Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Detour ❯ Chapter Fourteen ( Chapter 14 )
[ 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.
Lina reclined in the chair next to the bed, allowing herself to doze off even as she kept her senses concentrated on Zelgadis. It had been several hours since she'd had Gourry help her carry Amelia to her room and then threatened him with a sleep spell if he didn't turn in and rest. He'd made her promise to let him keep watch and rest when he got up, and she'd reluctantly agreed.
Zel hadn't moved since they'd brought him here. Lina couldn't even tell if he was sleeping normally or still unconscious; she wasn't a healer, and Amelia's hysterics hadn't really let her ask. She could understand the princess' reaction. She'd have felt just as guilty if it had been her, and Amelia had a tendency to be far more emotional than Lina. Unless it involved anger, of course.
A gasp from Zelgadis caught her attention and she quickly straightened. The chimera's face was suddenly lined with pain. “Zel!”
His eyes opened slightly, rolling toward her and slowly focusing. “Lina? What happened?” Zel's voice was disturbingly weak.
Lina had no idea how to answer that question, because she didn't know what had happened to him, but she smiled at him reassuringly. “You're safe, Zel. We brought you to an inn. You'll be just fine.”
“I cast Sleeping on her. She was hysterical.” Zel winced, and she quickly continued. “She'll be okay. We thought you were a goner, Zel. What the hell did Xellos do?”
The chimera shivered lightly, looking away. “Didn't let me die. I should be dead.”
“Zel…” Lina didn't know what to say to that.
“It's hard to explain. That Ra Tilt… It ripped all the way through. My soul was torn apart, Lina. I don't know what he did, but I'm alive somehow. It hurts.”
Lina rose. “I'll have Gourry go to the Apothecary and get some thing to help.”
Zel shook his head. “It's not my body.” Lina froze, staring at him as she tried to figure out what to do. He smiled weakly. “Apparently whatever the Mazoku have planned, I'm important enough that Xellos tried to repair my soul. You'd think they'd find an easier way.”
“But those wolves… If the Beastmaster has plans for you, why would she attack?”
The chimera's eyes shut, and his voice grew fainter. “Don't know. Maybe they weren't hers. If they were, why would Xellos save me?”
Lina scowled. “Whatever happened, I don't trust Xellos. Maybe he hasn't killed us before, and maybe he saved you, but if Beastmaster's changed her mind you're in danger. If she ordered him to kill you, he will.”
“At least then it wouldn't hurt anymore,” Zel murmured.
“Zel! Don't say shit like that!” He didn't respond and she realized he'd fallen back to sleep. “Dammit,” Lina whispered. “I'm not going to let you give up, you jerk!”
She leaned back again, fuming silently at Zel's hopelessness and at her own inability to do anything to help him.
Xellos waited until several hours into Gourry's watch before returning to the mortal realm. Lina's conversation with Zelgadis had convinced him that it was better to avoid her for the time being. The blonde swordsman, on the other hand, was generally pretty clueless and would hopefully be easier to deal with.
Gourry frowned at him when he shimmered into the room. “Lina said you shouldn't be here.”
“Oh?” The Mazoku feigned ignorant surprise.
“I think she thinks you'll kill Zel.”
“Why would I want to do that?”
Gourry glanced at the sleeping chimera and shrugged. “I kind of figure if you meant to you'd have done it already.” He smiled. “Besides, I think you're just as worried about Zel as we are.”
The blonde's perceptiveness caught Xellos by surprise, and he felt a bit uneasy. “Saa…”
“Sometimes you just pretend not to care.” Gourry rubbed the back of his head. “Anyway, you're here to help Zel, right?”
Xellos was starting to regret his decision to deal with Gourry rather than Lina. While Lina's ability to deduce was troublesome at times, in this case Gourry's tendency to go with his gut instincts was far more dangerous. At least he could count on Lina to over think and miss the obvious. The swordsman had an eerie tendency to strike very close to the truth accidentally, and this time was no different.
In any case, he truly was here to check the damage to Zelgadis' soul, and it would be ridiculous to change his plans for such a silly reason. So Xellos only nodded, and Gourry vacated the chair near the bed for him, going to lean against the wall near the door.
Zelgadis was sleeping naturally, his aura hazy but streaked with pain. Xellos looked deeper, fixing his gaze on the chimera's soul. It was still in tatters, only partially healed and kept together only through Xellos' intervention, which, he hated to admit, was the equivalent of gluing together the pieces of a masterwork sculpture with chewing gum. What he had to figure out now was how to repair it more effectively, something that wasn't going to be easy.
Unfortunately, Xellos was fairly certain he was the only one they knew who could even attempt it, so he would have to be the one to do it.
He was reaching forward, intending to do a closer inspection of the damage—which would hopefully inspire an idea of how to undo it—when the door slammed open and revealed an infuriated Lina Inverse. She stalked forward and shoved him away from Zelgadis, placing herself protectively in front of the chimera.
“What the hell, Gourry? I told you not to let him in!” She glared at the blonde, and her fury was almost intoxicating.
Gourry suddenly looked sheepish, and he bit his lip and tapped his index fingers together nervously. “Well, I mean, he can help Zel, and—”
“We can't trust him!” she veritably snarled. “I told you that.”
“My, my, Lina-san. And here I thought we were beyond that.” He smiled benignly. “Surely you would like Zelgadis-san's soul to be repaired?”
She turned her anger toward him. “The Greater Beast is the reason he's hurt!”
Xellos cocked his head. “Oh? I thought it was Amelia who cast Ra Tilt.”
Lina sprang forward and grabbed his collar, shaking him. “She sent those wolves!”
He was well aware of that, and it had been something he had meant to ask his mistress about but had forgotten. Even so, he had no intention of confirming it. “Now, really, Lina-san, why would I have gone to such lengths to save him if Zelas-sama wanted him dead?”
The sorceress abruptly let him go, her eyes narrowed and suspicious. “I don't know. But I don't trust her and I don't trust you.”
“I'm hurt, Lina-san!” Xellos schooled his features appropriately, even as he allowed his voice to betray his mirth. “I've done nothing to earn your distrust.” Lina didn't respond, only searching his face—as if a Mazoku of his rank would reveal anything so easily! “However, if you'd rather leave Zelgadis-san in pain…”
“Don't try to manipulate me, Xellos!”
He was tempted to do just that, as he had with Zelgadis when he had begged Xellos to let him die. It would be easy for him to tell her that he could have honored the chimera's wish. But that was information he didn't feel comfortable giving to Lina, even to manipulate her.
Xellos sighed, letting the playfulness drop from his attitude. “Lina-san, he is in quite a bit of pain, and spiritual pain is quite damaging.”
She flinched, then turned away and walked to the bed, her brow creased in thought as she gazed at Zelgadis. “And you can help him?”
“I don't know,” Xellos said, deciding to be honest. “What I did before bought time, but it is a temporary solution at best. Unless his soul is repaired, Zelgadis-san will die, and not pleasantly. A destroyed soul disappears forever. There would be no hope for the afterlife you humans so look forward to.”
“So you're saying you don't even know what his chances are?”
The Mazoku shrugged. “If I have the opportunity to study the damage to his soul and discover a solution, I can at least guarantee it is better than what he has otherwise.”
Lina deflated. “So basically, I can decide not to trust you and he'll definitely die, or I can trust you and be wrong and you might kill him.” Xellos nodded. “Fine. But if you're screwing with me… I'll really kill you, Xellos.” The cold determination in her aura left no doubt in his mind that she would at least try.
Gourry, who had very carefully stayed out of it, interjected. “So we're trusting him?”
The sorceress sighed. “Yeah, Jellyfish Brains. We're trusting him.”
Xellos let a smile return to his face. “Good. Now, your auras are rather distracting. Besides, I doubt either of you have had a good meal since yesterday!” Lina didn't move, staring at him suspiciously. He pulled out several coins. “My treat.”
To her credit, Lina glanced once more at Zelgadis before taking the coins from his hand. “I'm going to trust you on this. Don't make me regret it.”
With that, she pulled Gourry out the door, closing it behind them and leaving the Mazoku to his task.
The feeling of something powerful and cold prodding his agonized spirit woke Zelgadis. He opened his eyes to see purple hair framing a serious face with closed eyes, and in his terrified exhaustion saw a nightmare Rezzo leaning over him. The chimera was far too exhausted to fight back, could only plead, “Please stop.” His voice was barely a whimper, and he was humiliated at his weakness.
Then purple eyes opened, and the presence touching his soul quickly withdrew. “Zelgadis-san?” It was Xellos, not Rezzo, and the Mazoku had actually listened to him.
Zelgadis took a few deep breaths to calm himself before speaking. “What are you doing?” His voice was still weak, but at least he kept it from shaking this time.
Xellos frowned at him. “Your soul is still damaged, and what I did will only hold it together temporarily.” The priest reached forward again.
Zelgadis managed to grab his wrists, though without much strength. “What I'd like to know is why whatever you're plotting requires me alive. Wouldn't it be much simpler to find another way?” Xellos didn't try to break his hold and he plowed on recklessly. “The last thing I need is another person messing with my soul and using me to destroy the world. I got plenty of that from Rezzo. I'd rather my soul be destroyed than that.”
The Mazoku looked shocked and carefully withdrew his hands from Zelgadis' grasp. “Zelgadis-san,” he said softly after a moment, “my mission does not require that you live. And, as far as I know, it does not involve destroying the world.”
“And I'm supposed to believe that?”
“I may mislead, but I never lie.”
Zelgadis scowled at him. “If it is true, why are you bothering?”
“Because I want to,” the Mazoku said simply.
For nearly a minute Zel could only gape at him in disbelief. “I don't get you. Here I thought Mazoku were sadists, not masochists.”
Xellos frowned at him. “Zelgadis-san?”
“I know whatever you did hurt you just as much as it hurt me,” the chimera said. “I'm not stupid.”
“I realize that,” Xellos said dryly, and Zelgadis glared.
He chose his next words carefully. “This kind of thing isn't in your nature.”
At this the priest smiled. “And how much do you know about my nature, Zelgadis-san?”
Very little, Zelgadis admitted to himself. He looked away.
When Xellos reached forward this time, he allowed it, though he cringed as the Mazoku touched his spirit.
Yeah, that whole thing about laying off the fic? I mentioned that my muses often ignore me, and they decided that this was the perfect time to do just that. I seriously think that one of them must be as sadistic as Xellos.
I'm reading the novels. Just finished 5, and it made me giggle all the way through. I mean, not only does Xellos flirt with Zelgadis (it's the only way I can interpret that particular conversation), but there's his unconvincing claim that he's perfectly straight. Oh, Kanzaka-san, you are so awesome.
And apparently Zelgadis asking Xellos to go easy on those village men coming after them because it would destroy the village (back in chapter seven) is totally something Lina also did in the novels, which I honestly did not know before I wrote that chapter. I'm actually pretty shocked that I came so close to something in the novels inadvertently.
Thanks to Chrissy for helping me with characterization, and Tora for editing. Chrislea would have helped, but she's evacuating for Ike.