Disclaimer: Slayers does not belong to me, but belongs to Hajime Kanzaka and Rui Araizumi and the companies that represent them. I'm just borrowing the characters for a little while.
Spoiler alert: This story takes place after episode 5 of Slayers Revolution and goes off on its own tangent from there. Characters introduced to the new series such as Pokota are included in this story and spoilers from the first five episodes, the novels, and Kanzaka interviews are prevalent throughout this fic. Many thanks go to raywing and EarthStar for betaing this story.
Chapter 1: Chrysalis
"What is it?"
"A chrysalis. She is changing."
"I don't know."
- Sinclair and Lennier: "Chrysalis," Babylon 5.
She woke up crying.
Lina's eyes shot open and her hands immediately lifted to her cheeks, finding them wet as tears slid down, around her chin, and finally pooling onto her neck. It took all of her control to stop her breath from hitching, her chest from heaving, and from making any sort of sound that would give away the fact that she'd had the nightmare. Again.
She reached to her side and only found the edge of the nightstand instead of the warm body she'd grown used to having next to her. She sat up, pushing her hair out of her face as she gazed at the sleeping form on the opposite side of the room. Amelia. That's right, she was rooming with Amelia once more. She and Gourry had been on their own for so long that when their sleeping arrangements changed during their travels beyond the barrier, she thought little of it until after Zelgadiss and Amelia rejoined them in Ruvinagard. She recounted the events of the past few days in her mind as she tossed the blankets aside, then gaped as Amelia shifted.
Perched next to Amelia's head, snuggled up on top of her hair, was the prince-turned-small-creature Pokota. He drooled in his sleep, it pooling on top of Amelia's hair. Lina rolled her eyes and hoped that Pokota would have the sense to wake up and slip back into the other room before Zelgadiss rose. She didn't want the chimera grumbling over Pokota's developing crush on Amelia. She didn't think she could take it at the moment.
Lina stumbled out of the room and headed down the hall to the small bathroom. She scrubbed her face until it felt raw, but didn't feel any better. She looked up from the towel and swore the room was lined with blue crystals, all of them containing the same person. Long, blond hair. Cracked black armor. An impossibly young face looking serene and composed.
Lina swallowed every urge to barge into the room that the men shared just to make sure that Gourry was in his bed, where he should be. She knew he was safe and other than the constantly pressing need to find him a new sword, more urgent now than ever, he was fine. So, she decided to solve this issue the same way she tackled every problem – with food. She'd rather had gone after bandits, but they were still an endangered species. Plus, there was Wizer Freon looking for any chance he could get to arrest her. Lina heaved a sigh at the thought. She was definitely going to stick with food.
She crept down stairs, the wooden floors creaking beneath her bare feet. She'd forgotten slippers and a robe, she realized as she reached the spacious kitchen. It didn't matter. She was only going to help herself to a small snack then try to get some sleep.
Lina had just reached for a loaf of bread when she heard the rattle of a pie plate. She whirled, bread in hand, and saw the back door was open and blond hair just on the other side. Everything inside her relaxed and she ate the bread as she headed outside.
"Whatcha doin'?" she asked as she settled herself on the stoop next to Gourry, who was making his way through what had once been an entire shepherd's pie.
"Was hungry," he replied between bites of meat and mashed potato. He offered his fork. "Want some?"
Lina swallowed the last of the bread, took his fork, and spooned up a large chunk of it. "Thanks."
They ate in companionable silence, passing the fork back and forth between them with such calm and civility that had any of their friends witnessed it, they would be convinced that both were possessed. When Lina devoured the last bite, Gourry set the empty pie plate aside. They sat, not moving or speaking as they looked out over the garden, chicken coop and outbuildings that were behind the inn. After a moment, Lina felt Gourry's hand move through her hair and with a contented sigh, she leaned her head against his shoulder.
"You okay?" he asked softly.
"Had a nightmare," she admitted.
Crystals. Phibrizzo. You. Shattering. "Nothing much," Lina lied. "Just small creatures chewing on my head in my sleep again."
"I thought that Pokota fella was chewing on Amelia's head?"
"Touché." Lina was relieved when Gourry didn't press further. In the months after the battle with Phibrizzo, when they had traveled beyond the Mazoku barrier, she never told him that the nightmares constantly plaguing her were of him. It was why she shoved him so far away when they were fighting Valgaav. She didn't want him to know. He didn't remember, and in her mind, his captivity was the one thing that he could keep on forgetting and she would never complain about it.
She stole a glance at him. He hummed beneath his breath as he stroked her hair and she started to feel drowsy again. She closed her eyes and was half-asleep when she felt the flinch. Sleepily, she turned her gaze up and saw Gourry with his eyes closed, grimacing. He flinched again, reaching up with his other hand and absently rubbing his temples.
"What is it?" Lina sat up, trying to remember the last time she'd seen Gourry in any pain that she hadn't directly caused.
"Just a headache." His normally cheerful voice was strained, but he still smiled at her. "Been getting them ever since we were in that Taffy-Terria place a couple days ago."
"Taforashia," Lina automatically corrected, then frowned. "You've had them since then?"
"Yeah." Gourry rubbed his temples once more. "Ever since we were around those blue crystals where everybody was asleep. The one where that Rezo guy was suppose to wake them up because the cure to that disease was found, but then he went missing."
"We killed him, remember? You, me, and Zel! It happened nearly five years… oh, what am I saying? You don't even remember what we had for breakfast yesterday." Lina narrowed her eyes. "Didn't you say that Taforashia sounded familiar to you? Now you don't remember the name?"
"I did? Didn't I?" Gourry tapped his chin. "Yeah, it does sound… Ow…" He leaned forward, cradling his head in his hands. "Sorry."
Lina blinked at him, her heart beating a little erratically. She'd seen Gourry act odd plenty of times over the years, but now… "Come on," she ordered, grabbing his arm. "We're going to wake Amelia up. Can't do anything useful if you have a raging migraine."
"I don't think it's a migraine, Lina."
"Do you even know what a migraine is, Gourry?"
He didn't reply, and she assumed he didn't know. She led the way back into the inn, marching up the stairs and back into the room she and Amelia share. She banged the door against the wall as she threw it open. "Amelia, wake up!"
The princess grumbled in her sleep, pulled the covers over her head and turned away from the door. Pokota burrowed on top of Amelia's blankets, muttering in his sleep something about not being a small creature.
Lina growled beneath her breath and headed to the side of the bed Amelia now faced. She yanked the covers back and held her hand inches in front of Amelia's eyes. "Lighting!"
Amelia came awake with a scream, accidentally throwing Pokota off the bed in the process. He landed against the opposite wall and slid to the ground in a heap. She sat up, rubbing furiously eyes before glaring at Lina. "Lina-san! That's dangerous to cast such a spell at a close range! What were you trying to do, blind me?"
"If you would only wake up like a normal person…"
"You probably woke up half the city with what you did! Do you not have any sense of decorum at all?"
"Amelia!" Zelgadiss pushed past Gourry as he raced into the room, sword in hand. "Are you okay?"
"Lina-san's being mean again," Amelia replied, leaning back so she could directly address Zelgadiss without Lina blocking her view.
"I am not!" Lina retorted.
"Ow…" Pokota flopped onto his back, his eyes rolling into the back of his head. "That hurt…"
"You!" Zelgadiss swiftly crossed the room and lifted Pokota by the ears. He glared at the small creature. "How the hell did you get in here? You're not supposed to be with the girls."
Pokota started flailing, waving his small arms frantically as he swayed back and forth. "You don't have any say in what I do!"
"I do when it's molesting Amelia in her sleep!"
"Who says I'm doing anything to Amelia? Someone has to protect her!"
"That's exactly what I'm doing!" Zelgadiss roared.
"Zelgadiss-san, please! Pokota-san didn't mean any harm," Amelia pleaded. She scrambled out of bed and placed a hand on Zelgadiss's arm. "He was just lonely and I said he could sleep with me…"
"You said he could what?"
Lina folded her arms over her chest. "Looks like someone's jealous of a small plushie."
"Stay out of this, Lina-san!" Amelia snapped.
"I am not a small plushie!" Pokota yelled at the same time that Zelgadiss yelled, "Who said anything about being jealous?"
The argument quickly escalated as Zelgadiss and Pokota yelled at each other while Amelia did her best to restrain Zelgadiss from pummeling Pokota. Lina offered smart remarks, which prompted Amelia to start yelling at her as well. A quick cast of a room-silencing spell by Amelia prevented them all from waking up the other patrons. After about five minutes, one voice managed to cut through the chaos.
Lina turned in time to see Gourry, who'd lingered near the doorway the entire time, suddenly pitch forward onto his knees. He held his face in his hands, tears streaming through his fingers as his breath hitched. "Gourry!" she cried, rushing to his side as the fighting between Zelgadiss and Pokota quickly subsided.
"Hurts," he managed as Lina put her arm around his shoulders. "Hurt so much, Lina…"
"Easy, easy. Amelia!"
She dashed over, crouching on Gourry's other side. "Where does it hurt, Gourry-san?"
"Head," he managed and Amelia managed to press her fingers against his temple. She immediately jerked it back. "He's got a really high fever, Lina-san!"
Lina scooted around in front of him so she could take a closer look. Gourry slowly drew his hands away from his face. His eyes were red and the pain she saw in them was immense. They focused, unfocused, focused once more as his body began to shake. He reached for her. "So sorry… Lina. So…" His voice trailed off as he tumbled forward into her arms.
"Gourry!" Her voice pitched high with panic as she shook him, and she was unaware of the tears starting to stream down her own face. "What the hell are you doing? Wake up! Gourry!"
Zelgadiss moved quickly, pulling Gourry into his arms and hefting him onto Lina's bed. The three quickly moved around him as Amelia started casting various spells. Pokota flew up to one of the bedposts, watching Lina silently as she took Gourry's lax hand in her own and squeezed tightly, her focus solely on his pain-ridden face.
Amelia quickly cast a Recovery, but it didn't ease the pained look. She glanced quickly at Lina, then at Zelgadiss. She jerked her head toward Lina slightly. Recognizing the signal, Zelgadiss moved silently to Lina's side, ready to restrain her if need be. After a moment, Amelia started to chant the Resurrection spell.
"How long has this been going on?" Zelgadiss asked, hoping to distract Lina.
"Gourry said his head started hurting when we were in Taforashia. He said it's been getting worse, but he hasn't said anything. He told me about it a few minutes ago. That's why I was waking Amelia up." Lina glanced at Amelia. When she realized what Amelia was doing, Lina's heart nearly stopped. "Is he that bad?" she demanded. Amelia gave a curt nod as she chanted.
"Such an immense effort. It'll go to waste."
They heard the disembodied voice a moment before Xelloss flickered into view. He gave the group a smile. "Good evening, everyone."
"Xelloss," Lina breathed as Zelgadiss brandished his sword once more.
"So quick on the draw, aren't you Zelgadiss-san?" Xelloss arched an eyebrow. "It's almost as if you hate me or something."
"I'm not exactly inclined to build any shrines in your honor," Zelgadiss snapped at him.
"You're the guy siding with Dulcris and that marquess!" Pokota yelled.
"Got it in one." Xelloss lifted a finger. "However, I am currently not here in that capacity, but more as an informant."
"Why help us if you're also helping them?" Amelia asked.
"Why did I choose to help you against Darkstar?" Xelloss replied. "After all, we had every reason to side with him as well."
"Except when it goes against your own purposes," Lina spoke up. Her grip on Gourry's hand tightened. "So, apparently, Gourry is worth more to you in peak physical condition than he is right now. You would think your marquess would want him out of the picture, along with the rest of us."
Xelloss's eyes opened and Lina saw the light glinting dangerously in them. "You and I both know what happened the last time Gourry-san was taken from you against your will."
Zelgadiss and Amelia both sucked in a breath. Pokota glanced at them, then at the face-off between Lina and Xelloss. "What…"
"Not now, Pokota-san," Amelia immediately replied, and Pokota's curiosity grew.
"Are you sure that what you have to say isn't one of your so-called secrets?" Lina asked Xelloss.
"I could … but you've already figured out part of it on your own – or would have given a few more minutes. Really, it's quite fascinating." Xelloss perched on the foot of the bed and gave a nod to Gourry. "Gourry-san has been affected by the power of the spell that Rezo put on the kingdom of Taforashia – the same spell cast on him when he was held captive by Phibrizzo."
"We all had that spell cast on us at one point or another," Zelgadiss retorted. "Why isn't it affecting us?"
"It is affecting me," Lina said quietly. She looked over her shoulder at Zel. "I'm having dreams … nightmares, really. About that time. I hadn't had them for a very long time."
"It's also not affecting you or Amelia-san because in a way, Phibrizzo had already caused your hearts to stop beating before encasing you in the crystals," Xelloss explained. "Gourry-san spent what… a good month under Phibrizzo's control?"
"Three weeks and two days," Lina said tonelessly. Amelia reached across the bed and laid her hand atop Lina's.
"And Lina-san… Well, you know what happened after she cast that spell," Xelloss said, his gaze flickering over to Pokota as he said it. "That part was sealed off as well. The magic from Rezo's spell is causing your respective magical blocks to fall. Gourry-san is in a coma caused by the magic as his brain sorts out what happened. Essentially, he's reliving his past."
"That's terrible!" Amelia cried. "He shouldn't have to remember what happened during that time – when Phibrizzo made him fight us and he nearly killed Lina-san!"
"Gourry wouldn't be able to live with that fact very well," Zelgadiss said in agreement.
"Is he going to wake up?" Lina asked.
"Oh, yes. He'll most likely be awake by tomorrow, though the process could easily take a couple weeks or more. It's hard to say with these sorts of things. Gourry is in a chrysalis state, you could say. His memories are being reformed. In any case, now that I'm finished being your deus ex machina, I shall leave you four to enjoy the rest of your night in peace." Xelloss waved and flickered out of view before they could ask anything else.
Zelgadiss, Amelia and Lina all looked at each other, then down at Gourry. His breathing was still erratic, his face screwed up in pain. Lina heaved a sigh, pushing her hand through her hair as she did so. "Well," she said, "we've got no choice but to wait for Gourry to wake up." She grabbed the room's single chair, dragged it back to the bed and plopped down.
"While we're waiting… what the hell's going on here?"
Their eyes turned to Pokota, who was still perched on the end of the bed, scowling at them all.
"It's a long story, Pokota-san…," Amelia hesitated, giving both Zelgadiss and Lina a worried look.
"We have time." Pokota sat as well, folding his arms across his chest. "Start."
Author's Note: This story has been gelling in my mind in one form or another since reading the story "Flam Gush" by Kaitrin in 2005. The framework for the core piece – exploring Gourry's past – was originally a fic set in the future revolving around the family that he and Lina have in my world. Despite writing handfuls of really good scenes, nothing ever came together into a solid plot.
Then Revolution happened.
After watching episode 5, the framework for this story emerged. The title, "The Very Long Night of Gourry Gabriev" is paying homage to Babylon 5 and the episode "The Very Long Night of Londo Mollari." Another fic paying homage to this idea was done in the Harry Potter universe. I highly recommend "The Very Long Night of Harry Potter" to folks interested in that series. The chapter titles and some of the themes in this story are inspired not only by B5, but by Doctor Who. I hope that you all will enjoy this story!