A Stranger To Me

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▶┆Chapter ninety-six [96]

❝I want to cry, and I want to love, but all my tears have been used up.❞

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★·.·'¯'·.·★ иσямαℓ ρ.σ.ν. ★·.·'¯'·.·★

LUCY GAZED INTO HIS EYES, fists clenching and unclenching furiously. She could see the man she loved, deep-rooted kindness radiating from him like a wave. Staring into those soulful blue eyes, she wanted to believe him. She wanted to rush to him, to accept it was all a misunderstanding.

But she couldn't. Time, in fact, doesn't heal all wounds. They fade away, get covered up by new skin, but they're never really gone. Scars never fade and are constantly at risk of reopening and letting pain back in. No matter how hard she tries to deny how she feels, she'll never be able to escape the pain and dread she felt in the face of Laxus.

"Lucy...please, believe me..." Laxus's voice was tender and gentle, and oh so convincing. It made her stomach flutter with nervous butterflies.

"I..." Her voice cracked, and suddenly she felt like a spotlight was shining down upon her. Like all eyes were glued to her unsure form; she could see other guildmates staring from her peripheral vision.

Lucy cleared her throat, forcing the stone wall back up in her mind. She would not break right now. She couldn't believe anything without proof. Not this time anyway. Her heart had been broken one too many times. She had forgiven them once, and look at how it had turned out. 

Forgiving them would take a lot of effort on her part. She'd be put through oodles of pain—just to put down the walls she guards her heart with. Lucy would have to learn to be friends with them all again. She would have to work on forgetting all the cruel words that had played like a broken record in her nightmares.

"I—can't. I'm sorry...how can I believe you when there's so much risk for me? I—I can't go through that type of pain again." Lucy's exterior hardened once more, and she stood tall and strong.

Laxus's eyes are full of sorrow, and Lucy temporarily feels guilt and regret. But then she remembers how much worse it would be if this was all a trick and he breaks her heart again. 

"Lucy..." His voice sounds broken. "Please...I swear to you, we all love and miss you...especially me...Please, it wasn't us!" He pleads with her, using both words and his strong gaze alone. 

"I...I can't have it happen again..." Lucy whispered after a moment of silence. "You told me that it was all a lie...that you never loved me..." She looked up, angry and betrayed tears barely being held back.

"How do I know you're not just lying?"

Laxus felt like someone had poured boiling acid down his throat. He didn't know how to respond. He loved her so much, but how could he prove his innocence? He could find Lila and Kaden, but he doubted they'd ever admit their atrocious actions. Then again, he didn't need them to do it of their own free will.

He could pressure them—do whatever it takes to prove to Lucy that he truly loves her. At this point, he was feeling desperate for her to come home; he wanted her to be somewhere safe, somewhere that didn't keep her locked up like a criminal. 

Lucy looks around and feels like a cornered mare. Like a wild horse being surrounded by heinous humans. The blonde could see all the members of Fairy Tail gathering because most had beaten the members of Crimson Flag they had been pitted against.

She wanted to run. To use this opportunity to escape, and never have to be anyone's prisoner again. After all, she knew all too well if Fairy Tail got her, she'd be forced to return with him—whether she wanted to or not. And she didn't exactly want to return to the place that had left her to die in her own misery that one grim day. 

Gray, Natsu, Erza, and Juvia were coming closer and she felt her eyes start to scan the area for an escape route. She was no one's, prisoner. Lucy desired freedom—she had been locked away for months, rotting away in agony. Now she has had enough.

She is done. She isn't going to do what the master wants her to do, because he isn't in control of her. She is not his slave. Lucy wasn't his prisoner. And she was done letting him order her around and make her feel scared.

If anyone should be scared, it was him. He should be afraid—because Lucy was going to leave, and prove to him how powerful she was. Then one day she'd return, and slit his throat. 

There. She could see a hole in the wall, which led to the east hall. She could follow that passage and find her way to the main entrance. She could make it. She just knew it. The newly familiar feeling of hope welled up inside her, making excitement cloud her mind. There were so many things she would do once she was free—but first, she knew she was going to take a hot shower. She smiled at the thought. Of course, it'd probably be mildly scalding because she never got the water to the perfect temperature, but it would be normal. And that's all she wanted right now—everything to be normal once more. She sincerely thinks normal is underrated. 

Before the tired Fairy Tail members could blink, Lucy had sprinted towards that hole. Her enthusiasm fueled her footsteps and made her run faster. 

"Wait!"

She hesitated for a moment at his voice but ignored how much she missed him. Laxus was dangerous. And she wasn't feeling too trusting at the moment.

"Lucy!" She recognized the next voice, and pulse of pain reverberated through her as she recognized Sting's forlorn and desperate voice. He was a person with no bad memories attached. Only good. And she almost did stop. She almost turned around and embraced him. The blonde almost wept and told him how sorry she was for running away—for choosing revenge over a future with him in his guild.

But she didn't stop. She glanced back for a second, just to see the absolute despair and dejection on his face as she raced off.

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