Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail or anything related.

Author's Note: Ever since a specific crack theory was brought to my attention, I felt the need to participate in helping the fire grow. It's silly, yes, but it's always fun to think about what could be. This isn't blatantly referencing the crack theory, but if you think about it… yes, it really is. Tumblr isn't helping me get over this, either! You all know who you are. The theory itself is that Sting and Rogue came from the future and are respectively the children of Natsu/Lucy and Levy/Gajeel. For what purpose? Who knows? Is it fun to think about? Sure is. That's why it's a crack theory.

Sooner or Later: The Calm Before

Character(s)/Pairing(s): Gajeel, Levy, Rogue

January 31, 2013

The arena was a quiet, desolate shell of what it had been during the tournament. The stadium seating had long since been cleared, people fleeing for safety at the warning of the mages that had participated in the games. Fairy Tail had caught wind of the Eclipse plan first, but couldn't have possibly known how serious its threat was in actuality.

Sitting in the section that had been marked for Fairy Tail mages, there was a lone person. The resident Solid Script mage was trapped in her thoughts, staring blankly out in front of her. Being trapped in her thoughts wasn't an uncommon occurrence, but now her thoughts were laid thick and heavy on her heart. She was used to fantasizing about the novels she read, the colorful characters that swept her off of her feet. Stories about adventure, magic, mystery, and love…

This wasn't supposed to happen.

Their lives were supposed to be happy, full of friends and planning for the future! Not wondering if everyone she knew would still be alive tomorrow. Her sense of being had already been thrown off kilter by the seven-year gap. Levy knew she was supposed to be wistfully daydreaming about her future; if she would get married one day, move into a cute home, and have children… what they would look like, even.

The young Solid Script mage had watched her comrades, her nakama, battle time after time during the games. After too many injuries to count, her beloved guild and its dual teams persevered as long as they could before the games had to be called off.

The tournament could not continue.

Heaving a loud sigh, Levy rubbed her face with her hands. She couldn't leave her friends to prepare for the upcoming threat alone. Yet, she was feeling a strange sense of déjà vu that she couldn't place. Natsu and Lucy had encountered something—someone?—rather strange and needed everyone to meet at the inn to try to make sense of their current situation.

Levy knew strategizing was up her alley, putting pieces of a large puzzle together to come to a positive conclusion, but she felt so weak… so tired, thinking about yet another roadblock that was derailing her life and her peace.

There she was. Sitting alone, which wasn't that smart due to the circumstances, but there she was. He hadn't seen her alone during the whole duration of the tournament—why was she alone now?

Shuffling closer, quietly in the shadows, he wanted to get a better look at her.

A lost memory he so desperately wished to reclaim.

What he wasn't expecting was the Solid Script mage to begin to speak. "Gajeel, I know that's—" She turned, blinking a few times when she realized it wasn't who she had assumed was creeping up on her. "Oh. It's you."

Rogue froze in place, unsure how to continue. They had never been formally introduced in this timeline. He had only come into contact with Gajeel directly.

"Rogue," he offered, in a low tone. He burrowed deeper into his cloak, if possible.

"Levy," the blunette replied with an unsure yet soft smile. "What are you doing here?

Rogue shook his head without offering an explanation.

Levy's brows furrowed in confusion, not sure how to proceed. He was here for a reason. Whatever that reason was… was beyond her. The haunted, sad look in his eyes stopped her from pressing further.

"Why are you here?" the Shadow Dragon Slayer asked, breaking his silence. He wanted to hear her voice.

Levy hesitated before responding, ultimately deciding that she was sensing no ill will from the man. "I'm… I'm thinking. Wondering why these things have to happen to us, all of us, so often. A life without adventure would be boring, but…"

"There are differentiating paths adventure can take."

Levy, taken back by his eloquence, smiled again. "That is true. Sometimes I would like a quieter sense of adventure. One that doesn't put the lives of every loved one in my life at risk."

His mother always was reading something. "Like in a book?"

"Absolutely. But," she hesitated, finally lifting herself to stand, "I've been a little bit of a coward. I'm afraid of what could happen, so I came here to think, away from the noise."

Rogue took a step backwards. "I interrupted. I apologize."

"No need," she waved dismissively before picking up her satchel. "I should be heading back to the inn. Someone will notice I'm gone."

Rogue frowned. "You shouldn't go alone."

"That's right," a new, gruff voice chimed in. "Shrimp's comin' with me."

Levy's cheeks turned pink, Rogue noted, when the Iron Dragon Slayer made his presence known. He stepped out of the shadows and into the light. Rogue knew he had been there the entire time.

Curious. Possessive. Familiar.

"Gajeel! How long have you been there for?" Levy squeaked, somewhat pleased and somewhat pissed off.

"Long enough. Let's go," Gajeel barked, sizing up the other Dragon Slayer as he grabbed for the small woman. "Get outta here before this place goes ta shit and yer trapped," he added, nodding at the other man as he pulled Levy along. Rogue nodded in return, acknowledging the warning.

"I can walk myself. No need to yank my arm off," Levy huffed, though not letting go of Gajeel's hand. "It was nice talking to you," she said to Rogue before they continued past. Rogue nodded cordially before she was tugged away.

Rogue caught a, "Why do you have to lurk like that?" come from the blunette's mouth before they were out of earshot and smiled. He realized that the two mages weren't romantically linked, but dancing closely with one another in the stages of denial.

Hope, a foreign emotion that he hadn't felt in a great while, swelled in his chest.

The future needed to be protected.