Orion spent the first few weeks after the trials doing nothing. He was rather depressed. Though no one actually came away with the S-Class title at the trials, it didn't make him feel any better. That meant that it had been fair game. And he'd missed it.
His mother could tell that he was down about his leg though and tried to spend a lot of time with him. Which, sure, he appreciated, but he was starting to get too old to hang out with her all the time. It just wasn't fun for him any longer.
Mirajane could tell too that he wasn't that interested in spend all day with her. Before he started taking jobs, they used to spend all of her off days together. Even when he had to train, he'd want her to go watch. Recently though, he didn't even want her around. Not at the guild, not at home. Elf told her that he was just becoming a man and to leave him be.
It was so hard though. It just made Mira so…sad. Since he was born, it had been the two of them. She almost felt like he was trying to ditch her too, just like Laxus.
Not that Mira wanted to, like, hold him back or anything. She knew that he had to become more dependant. He was getting older. Eventually, he would leave her. Even though she didn't like to think about it, he'd made it more than clear that he didn't want to spend the rest of his life in Magnolia. He didn't even seem to like most of the people in the guild, really. Her years with him were numbered, she knew, and they were being wasted on him trying to prove himself to a man that would give up the world for him.
Sadness didn't even begin to explain what she was feeling.
Her son didn't notice, given he wasn't hanging around much anyways, but others did. Lisanna kept telling her that she just had to start doing things for herself again, but she didn't want to. Orion was her main focus and had been for years. To know that he was just blocking her out then didn't make her feel very good.
Someone else took notice too though that, honestly, she wanted to stay away from. And she had been. Very well, actually, the past few months. But as always, it only took one moment of weakness to wash that all away.
"What's up with you, Mira?"
"Hmmm?" She glanced up from the money she was counting out. "What, Master?"
Laxus just stood there though, frowning at her. "You've counted that same stack of jewels, like, five times."
"I just keep losing count," she said with a slight smile. "What? Are you watching me?"
He had been sitting off by himself, drinking a beer. The guild had already been closed up though and it was only the two of them. She thought that he was waiting for her to finish closing so that he could be alone, but apparently, he was just waiting to corner her.
"No," he said as he rested his palms against the bar. "I just… I know that we haven't been on good terms for awhile now-"
"What are you talking about? You're the Master and I'm the worker. What more could you want?"
"I was just talking to Ever or whatever and she said that, you know, you're feeling all down and shit," he said as he continued to stare across the bar at her. "I mean, even I noticed it, really. I just thought you were mad at me about something. But if something's wrong-"
"Evergreen said it was about Orion-"
"Nothing that concerns you."
"It doesn't affect my work," she told him. "Therefore-"
"I'm not asking as your boss or your master or whatever." He gave her his best concerned look. She wasn't buying it. "I'm asking as your friend. Aren't we friends?"
"Has he done something? I mean, I can talk to him. He listens to me, I think. He thinks I'm the greatest thing ever."
"Yeah, I know. Just boosts your ego even more, doesn't it?"
"Mira, I'm not trying to make this about me. At all. I just know that you're feeling all down about Orion and-"
"I just miss him, alright?"
"Where is he?" Laxus frowned. 'I could have sworn I just saw him a few days-"
"I'm not saying that I haven't seen him, Laxus," she complained as, once more, she lost count of the money. With a sigh, she sat it down on the bar before looking up t him. "He just… I guess it's not cool to him anymore, to go places with me and do things together and-"
"Mira." Laxus frowned at her. "He's a boy. He's, what? Fifteen now? Of course that's not fun anymore. He's growing up. He-"
"I'm not stupid," she told him with a glare. "I know that. Just because I know why he's doing something though doesn't make me feel any worse about it."
"Why would you feel bad about it?" he asked. "Huh? There's nothing you can do. You should want him to grow up. It'll give you a chance to get your life back, anyhow. Surely there's something that you want to do, now that he's so busy."
"I don't really see how that involves you, at all."
For a moment, he just stared at her. Then, with a shake of his head, he pushed away from the bar.
"Alright, Mira," he said with a sigh. "You win. I won't care about how you're doing if you don't want me to. That's fine. Whatever. You think that you're the focus of my life? Hardly. Be miserable."
It would have been so easy too, to just let him walk out. Better too. For the both of them. But Mira, though she could be mad at him at anytime, never rightly liked the idea of him feeling the same way towards her.
"Laxus, wait," she called out, staring after him. He only glanced over his shoulder though. "Let's just… Do you want a drink? Here. Sit down and you can drink while I finish closing up. Will that be okay?"
He grunted. "My own damn hall, I drink when I want. Don't just sit around waiting for you to ask me for one."
"Laxus, please. I don't want to fight."
That got him to relax some as he turned around to look at her. "And you think that I do? Mirajane, you know how I feel about you. If it wasn't for the kid, demon, it'd still be me and you. You know that. It still is me and you. Just not openly."
For once, she didn't fight him on that. Only went to pour him his favorite drink and set it in front of a stool. Slowly, Laxus came to sit down, taking a drink first before looking at her.
"What?" he asked at the fact she wouldn't look at him again. "Mira? What did I-"
"Just me and you? Huh?"
"Well, sure. Me and you. It always-"
"That's funny, Lax, considering you're always out with those other women."
"I'm just saying."
"And I'm just saying that I'm tired of talking about this. What? You want me to stop sleeping with other people?"
"I didn't say that."
"Would you like that?"
"Well, yeah, Laxus, I would."
"So that what? I can wait around for the one time a year, if that, that you and I are together? I'm not doing that, Mira."
"Then why did you bring it up?"
"You brought it up!"
Shaking her head, she went back to counting out the money. "Why do you care then, Master?"
"Don't start with that."
"That's what you are. Master."
"That's not what I am and you know it. I love you, demon."
"You have a horrible way of showing it."
"You sleep with other people too, you know."
"Oh, yes, Laxus, all those lucrative relationships I've had over the years. Just so many men, in and out of the house that I share with my son. Let's see, um, none?"
"Just because you don't take them home doesn't mean you're not fucking them."
That got him a heavy glare then. "You know what, Laxus? Never mind. Let's just not talk."
"I didn't mean it like that," he groaned. "Honest."
"How else could you mean it? You said that I was-"
"I'm just…upset, alright? I don't like having these conversations."
"Oh? And what else could the two of us possibly talk about together? Huh? Since, apparently, having Orion ruined everything-"
"I never said that."
"You just did! Not less than a minute ago. You said if it wasn't for him-"
"Yeah, and if it wasn't, we would still be something, Mira. But he is here. And I ain't hated that fact for a damn second. I've watched over him too, alright? I'm the one that had Bickslow and Ever look out for him. Me. I did that. 'cause I care about him. And I care about you. I'm protecting you."
"I don't need your protection, Laxus! I never even wanted it. And I still don't. You just use that as an excuse to live selfish lifestyle where you just throw money and me and Orion to make yourself feel better as you go out and sleep with half the town."
It was his turn to give an icy glare, which he did then, staring her down from across the bar.
"I'm so sorry, Mira, that I give a damn about you."
"Oh, shut up."
For a minute or two, neither spoke. Mira finally got the money counted and went to put it away, leaving Laxus alone with his drink.
Why couldn't they ever just get along? For longer than five minutes?
"Hey, demon?" he called out while she was still off, putting the jewels away in the safe. "Can you hear me? I'm sorry, alright? And I…I'm just gonna go. I'll see you tomorrow or whatever. I know that I have to just start leaving you alone, but I can't, alright? Maybe things aren't working out, with you being around so much. I'll figure something out, okay? And not bother you as much? Just…have a good night, huh?"
When he didn't get a response, he only sighed and reached into his pocket to pull out some tip (extra) money for her. He was busy counting out a nice wad when she showed back up.
"You are not leaving me all of that."
"And why not?" He didn't look up at her. "Mirajane?"
"Because, Laxus, I don't want-"
"You're gonna take it. Get over it."
"Are you finished up here? Or what?" He glanced around. "You still don't have things to do, do you?"
"There's dishes to be washed, the floors need to be swept, and the bathroom-"
"Lisanna works tomorrow, huh? In the morning? Leave it for her."
"What? No. Laxus-"
"I'm walking you home. It's late." He gave her a look. "And that's an order. Get your coat. Don't leave the Master waiting, huh?"
She didn't want to, he could tell, but at the same time she needed to. Just glancing at a clock, he found it to be some time after midnight. He knew she was fine, of course, by herself, that she was safe, but still. Her being all alone in the guildhall that had been destroyed, oh, a billion times over the year by their enemies? No thanks. He'd gladly walk his demon home than have her in there when that happened.
"I haven't been to your house in a long time."
"You're not coming to my house," she told him simply. "You're just walking me home. Not coming in or anything like that."
With a frown, he glanced down at her. "Just for that, demon, I'm coming in."
"You are not."
"Gonna make myself all comfy on the couch. Put my feet up. Remember how it felt to have you wait on me there."
"The boy isn't even home," he pointed out. "And he won't be for a few days, huh? Where'd he go on his job?"
"I don't know," she sighed. "He hardly goes through me for them. I think he feels like I baby him or something."
"Well, he is your baby," he was quick to tell her. "And if he's being a little ass to you about it, I'll set him straight."
"And why, Laxus, would you do that? Huh?"
"Because I'm the Master." He flexed. "I can do anything I want."
When they got to her place, he could tell that she was apprehensive about letting him in, but Orion really wasn't around. And she honestly was dead tired. Fighting with him more wouldn't help alleviate that any.
"I'll go put on some tea and-"
"Don't do that, demon." Laxus went immediately to sit down on the couch, stretching out. "Just c'mere. I was real mean, yellin' at you before, huh? Let me-"
"We are not sleeping together." She said it just like that. Flat, as if bored with the idea as well as annoyed with it. "So if that's your endgame, you can get out right now."
"Mira, stop it with this resistance stuff, huh?" He shut his eyes. "If you didn't want to sleep together, you wouldn't have invited me in."
"I didn't invite you! And if you're going to be like this, just get out."
"I'm comfortable." He peeked an eye open. "And calm down. Just come sit with me. What? You think I'd screw you on this couch? I mean, if you're offering-"
"We won't do anything. Just come sit. He's not here, he's not going to know. So why are you fighting it so hard?"
"Because, Laxus, we can't keep doing this."
"Doing what? Huh? Being happy? Even if it's just for a little while?"
"Toying with this," she said with a frown. "You didn't want me and Orion and now you don't have us. So why-"
"Hey." He sat up then, opening both eyes as he glared at her. "I did want you. Both of you. But I couldn't have you. So I had to keep you-"
"We already did this once tonight. No more." Turning, she headed out of the room. "Lock up when you leave."
Great. He'd blown it. There was no point in following her then. And, with a groan, Laxus got to his feet to head out of the house.
Only he could manage that. Only him.
That was what Orion was feeling too, when he got back into town a few days later. Only him. Only he was the one that Laxus wanted. He knew it then. For certain. That the man saw something in him.
It had to be clear to everyone else by that point. In front of them all, Laxus had asked him.
"Hey, kid, you gonna mope around here all day? If not, you should come with us. You want to?"
Orion had been sitting up at the bar, listening to his mother tell him about all the things around the guildhall she needed his help with (his aunt had gone off on a job, which left a lot of work to be done), when the Master just came walking up to him. He had his big coat on and looked ready to head out to somewhere, Freed and Bickslow flanking him on either side. The seith gave Orion a thumbs up for some reason while Freed just glanced at Mirajane.
"Master Laxus is being rude," the other man said. "Mira was speaking, I believe. And she seems to be instructing him to-"
"You need someone to help you around the hall, you should have asked me," Laxus grumbled, glancing at the woman too. At first, she'd taken a moment to process what the guy was saying to her son, but she was starting to catch on. And she didn't like it. Not one bit. "I'll get you some help. Kinana and you do need someone else, I suppose, when Lisanna's not around. We're so busy these days. I'll get one of the lowly losers to help out, huh? And come on, Orion. If you're coming, I mean."
If? If? Was there even a need to add that? Really?
"O-Of course!" He popped right up. "Master. I-"
"Laxus," Mira hissed from across the bar, suspicion lacing her tone. "What are you doing? He's not going out with the three of you. You're grown men and he's just-"
"I'm sorry, do barmaids question the Master now and get away with it? Perhaps you've confused me with my grandfather."
"Laxus," Freed whispered under his breath. "Perhaps you have misjudged the situation-"
"Oy, kid." Bickslow hadn't read it well either. He didn't know that Laxus was doing it all just to get back at Mirajane. Not at all. He thought that the man was just going to spend some time with his boy. Sounded great to him. Going to toss an arm around the teen's shoulders, he said, "Your aunt's on a job, huh?"
Orion was too keyed in on his mother then to respond. Turning to look at her (and shove Bickslow off), he said, "What are you doing? Master just asked me to go somewhere with him. Why would you try and ruin that?"
"I'm not," she said, not glancing at the boy. "But you shouldn't be going out with-"
"You can't tell me what to do. If I want to go with the Master then-"
"Hey." Laxus popped him in the back of the head that time, making the boy glare over at him. It was one thing for Laxus to stand against Mira, but to hear their son act that way towards her ticked him off. "That's your mother. You think I outrank her with you then you've got another thing coming. Now apologize."
Mira could tell too, glancing at her son that he was embarrassed. Laxus had just called him out in front of the others. That was probably a thousand times worse than her trying to veto him going.
"Sorry," he mumbled to which Mira just glanced back at Laxus.
"Why would you want him to go anyways?" she asked, though she knew. Of course she knew. He wouldn't be doing it if she didn't at least have some inkling. She'd made a big deal out of him not wanting the boy and, well, now he was going to spend time with him and it was going to be great for both of them. Other than the fact that one knew he was the father of the other while the latter was left in the dark for no conceivable reason other than a curse that made little to no sense in the first place. Other than that, though, they would have a grand ol' time.
"Where are we going?" Orion got out as they left the guildhall finally. Laxus had assigned someone to help Mira out behind the bar before they walked out though. "Master?"
He just grunted and, well, Freed and Bickslow were so busy arguing them over whether or not the latter could actually scale a wall (the seith was insistent that he could, with no help whatsoever) that they didn't answer either. Not that Orion was, like, nervous or anything. So the man that he'd idolized since he was a child just decided to take him out for the day. What? Was he supposed to be, like, intimidated? Or fearful? Or something? Because he wasn't. It was meant to be. Clearly, Laxus had seen how mature he'd become and was finally taking him into his inner circle.
It was bound to happen eventually.
They went to the man's apartment after getting some takeout food which, since he was the low man on the totem pole, they made him carry.
"I used to have to carry it too," Bickslow sighed as he followed along. "They'd say that I was the least valuable person around. Ha! Jokes on them. My babies thing I'm the most important one."
"Important," they cried following along. "Papa."
At Laxus' place they headed into the living room where he already had a card table set out.
"Set the food down here, boy," Laxus grumbled as he slipped his coat off and tossed it onto the couch. "And Freed, go get some drinks, huh?"
"Of course, Laxus," the man said, rushing off to the kitchen to do so.
'Oy, boss," Bickslow complained as he claimed a seat. "Is Elfman not going to be coming around? Ever usually says that we gotta invite him to stuff."
"What do you think the boy's for?" the man grumbled, taking a seat. "He's our fourth now. Elfman can go rot somewhere for all I care."
Slowly, Orion moved to take a seat as well, still uncertain. Bickslow seemed more relaxed though, at the mention of Elfman not showing up, and even snickered.
"You should have asked me, boss," he told Laxus then. "If you wanted a fourth, I couldda got us one real easy."
"Your freaky friends? In my apartment? No thanks. Rather that never comes to fruition."
"I'll eat it, believe me."
Freed was back then, with the beers, which he sat in front of each of the men. When he got to Orion though, he paused.
"Uh, I do not-"
"The demon let you drink?" Laxus asked as he took a sip from the already popped bottle cap (Freed thought of everything, constantly). "Kid?"
"N-No," Orion said with a shake of his head. "She says-"
"Well the demon ain't here." Laxus winked at him. "Just don't get tellin' on me, huh?"
"Only if you want," Freed was quick to say, as if as a precaution. "Because-"
"I want to," he said quickly. As if there was anything thought to it. Laxus Dreyar, his idol since, like, forever, had just offered him a beer. Of course he'd drink it! All of it. And, when after a sip he found that he hated it, it didn't matter. He'd be drinking it to the last drop. And anything else that was placed in front of him.
It was all great too, being with all those guys. He usually would be nervous, being around Laxus, but the alcohol put him as ease quickly and, well, it was hard to feel anything, but loose around Bickslow. The seith was just so goofy. And Laxus and Freed weren't so bad either. They didn't rebuke him when he didn't completely understand the rules to the card game and neither seemed too annoyed with teaching him. Mostly he just sat there and listened to them talk, trying his hardest not to seem childish or to be a bother.
The men talked about a plethora of things, ranging from their most recent jobs to different women in their lives. They seemed more content with their conversations than actually paying attention to the game at hand. Orion was just glad that he'd recently gone out on a job and had some jewels in his pocket to play with. It would have been completely mortifying if he hadn't.
Eventually, Laxus sent Freed off to get his box of cigars for him.
"You smoke, kid?"
"No," he told Laxus with a shake of his head, just watching as the man lit up. Was he going to…offer him one? Because then yes, Orion definitely did.
"Good." Laxus didn't even glance at him. "You ain't startin' on my account."
"Oy, boss," Bickslow muttered. "You got his hopes up."
"What?" That time, Orion got a glance. "You thought I was givin' you one of these?"
"N-No, I just-"
"Beer, I can explain away to Mirajane. Getting you hooked on these fancy cigars? Not likely."
Freed just bowed his head. "She does not like them, as it were."
"What do you mean?" Orion asked, glancing at the man. "People smoke in the guild all the time."
"Yes, but Laxus' cigars bother her for some-"
"Hey, Freed. Another beer, yeah?" Laxus grumbled, shooting him a glare. "Quickly."
"Me too," Bickslow said with a nod. "And the kid also, boss?"
He glanced at Orion again before shrugging. "One more won't hurt."
Oh, but it would. Orion, for someone who spent so much time around a bar, had never had so much alcohol in him before. And in such a short time span. He hardly could keep his wits about him. And the room was all smoky because, well, Laxus could never have just one cigar. It stunk too, but there was no way that Orion was going to make any complaints. He had to be one of the guys, after all. It might be his only chance.
And all because they didn't like his Uncle Elf. Huh. It was rather shocking, really, considering he did very much so. But hey, to each their own.
The night just drug on too. And, even though Laxus said he was only supposed to have one more, he let the boy try some whiskey too, when that was brought out, though that turned out to be a bad idea.
"You shouldn't have ever given him alcohol," Freed told Laxus after the boy lost nearly everything in his stomach in the bathroom, vomiting up dinner and liquor alike. When he was finished with that, he was so embarrassed that, well, he tried to leave, but Laxus and the other two guys forced him to sit on the couch for a bit and calm down. After that, Bickslow took off, not wanting to get put on puke duty, while Freed took to cleaning up. "You cannot take him home in this condition."
"I ain't takin' him home," Laxus grumbled, nodding over to where the boy was passed out on the couch in that short amount of time. "Demon would have my head. No. You're gonna go down to the hall, tell her that he's sleeping over here, and be done with it."
"Why though, Laxus?"
"Why would he sleep over here?"
"Because I want him to. What more of a reason could she possibly need? Huh? Now hurry up and clean up." Laxus was heading off to the kitchen then, to get another beer. He'd need it. "Boy's got me all screwed up in the head."
After Freed left, Laxus sat around in the kitchen for awhile, to avoid messing with Orion. Now he'd gotten the kid sick. Great. Mira would never let him take him out again.
The whole point was to show her that yes, he could have been a father. He just wasn't allowed to have the chance, in an attempt to save her. Not to completely screw up and show her that it was a good thing he had never been a real father.
"Hey, kid," he found himself grumbling eventually as he went back into the living room. "Orion. You there, kid? Don't, like, die or something. Completely ruin my life."
Reaching down, he gently patted the boy on the shoulder, making the teen groan slightly.
"Sleepin'," he slurred against the couch pillow. "Stomach hurts."
"Alright, kid. You just try and not, like, die out here and I think we'll be good. Don't try and leave either. Not till mornin' when I think of some good excuse to tell your mother, huh?"
Orion mumbled something else before he conked out again. Which, honestly, was better than him throwing up. A lot better, actually.
Laxus started out of the room, but it wasn't to his own bedroom. No. It was to the kitchen to get a chair and drag it into the living room. With a groan, he sat it by the couch before hunching over to watch the boy.
It would be a long night.
He wondered, at times, during those next few hours, if that was how Mira felt since, oh, Orion had been born. All the times that she had to sit up with him when he was a baby or when he was sick as a child. Making sure that he was still breathing, that he didn't need anything. Probably a lot more than Laxus was doing, really, but he felt like the night was taking a lot out of him.
"You'd probably be dead by now too, kid," Laxus sighed, staring at the sleeping boy. "If Mira had…died. And left me with you. I had you one night and look; I got you drunk and sick and… It wouldn't have worked, you see? Mira had to live. Not just 'cause I love her or whatever. Because I love you. Get it? She had to be around to take care of you. There was no way that I could have. It just… I'm sorry, kid. There was no other way."
When the sun finally came up, Orion hated it with a vengeance. Laxus was going around the apartment, getting ready for the day as he only tried to fight off the pounding in his head.
It wouldn't go away.
"Where am I?" he groaned as he sat up slowly at one point, only to fall back down. "Mmmm."
"You're at my apartment, kid. Don't you remember?"
That sounded like Master, but it seemed very far away. It was actually just from the kitchen, where the slayer was eating breakfast.
No. He didn't remember that. Or anything. Just groaned some more.
"You came over with Bickslow and Freed and ended up getting a little bit too tipsy. Now you're hungover."
"I just wanna sleep."
"Yeah, well, I need to get you outta here and fast. Back over to your mother's. She's gonna flip if I don't. She's probably already worried. And if she comes over here, well-"
"Stop talkin'. Please."
It took awhile to get the boy at least some what decent. And then Laxus walked him most of the way home, having to help him along. At the end of the boy's street though, he set him on his way. No need to have a blow up fight with the demon in front of him. No, they could save that for later. Hopefully much later. Like, say, never sounded good for him.
"What happened?" Mira asked the second the boy came stumbling through the backdoor. "Orion?"
She was at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of coffee, and apparently waiting on him. Honestly, she'd expect Laxus to at least face her, but just seeing Orion was enough for her at the moment.
They'd already spoke though, he and Laxus, and, well, the boy knew his one line.
"Late night. With Master. Hung out. Gonna go to bed."
"Orion," she complained as he just disappeared into the house, making off to his bedroom where, after closing the blinds, he hoped to sleep for the rest of eternity.
Or at least until his hangover wore off.
Whichever came first.
And Laxus just sat up at the guild, knowing what was coming. The demon was going to kill him. She really was. And he couldn't even fight her on it. How could he? He'd gotten her son blackout drunk practically for no reason other than he was trying to prove a point to her…that kinda got extremely muddled along the way, but it had been a point, at one time or another.
When Mira did show up, she had quite a few words for him. A lot, actually. And he took them too, back there in his office, away from prying ears. She unleashed on him in as soft a voice as she could pull off, about that was quite the stunt he'd pulled and how irresponsible he was.
He decided not to bring up what age they all started drinking or that fact that he boy came and went as he pleased; Laxus might have been the first to get him that way, but he surely wouldn't be the last. He might not have been an adult, but she treated him like one. Sometimes that meant that bad things happened. It just came with the territory.
But he kept quiet on all that. Just let the demon vent. And when she was done, she didn't talk to him for a week. At least. He didn't try to start any conversations with her either. Just had to let her cool down, was all.
The next time that he went to head out with Freed and Bickslow again though, one weekend night when the guild was pretty much dead, he first went over to Orion, who was busy behind the counter, wiping down the bar and the bottles on the shelf behind it.
Mira, who was behind it as well, eyed Laxus suspiciously, but it was to the boy that he spoke.
"You busy here, boy?" he asked him. "Or can you go out with us?"
Orion about dropped the bottle he was polishing off. Then he looked to Mirajane.
"Can I?" he asked. When he found her dark gaze, he bowed his head. "I mean…I won't stay out all night this time. I promise."
Mirajane didn't want to. Laxus could tell. But, after she gave him a long stare, she just turned to go back to talking to her sister, who was in front of the bar, telling Orion all he needed to. The kid seemed so excited to be with them that Laxus was glad he'd risked it with the demon by asking.
Even if the first time was a disaster.
And that time, none of them drank (much to the displeasure of Bickslow, who cut out early because of it, grumbling about how he had better things to do anyways). Laxus didn't care though about how any of them felt.
It wasn't about Mira not trusting him or him not being there for Orion. It was about the fact that he'd screwed up the first time. And he wouldn't again.
He couldn't be a father, he knew that, but he could be a mentor to the kid. He was finally ready. And damn if he didn't want to be a good one.