Title: On the Side
Author: Celyia (ladycelyia@aol.com)
Genre: Romance
Pairing: Lina/Zelgadis. Woo HOO!
Disclaimer: Whoever owns Slayers owns it and those people don't include me. Dammit.
Distribution: Feel free. Just drop me a note so I can see where it goes J
Note: I admit it. :-) I haven't watched much Slayers at all. I just discovered the series recently and have only watched the first 13 episodes. Surprise surprise! but Zelgadis totally stole the show for me and I think I'm addicted! This fanfic is the result of 4 things: 1) A scene where Zelgadis gets rather sensitive about his poor face and mistakes Lina's concern for the situation for revulsion. 2) A scene right after Zolf and Rodimus are killed where Zel is feeling lonely. 3) A part where our austere Zel breaks into a soft smile *purr* as he calls Lina a strange girl, 4) and dammit! we need more Zelgadis fics!

Oh, one last thing! This takes place after the defeat of the Demon Lord... the dude with the "S" name that I'm not gonna even bother looking up ;-) ... and before Lina meets Amelia. Okay, for all intents and purposes, Darling Amelia and her doting Father don't even exist. ;-) *grin* Just have fun with this alternative universe I'm gonna set out for you. ;-)

Chapter 1 - YUM! Don't quit your day job!

Lina grumbled unhappily as she considered the options before her. Her tawny eyes trembling with an unspoken plea, she turned to her constant companion (who some would call a "sidekick", and had he been capable of understanding the sentiment and its repercussions, he may have shrieked at the idea.).

"What's yer choice? I don't got all day, ya know!" the man before her growled menacingly as looked down at her. Taking a rough moment to scratch himself in the most unbecoming way, the Innkeeper glanced impatiently at the door which was swinging gently behind a couple of exiting patrons.

"You can't mean that! Really. I'm just a poor girl on her way home..." Lina pleaded, her large eyes tearing up as she regarded the man.

"A poor girl who can easily eat enough to feed an entire village..."

"You don't even know the half of it," Gourry mumbled, instantly regretting his contribution to the conversation as Lina's pointy elbow found its way into his ribs.

"... an entire village for the an entire season..." the Innkeeper finished, glowering down at the now-sniffling sorceress and her winded comrade.

"But I can't! I'm ... " Lina objected, her small face flustered. "Isn't there any other way I could pay you back? I didn't want to blow my own horn, but I'm..."

"Lina Inverse, Sorcery Genius Extraordinaire," he finished disinterestedly as he pointed down. "I don't need a sorceress. What I need," the Innkeeper growled as he jabbed a beefy finger in the direction of his nose, "is some free labour to make back the loss of having you eat me out of house and home!"

Sighing, she looked down at her cute little brown boots that covered her adorably tiny and feminine feet. Okay, fine, maybe they aren't that tiny, but dammit, they are still cute and anyone who dares disagree can eat a little Flare Arrow. One last try, she thought as she squeezed a few tears into her eyes. Counting on the beauty she knew she possessed, she wavered over the ground unsteadily (real men always rush to protect the vulnerable, which normally take the form of the weaker sex, don't you know!).

"Oh, please sir! I'm not feeling so well... you wouldn't force a sick, but incredibly beautiful girl to slave her weak self to death, would you? Please?" Lina gazed pleadingly up at the tall man, her eyes shining with the threat of tears.

"Yeah, I think I would. Now get yer butt to work, girl. There are tables that need to be done." The Inkeeper, who obviously wasn't a real man, turned and walked back to his counter.

Recovering swiftly and gracefully as she picked herself up off the dirty floor, Lina patted Gourry kindly on the back. "We tried, but I suppose there's nothing to do but work our debt off..."

"Yeah... I guess so...wait! That's your debt!"

"No, its ours, Gourry," Lina corrected, waving a gloved finger at the tall, blond swordsman. "Partners. Therefore our victories and our troubles are shared... Anyway, if you had told me that we didn't have enough coins to cover this, I would have never eaten that much!"

"But Lina, I did..." Gourry protested, his rather vacuous brow wrinkling in thought.

"But not loud enough. Oh, that table of drunken men is waving you down. You better go take their order," the petite sorceress smiled disarmingly as she pulled up a chair and examined the threads of her cape.

Nodding guilelessly as he walked towards the table, the young man pushed an errant blond hair behind an ear, making approximately 4.5 women swoon with pure lust. (Would have been an even 5, but the .5's operation wasn't quite finished, although you would have never known had you looked at him. Her. um. You get the idea.)

"Ho, don't ya have any self-r'pect, man?" the Innkeeper called out, his face red with disbelief "It's the sorceress's debt. It's the sorceress who will work it off! You there!" he shouted at Lina, tossing a small bundle to her hands, "change and get to work! And none of that funny magicks or stuff. This is a r'spectable establishment."

Catching the garments effortlessly, Lina sighs as she quietly left the room to change. "I can't run. I can't just leave," she muttered as she pulled on what appeared to be a rather interesting barmaid outfit. "If I do, that cranky old guy will place a bounty on my head and spread the rumour that I'm a thief. Oh, MAN! How come Gourry let me get into this?"

Sighing as she smoothed the skirt over her knees (which any other narrator wouldn't hesitate to call bony, but dammit! I've seen what her Dragon Slave can do so I'll just bite my tongue about those bony knees!), Lina examined herself in the scratched, unpolished mirror. Blushing slightly as she tried to ignore the fact that the bodice of this plain, brown peasant dress was just a little too loose, she discreetly pushed her small breasts up, achieving a rather flattering look for a second or two before gravity took over.

"I can't go out there like this!" Lina moaned unhappily, "its like shouting! 'Hey, buddy! Look at what I *don't* have!'. Okay, what to do, what to do?"

Cocking her head to the side, she took a big breath of air as she tightened her corset, which amazingly worked and pushed those uncooperative breasts of hers up. She may not be *ahem* well endowed, but at least she wasn't as likely to be mistaken for a child right now.

"Ooooooo. Maybe I should wear stuff like this more often!" she purred as she turned to look at herself from a different angle. Amazing! she thought, a small smile playing about her lips, the beautiful sorceress is just a little more beautiful than she was before!

"Lina! Get out here! You have tables waiting!" the Innkeeper shouted impatiently, his voice reverberating through the room.

Taking a last look at her lovely reflection in the mirror, Lina strode out to the common room. She scanned the room quickly. Good, she thought, no familiar faces except for Gourry and he was too busy being scolded by the Innkeeper to notice the outfit.

"Yo, baby! Here!" a few drunks at a table in the corner yelled, motioning for her to come over.

They don't know they are pissing off one of the most powerful sorcerers in the realm, she thought generously as she forced herself to walk in that direction.

"Come on and give me some loving, girl!" another man crooned as he pulled Lina onto his lap as she attempted to walk past.

Bloody drunks, she cursed as she struggled to get out of his lap. Muttering under her breath as she picked up the man's mug and gave it to him. "Here, fella, you gotta be thirsty after spending all day lugging a gut around like that."

With one hand, he wretched the lager from her while his other secured her to his lap. His eyes widened in panic as the liquid hit his stomach. Up like a shot, and dropping the unfortunate sorceress-come-barmaid to her rear, the man scrambled to the door with the speed of an old woman running to a K-Mart blue light special. The room suddenly fell silent as all the patrons regarded the door and the young girl.

"Oh, darn!" Lina snapped her fingers with a sweet earnestness that fooled absolutely no one in that room. "I must have accidentally blessed that lager with a laxative spell." She brought the mug of offending beer to her nose and sniffed deeply. "Quite a powerful one, too. Wow, poor fellow! He'll be... *ahem* busy. For hours, I think."

The sound of a couple dozen mugs being pushed away echoed throughout the room. Lina tried to hide her smug smile as she walked to the table o' drunks in the corner, but she failed quite miserably.

"Lina," the Innkeeper growled warningly, "Lina, come here."

"Be right there," she called out to him. Smiling in what she considered a quite disarming way, she winked at the table. "I'll be right back, gentlemen. Have your orders ready then, okay?" With a smile, she ran off to the Innkeeper, who was, in truth, actually a very nice guy named Helbert. He may be a little prone to snarling and an overall crankiness, but then, I suspect anyone burdened with a name like that is entitled to some grouchiness.

"Lina," he snarled as he pulled the girl to the side, "NO magic. None. This is a r'spectable establishment, ya know..."

"It would be hard to miss that fact. You've only mentioned it, what? 3 or 4 times?" Lina muttered dryly.

"You are here to work off yer debt, girl. And the longer it takes for me to get that money back, the longer ya will have to work."

Blinking in surprise, Lina looked up at the man, who just about towered over her.

"You mean I gotta do more of this?"

He smiled pleasantly as he patted the girl on the back. "Yeah, 'til ya pay it off."

Lina's mind spun as she considered the sheer amount of figures (and coins!) involved. "How.... long?"

"Work hard, girl. Maybe a week if ya work your arse off."

"A week?" Lina's jaw dropped unflatteringly. "But... I only had one meal!"

The Innkeeper nodded. "Maybe. But that was one big meal, girl. Now, get back to work," he ordered as he pointed at the common room.

Slapping her forehead in frustration, Lina sighed. Its gonna be one long week....