Step 13: Stressful Envy
Step 13: Stressful Envy
Tseng, Reno and Rude let out a collective sigh, while Rufus massages his aching temples. I wonder if he was bothered by me calling him Lazard, there is a resemblance and I have heard the rumors of Lazard being an illegitimate Shinra. Either way, it seems Rufus has decided to ignore my little slip off in terms of the name, though my behavior I'm sure is inexcusable.
"Get off me!" Cloud's cry makes us all look towards me. His sword is absent and Elena is riding on him piggyback, covering his eyes with one hand and pulling his hair with the other. "Get off!" He hops around like a wild rodeo horse, trying to throw Elena off, but her legs are firmly wrapped around him and she doesn't fall.
At least I'm not the only one being humiliated today and despite Cloud's good intentions I still think he deserves worse. Just who does he think he is playing Mr. Hero, going around helping people, I don't need help and I could do more to help those who do need help. I frown and glare, clenching my teeth and fists, but before my anger breaks lose, Tseng and Rude are at my sides, prompting me to walk with them.
We must look silly walking side by side, arm in arm, with me literally shaking with the rage that's so hard to control and the Turks struggling to keep me walking in the right direction, pulling me along. We look like three drunken buddies, leaning on each other for support, but the reality is quite different.
I vaguely hear Reno say something about a green eyed monster, my eyes are green indeed and I know I became a monster after I was convinced that's what I was, but I try to ignore him. I close my eyes and let the Turks guide me, trying to make my body pose no resistance, though I don't feel I can make it completely listen right now.
The next thing I know I'm being pushed down and I open my eyes. Regardless of my past, I'm not ready to be strapped into a bed in an infirmary, or hospital, or mental facility. I growl and throw Tseng and Rude off. Then I notice where I am, this isn't the infirmary, nor is it a detention facility. This is the relaxation area, and they were trying to push me down on a massage table.
I raise my hand as a signal for them to stop, then take a deep breath and count to ten. My head is pounding, my eyes are irritated, my mouth is dry, my ears are ringing, and though I do not have a mirror to see my face, I assume my expression must be frightening. The massage therapist stares at me for a long moment before she bursts into tears, as if she's seen a nightmare come to life before her eyes, and runs away.
My harsh breaths even out, my face turns serious, my eyes no longer sting and my ears stop ringing. Mmy mouth is still dry and my throat aches, my voice coming out rough, "sorry."
Tseng shakes his head, "she's gone."
"She's not coming back, is she?" Reno inquires the obvious. "Aw man, I could have used a massage."
Rude stares at Tseng, as if communicating a message I cannot perceive. Tseng understands and shakes his head, but Rude nods, then Tseng sighs, "alright."
"Coat," Rude requests and I take off my coat and hand it to him. Are they getting another massage therapist, one that's not terrified of me? "Lay down."
I do as Rude says without question, laying on the massage table. I think I heard Tseng grumble, "I can't believe I'm doing this," then a pair of hands are on my stressed shoulders. I stiffen at first, then force myself to go limp until I relax.
I've never had a massage before, I never liked letting people touch me. Even now it's odd, very odd, but I guess Tseng is just trying to help. I wonder if he does this for all the other Turks or maybe just Elena. I wonder how far their trust goes and how deep their friendships are. Are the Turks that much closer to each other than Angel, Genesis and I were? Probably...
xoxox xox xoxox
There is a crunching sound that brings me back to the world of the conscious. I must have dozed off or at least I think I did, unless Tseng pushed a pressure point on the back of my neck and knocked me out. No, that can't be, it only works on movies and I would have noticed if he tried, even if I was distracted.
It's dark and when I sit up and the coat over my head falls, I realize that someone had put my coat over me, blocking the bright lights. I put the coat back on and stare at the source of the crunching sound with curiosity. I'm still tired, mentally exhausted, even if I'm physically rested. "Reno, why in the world are you eating burnt rice?"
"It's not burnt, it's just crunchy." There is a pot on the floor next to him, an electric pot, its long cord plugged to the wall. A bowl and spoon are sitting atop the lid. "Do you want some? It's an exotic tropical dish called pegao." Reno puts down his bowl and starts filling mine before I can refuse. "It's supposed to mean sticky, or something like that."
I look at the crunchy rice in the bowl Reno handed me, "this is not sticky." All the opposite, it's dry and crunchy, yet it has a singular taste to it that is, "good..."
"Isn't it? Do you want to put ketchup in it?" Reno picks up the bottle that had been behind the pot and offers it to me.
"I suppose," I should be open to try new things and if I focus on experimenting with my food, I might push away the stress that's still eating me.
"That's cool, Elena always complains because I put ketchup on everything. Like it's any of her business, I'm the one eating it and I never say anything about her mustard obsession."
Hearing Elena's name reminds me of the scene with Cloud and I have to ask. "Is Strife gone?"
"Yeah, he's gone. He came in here and made a fuss, but you were passed out at the time. We told him you were just relaxing and he believed it. Elena ripped out some of his hair though, it was priceless! I caught it on video, do you want to watch?"
"No," even if he's being humiliated on the video, I simply do not wish to look at Cloud's face right now. I don't know how I managed to control myself before or what's come over me now. "What do you mean I was passed out?"
"Unconscious, Leader freaked out because he was giving you a massage and you suddenly went limp and cold, but your pulse and breathing were normal, so we figured you were okay, just stressed."
I nod, but I am not okay and for someone like me, being stressed is far too dangerous.
To be Continued
Disclaimer, I don't own Final Fantasy VII.