Alright, the delay lasted longer than I planned it would, but GUESS WHAT IS STILL ALIVE?! THIS FANFIC, BABY! I had to cut a few events from the chapter, but it's still the longest one, and hopefully it's still enjoyable.
Ayden’s disappearance had happened five days ago. He hadn’t come back. Everyone was beginning to assume that something had happened.
“He’s probably just planning something stupid.” Laxus had tried to assure everyone on the second day. “You know how he is – probably got lost or decided to trick us all.”
But that had been three days ago, and they had gotten no word from him. People were beginning to worry.
“It’s Verity’s MB-Day party today.” Mira said. “We can’t keep telling her Ayden is planning a surprise for her, because she’s getting her hopes up.”
“We can hope that she forgot about what you told her.” Dagur replied. “She’s Verity – her memory is terrible.”
“I’m half expecting Ayden to show up in the middle of the party and actually have a surprise.” Zelda commented. “It’s something he would do.”
The gang had rented out a large building in the middle of the SAMB town. It would be perfect to host Verity’s MB-Day party, since it had the space. While this gang was small, some of her friends like Prank and Raven had huge gangs. Right now, they were working on fixing it up, making it ready for the party.
“Jellal, are you going to help us out?” Meredy asked. “Without Ayden’s strength, we need yours!”
“One moment, Meredy.”
Jellal was still concerned about what his next move would be. On one hand, this was basically the MB equivalent of a birthday. He couldn’t just ruin it. On the other, what if Verity did want to stake her claim of the gang today? It would be the perfect time, and if she did, he’d have no choice but to ruin it.
Suddenly, the doors flung open, distracting him. Midnight was the one who had opened them, and the man was covered in mud.
“Were you having a mud bath or something?” Mard asked. “Disgusting.”
“I tried to get her a piglet.” Midnight replied, panting heavily. “But the mother pig didn’t react so well.”
Everyone facepalmed. Now this was just being desperate.
Then, another pair of doors opened, and Hiccup and Irene came in carrying the cupcakes. Hiccup looked rather flustered.
“Where were you two?” Invel asked. “Getting those cupcakes took an awful long time.”
“They weren’t done.” Irene replied. “So I started talking to Hiccup about baby names.”
Almost everyone broke down in laughter as Hiccup went completely red in the face. Ever since the Dragon Rider had given her dragon nip, Irene had been stalking him around and calling him “senpai”. It was actually a little concerning – Irene had basically become Moge-ko overnight.
“Someone get this dragon lady a leash.” Hiccup grumbled as he put the cupcakes on a table.
“Believe me, we’ve tried.” Brandish told him. “Leashes are ineffective. You need to full-on chain her to the wall to stop her.”
As Irene began to complain, Jellal glanced up at the clock. Three hours. Three hours before things could fall apart for him.
It had gotten quite loud. There was so much partying and screaming with delight and joy. Verity had invited all of her friends, including Prank, Raven, Rajani, Kagami and Eternity, and their gangs. And some people had huge gangs. So naturally things were out of control.
Tyrian and Dagur were by the drinks, on their fifth cups of punch. Brandish was with them, and she was stuffing her face with candy. Mira, Zelda and Lucina were on the dance floor, chatting with some of the other MBers. Mard was there as well, flirting with a few of the women in the other gangs, and Midna was stalking him. Laxus was giving Hiccup a pep talk about how to handle Irene, who was sleeping outside in her dragon form. Meredy was moping by the cupcakes, probably worrying about Ayden. Peridot was trying to DJ, but she didn’t really know what she was doing. Jellal and Viggo were discussing something in the corner of the room, and Invel was standing near them as though standing guard.
Midnight was by Verity’s side as she took a piece out of the cake. He didn’t even like cake that much, but he was eating it just for her.
“Where did you guys get this cake?” she asked, pushing her hair aside so it didn’t get in the way.
“We bought the cake from the cake store, but we decorated it ourselves.” Midnight replied. “The cake is red velvet, but I don’t know what flavours the icing is.”
“Is this peppermint icing?” Verity asked.
“That’s probably what the Trio of Trouble put on.” He responded. “They wanted to be original.”
“Tell them that it’s great.”
Midnight nearly choked on his cake. Verity and Mard had been a thing for about a week last year. Even after that week was over, they had always been close friends. Maybe it wasn’t Jellal responsible for Verity’s lack of affections. Maybe the Demon King was to blame.
But when would they have gotten any time to hang out? Mard spent most of his time either on Tinder, with Tyrian and Dagur, watching shows with attractive women or being stalked by Midna. Midnight shook his head as he assumed he was just getting a little possessive and paranoid.
“So, Middy, do you know where Ayden disappeared off to?” Verity asked. “I haven’t seen him since you went on that mission for the Admins.”
“Probably got lost in the woods.” Midnight replied. “I wasn’t with him when he wandered off.”
“Is he planning a surprise?”
“He didn’t tell me that, but maybe he is.”
“Is Jellal planning a surprise?”
That question came as a shock. Where had that come from? Midnight glanced over at Jellal, still in discussion with Viggo. Those two were definitely planning something, but it definitely wasn’t a surprise. He had a feeling Invel was in on this plan as well. And… well, everyone except himself and Verity knew what was going on as well.
“You’ll have to ask him yourself.” Midnight replied, looking back at Verity. “Jellal doesn’t tell me anything.”
“That’s weird, you two were pretty close a while back.” She said thoughtfully. “What happened between you two?”
I didn’t realize how much I cared for you until he stole your affections from me. That’s what happened.
Of course, he didn’t say that out loud. Instead, he opted to say, “Ask Jellal about that as well.”
Verity stared flatly at him.
Suddenly, the doors of the building flew open. The room grew cold as wind howled. Silence fell across the room as Peridot gaped from the DJ station and stopped the music.
A lone figure walked into the room. And almost all the members of Verity’s gang gasped at once.
“Ayden!” Meredy exclaimed. “You’re alright!”
She broke free from the crowd on the dance floor and ran toward her boyfriend. But Ayden shot her a steely glare which stopped her in her tracks.
“Where have you been?” Jellal asked suddenly from his corner.
Ayden turned his blue gaze over to the gang’s alpha. “Evening, Jellal. How’s the plan going? Good? I assumed as such.”
This took the bluenette by shock as he stared in horror at the Dragon Slayer. Several other gang members had a similar reaction. Tyrian and Dagur both gave each other looks, Lucina looked down at the ground awkwardly and Laxus and Mira shot identical glares at Ayden.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that.” He sighed. “Everyone knows you’re all up to something. But they’ll all have to figure out what you’re planning. I won’t tell them everything.”
“What do you want?” Viggo asked calmly. “If you wanted to join the festivities, you could have done so in a less distracting manner.”
“Why on earth would I participate in this party?” Ayden demanded. “It’s a lost cause, celebrating something for this woman. She’ll be dead within the month. Don’t waste time on her.”
This triggered fury among everyone. Even members of the other gangs.
“How do you know that?” Eternity asked as her gang gathered behind her.
“I don’t.” Ayden admitted, looking a little less confident than he had seconds before. But he instantly regained his composure and smirked. “But I know people who do.”
That was when another person entered, standing with Ayden. She was unfamiliar to all the gang members, with waist length messy red hair and a red, thigh-length dress.
Out of the corner of his eye, Midnight could see Jellal and Viggo looking over at this newcomer. It was as though they recognized her from somewhere. Midna was having a similar reaction, except hers was less subtle.
“No way…” the Twilight Princess said. “Are you the rogue from the forest?”
A thin-lipped smile formed on the woman’s face. “You didn’t tell me they were observant, Ayd.”
“You’re the one who’s supposed to know everything.” He replied, smiling.
Even though she was far away, Midnight was able to see Meredy quivering in jealousy. Ayden seemed very close with this other woman, but he was supposed to be Meredy’s boyfriend. The Dragon Slayer had a history of being flirtatious, almost like a Mard 2.0. Though he had never actually cheated on anyone.
“Ayden, what’s going on here?” Verity asked. She sounded almost scared when she did so. “You’re not being funny if that’s what you’re aiming for.”
Ayden sighed. “I’m so misunderstood. Why does everyone think what I’m doing is supposed to be funny? I bring a warning with me – things are about to change.”
“So you’ve said.” Jellal replied. “Verity dies, doom and destruction, all the normal jazz.”
“You know what will happen.” Ayden’s red-haired accomplice replies, smiling still. “Do you want to stop it? While you can’t change the future, you can certainly try.”
Jellal seemed seconds away from calling a meteor down on her, but Viggo placed a hand on his shoulder and glared at him.
“If none of you choose to listen, then that’s your own fault.” Ayden continued on. “Just remember what I said when Verity perishes and her gang is destroyed from the inside out.”
As he turned to leave, he shot a hate-filled glare in Verity and Midnight’s direction. She stepped back fearfully.
Then, Ayden and his accomplice were gone as quickly as they had showed up, leaving everyone staring at nothing.
“Well, at least we weren’t lying about him having a surprise.” Brandish commented, causing glares from the rest of the gang.
“What’s wrong with him?” Raven asked as she scanned the building over to make sure all of her gang members were there. “I didn’t think Ayden would ever go this crazy.”
“Yeah.” Prank agreed. “He’s always seemed so cheerful and excited. Why would he change so much?”
Verity’s gang all exchanged nervous glances with each other. Midnight looked over at Verity, who was staring at where Ayden had been seconds ago.
“Don’t worry.” He told her softly. “We’ll catch him and prove him wrong. He won’t do anything to you.”
“Ayden isn’t who I’m concerned about.” She replied, and she looked over to the corner of the room.
Midnight followed her gaze to Jellal. And he certainly believed her accusation. Ayden and Jellal – they were both hiding something. He didn’t know which one could be trusted. Or if either of them could.
The schedule is back to normal now. Expect the next chapter to be out next week as per usual.
MODS, PLEASE LET THIS POST!