Part 18 All Time Low

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Sweat poured heavily down Natsu's body, training with a bamboo sword really took it out of him-what with Ginjo taking every opportunity to knock the damn thing out of his hand or jab harshly at weak points. If he didn't know better he'd say Ginjo was a sadist...oh wait...he kind of was.

His stomach grumbled in hunger; man did he crave Lucy's cooking something fierce. Lately, all he'd had was take-out or whatever Riley-Riruka-felt like cooking which was always either pork curry or blackberry shortcake; no in-between.

Unfortunately, his training wouldn't allow him the luxury of going home to eat real food or sleep in an actual bed rather than a couch. If Happy hadn't been almost killed he wouldn't be pulling stunts like this, would be able to go home every day of the week. But it was either sacrifice comfort or be faced with the possible situation of his friends and loved one's being attacked when he could have trained to become stronger.

By now Kurosaki House must have noticed his week-long absence, he was surprised Lucy hadn't come bursting through those doors to drag him home. Then again considering her state one week ago he wasn't shocked she has made no appearance. Wouldn't be long before she did though, he knew her too well.

Instead of concerning himself with such thoughts he picked his sword back up and returned to his training. He would be stronger even if it killed him.

Several miles away Lucy stood in her kitchen whisking together a massive bowl of eggs for breakfast omelets. Cooking her new family breakfast-Grey and Erza had sensed how uncomfortable Lucy had been around them, so they hadn't shown up for meals for a few days-allowed her mind to wander; something she did not need at the moment.

Natsu's absence from her life went noticed by her, he had been M.I.A. since last Friday. She knew why too; Isshin had told her all about Happy's attack when she began questioning about Natsu. If she knew Natsu-and she did-he had gone to Xcution to train; he was never one to take actions like that sitting down without retaliation. Although, knowing her pink haired fool, he had probably gone head to head with his son's attacker and found a difference in strength not in his favor. Thus, he was training to become stronger to prevent further attacks.

Albeit, one week was too much. He was lucky Ichigo kept her from dragging his ass back home; unluckily for him said Carrot Idiot was away with his friends for the day. Anyone who could have stopped her-mainly Isshin and the twins were out until dinner time. Perfect for her to drag a certain former Fire Dragon Slayer home.

Lucy's sky blue cowl neck sweater dress swung around her knees with the wind-any who dare get in her way ran as fast as they could due to the scowl painted on her brow; nobody wanted to dare attract her wrath-her brown booties clicking against the cement. She could not believe Orihime or Rangiku had such nice clothes and shoes to give away.

Maybe Isshin did buy her new clothes. Lucy shook her head, dismembering any thoughts of trivial things from her mind. No point in pondering something long since passed. Besides her, sixty-day return window had shut one month ago. Those clothes were hers now whether Isshin paid for them or not.

Walking took longer than flash-stepping Xcution was over an hour walk-it gave her time to debate what she was going to do when she reached the building. Which, was not kick-the-door-down-beat-Natsu-to-a-pulp-then-drag-his-carcass-out she was classy after all. Instead, her plan of action was to knock-Natsu-out-and-flash-step-home...after lecturing his ass to next month. At least Scary Lucy did not plan an appearance.

Finally, walls of black concrete came into her view, she was now in Naruki City with Xcution not too far from her. Her pink mouth curled into a grin, it was time to bring her idiot back home.

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