Captain L / Super Lizard
Author's Note: This is a continuation of a story arc first began in my guest chapter for klept0. This is a history of Reno as I dreamed it—there isn't much cannon on the subject, so most of this is my creation. The character of Toriko belongs solely to klept0 and is used with written permission. Thanks, Cat.
Rated T for language and violence.
Chapter One: Aftershocks
The next morning, Toriko woke early. She rolled to her feet gracefully and pulled her blankets into some semblance of order, then flopped over at the waist, popping two of her vertebrae and stretching all the way out. Satisfied with her abbreviated morning stretch and emboldened by her father's absence, she padded softly out of her room and went in search of breakfast. On her way past the room shared by the Turks, she paused. In a fit of empathy, her mood fell and she shivered a bit. Wishing she were callous enough to just ignore it and go to breakfast, Toriko sighed a long-suffering sigh and studied the door. She could sense that, out of the three, only Reno and Rude were still in the room. Tseng will have accompanied the vice president to breakfast and to attend to Lord Godo.
She slid the door open, being sure to make a little noise so not to startle the Turks, and entered, closing the door after her.
Rude was sitting with his back to the wall, next to Reno's pile of blankets. The younger Turk was lying down, staring blankly at the ceiling with such a look of forlorn despair that Toriko's heart bled. He would occasionally sigh a thin, shallow sigh.
Toriko walked over and sat to Reno's side, opposite Rude.
Rude looked over at her sideways, as if unable to comprehend her presence. "Shouldn't you be at breakfast?"
Toriko looked down at Reno.
Rude followed her gaze, then nodded, understanding. "Don't worry too much about Reno. He's stronger than he looks. He's just… been through a lot. We have to wait for him. He'll come back when he's ready."
She looked up at him questioningly.
"I couldn't tell you if I wanted," he answered her unasked question. "For one thing, it's not my place. For another, I don't know everything. Just enough."
Toriko looked away. "Would you want to know?"
Rude wrinkled his eyebrows.
"If you had the chance—if I could show you, then, would you want to know everything?" she pressed.
He looked away, first at his feet, then at Reno. Finally, after a good long stare, he nodded once. Then, as an afterthought, he added, "You ask a lot of strange things."
In any other context, Toriko would have smirked. "I'm a little strange."
Rude nodded again—not an accusation, a jibe, or with amusement, but simply a nod to confirm a fact.
Toriko took Reno's right hand in hers, then reached across to Rude. "If you want to stop, let go."
He scrunched his eyebrows together more tightly; he took her tiny hand—
-and was immediately seized by a sense of weakness so complete that he couldn't move. Bleeps and bright lights surrounded him, and his eyesight was foggy and limited.
"He's so tiny,"he heard a voice above him coo. A woman in scrubs was leaning over the plastic cover of his tiny environment; another stood nearby with a clipboard.
"He's way early. His chart says he's around seven weeks premature."
"Seven?" the first woman's voice squeaked.
What are we seeing? Rude inquired, in awe.
No way does Reno remember back this far. He rarely remembers where he puts his keys. I don't even think he remembers his own phone number.
Toriko mentally giggled. The human brain keeps a record of everything of which it has input. But it has a tendency to lose access to its own storage, due to disuse, trauma, or the breakdown of neuron pathways.
Where the hell did you learn all of this? You're twelve.
I get bored easily. I read. A lot.
"Seven," the second woman confirmed, "and his momma smoked everything under the sun, it looks like. She was addicted to speed, too."
The first woman put her hand in the incubator glove and played with Reno's tiny hand. "Was?"
"The chart says his mother is deceased. She must've died soon after he was born." The second woman hung the chart at the end of the incubator cart. "Don't get too attached. I don't think he's going to make it."
The first woman was silent for a moment, still playing with Reno's hand. "Poor baby."
"Come on, Sally. Don't give him that look, don't play with him, don't anything. You'll be sorry later. Let's go get coffee or something, our shift starts soon."
Sally, the second woman, cooed at Reno again, then stood up and wandered away with the first woman.
What a bitch.
Suddenly, the big bad Turk has a heart? Toriko chided.
I'm a Turk. She's a nurse.
Doctors and nurses see death as much as you do, she pointed out.
...He's so helpless.
Toriko mentally nodded, then tore Rude away from the earliest memory. She flipped through Reno's brain like a magazine, scanning for what seemed most important. His father took him home after awhile. Didn't know what to do with him.
They saw the world from the bottom of a sorry-looking used crib. A worn blanket divided the too-tiny child from the drafts coming from the cracked window above the crib. Reno's father loomed above him, a large, unkempt man with a bad haircut and a tattered T-shirt. A cigarette hung from his lips as he contemplated the infant.
Rude growled in Toriko's mind.
"Tough little bastard, aren't you," he mused, completely without malice. "You lived. They didn't think you were going to live. I didn't think you were going to live. Showed them, though, didn't you, Reno?"
Reno stirred under his blanket and stared listlessly at his father.
"Attaboy, Reno, attaboy. You gonna grow big and strong, make your daddy proud. Make your momma proud, too." Reno's father hunched over the crib and pulled the blanket more securely around him. "Laurie. Your momma's name was Laurie, Reno. Don't you forget her. She went through hell, having you, and now she's dead. You killed her, you know. You better make up for it. You better be worth your momma's life." He stroked the infant's soft, colourless hair. "You better be worth it. 'Cause I sure as hell don't know how I'm going to pay all those doctor's bills. Crackfiend before you were born, I'll be damned. You're gonna show them, though, right Reno. You're gonna be a doctor or a lawyer or the ruler of the whole fuckin' world, and you're gonna go back to those doctors and tell them exactly where to stick their diagnosis-es, dammit."
Reno sighed and leaned into his father's touch, enjoying the warmth of the hand.
His father paused, allowing Reno to react to him. "Yeah." He gazed at his son for a moment. "Gotcher momma's eyes already." He stared for a long moment, then nodded to himself. "Yeah. You'll show 'em." He wandered away from the crib and into the ajoining room—the kitchen—and retrieved a beer from the refridgerator. He then wandered to the nearby living room and clicked on the television. Rude could hear the sounds of the evening news.