Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Detour ❯ Chapter Eight ( Chapter 8 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

by Rose Thorne
Disclaimer: Slayers is owned by a bunch of folks who aren't me. I'm borrowing them for my perverse pleasure, much as Xellos borrows emotions for his.
Chapter Eight
It had been simplest to travel to somewhere nearby. Xellos had returned to the town where he had brought Zelgadis after finding him, near the border of Dils and the Kataart Mountains. The Mazoku had spent plenty of time in the shops of this town finding suitable clothing for the chimera, and thus knew where to go so he could return to the cave quickly.
He was acquiring blankets when he felt them. Lina, Gourry, and Amelia were, after all, unmistakable, especially with the emotions that swirled around them—emotions that were even more chaotic than usual. Xellos couldn't help but smile at the prominent emotion: grief. The Mazoku guessed that they had found the remains of the sorcerer's lab and were assuming the worst. The smile faded quickly as he reminded himself that it could very easily be true at some point in the near future.
Xellos paid for the heavy blankets and left the store, ducking into a small market. The water had ruined the provisions, and before he even considered encountering Lina he needed to restock. As he chose items (carefully selecting an aromatic coffee), he extended his senses to eavesdrop on the trio. It was nearly unnecessary, given that they were headed his way.
“He's been in worse situations before and pulled through,” Lina said, trying too hard to sound confident. “I'm sure he's fine.”
“But, Lina-san, we found the pendant I gave him, and his sword. He wouldn't leave those behind.” Amelia sounded like she was failing at an attempt not to cry.
“We didn't find his body,” Gourry said, attempting to be helpful. Amelia did start to cry at his words, and Xellos smirked, enjoying the rare negativity from the princess. “And, well, it's rock. Maybe he's headed to Seyruun?”
“Exactly!” Lina sounded relieved. “We can catch up to him on the road! If he was here, maybe someone at the inn saw him.” They were nearing the storefront.
Xellos briefly considered his options. He rather enjoyed their negative emotions and was loathe to reassure them, but it was a good opportunity to cut his mission short by dumping responsibility for the chimera off on them, if Zelas allowed it. Of course, he would have to find a suitably cryptic and irritating way to put them on the trail, but that would be simple. Xellos quickly paid the shopkeeper—he usually wouldn't have bothered, but he still had plenty from what Lina had paid for the demon blood talismans and plenty else to amuse him—and stepped from the building, surreptitiously pushing his parcels into the Astral Plane as he did.
Lina's surprised “Xellos!” forced him to fight a grin, and he turned to them with a bland, surprised smile.
“I didn't realize you were here, Lina-san!” This was mostly the truth. He'd had no idea she was in this town, only that she'd been seen in the area. Truthfully, he had thought it would take her longer to get this far, but he hadn't asked the wounded bandit when he had encountered her, and three healthy people were probably able to move faster than Zelgadis at this point.
Lina's initial surprise turned into suspicion, then anger. Xellos let his smile become slightly less neutral, and she, predictably, stepped forward and grabbed him by his mantle. “You're not here by coincidence! You never are!”
“Lina-san!” Amelia grabbed her arm.
The Mazoku managed to shrug. “I merely had business in this area.”
The sorceress' eyes widened, then filled with fury. “You! You destroyed that castle! What did you do to Zel?” He only grinned. “XELLOS!”
Gourry tugged Lina's shoulder. “Lina, people are staring.”
Lina didn't move for a second, but to Xellos' astonishment actually released him. “If he's… Just tell me, Xellos. I need to know.” She didn't look at him now, and her anguish surprised him.
“Saaa…” He pretended to look thoughtful. “One of the villages to the southeast did seem rather riled up. There was mention of drowning a demon.” He held up a finger and opened one eye, keeping his expression completely serious. “Incidentally, do you know anything about treating hypothermia?”
Lina froze, staring blankly as she tried to puzzle out his meaning. Gourry blinked. “What's hypothermia?”
Amelia frowned in confusion. “Hypothermia is caused when the body temperature drops. The best way to treat it is to warm a person up using fire or body heat and blankets, but make sure to warm the limbs last or the person could go into shock.” She suddenly looked worried. “Why, Xellos-san?”
Xellos grinned. They could figure that out on their own with the tidbits of information he'd provided. “Sore wa-“
He was cut off as Gourry's face suddenly brightened with realization. The blonde dropped a fist into his palm to emphasize his understanding. “Zel must've gotten hypothermia when they tried to drown him!” Then he looked worried. “That's bad.”
Lina came to life at this. “Xellos!”
“That was quite helpful, Amelia-san!” he said. The princess stared at him in horror. “Ja ne!” The priest disappeared into the Astral Plane as an angry, worried sorceress lunged at him.
Shortly after Xellos had left and Lina had been calmed down enough to ensure that the town wasn't at risk of becoming a victim of Dragon Slave (something that had been achieved only by dragging her to a restaurant and letting her gorge and rant unintelligibly), Gourry frowned thoughtfully.
“Didn't Xellos seem kind of worried to you, Lina?”
“That's stupid, Jellyfish Brains.” Lina rolled her eyes. “Xellos doesn't worry.”
“Oh.” The swordsman scratched his cheek with one finger. “Well, he did seem interested in knowing how to treat that hypo… hypodermita?”
“Hypothermia,” Amelia corrected automatically. She was staring out the window at the path that led from town, to the southeast.
It was Lina's turn to look thoughtful, but after a few seconds she shook her head. “Let's just get moving. Zel needs our help.” She could only hope that Xellos didn't let Zelgadis die in the meantime.
The first thing Zelgadis was aware of was cold inside. He hadn't thought that cold could hurt this much, but apparently if it had seeped into someone as deeply as it had him, it did. Then he was aware of the warmth enveloping him, and a warm weight on his chest, and the pervading cold didn't seem as painful.
For a while he just existed, his mind too numb to allow him to do otherwise, and then he remembered. Being thrown into the water, Xellos pulling him out, the trek to the cave… then it muddled and there was nothing. But unless this was hell, he was alive.
Zelgadis managed to open his eyes and flinched when he found himself staring into Xellos' purple eyes. The Mazoku was lying on top of him, his chin resting against the top of his gloved hands, which were folded on the blankets covering the chimera's chest. And he didn't have the strength to move, let alone throw Xellos off.
This had to be hell.
Xellos grinned. “Good morning, Zelgadis-san.” The chimera couldn't even summon the strength to glare, and settled for rolling his eyes. “I didn't realize you could get hypothermia.”
Zelgadis hadn't, either, but it certainly explained a lot. Go figure this awful body would have a weakness like that. At least he could guess why Xellos was on him, not that he was happy with it. “Still cold,” he managed. He was also exhausted, and doubted he'd be conscious for much longer. Only the cold was keeping him awake.
The Mazoku moved, finally, off of him and to the fire. Zelgadis shivered, closing his eyes tightly as the cold bordered on painful again. Then a hand tilted his head, and he jerked away, his eyes opening. His movements nearly overturned a steaming bowl Xellos was holding.
“Zelgadis-san, it's soup. It should help.”
The chimera stilled, and Xellos brought the bowl to his lips, allowing him small sips. The liquid warmed him a bit from the inside, and he found himself unable to cling to consciousness, even for more soup. Zelgadis' eyes drifted shut. He felt his head gently lowered and the blankets pulled more snuggly about him before he fell asleep.
Ah, yes. Lina-tachi finally show up. I was going to introduce them later, in different circumstances, but this just worked better and begged to be done.
Why must school start and deprive me of my fun with fanfiction?
Again, thanks to Chrissy and Chrislea!