Lisanna walks up during the bickering and waves Gray over. She whispers something to him and hands him a glass filled with a reddish orange colored drink. He smirks and walks back to Natsu. “Here drink this,” he shoves it into his friend’s hand, “Mira recommended it to help you relax.”
“But I don’t like this fruity stuff, you know that.”
“Just drink it, I’ll get you a Flashfire too if it’ll make you happy.”
Sigh, “It would.” Lisanna takes the hint and comes back quickly with the spicy Bourbon shot. Handing it to Natsu he shoots it down in one swift motion. “C-can I have two more?”
When the girls get back from the bathroom Cana notices an empty spot next to Natsu. Gray motions with his eyes to it and Cana gets the hint. She hastily grabs Lucy by the shoulders and forces her down onto the couch, Lucy protests, but Cana just sits on the opposite side to make sure the girl couldn’t move; he and Cana have effectively boxed in their best friends. Lucy and Natsu both stiffen as their arms brush up against each other’s; they look in opposite directions with cheeks flushed.
Lisanna giggles at the interaction between her friend and the cute boy as she hands Lucy a reddish orange colored drink that’s not her usual.
“Um, I didn’t order this.”
“Mira said to give it to you, it’ll help you relax.”
“Oh, okay, thanks Lis.” She takes a sip. Staring at the colored drink she swirls it and takes a larger draw, it tastes pretty good, smooth and slightly fruity without a harsh finish; she practically gulps it down.
Lucy only sits back and half listens to the next discussions going on. It turns out that they, except for Juvia and Gajeel had all attended Magnolia High School but hung out in totally separate areas and ran with different crowds. The girls were a year younger and were more with the Preps. One year older than them, Gray and Natsu hung either with other geeks or just ran in their own crowd, and Loke was two years older and floated everywhere and anywhere he pleased not caring much about status; a total social butterfly. But after high school Gray and Natsu started hanging out with Loke in college. Gajeel moved here to attend Magnolia University and that’s how he met Levy; same story for Juvia and Gray. Being new to the area Gajeel hung out with his cousin Natsu and that’s how their little group had formed.
Cana- “I’m still surprised I don’t remember any of you, but then again it was a big school. I think our class alone had 200+ students.”
Gray- “When Gajeel brought Levy around to meet us I vaguely remembered her cause she would go to the library often and that’s where we’d hang out sometimes.”
Cana- “Somehow we ended up hanging with other Preps but I don’t think we fully fit the group. Our little trio is really a mix. Lucy here is definitely a preppie, Levy is more a geek; and me, well I’m more of a trendie.”
After the drink Lucy is calm enough to join into the conversations, striking one up with Juvia who was shy at first but over time started to loosen up with the other girls. Levy texted her friends that it’s because Juvia tends to get jealous quickly. Lucy learns that she and Gray had met their freshman year of college and has been inseparable since. It was obvious that the clingy blue haired bombshell is head over heels in love with her boyfriend but Gray just seemed to be the cool and collected one of the pair.
But of all the members of this little soiree there’s only one that Lucy averts her attention from. Trying to avoid looking in his direction, she hadn’t noticed that Gray was feeding Natsu the same mystery drink. Nothing special, just a cocktail Mira whips up for shy patrons who need to relax. On the front end it starts a little fruity, no harsh after taste, but it will kick in when it was needed...
Of course Lucy’s ignoring of Natsu did not go unnoticed by anyone and Cana takes it upon herself to change that. “So Gray, how long have you and Natsu been friends?”
“I’ve known this idiot since elementary school.”
“A long time…hmm,” Cana taps her chin and smirks, “has he ever had a girlfriend?” Natsu chokes on his drink and Lucy’s eyes expand.
Gray plays right along. “No, but I think he had a crush on a girl once in 10th grade…" Reminicing, "yeah I remember her now, she was this pretty blonde chick with brown eyes from his Art class; I can't remember her name. Ugh he talked about her the whole friggin' year. But the following year he didn’t have any classes with her and we never ran into her again." He pushes on his friends shoulder. "Even if we had he was too damn shy to say anything.”
"Gray shut up already!" Natsu pushes him back.
“Oooh, so Natsu’s into blondes huh? What a coincidence.” Cana grins at Lucy who is turning red while Natsu tries to stand up and run but Gray pins his legs down.
“Not just any blonde, nah he seems to like just a very specific blonde…” he looks at Lucy. “You know you really look like that girl. Come to think of it, you might have been that girl! Did you take Art as an elective?”
Natsu- “Gray shut it!”
“I um did actually, my 9th grade year, 4th period with Mr. Reedus.” Natsu’s can’t believe what he’s hearing. ‘No way she couldn’t be the same Lucy!’ His wide eyes are animated. ‘OMG!'
Gray- “Whoa, I bet you were that girl! The timeline seems to fit perfect.”
"That was her." Natsu mumbles under his breath with his head down but Cana and Gray hear exactly what he said.
Cana snickers, “How fascinating, to fall for the same girl in an instant attraction after all these years… Don't you think so Lucy!"
Lucy just shrieks, “Cana stop already!”
Gray punches Natsu in the shoulder, "You sure know how to pick 'um man!"
Natsu’s head is spinning on an endless loop, the more he looks at Lucy the more he recognizes she really was the girl he crushed on back then, the girl he fantasized about for years longer than his friends even realized, his total dream girl that he compared all other girls to since that time. Her hair style has changed, she wore a different style of clothes, but of course trends are different 6 years later, and the glasses were gone. But the closer he looks he sees it, her eyes, the big brown eyes that drew him in all those years ago…
Gray and Cana snicker and carry on despite their friend’s protestations. “So Cana, how long have you known Lucy?”
“Well, she, Levy and I have been friends since 6th grade, when she transferred into our school.”
“That’s cool, and has Lucy ever had a boyfriend?” Natsu settles down for a moment out of his own thoughts, interested in the answer.
Lucy elbows Cana trying to shut her up but Cana just holds her wrists to keep her still. “Lu, nah she’s had plenty of opportunities but no one’s ever caught her eye…” she winks at Natsu. “…before tonight that is.” Now Natsu’s face heats up more. “Too bad she didn’t notice you in class, you could’a been high school sweethearts!”
Natsu- ‘I can’t take this anymore!’ “Gah, Lis I need another drink!”
Lucy- “M-me too… Make it a double!”
Levy- “You guys, we’re all just trying to get to know each other here,” she grins, “nothing embarrassing about that right?”
“Juvia thinks that’s a really sweet love story! Like a fairytale!”
Gajeel- “Yeah cuz, lighten up a little.”
Loke walks up behind Natsu and messes up his hair, “Blonde, Brunette…” he winks at Cana “Blue hair, red hair; whatever makes ya happy man.”
Lucy whines, “Can we pleeeassse change the subject!” “Lisanna I need a drink!!”
Cana- “Alright, alright don’t get your panties in a bind.” The others snicker. “So Natsu what are you majoring in?”
“Huh?” Lisanna hands him a new glass and he takes a long swallow. “Oh I’m working on my masters in Fire Science with a minor in Chemistry; they kinda go hand in hand.”
Levy cocks her head in confusion, “You wanna be a firefighter?”
“No, more on the research end, understanding the physical properties and make up of fire to develop new techniques in fighting it, suppressing it, stuff like that. That kind of research is used to aid firefighters but it’s also used in other industries such as car manufacturing; for instance developing materials to keeps an engine fire from reaching the passenger compartment as quickly allowing the occupants more time to escape.”
Lisanna hands her a new glass, “That’s pretty cool.” Lucy whispers under her breath as she sips, but the comment doesn’t go missed by Natsu who blushes a little. ‘I could use an engineer like him in our vehicle R&D department…’
Gray- “What about you Lucy, what are you going to college for?”
“Hmm, I’m double majoring, MBA and creative writing.”
Juvia- “Wow, double major; that’s a lot of work.”
Lucy frowns a little, “Yeah well the creative writing is more for what I’d love to do which is to be an author whereas the MBA is for what I’m obligated to go into.”
Gray- “Obligated to what?”
“I’d rather not say right now, I’ll tell you guys another time.”
Natsu stares at the blonde through his periphery. ‘I wonder why she’s so sad about her major? I thought she was happy in college…and What is she obligated to? If being an author would make her happier that’s what she should do.’ A light blush dusts his cheeks. ‘If I got a job as a research scientist I could make plenty enough money to support her… And if she was my wife, I’d rather her work at what she enjoyed doing. Wait what am I thinking, wife! We barely even know each other!’ He puts his head down a little, letting his hair fall in front to hide his cheeks.
Lucy can feel the heat rising from the boy next to her. She turns her head slightly to look, but seeing his head down she becomes curious. Focusing on his face she realizes his cheeks are red, ‘Is he embarrassed? What is he thinking about? We’re done talking about embarrassing stuff so there’s no reason for him to be blushing.’ “Are you okay Natsu?”
“Luce? Yea fine, just thinking…”
Her voice is inquisitive, “about what?”
When he turns to look at her smiling face, her bright brown eyes flash with a sense of gentle concern. ‘She’s worried about me?!… Damn it she’s so sweet too.’ He blushes deeper and turns his head. “It’s nothing.”
‘Nothing, you don’t blush for nothing! Is he thinking about me? Oh God, is that why he turned away? It is, isn’t it?!’ Her cheeks are turning the same shade as his hair. She downs the rest of her drink and turns to look at him again. “If you wanna talk about it…”
“N-No, I-I’m okay for now.” He puts on a smile and his green eyes brighten a little. ‘She’s my dream girl alright…’
“Ok.” She smiles back. ‘If only I had noticed him in class…’