Never Fade

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The mission started like an ordinary adventure. Hiking into a moderately big town called Gillamoor, Lucy idly wondered why the place was so...quiet. The town square was absent of all signs of life, the only exception being the scarce amount of crows that squawked and nipped at discarded products on display in the market. Lucy padded over to a stall that contained vegetables and fruits. She prodded an apple and was surprised to find no bruises or signs of decay. That must mean that the shop owner had recently abandoned their cart. 

"They must have left this stuff recently..." Kaden spoke, voicing Lucy's thoughts. Lila glanced at the discarded food, before rubbing her chin in thought. Lucy smiled at how cute she was.

"So...What chased them off? It had to be something big, right Lucy-nee?" Lila speculated. Lucy nodded, casting away the glossy scarlet red apple. Glancing around, Lucy spotted a giant building that was painted a warm brown color. The signs indicated that it was the mayor's office. Motioning to her companions to follow, she crept towards the building. 

A hushed creak from a door startled her sensitive ears. The noise was too quiet for normal people like Kaden and Lila to pick up, but Lucy heard it loud and clear. Engulfing her fist in cerulean waves, the two watch mystified as she launched a spray of brute water at the house it came from. Bursting against the door, the attack had been repressed by Lucy to make sure no damage had been done. It was meant mostly to scare any lingering villagers to come out of hiding.

When a woman's shriek filled the air, Lucy lashed towards the house and tugged at the doorknob. When it wouldn't budge, she had two options. One, she could pick the lock. Or two, she could kick the damn door down. She huffed with amusement. She supposed the owner of the house would prefer to have the lock picked. Plucking a bobby pin out of her messy hair, she began her work. Using whatever meager supplies she could use as tools, she did her trick. 

Breaking the lock, she smiled with pride as the door swung open to reveal a middle-aged woman, most likely in her mid-forties. She had thin caramel colored locks, that deepened at the roots into a soft hazelnut. Her eyes were narrow, shadowed by a layer of thick eyelashes. Their color was a striking lavender, it was shimmery and reminded Lucy of an amethyst gem. She was huddled on the floor, clasping her knees to her chest in fright. 

Eyes bulging, she panted as she hastily backed away from the now open door.

"P-Please! D-Don't hurt m-me!" She stammered with a voice laced with fear. Lucy approached her slowly, eyes warm and inviting. Waving her hands in surrender, she crouched to the woman's level.

"We're here on a wizard job. The mayor of this town requested for us to defeat some sort of monster...?" Kaden mentioned, easing into the conversation in an attempt to help Lucy. She flashed a grateful smile. 

The woman grinned madly, like a child who had gazed upon fireworks for the first time. She scrambled to her feet, in an almost hyper way. She frantically began to talk, her words jumbled as she rushed to speak.

"That's why we were all hiding! The monster-It came back again! It dragged poor Suzy out to the woods, and we all ran! Mayor Crapton should be hiding in his office! Hurry, please!" The woman pleaded, tears blurring her vision. Lila stepped up and smiled. Her tiny chest was puffed up, as she attempted to look strong and powerful. 

"Don't worry, Miss! We'll save Miss Suzy! Lucy-nee is super duper strong, and Kaden-nii will save Suzy like a knight!" Lila chirped.

Even in her fear-induced state, the woman managed a weak smile at the tough child. Then a real question struck the woman's mind.

"What happens if you get hurt, my dear? You're so young..." She wondered with a concerned glare in her eyes.

Lila's overly cheerful grin faltered for a moment, but only Kaden noticed. Then she beamed. 

"Don't worry, miss! If I'm in danger, Lucy-nee will save me!" Lila assured, snatching Lucy's hand. Lucy chuckled and ruffled the child's hair. Lila waggled their interlocked hands, attempting to appear child-like.

"Of course. I'll protect you with my life, Lila," Lucy reassured. The woman then rose another eyebrow.

"What about you? Who will protect you?" She asked. She simply couldn't comprehend how such a petite, curvaceous looking woman could possibly protect herself to that extreme.

"Kaden-nii will protect her, duh!" Lila remarked. Sending him a hidden glare, she motioned to Lucy's other, unoccupied hand. Kaden internally sighed but did as he was ordered. Taking Lucy's hand, Lila worked her magic once again.

'You like Kaden. He's friendly, sweet, and treats you better than Laxus. You really, really like him. Let him hold your hand.'  Being a thought influencer made Lila especially dangerous. Not to mention, she had a secret magic under her sleeve. Kaden had one other than ice-make as well. 

Lucy smiled, a dazed, lazy smile playing on her features. With clouded eyes, she squeezed Kaden's warm hand. But, somewhere inside her, she knew there wasn't the same spark that ignited when she held Kaden's hand. Laxus made her heart feel real love. He made all her nerves feel on edge, and just so alive, it was thrilling. 

The woman smiled at the loving scene, even though deeper, under all the fake friendship, lies, and betrayal, there was no loving scene. At the core, they were enemies. 

Leaving the woman, the three still had linked hands. Lucy thought nothing of it. They were just being supportive friends...well, at least, that was the thought that kept reoccurring in her brain. She didn't know if it was just nerves or lack of sleep, but she felt...funny. Like her brain was scrambled. She tried to shake off the weird funk that clouded her mind, but it clung to her like a second skin. What was wrong with her? Were these thoughts even hers? She didn't know. But, whose thoughts could they possibly be? No one just assumes other people are messing with their mind. That sounded like the ravings of a lunatic. 

Lucy broke away from the two, briskly walking ahead. She shoved any lingering thoughts of Kaden from her mind. She focused on Laxus, and all the good. All he had done for her, and all she had done for him. Of all the warm, hilarious but sweet moments they shared, and all the scars they had earned together. 

She didn't like Kaden that way. Lila and Kaden were guildmates, simple as that. She was just being friendly. She wanted them to feel welcomed into Fairy Tail. 

Who knew being friendly was the worst decision of her life.

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