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, just 'cause I like to know people are interested. There are a few minor spoilers, but nothing really descriptive. PG for minor swearing.

Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!

Note: Someone alerted me as to an inconsistency in my plot: See the Author's Notes at the end of the chapter to find out more.

Chapter Thirty-Six:

In Close Confinement with Gourry Gabriev

This is my chance. Head hanging, the petite sorceress deliberately let the two burly guards drag her by the arms, trailing her feet-and a wet trail of water-limply behind her on the stone floor of the cave. If I can fool them into thinking I'm helpless, they'll lower their guard and I'll flatten them.

Surreptitiously Lina opened an eye, trying to see the passageway through her wild mane of dripping red hair. It's not really the best time for an escape attempt, but we don't have a choice. Zelgadis and Amelia don't know where we are; if they did we would most likely already have been rescued by now. It's up to me-if I can stop shivering long enough to wipe the floor with these two.

She was almost startled enough to move when one of the guards surprised her by saying, "It's too bad a cute thing like her is so evil. Ya gotta respect her for not wanting to betray her men, though."

"And for the way she fights. She'd be a heck of an ally if the boss could only make her see the light." The other man answered, shifting his grip on her arm slightly.

"She says she ain't looking for trouble. I tell ya, I don't know who to believe any more. I'm just glad it ain't my job to decide."

"Yeah, well, them outlaw mages are getting bolder. I got a cousin who lives in a town one of 'em tried to take over. Took the town councilor's daughter hostage. They got him in the end though. He claims Lina Inverse told him to do it."

That's a lie! Lina clenched her teeth together to keep from blowing her cover. She tried to relax her cold-stiffened limbs and let her head loll to the side as if she had passed out.

"Hey, wait a minute." Lina heard the first guard say. "She's all done in." To her surprise she felt herself being lifted up into the man's arms. She remembered just in time to keep her body lax, and felt a sharp pain in her neck as her head swung around limply to bump into the man's chest. She could smell his breath-not the sweetest thing in the world-but the sensation of being carried by someone large and warm brought back comforting memories of her earliest childhood days.

"Why don't you go make us some coffee?" her human steed said to his companion. "It oughta be good and hot by the time I get there. I wanna change outta these wet clothes. I got splashed a couple of times by the dunkings, and the last thing I need is a cold on top of all this."

Don't even mention cold! Lina groaned mentally, trying to suppress another shiver. Her skin was slowly warming, but not her insides.

"You sure? What if she wakes up?"

"What, in the next five minutes? We're almost to her cell."

"Okay." Lina listened to the sounds of booted feet kicking loose stones down the stone corridor, with one pair retreating into the distance. She repressed the urge to grin. What luck! One down, one to go.

"I got a daughter about your age." She almost jumped at the guard's quiet tone as he continued to walk deeper into the cavern. "Still has her whole life ahead of her...that's why I'm here. For her. Sometimes young people make the wrong choices, or get mixed up with the wrong crowd. People will make you big promises, but in the end all ya usually end up doing is holding the bag while they get away. Little girl, I don't know if you really are the head of these mages, or if they're all just lying to save their own skins, but from what I hear ya got a lot of power and it's up ta you to decide how ta use it. You don't need ta be somebody else's lackey."

Hey! He thinks I'm some na´ve, misguided teenager following along with somebody else's plan! Lina couldn't decided whether to laugh or be insulted. As if I'd ever let anybody else tell me what to do! The gentle rocking motion that came from being carried was soothing, though, so she decided to let it pass. He's trying to talk me out of what he thinks is a mistake that'll ruin my life. He thinks if I tell them who's controlling me that they'll take my age into account and give me a second chance. He must really love his daughter...but he's the kind of man who's honorable and absolutely loyal to his ruler. He'd never let me escape with Gourry...would he?

Her orange brows drew together slightly as she tried to decide. Should I try to talk him into letting us go? He's got no proof that I'm innocent-in fact, he seems to think I've been doing evil in someone else's cause . He's seen me fight-for all he knows I could attack Ponmar, and it would be his fault. If he refuses to help me I'll have lost my chance to take him by surprise. And damn it, I made a promise to Amelia that I'd be there on her wedding day, with or without Zelgadis!

The rocking motion ceased. "We're here," the guard said. "Now why don't you think about what I've said while I go-eyah!"

Lina had managed to squirm out of his lax grasp, and now stood unsteadily across the hallway. Whoa, I'm stiffer than I thought. Parts of my legs and feet still feel numb. She gritted her teeth. Gotta make this quick, then.

Without warning the petite redhead had launched herself at the surprised guard, her feet extended, aiming at his chest. It was one of her most effective moves, as her earlier fight had proved. However, then she had been relatively fresh from two days' of enforced rest, instead of weak and stiff from being half-drowned in numbingly cold water.

It also helped if her opponent hadn't recently seen her fighting style. Lina let out of squawk of surprise as the big man moved instantly, crossing his forearms in an 'x' across his chest to block her kick. She collided with them and bounced off, somehow managing even in her stiffened condition to twist in midair to land on her feet. Unfortunately, as she did so, the treacherous loose rocks on the stone floor betrayed her, sending the petite sorceress crashing to the ground face-first before she knew what hit her, knocking the wind out of her.

As she lay there half-stunned, choking and gasping for air, she was vaguely aware of her arms being seized from behind. "Why did ya have ta go and do that?" came the guard's voice, full of regret. "Now I gotta treat you like some criminal. I hate having ta do this ta kids..."

With her head whirling, Lina became aware of being lifted up by the back of her tunic near the waist. She was unable to hold back a moan of pain as the movement jarred the multiple bruises she'd received from her rough landing. Then a vicious lance of agony shot up her leg as her left foot brushed the floor, causing a yelp of pain to pass through her lips before she could stifle it. A callused hand lifted her chin up, but she could not focus her eyes to look back at the guard, who muttered, "Banged yourself up good and proper, didn't ya?" He sighed. "I guess ya won't be giving me any more trouble for a while."

She heard a jingle of keys, and the sound of a door being opened. Then the young sorceress felt herself being swung through the air and set down fairly gently on the cold stone floor, her bruised face grateful for its coolness, though her injured ankle twinged at the contact. "Lina? Are you okay?" she heard Gourry ask.

She could not focus enough yet to answer. "What did you do to her?" her companion shouted at the guard.

"She'll be all right." The man's voice said gruffly. "She's just a little waterlogged. The bruises she got when she-uh-slipped in the hallway."

As her head began to clear, Lina wondered why the man had covered for her escape attempt. And why hasn't Gourry attacked him yet? Slowly raising her throbbing head, she made out the dim figure that was Gourry, apparently lying on his side on the floor. The only light came from the flickering torches in the hall, so it was difficult to see much, but it looked as if her friend had been tied up with quite a lot of rope.

I won't let him do that to me. Her fighting spirit was already beginning to assert itself. She tensed as she heard the guard's footstep, but to her mild surprise they retreated back toward the door. She looked up at him as the man said quietly, "I mighta been willing ta help you. See, I gotta respect anybody who don't talk under torture. If they're guilty, they're trying to protect their friends and their cause. If they're innocent, they're strong enough to stick to their story and not make up false confessions ta save themselves."

The door closed, cutting off most of the light from the hall torches except what little made it through the tiny barred window. Neither of them moved until they could no longer hear the guard's footsteps anymore. Lina waited until her head cleared, then pushed herself up on her hands and knees, careful to hold her hurt ankle off of the floor.

Gourry asked again if she was all right. She snarled at him, "No, I am not all right! I'm bruised, wet, cold and we just missed the opportunity to escape! Not to mention that I'm hungry again!"

She stopped in the middle of her rant as she thought she saw her companion smile. He answered in that typical straightforward way of his, "In other words, you're okay."

His good-humored reply somehow eased her anger. She smiled a little herself. "Yeah, I guess so."

Carefully holding her foot off the ground, she crawled over to Gourry in the near-darkness to try to untie him. She noticed-mostly by touch in the dim light-that his armor was gone, then remembered that Ponmar's men had removed it during their long enforced slumber. While she worked on the ropes, she explained the situation to him. "-and that's all I know," she finished as she pulled the last of the rope free.

Gourry sat up and rubbed at the sore places on his arms and body. "Boy, we're in trouble, huh? They all think you're the bad guy, but for once it's not true..."

Lina punched him and then sucked in her breath as she banged her hurt ankle on the floor. Gourry was quick to hear her hiss of pain. "Lina, what's wrong?" The swordsman's voice held a note of concern, though she couldn't quite make out his face. "What did they do to you?"

"I twisted my ankle earlier. I'm not sure if it's broken or just sprained, but I think it's swollen and it throbs like crazy. It's the only part of me that's not cold."

"Let me see." With surprising gentleness, the big man slowly drew off her boot. Lina felt her ankle, which was definitely somewhat puffy and inflamed. She was surprised at the delicacy of her friend's touch as he ran his fingertips over her tender skin. "I'd say it's a sprain at least, Lina. Do you want to try to put any weight on it?"

"In a little while. Let's see if it gets any better first." From the back of her mind came the thought: It's a good thing Martina wasn't here to see me fall on my face. Lina scowled, remembering the annoying princess of Xoana with the mint-green hair, full bosom and arrogant attitude. She'd drive me crazy with that infuriating laugh of hers.

"Too bad we don't have any ice."

That gives me an idea. Lina unfastened her sopping wet cloak and laid part of it over her foot and ankle. Its coolness was an immediate relief. She took off her other sodden boot and shook it out, then laid it down near the other one on the floor.

"So what do we do now, Lina?"

Her irritation came to the foreground again, now that she could concentrate past the pain. "Wait for a chance to escape, of course! But for now, we should try to get some rest."

There was a long pause. "But I'm not tired."

She let her breath in exasperation. "Well, neither am I, jellyfish brains; we just slept for two days, for crying out loud! But there isn't anything else to do, so would you at least be quiet and let me think!"

He subsided, much to her relief. The young girl made herself as comfortable as possible considering the circumstances, leaning against the cold stone wall, pulling her knees up to her chest and wrapping her arms around them to conserve body heat. She occupied her mind with ideas for escape plans, considering and discarding several. Should we try the old trick where one of us pretends to be sick to bring a guard in here so we can attack him?...Nah. They aren't even guarding us. We could yell all day and they'd never hear us. Hmm. How about...

But as time wore on, the diminutive sorceress could no longer ignore her discomfort. It was bad enough to be stuck wearing wet clothes, but the cool temperature in the stone chamber itself was adding to her misery. Her earlier activity in the hallway had helped to warm her, but now her injured ankle was preventing her from moving around enough to ward off the deep inner chill that had taken hold of her. What had been an occasional shudder had turned into almost constant shivering, and she could not clench her jaws tightly enough to keep her teeth from chattering. She wondered if her lips were blue.

"Um, Lina?" Gourry's voice was tentative. "I know you asked me to be quiet, but...you don't sound so good. Want to borrow my shirt?"

She blinked in the dimness, somehow thrown off guard by his consideration. "But-won't you b-be cold?"

"Not as cold as you are," he answered easily. "It's not really that bad in here, and at least my clothes and hair are dry."

"Well-th-thanks, Gourry." she stammered, partly from the cold and partly from surprise. Even though it was a perfectly logical thing to offer her, somehow she was flustered. She had never worn anyone else's clothing before. It seemed like a very...intimate...thing to do.

She heard the soft sound of fabric on skin and looked in his direction just in time to get a faceful of warm, male-scented fabric as Gourry, obviously misjudging the distance between them, held his shirt out to her. Quickly she reached up and took hold of it. "Thanks," she repeated.

Should I take off my wet stuff-at least my tunic? The petite sorceress did not relish the idea of undressing in front of Gourry, even if he couldn't see her in the near-darkness. Old instincts surfaced. Suppose he tries to grab me? Then she shrugged. She knew him well enough to know that he wouldn't try to touch her on purpose-and he knew her well enough to know what would happen to him if he did!

But will I be warm enough in just his short-sleeved shirt? Well, I can always put my clothes back on if I have to. She reached for the fastenings of her tunic and then hesitated, glancing at the dim form of her companion. She could not make herself start to open them. "Don't look at me!" she ordered sharply.

If her comrade thought it was a stupid request, he didn't comment on it. "Okay, Lina."

The young sorceress could dimly make out his movements as he turned to sit cross-legged with his pale back to her. She tried to peel off her wet things as silently as possible, listening for any sounds of movement from him and wondering if he was trying to picture her naked, though he had no way of knowing that the body he had seen in the Oracle's corridor had been her genuine one.

As she pulled her tunic-shirt off over her head, her wet hair slapped her on the back. "Hoo!" She arched her back instinctively to get away from it. Then she pulled Gourry's shirt on, sighing as his welcome warmth enveloped her. "Ahh, that's better." Quickly she pulled her hair from the collar of the dry shirt and held it away from her with a cold, clammy hand. I can't bear to have it touching me. Impulsively she undid her headband, and moments later used it to tie off the end of the crude braid she had made. "Much b-better."

At first all she could smell was her companion's scent on the material, but soon her nose became acclimated to it. Her thoughts wandered back to the guard she had tried to attack.

Did I make the wrong choice? Normally Lina Inverse was not one to ever second-guess herself. She prided herself on making fast decisions based on what she knew at the moment, and if it turned out to be a mistake, she dealt with it, without a lot of whining after the fact. No regrets, right?

A thought came to her, an idea she had heard all her life but had never really connected to her own actions in quite this way before: But that doesn't mean I can't learn from my mistakes. We've tried force against these guys, and it didn't work. Maybe negotiation will... All that political double-talk that Amelia's been training in... And anyway, even if I had my magic I'm not sure I'd really want to hurt them.

Although the hot-tempered redhead enjoyed revenge just as much as the next person-if not moreso-she did have ethics that occasionally handicapped her in situations like these. These people think they're doing the right thing. They believe they're the good guys, saving their homes and families from evil. I can't just blast them with a Dragon Slave. I need to persuade them that I'm not their enemy. But how?

"Can I turn around yet, Lina?"

"Huh? Oh-sure." She had forgotten all about him.

"Are you warmer now?"

"A little, but w-what I r-really need is a hot bath. And something hot to d-drink."

The swordsman didn't reply. After a few second she thought to ask, "How are you doing?"

He did not answer right away. "I'm kind of cold, but not enough to make my teeth chatter-are you sure you're warm enough?

It wasn't until he mentioned it that she realized that her teeth had begun to click together again. Though her skin was slowly warming, the diminutive sorceress could feel a constant chill deep inside, sometimes bearable, but sometimes it reached out to draw icy fingers through her body, causing an involuntary shudder. "Argh, what a time to be half-crippled!" she griped. "I can't use magic; I can't even move around enough to keep myself warm. I hate feeling so helpless!"

The blonde swordsman clenched his fists in a futile gesture of frustration. He had been thinking about their situation while he was waiting for Lina to let him turn around, and had gotten more and more worried as her shaking had not stopped. If she doesn't get warmed up soon, she'll get sick. She could even die. I've got to do something...

He squared his broad shoulders as he nodded to himself, preparing to risk a danger at least as great as any from his past adventures. Then he reached for her.

Lina's diatribe was cut short as she felt a pair of large hands touch her torso. Sheer shock kept her from reacting as the hands moved to her sides and took a firm grip, causing sudden throbs from her bruises. The petite sorceress let out an undignified squawk as she felt herself lifted into the air, flailing with her limbs and knocking her sore ankle against the floor. "OW! Gourry, what do you think you're doing?"

Moments later she felt herself being deposited on a surface quite different from the stone floor. It took her a second to figure it out. I'm sitting in his lap!

Author's Note: As much as I like focusing on Zel and Ame, there are times to my regret when they have to be absent. Then I consciously try to keep the Z/A readers' interest by having other characters mention them, or think about them, at least. They're my favorites too, so even I find some of the intervening chapters a little dull without them. I miss them when they're gone.

But I can't have romantic scenes with both couples in close proximity to each other...and there's some of that ahead, esp. for Lina and Gourry. Besides, they deserve a few chapters to themselves, don't they? ^_^

BTW, I've read that underground caves tend to stay at a constant temperature of about 55 degrees F., although the cavern Lina and Gourry are in is actually a big mound above ground, so I'd say it's at least 60 degrees F., which is chilly but not usually life-threatening-to people with dry clothes, that is!

For Sylver-Ajah-Naga is supposed to be in one or two tiny scenes-cameos, but I can't remember where. You might want to ask at one of the many Slayers message boards.

For AllisterH-You said: '...I only have one slight issue. Creator of Slayers has said that the assassin's name was Booley and it was Naga that killed him. Apparently, he was using some type of garrote and after killing Amelia's mother, went after Naga. Naga used a magic spell called chaos string to turn the garrote into a razor wire and mentally controlled it to kill Booley'.

Thanks for the info-I think I might have subconsciously remembered the part about a razor-whip being used when I was writing this chapter (last October), but I thought the creator had stated numerous times that Amelia and Naga were NOT sisters. Perhaps he changed his mind-he's got the right to; it's his series, after all, but it does make things difficult to keep track of. So you may all consider this particular chapter as an AU (alternate universe) bit, if that helps.

For Slayers Otaku-Girl-I remember how Amelia pretended she was going to use Phil's dagger, but I also remembered it was a bluff, so I'm not worried about that bit conflicting with my story. Thanks for letting me know, though. The exact meaning of a shrine maiden-? As far as I know, shrine maidens are those who use white magic and/or what's left/remembered of the old 'holy magic' that draws its power from Cephied. Using it for anything specific besides healing and exorcisms, I don't know. I also don't know if shrine maidens are prohibited from using any other kind of magic-Amelia was asked once by Gourry if she was a shrine maiden, and she uses Shamanistic magic and even a few black magic spells. Of course, she didn't answer Gourry, but I would guess she was trained as a shrine maiden, judging from what she said in Try-that shrine maidens are 'mere shells of what they used to be'. Her voice was more bitter than I've ever heard it, so I'm guessing she took the depletion of magic personally. That's why I decided to have white/holy magic increase when the Barrier came down-because it had been erected by Mazoku to block Cephied's magic, so...

For: Alice-You said: 'I am so jealous of your ability to write a story. I know that when I sit down to write something is like doing manual labour. I hate it. And then I come on here and your story seems to have been written so effortlessly. *sighs* '

Effortlessly? Wellll...if you call two years' worth of work effortless. I'm glad it looks that way, though-that's what it's supposed to look like if you have a talent and you polish it-like...like...athletes. They can do all kinds of things the average person can't, but they make it look so easy. Experience helps-I've been writing fan fictions since I was 12, though they weren't even CALLED fan fictions until like about five years ago-they didn't have a specific name that I know of. Wow, that makes me feel kind of old-and I'm only 30. Desire helps, too-I love being able to sit down and mentally go into the Slayers world, to try to breathe the fresh air and feel Shiran's fur under my fingers and look into Zelgadis' eyes as Amelia would...

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