To Live Another Day
Episode Fifty: Undeniable Emotions
At the moment, according to Filia, everything that went wrong in the world was Xellos fault. Xellos, the most infuriating living creature in the universe, the one who turned her world upside-down and made her throw all logic out the window. The golden dragons had to be wrong about their naive theories of love, they simply had to be. It made a lot more sense for the ancient traditions to be a bunch of lies than for her to be loved by Xellos, consciously or not. It was just lust and Filia was a golden dragon, she couldn't be influenced with only that, she refused to be.
The door to her room was quietly opened, though it wasn't silent enough to be constituted as sneaking. The person invading her Seyruun quarters was purposely making his arrival known as he joined her by the window. "What are you staring at out there?" Xellos casually inquired.
"Nothing," Filia truthfully answered and moved on to more important observations. "Your hair is black and your tail is gone. You're human again," she concluded.
"Yes," Xellos never did manage to get any sleep, but he did calm down in time. By then dinner had passed. Not the double banquet, that had been set up for the next day, though Filia observed that Philionel looked nervous upon the announcement and he did emphasize the word maybe. Xellos had been absent from the dinner table, instead taking a detour to the kitchen before going over to see Filia. He needed a full stomach to have the energy to argue with her. Lina would probably be angry if she found out he ate the last pie, but she didn't need to know.
Filia remained silent. She was simply too confused to get into an argument with Xellos at the moment. At least he was sane again... mostly... if randomly kissing her out of nowhere could be counted as sane. "Xellos!" Filia fixed him in a firm glare. She could tell the difference though, this wasn't the crazy Xellos from when his dragon form was troubling him, this was the cool, calm and collected Xellos who was always in control of every situation. He was the Xellos that knew exactly what to do to push her over the edge. The Xellos who made her hate him with a passion one second and kiss him passionately the next. This was her Xellos... Wait, where did such a terrible thought come from? He wasn't her anything!
Filia needed to focus. She needed to find the malicious cruel intent that she knew was lurking in Xellos. She needed to get a good feel for it and convince herself beyond a doubt that he was pure evil and that nothing but the most painful of heartbreaks awaited her if she didn't kill her feelings for him soon. "Could you..." How could she properly phrase it? Could you quit pretending you like me and show me all the horrible thoughts about how terrible you're planning to be to me? No, that was too specific. Yet she had no patience left to be anything other than direct. "Focus on being evil."
"What?" Of all of Filia's random strange requests, this one was definitely the most unexpected. She was so full of surprises; it made her unpredictable and strangely addictive.
"Humor me," she insisted. "Just focus on being evil. Think of something traitorous. Imagine that Zelas ordered you to exterminate all the remaining golden dragons in the world. Picture that."
"Okay..." Xellos gave Filia a look that clearly communicated he thought she was insane, but humored her none the less. He remembered his previous mission involving the destruction of many golden dragons several years ago and used that as a reference to imagine this new mission that Filia proposed.
Filia shuddered; there was cruelty and an absolute lack of mercy. Then the initial reaction wore off and she felt no fear. "You're not doing it right, you're murderous and I'm not scared."
"Maybe because this is only an imaginary mission?" Xellos suggested. "Besides, why do you want to be scared?"
"I don't, I just want the truth," Filia argued nonsensically. "Now do what I say and focus on killing me, in your imagination that is."
The strange suggestion triggered memories from when Lord Beast Master ordered Xellos to kill Filia. Those were unpleasant memories. He was completely at Zelas command; Xellos knew it and he accepted it. It didn't really bother him most of the time, except for those rare occasions when he was stuck doing something he didn't want to do.
"Don't get sad, you're supposed to be a vicious monster!" Filia scolded.
Xellos ran a hand through his hair in exasperation, "I really don't know where you're going with any of this, Filia. Yes, I killed a lot of golden dragons in the past, and yes, I might have to do something like that again in the future, though I can't imagine why Lord Beast Master would give me such an order any time soon. If this is some strange tactic you're using to try to guilt trip me, then it's not going to work. I know you're a wimp who seems to care about every living creature under the sun, but I'm not. Those dragons were nothing to me."
"Just like I'm nothing to you..." Filia whispered, though she was still not convinced. Her logic was telling her one thing while her empathy sang a whole different melody.
A theory to explain Filia's random behavior emerged in Xellos' mind. "I see, so that's it. You're angry at me because I was going to Dragon Slave you back at the Beast Master Spa. I didn't have a choice! Zelas ordered me to kill you and if I didn't she would have killed us both, very painfully. Giving you a swift painless death was all I could do for you back then. If you would put that one and only brain cell of yours to work, you would understand that! Idiot dragon, what did you want me to do? Say let's be tortured and die slowly, agonizing together? You were the one who told me to do it! I thought you understood the situation!"
Filia stared at Xellos through his entire outburst until he fell silent giving her a frustrated glare. The sorrow she had seen in his eyes when he began to cast the Dragon Slave resurfaced. She could feel it now, as it was recorded in his memories, it was as if he was reliving the moment. He was right and she knew it, back then he was giving her the only mercy he could possibly give her. She wouldn't have wanted him to fall with her; that had been her biggest fear. She felt cruel for making him remember that frustrating helplessness. "What would you have done after I was gone?"
"I don't know," frankly Xellos was sick and tired of this topic. "Continue looking for a cure I suppose, a disposable cure I could use and throw away." She didn't understand the meaning behind those words or the contrast they presented. "Maybe I wouldn't even find it, a cure such as the one I need is... extremely rare, more so than I initially thought. Maybe it's even impossible to obtain." He thought Filia would be an easy shortcut, but she wasn't. "Then again, maybe I'm just as stubborn as you are for taking this route, for all I know; there could be far easier possibilities out there."
He knew much more about his cure than he hinted at. Maybe he knew enough to find it on his own, or perhaps it was something that he had to do alone. He hadn't really revealed the specifics about his mysterious cure in all this time since his curse was revealed to the group. "Why don't you take an easier route then? I think you've made it clear that you really want your monster powers back. Furthermore, you need to be a monster or Zelas will kill you. What are you waiting for? Get your cure and get out of my life!"
Xellos gave Filia an interesting look, the way she said that last part almost made it sound as if she knew. How could she? "Do you know what my cure is?"
"I don't," Filia replied truthfully. "You've always kept it a secret. Why won't you tell me?" He kissed her in a silent reply. She considered pushing him away, but she simply didn't have the will to do it. They parted several minutes later. Though her thoughts were not as focused anymore, Filia wasn't going to let things go. "Don't try to change the subject. Why won't you tell me what your cure is?"
"It's not something I have to look for, it's something I have to... achieve, figure out. I think it will only count if I do it myself, it's the only way it would be... genuine," Xellos vaguely explained.
"I see," Filia accepted the answer, "then I won't ask you to tell me anymore, for now at least. I suppose I'll know it when I see it happening. What are you going to do after you're cured?"
"I'm sure Lord Beast Master has a huge pile of assignments waiting for me." Xellos grimaced just thinking about how busy he would be. Some missions were fun, most of them amused him, actually, but not when he had a dragon pet to play with. Zelas kept dragons as pets, sort of. Rather than an intern, Phythan was no doubt a pet from Zelas' perspective and Tiffany was kind of a pet too. Maybe he could say the same about Filia, then it wouldn't be odd if he popped up for a visit far more often than ever before. "When I'm done with work, I'll be sure to get back at you for being so random and annoying. You better be ready for some frequent visits and don't try to hide because you know I'll find you." He joked trying to add some of his usual sarcastic mockery to a situation that was too serious for his liking.
"Why don't I feel disregarded, used or betrayed?" Filia thought aloud.
"Maybe because no one in the immediate time and place is disregarding, using or betraying you?" Xellos suggested. Then again, wasn't he using her as a cure? Well, yes, technically he was. Yet accepting some survival assistance from Filia without her knowing she was assisting him, given the fact that she did want him to live, didn't seem like something particularly traitorous. It's not like it was counterproductive to her purposes. As for being disregarded, haven't they been spending a lot of time together lately?
"I see..." Filia allowed everything to sink in. She had hit a wall trying to get her way with her heart a long time ago. Then when she finally tore that wall of impossibilities down, she found that the other side of it was exactly the same as the side where she stood. The so called lies, the truth, the perceptions, the possibilities, the hope, the plan, it was all too similar. He couldn't care less about the dragon race as a whole, but she was different. He would keep her safe if it was within his power to do so and it would deeply hurt him if it wasn't. She couldn't explain it, yet if she had changed so much, then maybe so had he. "I give up on being stubborn. I'll trust what I feel... what you feel."
"What do you... mean? ...Filia?" Something changed in her and it was too sudden, too powerful. His empathic abilities were overwhelmed. What was this deep affection that was unleashed? Where did it come from? Was she hiding it all along? "What did you do just now?" It was so strong it was almost frightening, yet trilling and irresistible.
"That's right, you're an empath. You can sense what I feel. All my stubborn confusion must have been stressing," Filia admitted. She loved Xellos and she wasn't trying to change that anymore. Instead, she embraced it. "I'm not running away anymore, I love you." She kissed him before he could voice any reaction to the revelation and from that point on, they didn't hold back.
xoxox xox xoxox
A loud insistent knocking on the door woke Xellos and Filia from their comfortable sleep the next morning. The knocking was followed by the insistent voice of Lina Inverse. "Filia, Xellos, hurry and get up! Phil doesn't want us to start eating breakfast until everyone is at the table. He said he had to tell us something and won't let us start eating until he does! Get over here, I'm hungry!" More knocking followed, a little more and she would tare down the door. She probably already would have if it was a flimsy inn door rather than a sturdy Seyruun castle door.
"We're coming!" Filia called out, then covered her mouth in realization. She didn't mean to use a plural.
"Hurry up!" Lina insisted one last time, before her footsteps echoed down the hall as she marched away in a stomping fashion.
"You just messed up your chance to keep it all a secret," Xellos teased.
Filia, who honestly wasn't in the mood to get up yet, laid her head back down on his chest and closed her eyes for a few more seconds. Her tail had come out at some point during last night and she never bothered making it disappear, it was currently wrapped around Xellos. "It doesn't matter. It couldn't have been a secret forever anyway. Besides, if I said, let's keep this a secret, you would just blackmail me."
"Maybe you know me better than I imagine," Xellos grinned.
Filia's empathy was gone; it had worn off at some point after she fell asleep. At least she got to keep it for most of the previous night, that certainly made things interesting and insightful. The ability that Filia had once thought was flawed, because she didn't sense what she expected, had become a source of security for her after she completely let go of the broken pieces of her denial. It was okay though, maybe she didn't need that ability anymore. Maybe she should just keep practicing reading between the lines and figuring out the difference between what Xellos said and what he meant. To look beyond what he appeared to be doing and catch a glimpse of what he actually intended to do.
"Let's join the others for breakfast before Lina breaks down the door and drags us to the table." Filia suggested, finally making herself get untangled from Xellos and out of bed. She was tempted to take the sheet with her, but Xellos ripped it out of her hands, "Xellos!" She instinctively tried to cover herself with her hands and tail.
"What?" He feigned innocence as if he had no idea what he did to provoke the annoyed tone in Filia's voice.
"Nothing," Filia decided it was best to just get dressed and not mind Xellos too much. There was nothing new to see anyway. She still dressed in record breaking time, even if she felt a little silly for rushing so much. She glanced at Xellos, who was still only half dressed. "I clawed you again, didn't I?" She admitted, more so than inquired, with a certain amount of embarrassment in her apparent lack of control. Her face was flustered at the memories from the previous night.
"It's okay, I caused it," Xellos seductively admitted, which made Filia blush deeper.
"Either way, let me heal you," said and done, Filia casted a recovery spell on Xellos.
Something was off, something was definitely very out of place, something made no sense what so ever. His hair was still black, his body still human. Distractions aside, the realization hit Xellos like a ton of bricks. Why wasn't he a monster? Why wasn't the curse broken? Filia claimed to love him and kissed him immediately after. That was basically the best example of a willing kiss and there was a lot more than just kissing afterwards. He decided not to let things get to him yet. No one ever said the curse would be broken immediately. Maybe it took a little more time or maybe there was some kind of loophole that he still remained unaware of. Whatever it was, he had a feeling that Zelas' patience was at its end, so he better turn back into a monster soon.
xoxox xox xoxox
Xellos and Filia joined Lina, Gourry, Amelia, Zelgadis and Philionel at the breakfast table. "Finally!" Lina loudly exclaimed and immediately picked up her silverware.
"Miss Lina!" Philionel scolded, making the redhead freeze. "I must insist that you listen to what I have to say before you begin eating."
Lina frowned and put down the silverware, she didn't want to upset Phil into canceling the double banquet. That would be horrible. She just kept focusing on the banquet being tonight. "I'm listening," she prompted impatiently.
"Thank you," Philionel nodded formally and cleared his throat. "I'll keep this short and to the point."
"Please do," Lina muttered in a barely audible tone.
Philionel continued as if he had not heard Lina. "As I'm sure you are all aware, helping each other is a vital part of building a better world. As the crown prince of Seyruun, it is my duty to teach such a lesson to my people with the example." Amelia's eyes shone in admiration as she listened to her father's speech. "Our neighbors from the outer world are suffering the effects of a bad harvest. The spring crops were scarce and the summer crops almost non-existent. As a result of the dying vegetation, the livestock has also been severely affected. Their land is being hit by a terrible famine and one farmer after another has been forced to sell or even abandon their land to try to earn sustenance for their family elsewhere. We who have the privilege of sitting at the table with all this delicious food before us must give thanks for our blessing."
"Amen!" Lina exclaimed and once again attempted to begin eating.
"I'm not done yet!" Philionel insisted and once again Lina paused. "It is my duty not only as the acting monarch of Seyruun, but also as a living being," because to say human being was considered politically incorrect these days, "to give help to those who are in need. In light of the situation, I have made the choice to postpone the promised double banquet until further notice, so that Seyruun will have more food to share with those who are in need of it."
Amelia wiped a tear, "that was such a moving speech, daddy, I'm with you all the way!"
"What?" Lina's furious voice echoed all over Seyruun castle and beyond. "You're giving away my double banquet to a bunch of strangers? Unacceptable! Isn't celebrating the engagement of your own daughter and dear friends, to whom you owe your life may I remind you, more important? You made a promise as the ruler of Seyruun to give me a double banquet and you must keep that promise!" Lina was now standing on her chair in absolute fury.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Slayers. Looks like it's bad news for everyone. More about Xellos' situation will be explained in the next chapter. Wow 50 chapters, when I started I didn't think the story would turn out this long. We're at the half point! Since I'm not a lemon writer and this is rated T, I skipped ahead to the day after, though it should be obvious what happened. If anyone wants to fill the blank with a lemon of their own, go ahead.