DISCLAIMER: "Slayers" does not belong to me, but belongs to Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi. I'm just borrowing them for a little while.
There were two things that always caused Lina to lose her appetite no matter what.
Situation #1: Luna. Enough said.
Situation #2: Slugs. No comment needed.
She discovered a third thing that could cause her appetite woes abruptly during a blissful dinner repast at one of Saillune's finest taverns. They had just deposited Amelia at the palace, and while the the thought of free food courtsey of the royal family would had definitely been a high point in Lina's day, father and daughter had started weeping, clinging to each other and relating stories of Justice in the New World. And even though she could stomach those, Lina just felt antsy. She wanted to walk and enjoy the sunshine a bit more before returning to the palace to take up Prince Phil's offer for her and Gourry to stay for a few days.
So here they were, on the other side of the white magic capital, when her stomach started growling. And they just happened to be near one of the nicest taverns in Saillune - one that they'd eaten at before with Amelia. And they happened to have plenty of the funds that Filia had given them left over, which Phil had converted to Saillune currency.
She was halfway through her second helping of chicken pot pie when Gourry looked up from the turkey leg he was working on and gave her an odd look.
She glanced up at him. "What? Am I drooling pie or something?" Lina stared down at her front. No, she had no food on her. She poked at the pie with her fork. Nothing strange in it either. As far as she could tell, there was nothing on her face. She shrugged and dug back into her pie.
"Why did you do it, Lina?" he asked softly, so quietly that she almost didn't hear him.
"Do what?" she replied with a mouthful of pie. She hastily ran through of mental checklist of stuff she'd done lately. Blow up a village? No. Steal any treasure? Regretably no. Harassed Gourry? Only when he made that wisecrack about her chest size on the ship and she felt the irresistable urge to introduce him to ocean biology. Lina chewed thoughtfully and swallowed. That was it. Somehow that incident managed to catch up with him and now he was sulking.
She dug in for another piece. "Sorry, about that."
Gourry's head snapped up from where he'd been studying his plate. "You're sorry about that?"
"Yeah, I didn't mean to do it."
"You didn't?" He looked sad.
Lina balked. She didn't like the look on his face for some reason, so she waved a hand at him and gave him her brightest smile. "Of course I didn't! It just happened, that's all. Look, I'm sorry. Stop pouting, Gourry. I'll buy you an ice cream cone when we're done eating to make up for it." Lina took another bite. "But, you realize that you did deserve it."
Now he looked as confused as she felt moments earlier. "What did I deserve?"
"My kicking your ass into the ocean. You did insult my chest after all."
"When did you kick me into the ocean?"
Lina's fork fell to the table and she cradled her head in her hand. "Geez, Gourry, what are you talking about then?"
"That time when you turned all gold and said that you had sacrificed your life for me."
Her head snapped up, eyes wide with shock. The rest of her appetite drained away as she digested Gourry's statement. The time she turned all gold...that had to have been when they fought Hellmaster Fibrizo a year earlier and she'd been forced to cast the Giga Slave to save everyone. Her heart constricted as she recalled the crystal trapping Gourry start to break and she started to recite the spell automatically.
She grabbed her coin purse and pulled a few gold pieces out. It was time for them to talk and she really didn't want to do so in the middle of a public venue. She tossed them on the table and got up. "Let's go. I'm not hungry anymore."
They headed back toward the castle as Lina formulated her response to Gourry's statement. He'd been quiet as well and didn't remind her of her promise to buy them ice cream when they passed several stands. She wondered when she'd said she was giving up her life for him. She knew she thought it when she was casting the Giga Slave, but the Lord of Nightmares must had explained things further.
How did he know? He didn't say anything before now. Zelgadiss and Amelia had filled in some of the blanks after she was revived following the casting of the spell. They said that when the Lord of Nightmares killed Filbrizo, it broke the spell holding them and they all woke up. The Lord of Nightmares had addressed them, but Zelgadiss had edited the remarks - Lina could tell this.
"He said some things that were important," he'd confirmed. "But I think it's something between you and Gourry. He'll tell you when he's ready."
When she'd asked him promptly after that, he insisted that the last thing he remembered was going into the Giga Slave vortex after her. Yet, he didn't seem to remember what had been said before that either.
"Hey, Gourry?" She cast a glance up at him. "What do you remember about being kidnapped by Fibrizo?"
"Fibrizo?" He frowned. "The little kid?"
He shrugged. "Not much until recently."
"Yeah." He watched as a group of children gathered to play hopscotch in the street. "I started having these weird dreams about you glowing all gold and being called the Lord of Nightmares. I remember you glowing gold, but I didn't remember what you said - just that you were being taken away and that I followed you."
She considered this. The last thing she could remember was casting the Giga Slave and then waking up on top of the ruins in Sairaag in his arms. She blushed, remembering how tightly they clung to each other. She coughed and stared at the ground a moment to get her mind back on track.
"And now I remember what happened, after I followed you - and before that too." Still watching the kids, he repeated the word for word the explanation the Lord of Nightmares gave for why she cast the Giga Slave.
"I didn't understand it, and I still don't. All I know is that you decided to throw your life away to save me and I had to get you back." His gaze shifted back to her. "So I wanted to know why you did it."
He looked so lost and so sad that she wanted to hug him. She wanted to comfort him, didn't quite know how to do so. Lina swallowed. She wasn't used to these emotional discussions. She could handle the teasing, the smart-ass remarks, the general comraderie. She remembered trying to ask him if he had someone waiting for her and he'd fallen asleep on her. She wondered if he ever knew she'd leaned against him briefly - until Aqua-obaa-chan had approached.
She clasped her hands together and stretched them out in front of her. She took a couple of steps forward, gathering her thoughts. "You remember the night we were in the Claire Bible temple? I'm not sure if you do, but I asked you how long you were going to protect me."
The sadness faded and Gourry smiled. "I'll protect you for the rest of my life."
"That's what you said." She turned back to him. "Well, isn't it mutual? The protection deal. You say you'll protect me, but you need protecting too sometimes. Would you have rather I left you in that crystal?"
"But I'm suppose to be the one protecting you."
"Just how would you had done that? Managed to somehow get your jellyfish brain to work and move that crystal and have it fall and squish Fibrizo to death? I wish it'd been that easy!" She snorted. "You didn't fail me. You did your best and it's not your fault things happened the way they did."
She approached him, flustered and not quite sure how to proceed from here. One slip, one misstep and their relationship would change. It would become something more and she wasn't quite sure she was ready for that yet. What if it didn't work out? She didn't want to risk losing her best friend because she was stupid and allowed love to get in the way.
"And what if it hadn't worked?"
"It did and we're fine." She gave him a bright smile - a false one, hoping he wouldn't be able to see through it. He frowned at her and the smile died. Crap, he did...
Lina threw her hands in the air and began to pace. "Oh great gods...what did you expect me to do? I took a chance like I always do because I love you, you big jellyfish idiot. I wasn't going to let Fi..bri..zo...crap." She whirled around to see Gourry smirking at her, a knowing look in his eyes.
She marched up to him, jabbed a finger in his chest. "Hey! You made me say that!"
He grinned. "Gee, that wasn't as hard as I imagined it to be."
She gawked at him. "You set me up? You, the king of forgetfulness managed to set me - Lina Inverse, Sorcery Genius - up?"
"It worked, didn't it?"
"I can't believe this." Lina noticed a bench a few feet away, made her way to it and sank down on it. Whistling cheerfully, Gourry sat next to her.
She cradled her head in her hands. "Say, Gourry? When did you remember all this?"
He tapped a finger against his chin. "A couple of weeks ago when we were making the trip back to Saillune." He grinned happily. "I figured out you loved me when I remembered that we kissed while in the middle of that black stuff."
"We did WHAT?" Lina shot off the bench and loomed over him. "We did what?"
"Calm down, Lina." He held up his hands in a placating manner.
"No, I will not calm down! We kissed and I can't remember it? Worse, you got your memories back before me?" The sentence ended in a half wail and Lina buried her head in her hands. She racked her brain for any memory of the time between her casting the Giga Slave and waking up in Gourry's arms. Absolutely nothing. Gods, they kissed? She plopped down next to him. Well, so much for keeping the status quo. He goaded her into admitting her feelings for him, then dropped a second bomb in her lap. Somehow, it wouldn't surprise her to suddenly look up at the moment and see Xelloss tap-dancing naked across the street or for Zelgadiss to suddenly show up in front of them and announce he'd turned into a three-headed ogre the way things were going at the moment.
"You know I love you too, Lina," Gourry said happily, almost in the same tone as if he said he'd loved soft-serve ice cream.
"Yeah, I figured that one out." Lina let her hands drop to her lap and felt a blush creep over her face. She was quite sure she was as red as the tomatoes displayed in the grocer's stall across the street. "It's...wow...it's big." She forced herself to look at him. He looked so happy and the feelings that she was being forced to acknowledge made her feel a bit weird. She fidgeted. "So what do we do now?"
He considered this for a moment. "Well, we could always go get some ice cream."
She gaped at him. "Ice cream?"
"Yeah." He stood and held out his hand. She stared at it like it was some foriegn object about to reach out and snatch her away.
"Wait, we just declared our feelings for each other and you want ice cream?"
"Yeah, I thought you liked ice cream."
"I do...," Lina frowned. "It seems kind of silly though. Isn't stuff like this suppose to lead to...well...do people in this situation just say 'I love you' then go get ice cream?"
Gourry blushed. "Well...not particularly. It does lead to other stuff. But I don't think we're ready for that yet. Do you?"
She shook her head quickly. He was right. She wasn't ready.
"But I wouldn't mind kissing again at least."
"Not in public, jellyfish." And not right now, she silently added. She needed time to digest this first. Lina took his hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet. She glanced down at their joined hands. "But maybe we can try this."
"That sounds good to me." He squeezed her hand tightly and they started for the ice cream shop closest to the palace.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is my first entry into the "Slayers" fandom and I wanted to write a shorter piece exploring Lina and Gourry's relationship as practice for a longer piece that I'm working on. This fic is inspired by "Midnight Blue" by Kaitrin, which is the best fic that I've seen tackle Lina and Gourry dealing with the aftermath of the events at the end of NEXT. I wanted to explore this from a slightly different perspective and work on actually writing the characters. Lina comes pretty easy to me - mainly because she reminds me a lot of Eve Dallas in the "In Death" series. Gourry is very hard to write and I don't think I have him down quite yet. So I'll probably write a second story focusing a bit more on him to try to work through that.
The title, "My Will," is the first ending theme for "Inuyasha" and I would post the lyrics - except new rule doesn't allow that. But one stanza that says, "There's definitely things I want to show you/And so many words I want to hear/I want to see all sides of you, when you laugh and cry/So I'll stop waiting and seize my 'chance,'" really describes Gourry risking things to ask Lina why she sacrificed her life. He knows the reason why she did so - but he wants to hear her actually say them.