It was all I could do to contain myself when Natsu had that pathetic look on his face- the one that screamed “sore loser” with a capital ‘L’. He was hunched in my doorway, hands shoved deep in the pockets of his jeans and pout shrouded beneath the shadow of his hoodie. He looked like a 15 year old boy who just lost a fight. Maybe he had.
“You here to lick your wounds?” I smirk, unable to resist teasing him.
He stared silently at his feet in reply. I sighed, there was no getting around him when he was in a mood. Natsu could be stubborn at the best of times but at times like these I might as well be talking to a brick wall for all the response I get.
“Come on in then. Let’s get a look at you.”
Stepping back to let him through, I watch his progress from my fridge to my couch with concern. He was unusually shifty, skulking about the place, and never once did he make eye contact. What was he hiding? My suspicions piqued when -after polishing off two bags of chips and the chocolate cake I was saving for dessert- he threw himself face first into the couch cushions and stayed that way. My eyes narrowed at his inactivity as I took a seat on the coffee table opposite him and settled my gaze on the dark blob that was my boyfriend. For a guy who was irritatingly cheerful most of the time this was fairly unsettling. The problem was he didn’t seem inclined to impart any information regarding his condition. I glance over his still form and assess the damage or lack there of. No obvious bleeding, broken bones or indeed any sign of an altercation, physical or otherwise. Weird.
When he gets into fights, which is often, he always comes to me to be stitched up and boy, have I done some stitching. Two broken arms, sprained ankles, a fractured wrist, bullet wounds and countless cuts, stabs, bruises and bloody noses. Don’t get me wrong Natsu’s no street thug, he just has a strong sense of justice and little sense of self-preservation. He’s about as close as it gets to a real life Batman; the tortured orphan with a hankering for vigilantism- only I don’t think Bruce Wayne would have dyed his hair pink on a dare. That’s actually how we met, I was only a nursing student at the time and I was on the late shift at the Magnolia clinic when Natsu waltzes in, 1am, bullet hole in one arm, hair dye in the other. He flashed me a smile I wouldn’t soon forget, and asked me if I would colour his hair. I asked if he was crazy to which Natsu replied, he was crazy for me, before passing out from blood loss. The rest is history. I found out later it was his “friend” Gray who dared him. Then shot him. So why then, is the man who ignored a bullet so he could look permanently like the Pink Panther, sprawled in a brooding heap in my living room with no apparent need for me?
Natsu must have felt my glare because he squirmed a little and the white of an eye appeared in the darkness. I lift an eyebrow in silent invitation, crossing my arms, and he sighs loudly into the couch. Good, he knows I’m not going away anytime soon, not without an explanation. Slowly, he sits up, taking care to keep his hood over his face. He pauses a moment, as if reconsidering, but then he flips his hood off. Oh. My. Mavis.
“What is that on your face-”
“Don’t say anything.”
“Don’t you dare.”
“Did Gray give you that shiner?”
I can’t help it, I burst into laughter, rib cracking, side splitting laughter. Natsu just sits there disgruntled, scratching his head. His right eye is the most spectacular specimen of a black eye I have ever seen. Purple and swollen like a ripe plum, someone copped him a good one. Wiping tears from my eyes, I compose myself enough to see he’s in pain and my switch flicks. I kneel on the floor between his legs and reach up to touch his eye, he flinches in pain and I immediately recoil my hand, but he grabs it and holds it to his cheek, his one good eye searching mine with an intensity that makes my cheeks warm. Natsu draws me in for a kiss but our hands brush his eye and he curses. I giggle and place a light peck on his cheek, ignoring his protests when I pull away.
“Let’s get some ice on that.”