Love Scene – Chapter Five
The first things she saw when she woke up were two beautiful, violet eyes staring back at her. She froze up and nearly shrieked, but then memories of the previous day flooded back to her conscious, reminding her why she was in bed, naked, lying next to Xelloss. She had slept with him. Lina had slept with Xelloss. No shit.
"Good morning," he chirped. She looked at him shyly, lacking words to say. He still had his arms wrapped cozily around her, providing a comfortable little haven for his bedmate. "I prepared a nice warm bath for you, whenever you'd like to take it," he said.
With a light blush on her nose, she replied, "Thank you," and began to slip out from underneath the covers. But at the realization of the biting cold, she quickly retreated back to the spot she had just vacated, clinging to the remnants of warmth that seeped from Xelloss. He chuckled and held her more tightly.
"Or we could just stay here," he suggested. She complied with the more favorable idea and pressed herself more firmly against him, snuggling up against her source of heat. I wonder if this is strange, she thought, considering for a moment that she and he were acting like a pair of lovers. Hesitantly, she glanced upward to check how he felt. He was enjoying every moment, and the happiness showed on his face in the form of a silly little grin. If Lina had been in a mood to do so, she would have slapped him out of sheer annoyance, but at the moment she was just concentrating on staying warm. She was never the type to just lie in bed doing nothing, but the soreness between her legs protested against any ideas she might have been having.
As if reading her mind, Xelloss reached around her leg so he could have access to her tender area. Lina shuddered and lifted her head. "It kind of hurts," she truthfully admitted, but she didn't particularly hate what he was doing to her either.
"A little bit won't hurt," he purred into her ear, and continued to massage her tender skin. Lina closed her eyes and tried to ignore the feelings of pain and pleasure that made her hormones run rampant, but the effort was made in vain. With a small huff, she slowly opened her eyes and looked at him, obviously being swept along at his pace. He grinned and kissed her, then sweetly added, "You're cute, Lina-san."
He pulled his hand back, to which Lina gave him a weak, confused look. He chuckled and slipped out of bed, then lifted her into his arms along with the sheets. She looked obviously discontent with his sudden change of heart and continued to stare at him as he carried her over to the bathroom, but he never responded to her hints. He put her down on her feet and left the room, closing the door gently behind him. "I'll be right outside if you need me."
Lina's heart sank. "What's the meaning of that?" she wondered aloud as she tested the temperature of the water with her hand. It was warm--just as promised. Wish a sigh, she sank into it and tried to relax--a task she found rather difficult to do.
When she returned to the room, dressed in her shirt and pants with a towel around her shoulders, she found Xelloss back in his usual position on the windowsill, staring out the icy glass window at the happenings outside. She paused to consider him for a second--How different did he see the world, as someone who lived on for what seemed like eternity? What was he thinking about when he observed the passing folk? Were they like the droplets of chilled water that fell from her hair?--pieces of forgotten history that dissipate into the air as though they had never existed. And am I just a passing chapter of his story, too?
Watching him sitting there like a lone wolf on a cold day, Lina felt like the Xelloss she knew was only a fraction of who he really was. There was so much she didn't know about him--didn't care to know about him, until now. But how would she go about asking him about a millennium of happenings? The past ten years of absence were enough to spend eons recovering.
He turned his head towards her and smiled, and Lina did her best to return it. She was once again coming to realize that they lived very separate lives--one of a mazoku and one of a human. How had she come to think that there might have been more to expect from their relationship? Perhaps these last few days were just a passing fancy, for the both of them.
She bit her lip and turned her head away. It ached to think about the lack of possibilities there were left to her. Most likely, Xelloss never even thought of her as someone important. Perhaps she had been the only one disillusioned.
She felt a weight upon her shoulder, and suddenly found the towel thrown over her wet head. "You'll catch a cold like that, Lina-san," he gently chided, and began to massage the beads of water out of her hair. His warm touch startled her; Lina felt her heart attempting to break free of its prison and pressed her hands to her chest, reminding it sternly to stay level. She felt his fingers brush against her cheek as the towel fell from her head. There is nothing to wish for, she told herself as she closed her eyes and held her breath.
Xelloss could not see her face, but he could feel the negative vibes radiating from her like a dark, black cloud. He wondered if it was his fault that she felt that way--if he had somehow carelessly disrespected her. Silently, he pulled away and turned to the window. He paused shortly to search for words. "Lina-san, if I recall correctly, you came here because you were looking for a magical item of some sort, right?" he asked.
Lina felt sorely disappointed, yet somewhat relieved when he moved away. If he had advanced further, she would not have known what to do in order to protect her feelings from being trapped by him. She inhaled and exhaled slowly, then replied, "Yes."
He continued, unsure of what response to anticipate. "The truth is…I might have already located that which you are interested in, Lina-san."
She blinked. "How?" she inquired, sounding curious.
He was caught a bit off guard by the calm response. "You see, a few days ago I noticed a weak, yet mysterious magic source just across the river. But recently it's been growing in strength. It might be worth your while to check it out," he suggested.
Her reaction was a bit more than Xelloss had anticipated. Her jaw dropped a couple of inches, and she blinked at him in disbelief. Then, with a sudden outburst of energy, she quickly threw on her cape and accessories, fastened her sword to her belt, and made her way to the door with a little skip in her step. He raised an eyebrow at her quizzically and inquired, "What?"
She turned to him as she swung open the door, holding her hand out to guide him through it. He took a few careful steps towards it before she answered his question. "You'll see. You just made things a lot easier for me. With a bit of luck, I'll be finished with what I needed to do in this town."
He paused. "Okay."
Lina pushed him out the door, beaming from ear to ear as she shut the door behind them. Things were looking up--at least for the time being.
They set off on a path that led them across the river and into the woods. Lina didn't like to stay in one town for long--her reputation usually caught up to her quickly, and she liked to leave before it did. Xelloss had no qualms about her decision; he would go wherever she wanted to. It would be more amusing if we had remained longer, he thought regrettably, knowing Lina would not have appreciated his sense of humor. He liked to invite trouble; she unintentionally brought it forth. Therein lay the difference.
"Hey Xelloss," she began, "just tell me one thing. Why didn't you go to one of the other lords to serve? There are still two left, right?"
"Well, I'm not too fond of either setting. I can't say I'm fond of the cold that Dynast-sama seems to adhere to, and I can't say I really ever understand what he's thinking, either. I might have considered going to Deep Sea-sama, but…"
"That, naturally, is a secret," he replied, inwardly celebrating the use of his old catchphrase. He couldn't help but beam when Lina glared at him. "Besides, neither one of the two is lacking subordinates, so I'd just be in the way."
"And you're not getting in my way?" Lina suggested, raising an eyebrow at him. She didn't mean it, of course, but she had to get back at him for using that annoying little slip of his.
He pouted. "I try my best not to," he replied, twiddling his thumbs as he tried to play cute. Apparently it worked, since Lina giggled. But if he was going to play cute, she would have to tease him for it.
She jumped ahead of him and whirled around, slapping one hand to her knee as the other pointed off to the distance "Go fetch the item for me?" she pleaded in a cutesy voice, whistling at him like an owner to a dog.
The look on his face showed that he didn't appreciate the display. He pouted his lips slightly and grumbled something under his breath, which Lina barely caught. "Using me as your convenience item…"
"I said it before, didn't I?" she replied with a wink. What she was referring to was the time Xelloss nearly sold her out to Valgaav, and she had promptly explained that their relationship was purely for benefits. Obviously, that hadn't been the entire truth--she was clearly concerned for his wellbeing as a friend--but she hadn't lied, either.
He sighed. Maybe he was wrong in seeking her out to be his new master, after all. But she soon followed up with another question, this time a bit more seriously. "So then…why me?"
She turned to look at him briefly. "Why me?" she asked, lingering for a moment before turning back around as her feet continued to move her along the path. Xelloss tried to discern the reason behind her odd behavior, but Lina interrupted his thoughts with a sudden outburst of laughter. "What am I saying? It's like I'm giving you more chances to use that stupid phrase of yours," she quickly added, attempting to cover up the mood.
His smile disappeared. What was wrong with her suddenly? Did he do something wrong? He reached out, attempting to catch her arm, though he didn't know what he planned to do after that. But just as he grabbed hold of it, a thought occurred to him. Strange, I'm acting impulsively.
She paused to look at him, wondering what he was up to. He simply stared back--a mute unable to convey thoughts. Then she gave him a strange smile--one that was endearing and heartfelt. He had never seen it before, and though it somewhat pained him, it sucked him in. His open eyes watched as Lina lowered her gaze and removed his fingers from her wrist.
"It's alright, Xelloss," said she. The wind caught her hair as she turned, exposing her soft neck. "I shouldn't have asked."
He shook his head, tearing his eyes away from her smooth skin. She was wrong about that. It's not that he didn't want to answer, it was just that…that…
I don't know why, he thought. I just wanted to be with her.
They continued to walk in silence as Xelloss laboriously peeled away at the layers, like layers of paint, that blocked his answer. Lina looked up to the sky, thinking that its beautiful clarity clashed with the storm that was brewing in her heart.
After about an hour of walking, Lina decided it was a good time to take a break for lunch. It was also a rather chilly morning, and she fancied the idea of setting up a nice warm fire to sit around. While Xelloss ran off to get firewood, Lina set up little magical traps to catch rabbits and squirrels to eat.
After she was done with that task, she sat down on the ground and puffed warm air into her hands, rubbing them together to provide herself with a tiny bit of warmth. A chill shot up through her body. She hugged herself tightly, shaking her legs as she whined, "It's cold. It's cold. It's cold. It's cold…"
Why are you cold?
"Because--" She paused. Where had that voice come from? She twisted her body to check her surroundings, scanning it quickly with wide eyes. There was no sign of any other presence nearby. Was she just imagining things? She shook her head and grumbled, "The weather must be getting to me."
Is it because you're lonely?
She stiffened. After giving herself a good pinch on the cheek to make sure she was awake, she thought aloud, "Okay, I'm not imagining things." She closed her eyes to listen; the only audible sound was that of rustling tree leaves as they shook from brittle branches and fell to their graves. There was still no sign of anyone nearby.
Her finger twitched. She glanced down at her gloved hand, wondering why it felt so odd, and removed the glove to find her ring shining mysteriously. Its sheen was particularly luminous; normally, the silver was dull. She blinked at it and, for a moment, wondered if the ring had a voice of its own.
Her thoughts were interrupted when an alarm went off in her head. One of her traps had been sprung, which meant that there was food waiting to be cooked and eaten. Also, Xelloss had conveniently returned with a number of logs to toss into the fire. She dropped her tense shoulders and quickly pulled on her glove, deciding it would be best to deal with her problem later when she was not working off of an empty stomach.
Xelloss wrapped his arm around his staff and leaned against it, relying on its support as it stood anchored into the ground. He still hadn't quite pieced together an answer to the earlier question, and it kind of boggled him. Why had he chosen Lina? Honestly, he hadn't stopped to consider the meaning behind that question before. It just seemed so natural to seek her out that he thought it was a sufficient justification to make his need for her a mutual feeling. But when he finally arrived here, at the calm waters that waited at the end of the white rapids, he wasn't sure if he could figure himself out now that he was reflected so clearly in the placid water.
Lina raised an eyebrow at her partner's brooding face: the wrinkles in his brow, the focused look, the slight frown. She considered his strange behavior over the piece of meat that was suspended between her hands. What was he thinking about? What was the cause of this pensive mood? She left him alone as she devoured her lunch, and after washing it down with a bit of water, she asked, "What are you thinking about?"
He raised his head and quickly pulled on his usual smile. "Oh, just some things," he answered vaguely. "For example, I was trying to pinpoint the item's exact location, and I think I've found it." She didn't have to know that he had already figured that out while he was out gathering firewood.
It didn't take a genius to figure out that he was lying, but she decided to play along for the moment. "Great! …Where?" she inquired, portraying innocence in her speech.
He parted his lips to speak, but no words came forth. The clarity of expression in her eyes, combined with the easy response made it clear that she could see right through him. At first, he didn't know how to receive this--he took pride in being mysterious, and for someone to be able to read him like a book…well, that was unheard of. Preposterous--yes, indeed it was, but now no longer. Here was a human girl, one of those short-lived beings, who somehow obtained the wisdom needed to see through his guise. And yet, strangely enough, the thought was somewhat comforting.
Could it be?--that he had fallen victim to this human ailment of the heart called love?
He laughed lightly at the idea. That was a rather extreme comparison, but when had he gotten so swept up in her company that he had completely lost sight of his original goal? Why was it that his existence finally had some personal meaning to him? And how could this positive feeling sustain him, a being that thrives on the existence of negative energy?
It would not, and it would be best if he discarded the idea here and now.
The reappearance of his usual façade was like a heavy weight upon Lina's heart. For a moment, she felt like she was breaking through--like they were actually connecting. But the moment was brief, and he quickly became the mysterious priest she already knew. Feeling disheartened, she quickly finished up the remnants of her meal and stood up, brushing crumbs off of her hands. "We should get going, then," she quickly said, keeping her head down.
"Yes…we should," he replied.
You do realize he can't provide you with what you need, Lina, she insisted to herself as she stomped the life out of their campfire. Then, as she watched the once heated blaze die down to cinders, she added, But it was nice while it lasted.
She pointed her thumb over her shoulder as she whirled around and started off. "Let's go!"
It was like a wild goose chase. As soon as they neared the source of the magic, there would be a sudden inflection of raw energy and then it would vanish, reappearing elsewhere. At first, they simply remapped their destination, but after a number of irresolute endings, Lina started to feel rather frustrated about chasing it all around the forest. It did not help that she was already in a foul mood from the biting frost that would not go away. The sun had disappeared halfway through the day, and the heat along with it. If things kept up the way they were going, it might end up snowing that evening.
She sneezed. "Achoo! Damn it! Stupid spirits are toying around with me," she growled, glaring in a number of directions at the ethereal presences she assumed were there. Xelloss, from behind her, hid the smile on his face behind his hand as he approached her and wrapped his cloak around her body, sharing his body heat with her as they huddled.
"Perhaps there is a reason it refuses to be found?" he suggested. It was possible that the item had a mind of its own--he didn't know what it was, so he couldn't know that for sure. But if Lina did, then she might have a better idea.
Lina shifted closer to Xelloss, basking in his warmth. She would have hotly protested against his ridiculous idea if she wasn't lacking in heat. Instead, she pondered the idea as her legs trembled.
He caught the hint and pulled her closer. Feeling suddenly shy, Lina threw her hands up against his chest as a sort of buffer zone, but then lowered them and reluctantly eased into his embrace, wrapping her own arms around him as she let her mind wander off. She wondered if he could feel her heart beating for him, being so close to her and all. The accelerated blood flow was more than enough to warm her body, and soon she stopped shivering altogether. Her thoughts were still wandering aimlessly when Xelloss called her name, "Lina-san."
"What do you think?"
She blinked. "About what?--oh, that," she replied as she lowered her head and hid her blush behind her bangs. Then she muttered, "I don't know."
He was silent for a moment, and for a second Lina was worried that he was ridiculing her absent-minded behavior, but then he said, "Maybe it'd be easier to approach if we weren't together?"
She raised her head. "What do you mean?" she inquired, but then paused to think about it. What if that voice I heard earlier was...
"Think of something?"
"Yeah…you're right. It came near earlier when you were away collecting firewood," she explained. "So I think it would come again if you were to leave me alone."
He nodded and rubbed some heat into her arms before releasing his hold on her. "I will be over there," he said, gesturing in one direction.
She blinked at his sudden act of thoughtfulness. "Um, sure," she responded meekly, holding her arms where he had touched her. After watching his departure, she cleared her throat and collected her wits about her. Okay, Lina, time to confront this thing…
She sat her rear end on a mound of dirt and waited. The day was quickly fading--it would soon be night. She glanced up at the sky, wishing to see the stars but instead finding a thick dark cloud hanging over her in the sky. But then she did see something--something white…
As it dropped closer to her, she realized it was a little white snowflake. Hundreds of other small tufts of snow began to fall from the sky, landing lightly on her hair and on the ground all around her. She blinked when one gently tapped the tip of her nose, like a friendly little kiss from a child. Then she thought of Xelloss and began to wish that he was sitting there beside her.
Are you lonely?
She calmly inhaled and exhaled a long breath. There was that voice again--most likely what she was looking for. She raised her head and called out to it, "Won't you come out to join me?"
A small round ball of soft light--approximately the size of her fist--came bouncing forth. It turned out to be a tiny spirit ball, one that possessed no other form but was capable of thought and speech. Lina stared at it as it shyly approached her, stopping just short of a yard away from her. She gestured with her hand for it to come closer. "Long time no see."
"Indeed," it replied. "Where is your friend?"
"He's standing over there somewhere," she replied, pointing over her shoulder with her thumb.
"No--the other one."
Lina paused. "Gourry? He… He's no longer with me anymore."
"He left you?"
"No! …Well, yes. He has a new life now."
"That's too bad. He even gave you the ring."
Lina removed her glove. The ring was glowing again, and she realized that it was because of the spirit's presence. "Yes, he did," she replied, gaze softening.
A brief moment of silence passed. Then Lina removed the trinket from her finger and wiped it clean of the snow that blurred it. "Funny," she began, "it was easier than I thought it'd be."
She tossed it out in front of her, and it landed in the soft snow at the spirit's "feet." He remained silent.
"I'm returning this to you," she concluded, then rose from the ground and dusted off her rear. "You wanted it back, right?"
"Yes…I did," the spirit of young Rowdy Gabriev replied as he picked the ring up off the ground. As he inspected the status of the ring, he idly said, "It's funny--that my descendant came across this ring."
"But I'm not the one it was meant for," Lina added with a small grin.
Rowdy eyed her for a moment before speaking. "What will you do now?" he inquired.
"Well… We'll see when I get there," she said as she winked. Then she ran off to find her waiting companion--a mysterious priest blanketed by the first snow.
Xelloss humbly kicked around a stick at his feet, drawing patterns in the fresh snow. He felt strangely concerned about the spirit Lina was trying to find. There was something familiar about it, too, but he couldn't quite put his finger on the reason for that. But there was this disconcerting feeling that she would get taken away somehow--somewhere beyond his reach.
He stopped drawing circles in the ground, seeing that it was making the pure snow dirty with mud. Then he set to burying it beneath the freshly fallen snow, covering up the blemish with a clean layer of white purity. If only the past could be concealed just as easily, he thought, patting it down gently with the sole of his shoe.
Then his ears caught the sound of rustling, and he lifted his head to see Lina running towards him. His eyes lit up for a moment before he realized that she looked distressed. He opened his mouth to speak just as she threw herself into him. "Lina-san--"
"Please don't say anything," she begged of him and cried quietly into his chest. She snuck her arms around his waist, pulling him closer, searching for a feeling of comfort that she knew she would not receive from a mazoku. The erratic thumping deep within her chest spoke the truth--she had feelings for him, and the knowledge of that distressed her. How could she have allowed herself to fall in love with a mazoku--someone who would never return her feelings?
"I love you!" she blurted out. "I don't know how or when it happened, but it did and it's so strong that I just can't deny it anymore," she spat out in a disorganized ramble. Then she swallowed and bit her lip. "I know--it's not possible for this feeling to be returned, but I--"
Xelloss knelt before her, coming to an even eye level. He gazed into her eyes for a moment before speaking. "What makes you think that I can feel fear, sorrow, and happiness, but not love?" he asked.
The statement temporarily quelled Lina's sobs. He had a good point. Over the past week, she had come to realize that he was indeed capable of feeling and portraying those emotions. Not knowing what to say, she simply shook her head in response.
"What do you think love is?" he asked her. "I've lived much longer than you, Lina-san. My definition is justifiably different from yours."
She averted her gaze for a moment. She suddenly felt as though she had no room to speak. He was right, after all.
Xelloss sighed inwardly. "It's really subjective--that feeling called love. If you want me to throw my life away for you, you won't be getting it. My nature prevents me from valuing your life above my own--just think of me as a very self-centered human." He paused. "But if you're asking about passion…"
Lina's eyes widened as she felt his lips brush against her arm. He kissed his way up the length of it as Lina struggled with her own feelings, and she turned her face to him as he neared her shoulder. "Xe--"
He silenced her with a passionate kiss on the lips. She closed her eyes tightly, trying to deny his feelings and failing to do so. Then he pulled away and pressed his forehead against her own, gazing deeply into her worried eyes.
"Can you not tell? I want you," he stated clearly. Then he kissed her once and repeated, "I want you." Then he kissed her again, communicating his desire to claim her clearly through his actions. He snuck an arm around her waist and pulled her against his body, raising her temperature by planting well-placed kisses on her neck. Lina still attempted to refuse him, struggling and pushing against his weight in vain. She didn't want to be hurt again. And yet, the idea of turning him away hurt her. It hurt her so badly that she whimpered and cried.
Xelloss placed his hand against her cheek and turned her face to meet his. She was no longer surprised to have the privilege of gazing into those beautiful violet eyes--somewhere deep down inside she knew that he saved them for her. She dropped her head slightly as he kissed away her tears, then looked her straight in the eyes.
"Do you need me to say it?"
And that was when Lina realized it. He's hurting, she noted as she blinked at his odd expression. He loves me, and that feeling is hurting him. Xelloss smiled weakly at her as the expression on her face changed, showing that she finally understood. She kissed him through her tears, through her pain, crying as she finally overcame the feeling of loneliness that plagued her--plagued them both. She had finally found the solution to her decade-long problem in a place where she had least expected it, and it was a better outcome than she could have asked for.
As she swallowed the last of her sorrow, Lina placed a finger against Xelloss's lips. "So…" she began, "how about we continue this in the room?"
He smiled. "I like the way you think, Lina-san."
She winked at him. "Of course you do. I always have the best ideas."
Author's Note: So we finally reached the conclusion of this story. I have actually been quite astounded by the number of favorites this story has received--it's my second most popular fanfic on here. I'm glad that some of you have enjoyed reading this as much as I have enjoyed writing it. I just wanted to thank you all again for staying with the fandom--it felt kind of lonely when I returned to Slayers to find that the Xellina fanbase had dwindled so much, but now I see that there are still some remaining fans. Well, please review if you enjoyed the story, and I'll see you all around!