SLAYERS TRY ( AGAIN ! )
Written by : TokyoFlame
Legend : Italic sentences thoughts
Characters belong to the respective legal owners
Xellos awoke with a start, his eyes and mind a complete blank for the very first time since he could even remember. He realised with horror that he had been sleeping, or he had passed out, and the notion of being unconscious and harmless was fatalistic to any Mazoku. He blinked his eyes in rapid succession, unused to feeling groggy and wondering when he would feel clear-headed.
"Looks like you're up, but your face isn't pretty."
The Mazoku registered the voice immediately and his horror melted into complete surprise.
"I thought you were simply going to sleep until a thousand years later."
"There is a lot you'd probably want to know, but for now, how about simply resting your body? Or do you know the definition of rest?"
Xellos narrowed his eyes and stared at the Ryuuzoku who seemed to be smirking at him. He wasn't happy at being thrown a sarcastic question, especially when he was feeling terribly vulnerable and upset that Filia knew something that he did not know. The entire episode between Lionel and him came flooding back to his senses and he struggled to piece any clues together of what had happened during the interim when he blacked out after Filia came to… well… give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
He groaned inwardly. Now, he owed Filia big time, and her 'new' character did not seem to be someone who gave favours unconditionally. Especially not to a Mazoku like him. He wondered how Filia managed to snatch him back from disappearing. However, for the first time in his memory, he carefully laid back down onto the bed, closed his eyes, and decided to rest. Simply put, he decided not to care for now. He'd get his back on Filia in a while.
Valgaav paced up and down slowly, his mind fluttering with a myriad of thoughts which didn't have a coherent line of logic. His suspicions regarding Filia and Xellos were confirmed to be true, but like a can of worms being spilled open, the consequences and speculations about their feelings, their future and their actions threatened to overwhelm him. He wasn't particularly concerned for Xellos, but he was overly worried over Filia because she seemed to be crumbling from her well-formed defence, which sprang up over the years. If Xellos hurt Filia again, Valgaav swore that he would bring Xellos to his knees. However, he also knew how much Filia had already sacrificed for Xellos, and to be an enemy of Xellos would also bring much heartache to Filia.
He sat down gingerly on a chair, sighing gently as he did so. The house was exactly the same as he remembered when he packed up to leave on that fateful day. Filia had smiled and advised him to take care of his wellbeing. Ancient Dragons were not susceptible to common diseases and illnesses, but she was worried that Valgaav would get himself into trouble with the other species during his journey. He gave her a mighty hug which knocked the breath out of her, and he never looked back as he briskly walked away, struggling to keep his own tears back.
And now, many years later, he found himself back to the origin in a twist of events beyond his imagination.
The footsteps down the staircase broke him out of his reverie. His eyes shot up to catch his benefactress descending gracefully, dressed in a beautiful and simple white dress down to her ankles. Truthfully, he thought Filia looked dazzling in any attire. He would know, he lived under her care for so many years.
"Valgaav, you're still here?"
Her smile revealed contentment, something which Valgaav had not seen in a long time. She turned to the kitchen counter, quietly busying herself with preparing a pot of tea. He had no doubt that she would be focusing her efforts on nursing Xellos back to health. He eyed her intensively, wondering if Filia was affected by her bold gesture of rescue.
"Oneesan, do rest a bit. You've been caring for that Mazoku ever since that day. Surely you should look after yourself foremost!"
"Valgaav, I am fine. I would not have attempted to purify Xellos if I had not been confident of my powers. Besides, I only managed to cure Xellos of some of the toxins, the rest will now depend on Xellos's own recuperation progress."
"Oneesan, you fainted after extracting those Mazoku toxins. You should really check your own system first."
Valgaav's tone was unrelenting and firm. He had seen, to his horror, how Filia abandoned all caution and cupped Xellos's astonished face in her hands. His dark grisly figure with pitch black waves of power was a stark contrast to Filia's crystal pureness and her increasing radiance which even temporarily blinded his supersonic eyes. Filia was summoning all her prayers in that split second which was akin to an explosion of sorts. Xellos seemed to melt upon the impact, his darkened pupils started to dilute in colour when Filia pressed her lips to his. Both their auras started to dissipate together, but Valgaav couldn't decide which one was more dominant at that point. He only knew that if he chose to intervene, it would complicate matters.
The threatening sharp licks of the consuming Mazoku power surrounding Xellos disappeared completely, causing Xellos to lose consciousness and he fell sharply down to the ground. Filia caught him by his arm and broke his fall, although in that split second, she also passed out and they landed with a soft thud together. Valgaav teleported instantly to their sides, his senses picking up their faint lifelines. He heaved a shaky sigh of relief, finally realising that his entire body was aching because he had been so tensed. He carefully scooped the two figures up and teleported them to a safe place first, away from prying eyes and ears.
"I told you I'm fine. I did not purge Xellos from those toxins completely. The rest is up to him."
Filia nonchalantly dropped some herbs into a teapot, and then she tended to the boiling kettle on the stove. These familiar sounds caused a heartache for Valgaav unexpectedly, he realised he was starting to feel homesick.
"Xellos was here when I ran into some trouble. Although he is a Mazoku, but he had, admittedly, watched my back for me in recent times. I am only returning a favour which I owed to him. Valgaav, you worry unnecessarily. I know exactly what you're actually concerned about."
Filia was referring to the incident when she had to revert to her old form as a Ryuuzoku. Valgaav frowned in doubt, but he knew better than to argue with his Oneesan. He knew how stubborn she was, and he knew Filia already sensed his anxiety over her apparent 'reconciliation' with Xellos.
"What is he actually worried about?"
Both Dragons snapped their heads towards the direction of a deep yet resoundingly crisp voice floating from the staircase. The light sound of fabric gliding across the floor followed as Xellos appeared at the end of the stairway. His eyes were opened and intensely piercing, orbs focused on the Ryuuzoku who was genuinely taken aback by his presence. Xellos looked dressed and ready to travel, his royal-dark purplish attire accompanied with gold lining ran from his shoulders, down to his legs and on his cloak.
"I'm not leaving, not yet. I couldn't help but eavesdrop on your conversation, but I won't apologise for my bionic sense of hearing."
His wry smile came back as he strolled cheerily across the kitchen towards the table, where a disgruntled Valgaav was seated.
"Do you mind?"
Xellos gestured to an adjacent empty chair across him. Valgaav merely looked away, giving the slightest hint of a pout. Xellos chuckled quietly to himself as he elegantly slid onto the chair and crossed one leg over another, in his usual sitting pose. One finger propped up his chin as he continued peering at Filia, who was still observing him with concern and curiousity.
"Is that teapot for me?"
Filia blinked twice before she looked down at the steaming pot. She looked at Xellos again before she nodded silently.
"Most lovely, I have always enjoyed the brews you made for me."
This caused Valgaav to feel a little revolted, because it implied that Xellos had been visiting Filia for some time now, and it made sense that they had been alone. For the first time, he sorely regretted leaving the house.
"You shouldn't be moving around so much. Even for a Mazoku like you, I don't expect your recovery rate to be so swift."
Filia chided as she gently replaced the teapot cover and brought the tea set comprising of a teacup, saucer, teaspoon and the likes in a teak-polished tray. She placed the tray in front of Xellos and as she turned to leave, a gloved hand grasped her wrist in a firm, yet tender movement. Valgaav felt increasingly uncomfortable. He knew Xellos was behaving like this on purpose.
"Thank you, Filia. You saved my life."
The Ryuuzoku's eyes grew large in disbelief and embarrassment rapidly set in. Valgaav wanted to run to the washroom and barf to his heart's content. Still, he had to applaud the Mazoku's thick hide. He certainly didn't feel corny sprouting mushy sentences like these in front of other people.
"D-don't mention it. You helped me once too. Now, we're even."
Filia quickly fled to the kitchen counter again, her back facing them as she tried to fling herself into washing utensils. Xellos had a million questions for her which were burning him from the inside. Still, the young Ancient Dragon wasn't budging. Xellos was certainly not comfortable in Filia explaining how she had saved him, although he had a good estimate of what happened. But he wanted details, and he didn't want Valgaav to know.
"So, Valgaav… good to see you again. My, how you've grown."
"So did you, Xellos. Well, you did bite off more than you could chew."
Filia didn't want an ensuing argument to erupt at this point, but Xellos was positively amused. He loved sarcasm, and he enjoyed quick banters of such. His smile betrayed his pleasure, and Valgaav held back his desire to roll his eyes in exasperation. After all, he had forgotten he was dealing with a Mazoku.
"Filia, my dear, the kid is correct. I should not have accepted the Mazoku Lords' appointment of their respective powers. It was certainly a grave mistake on my part."
"Xellos, I think you should retire to bed. Can you please go now?"
Valgaav sensed the desperation in Filia's voice as she pleaded with the cheeky Mazoku. He also felt a deep reproach in his heart because he could see Filia's aliveness when Xellos was with her. Xellos was, reluctantly, doing a lot of good for his Oneesan, and he really resented this fact.
The Mazoku, as though sensing Valgaav's resignation, suddenly stood up and stared at Valgaav for a while.
"Well, you renegade kid, spend some quality time with your guardian. To think it has to take the near extinction of a city to bring you back to her. Surely you Ancient Dragons have a heart, no?"
Xellos's sentence dripped with some malice as he smirked while making his way back upstairs. Valgaav burned with indignation, but he was rooted to his chair. Xellos was right, and it pierced his heart.
"Don't mind Xellos, he's just trying to stir up a commotion so he can feed off us. You're not going to give him such pleasure, are you?"
Filia smiled lightly at her beloved ward, as she walked up close and hugged him tightly. Valgaav nodded as he hugged her back, wishing he could simply cling onto this moment forever. He knew their natural lifespans were longer than humans, and this fact made it difficult for him to cherish heart-melting moments like these. When you have an eternity ahead of you, you lose sight of little moments gradually.
"Oneesan, do you like him?"
Valgaav felt Filia take in a slow, deep breath before she released him from their long-belated embrace. The Ryuuzoku purposefully sat down, her thoughts running across her mind like mighty waves crashing against the breakwater. She had no idea how to organise her stray thoughts, desires and goals. She wasn't sure if loneliness caused lust to cloud her judgement, or a simple crush had grown into fond likeness.
"Valgaav, I honestly cannot answer you. I am in turmoil myself, and you cannot imply from my action that by saving Xellos from a life-threatening situation, my heart has flown to him. If this had taken place during the time of Lena's travels, I would also go against my beliefs to save him. Remember how I insisted on securing your life, even towards the last second? You were an enemy of my clan, my people, and I was their priestess. Valgaav, I cannot answer you now."
The Ancient Dragon bit his lip at that bitter memory, but he nodded in understanding. Filia was glad that he had grown so much, in areas of his maturity, intellect or physicality. He was becoming a handsome Dragon, and she was very pleased that she had a part to play in his nurturing.
"What happens to you now, Valgaav?"
"What do you mean, Oneesan?"
"Well, what are your plans? Are you going to stay around here, or are you going to resume your travels?"
"Oneesan, I'm going to borrow your words. I cannot answer you now either."
Filia laughed, for the first time in a long while now. Her laughter seemed to light up the atmosphere, like bells which were simultaneously ringing as the sun shone magnificently in the woods. It felt like many things were happening at the same time, it seemed like music to Valgaav's ears. He immediately felt uplifted, refreshed and happy. He wanted Filia to be happy, to always smile and laugh, never to be upset and in danger again.
But a thought crept into his mind.
No, it isn't you who will be responsible for this. You know it's not you. It is no longer you.
With all the hurt and pain that entered Filia's life recently, it had also brought along laughter, joy and even mire. He saw, he witnessed and he finally knew. Even if both of them were in denial about their feelings, they were aware of them. Because they were aware, thus they both had to hide and stash their feelings away.
"I'll walk around town for a while. There are some people whom I want to see."
Valgaav leapt up from his chair and made for the door. Filia looked puzzled for a while, but she nodded and smiled at him in acknowledgement.
"I'll be making dinner. Be back soon."
As though Valgaav had never left before, he turned around and nodded impishly, his usual manner which never changed since he was a growing boy. Filia felt an extreme sense of longing for Valgaav to return home permanently.
"Dinner… how nice. Am I invited?"
The silky tone reached her ears as she closed the door. She turned around expectedly, wondering what to say to Xellos, now that they were alone. The easy atmosphere slowly melted away, a tension was beginning to build up between the two.
"If you wish. Are you sure you're fine?"
"Well, it's not everyday that I get to be shooed into bed by a beautiful lady. I would really want to stay in bed a little longer, but we Mazoku don't really need sleep."
"Oh well, do as you please. I'm preparing dinner, so get out of my way."
"Getting bossy, aren't you? Some things never change."
Filia turned away as she started to open the cabinets to retrieve her cooking pots. Xellos teleported in that instance and stood right beside her. Filia wanted to jump away, but he swiftly restrained her by grabbing her shoulders.
"Tell me all that I need to know."
Filia was thrown into a turmoil. Firstly, Xellos seemed to want to know what she had done to him to save his life, and then what happened in the aftermath. But somehow, she wondered if he also desired to know what was going on between the two of them.
But maybe I'm thinking too much.
She looked down onto the floor, his piercing glare too much for her to handle.
"I purified you, to a certain level which I think was acceptable for your Mazoku body to handle. In that way, you were neutralised. I am not that powerful enough to nullify all the consuming power which continued to rage within your body, but I did all that I could. The fastest way to pour my energies into you was through an open channel, thus I chose your…"
"Yes, my mouth. I was conscious, thankfully."
Xellos smiled mischievously, which only made Filia even more embarrassed.
"Well, now that you know, can you please let me go now? I'm not even bothered to fight with you. I really need to make dinner."
"Tell me, why did you do that?"
"Because I don't think I can watch you die while I do nothing. It's against my principles."
"I know you save everyone and everything. I know you well enough to get that. But this is an amalgamation of the highest and deadliest Mazoku powers concentrated in a single entity. You know exactly how life-endangering it will be. A single mistake can flip the coin against you, with the same poison flowing into your body."
"What's your point?"
Filia was slowly regaining her composure, and she looked up at him with a steady glance.
"Why did you do that?"
"I wanted to save a long-time friend. Yes, if you want to hear me admit this, I'll tell you this. You, a Mazoku, the same one who slaughtered and murdered my family and clan members, have become a friend to me. Not an enemy, but a friend. I want friends, not enemies."
Xellos released her slowly, his eyes betraying absolutely nothing. Filia resented this fact, that the Mazoku could hide behind his façade. She knew she had thrown him off-course, giving him an acceptable answer justifying her struggles, but still withholding the one true answer he could be looking for.
"Well, I must say, I am indeed honoured. To be rescued by the last Ryuuzoku speaks volumes for me. I am ashamed to say, though, that I cannot release this information back in my world. You understand, don't you?"
Filia nodded silently and resumed preparing ingredients for dinner. Xellos was highly irritated inside. The unanimated Filia was grating on his nerves. He wanted something from her, a reaction… anything.
"My memory is a bit fuzzy though, my head seems to be spinning a little."
Filia quickly turned to him, her eyes conveying worry as she eyed him, looking out for signs to tell her what was wrong. In that moment, Xellos stepped towards her, one arm wrapped around her waist and grabbed her body close to his. With the other, he cradled the back of her neck and closed the distance between their heads. Lips touched each other, firmly. Xellos had Filia locked in an embrace and a kiss, and Filia could hardly react due to too many shocks running through her system.
Filia began to react, her muffled protests began to surface as she struggled to break Xellos's lock on her lips. His hand was steadily cradling the back of her head, which made it hard for her to shake away. Their bodies were so tightly plastered together, she could only began pounding Xellos's back with her fists. Xellos was smirking inside, because Filia could certainly do better than this. If she really detested this, she could easily summon her physical prowess and blow him away.
This is the answer I want, Filia. And I've gotten it.
He gently pushed Filia against the kitchen wall, her warm body cosy against his. Never moving his hands away, he continued to kiss her hungrily, demanding her lips to part. Filia didn't know what to do, she had never kissed anyone this lengthily before. Her heart was beating so fast, she was embarrassed that Xellos could feel it. Her fists gradually turned to clutching his cloak, but she still didn't know what she should do. One part of her was actually happy, another part of her was sad that they were embarking on something which would not have a favourable ending.
Oh Xellos, do you know what pain this will bring upon me?
But her thoughts were broken when, in her distraction, Xellos had pried open her lips and he started to french-kiss her. She gave a surprised gasp inwardly and blushed even more when Xellos began to give her a kind of pleasure she wasn't even aware of. Xellos was enjoying every moment of this. He knew the consequences were dire, especially when the people of his world received news of his weakness – this Ryuuzoku. But right now, in this instance, all he wanted to do was to secure her love for him.
Valgaav sat down on a bench in the middle of a park which he used to frequent as a child. He was a little embarrassed, having witnessed his guardian and the Mazoku 'making out' in the kitchen. He wished they knew they were easily seen from the kitchen window. Anyhow, he was caught in a dilemma. He could go home, pretending nothing had happened and eat his dinner, or hang out all night in this park to give them their privacy.
"Oh, what a pain!"
Valgaav complained out loud as he slumped further onto the bench. He could just imagine what a ruckus their relationship would create. Xellos would lose his standing in the Mazoku world, and Filia could lose her powers as a Priestess if, eventually, they actually got married and wanted to procreate. A Ryuuzoku and a Mazoku had never ever, in the entire history since the beginning of the world, come together in harmony… well, not in this manner. He wondered if he could actually ask The Lord of Nightmares for her advice. Xellos had met her once before, surely it wouldn't be too difficult. Or he could look for Lena…
But of course, it could also spell the beginning of a new era. Valgaav felt a great splitting headache coming his way.
He decided to choose the latter decision, and he looked at the bench despondently.
"Well, Mr Bench, it's just you and me tonight. Yoroshiku onegaishimasu."