Only Stone on the Outside

by Dreamsinger

Only Stone on the Outside

a Slayers fanfic

by Dreamsinger

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 I like to know people are interested. There are a few minor spoilers, but nothing descriptive. Many thanks to my friends Shell Presto and Marie!

PG-13 for minor swearing and lime-i-ness.

Chapter Forty-Eight: How Can You Tell if Someone's in Love?

Amelia woke at dawn as she usually did when traveling on the road. She felt a little drained, but relaxed and in her normal cheerful state. She and Zelgadis were both earlier risers; normally the first one up would stoke the fire for breakfast, but as Amelia sat up to check how much wood they had left from last night she noticed that she was wearing Zelgadis' cloak.

Some of the events from the previous night came back to her, and she blushed. Again he held me in his arms while I cried... So much for trying to act more mature. I was crying like a baby... I wonder if the others saw? She glanced at her friends, who lay nearby, peacefully snoring. She could remember almost none of her nightmare, only the vague sense of loss and betrayal that had shrouded her once again. He must have been horribly embarrassed.

Her dismay abated somewhat as she recalled: But he did hug me back. I remember his arms around me. I remember feeling happy and warm and safe... Her memory was fuzzy on some of the details, but suddenly she recalled his dark blue-green eyes on hers, and his voice saying, "I promise, Amelia."

Amelia looked toward the chimera to see if he was awake yet. He was lying on his back, his face turned slightly away from her, giving her an inviting view of his throat and jawline, with the tip of his pointed ear peeking out of his hair. She swallowed, her heart pounding as she fought the unexpectedly strong impulse to touch him. He's so beautiful. She sighed. I wonder if I should apologize, or if I should just not embarrass him any further by bringing the subject up at all.

Then she noticed that it was getting brighter out. I'd better give him back his cloak before the others wake up. She looked at the dimly glowing embers of their fire and decided to get some more wood as well. After lovingly draping the tan cloak over the slumbering stone man, the young princess headed off to the nearest good-size copse of trees with Shiran.

Amelia had managed to find several good, dry branches when Shiran growled softly, more of an acknowledgement than a warning. Amelia whirled around, expecting to see Zelgadis, but instead she found herself looking into Lina's ruby eyes. "Oh-good morning, Miss Lina."

The red-haired sorceress looked at her with a strange expression-strange even beyond all the funny white bandages patchworking her skin here and there. "Is something wrong?" Amelia asked.

"No-I just-it's just..." Lina stopped, red-faced. I've never seen her so tongue-tied, Amelia thought uneasily.

After a moment, Lina visibly collected herself. "I, ah, I saw the two of you last night." Her tone was almost apologetic, and she put one hand behind her head as if embarrassed.

"Oh." Amelia felt herself turning red. The two girls stood awkwardly, avoiding each other's gaze for several moments. Amelia bowed her head over her armful of sticks.

Lina's voice floated over to her. "I think you're really lucky."

Amelia dropped the wood with a muted clatter on the soft pine needle carpet. "What?"

"I saw the look on Zel's face when he was comforting you. If he wasn't in love before, he is now."

Amelia felt her eyes grow big and round with wonder. "You-you really think so?" Her heart leaped.

"Yup," her friend agreed. "Now we just gotta get him to admit it."

They were traveling in a fairly thick forest-thick enough to block out most of the daylight, which made the interior either cool and shady, or grim and gloomy, depending on your mood. Unfortunately, Lina was in a particularly bad mood, for some reason. Several times she snapped at her companions, practically biting their heads off. Finally Gourry asked her straight out, "What's gotten into you today, Lina? Is something the matter? Even you aren't normally this touchy."

Stung, the petite sorceress responded unthinkingly, "What are you talking about, you jellyfish? How do you know how I am?"

"We have traveled together for a long time, Lina," Gourry stated matter-of-factly. Then he scratched his head and started counting on his fingers, staring off into space as he appeared to be making a serious mental effort to calculate something. "No, actually, you're right on schedule."

"I'm what? What schedule?" Now Lina was the one who was baffled. She traded perplexed looks with the others and shrugged as if to say I haven't a clue as to what he's talking about.

"Well, you always get like this about a week before that time of the month. You know, kind of cranky, and grouchy, and mphff-"

Zelgadis and Amelia stared at the sight of the tall blonde swordsman caught in a vicious headlock by the small red-haired sorceress, who had one hand clamped over his mouth. Lina's face was bright red, contrasting vividly with her white bandages, and there was a murderous look in her ruby eyes that made both onlookers gulp and nod rapidly as she said sweetly, "Do you two mind giving us a little privacy? There's something I feel the need to discuss with Gourry here."

The princess and the chimera beat a hasty retreat back through the trees until they were a good distance away. Both avoided looking at each other, as each was blushing at the casual mention of such a topic.

As they stood there, Amelia decided to give everyone a snack from Sunshine's saddlebags, mostly as an excuse to have something to do to keep from just sitting there listening for Gourry's screams of pain.

Zelgadis was wondering why Lina had decided to do her pounding in privacy. She's never cared whether people saw her hitting anyone before. As he absently accepted the small pieces of cheese and dried fruit that Amelia handed to him, he voiced his question aloud.

"I'm not sure if that's all she's going to do," Amelia answered him after a long pause for thought.

"What do you mean?"

"Do you remember last night when Lina and Gourry had that food fight?" Amelia said.

He raised an eyebrow. "If you can call it that-Lina threw her biscuit at him."

"That's when I knew that something had happened between them. They're truly in love now." Amelia beamed up at the chimera, and he could practically see little hearts in her eyes. He felt distinctly uncomfortable with the way this conversation was going, but she had thrown out a lure and he felt compelled to ask, "How do you know that?"

"Because I've never seen Miss Lina waste food instead of eating it. She left it lying on the ground, and didn't object when Shiran went after it."

"..." You know...she's right. Zelgadis was pensive.It made him distinctly uncomfortable to wonder what his two companions were doing now, but at the same time it brought to mind his own situation, his own difficult-to-understand feelings toward Amelia. I care about her, but do I really...love her? In that way?

His instincts told him the best thing to do was change the subject, but it occurred to him that this might be a good opportunity to get some information. Females in general seemed to understand romance and relationships much better than males, and Lina and Amelia were the only two girls he knew well enough to ask. His hands twitched, and he experienced the useless urge to bite his stone lip as a powerful sense of temptation struck him.

Lina was mercurial-she might treat him seriously, she might get embarrassed and refuse to answer, or she might make fun of him. Amelia was much more likely to give him a straight answer, but how to ask the question in a way that would not betray his true motive? "So how can you tell if someone's in love?" he asked, taking care to sound only casually curious, as if he were asking about their friends.

Amelia turned to look at him with wide eyes. He avoided her gaze, staring at a piece of bark that had somehow gotten torn partially off of a nearby pine tree. The girl hesitated, and finally answered, "Different people show love in different ways. Take my daddy. He makes a big show out of all his emotions, including love. Now, Miss Lina is more likely to show someone how she feels rather than talk about it."

Tentatively he ventured, "And Gourry would likely be more willing to express his feelings verbally, as well as showing them."

"That's right! Everyone's different." Amelia paused, twiddling her fingers together and refusing to meet his gaze as she asked with pink cheeks, "Did you have some reason for asking, Mister Zelgadis?"

"No. I just...wondered..." He faced away from her to hide his own blush. Well, that's no help. I should have kept my mouth shut.

"What the hell are you doing, Gourry?" Lina grabbed the front of his shirt and shook him vigorously.

"Wha-at are y-you taaalking aabout?" he asked indistinctly as her actions rattled his teeth.

"You never talk about a girl's time of the month in public, numbskull!" She smacked the back of his head with the flat of her hand and dropped him to the ground.

He sat there rubbing his head. "Oh yeah-I forgot. Sorry."

She stared down at him. "Is that it? You're sorry?"

"Well, it's not that big a deal, Lina-it's not like the subject hasn't come up before..." His blue eyes narrowed a little as he looked up at her. "And you were mad even before I said it. Come on, Lina...what's really bothering you?"

When did he get so smart? Lina scowled, debating whether to smack him again or lie, but the searching look in his eyes touch a chord deep inside her and she sighed instead, dropping to the ground on her knees next to him. "It's...this."

"Wha-" Gourry's question was cut off as she covered his mouth with hers in a tender kiss.

A moment later she pulled away, and finally admitted to the truth she had been denying all day, "I want to be able to touch you any time, like before, in the cave. I want to be able to hold your hand or maybe...put my arm around you when we walk, and I want to be able to kiss you without feeling like I'm on stage...but I just can't make myself do stuff like that where people can see me. It's like I'm afraid they'll make fun of me or something."

"Zelgadis might, but if we asked him not to-" Gourry began, but stopped when Lina snorted derisively. "And Amelia wouldn't laugh, either." His tone was a little defensive.

"No, she'd want to watch." Lina rolled her eyes. "That'd be even more embarrassing."

Gourry was silent. Lina began to feel guilty for hurting his feelings. She sighed and leaned over to hug him from the side, laying her head against his upper arm just under his shoulder-guard. "I'm sorry, Gourry. I know you're only trying to help."

She felt his hand stoking her hair in his old 'soothing a child' habit-one of the few physical ways he had used to comfort or reward her over the years. She smiled affectionately and caught his hand in hers, bringing it to her lips and kissing his palm-or trying to, but his half-glove got in the way. She settled for kissing his fingertips instead, and had the satisfaction of hearing his breathing growing heavier. "Just a little longer, Gourry," she promised, "and then we'll have all the privacy we want."

Privacy...Lina mused with more curiosity than uneasiness.The idea of making love to Gourry was becoming less frightening and more enticing as she got used to it. She had dreams about it at night, and had even caught herself imagining it during the day. It made her wonder if that was how men were-thinking about being with a woman while they were doing perfectly ordinary things like cooking supper or bathing...

Bathing...suddenly Lina had a mental image of Gourry standing under a shining waterfall with no clothes on-just a pile of white bubbles over his-

She shook her head, her face radiating heat like a fireball. Not now, Lina. We've got to get back to the others. But that didn't stop her from kissing him a few times on the way back to retrieve their friends.

Later that morning Lina glanced down from the back of the palomino mare at the young princess, who was walking by Zelgadis' side and shook her head. Enough's enough already. I want some answers. Starting with- "Since when do you wear a sword, Amelia? I thought you hated them."

Amelia glanced up at the chimera with an unusually serious expression and said quietly, "We thought I should be able to defend myself in Varxin's Realm. Mister Zelgadis helped me learn the basics on the way to rescue you, just in case."

Lina frowned. I've offered to teach her the sword before, but she would never hear of it. She was even more fanatical about that than about justice, and yet somehow Zelgadis managed to get through to her. And what's with this 'we' all of a sudden? Did something...interesting happen between them? It was on the tip of her tongue to demand some answers, but in light of her own new relationship facets with Gourry she suffered an uncharacteristic attack of discretion about that particular subject. I'll get Amelia alone and pry it out of her then.

The petite sorceress looked down at the stone man walking with Amelia beside him and thought, It's the moment of truth, Zel. Out loud she said, "Okay, Zel, what's our next stop?"

She looked for some sign of what he was feeling, but he simply continued to walk steadily, his face impassive. "Back to Seyrune."

Amelia looked up at him. "But what about the Oracle?"

Lina answered her. "We've already been there."

Amelia's eyes widened. "You have? What did she say?"

The red-haired sorceress said crossly, "That's what I've been trying to get Mister Talkative to tell us for days now, but he could be Xellos for all the information he's given us to go on!"

All eyes turned to the chimera, who looked decidedly uncomfortable. "Come on, Zel, why the secrecy?" Lina scowled. "Get your act together and tell us where we have to go to get your cure!"

After a moment Zelgadis looked off into the distance. "It's not important."

That jerk! "It damned well is important if you want to marry Amelia!" Lina shouted at the slender chimera, who let out a small gasp and stiffened as if she had struck him, his eyes tightly closed. "Or are you as much stone on the inside as you are on the outside?"

Author's Note: Oooh, what a zinger! Lina has such a sharp tongue. Sorry for the cliffhanger, but this conflict ended up being way too long for one chapter.

I've never been in love before myself, so do you guys think Lina's gradual acceptance of her feelings for Gourry, especially her physical desires, is accurate?

Do you think it'd be out of character for Amelia to try to touch Zelgadis while he's sleeping? Just to lay her hand against his face to feel the texture of his skin, maybe caress his face... She's very respectful both by nature and upbringing; she knows it would make him uncomfortable if she were to do it while he's awake-buuut she's also very much in love... ^_^

Stephanie asks when my fic will be done-well, I've written about it several times in past Author's Notes, actually-and I can't give an exact figure 'cause I'm not done yet. I'm on chapter 67 right now.

jadz_i_ka-I love it too when Zel and Ame hug. I write it in whenever it fits into the storyline! ^_^

Slayers Otaku-Girl-I figure no one can be that genki (cheerful, energetic) all the time unless they're really trying to be on purpose. Amelia is the kind of person who is not only a natural optimist; she's been trained to care about people and make the best of any situation, so even now, in the face of rejection, she knows that the only way to still have hope is to put her best face forward.

Wesley-In the first season of Slayers Amelia is 14, and a very young 14 at that-still a kid, though with her figure she looks older. As you pass through season 2 and 3 you see how she slowly grows more mature-a little calmer and more logical, though her spirit is still as strong-willed as ever. It's usually only when someone offends her sense of justice that triggers her more extreme behavior.

Shahrezad1-Only Lina knew Gourry was awake, but she didn't know when he fell asleep, so I couldn't write that bit. But if you were awake, could you fall asleep until you knew your friend was feeling better?

UnholyDragoon-Tangental side stories, huh? Hmm...I guess you're right. I hadn't thought of it that way, but now that you've pointed it out to me, I take a step back and look at my fic and the anime series and see the similarities. As with the series, there are several side stories that don't do much for the main plot, only character development, but you know, some of those are my favorite bits! In the anime two of my favorite episodes are the 'men in drag' one and the 'hunting for lake dragon' one from season two. However, as you noted I usually have some plot bits mixed in, if only having the main characters fight (internally or with each other) about major conflicts that keep everything from falling into the 'happily ever after' category. Writing a story is a lot like planning a battle, isn't it? I'm like, "I need Amelia to be unconscious in this scene, but then again, I need her awake to be able to describe her attackers. What do I do?" This is when I usually ask my friend Marie-she does role playing both online and in a group called Ampguard-and she'll say, "Have Shiran sniff them out." or "How about adding onlookers/witnesses?" Then I slap my forehead and go, "Why didn't I think of that?" Sometimes you need to hash out the details with someone else who'll have new ideas.

UnholyDragoon also said, '-ye have been skirting the Zel coming clean on what the oracle told him issue.' Well, of course; that's the mystery-it's like pulling teeth for the others to get even the tiniest bit of info about his interview with the Oracle from our closemouthed blue friend. But there's a big confrontation coming up-oh, yes. Can you say angst? ^_^

Akai Kiniro-So Zel is a social outcast? Hmm...somehow I feel that even when he was fully human he probably didn't have many friends. By choice, through, which is what a 'lone wolf' is-as am I. Not to be confused with 'lonely' since in my experience I tend to simply not have time to spend hanging out with people when I still have so many projects to finish-this fic, for one. Plus-I find I am often really bored with the company of non-social outcasts-i.e. 'normal' people, because the scope of their knowledge is usually so much narrower than mine. I've always been thought of as the 'smart' one in my family-and I'm pretty sure it's not because I have a particularly high IQ (though I've never taken an IQ test, just personality profiles which aren't the same) it's because I tend to know a little about everything. I've been an avid reader since I was little. In eighth grade my reading level was listed as 'college level' though my math skills were average at best. So as to finding someone to love and trust goes...well, I have a big family; I live with my mother so I have company at home, and though I would like to find a guy to share my life with I'm not sure it'd be fair to him, because I'd need to spend so much time by myself to work on fanfic, painting ceramics, scrapbooking, surfing the net...

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