"Mysterious Day."--A Worthing side story

By: LN Tora

=====

Detective Zelgadis Greywers of the 14th Precinct was not a happy man.

He was about as unhappy as a man could get.

Zel guided his bike through the midday traffic. For once the weather in Worthing was mild; a rarity if ever there was one. Living in Worthing meant living in extremes, mother nature being no exception.

I hate this, and I hate today. Maybe if I just don't think about it, it will pass by and I won't have to deal with it too much.

The detective was brooding, and he knew it.

He couldn't help it, he was just in a "mood" as Gourry liked to say, and didn't know how to pull himself out of it...

His thoughts turned to his young lover, tugging a small smile at the corner of Zel's lips. Gourry brought a spark to Zel's life that he hadn't known was missing until he met the blond.

Not that things were completely roses...

Between Zel's "moods" and Gourry's guilt trips, there were times the chimera thought he'd pull out his hair. Still, they were both willing to work through it all, since the alternative meant being alone again.

No way. Besides, I can't stand myself sometimes, least for my own company.

Zel pulled into the parking lot of a mini mall, intending to pick up something for dinner. Even though Gourry was a better than decent cook, Zel didn't want him making dinner tonight. He just wanted to lay in his lover's arms and pretend today didn't exist.

Better not get Chinese, though. He said he's kill me if he had to eat Chinese again. I guess a little variety wouldn't hurt. And I can say it's for a special occasion...

That last thought brought another frown.

Bull. Just get the food and go home.

Zel sighed and headed for an Italian restaurant a little away. He was determined to get through this day as quickly as possible. The detective brushed off his jacket and started walking.

A guitar shop near the corner caught his eye. Zelgadis peered into the window, noting fondly the Les Paul up for sale.

Haven't seen one like that since high school.

Looking at it now, Zel remembered when Gourry found his yearbook, despite Zel's best efforts at hiding them.

"That was you??"

"Look, it's an old pic..."

"I'll say. Do you still have those clothes?"

"Hell no! What do I look like, some retro punk?"

"Well..."

"One word and I'll sleep on the couch."

"Okay, okay... touchy. Hey, I didn't know you played guitar..."

"I use to. Don't anymore."

"Why not?"

"Long story..."

Long story indeed.

Zel could still remember that night, when everyone in his ragtag group decided to go to the movies. Everyone but him. He was too busy trying to create another song. They could just go on without him as usual... Unfortunately, they didn't come back. A drunk driver crossed the lane and hit them head on. He survived, they didn't, and neither did his music after that. Zel hadn't picked up a guitar since.

The detective sighed. He was just falling in deeper at the rate he was going. He turned away and kept going, banishing all thoughts from his mind if only for a little while.

_____

"Does he know?"

"Nope. No clue."

"You have it, I presume?"

"Yes. You think he'll come?"

"He'll have no choice. Don't worry, it won't fail."

"Let's hope not..."

»click«

_____

Geez, I hope he likes Italian, we'll be having leftovers for a couple of days at least.

Zel blamed himself as he carefully balanced half a dozen food containers in his arms. He cursed his stupidity for having such a big mouth in the first place. If he had just ordered the food and left... but no, he had to get an old fashion Italian mother working the counter who treated everyone like family. And then...

Open mouth, insert foot, get loaded down with food you have no hope of eating all of...

...maybe Sylphiel and Amelia would like some.

The chimera swore none too softly as he fumbled for his key card. He somehow managed to open the door and still keep the food in his hands. As soon as he got inside, he quickly unloaded it all onto the table, shaking his head.

I suppose I shouldn't complain. Nice people are few in this city.

"Hey, Gourry! I went ahead and got dinner, no Chinese this time."

Zel took off his jacket, hanging it up so Gourry wouldn't get on his "slovenly housekeeping." He was met by silence.

Odd, I know he's back from class by now...

Curious, Zel went to their bedroom, poking his head inside. It was cleaned, organized, and definitely Gourry-less.

What's going on?

Zel was about to turn to the bathroom when his foot stepped on something. He looked down, an envelope addressed to him on the floor. A prickly sensation ran down his neck, but Zelgadis promptly pushed it back. Looking at the handwriting, Zel held his breath as he opened it. He pulled the note out, frowning as he read.

Girl Friday of fourteen is hiding a secret Where water flows up in a rainbow

The detective blinked. What was this? He read the note again, not sure what to make of it.

Why me? Why now? I thought we were through with crap like this...

Something about the note tickled Zel's mind. He knew it was an obvious clue, though to what he wasn't exactly sure. Some of the words were underlined, so obviously they meant something. Zel brought the paper a little closer, suddenly realizing what was so odd about it.

Sylphiel's perfume??

Suddenly it clicked.

Girl Friday of fourteenth. Damn, did someone have Sylphiel? And where was Gourry??

Calm down and think first, Greywers...

Zel groaned, wondering if he should call one of the others. Nothing about the note indicated anything; no ransom, no demands, nothing. For all he knew, it was just a psych out...

You really want to risk if it isn't?

Zel rolled his eyes, ready too scream from the stress of it all, when his eyes landed on yesterdays paper. A picture and a small headline drew his eyes in. He couldn't help but groan again.

Damn. The new city fountain. Water flows up in a rainbow... What kind of sicko am I dealing with now?

Zel strode back out, grabbing his jacket and forgetting about dinner. It would keep, and he was determined to find out just what the hell was going on, one way of another.

=====

A cop breaking the speed limit... ....happens all the time in Worthing.

Zel raced through the streets of Worthing, more than a little antsy about the note and Gourry's absence and...

Not even.

He noticed some guy swearing at him as he swerved dangerously close while passing. So what? Not like he was getting strange notes and his lover was missing. He certainly didn't have the still looming cloud both he and Gourry had of their encounter with the Koppi. No, that guy had no clue. So of course the only natural thing to do is flip the guy off.

Zel didn't even bother trying to look back. As far as he was concerned, that birdie was for any of them. They didn't understand.

_____

Sylphiel stood in plain clothes near the newly constructed water fountain. She appeared extremely nervous and agitated, though perhaps for different reasons than one would think. No matter the reason, her expression did not help Zel's frame of mind when he finally found her, pulling his bike right up alongside the young woman.

The minute he kicks the stand on his bike, his practically leapt off and grabbed Sylphiel by her shoulders, giving a not-too-gentle shake.

"Ah! D-D-Detective...!"

"Sylphiel! Are you alright! Where's Gourry!? What's going on!"

Zel wanted to be calm, really, but given past occurrences and Sylphiel's expression... well...

"What's happening?!"

"I'm fine... I... ah!"

It took a moment for the chimera to realize that shaking the person he was talking to was not a good idea. He let go, albeit reluctantly, and looked desperately at Sylphiel.

"I'm sorry... I..."

Zel shook his head and tried again.

"There was a note in my apartment, and Gourry wasn't there. It said..."

Sylphiel took a deep breath. "I... I think Gourry is alright..."

That alone let Zel sigh heavily in relief.

"Okay, then what's going on?"

"I don't really know, Detective. Just that some large, heavy-set man handed me an envelope and told me to wait for you here and that it was extremely important that I do this and not look at the letter..." Sylphiel rummaged through her purse, pulling out an envelope once again addressed to Zel.

"He sounded so... so urgent. I was afraid of what might happened if I didn't do it. Wh-what's going on, Detective?"

"I don't know... yet." The chimera rips the end of the letter open, dumping the contents out. A bunch of rose petals fall into his hand before the note itself. His blue eyes narrow as he unfolds it to read.

A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet. High society's greenhorn has a such a bud where dead men tell no tales.

Too obvious. Why do the nutcases always go after me?

"Zel?"

Shaken from his reverie, Zel pushes the letter and petals into Sylphiel's hand.

"Take all this to the lab and have the boys look at it. They find anything, anything, call me."

"But..."

Zel didn't hear her, already back on his bike. He revved the machine up once before pulling off and racing down the Worthing streets once again.

_____

"Well?"

"Point one as been reached. He's on his way to point two."

"What about..."

"Not a problem. Don't worry, it's running like clockwork."

"This is too important. I don't want anything to happen."

"It won't. Trust me."

»click«

_____

No underlines this time, but Zel didn't need them. Only one 'high society greenhorn' around. And the last part...

Why the cemetery of all places??

So lost in thought, Zel didn't see the figure suddenly run out in his path until almost too late. He swerved quickly, taking a small spill that did nothing for his ribs.

Better not tell Gourry this. Good thing he made me keep these things wrapped though, not that I'll admit it to him...

Zel got up slowly, walking over to check on the pedestrian.

"You need to watch where you're going, that light was..." He trailed off as the figure began to move, lifting a hand to a mane of gold. Zel's mouth went dry as a sicking feeling grew in the pit of his stomach.

"G-Gourry?"

Hell, I almost...

"That will teach me to try walking on a yellow."

Gourry got to his feet, looking a tad unsteady. He still managed a smile as he glanced at Zel, his tone light and teasing.

"I thought cops were suppose to just give you a ticket for jay walking..."

"Gourry... what... where were you?!"

The chimera was torn between indignation, anger, worry, fear, and joy at seeing his lover. So he settled for the safe route... irritation.

"Nice to see you too, Zel." Gourry was nonplus.

He'd grown use to Zel's displays of emotion, or lack thereof. He was getting better at reading the detective and knew better now than to let Zel's misguided feelings get to him.

"And I was just picking up some material for class tomorrow. I called, but you weren't home yet. You didn't get the message?"

Answering machine. Damn, forgot to check it... yeah, like I could remember when I have weird notes in my apartment.

Still, Zel was more than a little relieved at seeing Gourry safe. That still didn't solve the matter of the strange notes.

"Where you going anyway, Zel? You seem in a bad hurry."

Gourry ran his fingers through his bangs, giving Zel another teasing smile.

"Don't tell me, you were off to see your other lover, weren't you?"

"Wha...? NO!"

Zel started, feeling the heat under his skin as he fell into that one.

"You're lucky we're in public."

"Yeah, can't have your way with me here. What would it do for the police's rep if one of theirs mauled his lover in the middle of the street?"

Zel only raised an eyebrow. True, Gourry was more open and happy of late, but he seemed a little too... something.

What's up?

Gourry began packing his things in the compartment of Zel's bike. then settled on it himself.

"Can a guy cage a ride, Detective?"

This brought the chimera back to the problem at hand. He wasn't sure he wanted Gourry with him, if only because he still had no clue what was going on. On the other end, if Gourry was with him, then at least Zel had a better chance of protecting him if something did kick off.

Besides, the whole plan had been to spend the day with him.

Just note chasing weird notes all around town while doing it.

The food's going to get cold.

Making up his mind, Zel climbed on the bike. He'd take Gourry with him, but he wouldn't tell him about the notes. Not yet.

He doesn't need to worry.

"I have to go meet Amelia at the cemetery. It won't take too long. Hang on."

Soon the two were cruising down the streets again. Next stop, Worthing City Cemetery.

=====

He loved the feel of him. The feel of his body pressed against his. The smell of leather and faint aftershave. Even the prickly feeling of his hair peeking out from under the helmet.

I guess this is what being in love means. Though there's a lot more lust involved than I thought... Gourry chuckled.

Sure, he got all those strange, fluttering feelings in his stomach whenever he thought about Zel, but he also got something else whenever he just looked at the chimera for too long...

Wonder if he'd be up to another bath tonight...

He felt Zel leaning into a turn, and followed his lead. He'd ridden bikes before, even tried driving a couple. Still, riding with Zel, as doing anything with his lover, always held a kind of thrill he didn't bother trying to explain. Better to just enjoy it.

Gourry had to resist the urge of pressing himself even closer to Zel. He tried that once and nearly got them in an accident.

Yet it was very satisfying to know he had the same affect on Zel as the detective had on him. He did tighten his arms around Zel, if only to enjoy holding him close as they sped down the road.

Zelgadis smiled to himself.

Even though he was still worried about this whole business with the notes, having Gourry close always improved his frame of mind. Of course, he'd like to be closer, but he was trying to drive...

Damn, if it wasn't for this stupid deal with freakin' notes... I should just forget it and go home...

And run the risk of something serious happening...

Damn.

His hands tightened on the bars. He seemed to always get caught up in the strange and dangerous cases. Still, if he and Amelia hadn't taken on the case at the Maze, he wouldn't have met Gourry.

But when the hell do I get a break?

They finally pulled up into the cemetery. Gourry didn't say anything, for which Zel was grateful. He knew the blond would ask eventually, but the chimera didn't have any answers that wouldn't put Gourry on edge at the moment. Better that only one of them worry...

He drove around a bit, noting with a strange emptiness the tombstones crowded together.

He hated cemeteries. It was a little known fact Zel planned on keeping that way. He was to close to death every day, why come to a place that celebrated it?

Amelia Wil Tesla Saillune of the 14th Precinct stood near a tree next to a family plot that looked older than anything she could remember seeing. She wondered if one day someone would look at her grave the same way.

I know we're not suppose to think about that, but it could happen to me one day...

She looked up when she heard the familiar rumble of an engine. A part of her wanted to run over and just greet her two friends. But the urgency of the request, and the orders behind it, kept her still for once. She noticed the tenseness set in her sometime partner's shoulders, and wished she weren't about to add to it.

Still, if I don't...

As Zel climbed off the bike, Gourry looked around for a bit before stealing a quick peck from Zel.

"I'm gonna go visit sis. I'll meet back with you here, 'kay?"

"Sure thing..."

Zel had to let the sentence trail off. If he said be careful, it would tip Gourry off that something was bothering him. Instead, he said it silently and turned to meet with the younger cop.

"Amelia..."

"Are you alright, Detec..."

"No. Something's going on and I don't like it. Do you have something for me?"

Amelia didn't know if she'd ever really get use to his brusque style, especially when it was aimed at her. But she had orders and they were important. She pulled a envelope from her pocket, handing it over to Zel.

"I didn't open it."

Zel grunted, taking the letter and ripping it open. He was more than slightly annoyed and it was beginning to show. This time he got a handful of coffee grounds before the note fell out in his palm. His first instinct was to let the grounds fall, but he was still a cop, so he kept them as he read the letter.

Even the most sleepy piggy will wake up with enough caffeine. Columbian can be bought with a donut on the side.

Zel sighed.

At least they were in the same direction. It was little consolation, though.

He handed over the grounds and the letter, not really expecting to find anything but having to try.

"Sylphiel is already at the lab, take these to her."

He stops, thinking about the note.

"Where's Naga?"

"Sergeant Naga? I... I don't know. She wasn't at her desk when I went in today..."

"No, course she's not." Zel mutters to himself.

This day was getting longer by the minute.

Still, Gourry would probably say something about his nasty disposition if he were here. One nicety wouldn't kill him... much.

"Thanks, Amelia."

He left the now gaping officer standing where she was. As he walked back to his bike, he saw Gourry heading back as well.

Just hope he doesn't get suspicious yet...

"Hey."

"Hey yourself." Gourry straddles the bike, his hands again around Zel's waist.

"Home now?"

"Not quite. Need to hit the coffeshop."

At this Gourry chuckled.

"You don't function until you get that awful stuff in your stomach in the day, do you?"

Keep thinking that way and we'll both be better off.

Zel only shrugged before revving the bike. Soon the pair were speeding down the highway once more.

_____

"Well?"

"Point two secure. He's heading to point three."

"And what about..."

"Got it. Price was high, but I got it."

"Give you a hard time?"

"Nothing I couldn't handle. How many left?"

"Two. Point three and four, then the final stop."

"Alone?"

"No. Might be better this way."

"Understood."

»click«

_____

Perhaps under ordinary circumstances it would puzzle Gourry why Zel was going all over town. But he was just in too good a mood. As far as he was concerned, Zel could keep driving forever, he wouldn't care too much.

Unfortunately, Zel couldn't share his lover's mood.

Memories of Gourry hurt and bleeding from Eris' attentions had popped up from out of nowhere.

Then still more memories.

Did Gourry know how many times Zel himself woke up from a nightmare and spent the rest of the night just watching Gourry?

God, I hope not.

Zel gripped the handlebars in a white-knuckled hold. Whatever the intention behind these notes, Zel swore Gourry would be safe this time. He deserved at least that much.

Next stop, Poppa Vulun's JavaShop.

 

=====

The good mood for Gourry lasted until they pulled up to a coffeshop hidden in what Zel called the "tacky shop district" of Worthing.

He looked up, read the sign, and cringed.

His reaction caught Zel's attention. As soon as he turned off the engine, he twisted around slightly, hoping Gourry didn't notice the wince from his ribs protesting.

"Something wrong, Gourry?"

"Huh, what?"

He finally drew his eyes away from the sign back to Zel and shrugged.

"Nothing, really. Going in there?"

Zel pulled off his helmet, giving his lover a searching look.

He too was learning how to read Gourry and could now tell when Gourry was hiding something, especially something unpleasant that he'd rather forget or not deal with.

"Gourry, what is it? Something happen to you here?"

And who's ass do I need to kick for it?

"No... just... well..."

The blond sighed, running his fingers through his bangs. Nervous gesture.

"Just that the guy who runs this place has a... crush... on me."

Zel rolled his eyes. From what he could tell, half the seedy, underground population of Worthing had a crush on Gourry. He'd gotten enough cold stares and outright threats to know.

Joy, another one. As if I didn't have enough to worry about.

Zel frowned.

He didn't want Gourry going in if it meant dealing with someone he'd rather not. On the other hand, leaving him out here where Zel couldn't see (or protect) him left a definite queasy feeling in his stomach that he did not like.

Still, if Gourry didn't want to go in...

"Gourry... do you... do you want to stay out here? It won't take me long..."

Another shrug.

"Naw, I'm okay. Just keep Vulun away from me and I'll be fine."

"How bad is he?"

"A chicken, so he'll probably back down if he sees you with me."

Gourry got off the bike. Feeling slightly giddy from the ride and a little racy, he snuck a quick feel before hopping off, looking completely innocent. Zel only glared at him good-naturedly. If he were feeling this daring, then whoever it was must not have him too upset.

He got off the bike and slid an arm around Gourry's waist; one to make sure this guy got the message, and two just for the hell of it.

He and Gourry walked to the door and pushed it open.

The place was plunged in darkness, as if the over ingestion of caffeine by the various (and obvious) addicts made them sensitive and perhaps even afraid of light.

Zel blinked a couple of times, trying to adjust to the lack of light. Even though he often bought his coffee here, the atmosphere just made him uneasy. He wanted to find Naga and get the hell out. Too bad fate had other plans for him.

"Goooooooooouuuuuuurrrrrrrr-eeeeeeeeeeee!"

Both men flinched at the high pitched whine that assaulted their ears. They both turned, Zel in confusion and Gourry with trepidation.

Coming their way was a burly looking man in tight, dusty brown leather pants and matching vest. He looked more at home on a hog in a bike gang. His mannerisms were a different story...

Yeesh! Can they get any more flaming than this one?

"Gourry, honey! I haven't seen you in ages! Where have you been hiding yourself, gorgeous?"

He catches Gourry by the wrist, spinning the blond around unceremoniously to peck him on the cheek.

Zel's eyes harden to diamonds, only the greatest control keeping him from growling out loud.

Fortunately, Gourry manages to extract himself from any more amorous advances.

"Nice to... uh... see you, Vulun. Have you met Detective Greywers?"

Gourry almost hides behind Zel, wondering just how bad is this Vulun anyway?

He's personally never met the owner... and feels very lucky not to have done so until now.

He stood still as Vulun started circling him. Zel didn't know if he were being judged... or just mentally stripped. Either way, he didn't like it.

"Well now, didn't think you were the settling down type, Gourry. You should have told me!"

At the Vulun pouts dramatically, making Zel hard pressed to keep a straight face.

Yup, definitely needed to find Naga and get out.

"It just kinda happened..."

"I am so jealous... First you get the looks, then you get the guy... and such a cute one... if a little short..."

That did it. Zel was certain he would have punched the guy if Gourry hadn't laid a hand on his arm.

I got your short right here...

Suddenly, Zel caught a look in Vulun's eyes, and had to check to make sure his clothes were still on.

I wouldn't be surprised if he were the one doing the notes... this guy is nuts... and... ugh...

"He is definitely a looker, though, baby."

Vulun turned and whispered something to Gourry.

Zel began a slow burn at the closeness before Gourry coughed self-consciously, trying to look everywhere but at Vulun and Zel. Now the chimera was curious. What could Vulun have possibly said to make Gourry of all people... was he... blushing?

Have to ask when this is all over.

"'scuse me, Vulun, did you happen to see a woman with dark hair, large chest, and tends to sleep a lot?"

Not the best description of Naga, but whatever worked.

Vulun snorted, pointing to a table in the corner.

"Someone should tell her to get those things deflated."

Zel bit his lip. Wouldn't do to seem too friendly, even if he personally agreed sometimes. He suppose Vulun was harmless enough, as he was now keeping a respectable distance from Gourry. Still, just to make sure...

Zel turned Gourry around to face him, pulling the taller man close.

"Give me a minute, alright."

His breath coated Gourry's lips in a near kiss before he let his lover go, smirking inside at both the hungry look in both their eyes.

Let him feign for that one.

He left Gourry for a moment to go talk to Naga.

"Where can I find me one of those, honey?"

"Sorry, Zel's unique. Be right back, need to hit the bathroom..."

Gourry slipped out, making sure not to stay gone too long.

Who knows what might happen leaving those two alone.

The White Serpent was dozing off, a cup of untouched coffee and a letter lying on the table. Zel didn't even bother to wake her and just picked up the note. A toy medal fell out this time with the note. Scowling, Zel read it, wondering when it would end.

The long arm of the law is attached to the hand of justice, who stands before the scales of a blind woman.

Zel blinked.

Whatever this was, it involved Mayor Saillune as well?

This was now going into the realm of extremely bizarre. He left the note, pulling out a pen to scribble to Naga to take it all to the lab. Satisfied, he turned and walked back as Gourry emerged from the bathroom. The detective snaked an almost possessive arm around the young man's waist, much to Vulun's disappointment.

"I'm through, Gourry, let's go."

"Really? I thought you wanted to get some coffee."

"Didn't have my flavor."

A very bad lie, as he hated flavored coffee, but it would have to do.

"Nice... meeting... you, Vulun."

I'd rather have a root canal than do it again, though.

"Bye Vul... whoa!"

Gourry's all but yanked outside the murky coffeehouse, blinded when he's dragged into the sun unannounced.

"Hey, Zel, ease up!"

"Huh? Oh, sorry. I just don't happen to like the feel of being looked at like raw meat."

Zel sighed, forcing himself to calm down.

"Sorry..."

"S'kay. Vulun does that to a lot of people, I think. I'm just glad he won't keep looking at me that way."

Gourry straddled the bike, looking up at Zel.

"And I for one know that height doesn't mean anything."

It was said so blithely that it took a moment for Zel to catch it. His skin darkened as he mumbled something under his breath, climbing back on the bike. The feel of Gourry's arms slipping round his waist put the detective in a forgiving mood very quickly, though. The engine roared to life as the two zipped down the streets once again.

"Where you going now? The apartments on the other side."

"Just have to make one last stop."

Damn the notes, after this I'm going home. This day has been too friggin' long...

_____

"Point three?"

"He made it. She was asleep of course."

"So long as he made it. This will be the last stop?"

"It has to be. He's getting impatient."

"Right, right. Okay then, everything's taken care of, just waiting for the final component."

"That will be soon, trust me."

»click«

_____

Something's bothering him.

Gourry could feel the tenseness in Zel's back. He handled the bike a little more urgently now. Though he himself couldn't see it, the blond knew Zel wore that brooding look whenever he was deep in thought.

You really need to learn to relax, Zel. Maybe when we get home... whenever that is.

Gourry rested his head on Zel's shoulder, trusting the chimera completely to see they go to wherever they were going in one piece.

That small gesture helped ease some of the stress he felt emanating from his lover.

Sighing, Gourry promised that Zel would let go of all of it one way or another, at least for tonight.

Next stop, Worthing City Courthouse.

=====

Whatever you do, don't ever, ever stop.

Zel was cruising at a nice pace on one of the more deserted streets of

Worthing. Now, thanks to some construction they passed by, it was virtually

empty.

A perfect time for Gourry to get in some serious teasing.

At present, Gourry's hands were roaming over Zel's stomach, making an

occasional pass just under the waistband of Zel's jeans. The soft growls

and moans were stolen by the roar of the bike, but it didn't stop Gourry one

bit. Zel prayed nobody chose to run through the street right now, or they'd

be good as dead.

Forget dancing, he should be a masseur.

Zel took what rational thought Gourry's hands left him with to slow down the

bike. Better not to tempt fate. Good thing he did, as Gourry's traveling

fingers dipped down low, brushing across sensitive flesh. The bike swerved

dangerously as Zel's concentration broke. Though he got the bike back under

control, Zel wasn't sure about either his body or his lover. He hissed,

forgetting that Gourry couldn't hear him. When he felt Gourry making

another dangerous pass, he shot his left hand down, bringing it back to his

stomach. Behind him, he could feel the blond laughing.

Maybe you don't mind the idea of a wreck, but someone has to drive this

thing.

A tap on his shoulder and a finger pointing to the right had Zel glaring at

his new contact. He wasn't one of Mayor Saillune's fans. He never forgot

about the Mayor helping get his job back, even though the score was more or

less even after that stint with the Koppi. Still, Zel hated the taste of

owing someone like Mayor Saillune anything at all.

Zel pulled the bike in front of the courthouse, killing the engine a moment

later. As he go off his bike, Gourry pulled the helmet off and smiled at

Zel.

"Don't know what the Mayor wants, but I'm guessing it's important. I'm

going to hit the convenience store right quick. Meet you here?"

"Huh? Oh, sure thing." Zel was personally glad Gourry was leaving for a

few. He hadn't figured out how he'd explain what was waiting for him with

the Mayor. Fates were being kind enough for once, it seemed. "Just be..."

"...careful. You sure do nag for a cop." Gourry grins and heads across the

street before Zel can snap a comeback. The detective shook his head,

planning on Getting Gourry back in other ways. Bracing himself, Zel walked

over to the Mayor standing under the statue's scales.

"Mayor Saillune."

"Detective Greywers. I have something for you."

I can imagine. Get on with it you blowhard...

"Oh? May I?" He holds out his hand, praying for patience he's been nagged about needing more of.

The Mayor started checking his pockets, looking a bit befuddled. "Now I

know I have it in here somewhere...."

Zel bit back a sigh and rolled his eyes skyward.

Just freakin' lovely...

He lowered his hand while the Mayor searched through pockets, letting his

mind wander a bit as a result.

Strange note found in apartment. Each leading to someone I know, if not

work with. Nothing demanded, just clues to find the next person with a

note. Someone's playing a game. To hell with it. I don't care where this

note sends me, I'm going home.

Zelgadis pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling an impending headache

coming on.

Not like I didn't have enough to deal with. All I want now is

a long bath and bed, preferably with

Gourry in it and waiting on me.

"Something wrong, Detective?"

"Headache. Nothing important."

"Ah... No where did I... Oh, I forgot! It's in the car. We'll have to

walk around and get it. Though I could have sworn I put it in my pocket..."

This time Zel did sigh.

Someone, kill me now.

_____

"Well?"

"Point four... clearing."

"Clearing?"

"You know the Mayor."

"Oh... I should have nailed it on his pointy..."

"The final destination will be reached. Is everything ready?"

"Ready. Just waiting for the final component."

"Can't blow it now."

"It will go through. Trust."

»click«

_____

How did he ever become Mayor in the first place? Oh yeah, nobody else

wanted the job.

Zel sat on his bike, watching the Mayor's car pull off. He held the note in

his hand, after waiting a good ten minutes for Saillune to remember he left

it in the car in the first place.

Proof that politics aren't immune to the dumbness factor.

Sighing, Zel ripped the envelope open. He didn't care really where it was

sending him, since he'd made up his mind to go home and leave the note

chasing to someone else. There was the matter of someone having gotten into

the apartment in the first place, but that could be fixed.

I still say Gourry should let me set up electrified windows... huh?

In his hand dropped a toy badge and a note. What caught his attention was

the number on the badge matched his own. Curious now, he read the note.

All things come together at two pm, military time.

Two pm military time... fourteen? The station?

Zel hit the bars in frustration. A part of him wanted to toss the note and

go home with Gourry and stick to his original plans for the night. But this

last note...

Damn.

"Hey, Zel!"

The chimera jerked his eyes up, crumbling the note in his hand. "Wha...

what is it, Gourry?"

"I was gonna ask you that. You looked out of it. I've been calling you for

a couple of minutes now. Where'd ya go?"

"Just... thinking about a case." Zel hated lying, at least to Gourry, but

he didn't want to see his lover upset. "Get what you want?"

"Yeah, and called Utena. Says that assignment we have got bumped up, so I

need to swing by the station and grab that video I left at your desk. Think

we can make a quick pass by there?"

So much for going home.

"Sure, Gourry. Get on."

"Thanks." Gourry stuffed a bag in the compartment and climbed on. Zel shot

him a curious look, which he shrugged off. "Zingers."

"Zingers? Why those things?"

"Need the cream." Goury could only imagine Zel's expression as he pulled

his helmet on.

Need something to snack on...

Soon as he got it on, Zel

lifted the visor.

"Let me drive safely this time?~

The blond grinned. "I'll try. It's harder than I though keeping my hands

off you."

The chimera only snorted in reply. Soon the two were traveling the streets

again. Final stop, 14th Precinct.

=====

Last time, absolutely last time.

Zelgadis gripped the handlebars firmly. He hated wild goose chases, and as far as he was concerned, that's all today had been... with one really fat goose.

One dead goose if I ever find out who it was.

He did not like running all over the place, especially when he could have been at home, eating dinner, then him and Gourry taking care of dessert. Though at the moment, Gourry was helping himself to dessert just fine.

"Do you have to do that?"

"We're at a red light, and I skipped lunch."

"Oh, so sucking the creme out of that thing constitutes lunch? And nobody I know of eats lunch like that!"

"So who said I had to eat it like everybody else? Besides," he said blithely, putting the partially eaten confection in his pocket, "It's practice."

Oh sure, like you need practice.

Zel flipped his visor down and sped off as the light changed. For the first time in his life, he found himself envious of a piece of cake.

Soon as we get home, the zingers' got to go.

The detective had all but forgotten about the matter of the notes, having pushed them firmly aside. It was only when they pulled up at the station that the problem came roaring back to the forefront of his conscious. He kicked the stand out, his intuition telling him something was wrong and wanting to keep Gourry from it if possible.

"Say, Gourry, why don't you go over to the video place and rent something for tonight?"

"Don't we still have some tapes out, though? And do they have to be another cop movie? I don't think I can sit and listen to you say how unreal it is again..."

Zel flipped his wallet from his back pocket, handing it to the tall blonde.

"So pay them for another day for those too. I doubt they complain as long as they get the money for it. And pick whatever you want... except a dance flick. Last thing I need to see is a bunch of guys running around in cups and tights."

"Uh-huh. So that's not you who always wandered in when I'm practicing."

"You gonna yap all day? I can think of better things to do with your mouth."

"Witness avoiding the question, your honor." Gourry laughed as he hopped off the bike.

"Don't forget the tape, okay?"

"Yeah yeah, I got it. Get the tapes and wait for him here."

"Yes sir."

Zel made a face as his lover walked toward the video store. Sighing, he looked back at the station, trying to place just what was wrong with the scene.

Too quiet. I see people coming and going, but it's usually a lot more than this...

Even as he watched, Zel noted how the officers all seemed to disappear in the span of a few moments. He narrowed his eyes, resisting the urge to pull out his gun. Instead, he got off his biker and entered in the back way. The silence that greeted him sent his hairs standing on end. Despite himself, Zel had his gun out and cocked, though he kept it down next to his thigh. He didn't run into another person as he moved through the station. That did nothing to ease the growing tension in his gut. He peered into rooms along the way, seeing only empty desks and clutter.

As if they were in a hurry to leave.

A thought of the Koppi mob was quickly squelched.

He's dead, they're not coming back...

Still, it didn't mean there weren't other crime groups ready to fill the void. Would make sense to take out the people responsible for the Koppi's fall first...

A muffled crash behind had him whipping around, gun at the ready. Only a rat messing around where it shouldn't. For one extremely pissed moment Zel considered shooting anyway. However, he didn't feel like the long lecture like he got from Lina last time he did that.

She needs to get an exterminator in here, then. These things are getting bigger.

The detective lowered his gun, making his way towards the room where he and fellow homicide officers worked. Not finding anyone, he was going to turn and continue when something, instinct, sixth sense, something made him turn back.

Stormy blue eyes scanned the room carefully, taking a step inside. It was when they rested on his desk that he noticed what was out of place...

I don't remember Gourry's tape being out.

He takes another step, bringing him completely into the room. He found himself in complete darkness. Before Zel could react, his gun is plucked from his hand while a pair of cuffs was snapped on him. Snarling, he kicks out with his right leg, but is easily tripped as his left is knocked out from under him. Strong arms caught him before he hit the ground. Zel tries his best to sink a sharp canine into the offender's flesh, but he's quickly pushed into a chair. A roar of frustration is muffled as a something is shoved into his mouth tasting very much like... cake? The lights came back on.

Everyone, including Gourry and his friends from his class all stand around an enormous cake with the words "Congratulations Sergeant Greywers."

Zelgadis silently plotted their demise among happy cheers and a mouthful of cake...

_____

"Your expression was priceless."

"Mmmhmm."

"Don't tell me you're still mad..."

"Uh-uh."

"What are you writing, then?"

"Shopping list."

"Uh-huh. Why do you need twenty pounds of cement, fifteen feet of rope, and two gallons of gas?"

"Revenge."

Gourry rolls his eyes, pulling Zel away from his list and back to bed.

"You promised you weren't going to kill anybody. Besides it was my idea. Going to kill me to?"

"Hmm..."

"Zel!"

"...naw. I need someone to keep my place clean."

"Is that all I am, a glorifi... mmph!"

Gourry only blinked as Zel found a very effective way of stopping his tirade. His tongue danced against the blonde's, finding all those little places he'd come to know so well. He smiled to himself; listening to the soft moans Gourry made was too satisfying at times. Zel pulled back, his warm breath sending a pleasurable shiver through the pale body beneath him.

"I don't love my housekeeper."

"I should hope not. She's a bit old for you, yanno."

"Oh ha ha."

Zelgadis moved away from him, stuffing his list in a safe place. Sure, he wouldn't kill them. Didn't mean he wouldn't get them back for that stunt.

"So now I'm promoted. Wonderful. More paperwork than before."

"But now you can pass the buck and say it's an order."

Gourry sat up, running his fingers through his gold mane.

"But that can wait. There's still something else I need to take care of today."

"Haven't you taken care of enough, having me run around all over the place?"

Gourry only grinned.

"How else was Lina gonna have enough time to clear everybody out in such a hurry. Besides, might as well start moving now. I wonder what the new station will look like..."

"So long as there's no rats..."

"What?"

"Nothing."

Zel moved to lay beside Gourry, frowning when his lover got up and out of bed.

"Where are you going?"

"Just to get something. Be right back."

Gourry stepped out. Zel was sure that slight sway was done on purpose.

"Tease!" he yelled.

"Blow me, Greywers."

"Come back in here and I will!"

There was no answer. Zel was getting ready with another retort when Gourry walked back in, a large case in hand. The chimera blinked, words fading from his lips. The shape of it was unmistakable, bringing a rush of memories back from their hiding place.

"I... I know you said you don't play anymore, but... but I remembered you looking at it once and just thought..."

Gourry faltered, biting his lip as he looked over at Zel. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea... Slowly the sheets are pushed away. Zelgadis climbed out of bed and walked stiffly towards Gourry. He stopped a couple of feet away, his hand reaching out to run over the gentle curve of the guitar case. He says nothing; his eyes convey everything he himself couldn't find words for.

"Zel?"

Still silent, Zel takes the case form Gourry, going back to sit on the edge of the bed. He opened it, gasping as what's inside.

"Oh... Gourry..."

In the case sat a '61 Gibson Les Paul SG, lake placid blue and matching Zel's eyes.

"How.. how did you...?"

"Lina helped, in exchange for a few... dances... for her and some friends."

Gourry decided to leave out the stripping part.

Not like I'm going naked anyway... just really close.

"Happy birthday, Zel."

The chimera froze, his eyes fixing Gourry with an unreadable gaze.

"You... knew...?"

"Well, not at first. When Lina went over your file for promotion, she noticed your birthday was coming up and asked if I knew. Why didn't you tell anyone, Zel?"

"Because... because..."

Zel sighed, setting closing the case before setting it down carefully. He held out his arms, closing them around Gourry as the young man falls into them.

"One, I don't like getting older. Two, I didn't have a lot of good ones growing up."

"Oh."

It occurred to Gourry that he really didn't know much about Zel's childhood. He stored it away for later, though, turning pale blues up to gaze at the chimera.

"Will you play for me, Zel?"

"I don't..."

Zelgadis cut himself off.

Why? Because of what happened? As Gourry told you, you're not Christ, you can't save everybody..."

"You can't hide them away forever, Zel. I don't think they'd have wanted you to stop playing for them..."

"How do you...?"

The surge of outrage died as quickly as it came, logic and the emotion swirling in Gourry's eyes leaving him with no defense.

He had been hiding.

Text book case of survivor's guilt. And was it right? They had always been about the music. Who was he to take that away just because he felt guilty about living.

Not that he was giving up his job to go pursue a music career, but he owed them more than what he was doing.

"Okay."

Zel waits as Gourry got up, pulling a small amp in the room while Zel tunes it. He didn't remember how long it'd been since he picked one up, but his fingers moved as if it's only been a few hours. Gourry plugged him in, keeping the volume low before sitting next to the chimera and resting his head on a slender shoulder.

Sighing, Zel wondered what to play, but his fingers again moved on their own, strumming out the chords of "Tears in Heaven."

Oddly enough, none came to him as he falls into an almost forgotten joy of creation, letting his hands move to make the haunting melody as he closed his eyes. Far on the edge of his perception, he felt Gourry shifting, sitting behind him now as his arms twined round the chimera's waist. Too soon the last notes have already faded away. Zel sat quietly, holding the instrument in his hands as if afraid it would disappear if he let it go.

"That was beautiful, Zel."

No words, none needed. Using the soft voice to anchor himself, Zel put the guitar back in its case.

He climbed back in the bed, his lips seeking those of his lover's. Skin becomes fevered to the touch; sighs and faint moans fall from growing needs and desires. Neither reached for the usual oil, Zel too gentle, Gourry too willing. Fingers brush over tender places, pushing inside to relax and further arouse; a question of consent without saying anything. Answers given with imploring moans as Zel opens the writhing body up for himself. Trembling hands slid down the smooth planes of the chimera's back, playing with the occasional sensitive cluster along the way.

A begging sob, and Gourry feels himself being stretched, filled with the sharp heat of the body above him. There is no true rhythm; the emotions behind their joining to intangible to be captured by any physical means. There is only the wanting that grows to levels of near desperation between them.

Too soft to be called fucking, too wild to be called lovemaking, they move with and against each other, sweat glossed skin sliding across more of the same. Muscles flutter and tighten, throb and push. A wave building to impossible heights as faint moans turn into muffled screams of protest, or mercy, of something without name or form yet as real as the pressure within.

Another thrust hitting the nerves, hitting the soul, and a rush of warm silk spills against his stomach as Gourry cried out his release. He was not alone, the warmth replaced with Zel's own flooding his passage.

Both laid quietly for awhile, their labored breaths tapering off as the moon slid below the horizon. Reality returned to them awhile later as Zel rested his back against the headboard, sharing a cigarette with Gourry.

"So, how'd you like today?"

"It was... strange. Strange day."

"But you liked it, right?"

"I could do without getting tied up for my promotion. I wonder if there's any cattle prods on sale? I could use one for Naga..."

"Zel!"

"...but other than that, I'd have to say it's been one of my better birthdays. Just one thing I want to do to make it perfect."

"What's that?"

"We use to practice until dawn, watching the sun come up before we went home. I think I want to see it come up today."

"Mmm... Mind if I join you?"

"Not at all."

Gourry settled into Zel's embrace. Neither spoke, a comfortable silence enveloping them as the new day was born, the first of another year waiting to be.

§ end §

Back to Worthing or Back to the Secret Garden?