Prologue: Dr. Theodore Renard

Author's Note: For the record, this is pretty much the beginning of a re-write for One Word:REVENGE. I read one of the reviews on Ch. 9 and it got me thinking. There's a lot of errors and things about the original that I felt need fixing or clarifying or whatever. Overall, I just felt like the best way for this crazy story to reach its full potential was if I took another crack at writing it. So...here's the first part of the prologue. I'm just sorry I didn't get this done and posted sooner...Sorry for so much delay and ENJOY!

2007-Wawanaka-Set of Total Drama Island

He stood at over six feet tall, easily taller than Chris by several inches, broader and more muscular, too. He had silvery gray eyes and long, dark red hair that he had pulled back into a ponytail. Two of the female interns were looking at him, then at each other as they giggled and smiled. It was obvious that he was handsome; cameras would eat him up faster than a McDonald's burger.

As he watched the man walk closer to him, Chris could feel a huge lump forming in his throat, feel himself gritting his teeth. Total Drama Island was one of his biggest breaks in show business so far, the thing he'd probably be noticed for. If he was successful with TDI, he'd become a household name and, hopefully, get even bigger better gigs as a host for other, possibly more popular shows. And now here comes Mr. Perfect, a man that could rival Chris in looks. A man this handsome could only be one thing: Chris' co-host. There was a possibility that he could even overshadow Chris, take his chance...

No. Chris wouldn't let him do that.

Lost in his thoughts, Chris jumped back a few feet when the redhead materialized out of nowhere next to him, a warm, polite smile on his face.

"Hello," the man said in a tone as friendly as his face. "I'm Theodore Renard, the guy sent by the executives to determine how ethical the challenges are for Total Drama Island."

"I'm Chris McClean," Chris replied, showing off his pearly whites in a smile he hoped would blind Theodore. Already, Chris was taking an instant dislike to him. Apparently, the executive producers of Total Drama Island were already so suspicious of him that they had to send a babysitter. A babysitter with a viable excuse for being around, but a babysitter no less...

"Pleased to make your acquaintance, Mr. McClean. Now, I'm not the type of man who likes to beat around the bush, so how about we get this over and done with, hmm?" Theodore smiled, holding up a blue fountain pen and a clipboard.

"Okay." Chris motioned at one of the giggling interns. She raced over, her eyes wide and shining while her friend stayed where she was, arms folded and glaring.

"You're hot," she whispered to Theodore, batting her eyelashes.

In reply, Theodore just laughed as he clicked his pen. "I'm much too old for you," he said.

"You don't look-"

Before she could say anything else, Chris silenced her with a wave of his hand. Clenching his fists, he led the way towards the camp ground, Theodore and the intern in tow. They walked past the pathetic looking wooden cabins into the woods up ahead. All the while, Theodore tried to start a conversation with Chris, but Chris blatantly ignored him, or deflected his attempts with grunts or noncommittal responses.

Soon enough, they stood at the foot of the first challenge. Silently, Chris smirked to himself as he looked at his handiwork, relishing in his absolute genius. This was one of the few challenges that he'd constructed and set up himself. Incredibly, the intern had stopped her mindless birdlike chatter and even Theodore was silent. Inhaling a breath, Chris waited as they took it all in. Yes, they were speechless; there was no denying how brilliant-

"You can't pitch this challenge to the producers," Theodore cried, outrage in his voice.

The moment had been shattered like a pane of glass. Befuddled, Chris turned and looked at Theodore; Theodore's brows were furrowed and he was frowning, scribbling rapid notes on his clipboard. Once he was done, he clicked his pen and shot a disbelieving look at Chris.

"Who...who came up with this particular challenge?" Theodore asked.

"Me," Chris replied through gritted teeth. "Is there a problem?"

"Yes, there most certainly is." Theodore narrowed his eyes and his nostrils twitched. "There's going to be children participating in this show, Mr. McClean. They could die facing something like this. I don't care if it would garner in ratings from Martians all the way on Mars, I won't condone this! Besides, they're competing for ten thousand dollars, not in a fight-to-the-death Roman coliseum..."

Chris raised an eyebrow, feeling himself boiling with rage. It only made him feel that much angrier when he noticed the intern glaring at him and shaking her head; she was only taking Theodore's side because she thought he was 'hot.' But then again, she was just a fickle teenage girl: Up until the moment Theodore had arrived, she'd been mooning over Chris...

"This is my best idea!" Chris yelled at Theodore. "All of the other challenges freaking suck compared to this one! Besides, all of the contestants will be signing liability waivers..."

"You're absolutely insane," Theodore chided, clicking his tongue. "I promise you, the more you fight to keep this challenge, the more I'm inclined to call the producers and ask them to fire you."

"You can't get me fired!" Chris howled.

"I can and I will," Theodore replied, eyes glinting like steel. "I have more pull than you, Mr. McClean-"

"I OWN A YACHT!" Chris screamed at Theodore; he was so furious, he was seeing red like a bull. His response only led to Theodore reaching into his jeans pocket and pulling out a cell phone. That's when the red flags went up and Chris' eyes widened. In an act of desperation, he reached out and grabbed Theodore's wrist, looking right into his eyes.

There was no mercy in those liquid metal eyes; Theodore believed that he was simply doing his job. Heart pounding in his chest and ears, Chris took a deep breath and pulled away, absentmindedly wiping at his shirt and blowing out a long puff of breath.

When he was calm again, he looked up at Theodore and Theodore put his cell phone in his pocket.

"Your reaction showed that you care about this quite a bit," he said, spreading his hands. "Show me how this challenge works. Show me that it's safe and that a person wouldn't die in trying to complete it."

Say please...Chris thought bitterly. Then he snapped his fingers and pointed at the intern. "You."Her eyes widened momentarily and Chris smirked. "Get me a coffee."

Shaking, she turned and scurried away through the trees and underbrush. Once she was gone, Theodore raised his eyebrows at Chris. "For a second I thought you were going to make her do this challenge," he said, slightly disconcerted.

That was when a tall and blond teen boy lumbered towards Chris and Theodore, iPod headphones dripping out his ears. He was noisily chewing on a piece of gum and had a large green plastic crate under one of his arms. When he saw Chris and Theodore, he pulled his headphones out and gave a lazy wave of his hand. "'Sup?" he asked, nodding at each of them in turn.

This was just too perfect; Chris had just been about to call Chef to go retrieve this particular intern. He smirked, but stopped as soon as a pungent, disgusting aroma attacked his nostrils. The plastic crate was full of huge, nasty-smelling slabs of meat. As Chris reached up to cover his nose, Theodore was doing exactly the same thing.

"What...what's in that crate?" Theodore cried, tears collecting at the edges of his eyes because of how intense the smell was.

The teen boy shrugged and sniffed. "Meat. For the lions," he replied. "I was born without a sense of smell. I guess that makes me lucky."

"Yeah..." Chris narrowed his eyes. "You're going to be demonstrating this challenge for Mr. Renard right here."

The boy's eyes widened as did Theodore's. "Uh...no, dude. No effing way," the boy protested, shaking his messy mop of hair.

"I'd have to agree," Theodore chimed in.

"Do it or you're fired!" Chris barked. He'd never really liked this particular intern in the first place; he was lazy, never listened to instructions, spent most of his time lying around and listening to his stupid iPod. Apparently, losing his internship, even if it had no pay, was enough to make the boy nod and walk towards the challenge. Theodore watched despondently, his fingers twitching.

With shaking hands, the teen boy walked towards a huge man-made crevasse in the ground that had a fifty foot drop. At the bottom of the crevasse were a bunch of ferocious lions, eyes glittering with hunger, long white teeth bared. A long wooden plank bridge across the expanse of the crevasse was the only way to get to the other side. As soon as he placed one foot on the wooden plank bridge, it shook, implying that it wouldn't be able to bear his weight. Squeaking and whimpering like a mouse, the boy took another step and another, sweat dripping down his acne-ridden face. As soon as he was completely on the bridge, the boy made the mistake of looking down and peed his pants.

At the pace he was progressing, Chris was sure that the intern would make it across if he kept his wits about him. Humming under his breath, Chris cast a look towards the trees and willed the other intern to hurry up and get back here with his frigging coffee; his nerves were jarred and the way the veins on Theodore's neck were popping out was doing nothing to help.

A few more seconds passed and Theodore let out a strangled breath. "This is madness!" he cried in a loud whisper.

Chris' eyes widened as he watched Theodore rush towards the bridge in several long, wide strides, a determined look on his face. Without hesitation, when Theodore reached the teen boy, he nabbed him by the wrist and gently tugged him back in the direction of the grassy edge, away from the crevasse.

"You don't have to do this," Theodore insisted.

"Yeah, I do," the boy insisted, taking another tentative step.

"An unpaid internship isn't worth risking your life for!" Theodore begged him, tugging on his wrist again.

In reply, the boy yanked his wrist away and turned away from Theodore. He stood straighter and taller, taking several more confident steps onto the bridge. Helplessly, Theodore stepped off of the bridge and watched as the boy continued walking, grinding his teeth as he fought his own indecision. Surprisingly, the boy made it as far as the middle. Folding his arms, Chris shot a smug look at Theodore, but Theodore was too busy looking at the teen intern and worrying about his welfare.

By now, the teen boy was getting overconfident. He shucked away his fear and took off at a valiant gallop, ignoring the lions growling and roaring so far below him and the creaking and groaning of the bridge. Just one misstep, then the bridge swayed and the boy tripped, fell. By some kind of miracle, he managed to grab the edge of the wooden plank bridge and hold himself there, just barely, by his fingertips. Grunting, he tried to pull himself back up, but that made him slip a couple of millimeters...

Chris gritted his teeth and started clenching and un-clenching his fists, trying to figure out what to do.

While he contemplated his next move, Theodore didn't think twice as he ran out onto the bridge, making it jump up and down sporadically under his weight, right towards where the boy was clinging on for his life. Frightened, the boy scrabbled to keep his perch and managed to scramble up onto the board, hugging it with his arms and legs.

Frowning and breathing hard, Theodore reached down and grabbed the boy's arms, prying him up off of the bridge and back up onto his feet. He grunted with the effort, but the harder he tried, the more the bridge started creaking and straining.

The wood plank bridge was about to snap; Theodore was too busy to notice that the weight of him and the intern boy was too much. Feeling another lump form in his throat, Chris finally launched himself into action. Horror struck, Chris reached out pitifully at the wood plank bridge and gripped it, tight, trying to keep it from skittering into the depths of the crevasse. His knuckles were white with the effort and he was looking at the whorls in the wood when the sound of splintering wood filled the air.

At the last second, Chris looked up.

The bridge audibly snapped underneath Theodore and the teenage boy. They both fell down, down, down, screaming at the top of their lungs, terrible, bloodcurdling screams. The last that Chris saw of either one was the flash of Theodore's red hair and the teen boy's blue iPod.

It was overkill to have lions at the bottom now, Chris realized; nobody could survive the fall that the intern and Theodore had just taken.

Hurriedly, Chris reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone, pounding the buttons with shaking fingers, even though he knew it was no good now.

"Chef..." Chris murmured into the phone, scared. "We have a major problem..."

The world swayed and zipped around Theodore, like a crazed whirligig. Falling 9.5 meters per second, every part of him felt like it was going to ripped out and up out of his body. Next to him, the intern looked at him with wide, deer-in-headlights eyes. The expression on his face mirrored how obviously he wanted to live to see tomorrow; Theodore shared the same sentiment.

Silently, he squeezed his eyes shut and murmured a prayer in his mind, begging any kind of divine entity to intervene and rescue them. Mere seconds later, he heard the intern squeaking in disbelief. When he opened his eyes, he found that the two of them were floating downwards, light and airy like feathers. Smiling to himself, he silently thanked the entity that had sent the winds that were buoying them safely and steadily to the ground. His relief was short lived: There was still the matter of the lions below.

Once again, Theodore was praying, but he was mentally preparing himself for a battle he knew he'd lose. Frowning, he reached out and pulled the intern by the arm.

"Stay behind me," he instructed and the intern replied with a curt nod.

Slowly, the winds started to dissolve and lessen; Theodore clenched his fists and prepared for the landing. His brown loafers touched soft brown dirt and right away, they were surrounded by three howling lions. The biggest lion pawed the ground and shot warning looks at the others, making them back up as he sauntered up towards Theodore and the intern, licking his lips. Cautiously, Theodore stepped forward, arms spread and fingers splayed.

With the lion only a foot away, he narrowed his eyes and looked directly into the alpha lion's liquid green eyes. The moments ticked by; the intern was biting down on his lip. Hard. Then he peed his pants again. All the while, Theodore waited as the lion hunkered down and hunkered back, getting ready to launch itself like a spring. Before it could strike, Theodore launched himself into the air and spun once, twice in a somersault, baring down on the lion's head with a deftly planted kick.

He wrestled the lion until he held its head in a headlock and flopped it onto its back in a pin. With all of his might, Theodore struggled to keep the lion in the pin; eventually, the lion crept back out and then threw Theodore to the ground like a rag doll. Mind rushing, Theodore looked up at the pale picture book blue sky overhead as the alpha lion looked down into his face. The other lions were looking at him, too. All of them hungry and waiting.

"BOY!" Theodore screamed. "RUN!"

As Theodore tried to crawl back up onto his feet, the alpha lion placed a paw on his chest and pressed him onto the ground. Roughly. Theodore struggled and thrashed, launching kicks at the lion with as much ferocity as he could manage. In his mind's eye he could see the intern running away and with every beat of his adrenaline fueled heart, he hoped that was what was happening...

Suddenly, his hopeful vision was crushed when he saw the intern peering over the burnt orange mane of the lion. A crazed look crossed the young boy's face as he buried his fingers in the lion's mane and pulled and yanked, making the lion roar in pain. Taking his chance, Theodore leaped back onto his feet and launched a roundhouse kick at the alpha lion's eye. As it pawed piteously at its eye, Theodore turned towards the intern.

"RUN!" Theodore howled at him again.

"No!" the boy replied, frowning determinedly. "We're getting out of here together, Renard!"

Before he could argue with the boy anymore, Theodore heard a loud roar behind him. Then he was on his back and was pinned by yet another lion. Beyond the faces framed by fur and teeth, Theodore could hear the intern yowling and calling out his name. Desperately, Theodore fought off the lions with all of his strength. Somehow, he was able to fight through the lions, but he was too late to do anything: the teen boy was screaming and the alpha lion was rearing his head back and lunging in, over and over with a vicious appetite.

Stripes of red blood scattered across the air and tears sprung on the edges of Theodore's eyes. He reached out and could hear his heart pounding in his ears like the deep thrum of a Congo drum as he was pushed back to the ground. Closing his eyes, Theodore screamed as he felt sharp teeth bite down into him, followed by several more. It happened over and over again, but Theodore never opened his eyes and he just stopped fighting completely.

Behind his eyelids all he could see was that he'd failed

...He'd failed miserably...

4 Years Later

November 2011-New York City-Presbyterian Hospital-ER Waiting Room

Mrs. Burromuerto stood in the hallway, her hands clasped over her heart as she wept, her shoulders shrugging as her face contorted in her misery. Her husband, a tall man standing at over six feet, paced impatiently across the hall, his arms folded behind his back. Next to Mrs. Burromuerto her mother-in-law, Esperanza, tried desperately to calm her down, offering her fluffy white tissues and patting her knee.

Anxiously, Mrs. Burromuerto looked up at the two double doors towards the hospital's emergency room, helplessly wishing that a doctor or nurse or somebody would walk through and tell her whether or not her precious baby boy was going to be okay. She looked up with wide, tear rimmed eyes for a few more seconds before turning her face away again and letting her long brown hair fall into her face.

"He'll be okay, Leandra!" Esperanza tried to console her. "He'll be okay..."

Leandra looked up at Esperanza and pushed her hair out of her face. Then she puckered her lips and shook her head, trembling. "I shouldn't have trusted the life of my precious little boy to Dr. Renard..." she said, her voice full of regret. "I'd rather have him alive and a robot than dead and mangled. I watched that doctor take Alejandro out of his robot shell. That was the only thing sustaining his life! The moment he was taken out of it..."

Hands shaking, Leandra squeaked and Esperanza leaned in, dabbing at the lines of dark black mascara running down her face with a tissue. As Leandra squawked and shook with the threat of more tears, another figure lumbered onto the scene carrying a tray filled with diet Sprite, frown lines creasing his forehead. As soon as she saw her eldest son Carlos, Leandra leaped to her feet and raced over to him, wrapping her arms around him and digging her fingers through his curly brown hair; as a result, he dropped the tray to the floor and the cans went rolling with hollow thuds.

"You and Jose are..." The rest of her words were lost in an incoherent burble as she buried her head in Carlos' soccer jersey. Not sure how to react, he reached up and pushed his mom away gently, grabbing her shoulders and wrinkling his brows.

"...what?" he asked.

Audibly, Leandra took a deep breath and looked up at Carlos. "Alejandro's dead!"

As Carlos started to compute what she'd just said, Esperanza ran over and gently pushed Leandra away. She looked up at him earnestly with her chocolate brown eyes and shook her head. "We haven't even heard from the doctor yet," Esperanza explained. "Your mother's overreacting..."

"Overreacting?" Leandra squawked, tearing away from Esperanza, her eyes wide in disbelief. "Dr. Renard is a nutcase, Esperanza! A nutcase!"

Shaking her head, Leandra turned on her heel and started marching towards the double doors. Her husband let her pass and he, Carlos, and Esperanza watched her as she stomped through the doors and into the hallway beyond. For a few seconds afterward, Carlos stared at the door a few more tentative seconds before turning towards his dad and Esperanza.

"I don't trust Dr. Renard, either," he said, his dark eyes shining earnestly. "I'm following Mama."

His dad nodded in silent agreement and looked at Esperanza. "Are you coming, Mom?"

Esperanza gave a casual shrug in response. Led by Carlos, the three of them followed after Leandra.

"You can get up now..." said a calm voice tinged with a slight Brooklyn accent.

Groggy, it was a massive effort for Alejandro to open his eyes, but he managed to. The very first thing he saw was a stark white ceiling, crisscrossed with a bizarre series of curls and squiggles. Blinking several times, he tried to remember where he was and why he was there. It came to him after a full minute of intense concentration: I'm in Dr. Renard's office...This must be the end of that surgery Dr. Renard was talking about. Maybe...just maybe...I don't need that robotic shell anymore...

Following the train of his thought, shock and surprise filled Alejandro when he was able to sit up all the way. He saw a tiny window set into the wall looking out on the tall, mirror ball skyscrapers of NYC which poked at the sky and shimmered like diamonds. Outside, the sky was pale blue and calm, and he guessed that the sun was probably in the middle of the sky by now. So, it was probably around noon. Beyond the window, the rest of the room was so white and sterile it hurt Alejandro's eyes. He squinted and ignored the pain, turning his eyes down towards the eggshell blue of the coverlet on his thin hospital pallet.

Then he tried to lift one of his hands.

It wouldn't budge.

He tried to move his arms and then his legs.

They wouldn't budge.

His heart started pounding in his chest and, warily, Alejandro started to look in the direction he thought his hands were-

His vision was suddenly filled with a bunch of motherboards and wires and circuits. Copper wires gleamed like stars and a few LED lights blinked blue, then purple, and other colors; a circus of cogs turned slowly around and around all throughout the set-up: he was looking at a clockwork robotic arm...

The realization hit him like the sharp blade of a knife; he couldn't help yelping and pulling his arm away. But it wouldn't budge...

The mass of wires and circuits and robotic parts reeled away from his face and Alejandro took a deep, startled breath when he realized that it hadn't been his arm that he'd been looking at. Confused, Alejandro followed the arm with his eyes all the way to its' owners face: Dr. Renard inhaled sharply and his eyes glowed as brightly as the skyscrapers outside of the window.

"No, Alejandro, you're not a cyborg," Dr. Renard said, killing the immediate fear that had been bubbling in Alejandro's mind.

Alejandro took a better look at Dr. Renard: He wasn't wearing a lab coat like he usually was. He was in a thin black latex shirt with one of the sleeves rolled back to reveal the machinery of his arm. There was a pulsating blue light under his shirt where his heart was located and some of the parts were leaking out of the collar of his shirt as well.

...Dr. Renard was a cyborg.

As he sat there, Alejandro was having trouble taking all of it in. This had to be a crazy dream of some sort. After World Tour, Dr. Renard being a cyborg was just something Alejandro didn't want to believe or deal with. Taking a deep breath, he laid back down and just stared at Dr. Renard, stared at the revealed circuits and wires that were part of his body. The entire time he noticed that Renard was glaring at him, his eyebrows the sharpened points of pitch forks.

"For the record, I'm not at all offended by all of the staring," Renard said, somewhat bitterly. "I knew you'd have this reaction. Everyone does. That's why I have to wear long-sleeves all the time. It's convenient for me to live in New York, considering that's pretty much what you're wearing all year round anyway..."

"Sorry..." Alejandro said, surprised by the sincerity in his voice; he really could relate with Renard, though, considering he'd technically been a robot for the past three months. The experience had been anything but pleasant, from the deep, echoey way his voice sounded to the few choice encounters with Jose who always felt an urgent need to be a complete di-

"I'm just glad that you aren't consigned to the same fate as me..." Renard said, his expression softening. "When I heard that you'd been run over by lava, I knew I had to step in and do something. You're lucky that I've been working steadily to improve the technology that saved my life so diligently over the past few years." Renard smiled. "Actually...you were my guinea pig, Alejandro. The fact that my machine was able to restore a lot of your basic bodily functions is nothing short of miraculous. As a matter of fact, I'm happy to report that in under a year, you'll be up and on your feet as strong, or maybe even stronger, than you were before..."

What Renard was saying made Alejandro's eyebrows shoot up. The technology he was talking about...No matter how technologically advanced society currently was, there was no technology advanced enough to do what he was talking about. Frowning, Alejandro bit back his overall curiosity and incredulity. He tried to keep from meeting Renard's eyes, but from the knowing look Renard wore on his angular face, Alejandro knew that Renard knew what he was thinking.

"Don't look a gift horse in the mouth," Renard warned, raising a single finger and waggling it.

"Why haven't you used the same technology on yourself?" Alejandro asked. Ever since he'd first met Renard, there was something about the man that put him on edge and unnerved him. Renard looked like a benevolent and caring man, but looks could be deceiving; Alejandro practically wrote the book on that subject.

The question caught Renard off-guard and he leaned back in his chair, pulling down the sleeve of his shirt as he took a deep breath. Folding his hands, he leaned forward again in his chair and fixed a look on Alejandro, a smile crawling onto his face: "I was hoping you'd ask..."

"The thing is, a lot of my most major biological functions are run by machines now," Renard said, somewhat sadly. "In your case, you still have all of your organs and other organic tissue in tact. In my case: I don't. And this technology is so hardwired to me, I'd literally die without it. I have to keep up and maintain what I have; I can't remove it for one single second. As for you, as I said before, you're lucky I've been keeping up with improving the technology that saved my life. When you and your family agreed to let me use this tech to save you, I had everything prepared. Down to the last detail."

"What I'm saying is: The technology that saved you sped up and encouraged your body's healing process. The body parts have to actually be there in order for the tech to work."

Following his words, Alejandro nodded. There was such raw, unfiltered emotion in Renard's voice. To some extent, it really did feel like Renard had healed him out of a deep-rooted humanitarian desire, but Alejandro could just sense there was an ulterior motive. After living with somebody like his older brother Jose for as long as he had, Alejandro could just tell.

"What's in it for you to heal me, then?" Alejandro asked, tilting his head. In a lower voice, Alejandro narrowed his eyes and said: "I know you're not giving my family or me the full truth. Don't get me wrong, I am sincerely grateful that I'm not going to be a robot any longer, but...truly, I don't think any self-respecting doctor would offer something as groundbreaking as the technology you possess for free."

Renard's reaction caught Alejandro off-guard. Where he'd been expecting Renard to be secretive and subversive, Renard was still smiling; he even had his fingers steepled and was chuckling softly.

"You're more intelligent in person than on the TV screen!" Renard exclaimed jubilantly. "Every moment I get to know you, Mr. Burromuerto, I know I've made a great choice in an ally."

Further confused, Alejandro raised an eyebrow. He folded his arms and remained silent, grilling Renard with a steady glare. At the moment, his best move was to hear what else Renard had to say, but be cautious, too.

"Let me begin by telling you a story..." Renard said grandly, spreading his arms. "About the events that led to me becoming a cyborg in the first place...And this story involves a man you probably know fairly well, the host of a reality television show called Total Drama..."

As he told his story, Alejandro listened attentively. The way he told it, Renard sounded extremely bitter and angry, vilifying Chris in every possible way he could. Apparently, Renard was a very angry man and all of his anger was directed exactly at Chris like a bright red bull's eye. When he was finished, Renard took several deep breaths, poured himself a glass of water and then downed it in several short gulps. His gray eyes were blazing like wildfires and, if his story was true, Alejandro could truly relate with this man. He, too, held a mighty and vicious vendetta against Total Drama, or more specifically, a particular cast member that had taken his heart and smashed it like a glass window.

As calm as he was going to get, Renard turned towards Alejandro: "I want to gain revenge on Chris McClean," he howled, clenching his fists. "And I don't think I could get employed by Total Drama again or find any way to get close enough to gain vengeance. The executives are so scared of me finding a way past their legal barriers and suing them that they've been dodging me for years..."

He smirked at Alejandro. "The executives are trying to bounce back from the complete ratings flop of season 4, so they're currently recruiting for season 5. I still have a friend over in Total Drama who keeps me posted on the current happenings over there...From what he told me recently, they're hoping to get a lot of the cast members from seasons 1-3. That's where you come in..." A sinister smile played on his lips. "I need somebody else on the inside that's as merciless and angry as me. You could keep me posted on the challenges and happenings directly on the set and I could go about behind the scenes, waiting for the best moment to strike at Chris directly. My goal is to completely destroy Chris and that means destroying Total Drama in the process. So, that's all I'm telling of you of my plans for now, but another warning: Once you get in the game, you're not in it for the money. Don't let that distract you. Your main obligation will be assisting me."

Alejandro frowned. "What binds me to having to help you?"

"I healed you, didn't I?" Renard replied with a casual shrug. "This isn't the last time you'll be seeing me, either, Alejandro; I'll be in charge of your physical therapy and recovery, too. Besides, I have a feeling you'll want to get involved with my plans of your own volition, anyway..."

"Why?" Alejandro asked. As soon as he did, he felt like the stupidest person on the face of the planet. Just that one little word was all Renard needed to put Alejandro into the palm of his hand.

"Heather...," Renard whispered.

Before Alejandro could say anything else, the door to Renard's office burst open and Alejandro's mother came storming in, her red high-heels creating miniature claps of thunder. First she shot a furious glare at Renard, then she turned her eyes on Alejandro and her fury melted away instantly, replaced by shock and relief. Immediately, she raced over to him and swept him up into her arms, muttering and babbling incoherently.

Looking over his mother's head, Alejandro shot a silent, steely glare at Renard. In response, Renard just smirked and winked at him.

"I'm so glad you're alright..." Alejandro's mother whispered, looking up at him and touching his face. "It's a miracle! A pure miracle..."

"I'm happy too, Mom," Alejandro replied, looking at her and trying to smile as she pulled her hand away and kissed his cheek.

May 2012-Summer-Hollywood, California-YMCA Strength Training and Conditioning Room

Sweat was beading on Heather's brow. Her shoulder length hair was drenched in it, as was the long white T-shirt she was wearing. Under no circumstances did she want to know what her arm pits smelled like. Breathing in and out, in and out, Heather looked up at the pale yellow ceiling, trying to catch her breath.

Suddenly, Eva's face reappeared and she nonchalantly hefted the 45 lb. bar above Heather's head and held it barely a foot above her. "You got another set," she said gruffly.

Heather groaned and grabbed the bar. "You're worse than my track coach..."

"Hey, I never said this was gonna be easy," Eva replied, folding her arms. "Now...Go!"

Rolling her eyes, Heather sighed and started lifting the bar, up and down, up and down. Attentively, Eva watched, her hands lightly touching the bar. Once Heather finished, she clunked the bar back into its holding rack and flopped upwards into a sitting position with a groan.

"I think next time you need to up the weight on your bench," Eva said, tapping her fingers on her leg. "55 or 65, maybe? I'm thinking 65."

In reply, Heather just exhaled audibly and wandered past the other benching racks in the room where others were benching and sweating, mostly men. Beyond the benching racks there was a parallel line of squatting racks, then beyond that was a bunch of other exercise equipment. At the other end of the room, Heather waited impatiently for a skinny little bean pole of a guy to finish up at the water fountain. As soon as he saw her, he quickly shimmied away.

"You're not done yet," Eva said bluntly.

Heather whirled around and clenched her fists. "I've already done 10 sets of bench and squat! My arms feel like wet noodles. I'm done."

Grunting, Eva waited as Heather walked over to the water fountain, held her plastic water bottle under it and re-filled it. She promptly took a swig out of it, stuck her tongue out, and groaned. "I hate tap water!"

"They don't have a water fountain that shoots double foam lattes," Eva replied. "Maybe at Blainely's hillside mansion, but not here."

At the mention of Blainely, Heather's eyes widened. "Did you see the mag saying that she's dating Chris?" she asked, then snickered. "Wonder how those two are reacting to the tabloids making up rumors about them..."

Raising an eyebrow, Eva smiled. "You sent in that story?"

Heather just smirked and that told the entire story.

After the end of World Tour, Eva had had a chance meeting with Heather at the air port in Minneapolis on her way to help film an exercise video in Chicago. Heather, apparently, had been heading to the same city to meet up with her parents. At first, they'd scowled and fought with each other, but then, by a weird happenstance, they'd discovered common ground in a bizarre fondness for glitter pens.

Of course they'd forced each other to secrecy, but somehow that led to the two of them actually sitting next to each other on the plane and talking to each other for an extended period of time. After that, they'd kept in touch via Skype and then, by a weird twist of fate, Heather's mom had a business trip based in San Diego, where Eva was visiting her dad for the summer. The two had met up as soon as they both found out they were in the same area and had been hanging out ever since.

In a weird way, they were best friends. Even though they argued a lot, that seemed to be their favorite form of communication. They knew each other well enough by this point that neither one really got mad with the other and they knew what the other was thinking a lot of the time.

Suddenly, the two girls noticed that everybody in the room had dropped what they were doing and were staring at the line of TV sets mounted above the line of treadmills on the other side of the room. Heather and Eva glanced at each other, then wordlessly joined the throng and stared at the TVs.

They were all set to a celebrity gossip channel. A perky brunette wearing too much make-up and a hot pink ascot was on the screen in front of a small, two-story blond brick house. There were a couple of people behind her, smiling, waving, and making peace signs at the camera.

"...here in sunny, warm Lima, Peruat the home of one of the previous Total Drama contestants, Alejandro Burromuerto..."

As soon as she heard that name, Heather's jaw dropped and she could feel her heart morphing into a stone. And that stone was dropping into her chest. Time seemed to freeze and World Tour came rushing back at her like a tidal wave. Next to her, Eva gave her a concerned look.

The way-too-happy brunette said something else that Heather didn't hear, then the camera panned and the black sphere end of the microphone appeared in front of Alejandro. He was smiling, his dark brown hair as long as it had been before, his pale green eyes full of life. Just looking at his face, he looked like he had in World Tour: He was healthy, unscathed, as if he'd never been run over by lava at all...

Heather could feel what was left of her heart rattling like a maraca in her chest; her mouth was full of dry wall. It killed her when he started talking, his voice flowing like smooth, suave velvet. Memories were pelting her full force now: she could feel his hand stroking her cheek, his intense and angry glare. He wasn't even in the room next to her and he was making her knees shake, making her emotions swirl and whirl like miniature tops. Tears prickled behind her eyes.

Gently, Eva grabbed her upper arm and dragged her out of the room before anybody could approach Heather or ask her what she thought. Once they were out in the hall, Heather burst into tears and Eva quickly dragged her out to her white '94 Honda as quickly as she could. Once they were inside, Eva noticed people dribbling out of the YM, looking around interestedly with wide, doe eyes.

"I can't believe it..." Heather mumbled as Eva slid her key into the ignition as quickly as she could. "...How?...How?"

"He must have a pretty damn good miracle worker as his doctor," Eva replied.