Things change, and change isn't always wanted. (Advent Children)
It was an old complaint playing up again. Pushing a finger past his lips without dislodging the quietly burning cigarette, he ran a badly cared for nail across his lower teeth, wincing slightly as he pulled out the tiny offensive chip. He didn't even pause to consider how sensitive his tongue was to the slightest change in his teeth. Instead he took the final drag of the last cigarette he had on his person, before crushing it under the heel of his boot as the helicopter he had been waiting for came in to sight.
The stoic man on his left gave him a barely discernable nod as he too noticed the advancing machinery. It was impossible to work out if there had even been eye contact, due to the dark sunglasses of one, and the vast amount of unruly hair that clouded the others vision.
"So the boss man returns..." The slighter one of the two spoke; adjusting the goggles that sat on top of his head a little more, in a vain attempt to keep the hair out of his eyes. For the response he got out of the man on his left, he may have been talking to himself. It wasn't that he really minded talking to himself or anything. Over the years that they had worked together he had become more than used to minimal answers during work time. Rude did things by the book, meaning that he did many more things inside the guidelines than Reno did.
"Let's try and get things right this time. Follow orders, full effort and-"
"As few injury's as possible by any chance?" Reno quipped shooting his superior a glance that said there was no way in hell he was likely to follow orders any better than he did previously.
"You'd think after hearing the same half assed pep talk for years he'd have given up eh Rude" Reno sniggered pacing slightly.
One of them wanted to be there. His superior stood there stiff as usual and it was obvious that most of the major issues were his to deal with and his life would be easier if he had subordinates that actually did as instructed.
Though the conclusion had been drawn up in his mind for a long time, if he was to have the best team of hired thugs in the world, he was going to have to put up with the attitudes and flaws that came with them.
Pinching the bridge of his nose and taking a moment to close his eyes and collect his thoughts, he didn't even acknowledge the old habit he had repeated.
He could hear the helicopter now and knew that it was a matter of minutes before it would all start again. The old stab wound throbbed slightly in reminder of just how wrong things had gone previously. The wind picked up strands of his immaculate black hair and tossed it about much to his annoyance. Call him vain but it was amongst the top five reasons why he hated helicopters. It made everything untidy. To a man whose life was run by order and precise planning it was hell. Pulling in the buttons of his jacket and standing up a fraction straighter than he had been previously he took a step forward in front of his employees and braced himself against the wind of the approaching vehicle and prayed to a nameless faceless god that things would be right this time.
It wasn't a profession where the under dog survives. Survival of the fittest never seemed so accurate. Shifting her weight and letting out a long impatient sigh she allowed her eyes to scan the area out of habit. She was the same person outside, the same looks the same height and build, okay a little bruised and beaten nut more or less the same she had been two years ago.
Inside though, the naivety had gone, replaced with something different. She looked at the world with a more sceptical eye, no longer so quick to obey like she once had been. She understood her fellow colleagues now. She could see why some of them were perfectionists, some ass holes and some silent. They were all a lot different that they had been when they started. She was ready to bet her trigger finger on it too,
She couldn't say that she was either happy of unhappy with what she had become. But she believed it true now, that it is our experiences that make us.
Scowling at the thought she scuffed a newly commissioned and polished boot on the black asphalt that she was standing on. Cursing herself for the deeper thoughts when she had a job to do she made a conscious effort to relegate these thoughts to when she had had too much to drink in the bar off duty. These were the kind of conversations Rude would drag her into when he was in a talkative mood. He had a grasp on the world that she couldn't even begin to fathom. All that and he kept it locked up in his head, adding to it and making the needed adjustments when he saw it fit.
She squinted her eyes more as the dust flicked up when the helicopter descended flicking open her open jacket as the wind from the rotors picked up flashing to all that may be looking, newly commissioned hand guns, it was the final confirmation most people needed about here these days. On sight she was a petite blonde woman, fair of hair and of face, with eyes that made her seem she had already lived a life time. Inoffensive? No. This was a dog that had fought her way to the top of the pack and was making damn sure she wasn't going down without a fight.
A voyeur of sorts he watched them all. Reno's laid back I-didn't-give-a-fuck attitude didn't wash with him. He knew him too well. A relaxed Reno would be wining Elena up, probing at Tseng with questions and be trying to drag Rude into conversation. Not marching around the helipad pacing and a thumb tucked into the belt loop of his trousers just itching for a reason to take a firm hold on the Mag rod that was strapped to it.
Tseng was twice as stiff as usual, not fidgeting and barely even blinking. He was relieved not to be in that mans head; he could sense a sympathetic head ache on the way at the mere idea of it all.
From behind his glasses he took a look at Elena. Standing there with a slump to her shoulders and her hands in her pockets she looked idle. Though only a fool would think that of her these days. The I.D card in her blazer still held the picture of a fresh faced top of the class recruit, though what stood there now was a woman who could now, drink smoke and swear along with himself and Reno and not feel a notch out of place.
In a way he felt it was a shame to lose that character from their group, though all of them had changed. He had been there before Reno, he had watched a hot headed yet brilliant recruit shout and swear in the middle of Tseng's office, he had also watched him broken and beaten into a supposedly better shape by ShinRa. The out come had been someone slightly more bitter, and a lot more hot headed at times. Though they had occupied his mind more you wouldn't know it to talk to him. Tseng had always been Tseng as far as Rude was concerned, cold calculating and with a brilliant strategic mind. However, he remembered Elena's first day, scared to death as she stood in his shadow he hadn't said a word to her, he watched Reno's lewd introduction of them both in amusement as she stood there stammering between the way he had spoken to her and the feint trace of charm she had picked up.
He had also noticed that was the last time she had ever worn the issued skirt too.
He knew he had changed too and as he stood there watching the pilot scuttle out of the cock pit to open the sliding door, his eyes were drawn to the wine and white coloured logo that adorned the side before he looked at its occupant. He couldn't help but wonder just how much they would change this time.
White suited once more, he looked out to the line of his finest. If a captain was to once again go down with his ship, he knew with nothing short of certainty that these few would be dragged under too. Temperamental but trustworthy, if it needed doing he knew they would. Much moaning and cursing on all their parts admitted.
Having watched them from the air during the descent he marvelled at the perfect line they organised themselves into without so much as a thought by the looks of things. All of them stood to informal attention.
Hands behind their backs, legs a shoulders width apart. It was movements like that amongst them that he wondered just how many human parts did they have left.
It wasn't until he nodded to all of them as he walked towards the lift that would take him to his office that they even moved. Tseng slid into place beside him matching his pace, gait and even stride without a blink of an eye. Telling him that they were ready to initiate phase one whenever he was ready.
Nodding wordlessly he listened to the idle banter that went on behind him.
"I wonder if the coffee will taste better out of the machine this time..." The light laugh that followed through them made him smile slightly.
"Doubt it I had better tasting things out of the old labs" Rude said with a snort setting them all off again as Elena broke into telling them a rather lewd joke about a man a horse and a clown.
Turning on a heel as he got into the lift he got a good look once more at the three following behind him, they were all smiling. He wondered and began an internal count down.
The feel of the cold metal key in his hand, the smooth metal running across equally smooth hands and well manicured fingers he smirked.
Ten minutes in his office with them, informing them of the situation and he could guarantee those smiles wouldn't be surfacing again for a very long time.
Things were going to change.
Like none of them had ever imagined before.
After all, ShinRa had a debt to repay the world.