"Hey…shrimp? You sure this is the right place?" Gajeel scratched his head, staring up at the building before them. The multicolored house, set at the top of the hill above the small town of Peiora, stood out against the rest of the buildings quite obviously. Yellow and green shutters covered wide square windows on the front, the blue paint of the house bright and a stark contrast to the gray and brown colors of the other residents. The structure seemed to lean a little to the left, as if it was built on uneven foundation.
Beside the house was a large, equally colorful, magical vehicle. It was bigger in size than a normal vehicle, with the main body being much rounder than usual. Attached at the front of it was another car, likely the man's everyday transportation. Small curtains covered the windows on the side of the bigger vehicle, so they couldn't see into it. The outside was covered in decorations; pinwheels, sparkles, long sticks with ribbons at the end poking out at random directions, making it both an eyesore and an interest point at the same time.
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure." Levy double checked the address on the job ad, comparing it to that on the mailbox right beside them. It was painted a neon pink, with white polka dots. "This should be the place."
The two Fairy Tail mages stood staring at the house for a moment, hesitant to approach. Something about it just…made them take pause.
Then, Levy sighed, rolling her shoulders to loosen the tension. "Come on. Let's go meet the client."
"Right." Gajeel muttered, following after the bluenette towards the front door.
They stepped up to the porch, and Gajeel rapped his knuckles on the door, knocking several times before stepping back and waiting for an answer.
A minute or so passed, and still they heard no noise from within the house. Frowning, Levy stepped forward this time and knocked quickly herself, more insistently. Still, nothing.
"He ain't home, shrimp. Let's go back to the town and-"
"Shit! God damn caravan…" A man's voice called from somewhere behind them in the distance. They both swung around, searching for the source of the noise. There was the sound of movement, and something metallic hitting something else. Gajeel and Levy stepped off the porch, walking back towards the large vehicle beside the house where the noise was coming from.
"Hello?" Levy called out, and the movement stopped. They could see a pair of boots from underneath the caravan, and the feet walked around the vehicle.
An older man, sporting a large black mustache with thinning hair atop his head, appeared from behind the caravan, eyeing them grouchily. "Who're you two? Get the hell off my property!"
"Uh, sir?" Levy tried to reassure, raising her hands defensively. "I'm Levy, this is Gajeel. We're mages from Fairy Tail. You sent for us?"
For a moment he said nothing, but simply stared at Gajeel as if he were a disgusting bug he'd just discovered. Gajeel, in turn narrowed his eyes and raised a brow, wondering what he'd done to offend the old man already. "You two?" He finally asked, glancing between the two of them.
"You asked for us specifically, didn't you?" Gajeel asked, confused and becoming angry at their less than welcome…well, welcome. They didn't even know this guy's name and he was already glaring daggers at them.
"The hell I did! All I asked for was for a couple of capable mages who wouldn't ask no questions and watch my back while I travel that god forsaken desert!" The old man ranted, waving his hands angrily as he spoke. "And look what I get! Two nosy teenagers with nasty looks in their eyes!"
Levy took a step back, intimidated by the man's unprovoked anger. Gajeel, who stood behind her, moved his hand to press against her back, preventing her from retreating any further. She knew it was his way of giving her strength, silently telling her to keep her ground, and not to let some old guy scare her. She was Levy freaking McGarden, after all. She'd faced more powerful people than this angry grandpa.
Taking a breath, Levy steeled herself and straightened up with a slight up tilt of her chin. Unbeknownst to her, Gajeel smirked, proud of her courage. She'd certainly grown from the petite and fragile mage he'd offered to help train for S-Class all that time ago. He bit back the urge to chuckle. Well, not in height, but definitely in fortitude.
"Sir, we're here to escort you across the desert. I believe you'll find us to be capable enough for that simple task, seeing as we are Fairy Tail mages. We've dealt with plenty of dangerous things in our time with the guild. Please don't brush that aside. Now, may I ask your name?" Her previous hesitation had disappeared, replaced by the desire to carry on with the job in her usual all-business expression.
The old man scoffed, crossing his arms. "Heh. Simple task my ass. You ever seen the war parties that scout those dunes?" He questioned with a skeptical tone. Obviously they hadn't, but he continued on anyway. "You best pray we don't run into any of 'em out there. They aren't to be underestimated."
"Your name, sir?" She repeated more insistently, not to be redirected away from the issue at hand.
The old man stared her down silently, as if sizing her up and measuring her worth. This time, Levy didn't shrink into herself at the intense gaze, but merely waited for him to answer her question. With a smug up tilt of the corner of his mouth, he let out a short, humorless laugh. "Name's Clyde Gordon, sweetheart. Don't go wearing it out."
Gajeel practically growled at the mocking implications of his words, and the way he'd said them, but otherwise gave no other reaction. Levy didn't seem phased either. She simply nodded.
"Well, shall we discuss the job more at length?" The bluenette suggested, getting rather comfortable taking charge of the situation and flaunting her confidence. She could get used to this feeling.
"Sounds like you've already made up your mind about it." Clyde grumbled, sighing and turning away back towards the house. "Come on, then. Hurry it up."
They talked at length about what exactly they'd be doing while out in the desert. Levy did most of the talking, with Gajeel content just to sit back and listen. If he had any problems with the situation, he'd speak up, but it seemed like Levy had most of it covered. She knew exactly what to ask and how to get the old man to answer, when he felt like it. Which was a miracle in itself, since he was stubborn to the core and reluctant to give them any information whatsoever.
Gajeel could already tell that him and Clyde wouldn't be getting along during their time together. Something about the dragon slayer seemed to offend the merchant to no end, and he hadn't even done anything to be deserving of it. When he wasn't talking business with Levy, he was griping at him to stop slouching in his chair or to quit with 'that foul expression.'
He kept himself busy by inspecting the living room of the house, noticing that the interior was a complete shift of the outside appearance. While the outside was fun and bright, there was a distinct lack of color on the walls and floors. Besides the bare necessities of a house, there wasn't much in terms of decor or personal affects. Gray, brown, and black seemed to be the only color themes inside the house. It looked dull, lifeless, as if no one truly lived there.
His thoughts were interrupted by Levy speaking again.
"So, you're moving locations to Crescent Valley, right?" Levy asked, sipping at the tea that he'd at least been gracious enough to make for her. Of course, that offer hadn't been extended to Gajeel. No surprise there. The bluenette crossed her legs, leaning back in the chair she was seated in.
"Yeah, that's right. And that's all you need to know." He replied gruffly, scratching distractedly at his mustache. "All I'm paying you to do is protect my stuff and make sure I get there in one piece. Now, we've talked enough about the job." He made to stand, but the bluenette tilted her head.
Levy frowned, taking in what he'd said. "Sir, are there any other dangers you expect to present themselves? You'll have to be completely honest with-"
"You youngsters and all your damn questions, always demanding answers. Should learn your place." He mumbled, interrupting her sentence yet again.
"Pardon me saying so, sir, but you're being irrational. We can't-"
"Didn't I say I wanted mages who shut their mouths and didn't ask continuous questions?" He scoffed, shaking his head as if proven that they had already fallen below his expectations.
Gajeel was getting tired of Clyde's innate habit of talking over the bluenette, who could be soft spoken at times. He could see her confidence begin to waver as Levy realized she wasn't getting through to him. Scowling, the dragon slayer shifted in his seat.
"I'd speak a little more respectfully to the lady." He warned, earning their attention. "We can terminate the job now and leave, and you can wait around for someone else to escort your sorry ass across that desert."
Levy pursed her lips, frustrated with the whole situation, really. Things were getting rather uncomfortable, in no small part because of their client. Gajeel's alpha male personality wasn't helping either. She hated when people argued heatedly, and if Clyde's quick frown and glare at her partner was anything to go by, it was about to get heated.
"Now, you listen here, brat. Didn't your daddy ever teach you manners? Respecting your elders? I don't like your tone, boy." Clyde pointed an accusing finger at Gajeel, who narrowed his eyes, opening his mouth to reply.
"That's enough!" Levy cut in, frowning at both men incredulously. After several moments of locked gazes, boring into each other's eyes and daring the other to look away, the two men slowly turned their attentions back to the frustrated bluenette. "Can we get on with the specifics, then we can be on our way? The sooner we leave, the better." She dictated, crossing her arms resolutely.
Both men seemed to reluctantly listen to her authoritative direction, Clyde less so than the her partner. Gajeel knew when Levy was pissed, and if the irritation in her expression was anything to judge by, they were quickly reaching that point. An angry Levy was a cute Levy, but now wasn't the time for that.
Luckily, Levy was able to steer the conversation back onto the matter at hand, and before too long, they'd finished discussing the details.
"Now, is there anything you need help with before we get under way?" She questioned, and Clyde rose to his feet with a deep sigh.
"Gotta finish putting the caravan together." He answered, and they followed him outside.
For the next few hours, Levy and Gajeel helped Clyde stuff bags and shove boxes into the car pulling the caravan, packing the rest of the man's store inventory in containers to travel. It seemed that the man's entire shop was actually the caravan itself, so now he just had to bring his personal belongings with him as well. That made things a little easier, but they were both still sweating by the time they'd finished stuffing the vehicles with Clyde's possessions.
"That should do it." Clyde finally said, finishing up tying the last of his belongings to the caravan and shut the door, locking it tightly. He turned, seeing Gajeel and Levy sitting down to rest now that they were finished. The merchant frowned, and pointed to the house. "Get off your lazy asses and check the house. Make sure there's nothing left."
Gajeel growled at the snapped order, but Levy reached over and set a hand on his arm. She sighed, but shook her head. He calmed down, if only for her sake, but that didn't stop him from sending his best glare towards their client as they returned to the colorful building, stepping through the door and checking all the rooms for any belongings. Nothing was left.
"Looks like we've gotten everything. There's nothing left in the house." Levy said, approaching the merchant.
"Great. Now we can finally set off." He grumped, grabbing a loose bag and walking over to the front vehicle with it. Levy and Gajeel's bags were sitting by the porch where they'd tossed them for the time being. Now, they picked them up and followed after him.
"Where should we put our things, Mr. Gordon?" Levy asked with a small smile, her way of trying to bring back her own good mood.
The merchant turned and raised a brow. "Well, I don't see any room for them in my cars, so looks like you'll have to carry them. Might build your character." He said, shutting the passenger door after setting down his own things. Gajeel peered past him into the cabin and saw an empty space in the back seat. Clyde smirked, turning and walking around to the other side to get into the driver's seat.
"Lying bastard." Gajeel muttered, just loud enough for Levy to hear. She sighed again.
"I don't think he'll be offering to let us ride with him either." The bluenette heard the vehicle begin to start up, Clyde probably having attached the magic cuff to his arm by now. "Guess it'll be a long walk to Crescent Valley."
The vehicle lurched forward, the caravan attached to the back jerked with the movement, and the decorations swayed around dangerously, close to falling off. Luckily nothing fell, and Clyde started down the road at a slow speed.
"Why do I feel like it's just going to get worse from here?" Levy sweatdropped, shifting the bag on her shoulder as they started walking. Gajeel grunted.
"Well, it ain't getting better. That's for sure." He scowled.
Levy said nothing, but frowned, feeling like there was something important that she was supposed to remember at that moment, or that she was forgetting something. But for the life of her, she couldn't think of what it was. Shrugging, she figured that at some point it would come back to mind.ns 18.104.22.168da2