Fear of the Dark
“You showed me the light, so I’ll keep the darkness away.”
Gajeel stood, glaring out of the guild’s window. It was late, and it was dark now. On top of that, thick, grey storm clouds covered the sky, rain driving down in a torrential downpour. It was a downright depressingly miserable day. Every so often, a bolt of lightning cracked within the storm, illuminating Magnolia below.
“You’re here late, Gajeel-kun.” Gajeel turned to see that Mira had spoken to him, having walked out from behind the bar to see him. “It won’t be too long until we close.”
Gajeel shrugged. “I can’t go home until the lightning stops.”
“I am not scared!” Lily shouted from between them. He was on the table, but underneath the tablecloth. The little bulge of fabric was shivering, and jumped wildly whenever there was a lightning strike. Gajeel looked at Mira with a small grin.
“So, as you see, I need to wait a bit before I can go home.”
Mira smiled. It was so fun to see Gajeel caring about someone else’s wellbeing. Despite that gruff outer layer, there was no doubt that Gajeel adored his Exceed partner deeply. Mira giggled lightly.
“Well, be that as it may, I’m going to need to close up for the night soon. Most people have gone already, but tell you what, can you do me a favour? If I make sure that Lily is all right, would you go down to library and check if anyone is still in there? I need to make sure that no one has got lost in a big book and lost track of the time.”
Gajeel stared at her. “You know damn well who’s down there, don’t you?”
“Maybe,” Mira said, as if the word was delicious to say. A slightly demonic look played in her eyes and Gajeel sighed. No point arguing about it. He clumped away across the nearly empty guild hall. He went to the door which led down to the library and went inside. The library had a high ceiling, and the door opened onto steps that led down to the ground floor. That meant that when you entered, you had a commanding view of the entire room.
He quickly pinpointed the tiny form of Levy. She sat near the bottom of the stairs, her legs swinging happily as she read through some enormous book. Gajeel cocked his head in curiosity. The book was so enormous it was almost as big as she was. Then again, it had to be big to keep her occupied for so long. Levy devoured books at a ferocious pace.
“Oi, Shortstuff!” Gajeel called.
“My name is not Shortstuff,” Levy replied distractedly. Gajeel grinned. No harm in needlessly tormenting her before telling her what Mira wanted. He started to head down the stairs. At that point, a lightning bolt struck the spire of Fairy Tail. The noise was deafening, and the lights suddenly went out. There were no windows in the library, so it suddenly became pitch black.
“Motherfu-” With his sensitive slayer hearing momentarily overloaded and his sight completely robbed, Gajeel stumbled and fell down the stairs with a series of curses punctuating the impacts on the way down. He landed in a heap, continuing to curse bitterly. A few moments passed and his slayer senses returned to him. Even in the completely lightless environment, he had a pretty good grasp of the room he was in, with his enhanced smell and hearing.
He could hear a bizarre noise. Like a puppy whimpering or something. What the hell was making that – oh, right. He could hear Levy’s breathing, which was short and raspy, as if she were having trouble finding her breath.
“Oi, Shrimp. Are you alright?” Gajeel asked, concern in his voice. Maybe she’d fallen like he had. She was all tiny and stuff, so she might have hurt herself. When she replied, her voice was so small, so frightened.
“It’s alright, I’m just being silly.” After the impact from the lightning, Levy had retreated under the table, and sat there, hunched over her knees.
“What are you talking about? Are you hurt?”
“No, nothing like that. It’s just… I’m sorry, Gajeel. I said, I’m just being stupid.”
“Then explain it to me,” Gajeel replied a little brusquely.
“It’s just the dark.” Levy swallowed, trying to marshal her thoughts. “When I was a little girl, I was always so scared of the dark. I’m an adult now, so I’m not so bad with it… but this was so sudden. The noise was so loud and then it was so dark so quick. It just set me off.” Thunder crashed again and Levy whimpered, pulling her knees closer to herself. She was shaking badly. “I’m sorry. I don’t want you to see me being so stupid.”
Levy felt, rather than saw Gajeel’s hand go above her head and grab the table edge. With a grating sound, he pushed the table back across the stone floor with his prodigious strength, revealing her. She didn’t ask how he found her in the absolute blackness. Probably by smell or sound. Having made some space, he sat around her, and used his hands to pull her to him.
“Ain’t no problem. Just wait a bit, and Mira’ll get the lights back on. Until then, I’ll sit right here and make sure nothing in the darkness hurts you, okay?”
Levy flushed, her cheeks going bright red in the darkness. She’d never expected the big, bad Gajeel to say something so gentle. It occurred to her that it would be child’s play for Gajeel to simply carry her out into the light, but he hadn’t chosen to do that. He’d chosen to make her feel safe instead. Gajeel looked down as he felt Levy’s tiny fingers reach out and grab onto his arm.
“Thank you,” she said quietly.
“No problem, Shrimp.”