To Live Another Day
Episode Four: For What It's Worth
He looked ridiculous when she found him; then again, the population of similarly ridiculously dressed men in the resort was quite numerous. Taking a deep breath and telling all secondary thoughts along with her common sense to shut up, Filia approached Xellos.
The purple haired trickster was sitting on a bench, apparently minding his own business, though for someone who was supposedly uninterested in his surroundings he had a certain observant air around him. His head turned this way and that way, looking at the couples that passed by holding hands. He might as well add holding hands to his list of tactics to be used later. He considered adding giggling like an idiot to the slowly developing list, but even the mortally cursed have their limits.
Knowing that she was being ignored, Filia spoke up, "can I sit?" She inquired with as much confidence as she could muster. She was ignored, no surprise there. "I'm sitting." Filia took a seat on the wooden bench next to Xellos, a short way away from the fountain with the cupid in the middle, surrounded by rose bushes. The bushes produced flowers in such a bright shade of hot pink one could only conclude they were fake, or that the gardener was an alchemist obsessed with the color pink. The leaves were a minty green rather than a regular leafy green so as to not upset the calm and romantic feeling of pastel colors, or for some other equally mushy reason.
The second Filia sat down, Xellos made a sudden motion jumping a little as the bench was pushed down on her side and flopped back to its normal position. "Geez, Filia, you're really packing on the pounds, aren't you?" He commented sarcastically.
Trying with all her might to keep her temper down, Filia scowled and pointed out truthfully. "You know as well as I do that you made the bench move. My weight had absolutely nothing to do with it. Then again," she had the daring audacity to pinch his arm as she spoke. "You're so scrawny, maybe you really are that light."
"Can't get your hands off me? I'm flattered," Xellos remarked. He was known for doing all sorts of silly things on occasion so really, the fact that he had changed into an attire like the kind they sold at the local shops wasn't a real shocker. He did look especially silly wearing a short sleeved purple shirt with many yellow flowers printed on it, a pair of red shorts and yellow flip-flops, his signature staff having been left behind at the guys' hotel room. "May I remind you that in your eagerness you destroyed my clothes last time."
Filia turned scarlet and looked in every direction to see if any of the passers care about their conversation... they didn't. Those people were strangers, her friends being no where in sight. Those people didn't know her or Xellos and they apparently didn't care about their antics. "About that," Filia resolutely pushed her voice to work. "I um..." was she seriously apologizing to Xellos? Well no, that was never her plan; she just wanted to let him know she didn't care about the incident. She wanted to show him that she got over it and moved on with her life. She wanted to act like she wasn't terribly ashamed, mortified beyond belief, which she was. But Xellos couldn't know, or else he would exploit it, then her friends would know and even if they claimed to understand she wasn't herself when it happened, Filia would still die of shame. She had to confidently show Xellos that his taunts wouldn't bother her, so that he wouldn't bother using them in the first place. "Sorry if you were bothered by it. I hope you're not traumatized, because I'm not. In fact, it's kind of a blur," it was a lie. Every moment was painfully clear to her.
"Really?" Xellos raised an eyebrow curiously. Filia was a horrible liar and he could see right through her. It probably came because she tended to be too honest and sincere, both horrible qualities from a monster's perspective. "I could tell you all about it, reenact it even."
"I don't care," Filia voiced flatly only because it was her most well rehearsed answer that she planned to give Xellos if he threatened for blackmail. Except he wasn't threatening for blackmail, he was offering her another make-out session. "I mean I do care, no, I mean I don't want to. Anyway, I'm just letting you know that the incident is completely unimportant to me."
"So you wouldn't mind if I tell Lina?" Xellos asked with a grin. He knew Filia was feeling particularly tortured right now, it was awesome. It was even more awesome because he was the cause of her misery.
"I don't mind, it honestly doesn't matter," Filia shifted uncomfortably and tried to look indifferent, as opposed to embarrassed. It wasn't working.
"What about Amelia?" Xellos pressed on. He wasn't willing to give up until he got a somewhat truthful reaction from Filia.
"It's the same," Filia choked out.
"Gourry?" Xellos continued.
"It might go over his head," Filia felt a little cruel for pointing that out, but it was true.
"Point taken," Xellos chirped, his usual grin well in place. "Zelgadis?"
"It doesn't matter if they know; it doesn't matter if they all know," Filia snapped. "In fact, it doesn't even matter if the whole world knows."
"That you made out with a monster?" Xellos supplied smugly.
"A kiss is not making out, it's just a kiss," Filia argued with a red face. Other than a few quick glances that avoided his eyes, she had not been looking at Xellos, but knew he was looking right at her.
"Just a kiss, huh?" Xellos pretended to muse over this. A kiss was certainly not just a kiss, it was the cure he needed. "I thought golden dragons had more self respect than that. So if a random guy wanted to kiss you, he could?"
"No!" Filia half-yelled. "That's not what I meant, I wasn't myself and you should have done something to stop me!"
"I teleported you away, didn't I?" Xellos reminded.
Filia opened her mouth to speak then promptly closed it again like a fish person and proceeded to mull over that information. Okay, so Xellos had made himself a little bit useful and she supposed that harming an innocent victim would have been worse than degrading herself with a monster, just because Filia could be selfless like that. Frustrated, Filia let out an exasperated breath. He won, Xellos won, he was going to win no matter what she did. Filia cursed her bad luck. "I can't stop you from humiliating me, can I? Fine, do it, I won't beg you not to!"
"If you really want me to," Xellos grinned annoyingly. "However..." he made a dramatic pause. "I might let your deplorable behavior pass if you do a little something for me."
"I won't do anything bad," Filia outright stated.
"I know, teaching you evil is not possible, you're not smart enough to learn it." Another pause later, Xellos continued, rather enjoying the foreboding expression Filia was wearing. "Kiss me," Filia was sober now, Xellos had to give this one last try.
"What?" Filia stammered, now staring right at Xellos out of pure shock.
"I think you heard me," Xellos stared back with a plotting look. "There is a condition though," of course there had to be. "I give you my word as a monster-"
"For what it's worth," Filia muttered bitterly.
Xellos ignored her, "that I'll keep this incident that happened between us a secret, if you give me your word as a golden dragon that you'll kiss me. Here's the catch-"
"It has to be done in a completely humiliating way," Filia supplied with rising anger.
"I wasn't going to say that, but if you keep giving me suggestions I might take them," Xellos warned. With his signature grin unchanged he finished his proposed deal. "The catch is that you must kiss me of your own will."
"That makes no sense," Filia blinked in surprise. "How can I kiss you of my own will if you're blackmailing me?"
"I'm not," Xellos tried to twist things around a little. "Let me rephrase my proposal." He mused over it for a second and came up with a slightly different deal to similar ends. "I give you my word not to reveal the incident to anyone and ask for nothing in exchange for my silence. Additionally, in a completely separate and unrelated matter, I request, not blackmail, order, or threaten," he specified, "that you keep your mind open to the possibility of kissing me when you are completely sober, with a firm grasp on all your senses and not being pressured into it by any outside force. In other words, consciously and of your own initiative, unaffected by any ulterior motives be them yours or mine."
Filia blinked dumbly and stared at Xellos as if he grew a second head. Actually, that wouldn't have been all that strange, his request, not threat, was far stranger. "Are you asking me to keep my mind open to the possibility of ever wanting to kiss you of my own accord?"
"Correct," Xellos confirmed. "I'm glad you finally got that single brain cell of yours working." So asking a girl to kiss him and then insulting her wasn't a very good tactic, but this was Xellos, he couldn't waste an opportunity to start an argument with Filia anymore than she could waste an opportunity to start an argument with him.
"That's suspicious," Filia honestly stated. "It's too easy and you never make things easy." Yet no matter how many times she went over it in her head, she couldn't figure out what Xellos wanted to do... Then it occurred to her. "Aha!" She pointed her accusatory finger at Xellos yet again. "I know what you're trying to do; you're trying to make me feel better so that the hit is harsher when you make me feel worse. You're trying to make me lower my guard!"
"Whatever you say, Filia," Xellos rolled his eyes. It was clear that Filia wasn't going to stop suspecting him any time soon and time wasn't exactly on his side. "Look, how's this then: let's drop the subject and leave things as they are. If I'm going to do something, you can't stop me anyway so there's no reason for you to worry about it. Then after you cool your temper, give my request some more thought."
Filia glared at Xellos with a great amount of distrust, "fine." She agreed, but only because she had no choice but to agree. She got up from the bench and as she did her stomach growled again.
"Don't tell me you really did go on a diet," Xellos tried to fall back into a comfortable pace of exchanging insults. "You're such a twig without a figure as it is."
"Oh shut up you piece of raw garbage!" Filia yelled. "First I'm too fat and then I'm too thin? Look in the mirror you reject circus clown!" She turned on her heals and threw her head back in indignation, walking off in a fuming huff. Of course, Xellos followed her and of course he had a comeback for her insult. Then they fell into a rhythm of insulting each other that felt almost normal.
xoxox xox xoxox
Taking a break from the activity of insulting Xellos, Filia made her way to a restaurant as the sun began to set. There she spotted Amelia and Zelgadis sitting at a table eating calmly and chatting pleasantly.
Feeling that she was given another chance to perform her good actions as a matchmaker, Filia sat down and observed them from afar from behind a menu. Unlike the open buffet this restaurant was indoors and far homier looking. It had waiters and waitresses on the job and required payments per dish consumed. Luckily, Filia had remembered to go pick up her wallet from her luggage. She had a job to do as a matchmaker, but she couldn't do it on an empty stomach.
A waiter approached with a notepad in hand. "What can I get you?" He paused and took a second look at the ridiculously dressed purple haired man. "You're one of Lina's friends." He pointed his pencil at Xellos.
Xellos gave the man a curious smirk, "Zangulus was it?" He pretended to be unsure, because no human's name was worth remembering all that clearly, yet Xellos made it a point to remember them all. "It's quite a surprise to see you here. How is Miss Martina?"
"Likewise," Zangulus decided that small talk would be acceptable enough. He had left in decently good terms with Lina's group, though he still very much considered Gourry to be his swordsmanship rival. "Martina's doing well; she's working here too, though at a different part of the resort. We've been working to save up and restore her kingdom. It's along road but we're getting somewhere." He glanced curiously at Filia, "I take it this lady is your date?"
Filia slammed her fist into the table breaking it. "No!" She bellowed.
Zangulus stared at the broken table in surprise as did a few people including Amelia and Zelgadis from a few tables away. The murmurs of conversations and the sound of silverware on plates heard at the restaurant were suddenly silenced so that the awkwardness could be more clearly perceptible. "Um... Let me show you to another table." Zangulus graciously saved the situation and the murmurs of conversations and the sounds of silverware on plates continued normally. That was save for the conversation previously being held by Amelia and Zelgadis who paused in their eating and talking along with everyone else, but didn't resume the activities after Zangulus' line.
Instead they stared as Zangulus showed Xellos and Filia to a different table, were they silently sat and were too far away to hear when Filia mumbled a barely audible, "sorry..."
Zangulus however, was at hearing distance. "Never mind, it's not a big deal, the table was obviously about to fall apart anyway." Because there was no way this girl could have caused it to break, at least not without magic. "Are you okay?"
"Yes," Filia automatically replied, though she felt that she was anything but.
"She's a bit possessive," Xellos stated with nonchalance. "My dear Filia always corrects people when they say I'm her date or her boyfriend, the proper term would be lover, right darling?" He winked.
Filia turned scarlet yet again, she had been doing that far too often in the past twenty-four hours and was starting to fear that it might begin to affect her circulation... or give her an anger fueled heart attack. She remembered her little conversation with Xellos before and realized that if he wanted to say something stupid no one could stop him, but no one had to believe him. In fact, she was sure that anyone who knew her wouldn't believe his nonsense, but Zangulus didn't know her. Rather than adamantly denying the so called accusation of being Xellos' lover, Filia allowed rage to take over and tried to throw him for a loop. "Actually," she regained her cool in an almost frightening manner. "I think fiance would be the proper term, honey."
Xellos' face twitched in surprise, but only slightly. For the most part, he managed to maintain his smiling expression. Then his smile grew in amusement. "Of course, you're absolutely right, sweetheart." It was as if words such as darling, honey, sweetheart and the like had become the worse possible insults.
There was something odd about the atmosphere between those two, but then again, Zangulus' beloved Martina wasn't exactly like other girls either. Who was he to judge Xellos' taste in women? He waited as Filia and Xellos engaged in a glaring contest with each other while pretending to read the menus, until they finally each ordered something. In Xellos case it was mostly for show really since monsters didn't need food the way humans and dragons did, but he could still consume it if he so felt like it and there were certain tastes he very much enjoyed, like popcorn, but that wasn't on the menu.
xoxox xox xoxox
By the time Zangulus returned with the food, Xellos and Filia had fallen into an unspoken truce, so that they could enjoy a meal focusing their mouths in eating rather than in speaking insults. By that time, Amelia and Zelgadis had also stopped staring and were finishing their food, once again conversing with each other. However, their topic had shifted considerably.
"I still say it's impossible," Zelgadis assured. The justice loving Amelia sometimes got some silly notions stuck in her head. At times Zelgadis thought it was noble or even sweet, but this time it was downright weird.
"Have hope, Mr. Zelgadis!" Amelia insisted cheerfully. "Maybe Mr. Xellos and Miss Filia really are getting along with each other." It's not like she was suggesting they were on a date or anything, just that they looked like they had become friends... sort of.
"Look at them glaring at each other!" Zelgadis insisted. "Then there was that broken table a while ago. Xellos must have said something that angered Filia. He seems to have a very annoying talent for angering people."
"At least he's trying to change," Amelia maintained her point. "He did invite us over here and we were able to do a lot of research in the library."
Zelgadis huffed, "you mean we wasted the day sorting through an endless supply of cheesy romance novels and," he blushed, "rather inappropriate books?"
Amelia blushed as well; browsing that particular section in the off chance that they might have missed something useful was a very embarrassing endeavor that Amelia would rather not think about. "It's still a nice vacation. Even if the library isn't useful, we can at least enjoy the rest of the resort, there's certainly a lot of variety. Tomorrow we should all go somewhere together, it'll be fun!"
Zelgadis wanted to point out that one of monsters' favorite pastimes was ruining fun, but he decided to remain quiet. Amelia was determined and Zelgadis knew he would be wasting his breath if he tried to change her mind. "Fine," he adopted a look of resignation. He would still be on guard though; Xellos was definitely plotting something, that much was obvious given the fact that he was Xellos.
"It's settled then," Amelia chimed happily. "I'll talk to Miss Lina and Miss Filia about it tonight and you can talk to Mr. Gourry and Mr. Xellos," she smiled. Tomorrow would surely be a lovely day; Amelia felt it in her heart.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. What can I say about this chapter? It's very conversation driven and mostly a set up for the next, I suppose. I hope you enjoyed it anyway.