Only Stone on the Outside

by Dreamsinger

Only Stone on the Outside

a Slayers fanfic

by Dreamsinger

2003

I do not own this terrific series; I just wish I did. Please let me know if you'd like to print or archive my story, though, because it's a real boost to the ol' faltering ego. There are a few minor spoilers, but nothing really descriptive. PG for minor swearing.

Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!

Chapter Eighteen: Confessions

Lina was hiding in a dark room, scrunching herself up into the smallest ball possible, as she used to when she was little. How did I get here? she thought in alarm. She tensed as she heard footsteps-and a horribly familiar voice. "Where are you, little sister? Liiinaaa..."

Lina trembled, trying to control the surges of rage/dread that made her want to bolt. Or to fight. I can't move. Luna's stronger than me. If she catches me I'd...

"There you are!"

Lina shrieked and tried to escape, but was brought up short by her sister's hand clamped painfully on her shoulder. "What are you doing, hiding from me? You didn't do the work you promised that you would, and now you're trying to get out of your punishment as well. I'm afraid I'm going to have to come up with a more severe penalty for such disobedience."

Lina felt herself dragged backwards, with the scenery swirling around her, and turned to see a familiar room-her family's basement. She blinked. On the worktable in the center of the room was a familiar person, someone who should not have been there..."Gourry!" she yelped. He was unconscious, tied down to the table with heavy ropes. What is he doing here?

Her worst fears were confirmed when her sister stepped in front of her, her eyes under shadowed bangs so that Lina could only see her mouth curving in a cruel smile. "If punishing you won't work, maybe watching one of your little friends get punished will."

"No..." Lina whimpered. Gourry...She wanted to save him-to take her sword and cut the ropes and get him as far away from her sister as possible. But I can't fight her. She's stronger than me...

Gourry crouched over the unmoving body of his friend, as he gulped air in great gasps. Oh, no, is she...? He lifted her into his arms, cradling her body against him as he looked to see if she was breathing.

Her eyes fluttered open. "Ah..." she groaned. "Gourry?"

He stared down at her, his blonde hair straggling over his eye. "Yeah," he answered, immensely relieved that she was alive.

"You...bastard," she cursed, shocking him.

"Lina?" His eyes were wide with astonishment. In spite of all the name-calling she did, Lina had never called him something like that.

She drew in a shaky breath. "Where were you when I needed you?"

"Huh? I chased off the monster, Lina; he's gone now. Are you hurt?"

"Moron." Her ruby eyes turned away from him. "I'm dying."

The tall, shadowy form behind Lina began, "You've been a bad girl, Lina. " The figure of her sister began to move forward, past Lina.

"No!" The word surprised Lina more than it did her sister.

"No?" The Luna-image paused. "Why, sister dear, whatever is the matter? You know this is your own fault. If you'd been a more obedient girl this wouldn't have to happen. Besides, you can heal any damage that occurs during this little demonstration. Or I can, if you prefer."

Lina was trembling all over from repressed rage and fear. "I forbid you to lay a single finger on Gourry." Her voice was hoarse with terror.

"You forbid me? I think not, little sister. I believe it's about time I put you in your place, and reminded you just who the more powerful Inverse sister is! Bram Gush!" Lina was thrown back by a huge gust of wind, cracking her head against the wall. Her vision grayed, and she passed out.

"What?" Gourry panicked, looking up and down the length of her body. "You don't look hurt, Lina, are you sure?"

"Dimwit!" she cried, and began coughing. He held her until the spasms passed. "That was a soul-sucker. It...eats the life-force of its victims."

"But you're still alive. I can find Zelgadis and he can heal you-"

"Too late. It already took...most of my life force. I...I'd rather die than live as a shadow." Her voice faded to a whisper at the end.

"No!" Gourry stood up, still holding her, ready to start searching for the chimera.

"Gourry," Lina's broken voice stopped him. "After all...we've been through together, after all the times...you came through for me...why didn't you save me this time?"

He looked down at her in shock. Up until now she had been looking away from him, but now she looked up at him, and he recoiled from the malicious hate in her eyes. "You promised to protect me. You lied. You lied!" She started coughing, hacking as if her lungs would burst. A trickle of blood came from the corner of her mouth.

"Lina..." He couldn't think, couldn't defend himself.

"Damn you, Gourry Gabriev...damn you!" Her head flung back, her body spasming, jerking, and finally going limp, her head and limbs dangling heavily.

"Lina? Lina! You can't die, Lina, you can't!" He dropped to the ground, hugging her lifeless body to his chest. Tears began to slide down his cheeks as he rocked her back and forth.

Lina was awakened by the sound of a scream of pain. Gourry's scream. She opened one eye, wincing at the shaft of pain that lanced through her skull. Luna had been busy. Except for the top half of his trousers, most of Gourry's clothes had been torn off of him, and his skin was a mass of bruises, cuts and burns. Most of his beautiful long golden hair was gone, leaving just a shaggy, blood-streaked mess.

Oh, gods. What did she do to him? Has she gone crazy? She was strict, but never this vicious before. A dark silhouette in a swirling skirt stood in front of Lina, blocking her view of Gourry.

"Now then, Gourry, hold still..."

"No-please-" her longtime companion moaned.

The sound of Gourry's pleading voice struck her like a lightning spell. Lina Inverse was filled with a righteous fury that burned away any lingering fear of her sister. She leaped to her feet, her eyes ablaze. "Hold it right there, Luna!"

"What?" Her sister turned, surprised.

"I may have let you torture me when we were kids, but this is the last straw. I'm gonna stop you if it kills me!" Lina snarled, her heart pounding rapidly, every nerve tingling.

Her sister laughed. "I'd like to see you try."

A sudden idea occurred to Lina. She turned to look at the wooden stairs leading up to the rest of the house. Her sister quailed. "No-you wouldn't-"

Lina smiled grimly. "Oh, wouldn't I?" She lifted her voice in a little girl's call. "Oh Mommy, Daddy, could you come down here for a minute? Luna wants to show you the project she's been working on."

There was the sound of footsteps from the room above. "Nooo!" Luna howled, and fled out through the back door.

"Never mind!" Lina called out, and the approaching footsteps faded away. She immediately pulled out her knife from her belt and began freeing comrade's hands and feet, an evil chuckle emerging from her lips. I should have done something like that a long time ago. She felt suddenly pounds lighter, with a great weight lifted from her.

"Lina." Gourry made an effort to sit up, wincing from the pain of his wounds.

"Don't try to get up yet, Gourry." Suddenly Lina was focused on him, looking at his bruised face and blackened eyes, framed by the ragged yellow hair. She held out a hand covered in soothing white light, holding it over his chest, healing his poor battered body. After a few minutes she said quietly, "I'm so sorry, Gourry. If I had known my sister was going to-"

"Your sister?" Despite his obvious pain, he looked startled.

"Yeah. I'm not proud of the relationship." Lina was busy healing the last of the cuts.

"Hey, Lina?" It was strange to see him looking up at her. "If that was your sister, how come...I mean, the last time Filia gave you a letter your sister sent you, you totally freaked out. I remember, 'cause I've never seen you so scared. Weren't you afraid this time?"

"Well, of course I was," Lina focused on a big bruise on one side of his neck. One good thing about this short hair; it's not getting in the way of my healing.

"Really? You didn't look like it. How come?"

"I was more afraid of losing you than of fighting her." Nearly finished now.

"You were?"

His surprised reply made her realize what she'd said. Her eyes widened. The diminutive sorceress flushed, laughing in embarrassment, putting her hand behind her head, but somehow unwilling to retract her words.

"But-but she's the only person in the whole world you're afraid of!" Gourry protested, getting up onto his elbows. "And it's not like you really like me or anything. I mean, you're always hitting me, and calling me names like 'jellyfish brains', and 'moron', and-"

"I love you, you idiot!" Lina's eyes bulged, and she clapped a hand over her mouth, unable to believe what she had said. Where did that come from?

"You do?" Gourry looked as shocked as she felt. As they stared at one another, he ducked his head, smiling bashfully. "Do you really mean that, Lina?" His sky blue eyes looked into hers. She was astonished to see that they were full of hope.

"Gourry..." The look in his eyes melted her inside. At that moment, she was not the bold bandit killer of legend...she was simply a young girl in love. Slowly, hesitantly, she smiled at him. "Yeah, Gourry. I meant it."

"You can't die, Lina, I need you! Remember when that Lord of Bad Dreams thingy tried to take you away from me? I didn't let you go then, did I? I didn't let you down. I didn't..."

He was haunted by her words, by the fierce hatred that had been in her eyes when she looked at him. "I'm sorry, Lina! I didn't mean to fail you. Please don't leave me...I need you...I...I love you." The conversation he'd had with Zelgadis after Lina was hurt while fighting the sea dragon suddenly came back to him. He realized that those were the very words he had been searching for the first time Lina had been almost taken away from him into the sky. "I love you, Lina, please don't leave me!"

"I love you, Gourry."

"Lina!" Gourry opened his eyes to see that he was holding the red-haired sorceress against him as they stood together in a dimly-lit stone corridor.

"Gourry?" She looked up at him in surprise. Wait a minute...what's going on here? One minute I'm at home fighting my sister, and the next-

"Lina, you're alive!" The look on his face was so joyously glad to see her that she didn't resist as he tightened his embrace until she nearly suffocated, although her instinct was to shove him away from her. "I'm sorry, Lina, I swear I'll never let anything happen to you again," he babbled.

The petite sorceress' arms twitched feebly from their unnaturally crumpled positions. Can't...breathe...

"Oh, good job!" An annoyingly familiar voice came from beside them. Gourry loosened his hug. Lina sagged against him, gratefully gulping air. The two of them turned to look at the wall, where the green face of the Gatekeeper had appeared. "A most fascinating study of sibling psychology. And the unacknowledged romantic feelings between the two of you were priceless!"

Lina and Gourry looked at each other, realizing their faces were mere inches apart. Both of them began blushing like crazy, jerking away as if the other person were on fire. "Wait a minute. You mean what just happened wasn't real?" Lina demanded.

"It wasn't?" Gourry looked astonished.

"That's right. This is my favorite of the temple defenses. I helped design it myself. It forces you to face your deepest fears. Psychological warfare-ah-ha-ha! Some people go mad. Sooo...are you ready to admit defeat and leave on your own, or shall I begin the next-ack!" The smug face showed an instant of shock before it vanished-just as Lina's thrown dagger embedded itself into the stone wall.

Ruby eyes looked into light blue ones. Simultaneously they turned away from each other, blushing, each trying to figure out what was real and what was not. After a few moments Gourry asked, "Um, Lina?"

"Yeah, Gourry?" She avoided his eyes.

"You don't hate me, do you?"

She was so astonished at such an unexpected question that she looked him full in the face, her eyes wide, embarrassment forgotten. "Of course I don't!"

He looked relieved. "That's good. You see, you were dying. That was bad enough, but I don't think I could stand it if you hated me, too."

"Your worst fears are of losing me and having me hate you?" The petite sorceress repeated softly.

"I guess so. So what did you dream about?"

"I-I don't want to talk about it." It had suddenly occurred to her that she had not been victorious over her sister in real life. Not to mention that Gourry and I told each other...

"Um, okay...but do you mind if I ask a question?"

"What?"

"Did you mean what you said when we woke up?"

"What-I-oh." She looked down at the floor, remembering. Oh, geez. I did say it out loud.

"I sure hope so," he added, making her look up at him again. The look on his face was almost identical to the one he had worn in her vision-shy, hopeful, smiling a little. "'Cause I love you, Lina. I think I have for a long time."

Everything seemed to stop. "Really? You do?" The young sorceress suddenly felt as shy and insecure as...as Sylphiel always acted whenever she was around Gourry. She could feel herself blushing.

His smile deepened, his eyes pulling her in, making her knees go wobbly, and her stomach feel funny. "Yeah."

"Oh, Gourry," she said softly, her eyes a-shimmer.

When he stepped toward her she tensed, ready to deck him if he tried to grab her, but he only touched her face, gently cupping her cheek. "Lina," he said softly, looking at her as if she were the most precious gem in the world.

Her skin tingled in a way it never had in the past when they'd touched. Her breath came faster, as if she were entering a dangerous situation. Her palms would have been sweaty if not for her gloves. "I...love you too, Gourry," she whispered, finally admitting it to herself as much as to him.

For the moment, she forgot about the Oracle, about Zelgadis, about their quest, thinking only of Gourry and the precious gift he was offering her. Standing on her toes, she lifted her face toward his.

When he kissed her, the world changed. A yearning she had never acknowledged before was suddenly soothed, fulfilled. Vaguely, she sensed that she had been in a similar situation before, but the thought flitted past her too quickly to grasp it. For the moment, Lina Inverse abandoned herself to the kiss, and to Gourry, the most important person in the world to her.

When her blonde comrade lifted his head, Lina looked at him in wonder, feeling his steadying hands on her back. How could I have fooled myself into thinking that he was just a traveling buddy? He's been my constant companion for all these years, always ready to help me out, no matter who I had to face. He followed me into Chaos itself to bring me back. Her ruby eyes softened as she smiled up at him tenderly. Maybe he's not so bright...but his heart shines brighter than the Sword of Light ever did.

"Gourry..." she murmured softly, "You've always been there for me. And...I can't imagine my life without you." She loved the sight of his smile-he was so beautiful.

"Me, either. Zelgadis was right," he commented, still giving her that wonderfully gentle smile.

It took her a moment to process his words. She blinked, pulling out of his embrace. "Zelgadis knew?" The guy doesn't realize Amelia's in love with him, but he talked to Gourry about this?

"Yeah. He said we were...um...companions for life, or something like that." Gourry scratched the back of his head. Shyly, he asked, "That's all right, isn't it?" A bit uncertainly, his sky blue eyes found hers.

She softened, a tiny smile appearing on her lips. Companions for life. When you put it that way, it didn't sound nearly as scary. After all, they'd already been companions for-what, three years? And she'd known, deep down, that he really cared for her. Which reminds me...if we want to stay lifelong companions, we've gotta get out of here. "Come on, Gourry," she said, grabbing his hand and towing him after her.

"Where are we going?" His long hair swished as he followed her.

"Where else? To find that obnoxious little goblin and make him pay for torturing us."

Gourry gulped. He was glad that for once, Lina wasn't mad at him.

Author's Notes: I was going to have Lina battle Luna, but that's too predictable. So I thought, 'There's got to be something Luna's afraid of'.

I hope it wasn't too confusing to be switching back and forth between two scenarios. I needed them to finish at the same time.

Yay! They've finally admitted their feelings! So will everything be hunky-dory from now on? Are ya kidding? This is Lina Inverse we're talking about here!

Does anybody think Gourry's out of character? I'm having the hardest time deciding what sort of past he might have had with women. The books make him sound a little smarter and less clueless, so I'm guessing he's had SOME kind of experience, but as for how much...

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