Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail.
"A is for Alexei."
A picture of Alexei smiling. Alexei points to the picture and smiles up at Laxus. "That's me!"
"That's right. That is you there. Getting pretty famous, aren't you?"
Alexei turns the page.
"B is for Bickslow." A picture of Bickslow and his babies.
"That's right, those are his babies. Just like you are a baby."
Alexei points to himself. "Baby?"
Laxus nods his head. "Correct."
Alexei smiles. "Imma baby!"
"C is for Cana" A picture of Cana drinking from a mug at the bar.
"D is dragon and dragon slayers." A picture of different colored dragons and all the dragon slayers.
"Rawrrrr," growls Alexi playfully when he sees the picture of a dragon.
"Rawrrrr," growls Laxus back, tickling Alexei's side, causing him to let out a happy squeal.
"E is for Erza." There were two pictures of Erza. One was of her eating a strawberry cake in the guild with a smile on her face. The other was of her standing on top of a defeated Natsu and Gray, with her sword pointed in the air victoriously.
"They have a boo boo," giggled Alexei at Natsu and Gray, who were unconscious of their tongues sticking out.
"Yes. They have a big boo boo," said Laxus in an amused tone. He turned the page.
"F is for Fairy Tail." A picture of the guild and the Fairy Tail insignia. "This is where all of our friends are." Laxus pointed to the guild building.
"Faiwy Tail fwiend?" Alexei tried to pronounce the r's but failed.
"Yes. Fairy Tail is our friend." Laxus corrected his pronunciation, specifically emphasizing the r's. It was something they had to work on, but Laxus couldn't help but be proud of the progress Alexei was making.
"G is for Gajeel, Gildarts, Gramps, and Gray." Laxus bit the side of his mouth to hold back his laughter at the images of his guild mates and his grandfather. Lucy did a wonderful job with the illustrations. She told him Reedus drew the pictures, but she dictated what needed to be drawn.
Gajeel was on stage in his suit and fedora, playing his guitar and singing a song. Gildarts and Master sitting at the bar drinking. Gray was ice skating, fully clothed to Laxus's relief.
Interestingly enough, there was a button in the top corner near Gajeel's picture. Laxus pressed it, snorting in disbelief and amusement.
"SHOOBY DO BA!" Gajeel's voice came out of the book.
"He sings siwy song." Alexei pointed at Gajeel and pressed the button again, laughing in the process. "Vewy siwy."
"Yes. Very silly. But don't tell him that to his face," says Laxus in a serious tone.
"But why," wondered Alexei.
"It is a mean thing to say. It will hurt his feelings and he will be sad." Actually Gajeel couldn't care less, but it was important to teach Alexei to be kind to others from a young age. That his words can have consequences.
"Okay," agreed Alexei. "I won't say it. I don't want him to cwy."
I don't think Gajeel will cry, thought Laxus as he imagined Gajeel sobbing uncontrollably at a baby not liking his song. It was a pretty hilarious sight. But at least the message is getting through. At least I hope it is.
"Next pwease!" Alexei said cutely, turning to the next page and pointing at the picture and words so Laxus could read it to him. Alexei's speech was improving by the day and he was almost 2.
He's such a good kid, thought Laxus, getting a little emotional inside. I hope he stays this way forever. I won't let anything corrupt him or harm him. He vowed.
"H is for Happy." A picture of Happy holding a fish.
"Cat!" Alexei pointed out.
"Actually, he's an exceed." Laxus corrected him.
Alexei scrunched his face in concentration when he tried to pronounce the word exceed. When he couldn't, he gave up and just yelled, "Cat!"
Laxus sighed. Alexei could be very stubborn. "We'll work on this when you're older." He was still young enough to understand the difference.
"I is, for I love you."
"I wuv you." Alexei grabs Laxus's face and gives him a kiss on the cheek.
"I love you too, little buddy."
"I'm not wittle! I'm big!" Alexei crossed his arms and pouted cutely, looking away from Laxus.
"Okay. Okay. I'm sorry. You're right. You are a big boy." Laxus rubbed his stubble over Alexei's face, causing him to giggle and squeal at the prickliness, pushing his face away.
"L is for Laxus." Laxus couldn't help but observe how well drawn his picture was. With his signature coat, headphones and pose. It was very detailed and the art style looked different from the others. Maybe Reedus tried a different style. He should do it more often.
"That's you!" Alexei pointed out excitedly. "Big bwoda!"
"What do you think, Alexei? Isn't your brother super cool and handsome?" Laxus couldn't help but brag.
"Yes! Da best!"
Suddenly Alexei's smile turned into a frown. He looked unsatisfied with something when he turned the page. He continued to turn the pages all the way to the end until he found what he was trying to look for. It looked like he didn't find it because he went back to the page with the picture of Laxus.
"What's wrong," asked Laxus in a worried tone when he saw a shift in Alexei's mood and behavior. Alexei muttered something under his breath, but Laxus couldn't hear it, so he asked Alexei to repeat himself.
"No, Lucy," says Alexei in a sad tone. There wasn't a picture of his favorite person in one of his favorite books.
"Lucy?" Laxus asked in a confused tone.
"L is for Lucy," Alexei pointed out, pointing to the letter L. "No Lucy," he repeated.
"Oh," said Laxus, in realization when he understood what Alexei meant. "You're asking why isn't there a picture of Lucy?" He got a nod in response. "Tell you what." Laxus closed the book, got up from the bed and turned off the night. "Why don't you go to sleep and we can buy some art supplies tomorrow?" He turned on the night light and tucked Alexei in. "You can draw a picture of Lucy and put it in the book."
Alexei smiled at him. "I like that idea." He yawned and slowly closed his eyes. "Good night," he mumbled sleepily.
"Good night Alexei," replied Laxus, giving a peck on his forehead. Laxus left the room and headed off to his bed to catch up on some sleep.
The Next Day
"I kinda feel bad for the kid," commented Gildarts as he drank from his beer mug. He gestured to Alexei playing with his kitchen set. "He doesn't have anyone to play with."
"What do you mean?! I play with him plenty. Not just me, Lucy and some of the other members of the guild play with Alexei." Laxus couldn't help but protest. Sure, some games were childish to Laxus, or he'd be awkward at it, but he still agreed to engage in Alexei's favorite activities. He really tried.
"What I mean to say is, there isn't anyone his age he can play with," stated Gildarts quickly, explaining himself when Laxus directed a glare towards him. "Asuka's at school and everyone here is either a teen or an adult. He needs to learn how to get along with people his age." It was nice to see that Alexei's time in the guild, getting exposed to crowds and people, was a huge positive. Although some were still baby talk, he had no problem conversing and interacting with adults.
"What should I do? Most daycares don't cater to children with an affinity to magic nor take children under the age of 3. Alexei's going to be 2 in a couple of months." Laxus had to admit that Gildarts made a good point. Alexei needed to interact with children his age, but there were limited options. Even if a place accepted him, it was too late to enroll Alexei.
Bang! The guild doors busted open as Lucy entered the guild in her jogging gear. In her hand were two dog leashes, one red and one blue. Attached to the leashes were two dogs. One adult and one puppy. It looked to be a Laika breed with black and white fur. She headed to the bar and waved Mira over.
"Good morning Lucy," chirped Mira with a smile as she watched Lucy catch her breath. "I see you're back from your morning job. Would you like anything?"
"Thanks Mira. A shake would be good." Lucy unclipped the leashes from the collar. The older dog stood still, not moving an inch, while the younger was glancing all over the guild, happily wagging its tail, panting with its tongue. "Oh! You can sit now," commanded Lucy. Sometimes, she forgot she had to command them and only then they would relax. "Good job," praised Lucy, patting their head.
"I'm assuming these are your new spirits," observed Mira as she brought Lucy a strawberry shake. She recalled Lucy talking about a new key she acquired.
"Yep." Lucy nodded her head. "They are Canes Venatici, the hunting dogs." She took a sip of her shake before continuing. "Our contract requires me to care for them and spend time in the human world so they can grow into the expert hunters they are," explained Lucy.
"And there's your answer," Gildarts pointed out, gesturing his thumb towards Lucy and the puppy sitting by her. "I think the mutt is about the same age as the kid. Playing with the dog or even helping take care of it can improve Alexei's self-esteem and compassion. You know, the importance of taking care of others and responsibility."
Laxus thought about it. Gildarts actually made a good point. It would teach him how to be more responsible and how to care for others. But there was one thing that was preventing Laxus from going up to Lucy and asking her for that favor.
Ever since that almost kiss Laxus shared with Lucy, he has no clue on how to act around Lucy. He's still surprised he is able to carry a conversation with her without it turning awkward, and he's usually an expert on that.
But Laxus understood he had to be the bigger man here, for Alexei's sake. He approached Lucy, who was slurping her shake. "Did you adopt a pet?"
"Oh, heavens no." Lucy shook her head. "These are my new spirits, Canes Venatici, the hunting dogs. This one is Asterion." Lucy pointed to the bigger dog and then the puppy. "And this is Chara. They are brothers."
"Kind of like Laxus and Alexei," chirped Mira.
"Huh. Now that I take a good look at both pairs, I do see a slight resemblance," commented Lucy, observing both pairs of brothers. Asterion is more like Laxus and Chara is more like Alexei.
"Is it okay if Alexei gets introduced to Chara," asked Laxus. "He doesn't have anyone his age to play with, and it would be good for him to get exposed to animals." He leaned in close to whisper. "Especially with that incident at the zoo. I hope he didn't develop a fear of animals."
Lucy nodded in understanding. "We'll start small. Chara is still growing like Alexei. I think it would be good for him." Lucy called out to Alexei. "Alexei! Come here. I have a surprise for you."
Alexei immediately complied, dropping his things and ran towards Lucy. "Suwpwise?" He liked surprises, and the surprises from Lucy were the best.
"This is Asterion and Chara," explained Lucy in a gentle voice, pointing to each respective dog. "Chara is a baby, just like you, Alexei. Would you like to pet him?" She noticed Alexei's hesitant expression and reassured him. "Don't worry. He's very friendly, see." Lucy petted Chara's head to demonstrate how friendly he was. "Now you try."
Alexei hesitantly raised his hand in the air and slowly brought it towards the puppy. He was about to pet the puppy when the puppy brought his head up and sniffed his hand. Seeing that the puppy wasn't going to attack him, Alexei relaxed. He smiled when the puppy licked his hand. "Chawa," giggled Alexei when the puppy started licking his face. "Hehehehe."
"Why don't the two of you get better acquainted," suggested Lucy as she offered the leash to Alexei. "Play some games together." She handed over some toys, such as a ball. "Like this. Fetch!" Lucy threw the ball in a random direction and Chara ran after it.
"I wanna!" Alexei took the ball from Lucy when Chara brought it back. He threw with all his might in a random direction. "Fetch!"
"Alexei! It's snack time," Mira called out, scanning the guild to find the little boy. She had a plate of snacks in one hand and a bowl of treats for Chara in the other. She saw the two of them together walking around the guild. The sight was too cute for her. Alexei holding Chara's leash and padding around as he introduced his friend to everyone. The thing that almost made her faint was when he tried to read his book to Chara.
"Hmmm." Mira headed towards the guild kitchen to put the snacks away when she let out a loud gasp, the dishes in her falling to the ground with a crash. "Alexei! Chara!" She couldn't believe the sight in front of her.
"What happened here?" Laxus, the Master, Gildarts and Lucy rushed into the kitchen when they heard the crash. Gildarts and the Master started laughing with Lucy and Laxus, trying not to smile at the sight in front of them.
Alexei and Chara were covered in vanilla ice cream, the tub right in front of them with Alexei eating with his right hand and using the other to give to Chara. He stopped eating when he noticed his brother. There was no remorse on his face at what he just did.
"Come on, you two." Laxus gathered Alexei in one arm and Chara in the other. "You need a bath." He will scold him later.
Bath time was just as chaotic as the little pantry incident. Chara wouldn't sit still in the bath and Alexei constantly splashed water all over the place. He basically gave the guild bath a bath as well. Including Laxus, since he had to change his clothes. After getting dry, Alexei was put down for his nap with Chara snoozing next to time, the boy cuddling against the puppy. Freed set up protection and sound proof runes in the case the little boy fell asleep in the guildhall on his play mat.
After a few seconds, Chara and Asterion disappeared into the spirit world to recuperate. As silver key spirits, they could not sustain their form as long as a gold key can. Lucy was amazed at the fact they stayed almost 2 hours. They must be tired if they went back without her having to.
"Thanks Lucy." Laxus genuinely thanked Lucy. He never seen Alexei have so much fun with someone before. He was even more impressed with the fact of how careful Alexei was at the same time. Making sure not to tug the leash or putting down a bowl of water for Chara.
"No problem. It looks like Alexei had a lot of fun today."
"Yeah, but there's just one problem," interjected Gildarts. "Not to ruin the day, but what are you going to do now?"
Laxus was confused by this. "What do you mean? You said to try to expose Alexei to someone his age. Everything went well."
"Everything went well so far." Gildarts pointed at the clock. "What are you going to do when the kid wakes up from his nap? He's going to have questions. Like, where did the mutt go?"
Shit, thought Laxus, when he thought about what Gildarts had just said. He made a good point. Alexei created a bond with Chara and he was going to get upset if he didn't see Chara.
Laxus was pondering over what he was going to say to Alexei. Meanwhile, Alexei just woke up from his nap. He rubbed his eyes and blinked a few times to see clearly. He noticed that he was alone. "Chawa," he said, looking around the guild. He didn't see Chara. "Chawa," repeated Alexei, but still no answer. Where was his friend? He got up from the mat and headed towards his brother, tugging his pant leg.
"Chawa," muttered Alexei sadly when he realized his new friend was nowhere to be found. He looked up at his brother with his lips quivering, tears starting to form at the corners of his eyes. "Bwoda. Chawa no hewe." Maybe his brother knew where Chara was. His brother knew everything.
"Uhhhh." Laxus was currently panicking and didn't know what to do. How was he to explain that Chara was a spirit and could not sustain his form in the human world for a long period of time? He was trying to think of a way to break it to Alexei gently when someone else beat him to it.
"He's gone," stated Natsu, digging into his fire chicken. Everyone glared at him when he said that.
"Wha?" Alexei got even more upset. "Chawa gone?" He could feel the tears streaming down his face as he sniffled.
"You idiot!" Gray smacked Natsu on the back of his head. "Why would you tell him that?!"
"Because it's true," protested Natsu in response. "Asterion and Chara had to leave."
"But why?" Alexei wanted to know why his friend left without telling him. Did Chara not like him? Did someone take Chara? "Bwoda. Why Chawa no hewe?"
"Chara had to go home. He lives in the Spirit World," explained Laxus as he sat Alexei in his lap. He tried to explain as best as he could to Alexei. "Chara is a spirit, so he can't stay long here. Remember, Leo?" Alexei nodded in response. "Chara is a spirit like Leo. Staying here too long makes him tired, so he has to go home to rest in the Spirit World."
"Why can't Chawa stay hewe?" Alexei wanted his friend to stay with him all the time. "We have big house!" Alexei used his hands for emphasis. They had plenty of room and Chara would share a room with him. They could be together all day. "He sleep in house!" Their rooms were comfy for naps.
"Because Chara has to go home to his family," explained Lucy, joining the brothers. "Asterion is his older brother and they have their own house to live in. Alexei, you love your brother, right?"
"Yes," nodded Alexei. "Lots." His brother meant a lot to him. He loved him so much. Even more than food. That was saying a lot because Alexei loved to eat.
"Would you like it if someone took you away from your brother? That would make you sad, right?" Lucy decided to go with another approach. The brother bond.
"Yeah." Alexei nodded sadly. He would not like it if someone took him away from his brother. Chara and Asterion would feel the same as well. "Will Chawa play again?"
"Of course you can play with Chara again. You two are friends. You may spend as much time as you want with each other." Lucy placed a comforting pat on Alexei's shoulder, caressing his hair. "You will see Chara again and have more adventures with each other."
"I promise. And I never break promises Alexei. You have my word as a Celestial Mage." Lucy linked her pinky with Alexei's.
"Arf!" A bright light appeared and behind it was Chara. He jumped into Alexei's lap and licked his face.
"See Alexei. Even Chara wants to see you again," smiled Lucy. "Say goodbye to Chara, okay?"
"Bye bye Chawa," waved Alexei as Chara disappeared within the cloud of sparkles. Seeing his friend again gave him a sense of relief that they will see each other again.
Laxus let out a sigh of relief when he saw Alexei's mood improved. He turned to face Lucy. "I really can't thank you enough. What would I do without you?" It was like Lucy had all the answers to everything. She would make a good mother.
"You'd make a good mother," stated Gildarts, what Laxus was thinking out loud. "Any guy would be lucky to have you as his wife and the mother of his children."
"In order for that to happen, Lucy needs a boyfriend." Cana joined into the conversation, slinging her arm over Lucy's shoulder. "Let's hit a bar later in the day. I'll introduce you to some friends of mine."
"Cana!" Cana was a great friend, but Lucy was wary whenever Cana and Mira tried to introduce her to guys. There was always something off with some of them. Lingering feelings for exes, arrogant pricks, perverts, or just plain weirdos. "I appreciate your help, but I'm good." Lucy will date on her own terms.
Cana shrugged her shoulders. "Suit yourself. You know where to find me when you change your mind."
Laxus let out an internal sigh of relief at Lucy's rejection towards Cana's matchmaking. The thought of seeing Lucy with another man made him feel angry for some reason. Probably because we are friends now. I'm just a bit overprotective. Not just anyone can be with her, so I have to make sure the guy is right for you. Laxus tried to justify his thoughts despite the fact deep down he wanted to be the man next to her.