"This is stupid," Gajeel grumbles. "I can't believe I'm here!"
"It's your fault," Levy sings, a skip in her step and a smile on her face. She easily steps over a tiny steam, beaming when she sees the rock formation she's been searching for. "You were the one who thought I couldn't fight. Now look where you are!"
The Dragon Slayer growls at her, sitting up on the word script he's floating on that reads 'stretcher.' It's obvious to anyone his leg is damaged, so the threat has no impact on the excited Levy.
"Stay up there!' Levy reprimands sternly, her anticipation retreating to the under the surface so she has a more commanding tone and look. "I don't have enough magic power left to completely heal it until after a good night's rest, but I can keep you mobile long enough to get to the ruins."
Gajeel lays back down after a beat, frowning. "You could've just left me behind," he mutters.
Levy runs over to the floating script and jumps up onto it, leaning into meet Gajeel's eyes so he knows how serious she is. Too bad he takes it the wrong way.
"What are you doing?" he growls to hide how uncomfortable he is, lips pulling back to show off his teeth. Iron from the small snack he had is still in his teeth to give them a more frightening appearance, but Levy doesn't even flinch, earning some of his respect reluctantly.
"No way will that ever happen. I'm a Fairy Tail mage, and we don't leave our nakama behind." Levy sits back with a slight pout, swinging her legs in the air as they float along. "Even if they're arrogant morons who think bookworms can't fight."
Gajeel splutters indignantly at being out right insulted by Levy. How does he retaliate? Levy isn't like Natsu! It's not like he can punch her, and insulting her just seems
Of course, he really can't say anything to deny her words. He did butt in where he shouldn't of during the fight with the bandits they'd had an hour ago. He always said she should get stronger and fight him, but he wasn't aware of how much more powerful she'd gotten already.
In all honesty, Gajeel could've sat back and watched Levy kicked their butts in less than a minute, but he wanted to fight. He'd noticed one of them attacking Levy from the corner of his vision and stepped over to help her, only to get hit by another bandit and Levy's attack. She'd quickly taken them down before turning her attention to Gajeel.
With not enough energy to heal him and make it to the ruins, Levy had made a stretcher and had to cast 'calm stomach' on him to keep him from getting motion sick so they could move.
"I couldn't leave you behind anyway," Levy continues, ignoring his attempts at speaking, "and staying behind was out of the question too. The runes we're looking for move every night, and I was lucky enough to hear a rumor it was close by this morning."
Silence falls between them. Gajeel stares at the sky, bored out of his mind. Levy puts her elbow on her knee and her head in her palm, studying him. She looks him over as if staring long enough will let her see into his mind.
The Iron Dragon Slayer looks down at meets her eyes, cocking an eyebrow. "What?" Levy doesn't move, lost in her own thoughts. "<i?What</i>?" Nothing.
Gajeel growls at looks back at the sky, but he can feel her eyes on him. He shifts on the word script, trying to relax, but Levy's eyes are driving him crazy! There's this look n them he can't read! If it was anyone else, he would've pushed them off
but it's Levy. Now what?
"Why'd you come?" Levy asks abruptly. Her voice isn't demanding or suspicious, but curious. Gajeel finally recognizes the look in her eye now. It's the same one she gets when trying to decipher ancient script
not that he would know. It's not like he hangs around her a lot or anything.
"Makarov," he scoffs, not even bothering to look at her. If he did, Gajeel would've seen her expression change to disappointment then irritation.
"I see," is her clipped answer. Levy jumps off, running ahead to avoid saying anything stupid she'd regret later. 'Stupid Gajeel! If he doesn't want to be here, then don't come!'
Gajeel yells after her, but there's not even a slow in her pace. 'What'd I do?' he thinks. 'Why is she so difficult! If only Lily was here
' As much as he hates to admit it, Lily has a much better understanding of everyone, not just Levy, and he really needs some advice. Ticking Levy off bad enough could very well get him the silent treatment the whole mission.
The 'stretcher' suddenly darts forward, almost throwing Gajeel off. He yells out in alarm, gripping at the gaps in the letters to stay on. Slanting to go up hill, Gajeel finds himself sliding down the letters. Gajeel starts to feel himself get motion sick and groans, laying his head down. He turns his hands into iron to strengthen his grip, glaring up at Levy- no, eating Levy's dirt.
The girl herself is sprinting at full speed, arms swinging fiercely as she runs. Levy is positively beaming as she runs, nearly laughing, and doesn't notice her script as been affected by her mood.
Finally, Levy reaches the top, the 'stretcher' not too far behind. The ruins stretch out before them, crumbled and broken. Pillars with eroded faces of angels stare at them, guarding houses with roofs that have long caved in. A few are just piles of ruble littering the uneven stone that all the ruin sits on.
Levy glances at green Gajeel, smiling apologetically at him. "I forgot my word wouldn't hold up if the speed is too fast. Sorry." She casts it again before taking off down the hill, the 'stretcher' moving after her at a much slower pace to the Dragon Slayer's relief.
When the words finally reach Levy, they lower Gajeel to the ground before disappearing. "I'll bring them back when we're moving," she tells him. Her eyes never leave the words carved onto the side of the stone the ruins sit on.
Gajeel watches her as she darts down the words into her notebook quickly, most of it gibberish to him. Levy slowly works her way down the length through the day, the 'stretcher' appearing again to float the injured male close to her again when she gets to far.
The sun sinks in the sky from noon to sunset, then sunset to night. Levy works till there's no light left, making it down only one length of the stone. Even when she can't see her own hand in front of her own face, she considers working by the light of her words.
"You should sleep," Gajeel supplies when the girl finally relaxes back to rub her eyes and stretch in the first time in hours. If Levy didn't know better, she'd say that there was an undercurrent of concern in his voice. "Don't these ruins disappear or whatever? What if you go with them and get lost."
Levy's eyes light up so bright even Gajeel can see them in the black. "You just reminded me about the hypothesis I wanted to test!"
The 'stretcher' comes back under Gajeel. He notices how much closer to the ground it is and the bumpiness of the ride compared to earlier. Levy stumbles a bit as she walks to the destination he doesn't know. 'She must be on her last legs.'
When they reach the dead center of town, they stop. Levy pulls out the sleeping bags and food, leaving Gajeel to feel useless. He watches her- makes sure she knows he's watching her- but gets no reaction whatsoever. No fear, no anger, no nothing.
Well, he gets another curious look, but that's not important.
"You're not going to take advantage of the situation?" Gajeel questions, lying on top of his sleeping bag instead of using it like it was meant to. Levy swings her bag around to look at him. "You've been giving me that look all day, like you want to find something out. What is it? Spit it out."
Levy bites her lip and looks away. There are so many questions she's wanted to ask since he joined, but which does she care about most? They all bounce around in her head, jumbling together and driving her mad.
With a huff, the mage gets out of her sleeping bag and drags it over to Gajeel. She throws it down next to him and climbs inside, turning to face him. The Dragon Slayer raises an eyebrow at her closeness (he could reach out and touch her), but doesn't comment.
Staring at him with misdirected annoyance, it takes a moment for her to grasp a random question and spit out, "Why did you do what Phantom told you if it was so awful?"
"Like what?" Gajeel asks, wondering if she knows about all his old missions.
"Gee," Levy answers, sarcasm leaking into her voice. "Maybe like pinning three people of your opposing guild on a tree?" She regrets the words as soon as they leave her mouth. "I-I
That was out of line. I didn't mean to-"
"Sorry 'bout that," Gajeel mutters. Levy jerks up in her bag, looking down at Gajeel in shock. The Dragon Slayer frowns. He'd meant for it to be too soft for her to hear. "I
um...pick a different question."
Stifling a laugh at his embarrassment, Levy decides to push the envelope a bit more. "Why did you take Laxus' lightening bolt for me? You were already badly beaten up and had proven yourself
so why?" She isn't expecting some grand 'I've loved you since I first saw you' speech, but she couldn't help but want something leaning towards that direction.
Levy pouts at him. She lays back down at stares at the stars, reminded of Lucy back home. "Fine. Like any girls?" she teases, again ignoring the childish thoughts of romance. They have no place here.
Gajeel thanks whatever's out there it's dark out so she can't see the heat rush to his cheeks."Next question!"
Are you going to answer any of these questions?"
Pissed, Levy throws her hands in the air and lets them flop back down. She glares at him, settling on a question he actually might answer. "How's your leg?"
Gajeel closes his eyes, groaning inwardly. Why won't she be quiet? Fine, he'll humor her. "Doesn't hurt as much at that lightening attack," he chuckles.
If Levy could've, she would've choked him. In fact, she gets up and leans over him to make sure he can't go anywhere. She'll be damned if she doesn't have one straight answer by the time she falls asleep, which will be soon. "Why did you really come here?"
The Dragon Slayer turns on his side, doing his best to ignore the warm breath hitting his face. "I told you already, Makarov."
"Then elaborate," Levy commands, the tone surprising Gajeel. "This is a mission I could easily handle by myself, so why did he make you come?" The voice of reason and practicality. Gajeel finds his respect for her climbing more and more.
" Gajeel says. "He said there was the chance of a dragon being here, so I came to check." He shrugs, staring at the outline of a rock close by. "I figured I had nothing to lose."
Levy blinks, noticing the underlying tone of sadness he does a good job of hiding. 'He sounds worse than when he got hurt,' she musses. 'That injury is no match for the one left by being deserted by that dragon.
Gajeel jumps a foot in the air when Levy suddenly collapses on him, rolling to the left so she's lying next to him. He scoots away from her, but she follows. "What are you-"
"The ruins," she interrupts. "I didn't finish reading, but it said it'd transfer you home somehow. We could ended up back at the guild, wherever this thing transports next, or
" Levi bites her lip. "We might end up where your dragon is." Gajeel tries not to react badly when she winds her arms around his waist. "I want to see a dragon, so I'm staying here!"
The Dragon Slayer takes a moment to understand before yelling, "No way! Move!" The pressure on his waist stays there. "Oi!" Nothing. He looks down at her, noticing her slow breathing. "If you were that tired you shouldn't have talked," he yells.
Peering down at her with a sigh, he can't find the effort to push her off him. What's the harm to let her sleep next to him? Maybe he wants to believe that she really cares and isn't just curious, if only for a minute.
'Ready, those questions were just like salt in my wounds, almost insult to injury
Gajeel unzips his sleeping bag so they can both fit under and relaxes, letting himself fall asleep. If Levy freaks out in the morning, it isn't his fault, and she better remember that.
Everyone in the guild stares at the sleeping pair in the center of the guild, wondering how in the world they got there. Hadn't Levy and Gajeel left yesterday? What were they doing back
in a sleeping bag cuddled together like some couple?
Lucy laughs as she catches sight of them and woof whistles, waking them up. "Levy, you sly dog you!"
It takes a few moments for the two to realize where they are and what they're doing. Gajeel smirks as Levy jumps away from him like he's suddenly caught on fire, stuttering apologies as the guild makes some suggestive commends. Lily shots Gajeel an approving look, which he ignores.
Levy looks around the guild, sighing. "So much for that hypothesis. Sorry there was no
" An uncomfortable air picks up around her. "I'll just fix your leg now." In a matter of minutes, Gajeel is as good as new.
Standing on her toes, Levy pecks Gajeel's check. "Thanks for coming with me. Sorry about you being injured," she whispers into his ear, not noticing the 'deer caught in the headlights' expression he has on. Lucy walks off with Levy, leaving Gajeel to watch her go with a dazed expression.
If he gets that every time, Gajeel doesn't mid being injured.