What kind of shoes does Reno wear?
Black kevlar-soled Turk specials (on duty)
Alligator boots with pointed toes (off duty)
The alligator boots are a little beat up, and have been resoled twice. They fit like his own skin. He got them shaking down Frankie Manuflect in Wall Market, the same gig that brought Rude a spectacular Zegna three-button in black and camel pinstripes that might have been made for him. That makes the boots nearly five years old. But like any truly good thing, the boots do not go out of style.
They are on Tseng’s desk at the moment. Tseng is out. Reno is waiting. Reno has been called in on his day off. Along with these alligator boots, which zip up the back, rising up his calves, boots the color of bad coffee, of canal water on a moonless night, Reno is wearing his favorite jeans, which have developed holes in the ass and the knee. Anyone who felt like looking could look and get a fairly detailed picture of how his legs intersect with his hips.
Reno has his goggles dropped over his eyes, tuned to shield them from the hard midday light coming through Tseng’s slotted blinds. He is not jumpy. He is waiting.
The door opens, closes. There’s a soft sound of broadcloth. Reno lets his eyes drift open, pushes up his goggles. Tseng has placed a flat package on his desk and is shucking his overcoat. As he settles it on the rack, Reno picks out the vague outline of his Osel under his suit jacket, holstered under his left arm, biggest goddamn gun in the business, more than enough to mess up the line of the suit.
Reno leaves the alligator boots on Tseng’s desk.
“Thank you,” Tseng says, “for coming in.”
Reno stretches. The Peloponnesian War tour t-shirt, older than the boots by a factor of two, is utterly pliant and almost colorless, with gaping holes in the armpits. He’s not an especially smelly guy, but today, on his day off, minus his shower, Reno smells like Reno.
Tseng faces Reno, puts his hands in his pockets, and waits.
Reno removes the alligator boots from his desk.
“Thank you,” Tseng says. “Please open the package. We have a situation.”
Reno scoots his chair closer to Tseng’s desk. Above their heads, fanblades slowly revolve.
“What do we got?” Reno asks. “Larceny? Blackmail? Anthrax?”
“Open it,” Tseng says.
Reno shrugs, pulls the paper free.
It’s a photograph. A woman lying in a pool of blood, next to a pair of scissors. There is a flash of something gold across her hip—a belt, maybe.
“Know her?” Tseng asks.
Reno’s face goes from day-off neutral to profoundly still.
“Yeah,” he says finally. “I know her.”
“Word on the street, Reno,” Tseng says, “is you did her. Is that plausible?”
Reno looks, for a second, exactly like the kid Tseng met seven years back, straight out of the Pipes in Sector Six.
“Yeah, it’s plausible,” he says quietly.
Tseng reaches out for the photograph, draws it halfway across his desk, pulls out his chair, takes off his suit coat and puts it over the chair, and sits down. His white shirt is cut by the black lines of his shoulder holster.
“Don’t you want to know?” Reno asks.
The breeze from the fan tosses errant strands of Reno’s hair, pulled loose from his ponytail. Tseng’s hair, slicked back behind his ears, is too smooth and heavy for the air to play games with.
“I didn’t do this,” Reno says.
“But you could have done it. You might have done it,” Tseng muses, “and you thought about it a few times.” Reno doesn’t speak. Tseng watches. “You thought about it plenty of times,” he corrects himself.
Reno closes his eyes, once.
“And your name will come up.”
“Top of the list.” He’s not cocky.
“Does,” Tseng asks, “Shinra know about this history?”
Shinra, in Tseng’s mouth, means more than just their employer. It means, Reno suddenly perceives, everyone who isn’t presently in the room.
“Unclear,” Reno says carefully, staring at him.
“I have people at the scene,” Tseng says. “At present there is no official involvement. We could take a shot at putting this on the local color.”
Reno soaks this in.
“It would raise a red flag,” he says finally. “It would come back on you.” He points. “Here, see? Someone stabbed her in the throat. Look at that angle of entry. That’s not local color. It’s assassination.”
Tseng and Reno regard one another steadily. Reno’s face is bleak. He doesn’t look like a Sector kid anymore.
“You’re going to have to tell me,” Tseng says, “how you got involved with Scarlet’s niece.”