She shook her head. “Why?”

“I don’t know.” he said, chuckling a bit. “It’s… I told you, right? I wasn’t prepared. But then I realized that maybe I should tell you anyway. But I’m not going to ask you out. Not right now anyway…”

“H-Huh?” — because she was still wracking her brain for a proper response, and then he just told her that there was no need for it.

“I didn’t want to be rejected, I guess.”

She blinked, then immediately dissolved into a fit of apologies. “I-… I’m sorry, were… were you so sure that I was going to turn you down? I mean, not that I would’ve said yes, but-… Oh, please don’t think that I don’t think that you’re not worth going out with or anything, but… y-you know, maybe I was giving out the impression that I don’t like being liked, I mean—”

“Erza.” Jellal called again, cutting her off quickly before she suffers from complete breakdown. “I’m not asking anything of you, I just wanted to let you know something.”

“So… so what…? What are you-… what am I-… What will we do, I mean usually—”

“I like you.” he repeated. “But I’m not doing anything about it, because from everything we’ve talked about, I know that you don’t want or need that kind of thing right now.”

She looked at him, this time eyes questioning.

This was different. Very, very different.

“I can wait.” he said, nodding more for himself than for her. “To be honest, I’m not ready yet, either. So I think… I better hold off from asking you out or anything of the sort.”

“That’s it, then?” she asked. “You just want me to know that you like me, but… you’ll wait?”

“Until you can make time to really make a consideration.”

“So… until I’m ready?”

“I think so.”

“What if… what if I take too long?” — because she never imagined being ready.

Jellal looked away, a wistful expression on his face. “Then… Then maybe we’ll find out if I just simply fell too fast too soon, or if I fell too fast just at the right time.”

She was able to muster up a small smile. “…You fell too fast anyway.”

He shrugged. “I told you I couldn’t help it.” He had made to turn, thinking that their conversation was over, but she surprised him by speaking up.

“Just so you know…” she started, looking at him with an unreadable expression. “I’ve heard so many confessions, so many times and I’ve always known what to do, but when it came to you…”

He looked at her, expression expectant.

“I didn’t know what to say.” she finally admitted. “I wouldn’t know and I still don’t know what to answer if you asked now. Because… because I feel like I don’t want to say no.”

He broke into a fond smile. Those were the kind of things that makes him hope. That in one way or another, he was different than all the other boys who have laid out their hearts before her.

Jellal didn’t prepare for anything that day. He wasn’t ready, he barged headfirst and did more than what he was supposed to do, but hearing those words, he thought it was worth it.

They have… something. And that was enough reward for him for the meantime.

So maybe he should make the best out of it, after all.

Taking all the courage he has left, he said, “Funny, I was just about to really ask you…”

Her eyes widened. “Hey, wait—” the young woman blushed red when her childhood friend took one of her hands and held it in both of his. “J-Jellal?!”

“Erza Scarlet,” he started.

“W-What are you doing—”

“For your information, you currently hold my heart in your hands…” Ah, Jellal thought, that sounded A LOT better in his head but to hell with it. “And I know that’s kinda sudden.”

“J-Jellal, please—”

“Now that you know that, you can throw it around or stomp on it, and I’m very afraid of that…”


“…but I hope that you don’t, ’cause that’ll hurt very much…”

“I-I wouldn’t, but—”

“You’re one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met—”

“Please stop—”

“I just got back and I know I kinda scared you a while ago—”

“You’re scaring me right now—”

“I can’t possibly say or think of anything right now that you haven’t received or heard from the many others before me…”


“But will you do me the honor of still being my friend?”

“W-Wha-… What?”

He gave her hand a squeeze. “Please say yes.”

“Y-Ye-.. W-Wh-… What was the question?”

“Uh… will you do me the honor of still being my friend— Ow!”

She had bonked him on the head, and he watched her as she stomped down the sidewalk, fuming.

“E-Erza, c’mon, I’m sorry!”

“Y-You scared me!”

“I’m sorry. I was feeling… brave. Or stupid. Both.”

“Definitely both!” she exclaimed, effectively hiding her red face with her equally red blazer, speed-walking. “T-That was… ugh. Okay! Yes! We’re.. we’re still friends! You didn’t have to ask, you know we’ll always be-… Well of course you want to be more but-… That’s-… Nevermind! And-… and stop doing that thing with your face!”

“What thing?” Jellal asked, jogging after her.

“That smile thing where I have no choice but say ‘yes’ because… because!”

He caught up to her and peered at her blushing face. “Are you okay?”

“I’m embarassed and I want to cry.”

“Please don’t cry.”

“Fine. I’m fine.” she said, trying not to look at him as they walked together.

Jellal felt guilty. He knew she could never deal well with these things, and he just… pulled that stunt out of the blue.

But then, he was indeed feeling both brave and stupid. Maybe FairyGaku has rubbed off on him after all.

After a few minutes of awkward silence, Erza mumbled, “S-Stay for dinner. It’s… it’s thanks for walking me home.”

Jellal smiled and nodded, making a mental note to assure Ultear, Meredy and his siblings that he was able to successfully ‘fix it’. Whatever it is.

It was late that night and Kinana was doing her homework in her desk, humming again. She was alone in the house. Her mother was out of town, but she was used to that now. They’ve always been sort of a long distance team anyway.That was why she was surprised when she heard a light tapping sound from the glass door.

She stood up and saw a familiar figure standing boredly in her balcony. “E-Erik?”

He shrugged at her, and she quickly slid the door open to let him in.

“What are you doing here?” she asked, watching as he slumped down on her bed all too comfortably. She didn’t bother asking him why he didn’t knock or use the doorbell like a normal person. She was used to him just going straight for her balcony.

“Just checking if Racer took you home alright. ’Sides, you’re alone right now, right?”

“Mom’s on a trip.” she answered, closing the balcony door behind her.

“What’re you doing?” he asked, looking around the room.

Kinana looked down, fidgeting with the hem of her green dress. “Homework. But I’m getting nowhere. It’s… really difficult.”

He sighed, then sat up. “Math?”

A nod.

He cracked his knuckles and then stuck out a hand. “Give it here.”

Kinana smiled. Erik might be a tough guy, but he made an excellent tutor when it came to her. She took her notebook, pen and paper, and then sat with him on the bed.

He looked at the equations shortly, then looked out the window before turning to the girl beside him. “Hey, let’s go up the roof.”

Kinana blinked. “The roof?”

“The moon’s bright.”

Kinana looked out the window as well, before smiling and nodding excitedly at her friend. Cobra grinned, and the two of them quickly headed to the balcony to climb up the house’s roof.

It has been a while since they did this. Erik remembered helping the girl step up on the balcony’s railings and then helping her up the roof. She was still in middle school then. Now it surprised him when she was able to do it herself with nothing more than a quick boost from him.

He supported her by the waist as they crawled towards their usual spot on the roof, right beside a big purple pinwheel that Erik himself put up on the house’s roof a few years prior.

The pinwheel used to be on Kinana’s bedroom window when she was still staying with Erik’s family. Erik decided to put it on the new house to avoid both him and Kinana getting lost on their way, since the village had similar looking houses on every block.

Kinana hugged her knees to her chest as she stared up at the starry sky, then closed her eyes and sighed. It was a nice night, not too chilly. The perfect night for stargazing.

Erik watched her for a while before opening her notebook and looking down at the younger student’s homework again.

“Erik?” she started tentatively, looking at her companion, who was focused on her notebook.

“Yeah? I’m listening.”

He always is. “Midnight-san… He’s.. nice. Racer-san and Angel-san, too.”

“You haven’t seen anything.” he said shortly, not looking up as he marked something on the girl’s notebook.

The girl simply pouted and rested her chin on her knees. “…What do you guys do?”

“It’s none of your—” he quickly cut himself off, then explained more patiently. “It’s better if you don’t know.”


“It’s not exactly… Well. A lot of people don’t like what we do, so… the less friends we involve, the better.”

She nodded. It was still very vague, but it was better than nothing. “Will you ever tell me?”

Erik put down the pen in his hand and looked at the girl. He could see her face because she was looking at the pinwheel, spinning slowly. He remembered what Jellal said about people and boundaries, all those things about two lives and shit. He knew that the guy had a point, but he had been doing this for years now, and old habits die hard.

“Maybe.” he said. “Some other time.”

She turned to him with a small smile. “Really?”

He sighed, always weak to the sight of that smile.

Alright, it was time to use some advice he took the trouble of asking did what he always did when it came to her. He made a compromise. “Tell you what.”


“I’ll tell you ’bout the gang.”


“—if you sing for me.”

She pouted, an adorable blush on her face. He wanted to go and poke those cheeks with the pen in his hand but refrained from it. “Again?”

“What, can’t do it?” he challenged.

To his surprise, she suddenly burst into the first verse of the song that she was humming the other day.

He just watched her, feeling really stupid — he didn’t expect her to really do it. It wasn’t her usual shy hesitant singing, either. She was looking at him defiantly, a serious expression on her face as she sang all the way to the chorus. Then she stopped, a proud smile on her face.

“W-Well,” he tried very hard not to look unfazed. “Look who’s on a serious career path.”

“I sang for you.” she reminded, ignoring his teasing. “Tell me about the gang!”

He sighed, resting his head on his hand as he absently tucked a stray strand of her hair behind her ear. The gesture wasn’t knew to her and she simply looked at him expectantly, moving a few inches closer.

“I’m quitting.” was what he simply said, hand lingering on her cheek before withdrawing.

She cocked a head to the side. “E-Eh?”

“It was bound to happen. Hoteye-.. no. Richard already quit a few years ago when he went to college. Racer’s getting busy with other stuff now. I dunno ’bout Angel, but I know Midnight’s just in it to pass the time.”

“And you?”

“So I wouldn’t have anything to hide from you anymore.” She was about to retort, but he quickly continued, “I don’t care for the others much. It’s just those three — fine, four if we include that white-haired nagger — that I care about in there, and we’re parting ways anyway.”


“We’re graduating. Angel’s probably going to some fancy university. She did take the Fiore U. exams. Racer’s makin’ a name for himself with those car stuff. Midnight-… I dunno, but he’s probably finding somewhere else to sleep. I… Maybe I’m off following my old man’s footsteps, after all.”

Kinana smiled lightly. “You’re going to study all sorts of science stuff and make medicine. That’s what uncle does, right?”

He nodded, not resisting the urge to lift a hand again and stroke her hair. “Right. I don’t mind it all that much. I aced that subject anyway.”

“You know,” Kinana started, closing the gap between them as she leaned on his shoulder. “I like it when you talk to me.”

He made to shrug, but her head was on his shoulder, so he simply continued running his hands against her purple locks. “Me too.”

“I mean when you actually tell me things.”

“I know.” he said. Then as an afterthought, he added, “I heard. A while ago. Over the phone.”

He felt her tense against him, but she didn’t withdraw, burying her face in his arm instead. He knew she was trying to avoid looking at him. “I… I didn’t… mean it…”

“Heh, who are you kidding?” he said. “It’s okay. It’s good that that’s out now.”

“Midnight-san set me up.”

“It’s one of the few good things he will ever do in his sorry life.”

She laughed. “That’s mean. He was really nice about it.”

“That’s because you’re cute, and he likes cute.”

“And he said that you like voices.”

“Some voices.”

She fell silent.

“Hey. What’s wrong?”

“Why do you like me?” she asked, a mere whisper. “I’m boring and ordinary and.. I’m just me. You have really interesting friends and—”

“Are you seriously asking me that?”

He felt her nod against him.

“You’re my best friend. Of course I like you.”

“But I’m—”

“Boring? Psh.” he snorted. “You have a big purple snake plush, and hey — you used to be a freakin’ flying snake. I can never beat you at Mario Kart. Scratch that, you’re better at me in every video game and I still don’t know how you do that ’cause I still remember how you were so tiny you couldn’t even hold a controller properly. And you hang out with those FairyGaku idiots, heck one of your friends wanted to kill me for accidentally tipping a fucking broom. And y’know what, you sing really really well. You want me to go on?”

She laughed then, and Erik simply pat her head.

“You’re not freakin’ boring. Not one bit. Just a bit less crazy than the others.”

“Hey, is that true? You really made Max angry?”

“Why do you ask so many questions?”

“’Cause I like you too, of course.”

He looked down at her.

She lifted both hands to touch his cheeks, then pinched them and giggled. “You really haven’t thought that maybe — you know, just maybe — I like hearing your voice just as much?”

He let a look of surprise pass in his face before he finally broke into a smug grin. “And you tease me about voices.”

“Only because you’re being unfair. You even sleep while I’m talking!” she complained.

“Yeah, okay next time I call you I’ll tell you to sing while I go sleep.”

“That’s not any better!”

“I do your homework. Don’t I get some credit?”

“I don’t ask you to do it. I’m just asking your for help—”


She looked down at her notebook, the page already filled with the answers to the algebra equations, along with the solutions.

“Y-You wrote on my notebook!”

“Yeah, you asked for help, right?”

“I told you to just teach me…”

“Shit, I really don’t get enough credit here.”


“Fine, let’s do this. While the moon’s still in the mood.” he sighed tiredly, nudging his companion to sit up straight and listen to his lecture. “Alright, this first one…”

Kinana tried to be as attentive as possible, listening to her friend’s explanation on her math homework. She listened until the end, of course — giving him the credit he was demanding. But really, she will always listen. Just like how he does with her.

She wasn’t lying when she said that she liked hearing her friend’s voice. He had always been with her for as long as she could remember. They might not be family, but he was her most constant companion. Kinana had to be away from her mother as a child, then she had to leave Erik’s family when her mother came to take her back, but Erik stayed. He always went out of his way to make sure that he was constantly present in her life. He made compromises, divided his time… Yes, she thought that it would be nice to get to know the rest of him and not just the side that he shows whenever they were together, but she also knew that it meant a lot for him to try and be a good person for her as much as possible.

Now he told her that he was quitting the gang, and it surprised her that he actually told her why.

Maybe they can keep less secrets now.

When they finally set aside the notebook and the pens, Erik laid back against the roof of the house and looked up at the stars. This time, he didn’t ask the girl beside him to talk. They used to spend nights like these silently, just whispering about their own made-up constellations in the sky until Kinana’s mom or Erik’s parents catches them and tells the children to come down because it’s dangerous and they might catch a cold…

Pretty soon Kinana gave up and just laid beside him, arms looped around one of his, and it reminded Erik of the little girl who was perpetually latched on to his arm, all adoring smiles and questions about every odd thing she encountered.

“Hey,” he said in a whisper, glancing at her. She was looking at the stars. “I’ll talk more. Don’t ever feel like that again.”

She knew what he meant by that. Her little breakdown in the phone earlier was embarrassing, to say the least. She didn’t want him to hear all her insecurities like that, but then she realized: who else would listen to her best, but the one who never failed to do so?

“Okay.” was all she said, before shifting to lay on her side. Erik didn’t move, only let the girl curl up beside him. These gestures were familiar yet so different. After all, they weren’t children anymore.

“Hey,” it was her turn to say that this time. He didn’t answer — just waited for her to speak up. Instead, she leaned forward and whispered three short words to his ear, then returned to hiding her face in his sleeve, ever the shy girl that he had always held closely against his side.

Erik felt a smile creep slowly in his face. It was so simple, brief, straight to the point, and so much a part of her. He nodded. “I like hearing that.”

Kinana closed her eyes, content. That was all she needed. “I like saying it.”

So they just lay there, silent for the rest of the night because as much as they loved the sound of each other’s voice, there are things that didn’t need to be said to be known and understood.

Chapter Notes:

No but really what did Kinana-chan say back there, huh.

It was a long debate on whether I would make Jellal do the thing in this chapter. In the end, he both did and didn’t. Props. I always thought that he and Erik should be bros. Not only ‘cause they both have girlfriends in Fairy Tail, but also because they’ve gone through the same ’I-got-you-back-but-I’m-a-fugitive-so-bye-btw-ILY’ predicament. Both had to let their special people go because they knew they had to run/hide/back-to-jail. So Jellal’s all like ‘we can’t be with someone who walks in the light’ lol who are you kidding Jelly okay now stand up you’re not dead.

The Oracion Seis guys were hard to write as normal people who are… uh… not killing other people. I tried. I hope they weren’t too OOC.

On a sidenote, Meredy has just joined Bixlow and Cana to the list of this fic’s MVPs.

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