Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ After NEXT ❯ Two of Us Wearing Raincoats, Standing Solo in the Sun ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
“Two of us wearing raincoats, standing solo, in the sun…”

Looking back, Lina could remember vividly how tinged with fear her confusion was. One moment she was consumed with terror and anguish as she witnessed Phibrizzo shatter Gourry’s crystal. One moment she was driven by desperation to perform a spell that could destroy the world. One moment she knew she had lost control of it and that her game was over. The realization of all she had lost and all that she had destroyed for every living being in the world fell on her as surely as the Chaos that soon claimed her did. One moment, she was feeling dread, loss and desperation.

What should have followed in the next moment was complete nothingness. Yet somehow, inexplicably, she was floating in Gourry’s arms over the ruins of Sairaag with Amelia, Zel and Sylphiel watching, seemingly safe and sound.

She didn’t know what to think. Lina knew that experiencing anything now should have been impossible. Was it a trap? Some final delusion? Her mind could not comprehend the mere possibility that she was safe. Fear continued to be the driving force behind her actions, and it tended to manifest in the form of anger. So rather than continue to embrace the man she had nearly sacrificed the world for, she punched him into the lake, shouting things about lost innocence.

Part of her knew she was being terribly unreasonable, but the part that was consumed by fear and confusion won. Until Amelia bravely flew up to join her and put a hand on her shoulder, “Miss Lina…”

“What!?” Lina snapped.

“Um, I was wondering if may be you could explain what happened.”

“How should I know what happened?” Lina retorted, “What did happen anyway? Why are we even still here?”

“You mean you don’t remember?” Amelia asked tentatively.

“Remember what?” Lina shot back.

“Being possessed by the Lord of Nightmares and killing Phibrizzo?”

Lina opened her mouth, shut it, and then let it hang slack jawed for a bit. “What?”

“We were able to deduce that you had cast the Giga Slave.” Zel said from the ground as Sylphiel helped Gourry out of the lake.

Lina flew down to the shore, followed by Amelia. “So what if I did?” Lina folded her arms across her chest, “And before you decide to lecture me let me remind you that none of you would be here if I hadn’t.”

“My sword!” Gourry yelled, and everyone turned to stare at him as his hand repeatedly patted his bare hip. “Where’s my sword?”

“Did…did he have it with him when he was encased in the crystal?” Sylphiel asked as she looked at Lina.

“I was kind of thinking about other things at the moment.” Lina replied in an uncharacteristically flat manner.

“What crystal?” Amelia asked.

“I had it with me when I went into that big black thing.” Gourry said, “And my armor.”

“What big black thing?” Lina asked.

Zel smiled, “You know hell has frozen over when Gourry remembers something Lina doesn’t.”

“This isn’t funny!” Lina snarled, “What big black thing?”

“Chaos.” Zel replied.

Lina stared at him dumbfounded as Gourry raced back into the water to search for his sword. The sounds of him splashing in the water spurred her to undo her mantle and stare at it for a moment before setting it down. “Weird.” She said as she saw that her short sword joined her mantle.

“What?” Amelia asked.

“How come I have my mantle and short sword, and everything else as far as I can tell, but Gourry doesn’t have his armor or sword?” No one answered her as she sat down and removed her boots.

Without uttering another word, she followed Gourry into the lake and joined him in his search for his sword. She barely registered that Amelia and Sylphiel had joined them. The water was slightly cold, erasing any further doubts in her mind that this was some delusion. There was still a lot she didn’t understand, but she could allow herself to set it aside for now and trust that she was safe enough to focus on the task at hand.

She wasn’t sure how long they searched but something deep within her knew from the get go that the sword was lost. There was a time, not long ago, that Lina would have been devastated to learn that the legendary Sword of Light had vanished. Now the sword’s worth seemed puny in comparison to Gourry’s. She was just glad to have him back.

Still, none of it made sense. She thought back to those horrible moments when she had lost control of the Giga Slave. She remembered losing control of her body, a sudden fading away as darkness enveloped her and a terrifying feeling of failure and then? Nothing.

Was Amelia right? Had she really been possessed by the Lord of Nightmares? The thought was a little disquieting.

Eventually the tempo of Gourry’s pacing changed. One minute he was frantically searching for the sword, the next he was heading towards the shore. “Gourry?” she asked as she moved to follow him.

“It’s gone.” He said, “I can feel it. It’s no use to continue looking.”

They made it to shore and dried off in silence. Lina wondered why Gourry kept giving her nervous glances as she pulled her boots on. “Is there a restaurant nearby? I’m starving.” Lina said, though it was the understatement of the year. Casting the Giga Slave had always left her tired and famished. Though, she considered as she ran her hand through her hair and examined it briefly, her hair was still coppery red instead of white. It was something else to add to the Strange List.

“Yes,” Sylphiel said, “Follow me.”

Lina sped up a bit so that she was close to Zel and Sylphiel, “So I was possessed by the Lord of Nightmares?”

“You don’t remember?” Sylphiel asked.

Lina shook her head. Sylphiel bit her lip, “We woke up and you were there, bathed in gold light. And someone…”

“Xellos.” Zel interrupted.

“Said that you were the Lord of Nightmares and that you were lost to the Chaotic energy.”

Lina furrowed her brow, and opened her mouth to ask a question when Gourry cut in, “Hey guys, I’m really confused here.”

For once his confusion was perfectly understandable. “What do you remember?” Amelia asked. “Before waking up today that is.”

Gourry thought for a moment, “Being kidnapped.”

Amelia and Zel exchanged shocked looks, “But that was days ago, how can you not remember anything?” Zel asked.

“Hellmaster had him encased in some sort of crystallized energy.” Lina explained. “I’m not at all surprised he doesn’t remember anything. You don’t seem to.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Zel asked.

“After he killed you he put you in similar crystals and gave me one more chance to save everyone’s life.”

“By casting the Giga Slave?” Zel asked. Lina nodded.

“But Miss Lina…” Sylphiel started.

“If you’re going to criticize me for casting the spell I don’t want to hear it. What was I supposed to do, let you die?” Lina stopped walking to give Sylphiel the benefit of her full glare, “What if he had killed all of you and then went on to the next village to hold it hostage? And then the next one after that? He had the power to, and with Gaav out of the way he had no one to stop him. I did what I had to do. I gambled and…survived.”

An awkward silence followed. The weight of how close things came to being different weighed heavily on Lina’s shoulders.

“I’m still confused.” Gourry said.

Lina sighed and continued walking as she explained. “The little kid that pulled the sheepskin over our eyes? Remember him?”

Gourry nodded.

“He kidnapped you, held you for ransom, and I defeated him. Got it?”

Gourry thought for a moment and nodded again.

“Good, I want to go back to the part where I was possessed by the Lord of Nightmares and lost to the Chaotic energy. What happened?”

“We don’t know much beyond that.” Zel explained. “Only that the Lord of Nightmares killed Phibrizzo and then she ascended back to Chaos.”

Amelia smiled coyly as she added, “And then Mr. Gourry followed you in there and somehow got you back.”

Lina stopped in her tracks, “He did what?”

Amelia clasped her hands together and smiled warmly, “He ventured into Chaos to get you back!”

Lina turned to face Gourry, her expression unreadable. A tense silence followed for a few seconds as the air between them seemed to dance with tension. A slight blush rose to her cheeks as she finally exclaimed, “You idiot!”

“Huh?” he asked.

“What did you think you were doing, following me into a place like Chaos? You could have been killed!”

“So it’s okay for you to sacrifice yourself for me but I can’t do the same for you?” he retorted.

“Who told you I sacrificed myself for you?” She growled as she took a step closer to the swordsman.

Gourry folded his arms across his chest as he replied, “Whoever it was who possessed you did.”

“Gourry, your memory has more holes than Swiss cheese. How exactly do you remember that?”

“Well it’s not every day you wake up and are informed that some woman has sacrificed her life for you.” He explained as he scratched the back of his head.

Lina blushed crimson as Amelia wondered out loud to Zel and Sylphiel whether they should give them some time alone. “We’ll just go on ahead.” Amelia said timidly as she pushed Zel and Sylphiel forward.

After they left, Lina found her voice again, “That’s not the point! What were you thinking? Do you even know how dangerous it was to go after me after all I…all I…”

All I did to keep you safe. She thought the words but she couldn’t voice them. Not in front of him.

He gazed at her steadily as he explained, “I’m your protector.”

Lina’s hands clenched into fists. She was suddenly feeling rather dizzy. It was because she was so hungry, she reasoned. She was always ravenous after casting the Giga Slave. Learning about Gourry’s actions had nothing to do with it. “So that gives you the right to throw your life away after I nearly sacrificed the world to save you?”

“My life would not be much without you in it.”

Lina did not think it was possible for her to blush harder than she was already. He reached a hand out and gently ran his fingers through her hair. She started to tremble, and even she had a hard time attributing it solely to the fact that her body was now desperate for food. The urge to hold him tightly built within her, and she believed that if another group of travelers had not chosen that moment to walk by she would have done just that.

They looked away from each other as the group passed and her stomach made embarrassingly loud growling noises. “Come on,” Gourry said, extending an arm, “You must be hungry. Let’s get some food.”
For the past several weeks, stress had been the companion of every member of the group. Stress is not a kind friend. It wrecks havoc on the body and it keeps people hyper alert. Yet now that the danger was past every one of them could afford to leave their guard down and seek what their bodies needed: sleep.

After Martina and Zangulus had left with instructions to be at their wedding at 11 o’clock sharp or else the following morning, Lina, Gourry, Sylphiel, Zel and Amelia each went into their rooms and crashed.

It was Martina’s shrilly voice that woke Gourry up the next morning. “Lina Inverse, I know you’re in there!” she called from outside the hotel, “You’d better wake up and come down to my wedding!”

Gourry gave a few moments thought to going back to sleep, but the sound of the door beside his being slammed open made him change his mind. Figuring it was Lina about to rip Martina a new one he went into the hallway to find Amelia looking panicked, “I slept in!” she yelled as she made her way towards the washroom. Gourry noted that he was not the only one who had fallen asleep in his clothing.

He was shortly joined by Zel and Sylphiel, who also looked groggy and bedridden. “Do you think we have time for a bit of breakfast before the wedding?” Zel asked.

“It’s 10:45!” Amelia exclaimed as she exited the washroom, toweling her face dry, “We’d better get going now. Where’s Miss Lina?”

“Probably still sleeping,” Gourry said, “I’ll go get her.”

“Tell her to hurry!” Amelia ordered as she ran back into her room to grab her hair brush.

Gourry knocked, and when he heard no response he cracked the door open a little, “Lina?”

Still no answer. He let himself in and found her sprawled on the bed, fast asleep. He stared at her for a moment, wondering if what the golden lady had said was true and that Lina really had sacrificed her life for his. A cascade of conflicting emotions seized him. Anger, once again, that she had been so reckless with her own life. Touched to find that she really did care for him so much. Terrified at how close he came to losing her. Relieved that she was safe. That they were safe.

He gingerly put a hand on her shoulder and shook it, “Hey Lina, wake up, We’ve got to go to Martina’s wedding.”

Her breathing changed as her eyes shot open. She sat up a little, staring at him in shock. “Lina?” he asked.

And then suddenly she had thrown her arms around him and was holding him close. His eyes widened in surprise. The only other time she had done this was when they were in a room full of slugs, and it had shocked him then just as it did now. Just to be sure, he stole a quick glance at the ceiling to make sure that it was slug free before allowing himself to enjoy her embrace. “You’re all right.” She said as he wrapped his arms around her and gently rubbed her back.

“Was I gone that long?”

Lina pulled away. Part of him wanted to ditch his self control so he could feel her in his arms again. He kept his distance though. A slight blush had graced her cheeks and she avoided his gaze as if embarrassed by her forwardness. “It was awhile. When do we have to be down for the wedding?”

“Ten minutes.” He replied as she got out of bed and grabbed her brush and started combing her hair.

“Humph, that doesn’t leave me much time for anything then.”

“Hey Lina, I’ve been wondering…” he said, noticing how she visibly tensed at his words. Still, there was a lot he didn’t understand, stuff that he wanted to understand. And her short explanation the previous day left little explained. “Why?”

“Why what? And make it quick, we don’t have a lot of time.”

“In the first place, why did that little boy kidnap me?”

Her grip on the hair brush tightened, her knuckles noticeably whitening. For a moment he didn’t think she was going to answer. “Because he wanted me to cast a very dangerous spell.”

“But why would you cast a dangerous spell if he kidnapped me?”

Lina grabbed her mantle and placed her brush into one of its numerous pockets before putting it on. From the hallway Amelia cried, “Miss Lina, Mr. Gourry! Hurry, we’re going down now!”

As Lina headed for the door, Gourry wasn’t sure if he was more annoyed or surprised to hear Lina, the woman who loved to speculate say, “How should I know what he was thinking?”

In some respects, Lina was glad that she was even able to feel the ravenous hunger grumbling inside of her, battling for dominance with the extreme fatigue that would not release its grip on her. It reminded her of the fact that there still was a world to experience in the first place. On the other hand, it was a damn inconvenience having to stand around when you’re tired and hungry to watch two people who you never particularly liked in the first place get married. She just wished they would hurry up and finish so she could find a good buffet somewhere.

Looking around at her friends, it seemed as if she was solidly in the minority. Amelia and Sylphiel had stars in their eyes, dreaming of the day when they would be married. Gourry, naturally, only seemed too happy to enjoy the festive atmosphere. Even Zel seemed in an uncharacteristically good mood as he chided Amelia.

They’ll just divorce in two months time anyway, Lina thought to herself as the impromptu church collapsed and she turned to leave with Gourry.

There was so much to discuss, so much she needed to let him know. And the first was that even without his sword, he was stuck with her. Part of her wondered with an eager anticipation that confused her how he would react when he learned that she would stick around even if he didn’t have the Sword of Light. She noticed how he seemed to relax as she informed him of her plan to help him find a new sword, and only then did it hit her how worried he must have been that she would leave.

And then just as he was about to speak, Xellos interrupted and returned the Sword of Light. Lina couldn’t fully explain her annoyance at his appearance. Just what was she expecting Gourry to do upon learning her plan anyway? Lina cast aside her ire and decided to be happy that the sword was back…along with the swordsman.

AN: The cut text is, of course, from "Two of Us" by Paul McCartney, though I was listening to the version by Aimee Mann and Michael Penn when I thought of it for this fic.