The Gift
A Slayers Christmas Fanfic

        Amelia loved Christmas. It was the only time of year where she could indulge in an insanely overwhelming amount of love and good cheer. She could buy all of her friends tokens of her undying faith and friendship, and she had spent a great many weeks preparing. Gourry had been easy to buy a gift for. She’d learned that she could ask him what he wanted, and have him tell her. Not surprisingly, he’d forget they’d had the conversation… and she’d watch him be completely astonished that she knew precisely what he wanted.
        Lina was just as easy to buy things for. Anything shiny and sparkly worked. Gemstones, gold… Amelia had picked a bracelet this year. It had a ruby in it that Lina could store a spell in, so it was even useful for a change.
        The one who was hard to shop for was Zelgadis. She’d spent a few hours looking for something, and finally had settled for a new cloak. The one thing that he truly wanted couldn’t be purchased.

        On the other side of the coin, Zelgadis had found gifts quite easily for everyone except Lina. Gourry was getting a new wrap for the hilt of his sword, and Amelia was going to get the newest edition of the book titled ‘The Justice Lover’s Guide to the Outer Continents.’ The bookstore owner had assured him that the Princess of Sailune would love it.
        But Lina… last year, he’d given her a fire opal. This year, nothing had caught his eye. He’d looked at gems, looked at gold. He’d even gone so far as to look at hair ribbons. But nothing seemed worthy of her this year. Scowling and stuffing his hands farther into his pockets, he headed into another store.

        Gourry sat in front of the fire in the hotel and sipped his drink slowly. Gift-giving was easy for him. He simply went into stores, told them who he was buying for, and the shopkeepers would fall all over themselves to show him selections. He’d gotten Amelia a gold circlet to keep her hair out of her eyes. Maybe she wouldn’t fall so much then, the jeweler said.
        For Lina, he’d found an old spell-book that the owner didn’t really want to sell, but had immediately given to him when he’d mentioned who it was for. Gourry had insisted on paying for it, and wasn’t sure he’d given the guy enough.
        Zelgadis had given Gourry a few moments of actual thought. But he’d gone into a store and explained what it was that Zel drank, and soon had a pound of what the clerk had called ‘coffee.’ It smelled right, and that was good enough for Gourry.

        Lina juggled parcels as she handed over a few gold coins for the very last bag. A new outfit for Amelia. Trimmed in blue, this time, to match the Princess’ eyes. Gourry’s gift started to slip, and she caught the new wrist-guards before they hit the floor and dented. An actually friendly clerk offered her a bigger bag, and as Lina stuffed it all into one bag, she almost dropped the box with Zelgadis’ gift. She wasn’t sure why she’d chosen it, wasn’t even sure that he’d like it. But it had caught her attention and wouldn’t let her move on. And so she had purchased the hematite medallion without thinking twice.
        It wasn’t exactly Zelgadis, either. He wasn’t the flashy type, didn’t really rely on any magical talismans for showy magics. Maybe he’d wear it on a cord around his neck, underneath his clothing.

        Several hours later, they were all exchanging gifts, laughing and talking, enjoying the rare moment when nothing more than being each others extended family was important. Amelia was bouncing around the room in her new outfit, circlet firmly about her head, striking poses and reading randomly from the book that Zelgadis had given her.
        Zelgadis was sitting quietly in a chair, sipping coffee and fingering the medallion curiously. The cloak was warmer than his old one had been, but the medallion reminded him of something, and he couldn’t recall it clearly.
        Gourry was wrapping his sword-hilt, occasionally pausing to admire the new wrist-guards. He still didn’t know how Amelia had known that he’d wanted a new pair of boots, but they fit really well, and best of all, they were comfortable.
        Lina flipped through the spell-book, idly noting a new spell here and there. Maybe she’d cast one of them into her new bracelet. But what was really bugging her was the little box that Zelgadis had handed her with the instructions that she wasn’t to open it until he told her that she could.
        She’d shaken it and heard nothing. She’d shaken it really hard, too. And he knew how she hated not knowing what was in it. She’d tried to peek into the box twice, but he’d caught her both times, and told her if she tried it again, he’d have to take it back until later when she could open it.
        So she was sulking in her chair.

        Lina wasn’t going to bed without opening the box. But Zelgadis insisted that she could only open it at a certain time. That time was about an hour from now, but Amelia had said she’d find out what it was in the morning and gone to bed. She’d been up early, and after bouncing hyper through the night, was just too tired to even sit in the chair by the fire. Gourry’d been asleep for a good two hours now, and Zelgadis had bid Amelia a good night, then slipped outside.
        Finally, Lina set the book aside, picked up the box and headed outside to find Zelgadis and talk him into letting her open the box.

        “So… when can I open this?” She asked as she walked up beside him, box held out.
        “Hmm…?” He asked turning, then shrugged. “Oh. I suppose that you can open it now.”
        The words weren’t out of his mouth before she ripped it open and peered inside.
        It was empty.
        Frowning, she looked back up to him. “Hey, Zel…? It’s…”
        “Empty.” He turned, leaning on the balustrade of the staircase landing where she’d found him and nodded.
        She tilted her head as he continued. “I searched all day for a gift that would be right. I looked at jewelry, I looked at books. I looked at clothing and hair ribbons… I even spent hours inspecting rare and precious stones. But nothing was worthy, nothing seemed remotely you.”
        Lina put her hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay, Zel. They say it’s the thought that counts… and I don’t really need a gift. I mean… you spend enough time on me and my willy-nilly adventures… I’m flattered that you even stick around at times.”
        He lifted his head some. “There was a gift. One thing that I could… would give… but I’m not sure how it would be taken.”
        She blinked. “What’s that?”
        His reply was so whispered that she almost didn’t hear the word. “Myself.”
        The part of her mind that was normally reserved for running commentary came to a total and screeching halt. He… likes me? He likes me? He likes me! Me! And the only answer that she could come up with was embarrassingly corny. But what the hell. She was already as embarrassed as she could get… and she meant what she was about to say.
        “I… I…”
        He lowered his head. What a fool he was, neh?
        “I can’t think of any stone more precious… nor gift as cherished.”