Step 08: Normal Man
Step 08: Normal Man
I follow Elena with mounting dread. I do not wish to go to a tailor, but it seems I have no choice. I suppose it is a requirement that I wear a uniform and they simply do not have a Turk uniform in my size. I guess they didn't expect to hire a Turk who required bigger clothing than Rude.
I'm still lost in my gloomy thoughts, imagining myself being instructed to stand straight and extend my arms, while the tailor stood on a chair and measured me. It will be terribly boring I'm sure, yet I know it's nothing I have the right to complain about.
Elena's voice wakes me from my thoughts and I realize that I am standing in front of a slick black car, I do not recognize the model, maybe it is custom made as a vehicle to be used by Turks, I wouldn't be surprised if that were true. Upon further inspection I realize that Elena is standing there holding the door open as if I am some rich and spoiled movie star, who must have the chuffer do such a trivial task before getting into the car.
"Are you coming?"
I nod, not wishing to waste any more time, and get in. Elena walks around the car and climbs into the driver's seat. I've never had any doors held open for me before and an odd sense of awkwardness hangs in the air.
I noticed that Elena put on her seat belt and quickly put on my own. She breathes deeply and pulls out of the garage, which is cluttered with various vehicles, including a few cars identical to the one we're on, some unmarked and others baring the Shinra logo.
"Just relax, we'll be there in no time," Elena stomps on the gas and makes a sharp turn soon after.
A normal man would have screamed in fear, and it is in moments like this that I am thankful for all my training as a Soldier.
"Do you like music? Of course, who doesn't like music, right? I think I left a flashdrive around here. Where did I put it?" Elena starts fishing for it under the seat, while we rush down the highway.
A normal man would have all the reasons in the world to scream. Thankfully, I am far better trained than a normal man.
"Found it!" Elena holds up the little flashdrive, with a moogle keychain attached to it. "Here we go," she plugs it into the radio's usb outlet and the screen lights up with a list of songs. She then navigates through them on the touch screen, selects the desired playlist and cheerful pop music invades the atmosphere.
Elena looks towards me as if searching for any hints of approval or disapproval for the sound in my expression and I force myself to smile.
She laughs, "you look like I'm taking you to an evil dentist to drill your teeth, you need to relax!"
I knew my smile would come out unnatural, but at least Elena wasn't offended by it.
"You were lucky that I got assigned to this. Rude is really nice but he hardly talks. You would have been bored to sleep during the car ride, but he's a pretty good driver though and so is Tseng, he's always pleasant company. Reno is an awful driver, I swear he's going to get himself killed one of there days!" This is coming from someone who has not released the accelerator since we left and is currently checking her makeup in the rear-view mirror instead of paying attention to the road.
I digress, a normal man wouldn't scream, because a normal man would have died of a heart attack before being able to do so.
The car comes to a screeching yet perfect half and the tires smoke. "Here we are!" Elena reaches out to hold her ID card near a sensor on the tall marble pillars of the entrance and the heavy silver gates open.
We drive in slower now, until Elena stops in front of a mansion, with a wide smile on her face. I do not attempt to smile back this time when we exit the car.
"I hate Darla," Elena suddenly declares, "she's the designer and tailor," this statement puzzles me because she appears to be quite happy to be there. "She likes Tseng, but Tseng likes me!" Elena's smile became wider.
Suddenly, I understand, there was a rivalry between these two women for Tseng and in the end, Elena was chosen as the victor. Most likely, she enjoys rubbing it in.
The mansion's door flies open and there stands a woman, a man in a suit a few steps behind her. It seems the woman rushed to the door before the butler could open it. "You!" The woman pointed an accusing finger at Elena.
"Hi Darla!" Elena smiled deviously and I gave Darla an incredulous look, this was Elena's rival? That woman was in no condition to be anyone's rival with that ridiculous attire.
I am no fashion expert, nor do I care to become one, but even I know that a lime green tank top, a purple feather scarf, canary yellow pants and fuchsia platform sandals do not go well together. Actually, I'm pretty sure not one of those items goes well with anything. I cannot imagine Tseng, or anyone else I know, ever holding an interest for her. Then the reality hits me, this woman will be in charge of preparing my uniform. Is this some cruel joke?
After Elena and Darla exchange some snide remarks and fierce glares, we are led inside. The mansion is littered with abstract paintings and sculptures to suit Darla's unusual taste. It is all far too excessive and extravagant for my approval.
The studio is an eye sore with a multitude of brightly colored and absurdly patterned fabrics all over the place. In the center of the chaos, which would make a normal man's eyes become teary and pained, there is a barrel made of polished wood, with two golden rings around it.
"Okay, darling," Darla addresses me, "take off all your clothes and stand on the stage," she points to the barrel.
"Oh no you don't!" Elena steps in, "I know you're heartbroken and desperate and will not let you take advantage of this poor defenseless man!"
A poor defenseless man; is that how I am perceived? A poor defenseless man who deserves a second look only out of desperation? I suppose I should think it's better than being seen as a monster or an insane homicidal maniac, but I still find Elena's chosen description to be unpleasant and I should hope inaccurate.
"Now listen here! I am the designer, and I am the one who makes clothes for Rufus Shinra himself, and I am the one who owns this studio, and I am the one who will make Mr. Hot's clothes, and the one who decides how I will work!" Darla stomped her feet, the exaggerated platform shoes making loud noises.
"And I'm the one with the gun!" Darla threw her arms up as Elena aimed the gun at her face. "Just give Sephiroth some measuring tape and tell him what to measure, keep your distance or I'll blow your head off!"
I should advice Elena to be less violent and remind her that the Turks are not supposed to be this way anymore. However, just this once, I will ignore the voice of redemption in favor of the voice of survival, at least I won't have to deal with Darla and for that I am thankful. If by a miracle a normal man had managed to survive this far, he would be insane.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII. Some of you may remember Darla from my other FFVII fanfic 'Reborn' XD