Crash and Burn

 

The Slayers were all decked out for Martina’s wedding. Presently, at the reception, Zelgadis and Amelia were inseparable now; after both their near death experiences, they’d learned not to take each other for granted. They were on the dance floor gazing into each other’s eyes without reserve, whispering sweet nothings to one another. Lina and Gourry too had shared a long talk about their relationship and decided to try out being a couple. It seemed to be working out just nicely. They were sitting at their table, feeding each other bits of food.

Sylphiel stood in a corner in a pretty purple dress that fell gracefully to the floor and split dramatically up both sides. Her bare arms were wrapped around her waist. The double breasted Chinese style collar concealed a broken heart and stopped at the base of her neck. And her beautiful face wore a look of miserable sadness. She almost wished she hadn’t agreed to travel with them again. This was part of the reason she’d left the first time. She definitely would be the odd one out in this bunch…

Xellos entered the large ballroom.

"Congratulations, Martina, Zangulus. I’m sorry I couldn’t make the actual ceremony." He handed Martina the gift he’d brought.

"Thank you, Master Xellos." Martina had a look of subjugation on her face. "I’ll bet you wish you hadn’t denied my love now. You could be in his place. Ruler of all Xonna! With your beautiful and loving Queen at your side, me!" She let loose her raucous laugh, pointing at her new husband.

Xellos rolled his eyes and smiled. "Of course, Martina."

"Anyhow, he who hesitates masterb…" Zangulus put a hand over his wife’s squalid mouth.

"Misses a fine party," he supplied, smiling. "Go on. Have a good time." He dragged Martina off.

Xellos glanced around the ballroom to find his companions. Zelgadis and Amelia were still attached on the dance floor. Zelgadis saw Xellos and sent him a small wave behind Amelia’s back. Xellos returned the gesture and moved on to see Lina and Gourry chatting coquettishly at their table. They were too absorbed in one another to notice him. He was planning on just going to say hello and leave when his eyes were graced by a familiar figure.

That long midnight blue hair…That timid, yet regal stance…he thought.

When did Sylphiel decide to join the Slayers again? He’d only met her previously before but she’d made a profound impact on him. She looked so sad now…

"Sylphiel?" he walked up to her.

She almost didn’t recognize Xellos in that tuxedo. His usual complacent demeanor was replaced with an eye open, sexy gaze.

"Master Xellos…" she crooned in her melodic voice, genuinely happy. She gave him a warm hug. "It’s good to see you. I thought you’d gone to the…" she struggled to remember the name.

"The Astroplane? No… I’m not very welcome there anymore. They think I consort with humans too much. I’ve been urged to stay here and become an actual priest. I’ll be made comfortable here though. They’ll see to that." He shrugged, nonchalant as customary.

"You’ve been exiled?" she asked cautiously. He smiled.

"In a way yes... I suppose you could say so."

"Are you human, then?"

"No they can’t take the Mazoku out of me since I put it in. I would have to give it away. It would be nice to be human and still have all of my power but the risk is too great."

"And what risk is that?"

"Death." When she gasped he continued, comfortingly. "Don’t worry. There are those of us that survive. Those of us who are granted mercy by the White Goddess. I, however think I’ve been a bit too bad for her graces. I may try it one day when I have nothing else to do," he chuckled.

She laughed lightly. She returned her gaze to the happy couple. Xellos followed her gaze to Lina and Gourry who had decided to dance.

"They’re together now, huh?" It was all he could think to say. It was no secret that Sylphiel was in love with the blonde swordsman, the only reason he wasn’t wooing her with all his might right now.

"Yeah…" she sighed softly. He took in her delicate features and watched her chest heave as she sighed.

He didn’t say anything and she watched them swirl around the dance floor as happy as could be…

"So you’re traveling with them now?" He tried to gain her attention again.

She turned to him and forced a smile. "Yes. Sailrag is, well… I have no place to go." She looked back at the couple. "I wanted to be in good company. They saved me the first time it was destroyed…" her eyes glazed over.

"Didn’t expect the pairing up?" he asked bluntly.

She was about to say something when Lina and Gourry whirled by.

"Hi, Xellos! Didn’t think you were into these kind of ceremonies." Lina fixed her eyes on Sylphiel. "You should dance, Sylphiel. Don’t just stand in the corner all night."

"Yeah. Xellos looks about ready to cut a rug," Gourry put in. They whirled away.

"It’s hard to watch," she admitted.

"They’re right you know," he smiled.

"Yeah for each other. I should have seen it before," she said pitifully.

"No," offered his hand. When she stared at it blankly he continued. "You should enjoy yourself tonight. And it looks like this will be my first mission; to help you do so and forget Master Gourry for a moment." His smile was contagious. She accepted his hand and he led her to the dance floor. When she walked, the splits of her dress allowed a generous view of her long graceful legs. "Nice dress by the way," he commented.

"Why thank you. I needed a complement," she flushed. He placed an arm around her waist and pulled her closer. The band, Savage Garden, started up a song from their latest album Affirmationä called "Crash and Burn".

"This is a nice song. True friendship…" she paused. "Are we friends, Master Xellos?"

He considered just being friends with Sylphiel. She was certainly going through a lot and needed a friend. Perhaps he could put his heart on hold and be her friend…

"If you don’t mind being claimant to an ex-Mazoku, trickster priest turned almost human by exile, sure, we can be friends." He enjoyed making her laugh.

"Only if you don’t mind consorting with a sad, lovesick, timid human."

"Hm…" he deliberated for a moment. "Sad? Well, hardly. Lovesick we can work on. Timid? Yes, but I like it." She giggled in spite of herself. "I don’t mind at all actually."

"Look, Zelgadis," Amelia nodded toward Xellos and Sylphiel.

"It’s about time she stopped gaping at the brainless one," he replied.

* * * * *

Later, when everyone was seated listening to speeches being made by drunken family members and friends, the familiar company sat sharing a table. They laughed as Martina’s father recounted a funny baby story about her. All except Sylphiel who was gazing at Gourry again. Xellos took her hand and squeezed it reassuringly. She smiled sweetly at his "friendly" concern.

"If you need to fall apart, I can mend a broken heart," he whispered quoting the SG song they danced to.

She fixed her deep jade eyes on him. It was ironic that she’d found a friend in the Mazoku. Something in his eyes made her feel that everything would be aright.

"Okay ladies. All single females, on the floor. I’m about to throw the bouquet!" Martina announced.

"This one’s mine!" Lina proclaimed, jumping up.

"Go, Lina!" Gourry cheered.

"No way, Lina. I’ve got this in the bag!" Amelia called following the redhead out to the floor.

"You going, Sylphiel?" Zelgadis asked.

She blushed slightly. All three of the guys looked at her expectantly. "I couldn’t…"

"But if you catch it you’ll be the next married," Gourry said cheerfully.

"Okay…" she melted and joined the other eager girls on the floor.

"Aright, ladies. Get ready!" Martina waited a moment for them to quiet down before she tossed it.

"IT’S MINE!" Lina and Amelia yelled jumping to grab it.

They clunked heads in midair and fell to the floor, dazed. The other girls squabbled, scratching, clawing, and pulling at each other. The bouquet skipped from hand to hand until someone pelted it in a fit of rage and it found refuge in Sylphiel’s grasp. Nobody looked as surprised as Sylphiel herself. The men cheered wildly and even a few defeated girls offered their congratulations.

Next, a large chair was brought to the middle of the floor and Martina was seated. Some sultry striptease music started up and Zangulus knelt at Martina’s feet. He slowly pulled her gown up, then, in a swift movement, stuck his head under and in a few moments returned with the garter in his teeth. The crowd went wild.

"Come on men. Whoever gets this little beauty," he paused, twirling the lacy article in his finger. "Gets to put it on that little beauty." Zangulus pointed to Sylphiel. The men cheered even louder and quickly made their way to the floor. When Xellos passed her he gave her a sexy wink. Sylphiel put a hand to her cheek to cover her blush and laughed shyly.

Zangulus faked a few tosses before letting the lacy strip fly. The men dove. It was difficult to see who was gaining an advantage in the large knot of movement. The ladies started cheering and then the winner rose proudly holding the tiny adornment.

Sylphiel took Martina’s place in the chair and Xellos knelt before her. She was beet red when he grinned and the music started up again. The crowd began to cheer as she swept the front of her dress to one side, exposing one long leg.

Xellos, always the showman, took her leg and rested it against the front of his shoulder, which tore another outburst from the crowd. He fixed his eyes on her and started to slide the garter higher, causing her knee to bend, the closer he got.

She was gradually becoming redder and… hot… The volume of the crowd went higher along with Xellos, who was riding dangerously high now. His thumbs gently burned a trail up her leg. He wasn’t stopping…

She stood, unable to take anymore of his teasing touch. She laughed and gasped at the same time unable to hear the screaming onlookers because of the pounding of her heart in her ears. He stood next to her smiling and kissed her cheek. The applause was amazing. Lina let loose a loud shrill whistle. Then Martina announced that they would share a dance.

Savage Garden started to play the music to their other single, "I Knew I Loved You".

Xellos took her free hand and she shyly placed the other on his shoulder. He drew her close and led her into the steps, not surprised that the princess followed flawlessly. He felt her let out a slow sigh as she relaxed.

Sylphiel tried to imagine Gourry in Xellos’ place and was a bit surprised that she was satisfied more with dancing with Xellos. Not only would Gourry probably trip over her feet (Lina had been leading him before, as usual), but it would only add to the friction between her and the sorceress, and she didn’t want that… she smiled a bit. "Besides," she thought. "I like dancing with Xellos. It feels…" He noticed her smile and vacant stare. All evening he’d detected the same feeling he’d experienced when they’d met the brief time before. It only grew stronger when she smiled, or laughed, or when she looked straight into his eyes (which wasn’t often enough for his liking.)

"A penny for your thoughts…" She clearly had been off in a dream world because she snapped back to attention. She smiled.

"I was just… thinking…" She looked away and blushed.

"What?" he asked.

"That I enjoy dancing with you. I honestly don’t think I’d enjoy dancing with Gourry as much," she said bashfully.

Before Xellos could reply, the song ended and a loud applause rose.

"Thank you, Xellos," Sylphiel whispered in his ear, embracing him. He took in the sweet delicate scent of her.

"For what?" he breathed.

"Everything." She kissed his cheek and gave him a smile as sweet as her heart before leaving him planted on the dance floor

"Wait,’ he called when he found his voice and the ability to move. She didn’t hear him. She walked to the table and picked up her purse and said her goodnights. She planned to retire and Martina offered them a place until they moved on.

He struggled through the suddenly thick crowd to follow her. He hastily bid goodnight to the others before swiftly following her previous path.

Zelgadis and Amelia gave each other knowing looks as he left. Lina caught the look and asked, "What was that all about? What’s going on?"

"Nothing at all, Lina." Amelia accepted a glass of champagne.

"Don’t leave me out. I want to know what’s up. What? Are they together?" she pushed. Zelgadis and Amelia answered with silent shrugs.

* * * * *

Xellos walked quickly through the hallways and was just about to give up his search when he heard something on the balcony. He stopped short when he realized it was Sylphiel praying. She was leaning on her arms on the edge of the balcony, looking up on at the stars. She looked perfect then. Her head cocked to one side curiously, her large eyes sparkling, her lips in a cute little smile, the leg with the garter displayed through her skirt’s split. Xellos had never seen anything so fair. She switched her gaze to the flowers, the color of the roses matching her cheeks.

"And thank you for Xellos…" he gasped silently, not disturbing her. "He’s a great friend…" she touched the garter riding high on her leg. "Every girl should have a friend like him. For a moment I actually forgot…" her color deepened. A sensuous smile touched her face. Xellos couldn’t believe what he was seeing. "Well…" she resumed her primary stance. "I’m seeing things in an entirely different light now." She closed her prayer with a quick movement across her chest.

"Ahem." Xellos cleared his throat. She turned to find him standing in the archway to the balcony. Sylphiel gasped, jumping a mile, wondering exactly how long he’d been sitting there. She put a hand to he mouth, eyes downcast, timorous. He stood there, hands in pockets, face calm, eyeing her curiously, trying to regain his cool before he spoke. He smiled. "Nice night." He walked until he was facing her. He chose to act ignorant to her anxiety. He calmly rested on the railing and glanced at her. She still stood, waiting for him to say something, anything. "Are you okay?" he asked.

She slowly dropped her hand and loosened her grip on the stems of the bouquet. The look of horror melted away slowly. "Yes." she finally replied. She settled beside him and they watched the moonrise over the ocean.

"Why did you thank me?" he asked quietly.

She thought for a moment "for being a friend."

He smiled. "You didn’t have to thank me, Sylphiel. He held her chin in his hand. "Every guy should have a friend like you."

"My cheeks hurt from blushing." She looked into his eyes.

He hesitated before kissing both her cheeks and paused before brushing an achingly chaste kiss on her lips. "Goodnight."

Her eyes sparkled and her expression was blank. She blinked a few times to clear the fireworks in her head. Her cheeks’ heat was ignored for the new sensation that never left her lips. "Goodnight," she whispered.

He turned and left her standing, with the ocean, moon and stars, and glowing brighter than all of them.

* * * * *

Her forest green eyes fluttered open. The wedding was over and Martina’s kingdom was quiet and peaceful once again. Sunlight illuminated her room. She sat up in the bed and gazed out of her window. A pair of doves flew in to perch on the sill.

"Well hello," she crooned softly in response to their harmonic cooing. One flew over and landed next to her black garter that was sitting on her night table. She brushed a finger against it’s breast, inviting it to sit. Tentatively, it raised a claw and perched

"How are you sweetheart? It’s a beautiful day for flying." The other flew to the night table and watched them curiously. Sylphiel got up and walked over to her bathroom to wash. Her two visitors cooed happily while she cleaned up. She walked back to sit on the bed, drying her face with the towel when one of the birds successfully got the garter in its talon and flew to the door just as someone knocked and peeked in.

"Oh, good. You’re awake." Xellos walked in and closed the door.

"Good morning, Xellos." She cast her eyes downward, memories of the previous night returning to put color in her cheeks. He watched her and smiled to himself, seeing her among the billowing sheets, legs exposed over the side of the bed.

The dove landed on his head, dropping the garter to the floor in front of him. He bent down to pick it up. Sylphiel buried her face in her hands, completely embarrassed. He moved to stand in front of her and got down on one knee.

"Your friend dropped this." He held out the strip of cloth.

She kept her face covered. "Thank you. Just put it on me… I mean on the table!!" She cringed. She could sense his movement and figured he had put it down until she felt him slightly lift her leg. She opened her eyes wide and sat blinking, frozen in place. Maybe it was the way his eyes never left hers. Maybe it was the feeling of his fingers burning another path up her leg. Again, the higher the garter got, the closer he was. Their faces were mere inches apart when his fingers stopped, a bit above mid-thigh.

"This way your friend can’t get to it…" his warm breath burned her lips. She sat riveted, legs positively aching for more.

"Thank you." She whispered.

The doves watched as he slowly advanced on her. Their eyes slowly drifting closed as customary before a kiss… and then…

"Good Morning!" Amelia busted in cheerfully. The doves flew out of the window.

Xellos and Sylphiel turned violently toward her. Xellos stood quickly with rage. Sylphiel clamped her legs shut, grabbing her collar for comfort. She was pink all over, embarrassment rising again. She put a hand to her cheek.

"Good morning, Amelia." Her voice trembled.

Amelia stopped smiling and let her eyes focus on the scene before her. She knew she’d done something, of rather, interrupted something, terribly exigent by the way Xellos was glaring at her.

"Oh my. I’m sorry. I only brought some hangover medicine. I thought that’s what was keeping you. Here," she rambled nervously. She placed the tray on the table by the door, flashed an uneasy smile and held her hands up in an apologetic gesture. "I’ll just go…" she fled the discomfort of the room and slammed the door behind her.

They were alone again staring at the door as if someone else might decide to come in. They looked at one another. Sylphiel continued to blush and stood to hide her discomfiture only to find herself standing an inch from him. They both stood there blankly for a moment. Was he going to continue? Would she let him? Where would it go after? Wasn’t this happening just a bit too quickly? The questions ran through each of their heads.

"Sylphiel," Xellos ventured.

"Ahh-h-h…" she wavered a bit trying to resist his smooth voice and weakening gaze. She quickly turned and walked to the table where her medicine was. "It certainly was n-nice of Amelia to do this…" she chose to change the subject. Anything to bring her temperature and heart rate down. What the hell was going on?!

"Yes, considerate." Xellos expected Sylphiel to be a bit resistant. His plan to win her heart had been going fairly well but he knew it would only get harder. Especially when Gourry was around. She was bracing herself against the tabletop, bent over just enough for her nightshirt to allow a peek at the garter around her leg. Her soft long luscious legs… He blushed. Luckily Sylphiel was lost in her own pride. Her legs yearned for his touch again. He certainly was gentle for a Mazoku. And romantic... and seductive... those eyes... those hands... that voice, deep yet playful...

He cleared his throat nervously. "I’ll wait for you downstairs," he rushed, making a beeline for the door.

"Okay." Sylphiel tried to sound cheerful and nonchalant despite the thick, awkward air that hung in the room.

"See you," they both said laughing nervously. He shut the door and they both exhaled. He pulled himself together and when he was ready, made his way downstairs. Sylphiel walked over to the bed and fell backwards, sending her sheets everywhere.

"Oh, Gods what’s happening to me? Xellos? Of all people? A Mazoku?" She absently touched the garter and her temperature instantly rose again. She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. "It’s wrong. Gourry is… not mine. He’s not here. He’s not Xellos… Xellos…" She remembered how close they were last night and a moment ago. It certainly felt good for something so wrong. She smiled in spite of herself. She honestly wouldn’t mind being ‘friends’ with Xellos if he could do that to her…

* * * * *

"About time, Xell!" Lina exclaimed her greeting when he showed up on the balcony where breakfast was served. "Nice outfit." He looked different in his black and purple pants outfit much like Zelgadis’. It was also odd seeing him without his staff, left back in the dark world with his other Mazoku possessions.

"Why thank you, Lina." He regained his cheerful demeanor. "Good morning, all." He patted Amelia’s shoulder as he passed to settle her. She looked absolutely terrified when he came out there. Now she smiled and exhaled, losing about ten pounds.

"Where’s Sylphel?" Gourry asked.

"Probably trying on one of these awesome dresses." Lina profiled, showing off the one she’d chosen. Xellos had to admit she looked nice. So did Amelia. They both had on a kind of kimono style dress; Lina’s red, Amelia’s blue.

"You’re not usually late for breakfast, Xellos. What kept you?" Zelgadis had a playfully daring tone, as if he knew what Xellos was doing and was trying to see if he’d tell. He watched the priest closely over his teacup. If he wasn’t mistaken, he looked a bit red…

Xellos heard the light insinuation of the chimera’s tone and held his gaze before replying, "I slept in." His tone matched Zelgadis’ and he looked from him to Amelia, daring either of them to say anything.

"Okay. No need to get defensive." Zel gave him a final glance and a tiny smirk before turning to Amelia to chat.

The maidservant brought him some tea and he sipped it, listening to the others talk casually when Sylphiel finally ventured out.

"Wow, Sylphiel! You look great!" Amelia exclaimed, seeing her first. The others turned to see her standing bashfully in the doorway. She was wearing a lavender kimono dress that fell at the shoulders and dipped in front. The sleeves were made of transparent silk and a sash tied firmly around her waist allowing the silky material to flow below it.

"Perhaps I overdressed a bit." She replied meekly.

"No way! I think you look fabulous!" Lina exclaimed. Sylphiel smiled and glided gracefully over to the table. Xellos was wide-eyed in awe. He stood quickly to hold out a chair for the princess.

"Thank you, Master Xellos." She couldn’t look into his eyes. She saw the way he looked at her when she came outside. Gourry never looked at her that way…

"You look…" Xellos felt himself flush. He cleared his throat.

"You don’t like it?" She didn’t know why she asked. He obviously did. Maybe it was to fill the silence. How she wished the others were gone…

"Yes," he answered a second too quickly. He cleared his throat again. Truth be told, he thought she looked like a goddess. He wanted to drop to his knees and worship her in so many ways. "It’s v-very pretty." Oh, Gods. Now he was stuttering.

Sylphiel cast her eyes downward. She was blushing fiercely now too.

"Hey!" Lina broke the moment. She began laughing hysterically. "You t-two are f falling in l-l…" Gourry slapped a massive hand over her mouth.

"Now is the time to be quiet. Come on, Lina." He picked her up and carried her off, squealing and yelling angrily. The remaining four watched him carry her away.

When Xellos and Sylphiel turned back, they saw that Amelia and Zelgadis had quickly left too.

They looked at each other. They shared a nervous laugh.

"I suppose it’s too late for breakfast," Sylphiel said.

"No. We can still eat." Xellos signaled for the servant girl. She brought more tea and some sweet-rolls.

"Shall I bring anything else?" the girl asked.

"This is fine for me," Sylphiel said.

Xellos nodded and the girl left.

He watched Sylphiel add sugar to her tea and choose a sweet-roll.

"So what are your plans now?" He asked her.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"Will you travel with them and be a slayer forever or will you go…" he stopped short, remembering that her home had been destroyed… twice. "I’m sorry. I forgot…"

"It’s alright." She sighed. "I don’t know what I want to do. It’s sad that my life always revolves around a man."

"Who does it revolve around now that Gourry is… taken?"

She looked up to find him gazing straight into her eyes. She looked away quickly. She didn’t answer, not knowing exactly what to say.

"What will you do? Continue fighting your ex-companions? Or will you settle down and become a priest for real?" He didn’t miss her blatant ignorance to his question.

"I don’t know either. I suppose it depends."

"On what?"

"Well, where Lina plans to go next. What her objective is. And you." Sylphiel stopped in mid-sip. Her eyes grew wide before they slowly met his again. He had his head propped up on his hand, gazing at her dotingly.

"Me?" she asked quietly. He pulled his chair closer to her and took a delicate hand in his. He brushed his lips against her fingertips gently.

"Yes," he replied simply.

"Why," she trembled.

"We’re friends aren’t we?" he asked looking up at her.

A shy smile touched her face slowly. "You are and interesting friend, Xellos."

"Why do you say that?" He was face to face with her now. He gently stroked her arm, slowly descending to her thigh.

" ‘Friends’ don’t usually do that." She was slipping away again. How did he manage to do this to her?

"What?" He got closer. He twirled a lock of her silky hair around his finger.

"That…" she mumbled, their lips slightly brushing.

"What, Sylphiel?" he teased, his hand drifting down her side. Their breath mingled and burned their lips. Sylphiel wished he’d stop going so damned slow and kiss her already.

"Tha-a-t…" she whispered. His hand rested on the spot where she still wore the garter.

"Oh, this?" he asked. Finally their lips met. She moaned almost soundlessly and parted her numb lips, begging for his tongue. He was a little surprised at her eagerness but granted her wish. He slid his tongue in her mouth and snaked the arm on her thigh around her tiny waist, pulling her close. He brought her to stand with him to be more comfortable. She wrapped her arms around his neck, wanting to be even closer. He wrapped the other arm around her and held her. He nipped and feathered her lips for countless moments and deepened their kiss over and over again in a head spinning cycle. He thanked every God he knew for allowing him to have his arms full of her. She returned every kiss, every heartbeat. He only wished they were completely alone together in the world. He didn’t want to share her with anyone. She was going to be completely his. Not that he had to worry. Sylphiel’s thoughts of Gourry, or anything else for that matter, had vanished. All she knew was Xellos. Mazoku or not, he was hers right now and that’s all that mattered.

They slowed to a stop and parted from one another for a moment. They still held each other close. It wasn’t hard to look into each other’s eyes now. They wouldn't have it any other way.

"Yes, that," she whispered stroking his hair. He smiled. "Xellos, I…" she shyly started.

"I beg your pardon, Master Xellos, Princess Sylphiel. The others asked me to tell you to join them. They have something urgent to discuss." The servant boy stood meekly in the doorway eyes downcast.

"Um, thank you. We’ll be there straight away. Ah… where are they?" Xellos didn’t let go of her. She liked that. She tucked her head under his chin.

"The gardens. I’ll show you when you’re ready." The boy stepped away to wait inside.

Xellos looked down at Sylphiel. She had her head against his chest, listening to his heartbeat. "We should go then," he said.

"Yes. I know. Just hold me for a little longer."

* * * * *

"We have to go back." Lina wouldn’t budge in her decision.

"But, Lina, really, it’s not that serious. I’m sure you can find that somewhere else," Zelgadis protested an unbelieving look on his face.

"I really think you’re overreacting, Lina." Amelia stood behind Zel’s opinion.

"I can’t believe you guys! After all we went through and you don’t want to return to claim what’s yours! We deserve it and the wait will have been worth it. Or, it better be for Mr. Ashford’s sake." Her companions sweat-dropped.

"What are they talking about?" Sylphiel asked Xellos.

"You wouldn’t believe me if I told you," he replied.

"It’s been six months. I am returning to claim what is rightfully mine." Lina’s eyes sparkled as she punched a fist in the air. "DRAGON CUISINE!"

Sylphiel’s mouth dropped. "Food? This is about food?"

"I told you," Xellos shrugged.

"Besides, right now we have nothing better to do. We set out tomorrow morning." Lina had made her decision. And she was right. The Slayers had nothing else to do. Why not chase a meal? They might encounter something interesting on their way there.

* * * * *

On the second week out, being days away from the town famous for it’s dragon cuisine, they set up camp for the night as usual. Xellos and Sylphiel hadn’t been alone since their day on the balcony. And he found that she was very timid about showing her emotions in public. She didn’t mind chatting alone to the side or holding his hand, but his no limit approach didn’t fit her. He would have kissed her in front of the entire world if she didn’t shy away.

That night he couldn’t take another moment without her in his arms. He waited until she crept away for her nightly prayer. He watched her spread her cape on a rock and sit on it. She gracefully turned her head upward letting the moonbeam shower over her. She sighed.

"Daddy…" she smiled. "I guess you know I’m in love. I’m sure you’re glad to know it’s no longer Gourry who has my heart. But you’re wondering if this choice is better?" She paused. "I think so… he’s so… I’ve never felt like this before. Did you see the way he held me, daddy? He didn’t let go. So closely like…"

"Like I would never get a chance to hold you again?" She gasped, startled when he popped up behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and whispered, "I tell you two weeks has felt like an eternity. I almost forgot how wonderful it feels to hold you. I’ve dreamt of holding you again. It’s maddening…" he kissed her neck.

"Xellos…" she swooned, her body and soul instantly his again. He placed passionate kisses all over her neck. "Oh, Xellosssssss…" A lust within her was unleashed like a hungry lion when he was this close to her. She actually purred his name. It only made him want her more.

Somehow he turned her around so he was kissing the delicate flesh under her chin. She rested her hands on his head and simply let him drive her mad. He pulled her closer so their bodies were pressed together. She was so open when they were alone. She moaned his name softly when he kissed her collarbone (her shirt was slowly disappearing). She wrapped her long legs around him amplifying the feeling of his groin into hers. He grew harder and thicker with every passing moment.

"Sylphiel," he whispered leaving her burning flesh for a moment.

"Yes?" she gasped. It was amazing what he could do to her with his lips only.

"Let me kiss you." She opened weary eyes to meet his. She exhaled slowly before seizing his lips. Their tongues touched sending shocks through each of their souls, hearts quickening.

She blindly found her way through this universe of passion he’d driven her to. She left his lips to mirror the attack on her neck. She slowly kissed every inch of his neck, nuzzling her face into him.

"I’ve missed this," she admitted shyly.

"So have I…" he breathed.

She stopped and held his face in her hands, gently stroking his cheeks. "This is insane."

"What?" he asked.

"I…" she hesitated.

"I know. I love you, too." The words hung in the deafening silence. Her heart melted and joined the rest of her liquefied self. Her eyes sparkled with tears of joy. He was startled at the sound of his voice reciting the foreign words. "I love you, Sylphiel." He laughed and she smiled, tears rolling down her cheeks. The words were beautiful music to her ears.

"I love you, Xellos. I love you too." She cried softly. They hugged fiercely. He held her close and repeated the words over and over marveling at how good it felt to say them. He kissed her tears away and held her like that, never intending to let go.

* * * * *

They reached Dragon-lake City a few days later. Xellos never let her get away for too long. She wanted to be with him for every waking moment. She even brought him along when she prayed. He began to pray with her, a thing that confused the Gods. A Mazoku? Praying? It was something to get used to.

When they arrived in Dragon-lake it was nearly midnight.

"Let’s just find an inn. I’m too tired to eat, we can worry about food tomorrow." Lina wasn’t the only one tired. They all agreed with her and got rooms for the night.

Lina and Gourry retreated to theirs and did Zel and Amelia. Sylphiel insisted on taking time out to pray and went on the balcony to do so.

"I’m sorry, sweetheart. I have to get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning." Xellos kissed her and went wearily to his room.

After she finished, she went to her room to sleep. She lay awake for a while before realizing she wasn’t tired anymore. She lay thinking about nothing for some time until her thoughts drifted toward Xellos. She gazed at the moon thinking of his touch, eyes, smell, and smile…

They’d spent so much time talking lately. They had so much in common. No home, no family. It really held them together, like, they were all they had now. Of course they had their friends, but they didn’t understand their kind of loneliness. Amelia had a whole kingdom to go home to and she had Zelgadis to take with her. Lina and Gourry were so perfect together it was probably written in stone somewhere. But Sylphiel and Xellos… they had to start all over. At least they could do it together.

He told her he loved her.

Mazoku never loved.

"He really must be changing," she thought. A monster certainly couldn’t love her. A monster wouldn’t care as much as he did. A monster couldn’t touch her so gently and make her submit so easily. A monster couldn’t bring that side of her out. No Mazoku could.

Except Xellos.

She felt for the garter that she now wore to bed every night. She remembered the night at Martina’s wedding when he put it on her. Slowly… slowly… he held her gaze so intensely, and that little grin on his face. She remembered how hot she was getting and how he hadn’t planned on stopping. She remembered the events that took place the morning after. And only days ago on the rock beside the lake when he told her he loved her. He hadn’t repeated it after that night yet, but the way he looked at her and acted made it obvious to even the least attentive, Gourry.

She slowly moved her hand between her thighs, tracing the line of the garter. It wasn’t enough to satisfy her. She was addicted to his touch now.

"I must be crazy," she said aloud. "I can’t go to him. That’s so desperate. And I’m not desperate. So why can’t I sleep? Because you want to lay next to him. Because you want to sleep with him. You haven’t slept well in days, aching for him to lull you to sleep in his embrace. Go then. It’s better than staying here talking to yourself, Sylphiel… Oh Gods. I am insane." She lay there for a moment. Just as she made up her mind to go to him, there was a light knock on the door.

"Sylphiel." He’d come to her! Her heart leapt at the sound of his voice. She sat up quickly, removing her hand from its forbidden confines.

"Xellos?" she inquired to make sure she hadn’t just imagined it. Her sanity was confirmed when he quietly opened the door and slid in, closing it behind him. He was hidden in the shadows, unmoving, but she could feel that sensual stare forcing her to let her guard down.

"Did I wake you?" he asked coming into the moonlight. He wore blue-violet pajamas and a cute smile.

"No. Not at all. I…" she tried to ignore her naughty thoughts of him in bed with her. She blushed deeply. " I was just trying to get to sleep. Thinking mostly."

"I couldn’t sleep either. I thought maybe a goodnight kiss from you might do the trick." He knelt beside her from a place on the floor. "Can you help me out?"

She nodded shyly and sat on the edge of the bed. He rose to kiss her. There it was. The fire only they shared.

It was an innocent kiss. It only lasted a moment. They parted leaving only a couple of inches between them.

"Thank you, Sylphiel." He didn’t move.

"Maybe…" she ventured and hesitated.

"Yes?" he urged.

She looked into his eyes boldly. "You would sleep better in my bed."

He was a bit startled at her forwardness. But not nearly as surprised when she took his hands in hers and placed them on her legs.

"There’s something that I’m going to need if you stay here," she said in her sweet soft voice.

"What’s that?" he asked.

She smiled a sly little smile and stroked his cheeks. She drew closer to him, spreading her legs slowly. "You’ll have to sleep with me before you sleep next to me." She licked his lips before kissing him deeply, slowly driving him mad first. She pulled away to his dismay. "Can you help me out?" Her heart beat like a drum in her chest for fear that he’d turn her away, regarding her a slut.

"Of course, sweetheart. I wouldn’t disappoint you." She raised the covers so he could get in with her. They fell into a passionate kiss instantly. He drew her up into a position where she was straddling him. He held her with one arm around her waist, the other hand lacing fingers with one of hers. She moaned softly, feeling his swollen manhood beneath her. He let go of her hand and left her mouth for a minute. He set his sights on her heaving chest. He slowly unbuttoned her shirt, pleased to find her completely naked underneath save for the lacy black garter.

"Beautiful. Absolute perfection," he mused running a hand over her left breast and its stiffened areola. She moaned. Her arms fell limply to the sides. He watched and marveled at her response before leaning forward to kiss her exposed neck. He slowly traveled downward, enjoying every inch of her. When he finally drew a hardened nipple into his mouth, she released a hoarse moan. He teased them, unsatisfied until she hissed and purred at every lick or flick of the tongue. She was breathing huskily when he stopped. She raised her head to face him, weakly.

"I’ll get you for that one," she whispered. He chuckled.

"Oh, I’m far from finished, sweetheart. Relax." They kissed again and he leaned forward, laying her down, head at the foot of the bed. He discarded pajamas quickly and simply held her, letting them both enjoy the feeling of their bare flesh finally meeting. She shivered at the feel of his manhood against her leg. It seemed so huge. She wondered if it would hurt. She’d heard that the first time always hurt… but Xellos would never hurt her, would he? "Don’t worry, Sylphiel," he whispered comfortingly in her ear. "This won’t hurt at all." He slid down until his face was buried in a pile of silky curls. She cried out, forgetting their surroundings and company.

He breathed in her heavenly scent before inserting two fingers and parted her never before used lips. She cried out again. He looked up to see her arching her back.

He licked the entrance once and she moaned his name loudly. He thrust his tongue in deeply.

"Oh Gods, Xellos! Oh Gods, oh Gods, oh Gods!" she tossed her head uncontrollably. He thrust again and again, drinking her sacred juices and relishing his name on her sweet tormented voice.

Sylphiel was in total disbelief. She hadn’t imagined he could do this much more to her. She was falling in an exhilarating whiteness she’d never known. She was quickly advancing toward a devastating end. She deafly screamed his name and wildly pounded her fists on the bed, breathing heavily (when she remembered to). Finally, she could endure no more of his sweet torture. She crashed into shimmering crystal bliss.

It was a moment before she realized he was kissing her lips again. She tasted herself on him and greedily begged for more. "Xellos... Xellos… Xellos… Xellos…" she moaned through kisses.

"Yes, sweetheart?" he nipped at her lips.

"Oh, Xellos." It was all she could say.

"Shall I continue?" he asked trying to keep his cool. He took her sigh as a sign to proceed.

"I’ll stop if you ask me to." He inserted two fingers into her slick, tight center and parted her again. This time, he slid himself into her, stopping at the thin, but critical, barrier.

"Do it. Just… do it…" she mumbled half conscious, half in bliss.

He sighed and thrust quickly, breaking the membrane. She squealed, gritting her teeth. Her eyes shot open in pain. She looked at him and his heart broke when he saw her expression.

"Sylphiel," he whispered. Slowly her look of rapture returned as she experienced a greater sensation than ever before.

She brought him toward her for a deep kiss. She kept him there as he began to pump her steadily. Her internal muscles began stroking him involuntarily. She soon matched his rhythm and thrust her hips upward to meet him. Now they both moaned and cried, lost in bliss. Until they quickened to a screeching halt and screamed in harmony as he filled her with his very essence. She grasped his shoulders, driving her nails into his flesh.

They both collapsed, weak, tired and spent. He lifted her and placed her head upon her pillow and laid next to her. He kissed her lips lightly before drifting off himself.

"Thank you, Sylphiel."

* * * * *

He slowly opened his eyes, the sunlight streaming into the room. He tried to move only to find that something had him pinned. Sylphiel was cuddled onto his bare chest, sleeping peacefully. He thought it was just another dream until she sighed and nuzzled her face into his neck.

She was so beautiful. The sunlight lit up her bare skin. Her face was calm and beautiful. She wore a small smile. Her small hand spread over his heart. Her hair was spread all over the place; miraculously still damp from their sweat soaked endeavors. He hardened just at the thought of the night before. Her legs were wrapped around protectively.

By the position of the sun, he could tell it was around eleven. Their companions were probably feasting away by now. He didn’t care. He only wanted to hold her there forever.

Her eyes fluttered open. She silently glanced around seeing their discarded pajamas; satisfied that it hadn’t been another dream. She sighed luxuriously and tightened her hold on him.

"Good morning, angel," he said.

"Isn’t it though? So perfect with you here…" she whispered. He returned her embrace and pulled her on top of him. She looked down at him shyly. "I look a mess. I won’t be too hurt if you run away."

"You look more beautiful every day, Sylphiel. You’ve never looked so lovely." He stroked her cheek.

She giggled and lay pressing herself against him, tossing her hair to the side. "You always look handsome, Xellos-dear." She used her personal term of endearment.

He stroked her back as they lay there talking for nearly an hour.

"This all happened so quickly. I wish I could go back in time and live it all over again only in slow motion," she mused. "Can it really happen like this? Am I slowly and quietly going mad?" she asked.

"It already did. And if you’re crazy, so am I. And if this is insanity, the well of mind have no idea what they’re missing." She laughed.

"You can always make me laugh, Xellos-dear." She paused. "My mother would roll in her grave to know I’ve lost myself to a man I’ve re-aquainted myself with only a few weeks ago."

"Does it ease her pain to know that I love you?" he asked. Sylphiel smiled, burying her face in his cheek.

"It really doesn’t matter, dear. I only wanted to hear you say it…" she admitted.

He chuckled. "You little trickster. That’s another thing we have in common apparently."

"I like to call it cunning."

"So do I," he whispered. They touched lips for a brief moment.

"Are you hungry, sweetheart?" he asked.

"Only for you. Don’t make me get up yet please." Her sweet plea caused him to smile.

"But I can’t sustain your life, love. I wish I could. You would live forever." She was kissing his ear and slightly sucking his earlobe. "Oh my. If you do that I’ll have to take you again. I’m afraid I haven’t the energy."

"I’ll find you some," she purred. Her hand slowly slid under the sheets.

"Now, Sylphiel…" he warned.

"What?" she asked coquettishly, still going down.

"What are you doing?" he asked in a teasing tone.

"Ah-ah-ah…" she taunted, wagging a finger at him. She grinned. "Sore wa himitsu desu."

He laughed. "I knew I’d get that back someday."

She traced a finger around his navel, giving him a sly look.

"We really shouldn’t…" his protests grew weaker.

"Shouldn’t we?" she raised and eyebrow.

"Since when did you become so seductive?"

"Wasn’t I before?"

"Tauntingly innocent, yes. Devastatingly tempting, definitely. But so blatantly seductive? I don’t remember."

"Lets just say you bring out the best in me… or perhaps the worst." She lightly stroked him. He closed his eyes and rolled his head back in ecstasy. "What do you think?" she asked innocently.

"The best. Definitely the best." He submitted to her touch.

"Why, Xellos-dear, have you forgotten about breakfast?" she teased.

"Please, I’m not going anywhere." She kissed him and they shared the beautiful morning.

* * * * *

An hour later they joined their friends downstairs, dressed casually. Xellos wore a pants, long-sleeve Chinese collar set made of silk. It was a deep bleu violet contrasting Sylphiel’s matching Cherry-plum outfit.

Their troupe was lounging around, lethargic from having just eaten their fill.

"What is it?" Xellos asked when she stopped abruptly.

She had a pinkish tint in her cheeks and her free hand went to her cheek. "I can’t do this."

"Do what?" he asked puzzled.

"I…" her flush deepened.

"Are you embarrassed to be seen with me?" he sounded hurt.

"No not at all…it’s just hard to face…" she stopped, getting choked up.

He hugged her feeling responsible for making her cry. "Oh, sweetheart. You’re not over Gourry yet?"

"I’m such a horrible person." She whimpered.

"No you’re not. You’re wonderful. It’s going to take some time. He was your first love. I understand human emotions, I was human once after all." He wiped her tears away. "Come on. I’ll be with you." He tried to get her to smile by tickling her a bit. She soon broke into a brilliant smile.

"Yes, you’re right."

They went out on the lawn holding hands.

"Well, the sleepyheads have decided to join us. You missed a wonderful breakfast." Lina had her head in Gourry’s lap and he was stroking her hair gently. Amelia was lying on a bench and Zel was at the end, her feet in his lap.

"You can join us for lunch, though. Then Lina and I want to go check out the stores here. Now that she's wearing dresses, she's hooked," "Amelia said. "Do you want to come, Sylphiel?"

"Sure." Xellos could tell her anxiety was ebbing since nobody was dwelling on their romantic advances.

"It’s nice to just hang around, not having any obligations or excitement. It’s been a while since I could relax." Lina sighed. Xellos sat on the ground and Sylphiel sat next to him. The six sat chatting and laughing about past adventures for a while before their lunch was served to them on the lawn.

When they were finished, Lina, Amelia and Sylphiel got up to go shopping.

"Don’t be too bored without us," Lina said walking gracefully through the gate. Amelia followed after kissing Zel on the cheek.

"Bye, Xellos-dear," Sylphiel said softly, shy because Gourry and Zel were watching. Xellos held her hand, keeping her form walking away and pulled her back to kiss her deeply. When he left her she was bright red.

"Goodbye, sweetheart." He let her go and she spun away, hurrying to join Amelia and Lina.

While Gourry paid the waitress, Zel commented to Xell, "Public display of affection? She’s not over Gourry then?"

"No, friend." Xellos smiled. "But I’m working on it.

"Come on," Zel threw an arm over Xellos’ shoulders. "Lets go get a beer."

"Beer? You?!" Xellos teased.

"Amelia has taught me to loosen up." Zel smiled.

"Mmhmm. I’m sure that isn’t all she’s taught you."

"Let’s not go there, friend. You were the one who came downstairs at one o’ clock." They laughed.

"What’s up, fellows?" Gourry asked.

"Nothing, Gourry. Come. Join us at the tavern. Maybe we can get into a game of spades or hearts…" Zel said.

* * * * *

"You two are so cute together," Amelia commented. They were both looking around a boutique and Lina was busy trying something on.

"It’s about time Xellos cared for someone besides himself and that damned staff he used to carry. You notice he never even let the thing touch the ground?" Lina said over the dressing door. "Do you also notice he holds you in the arm he used to carry it in?"

"Really?" Sylphiel blushed.

"You also call him ‘dear’. That’s sweet." Amelia picked up a pair of velvet slippers.

Lina came out in the red dress and her friends gasped. "You look great!" Sylphiel exclaimed. Amelia applauded. Lina grinned.

"You really like it?" They nodded. Lina looked at the price tag. "I can swing this. I’ll have to make another group of bandits suffer soon or hire myself out for bounty hunting again. My funds are running low."

"Is that all you and Gourry will do forever?" After marriage? And children?" Sylphiel asked.

"I suppose. It’s what we love to do. Besides that’s not all I do. He’s also a mercenary. I could find a kingdom that needs me and will pay me well and work as bounty hunter for them. I don’t know of a kingdom that trusts me enough to keep me though. And kids…" she flushed. "Well I never thought about kids…" Amelia and Sylphiel smiled at her reaction.

"Zel wants to marry me. But he’s not at all excited about being the king of Seillune. He’d prefer to shed his chimerian exterior first. He’s so self-conscious about that still. I’ve gotten him to realize that it’s not at all repulsive. It gives him character. Sometimes I think he believes me. And other times…" Amelia sighed helplessly. Sylphiel hugged her sympathetically.

After Lina paid for her dress, she asked, "When will you return to Seillune?"

"In a few years, maybe. I’m to be queen when I turn 21. Two years max…" Amelia answered.

"I turn 21 in a week." Sylphiel put in quietly. They looked at her unsure of what to say. She had no kingdom to rule. No home to return to. No throne to rightfully claim.

"We’ll throw you a party." Amelia smiled trying to cheer her.

"No. I’d rather not. I… want to pray… forget…" She was near tears when the boys appeared, leaving the tavern.

"Hi girls," Gourry greeted them.

The girls stood joining them. Sylphiel hung her head sadly.

"What’s the matter, Sylphiel?" Zelgadis asked.

"Oh nothing. I’m fine…" she tried to sound cheerful but refused to meet anyone’s eyes. Xellos was instantly on alert.

"Sylphiel, sweetheart. What is it?" he asked gently. Her lip trembled. She could only shake her head, fearing that if she spoke she would cry.

"Did something happen?" Xellos turned to Lina.

"No…" Lina didn’t know if it was her place to approach the subject.

"Oh don’t lie to me!" Xellos was getting angry, an emotion he seldom encountered and those who witnessed it rarely lived to tell the tale. "What’s the matter? I’ll fix it." The group was staring at the two, Xellos’ hands on her arms. She began to shake with silent sobs. "Sylphiel," he whispered tipping her chin up.

"Just leave me alone for a while, please." She began to weep as she broke free of his grasp and ran away. They watched her for a moment before Xellos turned back to Lina and Amelia.

"What’s wrong? Why is Sylphiel crying?" His tone was stern.

"She’s upset because her 21st birthday is next week. The customary age for King or Queen-ship. Her home is gone. Her life… is gone. She’s alone." Amelia got choked up.

Xellos’ look of concern melted into one of sorrowful understanding. He looked down the sunny path she’d taken. Not for long. She’ll never be alone again as long as I live. Never." He ran after her. The others watched him disappear after her.

* * * * *

It was near sunset when he found her in a hidden cove deep within the lush forest nearby. There was a small waterfall trickling into a pond next to where she sat among an abundance of wildflowers. She was no longer crying, but she was red faced and puffy eyed from crying. She absently fed a nightingale some seeds, unaware of the fawn grazing calmly next to her.

Xellos entered quietly, but the fawn dashed away, frightened, and the nightingale flew a short distance to a branch, far enough for a quick escape.

"Sylphiel," Xellos walked toward her.

"Don’t pity me." Her sharp, clear tone struck him hard. He stopped walking.

"Pity you?"

"I’ve lived for years without a kingdom or family. I’m used to it now. And when I turn 21 the only thing that will be different is my age." She threw her words at him, fury flaming her eyes. She stood shakily. "I have no home. I am Sylphiel the homeless, wandering mage!" She was beginning to talk wildly, hysterically. "Yes! I will perfect my white magic and learn black magic, become strong and wander the land healing and helping the outcast and downtrodden. I will forget what Hellmaster did. He is dead and I have no revenge left. They will suffer enough in the dark world. I will not. I will suffer no more. I am free." She was calm now. She looked at Xellos directly for the first time. "And you shall have nothing to do with me. Nothing! You have a chance for a new life, as do I. But you will go alone without me."

"Without you? What are you talking about?!" Xellos looked on in confusion.

"I cannot be of use to you. I am useless. I couldn’t defend my home or my family as I should have." She walked towards him closing the gap between them leaving only a few feet. "I will not endanger my loved ones. Which is why I will leave you. And the others. I will be alone as fate wills it."

"Sylphiel, stop talking nonsense. You know better than this. You can’t live alone. You had nothing to do with the events in Sailrag. They would have you dead too. You escaped. You survived. You will live on to raise Sailrag again." He stepped closer. "And I will help you."

"It is you who speaks nonsense, Xellos Metallium." She tore her hand from his grasp. "I am no good for you. I am… a… curse!" She began to cry again. He reached out to hug her. She wiggled, resisting him. She certainly was hard to hold on to. She twisted out of his grasp.

"NO!!" she screamed, running quickly out of the cove. He followed as closely as he could. She stumbled and dodged, sprinting blindly through the trees. Neither of them saw the cliff she was advancing on until it was too late.

"Sylphiel, NO!" he screamed. She tripped over a rock and fell headfirst into the abyss. She let loose a bloodcurdling scream. Xellos didn’t even think. He cast a spell and vanished, reappearing to catch her in midair. She had passed out and hung limply in his arms as he returned to land.

He carried her a safe distance to a rock and sat, cradling her in his arms. He watched her and felt a tear roll down his cheek. He hadn’t cried in over 2000 years. He sat watching until she stirred. She let her green eyes open slowly.

"Oh, sweet Gods, I’m in heaven and Xellos is my savior."

"No, Sylphiel, you’re alive. Still very alive," he whispered.

"I should be gone…" she whimpered. It pained him to see her like this. The tears came faster.

"No. You have to stay with me. I can’t live without you." She saw the tears in his eyes and sat up.

"I’m not good for you! Why can’t you see that?" she yelled, tears rolling. "If we’re together, I can’t protect you! I can never help you. And one day I will die. You will live on. I will have caused you too much pain."

"It’s worth it, Sylphiel!" he exclaimed. "It’s worth it to hold you for the rest of your time than to live without you forever. Would you cause me so much heartbreak? Such pain? Don’t you love me?" he cried.

She sobbed. "Yes you fool! I do! That is why I wish to spare you the pain of loss. You’d forget me sooner now than then. You don’t know what it’s like to lose a loved one. I wont leave you then, after you grow to love me more each day. I will leave you now. I can’t hurt you." She tried to get up. He grabbed her and hugged her close, soaking her head with tears.

"I gave up my family. My life. For power, greed and immortality. I chose Mazoku so I wouldn’t feel it when I watched them die. You made me feel. You made me love and cry. It would break my heart and vanquish my soul to lose you. If you go I will kill myself. I can’t be without you. Doesn’t that mean anything?" Her sobs were her reply. "I won’t watch you leave. I won’t let you go. You’re all I have."

"But I will DIE! I will break your heart anyway! Why don’t you see?" she cried.

"Because I love you! What more can I do? What more do you want?"

She looked up at him, pain in her eyes. "I want you to let me go." She turned and began to walk away.

"Then you leave me no choice." She turned back slowly. There was a black aura around his dark figure.

"What…?" she whispered. He was chanting in a low tone in a language forbidden on earth. "What are you…?"

"…now hear my plea, Dark Lord. Let me, your adopted son, go. I wish to be free. Take all Mazoku out of me. And if I survive, let me see, the life that was meant for me…"

There was a moment of absolute still and then a dark explosion. Sylphiel was knocked to the ground watching in horror as Xellos screamed once and long in pain. Then he collapsed. It was the spell of mortality. If he survived he would no longer be Mazoku, but a human with weaknesses. Only his knowledge of magic and physical strength would remain with him. If he survived he would be one of the most powerful mortals alive. His life would be long, he would live well, and he would die one day. The only unavoidable fate. But it was worth it… if he survived…

He wasn’t moving. The darkness still enveloped him. Sylphiel knew he wouldn’t make it. She began to scream incoherently.

"NO! NO! NO! Don’t you take him now! He will survive!" she screamed from her earthly confines. Her commands were swallowed in the thundering darkness.

‘Don’t just sit there child’

"Father?" she trembled looking to the sky illuminated with lightening.

‘You can save him. Your love will drive you.’

"But I couldn’t save you and I love you!" she cried.

‘Xellos gave his life for you as I did. I sent you away. You had to survive.’

"You… sent me away?"

‘To save you. Now you must save him. You love him don’t you…’ It was a statement rather than a question.

"Yes, but…"

‘Then go get him. He is yours. But if you don’t choose your fate now, time will.’

Sylphiel turned to Xellos who was still lying on the ground, his life force being sucked into nothingness.

She gritted her teeth and forced herself upward. The pressure made her bones ache. She screamed. Finally she was on two feet. She had to concentrate. She thrust her hands, palms up, outward and chanted: "Goddess of purity, love and healing give me your power. Make me, your daughter, your vessel… ELMEKIA LANCE!!!"

The shimmering whiteness sliced through the darkness. There was an unearthly roar. The darkness began to take form into the dark lord itself, large and ominous and looming, standing before her, stories high, the demon lurked.

"Who disturbs me?" The sound was terrible. It shook her to the core of her existence.

"I, Sylphiel, practitioner of white magic, student of your dark practice, pray you to let that soul you feed on go!!!" She stood strongly, staring the beast in the eyes.

It looked at her curiously and smiled ironically.

"Why should I? Xellos Metallium is pure evil. The Goddess of Light has no mercy for him, the White Goddess does not want him, else she would allow him to live. I will devour him. There is nothing of him worth leaving here."

"He is human! He gave you back your evil. You lose nothing in leaving him here alive as a human. I love him and will be forced to destroy you if you don't take your evil and leave him be!!!" she screamed fiercely.

"Ha! A weak princess challenges me? Go home!… Oh wait, you don’t have one! Hellmaster took it did he?" The demon laughed. "You shall lose another thing you love today. Xellos Metallium’s soul is MINE!" It turned and picked Xellos up. He tossed him in the air like a doll and laughed harshly.

"NO!!" Sylphiel was enraged with a malicious passion. Something over took her and she was filled with a new sensation. She slammed her hands together and did the only thing left to do. She prayed.

"Mother of goodness and life. Love and Purity. Cleanse this demon’s soul!!"

It turned and looked at her confused.

"Show him the path to righteousness…!"

"No.. It can’t be her…" it mumbled, eyes wide.

"Forgive him for his sins and fill his heart with purity!!!" She was glowing with heavenly power. A rite only allowed to the Gods themselves and those they granted it.

"Stop!" it yelled. It dropped Xellos who fell limply, hitting his head on a rock. Sylphiel didn’t notice. She was filled with The Holy Light, the white magician’s Giga Slave.

"Help me to rid his soul of evil." She said. It looked at her glowing form in horror. White Light flowed around and through her. She opened her eyes. The Light was in them too.

The beast shielded its eyes.

"Now accept your sanctity…" she whispered but her word resounded. She began to float until she faced the demon.

"Repent. And thou shalt be saved…" The demon stood wide-eyed, riveted in fear.

"Ack Ni jnough mtimbe…" she spoke the language of the Ancient Ones. A tongue only shared among the Gods. How did she know of this? Sylphiel was no longer her human self, but the daughter of the White Mistress herself, The Goddess of Light.

"No…" it pleaded weakly. "Only the Goddess of Light could possibly…"

"So mote it be."

The silence returned for a moment, then she opened her palms and the White Light streamed through her from them. It struck the demon’s chest. It screamed and roared in anguish.

"May the Goddess of the Underworld have mercy on your soul." She closed her hands in a dramatic movement. The beast roared once more and dropped to its knees.

"The Light! The Light!" It writhed before exploding into a million pieces of darkness.

Sylphiel gently descended to the ground and held Xellos. She was still filled with The Light. She reached into his mind and found him standing with the Goddess of the Underworld. "He can’t go yet. It’s not his time. Today is not his day." She stood boldly, looking square at the deity.

She watched Sylphiel for a moment and then nodded, smiling kindly. Xellos’ soul joined Sylphiel on the other side.

"You both sacrificed quite a bit for one another. My blessings for your future, my niece." The Goddess’ voice was like a million violins. She bowed as Sylphiel left.

They returned to reality. The skies were clearing now and only a few clouds remained, as if nothing had happened. She knelt with his head in her lap. He was still unconscious, not breathing and his head was bleeding.

"Come on, Xellos dear…" she pleaded. He didn’t respond. She became teary again, a sign that her immortality was fading. "Wake up." She shook him gently. When he remained still, she concentrated her healing magic into her hands and held one to his forehead and one to his chest.

He coughed, black bile draining from his lungs out of the corners of his mouth. The last of his Mazoku life force. He was coughing violently now, doubled over in pain. She held him until the violence subsided. He leaned back into her and weakly muttered, "Sylphiel?"

Her tears turned from ones of sorrow to joy. She smiled and silently thanked the gods for letting him survive. "Yes, Xellos dear?"

"Oh… don’t cry… I told you… if you jump I’ll break your fall… lift you up… and … fly… away… into the night…" he uttered weakly.

"Yes, dear…" she kissed his forehead gently. "But now I’ll have to carry you." She held him and cast a teleportation spell. All that was left was a mark where the dark lord had perished.

* * * * *

Xellos heard voices. But that was impossible, he was dead, wasn’t he?

"…It’s been two days…"

"…The doctor said it wasn’t a concussion…"

"…He has bad dreams… wakes up screaming…"

"…You need your rest too. Let me watch him…"

"No. I won’t ever leave him again."

Xellos’ eyes slowly opened. He discovered that it hurt to do so. He groaned and placed a hand on his head.

"Oww…" he moaned.

"Xellos?" Sylphiel rushed from the table where she and the others were standing vigil to his bedside. A cool hand rested on his. He slowly turned to look at her. It took a moment to clear his vision and he sat blinking at her. "Xellos, it’s me. Sylphiel…" she spoke even softer than normal.

Suddenly he remembered everything that had happened. He sat up too quickly and felt a sharp pain screech through his body. He yelled in pain.

"Oh!" Sylphiel exclaimed, alarmed. She held his back and gently guided him back down. "You can’t do that. Your human body hasn’t completely healed."

"Sylphiel," he said.

"Don’t talk. Just rest." The others quietly slipped out, leaving the two alone. She dipped a washcloth into a bowl of cold water and rung it out. Then she gently patted his forehead, face and neck down. He watched through half open eyes. She was so beautiful, so graceful. He stiffly took her hand and kissed her fingertips.

They sat silently for long moments. She began to cry like she had so many times in the past two days while he was unconscious, fearing he would never awaken. He tried to soothe her and wiped the tears from her soft cheeks. "What’s the matter, baby?"

"You gave up immortality for me…" she whispered. "You could have died. You almost did."

"But you saved me…" he paused. "Why didn’t you tell me you were the Goddess of Light’s daughter?"

Her lip trembled. "I didn’t think I was worthy. I wanted it to go away. After the death of my… mother…" she sobbed once. "I should have been able to save her. I should have been able to save everyone. Daddy spelled me because he knew I had to survive. He knew I couldn’t do it… he knew…" She broke down. Xellos sat up to hold her. Her body shook as the sobs rippled through her uncontrollably, her past haunting her once again.

"Nonsense," he scolded gently. "He saved you so you could carry the Sailragg name. He loved you too much to watch you die. It was hard enough losing your mother, I would imagine." He rubbed her back as she wept into his chest.

"But when I saw you in danger… I was not going to let you go too. I’ve lost everything. I couldn’t bear to lose you. I really never wanted to leave you. I thought it would be best until I felt I’d never see you again…" she looked up at him, tears flooding her eyes. "I put you in danger…"

"Shh, my love. You saved me and I love you. You did nothing wrong. I’m never leaving you." The simple words healed her heart like a miracle salve. "I’ll never let you go again. I’m pure now and I swear I’ll love you for the rest of our lives and one day when we meet again in the land of the Gods, I’ll fall in love with you all over again. So hush, sweetheart. Today we begin anew." She sobbed happily into his chest and he held her tight, ignoring the pain.

"You want to love me?" She looked up at him happily.

"More than my next breath." He kissed her gently.

* * * * *

Sylphiel was busy packing her things away. Their group was ready to move on now that Xellos was well. They’d all found somewhere to go, so she was left alone at the inn that day. She didn’t mind really. Her birthday wasn’t that important to her…

Still, she thought, it would have been nice to have Xellos around. But when she woke up, the others informed her that he’d be gone for most of the day.

Instead of hanging around the inn, she finished packing and put on a purple sun-dress that was low cut, formfitting and flared to a stop at mid-thigh and some matching pumps. She headed out to enjoy the busy little town for one more day.

She tried to keep her mind off of the loneliness but she couldn’t help it. Everything she saw reminded her of Xellos. She really needed him to be with her. Where was he? He knew how sensitive she was. Why would he disappear on a day like today?

She was sulking at a small table outside of a café sipping a cappuccino when he saw her. Just as he’d expected. There she was, looking sad and neglected, in a solemn, but sultry sun dress that fell enticingly about her thighs when she crossed those gorgeous legs. He smiled. Everything was going perfectly.

He hated leaving her alone today, but he had to go buy her present. He needed time to examine it for flaws and make sure it was perfect and ready for her. The others were off preparing for her surprise party back at the inn.

He walked over casually and said, "Is this seat taken?"

"No…" she did a double take. "Xellos!" She jumped up to hug him. He swung her around and she giggled.

"Happy to see me?" he asked happily.

"Of course!" She kissed him sweetly, not caring who saw. They sat down next to each other when they parted.

"I’m sorry I abandoned you today. I had to…"

"I’m just glad you’re here now," she grinned at him. He smiled.

"Well, while I was handling some business, I saw something I thought you’d love. I just had to buy it. And today’s the perfect day to give it to you. But before I do, you have to promise me something."

"Anything."

He paused before reaching into his pocket to conceal something in his hand. "Say you’ll marry me."

She didn’t know why she was surprised, but she was. She didn’t realize she was holding her breath until she was forced to exhale a quiet yes following behind it. He brightened. She rained kisses over him. "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!" He held her in for a long kiss while slipping her present on her left ring finger.

She gasped when they parted. "Oh my dear Gods..." It was simple but elegant. Pure gold with a diamond surrounded by tiny sapphire chips. They’d attracted the attentions of many of the other customers and passerby who watched nosily. They oohed and ahhed. Who were these two kids? They almost looked like royalty…

"Oh, Xellos…" she breathed. She kissed him again deeply and passionately. The crowd began to applaud for some odd reason. He nuzzled against the side of her head, still holding her, as she gazed at the ring.

"Come on. The surprise is far from over." He gently led her back to the inn. When they walked in, he led her to the patio in the back.

"Surprise!!!" they yelled. Sylphiel jumped.

"A party for me?" The guests at the inn were even in attendance. Xellos kissed her cheek and placed a tiara on her head. She was seated in a large velvet chair. Her friends handed her gifts and everyone seemed to be talking at once. Sylphiel was positively glowing.

"Oh!" Amelia gasped, wide eyed. Everyone stopped.

"What? What’s wrong?" they asked.

"Look at that ring! Where did you get it?" Everyone’s attention was drawn to the sparkling ornament. Oohs and ahhs rippled through the crowd as they came in closer to examine it. Sylphiel blushed and put her hand to her cheek.

"Who gave you that?" Amelia asked. They grew silent waiting for her answer.

"My fiancé," she replied shyly, reaching for Xellos’ hand.

"Your WHAT?!’ Lina cried, voice cracking.

"Oh Sylphiel, Xellos, congratulations!" Amelia breathed

"You? Xellos, trickster priest, engaged?" Zelgadis considered it for a moment. "That’s interesting. Congrats, friend," he patted him on the back.

"Well I’ll be! I’ll bet you paid quite a fortune for that little beauty, eh Xellos?" Lina elbowed him in the ribs lightly.

Xellos wagged his finger. "Sore wa himitsu desu!" For once everyone laughed at his trademark comment. Sylphiel began to open her gifts. The crowd was so into it that they didn’t notice Gourry slip away quietly. Only when she opened his gift did she notice his absence. She saw him sitting alone under a tree a few yards away. Everyone was enjoying the music and cake, so she slipped away to thank him. Why wasn’t he here too? What was wrong?

"Gourry?"

"Oh, Sylphiel. I didn’t mean to be rude. I had to get some… air." He lied.

"Oh." She sat next to him on the grass. "I just wanted to thank you for my present. It’s lovely." It was velvet and gold embroidered priestess bible and power spell book, a rare manuscript of the Claire Bible.

"Did you look inside?" he asked. She thought she had heard his voice waver, but he wasn’t one to cry.

"No," she opened it. There, in beautiful gold calligraphy it read,

"To my dear Sylphiel. Love, your dear Gourry."

She almost wanted to cry. She got misty eyed. "Oh, Gourry," she whispered. "I love this. I love this so much."

"I’m glad you do." He smiled and looked away.

"What’s the matter?" she asked gently.

"Do you love him?" he asked abruptly, avoiding her question.

"What?"

"Do you love Xellos? Are you in love with him?"

She blinked, totally confused. Why was he so interested in her now? When he could have had her he… ignored her. "Yes I do. Why," her tone was warning.

"I just want him to take care of you. You deserve that," he sniffed. Her heart melted. "I know you loved me. I didn’t deserve you. That’s why I ignored you. I didn’t realize how much I’d hurt you. I’m sorry." He turned to her, tears streaming down his face. "I loved you. I still do. But I can’t give you what you need… deserve. Xellos… well, he had better. Or he’ll hear from me." She smiled. Then impulsively she reached out and hugged him.

"Thank you for telling me. Thank you for caring," she whispered. When they let go she stood up and brushed off her skirt. "Now come, Gourry, dear. There’s a huge cake in there and Lina needs you to help her devour it." He smiled and accepted her hand.

* * * * *

"Tomorrow we’re leaving." Xellos stroked Sylphiel’s back as they lie together in bed. She snuggled up to his chest; the flannel pajamas warm against her skin.

"Where are we headed?" she asked.

"I don’t know. Lina’s eaten all of the dragon cuisine. Perhaps to find another manuscript or something."

"Hmm…" Sylphiel sighed, simply content to be lying with Xellos, her fiancé.

"Did you enjoy your party?" he asked.

"Yes very much."

Xellos thought for a moment. "Gourry finally told you he loved you."

She didn’t say anything for long moments, unsure of how to answer. She looked up at him. "He asked me if I loved you." He matched her gaze. " I said yes. He knows he missed out. I… it’s funny, I didn’t feel anything when he told me. He’s sad to see him admirer go."

Xellos gazed at her beautiful face before gently kissing her. Her cheeks burned when they parted. "It doesn’t matter how many times you do that, it feels better every time."

"I love you Sylphiel. I’m going to take care of you and give you a perfect life. You are my life."

"It’s perfect just having you here, my darling," she whispered, lightly touching his lips with her fingertips.

"I still have two presents for you," he said.

"More?" she asked, astounded.

"There will always be more, my dear. One present will have to wait until tomorrow. The other is for tonight."

"What is it?" she asked shrewdly.

"Oh I think you’ll be able to guess." Without another word he rolled over, bracing himself above her. He slowly lowered himself so they could kiss, not wanting to bear all of his weight on her. He gently… gently kissed her and slowly unbuttoned her shirt. He slid it off her shoulders and discarded it, pulling her body close to his. He began trailing kisses down her neck and to her collarbone. "I love it when you kiss me there," she mumbled in ecstasy.

"I love your collarbone. It’s so delicate" He lingered there for a bit longer before proceeding to her supple breasts and her taut nipples. He devoured them like a tasty treat, making her squirm and moan. He reached down letting his fingers dance across her flat tummy and down to her most delicate flesh. He stroked her entrance like it was a precious fabric.

"Ohhh." A devastating moan. His mouth met hers as he continued to play, making her moan and sigh through kisses.

He slowly inserted a finger into the velvety warmth and slowly pulled it out. Then he inserted two, three, repeating his pattern.

"Oh… stop… stop…" she pleaded weakly. He paused, teasing her. "Nooooooo… don’t stop." She groaned, contradicting her demand.

He chuckled and continued to stroke her until he found the little nub inside of her that caused her to lose control. "Ohhhh!" she cried hoarsely. She bucked against him wanting more and not being able to stand anymore. He accelerated and continued to kiss her, ignoring her wild gyrations. One final explosion racked through her body before she fell still except for the heaving of her chest. He looked at her and brushed a few strands from her face. He removed his fingers and tasted her.

"Sylphiel," he whispered. She was still dazed. "Sylphiel,"

"Yes?" she replied, exhausted.

"I’m not finished yet, sweetheart. You’ll have to wake up." He smiled, loving being able to make her react to his every touch.

"Give me a minute." She laughed weakly. "What can I do for you?"

"For me?’ Xellos asked confused.

"I can’t be the only one taken care of…" She slid a hand down to his groin and encircled it’s swollen girth in her tiny hand.

"But today’s your birthday," he whispered, tormented by her touch.

"So I can do as I please." In a swift movement, she was on top of him. She kissed him deeply. "Get up." She ordered, moving aside for him. He obeyed and stood at the edge of the bed, facing her.

She stood in front of him and started taking off his pajamas. On every spot of flesh she exposed, she planted tiny kisses. Xellos closed his eyes enjoying the pleasure she gave him. She was so sensual… She sat down; legs open, before she slid off his bottoms. His stiff member sprang free; she sat for a moment just staring at it. He began to get nervous. "Sylphiel…"

"Shh…" she cut him off and stroked it lightly in one hand. "I’ve never actually seen you before. Not like this… you’re beautiful." Before he could say anything, she took him in her mouth. He couldn’t believe the feeling. He moaned softly. She caressed him with her tongue and kissed the sac of flesh beneath the shaft. His cries grew more desperate. He was far-gone when she took him back in her mouth and sucked on him.

"Sylphiel… I’m…" he warned. She only pulled harder until he came in her mouth. She swallowed every bit of him. Then she stood again, drawing her hands up his sides, giving him a sexy gaze, head cocked to the side.

"Now we’re equal."

"Where did you learn to do that?" he asked.

"You inspire me…" she laughed lightly and pulled him to her for a kiss. When he tasted himself on her, he became instantly aroused. He kissed her with urgency. They suddenly couldn’t get enough of each other. She wrapped a leg around him and he picked her up, placing both legs around him. They spun until he had her against the wall. He entered her, making them both sigh in relief. He began to plumb her in earnest. They wailed and moaned in harmony as he thrust into her harder and harder until they both shared their second orgasm of the night.

"No matter how many times you do that, it feels better every time," she panted. A breeze came through the window and passed over their damp bodies. He still had her against the wall, gazing at her innocently. He kissed her tenderly on the collarbone.

"I love you, Sylphiel," he whispered.

"I love you too." She kissed his forehead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * * * *

"Where are we going?" Sylphiel asked. She bounced like and impatient infant on her new white mare, Destiny, Amelia’s gift to her. Along with Destiny, she’d sent for five other of the finest Seillune horses in the kingdom for the rest of them. Xellos chose the black stallion that he named Quixotic; Lina and Gourry chose the two golden horses, a mare Lina named Biscuit, and a stallion Gourry named Gravy. Zelgadis had a gray-silver stallion he named Feral and Amelia was reunited with her mare, Justice.

Instead of their riding clothes, Xellos insisted they all wear formal attire. He put a white blindfold over Sylphiel’s eyes that matched her white, Shakespearean style princess dress he’d asked her to wear. It was all part of his surprise. Lina protested to riding side-saddle until Gourry swept her up to ride with him. Now she wore a quiet blush along with her dress as he held her on with his strong arm.

"We’ll be there soon." Xellos steadied Destiny and led Quixotic at the same time from his seat behind Sylphiel. The others didn’t know what he had in store either. They’d been riding for hours now.

"How soon?" Sylphiel asked.

"Actually, it’s just around the corner." They turned and led their horses into a huge lawn and garden. It sprawled before a beautiful palace made of white marble and mother of pearl. They passed through the castle’s town, where the villagers, townspeople, and royal subjects lived. They began to applaud at seeing the company.

"What’s that?" Sylphiel turned this way and that, trying to deduce her surroundings.

"I’ll explain it all later." Xellos whispered. Finally they came to the gates of the palace. He signaled for the gates to be opened and the company traveled through another vast lawn surrounded by gardens. At the palace doors they dismounted and Xellos led them inside and up a fabulous winding staircase. Sylphiel, hearing the others’ ohh’s and ahh’s asked "What? What do you see? Amelia… tell me!" Xellos shook his head.

"I can’t say," she answered.

They finally stopped climbing and Xellos brought them to the main balcony. The others were grinning. They knew what he was up to. The townspeople were now crowded on the front lawns, cheering when the company appeared. Xellos positioned her in front of them to overlook them. "Happy Birthday," he said before removing the blindfold. She opened her eyes and gasped. The people were singing happy birthday along with her friends. She was so overwhelmed. The lush green lawns, the colorful gardens, the entire scene… she wanted to cry.

"What is all of this?" she asked.

Xellos smiled and stepped forward, holding up his hand for silence. When the people were quiet he began to speak. "My new subjects and friends, I present to you my bride to be and your new Queen, Sylphiel du Sailragg of Metallium." The crowd went wild. Sylphiel couldn’t take any more. She broke down and began to cry.

"This… this is…" she sobbed happily into his shoulder.

"This is all yours," Xellos said holding her. "Come on," he urged gently. He turned her toward the crowd and she smiled.

To Be Continued…