Only Stone on the Outside
a Slayers fanfic
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, 'cause 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 some lime-i-ness.
Chapter Fifty-Six: Please Hold Me
Lina and Gourry were lost in the void of the here-and-now, lost within each other's arms, lost in the warmth, the closeness, the kissing that both of them had yearned for for so long. They were so completely focused on one another that when Shiran nudged Lina's back with her nose and uttered a quiet whine, they both yelped and pulled away from each other as if they'd been shocked.
Lina's face was a mix of surprise and guilt, a look which swiftly changed to her more familiar look of annoyance as she glared down at the dragonwolf, who stared back at her calmly with mildly glowing green eyes. "Damn it, Shiran, what are you doing?"
The huge beast gave a low woof, which clearly meant Enough fooling around, kids. We've got to get moving.
Lina scowled, then noticed the sun and blinked. "Hey, it's already been half an hour. We've got to get moving or we'll be late, and I do NOT want to listen to any smart remarks from Zelgadis about what might have made us late."
Gourry's face still had a dazed look, as if he hadn't recovered yet from her kisses. She couldn't quite manage to bring herself to get annoyed at him for something like that, so she simply reached out and took his hand in hers. "Come on, Gourry." She set off at a jog across the grassy field to make up for lost time.
When they arrived at the enormous oak tree that their group had chosen as a meeting place-it had been the easiest landmark to see from the other side of town-Lina was surprised to see that they had apparently arrived first. No cheerful Amelia or impatient Zelgadis met them with questions, sarcastic or otherwise. Lina told her tall companion to stay put while she took a quick look around from above.
With a Rei-Wing spell, the red-haired sorceress quickly ascertained that no one was in the surrounding forest, barring Shiran, who had followed her the entire time she was airborne, gazing up at her with vivid emerald eyes. From time to time the big dragonwolf had uttered a quick woof, which was obviously meant to say Come down here!
"Jeez, you'd think she was my mother or something," Lina complained mildly, amused and a little touched at the animal's obvious concern. "I can see why they call her the ultimate protector-Amelia's going to have a hard time getting into trouble from now on. Hey, I wonder if Shiran would treat Zelgadis like a threat if he tried to kiss Amelia?"
Her face broke into a wide smirk at the thought as she turned and flew back through the trees to where she had left Gourry. As she did so, a naughty thought crossed her mind. Well, as long as we have to wait, Gourry and I can take up where we left off... She didn't finish the thought, her cheeks burning. It still feels like a dream, like I'll wake up any time now to find out that Gourry never said he loved me.
Heedless of the danger of flying into the surrounding trees, the red-haired sorceress closed her eyes to remember the feel of his lips on hers. Warm... so warm. When he's kissing me I can feel how much he loves me. It's the best feeling in the world. And we're just beginning. Again she blushed, suddenly embarrassed to discover that she was actually looking forward to that time in the future when she would be able to give herself completely to her longtime companion.
A month ago-heck, an hour ago-I would've said 'no way'. If it were anyone else... But with Gourry, I can almost imagine it. Like most girls, Lina had dreamed of what her wedding-and subsequent wedding night-would be like, but now she smiled at her childish fantasies. I was planning on marrying a prince. I'd live in a palace and have all the riches I've ever dreamed of.
Her smile grew affectionate as she spotted her partner as he sat cross-legged in the acorn-strewn grass, waiting patiently under the mighty oak. He was gazing off into the distance, a gentle smile on his lips and a dreamy, faraway look in his sky-blue eyes. She watched him tuck a few strands of long blonde hair away from his cheek, blown there by an errant breeze, and experienced another surge of her newfound desires. She wanted to stroke the same cheek that his hair had caressed, and run her fingers through the shining bright silky hair, combing it in the kind of intimacy that she had only experienced before with other girls-and then not often. Well, Gourry's no prince, but he'll do. At least he looks like one!
Impishly she dropped down to land in his lap, laughing mischievously as Gourry yelped in surprise. "Lina! Whoa, you startled me." He shook his head at her antic and smiled as he asked, "Any sign of the others?"
"Nope. They must've gotten delayed."
Lina gazed at the swordsman's hair and was about to follow through on her impulse when Shiran approached the young sorceress, who looked up at the huge animal and felt a flicker of uneasiness. The dragonwolf's sheer size was intimidating, causing her to unconsciously lean back against Gourry. Lina was relieved when all Shiran did was sniff her from head to toe and gently nudge her a few times with her wet purple nose as if to reassure herself that Lina was none the worse for wear for her astonishing flight through the sky.
The redhead smiled broadly and reached up to stroke the thick lavender fur on Shiran's chest, which was as high as she could reach on the large animal. "I'm fine, Shiran. Good girl."
She was about to get up from Gourry's lap when she noticed how warm her back felt where it rested against his abdomen. It stirred up feelings of security and contentment from the time when they had been locked together in the cold cell, where the only warmth Lina had was from being nestled in his arms. As Shiran settled down in the grass nearby, Lina slowly turned her head to look up over her shoulder at the blonde swordsman. "Um... hey, Gourry?" she asked in a small voice.
"Yeah?" He looked down at her curiously.
Her voice was softer, more hesitant than usual. "Will you... hold me? Like you did when I was sick?" She could feel her cheeks turning pink as she watched a slow smile spread over Gourry's handsome features.
"Sure, Lina." His voice held gladness and affection as he moved his hands from where they were bracing the two of them upright in the grass and leaned forward slightly to compensate for the shift in balance. Lina was surprised to feel his stomach muscles moving against her back, sending tingles of excitement through her. It was a delicious feeling, to be so close to him, to finally be able to touch him if she wanted to without worrying about how it would look, or if he would reject her or laugh at her.
Then his arms closed around her in the same positions they had been in during that long night they'd spent together in the dark, chilly cell, with one over her abdomen, the other on her upper chest above the yellow band that covered her breasts. Almost immediately she could feel his warmth start to soak in, though out of reflex she sat tensely for several moments, still not entirely comfortable with the feeling of confinement, of being held back, restrained.
Gradually she adjusted to it and relaxed enough to lean back against him, frowning as she noticed his chest armor made him a less-comfortable armchair than the last time. I'd ask him to remove it, but suppose the others come upon us suddenly? We're taking a chance doing this even now, but this might be our last opportunity for a while. Besides, it's my nature to take chances, she thought with a smirk. She covered his lower arm with one of her own as she had once done in the cell, sighing as she relaxed into his arms and his love.
Gourry felt as if his heart would burst from happiness. Here he was with Lina Inverse, the most feared sorcery genius in the world cuddled trustingly in his arms, seeming no larger than a child. Never would he have imagined that someone so fierce could feel so tiny, so delicate. It brought back a sudden memory of his first impression of her, that of a small girl who needed to be protected.
Giving in to his desire to hold her close to him, he closed his eyes and rested his cheek against her soft hair, his breath stirring the red-gold strands, and then pressed a kiss onto the top of her head. He felt her sigh and relax even further, letting him support her full weight as her body molded itself to his. Another surge of joyful love swept through him and he kissed her again, then hugged her a little to try to show her how he felt. Her heard her murmur his name and she returned the squeeze, her hands warm on his arm over her belly.
Gourry was more than happy to hold her as long as she wanted, but eventually he thought to ask, "Lina, what if the others come?", unknowingly echoing her earlier thoughts. "Do you mind if they see us like this?"
He felt her stiffen, her hands grasping at his arm. "Well... yeah, sort of," she admitted in a small voice.
He nodded agreeably. "Okay. I'll keep an eye out for them."
There was an awkward pause, then she suddenly blurted out, "It's not that I'm ashamed or anything... I just... Well, Amelia I don't mind so much; she already kind of knew about us, but Zel... and Xellos, especially, they'd say all kinds of things just to tick me off, you know?"
"Yeah, I figured," Gourry agreed. He felt her relax a little but he could tell something was still bothering her. His intuition told him that she might be feeling guilty about hurting his feelings with her wish for secrecy, although in truth he didn't mind much. After three years as her constant companion, he knew her well enough to know that now that the ice had been broken, it wouldn't take long for her natural boldness to overcome her shyness. He had been patient all this time; he could wait for as long as it took.
Besides, she was certainly nicer to be around when she wasn't angry.
Eventually she added, "And it really wouldn't be fair to rub their noses in it, right? Zel and Amelia, I mean."
"In what?" He had already half-forgotten what they'd been talking about, simply enjoying the sensation of holding her warm, pliant body against him.
"In the fact that there's nothing really stopping us from, well, being in love, I guess. Whether or not you're right about Zelgadis being in love with Amelia, he can't do anything about it as a chimera."
"Jellyfish, how could he even kiss her with stone lips?" Her tone held familiar annoyance, yet because of their body contact he could somehow tell that she wasn't getting ready to hit him for once. "He'd end up hurting her, and both of them would be mortified and... and anyway, I told you her people would never let a chimera rule over them." Something in the tone of her voice made him wonder if she was blushing.
"Oh, yeah, you did," he agreed. "It's too bad Amelia doesn't have any older brothers or sisters who could rule instead."
Lina shuddered and he tightened his arms around her, assuming she was cold. "She does have an older sister, the one Zelgadis said ran away from home, remember? Trust me; she's not qualified to rule."
"Oh, have you met her?"
"Yeah. I don't want to talk about it."
While he was still being puzzled over this-usually Lina talked too much; he had never seen her avoid any topic other than that of her sister Luna before-she continued with an edge of anger in her voice, "That's why I can't believe Zel is holding out on us. Either he doesn't love Amelia and is only stringing her along so he doesn't have to listen to her whine all the way back to the palace-" She paused to take a deep breath, "or he does love her and... I just don't get it. What could be so bad about his cure?"
Gourry tried to soothe her by running his hand along her arm from shoulder to elbow. "Did Zelgadis ever say he actually had a cure? I can't remember."
Lina paused, and one of her hands came up to cover his. She pulled it away from her arm and curled her fingers around it, holding it as if seeking comfort. "I don't think he did, come to think of it," she answered, her voice calmer now. "But if he doesn't have a cure then he's still guilty of stringing her along, no matter what the reason."
"What does that mean, anyway?" He marveled at how soft and delicate her hand seemed as it rested against his own large calloused one.
"What, 'stringing her along'? It means... well, lying to her, basically. Pretending he's interested in marrying her when he's not."
"Oh, he's definitely interested," Gourry avowed. "I'm a guy. I know." A rare flash of inspiration struck. "Hey, I got it, maybe he has a plan for a cure, but he doesn't want to get her hopes up in case it doesn't work out."
Again Lina went still in his lap as she considered his theory. "You know, you may be on to something. It'd be just like Zel to keep his mouth shut about something like this. But he should at least be asking us for help. We're his best friends. Amelia doesn't have to know."
"Like how they don't have to know about us, huh?" He was pleased at his understanding of the similar situations-usually his conversations with Lina went way over his head. Maybe it was because they were talking about people's feelings, which he understood just fine. "Everybody's keeping secrets lately."
Oops, what did I say? he thought as Lina went all tense in his lap and then turned to look up at him with remorseful ruby eyes. "I want to let other people to see how I feel about you, I really do, but... "
What does that have to do with keeping secrets? Gourry gave her a quizzical look. Then it hit him. She thought he was upset with her for wanting to keep their own relationship a secret.
"That's okay, Lina, I understand," he said kindly, hugging her middle with his free arm and dropping his head down to put his cheek against hers. He put as much warmth into his tone as he could as he continued, "Don't do anything you don't want to do. It's enough for me to know how you really feel about me in your heart."
"Really?" Her voice sounded very young and unsure. He moved away enough to look into her eyes. They were twin ruby pools of liquid emotion, brimming with love and guilt and hope all at once.
"Really." He couldn't stand to see her berating herself anymore, so he did the first thing that came to mind-he kissed her.
She jumped a little, then settled down and began kissing him back. It was hard not to let his hands roam the way they wanted to, with his arms all full of cute girl, but he was still afraid that something might happen to take away everything that had happened between them, that might cause him to lose the progress that had been made. Later, he promised his yearning fingers-and other parts that also yearned.
Author's Notes: The sister Lina refers to is Naga, of course-and the scene where Zelgadis unthinkingly brings up the fact that she ran away is from an episode in Slayers Next. One of the Seyrune episodes, but I misremember which.
Guess what? I'm having a contest. In chapter 62 our party will be traveling on a homemade craft through the air. It will look more or less like a flat platform with a shed of some kind attached to the back end as a stall for Sunshine and a little bathroom... maybe a little more detail, but it's basically rather square and blocky, with stiff leather curtains to separate the sleeping/relaxing area from the main one.
I've decided to let the honor of naming the craft go to you, my loyal readers. I'm curious to see what you come up with! The winner will be mentioned in my author's notes, of course, as well as my using the name itself.
It's simplest for you all to use reviews to suggest names for this craft. Please try not to send more than four or five names, since the more there are, the longer it'll take for me to decide ^_^ and if two or more people should send me the same name, I'll acknowledge each of them in my notes.
Now, the name shouldn't be too long, one or two words at most, and nothing vulgar, if you please. Be clever, be creative, and tell me which character you think should be the one who comes up with the name in the story. Me, I'm leaning toward Gourry... he tends to be awfully clever in little unobtrusive ways...
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