Poor Unfortunate Souls

This is a Resonance of Fate fan-fiction. I do not own the game or characters (well, I have a legal copy of the game), they belong to SEGA and Tri-Ace. Also, I haven't been able to finish it yet, I'm trying very hard, but have a ton of other things to do as well being a wife and mother. So, yeah, if I've made an oops somewhere, please forgive me.

It was cold, but he didn't care. He slept in his hoodie and jeans, anyway, so the cold shouldn't have bothered him as much as it was. What was bothering him was the fact that he couldn't move. He couldn't even open his eyes or speak, and he knew he was late getting down to the main room of Sweet Home.

There were footsteps, and he heard a knock on his door. "Zephyr? I'm coming in."

It was Leanne, in all her sweet and pretty glory, coming to check up on him. He must have been really late. Her partially gloved hand touched his shoulder. "Zephyr? Are you awake?"

He tried to move, make some sort of sound, but couldn't. Something was affecting his mobility, and it bothered him.

"Zephyr?" Leanne tried to shake him, and a sharp pain ripped along his side. A low moan managed to escape him, the only sound of what should have been a blood-curdling scream.

Leanne turned and ran out of the room, looking down the skylight. "Vashyron! Something's wrong with Zephyr!" She made sure to press her skirt close to her legs, lest the leader of their bounty-hunting group try to catch a glimpse of her panties.

Vashyron looked up from watching his 13" TV. "What could possibly be wrong, Leanne? He's a big boy; he can take care of himself." He chugged back some beer.

"He can't even get up." Leanne returned.

"Alright, alright, I'm coming." Vashyron sighed. His blonde hair had been comically spray-dyed pink by one of the two younger bounty hunters, so he was wearing a hat to try and cover his shame until it all washed out. Beer still in hand, he trudged up the stairs to the roof and headed to Zephyr's room.

"He won't move, and he only made sound when I tried to shake him." Leanne said. She was getting worried.

Vashyron poked Zephyr's back and shoulder. Another sharp pain raced through him, and instead of a scream, there was only a low moan.

"You never took care of that paralysis shot you got, did you?"

"You mean this one?" Leanne asked, shaking a small jar. "He seems to keep all the bullets he manages to get out of himself."

"So what could be the problem, then?" Vashyron asked, finishing his beer. He sighed. The fee would be nuts, but he couldn't think of any other way. "Leanne, go get the doc."

She nodded and ran off, taking the stairs down instead of Zephyr's preferred method of using the skylight. It was only a few minutes later that she returned with the doctor.

"What seems to be the trouble bad enough you would call me?" the doc asked.

Vashyron motioned to Zephyr. "He can't move or anything. We know he's awake, but his eyes aren't open. And he moans whenever he's moved."

The doctor looked over Zephyr's face and neck, then pulled up the back of the hoodie to check his back. Scars marked his back, mostly from bullet wounds that he'd had to doctor himself. There were some fresh marks, and some blood that was just beginning to dry.

"What have we here?" The doc looked at the wound that was leaking a small amount of blood. "This one new?"

"That was where he got hit with an electrified round." said Leanne. "I helped him get the bullet out last night, and treated it."

"Well, it would seem to be the source of the pain when you move him." the doc said. "However, I can't find reason for his paralysis." He looked again at the youth lying on the bed. "Wait? Isn't this that beast-child you took in, Vashyron?"

"He doesn't like that title, but yes."

"How was it you caught him again?"

"Two to the head, and he survived." Vashyron said without much thought.

"Hmm?" The doctor looked again at Zephyr's head. There was a low, almost inaudible grunt from the patient as the doctor's hand brushed over part of his skull. "Did the bullet's ever leave?" he asked.

"There was no exit wound." Vashyron replied. "Why? What are you thinking?"

"If the bullets are still in his head, they may have shifted and caused this paralysis."

Leanne stood knocking her knuckles together.

"Wouldn't that have caused headaches or something?" Vashyron asked.

"He did have headaches." Leanne said quietly.

Vashyron and the doctor looked at her. "How long?"

"About a week. He didn't actually feel like going hunting yesterday, but knew we needed him with us for the hunt to go well. He was holding his head last night while I took care of the wound."

"Where was he holding it, girl?" asked the doc.

Leanne gently placed her hand on Zephyr's head. "Here, where my hand is."

The doctor looked at Vashyron. "How soon do you think you can move him up to Chandelier?"

"What for?"

"My workplace is up there, and I need to have a more in-depth look at this."

"He's kinda in an awkward position to be carried." Vashyron said.

Zephyr swallowed as best he could as he felt the doctor manipulate part of his spine. Another shock of pain tore through him, and a louder grunt, which should have been a yell followed by curses, escaped him before falling limp and unconscious to the bare mattress.

"Now he should be easier to deal with. I'll prepare my work studio and see you up there." The doctor left.

"So, I guess it's a trip up to Chandelier, huh?" asked Leanne.

"Guess so." Vashyron picked up Zephyr and carried him down to the main room. "Get some things together, Leanne. This trip may take a while." He gathered up a few bottles of liquor and put them in a backpack, along with a spare shirt and jeans.

Leanne came out of her room with a small pack, and they headed off to Chandelier.

Zephyr felt sick. He'd woken up while the doctor was poking at him, and the pain was terrible. And he let them know it. While he was still partially paralyzed, he had been able to open his eyes finally, and he could make sounds. Also given the fact that Zephyr hated needles, mostly because it had been those that had made him the immortal creature he was now, and he let them know it.

Leanne looked up from the book she'd packed as she heard Zephyr's screams of pain and fear. "Vashyron?" She looked over. "Geez. Don't you ever stop drinking?"

Vashyron, who was quite pickled at this point, looked over. They were right. Alcohol does make some girls cuter. He got up and wandered closer to Leanne. As he did, he unzipped his pants.

Leanne looked up. "Vashyron, you're a terrible drunk." she said. She went to return to her book when she suddenly found herself pushed back on the couch and her underthings torn off. Leanne tried to scream, but her panties found their way into her mouth as a gag. She tried to struggle, but Vashyron was much stronger than her. Her eyes widened, and she tried to scream as he drove his huge member into her previously untouched parts.

Vashyron held Leanne's arms down by the wrists and held her leg up as he thumped against her slender, girlish body. Damn, she felt good wrapped around his rather neglected member. He grunted and began to move faster, not noticing that Leanne was crying. He kept going, faster and harder, pressing as far as he could go as his hot seed spewed into her.

Leanne finally got control over her leg and kicked Vashyron away from her, sending him tumbling to the floor, where he lay, dazed and drunk. She sat up, fixed her clothes, and moved closer to the room where they were trying to care for Zephyr.

Zephyr coughed. There was blood, and he was trying to get it out.

The doctor had restrained him to the table, having to use metal clamps after Zephyr tore through three sets of leather and vinyl. "Now, then. To find out where those bullets are."

Zephyr coughed again. There was a bitter, metallic taste in his mouth. He flinched and tried to pull his arm away as the doctor gave him an injection.

"There, that should settle you."

It didn't, but rather had the opposite effect. Zephyr began to struggle more, growling and straining like an animal. He coughed again, and blood flew from his mouth. One clamp tore from the bed, still around Zephyr's wrist.

"What? That's impossible!"

The second arm restraint tore off the bed. The nurse, in order to save the other two expensive pieces of equipment, hit the release for the leg restraints.

Free, Zepher snarled at the doctor. His mind was blurring over, he felt like he was going insane. He just wanted to feel safe.

Safe. Like when he was a child. Childhood. The church.

Zephyr turned and ran towards the window, trying to avoid killing. These people weren't trying to kill him; there was no bounty on them. Why should they die, then? He threw himself at the window, crashing through it, and tumbling some four stories to the street below. He still felt his mind slipping away on him, and he knew he needed to get away. Running more like an animal, Zephyr ran for the only place he could think of to keep others safe, where only Vashyron would think to look for him.

Vashyron was semi-sober when the doctor came out. "What is it, doc?" he asked, doing up the fly of his pants.

"That boy you wanted me to take care of has just gone feral. I'm putting a bounty up for anyone who can capture and subdue that creature. He's bleeding, and has taken two of the metal restraints, still around his wrists."

Vashyron glanced over the doctor's shoulder. "You tried a sedative, didn't you?"

"Of course I tried a sedative, he was struggling!"

Leanne dusted off her skirt, trying to forget what Vashyron had done to her. "We'll take the bounty." she said.

"What?" asked Vashyron.

"Zephyr's a friend, and part of our team. It's our job to make sure he's alright and that he doesn't harm anyone, right?"

"Yeah, you're right." Vashyron sighed. There were two places to look for Zephyr. One was back at Sweet Home, which was closer and more likely. The other was the church where he'd first found Zephyr.

It had been three days. He could still feel the feral wants rushing through his head. Every time he coughed, there were flecks of blood, but no more large amounts that would fill his hands. In his one hand were two bloody bullets; the same two that had been shot up into his head by Vashyron.

Panting, he tucked the bullets into the pocket of his torn jeans. There had been bounty hunters coming through recently. He didn't want to face them, and the two walking in were no exception. He hid behind the statue, listening.

"So, this is where you found him, huh?"

"Yeah. He was covered in blood, and was using a badly battered machine gun. He couldn't aim that well with it, but did manage to blow a fuse and destroy the ceiling."

Those voices! He'd longed to hear them again, but with the way he was, could he face them?

"It doesn't look like he's here, though." said Vashyron. "No one's seen him. He could be anywhere, now."

Zephyr peered out from behind the statue. They were leaving. Guilt gripped his heart, and he tried to call out to them. Only a guttural sound came from his mouth, but it was enough to stop the pair and make them look back.

"What the heck is that?" Vashyron asked. "It looks like nothing I've ever seen before."

Zephyr felt ashamed. He couldn't even speak to them anymore. Still, he had to try something. He stepped out from behind the statue, more on all fours than walking, and tossed something at Vashyron. A few breathy snarls came from his mouth.

Leanne looked as it came skidding to a halt at Vashyron's foot. "It's a sub-mac." she said. She looked up. The battered, somewhat bloody creature was coming closer, and looking at her. On it's wrists were what looked like restraints that had been torn off something. "Zephyr?" she asked.

Zephyr sped up, closing the gap, and pressing his head against Leanne's hip. He grunted and made a few noises that were supposed to be an 'I'm sorry'.

Leanne got down on her knees and tilted his face up to look at her. "Oh, Zephyr. It's ok, now. You're back with us." She held him close.

Zephyr's nose twitched. Something was wrong with Leanne's scent. But, at the moment, he didn't care. He was back with his strange 'family'.

People stared when they arrived back at Sweet Home. Zephyr retreated to the relative safety of his room as soon as he could to avoid everyone's prying eyes. He reached into his pocket and pulled the two bullets out, putting them on his nightstand. How was he going to get through this? He felt like his mind was still deteriorating, like he was going to end up nothing more than a filthy animal.

"Zephyr?" Leanne stepped into the room. "Zephyr, what's wrong?"

He looked at her, his blue-grey eyes staring pitifully. He tried to say that his brain was fuzzy, but it wasn't working. He put his hand on his head. That got the message across.

Your head hurts, huh?" asked Leanne. "It's alright. You're home now. We'll take care of you."

Zephyr seemed to purr as he rubbed his head against Leanne's leg and hip. He wanted her to get down on his level, if she could, so he didn't have to crane his neck. But she showed no signs of wanting to sit, so he did the next best thing. He pulled her over to the bed and climbed up.

"I don't understand your growling." Leanne said. She reached over and petted his bleach-blonde hair. "I'm sorry."

Zephyr petted the bed, trying to invite her to sit. A slight growl that could have been taken for 'rit' came from his mouth, so Leanne sat. Zephyr came and lay next to her, putting his head on her lap. He didn't know when, but he fell asleep, the first time since running off.

Leanne ran her hand over his head, noticing it had been stained red with blood. But there were only a few injuries, mostly from the glass when he'd gone through the window. That wasn't enough to warrant the amount of staining in his hair.

Reaching over, she took his one hand. The restraint was still on it, and his wrist raw and bloody. Using the key the doctor had given her, she removed the restraints, treating the wounds with a salve and bandages. There were a few cuts, and a bullet grazing that was new.

"Must have gotten shot at when he was running." she muttered, tending to the wound. Once finished, she slipped away, leaving him to rest.

Zephyr panicked when he woke the next morning. He remembered Leanne being there, and now she wasn't. He tried to remind himself that she had probably gone to eat something, but the panic was over-riding every form of reason. He only stopped when he noticed his wrists didn't seem to weigh a ton. Looking down, he saw the bandages, lightly stained with blood from his panic.

Leanne must have done this for me. I wish I could thank her properly. He sighed and headed out to the roof, noticing that half the time he was touching the ground with one hand. It also hurt to try and stand properly, as opposed to hunched over as badly as he was.

"Oh, you're awake." Leanne said as she came up the stairs. "I was going to bring you breakfast."

Zephyr looked at her. He knew that scent that wafted from the girl. It was Vashyron's smell, and alcohol. Still, he sat down and accepted the plate of breakfast. At least he could still use the utensils semi-properly.

"Vashyron thinks we should take you up to Chandelier, to see the Cardinal Doctor." said Leanne. "I told him you might need some time before we can do that, but he's insistent."

Zephyr finished his breakfast and looked up at her. He growled and whimpered at her, forming something that vaguely sounded like 'ou tay wuf me'. He then got up and tried to take her hand, as though to say if she remained at his side, he'd go.

"Alright." Leanne smiled.

Zephyr was scared, but tried not to show it. Lying flat on his back (a position he hated because it made him submissive) he only had Leanne for comfort, and she had been asked to stand by the door.

"Open his mouth."

Zephyr panicked. He knew that voice; it was Sullivan, the man responsible for his strange immortality.

Without thinking, Leanne ran over and held Zephyr, trying to calm him.

"What are you doing?" Sullivan asked.

"It's alright, Zephyr. I'm here, you don't need to be afraid." Leanne took his hand. "See? If it gets to me too much, just squeeze my hand, ok?"

Zephyr nodded. He snarled as Sullivan reached for his head, but when the actual doctor touched his face, he obediently did as asked and opened his mouth. However, he nearly gagged when the doctor reached in his mouth. He gripped Leanne's hand tightly.

"Completely healed over. According to the scan, the bullets have left his skull, most likely the way they got in." said the doctor. He removed his hand and checked the rapidly healing bullet wounds, since Zephyr was shirtless. A fact that Zephyr hated.

"Young miss, what was the last kind of bullet that hit him?" the doctor asked.

"An electrified round, sir." Leanne replied. She reached over and ran her fingers through Zephyr's hair.

"Well, that explains his mobility and speech problem." the doctor said.

Zephyr looked at him questioningly.

"The electricity reacted to the two bullets in your skull, causing a disruption in the neuropathic impulses. Now that the bullets are out, you're going to have to work at being able to speak and move properly again."

Zephyr grunted, but was still confused. He sort-of understood that metals conducted electricity, since he often used electrified rounds on machinery. But then why did he continue to feel as though he were going feral?

Sullivan looked at Zephyr, watched the way he reacted to Leanne. "Young lady, I'd like to take Zephyr with me for a moment. Just a night at my place. You can pick him up in the morning."

Zephyr had rolled over onto his side, and he looked at Leanne, afraid she would allow it.

"Why would you want to take him?" she asked.

"His behavior is unique. I only wish to observe him for one night. Vashyron already said it was fine."

Zephyr grunted. He knew there would be no arguing with Vashyron. He looked sadly at Leanne and leaned close to her ear. Subtly, his tongue flicked out in a short kiss on her cheek before he backed away.

Leanne smiled softly and ran her hand through his hair. "I'll come get you first thing in the morning, alright?"

Zephyr nodded and watched her go. There was a click, and he found himself wearing a collar like an animal. He looked back at Sullivan and growled.

"Now, boy, we don't want to disappoint your lady friend by having to put you down, do we?" Sullivan tugged on the leash, and Zephyr grudgingly walked over.

Rebecca looked up when Sullivan came home. Her white outfit matched her hair, and her eyes looked up at Sullivan intently.

"A new playmate for you, my dear." said Sullivan as he unclipped the leash from Zephyr's collar. "Do get along while I see to dinner."

Zephyr watched him go, so he never saw Rebecca come closer to him. Not until she grabbed his arm and bit. He pulled back, pulling his arm from her mouth, and one of her teeth with it.

Rebecca tilted her head, eyes watching the blood than ran from Zephyr's arm. She came over again, took his arm, and started licking at the wound until it stopped bleeding. Her cute charms, however, were wasted on Zephyr. He watched her rather coldly, pulling his arm away as soon as she had finished.

Sullivan came in just then. "Dinner." He handed Rebecca a glass of red fluid, then turned to Zephyr. "I wasn't sure what you might prefer to drink, so I prepared three glasses. Choose the one that best suits your tastes. You may try all three if you like." He proceeded to set the food trays on the table.

Zephyr approached the glasses, knowing that there had to be a trick here. The first he tasted was wine, and he didn't much care for it. The second was a fruit drink, and was a bit more to his liking. But it was the strange substance in the third glass that caught his liking very much. However, he caught the ploy, and returned to the fruit drink. That third glass was blood.

Sullivan grinned slightly as he watched Zephyr from the corner of his eye. He'd seen the reaction to the third glass, and he wasn't going to let this discovery go unused.

"Come now, it's dinner time." he called.

Rebecca came and sat, still drinking the blood in her glass. She eyed the raw meat on her plate and fell to it immediately.

Zephyr came with a little more caution, and eyed his plate a while before eating. He left several pieces untouched, even though he knew his body hungered for the raw meat.

"Are you not hungry, Zephyr?"

He shook his head, then left the table and wandered to the balcony.

Chandelier was strange to him. There were no monsters or enemies to battle, and the smell from the streets below wasn't one of grease and oil. There was no struggle to live up here, and it bothered him. He preferred being where one had to fight for his life, rather than sit in the lap of luxury.

Sullivan daubed his lip with his napkin, then turned to one of the maids. "Deliver this to Vashyron down in Ebel City. I have some things to test with our new 'guest'."

"What?" Leanne asked. "Why can't I go get Zephyr?"

"Sullivan says he's displayed 'unfavorable' symptoms, and he needs to keep him in order for Zephyr to get better." Vashyron replied.

"What are these unfavorable symptoms?" Leanne asked.

"He didn't say." Vashyron replied. "But until we're sent for, we can't go up to get him."

"But I promised Zephyr I'd be there tomorrow to get him."

"Well, life is full of disappointments." Vashyron sat back on the couch and downed another beer. "Don't worry yourself. Sullivan knows what he's doing."

Leanne sighed and went up to the roof. Looking up, she wondered how Zephyr was going to take his abandonment.

Zephyr was less than thrilled to find that he was locked in the upper part of the cardinal's house, and that no one had come to pick him up. In his frustration, he slammed his fist into the mirror, shattering the expensive glass. Shards stuck into his hand and fingers, but he refused to let any of the maids touch him.

Left alone after the glass had been taken from his room, Zephyr sat and watched the blood run from the wounds in his hand. He decided to test his speech ability, and tried over and over to say blood. It never came out right, and he eventually gave up. Besides, the blood had dried, and it didn't hurt much.

Breakfast gave warning to what Sullivan was trying to do. The only thing on the plate was raw meat and a few vegetables. He picked at the vegetables, being sure to only eat the ones that didn't have bits of blood on it. He pushed the plate over to Rebecca, who happily devoured everything.

"Not hungry, boy."

Zephyr grunted and walked away.

Day after day it was like this. Zephyr stopped eating, as the foods got bloodier, less appealing to his mind but more appealing to his instinct. His hand became infected, and he tried to fight the fever that raged from it. He became weak, and his animalistic instincts began to threaten to overthrow reason.

As he lay on his room floor, looking at his hand that was now puffy and yellowed with infection, he noticed they had stopped locking the door to the lower part of the house. Dragging himself to his feet, Zephyr stumbled towards the door. He made it as far as the stairs before his knees gave out, and he fell down the flight.

A maid screamed. Zephyr pulled himself up as best he could and stumbled for the door. There were a few shouts, and then, Sullivan appeared on the balcony of the second floor.

"I forbade you to leave, Zephyr!" he shouted.

Zephyr raised his right hand, with only the central finger raised. It hurt, as that was the wounded and infected hand, but he no longer cared. He pushed the door open and staggered out into the sunlight.

Leanne looked over. She'd gone every day, despite Vashyron's arguments, to wait for Zephyr's release. Now, she caught him as he nearly collapsed on her.

"Zephyr!" Leanne pulled his arm over her shoulders and walked him away from the house. "What happened to you?"

Zephyr looked at her, squinting from the light, as they reached Core Lift 1. "Hand." he whispered. At last, after what seemed like an eternity, he could say something. He felt Leanne sit him against the rail on the lift, but wasn't really aware of the lift moving. Only when she helped him up again to walk.

Vashyron looked up from the couch as Leanne kicked in the door. "Well, well, look what the cat dragged in."

"I'm not a cat!" Leanne snapped. "He's hurt, and I need to help him. Get the bandages and medicine from the cabinet, and hurry." She guided Zephyr up the stairs to his room.

Zephyr nearly collapsed on his bed. He felt Leanne take his wounded hand and start to work out the pieces of glass he'd left there weeks ago. And then, blackness as he fell unconscious.

Leanne finished getting the glass out, then worked out the infection as best as possible.

Vashyron came up with the demanded items. "What happened?"

"I'm not sure. He stumbled out of Cardinal Sullivan's house, so I doubt he left with their consent." She bandaged the hand.

"He looks half-starved." Vashyron commented. "I'll see what I can scrape together for him."

"Make sure you actually cook it this time." Leanne called after him.

Zephyr groaned and blinked awake. It seemed to him only a few hours had passed, until he heard Leanne yelling from below.

Struggling, he stumbled over to the skylight so he could hear better.

"If the cardinal wants to see Zephyr, he can come down here and see him!" Leanne shouted. "What he did to Zephyr was borderline imprisonment and neglect!"

"The boy was offered food and drink." said Sullivan as he walked in. "It was he that refused."

Any sane person would refuse blood and raw meat. Zephyr thought.

"Why would he refuse?" Vashyron asked. "There had to be a reason." He turned off the element he'd been frying breakfast on.

"I don't know." Sullivan replied. "He simply refused, and instead stayed in his room most of the time, looking at his wounded hand and muttering to himself. He never let anyone near to help, or bathe him."

"Zephyr hardly bathed, anyway." said Vashyron. He wasn't watching his breakfast sausages, so he didn't notice when Zephyr managed to sneak down the stairs and plucked a few strait out of the pan.

"Three months?" Sullivan asked.

Leanne noticed the hand that reached up and swiped several burnt pieces of bacon off Vashyron's plate. "Well, he only takes a bath once every two weeks, and he never lets anyone help him, or come near him until he's good and ready." She looked at Sullivan. "And why did you lock him up?"

"He was exhibiting some rather unfavorable symptoms, and I hoped to observe and help him through them."

Yeah, right. Zephyr returned mentally. He reached up and grabbed hold of a few more sausages and some toast. Vashyron's cooking may involve burning most everything into charcoal, but it was always cooked through and still somewhat edible. He reached up and swiped the last of the bacon.

"What kind of 'unfavorable' symptoms?" Leanne demanded.

Zephyr blinked at her. Was she actually starting to get a chest? He finished the last of the bacon and grabbed Vashyron's toast.

"A thirst for blood." Sullivan replied.

"Zephyr's always enjoyed killing." Leanne returned.

"I think he means Zephyr literally drank blood." said Vashyron.

Zephyr slipped over to the table under the dart board. He hated where this conversation was leading. Besides, his hand hurt again, and he wanted to inspect Leanne's handiwork.

"He wouldn't drink it unless it was offered and the only thing available." Leanne defended. "And even there, he would have to be desperate."

"You think you know more than you do." Sullivan said. "You know so little. Did you know he destroyed an expensive mirror, then licked his wound, reveling in the blood? Did you know he fought with the child in my care?"

Zephyr retreated up the stairs. Sullivan was twisting everything that had happened, trying to make it fit what he wanted. He sat near the skylight, watching in case Sullivan tried to harm Leanne.

"What was the kid doing near Zephyr if he was that bad off?" Vashyron asked. He looked back at his plate. "Hey! Where'd breakfast go?"

Leanne burst out laughing.

"What's so funny?" Vashyron asked.

"I ate it." said Zephyr from the skylight. "And you might want to try the truth, Sullivan. I broke the mirror because I was angry you were holding me longer than you'd told Leanne, and I was frightened of your maids, so it wasn't cared for. The girl you have in your mansion bit me, on several occasions. And the only thing you offered me to eat was raw meat and blood, the same things that horned girl eats."

Vashyron looked at Sullivan. "Horned girl?"

"Rebecca." Sullivan said. "I'm trying to care for her."

"Why treat Zephyr the same way you treated her?" Leanne asked.

Zephyr jumped down. "Rebecca's immortal, and it's her code and blood that run in my veins, making me immortal." He glared at Sullivan. "It was her abilities that made me kill everyone at the church, including Cochet."

Leanne swallowed. She knew it hurt Zephyr to mention his sister, but he was trying to get a point across. He hated Rebecca and Sullivan for what was done to him.

"And who was that?" Sullivan asked.

Zephyr grabbed Sullivan by the front of his robe and jacket. "Cochet was my sister." he growled. He dragged the cardinal to the door and tossed him out. "And leave us alone!" He slammed the door shut.

"You do realize you just threw out the guy that gives us most of our hunting jobs." said Vashyron. He backed up when Zephyr growled at him.

Leanne sighed. "Um, Zephyr . . ."

He looked at Leanne. "What?" he snarled.

"Nothing. I can tell you later."

Zephyr retreated to his room and threw himself onto the bare bed. What was wrong? He'd growled at Leanne, the person that mattered the most to him. Why, when his emotions were going everywhere, why was he the most feral then? He lay his head on the pillow and sighed.

"He's been up there a long time." said Leanne.

"Eh, he'll be fine." Vashyron emptied another bottle of booze.

"Well, I should go talk to him." said Leanne. She headed up to Zephyr's room. "Zephyr."

"Come in." Zephyr was sitting on the edge of the bed when she walked in. He looked at her for a bit, then motioned for her to come sit.

There was silence for a while, until Zephyr spoke up. "So, were there many hunts while I was away?"

"Not really. There were a few to get things back from gremlins, and some escort missions, but nothing big. I flat-out denied one from Jean-Paulet, and Vashyron got upset about that."

"He would. But it's your choice." Zephyr looked her over again.

"Is something wrong?" Leanne asked.

Zephyr tried to find the right words, but couldn't. So he said it flat out. "Your chest is bigger." He flinched, waiting to get slapped. It startled him when he wasn't.

"Yeah, I know." Leanne said. "There's a reason for that."

"Would it have anything to do with this?" Zephyr reached over and put a hand on Leanne's stomach.

"How did you guess?" Leanne asked. "I haven't even said anything to Vashyron."

"You're not wearing leggings with your skirts anymore, meaning they don't fit. And you're subconsciously being overly careful about some things. You stayed at least an arm's-length away from Sullivan when he was here."

Leanne nodded. "It's been about three months already. I'm not sure I should be doing the hunting missions anymore."

"Then don't do them, if it makes you that nervous." said Zephyr. He put his hand on Leanne's shoulder. "You begged me, when I was depressed and suicidal, to keep living for you. I want you to do everything you can to stay alive and healthy for this one, alright?"

Leanne nodded. "Ok, Zephyr. I'll start staying back from the more dangerous missions."

"What are we doing out here?" Zephyr asked. "I know the church is deserted; not even monsters come into this place." He sniffed. "You're pickled again, aren't you?"

Vashyron sniffed and walked closer to Zephyr. In the month since the boy had thrown Cardinal Sullivan out of Sweet Home, the number of clients had dropped drastically, until the only jobs were the ones from the bulletin board at the Guild. Vashyron was pissed because of it, and as a result, was here now with Zephyr to punish him.

Zephyr didn't even know what hit him. One moment he was looking at the burnt and broken walls, the next moment Vashyron's hand was on his face and he was slammed back into the statue. The wind knocked out of him, Zephyr coughed, doubled over. Something struck him in the back of the head, and he dropped to the floor. As he tried to get up, Vashyron clapped his hands over Zephyr's ears, breaking the boy's equilibrium.

Everything sounded like it was going through water. Zephyr stumbled and fell, unable to stand. Vashyron was yelling at him, and using a knife to cut away Zephyr's clothes. He tried to swing at the older man, but the knife cut his hand. He found a strip of his jeans used to tie his hands together.

"It's your fault I can't even get laid with the girl at the clothing store!" Vashyron yelled. He roughly jammed his manhood into Zephyr's ass. "You ruined everything, you little whelp!"

Tears pooled in Zephyr's eyes as Vashyron thumped his hips against his ass. He knew he was bleeding back there as Vashyron abused him. The knife cut at his flesh, the cuts competing for which hurt more; his abused rectum or the cuts across his body.

Vashyron kept yelling, cutting deeply into Zephyr's skin. His hips kept moving, pumping harder and faster into the younger and smaller body. And then, blissful release. He sprayed all his seed deeply into Zephyr's bloody ass, yanking out roughly afterwards.

"Find your own way home, you ungrateful creature." Vashyron snapped, doing up his pants and walking out. But he didn't go back to Sweet Home. Instead, he stopped at Le' Chit-Chat Noir to have a few more drinks.

Zephyr lay where he was for a while, letting the cum and blood finish running from his ass. Slowly, he picked himself up and tried to salvage his dignity, but it was in vain. Vashyron had slashed all his clothes until there was nothing recognizable. Even the jacket was slashed, but it was the most complete piece of clothing left.

"Better take care of the cuts." he muttered. Using strips of the remaining clothes, he bandaged his arms, hand, and legs, as well as tried to tend to the large wound across his back. Using the jacket as a form of skirt, Zephyr stumbled out of the church and tried to make his way to the lift. He was unarmed; Vashyron had made sure to take his machine gun before he'd wandered away.

His appearance wasn't normal, he knew that. But he wasn't prepared to have to defend himself against a group of hunters as he got close to the lift. He ran towards them, grabbing a lump of dog turd and throwing it at the closest one to catch them off guard. It worked, and he skid onto the lift.

Leanne looked up from cooking as she heard the door slam shut. "Hello?" she asked.

"Hi." Zephyr groaned. He ached like crazy, and it was getting hard to see. He knew he'd lost a lot of blood from the cuts, so he sat down to try and tend to his wounds. He heard Leanne step out of the kitchen and gasp.

"What happened?" she asked.

Zephyr sighed. "I think Vashyron's pissed I threw his favorite client out the door."

"Where is he?" Leanne asked.

"Heck if I know. He finished what he wanted with me and walked away." Zephyr checked the bandaging on his arm. "Damn, these cuts are deep."

"Here." Leanne applied a healing salve to the wound. "Your only wearing your jacket, aren't you?"

Zephyr nodded, blushing. "I should find new clothes." he said, getting up. Sifting through the wardrobe, he found himself a pair of looser pants and a shirt that had seen better days, but was kept because it was comfy.

"Let me take care of your back, first." said Leanne. "I'll let you handle the rest."

Zephyr nodded and untied the strips of cloth from around his torso. He heard Leanne gasp. "What is it?"

"This is going to take a long time to heal." Leanne said worriedly. "I can see bone through the cuts."

"Won't the healing salve work?" Zephyr asked. He winced as she applied some to the wounds, and he wished he'd kept his mouth shut. But the gentle motions as she rubbed it over his wounded skin were soothing, and he relaxed.

Unfortunately, that was when Vashyron stumbled in through the door. He was heavily drunk, and when he saw Leanne caring for Zephyr, he yelled. "What are you doing to that thing?" he slurred. "Get lost, you whelp."

"You're drunk." said Leanne. She got up, having finished with Zephyr's back. "Dinner's in the kitchen if you can actually wander in that direction." She took Zephyr by the arm and led him to her room, locking the door behind her.

Vashyron felt stupid when he woke up, lying on the floor in his underwear the next afternoon with the world's largest hangover. "What the heck am I doing like this?" he asked, pulling his jeans on.

"Stripping, apparently." said Zephyr. He was without a shirt, letting the wounds get some time exposed to the air to heal. This also let Vashyron see what he'd done.

"What happened to your back?"

"Knife." Zephyr replied.

"Those marks are fairly precise. What kind of military officer did you run into?"

"A drunken one. He also raped me."

"Anyone I know?"

"You know him quite well. In fact, you know him best."

Vashyron thought a moment. He remembered being angry and drinking, and vaguely going out for a bit. He'd been at Le Chit-Chat Noir, and then . . . "Zephyr?"

The youth looked back at him. "Yeah?"

"It was me, wasn't it?" Vashyron asked.

Zephyr looked away. "Yeah." He finished putting the empty bottles in a box. "You almost hit Leanne last night, too."

"Where is that girl, anyway?"

"Taking a nap." Zephyr replied.

"She's sleeping a lot lately."

"Yeah, well, she needs her rest. I need to go out for a moment, I'll be back later." Zephyr pulled a shirt over and headed out to the clothing store out on Razzle Street. He had recognized one of Vashyron's complaints, and now he was going to do something about it.

The clerk looked up as Zephyr stepped in. "Hello. How is Leanne?"

"She doing." Zephyr replied. "Is Miranda in?"

"Yes, but she's in the back. Is there something you need her for?"

"I need to talk to her." Zephyr walked to the back of the store. "Miranda?"

"Hmm?" The rather busty lady at the sewing machine looked up. "Oh, Zephyr. What brings you here?"

"Vashyron."

"Oh, that man. I won't talk to him until he at least tries one of my new fashions." Miranda said.

Zephyr looked at the clothes that adorned the manikins. He'd been doing a few odd jobs around town in addition to the guild missions, so he had some rubies to spare. "Would you happen to know his size?"

"What do you mean?" Miranda looked at Zephyr. "You mean to buy something to put him in?"

Zephyr nodded. "Then he'd have to come and tell you what he thinks of it, right?"

Miranda smiled. "You're a cheeky one, Zephyr. Yes, I know his size. He's a men's large."

"Thought so." Zephyr looked around. "That one, the pink one."

"You really think he'll wear it?"

"He won't really have a choice when I'm finished."

"Where are my shirts?!" Vashyron shouted the next morning. He stood there in his undershirt and jeans, trying to find anything to wear.

"I washed them." said Zephyr. "It'll take a day or two to dry, so why don't you wear that new one in the wardrobe?"

"What new one?" Vashyron sifted through where his clothes hung. "NO WAY!" he shouted. He looked at Zephyr. "There is no way in hell I'm wearing that."

"It's that or your underwear." Zephyr replied. "And I need to go, I've got as job."

"By yourself?" Leanne asked.

"I'll be fine, it's just a few hours at Café Chelsey." He shrugged on his jacket and headed out.

Vashyron sighed and put on the pink shirt. "I'm going to have to have a word with Miranda about this. Somehow, I know she was behind this . . . thing I'm stuck wearing."

Leanne giggled as he walked out. But she was wondering, how long would it take him to notice she wasn't wearing her regular clothes, or that she had a belly?

Miranda stood at the front of the store, so she saw Vashyron coming up the walkway. "When he comes, tell him I'm in the back." she said.

It was only moments later that Vashyron, wearing the fluorescent pink shirt, walked through the door. You couldn't have missed him, even if you were colorblind.

The desk clerk only pointed to the back. She was hard pressed not to laugh at him until he was out of hearing range.

"What is the meaning of this?" Vashyron asked. "You had to have known when Zephyr bought it."

"Oh, it looks good." Miranda said. "How does it feel? I made it from synthetic cotton."

"That's not the point. It's pink. Men don't wear pink."

"Really? You look so good in it, though." Miranda smiled. "Besides, now we can finish with the business and get on with the pleasure." She let the coat she was wearing fall off her shoulders, and Vashyron forgot all about the pink shirt.

The thing with Leanne never really caught Vashyron's attention until Zephyr came home with a large box and some tools about a month after the shirt incident.

"What are you doing?" he asked.

"Building something." Zephyr replied. He poked his head out of Leanne's room. "Mind helping?"

"Sure." Vashyron found himself holding what appeared to be a headboard. "You making a new bed for Leanne?"

"Something like that." Zephyr attached the small side piece.

"You sure your assembling this right?" Vashyron asked.

"Yeah, I'm sure." He put the other small side piece on, then attached the bottom.

"This looks a little small to fit Leanne." said Vashyron. "It looks more like a child's bed."

"Uh-huh." Zephyr handed him the last wide piece. "Hold this." He worked at attaching it. "There."

"It's a crib." said Vashyron. "Am I missing something here?"

"Ask Leanne." Zephyr stretched. "Now that that's finished, time to get some sleep before shift."

"What shift?" Leanne asked, coming in with groceries.

"Another fill in at Café Chelsey." Zephyr replied. "Night duty this time."

Leanne put the groceries down. "So, did you get it finished?"

"Yeah, it's in your room." He stepped out into the cooler afternoon air. He'd probably get about three hours sleep, eat something, and then be off to his shift. Sweeping the floors and cleaning tables wasn't really his idea of a job, but it allowed him to get the things needed for Leanne and the coming baby.

Downstairs, Vashyron asked Leanne about the crib.

"It's for the baby."

Vashyron looked startled. "When did we acquire a baby?"

Leanne looked at him. "You really are blind to it, aren't you?"

"I'm not following."

"Zephyr knew two months ago just by looking at me." Leanne replied. She looked Vashyron in the face. "In case you missed it, I'm pregnant. And I think it's yours."

Vashyron stared at her. "What?" he asked. "What makes you think it was me?"

"Well, remember when Zephyr was paralyzed? You got kinda drunk at the doctor's office and raped me."

"This has got to be a bad dream." said Vashyron. "But, what about Zephyr? Couldn't he be the father?"

"Not likely. He and I have never done anything." Leanne replied. At least, nothing that wasn't only a dream.

Zephyr finished sweeping the floor. The white and black uniform for the employees didn't look that bad on him, especially since he wore white-rimmed glasses while he was working. Looking up, he spotted a gremlin trying to get in. Brandishing the broom, he swatted the gremlin, and it ran off.

"It's been quiet tonight." said the owner.

"Yeah, but that's alright. Gave me a chance to actually get the floor clean."

Just then a man only known as Chunky Gangster and two of his thugs walked in. Zephyr had a feeling they were going to be trouble, he just didn't know how much. And there was a 'no guns' policy, at least for the employees, so if they did cause trouble, he'd have to deal with it barehanded.

Chunky waddled in and looked around. "Alright, this is a hold-up. Give me all your rubies, jewellery, and anything else of value, and I'll only shoot up half the café."

Zephyr knew that the café meant a lot to the owner, and there wasn't enough things of value to satisfy Chunky's wants. He came around behind him and bunched him in the face. "Get out." he snapped.

Chunky turned. "A little skinny thing like you is trying to play hero? HAhahahahaha! Let's show him he'll never be a hero, boys."

The phone rang. "Hello. – What? – I'll be there. – Thank you very much." Vashyron put down the receiver.

"What is it?" asked Leanne.

"Zephyr got in a fight, and they need me to come get him."

"I'm coming too."

"It could be dangerous."

"I'll stay out of the way."

They hurried towards the café. When they arrived, the first thing they heard was a cracking sound. And the first thing they saw was a thug running out, holding his head.

"Stay here." said Vashyron. He readied his gun and stepped into Café Chelsey.

Chunky swung, and his gun made contact with something fleshy. There was a thud on the ground in front of the gangster, and then, he turned.

It was instant. Vashyron let loose a whole clip, and Chunky was no more. He fell off the railing and went down somewhere over the edge of Level 4.

Vashyron saw the person Chunky had hit, lying on the ground, bloody. "So, where's Zephyr?" he asked, afraid of what the answer might be.

The other two employees indicated to the person on the floor. "He tried to defend the café, said we had nothing of value."

Zephyr tried to pick himself up off the floor, but fell again. There was a lot of blood.

"Leanne, you can come in." said Vashyron. Together, the two approached.

"Zephyr!" Leanne hurried over and gently lifted his head out of the blood. "Oh, Zephyr. Why did you do it?"

Zephyr coughed as Vashyron picked him up. "He would have *cough* shot up the café . . . if he didn't get . . . didn't get a lot of money out of us." He coughed again, then fell unconscious.

"Here's his day's pay." said the owner. "See to it he's taken care of. He saved my establishment, after all."

Zephyr woke looking up at the ceiling. He knew he wasn't wearing his work clothes; those were probably either thrown out or being washed. His chest hurt, and when he touched, he could feel bandaging. His mind flashed to some of the events that night at Café Chelsey.

Chunky raised his gun and struck Zephyr's shoulder. Laughing, he demanded to know what he thought he was doing. Zephyr answered with "Protecting these people. We have nothing of value, get out!" He raised the broom he had in hand and struck one of Chunky's gang member over the head.

Chunky had then raised his gun and shot Zephyr four times at point-blank range. Blood had come up, being coughed all over Chunky's front. Chunky raised his gun and struck him, sending him to the floor. The sound of gunshots, and Chunky backpedaled over the side of the rail, never to be seen again.

He tried to move, but the pain kept him lying down. Didn't change the fact that he managed to roll over onto his side so it didn't hurt as much. But now he knew where he was. He was in the living room, where Vashyron usually slept.

"You're not supposed to move!" scolded Leanne as she came in from the kitchen. "It took a long time to stop the bleeding."

"How long was I out?"

"Two days." Vashyron replied. "Almost lost you, but Leanne was pretty stubborn about keeping you around."

Zephyr sighed. "Leanne."

"Yeah?" She saw the concern on his face. "Is something the matter?"

"It's about the baby."

"What about it?" Vashyron asked. "We already know it's mine."

"About that. There is a chance that it's mine."

"How? Vashyron unfortunately stole my virginity."

"No, I did. Unwillingly."

"Care to explain?" asked Vashyron.

"Remember when I was struck by the electrified round? When we had to get the bullet out we used some of Vashyron's liquor to dull the pain. You drank some, too. I woke up that night because of pressure against my lower abdomen, and you were kind of riding me, moaning. You seemed very into what you were doing, and also kinda out of it, so I left you alone. You got off after I blew my load, licked me clean, and wandered back to your room, muttering about how good the dream was."

Leanne looked terrified. She'd raped Zephyr in her sleep, and because of that, there was a fifty-fifty chance that it could be either man's child. And Zephyr was younger than her, just a child himself.

"Leanne?" asked Vashyron.

"What do I do?" Leanne asked. "If the cardinals find out the baby could be Zephyr's they'll take it away."

"How could the cardinals know you're pregnant?" Zephyr asked.

"Juris." Leanne replied. "He came to visit me after he'd heard I was part of Vashyron's hunter team. He saw right away, even though I tried to hide it under a coat."

"Who's Juris?" Zephyr asked.

"He's a researcher and doctor." said Vashyron. "In fact, he's the one that helped patch you up, and the one you ran away from when you were partially paralyzed."

Zephyr was quiet for a while. When Leanne peered at him, it turned out he'd dozed off.

Leanne looked up as Vashyron let Juris into Sweet Home. "Hey." she smiled. It had been a month since the Café Chelsey incident, and she was now a good six months along. Today her rounded features were framed by a floral dress, and she had a flower in her hair as well to match.

"Hello, Leanne." Juris smiled and hugged her when she came running over to him. "Be careful, we don't want you having an accident."

Leanne smiled up at him. "The baby moves around so much."

Juris nodded. "Now, where's Zephyr?"

"He's in his room a lot." Leanne replied. "It's up on the roof."

The doctor nodded and headed up with Leanne and Vashyron. Zephyr was standing on the roof, leaning on the side. He glanced back, but didn't move as Juris came closer.

"How are your wounds?"

Zephyr sighed. He really didn't want to answer with Leanne so close, but he figured he had no choice. He moved his arm, showing blood.

"What happened?" asked Leanne.

"Nightmare." Zephyr replied. "Thought some fresh air might help."

"Let's get you back to your room where I can check on this." said Juris.

Zephyr nodded. But as he pushed away from the roof barrier, he stumbled. Juris caught him and walked him into the room, noting that Zephyr had bled on the barrier, and his shirt was soaked. He sat the youth on the bed, but Zephyr fell over. As a precaution, the doctor closed the door, lest Vashyron and Leanne see Zephyr's problem.

"How long ago was the nightmare?"

"About an hour." Zephyr tried to catch his breath. He hardly noticed when Juris slid his shirt off him to be able to tend to the wound.

"You tore your stitches again. I can't re-stitch it, it's too torn up. I'll have to dress the wound and take you back to my clinic." He noticed Zephyr was almost out of it. "Kid?" He checked the wound. It had been bleeding for a while, and heavily, it seemed. No wonder Zephyr was almost unconscious.

Juris bandaged the wound, placing a strip of gauze soaked in healing salve over the open area. He opened the door. "Vashyron."

"Yeah?"

"I need you to carry him to the clinic; he's in no condition to be walking there himself."

Vashyron nodded and stepped into the room. He noticed Zephyr was sleeping. "Alright, but we're going to have to bring Leanne. She's been worried about him ever since he got shot up."

"Agreed. Unnecessary worry will only do her and the baby harm."

He didn't wake for a whole week, and during that week he seemed plagued by nightmares. When he finally did wake up, it was screaming.

"It's alright." said Juris, gently holding him down by the chest. "Just settle."

Zephyr lay there, gasping for a few, then swallowed and properly looked around him. "Where am I?"

"My private clinic. It's alright, the other cardinals don't know you're here."

"Where's Leanne?"

"She fine, at home."

Zephyr seemed to settle a bit more. "My side still hurts."

"You're slow to heal this time. You move around a lot, and it's impeding your healing. I had to splint your side to try to keep you from tearing it open again."

Zephyr moved his arm, touching where the wound was. There was a piece of wood that had been weathered down tied to his side in an effort to keep him from moving and opening the wound. He looked back at Juris. "How bad is it?"

"You've torn it open enough times it's become infected, but you've taken well to the medicated salve I've been using. If you don't reopen it, you should be mostly healed in another week."

Zephyr nodded. "Is it safe to walk?"

"I don't see why not, just don't leave the clinic."

Leanne was well into her seventh month by the time Zephyr returned. "Welcome back." she smiled.

"Good to be back."

"So, did it scar?"

"Yeah, and it looks awful." Zephyr shuddered. "I got sick the first time I saw it when he was changing the bandage." He looked at Leanne. "Sorry I missed so much time."

"Hmm? Oh, it's alright." She gave him a hug. "You know, I think the baby missed you." she smiled as the baby wiggled inside her.

Zephyr smiled. His thoughts suddenly turned solem. "Leanne."

"What is it? You suddenly look upset."

Vashyron stepped out of the kitchen. "Zephyr, what's the problem?"

"Two of the cardinals saw me when I was being cared for by Juris." He looked uncomfortable. "The first was Cardinal Theresa, and she wanted to just see that I was alright. She said you told her I was there when she asked where I was."

"I did." said Vashyron. "She was someone who supported my caring for you after I had been ordered to put you down, but you didn't die."

"So, who was the other one?" asked Leanne.

"Sullivan." Zephyr replied. He shuddered. "He drugged me against Juris's pleading, asked me things."

"Like?"

"What was going on with Leanne. He knows she's pregnant, all the cardinals do. But when I was drugged, he asked the father. I . . . I said it was me or Vashyron. He's coming to take Leanne before the baby comes." Zephyr looked miserable.

Leanne sighed. "Zephyr, can you do something for me?"

"What?"

She walked over to the wardrobe and took down a newer outfit. It was all black, and included a collar and leash. "Wear this when he comes. I'll be the one holding the leash, but I want you to be as protective of me as possible. Don't let him touch me. There's a quick-release on the leash so if you have to, you can break away to protect me and the baby, alright?"

Zephyr nodded. "Guess I'd better find my black spray-in, huh?"

Sullivan and seven soldiers came walking up to Sweet Home halfway through Leanne's eight month, just as he'd said.

Vashyron was their first line of defence. He stood by the door drinking what looked like beer. In reality it was a Sonic Chug, which would allow him to move faster. "What do you want?" he asked, tossing the empty bottle behind him.

"We're here for the girl."

"You'll have to be specific." said Vashyron. "I've had plenty of girl's through here lately."

Up on the roof, Zephyr clipped the collar on. They'd arranged with Juris that Leanne would go to him when Sullivan tried to take her. Now, Zephyr was going to try and get her there as best as possible. Lodged in his jaw was a break-away tooth that would enhance his feral abilities while still retaining his sanity.

Leanne placed a hand on her belly. "It's alright. We're going to see Juris."

"Come on." Zephyr led her down the fire escape at the back of the building.

Vashyron caught a soldier's arm. "Hey, I'm not doing anything wrong. You don't have a right to just barge into my home, cardinal or not."

"We're here for the girl, and we will kill you if we have to." said Sullivan. "Now let us through."

"Where's your warrant?" Vashyron asked.

"Here." A soldier handed Vashyron the warrant.

"It says here this can't be conducted by the issuing cardinal. I can let the soldiers in, but not you, Sullivan." said Vashyron. He let three of the soldiers in. "Sorry, but it's not a big enough establishment to let all of you in."

The soldiers came out moments later with Miranda. "This is the only girl we could find." they said.

"Vashyron, what's going on?"

"Wrong girl, you idiots!" shouted Sullivan. "The little pregnant one with the tatter-tits."

That was it. Vashyron slugged him. "Tatter-tits or not, Leanne is a valued member of my team and doesn't deserve your insults!"

"There she goes!" one soldier yelled, pointing towards the bridge.

Zephyr pulled Leanne onto the lift as the other soldiers got closer and pulled the switch to get up to Chandelier. He had to kick two soldiers off as it started to go up, and then, they were alone.

"Zephyr." Leanne looked uncomfortable.

"Leanne, what is it?"

Leanne looked down. There was water pooling at her feet. "My stomach hurts."

Zerphyr nodded and downed a Sonic Chug. He was going to need the speed.

The lift reached the top, and there were more soldiers. Zephyr snapped the break-away tooth and snarled. His blue eyes glared at the soldiers, and he pulled out his two guns; one handgun and one sub-mac.

"Move!" he shouted.

"We have orders . . ." The soldier suddenly dropped, gripping his knee.

The other soldiers backed away as Zephyr led Leanne through. Suddenly, the boy turned, grabbed Leanne, and dashed for Juris's clinic. Thankfully, the doors were open, or they'd have been kicked in.

"Juris!" Zephyr shouted.

"I'm right here. What is it?"

"The soldiers came for Leanne, on Sullivan's order. And she hurts." said Zephyr. He was panting and holding Leanne a little tight.

"Over here, on the bed."

Vashyron stood between the seven guards and one Sullivan with a bloody nose as the lift headed up to Chandelier. His hands were tied behind him, and four soldiers had ropes that went to a prisoner collar that he was wearing. Apparently slugging a cardinal was an offence.

Sullivan was startled to see Rebecca waiting for him at the top of the lift. But she wasn't happy. She was pulling at a blood-red collar that was around her neck. There was a snarl, and her leash was pulled back, making her back up.

The person on the other end of Rebecca's leash was Zephyr.

"You! How did you get Rebecca?"

"She walked into Juris's clinic." Zephyr replied. "And you're too late."

Vashyron knew what he meant. Leanne's baby was born.

"What do you mean?" Sullivan asked.

Zephyr looked at Vashyron. "It's his, not mine." He turned and pulled on Rebecca's leash again.

"Don't hurt her!" Sullivan yelled.

"Leave Leanne and her baby alone, and I'll let this thing go." said Zephyr. By this point he'd pulled Rebecca back to where he was standing. He tilted Rebecca's head up and looked at her. "Want to play tag?" he whispered.

Rebecca nodded. She liked that game.

Zephyr gently unclipped the leash. "Go." he said, letting her loose.

Rebecca immediately ran straight for Sullivan, but stopped just out of his arm's reach. She grinned, and Sullivan suddenly realized what she was up to.

"Rebecca." he said, making a grab for her. She jumped back, grinning. Grabbing his arm, she bit him.

With the chaos that Rebecca was making, none of the soldiers knew or cared that Vashyron had gotten his hands freed or got out of the collar. He walked over to Zephyr, and the two headed to Juris's clinic, leaving Sullivan and the guards to try and catch Rebecca, who thought it was all a game.

"So, how did it go?" Vashyron asked.

"Juris said it was relatively fast." said Zephyr. "But it's only a matter of time."

"What do you mean?"

They stepped into the room where Leanne was resting with the baby. She looked up at them and smiled. "Hey, Vashyron. It's a girl."

"Heh, another little lady for our home, huh?" Vashyron asked. He sat down, and then saw what Zephyr meant. There was no mistaking those features, even on a newborn. The baby was Zephyr's. The boy had lied in order to keep Sullivan away.

"You do realize that she's going to need at least basic testing?" said Vashyron.

"Juris is already doing that." said Leanne. "He said some simple blood work would let him know if she has any of Zephyr's mapped abilities."

Just then Juris came in. "Ah, you're all here. The results are back on the blood work."

"And?" Zephyr asked.

"She has enhanced immunities against natural diseases, but that's about it."

"Huh?" asked Zephyr.

"It means she's less likely to get sick." said Leanne. She rubbed her finger over the baby's cheek.

"Do you have a name for her yet?" Juris asked.

Leanne looked at Zephyr. "I had really thought about . . ."

"Cochet." said Zephyr. He reached over and touched the baby's soft head. "I'd like her to be called Cochet, if that's alright."

"After your sister?" Leanne asked.

Zephyr nodded. "And she looks like one."

"Oh, Zephyr? A moment alone." said Juris.

He got up and followed the doctor. "What is it?" he asked.

"I told Rowen that a child had been born recently. I've asked for her star to be found, as my gift to her."

"And how are we going to protect it? The base isn't exactly safe, even with one of us always there." Zephyr asked.

"I would keep it here until she was old enough to have it herself."

"That would probably be best."

"Oh, about the blood work I did on you."

"Yeah?" Zephyr looked worried.

"Thanks to the newer medication you're on, you've been able to properly adapt the newer traits with little to no side-effects to your body's chemistry." said Juris. "However, I noticed a slight difference between the last time I saw you and when you brought Leanne to me."

"What's that?"

"You've been biting your lip, haven't you?"

"Not that I know of."

"Open up." said Juris.

Zephyr rolled his eyes, but did as asked. "What are you looking for?" he asked.

Juris tapped Zephyr's incisor. "Thought so. You've got fangs."

Zephyr looked confused and closed his mouth. "Should I be worried about this?" he asked.

"Probably, but mostly with little Cochet. She may also have fangs when her teeth come in."

"What are they good for?"

"Basically, their good for tearing through food."

"Anything else?"

"Natural Halloween prop?"

"I get the idea." said Zephyr. "Should we tell Leanne?"

"I'll do that."

It wasn't the best, but it was still a warm welcome when Leanne came home from the clinic with little Cochet. The main room had been cleaned and re-arranged to include a second bed for her, and a rocking chair for anyone who was cuddling her at the time.

"Zephyr, you're all dirty." said Leanne. "What have you been doing?"

"Come upstairs." He led Leanne up, where he'd managed to half-construct some walls and a roof. "So when she's bigger we don't have to worry about a room for her. It'll be across from mine."

"And be a bit warmer than this once it's finished." added Vashyron.

"Thanks, you two." smiled Leanne. "For everything."