To Live Another Day
Episode Thirty-Four: Kindness Shall Be Rewarded
Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Filia were piled into Xellos' small hospital room. The local doctor had given him medicine, ordered him not to scratch his rash, which was all over his body, and left him overnight at the hospital for observation. Xellos of course couldn't help it but to scratch, while Filia tried to stop him. "If you want to get better you have to listen to the doctor!" Filia had enough of trying to wrestle Xellos into staying still, especially when he resorted to hair pulling after he realized that no human could possibly physically overpower a dragon. "That's it! I'll make you stay still; this is for your own good!" Filia stormed off, leaving a heavy feeling of foreboding in the air.
"Stupid dragon," Xellos growled, then decided to seek out more information about his pitiful human condition. The doctor was in his opinion very unhelpful. He claimed to need Xellos to stay for overnight observation at the hospital before the intensity of his allergies could be determined. Apparently, if he was lucky, the medicine should have him fully healed by morning. Xellos wasn't getting his hopes up for the idea of being cured by the next day, because his luck had been anything but good as of late. "Amelia, what do you know about this... disease?" He finally swallowed his pride enough to ask, the suspense was killing him.
"It's an allergy, not a disease," Amelia pointed out. Xellos gave her an impatient look, silently indicating that it was just a figure of speech and he knew the difference well enough, so she could skip that explanation and move on to the more important information. "My friend, Kally, got a red rash all over her body just like what you have, but that was only on the first day. She got medicine and stayed at the hospital overnight."
"Then she was fine the next day?" Xellos inquired with a thin thread of hope clinging to his voice.
"Oh no, the next day she was far worse!" Amelia grimaced. "Her skin was only red and dry at first, just like yours, but on the second day it started cracking and bleeding, it was... rather unpleasant. They had to wrap every inch of poor Kally in bandages. She was like that for about two weeks and she said it hurt as if she was constantly being burned alive. The poor dear kept crying in agony day and night and not even the best healers could help her. Only herbal medicine was able to cure her, then at the end of the fifty days of treatment, she was as good as new, though a little traumatized by the experience. She can't even see a picture of an octopus without screaming, crying or fainting."
Fear, this was fear, Xellos recognized it. As a monster he enjoyed it very much, but as a human it was terrible. "Sounds like you're in trouble, I do hope you recover," Zelgadis grinned and Amelia failed to see the enjoyment in his remark. It wasn't that she wanted to be mean; she was just stating the facts as they were with the story about Kally. Lina and Gourry were quick to add in their condolences as well, though only Gourry's seemed to have a shred of sincerity.
"I'm back," Filia returned to the room with a bundle of ropes in her arms. "This should keep you still."
"No!" Xellos attempted to run away, but Filia dragged him back and tied him to the bed forcefully. "Stop it! Let me go!"
"Yell all you want, that's just going to give you a sore throat, it won't convince me to let you go. This is all for your own good." Filia took up the chair closest to Xellos' hospital bed, guarding him.
Lina, Gourry, Amelia and Zelgadis looked at each other and unanimously decided it was time to leave. Thus they left the miserable ex-monster in the capable care of the temperamental golden dragon.
xoxox xox xoxox
It was the most unpleasant night of Xellos' life, spent at the hospital like a fragile human, which he hated to remember he was. He woke up feeling terribly stiff and painfully turned his head to the side to see Filia leaning on his bed in an odd position, the rest of her body on a chair beside it. "Filia, wake up, you stupid lazy dragon!"
Filia woke up startled and looked around in every direction until it sunk in where she was and why she was there. "Xellos, are you in pain?"
"Yes," he snapped from his position, immobile on the bed. "But it's not because of some octopus allergy; I'm stiff from laying still."
Filia gently caressed his face, which only further annoyed him. "Your temperature is normal and the rash is gone. It looks like your allergy wasn't as bad as what Amelia's friend had."
Xellos was worried he would end up wrapped in bandages like a mummy too. How was he supposed to break his curse then? Who falls in love with a mummy? Okay, so maybe he kind of figured Filia would take care of him either way, but that would just make things worse.
"Yes, I'm cured, the medicine was a success, I have no reason to scratch anymore, untie me!" Xellos yelled in humiliated frustration. In an attempt to get back at Filia, he gave her a suspicious look and winked. "Unless it was your plan all along to take this opportunity to fulfill your bondage fantasies. Are you going to try to take advantage of me?"
"No!" Filia's face turned crimson and she fumbled with the knocks to untie Xellos as quickly as she could. She stumbled back as soon as he was untied and watched him stretch from the corner of her eyes as she rummaged through the bag the doctor had dropped off that morning while Xellos was still sleeping. She yawned, "you know, I just recently fell asleep." She tried to change the subject.
"Then you spent the whole night watching me?" Xellos made a fake exaggerated shuddering motion. "Creepy!"
"Stop it! You know I wasn't watching you with bad intentions!" Filia insisted still red-faced. She handed the doctor's bag over to Xellos. "There's some spare medicine in there, just in case, and some herbal soap. I suggest you use it now since it will probably be a long walk to the next inn." She handed him his clothes as well, since the doctor had made him change into baby blue hospital pajamas the previous day. "I also washed your clothes."
"I'm glad you finally learned your place, slave. Are you going to give your master a sponge bath too?" Xellos teased.
Trying to avoid a long argument, Filia growled in response, "just go and try to hurry, everyone is already prepared to go, we're just waiting for you."
"Have a good time waiting then," Xellos walked away towards the bathroom at a luxurious pace, which he knew would annoy Filia. Just as he closed the door he heard her let out a stream of angry mutters that were most certainly directed at him. He slightly opened the door again and poked his head out, "no peeking." The simple phrase was enough to anger Filia further as she denounced that she ever would. Xellos shut the door once more, locking it with more force than needed, so that the click of the lock was annoyingly obvious to Filia. It's not like she would actually try to open the door, but making her think he thought she would was amusing.
The bathroom was particularly small and just as white as the hospital room. The tub had been filled with water. Xellos set his clothes aside and tested the temperature, finding that it was pleasantly warm. Filia must have gotten the bath ready for him too before she dozed off for a few short minutes. A quick curious peek at the mirror confirmed that his skin was completely back to normal. His hair was also darker then the day before, almost completely black with only a few strands of purple left. His eyes had remained the same amethyst color, as it was pointed out before, some humans have eyes so blue that they look purple. He glared at his reflection, not out of distaste, but just to see what he looked like with a different expression. His face was the same as ever, except that constantly wearing a squinting smile got tiring. Humans were truly pathetic, even their tiny facial muscles needed rest.
Glaring at the mirror, Xellos ironically realized that he looked more so like a monster now than before. Perhaps not really a monster, but more like an evil wizard. The black hair did give him a certain sinister quality, especially when he had his eyes open. Upon further observation, he realized that he must have unknowingly run a fever at some point in the night because he was a little sweaty. He wondered if those instances when he half woke up to find Filia cleaning his face with a cool towel in the middle of the night were real or just a product of his tortured mind.
In any case, he would much rather leave the terrible octopus calamity behind for good. He tossed the pajamas on the floor and hopped into the tub. The warm water felt like a great relief on his stiff body. He didn't care if the others were waiting; he wasn't getting out of the tub any time soon. After a while, before the water cooled off completely, he rummaged through the bag Filia had given him for the medicinal soap he was supposed to use. The stuff smelled like something that belonged in some old granny's stew and he didn't like it, but thinking that the rash of itchy doom could return, Xellos decided not to take any chances and used the soap just as he was told.
He noticed that there were several bottles inside the bag. Aside from the medicine, there was a small traveling size bottle of shampoo with nothing particularly medicinal about it. There was also another bottle of... cologne? Why would they give that away at the hospital? It was appropriate, since it would get rid of the smell of the weird herbal soap, but it and the shampoo looked store bought. A small note at the bottom of the bag listed the two items. This had to be Filia's hand writing; she looked like the type to dot her i's with little hearts.
Filia did say something about helping Xellos take care of his hair the previous evening. She must have also smelled the medicinal soap and decided something had to be done about it. The note proved that she did indeed stay by his side the whole night, having sent someone else to get the items for her. Stupid dragon thinking of every detail and annoyingly going out of her way for him...
A knock on the door interrupted Xellos' peaceful soaking in the bathtub. "Xellos, you've been in there for an hour!" There was no reply. "Xellos?" Filia repeated. "Are you okay in there?" A few more seconds passed, slowly turning into minutes as Filia's mind went crazy with tragic theories. Was it that Xellos had not fully recovered and fainted? Or maybe he slipped on the tub, fell and hit his head. Maybe he was unconscious under water in the tub. Maybe he could still be saved. "Xellos, answer me!" Filia's voice turned desperate and frightened, which further amused Xellos. He felt the tickle of a laugh wanting to come out, but managed to keep it in check.
He remained perfectly quiet and waiting for Filia to break down crying in desperation. What was her problem anyway? He was only taking a bath; there was nothing that could possibly hurt him during the process. He would have to remember to ask her if she was afraid he would go down the drain or something. With Filia's melodious desperate shouts in the background, Xellos decided it was time to get out of the tub; the water had cooled off by then anyway. He stood up and just as he was about to reach for one of the white towels that was almost invisible against the white wall, the door burst open. The door knob had been shattered, lock and all, as Filia barged in with a panicked expression.
Time seemed to stand still. There was Xellos standing against a pure white backdrop, dripping wet and with absolutely nothing in the way to obstruct the view. There was Filia in a panicked state caused by her baseless worries, with a rush of adrenaline coursing through her body that heightened her senses, allowing her to better take in very detail before her. A single second passed and the frozen state was broken as Filia's face turned a glowing shade of scarlet and she screamed at the top of her lungs. She made a hasty retreat, slamming the ruined bathroom door so hard that it fell off one of its hinges and hung lopsided from the doorframe.
xoxox xox xoxox
Fifteen minutes later, Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis, Xellos and Filia were on the road again. Thankfully they managed to elude the octopi waiters and upset human chefs that wanted them to pay for the previous evening's meal. Thus once again, Lina Inverse and company skipped another town without paying their food bills. Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Xellos were walking at a normal pace, while Filia lagged behind, staring at the ground in embarrassment, her face still flustered.
"Are you alright, Miss Filia? Your face is all red; did you catch a fever somehow?" Amelia inquired with all the good intentions in the world.
"I'm alright," Filia snapped awkwardly. She tried to put on a happy smile and hope that Amelia would keep any further questions to herself. "I mean, I'm perfectly fine, really! It's a lovely day and life is wonderful!" She laughed awkwardly. "It's just a little warm out today, that's all."
"If you say so," realizing that she wasn't going to get any more information out of Filia, Amelia mercifully dropped the subject.
A short moment of blissful silence passed by, being filled only by the soft sound of their foot steps on the dirt road. "Seriously, Xellos," Lina broke the silence holding her nose with the index and thumb of one hand, while fanning the air in front of her face with the other hand. "That cologne smells nice and all, but you didn't have to bathe in it!"
"I had to use it," Xellos innocently replied. "It was a gift from Filia." He drew closer to his bodyguard as if to whisper a secret to her, though it was just loud enough for the whole group to hear. "I think she wants me."
"I do not!" Filia immediately screeched. "You're delusional, you monster!" this time she was using the word monster in a metaphorical sense.
"Really?" Xellos grinned evilly. "So the whole thing with you ripping off the bathroom door, which I had locked, and rushing in when I was innocently taking a bath was all part of my imagination? That ruined door back at the hospital looked pretty real to me. Besides, I'm sure that everyone heard you scream."
All eyes landed on Filia as her face glowed crimson again. She seemed unwilling to communicate and eager to leave town when she caught up to the group. "I didn't mean to and you know it!"
"I know dragons are brutes," Xellos continued in his usual super annoying tone, at least that had not changed about him. "But you can't expect me to believe that you accidentally broke the door. I've seen you use doors before without breaking them."
"I thought you were hurt!" Filia defended.
"Did you think I would go down the drain?" Xellos teased with the remark he had thought of earlier.
"I once got my thumb stuck in a tub's drain at an inn," Gourry randomly shared. "Lina had to help me get it out."
The collective stare of the group shifted from Filia to Lina, giving Filia a small much needed break from the analytical visual attention. Lina's face instantly matched the color of her hair as she tried to make up an excuse. "Headband!" She pointed at the black headband she usually wore around her forehead. "I was wearing my headband over my eyes the whole time!" Of course that was after she rushed in to answer Gourry's plea for help, saw everything, screamed her head off and finally calmed down enough to actually help him. That was also after hurling every blunt object she could get her hands on at his head. "Anyway, getting back on topic, we were talking about Xellos and Filia," Lina reminded, sinking poor Filia to save herself.
Filia gave Lina a sarcastic 'thanks a lot' look as she continued in her defense. "I thought Xellos fainted as a side-effect of his allergy, or slipped in the tub and hit his head. I thought he was drowning and honestly needed help!"
"Just because I've been turned into this doesn't mean I'm completely pathetic." Xellos argued with a certain edge to his voice upon being reminded of his fragile mortality.
"I kept calling out for you and you didn't answer!" Filia's tone evolved from defensive to accusing. "What else was I supposed to think if not that you were unconscious?"
Amelia, the self proclaimed just judge of the argument nodded in acknowledgement. "Miss Filia states a valid point."
To answer Filia's rhetorical question, Xellos offered, "you were supposed to think I was ignoring you. It's the most logical conclusion."
"That's a valid point too," Amelia admitted. She silently deliberated for a few seconds with a classic thoughtful expression with one hand on her chin, then finally reached a conclusion. "However, the fact still stands that you did not answer to Miss Filia's calls and purposely worried her. That was a very mean thing to do, Mr. Xellos, especially after Miss Filia showed you such kindness. She stayed by your side the whole night while you recovered and even asked me to run to the store to get a few things, so she could remain with you every second. In life, evil deeds are punished and kindness is rewarded!" Amelia's view of the world wasn't exactly perfectly accurate, but no one pointed it out. There was no destroying Amelia's fantasies of absolute justice.
Instead of trying to point out that the world wasn't always that balance, and that it rarely was, Xellos mused over Amelia's words until he reached a conclusion of his own. "So evil deeds are punished and kindness is rewarded... By that logic that must mean that my evil deeds of the past are being punished by having my very own peeping she-tom stalker."
"What?!" Filia snapped in mortified anger.
Not quite done with his conclusion, Xellos finished stating his observations with a mischievous grin and a conceited tone. "Following the same train of logic, we can also conclude that Filia's kindness was rewarded with some excellent fan service." Unable to respond, Filia could only hide her red face with her hands, while in the privacy of her mind, she wondered if Xellos' final statement was somehow true.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. I heard Xellos has black hair in the novels, that's where the idea came from. This is yet another 'just for fun' chapter. There are still important plot points up ahead, I'm getting there, it's just that these little scenes were too fun not to write. XD