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. There is a line of dialogue toward the end of this prologue that is inspired by the Doctor Who episode "Doomsday." Those familiar with it will know it when they see it.
Note: This started off as a one-shot birthday fic for Prettio and blew up from there. Blame this on a combination of too much Doctor Who, working on a webcomic and Fenikkusuken's "The Phoenix Blade." I figured if I left it at a one-shot, I'd have people on my doorstep calling for my murder before the night's out.
His eyes snapped open.
Everything seemed quiet. The moonlight shone through the lace curtains and made cobweb patterns on the ceiling. The only sound was crickets chirping, and the sound of his heavy breathing. Gourry sat up, scooping his hair out of his face from it had fallen out of the tie he secured it with before sleeping.
Something wasn't right.
He slid out of bed, picking up his sword as he did so. Usually, when he felt like this, it was some sort of mazoku targeting Lina. Always go with his gut, his father had counciled him before his death, and Gourry's gut hadn't proven him wrong yet.
He padded quietly on bare feet to the window and stared out at the main street of the town they were staying in. Nothing seemed amiss there. Gourry scanned the street, then sighed. Lina had probably sneaked away to go bandit hunting again. She told him she would at least leave a note or something, but knowing her, the thrill of the hunt had gotten into her and she forgot. Shaking his head, he turned to go back to bed when a bright flash of light filled the room, momentarily blinding him. He threw his arm over his eyes, then carefully lowered it as the light subsided. He shifted into a battle stance ... then noticed the familiar red and black heap on the floor by the door.
"Lina!" Gourry yelled, throwing his sword on the bed as he raced to her side.
He reached her at the same time she moaned, then pushed herself onto her knees. She cradled her head in her hands for a moment before dragging her fingers down her face, then looked up at him. Her eyes went wide with shock. "Gourry?" she gasped.
"Lina?" he questioned, but before he could get any further, she was on her feet and her arms were around him.
"You're alive," she said, and his jaw dropped. He could count on one hand the number of times Lina Inverse willingly hugged him ... not that he didn't wish for it.
"You're OK," she murmured, her ear pressed to his heart. She pulled back and smiled into his stunned eyes. Then she frowned and pulled away from him, first scanning him, then the room. Then she swore, breaking away completely. "Damn it all to hell. This isn't the right time!"
Gourry gave her a blank look as she began to pace the room, and that's when he noticed that it just wasn't her attitude that was off. Her clothes were remarkably different. Her cloak was shorter, and she wore black shorts rather than leggings. Some sort of black breastplate covered her chest, secured at her waist with a yellow sash. She wore a bracelet, a piece of leather really with some sort of green gem dangling from it, on her left arm. Her boots and the tunic she wore under the breastplate were familiar. She was a bit thinner, her hair a touch longer. She seemed tired, he realized, more exhausted than even after the battle they had a few weeks earlier against a good friend.
Before he could analyze her any further, Lina swung around. "What time is it?" she demanded.
"Uhh ... a couple hours until dawn?"
"No! Gah." Lina tugged at her bangs. "What time are we in? What year is it?" Before Gourry could answer, she started pacing again. "Not that'll tell me much." She whirled, jabbing a finger into Gourry's chest. "Who did we fight last?"
Gourry's mind raced to catch up, part of him still stalled at the unusually intimate contact with his partner. "Well, there's a bandit group outside of town you wanted to ..."
"That's not helping!" Lina screamed at him and he flinched. She spotted the sword on the bed behind him. "You've got the Blast Sword," she murmured. "Okay, that narrows it down. I can't be too far off." She fell silent for a moment, as if weighing her next question carefully. "Is Luke still alive?" she asked softly. "Luke and Millina?"
Understanding dawned. "You're not the same Lina who's asleep next door, are you?"
Lina paced back to him. "Gourry, please. I need to know."
He gave her a sad look. "They died three weeks ago."
Lina let out a long breath. "I'm not far off. I need to go back, tweak the calculations ... there's enough for a second try. Only one more, but we can nail it this time." She took out an amulet from her cape and shot Gourry a sad smile. "Don't tell me what you saw just now, OK?"
"Wait!" Gourry grabbed her free hand before she could touch the amulet. "You can't just leave. I don't get what's going on here. Where did you come from?"
"I have to!" Lina scowled at him and tried to jerk free, but his hold only tightened. "I'm not suppose to be here," she hissed. "I'm out of my own time." She relaxed a bit, and figured she owed him somewhat of an explanation. "Gourry, I can't tell you why I'm here because I'm from your future. If I tell you the wrong thing, it causes a paradox. Hell, if the younger me caught me in here with you, we'd all be screwed." Her eyes softened. "Gourry," she said in a whisper, "you have to let me go without any questions. Please. To protect both me and the younger Lina sleeping next door."
Gourry hesitated, but she had him. He would do anything to protect her ... even this. He nodded and let go of her hand. He fully expected her to disappear, but she didn't. She stared at the amulet for a moment, then lifted her gaze until it locked on his eyes. "There's a war going on," she said slowly, "and we're losing. I can't tell you any more," she said as he opened his mouth. "What I'm doing right now is extremely dangerous and even more illegal. Hell, I may not even survive getting back to my own time. I don't even know if you're alive or dead at the point in the future where I originally came from."
"Everything's going to be fine," Gourry instinctively replied. "Whatever we've faced ... we've always overcome it." He gave her a bright, confident smile and was relieved when she returned it after a moment.
"You never change," she said with obvious affection, and Gourry wondered what had transpired between the two of them in the future to create some sort of intimacy between them. He knew how he felt about her, but Lina ... well, her face was probably sketched next to the entry for "denial" in the dictionary. He almost checked once to see if it really was.
The future Lina approached him as he mulled over this, taking a lock of his hair in one hand and tugging him down until she could wrap her arms around his neck. Gourry inhaled sharply, and then she was kissing him, deeply and passionately. He froze, mind reeling from shock and knew it had to be some sort of dream. Weirdest dream of his life, he decided.
Well, if you're dreaming, his mind told him, don't you think you better make the most out of this kiss?
Oh yeah ...
His eyes drifted close, and before he could reciprocate, she pulled away. She looked, sad, yet determined as she took hold of the amulet once more. Then, she gave him a wry grin. "I suppose," she said, "if it's my last chance to say it ... even to a past you ... Gourry Gabriev, I love you." Then she pressed her hand to the gem in the center of the amulet, muttered an incantation and was gone.