Multilayered Love (ON HOLD)

BY : NeirahAhrai
Category: +. to F > Fairy Tail
Dragon prints: 1476
Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail, nor the characters from it. They are copyright of Hiro Mashima. This is strictly for entertainment purposes as I do not make any money from the writing of this story.

Growth


 

 

Laxus slowly made his way down the stairs of his house, careful not to move too loudly in case Mirajane was still asleep. He still couldn’t believe the sight of the quilt draped over the couch. In his mind, his reality was starting to become way weirder than his dreams. It was becoming harder every day to tell the two apart. Fortunately for him, Mira’s presence was a certain reminder that he didn’t dream a bit of it.

 

Mirajane was known for being an early riser. It wasn’t unusual for her to beat him to the guild in the morning, so he wasn’t surprised that she was already awake and clamouring about in the kitchen. Her hair was down and still damp at the ends, which led him to believe that she was awoken by his shower and encouraged to take one of her own on the first floor.

 

The first thing he wanted to do was apologise for the lack of hot water because he was being generous to claim he was only in the shower for an hour that morning. Then he reminded himself that, thanks to a certain instigating she-devil, his night had kept him up way into sunrise the next morning.

 

He groaned incoherently as he entered the kitchen and went straight towards the fridge. Mirajane didn’t miss a beat as she turned against the counter, propped her plush backside against it and offered him a sunny smile. “Good morning, Master.”

 

“Way too early for you to be actin’ innocent,” Laxus nearly snarled. “Save it for someone who's gonna fall for it.”

 

“Oof, somebody woke up grumpy,” Mira teased with a whimsical giggle.

 

Laxus grunted and manoeuvred the orange juice carton out of the fridge before popping the top off it. “That implies I slept, sweetheart,” he chided bitterly. He raised the carton to his lips despite the knot in Mira’s condescending expression. After a quenching moment of silence, he dropped the carton with a hearty sigh. “Which I didn’t, thank you very much.”

 

“Oh Laxus, really?”

 

Laxus still had his arm in the fridge as he turned and looked at her with a bemused expression. “What?”

 

Mira giggled at his ignorance. “You’re just going to put that right back in there?”

 

Laxus snorted and did as she implied before swinging the fridge door shut. “Don’t give me that patronising crap,” he warned her. “You’re not talking to your brother and sister here. This is my house, and I know from experience that you’ve had a hell of a lot worse of me in your mouth.”

 

Mira rolled her eyes and gave her head a gentle shake. “Goofy,” she mused. “Would you like some coffee?”

 

Laxus didn’t raise his gaze from where he was focussing on buttoning the cuffs of his shirt. “No offence, but I only drink it a certain way.” He raised his gaze to hers as he tipped his head to one side and straightened his collar. “And my wife’s still in bed.”

 

Mira offered him a sly little smile. “Neirah said you would say that. And she also told me exactly how to make it so that you wouldn’t carry the grumpy to work.”

 

Laxus’ narrowed gaze eyed her suspiciously as he reached out and took the mug that she crossed the kitchen to offer him. His gaze remained on her as he drew the mug to his nose and gave it a sniff. “If there’s sugar in here, Mira, today is gonna go straight to hell.”

 

“It’s black as black can be and brewed to your lofty standards, Picky Pete.”

 

Laxus let his first smirk of the day curl his lips to a relatively decent cup of coffee. “So, she’s training you now too, is she?” 

 

“She’s just making sure her beloved hubby has everything that he needs to take on the day,” Mira assured him kindly.

 

“Oh? Like company between the sheets?”

 

“Well-”

 

“Don’t,” he commanded briefly. “I know full well that was your idea. For starters, you came off like a freaking angel compared to my wife last night. Don’t think I didn’t notice how nicely you were playing.”

 

Mira diverted her gaze over her subtle smirk. What had passed between she and Laxus had done just that, passed. There was no animosity, no jealousy. Mirajane knew that if Neirah was going to get frisky with a third, it would be hard for them to find a trusted mutual addition and Mira was more than willing to support the risqué adventures of two of her closest friends. “Neirah is new to this kind of thing. I didn’t want to scare her away from it.” Mira smiled as Laxus hitched a hip against the kitchen counter in his sock feet and swiped a couple cookies from the jar on the counter.

 

“Don’t tell my wife,” he cautioned her sternly.

 

Mira held up her fingers in surrender with a slow shake of her head. “I saw nothing,” she purred. She readjusted with a genuine grin. “I think it’s really great that you two are living a little. I was really worried after the war when everyone else started to hook up. Neirah was already a mommy. She missed out on a lot.”

 

“Just castin’ a line here, but like ninety-three percent of women go their whole lives without sharing their men.”

 

“Better take the sinker off because you and I both know that number came outta the clouds.”

 

Laxus flashed his mug and assured her that it was not empty. “Don’t start with me, woman…”

 

“I know it’s certainly not a casual encounter-”

 

“She beat me up against a wall and cuffed me to keep me from kicking both your asses to Sunday.”

 

Mirajane snorted with amusement. “I would have loved to have seen that.”

 

“You saw enough, you freaky spaz.”

 

“The point is that after I found out about what was going on, she confided in me. She mentioned that she’d hit a rut and didn’t quite know how to move forward. When she brought up that she was considering this, she seemed really shy. All I did was reassure her.”

 

“You messed up ‘scammed’ and ‘reassured’.”

 

“I just told her things that you’re too proud to admit to your wife,” Mira added more sternly. “And be thankful I did what I did because there were some seriously questionable alternatives.”

 

Laxus heaved a heavy sigh. “I don’t even want to know. I’m over it. Just don’t let it happen again. You really fucking put me on the spot.”

 

“Oh? Was that spot comfortable?” Mira teased. “It looked to be as the night went on.” Mira laughed as she was offered an extremely impatient glower and she quickly reminded herself to behave for as long as she was still in his house. “Neirah had a lot of fun last night.”

 

“That’s the only reason you’re still here,” he warned. “But I suppose it wasn’t a terrible night.” He rolled a kink out of his neck before starting to button the front of his shirt. “Tell anyone I wear a collar and come when called and I’ll kill you.”

 

Mirajane kept the need to sass him at bay with his dry remark. “Yes, Master.”

 

“And for helping to corrupt my wife, I’m punishing you to do all my paper pushing today so I can spend it with my son.”

 

Mira didn’t mind helping around the guild, but the thought that Laxus was playing hooky again that month made her curious. “Without Neirah?”

 

Laxus offered her a small, sincere smile. “Yeah…”

 

Mira’s expression softened tenderly as she nodded and watched him walk towards the front door of the house “Alright, just leave it on your desk. I’ll catch up with you a bit later,” she informed him. “This place is a mess. I feel so bad because it was so nice and clean last night. I’m going to stay a bit and help Neirah clean up. With the two of us going at it, it shouldn’t take that long.”

 

Laxus cringed and stopped just before he was about to step outside the open door. “You keep it PG in here, She-Devil!” He ordered her firmly. “If I so much as- If you even think about-”

 

Mirajane burst into giddy laughter to his staggering retort. “Don’t worry, Master. I’ll keep my hands to myself.”

 

He threw an indicating finger her way. “If you cross me, I’ll hear about it!”

 

“Now aren’t you glad it was me?”

 

Laxus narrowed his gaze sceptically. “I have mixed feelings…”

 

“Go,” she brightly encouraged.

 

Laxus was moments from closing the door behind him when he heard her call out her addition.

 

“I’ll take good care of your wifey.”

 

His grip on the door handle was so fiercely tight that he thought it’d break. He was torn right down the middle as to whether he wanted to burst back into the house and scold her or let it be. He ended up slamming the door instead and making his way to the guild. It was way too early for games.

 


 

“Dad!”

 

Laxus’ expression brightened as he diverted his attention from one of the guild wizards to the charge of the blue-eyed boy bounding through the hall. He tried to remain focused on the questions being directed his way, but he had to admit, with his sleep deprivation and the way his whole world lit up when his son acted so happy to see him, he was doing well to catch the cadences.

 

“Dad! Daaad! Look! Aunt Juvia let me colour! I drew a picture of-”

 

Soon, Laxus had a hard time carrying on his conversation at all. “Alex,” he started sternly. Even though the disappointment in his son’s expression hurt, he did his best not to crack. “When someone is talking before you interrupt, it is polite to…?”

 

Alex’s eyes widened when he considered his folly and the boy quickly bowed his head to the party offended. “Patiently wait my turn. Sorry!”

 

“Ok, that was adorable…”

 

Laxus slowly shook his head as Alex lingered nearby, nearly vibrating with excitement. “Just see Mira. She knows the area as well as I do. She’ll make the arrangements.”

 

“Sure thing, Master. Hey? See ya later little buddy!”

 

Alex snickered delightedly when the unfamiliar young man ruffled his wild auburn mane. As soon as his father was alone, his beaming grin broadened and he spread his arms to either side. To this, Laxus rolled his eyes and took the boy into his arms, his gaze falling on the fluttering piece of paper flapping around in his boy’s hands. “Alright, let’s see what you’ve got.”

 

“Yah!” Alex cheered. “See? Aunt Juvia let me colour! I drew us practising magic! I always wanted to learn magic! You’ll teach me someday, won’t you?”

 

“Of course.” Laxus would be lying if he said his heart didn’t swell with pride to see the sloppy stick representations of himself with his son scrawled over the paper. But he could tell two things for sure. He knew which one he was for the blonde squiggle on top with the lightning bolt squiggle just beneath, and he knew there were only two people in the drawing. “And where’s your mother in the picture?”

 

Alex scratched his head in thought before smiling back at his father with another goofy grin. “Probably makin’ dinner or something.” He reached out and laid his little finger on the lines representing their house. “So, she’s in here somewhere.”

 

Laxus sighed as gently as he could, his own pride immediately fading to the exclusion of Neirah in the picture. Laxus was noticing a trend happening and he didn’t like it. “Maybe your mother would like to… learn magic too someday.”

 

“Nah,” Alex whined. “She likes baking and stuff. She wouldn’t like magic. Besides, she’s too old to learn magic.”

 

Laxus had jammed himself between a rock and a hard place. He hated that they were lying to their son, no matter the noble cause. In return, they were paying for it. As Alex got older, he was losing touch with his mother and Laxus just didn’t know how to gently teach Alex a lesson he desperately needed to learn.

 

“Maybe in the next one, we can all be baking cookies. The three of us. Together.”

 

Alex sniggered impishly as he squirmed around in his father’s arms. “Ick. Boys don’t bake cookies!”

 

“If your mother isn’t in the next picture you draw, you’ll have to bake your own.”

 

Alex gasped with his subtle threat. “Momma wouldn’t stop baking cookies!”

 

“It would suck if she did, wouldn’t it?” Laxus smirked playfully as he slipped a cookie from in his pocket and fed it to the boy as a bribe. “She does make the best cookies in the world, doesn’t she?”

 

“Yah!”

 

“So, let’s try and include her next time, hm?”

 

“Ok, dad!”

 

Laxus’ smile softened as he watched the boy purr behind a mouthful of cookie. “Alright, Mira, we’re taking off.”

 

“Sure thing, Master!” Mira giggled from where she was speaking with the man Laxus had sent her way, and of course, this didn’t escape Alex’s notice. His expression grew humbled as he peered over his father’s shoulder, thoughtfully chewing his cookie.

 

“Wait… but dad, how come it’s ok for you to interrupt people?”

 

“Hm? I didn’t-”

 

Alex pointed back towards the bar. “I just saw. Miss Mira was talking to the same stranger you were and you interrupted.”

 

Laxus was seriously second guessing their father-son day as he was thrown around in more circles. His wife was so much better at playing the intellectually psychological games. “Well, it’s different when it’s just a quick-”

 

“Why is it different?”

 

“Because you’re not-”

 

Alex started to crawl around his father’s neck with the completion of his cookie so Laxus helped to hoist the boy up on his shoulders. “Because why?” Alex complicated.

 

Laxus growled bitterly and stepped through the doors of the guild. “Because your old man’s awesome and he can do whatever he wants and what he says goes.”

 

Alex seemed to accept this logic, and in return, he threw both his arms up in a delighted cheer. “Yah! My dad is the coolest guild master ever!”

 

Laxus flashed a humble smile as he stepped into the streets of Magnolia and tried not to get too sentimental. “He’s alright,” he admitted humbly. “But not the best.”

 


 

Laxus gave his nose a wrinkle before smearing the glob of ice cream off the tip with the back of his wrist. “Hey, watch the dripping there.”

 

Alex giggled and slipped his tongue over the point of the cone to catch the drips. “Sorry, daddy. Hey, why did we leave? Are we going home early?”

 

“Nope,” Laxus assured him swiftly. “I thought you and I could just hang out for a bit.” A tender smile found Laxus’ lips and he tried not to make it seem too obvious that he was scouting through town. “Thought maybe you could help your old man out with something.”

 

“Ooo! What is it!?”

 

Laxus stepped into the park and took his boy from his shoulders to set him in the grass. “Well, you know how your mom’s always doing nice things for us? Like baking us cookies?” Yes. Baking cookies.

 

“Uh huh.”

 

“Well, I thought maybe we could do something nice for her, you know? Return the favour.”

 

“Ick, you don’t want to bake cookies, do you?”

 

“No, it’s- uch… how to explain… We don’t have to do the same things that she does. We can just give her something of equal value,” he awkwardly explained. “Like… here.” He knelt into the park and picked up a rock before giving it to the boy. “There, I just gave you something. Now you-”

 

“Whoa! Cool rock!”

 

Laxus was already too exhausted for this. “Focus, Champ. Your dad’s beat and he really needs a hand being chivalrous.”

 

“Shiv-al-”

 

“Not important, kiddo. What is, is that I gave you a cool rock, because I wanted to do something nice for you. Wouldn’t it be nice to give me something in return?” Laxus’ heart melted as Alex opened his arms to give him a big, sticky hug. 

 

“Thanks, dad!”

 

Laxus sighed in defeat and hugged the boy back. As thoughtful as he was, he wasn’t helping. “God you’re killin’ me here, pal,” he muttered tenderly.

 

“So, you want to give mom something, for making awesome cookies?”

 

“Something like that, and I give her hugs all the time so that’s not gonna cut it.”

 

Alex took his father’s side as the two started to walk through the park. “And you can’t make her awesomer cookies…”

 

“Awesomer isn’t a real word, Champ, and you know that if I touched the forbidden oven, the house would burn down.”

 

“And then we’d have nowhere to live.”

 

“Righto.”

 

Alex knotted his brow as he licked at his ice cream, clearly deep in thought. Then, he offered his father his rock. “We could give her this?”

 

Laxus smiled down at him and ruffled his mop. “No, you keep that. I don’t think your mom’s really into rocks.”

 

“So, it has to be something she likes…” Alex hummed dramatically with his thoughts. “Mom doesn’t really like a lot of things.”

 

Laxus’ brow creased thoughtfully. “I think she likes a lot of things. Me, your uncle, her bratty little son that sucks at helping his old man.”

 

Alex shooed his hand away playfully. “Hey!”

 

“The problem is, I just… need to find something that’s gonna make her really happy.” Laxus sighed sadly. ‘And even if I’m sure she loves a lot of things… I… don’t know any of them.’

 

Alex started to crunch away at his cone. “But she’s always really happy. Even when she’s making cookies for us.” Alex almost leapt out of his skin with revelation. “I know! We can get her the ingredients to make cookies!”

 

Laxus smiled sadly and gave him a pat as they crossed Southgate Park. “Strike two, Champ.” The unfortunate part was that, in his innocence, Alex was on to something. Neirah took so much joy in the happiness of her husband and family that, from the outside, what she sacrificed to see them cared for didn’t seem existent. The problem didn’t necessarily lie in Laxus’ inability to be romantic, but the fact that he didn’t really know enough about his wife to put forth the effort.

 

A white flower was symbolic to them. He filled her entire hospital room with them when they finally ended Zade’s calamity, but he never stopped to ask her what her favourite one was, or if she even liked the colour. She loved her sketchbook because she could fill it with drawings of others; the people who were special to her. She liked the rain but hated the thunder. He could recite the order in which she dressed or an alphabetical list of her ticks, but he couldn’t come up with a sweet gesture to knock her off her feet… not like she could offer him.

 

The only thing he knew that delighted her beyond exception, was making the people around smile. 

 

Laxus sighed in defeat.

 

“Dad?”

 

“Hm?”

 

“Mom always told me to remember my manners, please and thank you…” Laxus turned and looked at the boy who stopped and spread his palm for his dad to look at. He held the stone up for his dad to see. “I said thank you for my rock.”

 

Laxus smiled proudly. “Yep. Good job.”

 

“But, what I think is that thank you isn’t good enough.”

 

Laxus’ brow creased with his son’s insinuation. “And why is that?”

 

“Well… you gave me my rock, and I said thank you. But then you said it would be nice to have something back. But I don’t give anyone anything back when I get presents for my birthday. I say thank you like you and momma taught me.”

 

“Yes, and that’s fine, I just-”

 

“Do you say thank you to mom when she makes cookies?”

 

Laxus felt vacant as he stood in front of his son like a dumbstruck fool. “I…”

 

“Because if thank you is enough, dad, you shouldn’t have these problems.” Alex gave him a stern nod and a confident smile as he crunched on the last of his ice cream cone.

 

And there is was, straight out of a child’s mouth. He couldn’t consciously recall the last time he had thanked his wife for anything. He had admitted not long before that he didn’t thank her enough, but even then, the words never left his lips. He had never so bluntly thanked the woman for all the unconditional love and devotion she gave him every day of her life.

 

Laxus slowly knelt in front of his son and wiped the ice cream from around his mouth. “You’re right,” he admitted proudly. “I shouldn’t have these problems.” He quickly kissed his son’s brow before hoisting him back up in the air. “Do me a favour, Champ? Tonight, when we get home, I want you to go straight to your mother, give her a big hug and say thank you.”

 

“Ok, daddy!”

 

Laxus smirked and settled the boy on his hip. “And he’s gonna need your help with something else too.”

 

“What?! What?!”

 

Laxus couldn’t contain his cheeky smile as the pair exited the park. “Your old man’s gonna do something really cheesy.”

 


 

Neirah rushed through the house, straightening the pieces of hair that had slipped out of her braid as she scurried towards the door to the sound of knocking. “Coming!” She slid to a stop before taking a settling breath and opening the door to Mirajane’s friendly wave.

 

“I’m baaack!” She giggled friendlily. 

 

“Oh, I wasn’t expecting you,” Neirah crooned curiously. “Come in, I’m almost done the cleaning.”

 

“Actually, I’m here to get you out,” Mira assured her cheerily. “All those cleaning fumes can’t be really great for your dragon senses.”

 

Neirah flopped her hand over to dismiss the assumption. “Nah, they’re used to it. Motherhood kind of numbs them.”

 

“Still. The fresh air would do you good. It’s a beautiful day and I thought we could go for a walk and…” Mira leant towards the doorway with a playful glint in her eyes. “Maybe we can do some naughty shopping for your new puppy.”

 

Neirah rolled her eyes cheekily. “God, I am never going to hear the end of that from him,” she moaned. “Was he mad this morning?”

 

“Nope, but I hear he wasn’t really happy last night before I showed up.”

 

That is an understatement,” Neirah assured her. “But I really shouldn’t. Laxus and Alex will be home any minute and I still haven’t even thought about supper.”

 

“Oh? They didn’t tell you?” Mira instigated. “The fair is in town and Laxus thought he’d take Alex to play some of the games.”

 

Neirah’s eyes glossed as her pupils dilated in disappointment. “Ahh… the fair?” She whined shakily. “I love the fair…” She heaved a heavy sigh of discouragement before stepping aside to let Mira in. “I wish the big dork had of told me…”

 

Mira’s brow furrowed sadly. “Oh I… guess he didn’t know that was something you liked.”

 

Neirah turned to face Mirajane over her shoulder before offering her a sad smile. “Oh, that’s ok. As long as he’s taking Alex.”

 

Mirajane giggled softly. “Yep. So that just leaves us girls to shop around for a bit. What girl couldn’t use another pair of cute, lacy panties?”

 

“Jeez, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were working for him,” Neirah muttered slyly.

 

Mirajane was relieved that she didn’t instantly start perspiring to the suggestion. “Well, I’ve kinda been working for him all day,” she admitted. “I sort of owed him one.”

 

Neirah smiled at the thought. “I guess I probably do too,” she admitted. “I really didn’t mean to embarrass him like that but I knew if I didn’t catch him in the moment he would tell me no. I may play the master, but his will is still iron in this house.”

 

“Don’t worry about it,” Mira assured her sweetly. “Laxus can handle a little humiliation. It’s not like you stripped him down, put him on all fours and marched him through the guild on a leash.”

 

Neirah’s expression dimmed in mortification just picturing her suggestion.

 

Woof.

 

“Dear Lord, Mira. I don’t even wanna think about what kind of relationship you two had.”

 

Mira snickered angelically to the woman’s insinuations. “Well lucky for you I can tell you all about it on our walk into town.” 

 


 

Neirah’s laughter subsided only long enough for her to take a sip of her iced peach green tea. “That’s weird, I would never have taken Elfman for the type.”

 

“Well, he was,” Mira assured her. “I think you really would have enjoyed growing up with us. Sure, we were a little dysfunctional, but there was never a dull moment.”

 

Neirah smiled vaguely to herself. “I missed a lot, didn’t I?”

 

Mirajane’s expression was knowing as she took Neirah’s hand and crossed the street. “Yea, but we’re making up for it now.”

 

Neirah’s cheeks coloured as Mirajane approached a dark coloured building without windows. “Uh oh, red flag,” she announced. “Just let me finish my tea.”

 

“Oh, come on,” Mira teased. “You and Laxus have been getting way more experimental than I thought he’d let you. You shouldn’t be shy about it.”

 

“I know, it’s not… It’s not really a matter of shyness. It’s…”

 

“I know, you don’t want to be the dominant one.”

 

Neirah flinched suddenly to the woman’s insinuations. “Wh- Why do you think that?”

 

“I was there last night, Neirah. I know you’re only doing it for him. He’s a sucker for a woman with power. It makes him feel tame. When he’s tame, and someone else is in control, he’s comfortable.”

 

Neirah frowned. “Yea… Getting him out of that comfort zone is a nightmare. Even if he likes it, I still have a hard time causing him pain or just ignoring him altogether. It’s just not who I am. And then I never know when I’m going to go just a little too far-”

 

“You’re thinking too much,” Mira crooned. She reached out and took Neirah’s arm, dragging her into the store. “Here. No more thinking. Let’s get kinky.”

 

“Oh my…”

 

“Ladies.”

 

Mira nodded to the kind woman behind the counter before ushering Neirah’s wide eyes further into the store.

 

“Ooo, what does this do-”

 

“Neirah, sweetie, don’t ask too many questions…” 

 

“Here, lingerie is pretty vanilla. We can pick out something nice and then if you’re feeling a littler braver later, we can move on to… well, other things.” She giggled.

 

“Yea, but even then, it’s so hard to know what to buy anymore. There’s what I like-” Neirah held up a rather cute pair of boy shorts and a lacy unpadded bra. “And then there’s what he likes…” A black band with a small ‘V’ in the front and a single strap up the back. No bra.

 

“So? Get something you feel confident in. Something cute. Something you. Ooo, this is sexy. And white looks so good against your dark skin.”

 

Neirah smiled and took the lacy white top in her hands. It wasn’t a bra at all. It was simply elegant see-through lace with half-sleeves, frilly cuffs and a tie in the bust. “You’re right, it’s adorable.” Neirah gave her ‘G’s a firm squeeze to remind Mirajane what she was working with. “But anything lacy without an underwire is pretty much off limits.

 

“Awe, look at these, Nei.” Mira passed a pair of light cream coloured panties her way. “They may still ride up the bum, but look at this cute skirt!”

 

Neirah batted at the frills and looked back at Mira expectantly. “I like cute, but not diabetic,” she teased. “I may be a girl, but I’m not really girly either.”

 

“What about a gown?” Mira flipped hr fingers over dozens of lacy offerings as she skipped down the aisle. “Do you where anything when you sleep?”

 

“Almost four-year-old son, Mira.”

 

“Right, right…”

 

“You ladies need a hand?”

 

“We’re good, thank you!” Mira sang. “Ooo! I like this one for me!” Mira held the deep burgundy lace nightgown to her front with an envious gleam in her eye.

 

“Darker colours look so classy on you,” Neirah agreed. She tugged on the skirt of the short gown. “Wow, I really like this. It’s airy, but it has a cute line of frills down the front.” She peeked at the bust. “Ooo, lacy underwire. Momma like.”

 

Mirajane smiled broadly as Neirah started to sift through the gowns on the rack. “That’s the spirit!”

 

Neirah wrinkled her nose as she found a similar cut only in a lighter colour. “For the record, daddy’s still gonna get it for going to the fair without me.”

 

Mirajane smiled knowingly. “You can always go with them tomorrow…”

 

Neirah gasped exasperatedly as she drew out a pair of powder pink boy-shorts with a kiss on the front. On the back in gold studs read, ‘Yes Daddy’. “Mine!”

 

“Oh boy…”

 


 

“Welp, I should get going. It’s pretty late,” Mira murmured enthusiastically. “I’m sure Laxus and Alex are home now. They said they wouldn’t be too long.”

 

“I just hope they’ve eaten,” Neirah prattled worrisomely. “And something other than sugar. Last time Laxus had more than two cookies before bed he thought he was a philosopher and the universe was unfolding on our ceiling.”

 

“I’m sure everything will be fine,” Mira crooned. “Good night, Neirah.”

 

“Good night.”

 

Neirah smiled and turned to let herself in the house, and as Mirajane had suggested, she could see her husband hunched over the kitchen table poking at his son’s nose. Alex giggled for a moment until he realised that his mother had come home. Then, he was up out of his chair and as fast as his feet could carry him to her side.

 

Neirah flinched when Alex leapt into her arms. She loved her boy, and she was pretty sure he loved her, but he had never stampeded so passionately towards her like he did his father. “Whoa, Alex, what’s wro-”

 

“Thank you for everything!”

 

Neirah slowly patted her son’s head and tipped her bewildered expression towards her husband. ‘Did you put him up to this?’ She mouthed.

 

Laxus shrugged like there was no correlation.

 

“Uhm, you’re welcome, Prince.” She slowly straightened and released his giggly figure back into the house. “How was the fair?”

 

“Fair!?” Alex demanded passionately.

 

Yes, Alex,” Laxus encouraged. “The one that we visited today and might go back to tomorrow if you’re good.”

 

Alex was triggered into remembering the bargain he’d made with his father over their deception and he immediately adjusted his tone. He turned a broad, beaming smile towards his mother with his vague retort. “It was great!”

 

Neirah laughed and set her bags down for a moment to catch her breath. “Why on earth do you smell like flowers?”

 

“Special opening night game, thing,” Laxus defended. “They throw a ball with a prize on it into a pool of flowers and you’ve gotta find it. He didn’t do so hot.”

 

Alex skidded across the hardwood on his knees as he beamed contentment and started rummaging through his mother’s bags. “Cool! Anything for me here?!”

 

“Whoa! Not today, Prince! Boring. Old lady clothes and stuff,” Neirah assured him upon snatching up her bags. She breathed out a sigh of relief and gave her husband an encrypted nod. “I’ll just run these upstairs and then I’ll join you two-”

 

“No need,” Laxus rumbled huskily. He lazily dismissed himself from the table and approached to take her bags from her. “You sit and eat. I’ll take these up with me.”

 

Neirah’s brow creased as she surrendered her wares and received a gentle kiss on her brow. “O-ok…” She didn’t even think to question why Laxus had just assumed that she and Mira hadn’t gotten something while they were out.

 

“It was a long day. I’m about ready to crash.” There was a weight in his expression that she couldn’t ignore as their gazes caught. “Are you ok to put Alex to bed tonight?”

 

“I… of course.” She laid her hand against his shoulder with a look of concern in her tender gaze. “Are you feeling ok?”

 

Laxus flashed her a meek grin. “I’m sure it’ll pass.” He turned his attention to Alex with an authoritative tone in his voice. “Remember what I said about going back to the fair tomorrow,” Laxus challenged. “Behave for your mother. I know you’ve had a lot of sugar today, so I better not hear of any trouble.”

 

“So much sugar!” Alex pretended passionately. He threw his arms out above and around him in the form of billowing circles. “Like big, BIG moun-piles of… sugar!”

 

Laxus tried his hardest not to laugh. The only sugar Alex had in his system was the imaginary sugar he was fantasising about consuming the next day.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want me to come up with you…?”

 

Laxus shook his head. “Alex could use the company. I’m just gonna hit the pillow and pass out.”

 

“Alright… well… just call if you need me.”

 

He couldn’t help but take her bait. With a soft smile, he tipped her head into his lips for a small kiss. “I always need you.”

 

Neirah’s smile grew sheepish as she turned and watched him leave the kitchen. She knew they weren’t supposed to fall out of character, but she hated thinking he could have used more attention than she’d been forced to give him. He was wearing down, that was for sure. Since they’d stopped transitioning between husband/wife and master/pet, she’d noticed that he was a walking distraction most days. She’d lose him halfway through a conversation. He wasn’t eating right. He was dog-tired and she felt awful.

 

‘I guess that’s what happens when amateurs fool around with things they know nothing about…’ Neirah was distracted from her thoughts to the loud grind of chair legs across the kitchen floor. Her brow creased as she quickly rushed over to where Alex was trying to climb up into the fridge. “Oh, here, Alex. I’ve got it, sweetie. Here. Tell momma what you want and she’ll get it for you.”

 

Alex grunted and started to climb up onto the chair. “It’s ok, mom. I got it.”

 

“Alex, be careful,” she warned. “Just tell me what you’re looking fo-” Neirah took a slow step forwards and peeked around the fridge door to see her son struggling with a covered tray. “Is that my fancy dish?”

 

“Sure… IS!” Alex’s tone grew exasperated with his struggle, something Neirah was quick to remedy when she approached to help him bring it out.

 

“What on earth did you two get into that you thought it needed to be on the fancy tray?” Neirah shared a laugh with her son as he grunted and leant over the table on his arms to reach for the lid. With a triumphant smile, Alex revealed the meal beneath.

 

Neirah immediately covered her mouth to keep from acting too surprised for their efforts. “Y-you… you and your father rolled sushi?!” That fact might not have startled her so much if it wasn’t the most beautifully organised tray of neatly packed rice and fish she had ever laid eyes upon. Even the sashimi was so neatly sliced to perfection she thought she’d drool.

 

“Nah,” Alex busted. “Dad went to the place with the fancy sign out front of it that looks like a fish-dragon. He said I was prob-ly too young to remember the last time I saw sashi but he said he thought you liked it. Then he told the man that he didn’t know what kind you liked so he got a whole great big bunch – OH!” Alex quickly scurried around the house before he barreled back into the kitchen with a long, narrow little box in his hand. “He also says… drat… er… Right! He hasn’t seen you have sashi in a long time and he didn’t know if you can eat it right so he got you these. The ones the man tried to give us were really boring.”

 

Neirah felt the sting of affectionate tears rise in her eyes as she opened up the little box to a lovely pair of polished chopsticks with bits of seashell engrained in the thicker ends. She knew that Alex had never seen sushi before. They hadn’t had it since he was born because she knew Laxus never favoured it. The time Laxus was referring to that Alex must not have remembered, was the night that Alex was conceived. It was the choice meal she brought back to the hotel the night she almost lost him in Lysar.

 


 

“Hungry, Prince?” She looked down to where a growling tummy reminded her that her lover still hadn’t eaten yet and a stifled giggled filled her lungs.

 

Laxus shook his head, clearly denying what his stomach articulated as the truth. Luckily, with his angle against her breast, she couldn’t see his embarrassed blush. “Too comfortable for food.”

 

There was a short silence broken between them by a second grumble.

 

“Fuck…”

 

Neirah laughed as she picked his head from her chest and set him face down on the bed, his groan of disapproval muffled by the sheets as his outstretched fingers twitched emptily. “Lucky for you, I went out and grabbed a bite to eat while you were napping earlier. I hope you like takeout.”

 

Laxus’ nostrils flared as she cracked the top of her takeout container, his submission to his body’s desires complete when he tipped his head to the side and peered at her through one open eye. “I smell chicken…”

 

“Probably taste’s like that too,” she mused. She ignited her fists in subtle flame to heat the foil tray beneath her hands. “Please don’t tell Natsu I did this,” she chuckled. “He’ll probably say something stupid about using his powers for bitch-work.” She looked over her shoulder to where Laxus, and a pillow, had wormed closer.

 

“That’s all his magic is good for.”

 

“What did I say about being mean?”

 

“Hungry. Can’t obey two commands at once, Princess.”

 

She thrust the meal in front of him with a playful grin. “Here,” she surrendered. “It’s all yours.”

 

He looked back up at her as she patted his shoulder and left him with a tray of food in front of his nose with nothing to eat it with. His expression paled as desperation saw him reach for it, but common decency saw him restrain it. With his luck, she was returning to her bag to grab a collar. “I appreciate the thought but… could we try to preserve, at least, a little of what remains of my humanity?”

 

Neirah returned with her bag in tote before sitting down on the bed beside him and offering him a pair of chopsticks. “We could try,” came her rousing gesture. He took the sticks in his hand under careful observation. “But I somehow doubt we’d get very far with that.”

 

The two stared silently at the tray for a long moment before Laxus took both sticks in his closed fist and pressed them down into the centre of one of the tender bites. He retracted the offering in a similar manner, the sticks remaining past his lips as he chewed.

 

“Oh… my god.” Neirah mused, silently slipping him a fork. “Good thing I brought back up.”

 

“You’re a heartless bitch,” he snapped, quickly replacing his cutlery.

 

“Well, you’re not generally very entertaining company,” she cooed playfully. “I have to make due.”

 


 

Neirah closed her eyes and took a deep breath to keep her smile from drowning in a rain of tears. ‘You always remember the silliest little things…’

 

“So, do you like some of the sashi here?” Alex interrupted.

 

Neirah smiled blissfully and poked her son in the nose with her new chopsticks. “What is this sashi word I keep hearing?” She poked Alex a couple more times to the sound of his delighted giggling. “This is sushi.”

 

“Not all of it!” Alex defended. “So, dad and I made up a word to say it’s all the same fishy stuff.” Alex pointed into the platter towards the slices of raw fish. “See? This is sushis and this is sashimies!”

 

Neirah laughed before poking at one of the offerings of surf clam. “Not quite, Prince.” She nibbled on the chewy texture while she wiggled a slimy slice of salmon in his face. “This wriggly stuff here is sashimi.”

 

“Ew!”

 

Then, Neirah slurped a piece of salmon back and popped her sticks around either side of a sushi roll. “These one’s here are the sushi.”

 

“Blech! They all smell funny!”

 

Neirah was in absolute bliss. Fresh sushi might have been one of her favourite meals in the entire world. “Then I’ll take it you and your father ate something else?”

 

“We had tetradactyl chicken!”

 

Neirah covered her lips as she started to laugh. “Maybe teriyaki chicken? Did it come from the fishy-dragon too?”

 

“Yep!”

 

“Ok so I don’t have to worry that your father has caught some sort of prehistoric bug,” she teased. “Here, try some.”

 

“Icky! It’s gross!”

 

Neirah pouted and held out a crunchy crab roll tossed in tempura bits towards her son between her chopsticks. “You’re just saying that because your father says that.”

 

“Yea, but dad’s awesome and he can do whatever he wants and what he says goes!”

 

“Did he also warn you that momma trumps all? Just try it, and if you don’t like it, I’ll clean your room myself for a whole week.”

 

“OK!”

 

Neirah quickly retracted her offering with a warning. “Ahp! But if you’re lying just to get me to clean your room, I won’t let you have any more sashi.”

 

Hesitancy.

 


 

“I don’t get it! How can you pick up anything with these?!”

 

“Patience, Prince,” Neirah crooned. “Put your fingers like this-” She smiled sadly as Alex got frustrated to the slippery fish sliding from between her chopsticks. As a result, Alex picked up the pale slice and slurped it back out of his fingers.

 

Neirah rolled her eyes and reclaimed her chopsticks. You are just like your father.” Neirah reached out and swatted his fingers with her chopsticks to keep him from stealing more sushi rolls. “That’s enough for tonight, we need to get you to bed.”

 

“Awn, but mom!”

 

“Only one butt matters here and that’s yours in bed,” she reasoned. “I just heard your father drawing a bath. If that’s the case then he’s most definitely not well and momma needs to go take care of him.”

 

Alex wrinkled his nose as his mother started to pack their sushi tray away. “Dad’s tough. He can take care of himself.”

 

Neirah purred and gave her son a hard kiss on his brow. “Mn, you really are your father’s little protégé.” She swept his dark auburn bangs out from in front of his deep azure gaze and smiled. “Even tough guys need a hand sometimes. Now come, we’ll brush our teeth in the downstairs bathroom and be really quiet going up the stairs, ok?”

 

Alex turned and started to march away with a dramatic groan. “Yes, ma’am…”

 

Neirah swelled with affection as she tidied up the kitchen. She couldn’t get over how sweet a gesture supper was. She didn’t even care that the two had gone to the fair without her. On top of that, she got to spend a good couple of hours just bonding with her son. It was nice, for a change. She tried not to become too disheartened about it, but Alex really did seem to share a stronger bond with his father. Laxus was a strong, proud guild master. It only made sense that the man was the boy’s hero… not his boring stay-home mom.

 

Neirah’s expression knotted as she started to lift the tray from the table and revealed the corner of a picture Alex must have been colouring while he was at the table with his father. She quickly pulled it out from under the tray so it didn’t get damaged and her chest started to ache with affection. She could tell which one Laxus was because he took up three-quarters of the paper with a little lightning bolt line beneath a bunch of yellow ones. But then, to the side, she could make out her son’s auburn mop in a messy squiggle of brown crayon, and to the left of him, was a scratchy brown braid that stretched from one end of the paper to the other.

 

And they were all baking cookies.

 


 

After putting her son to bed, Neirah quietly closed his door and just lingered in front of his room for a moment. She really did have an amazing husband. His spontaneous trip down memory lane was exactly what she needed to lead her from an uncertain situation and fill her with purpose all over again. In fact, she would go so far as to assume that he wasn’t sick at all. She liked to think he’d planned the whole things so she could spend a little more time with her son.

 

That assumption cemented as she approached her bedroom door with a deep crease in her brow. Looped around the doorknob on the outside, was the handle of his black leather leash. Her heart immediately fluttered. He wasn’t sick at all.

 

She slowly pushed the door back, unsure of what she was going to see. And of all the possibilities that managed to cross her mind in the time it took her to make such a simple gesture, she never once anticipated what was to come.

 

Laxus was sitting at the foot of their bed, a white carnation in his hand and missing the couple petals he’d picked off its stem while he waited for her. He was in his favourite pair of slack navy sleeping pants, nothing up top but his black leather collar. And that wasn’t even the sight to stun her. What was, was the arrangement of hundreds of flowers scattered around the room in assorted colours and species. Some were bright orange, lavender, cashmere, red and yellow; all shades of pinks, baby blues and violets. Everywhere; on the bed, on the window ledge, the night tables.

 

She didn’t know what to say.

 

“L- what… what is… this?” Neirah quickly shut the door with a gentle click and approached where he was sheepishly curling the remaining petals of his carnation over the energetic flicker of sandalwood scented candles, the scent he was pretty sure she favoured. She caught her breath with a shrill little squeak and took his head in her chest. “The sushi, Alex… what? What is this all about? I thought you were sick… I heard you draw a bath… you…” She quickly grasped the latch of his collar with a frail smile. “God, what are you doing? Take that o-”

 

Neirah stilled when he reached back and stopped her from removing the collar that she knew he couldn’t stand. “We’re committed,” he assured her huskily.

 

Neirah’s expression grew hesitant as she stepped away from him and looked down into his tired expression. “You... have some serious explaining to do,” she commanded.

 

He peeked up at her and flashed her a guilty grin. “Not as much as you,” he teased.

 

Neirah was taken back when he raised from the bedside, taking her with him and cradling her up in his arms. She watched the rather romantic atmosphere of candles lighting the room fade as she was carted towards their ensuite bath, more confused than ever with his words.

 

When the bedroom faded from sight, she quickly turned to observe that the same ambience followed into the dim bath. Even in the vague lighting, she could see that most of what he’d been doing for the past couple of hours was picking petals off flowers and setting them in the candle-lit bath. She squeaked feebly in amusement when she laid her eyes on some chocolate coated strawberries and a bottle of wine. “Oh, you didn’t… Laxus that is SO cheesy-”

 

“Don’t get too excited, Princess,” he mocked. “The berries were your son’s idea. He says everything is better with chocolate on them. The wine was a gift from Mira for last night.” He hid his bashful smirk. “And it’s already open. It was helpin’ to kill the edge.”

 

Ok,” Neirah started. “It’s not my birthday, it’s not Mother’s Day…” She turned and looked back at him seriously as he set her on her feet. “What did you do?”

 

Laxus gave his eyes a gentle roll before starting to undo the buttons near the collar of her sun dress. “I didn’t do anything.” When the buttons were undone, he laid his lips on the guild mark the show of cleavage exposed. He hated that it was so commonly denied to him.

 

“Laxus Dreyar, I didn’t even get this kind of treatment on our wedding night! If I find out my brother’s dead-”

 

He nuzzled his way into her frustrated raving until he could place a delicate kiss on her lips. “Relax, mistress,” he reminded impishly. “It’s not like that…”

 

Neirah adjusted her tone a little more gently, genuinely confused as to why her husband was stricken with such a sentimental inspiration. It was extremely unlike him. “What is it then?”

 

“Do I need a reason to do something nice for the woman I love?” He gently turned her and encouraged her up against the wall by the guiding pressure of his fingers against her lower back. He placed a gentle kiss on her shoulder blade before drawing the end of her long French braid from her nape. “And there’s nothing out of character about a dog trying to please his master.”

 

Neirah’s eyes fluttered shut, her lips parting as he quietly kissed her nape to start. Soon, his lips were travelling south down her spine with the zipper to her dress. She shivered as her simple patterned gown was swept to the floor in a heap around her ankles, leaving his teeth to flirt with the sheer fabric of her golden lace panties. “You seriously don’t have a reason for… for acting this way?”

 

Laxus deeply inhaled as he climbed back to his feet and laid his lips against her shoulder. “Not the kind you’re thinking about.” He whispered his tender words of assurance against the crook of her shoulder before popping her bra strap undone and dropping it to the floor with the rest of her clothes. He was sighing a little more blissfully as her heavy mounds fell freely into weighted palms so that he could roll the soft flesh between hot fingertips. He pressed his naked chest into her shoulders, his arousal lining her lower back against the comfort of his pants while he kneaded her dark little nipples to the sound of her breathy moans. He was never more thankful that foresight saw him comfortable first. “You’re slackin’, Little Lightning,” he teased. “Your pet has you pinned up against the wall and I can assure you that breaking down and fucking your beautiful curves from behind is probably on his mind.”

 

Neirah gasped and whirled to face him with a gritty pout on her face. She slipped both hands behind her back as she thrust her meaty bust out in result of her puffed chest. “Don’t even think about it, Sparky.”

 

“Mn, I love it when you get all feisty like that…”

 

Neirah’s expression progressively softened a little more every inch he lowered before her head had fallen back and her fingers had slipped into his hair. “Why so nostalgic? Dinner, flowers in the room, old pet names… You haven’t given me any answers.”

 

Laxus groaned as he knelt in front of her lacy mound and relished in the scent of her eager arousal. Taking advantage of the leash that he’d managed to reclaim with his string of gifts, he grew brave and slipped his nose beneath the joint of her thighs. “I have epiphanies at the weirdest fucking times…”

 

Shivers rocketed up her spine as he replaced the gentle rub of his nose with a strong tongue stroke on the outside of her panties. “O-oh…?” She swallowed dryly, unsure if she could sound any more rattled by his forward approach that night. “What did you conclude?”

 

“That I don’t know a damn fucking thing about the woman I married.”

 

Neirah tipped a curiously furrowed pout his way. “W-why would you say that?”

 

“I want to lick you,” he nearly growled.

 

Neirah’s fingers tightened in his hair as she pressed back against the wall and let a tiny moan escape her. “Oh god, please.”

 

Laxus hooked his thumbs beneath the trim waistband hugging her shapely hips and slowly peeled them away from where they grew moist to the touch. “I know some of the little things, the ways you like it, all the little places I need to kiss to make you moan.” He slipped his palm between her trembling thighs and teased her slit with the side of his hand before opening her up to him, guiding one thigh to drape over his shoulder. “But there’s just so much... I never bothered to ask.”

 

He gave her entrance a couple strong laps before plunging his tongue shallowly inside her body, one of his favourite tastes rolling over his lips. He gave her clit a slow, hard suck before raising his gaze up her body to where all he could make out were the lines of her lower jaw fallen backwards. “What kind of a deadbeat husband needs to ask his four-year-old for help with ideas of things to surprise his wife with?”

 

Neirah was startled when her husband raised, wrapping his arms tight around her thighs to boost her off the ground against him. “Laxus, you’re overreacting,” she assured him tenderly. “For Christmas, birthdays, I get more than enough beautiful gifts.”

 

“Tsk, thank your old pals back at the guild for that,” he assured her bitterly. He sighed to remind himself that their night wasn’t about him and his self-loathing. It was about learning her the way he should have taken the time to years before. He took a deep breath and slowly dipped her in the bath he’d drawn, taking a seat at the side of the tub next to her. “I usually spend at least a month scampering around like an idiot trying to find out who's best suited to help me pick out your gifts. Your brother usually gets your birthday, Mira, Christmas. And I loathe Valentines.”

 

“Juvia?”

 

He tried not to growl as he shifted his narrowed gaze vacantly towards the darkened room. “See? I’m surprised you didn’t figure this out sooner.” He captured the damp end of her braid and unbound the ribbon tying it off before untangling the waves free again. “The point is, I’ve got the rest of my life to try and compete with all your thoughtful plans. Callin’ in backup just isn’t gonna cut it forever.” His brow creased as he finished unbinding her hair for her and kissed her shoulder. “I want to be better than that… ‘cause that’s what you make me wanna be, remember?” He smiled softly and swished his fingers around in the scented water for a moment before raising lazily fingertips and letting the decelerating drip of water droplets bead over the swell of her unsubmerged breasts. “Lay back,” he encouraged her huskily. “I’m not goin’ anywhere…” He watched her obey before dropping down on the floor in a more comfortable seated position. “Foot.”

 

Neirah flinched as he held out his hands for her toes. She still couldn’t believe his guilt had driven him so far. “You’re setting some pretty high standards for my brother to compete with this year,” she mused tenderly upon offering her delicate toes. Gajeel and Laxus had been competing with each other to be husband and dad of the year since the first year Laxus and she had won the title from Sorcerer. 

 

Laxus grumbled softly and took her little foot between strong hands before he started to knead her pains out of her arches. “That’s the part that bugs me,” he muttered. “Everyone else thinks I’m husband of the damn year, but inside, I know that’s a load of crap.” He placed a gentle kiss on the pad of her toes as his expression grew solemn. “My four-year-old son told me today that if I thanked you for what you do for me, I wouldn’t feel so guilty…”

 

“Awe, he said that?”

 

“Sort of, we kinda fell into that conclusion together.”

 

“Laxus, you don’t have to say thank you every time I do something for you. I can see it in the way you smile or hold me.” She giggled nostalgically. “And I know how much you hate repeating yourself,” she mocked gruffly.

 

“See? You just said it. Fucking me,” he growled. “Everything’s about me. What I want, how I feel.” He looked back at her sadly before placing another tender kiss on the top of her foot. “That’s not how I want this to go…”

 

Neirah heaved a heavy sigh, her thoughts slipping out incoherently with the pleasure of his fingers around her toes. “Alright then, daddy. Pour me a glass of wine and tell me how you do want it to go.”

 

He gave her a sly side glance as she raised her glass for him to fill. “Yes, ma’am.”

 

She ignored the subtle undertones of mockery in his statement as she sank her shoulders lower into the bath and wriggled comfortably into a relaxed state with the sound of wine pouring. “So, how can I make you feel less inadequate?” She groaned and kicked his hands away from her first foot before sliding her alternate foot into his grasp. “Other than melting right into this heavenly bath.”

 

“You like the bath?”

 

She opened her eyes and peered at him expectantly. “Of course I do. I enjoy baths far more than showers. Especially after being on my feet all day. Cough, Mirajane.”

 

“Noted…” He smiled faintly. “And the candles. They smell like sandalwood.”

 

“Most of our candle smell like that.”

 

“Yea, but is that because you like that scent or…?”

 

Neirah smiled over the rim of her wine glass as she took a sip. “I see where you’re going with this now,” she whispered softly. “Yes. In this case, I love the scent of sandalwood almost as much as I love the scent of sakura. Sandalwood is a little muskier than cherries though, so I tend to burn more of it when you’re home.”

 

“But not just because of me.”

 

“No, I like it too.”

 

Laxus smiled excitedly and knelt a little closer to the tub side as he kneaded her arches, pressing a lazy kiss against the knee she’d hooked over the tub ledge. “And all that fish stinkin’ up the house, was any of that to your liking?”

 

Neirah moaned through the teeth she had pinched around a strawberry, sucking some of the juices back so not all of it ended up on her floating mounds. “It’s hard to find a fish I don’t like, but if I had to be specific, my preferences are in salmon and surf clam. I love crab rolls, crispy, soft. And shrimp. Uch, if you had of added shrimp to that platter you would have had to pry me off cloud nine. I’m not a hundred percent fond of tuna sashimi, but Alex seems to like the tang.”

 

Laxus gave a rumbling chuckle against her calf. “You’ve corrupted my son?”

 

“Hey, you went to the fair without me. I will do a heck of a lot more than that next time you even think about it.”

 

Laxus cocked his focused expression to one side as he watched her. “You like fairs?”

 

Neirah sat up in her bath and raised one knee to drape her arm over, swirling her wine around in its glass as she smiled down at her doting husband. “I love them. Any sort of fair, or parade… Something about the bright lights and the sounds. Everything is just so exciting and beautiful. It always entranced me as a child. It doesn’t matter how good an artist I become, I just can’t recreate that kind of magical atmosphere. You have to be there to feel it.”

 

Laxus cocked his head to one side with a soft smile. “Oh yea? What’s your favourite part? You don’t get sick like the rest of us when you’re bein’ thrown around so you’ve probably ridden some of those crazy death traps.”

 

“Some, but they’re not the fun part,” she cooed. “I like the games and the treats. Did you know my brother once mugged an old man for his cotton candy stand? He used to be such a baddie.” Laxus gave her a tender look that sent shivers down her spine. “Also,” she added. “I prefer red wine over white. Both ice cold.”

 

“Even red?”

 

Especially red.” She snuggled back in her bath and looked back at him playfully. “Remember that next time Mira brings wine for your little surprises.”

 

Laxus smiled humbly and returned to his foot rub. “Alex and I didn’t go to the fair today if it makes you feel any better,” he assured her. “I told him we’d go tomorrow if he behaved himself tonight.”

 

“Well, I’m glad because he’d be going anyway.”

 

“What about flowers?” Laxus watched her carefully as she relaxed, a sleepy little smile on her lips as she sighed. “I tried to give you one in 91’ after the games and you shut it down. You said it was ‘cause of the colour but, do you even like flowers?”

 

“I’m a woman, Laxus. I think even if a woman didn’t like flowers she would still enjoy getting them just because of the thought that goes along with it.”

 

“And white ones? Are they really your favourite?”

 

Neirah slowly opened her eyes and smiled up at the ceiling. “No,” she whispered softly. “My favourite type of flowers are the really dark red roses. Like the ones mixed with the white ones in my wedding bouquet. I’m actually not fond of white flowers.”

 

To this, Laxus frowned. “You’ve let me bring you white ones on every one of our wedding anniversaries,” he murmured. “Why didn’t you say something before?”

 

She smiled her assurance as she sat up and claimed her toes from him again. “That’s because it meant something to us. Like I said, sometimes it’s just the thought. Flowers wither and die, but the memories I have of you helping me to bury my past so I could hold one are going to last a lifetime.”

 

“All this stuff I’m learning about us, about myself, these last couple months… and it took me this long to realise I’d been bringin’ you home the wrong damn flowers.”

 

She sighed and set her glass down, picking up a strawberry in its place. “Care to press your luck?” She smiled as she bit into the berry and tempted him into stealing a kiss. “Here’s a freebie, not everything is better with chocolate.”

 

With her engagement in his inquisition, he smiled back at her. “You prefer them without?”

 

“If I like them with anything it’s cream.”

 

His heart was racing as she poked her nose against his, her breath sweet of the fruit she chewed. He advanced and laid his lips playfully against hers, but a kiss was not his intent. “What’s your favourite colour?”

 

Neirah almost moaned at how capable he was at making such a blunt and innocent inquiry seductive. In return, she mused her reply just as smoothly. “That’s a trick question, it’s not a colour, it’s a shade.”

 

“Black?”

 

“Mn, Very good…”

 

“Huh. Didn’t expect that,” he assured her.

 

“I like to keep things simple,” she purred against his collar. “And black is slimming, a woman’s best friend.”

 

He sighed and rolled his head to one side to accommodate her kisses around the leather at his throat. He wanted to quip back at her that she didn’t need such an effort, but he didn’t. “Alright then, what’s your least favourite colour?”

 

“Mn, orange,” she mewled. “What does it have to be so happy about?”

 

“God you’re cute,” he crooned. He had to think in order to come up with something equally as random. “What about, if you could have any pet, what would it be?”

 

“A horse.”

 

“A horse? Really?”

 

She pulled away from him with his disgruntled snort and smiled her certainty. “Think of the ride as a permanent unison raid. That feeling, of being one with another living creature and the bond that comes with it, it’s amazing.”

 

Laxus gave his head a gentle shake. “I didn’t know you could ride a horse.”

 

“Apparently there’s a lot you didn’t know about me.”

 

He got brave and gave her an excited little kiss, absorbing all her answers as best his exhausted brain could. “Alright, what about dancing? What do you prefer to dance to dance to?”

 

“The beat of my heart?”

 

“You’d rather dance without music?”

 

“When the beat is all in my head, I can’t mess up my steps.”

 

“And your art? When you draw or paint or whatever, what’s your favourite way?”

 

“Watercolour.”

 

“Huh, most of the pieces I have seen you do are oils.”

 

“Yes, because people prefer the vibrant colours of oils.”

 

“Wow. I am a dick.”

 

Neirah laid back in the bath and poked one of her feet out of the water before jutting it towards him. “Distract yourself,” she mused. “And ask me another one.”

 

Laxus started to rub her foot again, his second hand picking carnation petals off her calf. “Heels or flats?”

 

“Heels. It’s an asset for us short people.”

 

“Skirt or pants?”

 

“Pants, most certainly. But something I can move freely in.”

 

“Day or night?”

 

“Night.”

 

“Favourite flavour?”

 

“Strawberry.”

 

“What’s your favourite season?”

 

“Oh, come on, you should know this one.”

 

Laxus stammered uncertainly as he tried to recall a reason why he should know. “Er… s-um-mer…?”

 

“Wrong,” she teased with a titter. “Fall.”

 

“You make it sound like that’s something everyone should know,” he snorted. “Ok, so what’s my favourite seaso-”

 

“Spring.”

 

“Damn it…”

 

“Maybe it wasn’t always, but since I’ve known you, spring always brings you peace. You love the scents because they remind you of me and you did everything you could to try and propose to me in time that we could have our wedding in the spring. It’s not too hot, or too cold. And bugs bug you.”

 

“You’re not making me feel much better,” he grumbled.

 

“Hm, speaking of spring, where did you get the cherry blossom petals? They’re out of season.”

 

Laxus diverted his gaze from where she fondled the petals in her bath and focused on his incapacitating food rub technique. “I got a guy…”

 

Neirah burst into laughter. “A guy? Laxus, you have a cherry blossom guy?”

 

“Tsk, you think you know so much, I’m surprised you didn’t figure that out.”

 

“What?” She giggled in her comfortable bath. “And what would have tipped me off?”

 

“Well… Back when I started to figure out I had it bad for you I… kind of started to miss you when you weren’t around. And because I was pretty sure you hated me, I had to come up with… other ways not to miss you.”

 

“Oh god I don’t want to know,” she brayed.

 

“It’s not like that!” He exclaimed. “I just… even if I couldn’t find them on the trees, there was this old guy in town who makes tea out of them all year round and… I’d get them off him every now n’ again and… put a few in my pillowcase before I went to sleep to make it seem like you were with me…”

 

Neirah looked back at him with large glossy eyes and a solicitous smile. “Awe, sweetie!”

 

“Fuck off with the pity card,” he snarled. “You went and screwed it all up for me. I was content with liquor and whores, but no. Little fucking venom spitting flower had to come and screw it all up. Tiny heart snatching psycho…”

 

“You had admitted before that you’d been attached, but I would never have thought it was to that extent.”

 

“Yea,” he admitted gruffly. “I was your bitch from the start…” He smiled with the memories, his expression softening to think that they’d come so far. “If it were anyone else, I would’ve made it clear from the start. I don’t know how many times I thought about it. Backin’ you into a corner and tellin’ you exactly how it was gonna be… but there was just something off. You always kicked back at me, every chance you got, but it just didn’t seem right… it wasn’t you.”

 

He dipped his lips against her foot and gave it another kiss. “You were so small and feisty, I thought it was all over-compensation at first. The first time I felt your power come out to play I thought I was gonna pass out. I couldn’t believe it. It made me think that all that attitude wasn’t making up for your weakness, but the things you felt. At least, that’s what I told myself when I was pacing holes in my floor. I wanted it so bad but I couldn’t make myself reach out and take it. A part of me, I guess, didn’t feel like I deserved it, the kind of goodness that came from being in love with someone. But even if I couldn’t have you, thinking about it always seemed to calm me down. And I thought if there really was a chance that you felt it too, maybe if I kept it together, things might work out.”

 

“Dork,” she teased. “If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times; you deserve all the goodness that comes with loving someone.”

 

Laxus tipped his humble and sheepish gaze back at his wife as she reached out and captured one of his hands. “I feel like you’re belittling me,” he grumbled roguishly.

 

“If I’m belittling anything, it’s the part of you who feels like you’re a monster incapable of love,” she encouraged. “And seeing as I am your master…”

 

Laxus’ throat worked as she wiggled back comfortably and drew his hand beneath the water towards her abdomen.

 

“I’m ordering you to distract yourself from even considering such a thing.” She let out a soft little moan as she slipped his fingers between her thighs, hers stern over top of his and encouraging his middle and ring finger to enter her. Noticing that his breathing had grown laboured and his foot rubs lax, she wiggled her toes in his other hand. “Ok, not too distracted,” she teased.

 

After he’d started to move inside her on his own, she simply started to roll her fingertips absently over his knuckles. “Mm, you have such big hands,” she praised. “Gentle enough to hold our son yet strong enough to protect him.”

 

“Maybe that’s why your feet look so tiny in comparison.” He tried his hardest to work both hands to her satisfaction, but adding a conversation on top really forced him to multitask. That on top of his growing arousal, he was certainly distracted. “They’re fucking adorable,” he breathed against her toes. “Not that I’m a foot guy or anything, but I’d lay a pretty hefty sum on the bet that you have the smallest feet of the adults in the guild.”

 

“Mn, and you would lose it, Prince,” she teased. “Levy and I both wear four and a halfs.” She let a gentle moan join the heavy panting in the room as she enjoyed her massages, nearly distracting herself with the pleasure. “Our feet are smaller than what you have in your pants.”

 

Laxus leant his lips against the pads of her feet, closing his eyes, thumbs stroking her arches to the thoughts of what he was denied racing in his mind. When comparisons of their body sizes came into focus, it was hard for him to absorb anything else. Even if it had been months since he was inside her, he could still, although vaguely, remember just how good it felt to give it to his petite bride. It was something he’d fantasised about doing again and again.

 

He kept his lips pressed against her foot as he narrowly parted his gaze and watched her writhe in her candle lit bath. She was beautiful in any light, but there was something about the way the warm glow danced on her wet flesh. She wasn’t the firm athlete that he remembered her being before they married, but she’d definitely burnt her baby fat. Her breasts were still slightly plumper than they were five years ago, her once taut six-pack had rounded into a nice, healthy pack of four. He shuttered, glad that she was too busy enjoying herself to notice that he might as well have been panting like the dog she’d made him out to be.

 

And her hips. He watched strong thighs buck broad hips gently to the pump of his fingers. She had always been lusciously curvaceous, but since bearing his son, she’d filled out and had become a woman that could tempt any man’s id into exposing more primal tendencies. She probably didn’t realise she was making it so difficult for him to rein in his primordial urges to join her in the bath, but if he wasn’t careful, his salivating mouth was going to expose his lusting drive as his drool met the flower petals floating around her.

 

He banished his need with the power of decency and consciousness, silently watching her nails sweep across her chest with her breathy weaving. “You’re so fucking pretty,” he murmured huskily. Her olive skin glowed with the golden light of the candle as she pressed her chest from the bath, adorned with the cling of bright flower petals. It made her taut nipples beg for his taste as every goose bump shimmered golden reflection around her dark areolas. But what killed him, was how luminescent and bright her blue eyes shone when they finally opened to look back at him. He loved her eyes. He could tell stories with how expressive they were, and when they wanted him, he knew.

 

God, he knew.

 

“Mn, there’s a look I haven’t seen in a while,” she purred in a seductive rasp. It took a lot of work to get that deep, sultry tone to sing in her words. “You want me…”

 

He hated how she announced it like he didn’t always want her. “Want is an understatement,” he whispered heavily.

 

Neirah released a breathy chuckle before picking a couple of rose petals out of her bath and using them to censor her nipples. “I’d better be careful then. One wrong move and you’ll be mounting me.”

 

It was the way she chose to phrase her sentiment that made him groan. “Flowers are… not… going to help your case,” he warned her. “If anything, it just gives me one more reason to make a move on you…”

 

“I love it when you’re like this,” she teased. “So incredibly simple and entranced.”

 

“Man, you are brutal to my self-esteem.”

 

“I don’t care,” she chided. “I love it when your filter comes off; when you just give up. I feel closer to you…” She sighed and arched her hips into his palm, her fingers encouraging his pace to quicken. “I guess maybe it’s a little empowering, knowing that you could strike at any minute and I would be helpless to deny you.” She gave him a sly look. “The only thing stopping my mighty beast is a couple of stern words from his tiny bride.”

 

“Don’t start,” he begged airily.

 

“This is why I love humanity. Strength, size, it doesn’t matter. You are all governed by the same morality and conviction of what is right and wrong.”

 

Laxus sealed his eyes tight and try to drown out her words. “Damn it, how is it that you’re the dragon child and I’m the one sitting here feeling like the fucking animal?”

 

“Human’s are animals, sweetie. The only difference is what goes on upstairs. You talk as if you know what it feels like to break that barrier. I’ve been human for most of my life, even I don’t know how it would feel to surrender my humanity entirely. It’s like asking the Exceeds to do something similar. Something about intelligent beings doesn’t allow for that kind of behaviour to surface in most living things.” Neirah raised her fingers out of the water and gently patted the side of the tub. “Come closer, Prince,” she demanded. “There’s nothing wrong with wanting something so bad that you would sacrifice a little decency to indulge. The only thing scary about it is what you tell yourself might come of it.”

 

“My head’s a pretty dark place sometimes…”

 

“Mn, so what? Do you fantasise about ripping your pretty wife’s clothes off and breeding her?”

 

Laxus openly cringed, his grip on her toes flexing with inner disgust. “Fuck, don’t talk like that…”

 

“Oh? Truth? We’re doing this for a baby girl. That’s exactly what’s going to happen.”

 

“I know! It’s just… that fucking word… It’s the way you said it…”

 

Neirah snickered softly and reached over the ledge of the tub to stroke the erection pressing against his sleep pants. “Puppy says what?” Laxus groaned and narrowly opened his eyes to stare into the delicate ripples of the water. “You’re worried for nothing, and when we get there, you’ll see,” she assured him tenderly. She heaved a heavy sigh and slipped her hand beneath the band of his pants so that she could feel the heat of his skin against her snug strokes. “And I think once you finally let go of all this self-doubt, you’re going to love it. I’ll go easy on you tonight because you did a beautiful thing, but I have ideas for what our next adventure brings,” she cautioned. “Maybe a little blood loss will get you talking.”

 

Laxus cast her a weighted glower. “I thought dogs don’t talk?”

 

Neirah responded sweetly by increasing the pressure around his shaft, smiling back at him as his pleasure became harder to deny. “Sweetie, when that collar comes off, you’re not a dog anymore.” She sighed and pressed her hand against his knuckles, steadying his pace inside her with her guidance. “I’m not going to let you cum until I do.”

 

“Fuck, bitch,” he seethed under his breath. He was relieved when she reclaimed her relaxed foot and started to swirl it around in the petals of her bath. He really wasn’t a very strong multitasker.

 

Instead, he did just as commanded, focused entirely on her gentle moans filling the bath. He was desperate to hear more, to thrill her like he knew he was capable, but their son was just down the hall and trying to sleep. Surrendering to the harsh reality, he slipped his index finger between his palm and her body to stimulate the distended nub of her clitoris.

 

He hoped that raising her free palm to her own breast helped her reach her own climax because her finger was already on his trigger. He hated how easy he was in her hands, such a vulnerable mess. He hated feeling like he was being conditioned because he was inadequate, but like many destructive convictions, it was sure to be all in his head.

 

“Sometimes I fantasise too, you know,” she whispered meekly. Her eyes were still closed, her head tossing slowly from side to side against the tub ledge as she stroked him. “All those stories I heard when I first joined the guild in 85’ about the guild master’s big, bad grandson.” She purred softly and deepened his strokes inside her with her own fingers. “I never got to meet him. I heard he was an impulsive, self-indulgent creep, but I bet he was great in bed.”

 

Laxus snapped his teeth together to keep from barking back at her that she was insinuating he wasn’t good in bed, but at least he still had the presence in mind to remind himself she was purposely trying to get under his skin.

 

“I bet he wouldn’t have thought twice… about putting me on my hands and knees and ravaging me.” A sadistic little grin curled her lips. Even if she couldn’t see him, she could feel his body tightening beneath her fingers. She was giving herself chills so she could only imagine the kind of reaction her teasing had on him. “I bet he’d talk dirty to me… spank me and pull my hair. All the things you’re so afraid of doing…”

 

He hadn’t realised he was tensely holding his breath until it escaped him in a sudden hiss. His eyes and jaw ached for how tightly they were clenched, a mix of rage and lust colliding within him. ‘Fuck, why does this piss me off so bad? She’s talking about you, dumbass! Not some other fucking punk.’ He’d reined himself in so fiercely after he’d lost control in X784 that he could admit he’d built an entirely new and more stable man out of the pieces left behind after he’d broken down. To hear her speak of what he used to be, it sounded like she was referring to a completely different man, one he wanted to beat and replace entirely in her thoughts.

 

“He was a… take-charge kind of guy, wasn’t he?”

 

‘Shut up…’

 

“I can’t imagine a little thing like me would ever get a collar around his neck.”

 

His expression was desperate as he looked out into the bath he’d drawn his sweet, loving wife. The mother of his child. ‘It’s not… who I am…’ He shivered as she provoked his inner demons and saw both of their fantasies combine in his head; spontaneous, erotic… untamed. He whined gutturally with the need to drown out the thoughts that her head games were teasing to the surface. The worst part was that as hard as he denied that he was the same man he’d used to be, he wasn’t being entirely truthful when he claimed that the man he had become didn’t have something darker to hide.

 

He flinched when Neirah shifted beneath him and sat up in her bath using the ring on his collar to draw herself upright and take hold of his thoughts. The act of her rise nullified his obligation to her body’s desires. She was far too enthralled with her games. “Am I distracting you, Prince?”

 

He narrowly watched her with sated eyes, his response swift. “No, ma’am…” Her confidence suffocated him.

 

“You’re lying,” she whispered against his throat. She rolled her tongue around the edge of his collar, dampening the flesh at its border. “I know you want to give me what I want… Your guard drops a little more every day.”

 

“Neirah…”

 

“I know, you need this more than I do,” she whispered. She raised her head and rolled her tongue around the curvature of his ear. “For now, just think about it. Those fantasies you deny yourself because you’re afraid of how they’ll make me change the way I see my husband.”

 

“I-”

 

“Think of them,” she commanded. She lowered her lips past his collar to where she could roll her tongue over his chest, pausing ever-so-aggressively to pinch his dark nipple between her teeth. “Think of how this night might’ve turned out if you had taken me against the wall. Think of how it would feel to drag me out of this bath and finally have your way with me after so long.”

 

“Don’t…”

 

She sharply raised her head, a confident smile on her face. “I find more reasons to love you every day,” she whispered against his lips. “The man I married is a great one, but I can’t stand that he forces himself to keep secrets from his wife.”

 

‘Fuck, Mira…’

 

“I don’t want you to hide a part of you just because you’re afraid that it will scare me away. I want to know all of you just as bad as you want to know all of me.” Her smile softened as she watched his expression crease with turmoil. She knew that there were a hundred things he wanted to say, do, but she was still in control. “Think about it,” she whispered delicately. “And cum for a wife who loves you.”

 

Laxus hated when his wife got sentimental with him in bed – or, in the bath… Anytime she offered him affection, praise, it went straight to his head. He had to admit, in the past couple of months, he was growing more imaginative than he ever had been. He could almost see it, taste it, the way she moaned into his kiss and begged him to slow down. She had put the vision in his head herself, the weightlessness of freedom to overwhelm her with the unshackled desperation he’d always felt. Nothing restrained, nothing between them; no guilt or weighted thoughts. No fear or apprehension. Just two hearts racing as one and sharing a bond stronger than their own self-doubt… stronger than his self-doubt. He’d never shared that kind of bond with anyone before…

 

He loved it when she was in control, but he’d be lying to both of them if he denied that there was still a part of him that just wanted to give up the fight, release the weight of guilt and uncertainty exhausting him. And the devoted husband she’d unintentionally groomed him to be wanted to give her everything she ever dreamed.

 

His subtle grunt caught in his bare chest the moment he felt himself come undone in her hands. He tipped his subtly disgusted grimace to one side while his chest was lined with his own release as far as his cheek. His lip quirked to one side as he slowly opened his eyes and stared back at his malicious little shrew. “So much for ladies first,” he growled.

 

Neirah moaned and gently swiped her thumb across his cheek to capture the string of desire glistening in the romantic lighting. “You waited until you were given permission,” she assured. “And it was a most worthy sacrifice.” She sighed and hooked a finger in her collar, tugging him towards the bath so that she could speak her words against his lips. “I’ve never seen you make that face.”

 

“You’re the linguist. What’s the word that means love and hate at the same fucking time?”

 

Neirah groaned and shifted in her bath before sitting up on the tub ledge across from him. “You make up words with your son,” she teased. She slowly upturned her palm and curled her index finger towards him in beckoning, her teeth teasing her pouty lower lip as she stared back at him passionately from beneath weighted lashes. “Make one up for love and hate all in one.”

 

“I’ll call it a Neirah moment,” he snarled. He sighed and dropped his pants to the floor, doing a terrible job at hiding his bitterness as he chased her obediently into the tub.

 

“I’m honoured,” she mewled. “Now…” She reached out and hooked her finger in his collar ring to bring him closer until he was pressed between her spread thighs. “Come finish what you started.”

 

He didn’t know why it did, but something inside him stirred when she reached up and removed his collar.



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