A/N: I wanted to get an early start on this, so I'd have it in advance while I worked on other things. Here's my next chapter. For the sake of my one and only original story, I sincerely hope I can keep this short, with a large amount of reviews.

Disclaimer: I don't own Slayers, I just wish I did.

A Gift to Remember

Part 3- For the Future

The man smiled, and walked over. Lina sat rigid in her seat, but managed to slowly set her cup down and wipe her mouth. All the while, she watched him with a slightly fearful, but mainly inquisitive, stare. Without asking, he took Marv's seat, and propped his elbows on the table. Resting his chin on the palm of one of his hands, he gave Lina a dazed look as he greeted, "It's been a while, Lina-chan."

Lina winced at the pet name, and tried to turn away, but couldn't. Instead, she commented with a growl, "Not long enough."

He smiled, and there was a soft silence. Both pairs of ears had tuned out to the sounds of rushing, the clanging of dishes, the shouted orders – they were only focused on each other. One was rather timid, but the other seemed amused. Finally, he spoke again. "Your sister's shield was tough. It almost tickled me to death when I entered."

Lina's left eye started to twitch ever so slightly. She answered back, trying to make her voice sound bored and monotonous, "You make it sound like I would give a care in the world whether you dropped in or not."

He smirked. "Lying doesn't suit you, Lina-chan."

"Nor me nor you."

"Maybe so, but I'm allowed to."

"No one can force another person to lie."

"But I'll wager that the Knight of Celphieed could talk you into telling the truth."

"If she was your sister, she would have to you too."

"If she was my sister, I wouldn't have turned out the way I have."

"That's no one's fault but your own."

"But what fun would it be to drown in self-pity?"

"I should be asking you that. You're the one who had been searching the world thrice over for a cure you were half convinced didn't exist."

"Bah, those were old times. I am reborn."

"Reborn or not, you've definitely changed."

"Oh? How so?"

"I shouldn't tell you." Lina paused, before adding, "But you're starting to act like Xellos."

He smirked again. Amused, he commented, "Is that for the better or for worse?"

Lina shrugged. "Take your pick. I need to go, now. If you have nothing important to say, then I'm leaving."

She stood up, and walked by him on her way to the door. He stopped her by grabbing hold of her wrist and yanking her onto his lap effortlessly. Startled, Lina let out a small yelp and looked up at him. Before she could stop him, or do much of anything, he pulled his head down for a bruising kiss. Without thinking, Lina soon parted her lips, which was all the invitation he needed to enter her mouth, fiercely marking it his with his tongue. Caught up in the moment, Lina was practically paralyzed. When she finally started to kiss back though, he stopped, and withdrew his mouth and tongue. He looked into her eyes as she slowly opened them again, and licked his lips hungrily. With a husky "I'll see you soon, Lina-chan", he disappeared from sight.

Lina plopped softly onto his chair, warm with body heat. Her hand absently went to her heart, trying to steady it along with her breath. When it hit her what had happened, she softly brushed her hand over her lips, and smiled longingly up at the ceiling. Half to herself, she called after him, "Come back. Come back and stop toying with me."

When she found it obvious that she would receive no response, she sighed, and stood up. Lina left a tip at the table before stalking out slowly. Walking down the cobblestone road, she murmured, "For five years, I thought I knew him, and in an instant, he changed forever. Who knew that Luna's powers could be used for such evil? Did she realize it would be bad when she did it? He's still the same polite, powerful, near unemotional person he was before, but now there's just one, no, two differences. He's a human-monster and his emotions are haywire whenever I'm near." Lina sighed again. After a long silence in which her thoughts were jumbled, she murmured, "I guess that's what I get…for falling for a monster."

As she walked, ignoring the townspeople, she continued to think about him. Monster sounded too cruel to describe him, but in a way, it was partly true. He was a sexual monster, but was otherwise a decent human. He had wanted to cure his appearance, because he deemed it unsatisfactory. Lina had always thought him quite dashing, in an anti-social kind of way. But after his golem part was extracted, the rocks gave way to a beautiful, truly beautiful, human man. Strengthened by years of travel, his muscles were nicely toned. He could still wield magic quite well, since his transformation had hurried his learning process. There was just that one problem – without the golem part, he was half human, and half demon.

A half demon with no master had a lot of power, but no one to control him. Besides, who needed a half-blood these days anyway? Pure-bloods had more power, and could destroy so much more with it. Lina's hanyou had a special place in her heart though. He had been lodged there ever since she had first seen him in his half-mazoku state. She knew she loved him, but she wasn't sure why. Lina wasn't even sure if she needed a reason. Didn't love withstand all? Only if the feeling's mutual, Lina told herself bitterly. She didn't know how he felt. By the way he acted, compared to how most mazoku act, his demon side was most likely corrupting his modest mentality.

No. That wouldn't happen. Lina looked forward with great determination. I will make sure of that. No matter what it takes, Zelgadis Greywards will not be changed for the worse. Not while I'm still alive. With those thoughts, Lina power-walked back to her home, went to her desk, and began scheming up a devious plot.

The first two hours were a moot point, considering how Lina kept dismissing possibilities for a variety of reasons. However, when she finally came up with the perfect plan, in her own mind, she quickly scribbled down the notes as she thought them, lest she forget. When the moon was high, she had finally finished, and promptly fell asleep at the desk.

In a midnight abyss, Lina found herself alone. All alone in the vast reaches of space. Before loneliness could really sink in, she saw something appear in the distance. Hurriedly, she tried to run towards it, but the air was thwarted. She discovered that she had to literally swim through the air to move. As she approached the object, it grew bigger and brighter. She sped until it was large enough to recognize as…her love. But when she reached out to touch it, it vanished without a trace. Lina hovered there for a few moments, silence reigning easily. Finally, she bent her head toward the air above, locked her arms, and cried out in anguish. Even if it was a dream, she needed to vent out her frustrations in a way that toasting bandits would not work. And so, she woke up with a fierce jolt, still crying pained tears, shuddering from sobs, and curled into an even tighter ball. In a few hours, the crying subsided back into the lumbers of sleep.

Near midnight, a special someone paid Lina a visit. It was him again. He, who haunted Lina's thoughts, presence, and dreams. Seeing Lina's sleeping form, he smiled and stepped towards her. Just as he was nearing her though, she fell sideways in her chair, and met the ground head first. Zelgadis relished in her annoyance and slight pain as she rubbed her head ruefully afterwards. Taking that final step forward, he held out his hand and asked if she needed some help. Glaring at him, Lina slapped the hand away and got up by hoisting her body weight on the desk surface. With a tired snarl, she asked, "What do you want?"

He let out a few sinister chuckles before replying, "What do I want? I want…you."

Lina gave him a small, hopeless sigh. In a low voice, she pointed out, "It's a bit late for a comment like that, don't you think?"

In a second, Lina was enveloped by his arms, and his face was inches from hers. Lina's breath snagged in her throat as he remarked, "Of course I think, but that doesn't change the fact that it's true."

Deciding to put her plan into play, Lina began her first phase. In her sweetest, honey-soaked, playfully desirable voice, she said, "If you mean what you say, you're going to have to act a lot nicer to me you know." Her hands slipped around his waist and were enticingly fingering a rhythmic pattern on his back, unshielded by his thick cape. He smirked, and pondered aloud, "Is that so?" before taking Lina up in a breathtaking kiss. This time, Lina was ready, she completed the hand formations needed on his back, to render him paralyzed. Lina felt his whole body freeze, including his roving tongue. Lina ended the kiss with a small peck and smiled up at the live statue. She had to act quickly.

Taking a deep breath, Lina formed a special Flow Break, completely experimental, that she had put together that very night. Once her hands began to glow a bright white, she rested them on his cheeks, and went on tippy-toes to give him her own kiss. As if a string had been snipped, the paralysis broke, but he was still very lifeless. Lina stepped back to diagnosis any changes, but nothing happened. But then, the monster was unleashed.

He thrashed and shook wildly while clutching at his temples. He screamed out in agony, in anguish, in confusion. In a matter of minutes that it took to creep up on Lina, he turned on her, with fierce demon-red eyes. He lunged for her, narrowly missing. Lina put up a barrier spell around her; he lunged again and was shocked by the shield. Like a savage wolf outcast, he howled and broke through the glass of the window, into the street. That's when Lina realized that it had gone out of control. As to not destroy or even awaken her hometown, Lina jumped through the window and quickly cast a Van Reil, which quickly froze him in place. Lina ran closer, and used a Dynast Brass on him. Incased in ice, he had nowhere to run, and he lay frozen on the spot, or so Lina thought.

Wearily, Lina approached him, and crouched down next to him. She whispered softly, "Don't worry. I'll get you back to your old self. No more pain, or trouble."

Lina yelped when his hand lashed out like a whip and grabbed hold of her wrist. Fang revealed, eyebrows furrowed in anger, he snarled, "Are you aware, that this is a case of the cure being more painful than the disease? I doubt I want to change back anyway."

It was then, that Lina resorted to pleading. "Oh, Zel, you know you can't live forever like this-"

He interrupted, "Can't I? I am part-mazoku; I can have immortality in this form."

"Why would you want to?" Tears were beginning to stream down Lina's cheek. "Why would you want to live through endless wars, endless lives, until the very sight of anything makes you sick? Don't you see? It's better to just become one hundred percent human."

He scoffed and turned his head away. He coughed before replying with a hint of irony, "To think, when we were traveling together, with that lamebrain protector of yours, and that klutz of a princess, I seem to remember you saying that you didn't care about my other parts, but you liked me for who I was then. Are you going back on what you said?"

Lina was silent for a few moments before she answered, "I think Amelia said that. I understand that it must have been hard for you to cope with…with everything, but I admired you because you held yourself together throughout it all."

He scoffed again, and a spurt of metallic blood came out of his mouth. His hold on her wrist loosened as he muttered, "Hardly. There's no way that you could understand what I go through."

She raised an eyebrow, but smiled softly at his slow but sure change. She began to speak softly again. "Maybe you're right, but it still doesn't change the fact that you could do without your demon half."

"No I couldn't. There's something you don't know about me…"

Lina instantly pounced on the subject. "What? What is it?"

"It's- Augh!" Suddenly, he shut his eyes and started to thrash like before, but now Lina could see the difference. An evil, evil shadow was emitted from his body, and Lina immediately shattered it with an Elmekia Lance. This caused him to thrash even worse than before; one stray thrust knocked Lina back straight into the fountain post, knocking her unconscious upon the water. In a matter of minutes, he, too, was still. His extravagant clothing blinked, and disappeared, replaced by a simple dark blue tunic, and beige pants. His hair was a plump brown; his hands were callused with years of hard work; and his shoes were worn thin by heavy traveling. The true Zelgadis Greywerds had returned, after ten years of change.

Lina woke up with a start and instantly sat up, which was a bad idea, considering it called upon an immediate head rush, combine with a previous headache. As Lina groaned, she heard shuffling nearby. Still clutching her head with one hand, she looked around. It was obvious where she was – the only "hospital" in Zephilia, home of her second-cousin's niece's husband's brother's wife's, twice removed, sister. Lina had a big family, to say the least.

"Are you awake now?" Lina turned to the voice, slower than necessary to prevent further injury. Marv was sitting in a chair, covered partially by a thread-bare blanket. Lina could take a very educated guess, but she asked anyway. "How did I get here?"

Marv smiled at her, but blushed slightly as he rubbed the back of his head. "Well, to tell you the truth, Luna came home early, saying she had a bad feeling that something happened, and well, she found you and this other guy in front of your house, sort of, and she teleported you both here. I was just about to do it, too, since I was coming home from a meeting I had fallen asleep in. The guy's in the next room, but I dunno if you want to see him though; he was lookin' a little sick when we brought 'im in."

Lina was up and out of the door in an instant. Just as she was about to open the door next to hers, it opened, and Luna stepped out. When a flushed Lina tried to squeeze through or at least sneak a peek, Luna would have nothing of it. In a dead serious voice, she informed, "He is no more. He perished in the night. It would do no good to mourn, for it is necessary to move on. Let's go home; we have some repairs to do. Before Lina could protest, she was turned and forced to march out. As she passed her door again, she said 'bye' to Marv. At home, she was in for a surprise.

She had just finished repairing the fountain and the window. She rested on the living room couch, breathless. The bell ominously rang. With a groan, Lina stood up and answered it. She was surprised beyond words, when she saw Zelgadis in the doorway with a soft smile; he was human- full human. Without a word, he held out a letter, in his hand. Questioningly, Lina took it, and opened it carefully there and then. It read:

Dearest, Dearest Love of My Life,

It does me a bountiful amount of good, to know that an angel like you has taken such extreme measures to ensure my well-being. I am very thankful, for you, and all that you have done for me. Last night, will forever remain in my heart, as will every little detail that I ever learned about you.

You may have heard from your older sister, Luna, that I have, by the time you would have received this, perished. Do not fret, you are young yet. You will find another to love, I'm sure, but I hope I will keep a portion of your heart, as a memory. Having said that I have died, you may wonder who it is that is giving you this letter.

He is my copy. Luna took a portion of me, to copy in Sairaag. She can travel quite fast you know, even I was surprised. Well, to cut it short, she returned with him probably a minute before he first came to your door. I hope that you can influence him as you did me, and perhaps, he will comfort you in place of me.

Oh, I haven't told you yet, have I? The reason for my death. You see, although your intentions were truly grand, even in my aspect, there was but one probably. You see, I never told you the reason why I wanted to become strong so long ago, anyway. I was a sickly child. Born with a rare disease with no cure, not by magic or other means, I was dying a slow and painful death. The doctors recommended that constant exercise might lengthen my life, so I took up sword-fighting. I was no good at it, and I was horribly embarrassed by this. So I began to chant to myself that I wanted to be stronger.

One day, my great-grandfather heard me, and granted my wish. At first, I was amazed and gratified by the change. There was no sign of my early death, and I was stronger than I had ever been. But being the spoiled child that I was, I soon learned to hate it; to hate my disfigurement, to hate my family, to hate myself. I killed my village because of my demon-part, you know, that's why I left to find my cure; to spare others of my self-vengeance. Well, when you extracted that final part of me, I became that sickly child again, and I perished because of it.

I just want you to know, I love you with all my heart and soul, and I would never in all my life nor afterlife, blame you for anything that has happened to me. I don't blame my great-grandfather either; only myself, for the wrongs that I have committed. With this, I bid you farewell, wishing you a lifetime of happiness. Live your life to the fullest, Lina Inverse.

Love Always, in any place in time itself,

Zelgadis Greywerds

A fortunate man, healed by a fiery angel

Ending A/N: I'll leave the rest up to your imagination. Aaaaahhhhhhhh……….breathes sigh of relief I'm done. I wanted to make a song fic out of this, but whatever, I'm fine with leaving it as is. Feel free to review, if you want. You can tell me what you thought of it, any changes you would have made, and if your imagination is large enough (no insult meant), I suppose, if you want, you can extend my story under your own name. If you do, just give me a little credit for starting it, and send me the link so I can read it once everything in my life blows over. I'm down to my last few weeks of school, and my teachers are cramming as many projects as possible into it. Sigh Well, Adieu. I'm going to be taking a veeeeeerryy long break off from fanfiction. Hey, I already finished seven – better stop while I'm still lucky. -

Cracks Knuckles Takes a Deep Breath Now then, only my original fiction to go! If I ever finish, I may return once more and take it up again. --" Ciao.

P.S. No epilogue or ending notes. First of all, you know all the important people in this fic; Marv isn't that important, or there's nothing much to say about him. Second, if you want to extend it, there's no reason to have an epilogue. Thanks for all your reviews for me thus far! I really appreciate it! Deep exhale Alright, final time. Farewell.