109 Chapter Forty-Six: Survival, Part II
Lance woke up with a headache. He sat up quickly, hand against his forehead.
"It's best to move slow." Yittek's voice.
He looked to the side, away from the window shining bright light into the small room. Yittek stared back at him, smiling faintly.
"It's good to see you up," the Razalek said.
"Yeah after fainting for the fourth time," Lance responded, dropping his hand. "Where's Zidane?"
"In another room."
"Is he okay?"
Yittek nodded. "Resting."
Lance paused, trying to sort out his thoughts, his memories.
"What... Happened?" he asked, looking back to Yittek.
The Razalek sighed, shaking his head. "Your guess is as good as mine. I haven't been able to bridge a connection with Zidane's mind. It's as though it's been reset."
"Because of the death."
Lance thought for a moment, thinking hard as he stared down at his sheet-covered feet.
"Is it 'cause I'm here?" he asked, looking back. "Cause I'm his Solflux?"
Yittek nodded again. "That's my speculation as well."
Lance stayed silent, thinking back. Thinking to the serum, how close they were.
"Lance," Yittek began, "it seems that thought was loud enough for me to hear. May I take another look?"
Lance raised a brow, thinking back to how the potion had been almost completely in his grasp, his nails knocking against the side of the vial.
"Lance..." Yittek's eyes closed, his head turning away. "I'm sorry to report... What you experienced was a very strong spark; a clone."
"What..." Words left him, fading away from his tongue.
"I'm sorry," Yittek apologized, his voice soft. "It seems that was simply a clone about to wear off. That vial wasn't real, Lance."
Lance felt his entire world drop.
"You mean it was a fake?"
"When a spark deteriorates, it's rather common for it to darken, for the pigmentation to be altered," Yittek said. "I'm sorry. I wish it were something else."
"So... He was just toying with us?"
Yittek nodded. "Perhaps he sensed you coming."
And decided to have a little fun. Lance felt like screaming. We weren't even close.
He distracted himself from it. He needed to get to Zidane.
He stood slowly, feeling his brain swim.
Yittek stood up as well. "Where are you going?"
"Need to see Zidane," Lance answered. "Gotta make sure he's okay."
Yittek nodded. "I can take you to him, if you'd like."
Lance shook his head. "I'll walk. Find my own way around."
Lance took his time moving down the hallway, passing statues carved out of the walls and elegantly crafted doorways. He couldn't help but feel a sense of... Purpose.
It made his steps more confident, his back straighter, his strides sharper.
He was going to beat this. These cells wouldn't be able to touch him.
He slowed to a stop, feeling a magnet-like intuition glow at the center of his chest. The next room, right in front of him... Zooka was inside it; Lance could feel it.
He waited for a few more moments. For what, he wasn't sure. It's not like she would just waltz out here and want to speak with him. Alone. Especially when Zidane was hurt.
"Do you... Speak English?"
First question she asked me. His heart expanded in appreciation.
He stepped through the door, pausing in the entranceway. Zidane was there, cuddled in her embrace. Zooka was bowed forward, head turned in and lungs gently moving in a rhythm of sleep.
He needed to speak with Zidane.
Lance started around the bed, across the room, leaned forward with his hands in the pocket of his hoodie.
Zidane turned, opening one eye halfway. He opened the other, giving a wide yawn.
"Hey yourself," Lance responded, straightening. "How're you feelin'?"
Zidane paused, then shrugged.
"Nothing out of the ordinary."
"Nothing out of the ordinary?" Lance said. "You've got a giant-ass gash across your torso. How is that not out of the ordinary?"
"Lance, I'm fine. Chill."
Lance huffed a little, running a hand through his hair.
He was silent for a moment, staring down at his feet. Finally, he looked up.
"What in the hell happened?" he asked.
"I died," Zidane answered, as if it were that simple. "Then, I came back."
"And everything in between...?"
"It..." Zidane swallowed, searching near his feet.
"I saw my mom," he said finally, and Lance's eyes grew wide.
"You what? You did?"
The crossbreed nodded.
"Yeah. She was there."
"What'd she say? What happened?"
"She just..." Zidane's eyes shined with tears. He blinked, wiped them away with a wrist. "She told me it wasn't my fault."
Lance let out the breath he'd been holding.
"Good." He nodded. "I'm glad, 'cause it wasn't."
Zidane didn't respond. Lance was about to reinforce the fact when Zidane spoke again, looking up to Lance.
"I owe you a lot," he said.
"Zidane, I didn't—"
"You brought me back," the crossbreed said. "You were my link to this world."
He grinned, then pumped a fist into the air. "Sweet, I was right."
Zidane grinned, laughing a bit. "What, did you have a bet with Yittek or something?"
"Wish I did." He paused, shaking his head with the grin still on his face. "Nah, just likeminded ideas."
"Glad you guys got it sorted out."
After a moment or two of searching the space between his shoes, Lance started around the bed, towards Zidane. He took his time, ambling, feeling the crossbreed watch him in patience, in curiosity.
Finally, stopping an arm's length away from the crossbreed, Lance looked up.
"I still wanna keep searching," he said. "Even if I don't have a lot of time left, I wanna keep looking for some way to get more time. I'm not letting these things win, even if it kills me."
"Which it won't," Zidane said, eyes lightening.
Lance smiled, sure his eyes were just as bright.
He extended a fist.
"So, what'dya say? You in this with me or what?"
Zidane leaned forward, the slightest amount of pain crossing his face.
"Yeah," he said. "I'm with you."
And as his fist lightly connected with Lance's, the human could only feel a surge of power.
Nothing could stop them. Nothing would come close.