"Tess, are you okay?" Her roommate at Lohkiarn State University pounded on their bathroom door. Tess wearily lifted her head away from the toilet bowl, groaning as she caught sight of herself in the mirror.
"Oh, I'm fabulous." She croaked. She stood up, washed her face, then came out.
"Jeez, you look like you got hammered last night." The roommate remarked.
"Yeah, but I didn't drink a thing." Tess collapsed back onto her bed.
"I know. That's why I keep telling you you should get to a doctor."
"I'm going today." Tess said, balancing against the bed frame as she stood back up.
"Great. I don't know what's taken you so long. The student health center is right across the street."
"I'm not going there." A conspiratorial grin spread across her face as she started to pull out clothes from the closet.
* * *
"Whoah, hold on a second!" Tempo broke in.
"What?" Lion glared at him, not happy to be taken from his load of lore.
"I'd say you left out quite a significant portion there." Tempo pointed out.
Lion grinned wickedly at him. "There are some things that are just between a man and his lady."
"Ah, I understand." Tempo nodded, smiling serenely. "Say no more. So you spent an entire year and a half just doing the dirty deed? That has to be a new record."
An irritated growl escaped Lion's throat, though he remained smiling. "If you really want to hear about how I got arrested three times and broke out, ate out of dumpsters for five months, and escaped President Soultech's detection by crawling into his fireplace while it was lit, okay. I'm more interested in getting this over with and finding Habeeb, myself."
Tempo wrinkled his nose. "While it was lit?"
"Please, continue." Schala said.
* * *
As Tess walked into the North Lohkiarn Clinic, she scanned for Lion, but saw that he wasn't there yet. As she took a seat next to a decidedly unwashed individual with a beard that contained a large amount of rotting food, she tilted her head back, stared up at the ceiling, and wondered why he was worth all this, for the millionth time. Though their covert relationship had become much easier since she'd gone off to the university, he was still a wanted man. In fact, it seemed as if the police and varied intelligence agencies had made a special effort to keep the search for him intense. There had been approximately 7,000 murders in Lohkiarn since Lion had killed Mattheus, yet only about three hundred still warranted active manhunts. The other 299 had all resulted from murders committed in the last two months, yet Lion was still on the list as well.
Suddenly, she became aware of someone sitting in the seat to her right, where a merciful breeze of fresh air had been coming through until then. However, Tess hadn't seen the person approaching in the corner of her eye. It was as if the figure had just suddenly appeared. As she turned, she saw the person was disguised in a hooded cloak, but long hair managed to spill out the sides. It almost looked familiar... "Jaguarena?" She whispered.
"Shh..." She raised a finger to her lips. "Habeeb doesn't know I'm here. And he definitely doesn't want me to tell you what I'm about to."
"What?" Tess blinked a couple times. "Habeeb has been missing for two years. Where did you-?"
"That's not important now. What is important is that your father will be stopping by here at ten a.m. as part of the "Restore North Lohkiarn!" project. He'll be speaking on the necessity of further funding for the clinics like this, right in the waiting room."
"Ten a.m.?" Tess glanced at her watch. It read 9:57. "Wait, are you sure..." She trailed off as she looked up again. Jaguarena was gone. She stood up to leave, but realized Lion would be walking in here any time now. Her father would surely have several top Soultech troopers guarding him. There was no damn way that would end well. She'd somehow have to wait here for Lion as long as it took. "Grr... The things I do for you..."
"Are well appreciated, believe me." Lion gave her a hug from behind. "What'd I do now?"
"You'll be arrested if you stay out here another minute." She said, kissing him on the cheek.
"A whole minute? That's more than I usually get."
"Be that as it may, we could use an examination room right away."
"Great. I called ahead."
"Then let's go!" She grabbed his hand, and ran up to the counter. "We have an appointment," she told the lady at the computer.
"For?" She asked.
Lion grinned. "Julian Weezleteets and Gertrude Weatherby."
"Go ahead in." The receptionist said boredly.
"Gertrude Weatherby?" Tess gave Lion the amused-yet-weirded-out look she only gave him. "Julian Weezleteets?"
"Hey, I need a creative outlet."
"Even so, sooner or later they're going to realize that the guy who comes in here every time he gets scraped up running from the cops has used about fifteen different names."
"I think they already know. They just don't care. I'm hardly the only one on the lam who comes here for treatment. Seriously, the other day, this guy came up to the counter, bleeding from his stomach. He said something like, 'Yeah, um, I have a blaster rack in my ship, and it must have, um... accidentally discharged into me after I, uh... robbed the bank... Yeah, that's it. Oh, crap.'"
"He didn't really say that!" Tess laughed.
"Maybe not in those exact words, no. But it was pretty close." They continued down the hall, and found a doctor waiting for them already.
"Back again, eh Lion?" The doctor smiled, then checked his chart. "I mean, 'Julian Weezleteets.'" The doctor frowned for a bit. "Julian Weezleteets? Have you been eating out of the dumpster again?"
"No." Lion laughed. "Well, maybe a little."
Tess gave him another look. "I thought the people whose basement you were camped out in were giving you their leftovers."
"They are. But they threw away some perfectly good seven week old pizza, so I helped myself."
The doctor looked perplexed. "Yet, according to the chart, you're not here for food poisoning."
"This visit isn't for me." Lion smiled. "It's for Miss Weatherby."
"Not your real name either, I take it." The doctor looked her over, but judging from his expression, he didn't recognize her. "Let's just step into Exam Three then." They walked into the cramped, windowless exam room, and Tess hopped up onto the table. "Given that you're both using aliases, I think I can guess why you're here."
Lion's smile disappeared. "Yep. Pregnant, start of the second trimester."
"What's the specific reason you came here today?"
"Unusually intense morning sickness." Lion stated.
Tess smacked him lightly on the shoulder. "I can answer my own questions, thank you."
"Okay, okay." He sat down in one of the hard plastic chairs.
"Okay, um, Gertrude." She and the doctor both snickered. "How would you describe your symptoms?"
"Well, it's not like I have anything to compare it to, but I think puking my guts out every single morning is at least a little unusual?"
"Have you ever vomited blood?" The doctor began writing on the chart.
"Yeah, a couple times." She admitted, wincing.
"Any drinking, smoking, or other drug use?"
"No." She shook her head. "Probably some secondhand smoke from the dorm, but that would be it."
"Ah, dorm food." The doctor smiled, busily writing on the chart. "Well, we'll have to run a test or two to find out exactly what's wrong, but I don't think this is anything too serious." He clicked his pen off, and got up. "I'll be back in a few minutes." He left, and Lion sank down in his chair.
"Have you told your parents anything yet?"
"No." She sighed, her eyes focusing on nothing. "I'm still trying to get them to grasp the concept that the fact that I'm in college means I shouldn't have a curfew anymore."
Lion looked at the floor. "You know... I can't do anything. I'm sorry." They both sighed. "I'm sure my parents would be willing to take care of the baby. But, yours are going to find out eventually."
"I know. Just let me tell them in my own way." She looked up at him again. "Have you seen your parents lately?"
He gave her an almost angry look. "I haven't seen them since the Weapon battle. You know that. Why do you ask?"
"Something very odd happened right before you got here. I ran into someone in the waiting room, and I'd swear it was Jaguarena."
He raised his eyebrows, but that was it. "Well, that's not too surprising. She's come close to tracking me down several times."
"Yeah, but she said something about Habeeb not knowing she was here, and him not wanting her to tell me what she did."
Suddenly, they heard a commotion in the waiting area. "That my father was coming down here today."
Lion turned a little greener. "Meaning all the top Soultech troopers would be with him."
"Yeah. That's why we needed to get in here. But the weird part was her mentioning Habeeb. He's been missing for over two years. It's assumed that a criminal organization arranged his death."
Lion shook his head. "No. I've seen him in person, a long time ago. Nothing could have taken Habeeb down. Not even Taurus, I don't think. Wherever he is, it's of his own volition."
"So you think she's working for Habeeb?"
"I don't know what to think. But as the only prototype of this generation that isn't either dead or barely managing to avoid a life in prison, teaming up with Habeeb would probably be a good move for her." Tess nodded, then started to tip forward, before snapping her head back up. "Whoah, are you okay?" Lion was on his feet.
"I'm feeling kind of dizzy, actually."
"Lie down." He gently helped her to lay back on the exam table. She smiled up at him, and gave his hand a squeeze. Then, her eyes rolled back into her head, and she went limp.
"Thank you, everyone. Thank you!" President Soultech waved to the crowd consisting of reporters, PR managers, and perplexed patients as he stepped down from the podium. "I'll be having a press conference on the top floor of city hall after lunch. Thank you!" As the Soultech troopers formed a wall in his wake, he retreated to the exam area. Exactly as planned, the doctor was waiting for him. "Were they right?" He got right to the point.
"Yes, sir." The doctor nodded. "You've got a hell of an intel department, I've gotta say."
"The boy is an idiot." The president growled. "He's been incarcerated three times already, yet he still hasn't fled the city."
"Well, there's a reason." The doctor sighed, but fingered the wad of money in his pocket, and continued. "Your daughter is four months pregnant."
"What?!" A vein began throbbing mightily on the president's forehead. He immediately whipped out a communicator and pressed a red button on it. A second later, the Soultech troops poured into the exam hallway. "Which one?!" The president demanded.
"Whoah, hold on!" The doctor waved his arms. "You've at least got to let the police do this!" Money or no, no one in his right mind wanted to piss of Leopardano. As he surveyed the frowning Soultech troops, the doctor could feel either a big ass lawsuit or his own death coming at him.
Suddenly, Lion flung the door of Exam Three open. "Help, now!" His stomach tightened a bit as he saw President Soultech, but he quickly decided that he didn't care. There was only one thing he cared about. He grabbed the doctor by the sleeve and dragged him into the room.
Inside, Tess was lying perfectly still on the exam table, the blood running out her nose and the blue tinge to her face being the only clue that she wasn't just asleep. "Damn!" The doctor rushed forward, feeling her neck for a pulse. "Brain hemmorhage!" He pressed a button on the wall, and started yelling. "Crash cart in exam three, now!! Tell the ER to have a room ready in sixty seconds! Get the neuro department on my comm." He began wheeling the table out of the room. "We're going now! Come on, let's hurry."
Lion helped push the exam table out the door. He wracked his brain, desperately trying to summon up a few of his old healing powers. He had never healed anyone but himself, and he had never used his power on anything in his head, so he had no real idea what to do. But damn it, he was going to try. Even as the Soultech troopers moved to apprehend him at a nod from the president, a yellow glow began emanating from him. His power wouldn't do what he wanted it to, and instantly, his head began to pound. But unlike before, he kept trying. His headache quickly upgraded itself to migraine, and he winced, but still he pressed on. Blood began to trickle from his ears, and he finally opened his mouth to scream in agony as the troopers tackled him and started beating him to a bloody pulp.
He didn't even bother to fight them, but just tried to squirm away. His head felt like it was trying to give birth to another head of even greater size, but still he shouted out. "NO!! Didn't you hear?! It's a brain hemorrhage!! I'm the only one that can save her! Let me go!!" With that, he burst free of the troops, but another one who had just arrived on the scene delivered a kick straight to his head, knocking him into a merciful oblivion.
Lion blankly stared through the ER trauma room window, ignoring the blood that was still dripping from the giant bruise on his head. Legally, he was now not supposed to be within one mile of Tess, but the Soultech president had gone to get his wife, the troops accompanying him as always, leaving her alone, for the moment. The cop wearing the other end of the shackle around his left wrist had brought him in on more than one occassion, and the first thing he had done after seeing Lion was congratulate him on his last prison break. The officer didn't seem to have any problems with letting Lion stare blankly.
Lion knew if he forced his eyes to focus, he would see the respirator forcing Tess to breathe. He would see the heart monitor beeping strongly. He wouldn't see her waking up. He wouldn't see her smiling, or giving him the look she only gave him. He likely wouldn't see those things ever again, as she was in a coma, and the prognosis was not good. His first instinct had been to kill them all, president included. But after he had realized that he couldn't, he had given up. The main point of his run from the law had been to see Tess. But he didn't want to see her anymore. Not like this.
"You're just torturing yourself, man." The cop said, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Why not just come with me and start planning your next escape?"
"No. I want to hear what the doctor has to say." The officer just nodded in response.
A few minutes later, the Soultech president returned, a weeping woman with graying hair in tow. They didn't seem to notice Lion as they came into the room, standing with their backs turned to him. He made no move as the doctor's voice began to speak, sounding muffled by the glass.
"Well, your daughter is in a deep coma. Unfortunately, there was a large amount of internal bleeding in the brain, caused by either a blood clot, or possibly some other complication of her pregnancy." The parents remained silent, so he continued. "It is quite likely that much of the brain was permanently damaged. It seems unlikely that she will ever recover." Tess' mother sobbed quickly. "Normally, at this point, I'd recommend monitoring her for two weeks, and, if there's no sign of improvement..." He sighed, "pulling the plug. However, there is a complication here."
The president's muscles tensed, and Lion could see the back of his neck turn red. "You want to use our daughter as an... an incubation chamber for the child of that... that thing?!!"
The doctor remained calm. "Sir, that 'thing' is also your grandchild."
"I want nothing to do with it." The president growled.
"I'm sure that the father's family would be happy to take care of it. Don't make the child suffer because of the father's choices."
"The father has chosen time and time again to flaunt all rules of decency. He's killed one of my cadets, broken out of jail time and time again, and now-" Here, the president's voice cracked. "He's taken my only daughter from me!! How much more pain and suffering must these prototypes unleash on society before we stop them? How much more death and destruction do we need?!"
The doctor was wide eyed, but he began to speak again. "I recommend that you consider this situation after you've calmed down some-"
"Okay, let's go." Lion said to the cop in an emotionless voice. He turned around and found the officer staring into the room, mouth agape.
"Man! Um, don't you want to talk to him?" The officer finally tore his eyes away.
"No. My child will find a way to survive. After all it is my child." Lion smiled, and his eyes took on a slightly insane look, at least from the cop's perspective. He turned from the ER room and walked away, never looking back.
The police reports would state that Lion sat in his cell for ten days, staring blankly ahead, never eating, drinking, or sleeping. By all explanations, he should not have been alive when, on the night of the tenth day, he vaporised the outer wall of his cell and escaped, never to officially be seen again.
* * *
"My God." Tempo whispered. Everyone was staring at Lion, completely spellbound. Even Tess.
"I really did want to die then." Lion said, his expression slowly returning to normal from the pained anguish he had displayed for the past half hour. "But, as I was having hallucinations from the lack of water and sleep, something inside of me told me that I still had so much to do. I couldn't die yet, even if my life was miserable. If I just continued living, a solution would surely present itself. So, I used the last of my energy to blast my way out. I ran to the pile of trash where the Ranger was hidden, fired up the engines, and got the hell out of town. I'd never been back, until I met Tempo."
Now, a huge grin beamed from Lion's face as he put his right arm around Tess' shoulders, and smiled down at her. "So, I'm going to assume that since you're just fine, the baby is too."
She returned his smile. "Yes, more or less." Before he could ask what that meant, she continued. "I was in a coma for over two months. My father did relent in the end, after much prodding from my mother. Though the official medical reports state that my recovery is a complete mystery, the rumors flying around state that either your father, Habeeb, or maybe both, are responsible."
"Wow." He continued smiling. "Which one do you believe?"
"Leopardano, of course." Now her smile disappeared. "I have reason to doubt Habeeb's good intentions..."
"There's something I need to show you. But, before I do, promise me, promise me that you won't do anything stupid." He pointed at himself with a questioning look. She had to smile at that, but it quickly disappeared. "When I woke up, they told me that you and the Skyshroud Ranger had been destroyed in the most famous police chase in the history of Lohkiarn. They even showed me the footage." She frowned, now wondering what she had really seen. "If something were to happen to you, I don't know what I'd..." She trailed off. He grabbed hold of her shoulders.
"Tess, I promise that as soon as we clear up this whole mess with Habeeb, Moogoo, and the Armageddon alien, nothing will keep us apart ever again."
She laughed to herself for a bit, before looking back up at him. "I figured you'd say... something like that." She reached into her pocket, and pulled out a holoprojector. "You need to see this, though it won't be fun." At that, she flicked it on, and they all turned to watch.
A head covered completely in a tight black mask came into view, underneath a dark hood. Only a combat visor allowed its occupant to see out. "Habeeb..." Lion whispered.
"Yes, it definitely is." Tess nodded. "You were right about him."
The cloth of the mask began to move, and they could hear Habeeb's voice. An odd sound was audible in the background. "Tess, I'm sure that by the time you receive this, Lion will be back in your time. The arrangement I propose is quite simple." Then the image zoomed out, and Lion realized what the odd noise had been.
It was a baby crying. A baby covered with dark green patches of skin on his tiny arms. As the infant squealed on a table behind Habeeb, the masked man made no move to comfort him. "In return for the full cooperation of Lion in the slaying of the Lavoid, your son will be returned unharmed. He was taken from President Soultech's house last night, and rest assured, no matter how much security you arrange, he can be taken again. I do not wish to harm the infant, but if Lion does not come to see me within twenty four hours of seeing this, I will. I imagine Lion will know where to find me. This is Habeeb, signing off." The projector went dark.
Even as Tess turned to see what his reaction was, Lion was on his feet, a yellow glow building up around him. "Lion, no!!"
Tempo stood up too. "She's right, man. We need a plan first. We only beat Moogoo because Raganorn was with us. If Habeeb if even stronger..."
"Oh, I have a plan." Lion growled. He was shaking with rage from head to toe. The infant's cries had reawakened something within him that he hadn't known he still had. "I! Will! Kill! Him!!" With that, he charged toward the balcony, and jumped over the railing.
"But, you can't fly..." Tess protested to the empty air. They all ran to the edge, and saw that while Lion wasn't flying, he was somehow floating down to street level at a reasonable speed.
"If he attempts this by himself, he will die." Silva stated.
"Yeah, you're right." Tempo agreed. "We've gotta follow him." Instantly, they all began running for the elevator... except for Silva. Turning back to her, Tempo saw that she was staring straight ahead, at empty air. "Hey, you all right?"
"Wha?" She asked vacantly.
"Whoah! Tejran to Silva!" He waved a hand in front of her face. "Come on, we've gotta go!"
"Yeah, sorry." She turned to follow him.
"So..." Schala began as they descended in the elevator. "If Moogoo is in this time as well, how are we possibly going to defeat him and Habeeb?"
"We can't." Tempo said simply. "We have to somehow keep Lion alive long enough for him to regain his full power."
"I don't think that's going to happen." Schala said dejectedly. "It's been over two years. I'd think if his powers were going to come back, they would have by now."
Tempo turned back to her, and she could have sworn she saw a green flash in his eyes. "It's been over two years for you too, hasn't it? Have you given up on yourself as well?"
"No. But how did you-?"
"Have a little faith, Schala. Have a little faith."
"Now you're making even more weapons for destruction! How much pain and hate do you think we need?!"
"Does that right arm of yours want to kill me now, Ashitaka?"
"If it would end the violence, I'd let it tear you apart. But even that wouldn't stop the killing, would it?"
"No, it wouldn't. It would have to kill all of us to be at peace." - Prince Ashitaka and Lady Eboshi, Princess Mononoke
Chrono Trigger Fanfic