That which is observed changes the observer.
The /dis/advantage to distance spying was trying to keep up with events in his life and Avalanche's life simultaneously, when the two were on opposite sides of the planet. Reeve was attempting to fit two lives into a timeframe designed for one. It wasn't as if Midgar managed /itself/, after all. He was living on caffeine, sugar, and sheer adrenaline, and he hoped like hell that Avalanche either relocated to the same hemisphere he lived on, or that things otherwise resolved themselves before his body mutinied and had a breakdown.
In the meantime, life was.../interesting/. Days on end of hearing his Cait's accented drawl was affecting his speech patterns, for one thing, which would have affected his promotion prospects had he actually had any. Having reached the coveted position of Department Head, however, put an effective cap on that. The only higher positions were cornered by the Shinra family, and he rather thought he was close enough to them as it was. In practical terms, all he really had to do was keep what he'd gained and outlast the other board members; seniority counted for a lot, and Reeve had had more than one meeting where he'd fantasized aiming the Sister Ray or something equally huge and painful at Scarlet or Hojo. He knew he'd never do it - that he couldn't, really - but perhaps Avalanche was rubbing off on him, too.
Avalanche...Avalanche. Now there was an increasingly disturbing conundrum. They made no /sense/, none of them did...and yet...
You will be watched, of course, the President had coolly informed him at the outset. This sort of surveillance can lead to questionable loyalty. Reeve would have seethed if he hadn't been so surprised that he was being told he'd be watched. But Rufus could be surprising that way; Reeve would have studied him if he'd had any time to do so. As it was, he didn't even have time to sleep, three or four days out of seven.
Watch all you want. I have no sympathy for terrorists. At the time, he'd meant it. He'd said it so vehemently that the President had...not exactly /smiled/, no, but there had been an upturning of the edges of the mouth that had strongly hinted at the presence of fangs. Reeve had interpreted it as having said the correct thing...but, lying awake in his bed, the control headset bringing him the sights and sounds of half a world away, he wasn't as sure anymore.
Barret, he loathed. A hypocritical ball of wrath, Barret managed to perfectly fit Reeve's preconceptions of what a terrorist would be like - an angry, self-absorbed bully, so driven by his own violent righteousness that murder on a large scale was more than acceptable and personal consequence unthinkable. That Barret would kill hundreds just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, or for trying to hold down a job to survive with, yet blame his victims for his violence and hold himself and his daughter exempt from any fallout had caused Reeve more than one night of insomnia through sheer frustrated rage. Had the whole group been like him, Reeve would have happily sent the lot of them to their deaths and called it a job well and justly handled.
But they weren't. Not even remotely.
Cloud was.../sweet/, in an odd way. The boy - and Reeve couldn't think of him any other way - didn't know which way was up, half the time, his mind confused and often willing to follow the loudest voice in the choir. He was frighteningly capable at violence, and yet the least dangerous of the lot of them. He wanted his identity back, and he wanted Sephiroth dead, and on any other point he seemed open to discussion, negotiation. He'd reacted to Reeve's initial betrayal in the same way a five year old might shout /it's not fair/, and something in his tone and words was always that way - childlike, and lost. Cait Sith had decided it liked Cloud, and seemed to enjoy playing word and riddle games with him when he was in the mood. It was strange to watch a man Reeve knew had killed dozens of men, lying on his back in an outdoor camp and talking chocobos with a robot cat. Cloud didn't exactly trust Cait, but Cloud remembered so little, and so little with any /accuracy/, at any given moment that the result was quiet contemplation more often than not.
If Cloud was the child, Tifa was definitely the brooding mother hen. Her attitude toward Cloud had baffled Reeve at first - how on earth could someone mother a Soldier? - but with time it became clearer. Tifa knew more about Cloud than Cloud did; Reeve had hoped to get her to talk about it at one point, but it was clear Tifa was going to say nothing to anyone and particularly not a known traitor. She seemed to be waiting for Cloud to figure something out, or discover something. During her watch (Avalanche never let Cait Sith be the only set of eyes on watch) Reeve would often see her looking at Cloud, or watching Cloud, and the brooding worry in her expression was entirely at odds with the optimistic determination she showed when others could see her.
Nanaki and Vincent had common ground in that they both tended toward silence, and both bore the marks of Hojo's tampering. Neither particularly wanted to talk to Cait Sith, though it was hard to say whether that was out of wariness for who would be listening, or simply because they had little to say to anyone. Both regarded their robot chaperone with silent tolerance that ranged from the amused to the aggravated, but once they'd understood that there were plenty of spare Cait Sith bodies in storage and destroying one would be only a temporary reprieve, they had settled into a sort of passive shunning.
Reeve watched them anyway; Nanaki was noble and dignified and somehow innocent, which was an odd thing to think of a creature he knew could easily flatten him just by jumping on him. Nanaki's fangs and claws were clearly displayed with any yawn or stretch, and in a fight the firecat was a huge flaming ball of sharpness, but at any other time the firecat was quite content to pad alongside the group without complaint. Reeve sometimes wondered what Hojo had done to the cat (besides the obvious brand), and whether Nanaki would appreciate him attempting to find out.
Vincent, he was sure, would not. Victim of Hojo's perverse idea of research, Vincent wrapped his secrets and sins around him like his tattered red cloak, and it had taken Tseng to tell him that the man had once been a Turk. Once so informed, though, it had been easy to see. Vincent had been a Turk, and a good Turk at that, it seemed; he moved with the same predatory, understated grace that marked Tseng's and Rude's habitual attitudes. And he was a lethal man in every respect, armed or unarmed, so Reeve kept what little he knew to himself and didn't ask questions of him. Vincent's bullets might do Cait Sith's body little harm, but his demonic alter egos were a great deal nastier.
Despite the fact that Cid Highwind couldn't stand Cait Sith, and had on more than one occasion threatened to skewer the robot on his harpoon for a "fling the kitty" contest, Reeve actually found he liked the crusty bastard. Cid swore at everyone more or less equally, and for all the show he made of distrusting 'the spy', it was fairly clear he liked and trusted the rest of the group no better. Cid was in it for the travel, for the airship, and more than a little bit for personal vengeance, but as Reeve had seen his President's attempt to commandeer the old pilot's 'baby', and the disaster of the rocket, he couldn't really blame the man for being angry. It was a terrible thing when the bottom line became more important than anything else, and it wasn't Cid's fault that Palmer couldn't administrate his way out of a paper bag. Watches with Cid held to a simple pattern. Cait Sith stayed put, and stayed quiet, and Cid would keep watch with 'no help from funky furred gadgets'. But in the dark of the night, sometimes Cid would muse aloud while staring up at the stars. Given the backwards time zones, Reeve had spent many days listening to the old pilot's dreams while working on budget reports. On one occasion, listening to it all, Reno had bounded in and demanded to know who'd drowned Reeve's kitten, that he was frowning so.
Yuffie, though, Reeve disliked almost as much as Barret. A self-important, narcissistic, kleptomaniac ninja princess, Yuffie was bold and brash except when she was trying to be coy around Cloud, and Reeve had quickly conceived a loathing for the thief. She got away with a lot by being 'cute', and bouncing her undersized breasts at people - coupling it with a sturdy backhand for a formidable carrot-stick combo. On the plus side, he rarely had to share a watch with her; the rest of the group trusted her no better than they trusted Cait Sith, for the quite reasonable reason that she would cheerfully steal every orb of materia the group owned and be away by sunrise. How she managed to remain tolerated was quite beyond Reeve - but then, the group tolerated /him/, too, and he'd never really understood why. He was fairly sure hostages had nothing to do with it by now. (Barret might ask about Marlene once a week, at most, and always when others could see him being the Outraged Father. Reeve promised himself that one day, someday, he and Barret were going to have a Talk that would involve a swung bag of half-bricks.)
When Yuffie's obnoxiousness grated on his nerves, Reeve took great delight in the knowledge that Yuffie was the only eligible princess on the planet, and that - logically - this meant someday someone was going to lock the girl up with President Rufus. He had already mentioned this notion to Reno - who /could/, despite appearances, keep a secret if the amusement factor was high enough - and had been promised assistance in bugging the President's quarters in the event such a thing ever came to pass. The betting pool on the survivor would make a wise man wealthy.
In the dark of the night, though, when he'd managed to go home for a change instead of crashing on a spare cot in his office, and his connection to Cait Sith was a quiet hum in one ear, what made Reeve question his loyalties wasn't Avalanche. It wasn't even the dead of Sector Seven anymore.
It was Aerith.
Reeve was not, and had never been, much of a romantic. He'd never seen the point in presenting women with dead vegetation, hadn't really noticed or missed the lack of greenery around the city. It kept the pollen counts down, he was fine. He didn't think he'd loved Aerith - truth be told, he really hadn't loved any woman in the whole of his life, and he wasn't certain what he'd felt for men qualified as love, either. He couldn't look at his memories of Aerith - all through Cait Sith's video-lens eyes - and call it love. He wasn't sure what it /was/, but he didn't think it was love.
She'd been hunted all her life by Hojo. Probably experimented on no less than Vincent or Nanaki or Cloud, but she hadn't taken it the same way. It had all been part and parcel of Being Aerith. She'd had her moments of passive-aggressive manipulation, of course, all squarely aimed at Cloud, but she'd fought with more courage than Reeve knew he had, and used her abilities to the benefit of all.
...She'd told Cait Sith to 'be strong'. Knowing the robot cat was a machine, technically lifeless, certainly a traitor, she'd given Cait Sith the same kindness and regard she gave all the others. She'd given Reeve's creation the same care that he himself gave it, and done it at a vital time, when he hadn't actually been certain he could transfer the cat's data in realtime to a new drive.
Aerith had forgiven/. Truly, and without reservation, /forgiven not only all the wrongs that Cait had done, but all the wrongs Cait might yet be called on to do, and cared for the little cat as the emotional child the AI had actually been.
There were no words in Reeve's personal vocabulary for that. And then she'd gone, alone, and he'd seen through Cait's eyes as Sephiroth dropped from above and skewered her through the heart, as he'd skewered President Shinra. He didn't really remember how he'd gotten through that workday, but he did recall the viciousness with which he'd personally informed Hojo that it was pointless to continue searching for the last Ancient, as Sephiroth had killed her. Any notions of the Promised Land could now please be shut-the-hell-upped about.
Aerith hadn't gone with them out of vengeance, or wrath. She hadn't cared which side Cait Sith was on. She simply saw a job that needed to be done, and went with the people most likely to help her do it.
And now her cause was everyone's.
Even his, he sometimes felt.
Reeve knew he wasn't really a part of Avalanche. They couldn't stand him or his cat, and he wasn't terribly fond of them, either. /But/, suggested a largely ignored part of his self, that didn't mean there wasn't a job, or that the job didn't need doing.
He was short of sleep, overworked, and undercaffeinated. Habitually, these days. He was living two lives on a clock that could only accomodate one, and he really didn't know what to think half the time anymore.