TAMING LIGHTENING: by Kurahieiritr JIO
A/N: I do not own Fairy Tail or make money off of this story.
"You morons will stay in the beer hall because you're too loud and obnoxious. If you can't do that, I'll make you wish you'd never been born." Laxus snapped, wondering if his grandfather was improving as he headed toward the infirmary.
A glare shot at Natsu, and the Phantom Lord interloper, Gajeel, halted their strides. They obviously wanted to follow Laxus into the room so they could bother the people inside. The pair glared at Laxus as he forbid them access, specifically to the Heartfilia girl. It was no surprise that they wanted to bother her because Lucy Heartfilia had a way of wrapping people around her little finger with her brilliant smile. However, Laxus was not going to put up with the destructive duo wrecking the infirmary for their own amusement.
Laxus had forced the guild into a battle with their guild mates to determine how fairy tail's members needed to be handled based on their test scores. The information received from Freed's rune barriers allowed Laxus to check the areas of battle, most of which were between various barriers which were set to trigger whenever the guild mark entered the space designated. The level of damage done determined various mages' fates over the week that followed the Fantasia parade.
As expected, Natsu and Gajeel were among the most destructive, and least thoughtful within the whole guild. Laxus needed to get both under control now that he was running the guild while his grandfather convalesced in an infirmary bed. With Rune Knights on the property, exactly as Laxus had feared would happen when he set his plans in motion, things were only held together because Laxus had convinced the Council that he would turn Fairy Tail around. He even gave the council all the data from his Strongest of Fairy Tail battle royal to convince them to wait before shutting the guild down.
Trailing after Levi into the infirmary, Laxus halted at the foot of his grandfather's bed. Taking in the image of his grandfather's face which was parchment pale, and strangely slack, drool seeping out the side of Makarov's mouth visage was heart breaking. The smell of medicinal herbs and an undistinguished wrongness tightened Laxus guts. Porlyusica glared at him as she continued to work on saving Makarov's life.
"How's Gramps doing?"
"As well as can be expected. Why do you even bother asking? You caused Maky's heart attack and stroke." Porlyusica snarled at Laxus, venting her ire over being stuck at the Guild hall with so many patients under her care.
"It wasn't supposed to turn out like this! Gramps was supposed to realize that he can't keep the Council at bay much longer and turn the guild over to me! Hell, I'm the one that convinced them not to shut Fairy Tail down and that took me most of the week to accomplish." Laxus growled, watching the frail man laying on the bed.
Makarov's eyes opened, glazed and unfocused. Stepping up to the side of the bed so he was easily seen, Laxus kept his features bland with difficulty. Despite their differences, Laxus did love his grandfather. Makarov had made his childhood bearable. When his own father tortured him to make him stronger by implanting the lacrima in his body, Makarov had been the one who made the torment of adjustment bearable for Laxus. However, when it came to being too hide bound and stubborn for anyone's good, Makarov was almost unstoppable at times. Laxus hoped the stubborn streak would insure that his Grandfather overcame his illness faster than Porlyusica seemed the believe possible.
A gurgle erupted from Makarov's mouth as he tried to speak. "Stop it, Old Man. Don't try to talk. You need to focus on getting well. I won't let Fairy Tail get shut down, or you take the fall! One Dreyer screwing up our family name is already one too many. I'm going to make sure things get turned around one way or another. The rest of the idiots in the Guild may not be aware of what's at stake, but I found out about the Council's plans. Hiding it has made everything worse, Old Man. You've gone soft on them for too long, and they're repaying you by destroying their guild's reputation."
Laxus leaned over his grandfather's face, something akin to understanding and sorrow flashing within the old man's eyes. "You can't bring yourself to reign them in, but I will. I will stop the Council's abuse, and prevent Fairy Tail from being disbanded from here on, Gramps. Use your anger at me to get yourself well enough to fight if you feel you have to. Just keep in mind that I'm not going to stand by and watch you get stripped of your place as a Wizard Saint, and thrown into prison. You refuse to do what needs to be done. You don't agree with me, but I'm going to turn things around before it's too late. Unlike you, I'll get the results the Magic Council demanded from you. I won't tolerate any more trash attitudes in Fairy Tail! We won't be a laughing stock any longer. We also won't be the biggest problem the Magic Council has now that I'm in the position to change things."
Levi's gasp was ignored as Laxus straightened. "Is there anything you need to insure Gramps gets well, Porlyusica?"
The old pink haired healer glared as she stepped up beside Makarov's bed across from Laxus. "I've stabilized his heart, and am doing everything I know to help him recover from the stroke. Strokes are always tricky because of the damage they do to the mind. No real cure exists. I blame you for this, Moron. Even if you did everything to protect your grandfather, you've done everything the wrong way! Now get out of my way, and let me work in peace. The girl's awake so go see her and then get out!"
"If you need anything at all, make sure I get the message." Laxus spoke in a level tone despite his desire to roar all of his barely contained rage at everyone and everything.
The infirmary was still housing several injured mages, a thing Laxus had counted on. However, some of the individuals who were currently trapped in beds had landed there for reasons Laxus had never dreamed possible. One such unexpected case was the Celestial Spirit Mage, Lucy Heartfilia. The woman had proven that she had plenty of guts to go alongside her power and beauty. However, she was getting to be as reckless as Natsu in Laxus opinion. Her stubborn insistence to take out several of the large floating lacrimas Laxus had planted around Magnolia during the fight had almost killed her.
Stopping at the foot of her specific bed, Laxus glared at the woman wrapped in bandages. "Did you learn anything from trying to do such stupid heroics, Blondie?"
"Yeah. I learned I can survive taking down three of your lacrimas." Lucy shot back with what looked like a belligerent gleam in her eyes.
"The only reason you're alive is I chose to draw my magic out of your system before you died. Of all the trash mages in this guild, I expected a much better performance from you. You passed the first test when you beat Bickslow, and then turned around and failed the second one in such a spectacular fashion that I'm not even sure why I kept you alive right now!" Laxus roared in return.
Seeing the shock that registered in toffee colored eyes gave Laxus pause. Yet if he was going to insure Fairy Tail's future, and make it a much stronger guild that was above ridicule, tearing into this sexy little rich girl was as vital as beating common sense into Natsu Dragneel's stubborn hide.
"What are you saying? What tests?" Lucy asked as she tried to catch up.
Pulling out her specific file, Laxus opened it and double checked which keys the woman owned. "Do you not own the silver key for Crux?"
A frown marred Lucy's features, confusion obvious. "Yes. But I don't underst . . ."
"Your lack of thinking is the whole reason you're laying in the infirmary covered in mild electric burns! You have a spirit capable of finding ways of dismantling the Thunder Palace safely, yet you never bothered to call on it to get any answers! Your magic depends on quick thinking, and strategy to work! But instead of using your head, you've let that damned fire eating menace dictate how you use your magic, Blondie! You have a rare magic to begin with, and you're not even paying attention to what your spirits strengths are. Even if you've been relegated to acting as the support for your team, you should be a far greater asset than this." Laxus snapped at the woman, intent upon preventing her from making excuses.
Head bowed to hide her eyes beneath her hair, Lucy sat for several moments. "I'm sorry. I'm not sure what you want from me. I don't see my spirits as tools because they're my friends."
"I really don't care to hear your excuses for your reckless screw up, Blondie. I thought you and Erza would manage to find a safer alternative to dismantle the hostage situation I created, but you both failed. Erza's Lightening Empress armor has the capability of absorbing lightening safely. You have spirits capable of giving you all the information you need to devise common sense plans, and help you execute them safely. Yet both of you became so focused on your own actions that you didn't bother to rely on your friends, or try to find ways to protect yourselves in trying to overcome the situation I created to test your skills and thinking capacities. Friends depend on each other, and they work together to protect each other. On a mission, everyone in the team has to understand everyone else's strengths and weaknesses. You have a spirit that can find enough information to create a decent strategy to overcome something like the Thunder Palace, and you ignored your spirit's strength for whatever stupid reason you told yourself. You had Bickslow down and out of commission. You also had time to use your brains and call on the one spirit in your possession that could have given you the information required to safely dismantle my Palace. You failed because you refused to recognize the assets you already have in favor of acting like a reckless moron. Don't let it happen again!" Laxus snapped before closing the file and turning to leave.
"I'm sorry. I'll train harder from now on." Lucy's soft voice caught Laxus attention.
Facing the doorway where he could see Natsu pounding on the rune barrier, and shouting in silence, Laxus chose to use one last dig to remind the girl where she came from. "You better believe it, Blondie. You're one of the few people in this guild who should realize what leadership requires. You were raised to be a leader, even if it was only supposed to be leading a household as a socialite. The women of that world are expected to use their cunning to insure their husbands look good for everyone else, and insure their family status never gets injured. Fortunes are made and broken by women in the elite ranks all the damned time. Fairy Tail is about to be shut down, and everyone needs you to help salvage things before the Magic Council changes their mind to give us one last chance."
Stomping out of the infirmary, Laxus shoved Natsu to the side, and started to walk to his grandfather's office. "What is your problem, Laxus? Why won't you let me see Luce? And what did you say to her?"
Stopping, Laxus twisted his upper body enough to take in the seething Dragon Slayer. "I pointed out the truth, Flame Brain. How Blondie chooses to deal with it is her own damned problem. Now get back to what you're supposed to be doing before the Rune Knights report that we aren't trying to get our shit together and gets the okay to shut Fairy Tail down for good."
"Did you kick Luce out of the guild over their empty threat? The council won't shut us down!" Natsu whined.
Whirling to face the younger man, Laxus felt his magic rising to the surface, electricity sparking along his arms. "How the hell do you manage to delude yourself so completely, Natsu? The only reason we haven't been disbanded already is because I managed to convince the Magic Council to give us time to improve our behavior on missions! You're one of this guild's biggest liabilities when it comes to destroying public and private property! Your team is currently considered the greatest threat to Fiore's normal citizens! Your absolute refusal to use your head is one of the leading factors in the Council's last decision which I barely got put on hold for ninety days. Have you already forgotten the disbanding order with the emergency deferral that I got for us? It's sitting on the job request board in the main beer hall for everyone to see! Get it through your thick skull that we are on our last chance to redeem ourselves! Either you get on board with repairing our guild's reputation, or you get the hell out, Natsu! I'm fighting to save our whole fucking guild, and I don't need assholes who refuse to get on board with the program to be here any longer!"
Furious with the willful ignorance Natsu displayed, Laxus stalked away before he did something that would land Natsu in the infirmary. Considering how the immature dragon Slayer thought, Laxus did not put it past Natsu to get himself hurt even worse than he had gotten during their battle in the cathedral so he could bother Lucy Heartfilia, and all the other injured people inside the infirmary. Having already paid for the repairs to the damaged cathedral insured that the guild was forgiven by the church. Convincing the Magic Council that he had intended to test his guild mates to see what the real problems were with their mission behaviors was the only reason Fairy Tail still existed. To make good on his promise to reform Fairy Tail, Laxus had all the able bodied members cleaning up the battle sites. People like Laki were proving quite capable of repairing buildings to the specifications of their owners so long as Freed, Bickslow and Evergreen kept a close enough eye on them.
Nothing was going as Laxus had planned, on several fronts. The unexpected glitches made Laxus even angrier than he was when he devised this plan of action. Once his enhanced hearing had picked up the conversation his grandfather was having with a Council Member who laid down numerous threats, Laxus knew it was time to force the old man to retire for his own good. Doting on the numerous borderline delinquents who were filling the guild was the last thing Makarov should have done once the Council began demanding change from all Fairy tail mages.
With the Thunder Legion's help, Laxus had convinced the Council to give him a ninety day reprieve to try and change the way the guild handled missions. As much as Laxus despised weakness, he despised sloppiness even more. Weaklings could be useful enough, if confined to the correct kinds of tasks that suited their abilities. Levi McGarden was a perfect example of a useful yet weak powered mage. The young woman was an impressive translator. Over the week that Laxus had been running things, he had discovered that the young woman was one of the few guild members with a good reputation. Shadow Gear managed to get recommendation letters and similar types of positive feed back. To Laxus, weak or not, such a good team deserved to be recognized. The only problem was how to accomplish the recognition in a way that would spark other, more destructive teams to emulate Shadow Gear's behavior.
Entering the guild office, Laxus sighed at the numerous resorted stacks of paperwork, wondering where his green haired friend had gotten to considering how tall the piles were when Laxus took over. "How's the straightening up coming along, Freed?"
Popping his head around one of the taller stacks, Freed gave him a frazzled look. "The tallest pile of complaints belong to Team Natsu, as you predicted, Laxus Sama. The others deal in specific mages from Team Natsu, with Natsu being the second most destructive member following after Erza. It seems Erza is going to need patience training. Many of the complaints about her concern violence against citizens and even local police agencies when she does not get answers fast enough to suit her."
A sigh heaved from Laxus lungs as he dropped Heartfilia's file onto the second desk he had brought into the office to help sort out the messy condition of the filing system. Freed waved a packet of spread sheets in the air, to catch Laxus attention.
"How many times has Erza knocked someone out for not answering her fast enough to suit her, Freed?"
"According to the complaints I have sorted out so far, three hundred and forty four people have been knocked out after being given less than ten seconds to respond during the last year. I'm still finding more such complaints, so the final tally is unknown. It is a common complaint the victims have. Erza does not give anyone a chance to process her question before they are head butted. Most cases awaken in the hospital several hours later, many with fractured skulls and concussions."
Groaning over the numbers of people involved, Laxus managed to get into his chair as the weight of what he had done to himself bore down upon his shoulders. In terms of sheer destruction, Team Natsu did pretend to be the guild's strongest. However, they were anything but strong enough to curb their own recklessness. Considering how many civilians were also getting hurt by the idiots, it was no wonder that the Magic Council was a hair's breadth from closing the guild for good. If not for the Council's stipulations for the deferral, Laxus would have gotten rid of three out of four members of Team Natsu on principle so that their guild could recover from the insane number of fines yet to be paid off.
"In other words, I need to find a way to force Erza and Flame Brain to calm down when they are on missions. How bad is Gray's reputation?"
"Gray's mission complaints are considerably lower than Natsu or Erza's so long as he is solo. The opposite seems to be the case whenever he and Natsu are together. It appears they act as if they are in the beer hall during missions."
"Time to dissolve Team Natsu until those three learn some self control. I already know that Blondie's not a problem. Everyone in the guild sees her as the damsel in distress of their team. I'm thinking of having her help get this disaster cleaned up so we can get the guild back into full operation sooner. The back log is more than you and I are going to be able to handle within the ninety days we've been given to get everything straightened out." Laxus grumbled.
"I'm sure Miss Lucy will be a great asset in this office. Plus, with her constant panic about getting her rent paid, a salary will go far to sweeten the deal." Freed pointed out as he continued to shuffle papers, and marking off tallies as he glanced over the forms.
"Agreed. We should put Blondie to work where she can do the most good. We have a tight schedule to turn our image around, and I'm looking forward to using that girl's knowledge to the fullest in order to turn Fairy Tail into the strongest guild in this nation."
The results of the Fairy Tail battles had startled Laxus, especially Bickslow's loss to Lucy Heartfilia. The sinfully sexy bit of high society had proven she was more than a simpering arm ornament bred and raised to slake a powerful man's lust. Such magical strength only made Laxus more intent upon making Heartfilia his woman for however long he wanted her sharing his bed. Since the petite blond haired wench survived her stupidity, Laxus was going to insure she understood who was in control from now on.
As with other high society women who had sought Laxus out, Heartfilia would bow to his will, and enjoy every minute of attention he chose to give her. Laxus had watched her prance around the Guild long enough to recognize her major weaknesses. Using her weaknesses to Laxus advantage would be easy, especially knowing what he did about the Council's demands. Laxus even had the demands in print to throw in the younger woman's face if needed in order to get her cooperation. Once ensnared, Lucy Heartfilia would do anything to keep the guild operational, and Laxus was counting on her obsession with promise keeping to make certain she complied.
Make her closest friends squirm, and Heartfilia's resistance would crumple. Heiresses were not known for having the kind of internal fortitude needed to continue fighting for long. Depravity and hunger were unknown to such women so Freed's suggestion of giving her a salary to help do paperwork was a great idea. Include baubles, and the woman would simper just like the rest of her ilk had in the past over his attentions Laxus figured. At least his plans were beginning to come together again, if not in the time frames Laxus had believed. Once he had the heiress eating out of the palm of his hand, he could get her to do anything he wanted, the same as always happened.
However, the little simpering rich girl had gone and gotten herself badly hurt which was not part of Laxus plans for her. If her stupid stunt left scars, Laxus was going to be even angrier with her. The young woman was still too innocent for her own good, but, . . . she still had a gorgeous body that needed to stay scar free. If anyone was to blame for her crazy stunt, it had to be Natsu's ongoing influence over her behavior. To think that Lucy had stooped so low as to act the same way, as if seeking Natsu's approval galled Laxus to no end. Separating them was also becoming an obvious necessity.
"Since Blondie's awake, she should be able to start working in here tomorrow morning. She's in no shape to go on missions right now. Let her know about the situation with getting the backlog out of the way and the reality facing our guild. I want Natsu and Erza in here two hours from now, Freed. It's time I deal with their ongoing stupidity before they bankrupt our guild."
With a nod, Freed handed over the spread sheets, and left the room. With another groan, Laxus began scanning each guild member's statistics, namely the problems each member caused most often. Part of the conditions for staying open was Laxus devising solutions that would correct the over abundance of complaints and fines the guild had to pay out each month.
As Lahar had informed them when he delivered the temporary reprieve, paying off the backlog of fines to the Magic Council was also necessary to keep their deferment for disbanding in place. Yet one more headache Laxus wished his grandsire had thought to address long ago. Higher guild membership fees would not begin to cover the fines handed down by the Magic Council, mostly ignored outright it seemed to Laxus. Fines from various cities had been handled first, if only to keep Fairy Tail mages in business. However, the Magic Council was owed in excess of twelve million jewels, and that was no small amount to cover. As finances were not Laxus strong suit, he was at a loss for how to pay the fines and interest incurred for the balance overdue.
Unwilling to allow himself the luxury of a good panic, Laxus grabbed a stack of the older complaints and paperwork that needed to be completed and filed. Grabbing the Guild Master's book Lahar had left for him that explained filling out the paperwork, Laxus settled into doing the job he insisted that he wanted. Considering the mess to clean up, Laxus was now wondering about his choice to take the guild from his grandfather. Getting time to go on missions would be next to impossible until everything was caught up. Fortunately for Laxus and his team, they had decent amounts of money saved back so would not be in serious trouble financially while sorting out and completing all the paperwork while finding solutions to all the Guild's current backlog of trouble.