Rasmus felt... like hell.

Or maybe death warmed over.

Opening his eyes reluctantly, he figured he could guess why he felt like that, though he couldn't quite recall what had happened except that he'd probably died again.

He was in an inn in Sairaag and the room was dark except for a shaft of moonlight glimmering through a gap in the curtains on the window over the bed. There was someone with him, sitting beside him in a chair, head pillowed on the bed. Lifting a hand, he touched that head, encountering soft silky strands of dark hair, but it was her scent that he recognized. Sylphiel murmured in her sleep and Rasmus shifted, trying to sit up only to find he couldn't, his chest aching like someone had ripped it open and climbed through it.

But then the thought occurred to him- someone had in fact done that. Apparently he had legitimate reason to feel like hell or death warmed over. He supposed Lina had killed the Mazoku... I was useless... he sighed mentally.

Beside him, Sylphiel shifted, one arm dropping off the side of the bed and the movement woke her. Sitting up, she looked around the room in confusion before finally shuffling on the bedside table for a candle. Using a starter, she lit the candle and nearly dropped it when she turned to find Rasmus staring at her.

Her face was slightly wrinkled from being pressed against her shirt sleeve, her eyes circled by purple and tear tracks on her cheeks. "Rasmus," she sniffled, her tears starting again even as she climbed onto the side of the bed and wrapped her arms around him, though she was careful not to squeeze too hard. "Rasmus- I thought... I thought..."

Finding the strength from somewhere, he lifted his arms and rapped them around her. "I'm okay now," he whispered then coughed to clear his dry throat, shocked that Sylphiel would be so glad to see him, but glad at the same time. Sylphiel tried to pull back, but he tightened his hold, "stay please," he requested, taking comfort in her presence. Closing his eyes, he reached inside himself- and found Flagoon sleeping in the background- its power spent but there and it was as reassuring at having Sylphiel there. Relieved, Rasmus left the tree to its slumber and concentrated on Sylphiel, "I died..." he whispered and felt her nod, "how long?"

"Almost half an hour," Sylphiel sniffled against his shoulder- which was only covered by a bandage and the thought occurred to him that after that long, she shouldn't have been able to bring him back. That was impossible- no matter how powerful the Healer. "The Mazoku stole all the light and I ... I thought you were- were gone for good and Lina was thrown by the Mazoku and Gourry was down and the townspeople were slaughtered and the children were going to be tortured and there was nothing I could do! That was when- when... that necklace you gave me..."

"You saw Hope's Light..." Rasmus realized, opening his eyes.

Sitting back slightly, Sylphiel rubbed her eyes with one hand and looked down at him. "I didn't know what it was at first, but... but then- I felt Flagoon's power all around me and it swept through the area like a warm breeze and all the towns people who'd been dead or wounded got up and Gourry got up and Lina got up and the Mazoku was held for a moment- long enough for Lina and Gourry to kill it... but when I got to you, you were still dead and I tried to heal you- to bring you back but you wouldn't come back even though I could still feel Flagoon"

He stared at her silently for a moment, then sighed, "I'd abandoned myself in Hell," he admitted. "I couldn't hear you for my own raging. But Flagoon found me."

Sylphiel shook her head, "Even after you revived, you were still so weak, I didn't know if you'd relapse..."

Casting a faint smile at her, Rasmus found it difficult to keep his eyes open, "No... I've much to live for. I'll be sticking around, I think."

Her smile- directed at him- was like a breath of heaven and he found the energy to open his eyes completely once more. "Sylphiel-" he started just as she spoke his name. She blushed and closed her mouth, but he forged onwards, "I just wanted to tell you... that I... I ...love you. It's nothing you have to return, but... just know that I do, in case... I don't get the chance to tell you again. Just being with you is enough-"

His words were cut off by Sylphiel's sudden dive forward in which she sealed her lips to his. Warmth shuddered through him and he lifted his hands to cup her face, finding the strength to return her kiss as good as he got, fingers twining with her hair. When they parted, she smiled at him, "Don't degrade yourself so much," she told him firmly, "and have more faith in me."

Shifting her weight, she slid down to lay on the bed beside him, tucked against his chest, his arm wrapped around her.

"I will," Rasmus whispered, "I love you."

"Go to sleep- you need to rest."

"Yes my Healer."

Zelgadis sighed inwardly as he walked beside Amelia, wondering at her for deciding to accompany him on what was bound to be a very boring trip, but then again, perhaps she'd come with the intentions for just this very side-trip they were currently on. Sylphiel's cottage was as tidy as ever, or perhaps even more so. The shutters looked like they'd been painted and there were other obvious improvements, such as the new roof and porch railing. "I wonder if Sylphiel got help from people in town?" Amelia commented, speaking the very thought that had crossed Zelgadis's mind.

Shrugging, Zel glanced down at her, "Maybe she got over Gourry?" he offered in return and got a hard look for his efforts. Sometimes, he just didn't understand women. They continued down the white-pebble path to the front door, Amelia taking it upon herself to knock. She was about to knock again when the door abruptly opened, Gourry standing there with his hair braided back, wearing a casual long sleeved shirt to ward off the cool of spring.

The swordsman burst into a grin even as he spoke, opening the door wider. "Zel! Amelia!"

Amelia, cheerful as ever, gave the blonde a hug, "Gourry! What're you doing here?" she asked, and Zelgadis was wondering the same thing. They'd not had any luck finding Lina or Gourry in the last three years. Amelia had been worried, but Zelgadis simply figured they'd gone off on some adventure and weren't within striking distance of a town where mail could reach them.

Shrugging, Gourry hugged her back and stepped aside to let the two into Sylphiel's cottage. The living room was pristine and clean as ever though there were a few things left out, such as the book on the side table next to the couch and a partially knitted blanket piled in the chair nearest the fireplace and on the floor in front of it were some wooden blocks scattered in a random pile. "Lina and I are visiting Sylphiel," Gourry replied simply while Zelgadis continued his visual check of the area. The windows were clean, the floor swept, and hanging in the air was the smell of grilled cheese. "You two staying for a while?" Gourry asked in return, catching Zel's attention.

Giving a slight nod, Zelgadis replied, "Yes, I've got some questions to ask the university here. It might take me a while," though he fully intended to stay in town in an inn of some sort. He wasn't a sponge, after all.

Gourry grinned, "Oh that place! Rasmus works there," there was a bang from the kitchen, "Oh, oops, I'm supposed to be helping him!" Turning, the blonde hurried back across the living room and into the kitchen, "sorry Ras!"

Amelia looked up at him, and Zel shrugged- perhaps Sylphiel had indeed gotten over Gourry? Curious, and with no other directions to go on, Zelgadis and Amelia pulled their cloaks off and hung them by the door, counting three already there, Zelgadis removed his sword and set it next to Gourry's before he followed the swordsman. Amelia had come to an abrupt halt in the doorway and confused as to why, Zel stepped up behind her, his eyes scanning the kitchen.

It didn't take him long to figure out why Amelia had stopped. Standing at the stove was a familiar back, though his hair was longer and pulled back into a tail at the nape of his neck and he was- for once- wearing pants. Bristling, Zelgadis took a breath- just as Rezo spun around and hurled a hot greasy spatula to strike directly in the center of the Chimera's forehead. After it had clattered to the floor, Rezo stated, "You even breathe like you're gonna say that name and I'll make you regret it, Zelgadis! My name is Rasmus!" the copy announced firmly

"But-" Amelia stepped forward, recognizing those mismatched eyes quite easily, "We killed you!" she lifted a finger to point at him, forgetting herself. Zelgadis was simply speechless and stood there with his mouth open. It just wasn't possible! He'd gleefully helped bury the body!

Smirking, Rasmus turned back to the stove and set the frying pan off the heat then picked up the plate stacked with grilled cheese sandwiches that sat on the cupboard next to the stove, "Why yes, I believe you did!" he said far too cheerfully, "And I think it was a fitting punishment for my actions! So, now that we've all learned the valuable lesson of keeping our temper, its time we moved on and started implementing it. Gourry, grab the tea?"

The blonde took up the other plate of cheese sandwiches he'd been snitching from and took the tea with his other hand, then followed after Rasmus as he stepped through the back door.

"Finally! Rasmus, you're slow!" Lina complained from where she sat at the patio table, "I could have starved to death waiting for you!"

Laughing, the copy strode over and set the plate he carried down in front of her, "I doubt that, Lina." Zelgadis, shocked and numb in the brain, followed after Amelia as she followed the others. The sorcerer-swordsman's eyes first fell on Lina who was not only holding a sleeping redheaded toddler, but obviously pregnant. Across from her was Sylphiel. Now, Zel's gaze turned to the shrine maiden- finding that she, too, was quite pregnant and obviously unable to get up without help and his eyes nearly fell out as the copy of Rezo turned and collected a kiss from her. Gourry set down his burden on the table as well and reached out, taking his sleeping two-year-old son from Lina's arms, freeing her hands so she could eat.

Wide-eyed, Amelia and Zelgadis followed the two out onto the patio. "Amelia! Zel!" Lina called with her mouth full.

Sylphiel looked over and smiled brightly, "Ms. Amelia, Mr. Zelgadis! What a surprise! Please, come, sit!" She gestured at the two remaining chairs with one hand before taking the cup of tea Rasmus poured for her, "Thank you," she told him.

Stepping further out, Amelia shook her head, "I -don't understand this!"

Now regretting the fact that he'd left his sword in the front room, Zelgadis glowered, flexing his fingers. Lina swallowed her latest mouth-full and shook her head, "Oh, get over it Zel!" she replied, "Ras paid for what he did, he's learned better!"

"But he died!" Amelia protested.

Laughing, Rasmus shook his head, "Flagoon brought me back," he told them simply.

Sylphiel lowered her teacup and replied, "When Phibrizzo destroyed Flagoon, the holy tree combined itself with Rasmus so that it would survive. Three years ago, Flagoon resurrected him. Please, Mr. Zelgadis, don't kill my husband."

Again, taking a breath from eating, Lina grinned, "Sylphiel had the most reason to hate him and she forgave him, so you can too, Zel. Come here and have some lunch!"

Hesitating, but only a moment longer, Amelia finally stepped forward, "Alright," she agreed, then reached back and grabbed Zelgadis's arm and hauled him over to the table as well. "So tell us what happened? When did you have your baby! Have you two settled down then?"

Polishing off her last sandwich, Lina sat back and took a sip of tea before replying. "Actually, Gourry and I've been living in Sairaag- I run a magic items pawn shop and Gourry teaches sword. We've been living here since I got pregnant with Ryan there." She pointed at the boy Gourry was holding.

"As for me," Rasmus put in, standing beside Sylphiel and sipping tea, "I was resurrected three years ago, shortly before Lina showed up here, and have been living with Sylphiel and working to make up for my crimes before by being a fulltime Healer and helping at the Chimera and Copy lab in Sairaag."

Sylphiel smile at him, obviously proud of her husband's efforts, and added, "If you talk to anyone about Rasmus- please say that he is Rezo's son."

Amelia didn't hesitate in nodding and replied, "Alright," she smiled, "If you've forgiven him, then I can too."

She forcefully nudged Zelgadis, who scowled and finally nodded with a muttered, "Fine."

Looking at Lina, Amelia smiled, "Can I hold your baby?" she pointed at Ryan, and the redhead grinned. Gourry immediately handed the boy over, and Amelia dutifully admired him. "He's so cute!" she announced.

"So tell us what brings you here?" Sylphiel requested.

Sullenly remaining silent, Zelgadis forced Amelia to do the talking- which she wasn't at all disinclined to do...

the end.

Author's Note:

Well, here we are, at the end of the year and end of this story. I hope you guys liked it- it was a bit different than the usual Slayers fanfics. If you liked my story, you'd probably like the story 'A Flower Whose Name I Don't Know Yet' which inspired me to not only like Kopii/Sylphiel pairings, but also inspired this story. You can find that story by way of the author's homepage, ww. silvestris. net - not only is she a good author, but she's a good artist too. I'm soo jealous. Hehe. (had to break up the url cause it wouldn't save otherwise)

Anyway, I don't own Slayers, so don't sue me, I have no money anyway soall you'd get would be pocket lint. This story is unlikely to have a sequel unless I can think of something worth writing about. For the most part, this story was my attempt to write good tear-jerker ANGST fest, at which I think I failed miserably. Perhaps if I had more feedback I'd be able to figure out what I'm doing wrong, or if I really had failed or succeeded. But a big THANK YOU to those of you who did review. I appreciate it muchly!