It was probably hardest at night, those first few months. Mirajane had thought that dealing with her pregnancy and all the questions from the others had been bad, but laying there, night after night, tending to her newborn, things just felt so…bleak. Not fun like she'd always pictured having a child would be. And even with her siblings and her friends dropping by, she just felt alone.
After about a month, she got more used to it. Or, maybe, it was more like Orion got a little bit better about sleeping more and crying less. Still, Mirajane missed the guildhall and working, but what could she do?
Laxus showed up around that time too, popping back into town after weeks away on a job. The first place he went was the Strauss house. When he'd left he knew that he wouldn't be back before she gave birth. Probably not for some time after, either. He'd mentioned it to Mirajane before he left, but there wasn't much she could do.
Besides, what difference would it make? They'd both talked about it a thousand times and knew that there was no way they could have a future together. For a number of reasons. A big one back then though had been that, ultimately, he didn't want to be a father Though another one overshadowed it frequently in their talks, she knew that deep down, even without it, he wouldn't have been happy being a father. A dad. Why waste time on something you knew was a dud?
"What the hell are you doing here?"
That was how Mirajane found out he had returned. It was Lisanna, of course, that said that, and it was loud enough that she heard it all the way in the back of the house, where she was tending to Orion.
Though Mira had taken Laxus' absence in stride, her siblings were not. At all. Elfman was actually having problems with Evergreen over it, as that was her idol and there was not a kind word he had to say about the other man any longer. And Lisanna, well, she just flat out hated Laxus. With a passion.
Mira was quick to head out there too, to make sure that everything was okay. She knew, somehow she just did, that it was Laxus that had Lisanna all upset and figured it was best to solve the problem before they got into another argument.
"I'm here to see your sister," she heard Laxus reply. "And the kid."
"Like I'd let that happen."
"I don't remember asking your permission, kid."
"You better just leave, Laxus, or Elfman-"
"He ain't here. And you know it. So stop-"
"Lisanna, let him in," Mira called as she came into the living room to find them having a glaring match at the front door. "Now."
"I'm handling it, sis," she said, not even glancing back at the older woman. "He-"
"There's nothing to handle."
"Yeah, kid," Laxus grumbled, as with one last glare, Lisanna took a step back, her arms finding their way over her chest in the process. "There ain't nothin' to handle."
Mirajane remembered it well too, when she saw him coming into the house. She hadn't seen him in what felt like forever and, for some reason, her stomach clinched and she didn't think she could do it. Life was easier when he wasn't around to constantly remind of her of what they couldn't have.
Laxus wasn't looking at her though. Just down at the baby she cradled in her arms. Coming over after he shut the door, he couldn't stop staring.
"How did…it go?" He was less confident then, she remembered, than he had been with Lisanna. And that was the first time he looked into her eyes in forever, when he asked her that. For a moment, she just stared back before glancing down at the baby in her arms.
"Fine," she whispered before turning to walk off. "Come on. I haven't eaten anything in hours. I think I'll make-"
"I'll make you something," he offered, rushing after her. "Demon."
"And why," Lisanna hissed as she took followed, "would you do that? Why are you even here? Leave, Laxus. No one wants you here."
"Lisanna," Mira chided over her shoulder. "Your upsetting Orion."
"No. He is."
"It's fine," he grumbled when they made it to the kitchen. "You make your sister something then, kid. I don't care."
"I'm not doing it because you told me to. I would have anyways."
"I don't care," he grumbled, sending her a glare. "At all."
"Then stop talking to me."
"You're the one-"
"Hush, guys," Mirajane intervened then, giving them both a look. "How are we ever going to be up at the guild together, if we can't even all-"
"We're not," Lisanna said. ""Laxus shouldn't be a part of the guild anymore."
"Excuse me?" He even snorted. "And where did you get that boneheaded-"
"You don't belong there. No one wants you there. No one likes you, because you're a stupid-"
"Last time I checked, kid, Mira laid down and made that baby too. So how about you shut up and let the adults talk? Huh?"
"Lisanna, go take a shower," Mira said then, just staring at the man before her.
"Go. You have a shift down at the guild this morning, remember?"
"He's fine. And you're fine. But right now? Together? You're giving me a headache and you're disturbing Orion. So just go. We'll talk after Laxus leaves."
There was a glaring match then, between the Dragon Slayer and the demon's younger sister as the woman left the room, but once she was gone, he only turned his gaze back to Mirajane.
"What are you doing here, Laxus?" Mira remembered asking once they were alone. "I mean, honestly, why-"
"I came to check on you," he said then. They were standing with the kitchen table between them, but neither moved to take a seat. "I know it's early. Sorry. Did I wake you up?"
"I've been up all night," she said before nodding down at the, by that point, quiet baby in her arms. "I'm up every night."
"Right." He was nervous again, she could tell. "Ever said that you named him-"
"Why are you here? I mean, really? You could have asked someone how I was. You didn't have to come over here. You shouldn't come over here. How many times did we go over this when I first found out I was pregnant? We can't be around each other. Not like this. Or else we ended up back how we were. And-"
"We can't end up back how we are though," he reminded.
"Then leave. Why-"
"I just wanted to make sure everything was alright. That's all. That's not unusual. Even if I wasn't… You're still a guild member. Shouldn't I want to check up on you? Or something?"
With a sigh, Mirajane shook her head. "I can't be around you right now, Lax. I'm sorry."
"You don't have to be sorry. You just-"
"Please." She shook her head slightly. "I can't, Laxus."
He didn't wanna leave. She could tell. But he did. Before he left though, he reached into his pocket and pulled out his wallet.
"What are you doing?"
He only counted out a nice sum of jewels before setting the bills on the table between them. Then he nudged them her way.
"It's half of what I made," he said simply. "On my job."
"He looks good, demon. And you know if you need anything, at all, I'll be around." Then he tapped the table gently. "You're in good hands though, with your sister, I figure. Maybe it'll get easier over time. I hope it is, at least. See you at the bar, when you get back."
After he walked off, she could remember just standing there for a bit as Orion drifted off in her arms. Then Lisanna came back into the kitchen, raving about how rude and ignorant it was of Laxus to think he could just pay her off. As if that was a solution to everything.
But Mira only went off to put the money away and lay Orion back down. Then she laid in bed and, try as she might, wasn't able to cry. Not even a little. She wasn't sad anymore. She wasn't disappointed.
Just tired. All the time.
Laxus didn't stop coming around either. Those first few months, he took jobs like crazy. Then, when he got back to Magnolia, he came straight to her place to divvy up the money. He got better, too, at picking the times when her siblings weren't around.
"His eyes are so blue," Laxus remarked once when he came by with the money. "You told me they might darken, but nope. He's gonna look just like you and your goofy brother and sister. Ain't ya, kid?"
The man patted the little boy on the head then as the child sat in his high chair, waiting for lunch. At the moment, Mirajane was over at stove, cooking her own and was not in the mood for the man's antics.
"I'm tired of you coming over here, Laxus," was all she said as she glanced over there at him. He was standing in front of the high chair, watching the boy. At her words though, he glanced over at her. "I really am."
"Yeah, well, I gotta bring you money," he told her. "The second you go back to work, I can just give it to you there, instead of coming all the way over here. When are you going back, anyhow?"
"I don't see what difference it makes to you, considering I don't want you bringing me money in the first place-"
"Because I miss you, demon," he told her simply. "I miss you being the one to serve me up at the bar. Hell, the only one who will is Kinana. Your stupid sister-"
"You wanted it this way," she reminded. "You-"
"Don't do this again. We've gone over-"
"Then stop coming over here, Laxus. Honestly, you-"
"I'm just bringing you money. I want…I want to take care of you. Of him. Even though I can't be-"
"You," she accused then, fully turning around to stare at him, "tried to send me away. Tried to get me to leave Fairy Tail. You-"
"I'm trying to protection you, woman. What do you get about that? Huh? I've told you why and I'm not going to argue over it again. It's real. And I'm saving you from it. I'm saving the kid from it. But you hate me for it?"
"I never said that you weren't right," she said then. "But admit it; that's not all there is to this. It's more than that. You don't want to be a father. You never have been. And I'm not making you. I don't want you to. I don't want Orion to ever feel like a burden. Because he's not. And he has me. He'll always have me. You're not needed. You didn't want to be, so now you're not. Why can't you just accept that? I don't hate you. I won't hate you. But you have to stop. Alright?"
He didn't like that. At all. And it probably was well past Orion's first birthday that the two of them spoke again. She'd pissed him off. But by that time she was working up at the bar again and, no doubt intent not to cause the same problem as before, Laxus found a new way to get her money.
"No one ever tips me that much," Lisanna complained once when they saw the wad of jewels Laxus left on one of the tables. "Literally ever."
"You know what's he doing," Mira told her with a look.
"You don't have to take it, you know," her sister was quick to remind. "Not really."
But adding another person into their already tight income hadn't been easy. And those first few months were better with some of Laxus' jewels adding to the money flow. And, even if he didn't want to be a father, he ultimately was. And his son did need things. She didn't want to keep falling back on Elfman and Lisanna to help out. That wasn't fair.
And slowly, she almost came to rely on him to bring her jewels. It took a lot of the pressure off. Randomly she'd get annoyed with him though, if he brought too much, as she felt at times like he was trying to show her up, but they never fought over it again. Not so angrily.
Laxus never came by the house like that again though. He would if he had to, for the guild, but they'd drawn a boundary and he was sticking to it. The house was off-limits. Fine. And most contact with the boy was too. Whatever. He could observe from afar.
He did, too. Mira could see the change in posture he had when she'd bring Orion in with her, if she couldn't find a babysitter for the day. At the hall, she'd usually find at least one person that would want to play with the baby for awhile, usually Lucy or Laki, which gave her a chance to work and Laxus a chance to watch. He never bothered the kid when he was that young. It wasn't until later, when he was about three that Laxus had anything to do with him.
Mira could still remember, too, what it was that got Orion so interested in the man. Natsu had, once again, challenged Laxus to another battle and it just hadn't been a good week for the lightning mage. He'd failed a job by losing a wanted criminal while he was out tracking him and, well, Natsu became someone to take his aggression out on. It had been awhile since the two had battled and they did so outside (thankfully), though most everyone followed them outside to watch.
She didn't though, as she was actually working, and didn't realize that Elfman, who she'd left Orion with, had gone. Of course she should have known, considering he was so into violence as he considered it very manly, but what could she do? That night as she took Orion home, it was all he could talk about.
"Bam!" He kept punching his fists and giggling. "Laxus!"
"You've seen other people fight before, silly," Mirajane told him. Being in Fairy Tail, it was hard not to. "Why are you obsessed with this one?"
Because Laxus was cool. His arm had lightning shooting out of it when he punched. And that was way better than fire or ice or anything else. And he beat up Natsu! Natsu was the toughest person around. But Laxus took care of him. Because Laxus was awesome.
It'd be a lie to say that Mirajane didn't secretly love the boy's, well, love of Laxus. It also concerned her at times, but there wasn't much she could do to put a stop to it. Laxus was one of the guild's powerhouses and, well, most kids looked up to people like that. She could remember Natsu and Lisanna thinking oh so highly of Gildarts and Romeo had had practically them all to admire. If Orion had to pick someone, she was glad that it was his father.
And if he liked Laxus, he loved the man's grandfather. This had a lot to do, of course, with Mirajane's veneration and loyalty to Master Makarov, but it was very obvious that though he didn't go against the boy's parent's wishes, Makarov favored him extremely. Orion spent much his free time as a child with the old man. He was the one that taught him to read, how to play that nifty bingo game at the Sakura Festival, and even how to spit a real big loogie.
He was devastated when he got sick.
Not that no one was expecting it, because they were. His health had been ailing for awhile and, well, it was just a given that eventually he'd pass on. And though Orion hated the idea of being without the old man, it did lead to one great thing.
"Laxus is gonna be the greatest master ever," he told his mother the day it was announced. He sure was glad he hadn't been out on a job or something and missed it. Even though he was super busy with all the other members and stuff, when he went to shake the man's hand and tell him that he was glad to have him as a master, Laxus just grinned at him and gave him a super powerful hand shake back.
It was probably the best day of his short twelve years of life.
"It's gonna be me now, kid, that calls on you to be an S-Class. If you're ever ready, I mean," Laxus had said and, even though it was noisy in the hall, Orion was so focused in on him that he heard every word. "So you be showing off, alright? I'm watching you. I'm always watching."
"Yes, sir," he said, his voice coming out in almost a whisper. And when Laxus let go of his hand, he didn't know what to do. He'd more or less reached the pinnacle at that point. More or less. "Thank you."
He didn't stop talking about that for days. Even Erza, who he still spent time training with, eventually had to tell him to be quiet about it. And Elfman hated hearing about it. Though over the years he and Laxus had reached a shaky peace once more, the muscular man still didn't really like the idea of his nephew revering Laxus. At all. He also didn't understand it. Who would even be interested in Laxus, he figured, when they had unlimited access to him? He had way bigger muscles!
Orion must have spent hours telling Makarov all about it. The man, though very sick, was much the fighter and was living out his last days actually pretty comfortably. The guild hadn't been threatened in awhile and, even if it was, that sort of thing fell squarely on his grandson's shoulders then, leaving him plenty of free time. And Mirajane made Orion go over to the man's tiny house nearly every day that he wasn't out on a job, to bring him food or make sure that he was doing okay.
Not that he minded. He really did love the Master.
Other than the time spent with the man though, he was pretty busy with jobs, trying to take the most daring and risky, as if to prove himself to the new master even more. Mira mentioned a few times to him though that she sure missed having him around, but he just explained that she better get used to it; if he was going to be a mage, then he was going to be one just like Laxus.
"What do you mean?" she'd ask with a frown.
"When I become S-Class, I'm gonna go on the far off jobs," he'd tell her. "And hardly ever be home. I'm gonna see all of Fiore. And the rest of Earthland, if I can help it."
Though his mother never seemed to like those aspirations much, Erza sure did. She never really had any children of her own and, considering he was more or less her protégé, frequently she would pit him against her friends children. Especially Natsu's. She seemed to get a kick out of him and his arrows. And if he looked up to Laxus, she was definitely high on his list to. Just not as high. Because Erza was great, but sometimes she could be a bit much.
And some of her training was a bit wacky.
"I still don't get," he'd complain frequently, "how me cleaning your house for you is helping me any."
It wasn't. He knew that it wasn't. She'd always have some sorta excuse up her sleeve though, about how it was teaching him discipline or something. And he didn't gripe much, considering the woman did give up much of her time just to train him. And sure, her and his mother were good friends, but she didn't have to do that.
Orion liked Erza. In her quirky, weird way, she was really endearing. And the older he got, the more he appreciated all the things she did for him. Along with everyone else. From his aunts and his uncle Elf, to Master Makarov and even Bickslow, that freak, they all had some standing and place in his life.
And if Erza took payments in the form of house cleanings and taunts of Natsu, then Bickslow took his pound of flesh in a totally different way. Whenever they'd schedule a time to meet up to practice some new acrobatic skills, the man always had one question.
"Your aunt gonna come around?" was it. "You know, to watch you or pick you up or whatever?"
Orion used to answer the same way.
"I'm not a little kid," he'd grumble to the man. "Why would Aunt Lisanna need to come pick me up?"
But she always did, which was odd to him when he was younger, before he caught on. She never came to check on him if he was Erza or Uncle Elf, but if he was out somewhere with Bickslow, she always managed to find them.
It was so awkward too, watching them do that weird thing where adults don't really flirt, but they obviously are meaning to. And the seith would be showing off, whenever she was around, which meant that Orion really got nothing out of training and usually would just give up learning whatever new trick it was and just take to practicing shooting his bows at a target. Neither of the adults were interested in him anyways.
"Where are you guys going today?" Bickslow asked once as Orion more or less just sat there out in the forest, idly watching the two of them talk. The seith was down on his hands, upside down, walking around, showing her what he'd been teaching the boy. "Lissy?"
"Nowhere," she said slowly. "I just came to see if he wanted to go out to lunch with me."
He didn't. Orion was more or less annoyed, really that she'd showed up so early and ruined his practice. Lunch was the furthest thing from his mind.
"Lunch sounds great," Bickslow told her as he flipped over to get back to his feet.
"I don't remember anyone inviting you."
"Sure you do," he said with a grin, showing off his tongue tattoo. Orion just skewed his eyes shut. They were so disgusting. "You just did it, after all."
Maybe if he shot one of the man's babies with an arrow, he'd stop paying attention to his aunt and put the focus back on him. Maybe.
"You know," Orion told the man once as the seith sat around, bored, because Lisanna was out on a job, meaning she wasn't there at the end of their training session. Orion was shooting at a tree across the clearing, planning on staying out there for awhile long and Bickslow was mostly just killing time, as he had nothing else to do that day. "You could just always try asking her out on a date."
"Who?" The seith was watching his babies float around and didn't even glance at the boy.
"Me and Ever would never work out. Also, I'm afraid of Elfman."
"Not her!" He knew that though. "My Aunt Lisanna."
"Why would I do that?"
"Uh, so you two can stop ruining our practice time, for one thing."
"Oy, kid," the seith sighed as he got to his feet. "There ain't much left for me to teach you anyhow. I think me and you are nearing the end of our time together."
"Good," he said as he let a bow fly across the clearing. Letting out a slight breath, he said, "I think Master's going to choose me this year, anyhow."
"Choose you for what?"
"You know. For S-Class."
That made Bickslow snicker and Orion, instead of pulling another arrow from his quiver, frowned over at him.
"What? Why's that funny?"
"The boss's first year in power and you think he's gonna do something like that? All the great mages we have that never had a chance to be S-Class and he's gonna-"
"Next year then." He went back to practicing. "Or the year after. Whenever. I don't care. I know he's going to do it. And I'm going to be ready when he does. And he knows it."
"Aye," the seith said slowly then as he set off. Pausing, he added slowly, "The boss does like you, I'll give you that."
"Of course he does." Orion let another arrow fly. "I'm the best of the next generation and he sees it. I'm going to be the one that keeps Fairy Tail at the top."
"You got big dreams, kid." Then he paused again before saying, "You almost sound like the boss."
When Orion got home that night, he found that his mother had the evening off and was making dinner.
"You didn't buy something to eat, did you?" she asked, as if worried. When he shook his head and went to sit at the table and watch her, she smiled over at him. "What'd you do today?"
"I was with Bickslow."
"Oh. Did he-"
"He was all depressed because Aunt Lisanna was out on a job."
Mira smiled at that before going back to the stove. "They're friends."
"They're more than friends," he complained. "And it's annoying."
"That they…that they use me to be around one another," he said then with a frown. "How come they can't just go out on dates without using me as a buffer?"
Giggling, Mirajane said, "They used to use me too, don't worry. And your uncle and Evergreen used to have to take them out on all their dates. They've been this way for years."
"It's annoying," he insisted. "If they like one another, why-"
"It's not always that simple, Orion, in a guild," she told him then. Thinking for a moment, she said, "You can't always be with the person you want to. Really, you shouldn't. Dating in a guild only causes rifts."
"It's worked for Uncle Elf and Ever. And Natsu and Lucy. And-"
"We've been lucky," she admitted. "But not always. And Bickslow and Lisanna have built up this more fun world to live in. I think it's better for them, being on the cusp than actually jumping in."
"But if they've been this way for years, clearly-"
"This way, yes, it had worked for years," she told him. "Many, many years. They work well as good friends. But you have no idea what they'd be like if they… It's just complicated, Orion. Just because you love someone doesn't mean that you should be with them. You have to weigh the pros and the cons."
And then, because he was tired and she wasn't making much sense, he decided to just go for it as he asked, "Is that why you left my father?"
He thought that he'd catch her off guard, phrasing it that way, but Mirajane just sighed, not looking over at him.
"I didn't leave your father. And we're not going to talk about it."
"Then did he leave you?"
"Did you love him?"
"Why does it matter? Huh?" With a glance his way, she said, "Are you not happy? Have you not always had everything you needed?"
"Well, yeah, but-"
"You didn't need him. And you still don't need him. I know sometimes it feels unfair, but trust me, the alternative just wouldn't have been great." And then, because she'd been conditioned to it, she said, "He watches over you. And that's all that matters."
But that wasn't all that mattered. It wasn't fair that she could just decide for him what he needed and what he didn't. And, when he insisted that he did need something, that she could just veto that need.
"Now go take this dinner over to Master's house." She was putting a bowl of something in front of him then. "And make sure that he has everything he needs. Then you can come back and eat, okay? I'm not hungry, so put everything up when you get back in, please. I'll be in bed, alright?"
"You don't want to go with me?" he asked as he got to his feet. Usually she liked to spend her off days around the man. "Are you sick?"
"No." She even kissed his head, which she knew he didn't like anymore, but it always made her feel better. "Just tired."
"You're always tired."
"Someone has to work, Orion."
With a frown, he said, "But I have jewels. And when I become S-Class, I'll have even more. Then you won't have to work, right?"
She stroked his hair then, sweaty as it was. "You don't want to waste your jewels on me, silly. You're going to go live by yourself. Remember? You're going to go see the world, aren't you?"
Yeah, but she was twisting his words. Just because he didn't want to be home a lot didn't mean that he wanted to just leave her behind. Even though he got annoyed with her sometimes, she'd still done more for him than his father ever had. She'd kept him. And she loved him. No matter what, she'd always done that.
What would be the point of having all those jewels if he couldn't spend them on the only person in his life that really deserved them?
When he got to Master's house, he found that the man wasn't alone. The new master was there with him.
"You sure got the hook up, Gramps," Laxus grumbled when Orion showed up. The two men were seated in the living room, but neither got up at his entrance. "Having the kid just bring dinner right to you."
"Truth be told," the older man admitted as Orion carried the bowl over to him. "I only ask Mira to bring me food so I can still see her. Someone to talk to."
Laxus snorted. "Yeah, that's why."
"She didn't feel well," Orion said, speaking to Makarov mostly. He was slightly nervous, with Laxus being there, and didn't look at the man. "She was going to bed when I left."
"I appreciate it, anyhow," Makarov assured him with a grin.
"You ain't going to greet me then, Orion?" Laxus grumbled from where he sat across the room in a chair. "I am your true master now, you know."
"Of course." He was quick to look over at him. "I was just-"
"Don't tease the boy, Laxus," his grandfather grumbled. "And Orion, don't listen to him. Probably the reason I'm sick in the first place. Just hoping I'd hand the guild over to him."
Snorting, Laxus got to his feet then. "Well, if you got company now, Gramps, I guess I better be going. I'll see you around. Would say I'd see you tomorrow, but apparently, you got a better caretaker than me."
"A more preferable one, anyhow."
Laxus sneered at the old man before going to tap Orion on the head. When he looked up at him, the man said, "Don't stick around here too long. Spend too much time with Gramps and you'll turn out like him. Can't have that."
After the man was gone, Orion got to work picking up around Makarov's place, like usual, while the man ate. When he was finished, he came to sit down next to him on the couch.
"You've still been working on your new spells, I take it?" the old man asked to which Orion was quick to nod.
"I know all sorts of things to infuse my arrows with."
"It's quite an interesting magic," he agreed. "But do not get so bogged down with learning many that you forget to hone a few to perfection."
"Of course not."
"And how goes your transformation magic?"
"Good," he told him with a nod.
"Your mother doesn't have much time to spend with you, does she?"
Slowly, he shrugged. "I don't need her to practice anymore. Not really. And besides, that's not what's going to get me a spot in S-Class. It'll be strength."
"It will be many things," the Master corrected. "And don't forget that. The more you know, the better."
When he got home, he still had a kitchen to clean up and a dinner to eat (he wasn't really hungry, but his mother would complain if he didn't). Once all that was done, he took a quick shower before going to knock at her bedroom door and check on her.
"Are you still awake?"
Slowly, he came into the dark room before sitting down on the edge of her bed.
"Nothing," he said with a shake of his head, glancing down at his mother. She was just laying there, clearly about to drift off. "I just… I saw Master."
"I told you to."
"Not Makarov. Laxus."
"Do you think…that he'll choose me? This year? Because Bickslow said-"
"I think, Orion, that you're placing too much value on being S-Class," she told him softly. "It's not something you always get on the first try, either. So even if he does pick you, that doesn't mean you'll get it. And if he doesn't pick you, that doesn't mean that he doesn't love you. It-"
"Why would he love me?" Orion blushed then. "Mom, that's weird."
"You know what I mean."
"He doesn't love me," he whispered then, looking around the room. "He… He's gonna respect me. That's what'll mean when he picks me."
"Did he get it on his first try?"
"I think so. You'd have to ask him."
"I can't ask him something like that. I-"
"You've made him into this unapproachable guy," Mirajane said softly. "And he's not."
"You're just saying that because you're both friends."
"We are," she agreed softly. "If you want me to talk to him about-"
"No!" That one was loud. Glaring down at her, he said, "You can't. Don't. Promise."
"Orion, I'm tired. Just-"
"I promise," she gave in. "I can't influence him anyhow, I don't think. Laxus has always been rather stuck in his ways. If he picks you, he does. If he does, he doesn't. Don't put too much thought behind it. You do have the tides in your favor though."
"What do you mean?"
"Like you said, he and I are friends. And your Aunt Evergreen has always loved him. Then you have Bickslow-"
"I don't want to get it because of the people I know," he complained. "That's not why you got it. Or Erza. I want to get it because he believes in me."
"He does," she said softly. "He's told me."
"Do you think that I'm doing enough? Jobs, I mean? That-"
"Orion, I can't tell you what he's thinking, silly," she said, reaching out to pat him on the arm. "But out of all the kids, you go on the most alone, if that makes you feel better."
"Is that enough though?"
"Stop worrying about it," she insisted. "The more you do, the worse you'll feel. It's just a title. Just like being master is just a title. Laxus is our master, fine, but not everyone in the guild looks immediately to him for guidance. Some look to Erza or Natsu or-"
"Then they're stupid."
"They are." He was sliding off the bed then to leave. "Laxus is our master because he's the best there is. He earned it."
"He did." She shifted on the bed then with a sigh. "Goodnight. I'll see you in the morning."
Maybe. He hoped to get out of the house before her so he didn't get roped into doing any chores. He wanted to train some before going to snag another job.
Mirajane just snuggled deeper into her bed with a sigh. It was quite a web they'd weaved, but it was worth it. Her love for her son, even before he was born, had always outweighed the love she had for Laxus. If she could go back, she'd make all the same choices over again.
How many people could say that?