Part 1: An Important Meeting

"Mr. Metallium, your sister is here, and I'm taking an early lunch," the secretary told him, leaning in the door in a way where the men could see down her blouse.

"Thank you, Naga," the executive said mildly, glancing behind the woman to see a smaller red-haired female in expensive designer sunglasses waiting impatiently with her bodyguard, a taller blonde man.
Lina and Gourry, he noted mentally, then turned back to his meeting.
"Gentlemen," Xelloss turned to gaze about his table of visiting executives, noting Mr. Phibrizzo, Mr. Vrumrugen, Mr. Zangulus, all in turn. "That will conclude our meeting for the day. Thank you." He sat back and patiently watched Mr. Zangulus join the secretary to go for lunch. Xelloss smiled to himself. It was good to accidentally hire the sister of one of the most powerful weapons manufacturers in the country. They weren't all into just weapons, though. Mr. Vrumrugen was partnered with Mr. Zangulus in small arms and surveillance manufacturing, not to mention a little secret darker business that Xelloss found very useful at times. Mr. Phibrizzo headed that darker department of their company, but also worked with overseas affairs, and was rich enough to own his own company. Phibrizzo also found time to be a stunt man on action movies with such big names as Zelgadis, Amelia, and Xelloss' very own sister, Lina Inverse.
He put on his most charming smile and went out to speak with the latter.
"I'll see you tomorrow on the set!" the red-head was yelling as the group boarded the elevator, and a beautiful woman standing next to Phibrizzo turned and smiled, waving slightly, her blue eyes friendly, as the doors closed and cut off their conversation. Turning to see Xelloss, she placed both hands on her hips, "XELLOSS METALLIUM! I," she paused for dramatic effect, "have gotten you a date." She grinned, and Xelloss winced delicately.
*Just* what he needed.
And Gourry, of course, just stood there, surveying the painting-replicas on the wall, not even paying attention to what was happening to poor, poor Xelloss.
He made the effort to turn his smile from pained to pleasant and followed the pair onto the elevator. "You don't need to do that, Lina," he replied as she chattered on about her latest movie, where she'd met the girl. "I can handle myself quite well, you know."
"You haven't dated in three years and I'm doing something about it," she stated firmly, and refused to hear anything more on it, single-handedly carrying most of the conversation as they reached the ground floor and got into the waiting limo. Xelloss only smiled, used to his younger sister's pushiness. She liked to be in control of things, and almost had a nervous breakdown the year before when their father died.
So he listened to her with half an ear as she talked about the girl she'd found. A blue-eyed blonde, tall, pretty, and nice, she worked with the animals in Lina's latest movie, training them and taking care of them. He refrained from laughing when his sister socked Gourry for adding a bit about the girl's better physical attributes, but couldn't help a widening of his smile. Lina could always make him laugh.
His smile turned reminiscent. When they were kids, when he still tried to be protective of her, Lina would push his face in the mud and stand up to the other little boys herself. And she'd whop them too, usually. She'd always been small for her age, but she was one helluva spitfire, and had learned to defend herself quickly. There were a few times, of course, that she hadn't won and had come home sporting black eyes and bruises -- mainly as she got older and more sensitive about her small chest size. But she'd just set her chin when Xelloss asked about them and held the tears stubbornly back while he treated her cuts and wounds. He'd learned to use other methods to find out what had happened and go behind Lina's back to take care of the matter. He earned a private reputation for fighting rarely but fighting dirty, and by encounters with both siblings, people learned not to annoy either.
But it was rare that Xelloss found his temper beyond what he could control, and so his bouts of violence were isolated only to matters involving his sister -- and now that he ran the family company, he had others to do such unpleasant work for him.
He followed his sister and her bodyguard, who was looking interested in what she was saying, into the restaurant, hands in his pockets as Lina greeted the majordomo and looked voraciously over the menu. Her constant physical activity tended to goad her already hefty appetite to gluttonous proportions.
Xelloss ordered hot tea and a light soup while his sister and her bodyguard took care of the rest of the menu. He sipped his tea contentedly while they argued and talked loudly, Lina gesturing widely with her arms and nearly knocking the waiter over. It really was unprofessional the way they bickered.
They finally got their food and settled down to some serious eating. Xelloss ate his soup slowly, watching his sister talk with her mouth full. She was always talking, and usually loud.
He thought about the girl she'd found. *That little schemer,* he smirked, proud she'd learned *something* from him. He wouldn't fight it -- one date to make his sister happy wouldn't be so terrible. And she had a point -- he hadn't been out in a very long time. Though not as long as Lina thought.
Ever since Zelas dumped him . . . But no, he wouldn't think about her.
He tried to listen to his sister again, to get his mind off of the memories that were trying so desperately to resurface. Memories of Zelas's blonde hair and long legs. . . . That thing she would do for him, and the way she liked to be on top . . .
He sighed and smiled at something Lina had said, making an extra effort to pay attention to her. Too many more thoughts like that and it would be very uncomfortable walking out of the restaurant.
Lina paid for lunch and they went back out to the limo, agreeing to drop Xelloss off at his office before returning to the movie set. They had one more scene to shoot before finishing for the day.
When Xelloss got back to work, he informed his secretary that he was going home early and locked his office up before going down to the parking garage, jingling his keys merrily as he went. He bid the garage attendant a cheerful goodbye and pulled out onto the busy street. Since he was the head of a whole corporation, he drove a sleek, expensive black car.
He went straight home and took a shower, lingering a bit under the heat. When he got out and dried his hair, he changed into some casual clothes, rather than the suit he'd worn. Jeans and a dark button-up blue shirt, and some tennis shoes.
He took his time driving because the filming wouldn't be over quite yet and he didn't want to run into Lina. When he got there, the guard told him she'd already left. Xelloss pretended to be concerned and asked if he could go and make sure for himself. The guard had no real reason to refuse him.
As he strolled onto the lot, he smiled to himself and his step immediately lightened. All he had to do was ask a bit of directions and . . .
Soon he was standing by a cage with a sleepy tiger in it and several tethered, barking dogs nearby. (The dogs being much removed from the tiger's reach, of course.) A horse behind both cage and dogs was snorting grumpily and eyed Xelloss with distrust. He took the time to pat the dogs, all of them licking his hands and whining, obviously looking for treats.
And then a feed bag with legs rounded a nearby corner and Xelloss straightened, blinking at it. Then he got a better look at its legs and looked curiously at *those* for a moment. They were very nice legs. Long and tanned and mostly bare. There was a hint of shorts peeking out from under the feed bag, but they must have been *very* short to show that much skin.
The woman dropped the bag with a heavy "wumph" and Xelloss got his first peek of the rest of her.
He kept his jaw from dropping, but couldn't help staring a little. A full chest in a tight shirt, big dark blue eyes, those short shorts showing off her long, firm legs, yards of blonde hair pulled back in a French braid, and . . . pink sandals?
Xelloss stared at her feet for a moment as she straightened and looked at him.
Filia's first thought was that he was a new sound boy and horribly rude to see her hauling that heavy bag without offering to help. Her second thought was that he was *damn* sexy. And her third was to wonder what was so interesting about her feet. She glanced down at her pink sandals and blushed a little. Oh.
And then he looked up at her, and smiled, and there *were* no more thoughts. Filia found herself flushing intensely.
The yipping of her dogs finally broke her out of the state she was in, and she hurried to feed the poor neglected beasts. It was really horrible of her to get so distracted over a silly man -- and a stranger, at that! Although . . . she risked another glance at him and saw him still smiling at her . . . he really *was* good looking. In those snug blue jeans and that dark shirt with the top three buttons open, showing a nice chest . . . the contrast of fabric and skin. . . .
Filia suppressed the tremor that wanted to run over her body and squelched those thoughts down -- *hard* -- hiding in the task of feeding the dogs. When she straightened, she was much more composed, and even had the presence of mind to greet the stranger petting her dogs.
"Hi," she said, wiping her hands on her shorts and holding one out to him, shaking his hand firmly and congratulating herself on her control. "Are you new here?" He had a nice smile. Friendly -- cheerful, even. It made her feel much more relaxed.
"Perhaps," he replied mysteriously, with that generously cheerful look. "I'm certainly not old."
She smiled a little, amused, and scratched her dogs' heads. He came closer and patted another of them.
"What are you doing Thursday?" he asked.
"Oh," Filia replied, blushing, "nothing . . . yet . . ." She ducked her head and tried desperately to repress a blushing smile.
"How about dinner? Something simple . . . pizza?" he asked, moving a little closer to her and smiling.
She couldn't stop the smile that spread, or the consciousness of how close he was, but she *could* look down at the dogs and pretend to be absorbed in them instead of him. "I, um, . . . yeah. Yeah. Sure."
"Can I get your number? So we can, you know, plan." He smiled when she glanced up at him from beneath her lashes and then quickly back down again. She was nervous.
"Uh . . . we'll need . . . paper," she said absently, flushed and confused. Xelloss kept his smile cheerful, pretending not to notice that his chest was only centimeters away from her arm. Filia was short of breath and definitely not looking at him.
"I can remember it," he replied softly.
"Oh." She was breathless when she told it to him the number.
Xelloss smiled, pleased. "Thank you." He stepped back slightly and took her hand, bringing it to his lips and kissing it before turning and walking off. Filia watched his back and held her hand close to her, hoping it hadn't tasted like dog food. She blushed deeply at the thought of his being so repulsed by her hand that he would never call her.
She alternated between smiling goofily and worrying for the rest of the day.