Chapter 7: Along Came a Spider

Lina watched in horror as Zel's eyes shut for the last time.

It was merely a blink, but when he opened them again, his cerulean irises had streaks of red, screams of agony echoing from inside of him. Lina felt her heart stop and she bit back a cry. Summoning her strength, she stepped back and prepared herself for the worst. If Zel attacked, she'd have to defend herself. But she couldn't hurt him, could she? Six hours ago he'd saved her from a slug. Three hours ago she'd been his friend. Three minutes ago they'd been flirting. Actually flirting! Her, Lina Inverse! And worst of all, she'd really liked it.

She looked at Zel now and felt like she was going to be sick. There was no use fighting it. She really liked Zel. Really liked him.She couldn't kill him now. Zel – or, at least, what used to be Zel – lifted his head upwards, giving her a malicious look. She flexed her jaw, strengthening her resolve. If he attacked, she would fight back.

"That's good." Zel grunted, his voice a low growl, "those emotions are nice. Keep it up." Lina sneered in response, her eyes narrowed.

"Who are you?" She asked. The demon had to come from somewhere, and she'd had dealings with demons before. If she knew this one in particular – or maybe one of its relations – then she might know its weakness. It stretched Zel's body, cracking his knuckles.

"What do you mean? I'm Zelgadiss. Dear Zelgadiss." It smirked, its tongue running along one of its eyeteeth.

"Don't give me that. Who are you?" She struggled to keep her voice cool. She may be feeding it with her anger, but she wasn't going to garnish the meal with a physical manifestation of her feelings. The demon held her gaze, a flicker of something repulsive passing through his eyes. Lina repressed a shudder, wanting to look away but knowing she had to keep her eyes on it.

And then she made her first mistake. She blinked.

Before she opened her eyes once more, she felt the demon approaching her. Leaping into the air, she shot a fireball in its direction, its hand extended to where she'd stood seconds before. The spell bounced off its exterior, singing it, if she was lucky. She struggled to think of any Shamanic variations she could use. Black magic was definetely her forte, but if she could get herself on the astral plane, maybe she could knock the demon out of Zel's mind.

The demon smirked, twisting Zel's mouth into a cruel smile.

"It won't work." It said, guessing her mind. Lina eyed the demon suspiciously.

"You think Rezo slapped some low-brow demon underling into this body?" It licked its lips, "Rezo only let the dark parts of my soul run free. Mixed with the demon blood I already had in this chimera form … this is me, Lina." His voice was mocking, and Lina swallowed.

It was possible, she knew. Zel was full of bittter feelings. There was enough for the demon blood to run off of. Her chest clenched. If that was the case, then there was no trapped Zelgadis, struggling to control his body. Zel might even be willingly acting this way.

"Awww, poor Lina. I can read you like a book." The demon – Zel – smirked. "Don't get me wrong, Lina. I still want you. I just have the feeling you won't let me take you."

Lina felt like she was going to be sick. No. Not a chance. She may not know Zel very well, but she knew that he was better than succumbing to hate. She knew he wouldn't allow himself to become a slave to his own feelings, an empty vessel for fury and malice.

Zel laughed.

"This is great. I never knew feelings could taste this good." He said, his eyes traveling up and down her body. "You know, we can kiss all you want, now. There's no more danger of me turning into a demon. I already am one!" He roared and Lina frowned again, her eyes scanning for a weakness. There had to be a way around this.

"I wouldn't kiss a wealking," she muttered. Zel's laugh cut short, his eyes thin as he studied her.

"Don't push your luck, Lina." His voice was icy. "Friendship is gone. Anything I might have felt for you is all in the past." He eyed her, his tongue finding a fang once more.

"So what do you want, then?" She was stalling, trying to come up when a plan to save him, and he knew it. His smile grew.

"To watch you bleed." He whispered, taking a step towards her. Lina held her ground.

"One thing, though," he shrugged, "The lust is still there. God, I really need to get out more often, if the first girl to give me cravings is a flat-chested, loud-mouthed witch." He mocked. Lina didn't react. She knew he was trying to get her with anger, pain … anything that would taste good to a demon.

"So, I don't mind giving you some fun before you die." He winked and Lina felt herself wanting to gag. He caught the way her skin paled, tasted the disgust in the air, and his face twisted in fury.

"But no, you couldn't be with a stone freak!" His voice was a scream, wreathed in fury, "Well, it's your fault I'm this way. You failed me. Now if I have to be stuck looking like this, YOU have to be stuck dealing with it." He panted, walking towards her and grabbing her arms, squeezing. She said nothing. She had to make sure. Before he could pull her towards him, she leaned in, her lips finding his and kissed him, softly.

For a moment he melted. His hands slipped off her arms and slowly made their way around her waist, his palm gently pushing against the small of her back. For a moment he was gentle, and Lina relaxed in relief.

Somewhere, inside of Zel, he actually cared about her. Somewhere in the past 13 hours, they'd become friends. Zel pulled away, looking into Lina's eyes, and she stared at him.

Then he grinned.

"That's more like it." He said, and he was no longer gentle. He pulled her towards him again, his lips locking so firmly on hers that she thought he was going to leave bruises. She felt his tongue trying to gain entry, but her lips were sealed. Frustrated, he bit her lower lip, hard, and pulled away.

"The body I'm okay with," she told him, calmly. "It's the attitude that needs adjusting."

He screamed, tossing her to the ground and drawing his sword. His eyes blazed and Lina raised her arms, still sore from his grip.

"Freeze arrow!" she shouted, sending a javelin of ice in his direction. It hit him in the shoulder, the impact knocking him back. She cast Raywing, leaping into the air, and watched as he tried to follow suite, unsuccessfully.

"Get BACK here, Lina!" His voice called after her, rage dripping from every syllable.

"Forget it, Zel." She called, just out of reach, "I have an appointment with Rezo. Don't get into too much trouble." She winked, ignoring his furious outbursts behind her.