Lina tapped Zel on the shoulder. "Hey, Zel." She smiled weakly. "Great party, huh?"
Zel merely nodded, keen hearing catching her voice through the cacophony of the band.
Lina leaned against the wall. "Of course, it's better than lying in bed." She sighed. "I hate not doing anything..."
Zel Laughed, "No need to convince me of that, Lina. I know you too well." He replied. She grinned.
"Lina!" Gourry headed through the crowd to Lina and Zel. "Why are you two sitting there?" He gestured towards the crowd. "Everyone's having fun!" He grabbed Lina's hand. "Ne, Lina! Want to dance?"
Lina smiled apologetically at Zel. "Sure, Gourry."
Zel watched Lina dancing, twirling, her long skirt swirling about her ankles. She wasn't really all that flat chested, actually, just not very stocked...
Lina was smiling, laughing, real smiles, real giggles. Zel wondered if she knew how beautiful she was when she smile....
That thought sent him off on a nice little dream, where she swirled over in a red taffeta dress, held out her hand, and said, "Zel, would you like to dance? Zel?....Zel?"
"ZEL!" Zelgadis jumped.
"Huh? What?" He asked intelligently.
"I SAID, do you want to dance?" Amelia said brightly.
Zel sighed. What the heck. "Sure, Amelia." HE stood and took her hand. She giggled happily and bodily dragged him onto the dance floor.
Zel danced, spun and stepped where he was supposed to, but his mind wasn't really on it. He was only vaguely aware of Amelia babbling about how cute this couple looked and how this man was cheating on his wife with that man's fifteen year old daughter.
This went on for a bit, but Zel stayed off in never land...
"Hey, Zel! Wake up!" Came a slightly sarcastic voice, with just a touch of kindness and spread over with humor. He looked down.
"I've rescued you from the man-eating demon." Lina said with a wink.
"L-Lina? Huh? Wha - ?"
She chuckled. "Observant, aren't we?" She smiled at him...not a mocking smile, but one that laughed with him, even when he wasn't laughing. "Remember the last dance? That was a changing partners dance." She grinned. "You owe me. Do you know how hard it was to get in the right place to have you free at the end of the music?"
He blushed. "Uh, thanks...I'm sorry, I wasn't really paying attention..."
She smiled sympathetically. "I'm not surprised. With Amelia chattering in one's ear, I would have turned onto auto-pilot, too. It tends to numb your ears." She winked. "Just see to it that she didn't numb your feet." She giggled. "You're a bad enough dancer already."
"What? Hey..." He started.
"Well, you certainly haven't been doing much more than the most basic dance steps tonight," She grinned. "Mr. Left feet."
He snorted. "Oh, really? Well, I hope you know your dances..."And he proceeded to out-dance every male there.
It was something his mother had insisted on his learning when he was human. She had loved to dance, and it had really bugged her that his father couldn't. So since he was young, she had taught him and taken him dancing until it was an ingrown talent.
Besides, the lead didn't have to do nearly as much as the follower. And Lina was keeping up remarkably well.
As the music started to end, as a coup de grace Zel lifted Lina into the air and spun her, then tossed, where she twirled and landed in a graceful pose. Both were breathing hard and grinning maniacally at each other.
The room burst into applause, and Zel belatedly noticed that they were alone on the dance floor. He tried to sneak off, but Lina caught him in a headlock, grinned, and waved at the crowd. And accepted a...trophy?
"Th-this was a contest?" he whispered.
"Weren't you listening? Yes!" She grinned. "I was afraid you were as bad as Gourry, and I'D have to lead!"
He smiled. "I've had practice. Um...can we sit down?"
She grinned at him. "I'm winded myself. Sure."
Meanwhile, across the room, Amelia was bemoaning her life to Gourry.
"He was dancing so nicely with Lina-san!" She wailed. "I know I'm not that good, but he could have at least done some of those lifts!"
Gourry gazed into his cup. It was the fifth, of a highly alcoholic beverage, and was almost gone.
"Maybe he had more reason to dance like that with Lina?" He said softly.
"Why is that?" She exclaimed, annoyed. "It's not like they're a couple or anything!"
Gourry shrugged. "Who knows what went on when we weren't there? But besides...I don't think he wants to encourage you."
He shrugged again. "He really hates it when you hang on him all the time. He..." He looked at her. "Amelia, you are a wonderful girl, and I'm sure your perfect match is out there somewhere, but...I don't think it's Zel."
"But...we could make it work!"
"Would Zel like being King?"
"He'd make a wonderful King! He's intelligent, polite, he thinks before acting, he - "
"Would hate it." Gourry finished. "He hates being around people, Amelia. And he can't stand being the center of attention. He doesn't make friends easily. In fact the only reason he has us is because of Lina. How would he function as king?"
Amelia thought hard. "He'd put up an impenetrable shell. He'd make others feel politely alienated...and he'd crumble inside..." She stopped. "But I could give the crown to Gracia! And then - "
Gourry interrupted again. "Does he love you?"
"Of course! He's just afraid - "
"Stop lying to yourself. It will only hurt more." Gourry put a brotherly arm around her. "It's a younger sibling thing. And..." He paused, searching for words. "You can't help him. You only make him feel uncomfortable. The only time I've ever seen him smile is around Lina." He smiled at her. "He needs someone to truly support him, Amelia"
Amelia thought about this for a while. As much as it hurt, it was true.
"Is that wine?"
"I believe so."
"You should get drunk more often."
Chapter 8 | Fanfiction