Gajeel cracked open an eye, watching the bluenette sitting in the same position she'd been in for the past two hours, her nose deep in the old book the forgetful store owner had given her the day before. He closed it again, letting himself go to the feeling of the unending flow of water as it poured over his head. He shifted his seat on the flat rock underneath, his hands poised neatly over his lap.
Breathing deeply, he ignored the sounds of the forest around them, ignored the cold of the waterfall's stream, and listened only to the sound of his own breathing, before eventually tuning that out as well. The rush of water passed his ears, captivating his attention and setting him adrift in darkness, his skin going numb…
"Hmm…no, this is being used past tense, unlike before…" Levy's quiet mutterings reached his ears, trumping any other sound he registered. "The author intermingles the word meanings from each variation…interesting…a lot of unnecessary work, too…"
Having been yanked out of his tranquil thoughts, Gajeel sighed and opened his eyes again, looking towards the Levy in annoyance. "Could you keep it down, shrimp? I'm trying to concentrate."
Without looking up from the page, the script mage lifted a delicate brow, her red glasses shifting down a little on her nose. "So am I."
"Then quit muttering…that shit's distracting." He griped, forcing his eyes closed again. Despite her response, the bluenette went silent for awhile, allowing the dragon slayer to concentrate on his breathing and relaxing his frame. Before long, Gajeel was too lost in his own mind to remember that she'd interrupted at all.
Levy looked up at Gajeel, pausing in her scribbling on the notepad that was now full of symbols and words. He'd been sitting under that waterfall for as long as she'd been translating, which was to say, a very long time. Eyes closed in a tranquil expression, Levy was reminded of their time in the Council, when he'd instructed her in a much similar exercise, minus the waterfall.
The stream travelled down his bare chest, as she watched the trails of water cut across his toned skin. The bluenette had to marvel at his endurance and determination. Perhaps that was why he was so much stronger than her, as well as a number of their guild mates.
Realizing she'd been distractedly staring at him for several minutes, she shook her head with a faint blush, tucking a stray hair behind her head and returning to the old book Mr. Russo had given her. Luckily for her, Gajeel was too focused on his training to notice. It wouldn't do to let him know that she'd been thinking rather unladylike things as she stared. No, that was something she could do without.
Levy tried getting comfortable again up against the trunk of the tree she sat beneath. They were located in a clearing Gajeel had found in the wooded area near Birchwood, sniffing out the fresh water with his heightened sense of smell. His one condition to tagging along with her was that they go somewhere that he could occupy himself while she translated, knowing it would otherwise be a long several hours of sitting around in the hotel room watching her work.
As they were, Levy sat with several reference books she'd procured from a magic shop, with comparative languages similar to Taiyō to tsuki, or so she claimed, with Gajeel wondering how much longer this translation could possibly take. He tried recalling how long she'd been gone on similar jobs before, but couldn't quite remember specifics.
Not that he didn't like watching her work, of course. In fact, it was one of his favorite things. She'd wrinkle up her nose when something didn't seem right, or she'd bite her lip at a particularly tricky part. Often times before, he'd found himself staring at her expressions, memorizing how they changed her face in an assortment of ways. But even he had his limits of what he could tolerate. Sitting around doing nothing for hours, was not one of them. Again, he didn't know how the shrimp could do it.
Realizing with a sigh that his thoughts had once again drifted to the bluenette sitting a few feet away, he unhooked his hands and uncrossed his legs, standing on top of the rock with a stretch. There wasn't much point in continuing this training if his thoughts were constantly going to be plagued by her. Levy didn't seem to notice that he'd moved for the first time in several hours, and she'd resorted to mumbling under her breath once more. He was willing to bet she didn't even realize it either.
"No, there's definitely a pattern to the interchanging variations…" She mused, drawing several lines through her notes, as if to section them off.
Gajeel picked up the towel he'd placed nearby, drying off his hair and body before throwing on his shirt. He stalked closer to the small mage, taking a seat beside her with his back to a tree. Once he was closer to her, he thought he saw her cheeks tinged a faint shade of pink, but he couldn't be too sure.
"How goes the translating, shorty?" He leaned closer, trying to make sense of what seemed to him to be random shapes and drawings, lines and boxes highlighting random things. She glanced up, finishing up her sentence, or series of symbols to the dragon slayer, and frowned.
"I'm having a harder time than I thought I would. The author took great pains to make sure that the book was difficult to read, for some reason. All I can make out of it are strange scriptures of some kind."
"Scriptures? So it's a religious book?" He guessed, cocking an eyebrow. She shrugged, turning the page to see the next set of symbols for her to tackle.
"Perhaps. From what I can gather, it talks a lot about death." Her frown returned, her brown eyes traveling over the length of her scribbled notes. "In fact, death seems to be the subject of the whole book. Loss of a body and the process of the soul leaving the physical world."
"Eh? Well, what does some of it say?" Gajeel leaned back, getting comfortable. He had a feeling that she'd be translating for a while longer and figured that he'd fall asleep soon enough. The sun's gentle warmth was already making him a bit drowsy.
"Well, this part, for example," She started, flipping a few pages back and tracing her finger over a specific line, "reads, 'and at the time of separation, may the earth quake and cry out in fear, for the soul has found it's rightful place.' The author refers to death quite often as 'separation.'" She explained, returning to her place in the book. "I've still got a ways to go, though."
"Well, just wake me up when it's lunch time." He said, letting out a tired yawn. She nodded with a hum, and soon the dragon slayer was breathing evenly beside her, the sun drying off his damp hair and pants.
Lily rested the tip of his sword in the dirt, panting from exertion. Sweat dripped down his forehead and to the ground, a testament to his hard training. His battle form heaved in an effort to replenish the oxygen he'd used up while fighting. Erza, in much similar fashion, eased up on her tight grip of her sword, lowering the point until she rested it to the ground below.
"As usual, your skills match even those of my own, Lily." Erza grinned, pleased with the strength of her comrade. Panther Lily nodded, transforming back into his small cat form, his sword shrinking down to fit at his back. He sheathed the weapon and watched as Erza requipped out of her normal training outfit, the red and yellow pants and bandaged top. She returned to her usual Heart Kreuz armor and returned her sword to wherever she kept her things.
"And as usual, I could not break through your defense even once." The cat stated with a matching grin. Erza conceded this fact, inclining her head.
"Had I not requipped to a weapon of better leverage earlier, you surely would have landed a fairly sizable hit against me. That sword does a great deal of damage when wielded with expert precision." Lily didn't miss the compliment to his swordsmanship and once more found a deep respect for the scarlet-haired woman before him. Not only strong, but humble as well.
"So, we shall consider this yet another draw?" The exceed chuckled, and Erza grinned. They began to walk back into the guild from the training field, stepping inside of the loud and boisterous guild hall where Natsu and Lucy had just returned from their latest job.
"Natsu! Get down from there!" The blonde shouted up at the ceiling, where the Fire Dragon Slayer swung back and forth on the chandelier with the back of his legs. Upside down, he crossed his arms and pouted.
"Luucccyyy! Come join us!" Happy flew up beside his companion and adopted the same position, his short little legs holding him to the edge of the ceiling.
"Aye! Come join us, Lucy!" The blue cat agreed, waving to her.
"How would I even get up there? How did you even get up there?" She yelled, shaking her fist at her partner. Lily and Erza sidestepped their little display and walked up to the bar, where Mirajane watched the hall with a delighted smile.
"It's great to have everyone back home, isn't it?" She asked softly. She seemed to be ignoring the sound of shattering glass as mugs were thrown across the room or smashed over the head of misbehaving guild members. Something smelled like it was burning, no doubt Natsu had caught something on fire, and there was always the constant background noise of people yelling. Her sweet smile never wavered, however, and she pressed on.
"How was your training?"
"Enlightening." Lily replied, sprouting his wings to jump up to the counter. "I would be happy to spar with you any time, Erza." The redhead sat in the seat beside him with a small smile.
"Likewise." She turned to Mirajane and tapped the counter. "Is there any more strawberry cake?"
"Of course!" The white-haired mage replied, turning to Lily for his request. Though, she already knew what he wanted.
"A kiwi juice, if you have it."
"I'll be right back." She said, heading into the kitchen to fetch their requests.
The sound of the guild door opening again, made Erza and Lily turn, observing as Gray and Juvia returned from their job as well. For once, the black-haired ice mage actually had his clothes on too, which was a plus.
"Gray-sama looked so manly slaying that beast! Oh, and saving all of those villagers!" The water mage cried, clasping her hands together in front of her as they walked inside. The hearts in her eyes were very much evident as she gazed upon her companion. "Juvia was most impressed!"
For the most part, Gray ignored her nonsensical ramblings about his own manliness and power, instead searching the guild for something or someone in particular. "Oi! Where's Natsu?" He shouted out, his fists turning into ice as the anger presented itself on his face.
"Gray! Come up here and fight me!" The pink-haired mage grinned, holding his fists up in a fighting position. Happy copied his posture as well. Gray pointed up at him in fury and irritation.
"Pay me back the jewels you owe us!" He scowled, and Natsu cocked his head. Lucy tried waving her hands in front of her, sweating nervously.
"It was an accident, we swear!"
"Eh? What jewels?" Natsu questioned, looking more than just a little confused.
"Don't play stupid, baka! You set that whole village on fire! Juvia and I had to spend the rest of our time putting out your mess! Thanks to that, the mayor decided to take the damages out of our reward." Gray's fingers slowly began to ice up, until his arms were covered in the pale covering of his magic. "Come down here so I can kick your ass!"
"Like hell you'll kick my ass! Alright, if a fight's what you want!" Natsu grinned, unhooking his legs from the chandelier and dropping to the floor besides Lucy. She tried grabbing onto his arm to stop him but he simply grinned and stood facing Gray. During some point in the conversation, Gray had lost his clothes, and Lucy demanded he put them back on. Juvia, of course, was not pleased with Lucy's intrusion, remarking that her 'love rival' should stop gawking at her beloved Gray-sama.
Lily glanced at Erza as she sighed with a darkening look. Standing, she made her way over to the two feuding mages, clearly intending to stop whatever massive damage they were about to cause.
Further down the way, Lily saw the Master sitting in his usual spot on the counter, observing his children with fondness. Of course, he was unconcerned with the fight that broke out in the middle of the hall. Such things were commonplace, after all.
While Erza was dealing with those two, Mirajane returned with their requests, placing the box of kiwi juice in front of the exceed and the cake on the counter where Erza had sat. Seeing the spectacle of Natsu and Gray about ready to kill each other made her smile. "Ah, it looks like everyone has returned from their jobs. Oh, except Levy and Gajeel."
Lily perked up at the new topic of discussion. Obviously, she hadn't mentioned them on accident. Seeing that spark of interest behind Mira's sweet smile made him grin. It seemed he'd been right when he'd seen her as a potential ally for his personal objective.
"Yes, it would seem so." He replied, taking a few sips of his drink. "I wonder how they're getting on."
"I would think quite well, considering all the time they spent together working for the Council." Mirajane said, leaning closer over the counter. "They've become quite a close team since Fairy Tail disbanded."
Lily chuckled, not missing her subtle pry for more information. After all, if there was anyone in Fairy Tail who knew the most about Levy and Gajeel's relationship, or lack thereof, it was him. And seeing as neither party was much for talking about their personal feelings to others, no one really knew where they stood with each other.
"I'd have to agree. Though, not as close as I suspect they'd both like to be." He implied, and she cocked a brow, processing that small tidbit of information.
"Hmm, that's too bad. Perhaps they simply need a little push in the right direction. Say…some more quality time together?"
"I'm thinking quite the same." Lily nodded, observing as Erza smacked the heads of Gray and Natsu together, making them fall to the floor limply. She scolded them for almost causing more damage to the guild, prompting Lucy to hide behind other guild members so she wouldn't face her wrath as well.
"You know, I think Gajeel mentioned wanting to go on a job somewhere cold." Lily continued. "Somewhere cold with no trees around."
Mirajane peered into his face, trying to contemplate the meaning behind his statement, before smiling widely. Satisfied she'd picked up the hint, Lily continued to drink his kiwi juice, feeling quite content.
She chuckled, reaching under the counter for some of the job postings that she saved for specific people. "You know, I think I may have the perfect job for him once he gets back."
"How coincidental." The exceed remarked, finishing up his drink. He glanced at Erza's cake to make sure it was still intact. He didn't want to be caught in the crossfire should anything happen to it while she wasn't looking.
Mira smiled and was about to turn away, but he raised a paw. "One more thing, Mira."
"Change my wager from the end of the year to the end of next month." He dug around in his pouch for a handful of jewels, handing them to the bartender. She sent him an amused look.
"You seem rather confident for nothing having happened yet. The soonest other wagers are for Halloween." Regardless, she placed the coins under the counter and made a few adjustments to the betting board she had concealed from the eyes of the rest of the guild.
In reply, Lily shrugged with a grin. "I've always been able to trust in those two."
Gajeel stirred from his rest, feeling the sensation of a hand on his arm, shaking him gently from sleep. It was small and warm, and he knew who it was before even catching her sweet scent or opening his eyes.
"-jeel. Gajeel, wake up." Levy said, and he groaned.
"You finished already?" He muttered, slowly opening his eyes against the sun still present in the sky. The bluenette was knelt beside him, all of her reference books and such tucked under her arm or in her bag.
"Not quite, there's still much more to do. But it's a little after noon. Let's go get lunch and we can head back to the hotel if you want."
"Sure." He said, standing and following after the script mage. He hadn't fully woken up yet, but as they returned to the town, the physical activity began shaking the drowsiness away.
"How much do you think you've got done?" Gajeel questioned, tucking his hands in his pockets. Levy looked rather pleased, but she only shrugged.
"I'm about a quarter of the way through. I've gotta say, though," She muttered, glancing at the leather-bound tome in her arms, "this thing is getting stranger and stranger the further I get."
"Hmm? How's that?" He raised a brow, staring at her quizzically. She met his gaze evenly.
"Like I said before, it's filled with rambling about death, and nothing else. I thought that the author would write about something else soon enough, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I've never seen something written in such a way." She placed a hand on her chin, her brow furrowing in thought. "Well, that's not quite true…"
"Eh? You ain't making sense." Gajeel cocked his head, sparing a glance at the book in question. The dark leather gave no indication that it was special or rare in any way. It just looked like a plain old book. Levy was quiet a moment, trying to recall where she'd read something similar.
"I feel like I've encountered this type of writing before, but I can't for the life of me remember where or when…" She murmured, tapping her chin thoughtfully. "It feels so familiar…"
She fell silent after that, trying to recall the memory that refused to present itself. The dragon slayer yawned, stretching his hands above his head to pop the joints back into place. Sleeping against the tree hadn't been the best idea after all, he thought with a wince.
"Well, I'm sure you'll think of it eventually, shorty." Gajeel replied confidently, having complete faith that whatever was hidden in the bluenette's mind would come to light at some point. She was smart like that. At least, he believed so. And his instincts had yet to be proven false.ns 18.104.22.168da2