Only Dreaming: By KurahieiritrJio

Immediately following Next's ending, Gourry's sleep talking almost sends Lina over the emotional edge. Lina can't accept her feelings or Gourry's nightmare induced muttering.

DISCLAIMER: Hajime Kanzaka wrote Slayers. Illustrated by Rui Araizumi. I own the subtitled box-sets of Slayers, Slayers Next, and Slayers Try plus some manga. No money made on your entertainment, but lots of it spent on research materials.

Author's Notes: We dug out all the Slayers box sets and marathon watched over the Christmas/New Years holiday as a family. I received some Slayers manga for a present this year. Reading/watching Slayers sparked this one shot. This is a hetero Lina/Gourry ficlet. O.O.C. (Gourry has a few brain cells, and Lina gets teary eyed)

What on earth was Gourry shrieking about? Lina sat up rubbing her eyes, deeply irritated at being awoken. Bandits were always a problem no matter where they traveled. The fire had almost gone out, but that was not a problem thanks to the moon light. Lina looked around the forest clearing to see who was attacking them. Still feeling weary to the bone, Lina knew Gourry shouting had awoken her. Yet, nobody was around the red-haired sorceress realized after a second good look around the area. A snore caught Lina's ear.

Turning to glare at her sleeping companion, Lina decided doing damage to the man was in order. She so often pounded Gourry that it was becoming a ritual. Gourry was so dim-witted he never understood anything that he asked her to explain which frustrated Lina to no end. As many reasons to pummel him existed as there were days to a year. Gourry was twitching more than usual Lina thought as she leaned over to bop him in the head. His pain wracked expression arrested Lina's attention before her fist fell. What kind of dream was Gourry having that he was hurting so much?

Weakness was not something Lina wanted. Gourry was becoming her greatest weakness because of the time they had traveled together. Phibrizzo stealing him, and making him a hostage, had proven that to her. Discovering that Phibrizzo had even taken control of Gourry's mind had hurt so much Lina could scarce handle it. Faced with her own death, the fighter she thought was someone else had hesitated when he could have killed her without trouble. During that moment of hesitation, Gourry granted Lina survival. What had stopped Gourry from slicing her in half? Had it been Phibrizzo's wish, or Gourry fighting his unwanted master on some level?

"WAKE UP! LINA! You belong . . . with me, . . . not . . . copy." Gourry's voice contained desperation in Gourry's sleeping tone. Between his loud command, and his softer whimper, Gourry reached out and grabbed thin air. Mumbling was normal for the gorgeous idiot with whom she had saddled herself. Definitely not his usual rambling about food fights Lina was accustomed to sleeping through. Gourry was having a nightmare. Instead of smashing her fist into his jaw as planned, Lina hesitated.

Lina had thought of herself as taking care of a stray. That was her idea at the beginning of their acquaintance. After Phibrizzo absconded with Gourry, nothing she had told herself about how she felt toward the big blond swordsman rang true any longer. Fighting Phibrizzo to regain Gourry had forced her to acknowledge her heart. It had hurt like hell when she could not see Gourry, or fight over which choice cut of meat who got every meal they shared. Phibrizzo went so far as to crack the crystal trap he imprisoned Gourry within, telling her if the crystal shattered, Gourry died for good. Seeing Martina falling after her wild slashing of Zangulus's magical sword, and Martina's dying words about saving Gourry being the most important thing she could do, Lina's logic had taken flight.

Realization that Martina was right began surging through Lina's mind. If Gourry died, Lina had nothing left for which to live. No meaning would be left to her own existence without her big dim-witted sidekick. Lina discovered she was happy to die if it saved Gourry's life. The strength of her thoughts and feelings cut Lina's perverse stubbornness to the core. Desperation had her calling on all chaos, and creation to save Gourry. Nothing else mattered as Lina began the giga slave spell. Where the power came from, whether she, or the world survived was a mute point to her heart. She had thrown her soul into the casting. Some part of her began praying that somehow it would work out so Gourry could continue living. An indescribable sensation combined with blackness descended as she felt control of the dangerous spell slipping from her fingers. Agony and ecstacy entwined as her heart screamed Gourry's name as her existence winked out.

Lina knew nothing more until she had the hazy thought that she was looking at Gourry's astonished, relieved, and then overjoyed face. She remembered feeling so happy she could burst that he was alive. She whispered his name as her lips lifted in a smile. His smile got even bigger as Gourry looked back at her. From there, her memory was so hazy it might as well be a blank page. Somehow she knew she had felt warm and safe in that void.

The next thing Lina knew for certain, she heard her name and Gourry's being shouted by Zelgadis, Amelia and Sylphiel. Standing inside Gourry's strong arms was the next thing she understood. It had felt much too right, so Lina panicked. Caught inside Gourry's arms, on top of a ruined piece of Phibrizzo's temple, was not something she wanted anyone else witnessing. How they had gotten there was a mystery Lina was unsure she could handle learning.

Gourry's startled expression, as he asked himself what he was doing by touching her, combined with a pathetic knee-jerk release was too much for Lina to bear. She came unglued as anger at not being Gourry's beloved surfaced with a vengeance. Still, Lina knew something very important happened while they were missing.

If she could recall that blank page, Lina knew whatever had happened would heal her shredded emotions. Perhaps she had thrown herself into his arms without thinking because she was happy to see him alive. Had she told Gourry her feelings and gotten a positive answer? Gourry had never been interested in her romantically. Sadly, Gourry had commented too often on her chest being too small for his tastes.

Lina told herself to be fine with being viewed as a kid sister by the muscle-bound blonde. They were a substitute family of sorts. Even as the thought formed, the bitterness of it wounded Lina to the quick. Hoping for the impossible was stupid of her, and Lina knew it. Powerful pain lanced through her middle. Thinking about her well-hidden feelings toward the big man, Lina caught herself watching Gourry raptly. With a shaking head, the red head grabbed fistfuls of her own hair, scolding herself for being so weak.

Obviously, Gourry's nightmare was about her. Zelgadis and Amelia had mentioned Gourry screaming the same thing when fate reunited them shortly after defeating Phibrizzo. Both said Gourry had lunged for her body, screaming at her to wake up. He had done it after the Lord of Nightmares said the chaos power from summoning the mother of all Gods and Monsters had destroyed her existence.

Zelgadis' private opinion of what had happened after Gourry charged into the black miasma into which the Golden Lord ascended was very unsettling. From Zel's private speculation, Gourry's attack on the strongest monster, the actual being that created all things, proved he had been desperate to save her. For all that he was a jellyfish-brained moron, somehow Gourry had done the impossible.

Zelgadis said the Lord of Nightmare's mentioned her pure intentions and heart being the key to summoning the Golden Lord's mind into their world. So how had a man that could not cast a spell to save his life get the ruler of all Gods and Monsters to pay attention to anything he said? Gourry's inability to understand anything beyond she had died to save him, and his heart felt determination to change things back had been pure enough to make the Lord of Nightmares take notice was Zelgadis' answer. Gourry's determination to get her back, or die with her, had forced the Lord of Nightmares to return her life because he lacked guile. In short, Gourry was too stupid to lie, and had a heart that fit the Golden Lord's idea of worth.

To Lina's disgruntlement, Zelgadis felt that because Lina had died willingly to save him, Gourry's argument that he wanted everything undone had made the difference. His demand to undo whatever had been done was so powerful it became the key to Gourry's success.

However, Gourry creating a good argument was difficult for Lina to accept. How Gourry had survived without her remained a mystery to the redheaded sorceress. Although Gourry was a great swordsman, he barely understood anything except fighting. The strapping blond was not capable of logical arguments.

Yet Gourry's suicidal actions somehow had nullified her death. Gourry, saved by her choice to embrace oblivion, refused to be without her. The big, beautiful half-wit chose to die with her which was unbelievably sweet. Perhaps giving back Lina's life became necessary to keep the Lord of Nightmares pact with her in tact. That was pure speculation, however, without absolute facts to back it.

One thing Lina was certain about, challenging the mother of all existence was reckless, and completely insane. Lina doubted Gourry had enough brains to understand what he had done. Or did he? Calling the Golden Lord, ruler over all dark Lords and Gods, a cheap copy was beyond suicidal. Yet Gourry had said that, and more. Yet, the Lord of Nightmares did nothing to Gourry over such an extreme insult.

"Save You!" Jerking her attention back to Gourry, the conviction in his tone again surprised Lina. Lina could only stare with her jaw dropped. Gourry stretched his one arm again, fingers grasping at nothing. Lina's eyebrows knitted as she tried to decide whether to belt him for his newest screech. Asleep or not, Gourry's words were causing her grief.

Fortunately Amelia and Zelgadis had parted ways with them the day before. If they had heard this, it would have caused infuriating speculation, especially on Amelia's part. Amelia's private chit chat with her had not helped Lina's current emotional upheaval. Being so young, Amelia's rendition was filled with romanticized Knight in shining armor analogies. Amelia also tended toward melodramatics.

"I won't let you go!" Gourry's arm lifted toward her as he continued to dream. Tears were leaking past his lashes as he began murmuring again. "Lina. . . . Can't tell you . . . kill me if you knew . . . I love you. . . . Have to . . . can't lose you. Don't care how stubborn you are. Must make it in time . . . "

A whisper, against her will, fell from suddenly stiff lips. "Gourry?" The shock rendered Lina barely able to move her shaking hand that had stalled near his shoulder. Their arms brushed as Gourry grabbed her upper arm in a vice grip.

Again Lina sought to make herself wake Gourry up. Her heart was pounding as she looked at the man laying on the grassy ground beside her. The big lug meant he loved her like a little sister, right? Too often he had said she was underdeveloped. It was not possible he could feel the same.

". . . can't lose you . . . won't let anyone steal you . . . won't let . . . stay with me, Lina." Gourry was struggling hard against whatever he saw behind his closed eyelids.

Images flashed in Lina's mind. Gourry, with a freshly roasted potato on a stick, saying he would be her protector for the rest of his life. . . . A goofy expression as Gourry rubbed the back of his head trying to figure out her simplest explanations, and failing miserably. . . . Hearing his enthusiastic agreement as Gourry pulled his sword from its sheath, preparing to battle their opponents. . . .Gourry's happy-go-lucky antics as they walked down roads to new communities, talking about the food they would eat when they arrived. . . . A good-natured complaint, shifting to rapid concern whenever Gourry found out they injured her. Being picked up in his iron muscled arms and carried because Gourry was worried about her welfare.

"I need you, Lina." Gourry's words were so soft she almost did not hear them. The words' Gourry uttered were not responsible for the tears that suddenly flooded her eyes. The anguish in his whispered plea did the damage. It was shredding her heart so much Lina wanted to curl into a ball and die over hurting him. Why was Gourry muttering these things in his sleep? Lina still had Gourry. The most important thing was that. Blinking hard Lina dashed away the tears that were threatening to fall.

Anger was the only defense she had against Gourry's rambling. Lina reached deep to find enough irritation with herself, and the sleeping form beside her to take action. She dashed away the last specks of moisture and stiffened her resolve. Grabbing his shoulder Lina began shaking Gourry and bellowed at the comatose man."Wake up, Jellyfish brains!"

Gourry leapt up, grabbing his sword, primed for battle even before he knew what he was doing. Somehow Gourry's frantic search in all directions with his sword already half out of the sheath was endearing. "Eh? Uh? wh, wha, what's wrong?" He was blinking sleep from his eyes even as he looked down at her trying to figure out the problem.

"You were having a nightmare, and bellowing in my ear!" Lina growled to hide her deeper feelings from the blond standing in front of her.

"Whew. That's a relief. I thought bandits or something was attacking us." Gourry's expression turned goofy as he scratched his head. "Sorry, I woke you." He dropped back down on the ground looking confused, yet expectant.

"Never mind." Lina reached up and covered part of her face with a hand as her eyebrow began twitching. There was no way she would allow herself to cry in front of Gourry. Showing weakness was not her style.

Martina's whispered words behind her hand, and sly grin had Lina nervous. "You really should notice your own feelings for once."

Lina knew Martina meant Gourry as she glanced at the blond too. He looked back with the same semi-blank expectation he always wore on his face. Fiery heat suffused her cheeks as she looked at him. 'Why is Martina saying something like that to me, and looking at Gourry with that sly grin? He's all beautiful brawn, big heart, and not a hint of brains. He doesn't even realize Sylphiel's in love with him. We make a good team, even if I have to think for both of us. Gourry makes things easier when he's around to cover my back. That's all there is to it. I can't be in love with him. I'm not ready to settle down.'

Those thoughts continued to hound Lina during Martina's screwy wedding to Zangulus. Several times she had seen an image of Gourry in a tuxedo saying vows about loving and honoring as she heard Zangulus speak in front of the priest. Somehow that depressed her because she did not see herself being the bride.

Lina locked the unsettling memories and thoughts down and forced a smile at her bemused and sleepy friend. Here they were in the middle of nowhere, and she was being sentimental. Having missed Gourry, before she retrieved him from Phibrizzo, had done something terrible to her mind Lina decided.

"Uh, Lina, are you sick or something? Are you hurting somewhere? You have a really weird look on your face." Gourry observed as he rubbed the side of his face. He was sitting cross legged across from her as he had done countless times. It was too much to bear. Something was crumbling that Lina knew she could not resurrect once it vanished. Losing her defenses around Gourry was too dangerous to allow.

"I'm fine. Just go back to sleep, and be quiet this time, Gourry! We have a long trip tomorrow to get to the next town!" With those snapped words, Lina dropped back onto her side with her cloak around her, facing away from the blond man to hide her expression. She closed her eyes tight to keep from shedding tears.

In the back of her mind, Lina's heart whispered, 'Deny it all you want, but you love him.' Lina shivered as she fought to ignore that tiny voice she did not want to accept.

"Lina, why are you shivering?" A big hand covered her forehead as if to check her for a fever. "How about you ride on my shoulders tomorrow? I know you're still tired after fighting so hard a few days ago."

Keeping her eyes closed tightly so she would not cry, Lina snapped, "I said I'm fine, Gourry. Quit being an idiot and go to sleep already!"

A heavy sigh left his lips, as his hand withdrew. The sound of quiet shuffling reached her as Gourry moved away. So soft she barely heard Gourry's affectionate grumble, the words caught suddenly hypersensitive ears. "That's my Lina. Guess she'll always be pig-headed when she needs me around." A tiny chuckle caught her attention, followed by a sigh that somehow seemed sad. Sleep seemed to take an eternity to return.

-oo00oo-

Gourry awoke before Lina. The sun was up, although it had not been so very long. A dappling of light swirled across his tiny companion's flame hued mane as a slight breeze rustled the leaves. Remaining quiet enough to let her rest, Gourry started a new fire and put some of their reserves of food on sticks to cook.

His lively little sorceress had looked ready to cry the night before. Seeing her so sad right after waking up from his nightmare of almost losing her made it harder for Gourry to keep his mouth shut about how he felt. Yet, dealing with the infamous, temperamental sorceress known as the dragon spooker, and bandit killer required a strong self preservation instinct. Although Gourry was no genius, he had very strong instincts. Pushing Lina for answers when she was putting on a phony smile was a deadly mistake he knew better than to make.

Glancing at the sleeping girl curled beneath a Hawthorne tree, Gourry contemplated his companion. Nothing about the vibrant woman was calm or quiet. Courageous, terrifying, stubborn, impish, occasionally sadistic, unrepentant, furious, conniving, high-spirited, brilliant, heroic, and happy were part of Lina's daily mood swings. Lina could be charming when she wanted. She was always exuberant, even when doing ordinary things. Fits of violence aside, Lina had given him a much greater appreciation of living because she lived so fully every moment of the day.

Peace on occasion would be nice since he saw so little of the commodity because of Lina's fractious nature. However, if ever faced with the life of a mercenary again, Gourry knew he would rather slit his own throat. Dull was no longer an option. Routine had no appeal after fighting alongside Lina Inverse. Loving the fiercely independent little hell raising warrior sorceress that he followed without regrets, Gourry could no longer go back to his old life.

Gourry hid the fact that remembered many things about his time with Lina. Several things stood out. His buying her a meal that very first time and discovering she ate as much as himself. Then, Lina getting very badly wounded and pretending to be fine during one of their scrapes with berserkers that wanted some statue Lina had stolen from bandits. Awakening his feelings was her severe lecture that going into battle with a martyr's heroic attitude was stupid and guaranteed to lose them the fight. Killing trolls and other monsters with Zelgadis help, Lina had thrived on their little war. Gourry recalled a really scary monster that his sword of light could not scratch, and Lina still managed to kill by using some wild spell that turned her hair white.

The blond also recalled everything that had happened when the copy gave back Lina to him. Hearing Lina say she had no clear memory to Zelgadis and Amelia sealed Gourry's lips. All Lina knew was that something important had happened in that place that was not a place to which he agreed. Considering her very bad reaction on top of the archway rubble when the copy returned them to this world, telling Lina they had kissed each other would get his head ripped off his shoulders.

Watching her sleep, Gourry smiled. Though he did not understand most of the things said by his magic flinging comrades, Gourry had understood the gold glowing being that had looked like Lina. The copy of his girl had said the power of some Lord consumed Lina so the Lord saved him. Not many large words existed in Gourry's arsenal, but consumed was there. Consumed equaled dead, gone for good, disappearance without end, and finished. Because the copy said Lina's pure heart and thoughts had saved him, Gourry knew she had to love him at least a little. Of course getting the stubborn woman to admit that she loved him was going to take some doing. Unless she decided to settle down, Lina might never tell him the truth.

One false step in getting her to confess, and Lina would have him in a headlock, pounding on his head, if he was lucky. If not lucky, she would fling one of her fire balls in his direction. Telling Lina that he loved her first would have been fine, except he would get a fireball in the face if Lina was in the wrong mood. After seeing her teary-eyed state, Gourry knew today was a bad time to bring up the subject.

The sturdy swordsman blinked when he heard a small noise escape Lina. He busied himself with the fire and checking breakfast to keep from getting caught staring at her while she slept. Another louder sound came from Lina's curled form. Gourry glanced back at her and noticed Lina was in a much tighter ball.

The blond did not know the petite spitfire for curling up like a rollypolly bug. Was she still injured from the fight with that really nasty little kid and trying to hide it from him? Gourry got up and moved to her side. Crouching down so he could check on her, Gourry saw tears streaking her face. Eyes still closed Lina whispered, "Gourry."

"Eh, Lina, what's the matter?" He tilted his head as he put a hand on her shoulder. "Are you hurt somewhere?" He could feel a shiver flash through Lina's arm.

"So stupid of me to . . . Never sees me." Lina's words confused him. Another whimper escaped her throat. With a flash of insight Gourry realized she was dreaming.

Several blinks later Lina whispered. "Why can't . . . love wouldn't hurt . . . Can't get attached . . . " If possible the small sorceress curled into a smaller ball.

Gourry still had his hand on her shoulder. Something about her words almost made sense, but not quite. He spoke in a quiet voice certain she would rather not continue sleeping if her dreams were making her this miserable. "Lina, breakfast is almost ready."

"Wish you loved, . . . What's not good, . . . me . . . Gourry?"

Her whine rocked him back on his heels for a moment. He found himself scratching his head for several moments as Lina whimpered something else he did not catch. Did she think she wasn't good enough for him? Where had Lina gotten such a dumb idea? The only thing that was less than ideal about her was her childish figure. Then again, somewhere along the way, Gourry had stopped looking at her based on her lack of curves. Lina was still young enough to grow more. Lina was still a teenager. That meant he had to wait for her to get older at any rate. Buxom beauties of the word could not hold his attention now that he had Lina around.

Heart and soul, he belonged to the feisty teenager that bossed him around. For now, he could do nothing but be her protector. That was the only place Lina allowed him because she kept him at arms' length. Once his little hellion was willing to accept his love, Gourry would marry her gladly. The urge to tell Lina about his feelings was almost overpowering. Caution won out.

Tightening his grip on Lina's shoulder, Gourry shook her much harder. "Hey, wake up, Lina. Come on, you're having a bad dream."

The petite girl groaned as she rolled onto her back. She still had a few tears streaking her face. After a few moments her eyes opened. "Gourry? What is it?"

"Uhm, breakfast is almost ready. Time to wake you up."

Sitting up, Lina ran a hand over her eyes and frowned mightily. "Save me some or I'll kill you, Gourry. I need to wash my face."

With a nod Gourry went back to the fire and made sure he was busy with getting their breakfast ready. Lina was in a foul mood and the last thing he wanted was to make it worse. It was not long before the hot-headed sorceress returned looking much better. Although her eyes were still puffy, her mood seemed better. Without a word Gourry handed her several potatoes, and fish that had been roasting on sticks. With her usual voracious appetite, Lina devoured the meal.

After they finished, Gourry dumped enough water from the spring onto the coals to put them out. He looked up to see Lina had started back toward the road. "Hey, Lina?"

"What?" She stopped and faced him.

"I can carry you on my shoulders so you get some more rest." He gave Lina his blank look to keep her from realizing how worried he was. With her eyebrow twitching, Lina glared without a word. "Just a minute. You didn't get enough sleep last night. You were having a bad dream when I woke you up too. Part of that is my fault because of my bad dream."

"Of course it's your fault, Jellyfish brains. You started screaming my name in the middle of the night!" Lina's fists came up to punch him.

Jumping back out of her range with his hands up to ward off a blow, Gourry swallowed hard. "I was only dreaming. But, somehow it was so real, like I was actually there. That glowing copy was telling me you were gone and I couldn't stand it. We belong together, . . . at least I think we do. We make a great team. Still, I felt like I was losing the most important person in my life all over again, and I guess I was losing it."

The petite fire cracker dropped her arms and stared at him. "What did you just say?"

"Hm, did I say something wrong?" Gourry opted for safety if possible.

"Repeat the last part of your little speech!" Lina's hand dropped onto her hip, commanding that he repeat himself as she stared him down.

Gourry took a deep breath, gulped, and hoped Lina would not have an immense tantrum. "Uhm, you mean the part about how I was losing the most important person in my life again, and started losing it."

Not a muscle moved as Gourry waited to see if she would kill him, or smile at him. Lina did neither thing. Her eyes widened to an impossibly huge size. A stronger breeze ruffled Lina's hair. His bangs shifted tickling his nose. Gourry did not dare move before Lina came to a decision. He knew he was putting himself at risk with this smaller confession. Without warning Lina was standing in front of him and clapping him on the shoulder.

"Don't worry about it. Let's get going, Gourry." She smiled. The breath he had been holding exploded from his mouth. One hurdle down. Lina was already walking toward the road again.

"Hey, . . . hey, Lina? Wait for me." Gourry trotted after her. Perhaps someday she would answer him. For now at least, he still had her walking beside him. Catching up to the little wildcat he adored, Gourry smiled.