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One Third Human
Part Four
                by: Shell Presto

Disclaimer: I don't own the Slayers, various companies do. However, this story is my own, and I'd like to keep it that way. Have honor, okay? Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I don't own the Slayers, various companies do. However, this story is my own, and I'd like to keep it that way. Have honor, okay? Enjoy.

Email me at mangetsu@email.com with any commentary. Even the smallest suggestion is appreciated, and the more critical comments are indispensable. Please drop me a line even to tell me if you are reading this. It helps. Alternately, feel free to use diemwind@golem-fan.co.uk if you're on my webpage, Inspiration Stemming from Sleep Deprivation. I'll do my best to get back to you. Well, enough of that, on with the story.
 
 
 

 She had tried. Honestly, she had tried. She started by merely calling him, then yelling, neither of which had any effect. Then she nudged him, and threw her cape on him, then tried to turn him with her foot, nothing prevailed. She had to do it, she really had to do it. So she kicked him in the head to wake him up.
 Amelia was the one to cry out first. Zelgadis' head was much harder than she had anticipated. A low moan erupted from her target, and he rolled over but did not wake.
 "Will you get up already!?!" Once again he unconsciously ignored her. This time she gave up, flopping to the ground to sit, her legs crossed before she settled. "I know you didn't sleep much in the past few days, but you're getting a bit ridiculous..." Her words let up as she studied his face which was turned away from her. In her mind, she tried to decide whether he was more handsome or pretty. She wrestled with it a while in her mind as she looked at him, and finally came up with 'good looking.' She grew sad to see that he certainly was not at peace in his sleep as so many others usually were. His eyes were squeezed tightly shut as if he were in pain, and she knew without seeing that his teeth were gritted in that closed mouth of his. She hoped he was only like that because she kicked him, but there was no hiding that he was having a nightmare. Again. Gourry had told her that Zelgadis had often woke up panting in the middle of the night whenever Gourry was awake enough to notice. There were also a few occasions when the swordsman was startled by a scream from the chimera, but those occasions were rare. Amelia even heard him once.
 It scared her to think of what could make such an undaunted person wake up screaming. Zelgadis almost never showed any emotion; even during the most impossible battles, he kept a reasonable cool until someone got hurt. What could possibly scare him? Was what Rezo did to him, or how Rezo did it, so bad? It occurred to Amelia that one did not always have to scream in fear. She would scream if someone surprised her, or if she thought something was gross and creepy, but not scary. Maybe he had screamed in rage, or disgust. Amelia bit at her gloved thumb as she thought, Maybe he hates himself that much. Or maybe.... She looked at him with glossy eyes, so dark and reflective that, had he been awake, he could have seen himself in them. His form was so tense, yet fragile; he looked like a real statue, one made of a granular aqua glass that could break if touched the wrong way. Maybe he's afraid of himself. She wanted to stroke his hair as she wondered just what he saw the first time he looked in a mirror after his transformation. Although she now thought that the chimera looked cool, he had reminded her of how she felt the first time she saw him. He was scary, she admitted. He was scary and his eyes were so cold. He was a third demon; his eyes were narrow with just the slightest hint of colour. When he isn't genuinely smiling, his eyes are intimidating, she allowed. They're nice when he is, though.
 With her teeth, she pulled her glove off, and lowered her hand mere inches above his hair. Yes, he had asked her not to touch him, but she felt as though he could use her touch for strength. Amelia so wanted to chase the nightmares away and give him peace, she wanted to heal him, if that's what he really wanted. In her own mind, she believed that no one deserved to have troubled dreams. He should be human when he falls asleep. She tempted her own index finger an acute distance from his pointed ear. Lightly, so lightly she could not even feel it, the princess grazed the tip of his ear. It was enough for him to minutely open one eye. "what?"
 Amelia pulled back quickly, shoving her hand into her glove. "I.. I touched your ear, a bit... c..cos you wouldn't wake up!"
 The chimera groggily sat up. "oh? sorry, i dozed off." His lone opened eye made sure her gloves were on.
 Her disconcerting smile flashed on like a starting film when she realized she was in the clear. "It's alright, Mister Zelgadis. After all, your last nap was interrupted by your leg nearly being burnt off."
 He laughed through his nose, one breath. "Yeah," he affirmed with a gritty, sleep leaden voice. "Are my clothes...?"
 The princess shook her head. "Not yet. It hasn't been that long. I just brought you some food from the inn while you're waiting."
 Rubbing his visible eye with one hand, he pointed at a basket within the princess' grasp with the other. She grinned, closing her eyes to be as innocently cute as possible. "I thought you'd like some company, so I packed a picnic lunch." Beneath his hand and hair, his eyes went wide, yet that remained hidden.
 "uhm... thanks."
 Like most meals without Lina and Gourry to spice them up, theirs started quietly. As always, Zelgadis was aphonic, and, as always, Amelia was unsure of what to say. This time, however, Zelgadis felt bad about the silence, and wanted to make the girl who so comforted him comfortable. He let his fork rest on his lower lip an instant before asking, for lack of anything better to say, "How's your father?"
 Amelia swallowed a bit of meat too fast in her eagerness to hear him. After coughing and chugging some water, she replied happily, "Oh, Daddy's doing fine. He's going to get the crown soon."
 If he had an eyebrow, it would have perked up. "Did the King die?"
 "No, no! It's just the natural progression of things, you know? He's old is all, old, and he thinks Daddy's more than ready. Daddy has been running things for a while now, years, actually."
 "Which would make you next in line for the throne."
 The princess nodded. "Yes, although they're not likely to give the throne to me if I don't marry. Usually it's to the next male heir."
 The eyebrow would be cocked. "You don't plan to marry?" he half stated, half wondered.
 "Of course I do! Just because I'm a Defender of Justice doesn't mean I can't be a bride," she huffed. Then she froze. Then she realized what she had said. Then she realized who she was talking to. Then she turned fire engine red.
 Zelgadis looked at the trees to the right of the clearing, giving Amelia a spectacular view of his hair, and only his hair. She would have enjoyed the smirk playing on his lips, the awkward sense of pride shining in his eyes. With nothing better to cloud his thoughts, he relished that she was still up for grabs and willing.
 "How did you wake up before?"
 He turned far enough towards her that she could see a part of his cheek. She grumbled inwardly to herself about the unfairness of it all; she knew he could see clearly through all that wire hair of his somehow, yet she could not see an inch of his face.
 "Huh? Wake up how?"
 "I barely touched your ear."
 "Oh," he nearly exclaimed, not daring to show enthusiasm over talking to her. "I heard you. You know how when someone rubs your ear, you can hear it rather well? My hearing is more sensitive than most --you know that-- so it sounded loud."
 As if understanding for the first time, she noted aloud, "So your sense of touch is muted, but everything else picked up."
 He simply nodded as he took another bite of his meal.
 Eagerly, Amelia inquired, "What can you hear now?"
 Without moving an inch, he looked at her. He finished the last portion of his platter, took one sip of lukewarm coffee from a canteen, and leaned back on his hands. After a long moment of meditation, he clarified, "Right now?"
 Eyes sparkling with unbound curiosity, she goaded him on, "Right now. Tell me everything you can hear."
 The chimera released a sharp breath through his nose, a half laugh. Never had he actually concentrated on what he could hear. Zeroing in on a specific sound, he had done that, but never just taken in everything. He sighed. "Well, I can hear my breathing and my pulse... but that's a given. There are some animals in the forest, somewhere, making sounds, moving through branches, things like that. Birds." He breathed again, and tried to open his senses without focusing on any one thing. His eyes closed. "You... I can hear your breathing.. There's a brook or something somewhere around here." Blue eyelids opened and he exhaled. "That's about it."
 "That's amazing, Mister Zelgadis. It really is." Amelia swooned over her newfound understanding of him.
 One side of his closed mouth lifted. He had impressed her.

 Xelloss sweatdropped. Sure, Lina was Lina, but after a long absence it was still a shock to see. Lina and Gourry were at each others' throats once again, as the meal had boiled down to it's last legs. Literally. Chicken legs. Both had a fork embedded into the plate, each space between twines housing a bone wrapped in savory white meat.
 "You have no manners!" Lina scolded between gritted teeth. "The last dish should go to a Lady!"
 "I always thought it was ladies first..." Gourry mused, confused.
 "First to eat the last dish!"
 A knowing glint shone brightly in the blonde's eye. "No, Lina, you're wrong. I'm going to get the chicken."
 "You....!" Lina tried to wrench the entire plate up in one swift movement, and the table shook as two primal forces (or stomachs) collided.
 "My my," the purple haired priest exclaimed. "You two haven't changed a bit in all these years."
 "Not now, Xelloss!" Lina growled. "We're in the middle of something here!"
 "Hey! Xelloss!" The swordsman managed to grin at the monster while he kept tight hold on his fork. "Long time, no see!"
 Lina saw her opportunity! Quietly she lisped, "freeze arrow." The quick freeze paid off as Gourry's fork promptly snapped, and Lina gobbled the chicken legs before he could even open his confounded mouth.
 "Hey! You ate the chicken!"
 The grin on the redhead's face grew wider and wider as she wiped the sauce off her lips.
 "That's unfair, Lina. You always get the last of the food..."
 "So what have you two been up to?" Xelloss interjected upon the pouting and gloating.
 "Oh," sighed the sorceress. "Not much. We're going to help Zel find his cure. You're not coming along, are you?"
 "Oh, no, no," the monster replied in a smooth, denying voice. "I'm just passing through and thought I'd say hello."
 Lina raised an eyebrow. "Really? Well, it's good to see you again, at any rate. So.. just what are you doing here, anyway?"
 Xelloss smiled, bringing a finger up to his lips. "Now that is a secret."
 Shaking her head knowingly, she suggested, "As glad as I am to see you, I do suggest you hightail it before Zelgadis comes in. He's been... well, himself lately, if you get my drift."
 "True, he has been rather snippy lately," the trickster offered.
 Ruby eyes questioned him momentarily, only to be answered by a smug, growing smile on an unreadable face.
 "Well, must get back to work. It was a pleasure, Lina." With that, the mysterious priest left the room filled with questions as he walked out the door.

 He studied his mended garments with admiration as he tied his cape on. The tailors had certainly done a wonderful job, not leaving one hole or rip untouched. Their stitching was so precise that he could not even make out a seam. No seams... He frowned while clasping his ward over the knot he had made. "How much do I owe you?" he asked, an annoyed undertone in his voice.
 Ignoring it, Amelia replied, "Nothing at all. Believe me, the repair bill was really minimal. Not even worth mentioning."
 Zelgadis buckled his belt, pulling his shirt down so that the extra material fell evenly over his hips. "It's sad to realize how little you think of me."
 "how little i think of you?" Amelia mirrored sheepishly.
 "These aren't my clothes."
 The princess laughed nervously. "Well, you see, I really thought you needed new ones, so I just told the tailor to look at yours, then add a couple inches here or there. It didn't cost that much to convince him to do your clothes immediately..."
 "How much?"
 She pouted her lips in a mixture of annoyance and chagrin. "Why do you always have to be like this? I'm a princess, Zelgadis. I can afford it. If Lina makes me pay for all her food, then one clothing bill isn't that bad. Besides, you guys are my friends, and what kind of friend am I if I let you walk around in rags when I have a kingdom?"
 The chimera did not want to owe her one, but could not argue against her, he knew. Instead, with a slight scowl, he offered, under his breath, "thank you."
 Amelia diverted her gaze from him, touching her collarbone in a calm nervousness. "zelgadis..." He was walking away from her again, steamed over something, although she could not tell what. She had done him a favor, and it seemed as if she had returned earlier in the day with the clothes, he would have been thankful. Instead he was storming off into the safety of the town. She caught up with him quickly, running ahead of him. "Mister Zelgadis, what's wrong?" She held her position fast; she was not about to let him leave like this.
 He dismissed her presence as he passed her. "Mister Zelgadis!" The princess took hold of his sleeve. Like lightning he whipped his arm away from her grasp, spinning to face her as he did so. "Don't touch me!" he hissed.
 For a split second, Amelia was afraid while peering into the eyes of a madman. Inhuman turquoise slits revealed all the same psychotic rage that could be seen in Phibrizzo, Gaav, and Rezo. She wanted to scream.
 However, the phase left within his next half breath, and the chimera tightly closed his eyes as he felt it let go. He stood silent for the longest time, and Amelia tried to recover from the shock.
 "Ze.. Mister Zelgadis...."
 "Why in the world do you have to do that?" he almost snarled, hiding his face passively in his hand. Weariness seeped into his voice.
 Amelia blinked. "Do what? I didn't mean to upset... to touch.."
 "No." He sighed, "Mister Zelgadis, Miss Lina... You're a princess, dammit. We should be calling you 'Miss.'"
 "I don't want you to," she explained. "Everyone calls me 'Princess,' but I like it when you.. and Miss Lina and Mister Gourry just call me Amelia." She vacantly looked skywards. "Why? Does that bother you?"
 Zelgadis allowed his hand to fall to his side. "Of course it bothers me. I'm not your damned superior, am I?"
 She tried her best to discern his emotion, and failed. As happy as she was to hear that he wanted her to lose the formalities, it did not seem to be for the desired reasons. "M.. Zelg..."
 "Zell-gah-diss," he assisted sarcastically.
 "Zelgadis.." He frowned as she said it. "What's wrong?" This time her unwavering concern and fierce stand broke him down... slightly.
 "I'm not sure."
 Optimistically, she proposed, "Well, maybe if we talked.."
 "I'm fine."
 "oh."
 There was another long, dead silence as they walked towards the town. In frustration, Zelgadis gripped his canteen tightly, only then realizing that it was not his canteen. Taken aback, he stopped as he looked for the wristlet.
 Amelia became extremely curious when he broke his stride. She leaned in close to him to share a stare at the canteen. "Something wrong?"
 A sort of lost expression was plastered on his face. "You bought me a new canteen."
 "Of course I did."
 "Did you pull anything off the old one?"
 She panicked. "You didn't have something important on it, did you?!" He timidly refused to answer. "Oh, Zelgadis, I'm so sorry! I'll get it right back!"
 "Err... You don't have to..."
 But she was off in a flash, zooming into the town at top speed.
 Her use of his name stunned him, the naturality of it, and he had to assure himself that it was only because he had told her to use it that it was so. Then he covered his face up as he started in his own race, rooftop to rooftop, to follow and beat Amelia to an item he did not want her to know he still possessed.

 She skidded to a halt inches before the counter.
 The tailor sweatdropped. "Eh, could I help you miss?" he asked the panting figure. The man's eye twitched all the while.
 "Yes... I.. came... got... outfit... for. friend... Canteen... something.. on..." Amelia wheezed, her stomach hurting from her expenditure of speed. Why did I run so fast!? she half scolded herself.
 "That canteen, huh?" The man made his way into the back room to sort through the scraps he had just thrown away.
 She heard the sound of heavy footsteps behind her, the distinct sound of new leather soles against a hardwood floor. Still bent over, she looked slightly over your shoulder. "Mister... Zelgadis.."
 His name irked him again for about one second. "You can get going now," he said harshly. She would have to run full speed the whole way.
 "Can't.... stand... up... quite..."
 As she tried to finish, the tailor walked back into the room, humming a cheerful tune. "Is this what you wanted?"
 Amelia's eyes widened as she saw the pink bracelet dangling around the man's finger, swinging back and forth by the weight of the sparkling blue ward upon it. With hope gushing from her entire being, she picked herself up to stare into Zelgadis' lone visible eye. "Is this what you wanted?"
 It looked like someone had thrown a bag of flour on him, his skin was so pale. "Uhm.. eh.... well.... y... ye..."
 He was saved by the perceptive tailor. "So this is that boy you like so much, Miss? Are you satisfied with the clothes, Sir?"
 The princess fell to the floor and Zelgadis nearly joined her. "L... like.....?" he tripped over words like furniture in the dark. "The c...clothes're f..fine!" He quickly snatched the ward off the tailor and paced rigidly out of the shop; Amelia on his heels in a fast escape.
 They both ignored everything that had gone on in the past minutes; a silent agreement was made to protect their sanity. But somewhere, deep inside, they both smiled, and Amelia could only question the lost opportunity.

 After a long argument, Lina finally persuaded the chimera that, if he did not want to be a mattress again, he would have to promise to meet up with the group in the morning. Finally, they rented rooms in an inn. However, Zelgadis promptly ran off in a pointless search for his cure. No one saw him again until late that night.
 He opened the door expecting darkness accompanied by the sound of Gourry's snoring. On the contrary, the man was practicing his swordplay by candle and moonlight. Zelgadis watched in curiosity a moment, wondering why the blonde, so fond of relaxation, was up in the middle of the night. Gourry only noticed him when he heard the door click shut, then turned to face his friend. "Long night," he offered with a smile.
 The chimera answered with a slight nod and a low noise of agreement. "What are you doing up?"
 "Practicing." He brandished his sword to illustrate.
 "Why?"
 Gourry frowned, eyeing his sword. "Lina bought me a new sword. She says it has magic, but............."
 Zelgadis finished for him, "It's not the Sword of Light."
 "Yeah." He looked pitiful in the dim light, like a dog not able to protect it's master.... like a soldier not able to protect his queen.
 "You're worried that you won't be able to help Lina in the future," Zelgadis concluded.
 "Yeah."
 "Look..." There was a long pause for contemplation, and he wrestled with the thought of bringing up what could be a fruitless suggestion. "If you can wield a magic sword, then maybe you have some potential for... well... magic."
 A grin crept over the swordsman's face. "I was hoping you'd say that. Lina always said that even an idiot could learn one spell."
 "I don't want to get your hopes up. It's a hard spell, but I'm willing to teach you if you want to try."
 "Which spell?" The jellyfish brains were getting the best of him.
 The chimera sighed. Long night indeed. He walked behind his friend, gripping the sword hilt and two large hands while trying to look over, and finally around, his shoulder. "Do you remember back when we fought Shabranigdo, I explained..... Never mind. It's like using the Sword of Light, only, instead of only using your energy, you're calling upon the energy around you as well, like in the air." He was avoiding the term Astral Plane at all costs. "Then focus as much as you can, and say..." Here his hands tensed, and Gourry could feel the energy radiating through his own... "Astral Vine."
 
 

Tsuzuku....

Another part completed for your enjoyment. Many thanks to those who wrote me, and many to come for those who will. (please?) Anyway, send anything to mangetsu@email.com and I'll do my best to get back to you. Oh, and I now have fanart for this story on my webpage, if you want to check it out.

Shell Presto
 

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