Author's Note: I've never been much for fanfiction, but I do love writing. I'm trying to get into the habit of writing more without feeling the need to torture myself about it. So I've decided to write fanfiction for fun and practice. This particular story is set in, as you can guess, the Slayers NEXT episode about the Brass Rackets tournament, otherwise know as "Bitter Curve Balls! Gutsy Fast Balls!" except it focuses more on Zel and Amelia and is from Zel's perspective. I don't envision this to be longer than a 2 or 3 part story. Enjoy, if at all possible.

Brass Rackets. Can you believe it? It's ridiculous, ridiculous that this game should have anything to do with the Clair Bible and thus my quest to return myself to normal. But it does. I have to do whatever I can to get a look at that trophy. Why there should be a clue as to the location of the Clair Bible on a trophy for an enchanted sports match is a bit beyond me, but that doesn;t change the fact that I need that information. Desperately.

Er... which probably doesn't excuse the wearing make-up thing. But damn it, just because Brass Rackets teams have to have one male and one female on them is not reason enough to stop me from getting this information! This may be my only hope to restore myself to my human appearance and if Lina's not going to take up this Rudo guy's offer to be a team-mate than I'll do it. There are very, very few things I'd be willing to wear girl's clothing for and this just happens to be one of them.

But, of course, the rest of them don't take it seriously at all. Oh, that's just Zel going on and on about regaining his human form. It's never really going to happen and we don't care because we like laughing at him. Bah.

I'm pretty sure Amelia was giggling behind her hand. I'm sure it was theā€¦ lipstick and all, so maybe she had the right to laugh. But she should understand how hard this is for me. Reversing a chimeric transformation is practically unheard of and may be impossible. Searching for a cure is like looking for a needle in a haystack when the needle looks just like every other piece of hay and might not even be in that specific haystack.

I think I may have overextended that metaphor. I'm just a little upset about the whole wearing-make-up-to-disguise-self-as-girl-in-a-public-place thing. And it was for nothing anyway. Lina took the guy up on his offer. Well, now she has to win. At least then I might actually get a chance to see the Clair Bible clue. Of course, she's so focused on finding a method to defeat Gaav's monsters that she's probably forgotten that we originally went on this journey to help me.

That's why I wanted to go alone. With Lina, everything's all about her, Gourry needs a roadmap to get him through adult conversations, and Amelia... well, Amelia just doesn't understand sometimes. She actually thought I'd want to stay this way.

....She did say "cool" though. I didn't just make that up. I wonder if she meant it or if she was just being nice.

...

She was probably just being nice.

After all, she did laugh behind her hand!

...But that really wasn't from myunfortunately chimeric appearance. And at least she tried to hide her laughter, unlike Lina and Martina who just laughed straight in my face.

So, maybe she does think I'm "cool". Wait. I mean that I look "cool". I guess that would be kind of like her. She does try to look for the good in people, especially her friends/"allies of justice".

But there's no real need to be dwelling on Amelia, right now. The important thing is, that despite the fact that my search for a clue to the location of the Clair Bible has been derailed into yet another Lina vs. Martina grudge match, I can still have a little hope as long as Lina wins the tournament.

Another, perhaps equally important thing is, I can't get this make-up off my face.

Stupid, cheap, water-proof gunk... I've been scrubbing for hours! I don't know what else I can do. There's no one who would help me either. I'd just be a laughing stock again.

Unless...

*****

"I just don't understand why it won't come out," Amelia said, soap encrusted towel in hand. "Where did you get this anyway?"

"Purse of the lady in the table next to us," I mumbled.

"Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia said in her aghast, high-pitched tone. "Allies of Justice do not steal!"

"Well that's alright," I responded. "Because, as I've tried to explain many times, I am not an ally of justice." My bold statement was slightly damaged by the fact that, in her fervent effort to wash off the powder from my face, she'd flicked some soap in my eye. "Ow."

"Sorry!" she cried, throwing the towel to the side. "Here, let me wash that out." She leaned in, uncomfortably close, held open my eye, and poured a trickle of water into my irritated eye as gently as possible. Her skin was soft against my rocky brow and mygod I can't believe I just thought that.

I blinked and the pain receded.

"Better?"

I nodded.

She lifted her head back and looked thoughtfully at me for a moment. "Well, even if we can't wash it off, it'll probably just flake off in a day or two."

That was too much. "First of all, I'm not waiting a day or two," I said harshly. "And secondly, in case you've forgotten, my skin's not like yours. It doesn't just flake off. It's rock." I knocked on my chin to illustrate the point, perhaps a little harder than I should've. Ow again.

She looked like a kicked puppy. "I'm sorry."

I hate it when she does that. It makes me feel like apologizing and I really don't want to. I settled instead for a slightly rueful, "It's not your fault." I tried a reassuring smile. "We'll get it off somehow."

She nodded. And then, a moment later, the hurt look vanished as she brightened and crossed over to the sink. "We still haven't tried the wire brush," she said with a smile as she pulled it out from a cabinet.

Oh no. This is going to be painful.