Laying the Dead
by Jaelle


A Slayers Fanfic

The characters herein are not mine, do not belong to me and I am making no money whatsoever off of this. No infringement on copyright is intended by this fanfic. Kay?


PART TWO:


"You!" Zelgadis flinched back. "I... you... wait..." He stared at Rezo's eyes. "Kopii Rezo?"

"Hello again Zelgadis."

Zel sat down suddenly. "Oh good grief, don't DO that to me. My heart nearly stopped. I thought you were really HIM." He grabbed a bowl and started spooning soup into it.

"Well, I am a very good copy," Kopii Rezo gracefully sank down to sit opposite Zelgadis. "After all, didn't I nearly surpass the original?"

"You were certainly nearly as big a pain in the rear as he was," Zel muttered. "More in a way."

"Thank you," Kopii said honestly.

"I thought you were more or less over that whole 'surpass the original' thing now," Zel said, drinking his soup. "Want some?"

"Ah, no thank you," Kopii smiled at Zelgadis. "The dead don't really need food. I'm glad to see you're not holding any grudges."

"Hey, we fought, you died, the end." Zel shrugged. "I might as well hold grudges against Gaav or that annoying fishman."

"And yet you continue to hold a grudge against HIM," Kopii mused.

Zelgadis choked slightly. "That's _different," he protested. "He ruined my life!"

"And you ended his, surely that's enough."

Zelgadis' eyes darkened. "No. It will never be enough."

Kopii sighed. "There really wasn't much point for me to come here, we don't have the history that others do. But I did want to thank you for remembering me. So few do."

Zel looked away. "Let's just say I understand your feelings."

Kopii smiled as he began to fade away. "I know you do. I used to wonder sometimes, which of us really hated him the most? At first I thought we hated him equally but for different reasons. Then I realised that in fact we hated him equally for exactly the same reason. Because he dominated our lives, because we lived in his shadow... because he made us what we are. Both of us suffer from being his copies."

"I am NOT like HIM!" Zelgadis exploded. "I am my own person!"

"Then why are you still so angry with him?" Another voice asked.

Zelgadis refused to look as another figure made its way to his side, and sat next to him.

"Hello Zelgadis."

"Hello..." A sweatdrop trickled down his face as he kept his eyes turned away.

"Oh dear, don't tell me you still can't say my name?"

***

"Back already Zelgadis?" HIS voice. Mocking him as always.

"Yes Master, I have brought the items you required."

"Excellent work," Rezo scooped the proffered gems out of his hands. "Such strong magic amulets. Very good indeed. You are truly one of my most strong and loyal servants."

Zelgadis snarled behind his mask.

"Rest here at the mansion for a few days. Then I will have another assignment for you."

Zelgadis kept his head bowed as Rezo walked away. Once the ringing sounds of his staff had died away, he stood up from his kneeling position and looked around. It was an opulent mansion, like all of Rezo's properties. Probably filled with all sorts of "fun" traps for the unsuspecting too. Huh.

"Welcome Zelgadis," a voice from the stairway behind him. Surprised, he turned around and stared. A beautiful young woman was watching him. She had short dark hair and dark eyes. She was wearing robes of flowing white, which did nothing to hide her figure. He could only watch as she approached him and put her hand up to his face. Before he could flinch away she yanked his face mask down, revealing his transformed features.

"Hmmm... a truly remarkable job." She said. Zelgadis continued to stare at her. Why didn't she run away or turn away in horror? "Only to be expected of Lord Rezo himself."

Zelgadis finally recovered and turned away, putting up a hand to hide his face from view. "Stop that! Don't look at me as though I'm some kind of specimen!"

"Why are you turning away?" The girl asked. "And why do you wear that mask? Aren't you pleased with the strong appearance that Lord Rezo granted you?"

"Strong... appearance?" Zelgadis turned back to regard the girl in surprise. She once again put her hand up to his face and this time he let her. She caressed his face and he closed his eyes. It had been so long since he'd been touched... and certainly never by such a beautiful girl.

"Strong indeed. How glorious."

Zelgadis inhaled sharply as she pressed herself up against him. "It's a pleasure to finally meet you, Lord Zelgadis."

"Who... who are...?" He looked down at her and she smiled up at him. Her smile warmed his heart, while the feel of her body against his drove most of the thoughts from his head.

She bowed her head shyly. "I am Eris."

"E... E... ahhhh..."

***

"Hello Eris." Zelgadis said grimly.

"Ah, he speaks," she mocked him gently. "You always were the strong, silent type."

"Must you keep that up?" He demanded. "I know you don't really mean it."

"But I do mean it, I just don't mean it the way you wanted it to mean." Eris said quietly.

"I'm aware of that." Zelgadis replied, equally quietly.

"Poor Zelgadis, you fell in love with me so quickly." Eris lent against him and he finally turned his head to regard her as she rested hers on his shoulder.

"I'd never met a girl who didn't turn from me in fear and horror before," Zelgadis stated. "And your touchy-feely routine wasn't designed to make me think seriously about what you were saying."

"Well... you were kind of impressive." Eris replied.

"Impressive. Huh."

***

Zelgadis held the girl in his arms and for the first time in years thoughts of hatred and revenge were driven from his mind. Along with most other coherent thought.

"Yes. I see that the spell was a complete success. You must be pleased with the results." Eris continued her perusal of his form. "Ah yes... one third stone golem, one third mazoku, and one third remaining human." She nuzzled against his chest. "Truly amazing the way your body has adjusted so well. I can tell that the blood of the great Lord Rezo flows through _your_ veins. And with your transformation, you are almost worthy to call yourself his kin."

"What?" Zelgadis opened his eyes and pushed away from the girl. "What are you talking about?"

She looked up at him. "Isn't it obvious? You're one of the most powerful pieces of work that Lord Rezo has ever completed!"

"'Pieces of work'??" Zelgadis stared at her. "I am a human being! Or was, and now... thanks to HIM... I'm a monster!"

"Now thanks to him you are _powerful_," Eris said. "Aren't you grateful?"

"GRATEFUL???!!!" Zelgadis nearly shrieked. "I'm supposed to be grateful?! Get AWAY from me!" He shoved the girl away and stalked off.

But his mind was haunted by the memory of her features, and his body was haunted by the memory of her body pressed against his.

***

"Did you ever really get over me?" Eris teased.

"Eventually. After I saw you fawning over HIM."

"I did NOT fawn!" Eris shrieked indignantly.

"You did too!" Zelgadis glared at the girl leaning against him. "It was disgusting to watch."

"But you watched anyway, didn't you?" Eris fluttered her eyelashes at him.

Zel sighed. "Why are you bringing this up now? I thought you'd forgotten all about that? You certainly didn't seem to remember it the _last_ time we met."

"I was angry with you then," Eris said, shrugging. "You'd betrayed Lord Rezo and helped kill him. But I was willing to let you go. I was more interested in getting Lina Inverse and Gourry Gabriev. If you hadn't turned up, we would have let you be."

"Hmph," Zelgadis grumped. "I would have preferred it if you'd hunted me down. Don't think that just because it was Lina who cast the giga-slave that she was wholly responsible for his death. I took part. And I enjoyed it."

"Did you?" Eris looked at him sadly. "Did you really?"

Zelgadis looked away, remembering the beautiful young girl who'd always been at the side of his most hated nemesis. Now that he'd travelled so long and so far he realised that Eris was not as beautiful as he'd thought. But her love for HIM had made her lovelier than any of the most beautiful women he'd ever encountered. Her love made her glow.

"I... I don't know. I had to defeat him." Zelgadis looked away. "I had to."

"You had to," Eris acknowledged. "Lord Rezo would not have wanted the world he so longed to see be destroyed because of him."

"And then afterwards..." Zelgadis paused. "Hmph. Maybe Kopii was right and we are more alike than I thought. I couldn't see what came after defeating HIM either."

"And now?" Eris nudged.

"Now?" Zelgadis shrugged. "I'm content enough I suppose. Lina and the others keep me busy, and there's always my search for my cure."

"And after you get a cure, then what?"

Zelgadis paused, then shrugged again. "Don't know. Find somewhere to live I guess."

Eris laughed at him. "You have absolutely no idea do you?"

"So what? I've got my whole future ahead of me!" Zelgadis said defensively.

"And how much of it are you going to waste searching for a cure?" Eris demanded. "You're always so short-sighted!"

"Damn it! I have to find a cure! Only then will I truly be free of HIM!"

Eris sighed. "Say it."

Zel was confused. "Say what?"

"Say it," Eris repeated. "Say his name."

"Why?" Zelgadis was instantly suspicious. "No. I don't want to talk to HIM."

"Well you're going to have to," Eris said. "Say it."

"No! I won't!"

"AAArgh!!! You are so stubborn!" Eris thumped his shoulder with her fist and stood up. "I have to go now." Her face softened. "Zel, for what it's worth, I _did_ like you. You were..."

"If you say 'a nice guy' I'm going to go and break your gravestone!" Zel threatened.

Eris sighed. "A heartless mystical swordsman."

"That's better." Zel said, appeased. The two people stared at each other and then smiled briefly.

"I miss you sometimes," Zel admitted. "I did like you Eris."

"I miss you too sometimes," Eris admitted. "I think we could have been friends, if there hadn't been all that other stuff."

"_Did_ you have anything to do with the planning and design of this body?" Zel asked.

Eris grinned. "It's taken you nearly eleven years to ask that question, you know. No, I did not. The magic involved in such a tricky transformation was far beyond my talents."

Zelgadis regarded her for a moment. "Okay."

"Okay?" Eris smiled softly. "Yeah, okay. Zelgadis?"

"Hmmm...?"

"Take care of yourself. You really do have a great body you know," she winked. "And I'm not just talking about its magical makeup."

Zelgadis blushed crimson as she turned and walked away.

"She always could throw you off-guard."

Zelgadis froze and stood to walk away.

"Don't. Don't go. Please. We need to talk."

"I've got nothing to say to YOU," Zelgadis hissed. "Nothing at all!"

"But you do. And I have things to say to you. Isn't it time we finally cleared the air between us, Zelgadis?"

Zelgadis turned to regard the shade who now stood behind him. "There's only one way to clear up our problems!"

Rezo sighed. "And I am already dead."



Go on to Part Three
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