A Dragon's Love

Requiem


There were nights, back when Orion was young, that Mirajane felt extremely isolated from the others. Of course, she had her siblings and yes, she had her friends, but none of them could relate. At all. They were all going on with their normal lives and, once again, she was sidelined by something.

It wasn't as dramatic as Lisanna's death had been (nothing ever would be), but it was big enough to massively impact her normal lifestyle. She wasn't up at the guild constantly anymore, always around when the drama was going on (or to scope out the gossip), was out of the loop in most things as she wasn't around to snoop through others lives. And not being able to help Makarov out as much as she would have liked wasn't nice either.

She just felt…alone. A lot. Not that it was anyone's fault, of course, but out of sight, out of mind. And with a newborn tying you down, it was hard to stay in the forefront of the others minds.

So maybe, during that time, Mira found herself more drawn inward than she had been in years. So much of her time was spent at home with Orion that it was only natural that she would form such a strong bond with him. There were days where, if things fell just right and her siblings were out on a job and so was Lucy or Levy's team, she might actually not see anyone at all, outside of him. Which, of course, she grew to be fine with.

Mirajane loved Orion. More than she ever had anything else. Even when he was crying uncontrollably or had managed to make a mess of a room, he was still her baby. He needed her. He relied on her. No one did that anymore. Not the way that he did. And there was something to be said about being needed.

There were times, even, when Mirajane didn't even want to go out. When Elfman and Ever were willing to babysit for her that she had no desire to even go somewhere. Because Orion was just learning to talk and what if she missed something big? Or what if he started crying and they didn't know how to get him to stop? And they didn't know his special naptime or bedtime songs that she sang to him, so neither of them could handle that. Even Lisanna or Lucy couldn't handle that. Not at all.

In a way, it was less others sealing Mirajane off and more her own doing. As much of it was necessary and due to Orion's birth, a huge chunk of it was also by her own design. She loved the guild. She loved her guild mates. But she also loved Laxus. And seeing him constantly wasn't fun. She'd been afraid that being around Orion would be the same constant reminder that the guild was, but it just wasn't the case at all. Orion would always need her and would always love her. No matter what. Stupid curse or not. That put him higher on her list than anything.

Some of Mirajane's best memories of the last few years were when Orion was young and she used to play her guitar for him, every night. Since he was a baby, really, that had been the best way to get him to sleep. She'd lay him down in her bed before sitting next to him on it, guitar in hand, and singing softly to him. He, by far, was the best listener she ever met. Even as he got older it was a regular occurrence for him to curl up in bed with her and listen to her strum on her guitar.

It would be impossible to explain to anyone else, but Mira just didn't need other people as much anymore. Not with Orion around. He was her entire world. And sure, the older he got, the less that was true, but she still thought of it that way. Even when he started going out on jobs all by himself, she'd still be the first person he told that he was leaving. And she was always the one he went to when he first got back. Not to mention she knew everything about him.

Their life hadn't been without down points though. There'd been times, of course, over the years where Orion was upset with her. He was a growing boy. One's mother isn't always the most popular of friend choices. And Mirajane would admit it; she was a lot to deal with. She was nosey and not much of one for self-pity. She was always looking on the bright side. And for Orion, who had come to develop a less than sunny disposition, that wasn't always for the best.

The longest he'd ever been mad at her was probably three days. It was once when he was about nine and she'd, as always, managed to embarrass him in front of someone. The Master, namely. Makarov had been over at their house and she started talking about the nightmare he'd had the night before, resulting in him wetting the bed.

Makarov thought it was a funny story and Mira thought it was cute, that he could get so worked up over something like that, but Orion had not been amused with her sharing something so personal. He was far too old, of course, for wetting the bed, even in a situation like that. And the last thing he wanted was for Makarov to know he'd done something like that. Err, okay, maybe not the last thing. The last thing was for Laxus to know. But the Master was a close second.

Spreading his embarrassing moments was nowhere near comparable to what was going on then though. The secret was out. Laxus was Orion's father. And he very much so knew. Not only that, but he knew that she'd lied to him. For years. That she'd kept something from him. Let him play the fool. Spend all those years longing for a man that wasn't five feet from him most the time. Holding a man that clearly didn't want him in such high esteem that it was almost unreal that the same man, apparently, didn't even want him as a son.

It made Mira sick to her stomach to think about. Orion had to hate her. He just had to.

She didn't know this for certain, however, as she hadn't seen the boy. Not since he stormed out of Makarov's house. Mira had no idea where he'd gone after that. Only that he hadn't been to the guild or home. She waited all night for him at the latter, unable to sleep and honestly going out of her mind with worry.

Never once did it occur to her that he was in the most obvious place of all.

"How could you lie to me?"

"I didn't lie to you," Erza sighed when the boy came to her door hours later. He'd spent some time on his own, trying to blow off steam and shock alike. Now though, he just wanted answers. "I never once told you that Laxus was not your father. I just never told you that he was either."

"Erza-"

"Here." They were seated at her kitchen table and, leaning across it, she pushed a white box towards him. "You caught me just as I was getting back from the bakery. I do not often share my treats with just anyone. Here. It's cake."

He didn't even move to pop the box open. "I don't want cake, Erza. At all."

"It's your choice, of course," she said slowly as she pulled the box back to her. "But I would take a slice if I were you. To reward yourself. Do not get so overwhelmed that you forget that you are now officially an S-Class-"

"I don't care about that!" Why was she treating him that way? "At all. They lied to me. They-"

"That has nothing to do with me," Erza told him simply. "They did not wish for you to know, so-"

"Does everyone know?"

"Of course not." Then she paused. "Well, I suppose it depends on who everyone is to you-"

"How could they do this?" He was starting to get red in the face again as he thought once more about how Master had told him. Gripping his fists tightly, he banged them on the table. Frowning, Erza moved the cake box even further away from him. "I hate them."

"You do not." Sighing, the swordswoman got to her feet before walking over to him. "Come. Let's go and find them and you three can talk this all out. I'm certain-"

"No." He jerked away from her when she tried to lay a hand on his shoulder. "I'm not going to talk to them. Are you crazy? What good would that do? They're both selfish idiots who-"

"I have never been put in this situation before," Erza told him simply before sighing and looking up at the ceiling, as if in deep thought. "Although, once I did read a book where two lovers found out that they were half siblings-"

"Erza."

Looking back to him, she said, "I think that the best situation is for you to take some time."

"Time?"

With a nod, she said, "This is a lot to deal with, you know. And I assure you that they never wished for you to find out this way-"

"I should have never had to find out anything!" His fingernails were digging into the palms of his hands then as he literally shook in anger. "I hate them. I hate him. He's such a stupid, smug asshole-"

"While I wholeheartedly agree with that for a multitude of reasons," Erza was quick to say, "I must remind you that doing something in anger is never advised."

"I haven't done anything. Yet."

"That is exactly what I mean." That time when she reached out to touch him, it was to rest her hand on his head and he didn't even think about moving. Stroking his white locks gently then, Erza told him softly, "You are too emotional right now. And if I know them both they way I do, they will be the same. Personally, paternity has been a rather moot point in my life, but I could see how it has been built up in your mind."

"Built up?" Jerking his head back, he glared up at her. "You don't get it. You-"

"I'm agreeing with that," she told him with a nod. "I do not."

"Laxus is a dick. He let me sit around and do stuff for him and-"

"Again, I agree. This was never an ideal situation. And if I had been Mira, I would have done things very differently. However, she and Laxus were very in love, I assure you. And she would never leave Fairy Tail. There was no way he would either, of course. It was just a bad outcome to what started as an impossible choice."

"Impossible?" he hissed. "What's so impossible about not lying to your kid? Or, gee, I dunno, not screwing around with someone's life?"

"Orion-"

"No." He looked back down again, glaring down at the table. "They did this. They did all of this. Not me. I didn't do anything. I didn't ask them to…to… He lied to me!"

"I know, Orion. He-"

"No." He was huffing then. "I saw them together. I got home from a job and they were… And he said that…"

"What?" Frowning, Erza dropped her hand. "You found them when?"

He was too upset to talk. "They were… So what? They can't tell me that he's… But they can sleep together? What sense does that make?"

This was news to Erza who blinked in surprise. "Then you knew that Laxus and your mother-"

"He said that it was just a one time thing," he said. "And that they were-"

"Does Mirajane know that you-"

"No," he hissed. "He told me not to tell her. He-"

"This is quite the mess," Erza sighed. "I have never doubted any of Master Makarov's actions, but to cause all of this-"

"He didn't do anything," Orion said with a glare. "They did. He just told me the truth. At least someone did that. Unlike the rest of you, all just lying to my face and never-"

"Calm down. I am not saying that you did not have a right to know," she assured him. "Just that it could have been done with more tact. And perhaps in consolation with Mira and Laxus."

"Why? They wouldn't have let him. They'd have probably hidden it from me forever." Snorting, he said, "I can't believe she did this to me. My own mother. She let me look like an idiot-"

"She was trying to protect you."

"From what? Huh? And how was she protecting me by still sleeping with him?" The thought alone made him want to vomit. Laxus and his mother… Ugh.

"Lapses of you judgment occurred, I'm sure," Erza slowly concurred. "But that is only because of the connection they have always felt. He is the only man that your mother has ever been so close to. And since you were born, she's hardly even thought of other-"

"Oh, right, okay. So it's my fault, right?"

"That is not what I said."

"It is what you said," he accused. "It's my fault that they can't be together."

"No. Orion, you are twisting-"

"Well, guess what? I don't care. They're the idiots that had me. She's stupid for even caring about him. Laxus is a jerk. And he's an ass. So she's stupid for even-"

"Enough."

"No!" He wasn't ready to calm down yet. Not by a long shot. He had fifteen years of lies and deception saved up. It'd take more than a few minutes to get it all out. "If she thinks he's so great, fine. She can have him. I don't need her. I don't-"

"She never chose him over you," Erza said simply. "If she had, I do not believe we would be having this conversation right now."

"She chose him every single time she covered for him," he argued. "When she wouldn't just tell me. When she-"

"What good would it have done, Orion? To force him to accept you? None. He did not wish to be a father. He wanted your mother to get rid of you. She wouldn't. And-"

"Don't make her a hero in this."

"I'm not. And she's not. She did a lot of wrong too," she assured him. "But making wrong choices does not mean that she didn't do them out of a good place. She loves you, Orion."

"Yeah, whatever."

"She does. And…in some way, he does too." That time, she only patted his head before turning to go take her seat once more. "I do not know what else to tell you. I can't make things better. But I can assure you that it was never meant to turn out this way. They never wanted anything other than the best for you. Especially Mirajane. And, back then, Laxus wasn't the best for you."

"So that's it? He just didn't want to be my father so she decided not to tell me? At any point?"

Hesitant, Erza wasn't sure whether or not the curse had come up yet. Not wishing to be the one to drop that little nugget down, she nodded slowly.

"I suppose you can put it that way, yes, but-"

"I don't want to deal with this anymore." Pushing up from the table then, he turned to head out the backdoor. "At all."

"Where are you going? Orion?"

But he didn't answer her and, honestly, Erza thought it was best not to go after him. He needed some time to himself, after all.

He didn't want time to himself however. He did, though, want the hell out of Magnolia. And fast. Before he ran into Laxus or his mother again. Or anyone, really. He just wanted to get far away from all of Fairy Tail.

So he did.

Mira though couldn't find anywhere else to go. After waiting for him at the house turned out to be a bust, she headed up to the hall to check in there. Never before had the big gossip in the guild been so mortifying to her. She'd told Lisanna who in turn had told Bickslow who in turn, apparently, told everyone in the free world.

Not that she could be too upset. It would have all gotten out eventually (she'd have probably been the one to tell everyone, honestly), but still. For someone that thrived off drama on a typical day, that was not the kind she wanted. At all. Overshadowed was the fact that her son was officially S-Class by the fact he was technically a Dreyar.

It definitely wasn't the attention Mirajane was craving.

Laxus was nowhere to be found. She'd left him over there with Makarov when she left to go track down their son, but she was starting to regret that decision. She was afraid that he would yell at the man, which just wasn't what Makarov needed. She was upset with him too, truly, but at the same time, she felt like a huge weight had been lifted off her. Orion knew. Which brought up new worries and complications, but at the very least took away the original problem. And the cornucopia of other problems it opened up felt like nothing in comparison.

Lisanna went home with her that night, to wait for Orion to come home, but he never showed. And the next morning, they searched the town, but he was nowhere to be found. There was, however, someone else definitely hanging around.

"I don't want to deal with you."

"Yeah, well, I don't think we have much of a choice, but to deal with one another," Laxus grumbled when Mira opened her front door to find him there. "Can I come in?"

"I don't want you to, but-"

"Mirajane-"

"What is there to say, Laxus? Huh?" With a sigh, she took a step back, granting him entrance. "There's nothing for me and you to talk about. Not anymore."

"Uh, try maybe we should talk about what we're going to say to Orion?" He raised an eyebrow. "I mean-"

"We," she hissed, shutting the door behind him, "aren't telling him anything. I'm going to talk to my son-"

"Our son."

"Laxus-"

"Well, now that he knows, there' no point in acting otherwise." He headed over to the couch to take a seat. "Besides, there's something else that's bothering me."

"And that is?"

"You, demon." He was staring up at her with concerned eyes. "Now that he knows and it's been made clear that he is my son-"

"Oh, Laxus, if you're about to start talking about-"

"I am," he said with a nod. "I'm worried about you. Do you feel okay? You don't feel feint or something? Have any headaches or stomach aches or-"

"I have a headache," she assured him. "And he's sitting on my couch."

"Mirajane, this is serious."

"No, Laxus. The fact that my son's run off and I can't find him is serious. The fact that he thinks I have been lying to him for years is serious."

"Thinks?" Laxus snorted. "You have."

"You're the one that-"

"I'm not saying it's a bad thing," he told her. "Just that we shouldn't glorify the whole thing. We lied to him, Gramps and his damn honor or whatever blew it, and now we have to clean up the mess. I mean, yeah, the kid's mad, but he'll get over it."

"No, Laxus, he won't. He loves you. And now he knows that you didn't want him. That-"

"I never said I didn't want him." He glared at her then. "I couldn't have him. There's a difference."

"Laxus-"

"There is," he insisted. "Had this curse not been a factor and you gotten pregnant, I'dda been there for him. I'dda married you and we'd have had a billion other kids by now and life would have been great. But life didn't turn out that way. And he's gonna have to man up and deal with it. You, on the other hand, are in a lot of danger and I'm worried about-"

"Shut up."

"Mira-"

"No. You idiot." Huffing, she came over to glare at him. "You're worried? About me? When our son's entire world has just been turned upside down-"

"So I'm his father." Laxus shrugged. "It's what he's wanted, I'm sure. He even told me that he wanted me and you to be together, so-"

"What are you talking about?"

Not letting his slip that Orion knew about their hookup, he said, "Just that he told me that he thinks that you and I are good friends. And he wanted to know why you and I never dated."

Mira's gaze darkened. "Are you lying to me?"

"No." Not really. "He just wanted to know why we never… And I told him that it wouldn't work out and he dropped it. That's all I'm saying. So really, he should be glad, I think."

"Well, you're an idiot."

Meh.

With a shrug, Laxus said, "I'll talk to him. When he show back up, I'll take him out, we'll talk about the curse and-"

"You are not going to tell my son that stupid-"

"It's the truth," he insisted. "And when he hears about it, he'll understand. He loves you. Just as much as I do. He-"

"Don't you dare compare yourself to my son."

"Our son." Staring her in the eyes then, he said, "He knows now that he's our son. And, if he hears why I couldn't tell him, he'll get that and help me figure something else out."

"Laxus, I'm tired of hearing about this stupid curse-"

"Well, you better get un-tired of it," he said. "The boy and his feelings are going to be the least of your worries."

"They're my only worries. He's my son," she kept up. "And he's hurt. Now he's run off and I can't find him and-"

"I'm sure he's just with Erza or something. Don't worry about it."

"I am worried about it, Laxus. You don't get it."

"Oh, I don't get it. Yeah, okay."

"You don't," she said. "You're thinking about everything, but Orion. You-"

"I'm thinkin' of Orion, woman!" He was getting just as worked up as her then. "I'm thinking about how upset he's gonna be when you're dead because Gramps told him that he was my son. That's what the hell I'm thinkin' about. Him having to finish his life without you. Him not being able to come to you whenever he wants to. I'm thinkin' of my son livin' with the same shit I live with every day. What the hell are you thinkin' about?"

For a moment, she only glared at him. Then, shaking her head, she turned to walk off, headed to the kitchen. "I'm not going to die, Laxus. Not from your stupid curse at least. And you're an idiot to think otherwise."

"Demon-"

"Don't call me that. I'm mad at you."

Growling, he jumped up to follow her. "Just hear me out, Mira. We got bigger problems right now than Orion's feelings. I'll have forever to fix that stuff up with him. You though-"

"You're just as dense as your father, aren't you?"

"Excuse me?"

When he came into the kitchen, she was over at the coffeepot, getting ready to pour another cup. At his words though, she turned back to glare at him.

"Ivan hates Makarov, you hate Ivan, and now Orion hates you," she hissed. "Because none of you ever get it. Did you ever think that's the curse? Huh? That you spend so much time worried about these damn deaths or whatever it is you think the curse is, that you lose sight of what's important? I love you, Laxus, but I am not more important than Orion. At least I shouldn't be to you. Because you're damn sure not to me."

With a shout, he said, "I do care about Orion. I'm saving you, fine, but that's helping him. I've kept you alive all these years. And believe me, he'd be grateful. If I had raised him as my son and you'd died when he was three or four, what? You think that would have made him happy? No. If he would just think about it, he's gotten all these years with you and he's gotten me. He's always had me. I'm his father. I've always been his father. I just couldn't say that I was. That's all. But I've still been there. I've always been there. I-"

"He's hurt, Laxus. He-"

"He's angry," he reasoned. "And he has a right to be. But he'll get over it. And I'm not saying I don't care. 'cause I do. And when he comes back, I'll talk to him about it as much as he wants. Right now though, I'm far more concerned with you. I'll have forever to fix things with him. You though-"

"Forever, Laxus? Really? Does Ivan still have forever with you? Or does Master still have forever with him?" She shook her head. "You're unbelievable. They did put a curse on you idiots. You think with your dicks instead of your brains. You're so worried about what woman you're boning and supposedly in love with that you don't do a damn thing for your own blood."

"I have looked out for Orion. His whole damn life. You know I have. So don't act like I haven't," he said. "So what? I tried to keep him and you both safe, so I'm the bad guy? Yeah, okay. Fine, Mira. Is that what you want me to play? The villain? Huh? For giving him a mother and you your damn life? I'm such a horrible person, aren't I?"

"I never said that."

"Yes, you did. You always do. You always act like I caused this. I didn't. I'm just as stuck as you are. Only I don't get to come out of it looking like the victim."

"I have never said that I was-"

"Oh, whatever, Mira. You have everyone thinking I screwed you over. Like I did all this on my own," he said. "I'm sorry. I forgot the part where you weren't just as willing as I was, oh, every single time we've ever hooked up."

"Shut up, Laxus."

"No, you shut up," he hissed. "You made this mess. Making him all close to my grandfather, sticking around Fairy Tail, letting him hang around me-"

"Are you honestly blaming me for letting my son be around people who love him? Honestly?"

"I'm saying that if you didn't want this to ever come out, you shouldn't have left him around my family so much," Laxus said. "I mean, sheesh. You taken him on any trips to see Ivan I don't know about?"

"Screw you, Laxus."

"Always open to, babe."

Huffing, Mirajane went back to the coffeepot. "Don't you have some sort of Master duties to do? Or some women to sleaze on? I really don't want to be around you right now."

With a snort, he went to take a seat at the kitchen table. "You can take it out on me if you want, demon, but you know you're only mad at yourself."

"Oh, no, I am mad at myself, but not only."

Laxus only made a face at her. "Whatever, Mira. I mean, what are we even fighting over? That I don't care about Orion as much as you? Fine. Maybe I don't. I wasn't supposed to. The original plan had me not caring about him at all. But as it is, I do. And you do too. And he might not think it right now, but he cares about the two of us too. So what's the point of three people who care about one another arguing over whether or not they care about one another? Huh? I love you. And he's my boy. I've never had a better day than just the other one, when I got to watch my boy become S-Class. When I got to sit there with him on the island, overnight, and tell him things. Listen to him. You say I don't care about my own blood? Fuck that. And fuck you for thinking that."

Mira was done with him then though, it seemed, and when she had her coffee, she came to sit down at the table as well.

Then they could only wait.

And wait.

And wait some more.

"Where's your sister?" he asked eventually.

"Someone had to work for me."

Laxus only sighed. "This boy makes me wait anymore and I might just-"

"He's not making you do anything, Laxus," she said with a frown. "You should do this because you want to."

Yeah, yeah.

"You got any food?" was his next complaint. "Demon?"

"Well, I have things in the fridge, yes, but I'm not hungry." How could she be? When her baby was out there all alone, upset with her and apparently never coming back?

"I am." When Mira said nothing to that, Laxus repeated himself. "I, demon, am hungry."

"Help yourself."

He didn't wanna help himself. It was clear though that at the moment he and Mirajane weren't going to be having any intimate gestures. No demon's cookin' for him.

"I said I wasn't hungry," Mirajane complained when, after going over to the fridge and rooting around, he came to dropped a plate in front of her with a sandwich on it. "Laxus."

"You're never hungry," he told her. "You just work through all your breaks and any free time you do have, goes to the boy. Don't whither away on me, Mirajane. Just eat."

"I can't." She just sat there, hand rested on the table and her head in that, staring blankly at him. "I'm too worried."

"He's a big boy."

"And he's going to throw a big tantrum," she reasoned. "I just wish that I knew where he'd go. I mean, I should know everything, right? I do know everything. But I've had Elf check all his hangouts. He's not at Erza's anymore, he's not at the guild, he's not out at any of the clearings that he trains at-"

"I," Laxus sighed after swallowing a bite of his sandwich, "might know where he is."

"Where?"

It was an easy bet, really. And though Laxus couldn't give her an exact location, he was spot on with his guess.

"I can't believe they'd do that to you."

"Yeah, well."

"I mean, I've heard you talk about Laxus before and you always made him sound so-"

"Great." Orion even grit his teeth when he said that. "I know."

At the moment, he was seated a top a cliff on the outskirts of a tiny village, on a fallen log, looking out over the town. It wasn't just any village though. The place was one that he saved from some peril on one of his first jobs. And, of course, it also was home to his girlfriend.

She'd known that he was going off on the S-Class trials and, win or lose, he was planning on going to see her when he got back. It just so happened that when they met up in their usual spot, he arrived with a lot more to talk about than the trials.

"I couldn't imagine having to go through something like that," the girl in question whispered as she leaned against his arm, staring down at her town as well.

"I know," the teen agreed. "How could they do this to me?"

"Not that," she said making him frown down at her. She wasn't looking though and he only had her brown hair to stare at. "I mean, of course, I feel for you. But your mother too."

Snort. A loud one. "She's the one who-"

"Who raised you and took care of you and had to let go of the man that she loved for-"

"You're such a girl. It wasn't like that." He thought about shrugging her off, but then figured against it. "It wasn't…romantic. Laxus isn't romantic. And my mother would never… No. They just…did what they did. Fooled around with one another. And then he didn't want me so-"

"It's still sad."

"You just don't get it."

"I don't," she agreed, still not looking up at him. "I never had a mother. I don't know what it's like."

"I know." Great. Now he sounded like a douche. "I'm sorry. It's stupid, huh? To you? Your father's dead and you don't know your mother and I'm bitching because now I have what I always wanted."

"I'm not saying that," she insisted, lifting her head then to look up at him, her brown eyes clashing against his blues. "This is a lot to take in. I just don't know what to say to make you feel better."

"You make me feel better."

Grinning then, she even blushed a little which made him smile took, before she move to rest her head on his shoulder again.

"When do you have to go back?"

"Go back?" he repeated. "I just got here a few hours ago."

"I know. But with all that going on-"

"I'm not dealing with them," he told her. "I shouldn't have to."

"What about your master?"

"I just said-"

"Not that one. Not Laxus. The older one. What's his name? Mak-"

"Makarov," he whispered, breathing softly then. He'd been so caught up in his own troubles that he'd neglected to think about the old man. Swallowing, he said, "I do have to get back. Before he…"

"It sounds so nice there."

"Huh?"

"Magnolia," she told him with a slight grin. "It sounds nice. Every time you talk about it. There's so many people and shops and-"

"Then come with me."

"Orion-"

"You could." He told her that a lot. "You could come stay with me."

"You live with your mother," she pointed out.

"She wouldn't care."

"I don't even know her and I know that she would."

"You could join Fairy Tail and-"

"And what? I don't know any magic."

That was sort of a requirement.

"And I can't leave my home," she told him. "I-"

"Yeah, you can. A lot of people do."

"I have my little brother to take care of."

"But-"

"I can't. I'm sorry."

Hanging his head then, he said, "Well, it doesn't matter anyhow, I guess. I'm S-Class now. I won't be there a lot anyways."

Her arms wrapped around his as she leaned more heavily into him. "That means you won't be here a lot either."

"Yeah, I will," he assured her. His mind was drifting though to the train schedule. He had to get going, if he was going to catch one and get back to Magnolia before morning. "I'll always come back here."

"How do you know?"

"Because you're here."

That sounded nice, but she had her doubts. Orion wasn't too worried about the future then though. He was much more concerned with the present. And the past. And the lies. And Makarov.

Mirajane, however, could think about nothing other than that.

"He has a what?"

Laxus shrugged. "A woman."

"A w-woman?"

"Well, a girl, I guess," he said. "I don't know."

"He does not!" She pushed up from the kitchen table at that. "No way he does. I know everything about him. He would have told me if he was…seeing someone. When does he even have the time to? How old is she? Where does she live? Is it serious? He's not old enough to be serious with someone. What-"

"Mirajane, I don't know," Laxus sighed as she took to pacing. "It's not that big of a deal. He-"

"It is a big deal, Laxus," she hissed. "How long has he been with this…person? I mean-"

"I don't know. A few months? Or something."

"Why would did he tell you about this and not me?"

"He didn't meant to," Laxus said. "I was just teasing him about being… Uh, what was the question?"

"Teasing him about what?"

"Nothing. Weren't we talking about something-"

"Laxus-"

"I just said," he mumbled sheepishly, "that, you know, he was still a, uh, virgin or whatever and he was quick to tell me-"

"I don't want to hear about this!" Mira looked ready to hit him then and Laxus winced in preparation. "Why would you tell me that?"

"You made me!"

"He's not old enough to be-"

Grinning then, he stared up at her from his seat. "Well, when was your first- Ow, Mira."

She hit him again. "Shut up, Laxus. You idiot."

He managed to catch her hand the next time she rose it to strike him. Still grinning, he said, "He's not a little boy. Hell, he's S-Class. He's gonna travel the world. There's gonna be a lotta these women you're going to have to get used to."

Jerking her hand out of his then, Mira looked off, a blush forming across her cheeks. "He's doesn't think about things like that."

"About girls? Or sex? Mira, do you even know that you're raising a teenage boy or-"

"Shut up. Honestly."

"You be honest," he said with a laugh. "He's my son. Of course he'd be-"

"I'm going to strangle you."

"Anyhow," he said as he pushed away from the table to get up as well. "The boy is probably there. You know, drownin' his sorrows and all. Licking his wounds. Or getting them licked-"

"You're about to get kicked out."

"Your baby's a man," he said simply, holding his hands up as if in his own defense. "It sucks, but it's true. That all the more reason that what I've said is right."

"What are you talking about?"

Slowly moving his hands down then, he moved to lay them on her shoulders. "You know. You said that you wanted to find someone, remember? Try again at being with someone and having a baby and all. Well, Orion's grown now. He doesn't need you so much anymore. If anything should show you that, it's all this."

"Laxus-"

"He's hurtin' and he didn't come to you. He went to her." Smiling at her slightly, Laxus said, "It's not a bad thing. It's just a life thing. You can't hold the boy hostage. Keep him locked up for yourself. It doesn't work that way."

She turned her eyes from him then and, with a sigh, Laxus fully dropped his hands that time, back down to his side.

"It's funny, isn't it?" That time, his grin wasn't real. It was wry. "The whole point of this was to make things better for him, for you, and really all it did was make the two of you feel even more alone. And now the whole things blown. And I have my reasons that it was a good thing. That it's still a good thing. I'm honestly still convinced that you're not safe, demon-"

"Laxus."

"-but," he went on as if she hadn't spoken, "there's nothing that can be done for that, I guess. I mean, I'll still be trying to figure something out-"

"There's nothing to figure out," she insisted. "There's nothing wrong with me."

Shaking his head slightly, he said, "It doesn't matter what you say, demon. I know that there will be. And I promise you, I'm gonna be there for you-"

"No, Laxus. You won't. Because there's not going to be-"

"Now that Orion knows though," he said, "there's nothing to hide."

"Obviously."

"No, Mira." He was taking a step closer then, hands coming back up. That time though, it wasn't to lay them on her shoulders, but rather to cup her pale cheeks. "I meant that the two of us, well, we can be together."

"Laxus-"

"Listen." He was grinning at her then. "I mean, I know things aren't perfect right now and I know that this isn't what we ever had in mind and that I told you to move on, but now you don't have to. And I don't have to. I love you. I've always loved you. And if things don't work out after the fact, well, I can live with that. But to leave things the way that they are now-"

"I," Mirajane began as she only reached up to pull his hands off her face before taking a step back, "am not interested in discussing that at the moment."

"What?"

Heading back over to the table to take a seat, she said, "My concern is with my son, Laxus. First and foremost. And if he's okay and I can get things right with him again, then, maybe, we can talk about that. But not until I know how Orion feels."

"What the hell does that mean?" Laxus, apparently, wasn't satisfied. "So if the boy doesn't want us together-"

"He's my life," she said simply. "Always."

That didn't sit well with Laxus. At all. He stewed for awhile, out in the living room, and Mira left him to it. There was nothing she could tell him. It was the truth. Orion was the only opinion that mattered to the woman, really.

As much as she would have loved to stick around and wait for him, she had to get Makarov some food and make sure he got all his medicine (she'd put Lucy on Makarov duty, but she never rightly trusted anyone with that job other than herself). Telling Laxus where she was going, she left the man over at the house (he still wanted to be there in case Orion showed up), before heading out.

Makarov wasn't well when she got there. Lucy was just leaving when she did, but Mira could tell that the Master was happy to see her. He kept trying to apologize to her, but she just shushed him at every turn.

"It's alright," she assured the man as she came to hold his hand and smile down at him. "You're alright. Orion's alright. Everything's fine. Shhh. Just rest, Master. Please, just rest."

He couldn't though it seemed. He kept asking for Laxus, asking if the man was still upset. And she assured him otherwise, promising that he wasn't. And when he didn't want him, it was Orion.

"He'll be here soon," Mirajane would say softly. "You know he loves you. He loves you so much."

And, once, late that night when she was getting ready to go (it was always Gray that stayed overnight typically), he asked her for Ivan. That was the hardest smile to fake.

"Master, you know that Ivan loves you. He-"

"No." And the grip he had on her hand increased then. "Where is Ivan?"

"Master-"

"Ivan." His eyes were dark. "I want my son. I need my son."

It took thirty minutes to calm him down after that. Mira only spoke softly to him, singing almost, until he drifted off and she was able to get out there.

There was nothing worse than watching someone you love deteriorate. Nothing.

At home, Mirajane found Laxus had fallen asleep on the couch. Leaving him there, she only headed to her bedroom to get ready for bed. It felt like she wasn't in there for long when it happened.

"What the hell are you doing here?"

Orion got home.

She was rushing too, to get out of bed, still slightly confused, so that she could get out there to alleviate the obvious problem.

"What did you say to me?"

And there was no way that Laxus was just going to behave. Be the mature one. Oh, no. There would be no maturity to be had by the males in the house that night.

When she got to the living room, Laxus was sitting up on couch, looking slightly dazed himself, but definitely with his usual snarl on his lips. Orion's eyes were dark as he stalked over to the man and Mira only went first to flip on a light.

"Hey," she called as, when Orion bucked up, Laxus got to his feet. "Orion, come here. And Laxus, go-"

"Get the hell out," Orion growled as the man only frowned down at him. "What do you think you're doing here? No one wants you here. And if you don't understand that, I'll gladly teach it to you."

"What is your problem, boy?" Laxus looked ready to hit him. "Huh? I'm here for you, you idiot. To make sure that you're alright. I-"

"I don't need you to do anything for me. At all. So fuck off."

"Orion!" Mira came to literally grab him then and tug him away from his father. "Enough. Laxus and I were both just worried about you. You shouldn't have run off. I know that this is a lot, but we just need to talk about-"

"Talk about what?" It was easy to transfer his anger over onto her. "Huh? How you lied to me and cheated me out of-"

"Hey." Laxus wasn't for that either. "Mira didn't do anything, alright? I was the one-"

"Lax-"

"Why don't you just get out?" Orion wasn't done with him. "My mom doesn't want you here, so just-"

"Leave him alone, Orion. And Laxus, just go. This isn't turning out-"

"Turning out what?" her son asked, frowning at her once more. "The way you thought it was? What? Did you think that I would just come in here and be thankful that this douche is-"

"Look, brat," Laxus growled. "I've had about enough of you. I get it, okay? Shit sucks. Life sucks. I'm sorry, alright? Makarov wasn't supposed to tell you. But he did. And now you're stuck with the truth. I'm sorry. Things were complicated back then."

"Complicated?" Orion snorted. "So complicated that in sixteen years, in all the time that I've spent with you, it's never occurred to you to just tell me, to just say that-"

"I'm telling you, things were messy and-"

"No." He even shook his head, the anger leaving his voice, sounding purely absolute then. "You didn't want me."

"That's not-"

"And guess what? Now I don't want you. So just get out." Staring him in the eyes, he said, "I fucking hate you."

An awkward beat followed that where Laxus swallowed and Mirajane only stared at her son. Then, slowly, Laxus nodded before moving to head around him and to the front door.

"Welcome to the family."

It was the sound of the door shutting that seemed to revive Mirajane. She didn't even look after the man. Only turned to her son, who was still standing in that same position, before moving, slowly to wrap her arms around him.

"I'm so sorry, Ori," she told him softly. "I never… You know that I love you, right? Because I do. And I know that I screwed up, but the longer that time went on, the more like it seemed to be the right one. I just always wanted to be there. To be with you. I love you."

He paused too and, for a moment, she thought that he would shove her off. Instead, the teen only moved to wrap his arms just as tightly around her.

"I love you too."

It was weird, the way that things had changed. Time felt like it hadn't passed at all, but it had, oh so quickly. Not too long ago, she'd been so much bigger than him and had been able to engulf him in her arms. What day was it that the roles were reversed? When did he become the one holding her? Why was it that she couldn't even pinpoint the last time it'd been the other way around?

Burying her head in his neck, Mira breathed deeply before whispering, "I never wanted to hurt you."

"I know."

With a sniffle, she pulled back some then, just so that they could look one another in the eyes.

"Are you okay?"

When he nodded, she moved one of her arms then, so that she could cup his cheek.

"Look at you." She couldn't smile, she felt so sick to her stomach, but her eyes, though wet, were alight. "You're all beat up. From the trials, huh? Mmmm. All this happened and I never really got to hear about that. Did you- Oh, Ori."

He couldn't help it. Honest, he couldn't. The tears just fell then when he thought about how he'd felt that night, lying under the stars with Laxus. And it felt so visceral, the connection they had then. The one they had always had. He'd been drawn to Laxus all his life. Had it been nothing more than fate? Instinctual? Coincidental?

Did all those things he'd built up in his mind, the man picking him, doting on him, deciding that he was one of his boys had that all been nothing more than the man feeling guilty? As if he owed it to the boy to at least throw him a bone? Was that it? Had it all meant nothing?

What of him making S-Class then? Was that from his strength? Or from Laxus catering to him, because he was…they were… Or was it just because of his mother? Did he want the woman still?

The thought alone made him so angry that he just…the tears just…they welled up in his eyes and he almost went blind with rage.

"Come here." Mirajane only reached up to stroke one of his cheeks. "It's okay, baby. See? Nothing's changed. Nothing at all. I'm still here. You're still here. And Laxus doesn't have anything to do with us. Not if you don't want him to. It's always been just me and you. And it always will be. Okay? There's not a thing in the world that would ever change that."

It took a moment or two, but eventually, Mirajane got the teen to follow her out of the living room and back to her bedroom. He was too tired to fight or to question anything. If his connection to Laxus had always been evident, the one he had with his mother was physically visible.

Mira only went to get her guitar from where it sat on a stand in the corner of her bedroom. It had been awhile since she'd had a chance to use it and, upon strumming, she found it out of tune, but Ori didn't care. Not one bit.

They'd done that since he was a boy. He could remember it, when he got a bit older. Mira though could remember it from when he was born up until that moment. Months had passed since the last time they'd had a chance to do it recently (it might have even been a year and been back when Radic broke his leg), but it felt just as right as it always did.

She didn't sing that night. Only strummed. And, when he started crying again, that time more out of frustration than anger, Mirajane only smiled from where she sat on the other side of the bed, cross-legged and staring over at him.

"Ori," she whispered softly over the strumming, the moniker coming out in only the way that she could make it. "Why are you crying? Look. I'm here. And I'm safe. And you're here. And you're safe. What else is there?"

A lot. A whole lot. But right then, he couldn't tell her that.

"One day," Mira went on as she played softly in the background. "None of this will matter. You'll travel all over and come back to me, won't you? With little trinkets and gifts. And we won't think anything about this. It'll be a footnote in a whole biography. Look at you already. You're not a boy anymore, are you? You're a man. And in no time at all. I'm so proud of you."

And as true as that was, she missed him too. Or the boy he had been (and she still saw traces of in moments like the one they were having then). But the child in him was dying and she was having to learn to let go.

"He," he sobbed, "wasn't supposed to do this. Why did he do this?"

"Orion, Laxus is…a lot of things. And I know you will never understand this, but there were circumstances-"

"All he cares about is himself." He was trying to wipe at his eyes then, as he rolled onto his back. "When he slept with you, he said that he wanted to be with you, but you were-"

"What are you talking about? Orion? The reason we weren't together was-"

Sniffling, he glanced over at her before saying, "I saw you. In bed with him. And he told me-"

"When?" The playing had stopped then as Mira stared at with him with big eyes. "Orion?"

"I don't know. A couple of months ago. I got home from a job and-"

"Why didn't you-"

"If he hated me so much and didn't want me-"

"It's not like that."

"-then why would you still be with him?" He was moving to sit up then, staring at her. "Huh?"

"Orion, I don't-"

"Do you love him?"

"It's complicated. We've always-"

"Why would you be with someone that doesn't want me?"

"He does. He-"

"He told me that my father didn't want me." He was done with his sniffles then and was just glaring over at her in the darkness. "He said that if it had been up to my father, you wouldn't have had me."

"When did he-"

"When I saw you two together." He took some deep breaths then, to keep himself from sobbing again. "He came out and I asked him about… And he said that my father sucked and that he wasn't any good for you or me and that if it had been up to him-"

"He didn't… Ori, there's a lot more to it," she insisted. "It wasn't that he didn't want to have you. Or me. It was just that he thinks that…"

"That what?"

But she couldn't. For all the truths that were out then, she couldn't plant such a stupid and worthless lie in his head.

"I make mistakes, Orion," she said then, finally. "And that was one of them. Sleeping with Laxus again, I mean. I shouldn't have. I knew that the two of you were close and I just… But I did love him, if that makes you feel better. And I never once thought about leaving you. It's always been you over him. I promise. And I know that things are bad right now, tonight, but they'll be better. Give it a little time and this will all pass. All things do."

He didn't want to hear that though. She knew he didn't. Still, when she started playing that time, she sang as well, effectively ending their conversation. Slowly, he fell back onto the bed.

Not all things. Not even close.

Mira must have sang for an hour, at least. She only stopped when she was nearly certain that he was sleeping. He'd rolled onto his stomach, with his head buried in one of her pillows, so she couldn't be too sure, but he hadn't moved in awhile and his breathing seemed to have slowed.

With a sigh, she finished up that last verse before moving to set the guitar down, propping it up against the side of the bed.

"I love you," she whispered softly to him before leaning over the bed to kiss the back of his head. And Orion, who was still very much so up, could have sworn that she smelled his neck or something too, which was weird, but he was so out of it then that he could have been imagining it.

But oh, he hadn't. She was sniffing for perfume something, but hadn't picked anything up. Maybe Laxus was wrong and he hadn't been with a woman. She sure hoped so.

As silently as she could, Mirajane got out of bed before leaving the room. There was no way she could sleep. None.

That turned out to be for the better, as it was while she was in the living room, folding up the blanket that Laxus had left out on the couch, that there was a sharp knocking at the front door.

"Laxus," she groaned as she dropped the blanket before turning to head over there, the rapid rapping not ceasing. "Are you seriously-"

But it wasn't the man on the other side of the door. Instead it was her sister, the younger of the Strauss siblings standing there with her eyes filled with tears, but not sobbing. Only staring at her sister.

"Lisanna," she whispered at the sight of her before moving to pull her into the house. "What-"

"Gray came by when I was closing up," she sniffed. "It's… Master's gone, Mira. He passed on."

There was nothing that Mira hadn't been preparing herself in the past few months for more than that. For Makarov's death. She'd thought up all the reasons that it was for the better. He was ready to go. He'd told her as much. He had been in pain for months. All of his friends had already met the same fate. It was selfish to will him alive for their own benefit.

None of those did it for her then though. They didn't make the feeling in her chest disappear.

She knew, deep down, that she'd done everything she could for the man over the years. More than most others. She'd loved him. But it didn't stop the guilt she felt over not staying that night. Of not having been there with him.

What if he'd wanted her there? And she'd never get the chance to be.

"Wha's goin' on?"

That came from the hall and, when the two sisters glanced over there, they found that it was Orion. He was yawning and rubbing at his eyes, clearly having been fully awakened by Lisanna's knocking.

"Orion," she whispered as his mother only shook her head.

"Ori." She'd been holding onto her younger sister, but released her then to head over to her. He just stared at her though.

"What?" He couldn't explain it, but somehow he just knew. Just from the look he was getting from the two of them. He knew. "What's wrong?"

"It's Master," she told him softly.

"What about him? Mom? What about him?"

Mirajane only shook her head though, not saying anything. That didn't make much of a difference. Because he knew. He fucking knew.

It felt like such a waste too, then, as he couldn't even cry. He'd spent so much time on tears for himself and an outcome he'd practically begged for previously that he hadn't saved any for when they mattered. For the one man that deserved them.

Orion hoped Master knew. In fact, he was nearly certain he did. Surely, he understood that gut wrenching sobs or not, he could not remember a moment that he'd felt more empty.

And alone.



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