I think as you grow older your tastes change. For instance, I never liked bacon as a child but I do now. So maybe Lina's tastes changed too. Her first love was Gourry but after awhile his stupidity could really start to get on her nerves. Gourry is a good first love, but Zel is the kind of man you could spend your life with. I think Lina would recognize that as she got older. The bacon thing, okay? Even if you don't like it just bear with me please. I know the mood of the story swings a lot but that's just how it is. This is my first fic, so if you don't like it go jump it a pit of flaming lava singing Mary had a Little Lamb. That always makes me feel better. If you do like it E-mail me at Aradia@iwon.com. I need repeated praise or I get all pathetic and lonely. Also this takes place five years after Next. Enjoy! ^_^
The sky was clear of clouds that night. The stars were shining brightly and clearly down on the little clearing were Lina Inverse sat on a dead log. On this night, however, Lina's mind was anything but clear. Her watch had ended about an hour ago but she couldn't sleep. Amelia was dozing on the other side of the clearing. Hmmph, Lina thought, Amelia never was very good at taking watch. I'll just have to do it for her. Lina sat there and gazed at the sleeping forms of her three friends. Amelia, sweet innocent Amelia. She cares more about others than herself and her belief in justice is so strong. I guess it would have to be to remain innocent in the world we live in. She may be incredibly annoying at times but I know she will always be there for me.
Zel. He is so strong, even if he doesn't realize it. Not bad looking either. He always complains about how people stare at him when we walk into a town. He thinks they are repulsed by him. I think the women stare at him in wonder and the men...... well; I don't really want to know. He really is wonderful to look at. So unique. And he cares even though he won't admit it. He is almost as smart as I am though with all his complaining I sometimes wonder if his IQ is the same as Gourry's.
Gourry. Her Gourry. He is such an idiot. Sometimes he makes me just want to kill him, but he can be so sweet. He can be smart occasionally and observant. Like when we are about to be attacked. He always knows ahead of time. Even I haven't been able to do that. And he protects me. I don't need it but it feels nice to have someone watch out for you every once and awhile.
Ever since that day five years ago I thought myself in love with Gourry. Every one else thought so too. It was something that was just there. We couldn't change it, especially after he rescued me. It was a wonderful feeling, being in love. I thought we would always be together after that. Just us. It was fine for a while. We parted ways with Zel and Amelia and went off to start our life together. It was so much fun! Traveling with the one I love, out under the stars or sharing a cozy room at an inn. The biggest problem was getting enough food for the both of us! But we had that problem even before we became a couple.
When we met up with Zel and Amelia again things just slipped back to the way they were before that day Gourry rescued me. He didn't seem affected by that but I wondered. As for me, I almost felt relived. I didn't want to hurt Gourry but he was starting to really bug me. Not the minor annoyances that were typical of him. I was used to those by now. It was more like a deep resentment. And I had no idea why I felt this way. I started feeling guilty, after all I shouldn't be feeling this way about him. I loved him, I mean LOVE him. And he loves me. Even though he never actually said it I know he did...DOES.
After we saved the world again we parted ways with Amelia and Zel and went back to the way we were before, but things were never quite the same again. It was just routine. At least for me it was. Gourry I couldn't tell. Now all these years later it's the same thing. This time we are all searching for some new cure for Zel. It wasn't planned. We just met them at an inn. They were traveling together. Maybe that means Amelia has finally gotten her wish. They haven't acted like a couple but maybe they are like Gourry and I. When others are around just keep quiet about our relationship. I hope Zel and Amelia are together. I want Amelia to be happy. But then why do I resent her so much?
The stars were very bright tonight. That's why he couldn't sleep. At least, that's what he tried to tell himself. It wasn't the stars. It was his own mind. He was confused. He had heard all the rumors about the powerful sorceress and the swordsman who was her bodyguard. They were lovers. That's what everyone said. They always shared a room at an inn. But he hadn't seen any of that lately. Lina insisted on sharing a room with Amelia and Gourry stayed with him. He was almost relieved but he wasn't sure. Were they putting on an act or not? And if not, then what about the rumors?
Five years ago, when Lina gave up her life for Gourry and Gourry risked his for her, Zel knew he had lost all hope. They were in love and he was just a monster. How could he change anything? He knew that they thought he and Amelia had something but that wasn't true. For a while he turned to her to fight his feelings for Lina. After a while, though, he realized he couldn't change the way he felt.
He thought Amelia still had a crush on him but he was sure she would grow out of it. She would probably meet some prince from a neighboring kingdom who would catch her heart and they would be married and live happily ever after. The kind of fairy tale ending he secretly wished for but could never have. Now all he felt for her was the kind of love a big brother would have for his little sister. But he still had feelings for Lina and he had to know if all was lost or not.
He lay there contemplating the stars when he heard a noise. THUD. THUD. THUD.
"What the...!" Zel slipped out of his bedroll and followed the noise. He was rather surprised at what he saw. Lina was standing by a dead log kicking it. "If it annoys you that much why don't you just Fireball it like you would Gourry?" He asked in a small voice.
Lina jumped about two feet in the air and let out a string of quite expletives that made Zel blush.
"Zelgadiss Graywords, what the HELL do you think you're doing? Sneaking up on me like that." Lina hissed at him.
"Sorry. I heard a noise and I wondered what it was. I know Amelia likes to nap during her watch. But what are you doing? You're watch ended two hours ago." Zel had a slightly puzzled look on his face.
"Sorry to have woken you up Zel, but I couldn't sleep."
"Don't worry. You didn't wake me up. But you didn't answer my question. What are you doing?"
"I was just thinking and it made me mad. I didn't want to wake you guys up so instead of dragon slaving this place I just... well, you know." Lina made a sweeping gestured at the fallen log.
"Kicked an innocent log?"
At this Lina, who had been hanging her head in embarrassment, glared at Zel fierce enough to make him wince.
"Ah, Ahem. Ah, sorry about that. Please don't kill me. Instead, why don't we talk about what made you mad?" Zel tried to back away from Lina holding his hands protectively in front of him. Unfortunately there was a root right behind him and he feel flat on his butt.
Lina giggled and held out her hand, "Come on. Have a seat."
Zel blushed and looked at her then took her hand. He brushed the dirt of his bottom and sat down next to Lina. I wish I could have brushed that dirt of for him. Lina thought. Arrhg! Why did I just think that? What has gotten into me! Lina silently shook her head and was glad she wasn't one for thinking out loud.
"Now Lina, what is bothering you so much?" Zel peered at her with his usual stone face (no pun intended ^_^ actually...) and maybe just a hint of worry in his eyes. Lina wasn't too sure. He sure is hard to read! "Its nothing. Really. Don't worry a bit."
Zel stared at her disbelievingly. "For some reason I don't believe you."
"I told you I'm fine! Now leave me alone before I fireball your ass outta here!" Lina glared at him furiously.
Zel tilted his head to the side and stared at her. Just as she was starting to fidget under his intense stare he said, "You wouldn't."
"Wouldn't what?" she said in a distant voice. For some reason her skin felt very warm all of a sudden.
"Fireball my ass."
"Oh. Maybe, maybe not." Lina was finding it harder and harder to concentrate as he stared at her.
"I'd like to do something else to his ass though." She thought. Or thought she thought.
"What did you say?" Zel had a supremely odd look on his face as he stared at her through the gloom.
"Nothing! I didn't say anything! Why?" Lina spluttered out a little to fast.
"Oh. It must have been the wind."
Zel silently berated himself. Stop thinking like that! She doesn't want you she wants Gourry!
At the same time Lina was thinking, Be careful! He almost heard you! But why was I thinking that in the first place? I don't like Zel like that...Right?
After the two finished yelling at themselves Zel turned to Lina.
"You haven't yet told me what made you so mad. What was it?"
Lina thought for a moment and sighed, finally giving in. "I was thinking about my love life."
Zel's heart gave a painful lurch but he kept on his course. "Exactly what love life is that?" Lina glared daggers at him. "I didn't mean it like that!" he quickly apologized. "I just meant, what particular love life are you talking about? Is it Gourry?" He finished with a whisper.
Lina stared off into the distance for what seemed like an eternity to Zel before she slowly answered, "Yeah, kinda."
Zel looked at her and asked, "What do you mean kinda?"
Lina sighed and looked at the stars. "Certainly are bright tonight aren't they?" A long silence ensued that was both comfortable and uncomfortable. Lina didn't want to talk about her love life, especially to the man who had made it so confusing. But just being near him was comforting. She wanted to lean against him and be protected by him.
Zel was thinking along the same lines as Lina. He didn't want to discuss her love life, especially since it didn't involve him. But being with Lina was relaxing which was saying a lot considering her habit of blowing things up. Besides, backing out now would look suspicious.
Suddenly, Lina sighed, breaking Zel out of his revere. "Fine! All right! If you will just shut up and stop complaining I'll tell you what is wrong! Happy now?!" she exclaimed irritably.
Zel stared at her a moment and said, "Lina, just what are you talking about? I didn't say anything!"
Lina glared at him and mumbled something about him going on again. Silence descended once again before Lina sighed again and said, "Sorry. I just... I'm having trouble right now and I don't know if I should tell you about it or not." Zel stared at her as she went on, "My love life is totally screwed up."
Lina let things hang at this while she struggled with what to say and Zel sat patiently and watched her. "Gourry and I have been a couple for a really long time now and I love him. Its just that..." Zel's heart squeezed painfully when she admitted her love for Gourry. See. This is just what you always thought. She could never love you! Zel would have glared at himself if he could.
Lina continued, not noticing the look of pain on Zel's face, "Well, I love Gourry, I really do. But not like that. Now he is just more of an annoying older brother. I know he loves me but I don't know what exactly he feels for me." At this Zel's hope started to rise, Maybe I do have a chance with her after all!
Lina sank into though while Zel though about this new turn of events. Again, Lina sighed. (She's been doing a lot of that lately) "Its just that, I could live like this but I have feelings for someone else. That's what first made me realize something was wrong with me and Gourry."
At this Zel's heart sank. First she loves Gourry and now someone else! Why can't she make up her mind and love me! No that's not fair. The logical part of him thought. She has to do what will make her happy. "Who do you love?" He blurted out much to his chagrin.
Lina sighed (again, I know...) and continued as if he hadn't spoken at all. "I just don't know if he loves me. He never pays any attention to me or when he does he just treats me as a child. Sometimes I want to Fireball his ass so bad. But he never pays attention to me." She finished of in a whisper.
Lina was slumped down on the log with her head in her hands hoping that Zel would not see the tears trickle down her cheeks. Suddenly she felt a pair of strong arms slip around her shoulders. She quickly looked up to see Zel looking at her with concern. "Shhh. Don't cry." He gently brushed away the tears running down her cheeks, glinting in the moonlight. "If you want I will chase him down for you and make him pay attention to you. I'll tie him down and you can Fireball him all you want."
Lina sniffled and made a noise that sounded suspiciously like a giggle. "Thanks Zel, but I don't think that would work." Lina leaned back and tilted her head to the side to give him a long, appraising look. "Thanks. You've made me feel a lot better." At this she leaned back into his arms and snuggled close to him.
Zel was suddenly having a very hard time thinking, what with trying to wipe up his nosebleed and not disturb Lina in his lap. When he finally got the situation under control he asked, "Why don't you tell him how you feel? Its not like you to hide and wait for someone to rescue you. Go after him and if he doesn't pay attention to you, Fireball him."
Lina thought about this for a while and suddenly stood up. "You're right Zel. I should tell him how I feel. I can't go on like this! And Gourry will understand. I think." Lina looked slightly worried about this but continued as both got up to walk back to camp. "I will tell him how I feel and if he tries to ignore me I will Fireball his ass to Kingdom Come!"
"Come? Were is that?"
"Oh, east of Saillune somewhere."
"Really. Never heard of it."
The next morning the sun came up bright and early as usual and as usual none of the Slayers group wanted to get up. What was strange was that Zel wasn't up either. He was always the first up making coffee and starting breakfast. But this morning he had a good reason not to get up.
Lina is probably going to drag everyone to some odd town where her beloved lives, profess her love, find it is returned, and get happily married all because of what I said last night.
Zel kept gloomily going over this though in his head when all of a sudden he smelled something burning and a string of expletives come from somewhere on his left. He turned and saw Lina was up and cooking breakfast. That is trying to cook breakfast. "What are you doing?" Zel asked.
Lina jumped at the sound of his voice and looked at him sheepishly. "I was trying to cook breakfast." She said in an annoyed voice. Lina turned and glared at the bacon (HeHeHe) in the pan as if she would like to Fireball it. Which she would, by the way. "I decided to take your advice, remember?"
"Yeah" Zel nodded. "Here, let me help you with that." He said as Lina swore again. "Keep quiet. We don't want to wake up Gourry and Amelia until breakfast is ready."
Lina almost looked as if she would refuse his help but gave in to the better cook. The two silently went about their task, never needing to say anything. They understood each other without words.
When breakfast was done Lina went to check the coffee. That was when Zel noticed there wasn't nearly enough for Lina, Gourry, and Amelia's breakfast. Zel turned in confusion to Lina and saw her putting the food and a water skin with coffee into a basket.
"What are you doing?" He asked slowly.
Lina turned to him and grinned. "Folowing your advice, remember. Come on. I don't want to be gone to long or Gourry and Amelia will wake up and worry." With that Lina turned and walked of into the forest without looking back.
Zel sighed. Its bad enough I helped her make breakfast for her love but now she wants me to go with her! If I didn't know better I would think she was doing this to torture me.
What Zel didn't know was that Lina was doing this to torture him. Last night after he had comforted her she lay awake in her bed role thinking about what had just happened. Suddenly, an idea hit her. (She promptly smacked it back but that is beside the point.) Zel had acted very oddly during their little 'chat'. Odd enough to make her think he was sad when she said she had feelings for someone else. Then the way he held her when she, er... was upset. He must have feelings for her! Her heart thrilled at the thought that her love might actually be returned.
Then she thought about what a hypocrite he was being with all that stuff about telling the one you love how you feel. This made Lina rather angry but she decided (For once) that Fireballing him would not be a good idea. Not the best of ways to start a relationship, that. So she decided to follow that time honored slogan, Don't get mad. Get even. And she would. Yes, Lina Inverse would get even.
Lina went skipping of into the forest with a dejected Zel following her. Looking up at the sky Lina thought, What a beautiful day! I don't think I have ever seen the sky so blue! I already know that today is going to be soooooo much fun! Lina then let her mind drift to several different, and pleasant, ways to make Zel suffer. Hmmm... Wonder what I could do to make him suffer most? Maybe... Find the nearest village swineherd and fall all over him? ... No. To obvious. ... This is harder than I thought!
Lina began to chew her lip with a thoughtful look on her face. She wanted to make him suffer, but not to badly. Suddenly, Lina got an idea. As she pondered it her face lit up with a grin some, hell anyone, would describe as maniacal. Ohhh, I know exactly what to do! And when I'm finished, Zel will be mine! Then, I will conquer the World! BWAHAHAHAHAHA! (Hey, Lina didn't get much sleep. She can be a little crazy)
Zel trudged behind Lina feeling rather depressed. He was on his way to help his love find her true love that was not him. (I really hope that made sense.)You would feel depressed too. Zel looked ahead at Lina who was smiling and humming while she skipped through the trees. She seemed very happy with a distant look in her eyes. Probably daydreaming about what kind of dress she will wear in the wedding. And she'll probably want me to be there.
At this point, if it is even possible, Zel looked more depressed than before. He just knew this was gonna be a bad day.
All of a sudden Lina stopped and looked around. Bending over she examined something for a second and then called behind her, "Hey Zel! Come and look at this!"
Zel was snapped out of his depressive daydreams and walked over to Lina. Just as he got there with a sullen, "What now Lina?" Lina stood up and took a slight step back. This caused a slight collision, which caused Lina to fall face first into a mud puddle that was conveniently situated right in front of her.
Sitting up sputtering, Lina glared at Zel and shrieked, "Look what you just did! I got all cleaned up today to go and tell the man I love my feelings and you toss me in a mud puddle! Jerk! Asshole! Bastard!"
Zel paled at Lina's onslaught but held his ground. "Lina, it was an accident. I'm sorry. I guess we'll just have to go back to camp and get you cleaned up. Maybe you can go after this guy another day."
Lina glared at him some more but realized he was partially right. But he wasn't about to get out of it that easily. "You know Zel, you're right. I should get cleaned up. But we don't need to go back to camp. I saw a pond just back aways." With that Lina got up and tried to brush herself off but it didn't quite work. "You just stay over here so I can find you again. And don't cause any trouble while I'm gone." Zel then settled on the rock Lina had pointed to and set himself to wait.
Lina walked off into the forest knowing exactly where she was going. She had relatives around here and had played in this area a lot when she was a kid. Turning Lina gave one last glance at Zel before she walked into the dense brush and out of site.
Zel gazed around from his perch on the rock. Hey, He thought. I can actually see quite a bit from here. He didn't realize how right he was. Looking to his left, Zel spotted a small pond. Its very nice here. I think I will just relax until Lina gets back.
He leaned back and closed his eyes, listening to the sounds of the forest. Some rustling by the pond, a bird chirp and, What?! A splash. Zel sat up quickly and looked around. What was that?! Looking towards the pond Zel blinked. Then blinked again. And again. This kept on for quite a while, but that is beside the point. The point is, Lina was in the pond, butt naked, washing her clothes. And Zel had a nice view of her front. Zel sat there and gulped as he watched Lina wash her clothes. When she was finished she lay them on a rock and began to wash herself. Lina turned towards Zel and reached up to rinse her hair with some soap she had gotten who knows where. But Zel didn't care about the soap. No, the pervert was closely watching her chest rise and fall as she moved.
ZEL: I wouldn't do that!
AUTHOR: Yes you would. I know you like it. jab Besides, aren't you always hard?
ZEL: What the heck are you talking about now?!
AUTHOR: smiles suggestively and wiggles eyebrows
ZEL: ... Oh... blushes beat red
So, to skip all the Lemony Good Stuff(tm), Zel watched Lina bathe, and dry off, and brush her hair, and get dressed. Then he laid back down and to look all kawai and innocent for when Lina came back. And to try to get rid of that condition our Author mentioned earlier. snicker
Lina made her way back to were she had left Zel, Hoping he hadn't passed out from blood loss. You see, Lina knew exactly what she was doing the entire time she was washing. She even fell in the mud on purpose. Bad Lina. Sneaky Lina. Evil Lina. Twisted Lina. I could go on all day but instead I will tell you the rest of the story.
So Lina came back to find Zel (supposedly) snoozing by the rock. Lina walked over to him, bent down to his ear and shouted, "HEY ZEL! I finished cleaning up, but I'm hungry now! So lets eat!"
Zel jumped about three feet in the air and landed with a thunk. "Lina! Why did you do that?! I was sleeping!" He tried to glare at Lina, but since she was ignoring him he quit. Its hard to glare at someone who is ignoring you. So Lina set up the picnic basket they had set up and started to eat.
Now, normally I would have a nice, romantic little scene here, but that wouldn't be true to form. So Zel tried to talk to Lina, who ignored him some more and tore at her food. Zel eventually gave up and sipped his coffee.
After they finished, Zel picked up what was left (silverware) and stowed it away. They proceeded to walk. And walk some more. And then a little more. Zel, getting tired of the author having no imagination, decided to try and talk to Lina, who was happily skipping along up ahead.
"So Lina, exactly who is this guy we're going to see?" He said tactfully. (Yeah... Right Lina glanced at him and smiled. "His name is Justin and I've known him all my life. We were best friends growing up. I haven't seen him in awhile, though, but I always promised I would come back, and there is this wonderful little church that I have always wanted to get married in. I figure if everything works out they'll need to get the place ready tonight!" Lina did a little skip twirl thing that was entirely out of character for her but Zel didn't notice. He was in too much of a funk. At least I will have my memories. He thought desolately. Fortunately, they were close to the town, so this author doesn't have to bore you with mindless chatter.
Lina walked right down the main street and into an inn. Lina ran up to the counter, jumped it and glomped onto the man serving drinks. "Justin!" she cried. "I missed you so much!" After an initial shock the man looked at her and said, "Lina! Its so good to see you! Its been way to long!" Both grinned at each other and hugged, as old friends meeting again after years of separation do.
After chatting a bit, which Zel tuned out in his misery, Lina turned to Zel, becoming serious, and said, "I came here for a reason. You know I always said I would come back when I was ready to settle down and get married.
"Well, I finally realized who was the one for me, and I want to do it. He is the most wonderful, caring man in the world and I know he will take care of me and cherish me just like I deserve. Now that I have time to reflect, I finally realize that I can't live without him and I hope he loves me as much. Unfortunately, he is to chicken to tell me how he feels. But when I tell him how I feel, I hope he will agree to marry me. I love him, and I honestly don't think I could live without him."
Zel felt his heart breaking a little more with each word. His entire world was falling apart. He looked down at his hands, to hide the faint shimmer in his eyes. He didn't think he could live without Lina. She made his world complete. She made him complete.
He glanced up to see Justin Looking at him. Lina also saw this and smiled. "Sorry, I forgot to introduce you! Justin this is my traveling companion, Zelgadiss. Zel, this is my cousin, Justin."
At that Zel's head snapped up as he looked at Lina and murmured, "Cousin?" Lina smiled and nodded then said in a soft voice, "Justin, I should have mentioned, he is my soon to be, at least I hope, fiancÚ."
Zel stared at Lina in shock as she gazed at him calmly. After making several attempts to speak Zel gave up and Lina said, "Zelgadiss Greywers, don't you know a marriage proposal when you hear one?"
Zel looked at her and smiled. Not just any smile, but a smile of pure happiness. "Lina... I would love to spend the rest of my life with you."
At this Lina threw herself at Zel and they embraced, kissing passionately.
"I love you Zel."
"I love you too Lina."
The next day, Lina and Zel were married. Amelia and Gourry both showed up, but there were no hard feelings as Gourry had decided long ago Sylphiel was the woman for him, but hadn't wanted to abandon Lina and Amelia had out grown her crush long ago and already had a boyfriend. The group separated, with Lina and Zel deciding to travel around more for a honeymoon and Amelia and Gourry going home. Lina and Zel grew old together, fought constantly, and lived Happily Ever After.
Special Thanks To: Shel-chan, for helping me when I was stumped, Ab-chan for inspiration and stuff, and Kel-chan for being so darn kawai!!!