Disclaimer: You know I don't own these guys. I never will own these guys. So why do I have to write stupid disclaimers? Force of habit? Page looks nekkid without anything up top!? WHAT?!
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by Crystal Dawn Phoenix
The light from the early morning sun shone in through the drawn curtains in the window, hitting Filia's eyes and dragging her out of her sleep. She yawned a little, showing her sharp canine teeth, then rubbed her eyes sleepily. She opened them and noticed that both she and Xellos had turned during the night to where they were facing each other. She smiled a little. He looked so innocent when he was asleep, almost like a child. He was curled up into a little ball, teddy in one hand, sucking the thumb on the other. His hair moved slightly as he breathed heavily. Filia knew he wouldn't be asleep for much longer since they were connected now. Testing, she slowly reached a hand out from underneath her downy comforter and moved it toward his face. He flinched back, much as she expected him to.
"I'm not asleep," he mumbled, in answer to an unasked question, before yawning heavily.
"I didn't think so," Filia replied, groggy as well, "Do you want to get up and eat breakfast?" He stretched and scratched his head.
"I guess so," came the reply, "Is this what hunger is like? It's been a while since I've been summoned. I feel... empty." Filia closed her eyes and stretched her legs out, causing her tail to straighten out in the process. Xellos watched her closely, thinking how funny she looked first thing in the morning. Her gold hair was a swirly mess on her pillow, somehow reminding him of an angel's halo. "So what do we do?", he asked, holding his teddy and making sure his arms didn't cause him too much discomfort from his wound, "To make breakfast, I mean."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Filia cracked a large brown egg and sent the contents falling into a hot, oily skillet. They were shortly followed by another egg, having been broken by Xellos. "You'll have to excuse me if this doesn't turn out right," he said, smiling sheepishly, "I've never had to cook in earnest before. The last person who summoned me ate only in inns and taverns." Filia gave him a sideways glance.
"Oh, they must have been rich, then," she said, baitingly, "Why don't you tell me about it?" He smiled shyly in return as they both turned their eggs with their spatulas. Xellos put a hand behind his head, scratching it.
"Well, I guess," he said, "It was only some nobleman, a few hundred years ago. He was traveling throughout the countryside, trying to find new lands to conquer. I guess he wanted some of my power to help him along. It turned out badly for him." They both reached for their plates to put the eggs on. They already had some pieces of buttered toast on them.
"Oh?", Filia asked, noticing his other hand resting on her back now, "How so? Because he called you?" Xellos chuckled.
"Oh, no, nothing like that," he replied, "He set about his own downfall long before he met me. It was nothing more than his own greed that ended his life. Although I have to admit he was most amusing for us Mazoku. Very few human beings have ever brought as much pain or violence to the world as he did. Very entertaining." Filia glared at him.
"Xellos," she said seriously, her tone making him scoot away a little, "There is entirely too much violence in your life!" He grinned mischievously, spatula-ing the egg up out of the skillet at the same time as Filia scraped hers up.
"Whatever makes you say that?", he asked playfully, "Simply because that was the reason I was created doesn't mean you should make generalizations." Filia gave him a flat look and sat her plate down, then poked him with her free hand. Her finger landed right on his wound, causing him to grimace. "Very funny," he growled, clearly getting irritated, "You'd be well advised to stop poking at that." Filia 'hmph'ed and backed off, grabbing some bacon and throwing it into the frying pan. Xellos grabbed some at the same time and threw it in as well.
After a few seconds, Xellos began smiling again as he and Filia pushed the bacon around the skillet with forks. "So, what are we going to do today?", he asked cheerfully, "Go looking for a magical item? Treasure? Oracle?" Filia put her finger to her lips and looked up, thinking.
"Well," she replied, "I have to make a new teapot today..." Xellos almost fell into the skillet.
"You're not serious?", he said in disbelief, "That's all!? Pottery? What a waste..." Disappointed, he pushed the bacon around with his fork. Filia turned her nose up.
"You still have that wound to worry about, anyway," she said in a condescending tone of voice, "You don't need to do anything for the next few days. How could you be so careless to let them get a hit off on you like that, Xellos? You must really be slipping in your old age..." He could feel she was trying to push him. Might as well humor her.
"Would you like me to show you just how much I am slipping?", he asked, his voice dangerous, his teeth showing, "I'd be more than happy to oblige you..." She could feel his fingers tighten around her long blonde hair and pull it slightly.
"Xellos, stop!", she gasped, "That hurts!" He released her hair and smiled again. They both turned their bacon, silently, Filia giving him an irritated glare. "That was uncalled for, Namagomi," she finally said, breaking the uneasy stillness, "If I summoned you, you shouldn't hurt me." He smiled at her again, only this time it was more unsettling.
"Oh, that's quite untrue," he replied blithely, "I could kill you if I felt like it." There was that unnatural silence again. The skillet popped and sizzled as they pushed their respective pieces of bacon around the pan.
"Are you going to?", Filia asked finally, her voice hushed, "Wouldn't that hurt you, too?" She began nervously forking the bacon onto her plate as he did likewise.
"Oh, of course it would," he replied, "It'd hurt me a great deal. But I'd be free from this bonding, so I'd heal quickly. But no, I don't think I would kill you. Unless you were being really bothersome. Or I was ordered to." For some reason, Filia didn't feel much better about that. They took the skillet off the heat and turned to go sit down at the table.
Filia sat down, then began poking at her eggs. How insensitive. She had been feeling a little better about this whole thing this morning, but now, after he'd gone and said something like that... How could she even eat after that!? She looked over at Xellos, who had also barely touched his food. "What's the matter with you?", she asked, perhaps a little shorter tempered than she had been before, "Don't you like that food?" He pushed his egg towards his toast as he rested his chin on his hand.
"I can't eat unless you do," he reminded her, "Can we please eat? I'm starving." Filia sighed and begrudgingly took a bite of her egg. Xellos smiled happily and began eating, and at a much faster pace than her.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
"Okay, you smooth the sides of the pot out like this..."
"Make sure you have plenty of water on your hands..."
"Would you please quit rubbing my fingers like that...? And do you have to sit so close to me!?"
Xellos laughed nervously. He was sitting behind Filia, but had gotten so close that it almost looked like she was sitting on his lap. "Oh, I'm sorry, Filia," he said sheepishly, "I just couldn't reach the wheel without being this close..." She glared over her shoulder at him.
"Ri-i-i-ight," she remarked, turning back to the pottery, still glancing backward, half-aggravated, half wondering what he thought he was doing.
"Is this all we'll be doing all day?", he asked, almost in her ear, "This is kind of boring, you know." Filia stuck her nose in the air.
"Maybe for you," she replied, "Although what you'd rather be doing probably involves killing someone or destroying something." Xellos smiled happily.
"Of course!", he responded easily, "I can't fight my nature, now can I?" Filia sighed.
"Well, if you must know," she replied, "There's nothing much to do today. I'm going to the market tomorrow to try and sell some of this pottery. Business has been pretty slow lately."
"What is the world coming to when there is no longer a need for teapots?", Xellos asked mockingly, "How will we ever survive?" He was right in her ear now, his cold breath making her shiver.
"Jerk," she said irritably, concentrating on the pottery, "On second thought, I DO have to wash clothes today." Xellos cringed.
"You're not suggesting..." he said haltingly, "That I, the Priest of a Dark Lord... Do laundry, are you!?" Filia smirked cruelly.
"Well, if I have to do it," she reasoned, "That means that you have to, too, doesn't it? So, yes, I guess that is what I'm suggesting." She could feel him tense behind her.
"I could just kill you now and this would all be over," he said in a low, threatening voice directed into her ear, causing her to shiver again. She wasn't entirely sure he was playing, either.
"Oh, come on," Filia responded nervously, "Don't be that way! Besides, I have to do laundry." She laughed nervously, hoping to diffuse another difficult situation. He seemed to relax a little.
"Very well, then," he replied begrudgingly, and secretly satisfied with the anxiety he'd just caused her. Her reaction was truly delightful, but he knew he'd have to be careful not to overdo the threats, otherwise she might start to doubt their validity. Given a few more seconds and he was smiling again, happily teasing her and making her nervous by sitting too close. Perhaps she was finally starting to worry for her safety in his presence? That thought made up for the horrendous laundry chores she intended to put him through.
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Filia sat the laundry basket down, half-way grateful for the help in carrying it. They were now sitting in front of a stream behind Filia's house. It probably fed the well she drew her water from to cook, bathe, and water her garden with. Xellos cringed as she handed him a washboard.
"Surely you don't expect...", he said, holding it up and looking at her. Sure enough, she already had one out, holding a piece of clothing against it, getting ready to dip it into the river and begin washing. He glared unhappily as he took a piece of white clothing out of the clothes basket. They both began washing, one considerably less enthused about it than the other. Having finished with those pieces of clothing, they put them into the spare basket at the same time, then reached for another piece to wash. Xellos swore to himself that he would have to scare her a great deal to make up for this travesty. Yes, nothing short of outright terror would be acceptable. He kept that in mind as they quickly plowed through the basket of laundry, making short work of Filia's socks, nightshirts, dresses, and blouses. He came upon a few particular pieces of laundry and chuckled to himself. Those would need to be paid EXTRA special attention. He washed them especially hard, grinning all the while, and when he was done held up his handiwork.
"Look, Filia!", he said proudly, holding up three pairs of shrunken panties, "I got these really clean! Don't you think?" Filia almost dropped her washboard in the river when she looked up. Her eyes grew to the size of saucers before rolling back in her head and fluttering shut. She sighed softly, fainting. Xellos dropped the newly shrunken undergarments, glaring at her. He was suddenly beginning to feel very drowsy, most likely in connection with her faint. "Don't go to sleep,", he protested, tipping over, "You... stupid... liz..ar.." He, too, found himself unconscious on the ground.
Not very far from where they were laying, a pair of electric green eyes watched from the seclusion of a thicket. A creature looking very much like a man with green tinted skin stepped out of the shrubbery, scaring a few nearby birds away. He had straight green hair on half his head, covering one eye, while the other side of his head was bald. He was clothed in a white tunic with some body armor and weapons decorating it. He chuckled, stepping closer to the unconscious Filia and Xellos.
"This isn't very much for sport, now is it?", he said in an unearthly voice, "But having your head alone, Xellos, would be enough of a prize. If only to avenge Master Cortez..." He towered over Filia's still form, then kicked her laundry basket over. "Pathetic," he remarked, "A Mazoku Priest doing laundry like an ordinary human servant." The creature picked Filia up by the collar of her dress, causing her to stir back into consciousness. "How sweet," the greenhair said, glaring at Filia with its reptilian eyes, "Once I've drained this little piece of fluff dry, I'll take care of him." Filia's eyes widened, then shot right open.
"Drained?", she repeated groggily, "What?" She heard a soft chuckling from behind her as Xellos got to his feet, shaking off the fainting spell as well.
"And here I thought I'd gotten rid of all you upstarts," Xellos said, brushing off his cloak with one hand, staff in the other, "Juuou-sama was right. I shall have to be more careful from now on." The creature turned its attention to Xellos, not bothering to drop Filia. "Why don't you put that little lizard down, Fitzroy?", he said, motioning toward Filia with his staff, "And I shall finish what I began with your mentor."
Filia looked from creature to creature, wondering what exactly they were talking about. She could guess from what they were saying that Xellos had fought this thing, or one of its comrades before. The creature gave him an inhuman chuckle and grabbed Filia's throat, tightening its grip until she was suffocating. "What, are you afraid I'll hurt her?", Fitzroy taunted.
Xellos could suddenly feel a vise-like grip closing around his throat. 'I didn't think it would run this deep,' he thought, glaring at his opponent, 'I have to get him off her before he kills us both.' He grimaced visibly and lunged for the green haired creature, aiming his staff at its arm. He struck hard, knocking Filia to the ground and wounding the human-looking creature. It recoiled and snarled at Xellos.
"Oh, I see," it said, smirking, showing a mouthful of razor sharp teeth, "That weak little woman must have summoned you... and now you're connected... So if I hurt her, I hurt you. And if I kill her, you'll be helpless. This should be terrific sport!" Filia, meanwhile, had sat up and was fuming.
"I am not weak!", she shouted at the creature, earning a glare from both it and Xellos.
"What sport is it to kill someone who can't defend themselves?", he asked, ignoring Filia's protests and taking up a defensive posture, "Or are you afraid to fight me without a liability?" Fitzroy snorted at him.
"Of course not," it replied, "It would simply make for better hunting, that's all." Filia watched them circle each other like wild dogs for a few more seconds before they threw themselves at one another. There were noises of weapons striking one another and the two combatants wounding each other. The dusky shadows falling across the surrounding trees made seeing them even more difficult than their speed. There were several flashes of black dancing across the general area, clashing against bright flashes of green, tearing up the landscape in the process.
Finally, after a few minutes of this, everything grew still again.
"So, then," Xellos said, appearing suddenly behind Filia, "Shall we hang these clothes up and be done with it? It's about to get dark." Filia gasped, then turned around, relieved that it was only him.
"What happened to...", she began, stooping down to put her laundry back in its basket, never taking her eyes off Xellos.
"Oh, Fitzroy?", he responded, stooping down simultaneously, "I fought him off. No doubt he'll be back soon, though. How unfortunate you had to get mixed up in all this." Filia's hands trembled as they picked up the basket.
"What are you talking about?", she asked angrily, "What did you do, Xellos?!" Xellos smiled sheepishly at her.
"Let's hang these up first," he responded, changing the subject, "Then would you be so kind as to make me a cup of hot tea? That was rather tiring with these new... limitations of mine."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
The clothes hung up and the sun having set, the two were now sitting in the living room of Filia's little house, having tea. She was becoming more and more suspicious of the infuriatingly smiling Mazoku sitting across the couch from her all the time.
"How soon will that... man be back?", Filia asked, finally breaking the silence, "You don't think he'll come while we're asleep, do you?" Xellos continued smiling over his cup of tea.
"Oh, that's quite possible," he remarked, "As a matter of fact, it wouldn't surprise me in the least." He felt a new wave of anxiety wash over Filia, gleefully enjoying her fear.
"What did you do to him, Xellos?", she asked pointedly, in an accusing voice, "He's the one who gave you that, isn't he?" She had her finger close to the wound again, making him grimace. "You had a job and you didn't finish it," she remarked sarcastically, "Am I right?" Xellos glared sharply at her.
"No, he's not the one who gave me this wound," he replied curtly, "The one I was sent to eliminate, his master, gave this to me. And I was certain I'd destroyed all of them." Filia smirked knowingly at him.
"Then I guess you really are slipping in your old age, huh?", she asked, earning another glare. An odd light flashed across his face as he opened his eyes. Suddenly, Filia's teacup became unbearably hot as the tea inside began to boil. She gasped and quickly sat it down on the coffee table in front of her, then blew on her nearly scalded fingers. "Don't DO that!", she yelped, shaking her hand out, "And besides, doesn't that hurt you, too?" Xellos's knowing smile returned.
"Oh, of course it does," he replied, "But not as much as it does you." Filia huffed as he drank his tea.
"Well, then," she went on, "What is that thing after? What was he talking about, 'sport'?" Xellos' expression turned serious again, giving Filia a small tinge of anxiety. He placed his teacup in its saucer, then sat it down on the coffee table.
"It's really none of your concern," he replied, "But since you're caught up in this as well, I might as well tell you anyway. Fitzroy is the last of a small band of Mazoku who fancied themselves hunters. Instead of hunting beasts or humans, they hunted other Mazoku, particularly the more powerful of those among us. After killing a few of the more powerful Mazoku and gaining some amount of attention, we discovered that they intended to hunt down Juuou-sama next. The rest I'm sure you can surmise on your own, but what it amounts to is that the creature you saw today is the last one of their band left alive. I'm positive the rest of them are dead. I saw to it myself." Filia picked up her tea, making sure it was cool enough to drink again.
"Then what was he talking about, draining me?", she asked quietly, almost afraid that a loud enough voice would spur him to attack again. Xellos' serious look didn't waiver.
"That is his special talent," he responded, "Fitzroy can 'drink' the life essence of a person and use it as his power. In short, draining them. If he does it for too long, they will die. That was what he intended to do to you today." Filia looked into her tea, blushing slightly.
"Before I forget," she said softly, "I wanted to thank you for saving me today." Xellos blinked at her for a moment before bursting out into laughter. "What?", she asked, "What's so funny?!" Xellos calmed down and then waved his hand at her.
"Don't be silly," he replied, "I had to save you. If he had killed you, I'd be incapacitated enough for him to kill me easily as well." Filia's face turned red, as she finished a drink of tea.
"Jerk," she mumbled, "I try to be nice and see what happens..."
* ~ * ~ * ~ *
Filia crawled under the covers of her bed. She was really tired, but didn't want to go to sleep. At least not with Xellos in the same room. He was making her nervous, especially with the way he'd kept talking about killing her all day. Not that she'd ever admit it to him. She kept her eyes on him as she pulled the blankets up around her shoulders. Instead of the pyjamas he'd worn last night, now he had on a pair of black boxer shorts and an unbuttoned dark purple shirt on. Filia kept eyeing him suspiciously. "Well," she finally said, "What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to sleep in here with you," was the reply, "If he comes in the night, he'll try to kill you before he does me. It's not as if I have much choice anyway, but you'll be safer with me than anywhere else." Filia seriously doubted that, but said nothing. "Now, then," he said, "May I get into bed?" Filia nodded, still eyeing him skeptically.
"I suppose," she said slowly, watching him climb up onto the bed. Much to Filia's horror, he climbed right on top of her and lay down, supporting his chin with his hands, his elbows propped up on Filia's chest. His nose was almost touching hers as he grinned mischievously.
"How's this?", he asked, watching her turn red and try to pull the covers up further over her shoulders.
"What do you think you're doing, you pervert!?", she asked angrily, "Are you... Are you trying to... to couple with me?" Xellos blinked, then gave her a surprised look, then began laughing.
"Oh, don't be silly," he said, rolling off of her and onto the other side of the bed. He slid under the blankets, watching her turn all sorts of angry red colors. "Considering our current... arrangement," he said, "It wouldn't be a terribly wise thing to do. It would kill you, at any rate." Filia blinked, then looked at him.
"Another stipulation on summoning you?", she asked, getting another smile from him, "Those Dark Lords thought of everything, didn't they?" Xellos chuckled and held a finger beside his nose.
"Exactly right," he said, "Since most of the more powerful Mazoku take rather attractive human forms, they wanted to be sure that what we were being summoned for wasn't something as frivolous as that." Filia rolled her eyes as she reached over to turn her lamp out.
"Why does that not surprise me?", she asked rhetorically, turning her back to the annoyance laying beside her. But try as she might, Filia couldn't sleep. Maybe she was just paranoid over the creature from before attacking again. Or maybe it was only her dragon's instinct telling her not to fall asleep with something that dangerous and demented next to her. Maybe it was only the fact that since Xellos was under the covers this time, it seemed as if all the heat had been sucked from underneath them. Filia shivered. She hated feeling nervous and on edge like this.
"Fi-chan," she heard Xellos whisper from behind her, "You're still awake..." She wrapped her arms around herself and glared out into the dark room.
"Well, I'd only assume so," she said in a low whisper, "Since you can't go to sleep unless I do." There was silence for a few more minutes.
"Fi-chan," he finally spoke back up, "You're trembling." Filia snorted at him. "Are you cold?", he asked, clearly grinning in the dark, "Or are you just scared?" Filia bristled. "Are you scared of Fitzroy?", he asked, half-way patronizingly, "Or are you afraid of me? Or is it something else?" Filia didn't like the intonation he'd put on the last question, almost as if he were asking if she were afraid of herself. She turned over to face him, glaring.
"Now, look, you - -", she began. He cut her off abruptly.
"Filia, come closer," he said quietly. Filia raised an eyebrow, wondering what he was playing at. She scooted over in the bed toward him.
"What?", she asked, irritably. He motioned toward her with his hand.
"Closer," he whispered, "Come closer." Filia gritted her teeth and scooted further toward him.
"What do you want!?", she hissed, clearly growing tired of his game.
"Just a little more," he replied, "Come a little closer." Filia sighed audibly, but scooted further over anyway.
"What in the world do you want, you mo - -", she asked, being interrupted mid-sentence. She felt a pair of icy arms reach out and grab her far faster than she could react. She heard Xellos chuckle as he pulled her into a vice-like grip against his chest.
"This is the safest place for you right now," he remarked, "Whether we like it or not, I have to keep you as close to me as possible until this is over. So please stop struggling and go to sleep." Filia fumed. She hated it when he was right.
Xellos could practically feel Filia seething against him. This would do just fine. Not only would it be harder for the enemy to injure either of them this way, but Filia was assured to sleep badly throughout the night. Xellos knew that if she fell into a deep sleep, he would be unable to wake if Fitzroy attacked. With her nervous and on edge like this, the slightest disturbance would be sure to wake them both out of a fragile sleep. Xellos smiled to himself and tightened his grip.