Plenty of Sting and Rogue in this chapter...
IMPORTANT NOTE: I don't know Sting and Rogue's exact ages but my estimate is around late teens to early twenties so probably 18-23. This story is set out a few years before so Sting and Rogue are roughly 17 years old and still developing teenage boys. So as cool as they both are right now, they are going to act a little hormonal sometimes. It won't be too obvious but they will act slightly immature as all teenagers do when they are going through puberty. That means: larger sex drive, shorter tempers and more childish personalities. So if you by any chance think that Sting is too temperamental, or Rogue talks too much... it's because they are teenagers. Just a warning before anyone cries out OOC! And there conversations are slightly teenager-like too with lots of swearing on Sting's part.
Chapter 2: Ain't No Rest for the Wicked
Rogue disliked fairs. Or any event involving a large gathering of people. For a conservative and modest young man who did not fully comprehend the concept of 'letting go', the fair was very much like an overwhelming kaleidoscope of colour and the mixing scents of fried dough, burnt rubber and the occasional sweaty person wearing way too much deodorant created a rather grotesque aroma that made him wish that 'enhanced sense of smell' wasn't on the list of power ups for becoming a dragon slayer. Sometimes, Rogue wandered how Sting could even put this kind of hubbub but considering his companion's more chaotic personality, he was no doubt feeling right at home.
"Put that down, Frosch," Rogue ordered for the third time that day. Unlike Rogue, Frosch, like any child was fascinated by the fair's events, pausing to ogle at every stall and activity that caught his interest.
Rogue almost felt guilty when he saw the exceed hesitantly lower the plush frog he had eagerly picked out from a toy stand. "Alright, you win," he said in defeat as Frosch shot him the ever so deadly, 'kicked-puppy- gaze, (worked every time), "how much?" he asked wearily. It couldn't hurt to actually spend some of the large sum of money he had obtained and besides, Sting was probably spoiling Lector rotten even as they spoke. As much as Rogue denied the fact that he didn't care much for Frosch and Lector's childish debates on who had the better companion, he still found himself listening attentively even when the argument was very one sided to begin with. After all, Lector was probably one of the pushiest people in the world, and Frosch should get an award for being 'pushover of the year.'
"Think of that as an early birthday present," Rogue said, handing the woman behind the stand a few coins and watched in mild satisfaction as Frosch's face lit up a little too quickly so that the effect was slightly comedic.
"Yay! Rogue is the best companion ever!"
"And remember, I'm not going to get you anything else after this. You'll have to wait for Christmas," Rogue said firmly, "now stay close. We have to find Sting and Lector before we book a hotel room and call it a day."
"Ribbit? But where will Rogue find him?" Frosch asked curiously.
"Well that's obvious," Rogue replied easily, "we'll just have to go to the front where they're having a parade with female street dancers. The man just doesn't know how to exercise self control."
"Oh, I see! Rogue is so smart!"
There was one thing that Sting hated more than waking up early on Monday mornings and, no, it wasn't drinking orange juice before brushing his teeth or even the toast, spontaneously shooting out of his toaster, effectively triggering a heart attack. Children. Slimy fingered, greasy haired little brats who always seemed to be whining about something to you with lungs that could put a banshee to shame, all the while being incredibly annoying and attention seeking.
When Sting had first related that exact description to Rogue, the shadow dragon slayer had given him a very odd look.
You sound like the evil witch out of a fairy tale, Sting, he had deadpanned.
Needless to say, Sting was pissed off. He had abandoned a hot dog eating contest just so that he could follow the parade to the northern side of town to watch the female street performers twirl around in their sparkling organza skirts and their glittering, sequined midriffs but instead he found himself with ice cream on his pants and a terrified child staring up at him with terrified, puppy eyes.
Minutes before, a pack of children, all decked out in uniform, no doubt on some kind of school excursion had passed by. One particularly stupid boy had found himself too busy ogling at the parade to notice Sting's leg and as a result crashed right into his knee. The ice cream in his left hand fell right of the cone and plastered itself to Sting's thigh.
Usually Sting would not have noticed as the child was barely half his height. It would have been reminiscent to a small piglet hitting a dragon, (which obviously meant that the piglet was soon to be roasted in a furnace, a fate which was similar for the child.) No, Sting's attention was caught when something icy cold began forming on his thigh, rapidly spreading across the rest of his leg like a ripple. Frowning, he hesitantly tore his eyes away from a particularly voluptuous blonde dancer and turned his gaze downwards where his eyes met with a teary eyed child holding an empty cone and a large scoop of ice cream stuck to his thigh, already half melting from his body heat, causing it to run in rivers down his leg and pooling in a lake at his feet.
What was even more unfortunate was that the ice cream was vanilla flavour, thus giving it a white colour which contrasted nastily to Sting's black pants. He had no doubt that it would leave an embarrassing stain even if he did somehow manage to wipe it off.
"M-My ice cream," the little boy whimpered, the tears beginning to pour out of his eyes.
Sting's annoyance only increased at the fact that the child had just ruined his pants, yet only seemed to be mourning the death of his stupid ice cream when the former was clearly more important. He heard Lector scoff beside him looking somewhat smug, "You are so dead."
Sting leant forward, dark aura streaming out of the pores of his skin as he grabbed the boy by the scruff of his neck and lifted him clean off his feet so that the bottom of his yellow jumper was pushed upwards revealing a small waist that was probably the size of Sting's arm. "You little brat," he snarled, "look what you did to my pants!"
The frightened boy remained petrified in Sting's grip and could do nothing more than to cry silently, "I-I'm very sorry, mister!"
"I don't think a sorry is quite enough," Sting said malevolently, pressing his face closer to his victim's head to increase the intimidation. It worked too because the boy turned his head, avoiding eye contact, "you see, these clothes were custom made and costed a lot of money. At least three thousand jewels."
"B-But I d-don't have three thousand jewels."
The parade of female street performers had by then, already moved on, giving way to a band of marching soldiers in handsome red coats and polished boots. Lector flapped upwards so that he hovered at Sting's eye level, "The dancing girls left, Sting," he informed him.
Sting's eyes darted back to the parade and growled in frustration when he realised that they were now featuring clowns, "You little brat! Now look what you did! I just missed the hot girls because of you! That's it; I'm not forgiving you until you lick the ice cream of my sh-OW!"
Something hard collided with Sting' right shoulder, scraping down the length of his arm so that his nerves were switched off for a brief second and the boy fell from lifeless fingers. Before he could hit the ground, a hand reached out to grab him roughly by the collar and lower him gently down onto his feet. Sting breathed in the familiar scent of metal polish and peppermint and his eyes widened as he whirled around to spot the newcomer, "What the hell, Rogue!" Their eyes met for a moment, red against green and it looked as if Rogue was about to say something but instead he turned his back on Sting, completely ignoring him.
Rogue lowered his sword so that the blade slid back into its sheath with a metallic 'clink'. "Are you alright?" he asked in what could possibly pass off as concern. It was then that the pain attacked Sting's arm full-force, a numbing ache as supposed to a stinging cut, and it came to his realisation that Rogue had only hit him with the blunt edge of his sword. He had half a mind to open his mouth and give Rogue an ear-bashing for breaking his arm when he realised that the other dragon slayer had not been addressing his concerns to him, but instead directing them to the shaken child.
"What on earth are you doing, Rogue?" Lector cried, looking scandalised.
"Here, I'm very sorry about my companion here," Rogue said, bending down so that he was staring at the boy on equal eye level, "he was recently released from an institution because of mental illness, ("Hey!" Sting said indignantly), he's mostly recovered now but he still has violent impulses. Here's some money so go and buy yourself a double scoop," he said, pressing a few coins into the child's hands.
"You're an asshole, Rogue," Sting cursed as soon as they had shrunk to the sides of the road where the crowd thinned out and they were completely out of earshot, "I can't believe you did that to me!"
"He's your comrade!" Lector scolded, "you didn't have to hit him that hard!"
Usually Rogue would not have ignored their comments but when two hot-headed characters ganged up on you it was very hard to do so. And besides, their words were starting to give him a headache. It was at times like this that Rogue wished Frosch had a stronger personality so that, at the very least, the playing field was equal. "You were being an idiot, Sting. I'm actually very lenient. I don't think there's anyone else in the guild who can put up with your womanising tendencies but if you're going to stain Sabertooth's reputation by beating on a child then you're going to get kicked out. And if you get kicked out then that means that I have to leave as well," Rogue's frown intensified when he saw that Sting was staring at him looking quite stupefied, "what are you looking at?"
"Rogue... you just spoke an entire paragraph! Everyone, record this on your calendars- we should make this a national holiday," Sting said sarcastically, "oh I know- we should call it: Speak like an antisocial emo day," he had predicted the attack this time and dodged smugly out of the path of Rogue's sword.
"Sting, I'm serious. Beating up deadbeat bums at bars is one thing but never attack a child," Rogue said warningly, "remember, we're still on probation because we're technically underneath the required age to join Sabertooth. One mistake and the master will kick us out."
"Fro doesn't like the sound of that," Frosch shivered, "if Sting and Rogue get kicked out then Fro will have to sleep on grass again."
"No, Frosch. I believe that there's a deeper reason to this," Sting said sagely, "you know, Rogue- most of the time you act like a stone cold bastard with no emotion but really deep, deep down in that icy heart of yours, you're actually not that tough behind all those thorns and... hey!" this time Sting barely managed to duck out of the way and the hilt of Rogue's sword brushed against his injured arm, "That hurt, you asshole!"
"You've taken worse before," Rogue said dismissively, "besides, it's just a bruise."
"You fucking broke my arm you bastard!"
"And I'll break your other arm as well if you don't shut up and act more mature," Rogue said darkly, "now, where's the remainder of our job funds?"
Rogue wasn't stupid. He already knew that the chances of Sting spending all of their job funds were pretty high. The guilt that flashed across his companion's face only confirmed his theory. "Well," Sting coughed; Rogue could practically hear the clogs in his brain turning rapidly as he tried to conjure up a false story, "Lector skipped breakfast this morning so I bought him a double lunch and-," he started but was cut off as something heavy was tossed into his arms.
"Here, I acquired some money. Four million jewels. I counted."
"Where did you get all that?" Lector said incredulously.
"It's because Rogue is the best, of course," Frosch said proudly.
"Sting's better," Lector retorted, "if he wanted to, he could get twice as much as what Rogue got."
Sting and Rogue decided to ignore the exceeds' rather childish argument and instead focused in on the sack of money. "A woman dropped it and she didn't return for it so I thought we might keep it since I knew you were too reckless to even begin to understand the concept of saving money."
"Stealing from a defenceless woman, Rogue?" Sting raised his eyebrow, "weren't you the person who was just scolding me for frightening a child?"
"I didn't steal, Sting. She dropped it."
"Yeah, yeah. Whatever you say," Sting said, still looking unconvinced. He turned his head to the right to tell Lector something only to find that the air was empty, "hey, where-?" Sting was cut off as he spotted the two exceeds still hovering in midair, a few metres back still 'arguing', though a better term would have been bullying because the 'argument' seemed pretty one sided and in Lector's favour. "Hey, you two, cut that out!"
Lector hastily apologised and turned on Frosch, scolding him for being a nuisance before dragging him forward, still floating in midair. "Can we say at a hotel this time? The inns are always really crowded and the last one we stayed at smelled like mothballs."
"I remember that," Sting cringed, his nose wrinkling in disgust, "but don't worry. After all, we have four million jewels and we could get the fanciest suite in town. Right, Rogue?"
"I don't care," was the nonchalant reply which Sting knew from travelling with Rogue for years, was his way of complying.
The deafening sound of flesh clapping against a hard surface split the air like a gunshot as the man was sent flying backwards, knocking over aluminium bins as if they were ten pins before crashing into the opposite wall. Spider web cracks formed on the bricks, forming a pattern like a smashed eggshell on the surface of the wall. Before the man could even process the pain of the impact, footsteps were already upon him and he founded himself lifted up by the scruff of his neck and pinned up against the wall with a knife.
"Where is the money?" Loki whispered dangerously, pressing the cool edge of the knife against the taut, off-white skin on the man's neck, "Answer me!" she cried almost hysterically.
"Urgh... what's with that powerful kick...," the man groaned as the pain finally hit him. And when it hit him, it attacked hard- jolting his stomach so that the food inside mixed together with the acid a little too quickly and threatened to climb up his oesophagus and spill out of his mouth.
Loki 'tsked', her brows knitting together into a frown as she dug the knife into the man's neck, creating a shallow cut. It wasn't enough to be fatal but from the sight of bright scarlet blood staining his dull, grey shirt- the man instantly went into panic mode. "I don't like to repeat myself... Where is that money? Give it back or I'll kick you again and this time I'm going for a place far more valuable than your stomach!" she threatened.
"I don't know what you're talking about...," the man said, eyes widened in fear like a deer caught in headlights, "I'm sorry... please don't kill me! I don't even know you. I've never even seen you! Please... just let me go, I'm just a simple thief!" He looked so pathetic with tears running down his cheeks and snot dribbling out of his nostrils that Loki sighed and dropped him carelessly onto the ground. She lifted her right leg and stomped hard on the man's crotch. He opened his mouth in a silent scream before slumping, unconscious against the wall, his head lolling loosely from side to side as his body passed out from taking in too much pain.
Loki took advantage of his unconsciousness to upturn the man's pockets and check his bag thoroughly, only to find, to her great disappointment- nothing that resembled the sack she had kept her money. There was a measly amount of gold lying at the bottom of the man's bag but nothing even close to amounting to four million jewels.
What a big misunderstanding, Loki sighed, pocketing the thief's money and searched through his bag to salvage any items she could use or items that were valuable enough to sell. And to think I just kicked him in the balls too... "Ah, I'm sorry," she said out loud, rubbing her neck sheepishly, "you'll forgive me because I'm a girl right?"
The man opened his mouth, revealing white, foaming saliva and released a weak groan which Loki chose to interpret as a yes. What was I thinking? She scolded herself, as she picked her way through the thief's backpack in search of resources and any valuable items. The bag was full of items that the man had pinched but there was nothing of real value that would earn a high price on the market, He's clearly very bad at pick pocketing if all he can steal are these small trinkets. And to think I actually thought he had the brains to take anything from me.
It hadn't taken long for Loki to completely shake of the stalkers but she ran for an extra few minutes just to be sure that they gone without a doubt. The image of the dark haired youth swam across her mind for a moment and she realised that it would be unlikely for them to ever meet again but if by some strange plan of fate, they did- she would owe him a great favour. Their meeting had been so brief that Loki had barely had the time to observe him but now that she was alone in an alley with an unconscious thief, she had plenty of time to think about him through her mind's eye.
Being associated with the section of the world that society deemed to be scum since a very young age, it wasn't rare for Loki to see other adolescents as young as thirteen walking around in the back alleys and even the red light districts, whether it be selling drugs or prostituting their body or to spite the authorities by vandalism or exercising a well-planned B & E just for the heck of it. This particular man didn't look like much of a criminal though, but then again Loki had encountered many angelic-faced individuals with minds bred from Satan, himself- hell, she, herself was a prime example of this. However, out of years of experience, Loki had developed a kind of sixth sense that determined a person's state of mind, giving her the helpful ability to distinguish between those with good or bad intentions. Honestly, the kid was wearing a suit of armour in the middle of summer- you couldn't get much darker than that, yet despite his appearance, he had still helped her, a mere stranger and he didn't give off a single drop off evil aura.
"Ah, what am I thinking," she sighed as she pushed her legs up into a crouched position, "those costume freaks must have really gotten to you, Loki if you're going to sit here and go into a structured character analysis of a man you barley even met instead of thinking up a strategy to get yourself out of this mess."
She had promised her current client that she would have the cash ready by the week after and plenty of time to spare and yet here she was leaning against a garbage bin, counting the bricks in the wall opposite her. It was unlikely for her client to order her assassination as she still held high importance to various crime syndicates and her death would literally trigger an underground war. Although this outcome didn't bother Loki in the least- as she thought of the entire underground society as her pawns, it didn't matter her whether they killed each other off. But above everything, even money itself, Loki, like most human beings valued her life.
Either way, I have to get that four million jewels in cash by next week, she thought. Her client was a prideful man who stood strong to his decisions and did not seem to be the kind of character who would easily make exceptions.
She lifted the passed-out thief with great difficulty, hooking her hands underneath his arms and dragged him over to the paper disposal bin; the one which she decided smelt the least unpleasant. After all, the least she could do for a guy she had just wrongly kicked in the family jewels was to at least make him wake up in a comfortable position. Considering this to be a nice gesture, Loki picked through the thief's pockets one more time, just in case before leaving to find a quiet place where she could plan her next scam.
As the sky grew dark, she felt her limbs grow slack and her knees caved in underneath her weight. Releasing the magical seals on her legs were something of a last resort that Loki only used in the rare occasion when her intelligence failed her and she was forced into front line combat. It had been extremely unnecessary for her to resort to such measures when she knew that she was perfectly capable of outrunning the stalkers if she gave it time and patience but when confronted with dogs, Loki found that all logical reasoning escaped her.
She knew that it would be a while before her magic returned and her legs would heal again. It was the perfect opportunity to sit still and think of a new confidence strategy- one that she could pull off within the span of a few days. Loki crawled into the back of a loaded cart that was lying conveniently at the side of the road where she could rest her legs and think in silence.
The other girls her age would surely be sleeping now, Loki thought enviously while she envisioned herself lying inside a warm, heated room tucked behind layers of cosy bedclothes. Instead she was sitting morosely in an old cart that smelt of sawdust with nothing but her backpack and her thoughts for company.
I have to hurry up and settle down into a guild, she sighed out loud, brushing dust from the wood around her so that she could settle into it more comfortably. But she had expected all of this- after all, she had been living like this for many years. It had been a while since she had slept under the refuge of a roof- the times where she had blackmailed the landlords didn't count. Her eyes closed in an act of sleep but inside the clogs of her mind were still rapidly shifting.
She had to get her hands on those four million jewels, and she had to get it fast. After all, when you're planning on joining the strongest guild in Fiore, there was no room for dawdling and unlike Fairy Tail, Loki was not stupid enough to be oblivious to the fact that Sabertooth was not a guild famous for its lenience.
Thanks to Helekiller2, Too lazy to log in, SaturnXK and GrayxLucy4ever for reviewing.
Sorry, my PM tab is not working and I don't want to cover this entire story with bold text so I'll just address the main points in the responses in one big reply.
Review Reply: First of all, many people find Loki to be quite dislikeable. I smiled when I read those reviews because that was my exact intention. Good, goody two shoes heroines are boring so I wanted to create an anti heroine. Honestly, I mean everyone in the Fairy Tail manga are all pretty much the same, (brave idiots who would kill for their nakama), and honestly, how many people have you met that are really that noble in real life? Loki is inspired by human sin, (an intelligent coward who would not think twice before betraying her 'friends'), something which I hope I carried across well. But there is a reason behind her selfish and manipulative personality and she does have a good side so please give her a little time before she starts to shine. Also I'm glad everyone liked Rogue and I hope I didn't write Sting too badly this chapter. He seems to be the type who cursed a lot as a teenager and perhaps had a rather promiscuous love life. It's something that he'll grow out of as the story develops because as you can see, current Sting seems quite well-mannered.
Feel free to express your opinions in your review. I only ask of you to be truthful and constructive criticism is greatly appreciated. If you dislike something, then tell me. If at any point you feel as if Loki is turning Mary Sue, tell me- though I'm confident that will never happen. :P
So yeah, reviewers you all get a cookie and for those who alerted and favourited, you get half a cookie.