Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ Detour ❯ Chapter Nineteen ( Chapter 19 )

[ 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 Nineteen
There really wasn't any excuse for his behavior. Xellos had become inordinately fond of Zelgadis, and it seemed to be clouding his judgment. The Mazoku should have been discussing important issues with Lina Inverse, but instead found himself waiting illogically for the chimera to awake. It was ridiculous. It was clear that the sorcerer would recover without an issue and Zelgadis would hardly be happy to see him, even if Xellos had saved his life again—perhaps this time against his wishes.
Xellos was a fool. He knew it, but he still found it impossible to leave, as irrational as it was.
At this point it was a waste of time to be irritated about it. Clearly he was going to be irrational, and there was really no point in fighting it even if it mystified him.
He tried to unravel more of the Thoughts that L-sama had Impressed upon him, but found himself distracted, warming the blankets magically as Zelgadis began to shiver and tucking them more snugly around him.
Instead he found himself drawn back to the first Thought he had deciphered, trying to understand Her comparison of him to Gourry. He was hardly mindlessly devoted to Zelgadis as Gourry was to Lina. But even so, he was troubled. He had gone against his orders, his nature, to rescue the chimera. He had gone against his nature binding his soul when he should have welcomed the destruction. And he had nearly destroyed himself healing Zelgadis, ensuring that he would continue to live. His own actions made little sense even to him. Xellos could not justify them.
He had, in the beginning, pitied the chimera. He was a bastardized hybrid, tolerated by the Mazoku only because a lowly Brow demon had been used and the result was hardly a threat. Zelgadis' unique composition had made him powerful, as far as mortals went, but his hatred of something as insignificant as his appearance had seemed somewhat pathetic.
Somewhere along the line, the pity had changed. Xellos couldn't pinpoint what had happened, and only knew that it was the result of becoming too entangled in the lives of mortals. These particular mortals were quite useful, but he had spent far too much time around them unnecessarily. He had seen first-hand the troubles the chimera had faced because of his appearance, how Zelgadis was viewed with suspicion or outright hostility—from the very people his actions had often saved, no less.
The change had been so gradual Xellos hadn't noticed it, but clearly the last straw had been seeing Zelgadis in that tank. The chimera's hatred for his body, his desire to become human again, had suddenly and irrevocably become understandable. And Xellos had found himself, for the first time in his existence, creating a loophole and effectively disobeying Beastmaster's orders to save him.
While his first reaction was to deny any sort of parallel between his actions with Zelgadis and Gourry's with Lina… he couldn't. Not only was the denial unsubstantiated, but who was he to say the Mother of All was wrong? He had been able to reject Zelas' insinuation; while she was often right, she was hardly infallible. But he could hardly dismiss the Wisdom of the Creator of the Universe. It would be blasphemous to do so, even to him.
Xellos sighed. He supposed it could have been worse. At least it wasn't a dragon; unlike Gaav, he still retained some good judgment.
L-sama certainly had an interesting sense of humor.
Zelgadis stirred, opening his eyes and focusing on Xellos momentarily. The chimera stared at him for a moment, then deliberately turned his head away before closing his eyes and falling back to sleep.
Xellos watched him sleep for a few minutes, stung, then left the room to track Lina down.
Lina had pulled a Zel and fallen asleep in the library. He may have given up, but she wasn't about to. Shortly after the chimera had left the dining hall, she had asked Phil if she could use the library. So far she hadn't found anything except books that Zel had already looked at during previous visits; he was organized enough to put a small strip of paper with his initials inside the front covers of the books he'd looked at. Occasionally after his initials there were small notes, and none of them were promising—things like “N/A” or “useless” or “unsound theories.”
It had taken several hours for her to find even a few books that didn't have papers in them. The first one had been mind-numbing bullshit, not even qualifying in her mind as magical theory, and she'd fallen asleep reading the second one.
The sorceress was nudged awake by a feeling that took her a moment to place, and then only confused her further. There was no way She would Manifest here. Lina understood enough to know that the Lord of Nightmares Manifesting in Her True Form would result in the destruction of the world. That and there was no one around, at least visible.
Her muddled, sleepy brain made a connection that made her sit up straight. Zel had mentioned that Xellos was back. Or implied it, anyway. It would figure, wouldn't it?
“So, the Creator saves the destroyer, huh? That's some irony,” she drawled.
Xellos appeared in front of her, looking a bit bemused, and she managed to stifle a laugh only because she was pissed at him.
“You really upset Zel. He's given up on his cure, after everything. I don't think he's sleeping, and I know he hasn't been eating. What the hell did you say to him?”
The Mazoku frowned. “I only told him the truth, Lina-san. He did ask.”

”And you're not lying?” It was a long-shot, but the sorceress was hoping that maybe…
Xellos made a dismissive noise. “I don't lie. The truth makes life far more interesting.”
“You told us that crazy story when you first met us. That was a lie.”
He only smiled. “I also made it clear that I was lying. It wouldn't have been any fun otherwise.”
Lina set aside the book in her lap and sighed. “Dammit, Xellos! All the times you tell us stuff is a secret to get out of telling us, and you couldn't just tell him that?”
“It wasn't a secret.”
She stood, staring at him. “It wasn't a secret…” Lina wanted to hurt him, but knew she couldn't without destroying Seyruun. “You wanted to hurt him, didn't you?” She could have sworn she saw him flinch, but she wrote it off as a trick of the light. “You were just waiting until he was vulnerable, when telling him would do the most damage, so you could get the most out of it!”
Lina cut him off. “I knew I should've kept you away from him. Sure, you didn't kill him. But you took away his hope. That's just as—”
He moved, and she found herself shoved against a wall with his gloved hand covering her mouth to prevent her from chanting spells. He was no longer smiling. His eyes were open, and she froze in shock. They weren't the demon eyes she was accustomed to seeing on occasion. They looked human, and she instinctively knew it was a reason to be afraid.
“Yare yare, Lina-san. What would be the point in saving his life only to do that something that would make him more inclined to commit suicide?”
His tone was ominous and when he paused meaningfully she struggled to get loose. She should have checked on Zel. If he was—
“As it is, he may have a cold from being outside for so long.” Lina stopped, searching his face. “Yes, he's alive. It may have been unintentional, but he was half-buried in snow on the balcony when I found him.” The Mazoku released her and stepped back.
“But he's okay?” she asked, shivering lightly just from the thought of being outside in that blizzard.
“Asleep, but he should be.”
They stood there in silence for a while, Lina sagging in relief against the wall. “Why, Xellos?” He cocked his head. “Why did you tell him? No, scratch that. Why did you save him? It's pretty obvious that if L-sama intervened it did more than just hurt you. Why?”
His smile returned, this one befitting the mysterious priest he had originally introduced himself as. “My motivations are my own.”
She processed that for a moment. Lina knew that whatever that meant, it wasn't simple. Xellos never made things simple. It may have been for fun, or because Beastmaster…
His words clicked.
“That's not possible.”
“Clearly it is.”
“No. No. There are five retainers to Shabranigdu, and—”
Now Xellos grinned. “Oh? You must have miscounted. I only count three. I seem to recall that one was killed and the other was Unmade.”
Oh, right. And she'd technically been responsible for both, not to mention a shard of Shabranigdu himself. Her mind had started chanting, Not good! Not good! Lina stood up straight. “So, what? You're here for revenge?”
Xellos laughed. “Oh my, no, Lina-san! I don't care about that, and I doubt the Mother of All would take kindly to me killing Her General.”
His words took a moment to register, and then she did the only logical thing she could think of.
She fainted.
Zelgadis didn't want to wake up. He'd already woken up once to find Xellos watching him, and he had no doubt that the bastard would be around when he woke up again. Why the priest couldn't just leave him alone was beyond him.
It wasn't possible; he was already awake, his mind not allowing him to sink back into sleep. But he kept his eyes closed and breathing natural, pretending for just a little while longer.
He knew what had happened; the cold made it obvious. He had been careless, and had fallen asleep on the balcony. The chimera should have known that his exhaustion would catch up to him when he was vulnerable, but he had been too distracted to take precautions. And given that Lina had jumped to the worst assumption when he'd been researching, he had no doubt she'd also assume the worst here. She'd be wrong. Despite everything, he wasn't suicidal; Xellos hadn't pushed him quite that far yet.
But, yet again, Xellos had helped him, though Zelgadis was certain it was only so he'd have his own personal emotional buffet. Maybe that was why the damned Mazoku had been doing this; he'd been turning Zelgadis into a pet of sorts, breaking him in to be as useful as possible.
The chimera should have been angry, but he no longer knew how he felt. Everything was so jumbled and confused that he couldn't figure out his own emotions. As he'd felt lost for the past few years in his alien body, he now felt lost in his own mind.
Zelgadis ignored the priest.
“I know you're awake, Zelgadis-san.”
Go figure. “Good for you. Leave already.” He kept his eyes closed, stubborn.
Xellos was quiet for a moment. “And what will you do when I leave?”
The chimera ran through several possible responses, including `Celebrate,' `Sleep,' and a sarcastic `Go back outside,' before settling on, “Visit the kitchen.” He was hungry, which was no surprise given that he hadn't felt much like eating the past several days.
He heard the rustle of cloth before Xellos' gloved hand brushed against his forehead, and he finally opened his eyes and shoved the hand away. “Leave me alone, you sadistic bastard! Haven't you done enough already?”
The Mazoku frowned at him. “I apologize, Zelgadis-san. Had I known—”
“I wasn't trying to kill myself, you idiot,” he interrupted. “I just fell asleep.” Xellos looked uncertain, and Zelgadis glared. “I wasn't.”
“I should not have told you.”
It was clear that the priest still didn't believe him. Zelgadis looked away, tired of arguing. “I already knew, deep down. I just didn't want to accept it.” There was a moment of silence, and it made the chimera uncomfortable. “I just don't know what to do now. It was all I had.”
“I understand.”
Zel frowned, then glared at him. “How could you possibly…” He trailed off, too startled to continue, as he looked at Xellos.
Xellos' eyes were open. And while still that purple, their demonic qualities had faded somehow. The chimera had always been reminded of the ruthless, dead eyes of a shark when he saw Xellos' eyes. But now they looked human.
The chimera could only gape for nearly a minute. “What the hell…?”
The Mazoku—or whatever he was now—smiled, but the expression had a wistful quality. “Things have changed for me as well, Zelgadis-san. They are much less simple now.”
Zelgadis didn't know how to interpret that. The last time he had seen Xellos' eyes, shortly before the priest had worked with Amelia to heal his soul, they had been as gelid as they always had been. Before the priest had faded into nothing before their eyes.
Except that Xellos was clearly not dead. And it was clear from the other night that he was still Mazoku.
His first inclination was to question whether it was actually Xellos, but as far as he knew no Mazoku would be suicidal enough to masquerade as the Beastmaster's priest.
“What happened?” Zelgadis finally asked.
The Mazoku ignored the question. “Zelas is rather angry with you. She dislikes losing servants.”
Zelgadis frowned, considering that. He hadn't referred to Beastmaster with the respect he usually gave her. “You're not her priest anymore? But why?”
“I disobeyed.”
“When you didn't kill me, I know. What does that matter?”
“It is not supposed to be possible. My will is—or should have been—my master's.” Xellos smiled. “When she sent her wolves, I should not have intervened.”
“Then why did you?”
“I wonder…”
Zelgadis sat up, irritated. “Just tell me it's a secret and get it over with.”
Xellos looked briefly surprised, then amused. “This is hardly a secret from you, Zelgadis-san.”
The Mazoku was suddenly leaning too close for comfort, and Zel didn't have time to move before Xellos kissed him.
The chimera froze, too startled to react in any way, staring into Xellos' amused eyes. The kiss was chaste, just a light pressure against his lips.
After a few seconds Xellos pulled back, his eyes closing and his face stretching into a too-familiar grin. “That explains quite a bit, doesn't it Zelgadis-san?”
Then he disappeared.
Before X/F fans crucify me, I wasn't referring to that pairing in the first section. I was implying G/V slash and Xellos was thinking about the brouhaha that resulted. While I don't particularly like the X/F pairing, I'm not trying to bash it. I just don't read it.
I intended the last section to go differently, but Xellos wasn't cooperating. His argument was something along the lines of “Screw talking. Let's get to the kissing!”
He truly is evil.
Chrissy and Chrislea beta-read for me.