If I Die Before I Wake

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Notes:
    red = Dark Zel's mental voice (Demon)
    blue = Zel's mental voice (Human)
    green = G's mental voice (Golem)
    italic lines = dream voices

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"If I die before I wake ... "

By tossing and turning for over ten minutes, Zel finally found a position he was marginally comfortable in: back to the tree, curled into a ball, one arm thrown up over his eyes and the other wrapped around his stomach. It was weird to say the least and from the looks Lina was giving him from beside the fire, the strangest she'd ever seen. Of course, strange didn't matter, only sleep did right now. He sighed, shifted a little, and slowly drifted into darkness.

Do you remember?

No, he didn't. He didn't remember. Not one bit, not about before ... he wouldn't let himself remember.

Do you remember?

Didn't he just say that he didn't!?!

Do you remember?

Shut Up! I said I don't!

You will remember!

No, please don't make me remember ...

It laughed at him, laughed at his petty attempt to fight the binds of the past. To forget would not be allowed, in dreams he would see, in nightmares relive what had once been ...

He felt the laughter now, running down his spine like knives, screeching across his nerves as the eyes glimmered from the darkness. Red, blue, and black ... all in a single pair of mocking eyes. Then he felt the clammy ground, slick and hard, underneath his barely clothed body. Felt the murky light strike his cheek and the floor he only felt, strike the sparklingly gold chain, more binding than iron, stronger than steel and magic, unbreakable. Heard the swish of ruby robes sliding across the stones, heard the slap of leather against the palm of a pale hand, heard soft laughter and soft voices, whispering to him in cruel pleasure.

It froze, taunting him. The eyes laughed again, savoring his terror, the pent up flood of swirling emotions. Anger, betrayal, hatred, fear ... desire ... He retreated behind the veneer of cold calm, only to be pulled back by the darkness ... back into the dream.

He felt the soft whisperings of breathing, his heart beating wildly within a stone chest, the ground falling away as he was tugged to his knees. Felt the fragments of flesh lingering for a moment on his shoulders before the collar snapped into place, cutting off his control, his will, his soul, his mind, making it a slave and puppet to his master's will. Making him a toy. Words whispered through the sensations.

Hello, pet.

Ruby fire as eyes watched him, red agony as the words burned, forcing him to the slick stones in abject worship of the collar's master. He screamed behind the bonds on his control, screamed at the betrayal.

Rise.

He knew what was to come, knew his voice was free, even though his body wasn't. But what good did pleading do, what pleasure screaming? It only made what was coming worse by a thousand times for his disobedience. But it was all that was left to him.

Please ...

The whip cracked down on his shoulders, forcing him down as the energy enhanced leather cut into his flesh. He would not break ... His silent pleas were unheeded as he was forced to rise again, eyes sealed against the vision he could not blot from his mind. He felt long fingers blush his cheek, felt the trail of a knife as it cut patterns on his back. Then the rush of pleasant pain overcame his verbal control, washing him away into the haze of hatred and agony, far away from his shell, pushed to the back as the eyes laughed and took hold of the body.

He felt the hands continue, felt them please the eyes inside and out, felt the defilement he couldn't stop ... felt the pain ...

I DON'T WANT TO SEE IT!

YOU WILL!

NO!

It laughed again, but he couldn't stop the memory any more than he could change the past. But deep inside ... far away ... he hid, like he had before, hid in the cold darkness ... hid and cried ... sobbing into the unforgiving embrace of stone and dull white eyes.

Do you remember?

He couldn't ... he wouldn't ...

Do you remember?

This voice was gentler but no less kind, no less sweet ... almost worse than the other who laughed and mocked.

Do you remember?

No, I don't remember.

But you will.
But you will.
Always will.
Always will.

Please ...

You will remember.
You will remember.

"I pray to god my soul to take ... "

Take me away, please goddess, take me away ...

"LIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNAAAAAAA!!!!!"

"Wha - huh - eh????" Lina started as Gourry shook her frantically, eyes desperate. Fear coiled in her stomach at his expression, "Gourry? What's wrong?"

"It's Zel. Oh, gods, he stopped breathing and I can't wake him up!"

The fear surged as she scrambled to her feet and rushed to Zel's side, Gourry hot on her heels. The chimera was sprawled on the ground beside the tree, face a mask of agony, hands gripping the bedroll so tight the knuckles had turned white. She shook him desperately, silently pleading with him to wake up and ask why the hell she was shaking him. But he didn't, the only change was a slow sliding of his features into peace and happiness, a look she'd never seen on his face before. Tears slid down the sorceress's face as she clutched her friend's body to her, feeling sobs break from the lump that suddenly formed in her throat. Gourry's arms slid around them both, his own tears escaping. A prayer, a child's prayer from long ago slid into her mind ...

"If-f I die before I wake, I pray to god my soul to take ... oh Zel ... "

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