Disclaimer: Nope, don't own Slayers. If I did, would I be here writing fanfics to appease my insane mind? Yeah, didn't think so… Reviews will be greatly appreciated. Flames will be passed to my friend's mom, who will put it in the toaster (oven?) and really turn it into a flame. Btw, it's quite possible for things to catch fire in toaster (ovens?) you know…Don't Cry By terminal_insanity Joanie was the girl who lived next door
I've known her, I guess, ten years or more
Joanie wrote me a note one day
And this is what she had to say
Saillune, the white magic capital, stood in its magnificent splendor against the clear azure sky, its pure white walls reflecting the sunlight, making the palace seem to glow. Beneath a tall tree in the royal orchards sat two children, one clearly older than the other. They had fallen asleep. The older one, a boy of twelve, slept, slumped against the rough bark of the tree, while the younger girl leaned against him, a small smile on her lips.
Zelgadiss and Lina. Best friends. They were inseparable, having known each other since they were eleven and four respectively. They had been childhood playmates since the first time they had met, regardless of the gap in ages. To Zelgadiss, anything more would have felt…incestuous, at least. And he had thought that his, now fifteen year-old, friend felt the same.
He had assumed that until she approached him with a note a month after her fifteenth birthday.
"Jimmy please say you'll wait for me
I'll grow up some day, you'll see
Saving all my kisses just for you
Signed with love, forever true."
Blushing, she had stuffed the scrap of paper into his hands and run off, presumably back home. Her strange mannerisms had baffled him for several moments, before he dismissed them as a weird stage of puberty. Expecting a joke or a long, letter written out of boredom during her classes, he unfolded it carelessly.
To say he nearly fell over from the shock would be the understatement of the millennium. In all his distraction, he hadn't noticed the pastel-coloured paper her note had been written on, nor the faint vanilla scent and the straight, even creases she had folded.
"Dear Zelgadiss," he read. She never addressed him that way, at least never so formally. "I wonder if you've noticed. I'm fifteen now. I'm not the same five year-old kid you used to play with in the playgrounds. I've grown up and- What am I saying?! I…I just wanted to say that, well, that I love you. Not as a friend, but more than that. And even if you can't accept that now, I'll always love you.
Slowly I read her note once more
I went over to the house next door
Her teardrops fell like rain that day
When I told Joanie what I had to say
He grew slightly pallid, and raced to her house, hoping she was there. L-sama! He cursed silently. Had he been sending her the wrong signs? What had he done that had caused her to think this way? And how could she possibly love him? He…He was a chimera…and freak of nature.
She opened the door on his first knock, almost as if she had been expecting him. And perhaps she had. Without saying a word, she invited him in, another bit of her strange behaviour. She had always opened the door and expected him to come in, as if he lived there himself. He made his way to the living room and settled into the couch. Almost timidly, she sat down beside him.
"Zelgadiss-" She always called him Zel…
"Joanie, Joanie, please don't cry
You'll forget me by and by
You're just fifteen, I'm twenty-two
And Joanie I just can't wait for you."
"Lina, this can't happen."
She looked up at him, her eyes confused. "Why? We've known each other so long, obviously after a decade, something-"
"Lina, listen to me. You're just a teenager. Do you really know the meaning of love? And even so, I'm a man of twenty-two. You have your own life to live. I can't always be there."
Her eyes brimmed with tears as they met his. "You still think I'm a little girl, don't you…" She trailed off, her voice cracking. She covered her face with her hands and sobbed.
His heart broke at the sight of her like that. He hugged her, stroking her hair, trying to comfort her.
"Please don't cry Lina…I love you. I really do." He paused wondering if he should tell her. She had to know the truth. "But I love you the way I would love my sister. Lina, you're my best friend."
"Can't I be more than that?..." She whispered. "Why can't I?"
He sighed. "Lina, I'm twenty-two. You're fifteen. You still have a long way more to go. I…I just can't wait for you." He hesitated to tell her his last reason. You're human…and I'm…not…
Her body shook with more sobs as she cried harder. Suddenly, she pushed him away and ran up the stairs to her room. Closing the door behind her, she locked it and collapsed onto her bed. She heard light footsteps climbing up the stairs, stopping outside her bedroom door. He knocked politely on the door several times. And when she made no move to open it, he spoke through the thick wood.
"I'm sorry Lina. I'm sorry, but…" At a rare loss for words, he paused. "I-I'll just go now…"
The footsteps retreated and about a minute later, Lina heard the front door shut.
Soon I left our little hometown
Got me a job and tried to settle down
But these words kept haunting my memoryThe words that Joanie said to me
He avoided her like the plague, the following days. He didn't know what to say, whether or not to say anything in the first place. She didn't try finding him either. He had done the right thing, he knew, but it didn't make him feel any better. Still, he couldn't continue leading her on like that. It was only a case of puppy love, and she would get over it eventually.
Two months passed without much improvement in their broken relationship. He couldn't stand seeing her so sad and lonely anymore, and the guilt was making both his waking and sleeping moments a living hell. If she didn't see him anymore, maybe she'd snap out of it faster.
He had been offered a job somewhere else. All his hard work in law school had paid off. The top firms in the bigger cities were trying to recruit him into their ranks. The prospect of working for a large, well-known law firm proved to enticing to refuse. He packed up his things and headed for the airport. By the time tomorrow came, he'd be out of town, out of Lina's life, possibly forever.
He accepted a position in the city's best, Wolfpack & Metallium. His housing would be paid for first by the firm. His starting salary was enough to more than satisfy him. And to satisfy those who would have, otherwise, been pointing and whispering about his…condition.
The next few years proved fruitful and he was easily earning tens of thousands. He even stood the chance of becoming a partner in the firm! Life was good. His waking life, at least. During the day, he was Zelgadiss Greywers, law shark and multi-millionaire in the making. But at night, while he tossed and turned in his sleep, his was still Zel. Best friend and playmate to the flame-haired Lina Inverse. And in his dreams, he kept seeing her tear-streaked face, kept hearing her choked cries.
He woke up one morning, only to find one side of his pillow soaked with sweat…and tears… And he couldn't fathom why. Until his caught a glance of the small silver frame by his bed. And almost instantly, he could hear her soft cries…
"Jimmy please say you'll wait for me
I'll grow up some day, you'll see
Saving all my kisses just for you
Signed with love, forever true."
And still, he could hear her tell him that she loved him.
Dear Zelgadiss, I wonder if you've noticed. I'm fifteen now. I'm not the same five year-old kid you used to play with in the playgrounds. I've grown up and- What am I saying?! I…I just wanted to say that, well, that I love you. Not as a friend, but more than that. And even if you can't accept that now, I'll always love you.
He tried to block out her voice.
I love you. Not as a friend, but more than that. And even if you can't accept that now, I'll always love you.
But just couldn't.
I love you. Not as a friend, but more than that.
Did he love her? As she loved him?
I'll always love you.
Did he? The thought rang through his mind, and eventually, a single, clear answer returned. Yes. He did.
I packed my clothes and I caught a plane
Had to see Joanie, I had to explain
How my heart was filled with her memory
And ask my Joanie if she'd marry me
He did the only thing that came to his mind. He packed a duffle bag and sped to the airport in his car. He bought a ticket for the first flight to Saillune. He had to speak to Lina and tell her why he disappeared. He had to tell her that he had felt unworthy, undeserving of her love, of anybody's, for that matter. And he had to ask her, if she didn't already hate him, if she would marry him.
The flight seemed shorter than it actually was. He arrived in Saillune a nervous wreck. What if she refused to speak to him? What if she finally decided that his chimeric form was hideous? What would he say to her? Somehow, walking straight up to her and saying, "marry me" just didn't seem like something that would work. Maybe in movies it did, but this was reality. Or was it?
When he reached his old district, a feeling of nostalgia washed over him. Everything looked the same. But the most important thing was if Lina was still the same. He stopped at his old house. His family didn't live in Saillune anymore. They had moved away two or three years ago, calling New Sairaag their new home. The plot of land where his house had previously stood was barren. It was just an empty strip of weed-infested land. It was empty.
Suddenly, he felt an overwhelming urge to see Lina again. If anything, the sight of her eternally familiar face would make him feel better than he had in years.
I ran all the way to the house next doorThings weren't like they were before
My teardrops fell like rain that day
When I heard what Joanie had to say
He raced to her house, the same way he did five long years ago. The early-afternoon sun beat strongly on his back. He never realized that her house was so far away. The five years had taken their toll on his now twenty-seven year-old body. Maybe he wasn't really old. Not physically. But mentally…he felt as weary as…as his father must have felt on his deathbed.
After a five-minute run that seemed, at least to him, like all eternity, he reached Lina's house. Hoping she hadn't moved, he drew in a deep breath (to his amazement, he wasn't even panting!) and rapped smartly on the same oak door. He heard a muffled curse coming from the house's interior. Thinking that it probably wasn't Lina's house anymore, he turned around to leave.
He was halfway down the driveway when the door creaked open and a heartbreakingly familiar voice call out hesitantly.
Startled, Zelgadiss turned around.
"…" He opened his mouth to speak, but found himself speechless.
A young woman of twenty years or so stood by the partially opened door, her long flame-coloured hair flowing to her hips.
It was Lina. Did she recognize him? Did she know who he was?
Her ruby shaded eyes widened with recognition, and her trembling lips formed soundless words.
Yes. Yes, she did.
"Lina, I…" He began, trailing off halfway, at a total loss for words. How could he explain why he was suddenly at her doorstep after, what, five, five-and-a-half years ago?
"You came back." Was all she said.
Nodding, he slowly approached her. Soon, he was standing in front of her. He could smell the breezy scent of summertime that wafted around her.
A long, pregnant silence stood between them, only to be broken by a loud shout.
"Oi! Lina! Who is it?"
That voice… It sounded vaguely familiar. Zelgadiss had heard it before. But he couldn't place where, when…
Lina opened the door fully and stepped back, motioning for him to enter. So he did.
A long, shimmering waterfall of gold greeted his eyes, as he glanced in the direction of the voice. The owner of the golden hair whipped round, brandishing a sharp knife. Deep blue eyes narrowed in confusion, then relaxed.
"Gourry?" Zelgadiss could scarcely believe his eyes. It was his former best friend! What in the name of L-sama was he doing here in Saillune? The last he heard, Gourry had joined a band of mercenaries and was wandering around searching for clients. And what the hell was he doing in Lina's house, of all places?
"Zel! Hey, you came back to Saillune! It's been a long time!" The blond said, smiling. He hadn't changed much from when they were kids… Was he still a…
"I thought you were a mercenary? And I thought you were traveling the world? What happened?" Zelgadiss asked, still confused at Gourry's sudden reappearance.
"Nah… Got tired of it. It started out all right at first, and the pay wasn't half bad. But then things got kind of…dirty. And people were hiring us for petty reasons. I couldn't stand all that useless bloodshed. So I left. Sent a couple of ex-mercs after me. For abandoning ship, I guess… But I took care of that pretty well. My family was still living here. So I came back. That was…I don't know…maybe, two years ago. So how have things been on your side? I heard you were some big-shot lawyer in Zephilia. What made you decide to come back here?"
Zelgadiss hesitated for a moment. "Just felt like visiting old friends. Yeah, I'm working at Wolfpack & Metallium. It's the top law firm in Zephilia."
"Wolfpack & Metallium? Isn't that Xelloss Metallium's firm?" Lina asked. "I thought you hated him?!"
"…I did. And still do. Well, sort of. Besides, he pays damn well. By the way. I stopped by Luna's place. She says 'hi'."
"Luna, meaning Lina's sister? Doesn't she own that chain of restaurants? The Knights of Ceified's Table, or something…" Gourry mused aloud.
"Yeah. Zelgadiss, how did you know that I still lived here?" Lina wondered.
Suddenly they smelt something burning.
Gourry sped to the kitchen, not caring that he had a vegetable knife in his hand.
"Zel, truthfully now, why are you here?"
"…" He muttered something under his breath.
"Nothing… I-I…I just wanted to see you again. And to talk to you about…" He couldn't bring himself to speak about what he had done all those years before.
"About…you know." He sighed.
"Oh." And all the warmth fled from her voice. The sparkle in her eyes faded, and all the cheerfulness left her face.
He had suspected she'd react this way.
"I wanted to explain why-why I acted the way I did. And to apologize for hurting you." He revealed softly. He took her small hand in his larger ones and said, "I'm sorry."
"Th-that's alright. It was years ago. I'd forgotten all about it already." She replied calmly. But her hand was trembling like a leaf, and her lips were quivering ever so slightly.
"No you haven't. I told you that I loved you no more than as a sister. I…I kind of…lied. I mean, it was partially true. I did love you as a sister. But only because I wouldn't let myself love you any other way."
"Why…" Her query was no louder than a whisper.
"I was…and I still do, look like a…like some kind of monster. I'm a freak of nature. You deserved better than what I could have offered." He looked down to avoid her empty gaze.
"I wanted you, Zel. I didn't care what you looked like. Do you really think I'm that shallow? More than ten years, I'd known you. If I cared about your looks, would I have wanted to be your friend? Besides…I thought you looked perfectly fine…"
His heart leapt. She liked him, loved him even though he looked like a nightmare. He cleared his throat, trying to gather enough courage to say the words he had been wanting say ever since he woke up the previous morning.
"I-I'm glad then. There's something I want, no, need to ask you…something important." He swallowed nervously. Was it him? Or had the room suddenly become hotter?
"What is it?" She didn't like where this was heading. Zelgadiss was never nervous. She saw a bead of sweat trickle down the side of his face. And she couldn't recall ever seeing him sweat like this before. Whatever he wanted to ask, it had to be important.
"I…" He frowned and muttered a curse. "It's like this, Lina. I woke up yesterday, and I was…crying…" He said the last word so softly; she had to strain her ears just to hear it. And even so, she wondered if she had heard correctly. Zelgadiss…crying?… "At first, I didn't realize why. It confused me, really. Then I happened to have glanced at my bedside clock. And I saw your picture behind it. It was so simple, I couldn't… It's been so lonely, these five years… I've had no one to talk to, no one… I missed your company…and you. And I was crying because…"
She definitely didn't like where this was heading. She wanted to tell him something, but somehow, she couldn't bring herself to interrupt him, and she wanted to find out exactly what was so important.
"Because…I just realized that…that…" He struggled with the words. Slowly, he lifted up his head to look at her. "That I… I love you. I always have, then, and now. I love you, and I want you. I need to be with you so badly, it…it almost hurts. I want you to be mine."
Lina's head spun. Was he… Did he just say… Was he going to…
"So marry me, Lina. I promise I'll make you the happiest bride in the world."
The room swam, and she found her eyes brimming with tears. She flung herself into his arms and started to sob.
"Why?… Why did you wait so long to ask me that? Why?"
"I didn't realize that…" He stopped in mid-speech. "I'm sorry. But I'm asking now. Marry me, Lina."
She wrenched herself away from him. His startled protest cutting deep into her heart. She looked at him through watery eyes. Oh, why did he have to ask her now? She didn't know how she was going to tell him…
"Lina…" Zelgadiss asked, reaching for her.
"Jimmy, Jimmy, please don't cry
You'll forget me by and by
It's been five years since you've been gone
Jimmy I married your best friend John."
"Don't… I…I can't, Zel. I can't marry you. I wish I could have said otherwise, but I can't Zel… I'm so sorry…"
She saw the heartbroken expression on his face. She owed him and explanation too. It was the least she could do, after he had poured out his heart and soul to her…for her… It was all she could offer him. His eyes were glazed, empty, and confused. She saw his lips shape something. She couldn't make it out. But he kept repeating it silently, as if he couldn't see her anymore. And then he said it again, soundlessly, but it rang in her mind as if he had shouted it.
"I can't marry you because… After you left, I was…heartbroken, to say the least. I thought you'd come back eventually, so I waited. And I waited… For almost two years, I waited. But not once did you make it know that you still even alive. So I gave up. You left so that you could avoid me. I…could accept that. But I still missed having someone to talk to, to fool around with, to share my feelings with… And you weren't there anymore…"
So she was committed to someone else already… He should have guessed. A beautiful girl, no, woman, like her… Obviously…
"Then Gourry came along and…"
Gourry? What did he have to do with all this? Unless…
"He was my friend to begin with…then as the days, weeks, months…passed… And eventually…I married him one and a half years ago. I, we wanted to invite you to the wedding, but nobody really knew exactly where you worked-"
Zelgadiss got up suddenly. His face was empty, and cold, like it had been the very first time she had met him, before she broke the icy shell that encased hi heart. His azure eyes that had shone with a cerulean light while he recounted his feelings for her, those deep aquamarine eyes, they were hollow, utterly devoid of emotion. His face was a plain mask. He looked exactly like when she had first met him, on his way home from his father's funeral, fifteen long years ago.
He looked deathly calm. But his hands, clenched into tight fists, shook and trembled with suppressed emotions. She got up from where she had been seated and stood directly in front of him. But he stared right through her, as if she wasn't there. The embarrassed boyish glint that had sparkled in his eyes had dimmed into a thin coat across the dark blue irises.
He took a step away from her.
"I'm happy for you, then, that you've found someone. I suppose I'll leave now. Take care, Lina, and be happy."
He walked towards the door. Gourry was still in the kitchen, trying to salvage the lunch he had been preparing.
"I'll be going now, Gourry." He said flatly.
"Come on, stay a little longer, Zel! At least for lunch. I haven't seen you in a long time. We've got so many things to catch up on!"
"Maybe another time. I've got other engagements today. I just came to see how things were going." Just the word 'engagements' sent his head spinning with sadness. "Oh, and congratulations on your marriage." He continued monotonously.
"Thanks! Well, in that case, guess I'll be seeing you some other time. Give us a call the next time you decide to come over."
"The next time I visit." He walked out the still-open door and ran down the driveway.
Lina reached the doorway just in time to see him running down to the sidewalk. She ran out into the sunlight, hoping to catch him but stopped when she saw something sparkling in the air as he ran. It hit the concrete; spreading into small, wet splotches. Being a chimera, he would n't have sweated so easily from running. She glanced at the wet spots again. Those weren't beads of sweat.
No, those were tears.
She stayed where she was, rooted to the spot. She ignored Gourry's calls that lunch would be ready soon. It might have been an hour, two at most. But it felt like all eternity. She stared at the spot where he had vanished into the horizon, a small tear making its way down the curve of her cheek.
At some point in time, the sky had darkened, turning into a somber, angry ash-grey. A ragged streak of thunder sliced through the stormy velvet of sky. The lone distant rumble of thunder followed, trying to catch up with the lightning, but failing. Soon, the sky was the colour of coal, and she felt something cold and wet hit the tip of her nose. Looking up, another raindrop hit her face, followed by another, and another. They splashed as they hit her, mingling with the tears that flowed freely with the torrents of rain. The rain grew heavier and heavier, and soon, she could no longer see the horizon. The gloom had eaten it up.
As it had with her heart.
Even so, she stared.
And she wept.
So…how was it? Sad? Sappy? Just plain bad? Let me know by reviewing! Yeah, yeah… I know,… I took damn long with this fic… So sue me!!! Schoolwork comes first. Sad, ain't it?… I'd post this immediately… if I could. I can't seem to connect to ff.net so postage will just have to wait… But if you're reading this, that means that I've posted it up. So hope you had a nice time reading this. I love the song used… It's so…sad. *snifflez * !_! Well, see yaz all!!!