Categories > Games > Final Fantasy 7

The Job

by KevehKins 0 reviews

Be emotionless. Do that and the job is easy. Trouble is, being emotionless isn't easy when the embodiment of your regret is standing next to you. Pre-game Alternate Universe Oneshot. Non-BC Complia...

Category: Final Fantasy 7 - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Drama - Characters: Elena,Rude,Tseng,Reno - Warnings: [V] [?] - Published: 2014-03-02 - 14488 words - Complete

The Job

Disclaimer: All characters and settings in this piece are based upon and are the property of Square Enix unless otherwise stated. No profit has been made from this piece of fiction.


Rude liked nothing more than to start his work day with a coffee. He always found the aroma of fresh roasted coffee beans motivated him. It was his breakfast, more so than his actual breakfast. It was his fuel for the morning's tasks, usually paperwork and reaming through hour after hour of surveillance footage. Even coffee failed to make the tasks interesting, but without it they became absolute hell. He arrived one particular morning to find the office devoid of the wonderful drink and a sullen faced Reno warning him not to speak to Tseng. That day went by with all the pace of a snail worming its way around a trail of salt. He was the snail, the entire world was the salt.

He made sure to bring two tins of coffee beans the morning after.

He wondered, as he stepped out of the elevator, if he suffered a dependency on the caffeine. The notion perished the moment he strode into the spacious office and the familiar smell wafted around his nostrils in its welcoming way. He paused a moment, trying to discern the source of the scent. A dark wooden door contrasted the white wall at the end opposite him. Numerous filing cabinets stood against the wall to his right and atop them several boxes containing even more files and paperwork. Several walnut work desks occupied the rest of the office, lined up like tables in a classroom, forming an aisle down the middle that lead straight to the door of the adjacent office. A few people sat at some of them, one or two staring out of the windows on the left side of the room, a couple more peering up at the clock with resigned trepidation, waiting for the official start of the work day. They all sat in a weary slouch. Except for the man hunched over the desk nearest the dark wooden door, trademark red ponytail strewn down his back. With a smile Rude noted the steaming mug atop his own desk, next to Reno's. The first cup of the day, and the best. He strode up the aisle of desks, nodding greetings to any who bade him 'Good Morning' before coming to stand at his desk. He lowered his dark sunglasses, scrutinising the steaming liquid in the mug below.

"Are you gonna do this every time I make you coffee?" The redhead to his right grumbled, not lifting his gaze from the file he perused.

"Are you gonna keep messing up my coffee?" He replied, lifting the mug to his lips and taking a tentative sip. It tasted bitter, how he liked it.

"You act as if I tried to poison you! It was a drop of milk!" Reno retorted, lifting his head from his work to look over at him as he took another sip. "So how is it? Up to your standards your highness?"

"It's horrible." He replied, voice deadpan.

"Dick." Reno muttered, turning back to his work. "Boss man wants to see you in his office, by the way. Looks like we've got an assignment tonight."

Rude said nothing, just took another sip of his coffee before walking towards the dark wooden door at the front of the room. He knocked twice, waited for the muffled sound of acknowledgement from the other side and stepped into the office. The room was utilitarian in its decorum, plain white paint, no pictures, its only personal touch a potted spider plant in the corner. The room looked as professional in appearance as its occupant, who sat at a walnut desk identical to those in the outer office. Tseng didn't shift his gaze away from the computer monitor on his desk, stirring a spoon in his own mug of coffee in a slow circle as he watched the screen.

"Good morning, Rude. Coffee?" Tseng asked, still not looking at him.

"No thank you Sir, already have a cup." He replied, removing his sunglasses and tucking them into the breast pocket of his jacket. Eye to eye contact was a courtesy Tseng requested when they first met and a request that Rude continued to fulfil. He sat himself in the black faux-leather office chair in front of the desk, also identical to the numerous seats in his own office space, and waited. A moment of silence and a sip of coffee later, Tseng turned away from the monitor, opened the drawer in the desk and pulled out a file before passing it across the table to him.

"Has Reno told you anything about this case?"

He shook his head, opening the file. The first page contained the employee profile of one Cecil Farae. A photo of Farae occupied the top right corner of the page, he looked unremarkable, there'd be a hundred just like him on any train in Midgar.

"Cecil Farae, thirty-two years old, graduated from Junon Military Academy aged twenty-one. He served in the military for seven years in Explosive Ordnance Disposal before being honourably discharged in order to join Shinra's Weapons Development Department, explosives Research and Development." Tseng took another gulp of coffee before continuing.

"According to the R and D heads, Farae was a prodigy when it came to making bombs. He designed the Shinra Company Compact Explosive, nicknamed the 'pocket bomb'. It's become the standard explosive for levelling structures in military exercises. Very small, very powerful, easy to make and dangerous in the wrong hands." Tseng said.

He felt his superior staring at him over the rim of his coffee mug. He took a sip of his own.

"It says here Mr. Farae left the Department a month ago." He said, glancing up at Tseng at last, who nodded.

"Yes, and as per company procedure, on the day he left we ran analysis on his work station, personal records and so on. He checked out on all but one thing, a file was missing from his computer."

"The pocket bomb file?" He asked. Tseng nodded again.

"We weren't worried, at first, we assumed he'd had the file saved to a disk that he took with him, by accident or otherwise. Development departments always attract the artsy, creator type who think their work is a brilliance only they can appreciate and own. We figured if it wasn't an accident that he took it then it was vanity, nothing too serious. We turfed the situation to a trainee at the Academy – basic postman mission, she would just go to Farae's house and retrieve the file, no hassle."

"But there was hassle, Sir." He concluded. Tseng sighed, turning his head to look at the monitor.

"Unfortunately, yes. Sieger went to Farae's address, the apartment was abandoned, landlord said the rent hadn't been paid and he hadn't seen Farae in weeks."

"Sieger, Sir?" He asked. The name brought a pang of discomfort in his gut that he tried his utmost to prevent from showing on his face. His eyes betrayed him. Tseng gave him a consolatory grimace. He hated not having his shades on.

Behind him the rattle of knuckle on wood sounded, a merciful distraction, he thought, from Tseng's bleak sympathy. His gaze dropped back to the file in his hand as his superior strode past him to the door. He hoped to never find himself in the situation now held off only by the large plank of walnut fixed into the wall behind him. He swallowed, steeling himself as the sound of the opening door reached his ears.

"Ah, Elena. Well timed." He heard Tseng say, followed by the shuffle of feet on carpet as he stepped aside to let the new arrival in. He closed the file, placing it back on the table and rose to his feet. Tseng strode back into view and sat himself behind the desk once again, his expression returned to its usual professional neutrality. He gestured to Rude's right.

"Rude, this is Elena Sieger, Gunner's sister and the most proficient trainee to come through the Academy in company history. Elena, this is Rude Montes, one of our top agents."

He stared at her. She smiled back at him, extending her hand. He noted a few differences, her short blonde hair was styled with one side of her bangs longer than the other, her eyes were brown instead of blue, but the face was near identical, they even smiled the same way. Another pang in his stomach. Another attempt to stop it from showing on his face. She didn't notice the eyes, small mercy. He grasped her hand in a brief, but firm shake before turning his head away and sitting down.

"I was just explaining to Rude how you found the suspect's apartment abandoned. So, Elena, please brief us on how you proceeded from there." Tseng said, sitting back in his chair with coffee mug in hand. He appeared as though he were settling down to watch his favourite TV show, his posture relaxed but the sharp glimmer of attentiveness in his eyes. Elena cleared her throat and with reluctance he turned his head to look at her. She stood straight as a post with her hands behind her back.

"Of course, Sir. After determining that Mr. Farae was no longer living at his address I called in the police force to conduct a thorough sweep of the apartment. Unfortunately we came up with nothing. After reporting back to my Instructor I returned to my regular training and studies at the Academy. Approximately two days later my Instructor informed me I was to continue working on the case and to begin by going over all the files on Mr. Farae while also keeping tabs on Public Transport ID data as well as his bank accounts, credit cards, anything that would indicate where the suspect was and what he was doing. Three days later Farae's ID registered on the eight o'clock evening train departing from Sector One. Farae's ID registered at each checkpoint until the train reached the Sector Six station. I concluded that Farae had gotten off at the Sector Five station in the slums, as that was the last place his ID registered and so I took the eight-thirty train departing from Sector Eight to the Sector Five station.."

Rude reached over for his mug and downed his coffee, he had a feeling he would need the caffeine if we wanted to stay awake through the remainder of Elena's briefing.

"...I stumbled across the suspect in the market place and tailed him to a park located next to the Sector Seven entrance in Sector Six. He sat on a bench in the park and stayed there, alone, until approximately fifteen minutes past nine, at which point he was approached by a woman. They talked for some time and I managed to secure a photograph of the woman. At nine-thirty they began an exchange, she handed him an envelope and he handed her a disk. They spoke for another five minutes before he got up and began to make his way back in the direction we came from. Two minutes later the woman left the bench and went through the gate to Sector Seven. I caught up the suspect just as he was getting ready to board the nine forty-five train back to Sector One. I boarded the train and after arriving in Sector One, tailed the suspect to Zozo street, where he entered a motel. I made note of the address and returned to Shinra Headquarters. At that point while running over the case files again I noticed that Farae's ID had not registered at any of the checkpoints we passed on the train back to Sector One."

He raised an eyebrow, impressed. She had her sister's eye for detail and made a gallant attempt at concealing her nervousness during the entire time she'd been speaking. The eyes that gave her away too.

"Thank you Elena. If you'd like to step outside and begin planning with Reno, Rude will be out in a moment." Tseng said. Rude's gaze flicked between his boss and the young woman to his right. Tseng's face remained blank, even his eyes conveyed nothing, ever the consummate professional. Elena nodded, mumbled a formality and turned to walk out of the room, door closing behind her with a soft click. Tseng twisted the monitor around to face him. A picture of a woman with gingery brown hair and a red headband over her forehead occupied the screen.

"We've managed to ID the woman Elena saw in the park with Farae. Her name is Jessie Collins. Criminal Record says she was arrested a year ago for vandalising public property, sprayed anti-Shinra graffiti on a wall at Holtz Street, Sector 8. She's never been officially linked but police have suspected for some time she may be involved in recent eco-terrorist activity."

"Avalanche?" Rude asked. Tseng frowned and nodded.

"We believe so. It would explain why Farae's ID didn't register on the return train, it's likely they programmed a new ID card and forged papers for him, in exchange for the data on the pocket bomb." Tseng said, taking another swig of his coffee.

"Your mission is to retrieve the data on the pocket bomb from Farae. You are authorised to kill upon retrieval by order of the President. However, he has requested that we try to broker a deal with Farae first."

Rude raised an eyebrow, something that did not go unnoticed by Tseng, who simply raised raised his hand as if to say 'What can I tell you?'

"The President believes he can still be of use to the company. If we can get him to come back, excellent. If not, you know what to do. Reno has all the necessary files." Tseng finished, nodding his dismissal. Without a word Rude rose to his feet, tucking Farae's file under his arm. He turned on his heel and made for the door, stopping just before he reached it as Tseng spoke again.

"Oh, and Rude. Sieger will be accompanying you both on this mission."

Rude turned his head to look over his shoulder. Tseng met his gaze, a knowing expression on his face.

"She's the best recruit we've ever had, on paper. But on paper means nothing when it comes to being a Turk." Tseng said. A moment of silence followed, Tseng's stare never boring into him. He nodded.

"Understood, Sir."

And with that he exited the room.


He stepped back into his own office space and met with the sight of Reno and Elena engaged in conversation at his desk. Reno sat propped up on the table, palms pressed flat to the walnut. Elena stood next to him, hands still behind her back but in a more comfortable, relaxed way. Another pang in his stomach, he ignored it. Reaching into his breast pocket he pulled out his sunglasses, placing them back over his eyes and felt his tension slip away. Keeping a calm exterior was easier without the issue of those damn telling eyes of his. Being Rude was easy, because Rude wore shades indoors and drank coffee like a machine and no one felt the need to give him sympathetic looks because Rude was untouchable, unshakeable, a consummate professional just like Tseng – a Turk.

He walked over to his companions with an assured coolness, assured all the more when he managed to look Elena in the eye and give her a polite nod of acknowledgement. She couldn't see through the shades. Easy.

"So Rude, Minigun here tells me she's working this mission with us." Reno said, cocking his head in Elena's direction. Rude said nothing, just nodded. He noticed the tiniest twitch in Elena's otherwise amiable expression at the nickname. Reno noticed it too judging by the amused smirk he made no effort to hide.

"We're gonna need more coffee." Rude said, placing his mug on the desk, next to Reno's hand. Reno's head remained cocked, his lips pursed, his eyes flicked upward, looking at Elena from under his brow.

"So how do you take yours, rookie?"

"Oh, uh, I uh, I don't drink coffee." She said. Reno chuckled, lifting the empty mugs from the table he sauntered towards the hallway.

"Oh fresh meat..." He called over his shoulder with a theatrical sigh, "Give 'em to me caffeine free and I'll have them hooked before the end of day one."

Elena turned back to Rude, eyebrows raised. He said nothing, just pulled up his chair and sat down with his arms crossed. The woman looked nervous, her eyes incapable of remaining stationery in their sockets, glancing around at anything and everything in the office.

"What is it?" He asked. She didn't reply, instead making a respectable attempt at a calm expression that didn't quite meet her eyes. He turned his head, eyebrows raised over the rims of his shades. Her expression broke, she cast her eyes downward and brought her arm around to pick at the cuticles of her index finger with her thumb. He said nothing, just waited.

"How did I do? In there?" She asked. She looked at him directly now, apprehensive but resolute.

"Fine." He replied. He hoped he sounded reassuring. Judging from the crestfallen expression on the young blonde's face, he did not. She turned her head downward once more. Minutes passed without a word, without a sound apart from the occasional turn of a page as his co-workers went about their own business. His second great weakness rose to the occasion with aplomb and no amount of sunglasses could remedy it. Didn't matter who he tried to be, Rude Montes the man or untouchable Rude the Turk who wore shades indoors – they both floundered like a fish out of water when it came to making conversation. A mute fish, at that.

Never before had he felt obligated to talk, silence ever his ally, but now, now it suffocated him. He wished she would talk for him, give him something that he could respond to with a nod or a shake. Heck, sitting through another of her data dump briefings would be preferable to this, the world's most uncomfortable quiet.

At last Reno sauntered back into the office, a fresh mug of coffee in each hand. It felt nothing short of divine intervention. He watched Reno approach, stopping just beside Elena, head pivoting from side to side, looking at both them with that same amused smirk from before on the redhead's face as he handed him his coffee.

"Talkative, isn't he?" Reno quipped, nudging Elena with his elbow. Flustered, she stumbled in her response.

"What? No...I mean uh, yes – but..."

Reno laughed, Rude frowned, Elena's face matched the colour of Reno's hair. She smiled apologetically.

"Relax Minigun." Reno said, "It's a rite of passage around here to get the silent treatment from Rude."

He said nothing, just shot a pointed frown Reno's way.

"Can we get to work, now?" He grumbled, swivelling his chair around to face the desk. Another chuckle and Reno plopped down on the seat next to him, typing a command into the computer.

"Pull up a seat rookie, time to be a Turk."


Three hours and six more cups of coffee between himself and Reno and they still laboured over blueprints and files. Tseng emerged from his office every half hour or so to get yet more coffee and check up on them, something he never did when it was just himself and Reno. They exchanged a silent, knowing look the first time their boss approached the table, followed by a surprised look once Tseng left and Elena remarked "I hope he doesn't keep doing that, makes me feel nervous."

It had the effect of ingratiating her with Reno, "Complaining about the boss man, Minigun. You're the sort o' lady I like to work with!"

Elena became more vocal after that. Up until then she'd displayed the polite silence of one afraid of stepping out of place or saying something stupid. Now, she contributed, nervous still, but over that first mental hurdle. The more she talked, the more she reminded him of her sister. She enunciated her words in an identical manner, made similar gestures and when it came to Reno, furrowed her eyebrows the same way any time he teased her, adopting that familiar stern expression.

Another pang in his stomach, ignored with a sip of coffee and the adjusting of his shades.

"Okay, so, if we're supposed to try and convince this guy to come back to Shinra first then there's no sense in all three of us going into the motel. That's too threatening. I think if one of us goes in and tries to negotiate with him we stand a better chance of getting into his good books." Reno said, taking a gulp of coffee. "Of course there's still problems with this idea, right rookie?"

He watched the recruit furrow her brow, concentrating.

"Well, first off, we have no way of finding out which room he's in, right? And then, even if we do get the right room, sending one person in isn't a great idea. If things go bad a one on one situation isn't ideal. He's a bomb maker, he could have the place booby trapped for all we know, right?" She looked at them both for confirmation. Rude nodded, there was that eye for detail again.

"Getting the key to the room should be easy enough. We'll have to pay off the owner to keep quiet about it anyway so we might as well do it from the get go. Few hundred gil from the Shinra Charity Foundation should keep 'em quiet."

"Bribery?" Elena asked, distaste evident in her tone. They both chuckled.

"In this line of work, bribery's your best friend." Reno said, a wistful smile forming on his face at her incredulity. "More often than not, the alternative isn't as peaceful."

"That just leaves figuring out what myself and Elena are going to do." Rude said, swivelling his chair around to face the desk again. It was a mess of notes, photos of the area and blueprints – one of which caught his eye. A city planning map of Zozo Street. He scanned it, aware of the expectant looks his companions were giving him. Two streets down from the motel Farae lodged in stood another building of similar height, if the specifications on the map were correct.

"If Farae's room is at the front of the hotel and on a floor we have a view of we could position ourselves here, on the rooftop." He said, pointing to it on the map. "Get him near the window and we'd have a clear line of sight."

Reno clucked his tongue, eyeing the map. "Still doesn't solve the problem of me being the only man on the inside."

Rude said nothing. A sharper pang ripped through his gut and without looking he reached across the desk, his fingers tightened around the handle of his mug. He took a gulp, and waited for the inevitable.

"We won't need to be on the inside..." Elena spoke, voice quiet. He looked over his shoulder. She sat with her hands clenched in her lap, mouth slightly agape. The pangs stopped, instead what felt like a boulder plummeted from his chest into his gut.

"If we have a clear line of sight from the rooftop, we can cover you with sniper fire." She said.

He adjusted his shades, bringing them closer to his eyes before glancing over at Reno. His partner looked back at him, expression a mixture of that damned sympathy and his usual nonchalance.

"What do you think, Rude?" Reno asked, his tone sounded casual but Rude knew him well enough to know what he was really saying – 'This is your call.'

He looked back to Elena. She'd closed her mouth, her face the picture of calm, but the eyes, the eyes burned with a firm resolve. A moment passed in which he said nothing, just finished the remainder of his coffee in a single gulp.

"If his room is at the front of the motel, it's our best bet." He spoke, at last. To his left, Reno nodded his concurrence and whirled his chair around to the desk, picking up a pen and paper.

"All right, so what do we need?"

"Nothing too powerful," Elena replied, "We won't be more than two hundred and fifty yards away from the front of the motel."

"What would you suggest?" Rude asked. She furrowed her brow again.

"A Mark Fourteen EBR." She said. "Decent range, low recoil. Powerful, but not blow half the wall away powerful."

Just like her sister. Another pang and no coffee to make it go away.

"Rude?" Reno asked, looking over at him. He nodded.

"Exactly what I would've suggested." Across from him Elena positively beamed with pride before quickly adopting a more professional expression once she realised his head was turned towards her.

"All right, so a Mark 14 with scope. We'll need some earpieces and a wire too, and a set of binoculars for you rookie." Reno listed off, scribbling it down on the paper before tearing it off, folding it and passing it to him. "I'll head down to Zozo street now while it's still bright and check the place out, get that room number. I'll get in touch as soon I find out and if we're good with the room then you can pick up the equipment from the armoury."

"And what if we aren't good with the room? What if it's not in sight of the roof?" Elena asked, to which Reno simply shrugged.

"Then we'll figure out another way, but this is our best bet, Lady Luck willing." He said, rising from his chair. "Best let Tseng know the plan, rookie. Rude can man the phone by himself, I'm sure." He quipped before skipping over Elena's outstretched legs and trotting down the aisle of desks, one hand in his pocket fishing for his keys.

Rude stared after the redhead as he disappeared beyond the door. Another uncomfortable silence now permeated the office. He could feel her looking at him, felt the hairs on the back of his neck prickle. He adjusted his sunglasses, pressing them closer to his eyes and without a word swivelled his chair around to his face his desk and clasped his hands together, resting his chin atop them. He heard the rustle of Elena stepping out of her chair behind him before she strode past him towards Tseng's office. He watched her fix her hair and suit, not that she needed too, she kept herself immaculate, he thought. A knock and murmured acknowledgement from inside later and she disappeared from view, closing the door behind her with a soft click. He sighed, reaching up to remove his sunglasses he folded the frames and placed them gently on the desk. He pressed his thumbs against his closed eyes, hands joined together as though he were praying. If there was such a thing as Lady Luck, she had one hell of a sense of humour pairing him up with Gunner's sister, on a sniping mission no less.

He looked down at the scrap of paper Reno had given him, laying innocuous on the desk. Unfolding it, he scanned the list. A Mk. 14, three earpieces, binoculars and a wire. With another sigh he lifted a pen and scribbled added an item to the list before folding the paper over and placing it in his breast pocket. He put his sunglasses on and sat back to wait.


"Floor Fifty-Nine" Said the automated voice. A distinct ping followed it as the doors of the glass elevator split apart to reveal a wide open, sparsely decorated room. He stepped out of the elevator and made straight for the doorway across the room. Elena followed after him. He glanced over his shoulder at her, she looked unimpressed with the surroundings. He cleared his throat.

"So..." He began. She jumped, heading snapping back to face in his direction, disbelief on her face that soon turned to a sheepish embarrassment at her reaction to his speaking. He pressed on, ignoring her deepening blush.

"You ever been in the upper levels before?" He asked, striding through the automatic door. It lead to another small and sparse room, occupied by a stairway and a large number 59 painted on the wall just above it.

"Uh, n-no, no sir, I've never been beyond the thirtieth floor until today." She replied as they began ascending the stairs. He paused at the first landing, turning and waiting for her to catch up.

"You find them bland." He said, ignoring a pang in his stomach at her expression, one of someone caught between wanting to admit the truth of the statement and fearing causing offence.

"Everyone does. They are bland." He said. Now she just looked uncomfortable. She laughed an uncertain laugh, her eyes gave away its falsity. He pursed his lips and she fell quiet. Great. Where did he go from here? He looked to his right, up the next set of stairs. The silence was so damn harrowing. He again could feel her eyes on him, wondering whether or not he was going to break the silence again. He said nothing, just turned and set off up the next flight of stairs to floor 60. Their footsteps echoed in the stairwell. They continued their climb in silence, reaching floor 61 without a word passing between them. All the while he could feel her watching him, just like she watched him in the office before. He stopped again at the next landing.

"What is it?" He asked. She blushed again, head dropping slightly in an attempt to mask her changing complexion.

"Uhm, it's...It's just, is everything okay, sir?" She asked, expression concerned, a genuine concern, he noted, in that it flooded every aspect of her face, even her tone of voice had been one of worry. He'd expected a less pleasant look from her. It surprised him. Surprised him indeed, for at that moment he was struck by a pained realisation that he'd been gawking at her without saying a word for over a minute and her own concerned expression had given way to a look of bemusement. He feigned a cough, bringing his hand up to cover his mouth and lowering his head.

It was ridiculous, he was a grown man, a Turk! Yet here he was acting like some awkward, inept teenager. To hell with that, if a Turk felt obligation then he sure as hell tried to meet that obligation head on. Pressing his shades closer to his face again, he shrugged at her, lips curling into a small, apologetic smile.

"I'm not good at talking to people I don't know." The smile wiped from his face in seconds for now she smiled back at him, the exact same smile he'd seen from her sister so many times, not pitying, not sympathetic, just a kind acknowledgement of what he'd said.

"I've been there, Sir." She said. He shook his head. It took all his willpower to not let the conversation die then and there.

"Call me Rude, we're partners on this mission." He replied, turning to walk up the stairs. "When you're out on the field, rank doesn't matter. The only thing that does matter is the job. Formality between agents is pointless when there isn't a desk between them, it doesn't help get the job done. So we might as well call each other what we want."

He stopped at the landing of floor 63, turning back to face her as she ascended the last step. She smiled at him again and nodded. This was good, it was business.

"All right. So, Rude Montes, wasn't it? Where's that name from?" She asked as he swiped his key-card through the scanner.

"Costa Del Sol."

"Really?" Her eyebrows raised, surprised. "You don't have the accent."

He shook his head, "No one in the Turks has an accent."

The door opened with a dull hum and he stepped inside. On the wall just across from them a small plaque read "Weapons and Equipment Armoury", next to it was a map with the layout of the entire floor. The armoury was a veritable maze of doors, each of which had certain security clearances. The doors leading to the weapons armoury were on strict lock down, the necessary clearance afforded to but two individuals, the President himself, and the Quartermaster. To the right of the map stood a plain white metal door, adorned with printed letters that identified it as the entrance to the Quartermaster's office. A small, grey box with a bright screen was mounted on the wall next to the door.

"So," Elena began, "You've been to the Armoury before?"

He shook his head. "No. First time. Someone else always got the guns when they were needed and I don't use them much outside of the ones available at the firing range." He said.

He stopped in front of it and reaching into the inner pocket of his jacket he fished out his key-card, pressing it to the screen. A second later a ping confirmed his identity, and the door slid open. He gestured for Elena to proceed, following after her as she walked through the doorway.

The sole source of light in the office shone from the large apparatus of numerous monitors that stood against the opposite wall of the room. Each individual screen displayed an image of a different room, some lined with boxes, others with long cases or crates and barrels. To the left of the monitors stood a wide vent-like structure. A tall, heavy built man occupied a chair at the console below the monitors. He looked the military type, a stern brow set over small eyes that held the glimmer of sharp inquisition. Even his clothing emitted the distinct vibe of a man who made his living through combat. He was clad in a pair of plain black combat trousers and a tight fitting white t-shirt underneath a loose black leather jacket. Rude noted the emblem pinned to the jacket's breast, the insignia of SOLDIER.

"Can I help you?" The man asked. He pushed himself up from his chair, striding over to them with heavy booted footfalls, stopping an arm's length away, the stern expression never leaving his face. Rude said nothing, only reaching into his breast pocket and extracting the paper from it. He handed it to the Quartermaster, who glowered both at him and the folded list now in his hand before flipping it open with his thumb and peering down at it. They remained silent.

"You got ID?" He asked. Rude nodded and lifted his key-card to level with the Quartermaster's eyes. The Quartermaster let loose a derisive snort and muttered 'Turks.' He turned back to the console and began to type. Silence fell upon them, broken only by the clicking of keys under fingertips. He turned to face them again and pointed at the strange vent next to the monitors.

"Give it a minute, your equipment'll arrive there. I'll go get your guns." He said, then striding past them and out the door, heavy footsteps fading as he progressed down the corridor. Beside Rude, Elena relaxed her shoulders with a relieved sigh.

"Well that was pleasant." She muttered, weary exasperation on her face. Rude smirked.

"He's an ex-SOLDIER. They all act like that towards Turks."

"Because we're better than they are, right?" She asked with a grin.

"Damn right. Better pay too."

A loud clunk from inside the vent interrupted them. He walked over to it, peering down at the metal structure. He slid his fingers in between the grate and pulled, somewhat too hard, for the vent swung open like a door with surprising ease. Inside sat three black and silver metallic cases, all emblazoned with the Shinra Company logo and a label identifying their contents. He reached in and pulled them out one at a time, handing the largest of them off to Elena.

"Your binoculars." He said, placing the other two on top of the vent. He popped the lid off of one, inspecting the earpieces inside with meticulous care before placing them back and closing the lid. He did the same again with the case containing the wire. The sound of heavy footfalls thumped in his ears and he turned to face the door as it slid open and the Quartermaster stepped into the room. He carried two cases similar to the ones deposited in the vent, one a long, rectangular shape, the other a great deal smaller and thinner than the cases of equipment. Rude watched as the Quartermaster placed both cases on the floor and shifted the smaller one to the side, making room to lay the larger case flat to the ground. He flicked open the latches and pulled the lid up. The case was lined with a protective foam, inside which rested an immaculately polished Mark 14 rifle. A scope occupied another slot in the foam just above and to the right of where the rifle rested and on the left parallel to that scope sat a cardboard box containing the ammunition. The Quartermaster stared up at him, his face blank but for a single eyebrow raised in question. Rude said nothing and nodded, satisfied. The case slammed shut and the former SOLDIER member redid the latches, glowering up at them. Rude eyed him the entire time, returning that same glare from behind the darkened glass over his eyes. The man handed him the case containing the rifle before crouching down to lift the smaller box. Rude watched him open it with more force than was necessary, rotating it so that the inside faced the two Turks. A pristine handgun sat cradled by the protective foam lining inside the case with two full loaded magazines occupying a slot each just to the right of it. Again Rude only nodded his appeasement and the glower of the Quartermaster's eyes intensified as he slammed the lid of the case shut, tossing it at Rude. He caught it with one hand, stare never breaking. A moment of the thundering, suffocating silence that comes only before an explosive battle passed by them before at last he spoke, voice pleasant.

"Thank you very much." He said, and with that he strode past the grimacing Quartermaster and out the door. He heard Elena scrambling to collect the remaining cases behind him. She muttered something incomprehensible to the Quartermaster before the sound of hurried footsteps informed him that she was now following after him.

The door to the office slid shut, accompanied by a loud denouncement from the Quartermaster.

"Fucking Turks."


They'd made their way back to their own office in silence. Not the graceless silence that preceded and spawned stunted conversation, not the silence of relief after the tension of the Quartermaster's office. This was an altogether darker, more brooding silence. He was preparing himself, for the mission, for what he would ask of her and for the memories that even Rude the Turk who wore sunglasses indoors couldn't quite pretend weren't there. He thought Elena realised the nature of his quiet, she'd said nothing since leaving the armoury. Just like her sister. His gratitude for her silence punctuated with more pangs in his gut. His stomach was in knots, twisting and churning in sickening intervals. An old forgotten sluggishness weighed down upon him more and more with each minute that passed, drawing them closer and closer to mission time. He pressed his shades against the bridge of his nose. Professionalism was the key. It was time for untouchable Rude the Turk to take the reigns back and shrug off the impairing weight. No feelings, no memories, just the job.

They strode into the office, straight to the desk. He placed both gun cases on the tabletop with a muted grunt. Elena did the same. From the corner of his eye he saw her turn her head towards him, but her eyes were focused elsewhere, on the handgun case. He said nothing, just waited.

"Why do we need a handgun?" She asked, lifting her gaze to meet his shaded eyes at last. He reached over and flicked the lid of the handgun's box open before sliding it across the desk to her.

"Load it." He commanded. He watched her, scrutinising, as she turned away from him and peered down at the weapon. She shimmied the fingertips of one hand underneath the barrel of the gun, the other hand wrapping around the grip. She pried it free. He watched her, unblinking and gave an imperceptible approving nod at how she avoided wrapping her finger around the trigger. Instead, she checked the safety, ensuring it was on before reaching down into the box and freeing a magazine from its foamy slot. She slotted it into the magazine chamber, firm but not forceful, and pulled back on the slide lock. It sprung into place with a satisfying metallic click. He nodded again, ignoring another pang in his stomach. She ejected the magazine, making to place it back in the box. He raised a hand to stop her, shaking his head. He held out his hand, taking the gun from her and swapping it to his other hand before taking the magazine. He repeated her actions, checking the safety, ensuring his finger wasn't on the trigger, before loading the magazine and pulling the slide. He checked the safety again, before flipping the gun around in his hand and holding it out to her, the butt of the gun facing her.

"This is your weapon. As my spotter for this mission it's your duty not only to help me identify the target, but also to watch my back." He said as she took the gun from him, uncertainty in her eyes.

"I need you to understand what that means. You can't hesitate. You can't allow room for uncertainty, not a moment's pause, Elena. If something happens your job is to draw that gun and fire it at the threat, no questions."

She nodded, placing the gun into the empty holster underneath her jacket. Her face was resolute, but her eyes still held that uncertainty as she replied, "Got it. No hesitation."

"No hesitation..." He said, his stomach churned, his heart thumped, but still he pressed on, for the job. "Hesitation got your sister killed. And it'll kill you too."

He quelled the anxiety bubbling in his heart, and pressed his shades to his face. This was business, this was work, she had to know this, she had to know the consequences. She stared at him, face unreadable but all traces of hesitancy vanished from her eyes. Now, they held only a furious determination. A determination to win, to be better, to not befall the same fate as her sister? It bolstered him, the fire in her eyes, it eased the trepidation in his own heart.

"Tonight you aren't Elena Sieger the woman, you aren't Elena Sieger the trainee."

She nodded.

"Tonight, you're a Turk."


In all the time he lived in Midgar, its weather wasn't what he described as changeable. If anything, the weather provided a certain comforting predictable routine in the chaos of the city. Each day began with murky, overcast grey and remained as such until night fell and the city transformed into a vibrant, luminous host to buzzing night life, warmed by smog and the sheer number of bodies tottering around each sector of the metropolis. Tonight though, Midgar emitted its usual vibrant nocturnal colours without the buzz of much its citizenry. For tonight, of all nights, Midgar's weather underwent a change, the effects of which he bore witness to from his elevated position. What few citizens were unfortunate or foolish enough to be outdoors scampered about with jackets over their heads. Some huddled underneath arches and doorways, others sprinted as fast as their waterlogged forms would allow, bounding to the warmth of their homes. Little streams of water trickled between the cobblestones of the footpaths, channelling into puddles smothering overflowing drainage ducts. The rain plummeted to the ground with such force that it sounded like gunfire pelting off the metal structure of the stairwell. They climbed each slippery step of the fire escape, suit jackets clinging to their skin, raindrops battering their faces, trying their utmost not to be blown off by the strengthening wind. A powerful gust surged by them and his grip on the railing of the stairway tightened along with his hold of the case cradling his rifle. The faint sound of Elena's miserable whimper tickled at his ears before the noise of the wind drowned it away. He glowered down the alleyway, the buildings on either side created a tunnel, pushing the wind through with extraordinary force. Lady luck willing, the veracity of the gale would lessen once they reached the open rooftop. At last the wind died down once more and they continued upwards, footsteps cautious. He glanced upwards, thanking all that was merciful for there being only two flights left. Elena did not share his relief.

"It's s-so damn cold." She said, her voice deflated. A crackle of laughter rang through their ears, emitting from the tiny earpiece they wore.

"That's why they call 'em wetworks, rookie." Reno said through his wire, amused.

"Shut up." They replied in unison. He only laughed harder.

They pressed on, gritting their teeth with each gust of wind, wiping rainwater from their brows. A futile gesture but one they couldn't help but perform. He debated removing his water-speckled sunglasses, visibility was poor enough without them, given that he could barely lift his head from the sheer strength of the elements. He glanced upwards again, one flight left to go. Better to leave them on.

The reached the rooftop at last and strode across it to the ledge opposite them, fuelled by purpose and a certain relief at the lessening rain and wind. The Zozo Street Motel stood two streets across from them, two floors taller, their view of the building unobstructed. A perfect sniping position. He crouched down and flicked open the case, extracting the rifle from it. He busied himself attaching the scope, glancing over at his partner as she freed her binoculars from their case and peered into them. She pressed a hand to her ear.

"Reno, are you in his room? Everything looks dark from here." She said, voice raised louder than was needed, too used to having to shout over the wind. He shifted his gaze across the rooftops to the motel. A moment later the light of a room directly across from them flickered on and their red haired companion ambled into view of the window. He could just make out Reno's hand rising up to greet them.

"Looking sharp, guys." His voice crackled through their earpieces. Rude shook his head, turning away to extract a cartridge of ammo from the case.

"Are you drinking coffee?!" Elena asked, incredulous. Rude's head snapped back to peer in the direction of the motel. Another chuckle over the headset.

"Indeed I am, rookie. Owner of the place was more than happy to fix me up with some once I told him he was getting paid."

Rude's lip tightened and he muttered a profanity under his breath.

"What was that Rude?" Reno teased.

"You're an asshole." He replied, louder this time. Reno laughed again.

"Are you always this relaxed when you go on a mission?" Elena snapped over the headset. Before the redhead could reply Rude interrupted.

"Oh, you'll get to hear his work voice soon." He said, smirking at the exasperated grunt the comment earned.

"I don't have a work voice!"

He said nothing, merely raised a knowing eyebrow at the questioning look Elena shot him. She smirked back at him, amused.

"Anyway..." Rude began, "Let's focus on the task at hand here. Reno, when's Farae due to come back to the motel?"

A pause and then the crackle of the earpiece once again.

"Not for another hour at least. We're gonna have to hunker down for a while. The owner said he'd phone the room once Farae got here."

He sighed`, leaning the rifle against the waist-high ledge of the rooftop and looking skyward he rose to his feet. The rain had lessened to a drizzle though the wind still came and went in surges. Beside him Elena rose to stand too, running a hand through her dripping hair she pushed it back from her face. It cascaded about the back of her head, all semblance of a hairstyle lost to mother nature's soaking touch. She really did look like her sister.

Another pang in his gut and a resigned sigh escaped him. Silent, he sat against the ledge to wait.


He pulled back his sleeve and peered down at the black sports watch on his wrist. Nine-thirty, a full half hour since they'd first reached the rooftop. The rain had stopped entirely some ten minutes ago, a small mercy. The wind too had diminished to weak and infrequent gusts. Still not ideal sniping conditions, but an undoubted improvement from earlier. He pulled his sleeve back over his wrist and glanced over at his partner. Elena had spent the past thirty minutes alternating between peering through her binoculars at the motel and turning to stare at the fire escape behind them. Her caution pleased him. The situation was stressful enough without him doubting her composure, though he noted that from time to time her gaze would linger on him as she turned. He surveyed her a while longer and sure enough she peeked over at him for a moment as she lowered her binoculars once more and turned to face the fire escape.

"Remember what I said earlier." He said, staring off across the cityscape. To her credit, she didn't jump in surprise this time. "No doubts." She nodded, but her determined expression faltered. He frowned and checked his watch. Nine-thirty five. Enough time to deal with this business.

"What's wrong?" He commanded. She closed her eyes and sighed, frustration painted on her face. He said nothing, waiting. She took a few steps forward.

"I...want..." She began in a strained tone, "More than anything, more than anything I want to be a Turk, the best Turk I can be and..."

"And?" He pressed her on, folding his arms across his chest.

"I guess...sometimes I drive myself crazy wanting to do everything perfect and I start thinking of everything that I might be doing wrong and what happens if I make a mistake and-" She stopped short at his low laughter. He cleared his throat and quelled the macabre humour that arose within him, resuming his serious expression.

"As you become more experienced, you'll learn to trust your instincts." He said, staring at her straight on now. "The most important thing you can is to make sure that doubting voice in your head doesn't get the better of you. A lot of people, experienced agents and recruits, have let that doubt cripple them."

She remained silent, staring at the ground. He watched her turn away from him, staring off at the fire escape opposite them. A moment later she spoke again, and the question she asked sent his heart plummeting down to his gut.

"Is that what killed my sister?" Her tone was even, her voice steady, but he was sure that if she turned to face him her eyes would tell all. "The doubt, I mean?"

His stomach felt as though a tempest raged inside it, his heart kicked into overdrive, thumping with fearful fury against his ribcage. The heavy silence that had dropped between them before felt crushing, suffocating. He pressed his shades against the bridge of his nose and took a long, deep breath. Gods above he needed a coffee.

"In a way." He replied, she turned her head, peering at him from over her shoulder.

"How much do you know about Gunner's death?" He asked, an unusual disquiet in his voice. She shrugged and shook her head.

"Nothing. They just told us she'd died in combat." She replied, turning her head back to face away from him. He noted the tinge of bitterness in her tone and felt another pang in his stomach. He ignored it, it was time to put this to rest.

"Your sister was an expert sniper. One of the best. Guess that's why we called her Gunner.." He said with a hollow laugh. He regretted it. The blonde in front of him passed no remark upon it, just continued staring off across the rooftops. Her silence offered him no reassurance.

"She was on a sniping mission like this, out in Wutai. She and her spotter were assigned to take out one the Wutai commanders." He dropped his gaze to the rifle next to him before continuing.

"By chance one of the enemy scouts stumbled across her sniping position. Her spotter heard him coming, he was ready for it, held up the scout the moment he rounded the corner. But he hesitated, just for a second. He said he was trying to remember protocol. The scout saw it, the doubt in his eyes and took advantage of it. He fired three shots, two hit your sister, the other missed and the spotter took the scout out with a point blank shot. It was too late. Gunner died instantly."

He looked down at his hands, now resting against his lap and realised they were shaking. He glanced up at her. Her back was still turned to him and he felt a rush of gratitude surge through his heart. The world was full of little mercies tonight.

"What happened to the spotter?" Her voice remained calm and even. It unnerved him more than if she'd have broken down in mourning, or erupted into some tirade of callous pain morphed into words. It reminded him of Tseng, of the way he responded to even the most grievous news with benign, rigid grace. It was so...professional. It amused him, in a morbid way, that he found her professional tone so bizarre when he himself strived so much towards it. He adjusted his sunglasses again.

"Rude? The spotter?" She asked, without impatience.

A moment of silence passed in which he contemplated his response.

"He was given a chance. The spotter learned from his mistake, and he's one of the Turk's best agents now." He said, and he believed it. Because he had too. Another heavy silence permeated between them, his gaze never left the back of her head. At last, almost imperceptibly she nodded and turned to face him. A glassy sheen of tears shimmered over her dark brown eyes, but behind it her eyes displayed nothing but the strength of steel. She nodded again, more firm this time.

"Turks look after their own, right?" She asked. His brow furrowed in confusion and surprise at the question. What was she asking? He nodded.

"Turks look after their own." He repeated. With that she strode back to her surveillance position next to him and lifted the binoculars to her face. For a while they said nothing, dwelling in a pensive silence. The rain started up again, lighter than before, the only sound atop the roof until Elena again broke it with a question he felt more prepared for. Didn't make it easier.

"The spotter, who was he?"

Decision time.

He made to take off his sunglasses but at that moment the static crackle of his earpiece sounded off and Reno's voice rang out.

"Rude, Elena. Farae's in the building. Get ready." He said. Without a word Rude grabbed the rifle before crouching down, resting his elbow atop the ledge and peering through the scope over the rim of his shades. Elena fell silent too, focusing in on the motel.


He pressed his back flat to the wall by the door. Any minute now that door would swing open and Farae would trounce into the room. Farae wouldn't see him initially, his form blocked by the door and Farae would continue on with his not seeing him by slamming the door shut behind him without a second glance. He would step further towards the centre of the room and then come to a stop. He'd notice the thermal flask, milk and two mugs atop the faded laminated wood of the dingy coffee table, next to the worn out chairs with the deflated coushins. Then, before he would turn around, Reno would step away from the wall and make his presence known. Many of his fellow Turks called it histrionics, unnecessary theatricality. He called it necessary. The key to negotiation lay in your ability to make your rival think you have something better than they do. It diminished them in their own minds, more destructive than anything their opponent could do to them. Didn't matter whether or not you did have something better than they did, you just needed to make them believe it. That little unnerving twinge that would infect Farae at his seemingly materialising from nothing was thus of vital importance in establishing the power dynamic of the conversation. It would make Farae' more complicit, more malleable. If it succeeded, he became just that little bit more powerful, mythical. And so would Shinra.

The knob turned and he pressed himself tighter against the wall, silent but for the minute rustle of his suit jacket on concrete. The door swung open and in trounced a man of medium height and build with short brown hair and beard more dishevelled than in his photograph and tired bags under his eyes. He slammed the door shut behind him and stepped toward the centre of the room. Reno eyed him all the way, not daring to breath harder than in short, shallow puffs and pulls. He pushed away from the wall and stalked after Farae like a cat, the toes of his shoes barely scuffing the threadbare carpet. He reached one of the chairs by the coffee table and with the utmost of stealth sat himself down and crossed one leg over the other, clasping his hands together in his lap. Adopting an amicable, relaxed smile with a twinkle in his eye, he was the very picture of benevolence. Farae jarred to a halt next to the coffee table, frowning down at it. Perfect.

"Coffee, Mr. Farae?"

The man's form stiffened, his back straight and rigid as a plank. Farae turned with his shoulders to look at him. He beamed back at him and gestured to the chair on the opposite side of the coffee table. Farae continued to stare at him, his expression a shifting from fury to fear and then to the defeated tinge of resignation.

"Who are you?" Farae asked at last, his voice reflective of his worn appearance.

"A representative of Shinra Incorporated." He replied, his smile never wavered. His voice too remained pleasant. Farae's expression soured at the mention of his former employer. Unsurprising really, so far Farae behaved exactly as expected.

"How did you find me?" Farae snapped, eyes brimming with anger. "Was it the ID card? Did it fuck up?"

He didn't reply, instead gesturing once more at the chair opposite him, expression still plastered with that sickeningly sweet smile.

"Sit down please, Mr. Farae and we can discuss everything." He said, tone pleasant but commanding. Farae's eyes flicked from looking at him to the chair and back, at which he offered an encouraging nod. At last Farae's sighed, throwing his hands up before plopping down in the chair and staring at him with an expectant look on his face. They sat in silence for a moment, he continued to smile at his target whose expectant expression soon morphed into one of angered impatience. Farae flicked his wrists, raising his hands off his thighs in a questioning manner.

"Well?" He asked, voice betraying his impatience even more than this eyes and face. Reno leaned forward and reached for the thermal flask on the table. He then dragged both mugs closer to him, clinking against each other as he pulled them across the table before lifting his hand to twist open the lid of the thermal flask. He filled one mug with the coffee, pausing a moment to take in the aromatic scent of the dark fluid. He looked back over at Farae, giving the flask a little shake and shifting his face into an offering expression. Farae sighed, burying his head in his hands before raising it up again to speak.

"No I don't wan-" He grimaced, flopping back in his chair and raising a hand to his forehead. "Fine, fine, go on then." He muttered, gesturing at him to pour the coffee.

He nodded, "Good, good." He poured the coffee and passed it over to Farae before reaching for the small jug of milk and adding it to his own coffee. He offered it to Farae who declined with a brief, curt shake of his head. He sipped his coffee, placing the mug back on the table with a satisfied smack of his lips. He leaned forward in his seat and gazed across at Farae, unblinking. The smile vanished from his face.

"I am going to speak now, Mr. Farae and tell you everything I know about your current situation. While I'm doing this you will remain completely and utterly silent. After I have finished explaining your predicament to you I'm going to put forward a proposal to you. Then and only then are you allowed to speak. Is that clear?" His voice lowered, slipping into something much more malicious, underhanded and sinister in tone. Farae opened his mouth to speak, catching himself just before a word had left his throat. He shut his mouth promptly. Reno nodded, the smile returning to his face. He took another gulp of coffee. Mysticism complete, time to make him trust again.

"Well then, Mr. Farae. I'm with the Department of Administrative Research in the Shinra Company, otherwise known as the Turks. Are you aware of what the Turks do, Mr. Farae?"

Farae shook his head, tight lipped. He widened his smile at the silence.

"The Turks do a few different things, but our primary function is to ensure public safety from any significant threat by any means necessary." He said, taking another swig of coffee. "But what constitutes a significant threat? We're not talking street level crime, that's for the police. We're a little above their payroll, so to speak. The kind of threats we concern ourselves with are the Cartels, the Mafia gangs, organisations with agendas...and people who help those sorts of organisations." He finised, his voice again imbibed with that sinister tone. He gave Farae a pointed look.

"Which brings us to you, Mr. Farae. You illegally took company property in the form of the data for the "pocket bomb." You then traded this data to a woman suspected of engaging in organised terrorist activity. Then, all of a sudden, your ID no longer registers on the scanners, because you traded the data for a new identity." He scrutinised Farae, who now sat more rigid in his chair, hands resting on the armrests, eyes tired but attentive.

"However, despite your recent mistakes, the Shinra Company still has faith in your capabilities and we believe you could be of great benefit to the Company's future. So, Mr. Farae, I am here to offer you your job at Shinra Inc. back."

Farae's eyes widened. For a fleeting moment he looked elated, but then a dark scowl fell upon his face and though Reno continued to smile, he let loose an internal sigh. Nothing he said would coax Farae back if that was the reaction the offer bestowed. Time to refocus.

"Well that's a pleasant face." He quipped, smirking at his former fellow employee. "I take it that's a no, then. That just leaves one thing, Mr. Farae."

Farae tensed again and dug his fingers into the worn fabric covering the armrests.

"The bomb data. Give it to me." He said, voice commanding, dark and threatening. All traces of friendliness and pleasantry eradicated in those two sentences. He rose to his feet, unlatching his nightstick from his belt, he extended it with a flick of his wrist. Farae eyed it, his calm facial expression marred by the fear evident in his eyes. The redhead watched him, stare unwavering as the man turned his gaze back to meet his and spoke.

"I can't."

Reno smirked, a snort of derisive amusement escaped him as he turned his head away. Slowly he craned his neck to the side, like a child intrigued. He shook his head, shrugged and smiled.

"I tried."

With that he raised the nightstick to Farae's chest and pressed down on the button on the hilt. The effect was instantaneous. Farae's chair fell back, his feet clipped the coffee table, almost upheaving it, he flipped onto his front, a blithering, twitching heap on the ground. Giving his target no time to recover, Reno strode around the coffee table and the upturned chair. He bent down and grasped a handful of Farae's overcoat, lifting his face from the ground. He lowered his mouth so that it grazed off Farae's ear.

"I'll say it again. Give me the data." He commanded. Farae said nothing, panting and gasping for breath until at last his laboured breathing turned to spluttering, wheezed laughter. A frustrated growl escaped Reno as he lifted Farae and dragged him across the room, slamming him against the window panes and jabbing the electrified point of his nightstick under the man's jaw. Farae laughed again, a sobering, hollow cackle.

"Do you have any idea what that company does? Why I can't go back? The shit they do I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy..." He said, wheezing. The redhead sneered back at him.

"It's not my place to comment on company policy. The data. Now." He pressed the nightstick harder against Farae's throat, eliciting a choked cough from him.

"A-are you gonna kill me? Is tha-that what you T-Turk's do, huh?" He asked, a gleam of righteous triumph in his eyes.

"I haven't decided yet." He replied and Farae's face fell. "No more talk. The data. Now." He repeated. The drum of thunder boomed into the room from the outer skies, accompanied by the sharp rattle of rainfall on the glass. Farae's eyes widened as he pressed the nightstick hard enough against his throat that the man's throat closed, depriving him of air. Frantic, Farae clutched one hand to the nightstick, trying to pry it away from his neck whilst pointing furiously at something behind him. He cocked his head, glancing over his shoulder. He followed the direction of Farae's finger to the small bedside drawer on the other side of the room. He tossed the man to the floor, next to the upturned chair and strode over to the drawer, leaving his victim splayed breathless on the worn carpet.

He wrenched open the drawer. It was empty but for a single circular case containing a disk. The bomb data disk. He pried the case open and inspected the disk, a small engraving of the Shinra logo occupied the right side, the format and space capacity of the disk occupied the other. "COMPACT EXPLOSIVE PROJECT" was written in black marker on the bottom portion of the disc. He popped it back in the case, satisfied and made to turn back towards a quietened Farae. At that moment the receiver crackled in his ear and Elena's voice echoed through his skull.

"Reno! Watch out!"

Something really fucking hot splashed across his face and he screamed bloody murder.


"Is that his work voice?" Elena remarked, still peering through her binoculars. He said nothing for a moment, still eyeing the room through the scope of his rifle, watching Reno slam Farae against the window and deliver another threat in that sinister tone, crackling in his earpiece.

"Yup." He replied at last.

"Makes him sound sleazy."


They fell into silence again and he refocused on the motel window. So far the mission proceeded as expected, Farae's rejection of the offer made for no real surprise. He took a long, slow breath, calming himself. He reached up to his earpiece and removed it, stowing it in the pocket of his jacket. Sniping was a unique form of combat that required the utmost concentration, a steadfast resolve and a healthy respect for the elements. Every variable counted, one unexpected gust of wind, one cloud moving out of place to expose a blinding gleam of sunlight, a startling noise, all made the difference between a clean shot and a wasted bullet lodged in the concrete wall. He felt sniping to be something of a double-edged sword. Its benefit lay in its efficiency and, most of the time, safety. In truth though he found it distasteful, callous, almost cowardly. No, he much preferred getting up close and personal with his opponents – a fighting chance for all involved. Still, there was no denying the virtues of having a few hundred yards distance in their line of work and so he quelled his disdain, focusing on steadying his breathing.

He inhaled. A rumble of thunder rang out across the tainted orange night sky. He exhaled. A pause. He inhaled. The rain started cascading down upon them once again. It fell straight. Good. No wind, yet. He exhaled.

"Target is on the floor by the coffee table." Elena spoke, confirming what he saw through his own scope. "No wind, moderate rainfall." Good, she was a capable spotter.

He inhaled plunging himself into that unique isolation that only a sniper could experience. Just him, his spotter, his gun, a target and the environment between them. He peered through the scope at his target. His heart plummeted, his calm shattered. Farae had grabbed one of the coffee mugs from the table, unbeknownst to Reno. His head whipped to his right.


Her hand shot to her earpiece.

"Reno! Watch out!" She shouted, binoculars still pressed to her eyes.

He turned back and refocused his gaze through the scope. Too late. Reno's hands shot to his face, scalded by the coffee.

"Reno's dropped his weapon!" Elena shouted over another crack of thunder rang out. He inhaled. He needed to be calm. They both did. Farae seized his opportunity, tackling Reno into the bedside drawer. He exhaled, watching as Farae tossed his partner away from the drawer before flooring him with a punch that sent him toppling over the overturned armchair.

"Reno is down. Wait! Target obscured by agent, do not fire." She spoke. Her voice was even, calm. Good.

He inhaled. Sure enough Reno had pulled himself up to his knees, blocking Farae from view. Not a massive amount, but enough to make a shot risky. Farae picked up Reno's wayward nightstick and stalked over to the downed agent, swinging his arm back, ready to strike. He swung, Reno ducked and the nightstick sailed over his head as the redhead wrapped his arms around Farae's waist and pulled him to the ground. Reno straddled Farae, wrestling for control of the electrified nightstick. Farae headbutted him, sending him splaying onto his back. He exhaled.

"We have a clear shot of the target. Wind is kicking up, blowing rightward!" Elena said.

He inhaled and shifted the barrel of the gun two inches to the left, scraping the metal along the ledge loud enough for his partner to hear it and, he hoped, understand what he was about to do. She did. He exhaled.

"Reno! Roll to the left!" She cried into the earpiece. He watched his comrade throw himself sideward as Farae rose to his feet. He inhaled. His entire body stilled. His mind went blank. Another thunderous roar overhead and he pulled the trigger, the noise of the gun drowned in nature's banshee scream. A second later the window of the motel shattered and Farae stopped dead in his tracks. A moment of silence but for the howl of the wind and pelting of rain upon the city followed. Farae dropped to his knees and fell limp on his front, dead. He exhaled, shoulders sagging.

"Tar...Target down. Kill confirmed." Said Elena. He looked over to her, her faced paled, her eyes wide but, he appraised, she remained steady on her feet. Better than himself, first time around. He reached into his pocket and extracted his earpiece, placing it back in his ear and pressing down on the microphone button he spoke.

"Reno, what's your status?"

A rustle of noise and Reno's voice echoed in his ear.

"Oh I'm just great. My face is in agony, but I'm great." He replied, his tone sardonic. He smirked.

"What a waste of coffee."

"Fuck you, Rude."

He snorted, amused before turning back to Elena. She'd lowered her binoculars, now dangling in the limp grasp of her fingers. Her face turned a sickening shade of green and she breathed in short intervals. He sighed, unloading the rifle and detaching the scope, placing them back into their case. He rose to his feet, case in hand and stepped over to the dazed woman, putting a hand on her shoulder. She jumped, turning her head to face him.

"You okay?"

She nodded once, a slow, jerked dropping and raising of the head.

"Think..." She began, her voice weak. "Think I'm gonna throw up."

He smiled. Just like him.

"Take a deep breath. We'll head down, the walk might do you good." He raised his hand to his earpiece again.

"Reno, we're moving out. Meet us in the alleyway by the fire escape."

The scalded agent mumbled a confirmatory reply before the static crackle of the earpiece clicked off. He nodded to Elena and she turned to walk towards the fire escape. She strode with purpose, though he noted the occasional involuntary buckle of her knees that she quickly righted. He placed a steadying hand on her back and together they descended the metal stairway.


He leant against the wall, one foot pressed flat against it. The rain diminished into infrequent drizzling sweeps made stronger by occasional bursts of wind. There would no lightning tonight by the looks of it. Beside him the young prospect stood bent at the waist, her soaked hair swept back, clinging to her jacket. She let loose another sickening wretch followed by the splatter of vomit on the pavement. He grimaced.

"I'm sorry." She spluttered between great, heaving breaths.

"No need to be." He replied.

"At-" She stopped, interrupted by another wretch. A moment passed and she regained herself. "At least you don't have to ho-hold my hair back, it's so d-damn wet."

He chuckled, embraced in the surreal sensation of re-experiencing an old memory. One where he did the vomiting, and her sister the consolatory quips. "At least you don't need me to hold your hair back, Rude."

Elena righted herself just as Reno rounded the corner into the alley and strode up to them, a tired expression on his blotchy red face. Rude raised an eyebrow.

"Not one word, Rude." Said Reno, raising a finger in a silencing gesture. He scrutinised Elena before speaking again. "You look like shit."

She glowered at him, still clutching her stomach. "So do you."

Reno grimaced this time. Rude chuckled, earning a disdainful sidelong glance from the red faced Turk.

"I'm guessing you had a case of the post-mission vomiting bug, huh rookie?" Reno asked, tone softer this time, more understanding. Elena didn't respond, eyeing Reno warily, expecting some sort of joke, Rude thought. At last, she nodded.

"Well we've all been there. Nothing a little food won't fix." He said with a smile. He turned on his heel and started walking towards the alley's exit. "Let's head back to base. I called the police about the body. They know the score. No questions asked."

They followed after him, he stayed a step behind Elena, observing her. She was passed the worst of the vomiting, at least. A few minutes walk and they reached Reno's car, an unremarkable looking hatchback. Rude clambered into the back seat, throwing the gun case in ahead of him. He gestured for Elena to sit in the front. She murmured her thanks and seated herself in the passenger seat, still pale and clutching her stomach. Reno flopped into the driver's seat, fishing around in the storage compartment of the door for some unknown object that turned out to be a materia. Rude smirked again, shaking his head as Reno checked his reflection in the rear-view mirror, raising the materia to his face. A moment later the car filled with the ethereal green glow of healing magic. He adjusted his sunglasses, the light dazzling even to his shaded eyes. It faded to reveal Reno sitting with a relieved grimace, skin returned to its usual colouration. He dropped the materia back into the storage compartment and put the keys into the ignition, starting the engine.

They drove in silence. Rude occupied himself watching the lights of the city whirl by. He shut his eyes, enjoying the sound of the wheels tearing through puddles and sending sheets of water cascading over the windscreen. He remained like this, eyes closed, lips pursed as though holding back a yawn until they reached the headquarters. They ascended the elevator, again in silence.

It surprised him, when they entered the office to be greeted by the smell of freshly made coffee. Tseng sat on the edge of their desk, a mug in his hand and three more next to him. He took it gratefully, as did Reno and again to his surprise, Elena. She lowered herself into a chair and took a hesitant sip of the brown liquid, staring off with tired eyes, muttering a thank you to their superior who nodded with a small, perfunctory smile.

"The mission was a success then?" Tseng asked. Reno nodded, extracting the disk from his pocket and handing it to Tseng. He didn't mention Farae, nor did Rude expect him to. Tseng would already know, he always knew.

"Good work. All of you. Reno, if you'd please return the weapons and equipment to the armoury."

Reno sighed and nodded, muttering something about doing a postman's job and dealing with idiot soldiers. Tseng passed no remark upon it. They handed him their earpieces and a minute's weary packing later he set off out the door, laden with cases. A pregnant silence fell over them in which Tseng inspected the disk before he pocketed it and raised his head, glancing first at Elena, then at Rude with a face of utmost neutrality. It reached his eyes. Rude made to remove his sunglasses as per his custom, only to have the movement dismissed with a wave and a shake of the head from his superior. Tseng pushed himself off the desk, and with a final gulp of his coffee turned back towards his office. He paused at the door, glancing over his shoulder at him.

"Rude, I expect a full report by tomorrow evening."

Rude said nothing, just nodded and Tseng strode into his office, closing the door behind him with a soft click. He sighed and turned to face his remaining companion, who sat silent, not even aware of any exchanges in the past five minutes. He sat himself down across from her, grasping his mug with the finger tips of both hands.

"How are you holding up?" He asked. Her eyes flicked up to gaze at his shaded ones, then flicked back again.

"I don't know. Okay, I suppose." She said, she sounded exhausted, but firm. A good sign.

"They don't prepare you for it. In training, I mean." She said. He smiled a wry smile and shook his head.

"No, they don't. Nothing can prepare you for it. There's no experience quite as strenuous as bringing about the death of another human being." He said, taking a swig of his coffee. She stared over at him, brows furrowed.

"How do you do it? You and Reno and Tseng and all the others. How do you stop those feelings?" She asked. He shook his head again and leaned forward in his seat.

"Elena, don't misunderstand. Your job as a Turk isn't to stop having feelings. In fact it's the opposite. Your emotions are exactly what you need to become a great agent. Being able to control your emotions, to not let them rule you when the job demands something of you, that's what makes a Turk. We do whatever is needed to get the job done, even when we hate doing it. Even if what we do revolts us. Because if we don't, things much worse could happen. Men like Tseng, they've mastered that, controlling their emotions so well you could talk to him for hours and not have a single clue how he feels about anything. But even he has feelings. If you don't, you're nothing more than a cold blooded killer."

He stared back at her from behind those shades, Rude the Turk who wore sunglasses indoors and did whatever was necessary to get the job done, like wearing sunglasses indoors. This was good, this was easy, this was work and business and everything Rude the Turk needed to do. She nodded and again they fell silent. Minutes passed by them, sitting there and sipping their coffee, Elena mulling over what he'd told her, him waiting for her to speak again. She did.

"Rude, why do you wear sunglasses all the time?"

Something in him screamed for him to be honest with her. So he was.

"Because I'm not quite as good at controlling my emotions as Tseng." He said. Her brow furrowed and her eyes narrowed. The look she gave him sent a chill through his spine but she pressed him no further. That same anxiety from before began to bubble up in his stomach. It twisted and churned in that sickening way, his heart starting to thump harder in his chest. He pressed his shades against his face with the tip of his finger. She watched him do it before dropping her gaze to her coffee mug. With a grimace she threw her head back and downed the remainder of the coffee in a single gulp.

"I better get going." She said, placing her mug down on the desk she rose to her feet. His gaze never left her face, though she did not know it. Dark lines painted the skin under her eyes, made all the more prominent by the white pallor of her face. Now was not the time. There would be no lightning tonight, they'd had enough thunder and rain.

He nodded his goodbye to her and watched her stride past him and out the door, leaving him to silence.


He flashed his ID card to the receptionist as he entered the building. The first floor foyer was a humdrum of morning activity, employees checking watches and fiddling with briefcases and tourists making a beeline for the display rooms housed beyond. A wistful song played over the speakers mounted in every corner of the floor, barely audible with the noise of the crowd. He pried his way through the crowds, side stepping and directing with a gentle nudge and murmured apologies when necessary until at last he reached the blue carpeted staircase. He clambered up the steps, the upper floor of the foyer was quieter, less packed with bodies, the wistful strumming of a guitar sounded off from the speakers. He strode to the elevator, stopping in his tracks at the sound of a familiar, feminine voice calling his name.


He turned his head to the left and saw Elena jogging over to him. She paused a moment to tuck the longer side of her bangs behind her ears. It felt back to where it was as soon as she removed her hand. She paid no further heed to it.

"Hey." She said. He raised an eyebrow.

"Hey." He replied.

"I uh, I just wanted to thank you. The head trainer at the Academy told me you gave me a good report on that mission." She said, smiling at him. Her smile reminded him all too much of her sister. Genuine. He shrugged.

"It was your work. I just reported what happened."

Her smile widened and for a moment she dropped her gaze and became altogether very interested in the ground before raising her head to look back at him, a brazing resolution in her eyes.

"That's uh, that's not all I wanted to talk you about. I've been meaning to ask you something."

A pang in his gut. He ignored it. Truth be told he'd spent the last three days wondering when this situation would arise, when she'd ask him that inevitable, unavoidable question. He nodded, signalling for her to continue. Something in her eyes told him she knew he was aware of what she was about to ask.

"You said Turks look after their own right?"

He nodded.

"And part of doing that is being able to trust each other, like you trusted me as your spotter."

He nodded again. A moment of silence passed. His stomach churned, he ignored it, just waited. At last she spoke again

"You never told me who Emma's spotter was."

"Emma?" He asked. He knew who she referred to. He just needed a moment, to prepare.

"Gunner." She clarified, with a wistful smile.

He nodded, not really hearing what she'd said. His stomach started churning again. He let it. His heart started that anxious thump against his ribcage. He let it. His eyes began to water. He let them. With a shaky sigh, Rude the Turk who wore sunglasses indoors and was untouchable reached up and removed those self same sunglasses, staring Elena Sieger dead in the face as Rude Montes, the man who never quite mastered stopping his emotions from showing in his eyes, the man that held no regrets but for one moment of doubt many years ago that plagued him ever since. She stared back at him, unblinking and understanding. He spoke, fighting to keep his voice steady.

"You got time for a coffee?"


Author's Note

This was a reworking of a fic I had up years ago. The original was woeful, hopefully this was less woeful. Had a lot of fun writing it. Criticism is welcome, so please don't hold back if the notion takes ye.

Written to the Turk's Theme, Underneath the Rotten Pizza and Deadman's Gun by Ashtar Command.

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