A Prayer for Me
(A Slayers Fanficlet/hypothetical scene, Xellos x Filia)
By Amber S./ "AmbePalette"
I claim no ownership of the fandom of The Slayers, including the portrayed characters Xellos Metallium and Filia Ul Copt, nor the mentioned characters Valgaav, Lina Inverse, Beastmaster Zelas Metallium, or the Fire Dragon King.
This is a very short, very unpolished vignette. It is meant to illustrate my perception of the popular love/hate romantic pairing of Xellos and Filia, a pairing which is strongly implied in "The Slayers Try," the third season of the Slayers television series. I have found little satisfaction in reading the majority of the XellosXFilia fanfictions floating around the internet. They either glorify an unhealthy sado-masochistic undertone in the couple or they make unrealistic changes to Xellos and Filia's characters, turning him into a saint or turning her into a demon. Not a one of these solutions is, to me, in accordance with the canon of the anime or manga, nor is it a satisfying read. So I decided to put forth my own portrayal of the pairing, in hopes of making a realistic and moderate account of their love affair. What I have written here is just one of many everyday meetings I would picture them having after the final episode of "The Slayers Try."
Other fanfictions that address this couple that I would recommend include "The Crackpot Cafe," written by member Kara Metallium.
"Through this world I've stumbled
So many times betrayed
Trying to find an honest word
To find the truth enslaved
Oh you speak to me in riddles and
You speak to me in rhymes
My body aches to breathe your breath
You words keep me alive"
"You said you'd light a candle
And you'd say a prayer for me
I feel the light has dimmed and gone…
And maybe my intentions have been misunderstood
I know you feel so beautifully wronged…
I was your anger
And you were my fear
And now that it's over
Of course it's so clear
That you were no angel
And I was no sin
And somehow I can't let it go
Can't let you go again"
--Goo Goo Dolls
The quietest individual on the veranda of the outerworld seaport town that afternoon was a slender, broad-shouldered man leaning idly on a twisted wooden staff. His age was indiscernible—true, his face was fresh and smooth-skinned, but his demeanor exuded the grace and gravity of the mature. He wore the satchel bag, swaddled tan boots, baggy black pants and cream turtleneck sari of a hermit, yet these humble articles were adorned with silk gloves, three bloody-hued spherical neck pendants, and a rich black cloak embroidered in a golden Greek motif. His skin was the palest of olive and his hair a severely neat, glossy shoulder-cut that hybridized the looks of a sweet pageboy and a stern kouros or boy-priest; in the sun its rich raven hue betrayed strands of violet and cobalt, and it severed the top and bottom halves of his heart-shaped face in an abrupt row of bangs above his eyelids. Those eyes reposed under extraordinarily long black lashes. The corners of his pale serpentine lips curled slightly, flirting with passing individuals, male and female, young and old, even though the serene inertia of his body intimated no awareness of the presence of other beings.
Then a child dashed past screaming with feral glee, stealing a bouncing ball from her male compatriot, who squealed in protest and chased her. Their footsteps clambered on the cobblestones. At their racket, the strange youth smiled enigmatically and opened his eyes. They were electrifying and mesmerizing at once, both terrifying and pleasing, as for a moth drawn to flame: hard, scrutinizing, bright amethyst daggers. It was no wonder he had kept them closed till present: they were hypnotizing, lethal, staggering.
The girl stopped, turned, and gazed at him in brazen alarm, straight on, as only children and the elderly can. The mysterious man chuckled—a smoky, diaphragmatic laugh that was more like a delighted, dark purr, till it lilted up into a higher pitched, playful sound. He tapped his small, straight nose and winked at the child. She smiled, and bashfully giggled.
In this time span, however, the boy seized his ball back from the girl. He dashed off to his cottage down the path, shrieking with triumph. The girl's smile crumbled. She cast the strange man an accusatory glare.
He laughed again, this time quite airily, and beckoned her over. His eyes were closed again, shielded by his exquisite eyelashes. His round-cheeked, smiling face, that face which was curiously young and ancient at the same time, appeared pleasant and warm, so the child strayed to his table. She was still pouting when she arrived at his feet.
The man's closed-lipped grin parted for cheerful, honey-laden words. These were crafted in a clear, soft tenor made endearingly quirky by a nasal undertone. "I have a job for you, miss. A job only someone as smart and brave as you can do. I will give you a present if you do it for me. Could you help me?"
The child gaped. She nodded. "Yes, sir!"
The man bobbed his head enthusiastically, the puckish grin becoming one of conspiratorial delight. "Oh goodness, my heavens, what a nice person you are, miss! How fortune smiles on my troubled heart today! I shall applaud you—like so!" He clapped his hands lightly, a few times, further enchanting the grinning girl. "Very well, very well! I am hungry and short of money, and it seems that the bakery of my choice only allows free bread to orphans. Would you be my heroine and go fetch me a baguette? I will make your present while you do!" He seized both her small hands in his, with a warm and coaxing touch, nose tip nearly touching that of the child.
She nodded, dancing on her tiptoes in her excitement. "Yes mister….purple haired man!"
Again the man laughed, this time a silent sort of panting. "Sorry to have neglected introductions, my dear. My name is Xellos," he supplied after a moment, opening one eye and favoring her with his magnetic gaze.
"Yes, Mister Xellos!" The child scampered into the shop.
The man's smile faltered and then twisted into something that soaked smugness, as, in the nearby yeast-scented bakery, a hoodwinking was undertaken. He was short on neither time nor satisfaction of appetite, least of all anything so trivial as money, but necessity was not the point of his recent orchestration. Far from it.
Xellos Metallium enjoyed the taut, high, agitated pinging sound of pulling strings and human nerves. That was the most delicious gourmet imaginable.
Patience returned to his countenance as the little girl returned with the fattest butter-lathered garlic baguette she could have procured. He smiled kittenishly while taking it, removing his gloves, and devouring it before her sight. He offered her a slice, and she ate it with relish. Then he wiped his fingers clean with a napkin. He laid a hand on the jewelry around his neck, which, along with the orb topping his wooden staff, smoldered. A new ball, twice the size and brightness of the one the boy had swiped from the little girl, appeared between them. The girl gasped, grabbed it, and trilled her thanks before dashing out down the street.
Xellos closed both eyes. He replaced his gloves. He stood, twirling his staff. He sighed and snorted. "Dear God, I'm bored," he chirped. "Hooray for Beastmaster Zelas's party tonight…"
He paused, a thread of energy coursing suddenly through his body.
An unmistakable cry of his name. A cry of longing.
"Oh." He smiled in a new way now. A very different way. "It's you."
Xellos. The name came unbeckoned to Filia's mind, unbeckoned but unstoppable.
Xellos. Where are you?
An unholy mantra.
It was midnight and she sat at her potter's wheel, with Valgaav tucked in to bed, with only the moist malleable material under her fingers as she turned the device with her foot pedal.
Fool. What are you doing?
There came the sound of rapidly compressing air, a coy sizzle of electricity, and the whoosh of a wind tunnel. And then….
"You called, madam ryuzoku?" A voice of indeterminable range rang gently—it was pure and thin like a tenor, whispered like the voice you hear calling your name while you are just barely drifting to sleep, a flirty trick of the mind. But richer too, deeper, and with an occasional husky, nasal dip, better suited to a baritone. It was both at once. A paradox, like its speaker.
"And apparently it was convenient for you to respond," Filia spat, not yet turning from her potter's wheel. She would give no quarter. Not yet. What the hell had she done, calling him here? It had not been the first time, and perhaps, if she had more self-control from now on, she could make it the last. "Otherwise you'd have laughed at my neediness and remained aloof."
"For your satisfaction, I'd like to claim that your tone wounds me, my dear Filia, but alas, no can do. I think it's cute." Humor leeched into that purring voice. Humor, and a touch of malice. "You know. That endless bratty indignation of yours. Adorable. Would you believe I'd actually like to satisfy you for once, instead of riling you?"
Oh, that was rich. The young dragon priestess whirled around, white boot heels squealing, with every intention of unleashing what was REALLY a scathing comeback.
She stopped dead in her tracks.
What in HELL?
Filia had never seen Xellos clad in anything but his nomadic priest garb, with its maroon and gold Greek motif meander at the hems of his hunter green cloak and his baggy, deceptively threadbare cream robes. This had the unfortunate effect of desensitizing her to the formidability of her adversary.
So it was with much bewilderment that she now gawped at the mazoku: baring a good deal of milky olive skin by his fully exposed hands, arms, legs, and feet, decked in gold-threaded white toga, with a great fanning Egyptian breastplate in the motif of peacock feathers and lotus blooms across his chest.
Each wrist and ankle glistened with a gold band, and a circlet of gold leaves in the manner of a Julio-Claudian Caesar crowned his violet head. On each side of the circlet, over his ears, hung exquisite feats of Aegean metalwork—jingling masses of Minoan bees with their lower torsos seductively fused as one, studded with jades, sapphires, ambers, and rubies.
His hair itself, in the bangs and the first several strands on each side of his face, was tightly braided to the root with gold thread, much like an Archaic Greek kouros statue.
He looked like one of many exceedingly desirable types of demi-gods: an Egyptian boy-priest, a sacrificial Aztec virgin, and yet the most worldly and experienced Apollo or Eros. A fertility god. A god of unapologetic bliss, and pleasure.
He was beautiful.
And she hated it.
And she hated him.
And he was beautiful.
And she loved him.
And she hated him.
And she loved him.
She loved him!
Across the top rim of his breastplate, Filia realized as she stepped closer, was a wrought narrative panel in the style of Greek red-figure vase painting, featuring, unmistakably, Xellos himself slaying representative figures of the various people that Zelas had ordered him to destroy.
Just over his heart was an incised image of a golden dragon being impaled by a javelin.
Filia recoiled as if burned, suppressing an instinctual growl.
She hated him!
Xellos's lips—irritatingly pink, full, and moist as ever—curled up like a coy satin ribbon. His eyes remained closed. "What?" He inclined his head at her in greeting, and his entire body seemed to shiver with the light off his gold armor. "Didn't recognize me?"
"Of course I did," she snarled. "Your clothing offends me!"
"Aw." The ghost of a pout. "Beastmaster Zelas was holding a revel in her temple and she ordered all her generals and warriors to get decked up….I kept it on when you called me because I thought you'd find me desirable like this."
"I find you desirable regardless of what you wear!" she erupted, then cupped a hand over her mouth, immediately mortified. "Oh dear."
Xellos opened his fiery amethyst eyes and, for the first time in Filia's recollection, looked genuinely shocked. "Oh?" But he recovered swiftly. " I'll be damned…but that would be redundant." Perverse glee soaked into his features. His voice tripped on a spontaneous chuckle. It was a rumbling, diaphragmatic sound, unlike the frantic, sadistic giggle that he usually emitted.
"Your breastplate," she stammered. "It…"
"What about it?" He strutted in a circle around her, doing justice to the peacock feathers that adorned the article of clothing in question. Flaunting himself.
Men, apparently, behave in predictable manners, whether they are human or not.
"Xellos, take it off!" Filia shrieked. "Take it all off NOW!"
"WOW," and again he laughed, a happy color rising in his cheeks. "I should snazz up more often!" He lunged for her, eyes merry, grinning in a way that just barely revealed sharp white fangs in the sides of his mouth.
Filia lurched to one side, causing Xellos to trip over her potter's wheel, which was still running, and to collide rather enthusiastically into the ceramics shop wall. "NO!"
"…I am slightly confused, Filia," Xellos grunted into a sea of shattered plaster. "Let's backtrack…"
"I want to know," she interrupted, in a high and thin voice, "if that is the armor that….you….if Milgaseil would recognize it."
Xellos stumbled away from the wall that he had partially demolished, shaking off drywall and debris. "Yes," he stated, frankly and calmly. He turned towards her, and his eyes were still open.
"The you HAD to know that…"
He cringed, almost apologetically, tiptoeing around her and sitting on her bed. "I was hungry."
"…that it would UPSET me to…to see…to see…"
"I said I was hungry. I needed distress for sustenance. You provided it." He stretched his long, supple limbs. "Feel honored. I find you highly reliable."
"XELLOS. THIS is why…"
"Why what?" He sprawled out on the bed on his stomach, peering at his fingernails, unconcerned.
"Why YOU AND I WOUND NEVER…"
"My heavens. 'Never' is a long time. I should know." And with that Xellos began to peel the breastplate off. "No…here. You do it. Don't be frightened."
"I can't look at it." She covered her face, trembling.
"You don't have to look at it, I am simply asking you to unlace the back."
"Filia, do it." There was now an alien edge in Xellos's tone. He was unaccustomed to disobedience. Or perhaps it was more complicated than that. "It will give you satisfaction."
"It is foreign to you, isn't it?" she hissed, her aquamarine eyes sizzling as she pinioned him under her gaze. "Giving someone ELSE satisfaction. So you just barge in on me thinking you know exactly what I would want. DON'T you?"
Xellos opened his mouth hastily, the fangs near the back fully visible, the violet of his eyes heating to a warmer, truer red. His jaw muscles twitched. He hesitated, and then revised his words. "It FASCINATES me how you manage to do that to me. I have never known such a challenge as you, Filia. Yes. It is foreign to me, as you say. That is what makes it fun."
"Filia, untie my breastplate." Snarl lines formed on his hauntingly beautiful face. Only Filia had ever caused those snarl lines to appear. Only Filia. "Dragon…Woman, do you ever try anything new, or are you always convinced of your own beaten path?"
"I try new things!"
"Then untie it."
She was aware of the expertise with which he was pulling her strings. But she didn't care. As long as she was aware of it, and the consent was her choice. She stomped over, thrashed down on the bed, and yanked the back of the breastplate so ferociously that Xellos, flopping upward like a ragdoll, gagged.
"Fibrizzo's nostrils, Filia!" he hacked.
"You told me to. And Fibrizzo is dead," she snipped, with more than a little relish.
"Ahaha, oh my. I TOLD you. You enjoyed that. You are satisfied."
She froze. Oh, hellfire. Damnation! "Yes, well…"
"I will make a note of that. Allowing you to beat on me brutally gives you satisfaction."
"It does not!"
"Violent, violent dragon priestess. Woe is I."
"Typical." He giggled—the more familiar, off-kilter titter, faintly reminiscent of someone addled by one too many direct-hit Dragon Slave spells.
"You are so disgusting when you laugh like that!" Filia barked, flinging the offensive breastplate off her bed. It loudly clanged to the mosaic tiled hut floor.
"Ahhh Filia, would you believe that the absence of your dulcet screeches has caused me agony?" And in one fluid gesture, Xellos rolled onto his back, laced his arms across the dragon's waist, and pulled her against him. Still, his eyes were open. It was unnerving; the pupils were like reptilian slits. "You will now react with trepidation and shock." He demonstrated with a highly exaggerated, open-mouthed stare.
She froze, mute. Did he just say he had missed her?
He grinned fiendishly. "Kiss me. You'll enjoy that, too. I promise."
"Xellos." Filia pushed away, sliding off of his now partially bare chest. Somehow the tiny peek of skin under his toga drove her madder with desire than if he were stark naked. Still she retained her focus. "Xellos, I can't do this. THIS may surprise YOU, but I WANT to…yet I can't."
"I am going to go relieve myself on a shrine to the Fire Dragon King right away," he whined.
"It…actually isn't that. It has nothing to do with old allegiances or sins."
"…Well, Filia, I am at a loss. Illuminate me, priestess who prays over my soul." He smiled; there was something softer about it. But it could have been the forgiving candlelight playing tricks.
She gathered her courage. "You once said…when we were fighting Darkstar together…when we helped Lina Inverse to save this world…you said, right to my face, 'That's the Dragon I love.'"
"Yes…I did." He made no effort to conceal that he recalled the moment as clearly as she did. "I spoke…liberally. Beastmaster Zelas certainly had… a word …with me later that evening…"
"Xellos, pay attention!"
"I AM." He almost sounded annoyed. His jaw pronouncedly twitched again. "Are YOU?"
"The fact that you said that… Does that mean you…"
"Ahhh, no." He rolled over, face drawn. "I was afraid of this."
Finally she spit it out: "Does that mean you love me?"
"I cannot say."
"You can't SAY?"
"Filia, it is forbidden to mazoku to address such a thing. It is anathema to the very cells of my body to speak of such a thing."
His lip quirked. "Oh my."
"It's NOT FUNNY! Tell me you love me! If you find me such a sating 'challenge,' if you are so obsessed with me, me, your 'reliable' victim, if will not leave me ALONE, at LEAST tell me THAT!"
His specter of a grin crumbled." 'Victim?' No. Filia. I cannot SAY those words. Don't you understand? It is forbidden to mazoku. Even if I ever were to feel them, I could never make such a pledge. It is against the nature of my creator. She would end me."
Filia's pride flared. "Because I am beneath you? A priestess of the fire dragon king? Because it is beneath you to feel things aside chaos and hedonism, to be like ME?!"
"It has nothing to DO with YOU!" and here an infinitesimal ripple in Xellos's eternal calm made him sit straight upright, raise his hand, point his finger at her, and shout at her. He blinked, as though shocked at himself, his hand floating down to his side. He collected himself quickly and added in a more moderated tone, "Nothing."
"I cannot be with someone who gives me no guarantees," she bleated, turning away. Forcing herself not to cry. "That is why I cannot DO this."
Xellos fell still for several minutes, eyes sliding closed at last. Something had threatened him—the shutting of his eyes was a hint that he was withdrawing, returning to his mental battle tent to strategize. Yet still he continued. "Filia, do you realize how many lovers I have had, and could have?"
"How DARE you say—"
He continued as if she hadn't spoken. "Worlds of them, in these past thousand years. And in a snap of my fingers. So many different kinds. But of all of them, this very moment, and in the foreseeable future, the lover that I want is you—you, willingly."
Once again she stared at him openly. Face red, swollen, and wet. She had lost the struggle of weeping.
Xellos said nothing to disparage her for it. Nothing—when her resultant misery might have caused his astral body further nourishment.
It was this glint of selflessness, perhaps, that made her really listen as he continued: "There is no satisfaction in force, so I will not force you. I will coerce and I will tease, but I will not force, because I tell you, there is simply no satisfaction in force for a nearly omnipotent being—there is no satisfaction in doing things simply 'because I can.' And when I look at you, there is a part of me that hesitates to let loose destructive and damaging things that would ordinarily give me little or no pause—that would, in fact, delight me. There are things that you say and do to me that make me want to annihilate you—and yet I never could. I do not know what it is you want to call that, with all your moral labels and definitions. I do not know if it is that thing that I spoke of a moment ago, that thing that is forbidden to mazoku. Nor do I pretend that it is wholly to your benefit that I have chosen you—I warn you that I can never provide you with some of the things that a creature of your world craves. But I can claim with no pretense that this thing that has compelled me to seek you, again and again, is genuine, whatever in heaven or hell it may be."
She didn't speak. She couldn't.
"Or perhaps it is not a choice. Do you think I would have chosen a creature of flesh and light if I had the choice? It saps all my energy, every time I am exposed to you. These positive forces that draw me to you drain me. For me, they are unnatural, but they consume me. You are irritatingly effective. You and your stupid high and mighty sanctimoniousness are as effective on me as my lawlessness is on you. Do you think I wanted that addiction? Filia." There was a strange growl in Xellos's voice now. "Do you think I WANTED to…?" His voice trailed.
He opened his eyes.
"It is said that old married couples finish each other's sentences."
Filia's body went hot and cold at the same time. "…love me?"
Xellos did not blink. He did not smile. He did not embrace her. "Mazoku are forbidden to say."
"But I said it."
"Yes." His eyes closed again. He smiled. "Yes. You said it." He reached out and flicked her nose.
"Kiss me." She was breathless. "Kiss me now, you creep! I…I would enjoy that, too!"
Xellos rolled luxuriously over towards Filia. "I am always right, aren't I?" he purred, leaning into her.
Her blood boiled. "You wish." She closed her eyes.