Early the next morning, Gajeel woke from his slumber feeling rather sore. He supposed that was to be expected though. After spending hours sitting stock still under a waterfall, the pain in his spine reminded him why he should have chosen a more beneficial training method. The rather cheap mattresses of the hotel they stayed in weren't doing anything for him either, but there was nothing to do about that.
As usual, he was awake before the bluenette laying sprawled out in the other bed. Her small limbs were spread at all angles, the comforter tangled and kicked aside haphazardly. He smirked, not surprised by her careless sleep habits. For being so neat and tidy all the time, her subconscious desire to occupy as much space as possible while resting was rather funny.
Silently, so as not to wake her, Gajeel rose from his bed with a yawn, making his way over to his bag and taking it to the bathroom. He changed quickly, taking care of his morning needs before returning to the bedroom.
Levy was up and rummaging in her bag for her own clothes, her back turned towards him. He stopped, feeling a bit of heat go to his cheeks at the sight. The bluenette usually wore a tank top and sleep shorts to bed, and last night had been no different. As she leaned over her bag, set on one of the chairs in the room, her white tattoo peeked over the back of her tank top, her back slightly arched to comfortably lean down and get her clothes.
The shorts rode up slightly, revealing much of her pale legs and accentuating what he believed to be her best asset. The lines of her underwear were faintly visible even from this distance, tantalizingly so.
Her hair was tousled, tangled and wild from tossing and turning in her sleep. Of course, Gajeel's eyes roamed down the curve of her back and lower still to those beautiful, exposed thighs without really thinking much besides how he wanted to touch her.
She held up a shirt from her bag, inspecting it and debating whether she wanted to wear it that day. Realizing that he was openly staring at her, Gajeel clenched the fist resting at his side, biting the inside of his mouth to distract him from the beauty oblivious to his gaze. It somewhat worked, his mind now registering the pain as his teeth bit into his own flesh.
He stood frozen in place, not sure whether to go back into the bathroom without her notice, or speak and make himself known. But before he could make a decision, Levy turned and laid the shirt on the bed, her gaze lifting to him standing there in the doorway as she did so.
"Good morning." She gave a small smile, unperturbed by him seeing her in her nightwear. It wasn't as if he hadn't seen her in such a state many times before while leading their unit in the Council. In fact, it no longer fazed the bluenette much. She secretly reveled in his occasional glances, thinking she didn't notice them. But, oh, she did.
"Yeah…morning." He muttered, finally stepping all the way through the doorway and over to his bed. He tossed his bag onto the covers and sat beside it, rummaging inside for his headband.
"I think that we'll send the book through Rosalia's mail service instead of Birchwood's. It's a bigger city, hopefully with more people to defend a guarded caravan." She thought aloud, slipping her shirt of choice over her tank top and taking out a pair of pants to wear.
"Is the armored transport all that necessary?" The dragon slayer questioned, feeling as though this all seemed over the top for a book. Sure, it was filled with part of the spell to summon a millennia-old mage who had the power to destroy the world, but still a book nonetheless.
To his question, Levy shrugged, taking the pants and moving to the bathroom to change into them. "I don't want to take any chances. I know it seems kind of a long shot, but you just never know. Better safe than sorry."
"I guess you're right." He muttered, reaching down to tug on his boots. She made sense, he supposed. And there was no harm in a bit of extra protection.
They got ready for the day, gathering the rest of their things and double checking that they'd gotten everything from the room. Heading downstairs, Levy paid the front receptionist for their stay and they set out back towards Rosalia within the hour. The two companions were silent, though it wasn't uncomfortable. After such a large bombshell from the night before, they had too much on their mind and simply didn't speak it aloud.
Levy couldn't quite wrap her head around finding the second of the three books having to do with Sólmáni. Mages of Origin, destruction and new life, world domination, Zeref…there was so much to take in all at once, it left her dizzy. As t hey walked, she constantly reached into the satchel slung across her body, holding the Codex of Death inside. Her fingers would graze the cover, as if having to be reassured every few minutes that it was still there. It was a strange sensation. She couldn't stop herself from touching it, feeling the worn leather idly as they traveled.
She wondered how confused her companion still was, considering she was a lot more knowledgable about these things than he was. Levy hoped that he wasn't too frustrated, or, was regretting accompanying her on this mission. She had been enjoying herself with him around, having someone to talk to and discuss her work with, regardless if he understood or not. At least he made an effort to understand, unlike Jet or Droy, who would fall asleep rather quickly when she went into long explanations of what things meant.
Her eyes drifted to Gajeel a few times, whose sight was set on the path before them. She'd noticed this morning he seemed to be acting a little weird, but maybe she was just imagining it. Perhaps the events from the previous day were just now beginning to hit him? It was a possibility. Still, he seemed unusually quiet. He hadn't even teased her once that morning, something she was lucky to go half an hour without on a regular basis.
Not that she missed it…
Levy's cheeks flushed, realizing that she did. Damn her. Never would she say that out loud. It would only add fuel to his desire to make fun of her.
Gajeel, oblivious to her inner thoughts, tried keeping his gaze set firmly on the road in front of him, lest he find himself staring at her some more. He'd already shamelessly checked her out that morning, though without really meaning to…Was that any better, once he thought about it? Not really, he had to admit.
God, any more of this and he'd be on par with Juvia's creepiness. The water mage was a good friend of his and all, someone he trusted more than others, but if there was one thing he didn't want, it was her innate ability to stalk and ogle without shame to rub off on him.
Just stop thinking about her. He thought, rolling his eyes and inwardly shaking his head. It couldn't be that hard. All he had to do was think about Panther Lily, and how far he'd come in his training. Yeah, just think about that.
The cat had come a long way since joining him after the events of Edolas. The amount of time he could remain in his battle form had lengthened exponentially, rendering him able to basically return to his former constitution most of the day, if he wanted to. Though, there were times when he preferred to change back into his small cat form. It was easier for him to hold, requiring no magic or concentration.
Of course, the big bad cat was still afraid of thunderstorms. Grinning, Gajeel recalled the last big storm that had rolled through Magnolia and how Lily, who had still been in his battle form, was startled into his cat body by a loud crack of thunder. Immediately, he'd hidden under the sheets of his bed, shivering until Gajeel stayed by his side for comfort. Luckily, none of the other men of their unit had witnessed the event, and so Lily was able to maintain his tough persona even still.
Lily would die before admitting that he was afraid of a little thunder. And only him and Levy really knew about it.
Once, when they'd been camped out with their unit, a sudden thunderstorm had rolled through, and of course the exceed had tried taking shelter within the tents. By chance, he had ducked into Levy's tent, who'd been reading a book in her spare time. When Gajeel had come looking for his cat companion, he'd found him curled up in Levy's lap, sleeping peacefully and without fear. The sight of his partner nestled against Levy's chest like that, with the bluenette shushing him to be quiet so he wouldn't be woken up, was something else.
With a scowl he realized that, once again, his thoughts had drifted to Levy, rather unwillingly. Fuck, this was getting out of hand. A glance to his side revealed that Levy looked just as caught up in her thoughts as him. At least she didn't suspect anything was on his mind.
The rest of their trip consisted of their plaguing thoughts, never spoken aloud, and they reached Rosalia after a few hours of walking.
"Rest assured, Ma'am, we'll get this to the Council for you, safe and sound." The messenger tipped his hat, sending Levy a reassuring grin. The young man was young and bright, and gave off that trustworthy aura, which was why Levy had chosen him out of those available to make the trip. He stuffed the book into his satchel carefully, mindful of it's age, then reached out to accept the payment of jewels from her.
"Thank you. Please have Councilman Warrod contact me once he receives it." Levy said, feeling slightly uncomfortable as she gave him the book. Her smile faltered minutely, but schooled carefully so as not to be noticed. A piece of her felt…gone, like she was missing something, yet she couldn't figure out why that was. It perplexed her, she with a frown and a shake of her head, the bluenette ignored that notion for now.
She glanced at the transport that she'd so quickly put together; it was small, though that was to be expected on such a short notice, especially this early in the morning. Riding inside the car was three other armed guards, wearing the insignia of Rosalia's government: a single coiled rose around a gleaming sword.
"Will do!" The messenger replied, hopping inside the car and shutting the door behind him, giving her a simple wave as the driver pulled away, taking them out of sight after a moment.
Gajeel uncrossed his arms and sighed, pushing off of the wall he'd been leaning against. "Ready to go home, shrimp?" He wasn't looking forward to the train ride that came next, but he missed the guild, even after only a few days of being away. There was something about the rough and tumble atmosphere that attracted him.
"Mhm!" She hummed, turning to him with a smile, her earlier discomfort still lingering but pushed to the back of her mind. She grinned at his returning scowl, knowing that he would rather just walk the way back to the guild. "It's only a few hours. You'll be fine."
"A few fucking hours…" He grumbled, his sour expression never shifting as they headed towards the train station.
They arrived right before the next train for Magnolia was about to depart, and were somehow able to purchase tickets to board. Not two minutes after taking their seats in the compartment, they felt the large vehicle lurch forward beneath them, and Gajeel's nausea instantly began to rear it's ugly head. Levy would forever marvel at just how quickly his condition seemed to take affect.
The dragon slayer was reduced to the pitiful state he'd been in on their way there. Levy smiled sadly, glad that she didn't have to deal with such an unfortunate affliction. As before, she doused her headband in her perfume and gave it to him. He seemed to calm down somewhat, enough to drift off into a light sleep.
Levy sighed, returning her attention to the passing scenery as the train traveled. They knee-deep into the hot summer months, and the bluenette was disappointed it wasn't fall yet. The forest of trees would no doubt have been a collage of oranges and reds and yellows once August and September came around. The light and dark hues of green that they wore now were still beautiful, but there was something about Autumn that simply struck her speechless. Perhaps that's why her orange dress was her favorite, she mused to herself.
Her gaze shifted to Gajeel, who muttered and shifting in his sleep, still clutching her headband close to his nose. She smiled, stifling the laugh that threatened to bubble up. He looked so innocent and calm when he slept, quite a difference to that stoic frown that always seemed to mark his face. Well, when he wasn't teasing her of course. Then his amused grin would show itself.
Deciding that she should probably stop staring at him while he slept, since the thought was quite creepy, she pulled out a book from her bag and opened it to the marked page. Lucy had loaned it to her awhile back, though Levy hadn't gotten around to reading it until recently. She'd had a stack of other books she'd wanted to read first.
Tucking her feet beneath her, Levy leaned against the window and propped the book in her lap, finding a comfortable position to read from for the rest of the ride home.ns220.127.116.11da2