A Real Family

A Slayers Fan fiction

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Chapter Three; Reunions!

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Once she'd seen to her foster mother Briar made all haste to where Larsac and Lothor were waiting for her by the waterside.

"Is she okay?" Larsac worried, (he was the sensitive one). "She didn't go into labor or anything, did she?"

Lothor cuffed his brother upside the head (he was a bit more like Lina). "She's fine! Just because you let Mother out of your sight for two minutes doesn't mean she disappeared or anything. Jeez, Lars! Brie would have looked worried or something if something went bad!"

"Knock it off you two. Mother's fine, she just stood out in the sun until she was all tired and sweaty and worried over you two! Couldn't you have made an excuse or something?" Briar shouted.

"Picky, picky, picky." Lothor groused. "You want it done such a certain way, do it yourself."

"Yeah, beggars can't be choosers!" Larsac agreed.

"They can if they can kick your butts into next week!" Briar threatened. "Are you ready?"

Lothor grinned and brushed a lock of pure white hair behind his pointed ear. "You doubt the Amazing Inverse Brothers? Watch and be amazed! That jerk's gonna be sorry he ever set foot on Zephilia."

Briar interrupted her brothers' preening with an unladylike snort. "The Dock'll do that, we want him back on that boat A.S.A.P. He could be another Pervert like.. Him."

"You've only told us that, like, a trillion times." Lothor drawled. "Don't worry, we've got an angle. That dude'll be back on the boat so fast it'll turn your hair frizzy, well frizzi-er." He reached out to tug on a lock of Briar's curly mane.

Briar nodded and decided to let the jab at her hair pass. This was too important to piss off Lars and Loth over now. She'd never had a real family before, or even a home that kept the rain out. She really didn't need some stranger nosing in and ruining everything for her.

***

Zelgadis was only too glad to put the boat behind him. Even the slums that greeted him were preferable to... that. He exhaled as the tension drained from his shoulders.

"Now to find Lina..." he told himself cheerfully.

Just as he started off to the boardwalk (which had large groups of menacing brawn hulking about it) a vivacious redhead dressed in a long yellow dress popped out from behind one of the odious crates decorating the port. "Mr. Greywords! You're here, I'm so sorry but..."

Zelgadis might have thought the woman was Lina but... for one she was about three inches too tall, too busty, too cheery, and he was quite positive that Lina couldn't adopt a falsetto voice like this woman's if she tried.

That and Lina wouldn't even call him by his full first name when he'd beaten her at cards three times, marriage couldn't have changed her -that- much.
He muttered a spell underneath his breath and immediately saw the woman for what she was... or rather what she was not.

Zelgadis snorted and walked through the shoddy illusion and straight to the miscreant spell casters. Two boys with white hair and pointy ears were hiding behind one of the odorous crates that made up the decor of the docks. A little blonde girl burst out from somewhere and stationed herself between the boys and him.

"Go away! We don't want you here!" she cried.
Zelgadis cocked his head and mentally summoned up Lina's description of her foster children... no doubt about it.

He bowed politely and summoned up what he hoped was a charming smile, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Briar. I expect that Larsac and Lothor are the boys hiding behind you?" he peered past the bristling blonde version of Lina to the boys standing behind her. The both had longish white hair that was tied back in low ponytails; they were identical save for the earrings that graced their Elvin ears. The one on the left had a gold earring in his left ear and the one on the right had a silver ear ring in his right ear. Their pale blue eyes bored into his own: they seemed to be resenting his lack of respect for their illusion of Lina.

"If they are, what do plan on doing about it?" Briar challenged. "And it's Miss Inverse, to you!"

Zelgadis blinked. "Pardon me, I didn't know you'd taken Lina's name for your own. Ah, speaking of. Where is Lina?"

"Our -Mother- is resting in one of the taverns, she got all hot and tired waiting for you!" The boy with the gold earring accused.

Zelgadis stifled mild surprise when the boy stressed his relationship with Lina but he didn't let his smile waver. He needed to win these kids over, they were pretty much key to his plans... besides, he liked kids. "I'm sorry about that, but even as it was I ended up getting off the boat and flying most of the way." ... because I couldn't stand to be on that rickety thing one second more! He added silently.

The boy with the gold earring nudged the boy with the silver earring and shook his head with a frown. The boys both turned a glare on him that seemed even more venomous than before. What had he done now?

Briar scowled at him. "Just get lost. I told you that we don't want you here! Go away!"

Zelgadis frowned minutely. What had Lina told these three about him? They seemed to think he was Shabranigdo incarnate or something equally loathsome.

"Kid, I'm not here for you. Now would you please tell me where your mother is?" he asked exasperatedly.

"Nothing' doing!" Silver earring informed him. "You might as well get back on your boat an' go home. Four's company, but five's a crowd if you catch my meaning."
Zelgadis shook his head. "I don't know which welcome wagon's more warm, you or the bunch of goons that tried to hassle me as I landed..."

Gold earring's head snapped up and he nudged his brother in the ribs. Some sort of silent communication must have passed between them for a ponderous frown painted itself on Silver earring's face. He looked at Zelgadis thoughtfully. "I'll make you a deal." He said finally. "You tell us how you saw through that illusion and we'll take you to mother... after that I make no guarantees."

"Lothor!" Briar cried indignantly.

Silver earring, who was apparently Lothor, which meant Gold earring was Larsac, made hush-hush gestures at his sister. "I got a handle on this, Brie. What's the problem, mom could just fry him like she did the last one." Lothor turned a charming smile on Zelgadis. "You game?" he asked and his voice was more slippery than a snake on a slide. It actually put Zelgadis strongly in mind of Xellos at his worse.

Zelgadis nodded curtly. "Indeed. I saw through your illusion because I'm immune to them. I doubt your mother's told you, but we traveled together for about half a year. At the time I'd been turned into a chimera, a very strong chimera, but also a very ugly one. Your mother helped me cure myself, but parts of the condition are incurable. Besides, Lina's never called me Mr. Greywords. I don't think she's capable of it. Does that answer your question?"

Lothor beamed, his faith in he and his brother's abilities was restored. Nicely. I suppose Mother would appreciate it if we showed you some manners..."

"It would be a nice change." Zelgadis murmured sardonically.

Lothor favored him with a dirty look that was echoed by both his siblings.

"Don't push your luck, Buddy." Briar warned him. "I'm still itching to use you for target practice."

Zelgadis bowed mockingly. Once, or rather if he and these kids ever warmed up to each other he would certainly be kept hopping. Just to pique their tempers he adopted the courtly air he'd perfected in Sailoon acting as Amelia's formal bodyguard.

"As you wish my Lady. In my haste I neglected to introduce myself, I am Sir Zelgadis Greywords. I gather that you are Lady Briar Inverse and that these are your gallant siblings Larsac and Lothor?"

"Since when were you a knight?" Lina commented sarcastically from beside the crates she'd been watching the spectacle from behind.

"Since Amelia got bored in the middle of a court session a few months ago and decided to liven up the proceedings with a knighting, I just happened to be handy. I even got forty square acres of swampland to go with the title." He wiggled his eyebrows facetiously. "How long have you been listening?"

Lina batted her eyes prettily. "Oh, I just got here." she said flippantly. "I see you've met my little angels. Aren't they horrible?" she winked playfully at her children to gloss over the insult. Briar went over to Lina to stand protectively between her and Zelgadis.

Zelgadis chuckled and sketched another bow at Lina. "Oh, indubitably. In fact, they remind me of you." He strode past Briar and offered Lina his arm. "This is hardly the place to reminisce, though. Why don't we go somewhere... cleaner?"

"Sounds wonderful." Lina chuckled and waved her children close. "Let's go to the inn, The Villa is about a day's travel north so we'll spend the night here."

"Villa?" Zelgadis queried. "Moving up in the world, aren't we?"

"Oh, it's a step up from living on the road and storming bandit camps for pocket money." Lina said flippantly. "Wouldn't you say, kids?"

"You never lived on the road!" Lothor scolded. "You were married to El Hentai, right? Like he would let you out of his sight?"

Lina sighed and shook her head. "Didn't anybody ever tell you stories? All right, if you want to believe I'm hopelessly boring and plebeian, go right ahead. I suppose that's what mothers are supposed to be, ne Zel?"

Zelgadis rolled his eyes and deigned not to comment. Kids never wanted to believe their parents had a life before they arrived on the scene. He'd been the same way with his grandfather until Rezo started taking him along on his trips. That had been a real eye opener.

Lothor turned a faint pink and started walking a bit closer to Lina, who smiled down at her son and dropped a pat on his unruly hair. "My, my. I think some one needs a haircut." She mused. Lina paused to survey all her children. "It's a good thing we're in town. We'll take care of that tonight."

Briar clapped a hand to her curly locks. "I don't want them short!"
"We'll just get the edges neatened up." Lina promised.

"Okay." Briar said warily. "But no more than my shoulders, even if it is ragged."

Lina smiled benevolently. "As if I would let them cut off these gorgeous locks?"

Briar flushed and walked a little closer to her foster mother all the way back to the Inn.