Title: The Protege

Author: Tripetta tripetta@ev1.net

Summary: 'The Professional/Leon' sequel. It's six years after the events of the film. Leon wasn't killed in the explosion, but suffered severe injuries and has been comatose for much of the past six years. Mathilda, along with the rest of the world, believes Leon to be dead, but has never forgotten him or the lessons he taught her. As she nears adulthood, she decides to follow in his footsteps. What happens when fate causes their paths to cross once more?

Disclaimer: 'The Professional/Leon' universe doesn't belong to me. Columbia/Tri-Star Pictures holds that privilege. I penned this story for love of the movie and characters and am making nada moolah from it. Please don't sue for it would be a fruitless endeavor. Trust me.

Authors Note: Yes, I know, there is absolutely no way Leon survived the end of the movie. I'd have to agree with you there. BUT I just couldn't let him go like that. The ending was so unworthy of him. And I couldn't let Stan win, nope nope. So you'll just have to buck up, suspend your disbelief and get on with it. Or not. Entirely up to you.

Feedback and/or reading and reviewing: If you'd like to let me know your thoughts and feelings on this piece of fiction, I'm more than eager to hear them. You can either e-mail me at the above address or submit a review.

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'And lovely apparitions, -- dim at first,

Then radiant, as the mind, arising bright

From the embrace of beauty (whence the forms

Of which these are the phantoms) casts on them

The gathered rays which are reality –'

'Prometheus Unbound' ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

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Franklin Hospital Medical Center Valley Stream, New York

Amelia Ruttledge, R.N., parked her Honda in her assigned employee parking space behind Franklin Hospital Medical Center. The hospital was creatively named for the street on which it was located, Franklin Avenue, which itself was centered in Valley Stream, New York. Effectively, it was a suburb of New York City, being just east down State Highway 27 where Queens County gave way to Nassau Bay County. Amelia was thankful for that distinction though. Nassau Bay allotted more funds to the hospital than Queens would be able, or willing, to.

Franklin was a non-proft facility dedicated to providing the best quality care to those who couldn't afford it. It also housed an excellent long term care and rehabilitation wing, which was Amelia's domain. She mused over this as she locked her vehicle and made her way to the back entrance as the sky darkened. She had been working the 12 hour night shift, from 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., for more years than she cared to recall.

She ran her key card through the slot beside the door and made her way to the staff elevator, her rubber soled shoes barely making a sound on the linoleum. She wasn't necessarily stealthy, though some would accuse her of just that. She was the victim of genetics, possessing her father's height and her mother's slight frame. At 5'11", she barely weighed over 100 pounds. 'You have to run around the shower to get wet' her husband would often tease, but always with a smile and a kiss. Their 40th wedding anniversary was only a few months away, she needed to think of something extra special this year.

She punched the button for the 3rd floor and emerged, making a right towards the nurse's station. Delia Jackson, her co-worker of the last 12 years, was already seated at the counter going over notes from the day shift. Amelia smiled fondly as she approached, wondering as she always did how two such different women could become such fast and enduring friends. While Amelia was tall, thin, and pale as skim milk, Delia was short, squat, and as dark as the moonless night outside. Amelia had grown up somewhat privileged, married well, and was lucky enough to have never experienced tragedy. Delia grew up in poverty, married and divorced three times with a son to show for each, and had already lost two of them to the city's violence. One to death and one to prison. Delia looked up as Amelia reached the desk and glanced at the clock on the wall.

"Well, well," Delia commented, returning her gaze to Amelia, "barely 2 minutes early tonight. Slacking off, are we, in our old age?"

"Not all of us can be suck ups and brown nosers," Amelia replied, shrugging a shoulder and walking her fingers across the counter. Delia managed to suppress a grin and nodded her head.

"True enough, there are so few of us with a talent for it," she said, huffing on her nails and then rubbing them on the scrub top covering her ample chest. Amelia laughed.

"I can't argue with that," she replied and then nodded towards the stack of folders. "What's on for tonight?"

"Oh, the usual, our share of bathing and medicating and stretching and massaging...and news of further improvement with your favorite boy," Delia told her, handing over a file.

Amelia's 'favorite boy' was a case that had come in 6 years earlier, a John Doe with a bullet in the back of his head and burns over a good third of his body. He'd been found in the rubble of a bad fire that had razed a hotel in the city. No identification was found on him and of course all guest records had been destroyed along with the building. Amelia had wondered at the police maneuvering him into Franklin, but had gotten the impression that John Doe may have been caught in the crossfire of whatever was happening at the hotel at the time. Maybe they were trying to cover it up, maybe they were being altruistic. Whatever the reason, Amelia was glad he ended up on her doorstep.

"I'll just go take a peek in at him," she told Delia, heading down the hall. Delia smiled knowingly and nodded, returning her attention to the other files.

Amelia pushed open the door to room 322, the last room down the east wing, and let it close softly behind her. The light above the head of the bed was on at its lowest setting, illuminating enough of the room so that Amelia didn't bump into anything. Not that she needed it after all these years, she knew every inch of the room. She stopped at the side of the bed and placed a hand on the side rail, the other holding the file to her chest, and listened to his soft snoring. Like a baby's.

She marveled at how he had changed since his admission. Of course, after six years, that was to be expected, but his case had almost been a lost cause from the beginning. The bullet to the head should've done him in from the get go, but luckily the area of penetration didn't prove fatal. It had just put him a coma for four years. And then there were the burns, which as far as burns went, weren't as bad as could've been expected considering the state of the building. Mostly first degree, a few areas of second degree. One of the delivering paramedics had told her John had been lucky, that apparently the way that the debris had fallen about him had shielded him from the worst of the flames. 'Good-bad luck', Amelia thought wryly.

And so John had come to her – burned, bloodied, and bullet ridden. And with an amazingly strong will to live. She wondered why she had become so taken with him. There were many that came into the facility, each with worse injuries and a poorer prognosis, certainly more demanding of her time and skills, but there was something about John. An aura about him. Not that Amelia believed in such silly things, but John seemed to have one just the same. And maybe, just maybe, he brought out her maternal instincts, the ones she'd had to fold up and put away neatly after losing her baby son so many years ago. She imagined her son might resemble John, tall and handsome, with a sweetness and vulnerability about him. She reached down and squeezed his hand softly and then left the room as silently as she'd come in.

As she made her way back to the nurse's station, she checked over the notes in his file that the day shift had made. A couple of years ago, John had begun to wake from his coma. It wasn't like in the movies with the patient popping up from the bed, immediately awake, as if from a nightmare. No, the process took months, could even take years. But her John had excelled. After a mere 3 months of slow awakening, he was forming complete sentences, although they seemed to be in Italian. Another 2 months and he was out of the bed and beginning the long road of rehabilitating his body, his English coming back to him along with his strength. His memory was another story, but that too would come with time.

She smiled to herself as she read the last line of notes in the file – 'Patient completes all assigned physical tasks, but always overexerts himself with abdominal crunches.'

John did love his sit-ups.