Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ After NEXT ❯ With You By My Side I Will Fight and Defend ( Chapter 4 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
“With You By My Side I Will Fight and Defend”-Avril Lavigne

Sunshine streamed through the one, tiny window, bringing fears and regrets with it. Beside her, Gourry slept peacefully while Lina fretted and worried. Once again she had been reckless. She’d followed her feelings, and to hell with the consequences. Last night she thought that her actions would have no ripple effect, that they could go back to the way they were before Phibrizo. Now she knew there was no going back.

He had said that he loved her.

The awkwardness of the moment clung to her mind like pancake syrup. First there was the kissing, followed by touching, the exhilaration of the discovery of each others’ bodies masking the clumsy and uncouth nature of their exploration. Clothes did not come off as easily as intended. Lina was constantly worrying about whether or not her touch felt good, while Gourry kept checking every 2 minutes to make sure he was not hurting her.

And to be truthful, sometimes he did. But he proved to be a quick student, bringing her to heights of pleasure that she had never dreamed of. And as she came down, nestled protectively in his arms, he whispered those three damning words.

Ever so gently he had turned her face towards him, blue eyes sparkling with expectation in the moonlight. And all she could do was stare. She was grasping at one moment she could never have again. But for him it was the start of bigger things. The silence hung between them, heavy and unwanted. When Gourry realized that she was not going to answer he untangled her from his arms and turned away from her. “Night.” He whispered.

Guilt, unease, and worry tugged on her mind. She knew she had wounded him grievously and wondered if he would even stick around after this. Just as bad as the emotional blow was the fact she was certain that she had not delivered the physical pleasure to him that he had to her. She had wanted to be good at this, but she had a bad feeling that she had been a lousy partner. The fact that she knew so little about sex did not help.

Sexual matters had always made her squeamish. Even as a child the dirty adult talk that would send other children into fits of giggles would make her turn pale in horror. Let someone else see you naked? Touch each other’s private parts? Until recently, she’d never understood the fascination people had had with it.

She’d left home before having The Talk with her mother. And when Amelia tried to lend her some books Lina had not so politely refused. Now she wished she had read them. She felt like a fool, unable to please a man physically or emotionally. She also felt confused over whether or not she was still a virgin. Where was that line? Could she get pregnant from the activities they had engaged in the previous night? That would be the last thing she needed.

It would be one more person who could be used against her.

Lina wanted to run. She’d buttoned and straightened her shirt not too long after Gourry had fallen asleep. Her pants were another matter. They were lying on the edge of his side of the bed. She longed to grab them and run to the baths, clean herself up. But she was terrified of waking Gourry, of having him wake up to the sight of her mooning him as she struggled to put them on. There was protection in the dim light of the moon that the sun did not provide. The moon masked imperfections. The sun revealed them. Character and physical. And she had revealed more of herself emotionally and physically last night to one man than she had done to anyone in her lifetime. She felt desperate to regain some of her aloofness.

Gourry stirred, and then stretched. He turned to face her, his features tight with apprehension. “Morning.”

“Morning.” She replied.

He waited for a few minutes to see what she would do before saying, “So, what now?”

“Bath. Then breakfast. Then we should reach the festival.”

He nodded. “About last night…”

Lina giggled nervously, turning beat red, “Let’s not discuss it. Except, one thing I have to know.”

Gourry stared at her, silently communicating that she continue.

“Um, well…I was wondering…” his gaze was too penetrating, so she turned away, “What we did, I can’t, I mean, there’s…there’s not going to be a baby, is there?”

She did not see his eyes widen in surprise. Slowly he pulled the sheets off of him as he stepped onto the bit of bare ground that the room held, revealing his bare chest and clothed lower body. Lina turned even redder, averting her eyes to the wall. “Well, my pants never came off or came undone, so I guess we’re safe.”

Lina relaxed a little, feeling silly and ignorant. It was not a comfortable feeling for someone who prided herself on being a sorcery genius. “Thanks.”

Gourry grabbed his shirt from the tangle of sheets and put it on. “Are we okay?”

Lina’s smile was forced, “Yes. Go on to breakfast. I’ll join you later.”

Gourry was kicking himself. Why had he told her he loved her? It had felt so right at the time, but it had derailed everything. He should have known better. She’d opened up to him more emotionally that night than she had in their two years of traveling together. But he’d pushed the limit. Physical intimacy was one thing. Emotional was something completely different. He’d taken a chance with what he held dear, and now he might lose it all.

He toyed with the idea of telling her that he lied last night, but knew that it would be futile. She would never believe him. The damage had been done. He had been rejected. He should have given her more time to process all she had been through, but he had grown so impatient, and the time had seemed perfect…

“Pancakes!” She cried as she sat down across from him, once again oblivious to the fact that he had refrained from eating until she got there.

Deftly, she speared the pancakes with her forks and swallowed them whole before attacking the bacon. “Hmmm, this is good! Have you tried it? You’d better hurry before it’s gone.”

“I want to talk.” He said quietly.

“Then talk.” She said between bites of eggs and bacon.

Gourry sighed, waiting patiently till she had finished. “About last night...”

Lina waved her hand dismissively. “It was fun, but nothing to write the folks about. It’s not like it was anything serious.”

The look he gave he was wounding in the depths of hurt it contained. Lina froze, and slowly put her eating utensils down. “Look, I…”

“Don’t.” Gourry said quietly as he stood to leave. “I’ll see you at the festival.”


That only thing that kept Lina from following Gourry immediately out of the inn was the fact that she had to pay for their meal. It was at some point between asking for the bill and receiving it that it occurred to her that may be it would be better if it happened this way. If they were no longer traveling together no one would suspect the nature of her feelings for him. And he would be left alone.

She overpaid and left before she could change her mind. Why was it that she could sacrifice the world for him, but she could not leave him? It would be the wiser course of action, for both of their safety. But then he was not the only person in the world that she cared about. Sure, she could try to live like Zel, wandering from place to place alone for the rest of life, neither desiring nor seeking company. She did not truly see it as a viable option.

She quickly caught up with Gourry, who did not look at her as they walked to the festival in silence. Feeling strangely paranoid, Lina looked behind them. No one was there. She glanced to her left and then to her right. No one. No sense of blood lust. No feeling of being watched. Why did she still not feel safe?

She bit her lip. Part of her was craving the intimacy they had the previous night. Part of her felt emotionally raw from the experience. The other part felt validated. Gourry had not told her she was stupid for feeling what she felt like Luna would have. He had not laughed at her body, like she had always feared any man who saw it would. Deep inside she yearned to experience that closeness again. Competing with that urge was the feeling that she had nothing left to give emotionally.

She wanted to explain the dilemma she was feeling. How she wanted to keep him safe and wanted him. She did not feel she had the words to do so. So she stayed quiet. And kept glancing behind her back.

Gourry stormed from the inn, his anger wrapped around him like a fist. She had said it wasn’t serious. How could it not be serious? How could she sit there and so brazenly dismiss what had happened the previous night?

Tears, hot and angry, flowed down his face. Had he been fooling himself into thinking there was something more between them then there really was? Had he let hope get the better of him? Had he dared to believe that someone else could care for him as much as he did them?

The Golden Lady had said that Lina had sacrificed herself for him. Yes, his memory was not great, but some things will always be burned into even the memories of those with the flimsiest minds. Zel, Amelia, and Sylphiel had told him that she sat by and watched as the others were killed. They had told him how distraught she was after he was kidnapped. It had to mean something to her, it had to!

The way she had held him so tight the morning of Zangulus and Martinas’ wedding. The feel of her spooning with him in the moonlight, clinging to him as though he was life itself. The passion she had unleashed the previous night, the firmness of her touch conveying strong feelings of love that drowned out the fumbling efforts of a novice lover. She had not said it, but he could feel in his bones that she felt just as strongly towards him as he did her.

And then he had been bold and told her he loved her. Her expression melted from one of bliss to horrified. She’d looked as though he’d just told her he was a serial killer.

Footsteps, light but urgent crept towards him. He could sense her presence. He dried his eyes and waited for her to make a move. She said nothing, merely falling into place beside him, looking uncharacteristically unsettled. She kept glancing behind her, around her. She was unusually alert.

Her anxiety was contagious. Soon he was scouring the horizon, watchful for any unwelcome presence. Nothing. Until they caught up with other fairgoers. Lina studied each of them as they came into view as if she was ruling out potential suspects in a murder investigation. Her lips became tighter, her body stiffer as more people joined them. Lina put more distance between herself and him, as if wanting to deny any familiarity. The distance grew wider as the crowd grew larger and the fairgrounds came into view.

His anger faded as his perplexity grew. Lina usually loved fairs. Usually they would have been bantering about all of the delicious food they would eat. Lina had never given a damn about crowds, never shown fear around other people.

Was someone threatening her? The idea was appealing as it was repulsive. If someone was threatening her then it could explain her behavior at breakfast. May be her haste to dismiss the events of the previous night had been born from an effort to protect him rather than the absence of similar feelings.

He found himself warming up to the idea in spite of himself. Part of him wondered if he was setting himself up to be hurt again. The other part started to glance at the horizon warily, looking for signs of an enemy that Lina feared enough that she would not even tell him to expect it…

Watching the other fairgoers was strangely reassuring. At first Lina had been terrified that someone might have been spying her. But as the morning drifted to afternoon she became convinced that her fears were silly. Everyone was too busy having fun and enjoying the fair to notice the sorceress and the swordsman.

The fact that people were alive and enjoying the festivities was a balm to her burned nerves. It was more proof like no other that she had not destroyed the world. All around her people were living their lives, blissfully unaware of how close it all came to ending.

Yet they lived. In spite of her recklessness, they had lived.

Her stomach grumbled, and she headed towards a booth that was selling meatballs on a stick. Gourry followed her, strangely silent. They had not spoken to each other once since breakfast. It was not a companionable silence. Lina ordered two meatballs and gave one to Gourry, and together they walked off towards the crowd, eating in silence.

Right now not talking seemed the safest option. It would not lead to a repeat of the events the previous night, nor would it lead to him walking away for good. So she made no move to break it. Instead, she finished her meatball and headed towards a booth selling funnel cakes. And that was when she noticed them.

At first she thought she must have been looking into a fun house mirror. The woman was short and petite with long crimson hair, while the man was tall and blonde. Only his hair was not as long as Gourry’s, and he was not wearing armor and she was not dressed as a sorceress. They wore simple homespun clothing. And they were kissing openly in the middle of the fair.

Lina stopped in her tracks and stared, causing Gourry to nearly run into her. Lina didn’t notice their near collision. All she could see was the couple making out in the open, not caring that others were watching, and with no worries of blackmail or destroying the world. The woman’s hands started to snake up her lover’s back as he cupped his arms under her legs, lifting her up so he did not have to kneel down so far to kiss her. The woman straddled him as their kiss became more passionate. Color started to flood Lina’s face as her hands bunched into fists as a volley of emotions assaulted her.

Sadness first, followed by bitterness for what she could not have. She could never kiss a lover in the open like that, not without jeopardizing the world. As soon as the thought occurred to her anger burst through her. Her fingernails bit into her palms so deeply that it drew blood. It wasn’t fair!

“Lina?” Gourry asked, looking between her and the couple she was so openly staring at.

She turned away and made a beeline for the funnels cakes. “Do you know them?” he asked. She said no words until she got to the booth and requested four funnel cakes and something to wash them down with. Their order was prepared quickly, and Gourry, desperate to confront, walked quickly to a picnic table that was on the outskirts of the fair and that afforded some privacy. As soon as they sat down Gourry went for the attack. “Is there something I should know?”

“No, why?” Lina spat more harshly then she meant to between bites of funnel cake.

“On the way here you kept looking over your shoulder. Now something has got you mad. Is there some threat I should know about?”

“Nope.” Lina said, licking the powdered sugar from her fingertips.

Gourry felt that his usual calm demeanor was being pushed to the limits. Her shields were up, his were down. Usually he would have known to let her be. She would talk when she was ready. But he yearned for some sort of validation from her. So he tried to find a way in.

“What about that couple set you off?”

“It was obscene what they were doing, in broad daylight, in front of people!” Lina exclaimed.

“It never got you mad when people did it before.”

“Well it does now!” Lina took a drink of ale, “They should have the decency to get a room.”

Gourry gave up and started to tackle his own funnel cake. The idea that someone was blackmailing her faded as his confusion over what was bothering her grew. He noticed that she was staring at the couple again, who had at least stopped kissing. Now it looked as though he was trying to win a flower by playing a carnival game that was rigged against him. Gourry turned his gaze back to Lina. He wondered if he imagined the wistful look in her eyes.

The physical similarity of the couple to themselves was not lost on them. He hoped that she was wishing that he and Lina could be there in the couples’ place, winning Lina the flower. A thought occurred to him. Questioning her was getting him nowhere fast. May be emphasizing with her would be better. It was also more risky. If he was wrong and she had no romantic feelings towards him then it would most certainly blow up in his face.

Be brave, he told himself, Lina was brave when she faced down Hellmaster. I have to be brave.

“It would be nice.” He stated.

‘What?” she said, barely paying attention to him or her response.

“A normal life. Enjoying the festival as a couple. Going to a real home afterwards instead of an inn. No bandits to raid, no monsters to fight, working hard during the day, coming home to someone you love in the evening. Owning a house and not traveling all of the time.”

His words were having an effect. He felt that he was resonating with her. Her lower lip was trembling. “May be. For other people.”

“Why not you?”

She turned to face him, talking louder than she meant to, “You idiot! That would be the worst thing right now! Do you know how lucky we are to be here?”

Several passerbys turned to stare at her. Lina glared at them until they walked on before continuing more quietly, “I didn’t defeat Hellmaster through skill, I did it through luck and because he got sloppy. If the Lord of Nightmares hadn’t decided to kill him, things could have easily gone the other way and the world would be gone. I don’t know why she followed my wishes, but it’s not something I want to try again.”

“But Lina, that’s the past. It can’t be done over, can it?”

Lina sighed as she slumped forward on the table, not caring that the powdered sugar that dotted the table now clung to her shirt. Sometimes she wondered if he had a block of wood where his brain should be. “Not with Hellmaster, but there’s plenty of other Dark Lords and monsters out there. And Xellos knows what happened and why and is probably busy informing his higher ups. He’s probably there right now telling his mistress where Hellmaster screwed up and how to get me on the ropes again.”

Gourry’s eyes widened as he started to draw the pieces together. “So, you’re afraid that they’ll try to get you to use that spell again? By kidnapping me again?”

Lina felt like ringing a bell, “You or someone else. I have plenty of people who can be used against me. I have family in Zefilia. Friends. So the way I see it is that I have two choices. I could go and settle down and hope to call a truce with the monster race. The problem with that is it could be seen as a weakness. I might as well hang a sign on my door saying that I’m not powerful enough to win with the Giga Slave again, take a loved one.

“Or I can keep living my life like I used to. Show them I’m not afraid. Make them think twice before coming after me or mine again.”

“Do you really think another monster would try this after Hellmaster failed so miserably at it?” Gourry asked, his brain working overtime to process all that she was telling him.

“I have no idea if they will or not. It’s too soon to tell really. But I do know I have to be on my guard.”

“So is that how you’re going to live the rest of your life, putting up a strong front for the monster race?”

Lina shrugged. “I’ll do what I have to.”

“And what about us?”

Lina blanched, “What us?”

“The ‘us’ we had last night!”

Lina blushed, “Don’t you get it? Don’t you get the danger I would be putting you in if I let there be an ‘us?’”

“I’m willing to take the risk!”

“You may be, but is the world ready to do so? Would the world condone the risk we are putting it in? There’s a lot more at stake here then the wants of two people!”

“If that’s the case then why are you still even traveling with me?” Gourry asked. “Wouldn’t it be safer to part ways?”

Lina slumped forward. “It would.”

He waited for her to say “but I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to let the monsters rule my life.” Only she didn’t. What she said turned him to stone.

“Last night, I thought I could have just one moment. One memory to carry with me forever, and then I could move on. Only I can’t leave. I know I should, but I can’t. Can…can you do it for me?”

Gourry folded his arms across his broad chest, “I can’t. I said I would protect you for the rest of my life, and I meant it. If you don’t want to travel together anymore, then you walk away.”

She looked at him, stricken. Seconds passed and grew into minutes, and she made no move to leave. “What will separating prove to the world after all we’ve been through?” he asked softly.

Lina inhaled sharply. He had a point. The cat was out of the bag and it would not go back in. Xellos had most likely sensed what she felt for her guardian and had blabbed about it to the monster race. What was she thinking, believing that going their separate ways could change that? Would they not sense the emptiness his absence would leave in her?

And if not noticing her own feelings for him had not protected him, then how could ignoring them now do so?

Was she deluding herself so that she could feel like she was protecting him? She had never felt as powerless as she had when she realized she had lost control of the Giga Slave. It was not a feeling she was used to, not one that she had liked. Was she putting up barriers in the vain hope of never feeling that way again?

“Besides, after the beating we’ve given the monster race, you’d think that they would think twice before picking a fight with us.”

Lina laughed. “You’d better stop, before I get cocky.”

He stood up, brushed as much powdered sugar from his clothing as he could, and offered Lina his arm. She took it. He led her over to the game his look alike had just lost. Gourry examined it for a minute. It looked as if the point of the game was to toss coins onto the tops of glass bottles. If you did, you won a rose. If not, then the man behind the counter kept your coin. It would be difficult for most people to be that precise in their aim, but for Gourry this was child’s play.

He grabbed a coin from his pocket and the man behind the counter noticed him, “Step right up, sir, and win a rose for the lady!” he cried.

Lina blushed and looked around, but no one seemed to notice or care. She wanted to cheer Gourry on, but she felt that she was being daring enough as is. So she watched quietly as Gourry threw a coin and it landed precisely on the bottle top. The man behind the counter made to get a rose, was surprised when Gourry said, “Wait, I’m going to get a dozen.”

The man behind the counter seemed pleased. Lina couldn’t help but grin. She knew that the scummy man was thinking that there was no way Gourry would be able to do that. She watched with satisfaction as Gourry threw the coin accurately each time. The man’s smile lost its luster as he grudgingly handed Gourry a dozen roses, which he in turn handed to Lina.

Lina was thrilled. She had never been given roses before! She cradled the prize in her arms and Gourry walked beside her, his arm draped around her. A need grew within Lina, and it was not born from fear or desperation like it was the previous night. She wanted to show her love. She wanted Gourry to feel the way she had last night. Her eyes strayed to the edge of the fairgrounds and she started to walk towards them.

Gourry looked down at her quizzically as he realized that she wanted to leave, “Is everything alright?”

“It’s perfect.” She said, “I just want a little privacy.”

Gourry’s heart rate increased as he wondered if she meant what he hoped that she meant. He followed her quietly as the fair faded away and the woods became dense. The human sounds of voices and music and carnival rides dimmed and went away to be replaced by crickets and the sounds of Lina and Gourrys’ footfalls. Eventually they got to a point where Lina felt secure that no one would happen upon them, and she set the roses down gently by a tree and took off her cape and spread it on a break in the trees.

Then, before she could lose the bold feeling of daring, she grabbed him into a tight embrace and kissed him. He was ready and swiftly lifted her up into his arms, enjoying the moment, wrestling a war with him as he wondered if he should do anything to sodden the mood. But for him it was not enough to have her physically. Reluctantly he broke the kiss, “Lina, what does this mean to you?”

Lina stared at him in annoyance. Why did he keep getting stuck on that point? “I thought most men didn’t care about meaning as long as they get the prize.” She said caustically.

Gourry was not going to let her put him on the defensive in this matter, “And aren’t most women supposed to be all about the romance? Why is it so hard for you to admit anything?”

Lina had to privately agree that it was a good question. One that she did not even know the answer to, other than that it felt like tempting fate to say anything. How long can you gamble and win? How long can you be reckless without suffering any permanent consequences? Stating a feeling makes it more real. If she ever lost him and never admitted that she loved him, wouldn’t it be easier than if she had been so open? If he ever decided to leave, it wouldn’t be as big of a blow if she never loved him in the first place.

And in the end, wasn’t the fear so silly that it did not even seem worth justifying it by speaking it outloud?

Lina’s eyes softened, “Don’t ask it from me, not yet. Just let me show you. Just be happy with that for now.” With that she untucked his shirt and ran her hands around his chest.

It didn’t take much convincing to get Gourry to do things her way. And so their relationship morphed. They shared a room now most nights unless Lina was feeling spooked by an unusually attentive person in the crowd, and though those nights were passionate during the day they put up the façade of being just friends, especially when they met up with Zel, Amelia, and the others. Gourry waited patiently for Lina to resolve whatever issues kept her from admitting any feelings of tenderness for him, though the issue was often a source of friction between them.

It would happen one day, he kept telling himself. It just was not today.