For as long as he could remember, Laxus Dreyar had been his idol. He looked up to the S-Class mage. More than any other in the guild. He wanted to be just like him. It was hard not to admire him. He was just so…cool. From the way he was all nonchalant about things and how he'd heard that years ago, he'd even plotted a mutiny to overthrow his grandfather.
Laxus was the real deal. He was a serious mage. Even when he wasn't the strongest or the best, he still came out on top. It was how it was meant to be. He was the Thunder God and all others were just lucky to be around him.
It helped too, he would admit, that the man seemed to dote on him more than any of the other brats that ran around the guildhall. In the new generation that Fairy Tail was breeding, Laxus seemed to find fault in it all. Almost, anyhow.
Destiny was how he saw it. He was destined to be the next great mage of Fairy Tail and, well, it was only natural that Laxus would recognize that. Would one day take his place and, hopefully, insight just as much fear as he did.
From a young age, he could remember the interest Laxus took in him. The earliest memory of it he had was once, when he was five, and hanging up around the guild as his mother and aunt worked. He was sitting at one of the tables, enjoying some juice, when he was suddenly joined by the man.
Now, if there was any man that could intimidate a child, it was Laxus. Just from his size and demeanor alone. Add in the fact that he'd heard the man complain many times about how kids were just bringing the place down and that if they wanted to stay on top, they needed to get the brats the hell outta the hall, it was easy to see why the little boy just stared at him in shock.
Not that it was the first time they'd spoken. He could remember, thinking back hard on it, that though he couldn't place the times or conversations, they had to have had some sort of relationship then. He didn't remember being very fearful, at least. And the usually brooding man even spared a smile for him.
"Orion," he greeted as the boy just stared. "Ain't you gonna speak to me?"
He remembered nodding before mumbling a greeting that made the man snicker.
"You ain't scared of me, now, are you, kid?"
"No." He shook his head then, quickly. "I'm not."
And he wasn't. He was nervous, more than likely. The man was his hero, even back then, after all.
Laxus just leaned across the table, staring hard at him. "The Salamander's brat, I've seen 'im. Practicin' his father's magic. And Gajeel's brat, he's way older than ya, but he's practically a master at what he's learnin'. Some sorta rock magic shit. Real hard stuff, controlling the earth. You know that?"
He nodded some then. He'd seen the older boys practice before. They were really good! And so were some of the other children in the guild.
"Then I come in here and see you, Orion, just sittin' around, not learning anything. What gives?" When he shrugged, Laxus frowned. "I asked a question, brat. What gives?"
"I don't know any magic," he told the man slowly.
"Nobody does before it's taught to 'em!" He huffed then, rather hard. "What are you now? Huh? Five?"
"Yes." His age was pretty important to him, like it was most kids.
"The way I see it, the younger you learn, the better." Then Laxus reached across the table and tapped the white haired boy on the head. "So you need to pick one. And soon. Overtake the Salamander's brat first. He's what? A couple years older than you? That'd really shove it in Natsu's face." He snickered again, just from the thought, it seemed. "So you pick a damn magic, kid, and you pick soon. And then, when you're ready, you're gonna start kicking these others asses around here, yeah? You're gonna-"
"Laxus, what are you doing?"
He could remember then, his mother coming over, hands on her hips, glaring at the other S-Class mage.
"Mira," he'd groaned, glancing up at her. "I'm just talking to the kid, alright? I-"
"No," the waitress said as she came to stand behind her son, glaring over his head at the man. "You're cursing at my son. And you're going to knock it off."
He just glanced back down at the kid then. Orion remembered that well because Laxus had that slight smirk of his that he only ever seemed to give the boy, before getting to his feet.
"Alright," he'd surrendered. "But I mean it, kid. You learn soon. You don't wanna get left behind."
After he'd disappeared off into the guildhall, Mirajane took to making sure that the boy was alright. She'd probably heard Laxus tone and thought that he was scolding the boy or something. But Orion only nodded a bunch and insisted that yes, he was fine. And he told her, as he always did, that Laxus was really cool and awesome.
"I know," she'd say whenever he told her that, before kissing his head. "He is, isn't he?"
Yeah. And even though Mira didn't want him to start learning magic so early, as she was insistent that he had no reason to and that Laxus was just being rude and overstepping his boundaries, it was all he could think about. He asked all sorts of people what kinda magic he should learn.
His Uncle Elf had many ideas.
"You should learn to be a takeover mage," he told him frequently growing up, even after he'd chosen his own magic. "You're a Strauss! It's what we do!"
But he just didn't feel drawn to that. He didn't wanna be a beast or animals and he definitely didn't want to be a demon (Mira assured him many times she'd never give him a chance to take a demon's soul anyhow).
It was Erza, actually, another one of the great wizards in the guild that he picked up his magic from. Sorta. She was babysitting him one day (sometimes, if the guild was just too busy, Mira would pawn him off on whichever one of her friends were leaving, which happened to be the reequip mage that day) and was showing off some of her weapons to the boy. He'd mentioned that he wanted to learn magic and, well, Erza couldn't help her humble bragging when it came to how proficient she was in hers. There was only one weapon she had though that really caught his interest.
"What does this do?" he'd asked as they stood on her front lawn, some of her different swords and such strewn across the grass. "Is it magic too?"
"Hmmm?" Erza, at that moment, was more interested in showing off one of her spears and just frowned down at what he was looking at. "Oh, yes. Well, the bow that you're looking at isn't, no, but the arrows that I use to accompany it occasionally have some magical abilities. It's not something that I use frequently. Look at this instead. The spearhead is so sharp that-"
"Can you teach me?"
"How to shoot the arrows." He wasn't able to lift the massive bow she had on the ground, it was that heavy, but still just stared. "That's what I wanna do."
Erza had never had someone ask specifically for her to teach them anything, so of course she was all on board with that. Before they learned any magic though, she had to go out and get him a much smaller bow and work on his aim with him. And run it all by Mirajane who was still weary of him doing anything other than play with toys and color in his coloring books. She gave in though, of course, eventually, and Orion found much fun in it. Even without magic, he liked shooting at things. And Erza was a great teacher. He told her that a lot. He could tell it made her happy.
The older he got, however, he found that he still felt the need to honor his last name, the way that his uncle grumbled he should. But he didn't wanna learn anything about stupid souls or any of that junk that they were all into. It wouldn't help him any, after all, with his passion for archery. No. Instead, when he was about ten, he went to his mother, requesting that she show him what she knew about transformation magic.
Which, for the record, was a thousand times as hard as anything he'd ever done. It took years for him to get anything really useful out of it. But he stuck with it. He knew how valuable it would be out on a job, how practical. With his deep blue eyes and striking white hair, he was easily recognizable around the local towns as the she-devil's son. And he didn't want that. And with his transformation magic, eventually, he learned to be anyone he wanted to be (it also helped with hiding or sneaking into places).
And, he was glad to say, that Laxus told him once that his skills and choices were something to be proud of. Orion didn't know why, but that made him feel…warm inside. It was one thing when his family complimented him, but Laxus? Laxus Dreyar? The coldest person in the guild?
That was all he wanted back then, when he was a kid. For Laxus to respect him. It was so weird. What was Laxus to him, but some stupid guy in the guildhall that, fine, was powerful, and yeah, they were all sure he'd be their guild master someday, but so what? He wasn't anything to him. Just a man.
But he was the man. And he couldn't explain it to the other boys who asked sometimes why he even bothered with the jerk (that's what Gajeel's son, Radic, called him a lot, though that had more to do with the fact that the older slayer didn't seem to get along with his father much). There was nothing to explain. He respected the loner persona, the way he got the Thunder Legion (which included his Aunt Ever) to bow to him, and the fact that he was one of the strongest men around. He was just so…cool. And if the others didn't see it, fine, that was on them. But Orion saw it. That was all that mattered.
It wasn't like he liked the other kids much anyhow. He almost always liked going off on his own to practice his magic. It was better that way. He was, after all, shooting live arrows, some that were enchanted with spells that, if they came in contact with the other children, could do some damage. His favorite were these arrows that he had infused with lightning. They even looked electric, when they left his bow, like a bolt heading straight for its target. He purposely would shoot them off around the grounds sometimes, if Laxus was near, to show it off. The man never said anything about it, not to his face, but once he heard him mentioning to his mother about how skilled he was with them.
There was nothing more that he wanted than to be as powerful as the Dragon Slayer. And while he knew that innately, slayers were just all around stronger than normal mages, he vowed to make up for it in brute strength. He had his Uncle Elf train him physically and, his Aunt Ever's friend, Bickslow, he taught him all sorts of other workouts. Fun ones. He knew all these cool acrobatic tricks and told him that they would help him with his archery.
"You shoot off your arrows just out in the open and someone'll take you out real quick," he'd insist. "So you use all these cool little tricks I teach ya to find places to hide, yeah? And to get away fast. You-"
"I don't need to hide," he'd tell him a lot before shooting off an arrow at a tree or something, depending on where they were training. "They can see me. Won't matter. My arrows'll strike 'em down before they have a chance to do anything to me."
"You got some courage there, kid," the seith would always say. "I mean, it's stupid too and gonna get you seriously hurt one day, but hey, not all bravery is a good thing."
He didn't care what anyone said. Laxus didn't hide away and shoot off strikes of lightning from afar. Oh, no. He came right out and attacked. Because, at the risk of sounding like he spent too much time with his uncle, he was a man, Laxus was. Really, he was. And that's what Orion would be too.
The second he was old enough and got the go ahead from his mother to start taking jobs, he did. He'd always kinda tagged along with Elfman and Lisanna, since he was rather young, but it was a big milestone, going out on one all by himself. But he wasn't afraid. His bows could pierce the roughest of hide.
Laxus was out on one of his usual self-exploration/S-Class mission sabbaticals of sorts when he first left on his job. And he still wasn't back when he took his second. Or his third. He had taken ten all by himself and completed them on his own when Laxus finally got back. He remembered that day because he was actually in the bathhouse, bathing, when the man entered.
It startled him, as the guild hadn't really opened yet. He'd come in with his mother while she was opening and was avoiding helping her by claiming his muscles were tired and he needed to take a soak. He knew too that the hall wouldn't be officially opened for another hour or so, which made him wonder what Laxus was doing there so early.
"What are you lookin' at? Huh?" Laxus grumbled when he joined him in the huge tub. "It's rude, looking at other men while they're all undressed or whatever. Less you want someone to think you're queer."
"I was just… I didn't know you were back from your job already," he said slowly, looking off.
"What's it to you? And what are you doin' in here anyhow? Just 'cause you wear a mark don't mean you're some sorta member. You ain't taken a job. They just let this place go to shit. Let you damn kids do whatever you-"
"I have taken a job!" He was rare to raise his voice, especially to someone he held in such esteem, but like most boys his age, the last thing he liked was to be treated like a child. "I've taken ten. And tomorrow, I'll take another one."
That made Laxus quiet. Then, from across the tub, Orion heard him grunt.
"All by yourself? Not with your stupid aunt or uncle? 'cause those don't count. Those-"
"Yes," he said, finding his tone going back to normal then. "Alone. All by myself. Not even with any of the other kids."
Then, even though the man had just gone on about how, apparently, looking at one another was awkward, he looked over the boy and grinned real big. That one that he only ever seemed to share with the kid.
He shook his head.
"Mom didn't want me to, but-"
"You got mage blood running through you," Laxus told him then, rather harshly. "A real mage. An S-Class. She's foolish to think that she can put a stop to you doing anything."
"Well, I mean, she's technically an S-Class," he told the man slowly then. "But, I mean, it's not like she's you or anything."
"You said that I had S-Class blood," the boy explained. "But my mom's not really an S-Class wizard. Not like I'mma be. She only uses her magic when she has to. I don't even think she really likes it that much, truthfully. Not anymore. But when I'm S-Class? The rest of you better watch out. I'm gonna take all the jobs. All on my own. And SS-Class too."
Laxus just narrowed his eyes then, for a moment before shaking his head. "You dream big, kid."
"I don't dream," he told him then, staring down at the water. If he stayed in much longer, his mother would complain. He really should help her open. "I…I just know. I'm gonna be one soon too, so watch out."
"Those are one trials," he sighed as he sunk lower in the water, "that I'll be sure to be a part of. You wanna be S-Class, kid? Great. So does everyone else. Have fun proving yourself."
"You already said it," he told him then. "I have S-Class in my blood. My mother's the she-demon. And my uncle, he's good enough too. And Erza trained me. Another S-Class. I have this. I'm gonna do it. Before Radic or any of 'em. It's my destiny."
That annoyed Laxus for some reason. When he looked back at the boy again, it was with a glare.
"Destiny?" He snorted. "And it was my destiny to get this damn guild already. See where that landed me?"
"But you will get the guild." He couldn't help it then, as he let his inner feelings out. Locking eyes with the man as he glanced over at him, he said, "You're the best mage we have. And you-"
"When I get it, kid, it won't be because of destiny. It won't be because of who my grandfather is. It'll be because I fucking earned it. The universe didn't drop it in my lap. And no damn god rewarded it to me. I put in the sweat and blood and made it mine. You wanna be S-Class? I don't give a damn how much of your mother's blood you got running through you. When you go for it, if you get it, it's gonna be off your hard work. Your dedication. And don't you ever fucking forget that." Then he added, "You're special, fine. You got good blood. You got a damn good mother. But that means nothing, Orion, at the end of the day if you don't do anything with it. I got a lacrima in me, it makes me a Dragon Slayer, but I wouldn't be anything without all the work I put into becoming one of the best damn ones around. So you keep working with those bows, kids. And you learn to transform into every fucking thing under the sun. And then one day, it won't matter who your mother was. It'll matter what you did with what you got. Understand?"
He could only stare though and, eventually nod. Then, sneering, Laxus shut his eyes.
"Good. Now get the hell out. I wanna relax. Can't do that with you in here. You damn brats, always around when no one wants ya."
Orion scurried out off the bathing area then too, out of the actual guild, really, calling out to his mother before he left that he was going to train some before Erza showed up at the hall. Then he'd practice with her some too.
Mira didn't think much of it though, and only reminded him that she was working all day and to come back by the guild for dinner, if he wanted. Not that she was expecting him to. He was so cute, now that he was making his own jewels, he wouldn't come to her for meals. He'd buy his own stuff. Elfman only told her that was because he was super manly, but she thought it was because he was a cute little boy trying to prove he was a man.
To her brother, she was sure they were the same thing.
She was busy restocking when she heard someone else coming from the hallway. Not even turning to look at him, she said simply, "You know, it's kinda rude to come in before I've finished prepping for the day."
"Just got in and needed a bath," he told her simply as he went to look over the request board, apparently already heading out on another job. She had been in the back when he came in, but he didn't glance over at her. He didn't need to. She always looked the same. "The kid disappear?"
"Off to train," she said simply, still with her back turned to the bar as she looked over the liquor. "I assume you have something to do with that?"
"I didn't do anything. Why would I?"
Instead of answering, she said simply, "He's going out on jobs now."
"He told me. He's also got a staring problem, but-"
"What did he tell you?"
"What do you mean? He just told me that he's taking jobs. What else is there to tell me?" He was pulling down a job then before turning to head over to the bar. "I'm taking this one."
Turning, she glanced down at it before back up at him. "Do you think it'll take you long?"
"It's never the jobs that take me long," he grumbled. "Just don't feel the need to come back if I find something more fun to do along the way."
"Well, maybe you're more needed here," she said slowly.
"The boy's fine. He-"
"I know he is." She just stared into his eyes. "I'm not concerned about him. But Master-"
"Gramps is like an old dog, demon," he said before turning his back on her to head off. "He heals himself. And he don't ever die. He eventually gets so old that you just gotta put him down."
"Right. Because that's gone so well all the other times you've tried it."
He didn't even glance back at her. "The kid told me he's gonna be an S-Class, Mira."
"Did he?" she asked. "Not shocking, considering all of the little boys in the guild say the same thing. And the old men. Not to mention the girls and the women-"
"He's got it in his blood." He was over at the doors then. "And he's got it in his heart."
"Yeah, he does," she whispered then, just staring at his back. "Dragon?"
He stopped there, at the door, if only for a moment. "Hmmm?"
"Talk to him when you get back." Then, to clarify, she said, "Your grandfather. Please."
He just opened the doors and headed out. "I'll be back, demon. Keep the place safe while I'm gone, yeah?"
She always did.