by Rose Thorne

Disclaimer: Slayers is owned by a bunch of folks who aren't me. I'm borrowing them for my perverse pleasure, much as Xellos borrows emotions for his.

Xellos hadn't expected to feel the sort of personal pain he felt when Zelgadis was nearly killed by the Ghost of Shabranigdu. Spent—"injured," he supposed, if he were to look at it from a human point of view—as he was, he could only watch the attack. Could only watch as Zelgadis screamed in pain, as blood covered a part of his face, as he fell to the ground with a terrible crash.

When Zelgadis stopped breathing, after he finally went still, he could do nothing, had to preserve what power he had left for any chance… The seconds trickled by, and his breathing started again.

Xellos was unspeakably relieved. The thought of losing him was strangely disturbing.

After it was all over, Lina's Giga Slave cast, the Ghost of Shabranigdu destroyed, the chimera had found the strength, despite the obvious internal injuries hidden beneath his stone skin, the shredded clothing that made clear what would have happened to him had he been fully human, he had used what energy he'd had left to heal Amelia as best he could.

And Xellos could only watch from the Astral plane, gathering his energy, as the shaman limped off after they were greeted as heroes by the remaining denizens of Taforashia, making his way to the quarters Pokota had provided when they had started helping the Red Priest in his attempt to make up for a portion of his sins.

Without the power to manifest, Xellos could only watch Zelgadis. He removed the remnants of his clothing, cleaned the injuries that had made themselves apparent on his skin, and then practically collapsed into the bed, his breath ragged and pained.

The Mazoku hadn't even been aware that Zelgadis had been repressing his pain until that moment, and the force of it shocked him. His spirit drank in the miasma, along with the emotional pain, the residue of what the chimera had felt when Rezo had informed him there was no cure, finally freed now that there was time to allow it.

It was just enough power to allow him to manifest on the mortal plane, and only enough for an unclothed body. One that was genderless—something that hardly mattered under the circumstances, as Zelgadis was clearly hard-pressed to breathe at all.

He curled behind the shaman, holding him chest to back, before Zelgadis saw him.

Their relationship was nothing if not tumultuous. They had come together for mutual pleasure, briefly, during the encounter before Xellos' missions had involved Lina. And again afterward. That had stopped, for a time, after his identity had been revealed by Gaav. But only for a time.

Truthfully, they often seemed to alternate between trying to kiss each other and trying to kill each other.

Although Xellos had aided them in the end, this particular mission had put them more at odds than most of the others, and he wasn't sure how the chimera would react. Hopefully, he wouldn't find dislodging him worth the pain.

As strange as it seemed, Zelgadis' near-death had… troubled him—he really didn't think Mazoku were capable of the too-human feelings of fear or concern; after all, they were inherently selfish beings. Troubled was as close as he could come to that sort of emotion.

But he certainly couldn't deny that he wanted to hold Zelgadis in his arms, to feel him breathing, have his heartbeat close, now that it had nearly stopped.

He was relieved when Zelgadis didn't push him away, when the chimera instead leaned back against him, as though seeking the comfort of his presence. Xellos wrapped gentle arms around him, held him tenderly, as a lover might, until his pain faded into sleep.

A creature who took comfort in the presence of a Mazoku, and a Mazoku who was concerned about the well-being of a mortal creature.

It seemed they were both oddities.

Written for Springkink: Slayers, Xelloss/Zelgadis: tenderness, after a close call – the thought of losing him was strangely disturbing

Not entirely sure this is working as well as I'd hoped it would, but here it is.