Multilayered Love

BY : NeirahAhrai
Category: +. to F > Fairy Tail
Dragon prints: 2021
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.

Demons


 

 

“Tsk, it was only a matter of time before somethin’ like this came up.”

 

Laxus ignored the presence droning beside him and folded over his reading material. With a grim sigh, he laid his head in his hands and raked his fingers back through the roots of his hair. He stared into his disorganized heap of a paper-piled desk with vacant detachment. Instinctually, his grip began to tighten. It reminded him of the comforting presence of his wife and her passion. He needed thoughts of her presence to start filling him before he was overcome with wrath and ruin.

 

“You didn’t honestly think that they’d forget a show like that, did you?”

 

Spectacle.

 

In his world, ‘spectacle’ wasn’t synonymous with ‘show’. Laxus dropped his fist to the flat of his desk with a thundering crash. “Get the fuck out of my head.”

 

The presence rummaging around his clustered office tossing papers around turned and stared back at him through his own eyes, one brow cocked over one while the other burrowed into the crook of his nose to pinch the other narrow. “Did gettin’ clean cut your IQ or something?”

 

Laxus flinched, eyes wide over his furious snort when a vision of himself bopped him firmly in the brow with the butt of his palm.

 

“I’m a part of you, idiot.”

 

He winced with the twisting of the other man’s finger burying into his temple with malcontented aggression. “Wayyy deep down there in the subconsciousness of that contentedly numbed brain of yours.”

 

Laxus swatted the pestilent hand away with a disgruntled scoff.

 

“Where your demons sleep,” the shadow continued. “That’s where I play.”

 

Laxus’ stomach churned as he looked himself dead in the eye to avoid the sinister smirk he might have displayed a decade ago.

 

“You’ve got no one to blame for me hiding out here but yourself.”

 

Laxus diverted his gaze humbly, a weighted expression on the tired lines of his face. Recently, the little sleep he’d managed to claim was plagued with miserable dreams that featured the recurring presence of a vision of himself from the past; a vision he’d tried his hardest to bury.

 

He sifted through the contents of his desk like he thought he’d return to work, but the same article kept finding its way into the light until soon, every notice from the magic council or pending job request turned into the same glossy pages he tried to ignore. It was how he knew he was dreaming. Now all he needed to do was wake up.

 

His breath caught as he watched the articles leap from the desktop in a burst of golden light, tiny strands of electricity causing the prints to cling to the walls with their static charge.

 

“You can’t lock me out forever.”

 

Laxus didn’t hesitate with his response as he glared back at the venomous version of himself nose-to-nose with the utmost certainty. “Watch me,” he spat. He turned away and climbed to his feet. If nothing else he just felt the need to escape the scent of alcohol on his own breath, the deranged look of a fleeting high in his menacing gaze. It seemed more masculine that sitting himself in the corner with his hands over his head begging the monster to go away.

 

“She wants me, you know.”

 

Laxus paused in the dark doorway, knowing that even if he stepped through it, it would lead him right back to where he stood. Instead of playing the game that repeated most nights until his wife woke him from his cold sweat, he let restrained tension tighten his body as he slowly turned to face the phantom at his back with a cool detachment. “You don’t know shit about her.”

 

It was true. In the eyes of his X784 presence, Neirah was just a child wandering through the wrong place at the wrong time. The part of him that stood defiant to his villainous ways had let her go when the part currently tormenting him wanted to bury her with the rest of his friends and family. Not only did that shadow not know her, but what he should have known, he’d forgotten until seven comatose years later.

 

“I know one thing,” the snake purred with a grin. “You’re boring as fuck. Same old fucking routine.” He reached out and swiped a bunch of papers off his desk upon his approach. “Same old fucking guild.” He raised his gaze to the exhaustion staring back at him. “This isn’t the way we planned it.”

 

“There is no we,” Laxus drawled confidently. “You said it yourself, you don’t exist.”

 

“So you were paying attention.”

 

Laxus took a confident step forwards and smashed his agitated brow against a mirrored version. He was set off by the mention of his wife and knowing that the reality in front of him was a dreamscape, he wasn’t going to let the offence slide. It would do his riled nerves good to make himself suffer subconsciously for being such a conceited tyrant. “You don’t know shit about being a guild master, about being a husband, or being a fucking dad.”

 

“Don’t get all pissy with me because you screwed up the first time you fucked your woman.”

 

“Shut up!”

 

“I won’t,” the shadow crooned.

 

It frustrated Laxus to believe that he was once so enthralled in the conflict that was sparking between two versions of himself. Behind the sinister beam of his adversary was the undeniable enjoyment for the torment he’d inflicted upon a broken man.

 

“You think I can’t see it too? You’re a fucking disappointment. I’d like to see your pretty little bitch fit a collar around my neck.”

 

Laxus kept running his racing thoughts through his head. It was only a dream sparked by the comments his wife had made nights prior. She had never seen the evil he was capable of. She didn’t understand what she was fantasising about.

 

It was just a dream.

 

“You’re a fucking joke,” came the seething sneer. “You’ve got the hottest fucking rack waiting for you at home at your beck and call, playing house like a good girl and you can’t even give her the one thing she asks for.”

 

“She does what she wants,” Laxus snapped edgily. He refused to give into the same foul impulses his past kept throwing at him. “I didn’t ask for her to give up wizarding for our kid.” But some of it leaked through as he drove his brow right back into the force of the opposing. “She made that decision on her own against anything I had to say about it!”

 

“Pisses ya off, doesn’t it? Too bad she’s not here.”

 

Laxus jerked away from the sinister gleam in his own eye and hissed his next breath with realisation. “Fuck off…” He watched himself emit a low, rumbling chuckle as he paced the room and dropped his arm against the cluttered desk to wipe the contents to the floor.

 

“See, I bet she’d look good right here.” He thrust his parallel hands in front of him in careful consideration. He raised one hand to cup his chin, curling his lips to one side. “Now the hard part, do I wanna look at that perfect ass or those perky tits?”

 

Laxus clenched his flickering fist at his side, his teeth ground in agonised fury as he tried to deny that what he was seeing was ever a part of him. He was so tensely rejecting the other presence in the room that he didn’t even see his shadow throw his arms out to the side with indifference.

 

“Wait, the fuck do I care? Unlike you, I don’t have a problem with indulging in both.”

 

“Fucking pig…”

 

“Sticks and stones,” he drawled. “I wouldn’t be here if you weren’t thinking about giving it to her. So why don’t you ditch the brat and see if that sexy beast you call a wife can still fold herself in half over your lap?”

 

Laxus shot his gaze to the wicked grin that was beaming back at him, his jaws aching so badly from clenching that he wasn’t sure it would release to spew his frenzy. “That’s my fucking son!”

 

“Ooo, d’I strike a nerve?” He shot both forefingers forwards towards his reality before bouncing his thumbs back into his own chest. “Your mistake, not mine. I’m just tryin’ to patch your marriage before you lose the hottest ass in the kingdom because you. got. lame.”

 

Laxus opened his mouth to speak but not a sound escaped past his lips. His gaze widened in panic as he tried to repeat his defence before the electric glow of his demonic shadow was dematerializing in front of him to snake his way around his frozen body.

 

“You know what they’d do to a lame horse?”

 

Laxus’ eyes widened as he was forced to stare at the painful sight of his wife walking away with a reluctant Alex in hand. He felt the pressure of an index finger against his temple cocking like a gun before the sinister shade of himself was pulling the metaphorical trigger and blackening his world.

 

“Master? Is… everything ok in here?”

 

Suddenly, the weight of his head was too much for his palm to support as he woke to the sound of Mirajane’s gentle rapping on his office doorframe. He caught his ragged breaths, trying desperately to keep his racing heartbeat from showing as he scoured reality. He cleared his throat and quietly looked around his office. The papers were where they should be, and he was alone save for Mira’s reassuring presence.  

 

“Alex is… getting a little restless.” Mira took an uncertain step towards his desk. “Laxus, I don’t mean this the wrong way, but you look awful.” Her throat worked as she carefully chose her words. Surely, he couldn’t have found out already.

 

He tipped his brow into his palm for a quiet moment, wiping the sweat from his brow as his other hand quietly slipped his previous reading material under a stack of outstanding notices. “I’m fine,” he argued calmly. “Just didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night. Alex has taken to wanting me when he cries now for… some reason…” It sure sounded a lot better than his insomnia being caused by his desperate need to get laid. He sighed indiscreetly and readjusted his expression before he was confident enough to look back at her. “I’m fine,” he repeated in a dull murmur.

 

“Oh… ok.” Mira reached out and unintentionally sent a shiver down Laxus’ spine as she rubbed an imaginary chill from her bare arms. It was something his wife used to do when she felt uncomfortable around him. It was the last thing he needed to see that afternoon. “Is there anything I can do to help?”

 

At that point, he just wanted to get rid of her as swiftly as possible. “I’ve got it under control.”

 

The paperwork, at least.

 

“Ok,” Mira agreed. “I know he’s not usually supposed to have more than one, but Alex has been really patient. Maybe just one more cookie will tie him over until you’re ready to go…”

 

Laxus grunted vacantly in acknowledgement.

 

Mira’s gaze was soft and concerned as she looked back at her guild master. “Do you need anything?”

 

Laxus stared solemnly through his office. He could already feel the palpable tension brewing in the guild and it sickened him. He hated it. He hated himself. He was so sorry. “Yeah,” he muttered bleakly. “My wife…”

 


 

Neirah hurried through her home, her forearms still dripping with suds as she tried to dodge the toys her son had left in the halls of her home. Not to mention her hair was a tangled mess since she’d just gotten out of the shower and hadn’t had a chance to do more than put pants on before she was rushing to the door. No matter how many times she repeated that she was on her way, the knocking didn’t become any less urgent so, eventually, she just gave up. She threw the door open hoping that the edgy rapping was the sound of her husband home early, his hands full with the carrying of their rambunctious boy. She quickly pushed loose strands of hair behind her ears to straighten herself up.

 

Her heart stopped beating and her skin grew instantly pale and clammy the moment she saw a fidgeting Mirajane on the other side of the hardwood slab. “Oh god,” she whispered frantically. “Alex?!”

 

Mira was silent as she reached out and clasped her friend by the arm in order to drag her into the street. “No, Alex is fine,” she mewled tenderly.

 

To the sound of her front door barely closing behind her, her mind started to race with disbelief. “Laxus? No- there’s no way…” Her helpless gaze searched Mirajane’s concern. She allowed stunned silence to claim them until they were almost at the guild but she was growing more uncertain with every step. Finally, she pulled back and halted their progression. “Mira, what’s going on?”

 

Mira’s breathing hitched as she slowly decelerated and stilled. “Something terrible has happened,” she whispered hesitantly.

 

Neirah’s heartbeat thundered in her ears as Mirajane’s grim demeanour withstood her removing a copy of Sorcerer Magazine’s latest issue from her pack. Not only did Neirah’s heart rate calm down, but she almost laughed at the woman’s gesture. She was immediately filled with impatience for Mira’s deception as she snorted and jerked the magazine out of the woman’s hands. “Brat!” She gave a low growl as she glared back at the woman. “You can’t do those kinds of things to a mother and wife, Mira. You almost gave me a heart attack!”

 

Neirah’s expression faded as Mira turned back and looked at her helplessly. It wasn’t like Mirajane to play pranks on anyone and if she was involved, she certainly wouldn’t be able to keep such a straight face.

 

“Open it to page sixteen and seventeen...”

 

Neirah flinched. She’d worked with Sorcerer enough during her modelling days that she knew what was on pages sixteen and seventeen. She’d spent most of her career on them. She bypassed the cover entirely and went straight for the story that had her fair friend paler than usual. She was beyond perplexed with how anything on pages sixteen and seventeen could drudge up a reaction from her husband.

 

She snorted.

 

Nothing on page sixteen and seventeen of Sorcerer’d better be drudging up any kind of re-

 

“N-no…” Neirah’s expression cracked and the magazine nearly toppled out of her hands to the sound of her gasping breaths. She skimmed over the first part of the exclusive before her hands started to tremble and azure saucers turned to face Mira’s solemn expression weighted with vulnerable terror. “Mira, please tell me he hasn’t seen this,” came her bleak and desperate whisper.

 

Mira bowed her head and slowly shook it from side to side. “I don’t know. I want to say he hasn’t because he’s been locked in his office all day, but he was acting really strange around lunchtime.” Mira slowly raised her gaze to the brunette’s. “But my guess is that he hasn’t. If he had read it… I…” Mirajane lowered her head and sniffed back fretful tears. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t know what to do. I know he puts on an act, but those events, they broke something in him. Neirah, I just-”

 

Neirah stepped into her friend and gently hugged the trembling woman. Neirah didn’t witness the rampage her husband had gone on in X784, the events boldly highlighted in Sorcerer’s exclusive. Not like Mirajane had. “Mira, please don’t cry…”

 

“It’s been so long!” Mira shouted angrily through her tears. “Why would they do this to him?!”

 

The glossy pages of the magazine wrinkled under the ground extension of Neirah’s ebony claws, the tendons in her wrist forcing her skin to swell as her fierce golden gaze glared over Mirajane’s shoulder. “If my husband doesn’t give me a smile when I step into his office in about fifteen seconds, no reason is going to save them.”

 

Mira panicked a bit when Neirah released her and stepped into the guild. She had forgotten how aggressive the woman could be if someone hurt her family. It wasn’t a side she’d seen very often since the birth of her son, but the magic radiation swelling around the beast reminded her too much of the war on Alvarez for her to ignore. “Neirah, please wait!”

 

Neirah stilled at the front doors of the guild as a hush fell around them upon their entry. They were weighted with guilty expressions, the whole lot of them, and it sickened her.

 

“Ack! Mom!” Alex started to scurry away towards his father’s office, hoping to evade having to leave the guild early. “Daddyyy!”

 

Neirah’s demeanour automatically softened as she reached out her hand towards the boy fleeing her, a look of distress on her face to think she’d lose a private audience with her husband. “Alex, no wait-!”

 

Neirah wanted to burn the entire guild to the ground as Laxus stepped out from the concealment of the hallway and scooped his boy up in his arms. Her heart broke for the defeated expression on her husband’s face, the face of the guild’s master… and the victim of the media in her hand. Her blood boiled acidically in her veins for her immediate guilt.

 

“Quick, dad! Hide me!”

 

Laxus’ heartache was palpable when his heavy gaze met his wife’s. “Not sure I should be the one doing that, champ.”

 

“Don’t-!” Neirah immediately lowered her voice so not to completely startle their boy who was clearly oblivious to the situation. “Don’t you dare, Laxus Dreyar.

 

“Save it.”

 

The tone in the familiar man’s voice made both Neirah and Mirajane flinch. Mira brought her hands to her face and gasped into them in defeat. “Oh no, he’s seen it…”

 

“Yeah, I’ve seen it,” he ascertained. “A little birdy musta dropped a copy on my desk before I got in this morning.”

 

The entire guild flinched in recoil as he diverted his peripherals from side to side in warning and Neirah immediately whirled to face her stammering big brother.

 

“Oi! Don’t fu- fricken look at me!” He defended. “Why d’you guys always look at me when crap like this happens!”

 

Neirah felt the immediate guilt of trying to restrain her son from running to his father. She quickly turned back to face her assaulted husband. “That wasn’t what it looked like,” she reasoned sternly.

 

“Ya sure?” Laxus pried. “‘Cause y’know the man says that maybe you should be careful of how close I get.”

 

“Get to what, daddy?”

 

Laxus snorted as he looked the boy in his arms straight in the face. “Get to you, pal,” he teased. “‘Cause y’know, your old man might bite with sharp pointy teeth.”

 

Alex giggled as his father snapped his teeth shut with a hollow click that seemed to disturb anyone but the joyful boy. Laxus found the slightest of comforts in his son’s affection before he turned his hurt expression to Neirah.

 

“We will be discussing this tonight,” Neirah cautioned him.

 

Laxus shrugged passive-aggressively. “S’all there, sweetheart. You wanted to know the story? There it is in all its ugly glory in hi-def printing."

 

“Laxus!”
 

Alex started to pry at his father’s mouth and examine his teeth. “Dad, you don’t have pointy teeth!”

 

Laxus smiled ever so humbly at his toddler before drawing his head back to free it from tiny exploring hands. “Your old man’s been workin’ for a pretty long time, hasn’t he?” Laxus mused. He turned to face his second. “Mira, I’m gonna take my kid out for lunch, if that’s not gonna cause any problems.”

 

“N-no, Master,” she prattled quietly. “I’m sure he’d love that.”

 

“Yeah,” he nearly growled. “I’ll be back to finish dealing with the council notices after his belly stops talking.”

 

“Hey! My belly don’t talk!”

 

Doesn’t,” Laxus corrected. “You’re not your uncle.”

 

“OI!”

 

Laxus couldn’t help but feel a little comforted by his son’s complete faith in him as they left the guild together. It made him feel like less of the monster Sorcerer had resuscitated that day with their surprise exclusive. He was almost comforted enough that he was about to ignore the uneasy trembling of some nameless guild faces as he neared the door.

 

But he couldn’t resist.

 

The clamouring of the couple men nearby intensified shrilly as Laxus illuminated in a spontaneous ignition of golden sparks nearby. He scoffed as the men fled backwards, immediately reminded of Jet and Droy’s younger days.

 

Alex waved his arms with a delighted cackle. “Your magic’s the awesomest, dad! It’s so fricken cool!”

 

Neirah turned and glared at her big brother when Alex parroted his choice of vocabulary even as Laxus, again, reminded him that he wasn’t his uncle.

 

Mira sighed and closed her eyes, trying to relieve the burn of the pain stinging them with tears for her dear friend. “He had been so happy,” she whispered bleakly. “I know it was always in the back of his mind… but I was really hoping to see him escape those demons. That man lives for his family…”

 

Mira let out an alarmed cry as transparent golden wings sprang from between Neirah’s shoulder with a billowing thunder, the magazine in her hands igniting in golden flame. “Neirah!”

 

Gajeel sprang to life after quickly shoving his crying infant daughter into Levy’s arms. “Yo Shads, cool it!” He demanded in a fierce roar. “The last thing we need goin’ after him is a damn dragon!”

 

Neirah’s venomous reptilian gaze raised to face the doorway her husband had just disappeared through. “I’m not after him.”

 

Mira cried out and held her skirt down around her knees as a gust swept through the guild powerful enough to send people from their seats behind her. “Neirah don’t!” Mirajane cried in a futile effort.

 

Levy huddled behind Gajeel to protect their daughter from the dust the Golden Dragon Divine kicked up in her wake. “Gajeel, you can’t just let her go!” Levy demanded. “Neirah hasn’t used her magic in quantity since Alex was born!”

 

“And that aura felt incredibly similar to the one she used just before her battle with Acnologia,” Pantherlily agreed. “I don’t think I’ve seen her this mad since the day Zade threatened her big brother.”

 

“Well big brother’s takin’ a back seat to hubby these days,” Gajeel seethed. He quickly turned and held his wife close to his heart in the dying breath of Neirah’s exit. “I get it. Shads is prone to that magic deficiency sickness and crap.

 

“Being out of practice, it’s dangerous for her to act so rashly,” Pantherlily agreed.

 

Levy smiled up at her husband hopefully. “Then you’ll go after her?”

 

Gajeel snorted with a low chuckle. “Gihi… will I go after my kid sister…” He gently kissed his daughter on the head to the sound of her giggle and bounced back a couple steps. “We’ll be home for dinner,” he hollered back in assurance. He took a backwards leap of faith, caught by the white wings of his faithful exceed as he saluted his wife and the toddler clamouring to reach him with a beaming smile.

 

Levy smiled tenderly and coddled the giggling girl to her breast. “Is your big tough daddy going to save the day?” She cooed.

 

Mira smiled sweetly and sighed with the reassurance that if anything could defuse the situation, it was the bonds of family. She slowly turned, an aura of her own whipping her hair around her lean body. Before anyone could suspect it, her own wings were ushering forth a snap of importance when her Satan soul cracked her generally sunny exterior and forced a new set of whimpers to fill the guild.

 

“If I EVER find out who put that magazine in that office, a dragon’s fury will look merciful in the wake of a demon’s!”

 

Evergreen’s expression dimmed compliantly as she held one of her triplets in her bouncing lap. “Boy, if your sister could breathe fire, she could easily be mistaken for a dragon.”

 

Elfman continued to rock from side to side with a young girl on either strong arm. “She’s totally manly.”

 

Evergreen instantly boiled over with impatience. “If that is the first word that comes out of our daughter’s mouths dragons AND demons will look like mercy to a fairy!”

 


 

There was a startled choir of gasps from the crew briefing interrupted by the crashing of an infinite dragon through the ceiling of Sorcerer’s headquarters. The only one who wasn’t concerned was the round, middle-aged lady sitting at the head of the table as the CEO with a fox skin fidgeting around her neck. Few of the models and employees were aware of the woman behind Sorcerer’s illustrious magazine, least of all a certain Lucy Heartfillia who had recently taken to path with her affianced.  With her rental abodes no longer thriving with activity, that left Lucy’s ex-landlady to focus on her greater ambitions.

 

“What on earth is this!?”

 

“Quick! Call security!”

 

“Out!”

 

“Miss Ako, have you lost all sense!”

 

The woman waved her hand as casually as any other day. “Shed the scales, dragon,” the woman taunted. “Nobody can recognise that beautiful body when it’s covered in such hideous markings.”

 

Neirah, who remained human in appearance save for her wings, lurched forwards and slammed her palms against the woman’s desk with enough pressure to shake the men around them unstable. It didn’t take them long afterwards to scamper away. When the room had silenced saved for Neirah’s seething fury, she uttered the word as calmly as a furious momma dragon could.

 

Why?”

 

Ako watched the crack in the woman’s denied expression before furiously teary blue eyes were raising over bared teeth to face the woman with a look of betrayal on her features.

 

“He is a good man! A good husband, a good guild master, and a good father!” Neirah raged through her pain. “I gave you years of my life! I even came back after my son was born, just like you requested. I never did anything to cross you!”

 

“A tad conceited, even for you, dragon girl,” Ako rasped monotonously. “This wasn’t a strike at you or your pretty little husband.”

 

“Then why did you do it!?” Neirah cried frantically. “To a man who works every day to be better than the past that torments him!”

 

Ako stuck her finger in her ear and gave it a twist. “I’ve been waiting to push that story for years,” Ako admitted confidently. “But I had to let the novelty wear off a bit first.” She popped her finger out of her ear and gave it a flick. “But then the boy sent my favourite snitch to the ER a couple of weeks ago while he was documenting some quality beach family time.”

 

“Jason?!” Neirah whined. “You’re doing this for him?!”

 

“No,” Ako admitted bluntly. “I write what sells, kitten, and your white knight gave me a golden ticket to sell about a thousand extra copies of this week’s issue.” Her gaze darkened behind her thick rimmed glasses as she offered the girl a sinister grin. “I always keep a stash of aces up my sleeve just in case sales are slow. I have to, now that most of my wizarding bombshells are retiring to start these cutesie little families of theirs.”

 

“You accused him of not being fit to be a father! Wrote that he isn’t to be trusted or provoked! You treated him like an-”

 

One of the woman’s eyes narrowed as the other enlarged. “Like a what?” Ako prodded.

 

Neirah’s wide and bewildered gazed cut towards Ako. “How did you learn about that…?” Neirah hissed vehemently.

 

“Relax, sweet pea. I haven’t bugged your home. I just happened to have an ear to the ground where you were divulging details to that adorable script mage.”

 

Neirah looked down at her trembling hands, her blood boiling to think that she’d brought it upon her own husband by not being more cautious.

 

“Gajeel, shouldn’t we enter and restrain Shadow from causing any more damage?” Pantherlily hovered just outside a nearby window silently observing the women with Gajeel in tote.

 

“Nah,” Gajeel rumbled. “The kid already knows we’re here,” he announced confidently. “She’s simmering down.” He touched down on the balcony just outside the large window in the conference room Neirah had infiltrated. “Just let her vent and make sure she doesn’t overdo it.”

 

“I am the eyes and the ears of the media,” Ako warned. “But you burst in here anyway without thinking. Just as impulsive as ever.”

 

Neirah raised her aggressive gaze back to the woman but unbarred her teeth. “What do you mean…?”

 

The woman shrugged. “I mean if you really thought about it, we’ve managed to find a way to help each other out one last time.”

 

Neirah’s cheeks coloured as she considered the events to transpire and the edge it pushed her husband towards. She had never meant to force him to a break-point so aggressively, but Ako had an argument. The first step in Laxus letting go of his demons was to learn to embrace them, something maybe Neirah had too delicate a hand to help him admit. Maybe there was a beast inside him, but he needed to know it was something that was in his control. And maybe, just maybe, he would find an encouraging reprieve from the scornful eye of the public in the arms of the woman who embraced him in the light and darkness.

 

Neirah smiled sheepishly. She knew Ako was likely pushing her aside with claims of false support just for the love of money and pretty ladies, but she supposed she’d heard similar stories of kindness from Lucy back when the girl rented quarters from the woman. And the sad part was that Lucy never learned that Ako was truly the hand behind her encouraging employment at Sorcerer between X791 and 92.

 

Ako cleared her throat with authority before straightening some papers on the whirlwind that was her desk with a decisive crack. “Now, who is to pay for the damages done today?”

 

Neirah paled bleakly realising that maybe she’d taken things a little far. “I… er… just send a bill to the guild,” she encouraged. She quickly whirled around as Ako picked up her pen and clicked the end of it to initiate its purpose. “Just-! Address it to Mirajane Strauss… um… in trust.”

 

“Just remember,” Ako encouraged upon writing her notation. “It is a small price to pay to mend a broken spirit.”

 

Neirah turned a humble smile over her shoulder. “It is…”

 

“So, I think I’ll add a couple of zeros.”

 

“DON’T YOU DARE!”

 


 

“Gajeel, if Shadow is aware that we’ve been here the whole time, why are we still following her?”

 

Gajeel smirked and watched his little sister weave through the skies ahead of them. “Man, Lil, has it really been that long since the good ol’ days of Austalian extinction? It’s like you don’t even know the kid anymore.”

 

Pantherlily smiled and kept flying. “Is it really appropriate to call her that now that she’s the mother of your nephew and wife of your best friend?”

 

“Nyeh, best is pushin’ it,” Gajeel chided. “Hah, and there she goes.” The two watched Neirah weave a bit before the flickering of her short fuse sputtered the last of her fire before her wings were deteriorating during her incline. “Take us in, furbrain.”

 

“Aye, sir.”

 

Neirah was vaguely aware of protective heat enveloping her just above Magnolia before her magic had given out altogether. After the white-hot rage had faded and left her without adrenaline to keep up her fire burning, she was realising that maybe retirement was harder on her than she thought. “Gajeel…”

 

“Ah, come on,” Gajeel chided. “Lily and I were just reminiscin’ ‘bout all the other times you screwed up and we had to save yer ass. The least you can do is call me Screwball.”  

 

Neirah smiled meekly and shook her head. “Uncle Screwball.”

 

“See? I told ya it was catchy!”

 

Neirah sighed sadly as she was set on her feet the moment Pantherlily delivered them to the ground as delicately as a struggling exceed could. “I suppose I over reacted… Thank you for coming after me.”

 

“Overreacted?” Pantherlily instigated. “They attacked your husband. They even went so far as to say that he wasn’t fit to raise a child.”

 

“Not to mention all the crap about them slanderin’ the guild,” Gajeel added. “He’s gonna get it if he goes to the games this year with our team. Everyone’s gonna be yackin’ like a bunch of diluted morons!”

 

Neirah cocked a brow playfully. “Diluted?”

 

Pantherlily sighed as Gajeel hung his head in shame. “Levy has been trying to teach their daughter vocabulary.”

 

“Awe! And Uncle Screwball’s picking up some new words?!”

 

Gajeel groaned as Neirah reefed on his cheek. “Kay, it sounds less catchy now.”

 

“The point is that your family was dealt a critical blow. Laxus has been carrying this weight for years.”

 

Neirah’s face knotted defiantly to Lily’s insinuation. “My family was dealt nothing more than what Laxus makes of this,” she snorted. “You saw Alex! Nothing is going to tarnish his opinion of that man. And I think you know full well that I stand in a similar light.”

 

Neirah blinked back at the boys who checked each other’s responses before returning them to hers.

 

“Yeah,” Gajeel muttered. “But yer crazy.”

 

“We’d like to think that Alex is still young and impressionable enough to avoid inheriting it.”

 

Neirah paused a moment before swiftly beating both over the head. “Between you two and Mira, I want you to make it very clear that the guild is to avoid treating their master any differently. Rally our oldest members if need be.”

 

Gajeel and Pantherlily both rolled their gazes to one side grimly. “Yeah, they’re kinda the ones that are the scardest.”

 

Neirah whacked her brother again. “Screwball, I swear to infinity if you don’t stop teaching my son words that don’t exist, I will end you!”

 

“Awesomer is a word! I don’t care what you OR Levy says!”

 

“We’ll do our best,” Pantherlily moderated. “But you’re right in saying that this can only be as bad a situation as Laxus makes it. There’s no guarantee that even with silence he’ll be able to let this go.”

 

Neirah nodded slowly and started stepping through town towards her home. “He’ll let it go.”

 

“But Shadow, how can you be su-”

 

“He’ll let it go…”

 

Gajeel and Pantherlily stood at each other’s sides for a long time before Gajeel finally broke the silence. “Man, am I the only one who got chills from that?”

 

“No, I believe she is more intimidating when she’s silently determined,” the exceed admitted hesitantly. He turned and faced Gajeel. “I don’t know how you two lived with her.”

 

“Maybe that’s why we’re cool now,” Gajeel theorised. “Empathy and shit.”

 

Pantherlily just stared back at his companion bleakly.

 

“Oh, come on!” Gajeel raved. “I knew what empathy is!”

 


 

Neirah heaved a heavy sigh and approached her front door. She had a lot of conflicting emotions raging inside her. A part of her was still furious with Ako, a part of her was devastated for her husband, but a part of her was a strong believer in what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger. Laxus had spent years trying to hide from his past. She knew it probably wasn’t healthy, but she’d never pushed him to face it. Not until now.

 

They had come so far, learning each other, themselves. The bond that was developing between them was unlike anything she’d ever known. It had begun to surpass any bond she’d ever shared with her brother. But anytime his phantoms came up, he shut her out. She wouldn’t even mind that part so much, but it wasn’t all he was doing. He was denying a part of himself, a passion he rarely displayed. Just because one emotion had pushed him over the edge a decade ago, he’d lost all inspiration to let any emotion govern him.

 

He was caged.

 

And if it was the last thing she did, she was going to see him free to be everything he had the capacity to be without the fear of judgement or abandonment.

 

Her step faltered as she opened her front door and looked around the quiet house. Everything was exactly as she left it right down to where she’d been dodging Alex’ toys that afternoon. She set her keys down on the hall table and started towards the kitchen. Her husband certainly wasn’t a neat freak but worried he’d step on his boy’s toys and break them, he generally always cleared a path. “Alex?” She called out for her son and no answer came. “Is anyone home?”

 

She wrinkled her nose curiously before retrieving her keys and heading back out the door towards the guild. She had forgotten that Laxus had mentioned returning to deal with the remainder of his paperwork after lunch but that was a couple hours ago. The sun was starting to set since she and her brother had returned to town.

 

She began to make her way towards the guild, contemplating their next step. She had tried to coax him into a comfortable situation of indulgence, but his resolve was so strong that all her actions ended up doing were provoking her own envy. If she was honest with herself, she was probably closer to breaking than he was.

 

That was unacceptable.

 

It was time to make him fess up to his demons. She would finally confront him about his fears rather than compassionately dodging tender topics.

 

She was so deep in her own thoughts that she didn’t think twice about tapping Mirajane on the shoulder as she bussed tables with a worrisome expression on her face. Neirah felt horrible when she startled the woman into dropping her tableware.

 

“O-oh! Neirah, you’re back!” Mirajane exclaimed with a heavy sigh. “You aren’t being followed, are you?”

 

Neirah knelt by the She-Devil’s side and helped clean up the mess she caused. “No, sorry, it’s a long story,” she assured calmly. When they had finished cleaning the pieces of broken dishes, they stood together and Neirah quickly scanned the guild. “Did my husband and son return yet or?”

 

Mira had an alarmed look on her face when she whirled back to face her friend. “Laxus came back about an hour ago to finish at his desk, but he didn’t have Alex with him.” Mira held her hands to her face in panic. “Neirah, I thought he was with you!”

 

Neirah considered the coinciding of times and possibilities before her hand was on Mira’s shoulder to settle her shot nerves. “It’s ok, Gajeel and I dropped in around the same time. Chances are uncle Screwball’s going to babysit while Sparky mopes.”

 

Mira forced a sad and amused little grin on her lips. “Wow, there are some names I haven’t heard in a while.”

 

Neirah smiled solemnly and started back out the doors with an exhausted sigh. “Welp, I figured since we’re tumbling down memory lane, I might as well get my kicks in while I can…”

 

“Do you want some help looking for him?” Mira called supportively after her.

 

“No,” Neirah muttered almost incomprehensibly. “I know where he is.”

 


 

Laxus stared out over the edge of the cliffs in the East Forest. He wasn’t much of a nature guy, but the forest was quiet and because of its dangers, it was rarely traversed by the inhabitants of Magnolia. If he were to find any company upon passing, they would surely be wizards, likely Fairy tail wizards; and after a brief check of their job itinerary, no Fairy Tail wizards should be connecting with him in his solitary state.

 

The slight incline of the forest elevated it enough that he could look down on the city from where he stood. Humble, bustling, home. He’d thoroughly traversed the continent, but despite the opinion of glossy pages that accused him of monstrous crimes a decade before, his feet always led him back. He was born in Magnolia, he called the boring town his stomping grounds for most of his life. It was unfortunate that he was quickly learning that it was a town that wanted nothing to do with him.

 

His fist clenched at his side as his gaze wandered with the orange glow on the small figures before tired eyes. He supposed a part of him hoped that being forced to take his grandfather’s place as Fairy Tail’s guild master might have helped them to forget. He devoted a great amount of his time to the guild in order to see that it was run as smoothly and responsibly as possible. He had become kind of a work-o-holic.

 

He wasn’t cruel to his members, but he certainly didn’t tolerate the same level of dysfunction his grandfather had allowed. To be honest, since Natsu and Lucy had vanished after the war, he didn’t have many problems with things like the negligent destruction of patron property. The worst he’d seen yet was a claim that Romeo had set a sage’s beard on fire. There wasn’t much he could do about that but have Mira issue a written apology on their behalf. It wasn’t like he could give the man another century’s worth of facial hair growth.

 

Maybe a part of him was naïve enough to believe that he’d started to pull ahead. People started to greet him in the streets when he was out with his family. Not that he had ever given much thought to what others had to say about his life, but it was kind of nice hearing the sweet murmurs of people swooning over the perfection that he’d found.

 

And then something as vile as Sorcerer’s latest issue arrives and tears the ground right out from under him all over again. He would be lying to deny that he didn’t have an urge to let loose on the town for old time’s sake. If they wanted him to be the villain so bad, maybe it wouldn’t hurt to indulge the bastards a little.

 

It disturbed him to think that the only thing holding him back from giving the media exactly what they asked for was for the terrible example it would set for his son.

 

“Got a thing for sunsets?”

 

Laxus chilled when he heard the demanding snap in his wife’s stern tone. He knew he was in trouble before he even turned to face her. He had to admit that he’d been a little cold with her back at the guild. He was in a rut. He didn’t mean to accuse her of joining the opposing team. “Do you?” He got chills just considering references to the first time they met after his return from Tenrou in a very similar spot, at a very similar time of day under very similar circumstances. The only thing was the hard tone of her voice. It wasn’t playfully reminiscing. She was furious.

 

“You wanna tell me what it is you’re running from?” She demanded bluntly. “Your responsibility to the guild, the judgement of your friends, a family that loves you?”

 

Laxus lowered his weighted gaze before turning his back entirely to deny her prodding. “I don’t want to talk about it.”

 

“Well, I do.”

 

Laxus nearly choked on the hard swallow he accommodated with the severity in her tone and soon, he could feel the release of her magic as she prepared to go on the offensive. Sure enough, when he raised his submissive gaze to hers, it was hot amber and all the dragon that coursed through her veins.

 

He bowed his head sadly and started to step by her. “Ok, I get it,” he agitated. “I’m being an idiot. Let’s just go home and-” Laxus’ gaze was widening more alertly as iron pillars climbed to the sky to cut him off from retreating through the forest. She had cut off the little cliffside they lingered on, and although he had options of escape, her methods promised that if he went out of his way to do so, the chase would hinder him far more than what was to come.

 

“We’re not going anywhere,” she rumbled. “You know, I still owe you one for the guild.

 

“Neirah…”

 

“You almost killed my brother. A man you now hold as one of your closest friends.”

 

“Cut it out!” Laxus demanded feverishly. “I know what I did! Everyone knows what the fuck I did! Just drop it and let’s go home!” His breathing hitched in the blink it took her to burst from the edge of the cliff to where he stood. He had the slightest moment to sense her hand a breath away from his sternum as their gazes met.

 

“Maybe I don’t want to take you home.”

 

The hurt of her comment was bad enough for his heart to take, but the unbridled ferocity of the dark charge to rip through his chest cavity and send him crashing into the iron pillars at his back had an agonized bark on his lips. He hacked out a winded cough, recoiling on the unsuspecting blow. Even if she was using a form of lightning, he was helpless to absorb it when it mingled with shadows. He wasn’t Natsu. He refused to be so reckless.

 

“Ok! I get it! I’m being a whiny little bitch,” he shouted. “But you didn’t have to take our son to lunch where every second one of his twenty questions was ‘Hey dad? Why is everyone STARING!’.”

 

Neirah didn’t justify his weakness to the situation. Instead, she darted forwards and swung her leg up over her head and into his shoulder. In a burst of black static, her reluctant lover was being stricken into the ground and pummelled beneath her statically charged heel. “I believe something like this should be familiar.” She hardened herself to the groaning at her feet as she raised her foot and drove it back down between his shoulder blades. “And the man you’re playing now-” She slammed into him again. “Let you marry his baby sister!” She wrinkled her nose furiously as he let her continue to pound on him, her own fury growing to think that he’d grown so capable of surrendering to docile tendencies that he didn’t have the fight left in him that he needed to stick up for himself. She ground her teeth and ripped her leg back, surrendering no holds barred in her next attempt. “The dragon you condemned to an early grave, let you marry his daughter!”

 

Her breathing hitched hopefully when Laxus reached out and wrapped his hand around her ankle. Her heart fluttered as he tossed to one side, one narrowed iris glaring back at her heatedly as golden sparks tickled her shin. “I had nothing. to do. with that!”

 

Neirah whimpered as his bitter snarl proceeded the jerking of her balance from beneath her. She had gotten really good at playing her part during their bedroom games. Her husband truly believed the article she’d read had set her off.

 

Good.

 

“That old fucking lizard had no place trying to protect me!” Laxus roared in denial.

 

Neirah lurched forwards, unsatisfied that he was still on the defensive. “But he did!” She had to admit, she was impressed that she was still as agile as she once was. “And you didn’t even have the courage to apologize to my brother and beg his forgiveness.” Neirah snapped her jaw shut and closed her eyes to deny the vulnerable look on her husband’s face as it met her fist. “But he still forgave you! Just like my father!”

 

Laxus gave his head a shake to get the stars out of his eyes. His wife may have retired her magic in wake of their son, but the tiny infinite slayer still packed a punch. He pinched his bloodied lip between his teeth to keep the hot crimson trail from rolling over his chin.

 

“That was a pretty flashy spectacle for someone who isn’t even man enough to tell his wife the story. She had to hear it from everyone else for ten long years!”

 

She wants me, you know.

 

Laxus felt the bite of rage swell within his breast as he dodged her incoming strike and left her to eat her own iron. “You know exactly why I don’t wanna talk about this!” Laxus snapped. “I wish I could go back and do things different, but I can’t! I screwed up, ok!?”

 

“No! It’s not!” Neirah shouted. She growled when her next kick was deflected by his forearm, mainly to cover up the energized smile that wanted to inch over her face. “I’m not going to roll over and forgive you like the rest of them. You may have them fooled, but I’m not going to fall for the pity trip. If you want me to forgive you for your crimes then you can start by admitting that they happened!”

 

His nostrils flared for a moment, his fingers flinching at his side with the need to strike back. “You weren’t even fucking there!”

 

“Oh?” Neirah leapt back and judged the tension in his body. “Wasn’t I?

 

Laxus nearly gagged with her condescension. She had been there, for a moment. A sick little child in the wrong place at the wrong time. She wasn’t even a member of Fairy Tail during the betrayal in question. “You’re really going to play that card… AFTER TEN FUCKING YEARS!?”

 

“What you’re doing isn’t any healthier than what happened then!” Neirah barked, dodging his clumsy counterstrike. She could tell he was still fighting the need he had to clock her.

 

“I had no control over what happened then!”

 

Neirah couldn’t help but get into the playful spirit they had built their relationship upon in their youth. A few more secrets were about to surface in the way she perspired, in the way her sly expression morphed. “You have no control over what happens to you now.” She ghosted through the shadows and along the iron pillars she’d used to cut off his escape route. She materialised against them and launched backwards towards him. Upon passing, she hissed her vindictive words through clenched teeth. “You’re my fucking bitch.”

 

Obviously thinking she was trying to make her way to the other side of him, he didn’t suspect the hug of tight thighs around his neck dragging him backwards. She felt his breathing hack unsteadily against her inner thigh before she was ripping him back over her head, releasing him over the edge of the cliff behind her before completing her back handspring. She landed in an elegant crouch before standing and dusting her hands together with a triumphant smirk as the cliffside grew quiet. “That should do it.”

 

Neirah yelped with the sound of thunder shaking the earth and sky around her to the return of her husband on the cliff’s edge. The drop wasn’t lethal by any means, but the look on his face as he straightened and glared back at her in full force was.

 

She returned the look of malice into her expression as she spoke. “Are you ready to grow a spine?” Neirah’s throat worked nervously as the sharp shift of his gaze pierced her. They may have had interesting bedroom accommodations, but Laxus refused to hold back just because she was a woman or his wife. She had known from day one that if she took their partnership for granted, he’d let her have it; deservedly so.

 

And it was coming.

 

Neirah shrieked beneath the restraining grip of his forearm as he bolted forwards and snapped it around her throat, but she wasn’t ready to talk just yet. She had spent too long trying to get him to reach break point with the fear of hurting her, she was ready to take that fear away and move things along. With the cocky attitude she was displaying, she deserved what was coming.

 

She sank her teeth into his forearm, silently delighted when he didn’t flinch. “Thick bastard,” she hissed. She heard him growl his frustration as she faded into the shadows and out of his arms.

 

“I’m done with your head games, Neirah!” He roared. “I’m not gonna sit here and take this!”

 

She reappeared behind him, propelling forwards to slam her shin into his ribs. “You’ll take what I tell you to take, Sparky!” She stilled when he snapped around and caught her, but he didn’t just restrain her. She felt the charge of unrestrained vehemence surge through her body until the power she was helpless to withstand had her crying out in pain. She crashed into her own iron pillars with a delicate little whine. ‘Oh yea, good and mad now.’

 

Laxus threw his arm out to the side, sweeping it through the thick, humid air. “You don’t think I went through it bad enough today!?” He thundered. “You have no idea what I used to be! To hear you even think about wanting that is fucking disgusting! It makes it hard to remember why I even try to be better. I was trying for you!”

 

Neirah winced and climbed to her feet as he expelled his wrath over her teasing him for his past. She’d never wanted his demons. All she ever wanted was for him to be free of them and she was starting to learn now that teasing him into accepting his past wasn’t going to work. She hated when they genuinely fought. It always wrenched her heart when she had to watch him suffer like he was. She simply wasn’t strong enough to give him the cold shoulder. “How would I know any better?!” She demanded frantically. She charged back into combat with him, packing as much force into her black lightning charges as she could. She didn’t want to bore him, or worse, blow her cover. “You hid it all from me! I don’t know anything about that side of my husband other than what people have been gossiping about for the last decade!”

 

Laxus hardened himself to his wife’s delicate yelps as she was pulled out of his vicinity by another wave of bright static strands. “I did it to protect you, you cheeky little brat!” He ground his teeth and expelled an exasperated snarl when she powered back at him without the slightest sign of giving up.

 

Neirah’s gaze flashed hot as she glared back at him through wide, glowing amber orbs. “I am a dragon, Laxus,” she seethed. “You let me go off to slay Acnologia on my own, carrying your unborn child!” She had to admit, the frustration in her hardened tone was starting to become genuine. “Are you telling me that you think you’re such a dangerous monster that you’d protect me from yourself over the calamity that terrorized this continent for four centuries?!”

 

Laxus flinched as he began to dodge the rain of dark electrical charges raining from the crimson sky, but that was when the golden flames of infinity barreled into his unsuspecting figure and he was thrown back into the dirt.

 

“Have you always been so conceited?!”

 

Laxus hacked on his weak breath and staggered to his feet. He never expected her to bring infinite castings into their games. “Neirah, calm the fuck down. You're gonna make yourself sick!”

 

‘Not to mention you’re about two steps from killing your idiot husband.’

 

“I won’t!” She barked. “I’m not going to roll over and forget like everyone else. I’m not afraid of you, I’m not afraid to hurt your feelings, I’m not afraid of retribution or the shadows of my past! Not like you!”

 

Laxus wove through her attacks and tried to keep his exposure to her magic at a minimum.

 

“I am not taking you home like this, not anymore! I’m not giving a man I don’t know another minute of my life.”

 

“You’re being ridiculous!”

 

“I’m being true!”

 

Laxus was so wound with anger that when his little wife slammed the butt of her steel palm into the underside of his chin, he snapped his head back in line with his target, slammed her up beneath his forearm and put enough volts through her tiny body that her pre-historic father was going to feel them in his grave. The feeling of using such unrestrained force against the woman he loved tore at his insides as he winced at the sound of her cries, but the real terror was that the tone in her screech was something he liked.

 

He wanted to hear it again.

 

He knew she wasn’t going to bounce back from the blow he delivered when the pained and delicate shade of blue returned to her human eyes. Her body couldn’t handle the kind of power she was capable of using, not her human body, at least. He took a moment to steady his breath, his racing heartbeat, knowing that she had nowhere left to run. “What the fuck do you want from me?!” He roared in anguish.

 

Neirah could feel his forearm trembling against her windpipe as he restrained her while continuing to battle his own emotions. The fact that he was working so hard, all the time, to hold something back told her that there was always something more to experience. Something she’d never been given the opportunity for. She reached up and traced affectionate circles around his strained arm. “I want you to stop running,” she whispered tenderly. “Laxus, that’s all I ever wanted for you… To help you face your fears like you helped me face mine years ago.”

 

Laxus was furious that she’d pushed him so far for something so trivial and he was considering denying her entirely. To surface terrible memories like the ones he’d had to endure that afternoon, for what?

 

His breath caught as she shifted beneath him and arched her chest into his restraint, emphasizing pressure on her head against her iron blockade as she tightened her core and brought her legs up around his hips. Her breath was just as exhilarated as his as she jerked him tightly into her without hesitation. She looked back into the instant sedation in his expression as his passion altered from rage. “That’s right,” she whispered breathily. “Did you think you were the only one who got off on power?”

 

Laxus worked a dry swallow down his throat as he gently shook his head to deny her. “It’s not… like that.”

 

“You’re lying,” she whispered. “Maybe when I tease and say I want the man you were, I’m not saying I want the sleazy, arrogant, pervert. I want the man who wasn’t afraid. Maybe he was a little cocky, but he had confidence in his strengths.” She slowly shook her head. “Not like you…”

 

Laxus slammed his brow up alongside her head against the iron blockade, his teeth ground and eyelids pinched tightly together. He withdrew his arm from across her collar, draping it by her hip to help support her clenching. “Fuck, don’t do this,” he begged.

 

“Laxus, you’re so strong.” Neirah let her temple gently roll to the side against his head while accompanying her small whisper. “You’re absolutely irresistible when you have that fire in your eyes. A spark of life…”

 

“I’m so afraid,” he breathed in response. “The way it makes me feel. I don’t want it to affect our family.”

 

“It’s affecting our family now,” she insisted. “It’s affecting us…”

 

“I can’t let it go,” he whispered. “Every time I even come close, I panic and choke…” He narrowly opened his eyes and looked back at her, his fingertips tracing the delicate curves of her face. “I don’t want to hurt you…”

 

Neirah’s brow knotted despite her whimsical smile. “But you like being in control…”

 

Laxus ground his teeth together and took a deep breath. It was too late to shelter her, and knowing that, his raspy whisper expelled through clenched teeth. “Of everything…”

 

Neirah almost moaned with his heady growl and she tipped her head back and closed her eyes. “You told me once that you wanted to hurt me, I thought you were just having a hard time saying what you wanted to say.”

 

He slowly smoothed fiery fingertips over her curves, his heart stampeding beneath his chest as he tried to gather his thoughts. “When I found you, you were a challenge. Someone who could endure me at my worst. I made you poison; because I respected you. Now every time I break you down, I hear you scream or make you cry…”

 

Neirah listened to his demons rise just to admit it. “It makes you feel good.” She felt him tense and her response was to lean forwards and smooth her hands over his chest. “It reminds you that you’re powerful.”

 

“Everyone who ever doubted me, everyone who ever betrayed me,” he whispered. “I don’t want to be this way. Neirah, I swear I love you. Just the thought of you hurting, it kills me… but…”

 

“You can’t deny a part of who you are,” Neirah coaxed. “You’re missing out on so much.”

 

Laxus jolted away from her and let their gazes meet, hers full of doting determination and his filled with agony. “Like what?! I have everything anyone could ever ask for. A family, a guild, titles, rep.”

 

“And you want more.”

 

Laxus snapped his teeth together and slammed his brow into hers. “I can’t stop,” he surrendered. “It doesn’t matter what it is, revenge, power… you…” He closed his eyes and sighed. “Neirah, I could smell you as soon as you stepped into the guild today. At least, I really hope I didn’t notice as soon as you left the front door of our house but I just don’t know anymore. I tried to stop but I couldn’t. I had to see you… I just… holding you… I’m so sick of the fucking games.” His jaw parted against her neck, his breath hot and heavy against the side of her neck as she whined and turned away from him to allow him access to his exploration. “I’m not gonna last,” he breathed.

 

Neirah moaned softly and tipped her head back to the encouragement of pressure on the roots of her hair beneath statically charged fingertips. “This reminds me so much of that night in the mountains… We fought… and then you ravaged me…”

 

“Say that again,” he groaned. “With the same little moan at the end…”

 

She whined through her smile before arching into the tongue joining his kisses on her collar. “Ravaged… like a sick beast.” She inhaled deeply and clutched the roots of his hair beneath sweating palms before extending the shrill wheeze that begged his continuation. “And I need it… just like that. That one night stayed with me… I want to lay with that man again.” Her heart ached to think that their marriage and family had put the leash on him so early. “You didn’t hold anything back that night… I felt so close to you…”

 

Laxus pressed his lips to her tilted temple and breathed his words against her ear. “Fuck, let me give it to you.”

 

She was only slightly indecisive as he linked his thumb in one of her jean belt loops and squeezed against the snug hug of the denim already riding low on her hips. “N-no…” It was the hardest thing for her to say when ‘yes’ was on repeat in her head. “Not yet… All this stress, you’re starting to be honest with me… with yourself. Laxus, you’re so close…”

 

“Let me be closer,” he seethed.

 

“Tell me you liked it,” she whispered softly. “Losing control. Holding the lives of everyone you knew in the palm of your hands for that split moment in time.”

 

“It wasn’t like that…”

 

“I know,” she defended carefully. She gently teased the hair on the nape of his neck and lingered close to his confession. “But for that one moment when nothing else mattered, not the past, or the future-”

 

“It was fucking incredible…”

 

Neirah reached out and clutched his head tight to her chest, trying to steady her rushing heartbeat in order to be the rock he needed to lean on for a moment. But a part of her, couldn’t help but tremble.

 

Laxus reached out and wrapped his palm around her elevated backside, squeezing her tight against his body. “You’re burning up,” he rumbled in quiet observance. “I can’t tell whether it’s your magic acting up after that batshit display or if it’s me.”

 

She was about to tease him for being modest again when he interrupted her preparation for a retort.

 

“Pretty sure it’s me.”

 

Neirah chomped on her lower lip and hissed dramatically. “All these years,” she snarled. “Rule number one in the art of seduction, Sparky. A woman wants a confident man.”

 

Laxus pulled far enough away from her that he could glare down at her over the bridge of his nose. “All this one wanted was a jackass that called her lightning little.”

 

“It wants much more than that now,” she instigated. “I’m not the same shell of a girl who sat here trembling in front of you behind her first kiss.”

 

Laxus snorted haughtily. “That was a pretty sad attempt at a kiss, sweetheart.”

 

“Oh? Would you have preferred my sneak attack involve tongues and teeth?”

 

His groan was soft but eager as he rolled his thumb over her hip. “Maybe it woulda ended a little like this.”

 

“Or maybe we would have been just another spark to fizzle out of your eyes.” She smiled back at him passionately and full of tenderness. “Patience brought us here, Prince. To where experiencing this moment now is returning that light.”  

 

“I fucking love you,” he groaned. “I know I should be pissed right off for the fucking attitude tonight but I just can’t… you smell so good…” He ignored her throaty giggle and growled into her neck, his hand cupping the entirety of her scalp as he drew her hair around his face. He loved nothing more than when she let it down.

 

“I’ve always loved our little fights,” she crooned.

 

“Right, and I’m the broken one.”

 

“It’s so thrilling, your passion… when you let go… It turns me on, just knowing that I can set you free.” She moaned and nibbled her lip as she took his face in her hands, smiling back at him all the while. “It reminds me I married an alpha.”

 

Laxus gently shook his head, his stern features lacking many expressions. “Maybe the problem here isn’t me acting like an animal, it’s that the animal I married wants another animal to screw around with.”

 

Breed with.”

 

“Don’t be a cunt.”

 

“Mn, do you want to breed me, Sparky?”

 

“Don’t call me that…”

 

“You’re such a dork,” she purred passionately. “And I’m so in love with you…”

 

“Really? I couldn’t tell,” he grunted. “I come out here to clear my head, you show up, kick the crap out of me and now I gotta make sure you don’t burn the clothes right off your little body with how hot you are. If you wanted to get kinky we could have done this at home.”

 

“If I didn’t get you to admit your weakness, I wasn’t going to take you home.”

 

Laxus hesitated for a brief moment. “You’re not serious, are you?”

 

She shrugged casually. “I guess we’ll never know,” she teased. “Can you imagine? Right here, by the sunset, our first and last kiss?”

 

Laxus’ heart sank to even consider the loss of the woman he married. “Your plan’s flawed,” he mused huskily against her chin. “You haven’t kissed me once tonight…”

 

Neirah smiled lovingly and held his face in her hands. “The sun hasn’t finished setting, on us or this day.”

 

There was a look of contented desperation in Laxus’ expression as he looked back at her with a weightless and enthusiastic conscience. “Then kiss me,” he nearly begged. “Like I wish you had of all those years ago that minute you called me sir…”

 

“Mn, you liked that, did you?”

 

“Kinda…”

 

“And which do you prefer?” She purred against his nose. “Sir… or daddy…?”

 

Laxus sucked back a hard breath before his sedated expression was brightening with pride and affection alongside his smile. “Always daddy….”

 

It had been a long time since they had shared a deep, passionate, undistracted kiss. Nobody was in power that moment, no one was restrained. It was the kind of kiss she wanted every time she kissed her husband, not every blue moon. He felt sharper, more alert and incredibly indulgent even with the taste of liquor on his tongue. Bad daddy. Just knowing that she knew his secret seemed to take a burden from him, not a large one, but enough that he could stand a little straighter. He did have demons, she knew that; he knew she knew it. And she still loved him.

 

Their embrace might have started modest and romantic, but moving forwards, they lost the ability to contain their passion. This led sloppy half-kisses astray over the corners of mouths, teeth to nip at swollen lips and passionately hungry sound effects to mingle with the gentle sucking sighing as the sun set beyond the horizon.

 

As soon as Neirah released his lower lip to the sound of his sated groan, she smiled and sucked her own back behind her teeth. “Put me down, daddy,” she commanded.

 

He could feel his excitement growing as he obeyed her order. “Mm yes ma’am.”

 

When she was settled back on her own two feet, he gently captured her lips in one final kiss. “I wanna take you home,” he whispered eagerly.

 

“Well,” she instigated, “Seeing as you ditched our son-”

 

“He’s with your brother,” Laxus added in defence. “And he’s there because he asked nicely. Y’know, cause his uncle’s…” He shook his head to empty it from trying to put much effort into remembering how his son had worded it.

 

“Uncle Screwball’s the awesomest, yeah, I know,” she chided.

 

“Yea…” He drawled his words in a euphoric state of bliss. “So maybe, if I’m good…”

 

“We're not making a baby tonight.”

 

He tried to restrain his throaty groan. “Not what I was gonna suggest,” he scolded. “I just… wanna be your bitch a little longer…”

 

“You’re not my bitch if you tell me what you want and I give it to you,” she assured him supportively. “Only if you lose your own thoughts and replace them with mine.”

 

“Whatever,” he clumsily dismissed. “However you want to sugar coat it, I want you to take me home, lock me down and make me beg.” He groaned anxiously at the thought. “And speaking of sugar, I want you to get that extra icing out of the fridge, and I want you jerking on that collar as I lick it off the heat I feel burnin’ up your lace.”

 

“That’s a pretty specific game-plan, Prince.”

 

Laxus groaned and rattled with the chill crawling up his spine. “I’m in the mood for giving it to my queen and I’m working with what I’ve got.”

 

Neirah’s core trembled as she slowly stepped out from beneath his passionate heat and stepped around him. She laid her fingers against his shoulder and gently shoved him up against the iron she was backed against prior. “Speaking of what you’ve got…” Laxus tipped his head back with an elated groan when she smoothed her palm over his restrained erection. “Trouncing through Magnolia with a concealed weapon isn’t going to help your case after today.”

 

Laxus cocked a brow over his weighted expression, a hollow half-parted smirk on his lips. “Maybe you should do something about that.”

 

Neirah looked up at him from beneath her lashes, a look of surprise on his once arrogant features as she undid his belt buckle. “It’s cute that you thought I might not have.” She stifled her amused chortle and sighed her elation. “So, here’s my adjusted game-plan,” she offered in concession. “You’re going to take me home, make me a tea, rub my feet and answer any question I ask about that day ten years ago,” she crooned in compromise. “And then, if I am satisfied with your performance, we’re going to share a drink to take the edge off and I’m going to tie you up, rub you down and make you bleed.”

 

Laxus’ upper lip quirked over his sedated grimace as she rolled her hips against his lap and nibbled on his throat. “Fucking succubus,” he nearly snarled. “I want my soul back…”

 

Neirah moaned against his neck before lining it with her tongue. “From what I hear, you wouldn’t know what to do with it even if I did, sweetie.” Now he could hear the playful singing in her tone and it blanketed him in comfort. “No, I’ll hold onto it for a little longer…”

 

Laxus lowered his lips to hers and tensely curved his hands over her spine. “Keep it,” he whispered curtly. “Seeing it in your hands is a hell of a lot better than the alternative.”

 

She gently returned his slow kiss before continuing to instigate. “Mn, back to self-loathing already?”

 

“No,” he whispered confidently. “No place is better for it than being with you.”

 

Neirah took a deep and euphoric breath before sliding her lips over his ear and preparing to fall to her knees before him. “Don’t worry, Prince. We’re going to drudge up some retribution for your sins tonight.” Her lips parted wide for her heady breath. “You will face divine punishment at the hands of the Golden Dragon.”

 

His head swayed with the weight of his surrender to her authority as he closed his eyes and furrowed his brow with caged desire. “You have no idea how badly I want to fuck you right now.”

 

Neirah purred spiritedly and knelt before him, rolling her palm sternly over his sheathed manhood. “I think I have a pretty good idea, actually.”

 

Laxus groaned and made himself comfortable as he braced against the supports at his back. “You know, you make it hard as hell to try and figure shit out,” he instigated. “When I’m down, you lick my wounds. When I’m an overconfident jerk, you lick my wou-” His words faded into a delighted hiss as the flickering of her tongue tasted his skin. His fingers flinched at his side as she slid her lips around his girth and pumped her lips over his shaft, the slick pressure elating him to the point of closing his eyes indulgently. “You have no idea how good that feels after this fucking day…”

 

Neirah’s lips vibrated with her gentle purr as she reached to his side and captured his wrist. She guided his fingers to the back of her head and let the tips bump her scalp as she withdrew her tongue from around his cock. “It would probably feel better if you relaxed a bit more,” she teased. “Even if you confessed a couple dark little secrets tonight, the news isn’t new to me.”

 

Laxus’ brow knotted bitterly as he fondled the satiny roots of her hair. “Then why the hell did you put me on the spot?” His gaze was flickering shut, his fingers grasping as her wet tongue flirted with the tip of his cock.

 

“Because I think hearing yourself say the words will help you come to terms with the parts of you that you try to hide.”

 

“I hide them for a reason…”

 

Neirah almost smiled as she dampened her lips and curled her tongue around the underside of his shaft, giving the thick veins lining the base an encouraging suck. “I needed you to know that you don’t need to hide them from me. It will help us take this further,” she whispered softly. “I’m going to love you regardless, and your friends? Your family? The more you brood, the harder it is on them.”

 

“If you’re heading somewhere meaningful with this, I think it would be better to go there without half my dick in your mouth.”

 

Neirah playfully pulled away and wrapped her fingers tightly around his girth. “If you want to make this up, you have to drop the weight and smile through it.”

 

“Easy for you to say…”

 

“A bribe then,” she cooed. She tightened her pumping grip and smirked. “You know that when Freed and Bickslow get back into town they’re going to freak. When they do, I want you to reassure them with a smile. Do that, and I’ll do this.”

 

Chills skittered over his skin as he groaned and encouraged her throat to swallow him deeply with guiding pressure on the back of her head. “Shit, you’ve got a deal…” He immediately snapped his teeth together with a panting growl. “Damn, I really am your bitch…”

 

Neirah withdrew her lips for a moment, lapping at his shaft through her smile to accommodate her response. “You said it.”

 

“Pretty, smart, powerful, man I fucking scored with you, didn’t I?”

 

“Mn, but you forgot crazy, eccentric and stubborn.”

 

He felt the twang of impatience steel his response as she swallowed his engorged member once more. He knew she was just trying to get a rouse out of him earlier, but something about divulging his intentions to her had him feeling a little braver than usual. He did have wants, needs, and even if some of them were capable of scaring him, maybe he didn’t have to shut them all down.

 

His fingers ached with his careful restraint as he tightened his grip on the back of her head and started to take control of the bobbing brunette. One eye kept his cautious gaze locked on his wife as she reacted to his sudden enthusiasm.

 

She didn’t discourage him, in fact, a gentle drone filled the modest cliffside to the steady lap of her tongue and if he was seeing things clearly, he noticed that his confident bombshell was blushing. It wasn’t something he caught her doing often. The best part of her compliance to his wishes was that she began to work harder to facilitate his encouraged desires. Soon, his second hand was folding into her hair and he dropped his head back entirely as he enjoyed the dedicate swirling of her tongue around deep thrusts behind her lips. Somebody had picked up some tricks from Mira.

 

She allowed him to enjoy himself for a while, delighting in the fact that he was finally starting to relax tense thighs beneath her fingers. However, as soon as eager fingers were clawing at her scalp and the pulsing of anticipation was stirring in his loins, she was tearing away from his hips with a gasp regardless of the pressure she fought in his palm. “Not until I say so,” she commanded.

 

Laxus only narrowly contained his roar of anguish. “Fuck, Neirah!”

 

Not. until I say so,” she repeated more sternly as she coaxed his pleasure with her damp palm. “You know it feels better this way.”

 

“Well… yeah but…”

 

“Then stop being lazy and work for it.”

 

His laboured breathing hitched as she all but dove back into the task at hand with a fierce fervour. “Fuck, yes ma’am…” But she didn’t make it easy. “That’s it… just a little deepe- shit, just like that.” He tossed his head back and cracked it up against the iron with a desperate groan seethed through ground teeth. “Fuck, Neirah don’t stop. I need this…”

 

Neirah gave a gentle hum of approval for his self-indulgence, her nails teasing his one trembling thigh as he struggled to remain comfortable while fighting with all he had not to fill her mouth prematurely. She didn’t drag out his torment though, not in that particular moment. His day had been exhausting on a psychological level and she could tell he still didn’t have everything in order. For the most part, she still feared that he was telling her what she wanted to hear, but it was a start.

 

Her lips curled into a grateful smile around his shaft as she withdrew momentarily to warn him that the moment was his to take and then she returned to her diligent task beneath the guiding pressure of his palm. She knew where he liked it, she knew what buttons to press that had no kill switch. After allowing him a couple more minutes of bliss, she found those pleasure points and hammered down on them hungrily. She knew he was done when his right thigh stopped twinging to the throb of his cock between her lips. In response, her delighted mewl ushered his erection to the back of her throat to the steady pump of his release. They’d still have to make their way back home through town so she couldn’t afford to wear any.

 

She hummed her soft approval and wiped a combination of tacky substances from her chin with a smile. “Well, that certainly must have helped.”

 

“Man, if you had of pulled that back when we met here all those years ago, we’d have those twenty-seven kids by now…” Laxus arched his shoulder stiffly, relief spreading from his chest to strained limbs as he shifted against his supports. “You have no idea how bad I want our bed to be just on the other side of these ugly things.” There was a surprised hitch in his breath when his supports vanished to his wife’s command and it left him to fall back to strike the hard earth behind them with an irate grunt.

 

Neirah remained on her knees, crawling forwards between his thighs as he squirmed in discomfort amongst the dirt before her. “Don’t get too comfortable, Prince,” she warned him. “You made plans for tonight.”

 

Laxus raised his head, with great strain, to face the woman approaching. “I did, didn’t I?” He offered his wife an affectionate grin as he adjusted to support the rise in his head with one set of fingers. “But I don’t wanna have to think anymore. Not tonight.” The pressure in his neck was slightly relieved as Neirah continued to crawl up his body and soon, she was straddling his chest and facilitated him laying his head back entirely. He laid clammy palms against her splayed thighs and indulged in the reaction of the taut muscles. “I don’t want to worry about anything but how good it feels.”

 

“Mn, to be beaten.”

 

There was an amused flicker of life in his expression as he curled his fingers through the bunches of auburn waves framing her face. “Could I be so lucky…?”

 

Neirah lowered her kiss to his chest, raising her haunches high behind her. “You really are broken,” she teased. “But if that’s what you want-”

 

Laxus quickly raised his palm to her face and covered her mouth. “Not here,” he warned her sternly. “Talk like that here and we’re gonna have the same problem you just worked so hard to avoid.”

 

Neirah let a triumphant chuckle fill her chest as she swirled her finger around his sternum in lazy circles. “Then I’d better shut up,” she cooed. “I don’t know if my lips are strong enough to handle round two against such a well-endowed beast. I might need to call in support from the big guns.”

 

Laxus snapped his head back against the ground to avoid the sight of her heavy breasts smothered against his chest, covering his face with tense fingers to stifle his exasperated groan. “Cheeky fucking brat…”

 

“It’s going to be a long night…” 



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