Author's Note:Hello hello. This actually kind of makes me blush, but there will be a lemon later in this story. This is my first attempt at one, considering the last time I wrote fanfiction was when I was in my early teens. Now that I've matured a bit (I think), I want to attempt to write something that is at my maturity level, and the result is this story here. It won't get steamy until later chapters, though, so be patient with me.
Love Scene – Chapter One
It was an inevitable thing. With the mazoku race weakened, it was only a matter of time before the ryuuzoku would strike. And with the mazoku lords teetering on the brink of extinction, the world was about to become a place of light without the dark.
Between Dynast of the North, Deep Sea of the West, and Zelas of the South, the last was in a position most favorable to attack. No one knew exactly where Deep Sea resided, so an attack on her would most likely backfire with a surprise attack on them. Dynast was shielded by a well-built fortress to the front and a natural wall to the back--his defenses would be hard to break through. Zelas, on the other hand, was vulnerable on all four sides of her island; it was a much more accessible location for a surround and attack strategy.
To top things off, it seemed that the second piece of Ceipheed had finally emerged. With all their players in place, the ryuuzoku race prepared and initiated attack in an attempt to finally obliterate the mazoku race. They intended to push Zelas back, corner her weakened forces along with Dynast, weaken his forces as they killed her, and finally destroy Dynast, but the plan failed. Zelas had stood her ground to the very end, finally sacrificing herself at the end of the battle to damage the fragment of Ceipheed. Deep Sea's forces then arrived with a surprise attack to finish off the battle. There would be no follow-up war. It was over.
There had always been the question of whether or not a subordinate could survive after his or her master had been destroyed, and it was finally answered when Xelloss found himself alive even after Zelas had perished. At a complete loss for what to do and without a mazoku lord to directly serve (Dynast and Deep Sea both still had their subordinates alive and intact), he turned to the only other person he respected.
He went to find Lina.
"Ah, it always feels good to blow up bandits," the little sorceress declared contentedly as she rolled the soreness out of her shoulder. She was twenty-seven years old, and her life hadn't changed much over the course of ten years. Her companions were no longer with her--Amelia was finally becoming queen, Zelgadiss had given up on his search for a cure and was instead serving as a secret guard for Amelia--intercepting assassins and whatnot, and Gourry was, well, retired. The relationship between him and Lina never came to fruition, so Sylphiel had stepped up to declare her feelings for him. After careful deliberation, Gourry found that he, too, returned her feelings, and eventually left his adventurous life with Lina to settle down with Sylphiel. Lina had been reluctant to let him go, but she knew that it was not her place to interfere.
The following years had been particularly painful for her. Somehow, returning to being a lone adventurer was worse than being lonely to start with, and she found herself forcibly covering up her depression by strengthening her image as a Bandit Killer. That didn't do much good for her, since a stronger reputation meant a greater number of people who feared her, so the rebound effect resulted in her inability to make new friends. Amelia had sent an invitation letter to her, asking Lina to join her and Zelgadiss in Saillune. Lina had, however, turned it down, knowing that the lifestyle didn't suit her. She had to be out and about, and the less responsibilities she had that held her down, the better.
She heard bushes rustling behind her and whirled around with a fireball spell in her hand. "Oops. Missed one!" she said excitedly as she sent the magic forward. But to her surprise, she saw the figure vanish. She stiffened. A mazoku? she wondered, dropping her sack of treasures and preparing for what may come. She listened intently as the breeze blew by, waiting patiently for any sign of its presence. None came, and eventually she came to the conclusion that--whatever it was--it had disappeared.
She sighed and turned around to pick up her dropped trinkets but was completely startled when a familiar faced visitor stood there before her. Leaping back with a yelp, she barely managed to squeak his name, "X-X-X-Xelloss?"
"Why, hello there Lina-san," he replied sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head. He hadn't intended to scare her, but he didn't quite know how to approach her either, so he just waited silently until she noticed his presence herself. The fireball hadn't exactly been what he was looking for, but it was a typical Lina greeting. He lightly scratched the side of his face with his index finger in shame as she let loose on him.
"What the hell did you do that for? Your own sick and twisted enjoyment?" she lashed out, baring her fangs at him. There was no doubt in her mind that he had done that on purpose--he was always doing little things like that to annoy her. Then she spat, "Geez. I get a break from you for a decade and then you go and pull a stunt like that. Can really make a person unhappy to see you."
He frowned. She wouldn't believe him even if he protested, so he held his tongue and dropped his head. He wasn't exactly in the right mood to bicker with her, with his lord gone and all.
Lina blinked at him. "Xelloss?" she called, noticing something was a bit off about him. "Is something wrong?"
He resumed his normal façade. "Oh, nothing." He saw that she didn't look convinced, and quickly changed the subject. "So, where is everyone else?"
Still skeptical of his behavior, she warily replied, "I don't know. Haven't seen them in so long." The last sentence trailed off a bit, and her own mood dropped a couple of notches. She missed their company terribly, but there was nothing she could do about it. And here was Xelloss, probably popping in for only a moment before leaving her alone again. The thought made her sick to her stomach, and she sincerely hoped that he would stick around for at least a short while.
So what he said next shocked her entirely. "Would you mind if I accompany you for a bit?" he asked. She stared at him, unable to believe her ears and barely able to contain her happiness.
"Sure," she replied nonchalantly. On the inside, though, she felt her heart skipping. If he had somehow heard her mental request, he showed no sign of it. She felt her stomach rumble and said, "I'm hungry. Let's eat!"
He smiled at her and replied, "Sure."
As Lina finished her fifteenth helping and swallowed it down with a jug of water, she turned to Xelloss and inquired, "So what have you been up to all this time? I haven't seen you around." She thought it was weird that she even cared to know--after all, he was a mazoku, and she definitely did not care to know what mazoku did--but somehow the fact was easily forgotten when she stared at his cheery face. Unconsciously, the tips of her mouth began to curve upward into a smile as well.
"Things," he replied, and got that upset, moody look on his face again. Lina wanted to ask, but if he was willing to talk he would. This was the Mysterious Priest she was dealing with, after all. Asking questions rarely got her anywhere.
Instead, she began to talk about her own experiences. "Man, things have been really boring. The last time something big happened to me was when…" She trailed off. …was when Gourry and Sylphiel got married, she thought. Unintentionally, she began to get upset as well. I should be over this, she thought, but she wasn't. It still hurt when she remembered Gourry--when she remembered Sylphiel standing beside him in a long white gown, hands around his arm. There were many days when she had wished it would have been her, but those days were over. The dream had ended, and she had ended up with the bad ending of the story.
It was Xelloss's turn to stare at Lina curiously, trying to figure out what caused the sudden depression. He could feel it radiating from her, and as much as it filled his appetite, he didn't feel comfortable with her being that way. Call it a sense of duty or whatever, he took responsibility and said, "I'm sorry."
Lina blinked, coming back to reality. "What for?" she asked.
"I don't know. Everything? Not being there?"
She gave him a sad smile. "It's okay. It couldn't be helped," she replied. The tears were coming to her eyes now, and she fought back valiantly to keep them from falling. No one had sympathized with her since that time, and Xelloss was the last person she would have expected to console her. But the truth was the truth, and it had caught her so off guard that all her buried emotions came rushing back out to the surface. She clutched her chest beneath the table so he couldn't see; her heart had begun to ache again--so much that she was finding it unbearable. She dropped her head and awkwardly tried to hide her eyes from him, hoping he wouldn't notice when she began to cry.
Xelloss watched silently as Lina wept. It broke his heart--or whatever he had that resembled a heart--to see her so torn. Perhaps his troubles did not compare to hers, and perhaps she needed the most comforting between the two of them. He stood up, walked over to her side of the table, sat down next to her, and placed a hand reassuringly on her shoulder. As soon as he touched her, it became readily apparent that she was trembling—somethng he would not have noticed if he hadn't been so close to her. In an attempt to cheer her up, he squeezed her shoulder, then began to rub her back gently, hushing her sweetly with his voice. She hesitated before turning around to face him, with streams of tears falling down her cheeks, and gazed at him helplessly. He reached out to wipe the tears from her eyes, an act that actually made her cry more rather than stop, and offered his shoulder to her. She took it willingly, sobbed awkwardly into his chest for a moment, then reluctantly wrapped her arms around his midsection, embracing him tightly, desperately. He hugged her back and softly put his chin on top of her head so as not to bother her, then whispered soft words of encouragement as he stroked her hair.
And through this he, ironically enough, gained a new respect for the little sorceress.
He struggled with the knob on the door for a while before giving up entirely, teleporting through the wall instead. He held Lina's sleeping figure in his arms—the poor girl had cried herself to exhaustion. Xelloss looked down on her face to find her eyes puffy and red; her face still shone with the remnants of tears. He walked over to the bed and gently laid her down, then he brushed back her bangs and quietly pressed his lips to her forehead, so as not to wake her. Fortunately, she did not stir in the slightest, and he stepped back to let her sleep.
He walked quietly over to the windowsill and lazily sat upon it to gaze out the window. There was a beautiful moon in the sky—the same moon that he often gazed at late at night on Wolf Pack Island. He swallowed. The lonely feeling invaded him again, and this time he didn't fight it off. He needed to let loose like Lina had—only then would he gain freedom from his woes. He continued to stare at the moon, and sadly enough, found that he was unable to cry as she had. His emotions as a mazoku were not strong enough to force such a reaction out of him. But so strong were his ties to his former master that he certainly felt he was missing a fragment of his existence—a fragment he needed to fill. That was why he had come to Lina, but he didn't know how to go about asking the question. Be mine? Order me around? Somehow all the questions he came up with seemed absolutely ridiculous, so he continued to dance in circles, getting nowhere.
He heard a groan come from her direction and turned around to see what happened. With a sigh and an endearing smile, he saw that she had been talking in her sleep. One of her arms hung awkwardly over the edge of the bed; he figured it couldn't be comfortable. He hopped down from the windowsill and landed soundlessly on the wooden floor, then made his way to her side. Taking her hand into his own, he placed it atop her stomach where it would be more comfortable, but then he realized she wouldn't let go of him. He blinked, unsure of what to do, but his thoughts were interrupted by her whispers.
Xelloss was hurt more by the pained tone of her voice than he was by the fact that she had whispered the name of another man. He grasped her hand a bit tighter and bent over to kiss away the forming tears from her eyes. Then he knelt next to the bed and laid his head atop the sheets, watching the little sorceress as she slept.
He had hoped that what he had seen would be the last of her tears. Any more and he might burst from all the sorrow he was ingesting. He wasn't really looking forward to that.
Lina awoke the next morning to find Xelloss's sleeping face next to her. Had she been feeling better, she probably would have done something to him, but she felt so bad after the previous night that she simply groaned and attempted to roll over. Her intentions were thwarted, however, by the hand that still clung to her so strongly.
She glanced down and noticed that she was holding Xelloss's hand, and their fingers were intimately intertwined. She glanced back at him, this time with a touched look in her eyes, and wondered, Did he stay beside me the entire night because he was worried? Now that she thought about it, didn't he have somewhere else to be? A mazoku of his status was undoubtedly a very busy being—staying at her side must have been a tremendous sacrifice.
She rolled back over so that she faced him. Mazoku sleep? she wondered, but didn't think too much about the answer. He looked so peaceful that she unknowingly reached out to touch his cheek.
His eyelids fluttered open at her affection. She withdrew her hand quickly, embarrassed, but he caught it with his free hand. She froze, not knowing what to say, and stared at him wordlessly as he eyed her curiously, mind attempting to focus as he arose. His eyes were open, and she felt herself being sucked into its violet depths. They were so beautiful; she didn't know what else she could look at.
But when his mind finally registered where he was, he resumed his usual smiling face and released her hands. "Good morning, Lina-san," he said cheerily. She looked better than she had the night before, and that relieved him. He didn't know what else he could do for her if she was still feeling down, so it was good that she wasn't.
"G-Good morning," Lina shyly replied, and a blush crept up across her nose. She didn't know what was up with her behavior—staring into his eyes and tenderly caressing his face like that. It seemed like a nightmare to figure out, too, so she dismissed the thought as soon as she had begun to contemplate it. "Were you here all night?" she asked.
"Mm, yes," he answered as he muffled a yawn with his hand. This time she turned a bright shade of red and had to turn her face away to hide her embarrassment. Receiving affection wasn't something she was used to doing, and it showed.
A soft rumble brought her back to reality. "I wonder what's for breakfast," she said, and hopped out of bed. He watched as she nearly skipped over to the washroom to freshen up, and he came to the conclusion that he much preferred her when she was acting like her old self.
As she swallowed one breakfast platter after another, Xelloss deliberated how he should approach the topic he had been meaning to talk to her about. He needed someone to need him—he needed someone who would rely on him for things, assign him duties, and put him to work. Without a master, his life held no meaning. It also had to be someone he could respect, and that list was a short one. The only people on it were the three remaining mazoku higher-ups, and then there was Lina.
Lina gazed at him quizzically. It was improbable that Xelloss was just tagging along for no reason at all, but she couldn't figure out what the reason could be this time. She hadn't been involved in anything particularly major for a number of years, so she doubted that it could be some catastrophe waiting for her. But then again, Xellossnever showed up unless there was trouble. He was usually at the forefront of it.
He caught her gaze and smiled at her in acknowledgement. She blushed and looked away, embarrassed that he had seen her staring at him. She waited for some smart-ass comment, but he never made one. Instead, he went back to contentedly sipping his tea.
Lina felt a bit annoyed by this. If he was there, he might as well make himself useful and give her the attention she had been yearning for. She swallowed a chunk of beef and cleared her throat, hoping to catch his interest, but he was completely lost in a world of thought. The behavior was very unlike him, and she began to get sincerely worried for his well-being. "Xelloss?" she asked.
She saw that she had startled him. He turned to her questioningly but remained silent.
"What are you thinking about?"
He raised a finger. "That-"
"Is not a secret," she interjected, catching him at his own game. She couldn't help but laugh a little when he pouted at her and lowered his finger, pride crushed. He looked like a puppy when he made that face, and she almost wanted to tell him that he didn't have to answer, but then he did.
"Lina-san, have you been aware of the war that has been going on?" he asked.
She nodded. It wasn't anything she cared to be involved in, but a powerful sorceress like her had to know about a huge clash between the gods and the mazoku. "Is this related to that?" she asked.
Instead of answering, he said, "Well, if you know then that's good enough." She gave him a puzzled look, but he really gave off the vibe that indicated he didn't want to elaborate, so she left it alone. She went back to finishing her breakfast, wondering what on earth could have happened to him.
Afterward, Lina and Xelloss went back to the room. Lina hadn't gotten a chance to fish through her treasures the night before, so she took to the task first thing. She had heard that a group of bandits in the area held a rather priceless item, and she sought to find it for her own collection. As she laid the treasures out atop her cape, she went through each piece, separating them into a pile to keep and a pile to discard. Sadly, the pile to discard grew at twice the rate of the pile to keep, and Lina cursed in disappointment.
Xelloss monitored her choices as she made them to be sure that she didn't make any incorrect ones. He saw her toss away a couple of old manuscripts and walked over to see what they contained. He crouched down behind her and reached around her to take the old sheets of parchment to read.
Lina felt her face flush as he neared her. His body was so close to hers that she could feel its heat on her own skin. She watched him out of the corner of her eye but pretended to continue sorting through her treasures, unconcerned.
He glanced over the papers, found them to be useless, and tossed them back into the ever-growing discard pile. As he did so, he noticed that she had incorrectly sorted a couple of expensive gems. He reached forward to take them back and said, "Lina-san, I think you missed these."
He had literally breathed that last sentence into her ear, and Lina stumbled away from him with a very crimson hue to her ears. She covered the ear he had spoken into and stared at him with the half startled, half scared look that was reminiscent of a deer. He gave her a confused look, not understanding her reaction right away, but realized that she was indeed blushing. Was it me? he wondered, and a mischievous grin overtook his face.
He moved towards her slowly, capturing her with his violet eyes. She didn't move as he made his approach and swallowed as he came very close to her. She stared at him with slightly parted lips; her heart began to quicken its pace.
Lina's eyes closed as his face neared, and she could feel his hot breath on her cheek. She felt his lips come to a distance of only an inch from hers, and she swallowed in anticipation, but then nothing happened. Instead, she felt something cool around her neck.
She opened her eyes and looked down to find an amethyst dangling from her neck. She took it in her hand and inspected it, finding it to be a really high quality gem. She raised her head and asked, "I tossed this one?"
"Yes," he replied, and chuckled playfully. She blushed, remembering her actions from a moment before and the feelings that went along with it. She had really expected him to kiss her, but what was most astonishing was that she was sorely disappointed when he hadn't kissed her.I couldn't be developing feelings for him, she told herself, but she somehow felt less than convinced.
She reached behind her neck to unfasten the necklace, as she had no particular desire for fancy gems or trinkets, but Xelloss reached out a hand to stop her. He gently pulled her hand forward and said, "Keep it. I'll reimburse you for the cost if you want, but I really think you should wear it. It looks good on you."
She blinked at him, to which he winked at her with one eye open. That was when she noticed that the gem was the same hue of violet as his eyes, and she agreed to his request. Looking into his enchanting eyes was a treat, but the gem would be a nice way to remind her of them while he had them hidden behind his usual mask. She rubbed it between her thumb and forefinger as she murmured a soft, "Thanks."
He smiled at her. "Let's see if we can sort through the rest of your things more quickly now, shall we?" At least this way he would feel more useful to her. He was quickly growing tired of sitting around doing nothing.