Slayers Fan Fiction ❯ We Need You, Please Come Back ( Chapter 3 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]
“We Need You, Please Come Back.”-Corrinne May

“We sure made good timing.” Lina said as they walked past the sign proclaiming that they had just entered Atlas City. “It’s not even quite lunch time yet!”

“We’re we on a schedule? Gourry asked.

“No, I’m just a little hungry. Besides, it’s been a year since I’ve checked my mail.”

“Oh right! This is where your mother sends you letters.” Gourry could never make sense of the fact that while Lina seemed to enjoy getting letters from home, she never seemed to have any sort of interest in returning there. At least, not that she said out loud. “So Lina, how come we never make it over to Zeferia?”

Lina tensed slightly. Years of traveling with her had taught him when she was thrown off guard by a question. Whatever kept her from coming home was not something she wanted to talk about. He was expecting her to brush the question off and was caught off guard when instead, she deflected. “I could ask the same about you. Where is your home anyway? And how come you never receive any letters?”

Gourry hoped he recovered his guard quickly enough as he smiled and scratched his head, “Would you believe me if I said I don’t remember?”

Lina slumped forward, “Are you really that dumb, or do you just want to avoid the question?”

“Elmekia.” He said quietly. “And there’s no one who would want to write. Me and my family had a falling out.”

Lina put a gentle hand on his arm. “I guess we have something in common. My sis and I had a falling out.”

They walked in a companionable silence as Gourry wondered how they could have traveled with each other for so long without ever talking about their past. But then most of the time they were so busy battling whatever evil force was brewing they didn’t have much time to talk about their personal lives. Besides, both of them preferred living in the present as opposed to dwelling in the past or worrying about the future.

“Hey, remember that sushi place we ate at the last time we were here? Want to see if they’re still open?” she asked.

After filling up on sushi, they decided to stop by the post office before heading up to the inn to book some rooms for the night. Whatever had happened between Lina and her sister, Gourry reasoned that she still must have been on good terms with her mother at least. She always acted little a little girl placed in front of her unopened birthday presents when they went to Atlas City. Not for the first time, Gourry wondered what it was about her sister that terrified Lina so. Especially as Lina was easily the most powerful person he had ever known.

The door chimed as Lina pushed it open and entered the line. Gourry decided to sit on the bench by the door. Eventually Lina made her way up to the clerk, a balding old man. She handed him her box key and he slowly shuffled off to find it. Lina drummed her fingers on the counter as she waited. “Oh brother. I could do this so much faster.”

“We’ll see how fast you are when you are his age.” Gourry replied.

Lina smiled, “The way I see it, I’ll be twenty forever!”

The clerk finally returned with a stack of letters, “You’d best read the one on top first, young lady.” He said, “It’s marked urgent.”

“Huh?” Lina asked as she took the letters and her face scrunched up in confusion. Either that or it was from an inability to read the letter in question. She made her way to the bench and handed Gourry the stack as she fumbled in her shirt for her spectacles.

“For someone who’s never going to be twenty forever, your eyesight sure had worsened in the last five years.”

“Shut up.” She mumbled as she found them and put them on her nose. “That’s funny. This is Daddy’s handwriting.”

“What’s so funny about that?” he asked.

“He hates writing. Says it gives him writer’s cramp.” She remarked as she opened the letter. As her eyes skimmed across the page her face lost its color and her hand tightened around the letter, crumpling it slightly.

“Lina?” he asked, sitting up a little straighter. “What’s wrong?”

“I’ve got to go home.” She said, her voice oddly monotonous as she handed him the letter.

Gourry grabbed it. It read:

Dear Lina,

Your mother does not want me to write to you about this. She always wanted you to come home when you were ready…whatever that means. But you have a right to know. She’s very ill. The doctor says she does not have much time left. She wants to see you before she goes. And I need you here. Please come home.

Gourry stared at her, stunned as she put her hand over her mouth and tears spilled from her eyes. He put a hand on her arm, “I’m so sorry, Lina.”

She inhaled sharply as she grabbed her spectacles and shoved them back into her pocket. “It’s so far.” She breathed as she stood up, noticeably shaky. “He could have sent this months ago! What if I don’t get there in time. What if…”

Her last question was choked up by a sob. She buried her face in her hands. Gourry stood up and boldly enveloped her in a firm embrace. “I’ll be with you the whole time.” He whispered.

She trembled against him before taking a moment to gather her breath. For some reason his touch and assurance that he would be there was calming. After a few moments it became obvious what she would have to do to get there. “We have to leave immediately.” She announced, her voice a bit too even and quiet.

She grabbed his hand and led him out of the post office. As soon as their feet hit the pavement she casted a Ray Wing, encasing them both in a bubble of air, before taking them up and steering them towards Zeferia. At first Gourry found it incredibly disconcerting when she did this, but by now he trusted her enough that it seemed like a normal way to travel.

It was a grueling trip. Ray Wing was a demanding spell but Lina plowed ahead, desperate to get there as soon as possible, hoping that she wasn’t too late, and some part of her hoping that this was some sick joke her family was playing on her to get her to come home.

She traveled through the day and night, and the sun was starting to peak over the horizon as the familiar sights of her hometown came into view. She was exhausted and hungry when at last she came upon her childhood home. It was with a sense of relief that she landed on her feet. Fortunately Gourry was there to steady her as she swayed.

“You okay?” he asked.

“Just a little…”

She was cut off as the door opened and a severe looking woman with purple hair stood in the doorway. “So you’ve finally made it home.”

Lina tensed a little, “How’s Mom?”

Luna stood back to let her into the house, which smelled delicious. “Come on in, you’re just in time for breakfast.”

Lina walked in, followed by Gourry, who stared at Lina’s sister, failing completely to see any resemblance. “You eat, Gourry. I’m going to check on Mom first.”

Slowly she walked down the hallway to her parents’ room, her heart beating loudly in her chest. Lina was used to facing her fears. But sometimes it seemed like that skill had to be relearned. This was one of those times.

Her hand was shaking when she put her it on the door knob and stopped to listen for a moment. She heard no sounds. Slowly she opened it and stepped inside. Her mother was lying in bed asleep. But Lina knew at one glance she was not well. Her cheeks were sunken and she looked emaciated. Beside the bed Hawk snoozed in a chair. His eyes snapped open as Lina shut the door and he stared at her, blinking for a few moments.

Lina opened her mouth to say something and then shut it. He spoke first, “You came back.”

Lina didn’t trust herself to speak and nodded. In a flash he got up to embrace her. To her surprise she found herself clinging to him like she would when she was a small child. Eventually she broke the embrace and looked at her mother, “What’s wrong with her?”

Hawk took a deep breath, “The doctors aren’t sure. But she’s been sick for a while. Low energy, no appetite. She took a turn for the worse a few weeks back. She mostly sleeps now.”

Lina sat on the edge of the bed and brushed her mother’s greying hair from her face. “Why didn’t she say anything?”

“She wanted you to come home when you wanted to, not because you had to.” He explained.

The words hit her hard. “You should have told me!” she shot back as she turned to face him, “Something like this, you should have told me! One of my friends is the princess of Seyruun, the White Magic capital! She could have helped! Now we don’t have much time!”

“Knock it off with that crap.” Tori said as she struggled to sit up in bed, “If I’d wanted to be poked and prodded I would have made the trip to Seyruun myself. Now give me a hug and tell me about your journey.”

**********

“So you’re the famous protector.” Luna said as she spooned scrambled eggs onto a plate. Before Gourry could answer she continued, “If the situation here wasn’t so dire I would challenge you to a sword fight. I’ve been wanting to take you on for some time now. But I guess I will have to wait a little while longer.”

Gourry swallowed his bacon, unsure of what to say. He couldn’t get a good read on her. But he was getting the eerie feeling that she wasn’t quite human. Which should be impossible. For someone whose mother was dying, she seemed way composed. “So you’re a good swordswoman?” He finally said.

She grabbed some toast and added it to the plate. “I’ll let you decide that in good time.”

For some reason, Gourry felt he was being threatened. He nearly choked on his food when she asked her next question, “So, what are your intentions towards my sister?”

Gourry took a drink of milk to buy him time to compose himself before replying, “I’d like to keep that between Lina and me.”

“But you’ve been keeping it between you and yourself since you met her.”

“And you would know how?”

Luna pulled out a tray and set some plates on it. “I have my sources. You’re scared of her, aren’t you?”

“Scared?” Gourry cried, “No way! I trust Lina.”

“But not enough to trust her to stick around if you say anything. Well, trust this. She cast a spell that could destroy the world to save your ass, so she must think you’re worth the world. So I’d say your chances are good with her. Now I don’t know if you’re worth this food you’re eating, but mark my words if you disappoint her she will be the least of your worries. Because you’ll also have to deal with me.”

Gourry stared at her, stunned as Luna poured some juice into three cups and set them on the tray. He was starting to see why Lina was so scared of her. But he was even more confused. What kind of woman threatens the man her sister brought home with her when she goes to visit their dying mother? Shouldn’t she have bigger worries?

“Go take Lina and my father their breakfast. They both have a tendency to neglect their needs at times like this. I’ve got to get to work. Dad hasn’t been able to keep the store open and we’re hurting right now.”

“We have money.” Gourry said. “And maybe you should take the tray in. I don’t want to intrude.”

“You’ve been traveling with my sister for years. This maybe the only opportunity Mom has to meet you. And she does want to meet you. You wouldn’t deny a dying woman her wish? Now get going before it gets cold.”

Gourry blinked, and decided that it would be better off to do as she asked. He grabbed the tray and went down the hallway he’d seen Lina go down. Fortunately there was only one door to choose from. He knocked. Someone told him to come in.

When he did, he found Lina sitting on the edge of a bed, holding hands with a woman who looked like an older, frailer version of herself. There was a man who looked vaguely familiar sitting in a chair beside them.

“My, he’s cute. How long have you been traveling with him again? I admire your restraint, Lina.” Her mother said as Lina turned crimson.

“Stop it, Mom. Mom, this is Gourry, and it looks like he’s brought breakfast. Gourry, this is my mom, Tori, and this is my dad, Hawk.”

“We’ve met.” Hawk said. “Glad to see that you’ve found such a noble use for your sword. I’m still mad that you let it go, though.”

Gourry stared at Hawk. Lina stared at both of them. “You’ve met?” she asked incredulously.

Gourry stared at Hawk for a few seconds before a dim memory came to him. “Oh yes, we slayed a monster together didn’t we?”

Hawk shook his head as Lina yelled, “What!?”

Lina leaned back onto the pillows, “Oh man, I don’t have the mental power to process this right now.”

Gourry set the tray on the bedside table. “I’ll leave you to eat.”

Lina grabbed a piece of sausage, “You can stay, pull up a chair. Where are you planning to stay for the night anyway?”

“Is there a good inn in town?”

“You can stay in Lina’s old room.” Tori said, “After she left we turned it into a guest room to rent out to boarders.”

“You what?” Lina asked.

“We weren’t about to let a perfectly good space go to waste.” Tori said.

Lina shook her head and crammed some toast into her mouth. “Come on, Mom. You’d better eat.”

“I don’t want to impose.” Gourry protested.

“No worries. I’m going to stay here and help Mom get better.” Lina said. “So you might as well use it.”

“Well, is there anything I can do to help while I’m here?”

“He’s a keeper.” Tori said as she pushed Lina’s hand away to refuse the piece of toast she held in it.

“Shut up and eat.” Lina ordered. “Dad, why don’t you show him where my room is and get some rest. I’ve never seen you look worse.”

“Don’t you want to sleep in the spare room?” Gourry asked.

“My recliner is in the living room.” Hawk said. “Besides, I think Lina wants to some alone with her mother. Come on, let me show you around.”

After they left Lina took a sip of juice and handed her mother a cup, “At least try and drink something.”

Tori decided to placate her and took a sip of juice. Lina shook her head. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”

“Why didn’t you come home sooner?”

Lina shrugged, “I was having fun. I was making a name for myself and saving the world.”

“And you couldn’t have taken the time to see your mother?”

Guilt surged through Lina. Along with anger. “It wasn’t like you were rolling out the welcome home banner! Me being away seemed to solve more problems than anything. Besides, I’m staying here now. No more adventures, now eat your eggs, they’re getting cold.”

“I’m not hungry! And I didn’t want to intrude on your adventures. You were welcome anytime.”

Lina sighed and scooped some eggs on a fork. “Looks like I’m going to have to force feed you.”

Tori knocked the fork out of her hand, “It’s no use. Anything I eat comes back up. Lina, I don’t have much time left. Let’s not spend it fighting.”

Lina’s eyes grew watery and she lifted a hand to them to wipe away the tears that were accumulating. “I should have spent more time studying White Magic. What good is slaying Dark Lords when you can’t save your own mother?”

Tori turned Lina’s face to hers. “I didn’t raise someone who would live with regrets or engage in self-pity parties. Everyone dies. Get over it.”

Lina said nothing as tears rolled down her cheeks. How could she have been so stupid to think that nothing would have changed in seven years? That she could come home and her parents would not have aged a day, that her room would still be hers and she could just slip back into her old life anytime she should choose to? Yesterday she believed that her mother was as healthy as could be. Today she knew it was bad. In under twenty four hours her world had been changed.

“I want you to know something.” Tori said quietly, “I have to confess that I’ve been bragging about you to anyone who comes into the store. That I am the mother to Lina Inverse, the slayer of Shabranigdo and Phibrizzo and many others. You have left a mark on this endless war between good and evil in our world. And I could not be more proud.”

Lina’s lower lip trembled. She took a deep breath and then dug into her cape. “I picked up a book on myths. I think you’ll like them. Rest up while I read them to you.”

*******

Lina was still reading to her mother when Gourry popped his head in to bring her lunch. Tori was sleeping soundly. Gourry was not too surprised to see that Lina had everything under control. Despite what many people would think, Lina was actually a good nurse. He found that out when he got the flu and she ordered him to bed and kept a vigil, administering herbs and reading to him during the miserable moments when he was to achy to sleep.

He studied her for a moment. Her eyes were red rimmed and there were circles under them. She looked so tired. “How are you?” he asked as he sat the tray down.

“I’ve been better. Is Daddy sleeping?”

“Yes. How is your mom?”

Lina poked at the sandwich he had made. “It’s bad. I need you to write to Amelia. Let her know what’s happening.”

Gourry nodded. “What else can I do?”

Lina suddenly looked unusually vulnerable. “Could you stay around? I know it must be awkward and boring here…”

He patted her hand, “You don’t even have to ask. You might want to think of getting some sleep by the way. You’ve been up all night.”

“Right, right.” Lina said dismissively.

*****

The next time Tori woke up it was with a cry of pain. She cried as she begged for her medicine, which Lina hurried to administer. Lina laid with her as she calmed down. Eventually Lina assumed she had gone to sleep and was about to go back to the chair when Tori asked, “What was Luna doing to you all those years?”

Lina stiffened. “Why are you bringing that up now?”

“It’s been bothering me for years. I need to know what she was doing. Surely it can’t be as horrible as the things I keep imagining.”

Lina exhaled sharply. “It was humiliating. I really don’t want to talk about it. But don’t worry. She didn’t hurt me too much.” She lied.

She did not want her mother to die knowing the things that Luna had done to her.

“I should have stopped it.”

“Now who’s living with regrets?” Lina asked. “Besides, she was more powerful than you. There was nothing you could have done.”

“We should have taken you away from her rather than let you go. You were so young…”

Lina’s eyes widened in surprise. “I survived! I thrived! I had the time of my life.”

“That’s why you never came home, isn’t it? Because we let you go, we chose her…”

“I chose to leave!” Lina corrected, “Get it? Let’s not talk about the past.”

Tori’s sobs sounded through the room and Lina thought about leaving. Finally they stopped. Once again Lina thought she might have drifted off. Instead she asked, “So you’re planning to stay here?”

Lina stretched, “The adventure has to end sometime.”

“Even when I’m gone?”

Lina shuddered, “Let’s not think that far ahead.”

“I want to know what you’ll do with yourself when I’m gone.”

“I never think that far ahead. Tomorrow will sort itself out. Worry about today and only today.”

“Will you settle down with Gourry?”

“Why are you so preoccupied with him anyway?” Lina shouted.

“I want to see one of you settle down before I leave. And it won’t be Luna. You’ve been traveling with him for how long? You cast the Giga Slave for him.”

Lina blushed, “How did you find that out?”

“Luna has her sources.”

“Damn!” Lina exclaimed.

“He seems very nice.”

“I’m not his type.”

“A man doesn’t hang around with a woman for five years when she’s not his type.” Tori assured her.

Lina cuddled up to her, “Could we drop the topic?

They were silent until Tori drifted off to sleep, followed by Lina. When Lina woke up, Hawk was sitting in the chair. “Take a walk.” He said.

“I want to spend more time with Mom.” Lina protested.

“And I want some more time alone with my wife before she leaves.” Hawk shot back. “And you need a break. Take a walk.”

Lina sighed, shook her head and stood up. It did feel good to stretch her legs. She wandered into the kitchen where Luna was making lunch. “The swordsman is running errands in town.” Luna said.

“Good afternoon to you, too.” Lina said as she grabbed an apple and bit into it. She then grabbed a plate of sandwiches and made her way towards the door.

“What makes you think I made those for you?”

“What makes you think I’m asking?” Lina shot back. She did not want Luna to know she was still terrified of her. Somehow she was going to have to adjust to living in the same city as her. It would be easier if she could avoid letting Luna have the upper hand again.

“Going for a walk?” Luna asked.

“Mind your own business. I’ll be back.”

The cool air felt good and invigorating. While she never would have admitted it out loud she was glad her father had kicked her out. She needed some time to sort through her thoughts and feelings. And even though she had been gone for years, she found she still knew the way to her spot as if it had been yesterday. At least some things did not change.

On the outskirts of the town was an outcrop of rocks on the top of a hill overlooking the vineyards. It was a beautiful spot that Lina often went to when she wanted to think and be by herself. She was not sure how long she sat there before she heard footsteps approaching, and turned around to find Gourry walking up to her.

“How did you find me?” she asked, surprised.

“Luna said you’d be here.”

“Oh.” Lina said as he sat down beside her. “So, what have you been doing?”

“Exploring the town. It seems like a nice place.”

“It is.” Lina agreed, wondering how to broach the next subject that was weighing on her. How could she tell him that she wouldn’t be able to travel anymore?

“What’s up with your sister?”

“Huh?” Lina asked.

“She doesn’t seem quite human. Her face doesn’t change expressions like most people do. And the way she’s handling this whole situation…”

“She’s the Ceiphied Knight.” Lina cut in, “And before you ask, that means she has the soul of the Flare Dragon Ceiphied, the God of our world, residing within her. She’s human, but in many ways she thinks and acts like a God.”

She wasn’t sure if he understood anything she said, but he nodded nonetheless. “I can see why you’re so scared on her.”

Lina shuddered, “You don’t know the beginning of it. But I guess I’m going to have to learn to live with her.”

“Huh?”

She took a deep breath. What she had to say would be hard. “I’m not going to be leaving Zeferia. Even if Mom doesn’t make it. Someone needs to watch after Daddy, someone with a lick of business sense at least. And somehow I’m going to have to learn to live in the same town with my sis. So I guess I won’t be in danger anymore. If there’s any place you want to go to. Or anyone you want to be with.”

Gourry handed her a piece of paper. Lina sighed, and dug into her pocket for her spectacles. They went on, and the paper came into focus. She nearly dropped it. “This is a deed of sale for some land.” She stated.

“This is a pretty place.” He said. “I was exploring the town this morning. Luna pointed me in the direction of a school here, and they needed a swords master. I got the job.”

Lina felt herself start to tremble, and was slightly surprised to identify that it was with relief. Her eyes widened as he put an arm around her shoulder and pulled her to him. “I found some land for sale. They’ll be a nice view of the woods, and I can build a good sized house on it. I found the person I want to be with a long time ago, in a confrontation with a group of bandits if I recall correctly.”

Lina felt tears roll down her cheeks again as he asked, “I guess what I’m wondering is would she like to build a home with me?”

Lina leaned into him and rested her head on his shoulder. A warm feeling encompassed her, and for the first time she allowed herself to identify what she was feeling when she was around him. Love. Rather than fighting it down she let it flow through her, enjoying its liberating effect. “Yes.” She whispered.

You Can Fly So High, Keep Your Gaze Upon the Sky
I Held Her As I Cried