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Lina stared at the monster crouched on the floor in front of her, her concern turning to alarm at she noticed the blurring of his features.
"Damn it, Xellos, you're losing control of your form!" she screamed, kneeling down beside him.
"I can't even do that right," Xellos muttered, lifting up his hand as his fingers fused together in a mitt.
Lina's mind rushed forward as she reviewed everything she knew about monsters. One of the first things she had learned was that monsters depended on their self confidence, not even being able to draw on the power of others for their spells. Xellos had gained the ability to use the Mother's power when Melee had chosen him, but it was fast becoming obvious that he was still subject to a loss of self with a loss of self confidence.
"We've been through too much together for me to lose you now, Xel," she muttered. Now what had triggered this, her dinner with Rail, damn, she had bought into his acts never thinking that he might really be hurt, it was only dinner.
"Xellos, tell me what is wrong." Lina shook Xellos to get his attention, her fingers sank into his shoulder much to her alarm.
"Wrong, what could be wrong? You need a human man, not me. How could you ever care about something like me? A human man could give you children, really touch you... just go away, and let me suffer in peace."
As Lina sat back in surprise, Xellos grabbed on to her cape. "No, don't, I'm sorry, don't leave me." Lina noticed, with a growing fear, that Xellos' condition was getting worse.
"No, Xellos! There's nothing between Rail and I; he's in love with that Neena person. I'm too young for kids. I'm not interested in a human male. Xellos, don't leave me!" Lina screamed at Xellos, noticing that the deterioration of his form had only slowed slightly, she started panicking.
"Xellos, I need you. I care about you more than anything, I can't live forever without you at my side." Lina delved deep into her heart and continued, "Xellos, I love you, don't go."
"No you don't, not really. You'd be much better off without me complicating your life."
Lina suppressed an urge to hit Xellos and desperately searched for a way to make him understand; putting one arm around him and the other on her sword, she tried to connect to him through her emotions, pouring out all the feelings that she had kept hidden from both him and herself through the link.
The time he had kissed her cheek before Melee and the warm rush of attraction that had filled her.
The warmth of his arms when he had held her in the air to shoot Galvera
When she had told him the stories of her childhood.
The first time they had tried to kiss.
The first time they did kiss.
Lina poured out how much she cared about Xellos, how she depended on him, the overwhelming fear she felt for his well being; everything that she felt was pushed into the link between them.
Slowly, she felt something responding to her, a trickle of confusion and pain came back through the link. She sent a soothing wave back as she was pulled into Xellos' pain. Forcing herself not to be overwhelmed, she sent another wave of love and understanding.
"Oh, Xellos, I do love you, fruitcake," she thought to herself.
"Do you? Do you really? But I'm not human," a thought from Xellos answered her.
"Dearest, neither am I anymore, not totally," she answered silently and added, "but I love you."
Pulling his mind deeper into her own, she showed him how she felt; Xellos responded by linking deeper and then showing her his feelings. "Not gratitude or infatuation, Lina," he told her.
"Yes, I can see that."
They sat there on the floor, searching each other's hearts and linking ever deeper until, exhausted, Lina fell asleep, Xellos holding on to her tenderly and returning to his own thoughts. The crisis had been averted and his appearance normal. After stroking her face gently, he lifted her to the bed and lay down beside her, not wanting to be too far from her yet.
"Lina dear, you are mine and I am yours. That is the way it was meant to be," Xellos thought to himself as he settled into his vigil over her.
The next morning, Lina woke slowly; the first thing she saw was a pair of violet eyes. Flushing, she resisted the urge to pound him and backed away until the events of the previous night filtered into her sleep logged brain.
"Is he okay now?" she thought to herself, taking in Xellos' perfect features and grabbing his hand to stare at it, to reassure herself.
"Perfectly fine, Lina dear." Surprised, she looked at Xellos, his lips hadn't moved, then again, she hadn't said anything out loud either.
"A little gift from last night," Xellos thought back to her, then laughing, he hugged her. "Thank you, Lina," and shot her a flash of love, mixed with a healthy dose of lust.
Lina trembled as her body responded to the emotional onslaught, her eyes darkening.
Xellos looked at her in surprise, then slowly smiled. "Truly a gift," he thought as he felt her arousal. "I think we must explore this further."
"In the interests of gaining new knowledge, of course," Lina answered with a grin on her face.
"Of course, what else?" Xellos answered, lowering his face to hers and capturing his lips with hers.
Later on, much, much later on, the grinning couple made their way to the control room.
"About time you guys made it here," Canal grumbled, giving the pair an absent-minded wave. "That ship wrecker is docking in a few minutes. Kain's not back yet."
"Just got back," Kain answered from the door behind Xellos and Lina. "Would you mind not talking so loudly?"
Taking in Kain's appearance, Canal snickered. "Bad night last night, Kain? Serves you right after what you did to me, you back stabber." As Canal spoke her voice got louder and louder until Kain cringed.
"I'm sorry, Canal. Just don't do that," Kain whimpered.
Canal gave Kain another dirty look and moved back to her keyboard, pointedly giving him a cold shoulder.
Milly in the mean time, was staring at Xellos and Lina, walking around them and humming and hawing much to the couple's embarrassment. With a final stare, Milly nodded decisively. "It's about time, you two."
"About time what?" Kain asked in a confused tone, catching Milly's words.
Milly snorted, "You have to ask? Don't you have eyes in your head? Look at those two; Xellos is in a good mood, Lina has a blush that you could use for a traffic light."
Kain puzzlement deepened. "But Xellos is always in a good mood, and Lina well, I don't make observations about Lina because it could get me pounded."
"Forget it, Kain, you have as much romantic spirit as an earthworm," Milly snapped.
A groan came from Canal, "She's entering the ship. You guys better keep her out of here if you know what's good for you. Just remember, she can fry the environmental controls as fast as anything else."
"Good point," Milly answered seeing that Kain wasn't processing anything and that Lina and Xellos seemed caught in their own world. "Tell Rail to meet us in the recreation room please, Canal."
"I guess, better there than here." Canal went back to working at her keyboard. "We're going to be leaving here in ten minutes."
"Okay, Canal, it's time for me to make breakfast anyway, so come, Lina and you too, Xellos." Milly cheerfully made her exit, ignoring the disgusted look Canal shot her when she mentioned breakfast.
"I guess we should go, you need to build up your strength, Lina dear," Xellos told Lina telepathically.
"Me? I think you looked pretty tired out yourself, but..." Lina answered in the same way, then shouted out loud, "FOOD!" and took off running, dragging Xellos behind her.
Xellos laughed joyfully. "I'm glad some things never change, Lina."
"Shut up, you fruitcake, I don't want Kain to eat all the food before we get there."
"But, Lina, she hasn't even started cooking yet, not that I don't love having you manhandle me, of course."
"Doesn't matter, it's the principal of the thing."
As they rushed into the rec room, they were confronted by the sight of Rail sitting there drinking a cup of tea.
Rail took in the picture of the two. It was obvious from their expressions that they had come to terms with their feelings. That was a relief, he thought, they would be much more effective this way and besides that, he wouldn't have to worry about Xellos ambushing him while he slept.
"Would either of you like a cup of tea?" Rail asked, gesturing to the pot in front of him.
Xellos stepped forward to the pot and poured a cup, which he passed to Lina, and then poured one for himself. He gave Rail a hard stare, which left the other man with no doubts that he hadn't been forgiven.
Rail sighed, this was not going to be easy.
A loud squeal come from the door as a brown haired girl rushed in, pushing Lina and Xellos to one side. "Lt. Rail are you okay?" she asked as she fell in a heap in front of him.
"Neena, I'm fine. I have those two, the ones that you just body checked, to thank for it," Rail answered.
Xellos, who had been trying to stop Lina from hitting the newcomer, was surprised by a sudden hug, which strangled both him and Lina. "Thank you, thank you. I just couldn't go on without my Lt. Rail."
"No problem...could... you... let go... of us.. now?" Lina got out in a strangled voice. ' Oh no, She's as bad as Amelia.' Lina thought to herself.
"Oh, sorry!" Neena giggled. "Oh, Lt. Rail, do you need a pillow, you just left the hospital, remember? Here, let me make you some fresh tea."
Rail smiled as Lina and Xellos watched Neena run around, sweatdrops forming, life was back to normal. Neena was here.