Disclaimer: I don't own the Slayers, I'm not making money off of this, blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda. Slight A/Z pairing slant.
Author's Notes: Haven't been able to do much with my other 'fics lately, and I really needed to write this little bit of angst. It's all in first person, Zelgadis' innermost thoughts. Not beta-read, and written on the fly, but it's accurate to the best of my checking at the moment. I just needed to get this out.

Maybe Someday
by Zanne Chaos

If anyone were to ask about the reason why I sometimes hesitate to approach when I see them all together, I would tell them, if I bothered to answer their question at all, that they embarrass me.

Anyone who has seen the three of them eat would understand. I've wondered if Amelia eats like that at state dinners when she's back home, acting the role of a princess, and I can't help but smirk as I picture the expressions. But at any rate, I doubt she does. She didn't, right at the very first. I remember that. I suspect she started eating like Lina and Gourry out of sheer survival instinct.

Me, I don't need as much to keep me going. Of course, if anyone were to attempt to deprive me of my coffee... Well, compared to me, Lina would seem meek and mild-mannered in the face of being deprived of her food.

But that's not the real reason why I'm hanging back as I do sometimes, just watching the three of them. There's a lot of reasons why I do, but they don't embarrass me, not really. Part of it is, I'm waiting to see how long it takes for them to realize I'm not there.

Would they notice if I left and never came back? Sometimes I wonder. The longer it takes, the more I doubt they would.

Maybe someday, I will go.

I say they embarrass me in order to keep them at an arm's length. I won't let myself warm up to any of them, not inside where it counts. I can't afford to do that.

I don't know if I can trust them.

Maybe someday, I will.

They've never really given me a reason not to, after all. But... how can someone really know who they can trust? I've never been able to figure that out. I still can't figure out how Amelia can believe in justice and still trust people when her own cousins tried to murder her father.

If she can't trust her own family, how can she trust anyone at all? That's a mystery to me.

Maybe someday, I'll ask her.

It's the trust that eludes me. That's another reason why I hang back. I don't trust them, not completely. Oh, I trust them in battle, I trust them not to sell me out to whatever enemy we're up against, I trust them to be at my back when a fight goes down.

I don't trust them not to one day just up and pretend not to know me. I don't trust them not to one day decide to mock me, to call me a freak. I don't trust them not to change, not to turn on me like everyone else has done sooner or later.

Maybe someday, I'll be able to.

I'm told that I'm just fine how I am. They tell me that. Amelia, she even likes how I look...or so she claims. I know all the advantages; I know I'm stronger, faster, nearly invulnerable -- at least on the outside. Everything I ever wanted...

Be careful what you wish for -- you just might get it. I never really understood that saying when I was younger. Gods, but how I wish I did! I never would have agreed had I known I would become a freak of nature. I hate how I look. It's not me. It's never been me. I miss the simple things, just being able to feel a touch. I can feel when someone's hand is on me, I can feel a grip. I can feel it when my clothes catch on any of the rocks embedded in my skin. I can feel heat and cold to some dull degree. But it's a deeper kind of feeling. More like a pressure-contact. Silk and cotton, they're the same to me. I can tell the difference between silk and burlap for the way my skin catches on the material. It varies. I've learned how to get around that diminished sense.

But I can't feel a simple touch. I can't feel it, those times when I see Amelia put her hand on my arm, ever so gently. I hate my skin.

I hate waking up in the mornings and finding wires jutting out of my pillow and bed. That's one reason why I don't consider intimate relationships. I'd probably kill whoever slept in the same bed with me. Not that anyone would really want to, of course, but...

All the so-called advantages this body gives me are worthless. I'd give it all up just to be able to feel a soft caress. I want that cure so badly. How can people tell me to learn to accept myself as I am when I hate myself? When I hate what I am? It just isn't possible. I can't fathom how I could ever possibly look in a mirror and not shatter it in a rage.

Maybe someday, I can.

There, they notice now. I'll just pretend not to see that look in Amelia's eyes. The worry, the...what is it? Compassion or pity? Or are they both really the same thing?

I hate pity. I hate it even more seeing it from her. When's she going to realize I'm a freak, and that she's a princess, and she can do so much better than me?

Maybe someday, she will.

I hate him. I hate him for doing this to me. I hate him for turning me into this freak. I hate him for teaching me that I cannot trust anyone.

I can't. I really cannot trust a soul. Not where it matters. I don't know how.

He was family. He took care of me after my parents died. I trusted him, hell, I loved him. He was family.

And he stabbed me in the back.

If my own flesh and blood would do that to me, how I can trust anyone else?

I can't.

I've tried to tell myself that I've known them for several years running now, and they've never shown any real signs of turning on me. But it doesn't work. After all, I'd known him all my life.

I don't know how to trust anymore.

That's one reason why I pretend not to notice what Amelia says, or at least, I try to. That's why I pretend I don't return what she feels. I can't afford to. What if I open myself up to that, what if I show her how I feel, and she changes her mind.

On the really bad days, I wonder if it's a trick, and she's just waiting for me to say something, just waiting, setting me up. Okay, so I'm a little paranoid.

But while my skin might be rock, my heart isn't. I can build up a hundred walls around me, and not really feel the barbs flung my way anymore. But if anyone gets past those walls...

I don't know how to deal with that kind of pain. I can't afford to take that risk, letting someone past the stone, where they could hurt me if they chose to do so. I've been hurt like that once before. I learned that lesson well.

Maybe someday, I can trust somebody.

Maybe someday, I can tell Amelia how I feel.

Maybe someday, I can accept who I am.

But not today.