Chapter 17

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(A little hint: I used a lot of symbolism in this chapter- even in some of the finest details. Tell me if you notice XD

Btw, I'm going to start doing this:
*italics*= inner monologue;
italics = emphasis )

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The sun's tentative rays are easily blocked by the lingering clouds. The chilly breeze, although refreshing, simultaneously gives me the chills...the atmosphere has remained tense since my declaration.

I drum my fingers on the rail and wonder how I shall face all of these guilds. Adrenaline sparks through my fingertips as I imagine even meeting my former teammates again...*how can I even start to explain myself if I'm constantly being monitored?*

The rush of the train practically makes everything appear to be a blur; the indistinct shapes are hard to decipher. I attempt to follow the shapes with my eyes, but quickly stop once my head begins to spin even more badly than before.

The throbbing of my head is as consistent as the throbbing of my heart. Considering this, I loosen my grasp on the rail to bring a hand to my sensitive temples.

*Ugh, I should really stop worrying about everything...what will happen will happen, right? Besides, daydreaming about scenarios for hours on end won't solve anything...it'll just make me more nervous.*

I know I won't intentionally do anything irrational to endanger myself or anyone in Fairy Tail, so why do I feel so unsettled?

The dull *click* of the door informs me that I'm no longer alone with my thoughts.

I don't even turn my head to glance at the interrupter...I already know who it could be. I do not speak as I hear his footsteps approach me and only allow my eyes to wander once he is also haphazardly leaning on the rail.

His tousled blonde hair is radiant even in the diluted light; his cobalt eyes are as brilliant as ever.

I speak the first words that come to mind: "Are you ready?"

Sting's expression hardens: his eyebrows furrow and his eyes narrow considerably. I can tell he seems... almost...uncomfortable...but why?

"Hmm," comes his mindful reply, "Perhaps I am, perhaps I'm not. Well...you know who I have a rivalry with, and I'm not intending to hold back."

"Natsu?" I question after a slight pause, just to be sure. His only reply is a nod.

*Natsu; of course. And
Rogue's is Gajeel, I presume...Tch, I hope Gajeel has been training.*

"Any particular reason why...?" I inquire carefully, knowing that I may be treading in dangerous territory.

"Well, I used to idolize him as a kid. I was so stupid back then, looking up to someone who just casually destroyed mass amounts of property without even learning the consequences. I know I can definitely beat someone as naive as him off. He's old news that's been rediscovered in the great pool of magic-users...that's all he is." Sting replies cockily. A wavering sense of confidence can be detected in his words, leading me to believe that he doesn't believe every word he's saying.

A knowing smile tugs at my lips when I think about the Natsu I knew.

"Yeah, he sure was stupid, but he also had a legitimate purpose. Honestly, I cannot believe some of the things he did..." My gaze has shifted to where the stars usually are; my mind is far away: past the moon and over the sun to the twinkling stars beyond; I cannot help but reminisce about the things I miss. "That time when he almost died to save Erza, or when he kicked everyone's butt in Edolas, or- OO! OO! That time when he-!"

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